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.

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