To Faith's loyal readers--I should have posted this last week, but our family was preparing to go on a trip, and I plumb forgot! So sorry!
First things first. Aunt Loretta, happy birthday this week! I am so impressed you`re doing a 55-mile bike ride. Way to gooooo!!!!! Carrie and mom, sean pacientes con ustedes mismas. Estoy muy emocionada hablar con ustedes cuando regreso, solamente que voy a sentir un poco avergonzada porque van a hablar mas correctamente. (Also, Carrie, I about cried with your story about Ethan and the lady at the store.) Mom, I told Hna Quito about how you were overwhelmed with verb tenses and the subjunctive, and she said to tell you, "No se preocupe." She`s right. It`s amazing how everyone understands you even when you don`t use the right tense. I should know, haha. But I also know how you feel and understand. I want to be grammatically correct and fluent so badly. And want to be that way NOW.
Which brings me to an apology. I feel so bad for any email in which I have even hinted at complaining or saying how things are not going the way I want them to go. If Elder Bednar were to read my email from last week, he probably would have said, "Get over yourself. It is not about YOU. It is not about ME. It never was. It is about HIM." And I whole-heartedly agree. Every little worry or frustration I expressed last week was resolved and smashed to pieces by what I heard and felt on Saturday with Elder Bednar. It was very interactive, with lots of question and answer (sounds like you did the same with Elder Anderson last week, dad) because that is how they want US to teach, with the learner being very involved. His main point was that we must ACT to receive revelation, to really learn. We need to involve investigators through asking questions, committing them to read, pray, go to church, and give them opportunities to bear testimony or share how they feel or what they believe. It is in acting that we discover what is truth, and realize what we believe. Teaching is NOT talking, he said. We cannot talk at people like they are objects. We must let them act, not let them be acted upon. We cannot think, "I will be such a good missionary that I will make them believe!" God certainly doesn`t do that to us.We are all agents unto ourselves.
He also said that sometimes perfectly obedient, hard-working missionaries don`t see much success for a while. And they think, "I am being obedient, I think I deserve to see some fruits of my labors. I want to teach lessons, I want to see baptisms." You know what the problem with that is? The I is in the way. Anyway, I could go on but the point is not what Elder Bednar said (as good as it was) but more what I felt. The Spirit was so strong you could have cut it with a knife. Why me? Why do I get such incredible experiences with opportunities to ask apostles questions?
To stand in front of an army of missionaries and an apostle and two mission presidents and lead them in singing ¨"Behold a Royal Army" and sing together, "A vencer, a vencer, a vencer!" Wow. As Elder Bednar walked off the stand he looked at me and said, "Gracias." I had that same throbbing, flooding of the Spirit feeling that I felt when I met Elder Holland in Jerusalem. Just overwhelmed and 100% convinced of his authority. It was a day never to be forgotten. I know that the twelve apostles and prophet of the church are truly led and guided by God himself. How thankful I am to be on the same team as them, we are all in this together, like one big family, all trying to help our brothers and sister partake of the fruit that is sweeter above all that is sweet.
The night before the conference we went to Asuncion and stayed in President`s house. To walk into his home felt like walking into my own home to my own parents (almost, not quite as good but a good substitute considering), or perhaps a little taste of how it will feel to enter heaven`s gates so to speak, welcomed by loving parents in an environment full of the Spirit. We had a lovely dinner and I got to see my old companions. We talked about some talks by Elder Bednar and watched a live interview he had on Paraguay`s national television. As close to a vacation as I will get during the mission, for sure.
Marian and Jorge....didn`t get married because of money issues, yet again. But last night we had such a wonderful lesson with Marian and a member family who also had to get married to get baptized. We put into practice what we learned from Elder Bednar (or, by the Spirit, when Elder Bednar happened to be there, would be more accurate) and simply asked, "Marian, how has your quality of life improved as you have begun living the gospel?" It sparked a very powerful conversation between all of us. She is so committed, even though she has little support from Jorge. I am so excited to watch her grow in the gospel. She is even helping us teach her neighbor. A dry missionary, so we say (one who hasn`t been baptized). Great things are happening, and it`s not at all because of me. It`s alllllllllll God`s work. I just try to be a worthy conduit.
That is why, Hope, you don`t have to feel at all worried about if`you`re prepared enough or good enough to be a missionary, and a successful missionary at that. It has nothing to do with our talents or eloquence or convincing power, or even our bravery at talking to strangers (for example, remember how I used to really squirm at the thought of making a phone call? I avoided it at alllll costs. Now I make many phone calls a day and in Spanish at that, and all of them are hard phone calls when I have to ask someone to do something. But I just do it and it`s ok). It has everything to do with our committment to be obedient, to live worthily, and do our best. God makes up the difference. He gives us the bravery or whatever we need as we exercise faith. You will be an outstanding missionary with your determination. I wrote some letters today to fellow sister missionaries and told all of them how absolutely thrilled I am my sister is going on a mission. You have no idea how happy it makes me. Although, the thought crossed my mind that I am going to have to wait a long time to get married after I get home if you are to be at my wedding. I don`t know if I can promise that.....let`s just hope you can leave in January and just maybe I can wait until July 2014. It`s tempting to wait for you, after all you`re one of two of my siblings who can be at my temple wedding.
Con mucho amor,
Su Hermana Misionera,
the one and only (for now....) Hermana Goimarac