Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Truth Shall Make You Free

Faith's email from March 25.  

Mi Amada Familia,                          (See translation at end of page for her account of a miracle.)

Donde empiezo? Esta semana fue buenisima y cada dia disfruto la obra del Senor mas y mas. Estoy muy contenta estar aqui. I feel like this week was one of the most meaningful of my mission. 
Hemos trabajado muy duro para cumplir con nuestras metas diarias los siete días (lo llamamos consiguiendo siete de siete) de la semana. Más difícil decirlo que hacerlo. Hemos visto tantos milagros. Por ejemplo, para conseguir nuestros objetivos tenemos que tener por lo menos uno de los indicadores clave (lección con el miembro, otra lección, recieved referencia, los contactos de referencia, y investator nuevo). Algunos días es difícil conseguir uno de cada uno. De todos modos, nos reunimos nuestras metas diarias todos los días hasta el jueves. Jueves por la noche después de un largo consejo de barrio, que todavía tenía que contactar con una referencia o nuestros sueños de 7/7 fueron por el desagüe. Eran las 9:30 y tuvimos que ir a casa y no podía `t cualquier contacto. Yo estaba tan triste. Pero luego, a las 9:35 una referencia llamé eariler que t hadn `respondió, nos ha llamado! Fijamos una cita para visitar el domingo. Referencia en contacto! Fue un signo evidente para mí que Dios is aware of misioneras pequeños. We saw so many miracles like that, my testimony grew a lot. It surprises me sometimes just HOW aware God is of our lives, even to the smallest detail. Whatever is important to us, is important to Him, even if it is actually important or not in the grand scheme of things. I know that God is aware of each of us and desperately wants us to do our part so he can bless us more. 

Ah I`m so frustrated because I just typed all of that in English and it was automatically changed to Spanish...and I can`t figure out how to change it back. I just wasted 10 mintues of precious time. 
Anyway, Esther is progressing so well and is getting baptized on Sunday. No, her new husband who is a member is not going to church, nor is at all providing for her. He just visits her at her dad`s house to see his daughter. She feels very hurt and forgotten and already wants to get separated. But we are helping her through and trying to find Arnaldo, her husband, but he is really good at avoiding us. I love Esther so much and am so proud of the acting in faith she`s doing. 

Christian, another investigator, also came to church yesterday with his two little (wild, crazy) kids! His wife Adela is pregnant and didn`t feel good, but she`s the one we`ve taught more because Christian works during the night and is always sleeping when we visit. Anyway,  a sweet, very humble family who has hope! 

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. I was thinking of that day two years ago when I walked from Bethphage to Lions Gate in Jerusalem with thousands of other Christians to remember Christ`s walk. I am so thankful I could have that experience. I had the idea to do a little mini Easter Pageant open house church tour thing here in our ward for the community, and we`re doing it on Thursday.  It is also an opportunity to open the doors of the church a little more so the community can get to know the church building. Hopefully it will be a spiritual experience for all. It`s a lot of work and I had the idea only last Thursday because I didn`t realize it`s already Easter time. I`ll let you know how it goes.  Between that and the baptism on Saturday it will be a great week. 

Yesterday the hour changed to an hour later, but NO one bothered to tell us (this happened in October, too, making us an hour late for General Conference) and so we got to church right when we thought it was 8:30 but it was only 7:30. The ONE day on the mission when we could have slept an extra hour, and we didn`t take advantage of it. And that also explains why the members I called at 7:45 answered so sleepily...ha.

The facts you sent mom, about the affects of soda on health, were very interesting. What I love about you is that you accept truth no matter what it`s source, and you accept it by living it, whether it be easy to incorporate into your life or not. I want to be like that. For instance, we used to buy deli meat, and frozen juice and crackers and stuff. I`m pretty sure you don`t do that anymore. Even more, I remember when we made Kool Aid and had Capri Suns! But when you learned that meat and juice are not good for you, you changed. You didn`t think, "Well I`m comfortable eating this, so it doesn`t matter what the truth is." It is such a good analogy of how we should react when we learn what the truth is.....makes me think of people here who have felt the spirit tell them this is Christ`s church, but are just too comfortable in their (cough Catholic cough) ways that they ignore the feelings they`ve felt and continue in what is comfortable instead of what is correct. It is so easy to just do our will, when we are sent here to earth to see if we will do HIS will. 

I honestly love my mission so much and am so absorbed in the work, which I feel is an accomplishment. In the beginning of my mission, I used to spend my spare time thinking of my personal life, and now I almost always catch myself thinking about our investigators or the ward or what I can do to better explain something. I`m so thankful God has helped me truly change who I am. 

And that`s what He does for all of us if we just let Him. If we just do something to indicate our sincerity and true intent, He makes up the rest. I have such a strong testimony of the love of our Father in Heaven. We have trials because He loves us, we have moments of joy because He loves us, we have the gospel because He loves us. We have failures and moments of despair that He lets happen in part because He loves us. 

I love you so much, mom and dad, and brothers and sisters. I never hear from any of you except Hope and Carrie, but I think and pray for you. I wish so badly that I could go through the temple with Hope this week. I love the temple and know it is God`s work we do there. I wish we could all be worthy to be in the temple together when occasions like this happen. The temple is the goal, because it is a piece of heaven on Earth, and Heaven is the great goal, no? Well hopefully I`ll be getting married in about a year so that`s a great goal to look forward to----being in the temple together for that. I hope we can all remember that after this life things such as our career, car, house, popularity, grades, or bank account don't matter. The only thing that matters at that great day is our relationship with God and with others, and our obedience to Him. 

Your Exceedingly Happy Sister Missionary,

*Translation:  Where do I start?  This week was great and every day I enjoyed the Lord's work more and more.  I am so happy here.  I feel like this week was one of the most meaningful of my mission.  We have worked very hard to fulfill our daily goals all seven days (We call it "getting seven of seven").  It's more difficult to say than it is to do.  We have seen so many miracles.  For example, to meet our objectives we had to have at least one of the key indicators (lesson with a member, another lesson, receive a referral, contacting referrals, and a new investigator). Some days it's difficult to get every one.  Anyway, we met our daily goals all the days except Thursday.  Thursday evening after a long ward council meeting, we still had to contact one referral or our dream of 7/7 was down the drain.  It was 9:30 p.m. and we had to go home and couldn't do any more contacting.  I was so sad.  But then, at 9:35 p.m., a referral I had called earlier but who hadn't responded, called us!  I fixed a date for visiting him on Sunday.  Referral and contact!  It was clear evidence  to me that God is aware of his little missionaries.

"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.". Edmund Burke

This is Faith's email from March 18

Hola Familia,

I haven`t had time to read your emails completely yet. But I noticed that you`re poppin, Hope. How great. :) Just imagine that feeling times 10 in some moments in your mission. I am so excited for you and I know you will love your mission and influence a lot of people. I think about you all the time.  I LOVE your witty emails to death. I want to see that Elastigirl meme (I almost said Hermana Incredible, tryng to think of her name, ha) because it`s so me and you. 
Ethan, happy 7th birthday yesterday! You are a great kid and such a sweet nephew. 

I haven`t really thought at all about what I`m going to write today. It was a very average week. We worked hard, had some good experiences, but I can`t remember them right now. 
Nancy didn`t come to church yesterday. We fasted for her on Friday (for her and Esther and Adela and Christian and Leo and Liz and Sofia and Elio and.....I hope a fast isn`t less powerful if you fast for like 10 people) and on Saturday we had a very spiritual, tear-jerking lesson. She has felt the spirit while reading the Book of Mormon and while praying about the church, but hasn`t connected the dots to realize that is an answer from God that this is the true church. She seems to think it is just another nice church. She said she wanted to go to her church on Sunday but would go to ours after, but she didn`t. 
BUT, we had four other investigators at church yesterday, one of them being Esther, who got married in February. I love her so much. She is really acting in faith. It`s just hard for her to get to church, but we asked Alipio to pick her up on his moto yesterday and he did. (He always saves the day, he is a full time missionary without a nametag pretty much. As a member I want to follow his example. He has a repair shop and shares the gospel with literally every client, and gives us references several times a week. And he`s just a member of 3 years!)

On Saturday a few of our plans fell through and we had an hour before an appointment to just contact and talk to people. I could have decided to go see people we know but decided to just contact. We asked references from every contact and soon a reference led us to clap the house of a woman named Dora who was sick in bed with arthritis pain. She`s only 46 but has 12 kids (a woman after my own heart, haha) and her husband left her a few years ago. I said, "God sent us to see you, Dora," and she said, "True, no?" We sang "Where can I turn for peace" (Hna. Francois has a beautiful voice and harmonizes great) and prayed with her and planned to come back another day to help her and teach her. She seemed very touched and had tears in her eyes. As we left I thought, "That is what it is to minister." Christ always ministered, and as a mission we have been talking about how important it is to do that, and what ministering means. I don`t want to live my life in such a rush that there is no time to minister, to just go about doing good as Christ did. I don`t want to be rushing so much from classes and appointments and activities that there  is no time to observe those around me and act on my observations. How many times have I passed by perfect opportunities to invite others to come unto Christ because I was rushing to keep up with the plan in my agenda?

We`re teaching three daughters of an inactive member, and the youngest is named Milagros, she`s 9. She loves the gospel and loves church SO much. She just eats up everything. We had a lesson on faith the other night and asked her how she knows that God exists. She said, "Well there`s pictures here in the Book of Mormon of God, and someone had to take the pictures!" It was so cute.  I hope her family will go to church with her--there isn't a child on earth who doesn`t want to go to church with their family. Oh how they all deserve that. 

I feel like I had a revelation this week about how to teach the Doctrine of Christ. Soccer is huge here (like everything else, it can be a vice....young men sometimes play all day and all night, which means they are too tired to get up and go to church, too tired to work or go to school....seriously, it`s an addiction). Anyway, I explained that life is a partido (soccer match) and there are two teams, Satan`s and God`s. And we already know who is going to win, and so does Satan, but he wants as many people on his team as possible. And to be on his team we don`t have to do anything. But to be on God`s team we have to have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the holy ghost, and be obedient until the end. This is what Christ clearly taught. He did not say all we have to do is "be good," as so many Christians think, there is a specific recipe so to speak. It is much harder to live a life on God`s team, no? But the rewards are worth it; eternal life, happiness in this life and the next, etc. I have been using this little analogy a lot and it has been really effective because every man is just glued as soon as I say the word "partido." 

My testimony of fasting has grown. My testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown. My testimony of my need to be more humble has definitely grown.  I`m so thankful for the many blessings God gives us as we try to be fit to be on His team. 
I love you all so much, I love the people we are teaching so much, I love this whole world and I love the Church, because it`s HIS.  

Your Sister Missionary,
Hermana Goimarac

"I want to be a smooth and polished arrow in the quiver of the Almighty." Joseph Smith‏

This is Faith's March 11th email.  

Dear Family,

Thanks for your conference talk, Dad! I loved it. I actually just came across the ward conference talk you sent me while I was in the MTC about the Atonement and read it last night. Two ward conference talks from dad in two days! What a boost. 

Mom, that little girl is not blind in the pictures. She`s actually gorgeous. I`m trying to attatch a better one of us. Her name is Rosita and she insists on kissing both my cheeks every time we pass by her house. Oh the precious moments that make up the days and life of a misionera. 

Tell me about the sisters in the ward! Tell them I love them for me.  Hope, you have to go out and work with them! I hope that the ward sweeps them up and loves them as much as this ward has welcomed us. They help us a lot and are often concerned for our safety and temporal well-being. I have been thinking lately how much my life will be different because I have served a mission. Yes, I would have been active my whole life still, I would have married in the temple and raised a righteous family all the same, but I would not be such a missionary. When I go home I truly am going to make missionary work a part of my life. I am going to be the best visiting teacher there is. I am going to reach out to every unfamiliar face at church. I am going to visit less actives just to do it. I am going to give references to the missionaries every time they come over. Really, the best missionaries are members. Missionary work is so exciting, I simply can`t give it up in October. 

A couple weeks ago we asked an investigator for references and she said we could visit her sister in law, Nancy. Nancy reluctantly let us in. Come to find out her aunt had died three weeks before and she was distraught. She`s 32, two kids, and fighting to keep her marriage happy even though it`s not easy. I marked a few verses in Alma 40 about what happens after this life, and the next time we visited she said that she read it and it comforted her a lot. We marked 3 Nephi 11 for her to read, and the next visit she said she read it all and got goosebumps and felt so good as she read it. She does every reading assignment and actually prayed to ask God if it is true, and said she again got "piel de gallina" and feels it is true. And yesterday, she came to church!! It is so hard to get people to chruch these days, but she came with her 8 year old daughter to sacrament meeting yesterday! And she liked it. She came to church even though her uncle died at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning. I feel like God is preparing her and we were here just at the right time for her.  

Marcos and Elva have been impossible to find at home lately, and on Saturday we found Marcos at home, but he said, "Sincerely, we need to take a break temporarily from your visits. I have a personal inconvenience, and I assure you it`s nothing personal and it`s not that I don`t have interest in the church. I will be going to church, but just right now I don`t have time to receive the lessons." I was reallllllllllllllllly sad to hear that, especially without a clear explanation. I feel very strongly that they will get baptized and be strong members. And how badly I want to be a part of it. He said, "I will let you know when you can come back." Which usually means, in Paraguay talk, never. But Hna. Francois asked if we could pray with him right there in his doorway before we left, and he said yes. After the prayer he said, "You know what, give me just two weeks. Come back in two weeks." So we will. Please keep praying for them, as am I. 

We have not been able to find new investigators who are very interested lately, and as we know the investigators most likely to progress are friends of members, I had the idea to have a missionary fireside for the ward to hype them up about missionary work and have them give us references right then and there. We prepared a really nice program, but only 6 people came yesterday. We got 6 references, all from the Franco family who already helps us a ton. It made me think of the story of the man who was building a cathedral, and he took the time to carve a beautiful bird on the inside of a beam near the roof, where no one would see it. Someone asked him why he carved it there if no one would see it, and he said it was for God, not for men. Even if no one benefits from my efforts, at least God notices them, and that`s a comfort to me. 

Can someone fill me in on world and church news? I saw something that said in 1954, when you were born, mom and dad, there were 219 stakes in the world. When you were serving missions in the 1970`s there were about 1000 stakes, and now there are almost 3000. I can only imagine how fast the church is going to grow in my lifetime. It`s so exciting. I think soon everyone will be talking about the church and will have to ask the question, "What team am I on?"

Last night we came home to a house with no power or water, which was weird because all the houses around us had light. We studied and planned by candelight and went to bed, and still this morning it was dark and waterless (we ended up discovering some mischievous little kid had flipped a switch right outside the house. Thanks, little criatura). It put me in a pensive mood (you know you`re a missionary when you`re constantly thinking in analogies). I thought, if a baby were to be born in the dark and never saw light, it would never know the difference. It would grow up thinking that`s how the world is and would adapt. If someone were to come into their dark world and try to explain what light is, this child would probably not understand and not have any reason to want to change---he`s comfortable, adjusted, content. It would be difficult for this child to even imagine how wonderful light is. It`s the same with the gospel. Those of us who have seen the light try to give it to others and how I wish they would just try to receive it in their life. They can`t even imagine the peace one feels in the temple, the financial security that comes from paying tithing, the joy that comes from a family united by family prayer and home evenings, the comfort that comes from a knowledge of the plan of salvation, the relief that comes from baptism and daily repenting and weekly partaking of the sacrament. Members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints live an abundant, light-filled life---not based on things or the cheap entertainments of the world that cloud the lives of and brings deceiving contentment to so many without the truth. This light is partially in all religion and with all who trust in God and believe in Christ, but only completely in the restored gospel. How thankful I am that the light of the truth has been restored in it`s fulness to the earth!!!!!

I am so deeply grateful for the mercies God offers to even slow, in-effective, weak little me. I am so thankful for the support I feel from Him as I kneel down and plead for help. And I am so thankful for His love that I feel through my family. I miss you more than ever but ironically I am more thankful than ever to be His missionary. 

HIS sister missionary,
Hermana Goimarac

Monday, March 4, 2013

God Remembers Still

Dear Family,
Can I just say how much I love my family? I especially love you when I get to read your emails. Mom, dad, Hope and Cameron....you the only ones who still write me. Thank you for your sincere support. Know that you make one sister missionary`s Monday every single week. 
Life can be so rough sometimes, huh? Sometimes it seems like there are so many awful things happening, not just little catastrophes at home (7-year-olds who break van windows) but huge problems in the world at large (such as the fact that 85% of 16-year-old girls in Paraguay are pregnant or already have a baby, no exaggeration). But then, there are other times, when I see that life is really so beautiful. I just love the world. I was running this morning right after sunrise and it was actually cool for once, and I just felt so alive. It is a great time to be on earth. The gap between good and evil is widening. God has restored His truth to the earth and it`s flooding every nation slowly but, oh, so surely. I have never been so thankful to be a part of God`s work. Some days I am just so content to be a missionary that I don`t want the day to end. I don`t want the end of my mission to get closer. 

And that`s saying something considering how things have been going. We had some great lessons this week and worked very, very hard. Didn`t waste one minute of time and had tons of lessons with members present. On Saturday we visited everyone with a member to help them go to church on Sunday. And out of about 10 who committed to go to church.....no one came. We passed by for three on Sunday morning to walk with them, and to no avail. It`s amazing how many people get sick between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Every class at church was so good and the testimony meeting was full of pure testimonies that would have been perfect for our investigators to hear. Que serà, serà. 
But even if no investigator is progressing at the moment, I still am. I`ve been thinking a lot the past couple days about how obedience makes us free. Like what you said mom about the sister who bore her testimony yesterday of all the many things we CAN do when we follow the gospel.  I have such a strong, strong testimony of that truth. I feel truly concerned for those who view commandments as restricting. Take Sofia for instance. She is 18 with an 11 month old baby, and the father of her baby recently died in a moto accident. She is now living with her alcoholic parents who sometimes kick her out of the house at night simply because they`re out of control, leaving her to take her baby and find a place to sleep. She desperately wants to change her life and get away from her parents, but it`s hard to find work with a baby to take care of (and to think that obedience to the word of wisdom and law of chastity would almost eliminate her heart ache).  She was actually living in the next town over, Laurelty, and listening to the sister missionaries there, but moved here about three weeks ago. Two days after she moved into our area I randomly clapped her house not knowing who lived there, and she came out and told us that she had been taking the lessons from the sisters in Laurelty, and that us showing up without knowing she was there really testified to her that God is aware of her. Anyway, she is so stuck. Stuck but with dreams of a better life and upfront honesty about her past, which allows us to help her. So she`s not really stuck because she`s learning about the gospel which is the ultimate liberator.  But the most beautiful thing about the gospel is that even when we are completely stuck or weighed down by sin, we can always, always, always choose to become unstuck through repentance.  I can give example after example of people who are in really desperate, tight situations and are everything but free. Not to say that if we are obedient we will never have a crisis or dilemma, but I do believe that if we are obedient we will always have the power and means to overcome our problems and learn from them, and use them for our good. I know with all my heart that the only pathway to happiness in this life and the next is obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no. other. way.

I really love Hna. Fracois. She and I have been having such great conversations that I haven`t had time to write in my journal at night or do anything productive. It`s kind of nice being able to talk in English again to my comp. This is the first time I`ve known more spanish than my companion, and it is funny sometimes to both of us and our investigators. The difference between oveja (sheep) and arveja (peas)  or salvo (saved) and salvado (salty) for instance is small, but the meaning can be significant. We are the peas of God, and we can be salty. We are getting along great and she is going to be a powerful missionary.  Mom, her NGO is called Models of the Century, I don`t know yet how I`m going to fit my goat project into that. 

These kids are a LOT cuter than they appear in this picture. They`re my faves. Aaaaaakkkkk they are so precious. I just love them to death, and love it when they yell HERMANAS at the top of their lungs. 
One more success story is that we visited a menos activo young man named Pablo Correa who is waiting for his mission call. We have had such powerful visits with him that he is now excited for his mission and went to church yesterday. He`s so great. 

I love you, family, so much. I hope you are all able to feel the Spirit this week and remember the many blessings we have being so rich in the gospel. 
Your Sister Missionary,
Hermana Goimarac (The first)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Your sorrows can be swallowed up in the joy of Christ"-- Hope Goimarac

It feels like a month since I`ve written, so much has happened. On Tuesday we went to Asuncion to pick up my companion, Hna. Francois (you know how that`s pronounced, mom, but everyone here reads her nametag and pronounces it literally, frankoys, haha). She and I and Pres and Hna. Madariaga went to lunch at a really nice chinese buffet, just the four of us, which was so special.  Hna. Francois is amazing. She is from Haiti but got a scholarship and studied for two years at NY state university and was living there when she left on her mission. She joined the church at 11, her mom is inactive. She has all sorts of dreams and goals to change the world and we plan on being friends for life and solving world hunger and helping poor children. She already started an NGO and I`m going to join it with my goat project after the mish.
Hope, your talk gave me and Hna. Francois the goosebumps (I read it to her). You are such a good writer! And I am so glad I wasn`t the translator because I have no idea how I could have put your beautiful words into spanish. I`m so proud of you. THank you for your overly kind words about me. It makes the mission worth it if I have been able to influence my family for good.  Have you thought about asking your stake pres if you can leave a change early? I would look into it. But with sisters in the ward (!!!!!!!) you can go on divisions with them and it will be so fun! It would make their day if their first week you volunteered to go out with them and show them around town and visit less actives or set up with member lessons with them. Make them treats, write them notes, introduce them to your friends, give them references. That`s what us sisters want. References from members. Like your co workers. Just tell them to show up at their houses.
We had a great zone conference this Friday. Oh man I love them. They had a birthday cake for me and Elder Seaton, my zone leader, because we have birthdays in February, and they all sang in english, spanish, and guarani. The assistants gave a great presentation on happiness, and how happiness really comes when we do the will of the Lord. It`s true, when I ignore a prompting or don`t do something I could have done, I feel guilty. And guilt is the opposite of happiness. But when I just do what I know I should I feel happy. It`s simple. Obedience equals happiness. Faith equals happiness. That is our message to the world! If we work hard our whole lives, we can stand before God at the end of our lives and be free of guilt. That is the great objective. And all we are trying to do as missionaries is help peolple live in a way so that they, too, can look God in the eye without guilt.
Today we went to San Lorenzo to get lomitos arabes with the elders and I invited Hna. Pelozo (Silvia, now). It was so fun to see her. I love her so much. It is such a privilege to get to know such great girls on my mission. How did I get so blessed?
As far as the work, we had less time this week with all the traveling to Asuncion and the zone conference. Marcos and Elva had family in town and didn`t go to church. No one went, actually, except a new investigator named Orlando, who is 18 and whose family heard from the elders a lot about 3 years ago. We taught Milciades (the police guy) and he loves the church already, thinks the Restoration makes so much sense. It was so fun to teach him, but he doesn`t live in our area so we can`t continue with him.
I heard Hope say that the church made 58 new missions!!!!! What music to my ears! How very exciting! We actually heard today that Paraguay will have three missions (right now there are two). A mission in Argentina is going to cover part of Paraguay. And in July Pres Madariaga and his wife go home, and our new pres will be Pres McMullin and his wife, from Bluffdale Utah. He served in Ecuador and she in Spain. Yea for returned missionary couples!
Well, I`m in a hurry to get an FHE ready for tonight. Just know I know obedience to God is the only way to real happiness.
Hermana Goimarac

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