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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