Wow! Seeing that beautiful picture of my wonderful, handsome dad with a convert at his baptism and hearing how my mom is picking up investigators for church and baptisms, and being inspired to know what to say to help them...and hearing of all the fellowshipping and the examples you set for all of the Sedona area.......I am SO FILLED WITH HAPPINESSS. That is the greatest thing you can do for me, is share the gospel there. I am so, so, so happy that missionary work is taking off in Sedona. It just fills me with joy, and I`m not even there. I know that you, mom and dad, are playing a huge role in it (as Elder Nelson says, the bishop sets the pace of missionary work in the ward. You have set a great pace! Please come train the bishops down here!). I feel like we are just one big team. And I hope we always will be. I feel like, more than my parents, we are all brothers and sisters, children of God who are just trying to help our other brothers and sisters learn the truth. Oh I love you so much.
Dad, thank you so much for that dynamite talk you sent, too. Wow. It really helped me feel the spirit and motivated me to be a missionary my whole life. I am just so excited for the missionary experiences that will potentially be mine during my life! What a call to action for us women of the church! Hna. Greer is a great example of never going home from her mission---way to go Maggie giving a book of Mormon away on the train this week! And even having a BOM in your bag to give away!
So, I was transfered to Loma Pyta! Surprise is right! Loma is almost right in Asuncion, it`s my first time being in the city. But as you wished, dad, I do indeed have more comfortable living conditions. The hot water for the shower even carries over and there is hot water in the sinks!!! And we even have a couch (not that we have time to sit on it, we just put stuff on it)! And air conditioning in our bedroom! But more than that, the best part is that I`m with probably the sweetest, cutest, most diligent little sister missionary in South America, Sister Owen! She just finished her training, she got to Paraguay June 5th (she totally read my blog before getting here....sweet, huh?). She is from Mesa, AZ, and went to BYU in the illustration program and loves running and green smoothies and eating healthy and walking fast and being efficient and practicing spanish and serving others. We feel like it was a very inspired change. I love her already. With her as my companion I just know I`m going to not only have a chance at losing weight before I go home, but I`m going to be a better missionary in every aspect and I`ll have no time to get trunky (like that was ever problem....al contrario [just the opposite]). Also, she`s really savvy in crossing the busy 4-lane highways that goes through our area. She just walks across like no tomorrow, she`s so practiced. Haha.
But I feel like I have a lot to do here. Almost none of the recent converts from the past two years have received the lessons over again like they should, and many of the investigators don`t even understand the restoration. I have been doing a lot of clarifying and thinking, "You are going to be baptized next week and you don`t even understand this?" Makes me worried. I was happy to read what Elder Ballard said in that talk you sent, dad, how we need to be prepared to bear testimony of the restoration. It is so exciting to teach the restoration. We taught a 16 year old girl here, Pia, a couple nights ago who goes to an evangelical church called Centro de Adoracion Familiar. We taught the restoration with the feeling of awe that it deserves, and when we told the first vision part, she kind of gasped with delightful amazement. She was so touched. If only everyone could understand, they would also gasp with happiness to hear the good news. The Restoration is so logical. I just never get tired of teaching it. We are teaching a 48 year old mom here, Gloria, and her 14 year old daughter Milagros and they have their baptismal date for this Saturday. Gloria always mentions how this will be her 4th baptism...and I wasn`t sure if she understood that this time it won`t just be adding to her little collection of baptisms, it will actually be her first because it is the only one done right. We taught them very well and you could just see the understanding begin to sink in and she realized that this really is God`s church. She loved it and really felt the spirit at church yesterday. Ah. So great. I love my job.
I got here on Wednesday and it was really cold, and all of a sudden it got hot like unto a day in January in Paraguay. And we`ve been walking probably miles and miles a day because we just haven`t figured out the neighborhoods yet and have been running around like headless chickens trying to meet our goals. And we`ve been going on long runs in the morning. So I`ve been coming home absolutely physically whipped. If I pray for too long I just fall asleep on my knees. But it is an absolute pleasure to get whipped for the cause of Jesus.
Yesterday we had the most uplifting meetings at church. This ward is pretty established because the church started here in Asuncion. All the little kids race up as soon as testimony starts to give their testimonies. Little Giovanni Suarez Adorno who is 6 got up first and added at the end of his 15-second testimony, "Y estoy feliz por tener una nueva misionera." ("And I am very happy because we have a new sister missionary.") and a few others copied him and said the same thing in their testimonies. I felt very welcomed. :) He also wrote me a cute card and said, "Hermana micionera, te quiero mucho."
But MAN. I miss my dear area of Isla Bogado. You don`t even know how hard it was to leave. In the past, we visited people and we left them happier than when we arrived, but when I went to say goodbye to people, I left them in tears. I was thankful to have had made a difference but felt sad to see them so sad. But my heart was just tearing up inside, too. Miriam Benitez cried the most. She says we are angels who have changed her family so much and she cringes to think of how her life would be if we hadn`t come into her life. The Estigarribia family made us dinner (she even made chocolate chip cookies because I had given her the recipe a while back!) and Carlos said, "It`s like I`m saying goodbye to one of my own daughters. Know that you are always welcome to come back to our home, you can even come back with your husband and stay here." Her daughters used the internet to write me a sweet letter in English. When we went to say goodbye to Christian and Rossana, Christian wasn`t home, but later he called me and said, "I heard that you are leaving this area, sister. I just want to thank you for bringing us the truth. Every day I`m more convinced that this is the true church. My little girl Genesis is crying because you aren`t coming back. Here, talk to her." And he handed the phone to her, and her sweet little trembling voice just melted my heart. I said I would see her at her parent`s baptism (I sure hope I get permission to go!). They all went to church yesterday, I heard, and also received priesthood blessings because Augustin (Rossana`s dad) is causing even more problems. They said they felt the spirit very strongly getting blessings. Christian is without work again (please keep praying for him) and was blessed that he would receive good work but in the Lord's time, not in his.
Also, little Junior Escobar who got baptized a few weeks ago got the priesthood and passed the sacrament yesterday in a white shirt and tie. :)
And Sally was also very emotional, she`s progressing a TON! She`s down to four cigarettes a day (a huge improvement from 40 a day!) and always always always says it is her dream to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, which shows a lot of understanding on her part because we haven`t even taught baptism that much because we know she has a lot to change before that moment.
Hope, I was listening to a great quote by Elder Holland on my companion`s iPod and it made me think of you and all of us out there getting rejected. I am in a much more chuchi (rich) part of Paraguay now, where we actually ring doorbells instead of just clap, and the supermarket almost looks like Safeway, and people we talk to actually use the internet so I can offer them a mormon.org card. Anyway, they are also a little more rejecting. Every time we get a door closed on us I think of you and and other U.S./Europe missionaries out there who are more rejected. This is for you:
And here`s a great new video from the church for everyone out there who doesn`t understand the Mormon church.
And here`s another of my all time favorites that makes me want to never stop being a missionary;
I love this gospel with all my heart and just cannot contain it. My emails seem pathetic in comparison to how I feel. My mission is beginning to mean everything to me. I taught a guy on a collectivo (bus) today who was actually interested, and I just felt the spirit so much I almost couldn`t talk. God is preparing people. The world needs us! All the people gotta see the light, so BE the light! Let`s go share the glorious GOSPEL!
I love you so much and pray for you and hope you are able to feel Christ carry you over life`s burdens.
Hermana Faith Goimarac
P.S. I have lots of great pictures from this week but forgot my camera cord. :( It was Hermana Macfarlane`s birthday on Wednesday (change day), I have lots of goodbye pictures with members and converts and investigators, and then today we all went to a chinese buffet to celebrate our zone leader`s birthday. To be seen next week, entonces.