Monday, August 26, 2013

"Every moment of every day we should be striving." -- Brigham Young (Photos at end)

Mi Amada Familia,

Well, as far as numbers go, this week was pathetic. A mission low church attendance of 31. Actually, I think once in Piribebuy on a rainy day there were only like 22. Anyway, it´s been very, very cold and rainy which makes it very difficult to be effective and get in doors. It was hot on Tuesday; we even bought ice cream out of desperation to cool off. And Wednesday afternoon you would have thought we were in Utah at Christmastime. And it hasn´t stopped raining since then, pretty much. Which means that no one except those with cars went to church, and all the investigators who had a baptismal date didn´t go and thus their date fell. But aside from numbers and productiveness, it was a fabulous week, I´d say. My testimony is stronger, and we blessed lives and brought joy to lots of people. What more could I want? Isn´t that the point, anyway?

I´m glad you were able to have similar experiences at home--stake conference with Elder Ellis? Sweet!

Christian and Rossana are progressing really well. Augustin hasn´t been a problem since last Sunday. We just ignored everything. They had to postpone their wedding until Friday because they couldn´t borrow the money as they had planned, but Christian did get a job (thank you for your prayers!!!) and so they needed a week to earn what they need. Their baptism will be the following Saturday, the 7th. They couldn´t go to church yesterday because of the rain. They have 5 children (the two oldest are Rossana´s from a previous relationship) who are SO CUTE. They have a little girl named Genesis who turned 4 on Friday and should be on a magazine, she is such a doll. She is named that because it was the beginning of Christian´s conversion to "the road of God," as he calls it, when she was born. On Saturday we were literally freezing and walking in the pouring rain with NO luck when we went to visit them. They said they were just about to call us and invite us over for hot chocolate for their daughter´s birthday. Hallelujah! We went into their little house (they are so poor it breaks my heart) and they gave us hot chocolate and we could start to feel our fingers and toes again. Last night we visited them with Javier and Leonela and taught tithing. They are very willing to pay. I love them so very, very much. Christian loves the Book of Mormon and since they couldn´t go to church, they read yesterday together and prayed as a family. They took a hymn book from church to their house, haha. Christian calls hymns "psalms" and wants to learn all of them. What a great, great guy. And to think he used to be a long-haired, drug-using, drinking single guy. God has led him to first be a family man, turn Christian, then find the full gospel, then quit drugs and smoking and drinking and get married while meeting with us. Gah, my heart is full just thinking of them!

This week I fasted twice, for the first time in my life. I felt like I need to do something that will stretch me, something that is hard. It´s not overly difficult for me to be obedient or contact or face persecution or endure freezing rainy days anymore; it´s fairly expected. I want to set goals that are going to really push me.  I fasted on Tuesday for Christian to find a job, and I fasted on Thursday for something else. It is easier and more joyful everytime. Isaiah 58 talks about fasting as the most happy thing, and I finally am beginning to understand that. I have had to do what I always tell investigators to do when they want a testimony of a principle: you have to do it, live it. Fasting wasn´t miserable this time. It is still hard but when you really want something and stay focused on God and your purpose, it really is a joy. And on Friday Christian got a job making rock roads for the city! It´s a demanding job, but something he´s always worked in. 
Yesterday, as I mentioned, almost no one went to church. I can´t blame them, really. What would you do with little children, in pouring rain, with no boots or jacket or umbrella? You´d get soaked and then get sick. In our building, our ward and another branch meet, and I noticed that in the other branch there were just 8 people. I watched the branch president walk in without an umbrella or hood or jacket or anything, just a Sunday sweater. He was SO cold, so wet. I asked him how far he walked and he said, "Just 5 or 6 little blocks." I was so touched by his sacrifice, the majority just stay in bed. These people are so poor and are not at all prepared for the cold or rain, because it isn´t very common. They can´t just go buy an umbrella real quick either, because that would mean not eating that day. 
Since there were no investigators to be in gospel principles, we had a combined Sunday School. I hadn´t been in a gospel doctrine class for over a year, and it was so good to have a deeper gospel discussion! A recently returned missionary gave the class on the martydom of Joseph Smith. We read in D&C 135. I felt the spirit so strongly, from head to toe. I felt such a love for the sacrifices the early prophets and saints made for the restoration of the gospel. I know, independent of anyone and anything, that Jospeh Smith was a prophet. My testimony of him has increased so much lately. My own parents and everyone I know could tell me he wasn´t a prophet, and I would still know he is. I KNOW God restored His church through Joseph Smith. If I were to deny it, I would be denying so much revelation God has given me. I want to live my life as Joseph Smith did, always ready to meet God. When he knew he was about to be killed he said he was as calm as a summer´s morning. That serenity can only come from a life clean from sin and a free conscience, knowing you have done what God wants you to have done. The teacher asked us to think if we would be willing to die to defend the truth. I honestly feel like I would. But more than that, God has asked me to live to defend the truth, which is sometimes a little harder.  This week we got trapped by some young men who sat us down acting like they wanted to learn more about the gospel. We soon realized they were just trying to prove us wrong. They asked me question after question, not waiting for me to answer in between. The Spirit was NOT there. I just wanted to leave them with a Book of Mormon and leave, but they kept looking up all these scriptures in the Bible about how we can´t have any more scripture than what´s in the Bible. I wrote my testimony just for them in the back of a copy while my comp was talking, and offered it to them. They refused it, saying the Bible is good enough for them. I offered it to them three times and they wouldn´t touch it. I wanted to cry. Here I had something SO VALUABLE in my hands...pure evidence that God has called Jospeh Smith as a prophet, and they wouldn´t open their hearts. I asked them, "Who are we to tell God he can´t give us more word?" I read them 2 Nephi 29 something where it says, "Oh, fool, who says we need no more bible." That was probably an un-loving mistake, but I couldn´t resist. (I´m going to miss teaching in Spanish, I´m way more bold in Spanish I feel like.) I´m sure you know how it is, Hope, after reading about that guy who talked your ear off for an hour. I say that if they don´t want to open their hearts to God, then we should move on to those God is preparing who are indeed looking for the truth and WILL listen to the answers we have. I have a new strong testimony that they are out there. Lots of them.
I loved what you said, Hope, about not needing a miracle or an AHA! moment to keep on going, that you are here to stay. I hope God knows that about me, too, that I will never, no never, no never forsake. We are waiting for calls about changes (I guess in the U.S. they say transfers?). We shall see if I stay in dear Isla Bogado for my last six weeks or get to know a new place. I have no idea. 
And congrats on your first baptism Hope! What a dream---showing up to the baptism and having it be full of people and the spirit, warm water, the whole schabang just waiting for you. Don´t get too used to that. Someday you´ll be in a little branch in Brazil and have to lead the opening song while hoping someone other than your convert shows up, and also think about what to say in a talk and wonder who on earth can be the two witnesses...haha. Oh the joys of being on the frontier of church growth. 
This week was Ester´s 20th birthday. She´s having a very hard time but is still fairly optimistic through it all. She hasn´t been going to church very often, and feels very alone in the world. Arnaldo is with another chica....we saw him, and her dad whom she lives with doesn´t really talk to her that much or understand her. She´s so alone. I love her so much and wish I could just make everything better. But anyway, we made her an awesome cake and took hot chocolate and went with a member to celebrate her birthday. If we hadn´t gone it would have been a normal day for her, with no mention of her birthday. She was very thankful to us. 
Oh! Yesterday MODESTO WENT TO CHURCH! The Benitez dad! It was raining so much he didn´t go to work, so he went with his family to church!! He totally knows the chruch is true, he always says that, he just can´t go because he works Sundays in the hospital. We are going there tonight to celebrate my comp´s and Miriam´s birthdays that are this week. It was such a pleasure to see that 9 of the 31 people at church yesterday are my converts. Well, the Lord´s converts that I had the blessing to teach. 
Dad, I´m so happy you get to baptize someone this Saturday! What a special event! I am so thankful to have a father who recognizes his dependancy on God, and is humble and worthy to hold the priesthood of God. Also, thank you mom and dad for writing me every single week without fail. I love you so much. I know I always say that but words are the only medium I have to express myself right now, and it is so true. I mean it with all my heart.
I am eternally thankful for the mercy of God. I have been studying mercy recently in the scriptures and it is incomprehensible how merciful He is! I have a greater desire to be more merciful and forgiving myself, to not dwell on the mistakes of others or their misunderstandings, to not judge based on appearance, to let go of people´s past. I am so thankful for the mercy of God in my own life. It is a tender mercy He has given me to let me serve a mission. He didn´t have to let me, but He did, and I will forever praise Him and thank Him for letting me come...for guiding me away from getting married or pursuing other interests and giving me the desire and means to be a missionary. I LOVE it more than I can type. It is the hardest thing I´ve ever done, yet the happiest. 

Your Sister Missionary,
Sister Faith Goimarac I


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell. (Photos at end)

Dear Family,
I already told mom happy birthday in a different email, but here´s a public Happy Birthday to the greatest missionary mom there is! I hope to never ever return from my mission, just like you never have. Way to be a missionary all the way, mom, to your children, the ward....having a great FHE with investigators is a perfect example. 
Thank you Jessica, Cameron, Elliot, and Tarah for the emails! You are true friends to write me still. I appreciate that so much. 
You asked about my final testimony, mom. Well, apparently it´s a rite of passage I´ll never get. We don´t have regular zone conferences anymore, apparently. It was cancelled, and replaced with President coming to a little zone meeting we had among like 15 missionaries and we talked about ward council. I was super bummed but I have to just flow with the changes that come with a change in mission president.  He said we´ll just have big zone conferences every time a general authority comes, which is once or twice a year. 

Let me tell about our charming walk to church yesterday. Well, some back up information. On Friday I prayed with so much faith that God would lead us to a family to teach, a new family. We clapped lots of houses and no one was interested. We received a reference from the bishop (!!!!) to visit a man but he turned out to not be interested. But then we got another reference from a random contact to visit a father, Julian, who has a lot of kids. We went, and their situation just made me so sad. There are 5 kids ages 17-5 and the mom left them 3 years ago. The dad lives with them and works and the oldest daughter, 14 years old, takes care of the rest. They were very receptive because the oldest kids had been to our church a few years ago with the elders. Anyway, on Sunday morning we passed by for Sally, and she walked with us to pass by for the Lopez kids (the new family), and then we passed by for a new investigator Maria de Jesus and her two children (one of her boy´s names is Angel Gabriel, and hopefully her other son´s name is Joseph and you´ve got a whole nativity). We walked to church as a group of 10 people! And everyone was so happy. It was beautiful weather. We were all obeying the commandment of going to church. Who wouldn´t be happy? They all seemed to like church, too. 

Christian also went to church, but Rossana could not because she had to work (she sells herbal remedies) because Christian finished the job he was working on and is without work. If Rossana had gone to church they wouldn´t have had anything to eat that day. It´s such a day-to-day struggle here, even more than living paycheck-to-paycheck, which makes life so very stressful, but also makes people rely on God so much more. Anyway, Christian took notes on everything so he could go home and tell Rossana about it. I was so impressed! Members here never take notes in church! 
I gave a talk in sacrament meeting on how the members need to share the gospel more and help the less actives. I hardly looked at the pages I had written, I more just told it, for the first time. And I wasn´t nervous at all, which helps me realize maybe I have learned something in the past 16 months because my first talk I was nervous and was glued to what I had written.
Carlos received the priesthood, Susan gave the closing prayer. 
Last night we went to Christian and Rossana to teach them.  Javier and Leonela (they go with us each Sunday night) had arrived right before we got there, and Rossana´s dad, Augustin, was yelling at Rossana, telling her it´s his property (they live side by side on one lot) and he doesn´t like us being there, preaching the gospel. It was mostly in guarani, but I got the gist. He was terribly drunk, but even when he´s not he´s a problem and doesn´t like us. Rossana was trying to defend us and they were going at it. Then her dad hit her, the kids all burst into tears, it turned into a big physical fight, we ran into the house to get out of the way, the drunk dad followed us in and told us to get out and off his property.  We tried to leave and he hit me helping me out. It didn´t hurt, it was just so ugly. Christian is a big guy and just picked his father in law up and took him to his house across the patio, and we left, but then he came running out waving his arms and chewing us out. It was the most violent rejection I have been a part of. It just broke our hearts to see the little children see their family fighting like that. Christian and Rossana were so embarrassed. But tonight we planned an FHE with them in the house of the Estigarribia family. I hope it is a spiritual, powerful lesson for them and they can recieve strength. 
They are so strong through all of this opposition. They could just say, "Look, we´re sorry, but we can´t keep visiting with you because Augustin doesn´t like it." But they don´t. They also came across some nasty film that ALL our investigators have seen recently about Brigham Young killing a bunch of people? It´s not a documentary, just a fictional movie, but it talks all about the Mormons. It kills me that people make movies like that. Christian said, "But I decided God doesn´t speak through movies. He speaks through the Holy Ghost and I have felt that." WAY TO GO Christian! They are getting married this Saturday. He is desperately looking for a job so he can pay his half of the cost. Pray for him. 
Sally is doing so great! She cracks us up. She has already changed so much. It´s amazing the light that can come into one´s eyes from just reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and going to church twice.  Her mom is super duper Catholic, but she apparently loves us for having helped her daugther change a lot.  She gave us cake last night. Sally used to smoke 3 boxes of cigarettes a day, and is now smoking 1 and a half. She used to not be able to bear a 20 minute lesson without smoking in our faces, but now she can go an hour easy. She makes a lot of comments in Sunday School and Relief Society, and I´m always a little nervous when she opens her mouth because she´s just....not your normal investigator or member, but she made really good comments. 
My spanglish is getting bad. There are words I simply don´t remember in English. I said "por cause" once when I was talking in English to my companion, instead of "because" and I´ll never hear the end of that...haha. But I don´t want to ever quit speaking Spanish, I love it. As soon as I feel I have the hang of it, I have to go home. So it is with every aspect of the mission. 
The other tragedy of the week was that my written agenda disappeared into thin air on Tuesday night, between writing in it at 8:30 and getting home at 9. So many precious names, numbers, goals, and plans all lost. And agenda #12 from my collection that will never be replaced. 
It was very interesting what you said about fasting, dad. Yesterday Elder Wolfgramm said he fasts every Tuesday and Thursday and we are welcome to join him. I thought, "What! That´s a ton! I can´t do that. Fasting is HARD." But I think I will try to do it more often, at least. It´s not nearly as hard as it used to be. And knowing it´s good for you helps, because when I´m fasting I feel like I´m killing myself. 
We have calls about changes next Monday. We shall see if I finish here or go somewhere else for my last 6 weeks. I´ll be content with whichever, but kind of want to get to know a new area. 
Today we are in a place called Itawa with a few elders. We came to go souvenir shopping (there we go...I couldn´t think of the word souvenir. We all say "recuerdo shopping").  One elder told me that through the grape vine I´m known as the "Girl Ammon." That made me happy. I had no idea. 
I am simply so content in life and so grateful for the experiences and truths that God has given me on my mission and my life. I´m so thankful I have a sister also preaching the gospel in Colorado. Never doubt Hope that you´re where God wants you to be. Don´t be like some visa-waiters who act like they´re on vacation. God knows where you are and wants you to be there, and there are people you can touch just waiting for you. However, I´m also praying your visa comes so you can get to my continent---South America. 
I have learned lots during personal study this week and from my fabulous companion Hna. Macfarlane, but that will have to wait because we gotta run. I hope you were able to find something spiritually uplifting in these short paragraphs, because the spiritual things are the only things that really matter in life. 

I love you each so much.
Your Sister Missionary,
Sister Goimarac, I

 Sometimes Hna. Macfarlane and I like to match the elders.  
Here is a picture of the Estigarribia family at church yesterday. We took pics because Elder Alvarenga, a paraguayan serving in our ward who was called to Mexico but was serving here until his visa came, finally is off to Mexico today. He hardly knew them but it was an excuse to take a picture of them in their sharp Sunday best.

Elder Wolfgramm, Alvarenga, and us last Monday outside their house for a little asado and...sheep herding. That´s what we do all day after all...find God´s sheep and invite them into His fold. But sheep herding the ceramic kind is looootts easier. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

"That ye, through his poverty, might be made rich." 2 Cor 8:9 (Photos at end)

Dearest Family,
This week has been one of the happiest of my entire mission. I have had the merciful blessing from God to see what every single missionary longs to see---to see a seed sown, grow, and be reaped. To go from contacting Susan on a bus a few months ago, to seeing her and her precious family discover the restored gospel and enter the waters of baptism. Yesterday, seeing them get confirmed and then listening to both Carlos and Susan tearfully bear their testimonies and thank us missionaries and the members, but mostly God, for helping them discover the truth----I thought I would burst. 
The baptism was very spiritual. It was a miracle on Carlos´s part to not be working. He had already asked for a Saturday off for last Saturday (his original date of baptism), so when his baptism didn´t happen his boss said he had already gotten his time off. But on Friday he came home from a 3 day drive (he´s a truck driver) and was very sick, could hardly talk. His boss told him to take it easy for Saturday, and the baptism was able to happen. It was a cold day, and the hot water heater doesn´t work, but they were great sports and claimed to not have felt any cold. As I watched Susan step into the water I felt the Spirit head to toe. And especially as the bishop was bearing his testimony and welcoming them to the ward, I had that feeling that I had when I shook Elder Holland´s hand--an overpowering of the spirit that is much stronger than normal, a feeling I´ve only had three times in my life. I can´t really explain it. Hna. Macfarlane and I and the three girls sang, "I like to look for rainbows," the same primary song I sang with Hope and Paulette at my own baptism when I was eight. That made all the women in the room cry. 
 I´ve never had such converted converts. People so willing to serve and participate and just so grateful to have found the truth. They are very, very happy. Oh how I hope/wish that I can come back to Paraguay a year from now and go through the temple with them! My life would be complete. Mom, I gave the girls and the Escobar kids (our baptisms last week) the Spanish CTR rings you sent. They love them, thank you. 
It´s been so beautiful to see the change in them. But on the other hand, they haven´t changed very drastically because they practically already lived the gospel before. But in Carlos´s attitude there has been a great change. For instance, he kind of cynically remarked about the way members dress and said, "Why do you all go to church so suited up?" And yesterday HE looked so good in his suit and tie and dress shoes. On his first Sunday he said as he watched people get up to bear testimonies, "If someone makes me get up and say something, I´ll never come back." And yesterday HE bore his testimony with pleasure. The Spirit really does work wonders in the hearts of people. 
Speaking of the Spirit changing hearts, Rossana, Christian´s wife, has made a 180-degree turnaround. They went to church again yesterday and are very excited about their wedding and baptism on August 24th.  I fasted for them on Thursday, and that day we had a great lesson with just Rossana. She loves us now, when she used to avoid us. Christian has always been so troubled because he is so willing and anxious to go to church, but she hasn´t wanted to, and he doesn´t want to go alone. We told him to be a good example. And he has been. Last night I mentioned to him, "Christian, your example has had a huge influence on Rossana." She has gone from not wanting to get married or baptized to wanting them both. He said, "No, it´s just the Holy Ghost working in her heart." Missionary work sure is easier when you just do your job and let the Spirit do the rest. 
We have also found a great young man, Ernesto, who went to church yesterday and loved it. He says the greatest prayers that make Hna. Macfarlane and me just pop with happiness as we leave his house. He says, "Thank you Heavenly Father, for sending the sisters and for leading me to your church. Thank you for restoring your authority and not just leaving us abandoned. Thank you for the Book of Mormon." His parents are very active in the Catholic church, but his mom likes reading the Book of Mormon and is surprisingly very open. His dad says that either the Mormons or the Catholics have to have the truth, because other churches don´t stand a chance as far as from where they get authority. But it´s awfully hard to break away from the traditions of your fathers.
AND, Sally went to church! We were so proud of her! She smokes like every 10 minutes, so only smoking once every hour between classes was very difficult and quite the accomplishment. Everyone was very, very friendly and kind to her, and didn´t pay any attention to the fact that she smelled very strongly of cigarette smoke. She loves us a lot, and it feels good to see progress in such a long road she has ahead of her. She prays very sincerely. On Thursday we got her to go with us to the church to watch the Testaments video. We gave her a little church tour and knelt down in the sacrament room and she prayed, asking for forgiveness of all her sins. She said she had goosebumps. And, Jacklyn and her husband came to watch the movie and Jacklyn (who has gone a week today without smoking!) was able to encourage her. It was such a blessing. We´re encouraging Jacklyn and her husband to get active for a year and go to the temple, and they are really trying. 

We got our daily goals every day this week, what we call 7/7. It makes it so clear to see the miracles when you try so hard for something, and realize that without God you really couldn´t do it, no matter how hard you try.  I´ve been thinking how we really have to constantly be pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones if we are to really exercise faith. The gospel is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, no? So that we constantly improve.  Yesterday after church Hna. Macfarlane and I came down with some flu or something. We were so dead, but we had to go out and get our daily goals--go out of our comfort zone and go the extra mile.  God gave us just enough strength and we had great lessons with Leonela and Javier. Then all night we could hardly sleep because we had a fever, and then chills, and head aches, and sore throats, and my nose hasn´t stopped running for the past 24 hours. I´m pretty miserable just typing this. It doesn´t help that behind the house there are some roosters that are very confused (or bored, as Hna. Mac says) and crow all night long, long before sunrise, haha. It´s endearing. I am going to miss Paraguay in so many ways. 
Mom, you mentioned Carmen not having dishes and I felt like you were talking about a member named Carmen here, who also has no dishes. She has 5 kids at home and two metal plates. She feeds us on Wednesdays and lets us use the plates while they use whatever they can find---tupperware, the lid to the tupperware, a baby cup. But she says she is very blessed for feeding us, which is surely true. Anyway, thank you so much for what you do for her. Thankfully, through the Atonement of Christ, everything that is unfair in this life will be made right. Through His poverty, we can be rich. 

I am so deeply grateful for the light of the love of God that shines in even the deepest hole, even in the lives of those who seem so lost or blind to the truth. I´m so thankful for the protection I can feel that we are receiving. I am so thankful for the joy that God allows us to feel and for the principle of finding our lives when we lose them.  We have had a lot of other miracles and great experiences this week, but I am too weak and achy to keep enduring this internet cafe. Have a wonderful week, and I thank you so much for your prayers. This week is my last zone conference, and they usually ask all the people going home before the next conference give their final testimony. I´m at a loss for words when I think about how I can summarize what I feel and know and have learned. 
Your Sister Missionary,
Sister Faith Goimarac

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Soon, a thousand people called to serve will change the world" -- Especially for Youth CD (Photos at end)

Querida Familia Mia (because at 16 months in, honestly no one is going to read this who isn´t family...haha),

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Neal and Sabrina this week! I will be thinking of you on August 9 and the 11th. I love you so much and think about you and pray for you. I´m so thankful for the family we have all been blessed to be a part of. 
What a WEEK. But it ended so happy. What an emotional roller coaster I have traveled. Every feeling under the sun almost. But as I said yesterday in my testimony at church, I have never been happier in my life, even though I´ve had a very, very happy life. I´m happy because I am seeing so many people accept Jesus Christ in their lives, and I know that He is the source of all hope and happiness and relief from pain. I´m happy because we have seen a lot of miracles and I´ve seen a lot of the prayers I´ve prayed my whole mission finally come to fruition. 
I´ll go chronologically I suppose. On Tuesday my awesome district celebrated my half-birhtday which was August 1st. I´m 22 and a half already. It was WAY better than my real birthday was (which I also recognized in Isla Bogado)! My new district is really tight, just us two sisters and Elders Wolfgramm and Alvarenga. They surprised me and had a cake and a new journal and a sweet card, and afterward we all had an asado (bbq?) with Faviola Bogado, one of our old investigators who is now the elders' landlord who invited all of us over. It was the nicest thing!  Elder Wolfgramm, our district leader, told a very inspiring story. He´s Tongan, but from Utah. His dad had cancer before he left, and was told he had 6 months to live. Every day of his mission (been out 10 months) he has awakened wondering if his dad was alive. As his dad's condition worsened, Elder Wolfgramm began to fast once a week, then twice a week, and then three times a week for his dad. And last Monday, his mom wrote that his dad is now free from cancer. It was so touching to me. Elder Wolfgramm has lost two of his 11 siblings already, one to a car accident during his mission. He´s quiet but so inspiring. And he serves us a lot, running all kinds of errands and never calls us "needy sisters" as some elders might be prone to do. 
Thursday I had to find my bank card, because it was the first of the month and I needed to take out money. I hadn´t been able to find it for weeks and was worried, but couldn´t call anyone to cancel it because we´re still without a cell phone (SO DIFFFICULT!). I went in my room and prayed, saying that I had looked everywhere I could think of, and said that if it was in the house, please help me to find it right now. I got off my knees and thought to look in my old scripture case I don´t use anymore. Sure enough, I had hidden it there before we moved and completely forgotten. Some might say it is psychological or coincidence; I know it is the gift of the Holy Ghost, and I´m so thankful for it. 
ALL week we were SO excited for Saturday, for the baptisms of the Escobar kids and the Estigarribia family. Friday we had their interviews and the ones for the Escobar kids were great. That night with the Est. family Elder Blackmore, our zone leader, was out with Carlos for over an hour, and I heard him say something about waiting a week. My heart just sank. Elder Blackmore came in and said Pres wants to interview Carlos the next day. The girls didn´t understand why their dad didn´t pass his interview, when they passed with flying colors. I don´t want to say anything, but interviews give people a chance to confess their sins to a representative of the Lord , who can help them repent. Baptism is very sacred, and repentance must come first, and Carlos had some repenting to do. We had been SO excited and it was so hard to see Susan and the girls have to wait a week. Hna. Macfarlane perfectly explained how we felt when she said, "I feel like I just got dumped." I was like, "Yeah, I feel sick to my stomach. But I´ve never been dumped." She said, "Me neither, always just done the dumping, but now we know." We were melancholy all day but happy for the other baptisms. 

It was a beautiful baptism and everyone came, including the Estigarribia family who really enjoyed the baptism, and I was thankful no one made a big deal about why they were not getting baptized that day. We had to correct the programs that had been beautifully printed with their names and re-copy them. Afterward Carlos had an interview with Pres McMullin who graciously sacrificed his Saturday night to come interview him. They talked over an hour and afterward gathered us and the family together, and Pres tearfully said that he has felt the Spirit tell him that this man has fully repented and is ready to be baptized. Never did I want to hug a Paraguayan man so badly as I wanted to hug Carlos right then.  I am, in the end, thankful for this experience. For them it was a blessing to associate with Pres and to see a baptism before their own, and to really think about repentance, and for me it was a blessing because I thought more about repentance and baptism in my own life. Repentance is such a happy thing! It means we are doing what God wants us to do to so that the atonement has "full sway" in our lives! It makes us happy, not sad. It is a blessing, not a curse or punishment. I have been working on making repentance a bigger part of my life for the past few months, and want to continue getting better at incorporating it into my daily thoughts and priorities. It hurts sometimes, like I´m sure it did for Carlos, to confess and forsake, but it´s sure better to get the hurt done here in life than to face God at the judgement bar with those sins. What a miracle it is, that if we just repent and are baptized, and keep repenting until the end of our lives, God forgets and erases those sins! To me it is just the most beautiful thing. My heart aches that not everyone knows this, and that not everyone repents now while we still can. 
But oh man how I love the Estigarribia family, especially Carlos. I´m so proud of him for truly repenting and leading his family in righteousness. He told me that a few days ago he was in his truck (he´s a truck driver) and he closed all the curtains and read the BOM and prayed for about 10 minutes, asking God if what he was doing was right, if all of this was true. He asked for a sign. And then he cried for 15 minutes. He cried more than he has in years, more than he did when his dad died. But it was a good feeling, he said. He also really enjoyed the testimony meeting yesterday. I love kneeling to pray at his house at the end of our lessons. He has gone from someone who doubted missionaries´ motives and therefore wouldn´t listen, to praying that we can find many, many more souls to teach. Man, I love that family!
AND, on Saturday we found Christian Morales at home, taking a break with his co-workers from building a house in front of his. They were drinking a little bit, but Christian wasn´t drunk so we wanted to take advantage of finding him at home and teach him. It was a classic sight, their little table with beer bottles on one half and my plan of salvation diagrams on the other. :) But it made an impression. During that lesson I asked Christian if he was going to church the next day, and he said probably not because he had to work on this house. I said it was a sin to not go to church, that it is a commandment to go. The next day, HE WENT, with HIS WIFE! Rossana, his wife, is very hard. She went to a Pueblo de Dios church before and just isn´t very nice to us sometimes. But yesterday she loved it. She loved the gospel principles lesson on fasting. She loved the testimonies, and she loved the baptism they could see afterward of an 8 year old in the ward, who was baptized by his older brother. We visited them later that night with Javier and Leonela and they have a baptismal date for August 24th! They just have to get married and Christian has to quit smoking and drinking. But he says he knows the church is true. Their kids are the cutest kids ever and actually behaved better than the member´s kids who (still) wreak havoc in sacrament meeting. So we had 7 investigators in church yesterday, on a testimony meeting day, and they also got to see another baptism. Best Sunday ever! And Jacklyn and her husband and Ester and her sister all came....and Paola Benitez got up and bore her testimony and said, "I want to thank Hermana Goimarac for always visiting us and giving us strength, and I want to say I know the church is true and it has changed my family so much. We dont´fight like we used to, and our home is completely different." What a paycheck. :) Everything is worth it 100000000 fold when you hear your convert say that, or see two complete families of investigators enjoy a testimony meeting. 
Sally, the drug addict we´re teaching, is also really progressing. She almost went to church, which is a huge step. 
Exactly opposite from Hope, as of yesterday I have 16 months down and only two to go, so everyone WRITE ME A LETTER before it´s too late. :) I could use a few dear elders before I´m painfully ripped away from my dear black name tag and forever excluded from the Dear-Elder-Receiving demographic. I love you so much and am very grateful for the support I´ve received already during  my mission.

Hope, I loved your email and hope you guys can find some people through your creative finding approaches.... I think in the beginning of my mission I was frustrated and upset at people who didn´t understand the importance of our message, but now I´m just more sad for them and I feel a lot of love for them. For instance, the older Catholic ladies who have a whole room of their house devoted to the Virgen and their saints and let us in and talk our ears off for an hour used to drive me nuts. Now I´m just amused at their sweetness and my heart just fills with love for them. Love those that hate you, do good to them that despitefully use you. They know not what they do when they say, "You can go right back out." Ouch is right, but I´m sure Christ thought "ouch" sometimes, too, when he kindly forgave and served those who rejected Him. Man, I miss you. And I will think about your plea to wait until you get home to get married, but can´t make any promises. I wish we could figure out our email time on Mondays to not have to wait a week for responses to last week´s email....oh well. Also, what you call a lesson we call a "contact." I admire you missionaries in the states, I really do. People in Paraguay (and I´m sure in Brazil) are much more believing and accepting and friendly. Probably closer to God.
Have a wonderful week, and I invite you to each pray about what you can repent of and repent this week, to experience the joy of the redemptive power of the Atonement. As we pray to know what we need to repent of, the Holy Ghost will bring us a "bright recollection of all our guilt" and we can know what we need to repent of.
Your Sister Missionary,
Sister Goimarac, I

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