Monday, June 4, 2012

Last pictures from the Spanish Zone

Today I didn't wait all morning by my computer, checking for my usual email...but I was happy to go shopping in local Mexican markets for the most authentic Mexican foods and spices with Ryan! It's so great to have him home but I do miss reading his emails and seeing pictures like these: 
 Ryan being silly teaching his "son" Elder Dutson by the waters edge in Banff...
 Teaching his first son Elder Rios too ;)
 Hike in Banff
 First companions, last days in the mission
 With Elder Dutson from Utah, together 2 transfers and his son (Ryan trained him)
 With Elder Rios from Arizona, together 2 transfers and his son (Ryan trained him)
 With Elder Brandon from California, together 3 transfers 
 With Elder Davies from Utah, his MTC companion
 With Elder Rodriguez from Spain - together one transfer
 Ryan's last drive past the view of downtown Calgary
 He loved this city....
and he loved his mission!

Last video from Canada

The morning of May 31, 2012 before leaving for the airport to come home!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

These have been the best two years!

A quick note from this proud & extremely blessed Missionary Mom: 

I don't think Ryan sent any pictures today (I found this one posted on his Facebook yesterday) but I'll post all the pictures of his homecoming at the airport after he returns. We have so many mixed emotions but the strongest feeling I have is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the safe return of our son and the opportunity to soon meet the new and improved Ryan. We know that the Lord has tried, shaped and molded his character, testimony and spirit in ways it never could have grown had he not served this mission. It's impossible for our hearts to be more full of thanks for the blessings his mission have brought to each member of our family. Undeniably we are all better from this 2 year adventure and eternally grateful to have been a small part of this greatly inspired and miraculous thing called "a mission". 

“And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God” D&C 42:6

Thanks for taking the time to check in and read his emails but mostly for writing and your loving support to Ryan. Next up Blake! 

With loving thanks, 
Missionary Mom to Elder Ryan Draper, Canada Calgary Mission 5/2010-5/2012
Missionary mom to Elder Blake Draper, El Savador/Belize Mission 8/2012-8/2014

Dear Family,

Has it seriously been 2 years? I honestly feel like it has been a dream to me, all of the experiences seem to be in random spots in my brain. Experiences I had long forgotten about have been flooding into my mind the last week. It has made me so grateful for my Father in Heaven and His infinite love and mercy and patience with me. The most cliche line in the Church is 100% true: These have been the best 2 years! The Lord has stretched me beyond what I thought I could do, and has taught me how to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that will be the big question in the next few weeks, "So what did you learn on your mission?" Obviously it is a ton of things, from how to receive revelation, how to love others, the importance of service, etc. I have been thinking about it, and it all goes back to the one and only true doctrine, the doctrine of Christ. I have learned how to apply those basic principles and ordinances of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. That has become the foundation of my life. When the trials and trouble come, I will have my foundation built on this doctrine, and I can feel confident that everything will be ok. I could never stop thanking Heavenly Father for this honor of representing His Son for 2 years. I wish I could continue in this calling forever. President sent me a very nice email that made me feel so warm inside. He said "You have served with distinction in the program and the Lord is smiling at your service just as I am." I have never felt more inadequate or unable to do something than I have felt while serving the Lord. It is a big responsibility. Yet, the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes all things possible. I know He is the Savior of us all.

Well the rest of the day should be lots of fun! I am going to get my haircut, then we are all going to Rocky's house to eat and get in our last few hours of fun! I want stop by a few other members as well so they can sign your quilt. Tomorrow is it! In the morning we will go to the transfer station, then the whole day I will be in the mission home. Not too sure what happens there but I think they give you a nice dinner, then the fireside at 7:00. All the members have been so loving to me and have committed to come to it, so I am excited. Then we wake up bright and early for the airport, yes 3:00 am! Oh don't worry I will let you know if there are changes or delays to my flight. 

I love you all! I am so grateful that Father in heaven has kept you safe and blessed you, it has helped me so much here. Well hope you enjoy seeing DAUGHTRY without me haha, and I will see you all in 2 days!!! Goodnight, Canada.

Con amor,
Elder Draper

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nueve Dias Mas!!!

 Awesome missionaries - Elder Rodriquez, Draper, Dutson and Rios
 Rocky drove the whole Spanish Zone to Banff - he's a champ!
 The three amigos - Joey, Ryan and Josh! These three are very close and since I'm friends with both of their families I can call them by their first names now ;)
 Looks like Ryan beat everyone up the hill on their hike
He just looks so happy and so are we! 9 more days!

                          Climbing the mountain!
                                Happy hikers!
                          Hope the log can hold them all
One of the prettiest pictures of Lake Louise in the back ground

Oh my gosh!!! I finally woke up from my dream this week and realized that I am going home. On Saturday my first ward I served in here (Crescent View Ward) had an activity and we had a few potential investigators go, so we got to go to. It was a good chance to see all of the members up there for the last time, and that is when it hit me when everybody was saying, "well I'll talk to you on Facebook next week." Ugh so hard! I have mixed feelings at different times of the day. Some times I get sad and want to ask for a 2 year extension, and other times I think I'm ready to get the rest of my life going. So, to answer your question, it's a mix of everything. I would have liked to end with a couple baptisms, but looks like it won't turn out that way. Victor turned pretty cold. We finally got in with him this past week, and planned a super bold, serious lesson. He knows God's will and has received strong witnesses from the Spirit, so we read with him what the consequences are when we know God's will and don't do it. We are subject to our free will but those are eternal consequences. We gave him one last shot to be baptized this Sunday, if not we are dropping him.

Today we had my LAST district meeting, then we ate at Dennys, then I had to help a member translate at the church employment center, but now I'm finally at the library so I'm a little late today...yeah I'm glad you got my package with the goods in it. So we had a couple of cool miracles this week. There is this lady that lives with a member and has not wanted to meet with us at all. She came to the activity two weeks ago and so we went by the member to ask her what she thought about the activity. After leaving the house, we felt like we needed to walk around the neighborhood, and about 10 minutes later we run into this lady, Marta! We talked to her in the street and she accepted to meet with us. So cool! Then we got a random call from the English missionaries down in High River and they tracted into a Spanish lady and set up an appointment with her for us tomorrow!

Our Spanish Zone road trip to Banff was super fun with Rocky. We did one hike in Canmore and another in Banff. I want to come back and visit after the mission for sure. That was some of the highlights of the week. That is great that they changed my flight plans back to the original time, see you 2 hours sooner! In the prom pictures Rachel looks so much older. I think she has changed the most during my mission, so please Rachel don't be freaked out if you get a weird look from me at the airport haha. It's just that you are as tall as me and look like you are my age too ;) Yeah that would be nice to change into normal clothes after getting released, unless I don't have any clothes there, I don't remember what I left behind. Maybe Blake and I can trade?? Well my last email as a missionary will be next Tuesday because of transfers and then it's off to the mission home for, it's hard to believe. It has gone by wayy too fast. I've had so many incredible experiences that have strengthened my testimony and my resolve to follow Jesus Christ.  I have a couple scriptures that mean a lot to me because of the mission, but I will share just a fun one now. Deuteronomy 8:2-3, replacing the words "wilderness, 40 years, and manna" with "Calgary, 2 years, and Spanish food". Check it out :)

Love you all so much, and I'll see you next week!!!!!!!

Elder Draper

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day after Mother's Day call

 The Mexican tradition of everyone pushing your face in your birthday cake "Mordida!"
Balloons for the birthday boy!
 Ward Mothers Day Activity with Elder Dutson and Elder Rios
The comedian and Ryan having some laughs

That was a great phone call!! I hope my family is still crazy like that because that is the way I like it! Haha it was fun to hear you all and even more exciting to know that we can continue talking in a couple weeks! The Mother's Day dinner at the Morales home was great as usual, they had some non members there with them so we got to talk to them a bit. They made liver tacos, and it was alright ha. I think I like tacos de cabeza better. Yeah my hair is pretty long right now for a missionary, so hopefully it lasts another 2 weeks, then I will go into a salon for sure before coming home. (I asked Ryan to skip buzzing his own head for his homecoming!) Yeah anybody is welcome at the airport like I said. Yes taking a drive down the coast sounds great to me! I think that first day I am just going to want to talk to everybody and catch up, you know? That would be a good way to do that. We can eat where ever as well, whatever you want. But other than that, I think everything is ready to go! I think we should come up here after General Conference for the dedication of the temple. I'd love that, just sayin. Next Monday is Victoria Day, so I will be emailing Tuesday. We can plan more stuff if we need to. 

This week as far as teaching investigators was non existent. Victor pretty much wants to make this decision on his own. He avoids talking about the gospel and baptism with us. I don't know why he is so scared of his family and friends. He has received such a strong witness of the gospel. All we can do is fast and pray and support him. We will do everything we can to get him baptized this month. Saturday night we had the ward Mothers Day activity and that was super fun. They hired a Mexican comedian and he had some pretty funny jokes, I sent a picture of me and him. Like I said a ton of non members came so hopefully we can see some action with that. Well next week Rocky is taking us to Banff!! I am wayyy excited! I will be taking lots of pictures for sure. That is all I got to say for this week since we already talked about everything else on Sunday. Next time I email I have faith we are going to have some baptisms lined up! 

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Draper

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Countdown continues...

Down to 3 weeks!

I love that the Lord gives you major trials and challenges at what we think is the end of all our worries. Victor did not get baptized this week. His family in Peru still does not know and he is scared to make this commitment and then go back and break the commandments he will promise to obey. In a way he is right, but we can't let other influence our duty to do God's will. He is going to talk to his family in Peru this Saturday, which we are trying to convince him not to do, because it could lead to him not wanting to be baptized ever. It's tough, but we fasted for him this week and are praying for him and doing everything we can to push the influences of Satan and fear out of his life. He is good kid with a good heart so I know it will be ok. So that has been tough on us this week, but we are still chugging along. We are having a hard time setting up appointments with the couple of families that we are teaching. It's ok though, because this week we found a couple new families to teach and hopefully that process starts this week. 

On Tuesday I had my last zone conference, and Elder Melchin, the area authority, presided. It was really neat. I got picked to share a short talk on sacrifice and then since it was my last conference, I got to go up and share my departing testimony. I felt more comfortable doing it in Spanish, so I did. I also got the birthday card from Grandma and Grandpa with the money, so please tell them thank you! Really that was all the highlights from this week. Every single member we visit has to give me advice about going home, even though the majority of them never even served missions haha. It is so crazy how fast it has gone by. Yes I got the package you sent, thank you! I especially liked the car? Haha jk. It is very difficult to gather my thoughts and put into words what I have learned on the mission, because they are so many amazing things. Where do I even start? I will put more though to it and see what I feel inspired to come up with. 

Well this next week should be a great week, I'm excited. All I know is that this is God's work, and He is leading us right along. I just want to be affiliated with missionary work for the rest of my life!! It has strengthed my testimony so much, and I know there is so much more to learn! 

Did you ever get the pictures I sent last week? I don't know why the server is so slow lately and not sending. What time would be best for you to call 11:00 or 4:00? Elder Rodriguez is calling in the morning and is not quite sure about the time difference in Spain so if you called at 4 Calgary time that would be the safest bet. We will leave church at 3:30 and will be home and waiting at 4:00. We have dinner at the Morales later so it'll work out great!

I love you all!!! Talk to you on Sunday!!!

Elder Draper

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May!

Happy May!

Well as I type this out I am still trying to get tres leches cake blown out of my nose from yesterday haha! The Morales family invited us over for a big barbecue with the Pavon family and Pompa family. It was a ton of fun and yes I got to do the famous Latin "mordida", and so my face kinda smells like cake still. It was a weekend full of food and cake haha. On Saturday we went to the Bacas, to celebrate my birthday with their daughter Heidi as well, who turned 12. Oh my gosh thanks for those balloons!! Haha such a funny story. We were in the middle of comp study, and there was a knock at the door. I told Elder Rodriguez, I thought it was the Jehovah's Witnesses so don't answer it. Then they knocked again, and I was like ok maybe we should answer. So he got his camera all ready because we were expecting the Jehovah's Witnesses to start bashing with me. I open it and this Indian man with a huge bouquet of balloons and says "Are you Ryan?" I was like yeah, and he said "Well happy birthday", and he leaves the balloons right there and walks away, without any explanation. I couldn't even ask him what this was all about! Haha not until I saw the little note he wrote from you guys and then Sis. Wangsgard told me too. So thank you for that! 

Biggest news is that Victor is getting baptized this Sunday! This is one of the highlights of my mission. During one of my personal studies this week, there was 2 scriptures that randomly came to my mind and I knew that they had to be for Victor. One is the story in D&C 6. Oliver Cowdry is seeking an answer from the Lord that he had already received, and the Lord teaches him that. The other one was Mosiah 18: 8-10, about the baptismal covenant. We read those with Victor and he was like Woahhhh God was totally speaking to me in these scriptures. He said he knows that Heavenly Father is waiting for him to make this decision so He can bless me, so let's do it! It was incredible! This work is all about having the Spirit and receiving revelation, God knows what His children need. We have some high hopes with the Gonzalez family getting baptized this month too. While we were at the Baca party, the Gonzalez family walked in and at the same time we were like what are you doing here?!? Turns out, the Gonzalez's are the godparents of little Dylan Baca, and they did not even know that the Bacas had been baptized into our church! So the Gonzalez's interest got a huge boost because of that, and the Baca's are excited to help us out with them. Yes they are from DF, it stands for Distrito Federal, which is Mexico City, a city of over 20 million people. 

Well I gotta go, but thanks for everything! I am excited to talk to you all next week!

Love you!
Elder Ryan Draper