Monday, February 18, 2013

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift (Photos at end)

Wow, so much to write and so little time! We didn't have time to print emails earlier in the day, so unfortunately I haven`t been able to read your emails before writing this. But thank you so much for writing them because I printed them and will engross myself in them shortly. 

So, you want to know about changes, huh? I was told on Monday I will be training again! I went to the office and in the meeting for trainers presidente said, "Hna Goimarac will have a local companion for one week, and her new companion will be arriving next week. She is from Haiti, a beautiful African girl." Haiti! I asked him why she was coming next week and he said they advanced her in the MTC because she knows sufficient spanish. I`m probably training the first sister missionary from Haiti who has served in Paraguay. Tomorrow I`m going to meet her and I`ll tell you everything. I`m so excited to talk to her....I just hope we can communicate well. They speak french in Haiti, right? And some language called creol or something? I remember wanting to go to Haiti after the earth quake. Little did I know Haiti would one day come to me.  So I`ve been with a girl who I actually already knew from Caacupe, Monica Resquin. She`s headed to Argentina on her mission in April. We did divisions in Piribebuy and had already worked together, so it`s been great. 

Thursday was the longest day of my life. I woke up, excited and a little nervous for our three weddings that day! I was a little skeptical about Leo and Liz, but the others were sure. Members went in the morning and decorated the chapel, even though it was POURING rain allllll day. Five cakes were bought by the ward. The judge was scheduled to come at 5 p.m. The whole ward was invited. Well, at 1:30 Antonia tearfully called and said her fiance left her. At 3:30 the zone leaders went to Leo and Liz`s to talk to them while I called Arnaldo to make sure he was still on. He said yes. Whew. Por lo menos una boda! (At least one wedding!) But then 10 minutes later he called and said Esther didn`t want to anymore. So we ran to their house (still raining). We talked to tearful Esther in the little room she shares with Arnaldo and their daughter. She said she just wasn`t sure. Arnaldo doesn`t express himself very much and she was ticked with him and didn`t know if she wanted to marry someone who doesn`t talk to her enough. It was now 4:15 and the judge was on her way, everything ready, and 0 of 3 couples were planning on getting married. But, surprisingly, I was able to have a calm and optimistic attitude.  I sat on Esther`s bed next to her thinking...."I`m not a marriage counselor or relationship expert. What can I possibly do or say?" But we called Arnaldo in. I actually thought of a couple things I have learned in my extensive experience with DTR`s**. I asked Arnaldo, "What do you admire about Esther?" and he said, "....todo." Esther started to cry a little. We asked her the same thing and she just said, "I don`t know." But after saying a prayer together and talking they decided to do it. Esther already had a dress ready and copies of her ID card...she was so ready. The whole family actually got there right at 5 (being on time is a huge deal). Antonia, Arnaldo`s sister, went to go support her brother. Her fiance Rudlofo showed up, and seeing that it was a civil marriage and had nothing to do with the church (I guess he was afraid getting married in the church would indicate he has to be affiliated with the church) decided to get married, too. So spontaneously, Rudolfo and Antonia got married, too (in their jeans).

I have to say, it all turned out way better than I expected. Many members came to support them, there was music and the couples danced. It turned into a ward party....but so much happier. Everyone was SO HAPPY. Especially the two couples. I know marriage is what God wants because we could not have felt so happy if it was not right. It was a very happy day. 

I did get your birthday package last week and forgot to mention it. Thank you so much! You always know just what to send. Letters and cards are the best. I love you each so much. :)

Yesterday I spoke in church and felt it went really well. Marcos and Elva came on time to church! But Elva is 7 months pregnant and after two hours of classes didn`t feel good, so they weren`t there for sacrament mtg. But I`m so proud of them. Keep praying for them. Miliciades (the police guy) didn`t come but we talk to him and he`s still interested. 

Today over my breakfast of a peanut butter and banana sandwich I was reading the January Liahona for about the 10th time, when I found myself staring at a picture of a road covered in snow. And I remembered dad said one of his pictures was in the Ensign, and sure enough, in little letters on the side it said "Photo by Michael Goimarac" and I knew exactly where that picture was taken! I love that road! It is such a good pic. And I love that photographer! He is such a good one. Congrats, dad. Keep sending those photos in.

Here is a pic of Arnaldo, Esther and their daughter Hayley. SO precious, no? Esther is really smart and ready to get baptized as soon as she goes to church 3 times. I`ll send more photos in a separate email. 

I loooove my daily adventures and spiritual experiences.  I wish I had more time to tell you of a few more. But in short, I love you and love the scriptures and love God. Missionary work is truly the best. May we all do a little more of it. 

Hermana Goimarac
**For those unfamiliar with BYU lingo, a DTR (Define The Relationship) is when a couple seriously discusses where their relationship is going and if it is going to continue.
P.S. Mom, I was going to tell you that Note 3 to chapter 3 of Jesus the Christ talks about an interesting peception of the word of wisdom I think you will enjoy. And note 1 answers a question that many people have that you really understand, about free agency even though God knows what will happen. Enjoy. :) 
When I go home I have so many books I want to read. The Great Apostasy by Talmage, The Atonement and Mediation by John Tanner, the Doctrines of Salvation, Lectures on Faith. You`d think I was someone from the Middle Ages who had hunger not for bread and thrist not for water....sino de oir la palabra de Jehovah (but to hear the word of God). It`s not like I don`t use that scripture every day or anything. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Kingdom of God or nothing! (Photos at end)

Note to Readers from Faith's Mom:  Once again I forgot to send out last week's letter until today!  Sorry!  Such a dynamite letter--how I love this girl!
Dear Family,
Happy Valentines day this week! I sure love you more than ever before. I love my parents so much, I love my brothers and sisters and my neices and nephews. And I love my companions on my mission and our investigators and the members. I love the people I went to Jerusalem with and all the roommates I`ve had at BYU, and I love the people in the Sedona ward. I love how there is always room to love more and more. Love is really what makes the world go round. It`s why God created the world, because He loves us, and it`s why I`m serving a mission, because I love Him. 

And, this valentines day is going to be the best of my life thus far. We have not one, not two, but THREE weddings! We`ve been hyping up Valentines day as the perfect excuse for many couples to start living the law of chastity and get married. It`s worked great. :) Arnaldo  Resquin is going to marry his really sweet novia, Esther, who wants to get baptized and went to church for the first time yesterday. She`s only 19 and he`s almost 18, but they have a 1 year old daugther so it`s high time they seal the deal. And Antonia Resquin is going to marry her novio. And there is a couple, Leo and Liz who we have been working with a lot. Liz is not a member only because she`s not married to Leo, but they are fairly active. Leo has been a member for 20 years and has several children but has never gotten married. We had a sweet visit with them last night. Leo said that when he lived in Argentina two north american "hermanitas divinas" taught him the gospel and he got baptized, and now two more hermanitas divinas are going to help him get married. We have pestered and prodded them almost every day to make sure they get everything in order (Leo said, "Why did you two come to this ward?!" because without us he would not be getting married, hahaha). Liz has to get a certificate that says her other marriage wasn`t valid in order to get married, so on the condition that she gets that it will be a great day for them. Sometimes, between taming wild children in church and convincing people to marry their concubines I feel more like a wedding planner or babysitter than a missionary, but it`s all missionary work, I guess. 

First of all, let me teach you a little guarani. The suffix -ite means very,  or extremely. And in talking about families that are very prepared we say they are "de oro" (of gold). We found a family that is oro-ite. Last Saturday after walking dejectedly from the chapel when the baptism was postponed until the next day, we set out to find someone we had contacted the week before. They weren`t home, it was hot, our baptism had just been postponed, and we couldn`t find the people we were looking for. But there was a family outside their house and I contacted them. As soon as we introduced ourselves the husband let us in, and asked if we are Mormons. He said he works with several Mormons and they are just the greatest guys. Their names are Marcos and Elva, and they have one seven year old son and a daughter on the way. We had a great lesson. Marcos just wants to be a good dad, and know what to teach his kids. He says he has an emptiness inside that he just can`t fill, something that is missing even though he prays and has a relationship with God. His mom passed away three months ago. I felt like I was reading something out of the Liahona as he told us about his life. I was so thankful we found them that day, because he works a lot and goes to school at night and is impossible to find at home. My comp knows the stake president he works with, who is actually in the other mission, but we got his number and Saturday had a great lesson with the family and with that stake president. (That visit is another miracle but I don`t have time to explain it). And yesterday Marcos came to church! His other co-worker from a different ward came to accompany him. Please pray for Marcos and Elva! I`m so excited for them!!! 

We live by a Policia Montada (mounted police) where there are all the horses the police use. We cross through almost every day as a short cut. One day a young man in the street approached us and said he works in the montada and always sees us. He has a lot of questions, but he doesn`t live in our area, just works there, so we can`t teach him. But we talk to him often and always invite him to church. He works all night on Saturday and can`t get to his own church building, but he can get to ours, but hasn`t gone even though he always says he will. I mentioned on Saturday night, "There are always temptations to get us to not go to church, you just have to overcome them and go!" and he said, "There are a lot of temptations, huh? But when I see you`s seems like there aren`t any temptations." He often mentions it`s so impressive that we are out all day inviting people to learn of Jesus Christ. Our very presence is what got him interested. Anyway, he also came to church yesterday! He participated so much in gospel principles that the teacher must have thought he was a seasoned investigator or a member and asked him to give the closing prayer. He was like, "Uh....pray? What, Our Father which is in Heaven or soemthing?" We`ve never taught him so he doesn`t know how to pray.

Well in a few hours I will know who my new comp is going to be. I am truly sad to see Hna. Pelozo go. I love her. We are going to be best friends for life. I am going to want to visit Paraguay to hang out with her (or attend her wedding, she`s 25, and such a catch so she shold get married really soon). There are only a few hermanas coming this change, but then they are going to flood in (25 in June, and 1 elder. Right now there are 14 sisters in the whole mission, to put that into perspective), so I don`t think I`m going to train this change. 

I read the book Our Heritage over the past couple weeks. SO inspirational. I thought a thought that I shamefully had never really thought about before. I realized that I am a member thanks to a missionary who, at some point, converted one of my ancestors. I am so thankful to whoever that missionary was, and so thankful to that ancestor who had such faith. They made tremendous sacrifices. It is truly amazing that a little church that started with 6 people in New York has now reached the ends of the earth, with chapels and stake centers dotting the earth, even in Paraguay. Just the presence of the church here is a testimony that this is the true church. It is truly the only church that is not of men.

I read this quote that I liked and thought I should share it, especially with those who may read this who are leaving on missions. One thing I have grown to have a testimony of is that God inspires even what seems to us as small details, such as companions and areas and who your mission presidente is and who you come in contact with (such as how he led us to Marcos and Elva during the one hour of the week they would be outside together as a family). Neal A. Maxwell said, "That same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in Celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to the placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well." God has placed us where we are and with the people we are with for a purpose.

I love you all sooo much.

Hermana Goimarac

Monday, February 4, 2013

Por Sacrificios Se Dan Bendiciones (By sacrifice, blessings are given) (my favorite line in the hymnbook!)

Dear Family,

First of all, thank you everyone for the birthday wishes! It really was so nice to get your emails, and everyone who has sent me letters or dear elders. I can`t write back to everyone, but know that I LOVE getting mail and you affect missionary work through the motivation you give me. My birthday was a very normal day, our lunch appointment was actually cancelled, but my comp made me a sign that says congrats in guarani (Terevy√†iteke!) and we had dinner with our bishop, who didn`t even know it was my birthday, and they gave us a basket of fruit. And Elder Rigby gave me oreos. And today I blew  nearly 7 bucks on buying American peanut butter to treat myself. A whole wheat bread pbj? So worth it. 

On Saturday we had the baptism for Rosa Resquin planned for 4:00. I am always nervous when the phone rings on baptism days. And I was nervous when the phone rang at 3. The elders who were filling the font said the church didn`t have any water (what are the chances of the church not having water on a day of a baptism?! Well, in Paraguay, actually pretty high....haha). A baptism without water is like a dinner without food.... We went to the church and the font had about 6 inches of water and sure enough there was no water at all anywhere in the church. We waited while someone in charge tried to figure out the problem, and he said all the tanks of water were empty. I was thinking of the truth Elder Bednar teaches that we should not pray for our circumstances to change, but for the strength to change our circumstances. We have to act if we have faith, not just pray and sit and wait. So I went next door and asked the pharmacy if they had water, and they did, and  very willingly said we could fill buckets of water there. There were 6 buckets in the church so the elders and we began filling the font. I was going to fill this font, because the whole Resquin family (recently re-activated) and even two investigators were there, waiting for the baptism to start! 

Acting in faith, I started to play prelude music and the elders were going to  continue to fill the font with buckets while we started the baptismal service. But then Hermano Morel, who was going to baptize, approached me and said this wasn`t right, that a baptism is very sacred and we shouldn`t do it with so little water. They were going to have to plunge her very low and deep for her to get all the way under water, and it was going to take a looong time to fill it with buckets. So we postponed it for the next day. Everyone was a little disappointed. 

But the next day there was still no water so we went to the next closest church, about 10 minutes away actually. The hermanas misioneras there filled the font for us, and it was actually a very lovely, sweet, Sunday-afternoon baptism.  Everyone was in great spirits and a lot of members came, which really touched the Resquin family. Hno Resquin gave a beautiful prayer and Hna. Resquin tearfully bore her testimony. This baptism is what has really re-activated the whole family, and a lot of ward members in their testimonies yesterday said how happy they were to see the Resquin family at church. 

The Resquin family is huge (12 kids) and they brought all the neighborhood kids to the baptism in their little car. They had a kid on every lap and kids in the trunk....haha. I should have taken a picture of it.

Speaking of cars, today Hna. Pelozo was asking me if there are collectivos (public buses) in the U.S. and I said how where I live no one uses buses. She asked if everyone has cars, and as I thought about it I realized, with a gulp, that we are so absolutely rich. I realized my family has three cars. THREE CARS? Even one car is so much! I realized I have forgotten we have a car. I had a computer, and a phone, and a car. I just can`t believe it. Add to that a university education...and so much more. Overwhelmingly grateful I am.

It was the hottest week of my life, I feel like I just have to concentrate on surviving sometimes. Being unable to sleep I resorted to standing under a cold shower in my pajamas and then lying in bed under the fan. It`s like a swamp cooler. :) Feel free to recommend this little tip to all your heat-enduring missionary friends.

It looks like the photos I am trying to attatch won`t attatch. But one is of the neighborhood kids of a part-member family. We have to pass their house every day, and we often have to try and silently sneak by because if they see us they bombard us. (HERMANAAAAAAS!!!!!), which I love actually. They all came to church yesterday and were WILD in sacrament meeting, but I just love them so much I can`t be upset at them. We pass by and they never know if we are coming  to visit them or passing to go somewhere else. Just now as we were walking to come email little Rosita begged us to come in, "Venid a caaaaaaaaaasa!" At least somebody loves us. :) 

Wow I just love being a missionary. I only have 8 more months (today!), which is a sad thought. I have so much I want to do in so little time. I know I will miss it with all my heart. I feel so much joy as I teach or invite someone. I picture them with the gospel in their life. Oh how life-changing the restored gospel is. I am so willing to sacrifice and give whatever God wants to be able to completely live the gospel and share it, too.  I was really touched as I read Helaman 10 today, how God told Nephi he had declared the gospel with unwearingness. I need to be more like him.

Love you all so much,
Your Sister Missionary,
Hermana Goimarac

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