Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hard and Happy (Photos at end)

Mis Queridos,

President Madariaga came into town today from Asuncion, and he brought mail for us, and I finally got your package today! Thank you so much for the supplements, mom. I took 4 immediately. Most missionary moms send american candy and chips and stuff, but you send me fruits and vegetables in a capsule. :) You are indeed perfect and so perfect for ME. And dad! Thank you SO much for the CD´s! I think my companion and I are both grateful because we only have one (well, and hymns in Spanish which we listen to QUITE a bit). Good music really brings the Spirit to our apartment, and while I have been washing clothes and making FHE treats today I have been listening to those CD's, and it has been such an uplifting p-day because of it. 

 It sounds like you are really doing so much missionary work in the ward, both of you. And God is using your Spanish ability mom, to bless menos activos! I´m sure it´s not the end of you using your spanish to bless others. I can see you two serving a mission and I just get so excited when I think of it. Seeing President and Hermana Madariaga always makes me think how (even though you shouldn´t seek for such callings) I would truly love to be a mission president´s wife, because serving a mission is so fulfilling, and the only reason I am excited to go home sometimes is because I am so excited to get married. So, to serve a mission with your true love...preaching the gospel and having miraculous experiences together...I just don´t think it gets better. And to dedicate your lives to serving and helping other missionaries as a mission president would be rewarding. It would be a great opportunity to "wear out your life in the service of God."

A couple weeks before I left on my mission I was in the temple and a nice old man working in the temple asked me if I had served a mission. I said I was about to leave, and he shook my hand hard for a long time and looked me in the eyes and said, "It will be the happiest and the hardest time of your life so far." He was so right. Here is some of the happy and hard from this week:

Herminia was supposed to get baptized yesterday, but she´s kind of been avoiding us lately and still lacks one church attendance. Hard: seeing people who know the church is true postpone blessings or not act on what they know. Another example of this is Sulma, who seems to have gotten several answers to prayer, reads the Book of Mormon, prays, etc. We told her on Saturday we were going to pass by her house on Sunday morning and walk to church with her. We woke up extra early on Sunday, left the house at 7 to walk to the opposite end of our area where she lives, and she didn´t answer the door. I´ve never felt so rejected in my life than on my mission.

The Meza family is doing so well! They are becoming so integrated into the ward, making friends. We´ve started teaching their two teenage daughters and last night they both said they would get baptized the 11 of August. Happy: Watching your recent convert say a prayer in church, knowing that just a few months ago before your visits she never would have done such a thing. Happy: Hearing that the Meza girls played "missionera" for hours one night, arguing over who got to be Hermana Goimarac and who got to be Hermana Springer. Precious. Mercedes (she is going to turn 8 in September and is dying to get baptized) made us a precious card that I´ve included a picture of. That little girl is going to be a Paraguaya Pioneer here in Concepcion for the church. The next district primary president or something. 

On Friday I made two loaves of homemade bread, and wanted to give one of them away but didn´t know who to (there are lots of options). Hna. Quispe said to just put it in my backpack and see who we find who looks like they need it. She is very good at finding opportunities to serve others. We were walking along and next to us a little girl was pulling a cart with her little brother in it. They were walking home from doing laundry as a job. After washing clothes all day she had only earned 7 mil (about $1.75). We offered to pull her cart for her, for which she was very grateful. Her house ended up being kind of far away, and everyone we passed watched very intently the two foreigners in skirts pulling this cart. We pulled up to their house to see one of the poorest families I´ve seen yet. We asked to talk to the mom and she came out with 4 little children in tow. Happiness: handing homemade bread to a sweet little hungry family in the middle of Paraguay. Hard: Having the real bread of life and not being able to teach it to these people who need it so bad, because they only speak Guarani. Por lo menos, I used my handy guarani phrase of "Ikatunanemboe?" (Can we pray?) and we prayed with them. 

Hard: Expecting lots of investigators at church and having none (until Leida came the second hour). This happens all the time, yet I never ever get used to it or even expect it. It is devastating to me every time. 
Happy: Yesterday Leida came to church! Man, can you say happiness?? I didn´t know if she was going to come again because we´ve been teaching her like crazy but she hasn´t come to church for two months. She seems to be really eager to get baptized finally. Yesterday when we were at the Echague´s for our traditional sunday almuerzo she called and invited us to her house for cake for her birthday. Her husband was in town and they were celebrating. It was so nice of her! Only, when we got there she had a whole lunch spread out for us, too. Two lunches. Whew.  And it was funny because she thought Mormons don´t eat meat (guess we taught the word of wisdom real well).
Happy: Tuesday night we were way out far from home when it went from dry and hot to pouring rain. We tried to visit some investigators to wait it out but none of them answered their doors, so we just booked it and ran for home. We had just been talking with Sulma about things we´re afraid of, and Hna. Quispe admitted she´s terrified of sapos (frogs). While we were running home we came across quite a few huge frogs, the size of softballs. Nice shrieks from Hna. Quispe. :) I´m pretty sure that I would consider being caught in a rainstorm  fun and not miserable only on a mission. Good thing I love being a missionary!
Happy: Having your very first interview with your mission president, and him telling you that you´re not an average missionary, but an outstanding one, almost perfect. Even though he´s way too nice, it was very encouraging. 

Also, a little note: if any of you reading this think that you´re poor, just remember that if you don´t have to wash your clothes and your dishes in the same sink, you´re much better off than me, and I´m  one of the most blessed in Paraguay. And if you don´t have to wash either because you have a dishwasher and a washing machine....well, then. Wow, you´re rich.

I bounced out of bed on Tuesday feeling great, thank you for all your concerns. I truly felt that it was an answer to my prayers and an answer to the prayers of my family. I hardly didn´t eat anything that day to make sure I didn´t get sick again. My testimony of prayer has grown so much on my mission. I KNOW that prayers are answered. I KNOW that God hears every single one. I don´t know a lot of things, but if there is something I know now it is this. Sometimes the answer is no, sometimes the answer is that we have to wait, sometimes we don´t know what the answer is even, but I know it is always answered. I´m so grateful for the hard and happy experiences I´ve had that have taught me to rely on prayer and to recognize answers better. 
Most people here believe prayers are answered, but they tend to think they can only pray for things like health, daily bread, or work. I love to teach them that we can also pray for answers to our questions, we can receive not only temporal blessings but information. This week I knelt to pray to really ask God something I wanted to know. Hna. Quispe was in the shower so I prayed outloud. It was different than the normal prayers I pray out of habit. It was a prayer really seeking something. And as I knelt there asking, I was overcome with the Spirit and a feeling of love from my Heavenly Father. I am so thankful for Him, for His listening hear. He truly is there to help us, to hear our complaints and our questions. He is our perfect parent. How I want everyone to know that THEY can pray to their Father, and He will hear and answer them! I love Him so much. 

And, I love each of you-- Sabrina, Carrie, Jared, Tom, Paulette, Levi, Neal, Hope, Mom and Dad.

Your Sister Missionary,


1. Happiness is a sweet card from Mercedes Meza, with her testimony on the back.
2. Happiness is your investigator not inviting her other friends, but the missionaries for her birthday!
3. Leida´s daughter Ana. Does she not look just like I did when I was 4? She even loves dolls and loves to sweep the floor, just like I did when I was her age. Oh, so precious that family. Leida´s husband is Brasilero, that´s why she´s blonde.
4. A man who called us over to hear the "palabra de Dios" and actually just argued with us gave us some grapefruit, which we consumed Paraguay-style. Very nice of him.

5. This picture does not show very well just how drenched we really were. Also, I love Hna. Quispe. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Know Ye Not That Ye Are In the Hands of God? --Moroni 5:23

Dear Everyone,

Thank you so much for the wedding photos! Oh they are so great! I love our family so much. Paulette, thank you for the email, but mostly thank you for getting married to a wonderful guy and choosing to do such a great thing. I think you are a good example of something I have learned lately, that all we really need is love in life. Everything else is trivial compared to that. 
Carrie, you look gorgeous! And mom, that CAKE! Way to go! And the little neices and nephews are all little jewels of sunshine in those pictures. So precious.

So on Tuesday at 11 p.m. we took a bus to Asuncion and arrived around 6 a.m. and I waited for a few hours, met my companion, and we came back and arrived back in Concepcion around 8 that night. My companera is Hermana Quispe (keys-pay) from Peru! She is amazing and I really feel this companionship was so inspired, it was a real answer to prayer. She has only been out on the mission for three months more than me. This is her first new area. And she doesn´t speak a lick of English. :) This has been a source of a lot of frustration at times, but it was what I wanted. Prayers are really answered. But I should write something new for once. I miss Hna Springer a lot, but it´s also been pretty satisfying to not just follow her around, to actually contribute. I am the only one who knows the people here, who knows the area, who knows the background of everyone to know what to teach them. I prayed to have productive days and not get lost, and we have had great days and not been lost for a minute. 
She has an incredible story. She has only been a member 10 years, and her dad died shortly after she joined the church. Her mom was less active up until she left on her mission. She is one of four children and is the only missionary. She is 23 and studied architecture in Peru before. Her mom didn´t want her to go on a mission now, she wanted her to finish school first. But she felt she needed to go now, so she did. I am learning lots from her already and am sure this change is going to be miraculous. She already made some great Peruvian food, too. So it will be miraculous and delicious. And I haven´t spoken a word of English to anyone in almost a week, so I will be learning a lot. (Even our new district leader from Orem UT won´t speak in English to me. Sheesh.) 

As you can see from the photos, we finally had the Meza baptism! It was so beautiful. Everything went great. The weather was nice, we had a great turn out, heartfelt talks and a tearful testimony from their member friend who baptized them, Alex. The third picture that I attatched is probably my favorite picture from my mission now. Isn´t Selene just glowing? She is 10 and she has been so excited to get baptized from the beginning. Right before the baptism there was discussion of who would go first, her mom or her. And she immediately volunteered to get baptized first. She didn´t want to do it just because her mom did, she wanted to get baptized no matter what. That made an impression on me. That morning I had read a talk by Elder Packer called, "A little child shall lead them" and this was such a good example. I think it is partly because of the Meza girls' love of the gospel that their mom wanted to get baptized even though her husband can´t yet.
 It is also like the 5 year old daughter of our branch president, Arami Gomez. Her grandpa is the man we baptized in June. He had been learning about the gospel for 10 years and wanted to get baptized, but couldn´t quit chewing tobacco. But little Arami always watched him and asked him why he didn´t stop. She watched him constantly (when we asked him if was reading the Book of Mormon, Arami piped up and said, "Yes, he reads it every day! I watch him!). She had quite an influence on him, and he quit chewing and was baptized.  Little children are so precious, and we have so much to learn from them. I can´t wait to have 12 little ones of my own. :)

I also had a new thought on trials this week. We visited a less active who I just really love, Gloria. She has been a member for 10 years but is a single mom of an 18 month baby, and feels embarrased to go to church with this baby since everyone knows she´s not married. Hna. Quispe has a sister who is pretty young and also a single mom. She was inactive for a while but has returned to activity. But because of this experience (and her fluent Spanish helped quite a bit), Hna Quispe was able to talk to her, understand how she feels, and touch her heart in a way we have never been able to before. Within minutes of sitting down and sharing a scripture, Hna. Quispe had Gloria in tears and committing to go to church. We have difficulties not just to learn and grow ourselves, but also to help us relate to others and be able to understand them and have compassion when they go through similar things. Christ himself suffered all so that He would be able to succor us "according to the flesh." As we experience and overcome trials, we become able to act as saviors to those who go through similar experiences. We gain the highest-quality type of knowledge, experiential knowledge, that enables us to say, "I understand." And at least to me, there are fewer words more comforting at times of sadness or hurt than to hear someone say, "I understand" and really mean it. 

Speaking of trials, today I have been writhing in pain in bed all day with a stomach ache and nausea and dirrarhea. I don´t know what I must have ate or drank, but my companion is fine. I am pretty weak and miserable right now as I type this, but the elders were so kind to go get me some Gatorade so I had the strength to walk to the internet cafe. On top of this I have had a headache and sore throat the majority of last week. And with a new companion and not being able to connect very well with the language barrier, it was a hard-ish week. But bring on the nausea, the pain, the freezing cold days and the blistering hot days, the disappointment of investigators not keeping committments, the stress of not understanding perfectly. I would feel severely jipped if I had a mission full of roses and golden investigators and companions who were my best friends from day one. 

Here is a quote that I invite all of you to take a few minutes to ponder: Love of God is the root of all virtue, of all goodness, of all strength of character, of all fidelity to do right." Gordon B. Hinckley.

I love you all so much and am so thankful to have you as my family. Carry on. Love God. Love is all you need. 


Your Sister Missionary who could really use some Dear Elders,

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Helping someone else reach a height that they had never before reached is much more fulfilling than going somewhere you have already gone alone."-Matthew Dean Price‏


First of all, best of luck with the wedding this week! I suppose everyone will be there for it except me? PLEASE take a picture for me with the whole family and send it to me! Paulette, I am so proud of you! Levi, welcome to the family! I am so grateful my sister is marrying such a kind, smart, great guy. I know you take good care of her. Thanks. :)

I love love love your emails. Dad, you describing the kids camping made me laugh, and mom describing them with their kitchen towel exericise mats. So cute. and Carrie, the pictures of your boys in their suits! AHH so cute!  I love you all so much. And Neal, Tom, Sabrina, and Paulette and Hope. I think of you more on my mission than I did before and pray for you often. I would love to hear about what´s going on in your lives. 

Mom and dad, I love you so much. Letters are on their way (via Hermana Springer) for you. 

Tonight I will get a call about my new companion. I am hoping it is a Latina, because I really need to speak Spanish more. Although, that would be super hard if she couldn´t speak English. Anyway, it´s a mountain I want to climb. I am going to miss Hermana Springer lots. She is not just my trainer or companion, but my friend. When she goes I will not just miss her as my companion, but as the good friend and example who is always by my side. I hope I can be the kind of companion to others as she has been to me--she even made me a little Guarani phrase book to help me learn Guarani.  It´s been a sad week watching her pack and say good bye to everyone. They say it´s hard to "kill" missionaries, or watch them go home. But while I do miss a lot of things about home, you couldn´t pay me to get on a plane and go home right now. No way. 

Watching her say goodbye to lots of members and investigators has made me think a lot about the kind of missionary I want to be though, how I want people to view me when they say goodbye to me. It´s a motivator to give every ounce of my energy and will to help the people here. I want to develop relationships within the branch, be one who is always cheerful, who prepares powerful and creative lessons. I don´t want one person to have one doubt of whether I know the church is true or not. Although it really isn´t as important to me what other people think of me at the end of my mission as what Christ thinks of me. I love the talk from last conference by Elder Wilson about having the vision to do, and coming to realize what Christ´s vision of us is. Christ has a higher vision of what we can become than we have for ourselves. I hope I can come to learn what it is He expects of me and arise to THAT vision. I know He has a profound vision for each of us. Goals higher than our goals, potential beyond what we think our potential is.

So much has happened since I wrote you last Monday.  At that time, the Meza family was going to get baptized on Saturday. Well, that Monday night we went to go visit them and we caught Juan Angel smoking. Oh my heart sunk to my toes when I saw that. So the next night we went with a member and together we set a date for this next Friday, July 20--giving him nearly two weeks to quit. But he is still smoking. So we talked to Gladys (his wife) and the daughter about perhaps getting baptized without him. It is not ideal, but they are so ready and excited and it isn´t fair that they should have to wait so long to have the blessings of baptism. But they didn´t want to do it without their dad/husband. I had the idea of going to visit them with Hermana Echague in our branch, who was baptized and then waited 20 years for her husband to be baptized. He is now super strong through and was recently the branch president. It was a great visit and the next day, after thinking and praying about it, Gladys decided she and her daughter Selene are going to be baptized without Juan Angel. So this Friday....we should really have a baptism! They even got hair cuts to get ready. I have to say, their kitchen floor has become practically holy ground to me. Each lesson we end by kneeling in prayer together and one of their precious little girls offers the prayer and it is SO sincere, so faithful, so heartfelt. I love that family so much. 

We have a lot of investigators with children and so each Sunday I pack my bag with suckers and coloring books and crayons to keep them occupied during the meeting so their moms can listen and feel the spirit, and all during sacrament meeting I am telling them to be quiet, to share, and thanking them for the pictures they color for me. Between that and preparing lots of kid-friendly FHE´s, I feel like such a mom. And I love it. 

And mom, I have a Liahona in Spanish with all the conference talks, so I didn´t have to figure out how to tell President Monson´s boat story on my own. I just quoted him from the Liahona in Spanish, ha. I wish I were as good at Spanish as you all think I am. But mom and Carrie, buena suerte con sus finales orales y todo este semana! 

Today as a district we went to an Indian tower thing that is at the edge of our area. We wanted to climb it but couldn´t. It is supposedly one of the tallest towers in South America, even though it isn´t very tall. We did, however, get to climb the Monumento de Maria Auxiladora, the huge Mary monument in the center of Concepcion. The pictures I´m sending are of that. 

My dear friends Jamie Claridge and Kristy Hoover are heading for the MTC this Wednesday, heading for Russia and Albania, respectively. They are on my mind and I am so excited they are on the brink of the best experience of their lives thus far, and we are fellow sisters in it!

I have begun memorizing the Living Christ in Spanish. I love that document. Just reading it and practicing it brings the Spirit. We are so blessed to know who He really is, and to know He is our Savior, not Mary, or Saints or anything else. We know who to look for for redemption of sins. We have His true gospel. We know how to find happiness because of Him. 

Your Sister Missionary who ate nearly half a papaya for lunch,
Hermana Faith Goimarac

"Helping someone else reach a height that they had never before reached is much more fulfilling than going somewhere you have already gone alone."-Matthew Dean Price‏

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Do your duty, that is best. Leave unto the Lord the rest.

Hola Familia,

Thank you for the pictures, dad! The backyard is gorgeous! I can´t believe how great it looks! Way to go! Bien hecho! And the little models in the pictures are pretty adorable, too. :) I loved the pictures of your nature treasure hunt. You two are the best grandparents. That pic of Katherine with the red rocks behind her reminds me of many pictures we have of me and Hope when we were about that size...oh the memories. 
Mom, good luck planning the wedding this week. Y buena suerte con espanol! Va a rendir muy bien. :) I am definitely praying for the whole family. I hope the wedding brings everyone together.

Since I always write emails on Monday, my mind is usually on what happened at church the day before. Yesterday was another incredible Sunday. I was a little desanimada en la manana (discouraged) because....(well a few reasons: I had accidently left a pan of cookies in the oven overnight (to help you get a visual picture I had just woken up and was kneeling saying my prayers when I smelled cookies and jumped up like I was electrocuted and realized I never turned the oven off. Very black cookies) and felt bad for wasting so much gas, and it was a really cold morning)...I always have really high hopes for investigators to show up and they rarely do. But yesterday, we had a few more miracles! Seven investigators! Herminia and her children, the Mezas (except Juan Angel...argh), Sulma, and a woman we have been teaching since my second week who I thought would NEVER come, Bernadina. 
When Sacrament meeting was starting the Meza family wasn´t there, and Hermana Springer and I didn´t know if we should have President Gomez announce their baptism for this Saturday or not (this Saturday is their 4th baptismal date, they keep falling through). But I decided to tell him to go ahead and announce it. It was an act of faith. As far as we know Juan Angel has not smoked since last Thursday and everyone is planning on their baptism this Saturday, including him. It is Hermana Springer´s last Saturday of her ENTIRE mission, so it better happen! Nothing like baptizing the sweetest family in Concepcion to end your mission with a bang.

I gave a talk in church again. Last time I spoke in May, I was still getting over the fact that I would have to prepare a talk without the help of lds.org. And this time I had only a day´s notice and it wasn´t that big of a deal at all. I talked about the blessing we have of having a living prophet and having guidance and direction in our life, and I used the analogy President Monson used in conference this past April of his little toy boats floating down the river, taking the path of least resistance because they didn´t have direction. Really, I am SO thankful for a living prophet and the authority he has. I think I just took that for granted and didn´t realize what a big deal that is before. 

This week for the 4th of July we made an apple pie (picture included) in our only pan, a 13 x 9. It was divine. We had a little dessert potluck after district meeting. The elders in our district are so lucky to have sisters in their district, are they not? We sang the Star Spangled Banner at district meeting. I would go on and tell you just HOW thankful I am to be an american citizen, but you´ve heard me talk about that a ton and I don´t want to tear up right now. 

Last Monday we went fishing (picture included), as I mentioned last week. It was fruitless but fun. It was also super hot. The next day however, it turned really cold, and since then it has mellowed out. That night we had an FHE with the Meza family at a member´s house. I prepared a lesson on Job and made arroz con leche for the treat, my best batch yet, I must admit. So delicious. I love preparing FHE´s. 

Yesterday Concepcion exploded with excitement. It was the big championship soccer game between the two biggest teams, Olimpia and Cerro. It was great news for us because (due to the rain and cold all week) we were super duper behind on contacting, but thanks to the groups who were out waiting for the game to start, we contacted a ton. Cerro won, and so all the Cerristas (cerro fans) blew off fireworks, honked horns, blared music and danced the rest of the night. At one point during the game, we saw a young man sitting outside his house by himself. We asked him why he wasn´t inside watching the game, and he pointed to the sky and said, ¨"My team is up there." My team, too, man. My team, too. :)

I liked what you said about courage, mom. It is a very necessary gospel principle and one I wish I had more. Sometimes I feel so incapable to influence. I feel like in English I would be much bolder and clearer, but with poor Spanish, who am I to boldly persuade or call someone to repentance? I just hope people can feel my love for them, even if they can´t understand me. 

I wanted to say something to one of the most faithful readers of my blog, Cameron. Cameron, you mentioned that I see things so clearly and you wish you could be like that. I will tell you why I can see life clearly: because of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that we lived before this life, and that there we knew and loved our Heavenly Father. He sent us to earth to learn and to gain experiences. Just like you don´t learn much in school without tests, we had to come to earth to be tested in order to learn. Each day we have choices to choose between light and dark, to follow God or Satan. And God has given us tools to help us and guide us during this life. He wants us to be happy. He loves us more than we can comprehend, like any parent (especially a perfect Parent) would.  And after this life we will see Him again! With this perspective, isn´t life easier? Isn´t it more clear how we should go about each day? How we should treat others? What decisions we should make? I know you know the importance of following God and that you have a relationship with Him and Jesus Christ, but I invite you to go to http://www.mormon.org/ and read more about the plan of Salvation to learn about the great perspective I have been blessed to know. The best thing about it all is that you don´t have to believe it just because I do. You can pray directly to God and ask HIM if it is true! Pay attention to your feelings, and I know you will get an answer. 

I am so thankful for Jesus Christ, whose love and mercy is more broad, long, deep, and high than I ever realized. I am so thankful for each of you. I love you!

Your Sister Missionary who is every day more eternally grateful she decided to serve a mission,
Sister Faith Goimarac

1 and 2: Fishing at the Rio Paraguay
3: FHE with the Meza family! Sorry it´s blurry, Paraguayans don´t take photos often. But such CUTE girls, no? Also, I cut like 4 inches off my hair a couple weeks ago. 
4: American as apple pie.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"Preaching that does not lead to action is like a fire without warmth, or water that does not quench thirst." Dieter‏ F. Uchtdorf

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! I remembered it was your birthday before I read your email and it has been in my daily planner for quite a while. I´m glad it landed on a Monday so I can wish you happy birthday the day of. You may feel old dad, but you do as much and are as in good of shape as any young whipper-snapper 35 year old father. Really, our family doesn´t understand how blessed we are to have you. Thank you for sacrificing so much of your 58 years for your 7 children, wife, and 6 grandchildren. Really everything you do is for US. I owe so much of my happiness to you.  I am so glad you are my father for eternity. I love you so much. Happy birthday dad. :) I hope you are having a great day with the kids in beautiful Sedona.

Also, send me pictures sometime! Of the kids, of you two, of the new yard, and the new dog when you get it! Hearing about how the kids wrapped old things to give you made me laugh out loud in the little internet cafe.

And mom, you are CRAZY for getting up at 3:30 all the time to study spanish! My how the tables have turned since I used to write you all about my studying and tests and such, and now I get emails from you about that. But I never got up at 3:30...anyway. You are inspiring. Buena suerte! Y tu espanol es muy, muy bien. Aqui en Paraguay usamos "vos" mucho--no usan "tu" or "usted" mucho. No me gusta, porque es muy informal. Anyway, estoy animada conversar contigo en el futuro.
And Mason, I did NOT know what a smoke ball is. Thank you for telling me. I hear the missionaries are coming to your house for dinner on the 4th of July. Tell them your missionary aunt in Paraugay is jealous. No matter how hot they think Tucson is, Paraguay is worse (read: no AC anywhere except our bedroom) and they are so lucky to eat normal delicious 4th of July foods. By the way Paraguay is 3 hours later than AZ, Carrie. RIght now it is 12:57 p.m.

Speaking of Dad´s birthday, it reminds me of how thankful I am for the priesthood. We teach a lot of women here because they are the ones who are at home all day, and they are the ones who seem more willing and open. Even when men do agree to talk to us, they often end up being drunk or want to talk to us because we´re......americans and women. But the church cannot move forward without righteous preisthood holders! Branches stay branches for years here because there are not enough preisthood holders to become wards. This week we were at consejo de rama (branch council) and I brought up that I feel we should give Juan Angel a blessing to help him overcome his smoking addiction. President Gomez and another brother went with us immediately afterward to the Meza home and we explained these men could bless Juan Angel using the same power and authority that Christ blessed his apostles with. It is something no other church has--the power and authority of God. Really quite amazing isn´t it? A blessing was something Juan Angel really wanted. It was a beautiful blessing and I really felt the Spirit. He hasn´t smoked since! That was Thursday. I used 1 Corinthians 10:13 with him to explain that he can overcome smoking and God would provide him an escape from this struggle. That escape was mentitas (little mints) that I bought him. I gave him a few packages and told him to eat those when he is tempted to smoke. We have asked him every day if he is smoking and he proudly tells us he has not. We have been stocking him up on mints all week. :) He shook my hand and hugged his wife and promised us he would never smoke again. I have never wanted to hug a  Paraguayan man so badly as I wanted to hug him right then.

Yesteday´s testimony meeting at church was one I hope I never forget. We had high expectations for church attendance, once again. Several investigators committed to go this week and we did everything possible to help them understand the imporance of going, and to help them get there and who they could go with. Yet, in the third hour during sacrament meeting there was still not one of them there. I was sitting there, not wondering ifmy fasting and prayers would be answered, because I know they always are, but more wondering how--remembering God cannot take away one´s agency, He will force no man to heaven. Anyway, we have been fasting and praying for the Meza family so much and even they were not there. I was really just feeling heartbroken for everyone who said they would come to church and were not there. As we sang "I stand all amazed" I thought how Christ knows exactly how I feel for these people. He certainly understands the heart ache of missionaries when their investigators do not come to church. He sacrificed much more for these people than I have, He desires their salvation much more than I do--thus, He must feel dramatically more sad about them not being in church than I do. I felt a little taste of his pain when he says, "How often I have gathered you as hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." All day everyday we are gathering chicks, and it really hurts when they do not want to come under the protection of the Savior. Anyway, near the end of testimony meeting Hermana Springer was bearing her testimony about how trials do not mean God has forgotten us (in fact they mean the opposite) when Juan Angel walks in! Hermana Springer and I both got tears in our eyes. The love of God poured over me. Our fast was answered, our prayers were answered. But even if he hadn´t walked in, my faith still would have been strengthened from the feelings and the lessons I learned, from the love I felt even when I didn´t know how my prayers would be answered. 

This Wednesday is the 4th of July, which has made me think about how last year on the 4th I was in Tanzania. I have been thinking a lot about my experience in Africa last year. I have been on my mission for 3 months and I was in Africa for these same three months last year. I have asked myself if I have done more good in these past three months of my mission or in those three months doing humanitarian work last year. And, I truly believe I am making a bigger impact here, as a missionary, than a volunteer for HELP International. Why, you may ask? I am not teaching anyone a marketable skill, helping them start a business, or helping them arise from economic poverty. The point of the work I did in Tanzania was to not just give a man a fish, but teach him how to fish--to give the poor a source of help that would never run dry, something that would grow and be of help long after us volunteers left.  And everyday here in Paraguay I offer the absolute, never-failing, ever-faithful, always-flowing source of help.--the living water of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can´t think of a more ultimate way of "teaching a man to fish" than teaching him to pray or read the scriptures or go to church. Every good thing I have experienced in my life has come from the gospel and obedience to it. And I have experienced SO many good things. 

Oh I have SO many more thoughts, stories, and experiences I want to share but simply no time. After my mission I will just have to read my whole journal to you. ha. You´ll love that. 

I love you with all my heart. I feel more blessed than I could possibly express in an email or even with words. I miss certain people really really badly sometimes, but I also wouldn´t rather be anywhere else. My desires to do missionary work for the rest of my life have soared, my determination to be a disciple of Jesus Christ every minute of my life is unbreakable. And each of you reading this can have the same determination and testimony. This, I know. 

Well we are going to the Paraguay River to go fishing with the elders and President Gomez right now. Hasta la proxima semana.

Your Sister Missionary,
Hermana Goimarac

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...