Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Lord expects our thinking. He expects our action. He expects our devotion. Thomas S. Monson

Mis Queridos,

Sis Oakason and dad told me you gave a great talk yesterday. Send it to me!  And running at 4:45 a.m. to celebrate summer? You are a woman after my own heart. I sure hope I can be like you. Oh I love you so much. Reading emails from you and dad and Carrie today made me miss you a lot. I felt the Spirit as I read them. 
Carrie, su espanol es buenisimo!! Estoy muy impresionada. Ud, Mom, y Hope y yo necesitamos hablar en espanol cuando regreso, pero pienso que van a hablar mejor que yo porque entiended la gramatica mejor. Probrecito Mason!!

Yes, there were some political upheavals here but no worries dad, there were no tanks or riots in Concepcion. And our ward mission leader is always very concerned for us and makes sure we`re not out too late. All I know is the president was ousted and the vice president is now president. This is the second country I`ve been in where the president has been ousted while I`ve been there (last January in Egypt was the other). 

Wow, the mission is such a roller coaster emotionally, with the highest highs and the lowest lows so close together. But what I learn from it is that GOD KNOWS BEST. And even though it is rough sometimes, I am always so thankful for the privilege I have to be a missionary. Such a blessing. 

This week I read in 2 Corinthians 6 this scripture, "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."
I thought of how true that is of missionaries. Yes, there are sorrowful moments, yet I have every reason to rejoice. According to your eyes I may be poor with only 2 suitcases of belongings and few physical comforts of home, yet I have everything.  The sorrowful moments come because I have come to truly love the peope here. We get to teach people--children of God--who are of so much worth and have so much potential. And so it is truly sorrowful when they come to learn a truth of the gospel and don`t live it. Like yesterday when neither Herminia, Leida, or Sulma came to church it hurt, because I KNOW they could be happier if they came. I wish so bad they understood that this pearl of great price is worth EVERYTHING.
Juan Angel and his family were going to get baptized on Saturday and we had everything planned, it was announced in church, etc. But on Thursday the elders came to interview them. Elder Tenney interviewed Juan Angel in the other room while I read scripture stories to the girls in their bedroom (we gave them the illustrated BOM reader as an early baptism present which they just LOVE!). Elder Tenney told us that Juan Angel, in reality, hasn`t quit smoking. We had set some goals with him the week before, one of which included, "Stop smoking--don`t buy any more cigarettes." Well, I guess he didn`t understand because he indeed quit buying cigarettes, but he had about 10 already and has been smoking one a day. But Elder Tenney took his last cigarettes and committed him to truly quit. They are si o si getting baptized this next Saturday, and in reality, I think it is better they have one more week of preparation. 
The miracle is that last Monday night we had an FHE at our branch president`s house with some less actives. Presiden`t father in law, Cresencio, has been investigating the church for 10 years. He has read the Book of Mormon tapa a tapa (cover to cover) and understands everything very well, he just hasn`t wanted to give up chewing tobacco. We have never taught him, but lots of hermanas in the past have. Anyway, on Monday his daughter, Hermana Gomez, told us he has give up tobacco and wants to get baptized. We were elated! So we were going to baptize him on Saturday with the Meza family. Four baptisms in June, baby!

But then the Mezas fell through, and then Cresencio had to work on Saturday, so we were not going to have any baptisms in June (without a confirmation it doesn`t count, and they have to get confirmed on the Sunday after they get baptized, and this Sunday is July 1). And the mission goal is for every companionship to have at least one in June. 

But then, at 1:30 in the afternoon on Saturday Hna Springer and I were really far from the church making visits when we got a call from President Gomez, asking if we could have the baptism at 4 that day. You mean, we could get our goal for June? It was a true miracle. It was a beautiful baptism. 
So we went from having 4 baptisms on Saturday, to 0, to one. :)

So you see, perhaps there are moments of sorrow in our lives, but, because of the gospel, we can always be rejoicing. Not only because of little miracles we receive, but because we know God is always aware of us, we know the purpose of life, we know all the important things. 

This week (it seems like ages ago!) we also had a zone training. We had to travel to a place I still cannot spell or pronounce, and it required getting up at 3 a.m. to travel there. We stepped out of the bus into a river, it was raining so hard and so muddy. But it was great to see President Madariaga and become refueled. We talked about consejo de barrio (ward councils) and working with members, of which I have a strong testimony. 

We got our Liahona finally with the General Conference talks from this past April. First thing I did was flip through to see if my picture was in it since I was there for three sessions. Ha. anyway, I`ve been reading a lot of talks and have been so filled. Living prophets are such a blessing. The word of God is truly necessary in our lives, and I`m so thankful to know it continues to be revealed today. I love personal study time, man! It`s the BEST.

Today as we were walking to the grocery store we ran into a man we visited with when I first got here to Concepcion (two months ago, can you believe it?) He said I look "mas gorda." (Paraguayans really say things as they are....) I thought my skirts were a little tighter but I didn`t think anyone would notice anything. Sheesh. I am glad he said that though, because I was much more health conscious in the groceries I bought today. Living at home with your nutrient-dense diet is what I`m going to need when I get home though, mom. So stay health-conscious so I can lose anything I gain and still get married by April 2014 so I can still have 12 kids before I`m 45. 

Hermana Springer only has three more weeks, and I am the saddest about this. I am nervous, to say the least, about having to do everything without her, even though I know I`ll have another wonderful companion. 

I truly know that prayers are answered. I am gaining a testimony each day that God is a God of miracles. I know with all my heart that God is aware of each one of His children. He loves us more than we understand. And if I am sorrowful when I see my friends not grasp the gospel, I can`t imagine his deep sorrow when we forget Him or become distracted by the world. 
I plead with you to do whatever is necessary to become closer to Him, so you can experience the joy that comes from following Him. I am so thankful for Jesus Christ, so thankful that He has shown us the way to live, shown us that love is truly all we need, and shown us how to to love others and how to love God. May we be filled with the pure love of Christ, and go and love as He loves us. 

Con mucho amor,
Your Sister Missionary,
Hermana Goimarac

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

To Be a Light to Others, You Have to Glow Yourself

Dearest family and friends,

First of all, HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD!  I have always been thankful to have such a wonderful father, but this year I am particularly aware of just how big a blessing a good father is. Righteous men are so rare in the world! There are so few famillies here with good fathers. We were at a member´s home this week when the granddaughter was leaving for school where they were going to have a father´s day activity. Both her father and grandfather have left their wives, and so she had no one to go with. It was a very sad conversation to hear. 

But the sad thing is most children here don´t have dads in their lives. And even if they do they are usually not the God-fearing, providing, loving dads like mine. And even if they are those things, they don´t do things like watch their six grandchildren single-handidly (and clean up potty training accidents) so their daughter and wife can go to the temple, or spend their father´s day driving to Phoenix to pick up their son, and spend all their free time landscaping the yard and write their missionary daughter every week. 
Yesterday we were blessed to have a delicious, big fathers day lunch with a member family. I have to admit I was a little homesick. I thought of how last Father´s day I was in Tanzania and I called home for a few minutes (sorry I have been in the opposite hemisphere lately and can never wish you happy fathers day in person!) and I still remember how you said, "I love you too, my little UN delegate!" and I thought of how very supportive you have been in every desire I have had. From Missoula children´s theater to a milk parlor to a mission....from track meets to Tanzania. And how, just like our Heavenly Father you never give up on any of your children, or the people in the Sedona Ward. I don´t think I really comprehend the sacrifices and what it has required of you to be such a great dad. 

There may not be many righteous men in the world, but I am so blessed to be the daughter of The Cream of the Crop. I hope I can manage to marry such a gem as mom did. I love you dad! You are one of the biggest blessings I will have. I wouldn´t be who I am without you, and certainly wouldn´t be on a mission. 

You may have already noticed there are no baptism pictures attatched to this email. But never fear, they should be here next week! The Meza family is so prepared to be baptized, but Juan Angel, the dad, is still having trouble smoking. Steve (this one really great MTC teacher I know) invited me last week to have a deeper vision for my investigators. To write down how they are today, and then write down how they could be with the gospel. Not only how their lives would change and the blessings they would have throughout their lives, but to go even deeper. To think of how one day they will meet God cara a cara (face to face). How will they feel when they see him? Anyway, my companion and I talked about this for Juan Angel. Tuesday morning we had a visit with him and his member friend. We only know that he has been smoking because his member friend, Alex, told us. Anyway, we talked about the vision we have for Juan Angel. It was a very spiritual lesson for me. He ended up bringing up smoking on his own, finally. He realized that he can lie to his friends, to his family, and to us....but he cannot lie to God. We wrote down some commitments for him: to stop smoking, to read the BOM and pray every day, and to be baptized on June 23rd. The next night we taught his family and with a beaming face he said to us, "Today I kept my commitments!" Oh I was SO happy. He emphasized to us and his children that we can lie to other people, but we cannot lie to God. That really seems to strengthen him.

I invite all of you who are reading this to the same thing for yourself--deepen your vision of your future.  Think of how you will feel when you see God. Maybe play the song "I can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me and think about what you have done in your life. When we see Him, earthly things will slip right through our hands (Helaman 13:33), leaving just our lives and our hearts to show what we have done, what we have become. The gospel is such a blessing for us to find happiness and peace in this life, but it is also the great test and determines how we spend eternity. Thank you, mom and dad, for caring more about children than money. Thank you for having your priorities straight in a world that almost never does.

Yesterday we had four investigators in church! Herminia and her two kids, and her sister Miguela came for all three hours! Usually our investigators only stay for one hour. Herminia is a sweet, beautiful young mom whose husband works in the chaco. She moved here recently and we clapped her house one day, actually looking for a less active member. But she said she had shared with sister missionaries before in her old town, and she always saw us walking by and wondered when we would stop at her house. Music to our ears! God truly leads you, even if you don´t realize you´re being led. Anyway, I mention her because I think she´ll probably get baptized in July. Very excited for her. She always has lots of great questions. 

I am learning what a difference a smile makes. Sometimes when we approach people they just have this attitude of, "Oh great, another missionary trying to save me. What can I say to make them go away?" But if you smile and cheerfully ask them about themselves, their whole expression changes. When I am just contacting to get 75 contacts that week and forget to view people as children of God who need the gospel, I notice a difference in their reaction. People truly don´t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. 

Everyone and their dog in Concepcion is sick right now. Not joking. Every family has someone sick. It really hinders church attendance, makes it hard to get members to make visits with us, etc. I realize how our physical health affects our spirituality, which makes me love my major more. Public health is definitely needed in Paraguay. But, even though we visit a lot of sick people we are both very healthy. Major blessing. 

I thought that by my second month in Paraguay I would be a lot better at the language than I am. I am feeling a little discouraged about my abilities, really. I can say what I need to say usually and am working a lot on using proper grammar better, but I just don´t understand some people. Some are easier to understand than others. But, please pray for me that I can understand better. It is hard to help people if you can´t listen to them and assess their needs. Listening and understanding is the majority of my job!

Thank you for the politics update, dad. Keep it coming! GOOO MITT! 

Also, Paulette emailed me about her and Levi! I emailed her back. I am very excited and proud of them!

Also, are you able to attatch my photos to my blog? That would be great if you can. 

I am so thankful for the love and the mercy and help of our loving Heavenly Father. I might not have been able to call dad on Fathers Day, but I called my Heavenly Father quite a bit. He is a marvelous parent, who knows us individually and wants to bless us. We just need to go to Him. 

Your Sister Missionary with 66 mosquito bites (and remember how my first week I thought 23 was bad? hahahaha),
Hermana Goimarac

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Let Us Cheerfully Do All Things That Lie Within Our Power!

Mis Queridos,

Oh my goodness how I love you. My little heart just wants to pop with joy sometimes. I loved reading your emails this week. Thank you so much for sharing with me your Scottsdale trip and the incident with your finger, mom. I felt the Spirit as I read about how you felt, because I have felt the same way and I understand.  I think of the times when I have felt God´s love in my life, and it is those little moments. Little moments like when this week we had a with-member lesson fall into our lap allowing us to meet our daily occurence that testified to me that even though God has billions of children and most of them have problems a lot more serious than my little concerns, God is aware of a little sister missionary and her daily goals. 

Also, I wanted to mention (I think I have written this in emails before, but oh well) that I have come to learn that when we are acting on inspiration or revelation, we are not always aware of it. Sometimes in the church we make it sound like when we act on revelation we must think, "Oh, I am inspired to go talk to this person, I will do it." when often we just do things and later we realize we were acting on revelation, like Carrie having peppermint gum in her bag. I have had a lot of experiences like that in the past month but have no time to type them.

The thing I have learned in Guatemala and Tanzania and am still learning here is that no matter how firm my intentions of making a difference are, the biggest difference seems to be made in myself. I don´t really like that. I came to help others. I did not come because I wanted to have a neat experience. I came to introduce others to the LIGHT that I have been so blessed to have my whole life. And I do not absolutely need the blessings I am gaining from a mission, I was plenty blessed without them. But God, always giving, blessed me with the opportunity to serve a mission and countless lessons to learn, and examples from the good people of Paraguay. I was already so blessed and yet, He gives me more. Why me? I am touched as I think about His tender mercies--the blessings I don´t need and certainly don´t deserve, yet am still given. My blessings stand out like diamonds on black velvet especially when I am in poor countries, and especially when I talk to so many people about God and realize how blessed I am to know what I know about Him. 

We have been focusing on the Book of Mormon this week. We have taught all our investigators the importance of it and made promises that if they ask with real intent, they will come to know it is true. We are teaching a mom of four that I just LOVE. Her name is Leida, I don´t know if I´ve mentioned her before. But she is really looking for the truth and we have taught her for several weeks. We found her through contacting (blessings of contacting at last!). Last week we left her a verse to read in the Libro de Mormon in Mosiah 24 about God easing the burdens upon the backs of those with heavy burdens. Our next visit, she said she read it and then read on to see how God helped deliver the people. She said she and her friend Sulma, who we are also teaching, talked about their Book of Mormon reading (we had left Sulma with a different reading assignment). Leida said she believes it is the word of God, because no one could ever write such beautiful words. Sulma said she got news about her 14 year old son who is working the chaco and was not part of a big fight that happened out there, and felt a lot of comfort. She felt that was an answer to prayer. Anyway, I feel like I´m not conveying this very well, but when we talked with Leida it was another one of those sweet missionary moments I won´t forget. To hear someone say they actually read what we asked them to read, that they liked it, and that they feel it is was so sweet. I felt it was an answer to the many prayers I´ve been praying for them. 

The Meza family finally agreed to a baptismal date! This Saturday! We are doing an FHE with them tonight (Lehi´s dream! With those little kids it will be a blast.) and hopefully they are still planning on being baptized this Saturday. It will be THE happiest moment when they get baptized. :)

It probably sounds like the mission is all roses from reading the above paragraphs, but these are the highlights of many hours of work. I can´t say it is always so uplifiting or that it is easy, but I can say I love it. There are some down right very discouraging encounters and discoveries about members and investigators, but the thing is that the CHURCH is perfect, the members are not. But that is why we have the Church. Dad, I often use the quote you used to say by Neal A Maxwell that "The Church is not a museum of perfect people, but a hospital to help imperfect people become better." Often times people are reluctant to set a baptismal date because they think they have to be perfect after baptism, and I love explaining to them that baptism is just a starting point, and will help them improve and become better people although we are still imperfect .

This week it got downright freezing cold. What´s worse? An apt with no air conditioning in the scorching heat or one with no heat in the freezing cold? I don´t know. We have a little space heater though, it just only heats the space that is within 12 inches of it. And it is super duper bright. Thus, why I was using sunglasses while studying by it in the picture I´m sending. Don´t laugh, you would do the same thing. I am absolutely not prepared for the weather (who knew you would want to wear 4 layers or more in Paraguay??!) but thankfully the past day or two have been a little warmer so I have some time to go buy sweat pants and maybe a bigger coat. 

Mom, there are some fruits and vegetables available here just not much variety, and the ones they have are very expensive. For the most part bananas, oranges, and tomatoes are all that people eat. But I bite the bullet and spend 13,000 guarani every week buying apples so I can eat one every day. When I think about it, I would love to teach a health class and I know it is what they need (especially the don´t drink alcohol part!) but people don´t even want to hear about the gospel, so I wonder if they would want to learn about health. I mean, it would take changing their diet and they don´t like changing. But I want to bring it up to President Madariaga sometime. 
Speaking of whom, I´m glad they sent you pictures. Sorry that was such an unattractive day for me, and now it´s on the fridge for the next 16 months...ha. 

We came to the end of my first change. We taught about 175 lessons and contacted hundreds. I think we might run out of people to talk to. I forgot what order I attatched the pictures, but there is one of us making emapanadas last week as a district, one of our district before transfers, one of me studying just close enough to the heater to be warm, and one of me by El Heladero: the best food in Paraguay and the best ice cream (conveniently right across the street from our apt!). 
Heramana Springer is leaving at the end of this change, and I am dreading it so much. I will be responsible for showing my new companion around Concepcion and all kinds of things, and I still feel like I don´t understand enough Spanish to be responsible for so much. I will miss her muchisimo. 

Oh I wish I had more time! The stories I could tell you!!! I love you so much! And, sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven! Let that be your motto this week!

Your Happy Sister Missionary,
Hermana Faith Goimarac

Monday, June 4, 2012

It is Far More Blessed to Give than to Receive

Buenos dias mis amigos y familia!

Usualmente pienso mucho durante la semana de que quiero escribir en mi email, pero, oh....sorry I didn`t realize..ok, I am going to switch to English for you. Anyway, this week I didn`t think much at all about what I wanted to write home about because time just flew! 

Dad! What an awesome canoe trip you had! You are going to be just like Brother Beus when you`re 80, too. :) That sounds very tiring, but fun, and scary when the canoe fell off the car. Since you`ve recently been in 110 degree weather, now you know how I feel all the time in Paraguay...except add 100% humidity to that. Haha, no, it`s not too bad.

Mom, I never said congrats on your 98% on your Spanish final! It`s weird that you`re emailing me about your test scores when I used to email you about mine. How is the Sunbeam calling? You sure do a lot of things with children and helping them learn, considering all your own children are over 18 now. 

Today it was actually not hot for the first time! It was rainy all day and almost a little cold. This may finally be the end to the Perpetual Ponytail! It`s been so hot that I can`t bear to wear my hair down. But it appears winter is setting in, thank goodness!

I also figured out why they don`t have peanut butter here. It`s because they use dulce de leche on everything, and have it on hand all the time like we would have peanut butter on hand. A sister in the branch gave me a spoonfull the other day and I think I fell in love a little. Today as a p-day activity our district made a bunch of empanadas at the church. Good old saturated fat. :) We took some great pictures, but I forgot to bring my camera cord to the internet place, so you`ll have to wait until next week. 

This week we had some incredible teaching moments (more than I have time to type, but here`s two), both incredibly wonderful and incredibly hard:

Our ward mission leader had a reference for us, the Ojeda family. He said they are already Mormons but just don`t know it yet. I don`t know why he said that, but we went and we found out they are very active in the Catholic church. But they wanted to listen to us, and we asked if we could just explain our beliefs. We taught the Restoration very clearly and used the Bible a lot and testified. I thought it went very well. Then the husband said how they admire us so much, they think we are just doing a very beautiful thing and are very impressed, but they are very Catholic. He said they don`t believe in prophets today because prophets in the past were just there to prophesy of Christ`s coming, and then Christ came, so they aren`t needed anymore. He doesn`t believe Christ will come again. Once was enough. Anyway, it was a very polite rejection. Then the next three people we contacted after leaving their house all told us we were welcome to come share with them, but warned us they are very Catholic, "We have our religion." People just are not open to change. It`s hard. If I didn`t have a testimony that God has people here prepared for us, I would be discouraged. 

But along with this, this morning Hermana Springer and I were just talking about things we had learned about during our personal study. She was talking of the Restoration and how whether we believe it or not doesn`t change that it happened. And I just felt the Spirit testify to me again that Joseph Smith really did see the Father and Jesus Christ. It is knowledge that we don`t have to believe from anyone, we can learn it directly from God, and in fact that is the only way we can know it. How it hurts to see people shut their eyes and deny something without first experimenting upon the word, and just praying to know if it is true. What have they got to lose? Tradition, I guess. 

But our good teaching moment was with the Meza family! They are progressing so well and it makes my heart sing everytime we visit them and they bring out their Book of Mormons and show us what they read. Last week we had a lesson I will never forget. I don`t even remember what we taught, I just remember that after the lesson Hna. Springer and I bore our testimonies, and then we were talking and the husband and wife told us how they are so much happier with this knowledge of the gospel in their life. How before, Juan Angel had been drinking a lot and the family was very unhappy and torn. But now their family is more united. They said they know this is the right church. As we all shared how the gospel has changed our life, the Spirit filled that little kitchen. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hug them. I thought of how worthwhile every thing has been just to see them learn the gospel. They have 6 daughters, and the two youngest just love our visits. They are learning to pray and at the end of every lesson we kneel with their family and the little girls always want to give the closing prayer. They call us Hermana S and Hermana G because our names are hard to pronounce. :) 

They are very ready for baptism, and we are hoping they get baptized in June, but they don`t feel like they understand enough, and want to wait. So we shall see. We asked them to pray about it to know if it is right to get baptized this month. 

Today is June 4th, the day I was scheduled to leave the MTC if I had stayed the normal 9 weeks. I am so thankful I`ve been here a whole transfer and gotten to know the precious investigators we have. 

If Concepcion, Paraguay has a Wickipedia page, I`m sure that May 31st is on it. It is the BIGGEST deal, bigger than Christmas. It is the day Concepcion became a city and they have a big parade that is televised and everything. We went to see it a little bit during our lunch hour, thinking we could contact a bunch (and to get some authentic Paraguay food). But no one really wanted to talk about the gospel, just about how pretty we are and how we`re from the U.S. 

Thank you for the emails. For you, it is just an email. For me, it is a huge animo booster and my once-a-week connection to my past life. Your support and just thinking of me mean soooo much.

I love you with all my heart! We are so blessed to have the gospel in our lives! Between living in the U.S. and having the gospel, we are truly the richest people in the world. 

Love your sister missionary,
Hermana Faith Goimarac

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...