Monday, September 30, 2013

Primer semana en Argentina


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!

By Elder Troy Whittle,
Texas, Houston
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.

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

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Semana numero cinco en la CCM

Hola, este es su yanquí favorito. ¿Cómo están?

Okay, so here are a few clarifications on my travel plans: They were changed like a thousand times this week. And by that, I mean twice. I was supposed to leave at 9:30, then they changed to 11:30, and now it's 8:30. I don't expect another change, but I wouldn't be surprised. I'm just glad that it gives me time for Cafe Rio one more time before I leave! :) My flight leaves at 2:05pm on Monday for Dallas, and I land at 5:40. Then we fly out of Dallas at 7:50pm, and land in Buenos Aires at 7:55am de la mañana el martes. I'm not sure if that includes time zones, or what not, but I'm crazy excited! I don't know how much time I'll have to do this, but the MTC encourages us to buy a calling card so that we can call home for a few minutes and tell them that we landed safely. I'll most likely be able to call in Salt Lake, because an Hermana in my district has a map of all the pay phones in the airport so that we can find one before all the other departing missionaries. Who else even uses pay phones anymore!?

It's really hard for me to focus on anything other than my departure. After all only have like 49 hours left in good old 'Merica for nearly two years. But I'll try to talk about something else for a while. Yesterday, we had In-field Orientation, which every missionary that is leaving within the next week goes through. Even though it was all day long, it was great! I grew a greater respect for planing and setting goals, and oddly I'm really excited for my first few planning sessions with my trainer in the field. I'm also excited for my first contact, first investigator, first rejection, first insult, etc. I just want to be a real missionary so badly. The thing I learned most in the orientation is how to effectively work with members. I know I didn't realize it while I was at home, but I sure realized the incredible role that members play in a missionary's work. I can't wait to build a relationship with the members that I serve, so that together, we can share this invaluable Gospel to the people they dearly care about.

On Wednesday, my district was able to host the new younger missionaries. Remember the chaotic craziness when you dropped me off? I was trying to help contain that. I got to help with the early arrivals, which was great. I saw another host who was a kid I went to EFY with! (Elder Tyler Seawell) I hadn't talked to him in a while, but had seen him only a few times before at the MTC. It was good to see him several times again before I head to Argentina and he to Brazil. The rest of the time I was in charge of helping the other hosts with lots of luggage. It was pretty fun talking to them about where they are heading, but I kinda wish I could host a missionary through the whole process. But, lift where you stand.

Also, I feel like an official MTC Elder when I say this: I participated in a Tie Trade. There were probably 20 Elders all trading their ties, and I traded a few times. Of course I kept the sentimental ones (for example if someone gave one to me). Not much more to say about that, other than the Hermanas are fascinated with our micro-economy of neck apparel.

Praying in Spanish has become so much fun. Since I've really had to think about the things I'm saying, my prayers have become more personal. I know I'm not saying things correctly, but I also know that Heavenly Father knows exactly what I'm saying. My favorite part of the day is my nightly prayers when I can talk to my Heavenly Father about the things that happened, the things I'm worried about, and acknowledge and thank Him for all the blessings He gave me. Several times I've felt the Spirit throughout my whole body while I express to Him the love I have for all of His children. About 50% of the words I have to do with "Padre, te amo muchísimo." And while I feel His love when I say that, I feel it the strongest when I express my love about His other children. It fascinates me that Heavenly Father understands the love we have for Him best when we love and serve other people. If we truly want to live our entire lives in the service of God, He would rather have us outside serving people, or in the temple serving our ancestors, than stuffed in our room reading scriptures 24/7, or singing songs of praise every minute of the day.

We had our last lessons with two of our teachers on Thursday, Hermano Salisbury and Hermano Ball. I look up to these two people so much. Hermano Salisbury is one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever met, and he is so excited to share the things that he feels Heavenly Father wants us to know. He decided to give us a lesson on training Elder Holland gave to certain people on the things that have to change for the Church to be effective during the Millennium. He said that he is very particular about the setting and kind of people he tells it to, but he told us that he thought our district was mature enough in the Gospel to understand it. It was incredible. Because I don't think email is good setting for it, I won't go to much into it. All I can say is magnify your calling, and focus nearly all Gospel learning in the family. He told us some awesome missionary stories as well, which is what Hermano Ball did as well. Hermano Ball is the happiest and most sincere teacher I've had, and he got us so excited to get out and serve. Even though there wasn't a whole lot left to learn, I'm so glad I had these lessons. They really helped me grow in excitement, and focus on the things I'm supposed to.

The last thing I want to talk about is the last choir number on Tuesday. We sang a beautiful version of Joseph Smith's first prayer. The lyrics about Joseph seeing the living God are amazing. They're repeated probably four times. Once at a normal volume, another really loud and long, then cut off, then the others low and reflective. It was incredible to realize all the characteristics of God. Brother Eggett coached us on how we should sing the words "Joseph, this is my Beloved, Hear Him!" He pointed out that the all powerful and all knowing Father in Heaven didn't cry "MOR-TAL!!" or try to impress with His power. We laughed hysterically, but I realized that deity is almost always portrayed this way. I wonder how many people actually think of God as a Heavenly Father, who while all-powerful indeed, is also perfectly in control, gentle, and loving. The Spirit testified of this fact so powerfully during the performance. I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to understand this important truth. My love for my Father in Heaven has multiplied several times. I just want to do what He wants me to do. Está digo con sinceridad, en el nombre de me Salvador Santo, Jesucristo, Amén.

¡Hasta Argentina! ¡Les amo todo de ustedes!

Cousin Map

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Semana numero cuatro en la CCM (Sent Sep. 14, 2013)

¿Qué tal, familila?

The MTC is still great! Drum roll please................. I GOT MY TRAVEL PLANS! They´re trying out a new strategy for Argentine missionaries. They´re sending them to Argentina with a travel visa, which has to be renewed every 90 days by going out of the country for a day. I guess we´ll be doing that until we get a permanent visa. I also heard a rumor that we would have to proselyte outside of the country, like in Uruguay, but I don´t know about that. We´ll see what happens. But everyone in my district has flight plans to Argentina (or Ecuador)!

So on Wednesday, we had to go to BYU to get our fingerprints redone because they were extending our FBI clearances. Afterward, the MTC forgot to send us a shuttle, and the campus police only had enough room for the Hermanas to make it back. So us Elders waited in front of the police station for the shuttle after calling the MTC several times. A shuttle never came. We weren´t allowed to walk home so we just waited in front of the police station for an hour and a half. All the while, tourists kept walking past, and speaking Spanish to us, talking about how excited they were that we were Spanish-speaking missionaries. One man came up to us and asked if we had a Book of Mormon with us. My heart sank and I thought. "You've got to be kidding me. The only person at BYU who hasn't read the Book of Mormon gathers enough courage to ask the missionaries for one, and we don't even have one?" But it turns out that he was already a member, and he was looking for one to give to one of his friends. I took down his address and told him that I would send him one in the mail. They're only like $2 in the MTC, but it took 9 whole stamps to send as a package. That's like a $7 Book of Mormon, and in MTC currency that's an 8-day allowance. Haha, I'm not angry at all though. I love that Book way too much to hoard all to myself. If there's any chance that it will change someone's life, of course I'm going to do everything I can to get a copy to someone who wants it.

On Monday, the Elders in my district got to host Senior missionaries that were coming into the MTC. There weren't very many, so I only got to see one couple and two single sisters. Most of them stay at the Marriott, or with family, but the MTC has one floor of rooms for others who want to stay on campus. Those rooms are crazy nice compared to our dorms. One sister, who I think was Filipino, was so excited about the rooms, and kept saying "it's just like Las Vegas!" Haha, she made me smile. We get to host the younger missionaries this Wednesday, so I'll let you know how that goes next week.

I keep seeing people from school. Each Wednesday, I see someone new, and the other Elders in my zone ask "Lone Peak?" You know it! At a devotional, I went to say hi to Elder Jake Butters, and more and more LP kids started to show up. There were about nine of us, and we decided to take a picture. It was awesome! I feel like one of the sons of Mosiah when they describe the joy they felt when "they saw that their bretheren were still bretheren in the Lord." I've also seen Ali Ball working in the cafeteria and Baylee Robinson working in the bookstore as well. It's like high school except we're all grown up. Aww, when you say it like that it sounds sentimental. :P

Teaching "progressing investigators" is so much fun. Watching them learn and grow, and become humbled and accept gospel truths is incredible. Even though they're just projections of real people, role played by our teachers, we all talk about them as if they're real. I always think of my teachers as their real identity, and their investigator double. David finally agreed to baptism after we took him to a "baptismal service" (one of the scenes from the District). I was so excited, but Hermano Salisbury chastised us for not showing enough excitement. He told us to not be afraid to jump up and congratulate them, helping them realize how great the thing is that they are about to do. We started teaching Carla and Juan. Both are extremely receptive to the Gospel, and both have agreed to start reading the Book of Mormon. Carla lives with her boyfriend and has a son, so "La Ley de Castidad" is going to be a fun one. But we're really learning how to teach by the Spirit. It's strange going into a lesson, and having only a small idea what to teach, but it's amazing when the Spirit just puts things into your mind. Even in broken Spanish, I've had some incredible experiences "teaching people, not lessons."

Hermana Hext in my district rolled her ankle while playing soccer, and broke it. She asked Elder Witter and I for a blessing, and we agreed. I sealed the anointment, and was incredibly nervous. I prayed so hard beforehand that I would be able to say what the Lord wanted her to hear. It was an amazing experience and she was so grateful, and the next day she told us that it turns out that re-breaking her ankle was helping her heal an earlier injury that she had. I don't know any of the specifics of her injury, and I don't know how this would make it better, but I do have a greater testimony of the power of the Priesthood. Hermano Salisbury has been talking about doing things as a representative of Jesus Christ. He told us that we can promise any good blessing to someone, and if it is inspired by the Spirit, it will happen. I was nervous about this at first, but I realized that God is just waiting to bless His children. If I feel good about promising something as a blessing to someone for living the Gospel, then I should simply have faith and confidence that God loves this person and is desirous to bless their lives for their faithfulness. I know that the doctrine that God is our loving and kind Heavenly Father is true and beautiful. He's not a strict judge, but an infinitely loving father. With our merciful Savior, and the righteous Holy Ghost, the entire Godhead is unified in the cause of our success and happiness. I know that all of heaven is working for the immortality and Eternal Life of mankind. I know that this is true in the holy and sacred name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all. Talk to you soon! :)

-Élder Goff

Some pictures from the temple. Do you see that tree? Ridiculous. And yeah, that's me in my secret agent suit. Now I just need some sunglasses.  Also, that tree is knocked over from the wind.  Insane.

"The drink of many colors" and a bunch of pictures of us goofing off.

That's all for this week. Love you all!

Also random story: There was another protester out by the stoplight when we got back from the temple. He was going off about how Joseph Smith was an awful person. Two officers were on the stop just to make sure that nothing would happen. One whispered to us "Get used to it, guys." We laughed and I told the protester "Have a great day, brother." There's only so much you can do when people like that are no where near the right atmosphere for teaching. It's terribly sad, but I figure that the best possible thing to do is wish them happiness, and wait for the right moment.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tercero Semana en la CCM (Sent Sep 7, 2013)

¡Día de Perparación! I love this day, because I love to read emails and write. It's been a hard earned P-day this time around. There must be 30+ hours in a day at the MTC, because somehow we accomplish a lot more here in a single day than I ever have outside.

Really quick, I want to share a crazy trick that I learned while meeting the new district that came to our zone the other night. One Elder sat on a chair, with four other Elders surrounding him. Each Elder put two fingers forward, and tried to lift the center Elder together. Of course he wouldn't budge. Then each Elder alternates putting one hand over the head without touching anything, until all 8 hands are in the air. Starting from the top, the hands are removed one at a time. Then they all try to lift him with eight fingers again, and the middle Elder is lifted with no problem. It's the weirdest thing. We've tried it at least six times with some HEAVY Elders. When my district tried it with me, we almost made a hole in the ceiling. Era muy loco. Also, if you play Rock, Paper, Scissors with someone (1, 2, shoot) and ask what color their shirt is right before you play, they will ALWAYS choose scissors. 24/25 success rate with that one, and I'm pretty sure the other Elder knew about the trick already.

Okay, out of the shallow part of the letter. :) I'm getting much more comfortable with Spanish. Our district tries really hard to speak Spanish all "proselyting hours" and saving English for personal time. It's really helping a lot! Last Wednesday, we were excitedly talking about how much faster and more accurately we could speak. There's a lot to learn, but we're starting to get really excited about it. Last P-day, we met a temple worker who asked where we were going, and was excited when he heard that we were all heading to Argentina. He's from there, and spoke to us in Castellano the whole time. I love Argentine Spanish. I don't know what Cole's problem with it is. :) We could understand a whole lot of what he said, and his accent was incredible. The "ll" sound sounds like a "sh" just like I was told, but "más suave" than the ways gringos, or "yanquis" as the Argentines call us, pronounce it. My mind just works in Spanglish now, and sometimes the Spanish word for something will come to my mind faster than the English word. It's a weird feeling considering that I've spoken English for 19 years, and Spanish for really only about 3 weeks, but I'm really gaining an appreciation and testimony of the gift of tongues.

Sunday was a fast Sunday, so we had a fast and testimony meeting. I had the strongest feeling to get up and bear my testimony to my zone. I'm a little ashamed to say that I waited about 20 minutes before I obeyed, but I got up to bear my testimony about the work in Spanish. My testimony wasn't even anything special with my limited Spanish, a very short and humble testimony of a new missionary, but the Spirit was so strong. I know that, sometimes, Heavenly Father just wants to see us trying and pushing ourselves. He will always help us when we need it if we don't hesitate to show our faith. I've learned that when I doubt my own ability, I'm actually doubting the ability of the Father to help me when I need it. That's not something that I want to happen on my mission, so from here on out, I'm giving it 100%, receive that help, and allow the Spirit to accomplish great things among God's children.

On Tuesday, I got to sing in the choir again, which is still one of my favorite parts of the week. Brother Eggett, the regular choir director was back, and he taught us a unique version of "Sweet Hour of Prayer". He told us to think of a specific prayer that meant something to us, and told us a story of when he was leading the choir at General Conference, praying that his legs wouldn't shake on camera. He said that he realized how trivial the prayer was and told Heavenly Father not to worry about it, but his legs wouldn't shake the entire Conference. He realized how good Heavenly Father was to us, at that moment I made a promise to never allow a prayer to go by without thanking Him for more things than I asked of Him. Heavenly Father is the busiest Person in the Universe, but He wants to bless us with anything that we ask of Him in humility. That's absolutely amazing. Later that night, we watched the movie Joseph Smith: the Prophet of the Restoration, and I felt the Spirit the entire time. I'm so grateful for the people who gave so much for the beginning of this Gospel in our time. I've realized, however, that the only person that we've needed to fully rely on was our Savior. God could have found another person through which he could have restored the church, or given revelation to, or to serve a mission, but the only person that was irreplacable was Jesus Christ. He was the only Person to have been literally Begotten of God, to have been entirely Sinless, and to have been perfectly humble enough to perform the Atonement. Everything about the Gospel comes back to our Savior. I have a testimony that God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are perfectly unified in the cause for our salvation and exaltation. I'm so glad to be involved in this work. I know that the Lord wants my full "heart, might, mind, and strength" but doesn't need it, however I'm ecstatic to offer it to him. I bear testimony that Christ made it possible for us to return, and He with our Father in Heaven will do anything to help us along the way through the work of the Holy Ghost. Estas cosas digo en el nombre sagrado del nuestro Salvador, Jesucristo, Amén.

¡Hasta la semana próxima!

-Élder Goff

Also, Elder Fillerup accidentally sent this to me. I think it explains him better than I could in words:

--Sent later that day--

I don't have a whole lot of time, but I had an interesting experience in the Temple that I want to hurry and let you all know about. I've been reading everything about Grandpa and Grandma that you've been giving me, and I started to think about it in the Temple. I prayed several times that Grandpa and Grandma could make it through this change in their lives, and I felt at peace the entire time. While in the Celestial Room, I pondered about the change that seems imminent, and I begun to gently cry. I know that a lot of trials are about to happen. I love my family, and I want to see all of them when I get home, but I know that I may have to wait a little longer.

The interesting thing was, though I wanted to sob, I felt the Spirit so strongly. I've never understood the natural process of death so well before. But in reality, it's a happy thing. It's a necessary step that we must take to shed our mortal life, and begin our immortal life. Resurrection has been promised to all those who've made the choice to come to earth, and because our family has been sealed by God's holy Priesthood, there's no risk of not being able to see Grandma, or anyone else for that matter, again. It's such a beautiful thing, and I'm eternally grateful to know of the reality of my Celestial Family.

Thinking that someone doesn't have knowledge, and that many assume that when someone meets death, they cease to exist, is heart-shattering to me. I can not imagine the grief that would be associated with such a thought. I'm adding this to one of my many desires to serve as a representative of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: that though He died, He lives. And because He does, we can again too. And He promised that we will. And that we can do so with our entire family in a perfect state of happiness for eternity. I know this to be true with my entire soul. This I testify in the name of our holy and magnificent Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

-Élder Goff

Alma 36:24

Third Week (Sent Aug. 31, 2013)


Remember when I said that the MTC gets better and harder all the time? Yep, it's still like that. I can't believe how isolated we are. I'm going just a little bit crazy, but at the same time, I've never felt the Spirit so consistently.

We've started teaching two new "investigators" (they're always based on real investigators that the teacher had). One is David, (Hermano Salisbury) who has had an incredibly hard life; all we know is that he was involved in gangs and moved from Mexico with his dad several years ago. He is extremely quiet, but always very polite. He isn't educated very much, and hasn't had any religious background, so we keep the lessons extremely simple. Needless to say, it gets uncomfortable sometimes when he doesn't say anything in response to our broken Spanish, but I can't describe how good it feels when he nods and gently smiles. The Spirit is so strong in those simple moments. For example, we were teaching him the simplest version of the plan of salvation that we could with only three circles: "Con Dios" (Pre-Earth Life), "La Tierra" (Earth Life), and "Con Dios otra vez" (Celestial Kingdom). He asked us where the last circle was, and we told him "in heaven". He smiled and said "oh, like in the clouds?" We had know idea how to explain it to him, so we just said yes. But something told me that it was the best way that he could learn. Simplicity and humility are the keys to keeping the Spirit in a lesson. By the way, he agreed to come to Church with us on Sunday with his family!

The other investigator is... frustrating. Our teacher in the afternoons is named Hermano Finley. He is seriously the happiest person I've ever met. I don't know how his cheek muscles can stand that much smiling. But he plays the part of Lee, who we've only taught once so far. He's this crazy outgoing Peruvian? (No one in my district really knows. I can't explain it, but just know that he's a confusing person. They say that Latinos don't use sarcasm, but I think someone needs to tell that to Lee.) We were the only ones in the district to actually get in the door (the others just kinda taught the lesson on the doorstep) but I don't think that means we were successful. He started going off about how he was Baptist, and he didn't see what the difference was between all the churches. He said that the most important thing was a person's relationship with God. It took us far too long to figure out what he was saying and what we should really be talking about, but finally Elder Ellis started explaining the Apostasy so we could get into the Restoration and explain the importance of Priesthood Authority. I could see Lee starting to take interest, but then right before we started talking about Joseph Smith, he looked at his watch and said that he had to get to work. I wanted to yell "Are you kidding me, Lee? Work isn't important!!!" Ugh. That was definitely a lesson that I needed to learn. Arguing with an investigator will never get you anywhere. We knew that, but now we know that you have to be flexible with the lessons enough to adapt them on the fly. We teach him again tonight, but from the reactions of other companionships in the District, I'm pretty nervous.

On Tuesday, we went to an international devotional with Elder Neil L. Anderson that was broadcast to the other MTCs around the world. He gave a great talk about having charity for others, and then sacrificing so that we can serve others. The talk was great, but his testimony is where I really felt the Spirit. Hearing the testimony of a literal witness of Jesus Christ is absolutely incredible. He kept speaking as though we were both servants of the Lord, trying to bring the world to the knowledge of the Savior's existence and plan. I've never felt more pumped to represent Him. Singing in the choir before the talk was also an amazing experience. The song that we sang was really difficult, but absolutely beautiful (as was the song last week). The usual choir director is someone I really admire, but a substitute took over for the actual performance. We were pretty disappointed until he told a story about how it was his birthday, and he got the chance to live his dream by singing in a practice with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with his wife that had Alzheimer's. He started to cry when he explained that she would be in the audience that night, and he thanked us sincerely for being there to sing. I've never felt more selfish for wishing that someone else was there just to wave their arms around in a way that I liked. It was another quite humbling experience.

It's crazy to see friends coming and going so quickly. The Elders I knew before hand that were here when I first arrived are for the most part gone to the Philippines, Argentina, and other places. I'm seeing other friends that are arriving after I've been here for a few weeks, and it's all exciting, but a little sad at the same time. I can't believe that I won't see them for at least two years. I'm trying not to think of the possibility that I won't see them for the rest of my life. This work really bonds you to the other people serving with you. I don't know how I'm supposed to say goodbye to my district in four weeks, but I'm just going to enjoy it.

Sorry that the pictures aren't that interesting this week. I'm running out of cool things to take pictures of, and keep forgetting to take pictures with people I know. I'll try harder this week.

I haven't had any serious homesickness yet, but I'm really starting to miss all of you. Thank you so much for the letters that I've received so far. I really appreciate the packages and kind notes, but let me tell you: nothing is better than a letter. Getting a surprise letter in the mail can really be a boost and make the entire day. Please, if you have the time, write!

Love you all! Hurrah para Israel!

Segunda Semana en la CCM (Sent August 24, 2013)

FAMILY! I want you all to know how much I love you all!

The MTC keeps getting better and harder all the time. They call it the "Refiner's Fire" for a reason. I've never been so humbled and so inspired simultaneously like I have while I'm in here. I don't know where they find these teachers, but they are absolutely incredible. Our main teacher, Hermano Salisbury is probably the most knowledgeable person I've ever met. He explains things that have been confusing in such a clear way. We got a new addition to our district with Hermana Hext. We both swear that we know each other from somewhere, but we can't figure it out, and as far as we can tell, we probably won't ever figure it out.

The Elders in my district continue to be shocked by how many people I know. Every time I say hi to a friend, they yell "Goff dang it!" But they do love that I know President and Sister Nally. They asked me to see if I could get front row seats for us when an Apostle speaks, and President Nally winked and said "I'll pray about it." They're awesome.

The Provo Temple is beautiful! I love it so much. It's incredibly busy with all the missionaries, but I'm so grateful that I got here just in time for it's reopening. I don't know if you can see in one of the pictures, but a pair of Elders are posing in a proposing scene in the background. The MTC makes your sense of humor so weird.

For example, when we first came here, the older Elders in our zone would come up to us, and slowly rub our ties in between their pinky and their thumb. After about 30 seconds of awkwardness they would look at us and say "Está bien." We decided to make up something that wierd, so this last Wednesday, we would yell "Bienvenidos, Élderes! Eeeehhh!! Oppa!" I know it doesn't make any sense, but it made them happy. Then Elder Fillerup would run up to them and say "Espera." And knock on their tag, listen, then laugh and say "Buenas suerte, Élder." The weirdest thing is that the Host who is escorting the new Elder doesn't even look phased by it.

Our next lessons with Marco went amazingly well. Our teachers kept telling us to study with the investigator in mind, and we would receive revelations. Even thought this "investigator" was actually just a teacher, it was amazing how we would really receive revelation for him. He didn't have any religious background, but he loved "la paz" he felt in his friend, Jim's, home. We focused our lessons all around how he can feel this peace and how it was the Holy Ghost telling him that the things Jim was doing were right. He was extremely receptive. We challenged him to be baptized and he accepted! Everyone in our district was successful. They are some of the most amazing people I've ever met. We all really want to learn and are diligent to studying for the investigator. I'm so glad to have examples and experiences like this. They will be invaluable to me in the mission field.

Castellano es muy divertido! Estoy aprendado muy rápido, y digo todas de mis oraciones en castellano. It´s a little weird to hear a prayer said in English, but I´m excited about how much I can say in a personal prayer. One of the best parts of Sunday is how many Hymns we get to sing in Spanish. I don´t know what it is, but singing Los Himnos is much more fun than singing The Hymns. By the way, "Castellano" is how they say "Español" in Argentina. When ever someone says "hablamos español--" we interrupt and say "no no no, Élder, es Castellano." Hermano Salisbury doesn't really like it, but we are just so excited to learn how to say everything the Argentines say.

We've recently been learning about how the Gospel should be taught simply, and always be shared by a happy and excited representative. After a lesson, Hermano Salisbury invited us to take a walk and reflect outside. There was an evangelical preacher across the street yelling his sermon to the entire MTC and waving a cardboard cross around. (Apparently that happens all the time, but not for very long; since the MTC owns that land, they are asked to leave pretty quickly.) I was pondering about that experience, and I realized why the Gospel must be shared simply and calmly, but with joy. The Spirit doesn't dwell with contention. Ever. All things must be done out of love for God's children. Alma talks a lot in chapter 36 about the joy he felt when he repented, and his desire to share this joy with others. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is exciting and joyful! Why should it be shared over shouting? That was a great lesson for me to learn that an effective representative of Christ doesn't scream a sermon, but guides people to receive their own revelation by being a loving and caring friend.

I wish I could spend more time writing emails and letters to you all. Receiving letters and emails is one of the most exciting things. Thank you for the "Be my Pal" cupcakes, they made me laugh. If you haven't checked out, please do. It's free, and you can send letters just like an email, but I can actually read and reply to them throughout the week rather than just on P-day. I love you all so much! Thank you for supporting me on this great experience. I'm serving a mission because I love the Lord. I want all of His children to feel of His love like I have on so many occasions.

The computer's being weird with pictures. I'll send them later tonight when the computer cools off and stops being such a baby.

Talk to you in a week!

-Elder Goff

P.S. Jesus the Christ is absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for that gift. The insights in it are the most inspired thoughts I've ever heard, and I'm addicted to reading it. :)

Also, there is a tree here that smells like Cream Soda. I'm not kidding.