Wow, I didn`t feel at all homesick or trunky or anything but contentment until you told me the Bakers are in town! Jordan! Jeni! I think about you often but haven`t talked to you in ages. I am so glad you are in Sedona with my family! I hope I get lots of updates. I get to skype home next week! Wowie zingo, next p-day is Christmas Eve! Honestly it doesn`t feel at all like Christmas here. Aside from the heat that is like unto a Walmart parking lot in Phoenix in August, Christmas just isn't as big a deal here (the Virgin Mary`s birthday is a bigger ordeal). But today I baked chocolate chip cookies to give to members, investigators, and people who are not investigators but should be, and I sang Silent Night over and over (I`m singing a solo at the mission Christmas party on Wednesday...don`t ask my why on earth they asked ME), and also wrote Christmas cards to all my converts. And...it felt like Christmas for the first time. Well, actually, we started to leave a little 12 days of Christmas gift for a family (more below) and every night as my heart beats a million miles a minute it feels like Christmas. My favorite tradition by far. And yesterday, as I taught a primary class and had kids act as sheep and others standing on chairs being the angels, it felt like Christmas, too. Who needs cold weather and hot chocolate when you have Luke 2?
Carrie, your trip to San Diego and mom and dad, your trip to NYC sound so fun. It was so sweet of you, Hope, to watch all the kids so they could go on little trips. Thank you for telling me about them.
There is truly never a dull moment. Let me explain with a few recent adventures/highlights/tender mercies:
--Coaxing a nearly afraid-to-tears companion across a sketchy bridge over a rising river at 8:30 at night. Oh the things we do to visit menos activos (less-actives).
--Making it home to Piribebuy by the skin of our teeth after a division with some other hermanas in a nearby area, Ypacarai. The division was very refreshing--new people and place for a day. But we had to get back to our area and were late, and Hermana Quito and I were waiting for a bus to Piribebuy at about 8:45 p.m., hoping we hadn`t missed the last one (praying, too). For a while, we were sitting under a tree a little ways from the highway where the busses pass by, and then decided to go wait right by the road. As soon as we went to the road a bus for Piribebuy passed us, but didn`t stop! He was our only hope of getting home! We flagged the bus driver down and ran after it and he pulled over and stopped. If we had still been under that tree the bus driver never would have seen us and been able to stop. God knew that bus was about to come, and inspired us to wait out there. God answers prayers, and cares about little missionaries being stuck in the dark far from home and very alone.
--Five legitimate investigators in church yesterday! Nothing quite as devastating as no investigators in church, and nothing quite as sweet as people going to church for the first time all because you found them and visited them.
--Making scary treks through Ino`s neighborhood at night to deliver the 12 days of Christmas to his family. He is our branch mission leader and helps us a ton, and is very poor. What`s more scary than his dark, creepy neighborhood is the chance they will discover it`s us. Two chicas in skirts are pretty easy to identify. But so far, it`s a secret. 8 more days.
--Arriving at Marin`s house only for the owner of her house (she`s renting) to show up and march up to us and say, "I`m the owner of this house and I ask you to never set foot on this property again. I don`t want you deceiving people. There`s one God, not seven." (What?) He wouldn`t let us say much but I managed to testify of God the father and His son and their love for us before he said, "You have three minutes to get off my property." Good things she`s moving this week so we can teach her again. And...I guess I`ll stop teaching the 7-God theory to avoid this from happening again :-)
--I prayed to find opportunities to serve others one morning, and what do you know but we helped not one but TWO different older ladies clean their yard that day. They were very grateful. Elder Ballard`s challenge from conference is true.
Tom wrote me today and said that if my mission is hot and rejecting it`s good practice, because life is hot and rejecting (SO Tom, no?) :) It`s true. I`ve learned lots of patience and been very humbled this week. I`ve learned to just surrender. I`ve learned lots about companionship.
I am SOOOO excited for Hope`s mission call to get here! Oh man oh man.
We have a baptism on Saturday of a golden investigator, Rodolfo! He is the step-son of Celzo, our convert in September. He recently moved back home from Argentina and has come to church all three weeks in a row! We taught him commandments that will be difficult for him, like word of wisdom and law of chastity, but he very willing accepted to change his life. That is true faith. It`s been such a delight to teach him. Such a blessing.
I am so thankful to be a missionary. As much as I miss you and wish I was home for Christmas, I also wouldn`t rather be anywhere else doing anything else. Every morning it is still such a thrill to put on the black nametag. Serving a mission is truly more of a privilege than a sacrifice, and one of my greatest blessings. Obviously the gospel is true because I couldn`t be happy spreading something that wasn`t 100% true and good and right. I am so thankful for Jesus Christ. It`s ironic that I`ve never been so rejected in my life as I have been while bearing His name. He was truly despised and rejected of men....but with his stripes we are healed. And not only healed, but enabled, liberated, and forgiven, if we only do our part. And oh! how I want to do my part. I will never, no never, no never, no never forsake Him.
Merry Christmas dearest family. Les amo. Sooo excited to talk to you next week! I`m not sure yet when we`re going to skype, it could be on Monday or Christmas day if the cyber is open. I will let you know next week. Stay close to your computer next Monday morning if possible, 10:30 a.m. my time.
Your Sister Missionary,
Hermana Faith Goimarac