Well, let´s see what I´ve done for the first time this week, to go with Hope´s theme. In my second-to-last-change, it´s not easy. For the first time I put my weekly baptismal goal as 7, and my monthly goal as 9. Other than that....I´ve mostly done things that I´ve done many, many times. And things I will painfully miss when I am no longer a missionary. But Hope, 59 lessons in a week!? Sheeesh! If I had done that it would for sure be the first! I´m happy when we get 4 or 5 lessons a day. What´s your secret to time management? I suppose the car would help. Anyway, way to go!
I don´t know how to start explaining to you all that I learned this week about faith, prayer, fasting, God being a God of miracles, how true our living prophet is, how exciting missionary work is, how involved God is in the small details of our lives, how God asks us to meet goals in order to bless more people, how God helps one stay missionary-focused even when she gets distracting mail, how patience is an important virtue to the salvation of souls...
I have a great story about how we are all in the work of salvation together, we all play an important part. Hermana Greer, pay attention. :) On Saturday we went to a baptism of the zone leaders in Palma Loma. The convert´s name is Raquel. My former companion Hna. Greer contacted her on a bus one Friday at the end of April. It was a fairly normal contact that she didn´t necessarily remember, nor probably recognize as having just sown an imporant seed in good ground. Little did Hna. Greer realize that this lady had been "praying for angels" in her life, because she had a lot of problems. The next day, Elder Blackmore gave a talk in his ward and raised cain a little bit on how we as members need to open our mouths and share the gospel. A member in his ward, Hermana Moreira, thought to herself that she needed to open her mouth more. So she grabbed some pass along cards from the wall in the church building and while walking home, saw her neighbor whom she didn´t really know, and decided to invite her to learn more about the church. Her neighbor was Raquel. This being Raquel´s second contact with the church in three days, she recognized this as an answer to her prayers and asked if the missionaries could visit her. Yesterday we attended her beautiful baptism and it was a testimony to me that "God does notice us and He does answer our prayers, but it is usually through another person that He meets our needs," as President Kimball said. God answered the prayers of this woman through a missionary who was just trying to be a good missionary, and a member who listened to a talk in sacrament meeting and decided to apply it to her life, neither of whom immediately saw the big picture or saw immediate fruits. Let the seeds be sown, we really have no idea when or how they will sprout, and then the sower and the reaper shall rejoice together (John 4:36-37)
On Wednesday night Hna. Macfarlane, and Hna Aguero and I were all out together because Hna. Macfarlane was feeling good enough to go out. We hadn´t planned on visiting the Resquin family, but we had met our daily goals already and I felt we should visit them, even though the majority of them are very active now (preparing to be sealed in the temple, and to think when I got here they were super inactive!). We went and found the sons Angel and even Arnaldo (Ester´s husband who avoids us like the plague now!) and they were there with their friend, Alfredo. We talked about the blessings of the temple with their family and congratulated them on their goal to go and be sealed there in August. We know that Angel hangs out with a rough crowd and we´re pretty sure he does drugs. Hna Macfarlane shared her experience, of having gone inactive for several years and doing drugs and smoking and drinking, and then how the Book of Mormon changed her life, and how it was a long road of repentance, but she eventually became temple-worthy. The spirit was so thick. She was very blessed to share all of this very clearly even with her very limited Spanish. Hna. Aguero also shared her testimony, being a fairly recent convert, and I shared mine and my love for the Resquin family. We all testified of Jesus Christ. In a way, it is very exciting being in a three-some instead of just a companionship of two. It was like 1, 2, 3 testimonies! Three people who love you! BAM! Fight that! The gospel is true, and we three witnesses testify and invite you!
Anyway, we left not really expecting much of it because Angel hasn´t been to church in years. But on Sunday, half way through gospel principles, he walks in with his friend Alfredo! As they walked in, I felt the Spirit remind me that that very morning I had prayed for the less actives of this ward. I had prayed that God would touch their hearts and give them a desire to go to church.
Being a missionary, I pray for lots of things and for lots of people. And I don´t always recognize or even see the results of my prayers. I guess sometimes I have even doubted that my prayers make a difference, because it seems that whatever happens would have happened whether I had prayed or not. But this experience, with the impression coming to my mind that Angel going to church was a blessing from my prayer of faith, helped me realize that God is just waiting to bless us, but usually requires us to ask Him first, to exercise faith in Him. The same thing happened on Monday night when I really wanted to get our daily goals and we lacked one lesson with a member present. The only member in the neighborhood is an inactive convert of one year, Sergio, who lives with his nonmember wife. It was our only hope for getting our goals. When he came to the door, he asked if we could come back tomorow. I said, no, and prayed in my heart that he would let us in. He went in to ask his wife if we could visit. As we waited I just prayed in my heart. And he said to come in! I again felt that this was a result of my having prayed. It was like God is trying to teach me that my prayers do make a difference. We taught and his wife asked us to visit her sister Sally the next day, who is a drug addict and very lost in life. We went the next day to visit her, and our visit was an answer to HER prayers. She said that that morning she had been crying and asking God to help her. She is so captivated in her addiction. She felt bad for letting her 5-year-old daughter see her cry. When we showed up and asked to visit with her, she began to cry and told us all of this. We taught her of Jesus Christ and the healing nature of the atonement, and we all cried together. :) She has a long way to go to change her life, but don´t we all.
These experiences made me think of the song by Cherie Call that goes, "There are yeses that our Father can hardly wait to give, and they are packed in every crevice of the lives we live." We so often just recognize the "no´s" that God gives us, times when our prayers are not answered how we wish they were. The truth is, He gives us SO many yeses, and even the "no´s" are yeses in the end. I know with all my heart that God answers every single prayer, that every time we speak to Him, He listens.
Last Saturday after lunch I decided to fast until lunch the next day, even though I hadn´t previously thought to do that. I fasted to have 6 baptisms this change. We already had the four Estigarribia family set for the 3rd, but I felt we could have more and desperately wanted to find more people to teach. That week we found the aunt of Ramona, Fatima and Junior Escobar and talked to her about her nieces and nephew getting baptized. Actually, before we even brought it up she asked us if we could baptize them or bless them or something, because they were never baptized. It was a very spiritual visit. Within a few days of my fast, we had 7 people with the baptismal date of August 3rd. This Saturday is a white Saturday and we are all so happy. Yesterday I asked these youth how they feel about being baptized, and they just beamed and said they are so happy and wish it was Saturday already.
Christian Morales is also really progressing. He was already baptized in an evangelical church, by immersion, but after learning about the Restoration says that he feels in his heart he must be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ. He didn´t go to church yesterday but feels really bad. It´s just that his family didn´t have one cent and had no food, so if he didn´t work that Sunday morning they wouldn´t have eaten that day. It broke my heart to hear that. We must help people in temporal ways so it doesn´t interfere with their spirituality and salvation. Anyway, we clapped his house as our last visit one night at like 8:30 at night when it was freeeeeezing cold, and I honestly didn´t think he would come out, but he did. He braved the cold to listen to two little sister missionaries.
Here are some blessings you should all be grateful for this week:
-Heated water in sinks. I forgot about its importance until washing my face was like unto the cold shock of the Titanic hitting a glacier.
-Heated houses. It seemed overrated until getting into bed was like unto slipping into the icy sea after the Titanic hit.
-Living where the people are generally honest. On Tuesday someone stole our cell phone. There went 6 months worth of phone numbers of the members, contacts, and investigators. It´s my fault because I put it in the mesh pocket on the back of my backpack, and while contacting someone I just didn´t feel someone take it. How sneaky. The bishop´s motorcycle was also stolen while he was doing interviews at the church. And if anyone doesn´t deserve that, it´s him, such a saint.
Last night we had another great lesson with the Estigarrbia family. They are so converted because of the Book of Mormon. They have a strong testimony of it already. Yesterday Carlos said that before going to church he wanted to get his family together to pray and read a little bit in the Book of Mormon. He likes to say a prayer and then open the Book of Mormon randomly and read the verse his finger is by, randomly. Yesterday he opened up to Mosiah 26:20-24 which talks about the blessings of baptism. It really made an impression on them.
I am reading the New Testament one more time before the end of my mission, and yesterday the story of the pearl of great price once again drew my attention. The man who found the pearl of great price sold everything to be able to find this pearl of GREAT price. He probably had lots of good pearls, but when he recognized the greatest, it was worth everything. Seekers after truth may find lots of things that are good and desirable, and not find the greatest truth of all, the truth that will save. But, I truly believe that if one seeks persistantly and with real intent, in search of pearls and not imitations, God will lead him to the truth and he shall find. But, it comes with a price and he will have to abandon many of his cherished possessions, perhaps cherished traditions and even acceptance from family or friends. As Hope said, many people don´t want to do that. It´s hard. I am eternally grateful to have been blessed with the pearl of great price in my life, and to have a family who also recognizes the truth. The gospel of Jesus Christ will always be my pearl of greatest price, and I am willing to give all I have and am to live it.
Your sister Missionary,
Sister Faith Goimarac I
1. We printed a bunch of these photos to give to our neighbors with a copy of the Book of Mormon and choc chip cookies and a note saying we are their new neighbors. Very Utah-ish, but inspiration none the less.
2. Angel and Alfredo. This is for you, Hna. Greer!
3. Raquel and her children (future missionaries they say!) at her baptism.
4. In front of our house, a beautiful morning.