Monday, December 30, 2013

El fin del año

¿Qué tal, famila?

It was so awesome talking to you guys on Skype, even though the power outage was rude enough to interrupt. But that happens a lot here. Haha, thanks for being good sports.

Even though I just talked to you guys, I have a lot to say. For those who don´t know, I´m in a new area again. There was a flash transfer on Christmas Eve, which happens every now and then. My stud of a companion Elder Bobadilla is back in Pablo Nogués still, and I´m now in Matheu with my new companion Elder Valladolid from Peru. I miss Pablo Nogués because I made such fast friends there, but Matheu is pretty awesome too. It´s hard to feel uncomfortable when you´re doing what the Lord wants.

This Sunday was a lot of fun. We have a tiny little branch in a tiny little chapel, and while I was sitting in the humble Sacrament Meeting, I could feel the Spirit so strong. Something about the small group sitting quietly in the heat with several fans going, waiting to take the blessed bread and water just as Christ directed touched my heart. I said a quiet prayer of thanks to experience something so tender.

My companion and I are really trying to talk with everyone. We´ve decided to challenge practically everyone to baptism if they talk to us. We passed by the chapel while walking to lunch, and greeted a lady and her two daughters sitting nearby. They greeted us back, so we decided to turn around and talk to them. We introduced ourselves, and gave a really short lesson about the Restoration, and asked if they would like to come to church the next day. They accepted, and we challenged them to baptism. They accepted, and I thought ¨Really? Holy Cow, their escogidas!¨ They came to Church, and we taught them the full lesson of the Restoration Sunday Afternoon. It was incredible, but they told us that they were only visiting Argentina, and have to go back to Bolivia next week. My companion felt impressed to ask them to be baptized earlier, and they still accepted. We talked to the mission president afterward, and he encouraged us to go with it if they can attend church and be confirmed on Sunday. It has been one of the most incredible experiences that I´ve witnessed on a mission. I know that there really are people that have been prepared, and are just waiting for the formalities of missionary lessons to accept the Gospel.

Another time, we were teaching a lesson about the Plan of Salvation to a group of seven people. It was incredibly spiritual, as they asked sincere questions, and shared real concerns. As we began challenging people for baptism, one girl shared that she had taken the lessons previously and felt like things got worse in her life. When my companion started to explain the opposition of Satan to the Gospel, she rolled her eyes. I felt impressed to bear my testimony of the reality of the Devil, and told her that I have no idea why he is so filled with hate. I bore testimony that though I don´t know why, he is real, and has a real power to fight against all of us. Then I told her that the love of Christ is always more powerful than the hate of Satan. By that time I was crying too hard to continue. It was the first time that I cried in a lesson, so I was a bit embarrassed :P but it was a powerful experience to me.

I realized just how important it is to cling to the Gospel, and the reality of divine hope in Christ. In our spiritual progress, there really isn´t any such thing as a ¨plateau¨. If we´re not coming closer to Christ, Satan is pulling us away from him. Because there is a very real struggle for our soul. But I also learned something else. Though the scriptures testify that there is an opposition, it never says an equal opposition. I know for a fact that the power of Christ was, is, and always will be more powerful than that of Satan. The powers of heaven are infinite, boundless, and ever-expanding, while the power of the Adversary is limited by that which we yield to him. It´s not an even struggle. Not even close. Heaven has the advantage, and is guaranteed the victory. Heavenly Father invites, even pleads for us to share in that victory.

Hurrah for Israel!

Talk to you next week.

Élder Goff

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Se cortaron la luz (Sent December 25, 2013)

Yeah! Technology! Sorry about that earlier today how the power company so rudely interruped our Skype call. They´re like that sometimes. It´s called a ¨corto¨ when the power company randomly chooses house to cut the power because too much is being used during the summer.

We´re going to the Branch President´s house tomorrow at six pm, and we can finish the skype call there, if that´s okay with you guys. That will be about 2 pm Utah time.

I love you all! It was so good to see you. Merry Christmas!

Change in Skype plans (Sent December 24, 2013)

So there was something called a flash transfer which changed all the plans. I'm with a new companion and have to go to a new area, and I had to get the President's permission to reschedule my skype time. I'll have time at four o clock Argentina time, which is noon in Utah.

I'm sorry it's been so crazy to get this scheduled, but I hope that it will work for everyone. I love you all, and I'll see you tomorrow!

¡Feliz Navidad! (Sent December 23, 2013)

¡Familia!

Merry Christmas! I hope that you´re enjoying all the festivities there, because there´s practically nothing here. Pretty much everyone we talk to says that they plan on calling their family for a few minutes, or singing a Christmas hymn, and then drinking Maté all day long. I don´t think it´s going to be different than any other day for us on the 25th. But that´s fine with me! There´s nothing I´d rather do that preach the word of Christ to celebrate His birthday!

Here´s some culture facts that I learned from my companion yesterday. In the southern half of Mexico during Christmas, they have Papá Noel, and the 3 Reyes Magios. In other words, there are 4 people giving presents to little kids. And they say that America over-commercialized this holiday! ;) Also he asked me if we have ¨El ratón de dientes¨. Yeah, their ¨Tooth Fairy¨ is a rat. I couldn´t stop laughing for a good five minutes.

This new area, Pablo Nogués 1, is incredible. The people are much more wealthy than in my old area. They´re compairively less so than back home, but there is much less villa (slum). And we have progressing investigators! We had 3 investigators come to church, and one of them, a ¨vejita¨ (sweet old lady) named Juana, was baptized! It was incredible. It´s so nice to be in an area with people who are interested, even if it´s only just a few. We still have pleanty of rejection, but I´m so happy to see our efforts affect someone.

For example, we´re teaching a family with the father, Sergio, being a less active member, and the mother, Natalia, an investigator. They like to talk, which is something pretty much everyone has in common. I had the prompting to testify about the Sacrament, but I was so lost in the conversation I had no idea when would be a good time. Right before we ended the lesson, I just burst out into testimony, and I was amazed at what Heavenly Father said through me. I promised that there was real power in partaking of the Sacrament to remember Christ and renew your covenants. I told Sergio that he would be able to quit smoking faster, and that Natalia would recieve an answer that what she´s reading in the Book of Mormon is true, if they would excercise their faith in this way. My speech was clear, and the Spirit was incredibly strong, both of which were evidences to me that was I was saying were the words of God.

The more letters I write, the harder it is to differentiate experiences. I feel like I´m saying the same thing over and over, yet I never get bored of doing so. It´s all because I´m still preaching the same Gospel, and witnessing the same miracle of seeing God´s hand in His Own Work. The more I ponder about this, the more I´m humbled to be a part of it. I love being involved in the single and only work of the most Noble and Glorious Father of Heaven. Everything that God does is to bring about immortality and Eternal Life for His children. I testify that God´s plan is perfect. Though there are a million things bent on the corruption our progress, there was never a flaw in the Plan of Salvation. God has forseen all our problems, and provided us with a universal and infinite solution through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I´m so grateful for Him, and I testify that He lives and wants to help us, en Su nombre sagrado, Jesucristo, Amén.

¡Les amo muchísimo! ¡Hasta miércoles!

-Élder Goff

The pictures:
1. Élder Bobadilla and I in the apartment.
2. Waiting for the bus which is always delayed on Sunday, the day we need it most to bring investigators to the Chapel.
3. Juana´s baptism



Tengo sueños de un Navidad verde y café. (Sent December 17, 2013)

¡Hola, familia! ¿Qué tal?

I don´t believe any of you. There´s no way that Ryan is starting his mission papers. I just got here! This is what I said to Ryan: ¨WHAT!? You´re starting your mission papers!? Nuh uh. I just started my mission! Oh my gosh. Reality just jumped up in hit me in the face with a sledge hammer. I just told another Elder that you were going to start them in 2 months.¨ I can´t believe how fast time goes out here. But I am excited beyond belief for him. I already look up to him so much, and I can´t wait to see how much more amazing he becomes on a mission.

My second transfer just finished, and I´m sitting next to my new companion Elder Borbodilla from Mexico. He´s such a stud, I can´t even believe it. I´m incredibly optimistic about this new area. Especially because he tells me that robberies are very rare. ¡Chau San Ignacio! In reality, I really enjoyed my time in my first area. The people were so humble, and the ward absolutely incredible. Though the investigator situation was incredibly hard at times, I learned a ton, and will always remember my time serving the Lord in San Ignacio 1.

I had a ¨funny¨ experience this week. I was praying one night, grateful for the progress I´ve made on my humility and patience. I told Heavenly Father something like ¨thank you for all that I´ve learned in the ´Refiner´s Fire´. I´m happy to go through any time that you see something imperfect in me.¨ Yep. I was pretty humbly cocky. And then came the trials. The last week of the transfer was pretty rough. I didn´t really feel like I was doing my job, though I was trying with all my might. I repented sorrowfully, and the last day of the transfer, we found a golden investigator. Ivan asked sincere questions, felt the Spirit, and accepted a legitimate appointment rather than just something like ¨pass by and maybe I´ll be here.¨ I´m praying so hard for him, even though I´m not in that area anymore.

So... it´s Christmas, eh? I´ll take your word for it. It´s 40 degrees Celsius plus that monster called humidity. Also, it hardly seems like Christ is being involved at all. I know that the commericialism of Christmas is a concern in America, but it seems like all that passed a long time ago here. I have yet to see a Christmas decoration with Christ, outside of the home of a member. People are so caught up in their worship of Saints and excitement about Papa Noel that they seem to not even give notice to the Savior when celebrating His birthday. That just breaks my heart.

I guess it´s just that much more important that we bring this message about Him. Please always remember Jesus Christ every day. I´ve learned that He chose to keep the marks on His hands and feet not to prove that He´s the Savior and how much we are indebted to Him- though that is and always will be true- but He chose to remember us. He daily remembers us and the help that we need. Why is it so hard than for us to remember Him? With the vast contrast between His perfect life and death, and ours of carnal wickedness and consistent need for repentence through Him, you´d think it would be the other way around. Yet the greatest of all, is also the most humble, and the most patient, of all.

I can´t wait to celebrate His birthday serving Him. I love you all, and I hope that you are all safe and happy during this Christmas season.

See you soon!

-Elder Goff

----------- Sent later that day...

HAHAHA! I just realized that it seems like the subject says Christmas of green and coffee. I meant the café that means the color! I´m not breaking the Word of Wisdom, I promise! :)

--------- Pictures! ----------

Sorry it´s been a while with pictures. Here are a few from the past little while. The drawing is of the Geico camel on a Wednesday. Hump Day!

There should be one of my companion celebrating his other ¨Hump Day¨ at the one year mark.

Then the ward Christmas activity. It was an Asado, which is like a Barbeque, but where the missionaries don´t eat until last because there are so many people. :) But it was delicious, and we weren´t there to eat. We´re there to serve.

Then me and some other missionaires. I can´t tell which pictures I´m sending, so I can´t tell you about them. :/ But they´re all incredible missionaries.

Oh now I can see them! That´s my district. The one with us laughing was taken while the camera was falling and my companion was trying to catch it. Then me and Elder Fernandez from Nicaragua (my second comp). And Elder Mason, the other gringo in my pension from California.









Still learning.... (Sent December 9, 2013)

Familia,

This was quite the week for learning. Like a lot of the past weeks. As of right now, we have no official investigators. Remember the "zero" thing? It's still in full force. With the new transfer coming up next week, the Elders in my apartment and I were talking about this last night. My companion and Elder Reyna felt really bad, because they said that they had the most success on their missions at the beginning, saying that they're trainers really got them excited about what a mission could be if you did everything correctly, yet none of us had baptisms. I had the thought, and tried to express to them, that the missionaries in the Book of Mormon had plenty of success, but not until the end of their 14 year mission. 12 weeks is comparitively short to that.

Also, just because people don't use their agency to accept the Gospel, doesn't mean that you're a failure. That's a consistent truth that should never be forgotten by anyone living to share the Gospel. Like Preach My Gospel says, "your success is determined upon your dedication to help others come unto Christ."

That being said, we've seen success in other ways. We've seen the Holy Ghost strengthen faithful members, re-excite a lot of less active members, and prepare non-members to recieve the Gospel later. San Ignacio isn't spiritually dead. Just different. By looking at the Area Book, there are are a lot of ups and downs. It's important to look at Missionary Work as a whole. Though it's very sub-divided and systematic to us, God doesn't see it that way. It's an individual proccess and a grand proccess at the same time. The Gospel is spreading forth through every nation, not just one area. I'm not going to lose faith, and I'll face every day with enthusiasm.

On another note entirely, we're making friends with the San Miguel "mafia". But before Mom freaks out too much, we hardly ever approach them and are careful to obey the mission rules about curfew in the dangerous areas. Also, it's not really as cool as it sounds. Sure it's organized like the movies, where a family of criminals controls a certain area of the city, but about 80% of the time they're found drinking on the corners making cat-calls. But sometimes we actually feel prompted to talk to them when they yell "ché, ¡vení!"

One man named Fernandez has become our friend, and drunkenly promised us his "protection" because he respects our religious dedication. I don't know how binding such a promise like that is, or if our testimonies to him about the restored gospel will personally bring about anything in his life, but it was an interesting experience.

I'm starting to understand why Christ was often found among the "drunkards and sinners". Though just about everything they do and say is against what we are preaching, the fact of their divine heritage remains the same. These people are children of God just like me. Their divine and celestial potential is to always be respected and cherished, whether they are trying to attain it or not. Whether they are sincerely changing, or refusing to leave their life as a theif, they are my brothers, and I love them.

Please don't think that everyone is like that in Argentina. I'm in a rather unique area, and the members assure me that this is all pretty new to San Ignacio. There are scores of faithful, kind, humble, honest people, and my heart is filled by their sincerity. But I just wanted to share what I learned this week: that no matter how contrary to the Gospel of Christ someone is living, it's not over. Their divine potential still exists, and the Atonement is still the cure. That fact will never change. Jesus Christ will always be the "only name under heaven by which men may be saved" as Nephi tells us, but that offer doesn't expire.

As the Argentines say: "¡Felices Fiestas!"

Love you all.

-Élder Goff

Please don´t lose hope in this Gospel (Sent December 2, 2013)

Familia,

I hope that the subject line doesn´t bum you out too much. Sometimes I get a little discourgaged at how slowly the work moves. When we finally get an investigator that seems to really be catching on to the Gospel, something tragic happens. Whether it´s that their kids don´t support their baptism, and they´ve lost interest, or something more private that I can´t even mention, it´s always tragic when someone who has begun to see and feel the blessings of the Gospel turns their back on it.

And it´s happening a lot. Investigators that accept invitations and make commitments, and sometimes even tear up, because they are feeling the Spirit so strongly, don´t show up to Church, start ignoring us on the streets, or just disappear completely. Despite making plans to pass by nearly every single person that we could find an excuse to call ¨an investigator¨, and utilizing a split with the Ward Mission Leader and his brother to invite all of them, we had zero investigators once again at Church. That also means zero progressing investigators, zero investigators with a baptisimal date, and more and more zeros.

Please don´t understand me. I don´t care about that round symbol. I´m don´t care about the numbers. I care about the people. That fat, taunting oval in the key indicators box at the end of the week signifies that the people that I´ve grown so much love for have forgotten the importance of their commitments. It means that they´ve used their agency, even if only for one decision for a limited time, to reject the very Gospel of Jesus Christ that they had so recently come to know.

What a small, but eye-opening insight on how Heavenly Father feels when we act similarly. When we make a decision to bypass our commitment to at all times be worthy of the name of Jesus Christ. Please, don´t ever do that to Him. I know for a fact that it hurts, and I´m just a nineteen year old kid that barely knows anything in comparison about the salvation of mankind. He understands perfectly how much this matters. His pain by such a rejection is infinitely more powerful.

Just as an assurance, I´m still doing fine. I´m not depressed- on the contrary, I´ve never been happier than I am with this love for my investigators. The San Ignacio ward loves the missionaries so much that it´s hard to feel lonely. I still see plenty of smaller miracles everyday, and what´s more, I have faith that larger things are to come. Thanks for your prayers. The Lord is still in the work just as plainly as ever. Please use your agency to make our Heavenly Father happy by living the Gospel of Happiness.

I love you all. Happy birthday, Mom! I wrote you a hand-written letter for your birthday, and I´m praying that it will reach you safely as soon as possible.

¡Feliz Diciembre!

I wish I could have prepared for Humidity in Mission Prep (Sent November 25, 2013)

Familia,

It´s freaking hot down here. And insanely humid. Man, I can´t believe this. But it´s okay, because it´s only spring, so the worst is yet to come. :P I can´t really translate Celsius into Fahrenheit perfectly yet, but I think when it all comes down to it, the thermometers are reading 1,000 degrees. I miss the snow.

Whew, now that all of the murmuring is over with... ¡Buenas tardes! What a week. I wish I could talk more about my investigators, but sadly it was just a bit slow on the proselyting side of things despite our efforts. We had some great lessons, but there weren´t very many of them.

BUT! There is hope for the people of Argentina! At the beginning of the week, my companion and I went into a grocery store to buy some things for our Emergency Box which was old and damaged. Guess what was playing on the radio? ¨On Top of the World¨ by Imagine Dragons. That´s right. The last song that I listened to before I got set-apart. Can you believe that? Finally something other than rap, heavy metal, OneDirection or any of the other misrepresentations of American music slipped through the cultural barrier. :)

My zone had interviews with the Mission President this week, which was incredible. This man blows my mind. He could almost be my father. Obviously he´s not, but he shows his Christlike love in such a way that it almost feels like that. He and his wife never criticize a missionary. They compliment and encourage us so effectively that we feel compelled to live up to their expectations. I´ve never felt so good about myself while being inwardly chastized. If we could hear Christ´s voice when He rebukes us, I think it would sound a little bit like that. When we are humble, and spoken to with that divine charity, our familiar love we have for Him as our Older Brother and Redeemer of our souls causes us to be driven to change, and to shun sin from our hearts.

Also, our power went out. I´m not sure why, because I couldn´t understand the repairman (all the talk about understanding last week was mostly meant for the gospel discussions. Not technical engineering terms.) But we were without power for three days. I´m not going to lie, it was actually kinda fun, except for at night when Elder Mason would mention Slenderman. But the experience caused me to notice something interesting about myself. Satan seems to be trying to get me distracted by annoyances. But I´m not really bothered by the bigger things. Strangely enough, I enjoy the cold showers, power outages, and surviving dangerous streets all as part of the ¨missionary adventure¨. But sometimes the little things slowly overrun my attention.

Like the scriptures say, ¨by small and simple things, are great things brought to pass.¨ I think that many times that goes for the way both God and the devil do things. Like I said, the bigger things are obvious assaults that, when faced head-on with a lot of faith, can be overcome. But the smaller things that slowly chip away at you, like a companion singing in a chimpmunk voice, are dangerous for a different reason. If you don´t practice patience at all times, and always keep an attitude of seeking the best in people, the little annoyances will distract you until you lose sight of the vision.

Just incase that happens, like it unfortunately does to me occasionally, let me remind you what that vision is. It´s that everyone, no matter how faulted they appear, is a child of the most omnipotent, most loving, and most awesome being in the universe. A Heavenly Father whose entire existance is set upon the perfecting of this person- and all His children- and who daily begs our cooperation in this most noble of all works. By seeking to find and encourage this good in ourselves, and in others in a loving manner, we will find ourselves in the happiest state that we can be. Because we will be worthy to be, and through the Holy Spirit, actually be in the presence of that very God.

I pray that we can all remember this perspective of long-suffering, en el nombre de nuestro Santo Salvador, Jesucristo, Amén.

Hasta la próxima semana. ¡Feliz cumple, mamá! ¡Te amo muchísimo!

Élder Goff

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hold on. These people might not be speaking Gibberish after all!

¡FAMILIA!

Guesswhatguesswhatguesswhat!!! I think I understand people! Last week I talked about the gift of tounges working miraculously as the Lord speaks through me. That still happens alot. Usually I have no idea what to say, so just go for it and watch the Spirit take over. But there were quite a few times this week when they would say something back, and it actually made sense! While sitting in Sacrament Meeting, I almost jumped when I realized that the speaker wasn't mumbling gibberish for 15 minutes then sitting down. I was so excited, that I didn't even fall asleep in Gospel Principles or Preisthood Meeting! (I can't tell you how hard it is to stay awake in a hot, humid room for two hours when you have no idea what's going on.) I keep learning more about the gifts of the Spirit the more I seek them.

So let's talk about the obvious high of the week. The multi-mission conference with Elder Holland. It ended up being a meeting with the West and South missions as well, and also the Argentine CCM. Elder Christofferson wasn't in attendance, but instead Elder Suavez, one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy, Elder Gonzolez of the Seventy, and each of their wives. They all were incredible. The first five speakers kept telling us to take special heed to the words of Elder Holland. I've always had so much respect for the Apostles, and I don't think there was a single missionary that came that wasn't expecting to be inspired. But one of them told us that we had the opportunity to hear from one of the "fifteen living prophets on the world earth today." We know that the Apostles and the First Presidency are indeed set apart special witnesses of Christ, but I think that we sometimes forget that they are all prophets of God as well. Called to speak His word just as Thomas S. Monson is. They hold special authority and power to help guide us and continually recieve revelation to do so. Although Thomas S. Monson is the only prophet who holds all of the Priesthood keys for the Church, it was a good clarifier to all of us that we were indeed about to hear from a prophet of God.

And then we did. It was incredible, every minute of it. I wish I could just get his talk and send it to you. Every sentence was inspired. He expressed his love for us, and also conveyed the urgency of this work at the same time. One thing in specific that he said was comparing the work that we do to his. He said that the Greek definition of an apostle is "one sent by God, with a message", then assured us that atleast for the two years that we are set-apart, we are engaged in the same apostolic work that he is. Stressing that he wasn't calling us to be a part of the Quorum of the Twelve, he told us that "from the minute I get up in the morning, until the minute I go to bed, I try to figure out how to save a human soul." We're doing the same. He spent the next part of the talk speaking of the way we do this. He told that the only way that this is possible is by God's way, and by strict obedience to it. He also stressed the importance of true, deep, profound conversion in every member. They must understand and live all the principles of the Gospel, because "nothing short of it will bring them salvation."

Finally, he shared some thoughts on Doctrine and Covenants section 50. In there, the Lord is essencially telling us of our grand potential to recieve all that He has. Elder Holland told us that everyone on the Earth is living below our potential, because we all have need to repent. I think it was verse 35 that the Lord assures us that we are still loved and cherished by God. Because of the Atonement, we are still capable of achieving this glorious potential, that is still now infinately beyond our comprehension.

I don't know if my summary made any sense, but I want to add my simple testimony to that of Elder Holland's by saying that it is true. Every single person still has the opportunity to recieve this Celestial Inheritance. Some are more elect than others, and it's evident that not every one will accept it, but it's important to know that everyone of them is capable. Never let the thought that they will probably reject it, or that letting them know about it is the job of someone else, like a missionary, or someone with a higher calling keep you from trying. Every single member of Christ's Church is one of His disciples, and His call to bring His Gospel to all the world is directed at all of His diciples. As far as I'm concerned, my official ministerial calling is only a formality. The setting apart as a member missionary occurs for everyone under the laying on of hands during their confirmation as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.

His Gospel is transcendant above anything else that we can obtain. It's our responsibility to declare it to every soul for one last dispensation. This is it. We're preparing the world for when He reigns upon it in all of His glory. Not just the missionaries. All of us.

God bless us in our efforts.

Hasta la próxima semana,

-Élder Goff


------Pictures-----

First one, some weird Aaladin's palace rip off that I'm sure is violating all kinds of copy right laws, but is still kinda cool.

The second: Elder Hicks from Arizona and Elder Parichaua from Peru. They're re-capos. I'm not kidding, I love these two.

Then all of the Elders on the bus to see Elder Holland.

 


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Happiness Guarenteed (Sent: November 11, 2013)

Querido Familia,

I almost don´t even know what to write. I´m still happy, still working hard and still seeing miracles. I don´t know if my letters are sounding repetitive or not, but my journal entries sure seem to. One thing that have seen constant is how happy I am. I get frustrated and a little discouraged from time to time, but whenever I pray it seems to leave immediately.

So two more Élderes moved into our pension, which is such a relief because I was wondering what we were going to do with our whole square foot of extra room with only two of us in there. But seriously, I´ve really liked it a lot more. I love being around other missionaries, and being reminded that I´m a part of something bigger than myselft- part of real army of the Lord. Élder Reyna is from Mexico, but speaks only a little slower than my last companion. Élder Mason is from California, and was so glad when he realized that I was yanqui too. It´s nice to have someone to speak English to every now and then so that we don´t go too crazy always hearing so many different dialects of Spanish.

Élder Fernandez and I have been having just a little bit of trouble with our investigators. Horacio and Juana who had been progressing so well have been showing some signs of doubt. They are really set on worshipping the Virgen Mary, and shared that they wanted every one of their children to support them in their baptism. We passed by their house several times, three days in a row, including the day of their scheduled baptism, and they weren´t home. We´ve yet to hear from them, and we´re a little worried about where to go next. Other previous investigators are either in another area now, or have stopped coming to Church, so we kind of have to start from scratch.

But we´ve seen some miracles too. One mother of a girl we were teaching came out to tell us that we couldn´t teach her daughter anymore, because they have the Bible and that´s all that they needed. We expressed how much we loved the Bible as well, and started talking about our favorite passages. She eventually let us in, and I shared how I loved that the Bible had two testaments to show God´s constant presence among His children. Then I showed her the scripture in Ezekial 37 in her copy, bearing testimony that all the testaments of Jesus Christ would come together as one. We shared that the Bible bears testimony of the Book of Mormon, as well as the other way around, because they are different testaments of the same Gospel. My companion showed her the footnotes with references to the Bible in the Book of Mormon, and left her with a challenge to read Alma 5, and pray to know if it is the Word of God. She was really excited about it and invited us back this Tuesday.

I´ve also decided to stop praying to ¨know what to say in the lessons¨ and take Gordon B. Hinckley´s advice to pray that the Lord will ¨loose (my) tounge and speak His words through (me).¨ Completely submitting myself to Him in lessons has made an enormous impact. I´ve seen the gift of tounges and all the other skills that I need to teach successfully just fall into place by doing this. For example, while talking to a less active family, the father shared that he has not seen a single blessing since his baptism. My companion and I seemed to know exactly what scriptures to use, and what to testify about to help them realize how faith, diligent perserverance, and prayer all work together to bring the blessings. He softened his heart, and agreed to future visits with us and to even come to Church this Sunday. Sometimes, I even tell a joke and they laugh! If that´s not clear evidence of the gift of tounges, I don´t know what is.

In summary, I struggled, submitted, and saw miracles. At the end of it all, I learned something huge this last week. Whether you witness miraculous transformations in your investigators, or struggle to even find one that won´t reject you, if you submit yourself comepletely to the Lord, happiness is guarenteed.

God bless you all. I love you more than ever, and I continue to offer my testimony that Christ lives, our Father loves us, and that Their kingdom is restored on the Earth.

-Élder Goff

Also, I guess it´s somewhat big news to tell you that Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson are coming to talk to our mission this Saturday. !!!! I´ll let you know how that goes!

_____________________________________________________________________________

Sorry about no pictures last week. There was a bit of a problem with the cheap computer eating my SD card. But I got it back, and I´m sending some now.

Elder Reyna got a hold of my camera, and took a ton of random pictures of his stuff, but I decided to keep some just for the heck of it. That snack is an Alfajor. The weird thing is, the cheapest ones taste the best.
Pretty nice how that works out.

Then there´s some pictures of my new companion and I, and the other Elders.







Sunday, November 10, 2013

Argentines ¨celebrate¨ Halloween (Sent: November 5, 2013)

¿Todo bien? Porque todo esta bien conmigo.

To be honest I don´t really remember a whole lot about this week. I remember that for some reason I was kinda down, and I was a little ungrateful. But anteayer, (the day before yesterday) I repented and refocused, and ended the week really well. I truely can´t even remember why I was disheartened. But I guess you´re just gonna get a whole bunch of happy stories. :)

First of all, Argentines claim that they celebrate Halloween. But they don´t. The most festive I´ve seen anyone was on October 2nd, when a member family was throwing a small Halloween party. I saw three kids wearing eye-patches on Halloween, and one girl knocked on our door and just stood there in silence with no costume on. (We gave her 2 pesos to use at a Kiosco because we didn´t have any candy.) They truely don´t understand this American holiday. They need lessons from you Mom and Ryan. :) You´re masters.

So the last day of the my first transfer, we went on divisions. I don´t know why, but the zone leader, Élder Carvajal, really wanted to work with Élder Pirez. So I worked with Élder Sorenson from Sugarhouse Park, Utah. He´s an incredible missionary. He served in Florida for 6 months, and has been in Argentina for 5 days, but his Spanish blows me away. He seems to understand the people really well, which I´m admittedly a little jealous of. But he´s always careful to invite absolutely everyone to a lesson that we are having, whether it´s in the middle, end, or we´re setting up a date for a future lesson. That´s something that I´ve really learned. Even though almost everyone declined, he remembers to invite all people unto Christ literally at all times, even while he´s already inviting people to come unto Christ.

We had some miracles happen that day too. One investigator wasn´t home, so while walking to another appointment, a man shouted to us and asked us to come in. This never happens. We went in, and found out that they were a less active family, and we shared a quick message with them, and asked if they had anyone that they knew we could share the Gospel with. They couldn´t think of anyone, but as we were about to leave, they saw their niece off in the distance, and realized that she could hear our message when she was coming back on Saturday. So we thanked them for their time, and continued walking. A few minutes later, another lady called to us, and asked us to come talk to her friend. Remember when I said that this never happens? What is going on? The lady is a sweet old lady that´s active in the church and cries when we read practically every scripture. Her friend is ¨catolica hasta morir¨ but was glad to hear the message, and invited us back. I´m going to pray so hard for the Spirit. I know that´s the only thing that can pierce this ¨Catholic until death¨ mentality.

We finally got to our appointment with Horacio y Juana, who are those vejitos I talked about in the last letter. Ellos son recapos, and I´m so happy for them. They´re still excited about their baptism next Sunday, and continue to love Church. We had a really good clarifying lesson about why a modern prophet was so important, and what made the Church of Jesus Christ different from other Christian churches. They seem to understand and act sincerely. I love these two so much.

One more story from this day. There was one contact that we were going to make that I wasn´t sure was in our area. It was right on the border, but Elder Pirez told me to go visit it anyway, assuring me it was within the limits. We went rather hesitantly, but we found a young man named Marcello out in the streets excitedly waiting for us. I don´t know if he´s mentally handicapped, but I do know that he is genuinely excited about sharing the Gospel with his family. His mom´s name is Catolina, who has no religious experience. She accepted and participated in the whole first lesson about the Restoration. She accepted to read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon, to attend Church this Sunday, and yep, the big one: baptism. She is incredible. We testified so much during that lesson, and the Spirit was so powerful. Their phone rang about 7 times, and I got like 10 missed calls and 15 text messages in the middle of it, but the Spirit was not going anywhere. When the scriptures talk about seeking the elect, it´s talking about people like Catolina. I´m so excited to visit her again, and pray that we can teach and testify that powerfully in every lesson.

So today was the first day of my second transfer. Now I´m with Élder Fernandez who I can already tell is a fantastic missionary. He´s from Nicaragua and has 11 months in Argentina. He´s incredibly patient with me, hard working, and best of all, I can understand him. I respect Elder Pirez so much, but I could never understand him completely.

I´m incredibly grateful for this week. I know that it wasn´t a perfect week by any means. But I learned that when I´m humble, and most of all grateful for everything, the Lord will provide miracles, and help me to focus on them. When I remember to thank Him for EVERY blessing (including trials) He helps me keep a positive attitude, and in the end, I only remember the good things about the work. I have a solid testimony that this is the most noble work on earth. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior for every person, and that His Atonement and Gospel are applicable to absolutely every child of God, personally as well as universally. I´m eternally grateful to be a representative of Him, and this I share en el nombre de Jesucristo, Amén.

P.S. Sorry this letter is so late. Transfers bump P-day to Tuesday, and made it so I had to write later in the day.

¡Hasta el lunes que viene!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

These are the worst computers in the world :P (Sent Oct. 28, 2013)

Sorry that this letter is being sent later in the day. The computer that I was using this morning to read all the emails on would absolutely refuse to let me type in English, and kept freezing every 10 minutes. Also the internet was double the price there. What a ripoff. Haha, first world problems.

So this week was pretty crazy. First of all, the amazingly great news: We had investigators come to church! Oracio, (82), Juana, (84) Milagros and her aunt Sofia (both 12) came to church and said that they really enjoyed it. All of them have dates for baptism as well, so we finally have some progressing investigators! With the end of this transfer coming up quickly, I have no idea if I´ll get to see them make that commitment or not. But I´m glad to see their faith growing and so happy to be a part of the work beyond just lessons yielding unkept commitments.

So the weekly cultural note: everything is pirated here. Everything. People don´t even think to purchase the music they download, and all of the movies that are rented out are pirated versions. I saw a DVD cover for Monsters University that that was rated R, had copyright information for The Dark Knight, the language was ´´Espanish´´ and best of all, had the saying ´´With God all things are possible´´ on the bottom. The piraters just slap what ever they want on there, thinking that no one will notice. It´s clear that they don´t know what they´re doing though, especially when you see that in bold letters in the information it says ´´not to be sold or rented outside the USA or Canda´´. Haha, like I´ve said many times before, Argentines do what they want.

On another note, I have a question. How does food that tastes this good make me so sick? It´s not that bad, I´ve got what every South American missionary has; my buddy Elder Bradshaw in Peru calls the ¨siempres¨. (By the way, the reason missionaries don´t gain weight down here isn´t because their walking missions...) okay enough about my overly active digestive system.

Really quick story. There was a wedding for some investigators of the other Elders, and the song ¨Good Feeling¨ came on. Being so excited to finally hear a decent song, I jumped up to dance. They were so facinated by my mediocre shuffling that they were taking videos, and they continue to ask me to do it for them. They think it´s so funny that the skinny white kid that speaks Spanish like a four year old and doesn´t understand anything can actually dance!

So ¨La Iglesia Christiana Evangelica¨ is huge down here. And these guys don´t like us for some reason. When we introduce ourselves as ¨missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints¨ they are really genuinely interested, and want to hear what we have to say. Then as soon as they figure out that we´re ¨Mormons¨ they are suddenly firmly Evangelic, and nothing can change their mind. They go from openess to hostility in an instant. It´s a really delicate situation talking to them, so we´re polite and even try to teach from their Bible. But when answering one woman about her questions about the three kingdoms of glory, we went to 1 Corinthians 15, and she was missing the last 6 chapters. Sometimes there will just be a line in place of a verse in their Bibles. When Nefi said ¨that plain and precious parts of the Bible were taken away or lost¨ I didn´t expect it to litterally say ¨11. *text* 12. --- 13. *text*¨ but that´s exactly what I saw in another Bible.

Oh man, these people seem so sincere in their beliefs, and really want to demonstrate their faith to Christ. It pains me to see them so obviously be lacking the full gospel of Jesus Christ, and when we try to offer it to them, they so quickly decline, and even denounce it. I guess that´s why the Savior said to seek the elect. Those who are ready to accept the gospel will accept it. Those who reject it, at least had the offer. I still know without a doubt that this Gospel is true.

Speaking of which, last P-day, I had the most spiritual experience I´ve had yet while serving a mission. While my companion was observing siesta in our appartment, I knelt down with the intent to pray for my investigators who at the time were not progressing in the slightest. Instead, I suddenly became overwhelmed by all the things that my Heavenly Father has done for me. It seemed to hit me all at once that everything in existence, including me, is because of Him. Everything I have is from Him. There is absolutely no possible way that I can repay Him. But He doesn´t want me to repay Him. All that He asks is that I be willing and humble enough to allow Him to bring me to Eternal Life and Exaltation so that He can give me everything. I seemed to have one of those experiences that they talk about in the scriptures where they cry out and glorify God. I don´t want to sound overly-dramatic, but I could not help but cry as I felt enveloped in His love for me. It was one of the greatest personal experiences I´ve had with my Father in Heaven on this earth. How could I not give everything I have? It´s incredibly hard to keep my mind focused, to learn to understand another language and culture, but I know that it´s worth trying. I also know that after my 100% comes the grace of Christ, which is sufficient to fullfill any task.-no matter how small my 100% does to fullfill it. I know I´m going to get the hang of all this. I´m so grateful to be involved in the most noble work on Earth.

This is share in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

P.S. Here´s some pictures of Capital. They have the thinnest skyscrapers ever. Sometimes I look at them, and go ¨Really? What is keeping that up?¨




Monday, October 21, 2013

One day, I'm going to learn this freaking language.

YES! English time!

Man, what a week. My mind is kinda scattered right now, because we're in what they call a "Locotorio" which is where everyone goes to use the internet. So there's some weird latino music in the background, and pretty much everyone is playing Grand Theft Auto. Basically, it's the opposite of where I'd feel comfortable writing about spiritual experiences. But I'm trying to make the most of it.

So, we've been having a lot of trouble with our investigators progressing. They are still awesome, and I love them so much. They're generally really excited to have us talk to them about the gospel, and are really sincere when making commitments, but they almost never follow through. Once again, we had none of them show up to church, or even be home when we came to pick them up. I get the feeling that they think talking with the missionaries is all the spiritual guidance they need, even though we're blatantly telling them they have to act. As of right now, we have no progressing investigators, and there are only two Sundays left this transfer, which means no more baptisms. I'm kind of bummed, because like I said, I love these people, and I want to see them progress. But it really shouldn't matter how long it takes them to do so, as long as they do come unto Christ. We're trying now to focus on getting them to keep their commitments.

So I still have hardly any idea what people are saying. But I keep running across scriptures in my Personal Study about opening your mouth and speaking. For example here's a nice and humbling one: Doctrine and Covenants 60:2. Yep. So I've been trying really hard at saying everything that I'm prompted, and it's actually been pretty awesome! I've been praying during Personal Study that I could find something to share with an somebody, and lift them spiritually. During one lesson, a less active woman shared that she feels like something is missing from here life, even though she is praying and reading the scriptures often. I shared a scripture that I had studied that morning about how the people were filled when they partook of the Sacrament. Then I explained in slow, broken Castellano about how even though the Sacrament is only a crumb of bread, and a drop of water, they were filled. Not with the food, but with the Spirit. I told her that by taking the Sacrament, we show our willingness to live all five parts of the Gospel: Demonstrating our faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, being worthy after repenting of our sins, renewing our baptismal covenants, feeling the Holy Ghost testify that our sins are forgiven, and doing this whole process every week. I told her that's why she feels something missing, and she liked it so much that she asked for the reference and marked it in her own scriptures. In Doctrine and Covenants, it also says that when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, the words of the Lord's Elders "become scripture". (Doctrine and Covenants 68:1-4) It's been really amazing to see that happen.

I've also been praying like crazy to understand the people. I try really hard to understand what they're saying, but it's easy to get lost in the discussion. Also, there's a new problem: some of these people are just down right insane. Haha, it doesn't help that I have to fill in the holes myself, so sometimes I'm just left utterly confused. For example, we have an investigator named Segundo, and we were teaching him the Word of Wisdom. The whole time he would say "Oh, logically" as if it made perfect sense. Then he would go on about how "we shouldn't eat potatoes that aren't orgainic because the preservatives are addicting and bad for us." Or better yet, "we should only eat fruit from trees that have roots that are a certain length. Anything different than 40-50 cm will bring bad fruit." ...I don't even know. The important thing is that he agreed to live the Word of Wisdom. As long as He abstains from the five things we discussed, and tries to eat his organic potatoes in balance with the other fruits and grains of the field, than I guess there's no harm.

I have another crazy story. The other Elders in our area are Elder Fuentes and Elder Marchant, (the Chileans). They're in the nicer part of San Ignacio, and they still had their bikes when I got here. But while they were riding, they were jumped by 10-15 guys who kicked E' Marchant's tire from underneath him, grabbed his backpack, and he and his companion had to take off running. They were at the police station reporting their stolen bike and backpack pretty much all day. Then an officer started talking about religion to them, and asked about, of all things, the Law of Chastity. They talked about it, took out the pamphlet, then somehow moved into the Restoration. She was so interested, she gave them her contact information, and they told the missionaries in that area about her. So, with all said and done, the Lord let them be roughed up by a bunch of thugs, so that they could report it to an officer who is interested in the Church because of the Law of Chastity. Uh, what? Yep, the Lord sure works in mysterious ways. But whatever works, right? Hahaha, it still makes me laugh.

Okay, finally, I want to share one of my journal entries this week, attached as a picture. Most of the time my journal is just the ramblings of a lost 19 year old in a foreign country with a few recognitions of spiritual experiences. But this entry in particular is special to me. As I began writing, I felt inspired. By about half way through, I felt as if God was talking to me by direct revelation through the things that I was writing. My testimony really grew about my purpose as a set apart missionary. It was a really cool experience for me.

Also, something totally out of the blue. I was looking through some of the old copies of the Spanish Liahona, and in the May 2013 edition, on Page 121, there's none other than Haley Brunsdale! I don't know if she's left on her mission yet or not, but somebody please tell her for me.

¡Hasta la próxima semana!


"The Argentina Articles" :P (Sent Oct 14, 2013)

Familia!

Man, what a crazy week! I forgot my notes of all the things that I wanted to tell you, but I'll just list what I remember.

So for P-day last week, we all went to the zoo as a mission. I still don't know why. It was super random. But I had a great time! It turns out that there are plenty of yanquí missionaries, but they're all in the other zones. It's about half and half Latino and American in my zone, with a few more latinos. I sent some pictures of the zoo. They have the weirdest animals. But that has nothing to do with the work, I just thought that it was hilarious.

So I'm slowly picking up Castellano. It still sounds so strange. It's like they're mumbling and singing at the same time. The other day I was talking to a missionary from Mexico, and I could totally understand him! Oh, it felt great to actually be able to speak Spanish and understand it. So far I can only understand gringos and Mexicans, (and sometimes Chileans or Peruvians). Argentines just speak something different. They say that they can understand me, and often compliment me on my Castellano, but I still can't understand the context of the conversation, or specifics for that matter. I had an interesting experience the other day. I was praying while we were walking down the street, expressing that I was frustrated, and couldn't do anything so long as I couldn't understand the people. I got the impression that I can still do plenty of missionary work while still getting used to the language. As long as I have faith that the Spirit will compensate for my inability, and open my mouth and say whatever I'm impressed to say, the investigator will hear what they need to hear. I repented and kept working, and had that experience several times later on.

So the Latinos continue to be fascinated with all the profanity and racial slurs of English. They think it's hilarious to say them around me. (Yeah, they're missionaries.) Their logic is since it's in all of the movies and on TV that it shouldn't be bad. What?! What kind of logic is that?! I've never hated the media more. I haven't truely realized the success of Satan in the media until now. I keep trying to express how dangerous it is, but they insist that I'm being too sensitive. I still denounce poor language, but I have come to realize that I'm the only one who can be offended by it. Like I said before, I'm one of maybe 75 English speakers within miles and miles. They aren't using them with a malicious intent, and they don't even really understand the meaning. If I shouldn't be offended by the things the borrachos are yelling at me on the streets, why should I be offended by the things people say which they don't even understand themselves? Offense is always a choice.

I want to specifically mention one investigator: his name is Luis. We talked to his son Diego, who brought us to his house. He told us that he didn't know if God existed, and didn't seem very interested. Then suddenly he said "pasen", telling us to come inside. I don't know what happened, but we did. Elder Pirez was talking to him about something I couldn't understand. Then I realized that it was about politics. I was thinking "Elder! What are you doing?! That's something they explicitly tell us not to do!" Somehow it seemed to make Luis comfortable, and he was extremely receptive to the lesson on the Plan of Salvation. He, like pretty much everyone else, owns a Kiosco (a small store in the house), which we bought some things from, including some mediocre empanadas. But he was so ecstatic to have the visit, the lesson, and the sale. Those were the best mediocre empanadas that I've ever had. Haha, I love Luis. He's awesome!

Yesterday was kind of hard. Firstly, we had none of our investigators that said they were coming to Church actually come. (I don't understand Argentine schedules, but the only things that aren't flexible to them are soccer games. Everything else can wait apparently. We have to go to our appointments like 45 minutes late, and sometimes they still ask us to come back 15 minutes later.) Then later in the day, a girl asked me to seal a blessing we gave her. Of course in Spanish. I felt the Spirit so strongly of what I needed to say, and yet I couldn't find the right words. I knew that I should say the word "sanar" or to heal, but I convinced myself that it wasn't right, and said something like "recieve blessings". She didn't seem to feel the Spirit as strongly as I did, and I still feel so bad that I didn't use the gift of tounges when it was offered me. It's hard in the moment, but something I've learned as a missionary is to have 100% faith at all times. If you make a mistake, have faith that God will compensate. Just always do what the Spirit tells you to do.

The last lesson of the day on Sunday was to a girl that has been taking the lessons for a long time. She believes that everything is true, but she doesn't want to change her life right now, and so she keeps refusing baptism. Elder Pirez shared a scripture with her, testified and challenged her to be baptized: No. He did an object lesson about the Gospel of Christ and Eternal families, re-challenged: No. Another scripture, testify, challenge, rejection. Finally I decided to try. It was really hard to find the right words, but I felt the Spirit so strongly. I spoke what was in my heart, and ended powerfully. Elder Pirez for the final time challenged her to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone possessing the authority of the Priesthood of God, and... no. She didn't even hesitate. Are you kidding me? Do you realize how hard it was for me to testify? Do you even realize how important this all is? Your whole family could be together, forever enjoying the glory of the Celestial Kingdom, and you don't even want to change a few things in your life to experience the most pure and everlasting joy available to you?

Of course I'm not new to rejection. We're rejected more often than not as missionaries. But every now and then I experience it in a different way. I try to see these people as Heavenly Father sees them. I study the importance of the five parts of Gospel of Jesus Christ every day, and realize and re-realize the essential nature of each in the salvation of mankind. I try to testify powerfully, having perfect faith so that this precious son or daughter of God can come and enjoy the blessings of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. When they use their agency to instead choose the vane, carnal, and temporal pleasure of the world, it breaks my heart. I prayed in repentence once again to my Heavenly Father for my stubborness, and came to recognize how sacred Human Agency is to Him. He understands the importance of this work infinately more than I do, and yet He has made an unalterable vow to never tresspass it. Violating our agency is something that Heavenly Father will never do, but offering His love is something that He will never stop doing.

Just some of the wisdom God shared with me this week. I love you all! I hope you're still doing well! Until next week.


This is Manuel, who I baptized last week and confirmed this week. Also Elder Fuentes and Elder Marchant the other companionship in San Ignacio






Sorry, this computer is so picky about picture uploading, so I don't know if they're in the right order, or the right pictures for that matter. :P

1. Just in case there were any doubts that I'm happy. :)

2. Empanadas at the zoo. Yep! Welcome to South America.

The one with the missionaries and the monkey didn't turn out too well, but it was supposed to look like they were teaching him. :)

And of course the strangest exhibit of all, the Mormons!

Also, the last one is a picture of a safety sign. Who else would be better to demonstrate the safety steps than the SLENDERMAN!










Sunday, October 13, 2013

More from down South (Sent: Monday, October 7, 2013)

Querida Familia,

This week was crazy! To get the shock out of the way, last night was a huge rivalry game for the two big soccer clubs of Buenos Aires. Let's get this straight: to everyone who thought, like me, that Argentines were basically all Catholic, we were wrong. They're religion is soccer, and Boca vs River is their Holy War. But luckily South Americans are known for their sportsmanship and understanding when it comes to Fútbol, so they kindly joined in the culturally-enriching experience while "celebrating" in the streets of San Ignacio. To my sacrastically illeterate friends, they were rioting. Alot. During General Conference there were some desperate screams outside the window, and we had to get back to the apartment early because the game was about to end. I put my stuff on the table, and sat down to write in my journal just as I started to hear the shouts and explosions. Yep. Meet the sports fans of South America.

I want to ensure everyone that all of us are okay. We never talk about sports, or mention them. We know when all of the rivalry games are, and don't leave the apartment after them. My apartment is perfectly safe away from the streets. The only colors that the rioters see are red and blue, for River and Boca respectively. They don't see black tags or white shirts. Missionaries and bystanders are generally safe if they stay out of the way.

I guess I´d better fess up about something else to. We were mugged last Sunday. I didn't know what was going on for the first 10 seconds, and thinking that it was another contact, just stood there smiling. When I saw the gun, I realized what was happening. They only took my bag, which had my spanish scriptures, travel Predicad Mi Evangelio, agenda, hymnbook, and teaching materials. Basically all the things that I need, and they likely don't want. But who knows, maybe they'll take a look at them, and realize that they just stole the most valuable things that they could have taken.

Now that all the danger and excitement is out of the way, I´d like to share some revelation that's come to me. I've been worried about everything that is happening at home and to my friends in the field, or at college, etc. I've spent alot of time praying, and have come to realize a fundamental truth about my setting apart. I'm set apart from the world for two years. My entire world. And though I'm not isolated from my family and friends, and I can still communicate, my responsibility for them falls to the Lord. All of my focus and worry should be on missionary work. I think the same goes for all of you. Of course crazy things are going to happen to me. I'm in a foreign country, with a culture that I don't understand, and customs that I've never seen before. But as a part of my setting apart, all filial and parental responsibility falls into the Lord's hands while I'm His missionary. I promise you that He is protecting me. I don't want you to worry about something that is out of your responsibility. I'm being 100% obedient, so you can be sure that God is 100% aware of the things that happen to me. He is not going to allow unneccesary danger harm me.

On a lighter note, the latino members are still awesome. I had lunch with one family who was really excited to watch me eat a Chili pepper. Now remember that Argentines are not big fans of spice, but they have this weird conception that gringos have never tried it. They excitedly watched me eat their "spicy" food and kept asking if it was hot. I politely said yes, but it was delicious. They laughed, I think more out of disappointment. They expected me to freakout, but I love spicy food! It was nothing compared to the hot sauce I've tried, 100% pain, Total Insanity, or After Death.

So, General Conference was fun! First Session: solo en Castellano. ... ... I didn't catch a thing. I tried to be humble and follow along the best I could, but admittedly it was really frustrating to be so close to hearing the words of the prophets that I've been proclaiming, and missing the inspired revelation that I've been looking forward to for six months. There were a few other Elders in my boat, so they got a room set up for the English broadcast for the other sessions. SO much better. Even some American Elders who have been here for nearly two years joined in the English session. I was surprised by how much was about missionary work, probably because, to me, that's what everything relates to. There were alot of things that I found interesting, but in particular is something that Elder M. Russell Ballard said. When talking about the age of the Church, he said that we've been proclaiming Christ's Gospel for 183 years now. I realized that means we would have had to been acting as missionaries every minute after we recieved the Gospel ourselves. I know that I'm set apart to do nothing else but preach the Gospel, but I really got the feeling that as a member of the Church, this is what I should be doing anyway. Not necesarily proselyting, but always "inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored gosepl through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonment, repentence, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."

I also came to closer realize the truth that God Himself is out working with us, just as it says in Jacob 5:72. In the middle of the day during this week, we had been running into a lot of brick walls. Appointments kept falling through, and contacts kept rejecting us. Elder Pirez decided to knock on a random door. The man politely declined our message, but told us to try his neighbor next door. We taught Omar, Shovana, and Andrea who all received the message of the Restoration gladly. I told the story of Joseph Smith and bore my testimony about the Restoration. They each took the Book of Mormon, and promised that they would read, ponder, and pray. All but Omar, who had to work, said that they would come to church the next Sunday. (Not General Conference)

Finally, I want to talk about Manuel. He's an investigator who is really good friends with Dora and Rodrigo who were confirmed last week. He's 70 years old, and a little crazy, but he's a really good man. He's been taking the lessons and was committed to baptism since before I got here. For some reason, I ended up being the one to baptize him, which was an incredible experience. I kept praying that he would feel the Spirit during the service, and he said that he did. The water was frigid, and he kept slipping in the font, but he couldn't stop laughing. He was so happy to have been baptized, and was just as excited as the other two noys who were baptized at the same time, Pablo (9) and David (14).

Even though I didn't know Manuel very well, I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to baptize him. Like I said last week, there is absolutely no way for someone to make it to the Celestial Kingdom of God without it. It's symbolism of letting your old and carnal life die, so that you can be reborn as a humble, pure disciple of Christ is so essential, that even Jesus Christ Himself had to participate in the ordinance. If an investigator doesn't understand that baptism should be their main goal in investigating the Church, than that missionary hasn't been doing his job correctly. Christ even summarizes His entire Gospel in the word of baptism when He tells the apostles to go forth after His ascension into heaven. I'm so glad that Manuel made this important choice, and may he keep growing the faith that he's gained from here after.

I still don't understand a thing, but I know that I'll catch on. My mission president pulled me aside today at a meeting and said "Elder Goff, don't worry if you can't understand your companion. Elder Pirez is an incredible missionary, but he speaks a really strange Spanish. Even I can't understand him at times." He assured me that everything will click, and told me to keep trying. I love you all so much. Thank you for your support and prayers. I pray for all of you everyday.

¡Hasta la semana próxima!

P.S. I can´t get pictures to work yet. I´ll keep trying, but if I can´t get them to work, I´ll send double next week.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Primer semana en Argentina

¡FAMILIA!

These people don't speak Spanish. I swear everyone is just an actor paid to yell gibberish at me until I crack. Haha, now I know why they call it "Castellano". I really under-estimated the effect that a different dialect would have on me. Yet everytime I speak to someone, they look shocked, and say "Wow, you speak Castellano very well..." then go off about something I can't understand. Sometimes they speak really slowly as a joke, then laugh as if I don't need it. I say "no, no that's actually better!" but they just think that I'm going along with the joke and keep speaking a million miles an hour. Oh boy.

The first day I got here, I spent the whole day with the new missionaries, the president's family, and the assistants. The latino missionaries are so hilarious. They´re so eager to learn English, and will randomly yell out things like ¨You are so pretty!¨ in a thick accent. The sad thing is how much American media has had an effect on their English. They´ll say things like "What´s up n*****?" without even knowing it's bad. I saw a member girl wearing a Playboy sweatshirt with "Sexy B****" written on the front. These aren't the nostalgic references to home that I want! It's hard to know when to correct them, because for all I know, that sweatshirt is the only one she has. Whoever told me that I was going to the rich part of Buenos Aires lied. These people live in more humble circumstances than I can imagine. (I did hear that the South part of San Ignacio where I am is where "the villas" or the slums are, but so far, I haven't seen anything else other than my president's neighborhood.) I don't want to make her feel bad, and if nobody knows what it means, then there's no harm done. Now I just hope that I haven't accidentally been cursing people out for the past 7 weeks.

There were 34 new missionaries, so they made a real effort to make us feel welcome. My president is awesome, and he made sure that I knew that my companion, Elder Pirez "is a baptizer". That's definately the truth. The apartment is covered in signs about baptism including "BAUTIZAR O MORIR". Everytime the scriptures mentions baptism, he circles it. I admire his dedication to the work. He really is an inspiration. A lot of times, people will say things like "a mission's not about baptisms, it's about bringing people to Christ." They need to take a closer look at 2 Nephi 31. This is a chapter that they drill into every missionary's head. Christ explicitly says so many times that to come unto Him, we must be baptized by the proper authority, in the proper way, and at the proper age. Baptism is so important for many reasons, the key being that no one can enter the Celestial Kingdom without it. It signifies the death of our pagan and carnal life, and the birth of our renewed life as a disciple of Christ. It's a commandment of God for everyone to be baptized. A mission is all about baptism. Not to gain statistics for the Church, but to provide people with the opportunity to be a part of God's kingdom. It's glorious!

Elder Pirez is 24 but looks like he's 35. He's from Uruguay, and speaks faster than the Argentines. The other Elders in San Ignacio (my area), Elder Fuentes and Elder Marchant tease him about how nobody can understand him. They're both Chilean, and some of the only people I can understand. They speak slowly for me, and are learning English, so they throw it in every now and then. I can understand the other gringo missionaries in my district, but practically none of the latinos. Everyone assures me that understanding will come, but I feel so useless sometimes. I feel like I can't do anything if I can't understand the people. I don't want to serve a mission for 75% of my two years after I learn the language. I want to serve a full two years. I've told Heavenly Father that I will try my hardest, and asked Him to help me to know what to say, even when I don't know the context. I just say what ever pops into my head, and hope that it makes sense. Luckily, my companion has so much experience, and he is really good at making it sound like it fits right in with the discussion.

Okay, more about Argentina. Here are some things that I've learned from Argentine traffic:
1. Speed limit, Shmeed Limit
2. Red lights only exist when you feel like it.
3. Road lanes: optional.
4. You always have the right of way, so go for it.
5. If something is in your way like a dog, pedestrian, or another car, don't worry. It'll move. Probably.
6. Call a bus by "Heiling Hitler". No, I'm not kidding.
7. Tailgating? Don't be a wimp.
8. Cross walk? Oh you poor, confused, gringo.

Many more things, but you get the idea. It's like Frogger out here. But amazingly I haven't even seen one accident, or anyone with road rage. It's totally normal to them. What's wrong with Utah drivers?

So there's a little kid named Rodrigo here who is basically like my little brother. (Don't worry, Ryan, he can never replace you. He doesn't understand any of our YouTube quotes. Then again, I don't understand ANYthing he says...) He thinks it's hilarious how little I understand, but tries to help me learn all the little basic nouns and stuff. He's 11 or 12, and was baptized the week before I got here, and confirmed this Sunday. He tags along with us almost everyday, and loves to mess with us. When we were taking him to be confirmed, he took like 30 minutes just to wake up, then kept walking away from the chapel saying "Tengo sueño. No quiere ir a la iglesia." We knew he was kidding, but that punk was stubborn. He walked to a bus stop, and it took all 4 Elders to convince him to stay. Well, some bystanders thought we were kidnapping him and La Policia showed up in the middle of sacrament meeting. Rodrigo started cracking up, and we explained that it was a confirmation, and his grandparents were at the chapel the whole time. Everything was sorted out, but leave it to the Argentine cops to show up when the missionaries are trying to bring people into the kingdom of God, but are nowhere to be found when they're being mugged.

With all it's craziness, and foreign culture, I absolutely love Argentina. I can't understand a thing anyone says, but I still have such a love for them. They're always so kind, which is probably because I just assume that the things I don't understand are just compliments. Assume the best in people, right? Anyway, I have such a desire for these people to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They're faith is so evident whenever we talk to them. They want to know Christ and want to express their faith in Him. Sometimes it's misplaced like when they worship the saint "Gauchitogil" (Basically he's a cowboy saint), but I know that Heavenly Father knows the desires of their hearts, which is why He sent us to them. I'm learning to include Heavenly Father as a companion in all that I do. I'll get this language down. I have faith, and know that Heavenly Father wants me to. If He can do all things, and both of us want me to understand, then I'm guarenteed to be blessed with it! All I need is patience.

Se amo muchísimo. Yo sé que esta iglesia es el reino de Dios en el mundo hoy. Todos son invitados a juntarse, y volverse como Cristo. Sé que Jesucristo es el Salvador del mundo, y porque Su Expiación, podemos regresar a nuestro Amado Padre Celestial. Dios y Su Hijo Unigénito no aman muchísimo, y quieren que nosotros aceptemos Su Evangelio y regresemos a Sus presencias. Estas cosas digo en el nombre sagrado de Jesucristo, Amén.

-------------Second Email for the Day------------------

I´m still trying to figure out how to send pictures. Bear with me. Everything is in Spanish.

My buddy Elder Christensen sent this to me, which brought me so much joy. Sometimes, I feel exactly like this, so I'm glad that he sent it to me!

HE'S BEEN THERE BEFORE
By Elder Troy Whittle,
Texas, Houston
Mission
The alarm rings at 6:30; I stumble to my feet.
 I grab my  companion's bedding and pull off his sheet.
A groan fills the room, is it  already time to arise?
 It seems like just a second ago I was able to  shut my eyes.
The morning activities follow - study, prayer, and  such.
When it's time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven't  accomplished much.
"We have a super day planned," my comp says with a  grin.
 I lowly utter a faithless breath, "Yeah, if anyone lets us  in.
"With the word of God and my faithful Schwinn, we ride off in the  street
Prepared to face another day of humidity and heat.
It's 9:30 in the  evening, the day is almost through;
My companion and I are riding home, not  accomplishing what we thought to do.
We ride up to the mailbox, hoping to  receive a lot.
Only to look inside and hear my echo reverberate "Air  Box."
We go up to our apartment, the day is now complete.
The only thing  to show for our work is a case of blistery feet.
It's past 10:30 PM, my  companion is fast asleep.
Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to  weep.
In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray;
I need to talk to  Father, but I'm not sure what to say.
"Oh, Father," I begin, "What happened  to us today?
I thought we'd teach somebody, but everyone was away.
My  hands, my aching hands - worn, hurt and beat;
If our area was any smaller,  we'd have knocked every street .."
"Why on missions are the days so much alike?
The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike.
Will  you send some cooler weather? The heat is killing me.
I sweat so bad, it gets  in my eyes; It's very hard to see."
"Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn't  your protection enough?
People always laugh at me and call me stupid  stuff.
Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack;
I  want to give them Books of Mormon, the weight of them hurts my back."
"And  what about my family? They don't have much to say,
I'm sick of not hearing  from home, day after day after day.
Oh Father, why am I here, am I just  wasting time?
Sometimes I just want to go home, I'm sorry but that's on my  mind."
"My companion, Heavenly Father, what are you giving me?
The way he  rides his bicycle, I don't think he can see.
Now you have it, I can't go on  I don't know what to do;
That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for  You.
"My prayer now finished I stand up, then jump right into bed.
I need  my rest for tomorrow; we have another long day ahead.
Sleep starts to  overtake me; I seem to drift away,
Then it seems a vision takes me to another  time and another day.
I'm standing alone on the hill, the view is very  nice;
A man walks towards me and says, "My name is Jesus Christ."
Tears of  joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet,
"Arise," He states, "Follow Me  to the shade - you and I need to speak.
"My attentions toward the Savior,  total and complete.
He says, "Your mission is similar of what happened to  Me,
I understand how you feel, I know what you're going through;
In fact  it would be fair to say I've felt the same as you."
"I even know how you felt when no one listened to you.
At times I felt not quite sure what else I could  do.
I know you don't like to ride a bicycle, for you a car would be  sweet;
Just remember the donkey I rode wasn't equipped with 21 speeds."
"I  understand you don't like sweating, in fact it's something you hate;
I  remember when I sweat blood from every pore, oh the agony was great!
I see  you don't like your companion - you'd rather have someone else.
I once had a  companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth."
"It's hard to wear a  helmet and have people make fun of you.
I remember when they put thorns on my  head and called me King of the Jews.
So you feel burdened down by the weight  of your pack.
I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my  back."
"Your hands hurt from tracting and knocking on doors all day.
I  guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way.
It's hard  not to hear from home when your family's not there to see;
I lost my  communication on the cross and cried, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken Me."
He  embraced me with His arms, His light filled me with His love,
With tears in  my eyes I watched as He went back to the Father above.
I stood with awe and  wonder when a beep rang in my head,
I listened and heard the alarm, then  realized I was in my bed.
My companion let out a groan, "6:30 already, no  way!"
I sat up and said, "Come on, I'll even carry your scriptures  today!"
No matter what we go through, when we feel we can’t take  more;
Just stop and think about Jesus Christ. He has been there before.


----------------Pictures--------------
Okay, this computer is slower than the speed I need people to speak at, so I'll upload as many as I can, but the rest you'll have to wait for. Love you all!

Hermano Salisbury and District 17 C

The one where I'm doing a back flip, I'm really just laying on an ironing board. Don't worry, I wasn't breaking the rules. :)




My Apartment. It's tiny. The shower constantly leaks, so there's always a mild smell of mold in the bathroom. There's three knobs in the shower, so I had no idea how to work it. I took cold showers all week until I finally asked my companion how to turn on the hot water. Best descision I've ever made.




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Letter from Mission President - Adam's Arrived safely in Argentina

Dear Goff Family,

We are so thankful to have Elder Goff with us. He arrived safely this morning and is doing wonderful. We are so excited for this great opportunity we have together to serve the Lord. We all ate lunch together here in the mission home and this afternoon he will be meeting his trainer and arriving in his area to work.  Your son will be communicating with you on his preparation day.

We love you,

President and Sister Ayre