I kind of forgot it was Thanksgiving this week until you all mentioned it in your emails. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Honestly, half the time I can`t remember what season or month it is because the weather is opposite to what I`m used to, and the fact that it`s Thanksgiving or Christmas doesn`t change a thing about the things I do. Ha. Anyway, I`m so glad you`ve invited people over for Thanksgiving dinner. I see the whole world differently as a missionary, and I see more clearly than ever that life is really about what we do for others. I`m so thankful I have parents who understand that.
Dad, how great you went on a campout with the young men. Even though there are just a few YM, it is so worth it to make the effort to do actitivies like that. And I loved your lost wedding ring story. It had me thinking about what I have learned about prayer here on the mission, because I pray for soooo many things and many times what I ask for is not what I get. But I absolutely believe with all my heart that God hears and answers every prayer, it`s just that sometimes the answer is no, and sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes the answer is yes, but we have to wait a while until we get it. Like any responsible parent, he doesn`t give us everything we want right when we ask for it. And yet other times he answers us with exactly what we want, faster than we can believe. Like yesterday when it started raining in the morning, and I knew that if it kept raining NO one would go to church. I prayed that it would stop and that Marian would come to church so Eduardo could get confirmed, and what do you know, the rain stopped, and we had more people at church than we have had in almost 2 months, and Eduardo got confirmed. God answers prayers. :) Whether they be prayers for help with the subjunctive in Spanish, or prayers for help finding a lost wedding ring, or prayers asking to know if the Church of Jesus Christ is true, or prayers that a less active will come to church, or prayers that a disruptive child will settle down, or prayers that the Spirit will touch the heart of a rebellious son, or prayers for help with overwhelming problems at work, or prayers to be happy when nothing goes how you planned, or prayers to know if you should go on a mission......God hears and answers.
Eduardo is Marian and Jorge`s 9-year-old son, who is such a good boy. His parents still aren`t married and he just couldn`t wait to get baptized, he was dying to! We thought it would be a good motivator and example for them if he got baptized, so he did on Saturday! He is so prepared and I have high hopes for him. I used to think that baptisms of kids were for some reason less significant, but really, I think they are the best. If they have the support they need, they have so much potential in the church. I hope he paves the way for his 3 younger brothers and his parents, and they become an eternal family with 4 missionary sons.
Something pretty special was that yesterday in our branch we had a surprise visit from an area Seventy, Elder Digiovanni. I thought he was one of the THE seventy, so I explained to Marian that Christ is the head of the church, then there`s the prophet, then 12 apostles, then seventy men who are called to represent the church throughout the world. He helped confirm Eduardo, which was special for him. I talked with Elder Digiovanni for a bit and told him some things that he should talk to our branch pres about.
Mom, I laughed too, about Mrs. Giles being in mourning about Mitt`s loss (I heard Mitt won the popular vote, Obama just won the electoral vote, is that not the case?). And Carrie, I laughed so much last week at your email about Ethan telling the whole world about Obama`s lack of values....haha, what a great kid. I hope he has that same courage as a missionary. Today as I was crammed onto a bus with way more people than it should legally be able to occupy, I looked out over the sea of people and thought about how their lives would be so different with an understanding of the gospel. I was the only one on that whole bus who is sealed to my family for eternity (even Hna. Quito isn`t). I wanted to just shout to everyone on that bus, as Ethan shouted to everyone in the grocery store about Obama, that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored, and that there is hope in the world thanks to our Savior`s and His hand that is always stretched out to us. But, I didn`t have the guts. Sin of omission, surely.
Hna Quito and I finished our first change together (changes are 6 weeks). We contacted 714 people, taught 84 lessons, 65 more lessons with member, and contacted 49 references. And had one baptism. That is a lot of work for one baptism. But if that`s what it takes, that`s what I will DO!
Here in Paraguay there are signs everywhere, on houses, stores, fences, that say, "Gracias San Expedito por los favores recibidos." They are thanking a saint for the blessings that they have received, from him supposedly. It breaks my heart to see people thanking a person when it is GOD who has blessed them. This Thanksgiving, I encourage all of us to take the time to thank God for every blessing we have. I am going to recognize Thanksgiving with the most comprehensive list I can make of all the blessings I have. Well, I will start one. It will probably be a lifelong work.
I am so thankful I have the privilege to be a missionary for Jesus Christ. I thank God for that opportunity in almost every prayer. It is so much more of a privilege than a sacrifice. I am so eternally grateful to have been born to the parents I have, to have been born at a time when the gospel is on the earth, to have been raised in the gospel in a wonderful ward, and to have a knowledge of what is most important in life. I am so thankful for Jesus Christ and the hope He offers us, the enabling power His atonement gives us, and the shot at eternity we all have thanks to His great sacrifice. I am thankful for the Spirit that guides, protects, inspires, and even improves Spanish abilities. These are my greatest blessings.
If, for some reason you have a hard time being grateful this year, here are some ideas that I can give you:
-You don`t have to deal with borrachos (drunk men).
-You live in a country where the Church is incredibly strong.
-You have constant electricity and running water.
-You can read, write, learn.
-You can speak English.
-You live in a fairly mosquito-free area.
-You most likely don`t have to carry all your groceries home from the store.
-You have never gone hungry in your life.
I don`t have time to finish, but you get the idea. I am so thankful for each member of my family, and for everyone who has sent me emails or letters, and for everyone who supports me. I am truly more blessed than I could possibly ever deserve. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
Your grateful daughter/sister/friend/missionary,
Hermana Faith Goimarac