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

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