26 March, 2012

Is not this the fast I have chosen? Isaiah 58:6-12‏

This week we saw a lot of miracles in our area. Things are looking up a lot, every week we are seeing more and more progress in the branch. This week I have a lot to be thankful for and to really wonder at the great power and mercy that the Lord has shown to us.

On Tuesday, we talked about the importance of obedience in the District meeting. We talked about the importance of the rules, and how it is there to help us be apart from the world. I think it was good for the district, and I felt like it was something some of the elders were forgetting about. After that, I did divisions with the Zone Leaders again. I went with Elder King again.... I don't know why his companions never want to do divisions with me.... Anyway it went good, we found some good people, and talked to a guy that had lived in the US, in South Carolina. He spoke English of course, and we talked a little bit to him. Turns out he was found with a gun, without a licence, so he had to go to jail for 6 months, and then he couldn't renew his residency card, so he had to leave and come back to Paraguay. He wanted to go to church, because he says he wants to go to a Christian church, but all he can find is a bunch of Catholic churches. ;)

On Wednesday, it was back with my companion again. We knocked a door at a certain house, and an "it" came out. At first we thought it was just a girl, but then when it started talking, well lets just say it was the most girly voice I've ever heard. My companion was talking to it, and when I realized she was actually a he, I almost started laughing. We left that house pretty quick.

On Thursday, we had a really good day. We saw a lot of progress in the parents(members) of Miriam and Clarise (nonmembers). We taught them the Plan of Salvation, and the dad, Christian, asked us a lot of really good questions. They are progressing really well, and have a definite baptismal date for the 14th of April. We also have been working a lot with a really good member, that had dropped off for a while, and hasn't been going to church. We finally got him to commit to go to church this week again. His wife has been inactive for a longer time, and she also was planning on going. We told him that Satan was going to be working against them, and that he needed to read the BOM with his wife so that they could all go to church just fine. Unfortunately he didn't follow through with his part of reading like we invited him to, and his wife ended up deciding that she wasn't going to go. It's amazing how as missionaries, we can really see the things that people need to do, and sometimes I just want to force them to do them so that they can be happy, but I realize now how God feels with us sometimes, when he tells us to do things, and we don't do them. We also committed two other guys, Oscar and David to go to church.

On Friday, I did divisions again, with Hernandarias 1.1. I went with an elder, named Elder Edwards. He is a convert to the church, he's from New Mexico. He was baptized when he was 18, and the day he got baptized, he arrived home to a note on the door that said "congratulations, you now have a new family." And all of his stuff was outside of the door. His parents kicked him out of the house after he was baptized in the church. The rest of his family still aren't members of the church. During the divisions, we were focusing on finding new investigators, because they have been finding like 8 a week. In the day of divisions we found 8 new investigators. We found a family that had a 24 year old son that passed away 5 months ago. Also during the day, we sat down to teach some people, and an old man told us, yeah, we are pecadores(sinners). We explained to him that we are all sinners, but that we can repent, and be baptized to wash away our sins. He then said, yeah, but we just go down to the river every once in a while and sell our pecados(sins). Then I asked him if he goes to a church, and they said, yeah here in our house. Then we kept talking about repentance, and he said, no but we just go down to the river, and sell our pecados(sins). Then I said, alright, I don't understand, you sell your pecados(sins) by the river? He replied, yeah, whenever we have time to. I asked, but there are people who actually want to buy your pecados(sins)? He said, yeah, we just go to the people, and sell them to whoever wants to eat them. Lightbulb. Oh you are talking about Pescados(fish)? Yeah, the guy just doesn't speak a whole lot of Spanish it turns out. He was talking about sins the whole time, but really meant to say fish. Well done.

On Sunday, we really saw the miracles. I have been doing a lot of fasts lately, because I really want to see the miracles that we need here in our area. On Saturday, I started another fast, I was fasting that I would be able to have people in the church this week so that they could progress. Sunday morning we went to look for an investigator, Nestor. He is about 18 years old, and lives by himself, and is working. He came with us and we went in and sat down and everything. The priesthood meeting started and then they went to separate the young men and the adults. When they did that, Nestor stood up and just took off. We were kind of confused, so we sat there for a second not knowing what to do. Then we got up, and went out to talk to him. He told us that he was confused, and that he thought we were going to take him to the catholic church. We had already taught him all of the restoration, left him a Book Of Mormon, and set a baptismal date with him..... not sure how he mixed that one up. We tried to talk to him, but he ended up leaving, and went over to the Catholic Church. My companion got super disappointed after that, because he was really thinking that Nestor was a golden investigator. Then a member came and asked us, hey do you guys have anyone you want to go look for. We took up the offer, and went with him to look for Oscar (22) and David (20). We got to their house, and they were sleeping. When we got there, they got dressed, and ended up going with us. In the Sacrament meeting we ended up having 5 investigators, Oscar and David, Miriam and Clarise, and another investigator that is named Patricio. Last week we had just under 35 people in church, this week we had 55 (a goal that we had set as a companionship). We reactivated a ton of less-actives in the week as well. The whole family of Miriam and Clarise came (7 people) for the first time. Hermano Aregui came with his two daughters. 3 other daughters of a family we are working with came. We also had a 3 other people who we talked to so that they would come. It was really quite a miracle that we saw. We were able to increase the attendance to church by 21 people in a week. I know that the lord answered my fasting and prayer, and that really we didn't do hardly anything to be able to see that. I know that God is a God of miracles, and I know that he works according to our faith. He really is working wonders here in our area. It has had a complete change, and I know that it is due to the power and grace of God. This is the true church, and we have the same power to work the same miracles as were done in the past. All that we need is to have the faith like the apostles of old. Most of the ward was really surprised with some of the people that had come, and it really helped them be more excited. The spirit of the members is changing a lot. Everybody is more happy, and excited. It is so exciting to see what's happening here. We are now working with the branch president, so that they do their part to help all those people stay active.

I love you guys tons, and thank you all for the support and encouragement that I receive from you. I know that your prayers on my behalf have made a big difference in my mission. Love ya tons, jajatopata (see ya later in Guarani) until next week.

Elder Ryan Griffin

19 March, 2012

Cleaning inspections

Well, this week has been good. We have been working super hard. I didn't really think that there was anything more I could do to work harder, but I really learned this week that there is always more effort that we can give on our part, so that the lord can bless us more on his part.
This week we found a total of 29 new investigators, and had 32 baptismal invitations. We also were able to get 42 lessons in the week(the past couple weeks we have been getting 10 news, 10 invitations, and 28 lessons or so). We really saw a lot of miracles in the week, as well as our fair share of trials and hardships.

To start the week off, I got a call from President Callan on Monday, he just let me know that the cleaning inspections in our district were going to be on Tuesday, and that my companion and I were going to go with them to check all the apartments. We only had two hours left on p-day, so we just did all the cleaning that we could manage, before going out to work. Then the rest of Monday we had a pretty good day.
On Tuesday, we had the cleaning inspections with President and Hermana Callan, and we drove around with them to inspect the other apartments of the other elders in my district. After that we got home, ate lunch, and went out to work. We just had an explosion of a day on Tuesday. We found ten new investigators during the day, all of which were good new investigators. We also taught quite a bit of lessons along with that.

On Wednesday, we had our district meeting and we did divisions after with another companionship. Elder Brown (came with me) went to my area with my companion, and I went with Elder Ayola (1 change more than me.) President basically put them together because they are both disobedient, and don't really do what they should be doing. I did divisions with Elder Ayola, and I talked to him a lot about the mission, and the importance of being obedient, and finishing his mission strong. Then the next morning, we sat down to do the evaluation. Right then President Callan called their phone. I answered, and he told me that Elder Ayola's companion told president that he is watching movies on the dvd player. He told me that I needed to take it away, and also ask him to give me the dvd's. I just kept going with the evaluation after, and talked to him about the importance of obedience. I shared a scripture in D&C 88 that says if we can't obey a celestial law, we can't support a celestial glory. I explained that in the mission we have a celestial law, and we have to learn how to obey with exactness to progress toward a celestial glory. Then I shared Alma 34:34 and told him the same spirit with which he wants to obey in the mission, is the same spirit that will possess him after the mission. Then at the end I had to tell him what president said, so I took the DVD's that he had, and the DVD player from their pension.
On Thursday, after all of that, we had a good day. We were able to find some good new investigators again, and put baptismal dates with a bunch of people. On Friday, we had another really good day, we found another 6 new investigators, and really saw some miracles during the day. We found these two guys that we taught. They are David (20) and Oscar(22). Oscar was telling us a story about how he didn't understand why God created the earth in 6 days, and then had to rest. He said he prayed about it, and that he heard a voice in his head. He said it told him: "My time is not like the time of man, to me one day is like 1000 years, to put it in a way that you can understand." There was a little more to the story, but we were pretty surprised when he said that about 100 years being like a day to man, seeing as it says that in the scriptures, and he said that he doesn't really read the scriptures. We taught them all of the Restoration, and left them with a Book Of Mormon.
Speaking of Books of Mormon. When I got to this area, we had 4 boxes of them. Then when Elder Richards came he brought another. We have been giving them out a lot, and right now we actually are about to run out. We had over 120, and now we have about 5 left. Well, I think we are doing good with flooding the world (or at least Hernandarias 2) with Books of Mormon.

There is a new doctrine that apparently the Catholic church just started. They say that Everybody is a church, and that the families are a church. Every single catholic brings that up now when we start talking about the true church. They always say, well I don't think there is a true church, the church is every one of us. What we do and say is the church. I was really thinking about the doctrine of that, which is completely false. It really is clear that it is from Satan, because now he wants people to think that they are all churches, and that there is no need for the true church. We just have to have faith in Jesus, and that is the church inside of everyone of us. It's been really frustrating trying to have to explain to them, that they are not in fact a church, seeing as the definition of church is an organization of people. The devil and his tactics are pushing hard..... We got to the point at the end of this week where a guy told us that he was a church, and I was so sick of hearing it, that I just asked him, Hermano, do you really believe that you are a church? He thought about it for a second, and then said.... No. They just believe anything the pope says, even when they themselves don't really believe it.....

On Saturday, we had a good trial. We had an influx of new investigators and had way too many to be able to visit all of them to commit them to go to church. We talked to two members, and set up to do divisions with them, to be able to cover all of our appointments. We had a good 20 or thirty appointments for the last couple hours of the day. A little bit before we were going to do the divisions, everything was falling through, and so we started using a couple of our extra appointments to use time. They also fell through. We then called off the divisions, seeing as we no longer needed to cover so many, but we still had a lot of appointments left. In less than and hour, we had about 10 more appointments fall through. It was really strange, because it was Saturday, and everybody else was home, but the only houses that looked empty, were those of our investigators. At near the end of the day, we went and did a contact of a family that was sitting outside(seeing as they were the only people we could find that weren't drinking) I started contacting them, and they were coming up with all sorts of excuses to not share with us. Finally I convinced them to just listen for a couple minutes, and we sat down on the step (they didn't have chairs) and taught them. It turned out to be a really good spiritual lesson, even though there was a church in front that was playing a guitar and singing, and people that were coming to their house to buy stuff (they have a little in-home store.) Anyway, they accepted a BOM and the invitation to read and pray. They were really excited to do so.

On Sunday, we only had one investigator show up, due to the fact that we couldn't visit any of them the day before. We had a couple of good lessons during the day as well, and ended the week off well. We have 13 people with baptismal dates right now, 12 of the which are for the 7th of April. My companion and I are both hoping that we can stay together another change to actually be able to see the baptisms together. The change is on the 4th of April, so we'll see what happens. We have a lot of potential right now in our area, and we are seeing lots of miracles. Things are changing a lot in the area, now we just need to start seeing the baptisms.

I love you guys tons, and hope all is well with you. How was the marriage? I didn't hear anything from you guys..... I suppose maybe you had daylight savings time? Well, anyway, hope to hear how the marriage went next week... Love ya,

Elder Ryan Griffin

12 March, 2012

Traveling with assistants

Well, this has been a good week for us overall. We went to the temple on Tuesday, and it was really good. It just took all the energy out of us for the 12 hours of travel. Other than that it was really good though.

This whole week, the traveling assistants were doing divisions with my district. On Thursday and Friday they came and did them with us. Before going out, they talked about the difficulties in our area, we explained to them what was being difficult right now, and then went out and worked. We split the area in two parts, and worked with all 4 of us for two days. With most other companionships that they have done it with, they have found like 50-75 investigators in 2 days all together. I think they were expecting to have the same luck here in our area. I went first with Elder Love, and the first like 15 people we talked to rejected us. We talked to a guy that asked us how old we were, and then told us that he knows more than us, and that he should be the one to teach us. Then we went and sat down to teach another guy, Elder Love started saying the prayer, and then the guy joined in, and just took it over. Elder Love didn't know what to do, and just stopped and said amen. I started laughing, and then we couldn't stop laughing. Finally we started teaching, and the guy just wouldn't let us speak. We just left the lesson. Then we went to another guy that Elder Love tried to force his way in, and the guy just wouldn't let us in. Then we found another guy that had killed a man, and so he didn't want to learn about Christ. Then another guy that got angry at us, and threw us out of his house. Basically I think the assistants were a little surprised to find out that it really wasn't so easy here. During the two days we did find 20 investigators, so not too bad, but definitely not like what they found in other areas. The next day, I went with Elder Paladines, the one that I was in the same house as a year ago. He has changed some, but he is still the same with a lot of things. During the divisions, they put baptismal dates with everyone, and put them for like 4 weeks out. Needless to say, we did learn some good stuff from the divisions.

After that we worked normal for the next two days, and found some good people. On Sunday, we ended up having two people that went to church, one of which is going to be baptized on the 24th. We are working really hard to lift up this branch, and do everything we can to have more baptisms here. It's honestly pretty difficult here, but we have the faith that it can be done. We are already starting to see a lot of miracles in the area, and now we just need to keep working to get more baptisms.

Well, Sorry, there wasn't a whole lot to say from this week, so I'll try and write stuff down better next week to inform you better. Love you guys tons.

Elder Ryan Griffin

06 March, 2012

Temple trip

Hey, sorry we're late on writing this week. We figured out we were going to the temple, so we didn't have P-day, and so now we only have a couple of minutes to write. Just wanted to let you know everything is alright.

We went to the temple today, we traveled all night long to get here to AsunciĆ³n, so it was really hard to stay awake and alert in the session, but it was still really good. Things are looking up in the area, we are having some good prospects that could be getting baptized in a little bit. The Assistants are going to be doing divisions with us this Thursday and Friday, so that will be interesting, I haven't had to do divisions with the assistants in my mission yet, so it will be a first.
Things were pretty hectic for the temple trip, and since I had to make sure the rest of my district didn't get lost, we ended up getting everything done late, and so we only have like a couple of minutes to write you before our bus leaves for Cuidad del Este.

My companion and I are still getting along really well, we are working hard in our area, but we're still fighting to try and get some baptisms. There is so much to do, and so little time to do it. I got a letter from Devin two weeks ago, and still haven't been able to write him back for lack of time.

The heat has been climbing back up these past couple of days, and we are sweating everything off. We're just waiting it out until the cold finally comes in.
Love you guys tons, and I'll try to write a longer letter next week. Have a fantastic week!
Elder Ryan Griffin