30 January, 2012

Only 5 months left

Well this week has proven to be a pretty good trial for my companion and I. We are still working hard, and seeing a lot of miracles, but as always in the missionary work the trials are hitting hard still. I realize now that it is just something to be expected, and all we can do is keep our heads up and know that we are doing our best effort to bring to past the salvation of many souls. The time is flying by, and I know that next thing I know it's going to be too late to do any more. I really have a goal to give everything I have left in me in these last 5 months of my mission, and really do all that I can, leave it all "in the field" I guess you could say. I really am starting now to feel even more the great urgency in the missionary work, and the need to do all that I can.

This Tuesday, I did divisions again, this time with Elder Faas, that has 1 change less than me. The divisions went pretty well, although it was raining most of the day, meaning everybody went inside. We had a lesson with a guy from Brazil. Unfortunately that means he spoke just in Portugese. You would think since they are such similar languages, that I would be able to understand it, but yeah, that's not so true. The whole time we taught him, I could barely understand his responses. Honestly I can understand Guarani a lot better than Portugese. We also had another lesson with three guys that just spoke to us in Guarani the whole time. Fortunately they understood Spanish, so we were able to communicate just fine.

On Wednesday, it was back with Elder Richards. We found a couple of new investigators during the day. I was feeling sick on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I had a pretty good cold. My head hurt, and I had my nose running a lot, but other than that it wasn't bad. It just made it harder to concentrate in the lessons, so most of the day, my companion led the lessons and everything.

Thursday ended up being a lot of looking around, and walking.

On Friday, we taught a couple that is Catholic. The guy was super hard hearted, but the wife was actually listening and interested. We could tell that she felt the spirit, and that she was really having a desire to know. Unfortunately the guy just full out rejected what we were saying, and didn't want to accept a Book of Mormon. The wife however, asked us if she could have one, even if we don't come back. We of course left her one, with some chapters to read, and left. Later in the day, we taught a family that right off the bat, told us, yeah we're catholic, and we don't want to change churches. I was thinking in my head, "oh great here we go again." We put a goal on Thursday, to teach all really spiritual lessons. To not leave the house of a person without having had them feel the spirit first. With a lot of guidance from the spirit, and a whole new way of teaching Lesson 1, we explained the Restoration, and had a very spiritual lesson with them, in the which we could tell they could feel the spirit. We left them a BOM, and committed them to baptism in the first lesson, to which they agreed without argument. It was amazing to see that even the most Catholic people if touched by the spirit can in fact make the change in their life. Later in the day, we met a drunk guy. He found us in the street, and wanted us to go over to his house. He had his three children there, and started explaining to us that e wanted to stop drinking and smoking for his children. We had a little lesson with him, and he started crying. At the end, when we were leaving he told us: "You know, I actually HATE the Mormons, but you know who brought you here? God." Well we'll have to see how he is when he's sober.

On Saturday, we went back to an Evangelical guy that we had taught earlier in the week. Just so happened, with our luck, that his pastor and two other guys from the congregation were there talking with him. He invited us in, and had us sit down. Well, I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity, so we asked them if we could share a little bit of our message. They accepted, and sat down. We started up into lesson 1, and right off the bat, the pastor guy started arguing with us. He said there wasn't a need of prophets in our day and age. I showed him a couple of scriptures showing that yes there is a need of them. Then started the attack. He started asking us if we had found the "power." I told him that the priesthood power isn't something you just find, and showed him 4 different scriptures describing how we receive the priesthood, and how Satan can give people that false power. He then went over a scripture in Revelations that says that you can't take anything out or add anything to "this book and prophesy." We explained that the scripture is talking specifically about the book of Revelations and not the entire Bible. After about 30 minutes of discussion, the pastor said, well maybe I could believe what you are saying, but I can't because you guys use that "other book." I then showed him the Scripture in 2 Corinthians 13:1 that says that every word will be established by the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses, not just one. After that, he ran out of attacks, so he said: "well I just can't believe what you guys are saying because you aren't examples to me, you're not married, so you can't be true servants of God." Then he proceeded to get up and just walk out. We finished with a prayer and left. Missionaries: 1 Evangelical pastors: 0
By the end of the day, we had about 7 or 8 people committed to go to the church on Sunday.

On Sunday, we went to pick up some of the investigators that agreed to come with us. We got to their house, and.... they weren't there. We called them, and they said they would come at 10 for the sacrament meeting. We went to church, and nobody else came. Right before sacrament meeting, we called the investigators again, and they said they weren't going to be able to come..... Well another 0 in the meeting. We had 6 people with bap dates on Saturday, and ended the week of with 0. It's kind of frustrating, but I know the Lord knows what he is doing. We just have to keep trusting in him, and know that if we do all we can, that he will make up the rest.

Well, I love you guys tons, and hope all is well. Have a great February! Talk to you next week.

Elder Ryan Griffin

23 January, 2012

A Lord of Miracles

Well this week has gone a lot better than last week. My companion and I get along really well. I think he has been one of my favorite companions so far, right up there with Elder Watson. It's the first time in 4 changes now that I actually have a companion that is helping with the teaching and everything. It has taken a huge load off my back now, and we have been working really well together. We have seen a lot of ups, and of course the normal downs as well. Overall things are going really well. I am hoping that I can stay with Elder Richards for a while.
So the week started off a little bit tough. Monday was normal, but then on Tuesday we had the district meeting and everything. In district meeting we talked aobut hte doctrine of Baptism, and it was really spiritual. I did divisions with Elder Sevy (Idaho), and it ended up being a pretty rough day, like the rest of last week. On Wednesday my companion came back, and we had a better day, still not the best, but better than the past 7 days. On Thursday I decided I was going to do a fast because of the problems we're having in the area. It just so happened that my companion planned on doing one as well, so we both ended up fasting on Thursday. That day we left with a lot of excitment, and zeal to find good people. We found some catholics early in the day that were pretty hard catholics. Even though they didn't really want to listen at first, we had a really good lesson, really spiritual, and hit each and every doubt and need right on the spot. At the end they accepted the invitation to read and pray. We had a bunch of lessons during the day that were like that. We ended up finding 10 new investigators in the day, and invited all of them to be baptized. Out of the ten people, 4 of them were families. The next day we had another good day, we found another new family in the morning before finishing our fast. During the 24 hours of fasting, we found 12 people, with 5 families in total. We also ended up teaching 4 lessons with member (we usually teach about 4 in the week). On Saturday, things didn't quite go like we wanted, seeing as we really needed to set more dates with people, but we had a couple people that committed to go to church.

On Sunday, we went to church, and none of the people we had committed came. In the second meeting we went out and started looking for some of our investigators. We had no success, and so we came back to the chapel. I was kind of disappointed, seeing as that was the main reason I had fasted, is to be able to get more people in church. We went into the sacrament room and read scriptures for the last couple minutes. Then everyone else started coming in, and right at the end, one of our investigators came in. He had been in the Sunday School class and we didn't even know it. His name is Derlis Benitez. He is baptist, but he actually came to church to see how it was. It really showed me the power of God to see something like that. I was kind of getting frustrated with the fact that we didn't have anyone in church, when all along, he had brought one of our investigators.

Later in the day, we ended up going to a guy that lives in front of a member. We talked a little bit to the member right before going over, and he seemed pretty busy. I felt like we should ask him to go over to his neighbor with us, but i shrugged it off. Later we went over and sat down with Roberto(the investigator). Once again, I felt like we needed to go over and get the member to teach him with us. I shrugged it off once again, seeing as we were already seated and talking to him. A third time the impression came that we needed to go get the member before we teach him. Well, with thirds, I always know that it is the spirit and not just my own thoughts, so we went over and brought the member over. The resulting lesson was one of the most spiritual and motivating lessons I have had with an investigator. He really had a great desire to read and know if it is true, and even asked the member if he could come over later to do the prayer with him at night. He was really happy when he heard the message, and really wanted to know that it is true. The member really made the lesson, when he bor his testimony of how he gained a testimony, and almost cried during it. Afterwards I really was grateful that I had listened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It was really cool to see that the Lord knew that was going to happen, and that it needed to happen like that. It was definitely a good learning experience.

During the week, we found a total of 20 new investigators, with 7 families. We ended up reaching new levels in a lot of the key indicators this week. There is still a lot of work to do, and I know the lord has even greater miracles in store for us according to our faith. I am really excited for these changes with my companion, we are working really well together.

I love you guys tons, and as always, I hope all is well with you. Thank you for all you do, and for all your support.

Elder Ryan Griffin

16 January, 2012


Well this week has been pretty interesting. On Monday I figured out we were having changes. Elder Stallings left to Asuncion and I stayed in the area. My new companion is Elder Richards from Snowflake Arizona. He has 2 changes in the mission now, starting his third right now. He comes from a family of...... you'll never guess...... 13!!! He has 10 brothers and sisters.  His parents actually got divorced, and his dad got re-married, and so he took his kids, and his step-mom has her kids, so they have a lot of kids. He has a brother that is in the mission in Ireland.

Well on Tuesday night I got to go to the terminal with my companion at about 12, and then did divisions with another elder. I got my new companion at about 6:30 or so on Wednesday, because he had to go and sign papers and stuff. We got back to our area, he unpacked a little bit, and then we went out to meet some of the members. Elder Richards is really cool, he actually already speaks Spanish pretty well, because he was trained by a latin, so that is a nice change, first companion in that speaks Spanish after 4 changes. He is still pretty young still, but he is a really good missionary. I think we are going to have a lot of success together here in our area.

When my other companion left, we had about 7 families, and like 20 investigators that we were teaching. From Wednesday, until Sunday, we only could find one of them in their house. It seemed like Satan was just working against us during the week or something. For some reason or another, we couldn't find any of them, and so none of the investigators came to church or anything. It ended up being a long couple of days, with tons and tons of walking, but we kept up our enthusiasm really well anyway. By Sunday i got a little bit frustrated because we had 5 days straight of not being able to find any of them. Regardless of the tough week, we really do have a lot of potential right now, and I think we will be seeing a lot of success in a little bit here.
On Sunday we taught a guy that was really hard hearted. We started talking to him, and he led the conversation toward that the catholic church was the only church that "Christ established." When he started talking about that we started explaining to him how Christ set up his church, with apostles and prophets. The I asked him what happens if you take out the foundation of a house, and he said, "it falls". Then I asked so what happens if you take out the foundation of the church, and again he replied it falls. Then We explained how the apostles and prophet were killed, and that the church fell, to which he replied, no, the church never falls, becuase I am here to lift it up. He talked more about how the pope is the current prophet that was given the authority from Peter. Then I we went into the difference in the timeline from Peter, and pope Constatine, and explained that there was a large lapse in between, which was when the apostacy had already started. We then got into the topic of prophets, and asked him for an example if he could see god, to which he replied yes. I asked, ok but can you actually talk to him face to face. He replied, yes, I talk to him face to face every day. We ended up just leaving the lesson..... The guy was kind of strange.
Today in the morning we went to the Cataratas de Monday (Waterfall of Monday) for a district activity. I took a ton of pictures, but I will be sending them to you next week probably. It was really fun though, and we even got to do a little bit of "rock climbing." Not really, but we did climb up and down some rocks to be able to get there, so that was kind of fun to be able to do.
Well, sorry for not doing a great letter this week, but there was just a lot of walking around, so there's not much more to explain. ;) Well, hope you guys are all good, and that the marriage and everything goes well. Love you guys tons, and I'll try and send you some pics next week. Oh yeah, and I have been buying some souveniers here and there. I still don't have a whole lot, but I don't know if this will be my last area or not, so I don't want to be stuck with too much stuff. Love ya.
Elder Ryan Griffin

10 January, 2012

New goals= more success

Well this week has been really good overall. I still haven't gotten the package.... I'm sure it should be getting here soon. I just got a package from Doug and Debbie Christenson today..... I wasn't expecting that. They sent it on the 11 of November, and it just recently got here, so I think your's should be getting here pretty soon.
The mission has set some new goals for the key indicators in the mission to increase our success. I decided this week to do everything I could to reach those goals, and really saw some huge blessings from that. We ended up having 9 people with baptismal dates by Saturday this week, which was a lot better than we had done before. We found more investigators, taught more lessons, invited more people to be baptized, and just overall had a lot more successful of a week this week. We saw a lot of miracles by putting forth our faith to reach higher goals. I think really the mentality has been the biggest change. Instead of just working towards having 1 or 2 people with dates, now we are working toward having 9 by the end of the week, and so it really makes us more focused on our purpose.

On Saturday we saw a really big miracle. It was new years eve, and we knew that a lot of the people were going to be busy with other things, and so we were kind of just hesitant to go outside and start working. We were thinking about just baking a cake for the night, and then going out to work. Right before we started doing that, I went to the bathroom, and felt really strongly that we needed to go out and work. We left, and started working for the day. We contacted some people, and sure enough they were busy. We then went a little further, and there was a family sitting outside. We went up, and they invited us to sit down even before we presented ourselves. We then started getting to know them, and then sang a hymn, and started the lesson. They are Elizabeth, and Isidrio. During the explaination of the ministry of Jesus Christ, we explained that Christ set up his church with apostols and prophets. She then asked us, "well then why are there no churches in our day that have those. Every church I have ever attended just has pastors." We then got into the restoration, and as I recited it, the spirit hit really strongly in the lesson. When I finished saying it, she sat back in her chair, and said that she felt the chills. Then we invited her to read and pray, and put a baptismal date with them. She told us that she had never been baptized in a church yet because she had never felt anything. She also asked at the end what time church started and everything. Unfortunately they went out of town on Sunday, so they didn't attend church. It was really awesome finding somebody that was so prepared though. She was more prepared than her husband, but it was still a really cool lesson, and they will be baptized soon.

We had a leadership meeting today with all the zone leaders and district leaders of the mission. It was really good, and I learned a ton about what we can do better, and what I need to do better as a district leader. My old companion from the MTC, Elder Nelson is now a zone leader, he is with my other old companion, Elder Gutierrez.
My district had another baptism this week. The district is actually improving really well, and had a lot more baptisms in this last change then they had in the last 4 changes before, so that it really a miracle to be able to see a big change like that. The Lord really is making a big change in the district from when I first got here. In the mission, almost all the districts and zones baptized less than usual, so my district was one of the only ones that improved in the month of December. The whole mission baptized about 1000 on the year.

We have a ton of potencial baptisms in our area right now, unfortunately most of them couldn't attend church yesterday due in part to the holidays, but we are really excited because we have a lot of people that are starting to progress. Now we have to just keep on finding, and teaching constantly so that we can start really baptizing every week. Now we really need to work hard with them so that we can see the miracles in the next couple of weeks when all of these people start progressing.

During the leadership meeting an elder was telling everone about a miracle that he had a month or so back. He said they prayed for a miracle of people coming to church, and went to church that day. It turned out that two girls showed up and said that they had attended in Las Residentas and they really liked the church. They ended up getting baptized a couple weeks later. I don't know if you remember, but a couple weeks back, when I was in Las Residentas, I told you guys about how we sung in the sacrament meeting, and how it was super spiritual, and that there was a farewell of a missionary. His girlfriend, and her sister came to the meeting, and felt the spirit really strong. We then went to the members house after the sacrament meeting, and taught them a super spiritual lesson of lesson 1, and left them with Books of Mormon. Turns out they were the same two girls that I passed the reference of, and they ended up getting baptized! I was really happy to hear that they had been baptized because I was wondering what ever happened with them. Kind of a cool miracle of the Lord there.
Well that is about all for the week, sorry the letter is a little bit short, but that's about all I got. I love you guys tons, and wish you all a happy year 2012. Love ya tons.
Elder Ryan Griffin

03 January, 2012

Pigskin anyone?

Hola querida familia, ¿cómo están todos?
Well as I said last week, we had the meeting with President Callan with all the leaders of the mission last Monday which was really good. Afterwards we went to go take a collectivo to get to the terminal. We stopped one and asked if it went to the terminal, and they said yes. After about 10 minutes, I realized he wasn't going towards the terminal and so we asked someone in the bus if it went there. They told us that it did, but not until about 7. At that point it was about 5, and we had to get to the terminal at 5.30. I went up and asked the bus driver why he told us it went to the terminal, when in all truth it took forever to get there. His response? "Well you just asked if it went to the terminal, not how long it took." Well anyway, we got off and got another bus, and got to the terminal late, and left on the next bus, at 6:40. Since it is a 6 hour drive, we got home at about 1:30 or so, and so I just had to sleep at the zone leaders house with a blanket on the floor. I got back to my area in the morning and showered and everything there, being Tuesday morning already.

On Tuesday, I had the district meeting, which turned out kind of interesting, because we talked a lot about the fact that we do in fact need goals to have a purpose in our missionary work. Anyway, I went on divisions with a companionship that is having some problems. One of the companions told me that his companion just wastes all day with the members, and that he lies about his numbers. So I went on divisions with the Elder that is the problem. He is an elder from Packistan (yes I did spend a day with a race that hates Americans already). He grew up there, but moved to Columbia, and lived there a couple of years where he was baptized and everything. He is 26 years old, and served in the military as a captian. To start the day off, we went to a lunch appointment they had. The people served us some meat stuff, but the side was something they call "rollos." A rollo is basically sausage stuff wrapped in pigskin. Yeah so something like a football. No just kidding, but it really is wrapped in a pigskin, and apparently these people didn't know how to do it right, so the hair of the pig was still in fact on the skin. It was really nasty looking, and quite frankly hard to chew when I imagine the pig hairs in there. I never thought I would be eating something that hairy before. It didn't taste too bad, but it wasn't good. The hardest part was just the texture with the hair, and the fact that it was just skin of a pig. I'll pass on that one next time.....
The rest of the day of divisions was super boring, the elder basically just wasted the whole day with members, and we didn't really get anything done. I just let him lead everything to see if it really was a problem, and well, it was confirmed. The next day, when his companion came over, I talked to both of them, and told them they have got to stop wasting time with the members, and start doing missionary work. Well regardless it's still about the same.

On Wednesday, I came back to my area finally, and was able to work here. We had a lesson with these two people that we had taught before, Cesar and Sonia. The guy, Cesar, is super headstrong about his beliefs, and so he tried to argue a lot. He said he couldn't believe in the BOM because the Bible didn't say anything about it. I asked him, alright well can you show me one part in the Old Testament, where it talks about the New Testament? He said no, but that there are parabolic scriptures about it. I then showed him Ezekiel 37 where it talks about the stick of Joseph. I explained that God in no time just comes out and says this is what will happen, but rather refers to it in other terms, which is what he did with the BOM. We also explained to him the need of prophets and apostles in the true church, and showed him the scripture in Ephesians that says that Christ ordained apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, and pastors. I asked him how many churhces he knew that had all 5 of those. He obviously couldn't think of any, so I told him, it is a requirement of the true church. Regardless, he just didn't want anything of it, and gave us the BOM back that we had left him, and said he would talk to his pastor about it.

On Saturday night we were walking and heard some shouting coming from a building, as we got closer we realized it was a evangelist church. Then we realized what the guy was shouting, over and over he just kept shouting: "OUT, OUT, OUT, OUT, LEAVE, LEAVE, LEAVE, LEAVE!" We were super confused, because we kept walking and got to a point where we could see through the window, and he was just shouting it in the microphone to his congregation. I think he was trying to cast out the demons or something in the congregation. Then we waited there a second to see what he was doing, and he just broke out into a song. He started singing super off tune, and then the congregation started singing along with him. Then he started pumping his fist slowly in the air with the beat of the song..... Well not gonna lie, if I didn't know which was the true church, I think I would be going there too, it's almost like a comedy show, only they aren't trying to be funny.

The branch president gave us some names of some less active people he wanted us to find. They are a family, and he gave us more or less the direction of where they live. We looked, and looked, and asked around, and they were nowhere to be found. Then on Saturday, we were in a totally different part of our area, near the river. My companion stopped to look at something across the river, and so I stopped as well. Then I realized there was a guy looking at us, so we went and talked to him. It turned out that the guy was the dad of the family we had been looking for, and that was where they lived. It was pretty miraculous that we were able to find them.

President Callan told us that we should share the goals of the mission with our ward leaders so that they could help us achieve them. We ended up doing that with our branch president, and in the sacrament meeting, the president called out the members, telling them that they need to help the missionaries if they want to see this branch progress, and that we had really high goals, and it is going to require help from the members to achieve it.

We also had an investigator come to church yesterday. He came with his BOM, and the Law of Chastity pamphlet that we gave him. He only stayed for the first meeting though, and then had to leave. We are really struggling with getting people to church right now.... we got a lot of work to do.

Changes are this Wednesday, we'll see if anything happens here. That's about all on the week. Love you guys tons, and hope all is well back there. Talk to you next week.
Elder Ryan Griffin