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)


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)


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)


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)


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