Monday, July 8, 2013

Amar es Servir (To love is to serve)

Dearest Family,

Oh happiness, happiness, happiness. It would truly be impossible to be so happy doing something that wasn`t the work of God himself. God is so good! So merciful! So just! I just love His parenting style, which pushes us to be better while also granting us sufficient sucess along the way to keep us motivated. 
Anyway, Hope, I loved your email and know what you mean about the Church film 17 Miracles. I watched it for the first time while on a date right before deciding to go on a mission, and as I sat there in the arms of a great young man, I thought, "I don`t want to be here right now. I want to be out building the kingdom of God like these pioneers. They gave everything for the gospel. The least I can do is go on a mission." It was a turning point. And I know what you mean about your love for Amurica. (I had no idea what you meant by 'Murica for a sec and thought it was a Portugese the way, dad, that country Hope invented as a child was Markeetoo. Remember Hope? Can`t believe that came to my head.) We did absolutely nothing to recognize the fourth this year, but I remember last 4th of July I was brought to tears as we sang the Star Spangled Banner in district meeting. God bless the USA!!!!!
Dad, and Sedona ward, I`m so sorry that baptism fell through. I completely understand your pain, just be really patient! Never give up! Dad, thanks for telling me about your testimony yesterday, I think you are doing a great job as bishop. I can see it from here.  Mom, our mission was split but no new mission was created; some areas went to the south mission and some to the Argentina Posadas mission. My trainee, Hna. Quito, was transfered to the south mission and was very sad. I was not able to bid pres Madariaga goodbye, but we said bye a long time ago at zone conference. I can only imagine how hard it was to leave, yet probably a huge relief as well. I would love to be a mission president`s wife, but it is also an incomprehensible responsibility. 
Last night I came in from a great day of hard work absolutely walking on air with gratitude and bursting with a testimony of the restored gospel, and I collapsed into bed with delightful exhaustion, as Elder Holland says we should. A little update on Susan and Carlos will give this more meaning:
On Tuesday I was on a division (with Hna. Francois! So good to be with her again!) but Hna. Macahuachi taught Susan and Carlos the Plan of Salvation. She said it was good but they were still so undecided and said they didn`t want to set a baptismal date.  They said maybe they will get baptized in 10 or 20 years. Ouch. 
Friday we visited and talked about how we have to do our part to receive answers to prayer. We read Ether 12 and it said faith always precedes the miracle. I told the story of my birth and my first name, and the spirit was definitely felt by all. 
Saturday night we visited with the bishop. It was a fantastic visit but Susan said she couldn`t go to church the next day because she had already committed to help at her daughter`s San Juan activity at school at the same hour. 
Sunday morning Carlos shows up at church! THIS IS A HUGE ACT OF FAITH FOR HIM. He said he doesn`t do things like that, especially not by himself. He claims to be very shy and timid, but to me he seems very relaxed and funny. He`s a lot like you, dad. Humble and quiet but has a hidden sense of humor that comes out when he`s in the comfort of his home with his new friends the missionaries. There was a great testimony meeting and lesson on the Sacrament in gospel principles, but I was a little worried about what Carlos would think because the kids were (as always) wreaking havoc during sacrament meeting and I just really wanted him to feel the spirit. And he did! Everyone reached out to him. It all just worked. This is a great ward. 
Sunday night we couldn`t wait to hear about how he liked church, so we visited again with Javier and Leonela with Carlos and his whole family. We asked him how he felt and if he felt the church is true. He said, "It has to be." We asked Susan and she said she feels it is true, too. Guess what beautiful family has a baptismal date for August 3rd! :) Goes to show that when someone truly wants to know the truth, and they read the BOM and pray and go to church, they get revelation from God. They can feel it. We don`t have to do any convincing. I always tell people, "If this is God`s church, He will tell you." And He always does when someone takes the time to ask. 

We had three other investigators in church, and all of my converts were there too. Ester`s daughter was blessed. Ronni passed the sacrament. Miriam Benitez was sitting next to me and I said, "You should bear your testimony for the first time today!" She said she was really nervous, but in the end she did! Last week she was called as the ward librarian to take care of the hymn books and the Liahona magazine and everything. We haven`t been able to talk to her since about how she felt about it, but I was talking with a different member and this member said what a shame that the bishop didn`t pray about what calling to give her, that she should have had a calling that would help immerse her in the doctrine and teach or something. I kind of thought, "Yeah, what a shame. She should have gotten a teaching calling but we have to respect the bishop." Well, what do you know but Miriam gets up yesterday and says, "When the sister missionaries told me I would be getting a calling I was really nervous. I said to God, 'If I have to teach a class or something I just don`t know if I will go to church, I don`t think I can do that, God.  I will clean your house or whatever, but I don`t have the courage to stand up yet in front of people.' And when the bishop called me to be the librarian he said he had prayed a lot to know what calling to give me, and I went home and cried and thanked the Lord. I know that God exists and he knows us. And I know the bishop is called of God." 
What a beautiful testimony, no? Always respect those called of God. As Hope said, calls are not just made by someone saying, "Oh, there`s space here." Hope, you can trust that God will send you where you should be. If He knows new converts in Paraguay should be called as librarians, He knows where His missionaries need to be to touch hearts prepared for them. 

On Thursday we had a Meet-The-New-President meeting. I admire his whole family a lot. They all spoke and introduced themselves.  It was a great time. Both President McMullin and Pres Madariaga met their future wives right before their wives went on missions, and faithfully waited and wrote to them the whole time. Their little boy who is 7 gave a talk that Elder Armstrong (AP) translated into Spanish for him. He talked about how he loves soccer and how life is like a soccer game (what I always tell the Paraguayans!), but that even if we score a million points, we only win because of Christ. I found myself with tears rolling down my cheeks (I am much more emotional after being a missionary for 15 months...don`t know why. I hardly ever cried before). If I have a 7 year old child who understands the atonement that well, I will be very filled. Today we had another leadership council with them and we hermana leaders went to Burger King across the street (never fear, I got a wrap and probably consumed more lettuce in a BK meal than I`ve had in months) with Hermana McMullin to talk about how to help the hermanas in the mission. SO MUCH TO DO. And I love it so very, very much. I`m probably more content in my life right now than I will be in a long time. If God asked me to serve another 6 months I would be even more content. 
Oh! Hermana Greer, you`ll love this. I got a call from an unknown number this week and it was Marian from Piribebuy! She asked when I was leaving the country, and I said Octubre, and she said, "Oh good, you`ll be here for the wedding then!" She and Jorge are planning on getting married on Saturday and then she and Steven (just turned 8) will get baptized!

I know I had a million other things I wanted to say but I can`t think of it right now. Next week I shall know about changes, if I stay or if I go from Isla Bogado. I`ve been in Isla Bogado for 6 months but with the Estigarribia family progressing like this, I hope I don`t go. If I stay though I will have been here for half my mission. 
We are having a talent show on Saturday and Carlos volunteered that his three little daugters dance in it. Cute, huh? It`s like pulling teeth to put on a good activity but we are pulling teeth, anyway. The Kingdom of God or nothing!! They will thank us in the end.
I just can`t say enough how thankful I am for the gospel. Seeing so many people live without it makes me wonder how I would be without it. It scares me. I am so thankful for the bright lights of sister missionaries that are dotting the horizon of the world. Carry on, sisters! May your light so shine before men that they may glorify our Father which is in Heaven! Share the gospel this week! I love you all so much!
Your Sister Missionary,
Sister Goimarac, I

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