Sunday, May 6, 2012

First Week!

Hola mis amigos!

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELANIE! Four years old! And happy anniversary on Wednesday Carrie and Jared! You´re such a good example to me. 

P-days are on Mondays and we have an hour to email, but we have to write our mission pres first which takes about 15 minutes. We come to the internet cafe earlier to print our emails and read them, and then come back later to write emails. So feel free to write me lots and lots because I won{t be taking time online to read them! We are only allowed to email our immediate family, but we can send messages to other people and ask you to forward them. So I will be doing that, if you don{t mind going into my gmail account and getting email addresses of my friends, mom. Thank you! Also, Paraguay doesn´t have a mail service. They just...don´t. Weird. So if I want to mail something I have to do it through the Church´s pouch mail. But we have a zone conference on Thursday so I can send mail then. But please tell everyone they can email me, I just can´t respond directly to them. 

Thank you for your emails, dad. They made me laugh. I hope you indeed don{t put carrot and celery sticks in the pinata. And mom, your story of Matt´s t-ball game made me laugh, too.

So much has happened I don{t know where to start! The flight here was long. Our mission pres and his wife picked us up. They{re inredible. They both served missions. They had been dating about 6 months and he was about to propose when she said she wanted to serve a mission. So he patiently waited and they got married when she got home. SO sweet, huh? :) And she is very thankful she served a mission now that she´s a mission presidents wife. 
We got assigned our companions and areas the next day. My comp is Hermana Springer from Gilbert AZ. She also goes to BYU. She´s very guapa (guapo and guapa mean hard working here, not handsome or beautiful, although she's beautiful too) and a great example to me of exact obedience, which is what I want to be--exactly obedient. I promised president Madariaga I would be obedient my whole mission. She only has two more transfers before she goes home, so I´m her last companion. 
Our apartment is the cutest, only a block away from the capilla (chapel). Good news! We have hot water! You don´t even KNOW how happy that makes me. Our toilet even flushes most of the time. I feel like I have been very prepared to live in Paraguay. >Living in Tanzania helped the most. This would all be so much harder if I hadn{t lived in a developing country before. I{m not surprised when a chicken walks into someone´s house when we{re teaching, etc. Although, no matter how accustomed you are to living in places like this, it´s still disgusting when you drink almost a whole bottle of water before seeing the dozens of ants in it. So gross. 
We are in an area called Concepcion. It was a 7 hour bus ride from Asuncion....and we have to make that trip again for zone conference on Thursday. Ugh.  It´s one of the few cities on the map, but it´s still not very big. The main roads are cobblestone, but most of them are dirt. There are no supermarkets developed enough to have peanut butter (thankfully I learned this before leaving Asuncion and was able to get some there!). THere are some nicer areas and some poorer areas. 
The members here are few but strong. There are a few older couples married in the temple who have had children serve missions, and the young branch president´s family is very strong. He{s only been a member a couple years but is a rock. Yesterday in Sacrament meeting he asked me to get up and share my testimony and introduce myself. So I did. I shared John 16:33 with them, which has been on my mind as I see so many people here living with so many afflictions of poverty. There is a young family who recently converted named the Garcete family. We went to their house my first day and the mom who just had a baby a few weeks ago was in bed with an infection, she looked terribly in pain. Her three little kids under 5 were running around in a filthy house that is really just a big room with three beds in it and a table. They have no running water or furniture, no lights, only some noodles for food, no toys or chairs. It was such a mess and I felt so helpless. We cleaned best we could, but how do you dishes without water and soap? I don{t know how they survive. We called a nurse in the ward to help her and got her some medicine. We sang a hymn and read a scripture. They have had nothing but problems since they joined the church though. It reminded me of a conversation I had in the Buenos Aires airport with an atheist who said, "Your religion can´t put bread on the table though." And I tried to explain to him that it does give us perspective about what this life is for, that through our faith we have strength and help beyond our own, etc. But how would you respond if someone asked how our religion puts bread on the table? I really want to know. I{m not in a poor country as a volunteer anymore, but I want to address poverty from the point of view that can really change things--the gospel! 
One thing I love about the members here is that in almost every prayer they thank God for el pan de cada dia, their daily bread. I´ve rarely heard someone in the US thank God for their daily bread, and we have much more bread than the people here. 
Speaking of food, the staples here seem to be white bread, meat, and juice--the things I´ve always tried to avoid due to their lack of nutrients. But what are you to do when you eat at a members house and it´s rice and sausage or fried steak for lunch? (Lunch is the main meal of the day. We just eat a snack for dinner...I like it actually.) Hopefully I´ll be blessed with good health despite the terrible diet. I will try to eat fruit for breakfast but I don´t know how I´ll ever eat vegetables. Lettuce doesn{t seem to exist here. 
I felt a little sick the day after our first meal with a member, and I´ve had a headache almost everyday, but other than that I feel great. 
Everyone in Conception rides a motorcycle (moto), there aren´t many cars. Men and women of every age drive them, it´s kind of a funny sight to see old ladies on them. 
I forgot to wear mosquito repellent my second day here and I got 22 bites that day. My legs look like I have chicken pox, haha. 

When I first got here Hna Springer said we were going to have a baptism on Saturday of two little girls, 9 and 11. We vistited them on Thursday (my first day) and on Friday we went to go over the interview questions right before the elders came to interview them. But when we got there their mom said their dad who is in the chaco (like, the jungle where a lot of men work) until the end of May wanted to be here for it. We couldn´t tell if this was just an excuse or not, and we tried to get to the root of the problem. We talked to them so much and talked of the blessings of baptism. These girls are so ready, they want to be baptized and they understand the gospel and love church and want to be members. The mom wants to be baptized too, but isn´t married and doesn´t seem to want to get married. It was the hardest time of my short mission. It was also hard because the  mom doesn´t speak Spanish very well, just guarani. That´s a big problem with Concepcion; many people don´t understand Spanish very well. They need to call Guarani-speaking missionaries. But we are hopeful these girls will get baptized in May with their dad here. We also have two other investigators with baptismal dates in May, so hopefully it will be a good month. We´ve also had a lot of people commit to go to church and none of them came it´s hard to have faith that people will follow through. Everyone is so tranquilo (easy-going) here. Their house could be burning down and their dog could be chewing their leg off and they would still say, "Esta bien." That can be both good and bad.  But for the most part everyone is very receptive to us and very kind.

I really am so thankful for the experiences I{ve had that have prepared me for this. And I know that this will prepare me for so much more. I will be able to face rejection and heart ache with greater perspective. There is no better marriage prep than a mission, having to be with a companion all the time, too. 

I´ve never gotten more out of the scriptures than I have these past three weeks. The Book of Mormon has so many stories in it that I hadn´t taken the time to apply before. Like Mosiah 24. God will deliver us when we have faith. Tonight we´re doing an FHE for a few less active or part-member families. I´m so excited. We´re going to help the kids act out the stories of Daniel to teach both the word of wisdom and the importance of trusting in God and choosing the right. We´re taking no bake cookies which they will love. Soo fun. The kids are ADORABLE. THe other night we were squeezed into a tiny house teaching some recently converted children and their less active mom the plan of salvation. We asked, "Where were we before we came to earth?" and a little 6 year old girl said, "Argentina!" It cracked me up. 

I love you all, I love the gospel! I´m more thankful every day for this opportunity. I miss you lots. 

Your Sister Missionary,
Hermana Faith Goimarac

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