Monday, December 30, 2013

A Brand New Year

Hey family and friends!
I hope you all had a great Christmas filled with good memories with the family and friends. We had a great one here in Iowa! Our mission had 29 baptisms this week alone, which is the most ever in the history of our mission! I love how these 29 people all chose to be baptized during this Christmas week and that they really gave a great gift to their Savior by being baptized. They are giving of themselves and making promises to be better and to do better just as the new year approaches! 
Our investigator Scott is doing well! He wasnt fully prepared for baptism this week so we pushed it back to give him more time. Now he is working towards the 11th of January so that is sweet! Also, my companion Elder Bates just got called this morning and will be transferred this Thursday so I will have a new companion that day. I have loved serving with Elder Bates and we have had a lot of great experiences together! It is always difficult with transfers, but also exciting to see what will happen next. I know that I am doing what Heavenly Father wants me to do right now. That allows me to have full faith and confidence in the decisions I make and in the Spirit of the Holy Ghost which helps me make decisions as I pray and ponder on those decisions. It is so sweet and I know that God lives and loves us!

Im stoked with the anticipation that a new year brings! Its a great time to evaluate this past year, remember lessons we learned, and forget any grudges or hard feelings we might have. This change or new start is exactly the reason Jesus Christ came into the world: to give us hope for a brighter future! Faith always looks forward at what lies ahead. Hope is an "anchor to our souls" which motivates us to act now to receive future rewards, and Charity is the pure love of Christ that we feel and are filled with as we lift the hearts of those who surround us. Its great cause I get to spread this message each day with the people of Iowa and you can too, wherever you are. Its for everyone! I hope/invite all of you to set aside some time this week to pray, ponder, and write down the "desires of your heart and your vision of what you can accomplish". And THEN, set goals that will help you fulfill those desires and your vision :) I did that last year and it has helped me set great personal goals which have helped me stretch and grow and become happier. Make it a good week! All my love, Elder McGinn

ps This is a link to a good video for the NEW YEAR! Talk to you all next year :)
and the picture is of Christmas morning with the Hunger family (who we live with)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Navidad!

Hey family and friends!
What a great time of the year! We had a huge ice/snow storm this weekend and it is currently 3 degrees outside and feels below zero with windchill :) I love Iowa haha it really is great though! Unfortunately, Church was cancelled yesterday but other than that we had a great week here in Iowa City. We had exchanges with President Jensen on Wednesday so we went to teach our investigator Scott with him. Scott had some of the great classic questions that we love to answer as missionaries. He asked about some strong things like homosexuality and plural marriage. I wont go into a lot of details, but it sufficeth me to say that we went into the scriptures a lot, especially the Bible and helped Scott find answers to his questions. It was an awesome lesson and it was really great to see our mission president right there teaching with us! Definitely a lesson I wont forget! 
Then on Friday morning, we woke up to an ice storm (freezing rain) and our cars were grounded. I wasnt a big deal because we had studies all morning, but then Scott called. He told us how he had some more questions and wanted to move the baptism back to Feb 14th. Well, we decided that was worthy of a 2 mile jog to his house. It was probably one of the most fun/nerve racking moments of my mission haha we ran on the snow-covered grass and slid across frozen over driveways for 2 miles in cold cold weather. What made it unforgettable is that we had another intense lesson with Scott and taught him the Doctrine of Christ and the importance of not procrastinating your repentance. As we taught, the Spirit brought understanding to Scott's mind and confirmation to his heart. Three hours later, he had his baptismal interview and felt ready to make the covenant of baptism on Dec 28th! Talk about some Christmas miracles.
I know that miracles really do happen. The miracles I'm talking about is that we can change, transform, and control our happiness. We have a Father who is in Heaven that is anxiously aware of us and engaged in our lives to the extent that we let Him be. He loves us and that love is eternal. He is merciful and His Son, Jesus Christ, is evidence of that. This is what we are celebrating! That God loves us so He sent His Only Begotten Son to the Earth to show us the way to be happy in this life and to make it back to our heavenly home with our families. Families are forever! Enjoy the tangible Spirit of Christmas and please recognize what the prophet has taught us, that what we are really feeling is the Spirit of Christ! (Just drop the last syllable) Merry Christmas and All My Love, 
Elder Seth McGinn
ps Picture of Elder Bates and I with Demetrio Rubio...the funniest man in the world haha He was baptized in May and is awesome!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Happy Birthday to my grandpa (Papa)! He is a young buck at the age of 74 now haha I will always remember watching tons of sports and faulty towers with him :) I love you Papa! Also, I hear that the gender for Ian&Lindsay's baby will be known on the 21st. My guess is that it will be a boy!!! and they will name him Seth....right? ;) haha but Im really excited to hear how that goes! Thank you for all of the Christmas cards and gifts too! I'll send thank you notes out and I really love coming home from the cold to some mail! 
Well, I had some neat experiences this week. On Friday, I did a baptismal interview for a lady named Khajidsurn Navaantanba who is from Mongolia.  She is here to get here doctorate in mathematics and speaks pretty good english for only having been here for one year! It was really neat because she shared with me her testimony of Jesus Christ. I realized in a new way that Christ really is the Savior of us all! 
Friday, we also had exchanges. I was on a bike with Elder Polatis in his area and it was a long night. We talked to EVERYONE we saw and tried some people who were potentially interested but nobody invited us in to teach. We were both freezing and a little sad but with a little bit of humor we lightened up and rode our bikes on the snow covered sidewalks to our dinner with some members. It was cool because although we didnt see any "success" that night, we felt the Spirit with us, assuring us that we were doing all that we could do...that is a satisfying feeling :)
Then Saturday, we taught a man named Kagulo who was baptized this summer. He is a little less active now so we are trying to help him come to Church every week. He is from the Congo, so hardly speaks English. We read 1 Nephi chapters 1-2 with him from the Book of Mormon. We read in English and he read in Swahili. His remark at the end of the lesson was something like this, "So we need to keep commandment or else it is not good and we be destroyed like Jerusalem." We laughed a bit at the harshness of it, but assured him that he was correct. We taught how the people in Jerusalem had "destroyed" themselves by not keeping the commandments. They had put themselves in a situation in which when Babylon came to conquer, they were exposed completely to them b/c they had not listened and prepared as the Lord had commanded them. It was sweet and again I learned that this gospel is for ALL children of our Heavenly Father, no matter what background or culture. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is pure truth and truth is eternal and unchangeable!
Each day this week, we met with a man named Scott who we started teaching this week. He had been taught before by some sister missionaries this summer but had taken a break from learning. Well, we have had some of the most powerful lessons with this man. He has received all sorts of spiritual confirmations that the Church is true and the Joseph Smith really was a prophet and man of God. Yesterday, we made a breakthrough and he opened up to us about how he had become depressed some years ago after he had to give his 3 sons up for adoption b/c he couldnt adequately provide for them. We taught him about the Atonement and read Alma 7 with him (from the Book of Mormon). The Spirit was strong and we all felt the truthfulness of the words of the prophet Alma as he talked about how Christ not only suffered for our sins, but for our pains (physical, spiritual, emotional), sicknesses, and afflictions too. It was intense. Afterwards, we gave him a priesthood blessing. He felt very good he told us and is working towards making the covenant (promise with God) of baptism on Dec 28! There is no greater feeling of joy than when you feel the love and power of God working through you to help another person. Thats missionary work for you :) I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas season. Enjoy the company of family and friends and those you love. Think about them first and you will feel that true Christmas spirit which warms your very core being with joy! Love you alll, Elder Seth McGinn
Picture of that freezing night we were biking!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Another "White" Christmas

Hey Family and Friends!
I love you all so much! I hope that you are enjoying the Christmas season as much as I am. It seems so easy to just smile and be happy this time of year, even when you are out and about in the falling snow all day. That was our day yesterday! We had a great Christmas program in Church yesterday. There were some great musical numbers and even Elder Bates and I with 4 other men from the ward sang a song called "Guard Him, Joseph". We sang with a harp and a flute playing behind us, so it didnt matter how good our singing sounded haha everyone was focused and delighted by the harp!!! It was a win-win situation ;)
Yesterday, we also finally met the family of Jose Hernandez! I forget how much I have written about him but he was a man who wasnt attending church but is a member and we found him outside his trailer one day! He is from El Salvador and was baptized there and we didnt even have his records here in Iowa City. Well that was 3 months ago when we found him. Since then, he talked to his family (wife and 3 kids) that were in Mexico and told them that he found the missionaries and the Church. None of them were members and his wife told him that she would never become a member of la iglesia mormona (the Mormon Church)! Well, the kids saw some missionaries in Mexico that very week he told them he had found us and they wanted to be taught about the gospel and our Church! Long story short, Jose's family, including his wife (haha) were all baptized in Chiapas, Mexico on Nov 16th this year!!!! Whats even crazier is that they went to Tiajuana, then San Francisco, and then flew into Cedar Rapids, Iowa and got to Iowa City this past Saturday! We met them all last night and it was one of the coolest feelings in the world. It wasnt just a family reunited after a long, long time (11 years) but it was now a family united in their faith in Jesus Christ, each with a testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including the priesthood power to seal/bind families together forever!! That is their common, uniting goal :) how sweet it that?!
This is why being a full-time missionary is the best thing in the world, b/c now, its our privilege and responsibility to continue to teach them about the plan of happiness, how to study the scripures daily, and help them get to the temple so they can be sealed forever. Pretty sweet job description.
Well, I'm grateful for my family. I look forward to being with them next Christmas! Yet, I find true joy and happiness in leaving my family for 2 years so that other families can be together for eternity. (I stole that from a quote :)) Last night in the 2013 Christmas Devotional (found on the homepage of,  President Monson quoted President McKay when he said that "True happiness comes only from making others truly happy." I love that and I know that it is true! I'm going to look for more opportunities to give of myself to make others happy, b/c it makes me happy. That is the Christmas spirit :) Love you all, Elder Seth McGinn
ps The picture is Elder McKeon and I! He is a good friend I have made out here and he just finished his 2 years and went home to Santa Clarita, CA for the winter haha lucky guy ;)

Monday, December 2, 2013

December to Remember

Hey family!
So it was a great week! Sarah was baptized and confirmed this weekend! I attached a picture of her with us and Rocio Jones (the member who invited her over for dinner and introduced us). It is wonderful to see the Work of Salvation in action :) Sarah told us on Sunday how happy she feels and how praying and studying the scriptures have helped her solve problems and overcome challenges in her life. That makes a missionary pretty happy to hear that because that is our message!!!
Thanksgiving was great! We played some basketball and volleyball with a ton of members in the morning and played with some of their non-member friends! It was really fun. Then we ate with the Blacks, Neumanns, and the Hugies all at the Blacks home. It was one of the best tasting thanksgiving dinners I have ever had...i dont know why. Maybe because it was just like the ones we had at home haha the stuffing and mash potatoes were ridiculously good! Also, Ian would like to know that Brother Black, Brother Neumann, and Brother Hugie are all in law school right now so we talked a lot about law as a career haha maybe Ian's dream will come true and we can start a law firm together...who knows! At thanksgiving, I really appreciated how much a family models our relationship with Heavenly Father. It was awesome to watch parents interact with their children. Mainly, I caught hold of the love that parents have for their children. It is love that is patient, constant, and eternal...a lot like the love that God has for us. I can feel it most when I pray sincerely and pour out my heart in conversation with Him. I am learning more and more that prayer is so important when it comes to having true we are really helping everybody we teach pray! Helen is doing good and wants to be baptized, but she still wont set a date lol we love her and are praying for her! I hope you all enjoy the Christmas season, the music, lights, and the Spirit of Christ that fills the hearts of many! He, Christ, is the source of all truth and happiness. Enjoy it and love one another :) Love, Elder McGinn