Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's true, isn't it? Then what else matters?


I got your package yesterday! Thank you so much! It was the biggest surprise because you didn`t tell me you sent anything. Hna Greer and I were SO happy to get new CD`s, and those socks are so clean and new I could hardly bring myself to put them on. I appreciate it so much. It got here in just 3 weeks!

This week we had the baptism of probably the oldest investigator I will ever have. Juan Leon. He is 80 years old and doesn`t speak much spanish, mostly guarani. He is so willing to live the gospel and even walk great distances to get to church. And I don`t even know how much he understands about the gospel. Anyway, when he walked up to the church for his baptism I walked up to him to greet him and said, "Juan Leon! We have white clothes for you to wear for your baptism!" and he said, "Oooohh, como una paloma!" meaning, "Like a dove!" It was a sweet moment. I will send pics next time I can. He had a hard time getting all the way under the water, but Ino (our ward mission leader/best friend who baptized him) is strong and it went well after the second try. Hermana Greer and I sang, "Teach me to walk in the Light" in Guarani, and everyone said they understood! 

On Saturday we had a world wide day of service. Was this for the whole church? Did you guys do service? Anyway, as a branch we left at 6:30 a.m. and drove out to a little school and painted it (I have had paint on my hands and arms and legs for two days since . Coupled with the mosquito bite scars it`s really attractive). Our investigator Nelson came! He participates in church things more than most members, ha. He helps clean the chapel and he even bore his testimony in church yesterday about the service project when our branch pres asked him to! While we were painting, we were talking to a non-member young man there who was saying he didn`t want to go to church or do anything religious. Nelson piped up and said, "I used to think that way too, but it`s actually really great and I have learned lots of good things at church." He was such a good little missionary. His problem is that he still feels the church prohibits too many things, and will prevent him from having fun. He says he truly believes the church is true, but has hestitations about baptism. He just wants happiness and thinks that happiness is found in disco tecs and with lots of girls and playing soccer on Sundays and stuff. It hurts how badly I want him to understand that there is a deeper level of happiness just waiting for him if he makes a couple sacrifices first. 

There was a big hail storm near Asuncion this week with hail storms the size of grapefruits, apparently. It killed 5 people. Mariam`s relatives live there, and they were going to come to her wedding on Saturday, but because of the storm and their house that got damaged, they couldn`t, so we postponed the wedding to this Saturday. 

Yesterday was a very busy Sunday. The first hour, the primary teacher wasn`t there and there were about 12 kids who showed up, so Hna Greer and I taught them primary songs. So fun. I am self-appointing myself the primary chorister and am going to start doing that every week, because the poor kids only know "I am a Child of God." Then the second hour we taught gospel principles about the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Then the third hour I played the piano and gave a talk, so I was on the stand the whole time. As I bowed my head for the closing prayer I gave a sigh of relief that I was done. But then I realized that I wouldn`t have it any other way and I love being that busy. Good thing, because busyness doesn`t stop after church. I spoke about prophets and encouraged everyone to go to General Conference, not to just read the talks in the Liahona. I am more comfortable speaking in church every time. It is truly a pleasure. 

This morning we cleaned our house top to bottom. I said how I love seeing things go from dirty to clean, and I realized that that satisfaction is exactly why missionary work is so satisfactory--we get to see people go from confused or burdened or lost to confident, believing, and understanding. For instance, Celzo, the man we baptized last week, got the priesthood on Sunday. He has truly changed just in the short time I`ve been here. He said that his eyes have been opened and now he understands life. :) 

There is never a dull moment. Whether it be from fishing dead lizards out of baptismal fonts to capturing big spiders out of your shower to letting your comp dig a bug out of your toe, to buying kerosene to get the paint off of your skin.... I love it. I truly do. I love adventures and even problems and moments of weakness that make me look to God even harder. I am so thankful for the Holy Ghost, who is such a motivator. When I am tempted to get discouraged, all it takes is a little dose of the Spirit to make me determined to go get `em. This is Christ`s church. It is true. Nothing else matters. 

I also love each of you and love to hear from you. People may think they have nothing of interest to write to a MISSIONARY, but the truth is I just want to hear about YOU and your life. Even politics and what`s going on in the ward or what you`re learning in school. 

Your Sister Missionary,
Hermana Faith Goimarac

Monday, September 17, 2012

Courage, Brethren, and On, On to the Victory (photos at end)

Dear Family,
Thank you so much for your sweet emails, once again. 

Wow, you`re thinking of sending me a Christmas package!? Yipppeee! Thanks! Here is a little guide for anyone who wonders what to send a sister missionary, specifically one in Paraguay:
-socks (I sent you a picture of what kind)
-one or two down east white shirts, size medium
-as far as food goes, healthy granola bars would be awesome, since you probably can`t send foods that I really miss like bagels and cream cheese, whole wheat flour, etc.
-post-it notes of any variety
-LDS things in Spanish I can give to kids or converts or investigators, like ¨Soy un hijo de Dios¨ stickers or pencils, etc.
-something for my companion
-CD`s!!!! Talks on CD, EFY music, MoTab
-But mostly, what I want is letters. Letters from family and friends, especially ones I haven`t heard from yet.
-Also, I know this is a lot to ask, but what I really need is shoes, because those Dansko ones have a fairly bulky heel and there are really rough, cobblestone streets in Piribebuy that I would twist my ankle on if I wore those shoes. I have been wearing some black flats I got for NYC and they have almost worn through from the cobblestones. So my favorite are the brown Clarks I got. Naturalizers or Earth Shoes or Clarks would be great, size 8, in black. I don`t care if they are ugly. It will be expensive, and I am sorry, but it can be the only package you send me on my mission!
This week we had the baptism of Celzo! It was a beautiful day. His sweet family walked for over an hour to the church for his baptism. The service was mostly all in guarani (a native language). Baptisms are so motivating to me. After seeing the joy and change that comes to someone be baptized, I just want to work even harder to bring more people to the water. Before my mission and even in the MTC for a little bit I wasn`t that determined to baptize a ton, just to change lives, help people, and teach the gospel. But I have gained a testimony that baptism is a crucial part of changing one`s life.

As I was leading a hymn waiting for him to get dressed after being baptized, I looked out at the small group of people who attended the baptism. All of sudden I saw my situation from an outsider`s perspective. I forgot how none of the investigators we invited came, how the person we asked to give a talk didn`t show up. I saw a group of probably 15 Paraguayan members of the Church of Jesus Christ. I was in the middle of South America at the baptism of a father who would soon be a priesthood leader in his home. How blessed I am. I realized I wouldn`t rather be doing anything else, how this is what I have wanted to do for so long, and now here it is. Moments of overhwelming gratitude have come to me almost every day this week, as if God is telling me not to wish I was anywhere else, reminding me of how blessed I am.
Yesterday was a district conference and our branch rented a collectivo (bus) and went to Caacupe together. We picked up 5 of our investigators! Nelson even came again, and Juan Leon who doesn`t even speak Spanish! We walked into the meeting as they were about to sing the opening song, and Elder Vance, my zone leader pointed to me and then to the organ. Further sign language made me realize he wanted me to play the organ for the opening song that everyone was getting ready to sing right then. I was thankful that Paraguayans only sing about 5 hymns, and that I have mastered those hymns, so it was fine. I guess I really am one of the only ones in the district who plays, because they were about to sing a capella. Anyway, I thought it was going to be a live meeting with our mission president, President Madariaga, but it was actually a broadcast from Salt Lake for all of Paraugay and Uruguay. I can`t tell you how powerful the spirit was. Elder Neil L. Anderson and Sister Linda Reeves (brand new to the general RS presidency) spoke in Spanish, without a translator, even though they don`t really speak spanish (I think you probably have a better accent than them, mom). It was so comforting to listen to Sister Reeves (she has 13 kids, did you know that?!) struggle with speaking in Spanish so much, and yet still feel her love so strongly, and feel the Spirit. I hope the people here can feel that as they listen to me, imperfect as I am.

Anyway, President Monson also spoke! I felt so included, that the leaders of our church were speaking straight to Paraguay! As we sang "Now Let us Rejoice" as the intermediate hymn, I had the impression come to me out of nowhere that God loves His children in Paraguay SO MUCH, and that God wants me to be here right now. It was a feeling I didn`t realize I needed so much. I know God wants me on a mission in Paraguay right now. Ah, it was such a great conference! After listening to the prophet speak right to us, I wanted to go out and tell everyone I saw that we have a prophet HOY EN DIA PARA GUIARNOS (in our day to guide us)! I know he is called of God. He is just like Moses or Abraham or Noah, but for us, today.
Mariam and Jorge are all on track to get married this Saturday! She just called me as I was typing this and it reminded me. We were visiting her the other night and then Jorge walked in and we talked about the wedding with him. He said he wants to but he has three bills to pay this month and doesn`t know if he can afford it. We promised him that if he paid for his wedding first, the Lord would provide. Then Jorge left and Mariam whispered to us, "He doesn`t know I`ve been saving and that I have the money. Don`t tell him."  She`s so great. She knows where there is a will there is a way. She even went to district conference yesterday with her four little boys, even though she had an awful cough and the average investigator would have used that as an excuse to stay home.
The picture is from this morning. We hiked a cerro (mountain, but really a hill) in Caacupe with our zone leaders and district. It was really fun and super great (sweaty) workout. The topìc came up that I was homeschooled, and whenever that comes up everyone is so impressed that I am so normal even though I was homeschooled, ha.
Also, one more question. Could someone try to find the Standard of Truth in Spanish and send it to me? First person to do it gets a letter from me. :) In English it says, "The standard of truth has been erected. The truth will go forth boldly, nobly and unhallowed hand can stop the work," etc.
I love you and miss you! I love my mission! I love my companion! I love speaking Spanish! I love my investigators! I love Heavenly Father! I love my whole life!
Your humble servant and never deviating friend,
Sister Faith Goimarac 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Give, Oh, Give

Querida Familia,
First of all, happy anniversary mom and dad! I was thinking of you on September 7th. I am so thankful for the great decision you made that day 35 years ago. :)  It sounds like you had a lot of fun with Carrie and the kids. Thank you for the pics!
Yes, I am still playing piano for the branch. I even taught a little piano lesson to a sister in the branch, but realized it will take a long time for her to get to the point where she can play for church....but I enjoy playing as long as they don`t mind an imperfect pianist. I wish I had time to practice but there`s no way. Piribebuy is ON FIRE and we are so extremely busy. Even my journal entries have been getting shorter and shorter just because there is no TIME! I fall asleep in seconds every night from exhaustion. But I wouldn`t have it any other way.
Last Sunday we fasted to find 10 new investigators (to be a new they have to say they will be baptized once they get an answer the church is true). God answers fasts and prayers. We got 10 news this week.
Thank you for praying for Mariam, mom. She told us on Saturday that they have almost all the money saved up to get married and that as soon as she has it all she is giving the money to us missionaries to keep safe for her. :) Wedding on September 22nd! Yippeee!!  Also, Celzo, the dad of the 10 kids is getting baptized on Saturday. Such a great family. They live farther away from anyone and yet are one of the more faithful in coming to church every Sunday.
We also have an investigator who has been learning about the church on and off for 7 years. His name is Santiago (and he has a member friend named Juan and we often teach with both Santiago and Juan, and wonder "Where is Pedro??" hahaha) and he should be getting baptized in two weeks, por fin.  And Nelson...didn`t come to church on Sunday but he is making progress. He changed his phone number to avoid his girlfriend who is making fun of him for investigating the church, which must be rough. We were walking home with him one night from a really lejos (far) area for like an hour, and he asked us if he has to give up women to get baptized. We explained the law of chastity and how we believe in having ONE woman, to whom you are married, and he about freaked out. He couldn`t believe it. He said he used to believe it was possible to have just one girlfriend or wife, but now he doesn`t. It just doesn`t work like that in Paraguay. He gave up drinking and smoking a year ago, but he said this chastity thing is going to be the hardest thing by far. So pray that he can have the strength to change in this area of his life. He truly seems to want to change. But change is hard.
Speaking of which, I have learned much about sacrifice this week in my own life. During personal study I was praying about whether it was necessary to give up a certain something, and still felt like I didn`t have a clear answer. We began companionship study by singing Give Said the Little Stream in Spanish (we`re on a primary song kick right now.). The third verse of the song is so much better in Spanish than English. But translated it basically says, "Give, then, as Jesus gave. Give oh give, give oh give. Give then, as Jesus gave, everyone can give something. He gives us sustaining happiness. Children, let`s give today, too." The words filled me with the spirit. Everyone can give something more to God, even a missionary who has given up almost everything already. I know that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. It is rough...but consecrating more of my mind and heart to the work is what I need to do. It takes a lot of faith to believe that I will be happier for it and not just be sad...but it is a leap of faith I know will pay off for everyone involved. Whosover will lose his life for Christ`s sake shall find it.
I know Christ lives and this is His church. It changes people. I certainly hope it changes me. Every day I am more aware of my weaknesses and shortcomings and it can be discouraging to realize how far I have to go. But I am so thankful for His grace which is so encouraging and His love which is so motivating.
Your Sister Missionary,

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Let us not love in word or tongue only, but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18‏ (Photos at end.)

Dearest, dearest family,
To sit down and write to you just fills my heart. It makes me think about what I`m doing from an outsider`s perspective, which makes me realize that I wouldn`t rather be doing anything else right now. I don`t always keep that in mind. But I am going to try a lot harder. I want to cherish every minute of the next 13 months I have (I turn 5 months old as a missionary tomorrow, can you believe it? I realize you`ve been counting the days, Steve, but I haven`t....haha).
The photos are of me and Hermana Greer making chipa today and of our district right before transfers this week.
Yesterday we had SEVEN investigators in church! Do you know how happy that makes me?? Nelson, our golden investigator, came for the second time even though he has to walk about an hour to church. He asked if we can teach him in a park or somewhere besides his house because his family doesn`t want him to talk with us. And then Mariam and her four little boys came. She is one of the most impressive investigators in my short mission history. We taught her fasting on Friday and agreed we would all fast together so she could have the money to get married (she wants to and her husband is willing, but they just don`t have the money, even though the church is paying half) then visited her Saturday night and she said she fasted two meals after we taught her and was about to start fasting again for Sunday. We told her she only has to fast once a month, and she understood that, but she said she just really wanted this blessing from God. I love her family already so much and have such high hopes for her. I`m praying and fasting my heart out they can get married this month so she and her 9 year old son can get baptized, and then her husband shortly afterward, I hope. He just needs to get to church. I love the thought of putting families together through important covenants like marriage and baptism.
Speaking of baptism, here`s a little update from Concepcion, my last area. I called Hermana Quispe last night and she is training a brand new sister from Utah! Poor Hna Quispe, doesn`t understand any english and now she`s with another american who doesn`t speak spanish too well. Anyway, she said Juan Angel Meza and Nila (another of their daughters) have a baptsmal date after they all fasted as a family for him to stop smoking. And little Mercedes Meza turned 8 yesterday and is going to get baptized with them on the 15th. Hearing that filled me with joy. I`m pretty sure one of these days I`m going to physically pop and I`ll never see any of you again because I died....from popping with joy. That would be sad.
One thing I have learned from the people here is that if there is a will, there is a way. And if there is no will, there is NO way. When we invite people to church they often say, "If God permits," or "I will do everything possible to get to church." Of course, that always means they don`t come. But then there are others who walk for miles with four children or people like Juan Leon, an old Guarani-speaking man who doesn`t seem to understand a word we say but has come to church 4 times making great sacrifices.
I am really pressed for time today, we traveled to Tobati to make chipa with the elders, so I haven`t been able to read your emails first, but I noticed you sent me another political update, dad, and I thank you for that. I can`t click on links to go to other websites ( I could...but I`m going to be obedient, so I won`t), though. So an update in your own words is always best. I wish I could vote for Mitt while I`m down here. The world is getting soooo exciting and so black and white, it seems the division between good and bad is widening and we have to take a stand.
Mom, the pics of the kids doing school is so precious. Way to go homeschooling. I`ve been thinking about you a lot this week, and how you served a mission. In fact, it was because I saw some pictures in a Liahona of some people from Quebec, Canada that got me thinking about that. I love that you and dad both served, and I thought how one major reason I wanted to serve a mission is so I will be a return-missionary mom, like you are. I want my kids to learn from their parents that "In this family we serve missions."
I got a letter from Sister Farley today, which was such a sweet, pleasant surprise. Tell her thank you so much for me. Sisters Oakason and Fletcher, thank you so much for your emails a while back. I have the best friends in the Sedona ward. Jessica Jackson, thank you so much for your dear elder, too. I LOVE hearing about your life. You are so sweet to remember me in your busy, busy life. I was reading your letter on the bus just now and as I finished it a lady sat down next to me. She seemed a little sad and I asked if she was sick. She said that she just came from the burial of her cousin, who died very unexpectedly yesterday. After sympathizing with her a minute I asked her, "But hermana, do you believe this life is all there is?" She shrugged, looked off into the distance and said, "I don`t know." Do you know how sweet it is to tell someone the good news of the gospel when they DON`T KNOW? Especially in a time like that when they want to know? To put your arm around a sweet Paraguayan lady and tell her God loves her and to see her smile a little bit, to tell her her cousin still lives and will be resurrected and have a perfect body someday? To send her on her way armed with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet, committed to read it and share it with her children? Ser misionera es el mejor.
Hope, Spain sounds so great! Oh you are just the cutest little world traveler, and I`m so glad you`re reading Predicad mi Evangelio. You will be a great missionary someday, whether it be when you`re 21 or later, and the nice thing is you don`t have to worry. Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies. We don`t always feel qualified, but if we are obedient He takes care of the rest. The success of one`s mission is not measured by how well they speak Spanish, how many people they baptize, etc.... but by their commitment to the gospel.
Sorry I can`t read all your emails and respond. Know that I`m printing them out and reading them on the bus to Piribebuy right now. I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the church of God. It is Christ`s church, with a living prophet who truly receives revelation, and that revelation also guides the leaders of missions to guide even little sister missionaries to the specific people who are ready to receive the gospel. How thankful I am for that.
Con muchisimo amor,
Tu Hermana Misionera,
Hermana Faith Goimarac
p.s. Mom, also, maybe you could update my facebook status once in blue moon and say something like, "Faith is in her second area, the paradise of Paraguay known as Piribebuy. And she loves being a missionary." It might prompt letters. :)

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