Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mud and Miracles


The internet was down all day until recently, so we´ve been just reading and studying in our bedroom all day (the only room with air conditioning) because it was too hot to do anything else, wishing the internet would come back! And finally it did, and I was so happy to get your emails! 

Man, thank you so much everyone for your emails! You have no idea how much animo they give me. Animo is....encouragement, motivation, enthusiasm. Really, thank you so much! It paid off to chew you out a little about my lack of mail..haha. Sorry about that. But not really.  I also got some real postal mail this week! Jessica Jackson, Carrie, Shea, and Steve, thank you for the letters!!!! I think it takes about 4 weeks for packages and letters to get to me from the US. Oh it was so nice to hear about how you´re doing, on paper. Thank you! Your encouragment will have a ripple effect as I preach with more vigor and vim this week!

Carrie, I was telling my comp what an amazing mom you are, and your story about making butter with your kids only proved my point. And it made me SO happy to hear about your missionary experience! You know, before my mission I think I was afraid to share the gospel because I thought people wouldn´t want to be my friend after I talked about the church with them, but I PROMISE that is not true. If we truly love the gospel and love our friends, we will not be afraid to share it, for perfect love casteth out all fear.

I wish I could send individual emails, but I will just have to hope everyone reads this on my blog. Justin, thank you for your letter! It was great to hear about your training experience and it is crazy I am only 600 miles from your mission. Olivia thank you for filling me on your life! Cameron, thank you! Thank you for your prayers and being such a faithful blog reader, still! Matt, I haven´t read all about Mongolia yet but I printed your email and can´t wait to read it. I will send you a letter when I have time but it takes about 4 weeks to get back to the states. I didn´t get the email you sent from Mongolia....but I got your second one I guess! But yes, the menos activo who I bribed to come to church with your hymn book has been to church 3 weeks in a row!!! :) And she loves her little hymn book. 

Mom, your idea about a health class is WONDERFUL! I have wanted to incorporate my major into missionary work since I got my call, but even more so after getting here. In every prayer people pray for salud (health) and yesterday we had a fireside (more to come about that) and some of the key people were not there because they were sick. I want to do that, so if you contact the Benson Institute for me, I would love that. It´s just hard to know where to start. And the problem is not the availibility of vegetables and fruits, just that people don´t buy them and don´t like them. Also, best of luck to you and Carrie with your intensive Spanish class this summer! I am so proud of you! You´ll probably speak better gramatically than me when I come home, ha. This week I heard the quote, "The only limits you have are the ones you set for yourself." And I thought of you, mom. You set no limits. You chose to do hard things, even when you don´t have to, like homeschool and take classes and eat healthy and run, and a million other things. Thank you for your example of that. 

Also, dad. I wanted to say that those fathers and sons activities and everything you do with the grandkids is so worth it. I have had random memories come to mind this week, such as hiking out of the Grand Canyon, and going to the cabin with you and always stopping at Walmart in Payson to get ice cream. :) Keep it up. And keep up the running Thunder Mountain! I´m so impressed! I am so thankful you and mom are so fit so you will be healthy when I have more kids you can be grandparents to. :)

Oh this week.....SO GOOD!!!! Today is our most well-deserved p-day yet, we worked so hard. I am so full of animo and just so PUMPED right now! I am so happy. And to me, that is another testimony the church is true. How could I be happy if I was spreading lies? Happiness is a gift of the spirit, probably the one I receive the most. 

Our mission had a goal to have 100 baptisms in May. We as a companionship had a goal of 2 because there were about 4 people at the beginning of May who were just about ready. But every one of them either moved or decided they would not get married to the significant other they live with. Anyway, so it was the end of May and we had no baptisms and no prospects. But on Thursday the elders called us and asked us to do a special fast to reach the mission goal. We had just eaten a huge lunch with a member, so we started fasting right then. A few hours later we knelt as a companionship and prayed specifically for individuals and prayed for help with our goal. We then went to consejo de barrio, like ward council. While there a lot of the leaders said we should baptize Rolando Ruiz, a 10 year old in a less active family we have been working with a lot. We didn´t think he was ready because his family hasn´t been coming to church. But the ward supported it and said we should do it this Sunday while his dad was in town. So, on Sunday we had a baptism! It was a very sweet experience. Truly a miracle. Prayer works, fasting works, work works.

Right after the baptism we had a charla fogonera (sorry, somethings I just don´t think in English)...a fireside. We planned it all by ourselves to motivate the ward, because the most prepared investigators are usually friends with members. We have put so much into it. I could tell you how half the people we assigned to do stuff didn´t come through, how the electricity went off in the middle of it, how a lot of people we expected to come didn´t, how people here don´t know how a fireside works, etc....but instead I will tell about why it was so wonderful. We had recent converts bear their testimonies, we had the seminary class sing "We'll Bring the World His Truth" with us, we had inspiring videos, and we had some less actives there. I spoke about how I KNOW it is the gospel that will help people with their struggles (not humanitarian organizations, etc.) and how you don´t have to have a nametag to do missionary work, in fact is better if you don´t have a nametag! It was like the branch was a family and people were happy. Success, in my book.
What I´ve learned is you really have to OVER prepare...to shoot for the stars to just land by the moon. You have to invite 7 times as many people as you want to come, commit 10 people to give talks if you want 5, haha. But, we did have 5 new investigators at church this week! I wish I had time to tell you all about each of them. I am very hopeful.

Dad, you mentioned being spiritually blind and deaf. I can´t tell you how much of a problem that is here. Twice this week we have met with people who have indicated they think we might be the true church, but they say, "But I can´t change my religion!" So, even though they haven´t done a THING to indicate they believe their church is true, they can´t leave that religion? They have bought the lie of the devil that they are stuck in a tradition of their fathers. When really, changing is what this life is about. We accept truth no matter what its source, and we change accordingly. So many people, when they see us missionaries, want to prove their spirituality by bringing out their big, beautiful, expensive Bible. They bring it out in the box they bought it in and proudly hand it to us and let us look at it. And I´m pretty sure it is the second time it has ever left that box. It is sickening, really, how stuck people feel in their religion. It´s like they view religion as a race you are born with. Any ideas of how to help them take off the blinders?

The people here love to talk (on and on and on) about the miracles they have seen in their life, their blessings from God, etc. I am so glad they recognize God in their life, but they think we are just here to spread feel-good messages, to talk. When really, we are here to INVITE action, to CHANGE things. The gospel is the power of God unto Salvation! But you can´t be saved just by talking about God! People don´t realize that God gives us answers to our prayers, either. They think he only answers prayers through blessing you with temporal things like daily bread, health, and tranquilidad (the only three things people really want here). It is exciting to teach people that God will answer our questions, too. He gives us temporal blessings, yes, but also information, answers. Oh I am so thankful for the Restored Gospel!

This week was really rainy. One day it just rained and rained and didn´t stop. There we were.... two American blonde girls in their rain boots and umbrellas trudging around, so happy. And everyone kept asking, "Why are you out in this?" And it was the perfect seg-way into our message: The gospel is the most important thing in my life, and we are here to share it with everybody! We can´t wait for the rain to stop!" I think they were impressed. :) 
Speaking of that rainy day..in the morning when we saw the conditions we were worried we wouldn´t be able to get our contacts for the day because no one was outside. But we had just watched a bunch of the training videos (the District, they´re called) which never cease to get me sooooo stoked to just go get ém! So I prayed so hard that we could find people to talk to that day. I prayed as if it all depended on God, and then left the apartment and talked to every single person we saw, as if it all depended on me. And so, we met our goals. We also have been having a hard time meeting our goals of with-member lessons and new investigators, and this week some of those fell into our lap like never before. I love it when blessings are so obviously from God, when you know that it was neither coincidence nor your own efforts. 

I wish I had time to tell you about some of the interesting things I got to do this week...a service project of cleaning the Garcete´s house (the husband left to work in the chaco for 6 months, leaving a mom with three tiny kids and newborn, no money, no NOTHING) which was so gratifying yet so disgusting. Or how when we went to eat at Hermana Ferrera´s she made me fry the steak over a fire in her little tiny shack kitchen that was built for her (a 4-foot-something woman) so I kept bumping my head on the sooty, black, wooden roof. Oh I love my mission soooooo much. There are very hard, hard days but I try my best to not get discouraged. I feel so blessed more than anything. And even on days when I feel like I did no good, I hope I can at least show God that I love him, and because I do, I want to feed his sheep, even if at times I don´t feel I´m very successful. 

A year ago today I had been in Tanzania for almost a month already! I wish I could get a hold of some of the HELP international volunteers who are there now and have them check up on some people for me. 

Charlotte Searl is going to the MTC this week heading for Paris France! You probably aren´t reading my blog two days before your mission, Charlotte, but just so everyone else knows, I´m SO excited for you! I am so thankful I met you in the Lima, Peru airport 3 years ago, got to to be roommates at Heritage, and now that we get to serve together. I will be thinking of you! And you will have the best p-days exploring Paris! And I´m glad you got called to a P place, so you can match me in Paraguay and Danielle in the Phillipines. :)

I was thinking as I was running one morning, how indebted to my heavenly parents I am. They have given me life and sustain my life every single day. And then I thought how thankful I am for my earthly mom and dad, who also gave me life and have nourished me physically and spiritually every day, too. And you do it for all of your children, not knowing if you will get anything in return. You are just like our heavenly parents and I only hope I can be a parent like you. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude for you, mom and dad. Thank you for all you did to prepare me for a mission and for life. I love you so very, very much. I miss you! 

I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here, for my helpful, kind, sweet, inspired, knowledgeable companion Hermana Springer; for the Spirit that guides even a girl who can´t speak Spanish very well. I´m thankful God understands and answers my Spanglish prayers. I am thankful for the supportive friends and family I have. I am so thankful for the scriptures and I treasure the time I have each day to study like I never thought I would.  I am thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that is the answer to every problem we could possibly face. Remember that in the end, what life comes down to is whether we are more concerned with what God thinks of us, or what others think of us. Trust in God and care more about what HE thinks!

Your Sister Missionary,
Hermana Faith Goimarac

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