Monday, June 24, 2013

"The heart and soul of the gospel is love. All the rest is commentary." --Stephen Robinson

Querida Familia Mia,
Have you ever been so happy you have had to cry? I have. That is pure happiness, not just pleasure. It happened a couple of times to me yesterday, when I felt love for so many things and so much gratitude and the Spirit and happiness all at once, and my heart swells and my throat gets stuck, and my lips quiver as I bear my testimony, and tears fill my eyes. I don`t mean to be mushy or poetic, it`s just how it is. I AM SO THANKFUL TO BE A MISSIONARY. 

I absolutely loved the Work of Salvation broadcast. I know myself well enough to know that if I wasn`t on a mission right now I would have watched the broadcast last night with tears of regret in my eyes. But thankfully, I AM A MISSIONARY right now and was crying with happiness and love for the greatest work on earth. Hope....I told everyone present we had to look for my sister and we all looked....bummer we didn`t see you but I heard your beautiful voice ringing through. :)  I have to say, Hna. Macahuachi and I were expecting some huge announcement--like the opening of China or that sisters will now serve missions for two years or something. But the changes to make more use of the internet to share the gospel will hardly affect us, I think. Anyway, I loved the videos. I have always said that I want to be a returned missionary mom, but yesterday, seeing that video of the family that shared the gospel put my heart running over. I felt God telling me that I can have a family like that, that I need to prepare my children to share the gospel. I don`t want to be a return-missionary mom, but a missionary-mom. It is truly my greatest desire (I think I would consider myself a success if my son reads Preach My Gospel on his i-pad while brushing his teeth like the boy in the video...haha). Then when they had the interview with Sister Niell Marriot and she said she has 11 children, a member of the stake presidency sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Have you thought of having 11 children?!" as a joke, and I nodded my head resolutely, and he got a kick out of my response. But really. 

Right after the broadcast we went with Leonela and Javier to a family that just moved near to us. I contacted the mom, Susan, in a bus a couple months ago, but didn`t understand where she lives to go visit her. A couple weeks ago she passed us while we were walking and had her husband stop the car, and poked her head out and said, "Hermanas! You still haven`t visited me!" and we got her phone number and taught her and her daughters on Wednesday. She is very prepared.  She quit working to raise her three daughters at home, she reads the Bible every day and used to go to a Universal church but felt like it wasn`t doing anything for her, and now doesn`t go to any church because she doesn`t know which to try. We went back last night to teach her with her husband, and he`s a great guy, too, open to the truth. He said, "Why do you guys do what you do? What`s your purpose? What are you hoping to get out of this? A lot of people here, I have to tell you, think you`re here as spies directed by satellite and that you gain money for what you do and after two years you can go back and retire." We`re well-aware of such assumptions. The other big theory is that we`re here to steal their "sweet water." Little do they know their water gives us diarrhea. Ha. Anyway, after joking around a little we explained the significance of the gospel to us. Then, I felt pure revelation coming to my lips. I don`t know that I`ve ever said anything as heart-felt and sincere and straight from my soul as I did then. I said, "Carlos, when I think of what the Savior, Jesus Christ, has done for me....the hope, and the forgiveness, and the comfort, and direction....serving a mission for Him isn`t anything. It`s the least I can do." I felt the spirit so strongly. I don`t know if he did, but I felt such PURE LOVE for God fill me up. I have always been grateful for Jesus Christ, but this was not just a feeling of gratitude for Him, but sincere love. Those moments in Primary and family home evenings, the moments at girls camp and the trek and EFY, the moments in Jerusalem and the moments on my mission when I have learned of Jesus Christ and His atonement all gathered together and I felt such a relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. Not for the first time, but it was one of the strongest moments. 
This week we did two divisions, one I was with Hna. Tomco from Utah here in Isla Bogado. She said, "I wish we had divisions for a week so I could be your companion for longer." That made me feel good (it`s probably just because I speak English, though...ha). Then I went to Piribebuy with Hna. Petien! They had branch night, by coincidence again (it`s just a night when the chapel is open and the members can come to play soccer and get together) and tons actually came! I got to see the dear Velazquez family, and Juan Riveros, and Carlos and Olga Meza, and Primitiva and Santiago and Sonia---my investigators! Hna Greer, Santiago told me to tell you hello and that you`re very special and "te quiero." He seems very converted. I wish I had my camera to send pics. We took a branch picture that is precious. I felt very loved, going back. It`s been such a blessing to re-visit both my old areas. Sonia is the new primary president and just flourishing. 
This week the poverty has been getting to me like never before. It`s gotten very, very cold. Maybe I`m just a baby but it was 8 degrees C on Saturday, and it has been drizzling rain non-stop for like 5 days (thanks for the boots, Hermana Greer! I`m sharing them with Hna. Macahuachi because hers are also holey..haha). I`m living in my favorite brown coat, sleeping in it too because I only have one blanket. I feel like you did mom and dad, sleeping on the trampoline and camping. Except, camping in my own house. And our shower has surprise bursts of cold water. But this is everything but a complaint. I have never been so grateful for a blanket and a luke-warm shower. The other day we visited the Zayas family, on a very cold day, and the little children were all in flip flops or with NO SHOES AT ALL. They had thin little sweat pants on. My heart just about broke. I was shivering with my three pairs of socks and boots on. And Diego, an former investigator who lives with them, said he couldn`t listen to us because he had to take a shower. And indeed he did, he went to the hose and filled up a bucket and went behind the house. I`m sure he would have heated up the water over their fire but they were heating up water for the kids to take baths, and the charcoal they use for fires is like a dollar a they can`t afford to heat everyone`s water. I think of Lizmabel and Luis, some former investigators in Piribebuy I got to see, who still live in a room as big as our upstairs bathroom at home, or of Angy--a contact we visited who lives in a tiny room with her 9-year-old son and shares a bed with him because her husband left her a year ago with NOTHING, or Maria Elena and her 5 kids who also live in a wooden, breezy shack the size of our old pantry and none of her kids know how to read even though they`re teenagers, or Carmen--a single mom member who feeds us on Wednesdays even though she barely has enough for the pan de cada dia (daily bread) for her own kids. The poverty is wearing me down. I can hardly bear to see it. No one is prepared for the cold. If it were to snow here so many would die. I dedicated my hour of personal study the other day to researching poverty in the scriptures, because surely God knows how to help them. I learned a lot and have no time to share, but I covenanted with God to help the poor my whole life. Who are we to say they don`t deserve a hand-out when God gives us so many things that we do not deserve? (Mosiah 4) The question is how do we help them without generating beggers....without making them dependant on help? Anyway, I have a lot to learn but I am determined and excited to improve poverty situations until the day I die. 

I liked what you said mom last week, about the blessings of the gospel, and how they`re not always blessings of a good job, or money, or success, but more like the spirit, forgiveness, the scriptures, etc. I was reading Jesus the Christ in chap. 17 this morning on the Sermon on the Mount and it says the Beatitudes show us what it really means to be blessed. So many here think that blessings mean daily bread, work, and good health. But there are so many things that, according to God are of much more worth. After this life,  daily bread, work and health don`t matter. But the blessings that are promised in the Beautitudes are of eternal value. I am so thankful for the eternal blessings we recieve from the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I bear you my testimony that we are truly in His Church, that obedience to His gospel brings happiness, and that no effort to be obedient or serve one another is EVER in vain. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Love Your Sister Missionary,
Sister Faith Goimarac

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