Before I forget to tell you, just let me tell you what I had for lunch today, A falafel! Yeah! I was taken right back to Jerusalem. :)
Well, it was a great, great week. We had stake conference yesterday. We had some great lessons with members. We found a great family that is progressing, named the Benitez family, and we had an awesome lesson with members last night. Nothing like a good with-member lesson to make a missionary on cloud 9. That`s all I want in life right now--good lessons with prepared people, which is just what we had. Miriam Benitez, the mom, has never been baptized in any church, and as we were teaching about the apostasy, she was like, "So how did we get the authority again??" She UNDERSTOOD. So many people just don`t understand the importance of authority, or the Restoration in general. But she does and her two kids, Paula and Elias, also love church. We found them because our little 12-year-old convert, Ronni, is Elias`s friend and invited him to church. Now Elias has been going to church every week for about a month and told his mom he likes it better than his grandma`s church (Pentecostal) and his dad`s church (Catholic), that he feels better there. The dad is not quite as on-board as the rest but he`s not against anything, which is a blessing. Pray for the Benitez family!
Also, Karen was doing great and agrees with everything. We`ve really seen how God has been preparing her. However, yesterday she talked to her dad who goes to an evangelical church, and called us and said she is confused. We are going to see her tonight. It just hurts to see people trust more in the opinions and false ideas about "the mormons" than the answers to prayer they have received from God. Karen has felt the spirit and has recognized it, but now she seems to be confused from (probably false) things her dad says. Pray for her, too.
Speaking of rejection, this week we just got some nasty reactions. On the bus to church yesterday I said to a man how the Church of Jesus Christ is the same church that Christ himself established during his life and he said, "Mentiras! (Lies!) Joseph Smith was a liar and a murderer." It just breaks my heart, not that I`m offended that they don`t see the world as I do, just that they are losing so many blessings, and salvation as well. But, according to Luke 6:22-23, I should be leaping for joy when people reject us like that, haha.
So you all want to know about my new position as Sister Training Leader. On Thursday we went to the office and had a historic meeting with Pres and Hermana Madariaga about what exactly our role is. They don`t really know much either, but we established what we`re going to do. We`re mostly zone leaders but for the sisters of the whole mission, going on divisions twice a week in order to do a division with each sister every 6-week change. Pres says he expects us to be exemplary missionaries---i.e. as perfect as can be. Keep a clean house, have a map of the area on the wall labeled with our investigators and menos activos (less actives), etc., be perfectly obedient to mission rules, keep an immaculate area book, contact everyone, etc. I am so excited. Ever since, I`ve been analyzing everything I do, thinking, "Would a perfect sister missionary say that? Do that? Eat that? Wear that?" It`s truly more of a privilege than a sacrifice or burden. We`re supposed to keep our area very active, a model area that other sisters can learn from. It`s a lot of pressure but God is with us, so I`m very excited. We`re starting this week, doing divisions on Wednesday and Saturday. One of us will have to travel to each area and a sister from that area will come to our area to work with one of us for the day. I even get to go way up to Concepcion and Pedro Juan eventually! (What I would give to see the dear Meza family again! Nila Meza wrote me recently and told me her family is very active and she is a counselor in YW, that she wants to serve a mission and marry an RM. :)) As STLs we are also going to speak in every zone conference for 30 minutes, and in mission leadership council on the first Monday of every month to the zone leaders for 30 minutes on the topic of our choosing. Pres said I very well might have this position for the rest of my mission, whew! Although he`s out of here in July, so who knows.
By the way, I love Hermana Greer. I feel like I am the best missionary when I am her companion. We wake up early and go for a full 30-minute run, we don`t eat sugar, we talk to everyone, we kneel to pray at the end of every visit, we just both try really hard. We have great conversations. We wake up so happy every day. We practically pop out of bed and are like, "Yes! Let`s go preach the gospel! The field is white all ready to harvest!" Mutual desires to be obedient is the trick for a good relationship, no matter what it be. I feel like I could get along with anyone as long as she tried to be obedient.
A year ago on April 24th I got on a bus and rode for 7 hours from Asuncion to Concepcion, my first area, with my first companion, Hermana Springer. Elder Tenney bought us and his new comp chipa, a very common Paraguayan cheesy bread made from flour of mandioca. I had never heard of it before. I thought it was weird. I was so inexperienced in every aspect of being a missionary and had no idea what to expect. I admired my companion for everything she did. "She talks on the phone in Spanish!" "She just walks up to people and talks to them!" "She reports numbers to the zone leaders!" And this year on April 24th, Hermana Greer and I recognized our 1-year mark (we landed here together, we were on the same plane) by buying the best chipa in Isla Bogado, called Chipa Tati. It`s crunchy on the outside, hot and cheesy on the inside. Soooo good. And I thought back to that day one year before when I curiously took a bite of my first chipa ever. It was the first of many, just like Hermana Springer said. And I thought of how the past 365 days have been SO happy and so hard. Truly, as clichè as it is, truly the best year of my life. I am forever grateful I took that leap of faith into the MTC and never looked back. My mission is holy ground for me and I love it more and more every day.
Really, the truth is, God loves us so much and wants us to succeed. Yes, life is a test, but God wants us to get an A+. He does everything to help us not fail. He sent his own Son and He established a church so we would always have guidance in life. And so that we know which church is from Him, He gave that Church His permission, or authority. And He gave us the Book of Mormon so we have proof that this is indeed the same church Jesus Christ established. And then he sends missionaries all over the world so that everyone knows of the great news. He does everything possible to help us succeed. It is just amazing.
I have so many stories I could tell this week: a great experience of praying to feel the spirit and it was noticebly felt by us and this young mom Irene we were teaching, finding a less active who had been praying the missionaries would find her, fasting for a couple in our ward who is having marriage troubles, and going out with Ester to visit a less active neighbor or hers and hearing her bear her simple testimony. So much to say, and even with 2 hours there`s not enough time....nor do any of you probably have enough attention span, haha. Sorry I`m kind of long-winded.
Your Sister Missionary,
Sister Faith Goimarac
Our district right before changes. Elder Caceres (de Paraguay) and Elder Garcia (de Peru).
crazy blessed days in Paraguay.