Thursday, April 3, 2014

¡Bromas de Abril! (Sent later in the day March 31, 2014)


¡¡¡APRIL FOOLS!!! I´m not going to China-town. I´m still here in Juncal, I´m still working in Villa 31, and thank goodness I´m still speaking Spanish. I miss all of our crazy traditions, and started thinking about Mom´s epic April Fools jokes, and I didn´t want to be left out. There really are a lot of chinese people here, and yeah, we do have a chinese Book of Mormon, but thank goodness I don´t have to learn to read it. :)

But this week was still crazy. It´s been raining a lot, because it´s turning into winter. In the Villa, when it rains, it floods the streets and there´s mud everywhere. It would be a ton of fun if it weren´t for million dogs that live in the streets. The water is... colorful. I´ll let you paint your own picture as to what´s in it.

This week was a lot like the last one. Tree lady yelled at us again. Isn´t she a charm? We still are having a little trouble finding our investigators, and they still have trouble getting over their challenges that they have accepting the Gospel. We´ve made some new plans for spending as much time as we can in the Villa to most effectively help the people come unto Christ. There are plenty of extremely prepared and ready people who are only blocked by one or two tiny hurdles that are causing all sorts of problems. I pray that we can remove all of them so that they can enjoy the blessings of the restored Gospel brings for them, their family, and all of their future generations.

That part about new Elders coming into the Villa was true. There´s now 6 of us in one villa, but honestly we could have an entire zone here. It´s huge! But we aren´t the only missionaries. We regularly see Jehovah´s Witnesses and Evangelits. The other day, after a long prayer meeting in the street, one woman came up to me and the other Elders with a pamphlet, and nervously said ¨Um, can I give this to you guys? It-- it´s of God! Uh, about Jesus Christ and how He died for us... *looking at our name tags with the bolded ¨Jesucristo¨ in the center* ...oh but I guess you know that.¨ We smiled and politely accepted the pamphlet. I wouldn´t really read or use it, but I had to respect her courage in opening her mouth. That is after all what we´re trying to do!

I do want to testify about the important difference in what we´re doing. Much of it is exactly the same! All of us believe in that Christ suffered and died to pay for our sins. We believe in some sort of Being superior to us in Whom we must trust entirely in order to be saved. But I have to testify that the only way to truely achieve the grand and incredible blessing of salvation by means of Exhaltation can only be realized, is by keeping the commandments that He gives. The only way we can follow Him is by directly following Him in the kingdom that He set up. I testify that through the prophet Joseph Smith, He restored that kingdom in it´s fulness, and through another divinely appointed prophet, guides it today just as in ancient times, when He was on the Earth.

The ¨Mormon Church¨ isn´t just another opinion of Christianity. It´s not just another choice for Sunday worship. It´s not just another church established by a man. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God established on the Earth in preparation for the Second Coming of the Messiah. We´re so enthusiastic about the missionary work, not just because we think we´re right, but because we have a divine mandate from the Eternal Father to prepare the world for when His Son returns to recieve His kingdom.

Les amo un montón. Gracias por sus oraciones. ¡Hurrah por Israel!

-Élder Goff


Picture 1- That was my bed. Don´t worry we have a new one. But despite how bad it looks, apparently it was nowhere near falling. It took the office Elders like an hour to take it apart.

Picture 2- Yeah I planned on pranking you guys. :) Love you!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

...and just when I was getting the language down. (Sent March 31, 2014)

I don´t even know how to start. This has been the craziest week of my mission. Let me fill you in on what happened.

Before I do though, you have to understand the way Buenos Aires is laid out. Like any big city, there´s a ton of immigrants. The main tourist part of the town are Argentines, Europeans, and Americans. There are a few streets of only Jewish stores and restaraunts. The villas, are mostly Paraguyans, Bolivians, and Peruvians. Then there are also little China-towns just like in the States.

So here´s where it gets crazy. Some other Elders in a nearby area moved into the Villa last week, and we helped them get familiar with it. We didn´t really know why, but it turns out that President Ayre is adjusting the areas to incorporate the nearby China town as its own area. Guess who are the first Elders there. Elder Critchlow and I. Why? I have no idea.

It´s been insane. This all happened a few days ago, so I´m still in shock, and it feels like a crazy dream. Luckily there are a lot of people who speak Spanish because they´ve lived in Argentina for a while, but most of the people in the streets just speak Mandarin. That language. It doesn´t make any sense whatsoever. I don´t speak anything other than ¨Nihao!¨, and understanding seems hopeless. Don´t even get me started on reading. Luckily Elder Critchlow took a little bit of Mandarin in High School, but he says it doesn´t do him a whole lot of good. I feel even more useless. :P

It´s kind of been a rough week. I came to love the Villa so quickly, and got really attached to it. And to be moved out so quickly reminds me all to much of that flash transfer back in December. I´m just going to pray that I´ll catch on quickly.

Sorry that this letter is so short. Things are insane, and there´s a ton to do moving areas in the middle of the transfer. I hope I´ll have some awesome stories next week after we get settled in a little more. I love you all! Thanks for all your prayers!!

-Elder Goff

P.S. I sent a picture of my last language study in the apartment in Juncal, where I wrote ¨The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ¨ in Mandarin. At least I think I did. Pfft, haha it took me the whole half an hour, so I sure hope so!

There are far too many holidays in Argentina (Sent March 24, 2014)


Yeah, it´s another holiday here, but I don´t even know what it is. Yet everyone´s out of the street, and half the stores are closed, even here in Capital. It took us forever to find an open internet cafe. It makes me laugh though, thinking that in America all the minor holidays are celebrated by a bunch of shopping sales, so there everything would be open.

Anyway, we´re still having a great time serving in the Lord´s work. But it was pretty rough numerically because of random protests in the city (which everyone in the Villa goes to no matter what they´re protesting) so there was almost no one home. But we had some awesome experiences with those that were.

But before I talk about that, I want to mention the crazy lady that lives in the tree. We have two investigators who are absolutely awesome, but live in a tiny house that´s falling apart. We haven´t been able to find them for the last week and a half which has been a bummer. One time when we went there, we clapped out side the door, and the neighbor lady who lives in a tree house yelled ¨don´t knock on my door!¨ We tried explaining that we were knocking on the door next to hers, but she just started yelling in this crackily voice, and yelling at ¨Pablo¨ to close the door. Pablo came to the open door, and with a grin slowly closed the door whispering to us ¨Shhhhhhhh...¨ That day we couldn´t find anyone, and Elder Crichlow said to me, ¨Man, this day was already awful, and now we just got yelled at by the crazy lady in the tree.¨ Haha, he´s really taught me how to be positive in every moment, and just laugh off all the garbage Satan tries to through at us.

We went to teach a referral of two young women who talked to the other Elders at a bus stop. They were awesome. They´re mom was pretty distrustful, but my stud of a companion had her laughing in no time. When she heard a little bit of the message, she became interested herself, and we had permission to continue teaching her daughters. Then when we came back, the dad refused to let us in, and without even directly speaking to us, told us ¨they don´t want anything. Come back another day,¨ and shut the curtain before we could say anything. Later, we talked to each of them in the street at different times, and they are still reading the Book of Mormon and praying! Even though their father is incredibly anti-religion, they are doing all they can to hear of the restored gospel. It´s incredible watching Heavenly Father prepare, and then deliver the elect out of adversity so that they can learn how to return to Him.

There are so many things I´d like to share from this week, but I feel prompted to talk about something else. The purpose of this life is to become perfected like our Heavenly Father. We all know that. And we know just as well that each of us has already failed miserably. We´re taught that Christ, as the only one to achieve that purpose, also made it possible for us to become clean of our mistakes and sins that bind us from our eternal heritage. All of these things are the very center of all truth, just as the prophets say.

So what´s going on, then? The Gospel is simple, really. So how did Satan spin man´s perception of it so out of control? Why do the relatively small problems of our life on occasion overshadow the greater truths of the Gospel? The truth is that they don´t. Trials and tribulations never are bigger than our divine potential. Our potential for Eternal Life dwarfs in grandure that of all the efforts of the Devil. What I´ve learned is that, really, life is simple. Not easy, but simple. Trust in God, obey what He says, repent of what you did wrong, move forward, and do as much good as you can.

Though we sometimes lose sight of it, our Heavenly Father never loses sight of our potential for eternal perfection. I promise you that the power He´s begging to give you will crush every challenge that is given you. He lets us struggle so that we´ll grow, but He never limits the help that He´ll give us if we seek it. Perfect happiness can only be recieved by the perfectly repentent and the perfectly humble. And those are the guys who have the power of Heaven behind them.

Thanks for your love. I´m praying my heart out for you all. ¡Hurrah para Israel!

-Élder Goff

P.S. I bought a new camera, but I kept forgetting it for activities, so I only have one new picture. Pft, sorry. I´ll take some more this week. But here´s me and that champion, Elder Critchlow.

¡Feliz Día de San Patricio! (Sent March 17, 2014)


Yep, I remembered Saint Patrick´s Day. Don´t worry. Luckily Argentines have a weird habit of celebrating everything the day before: Christmas, New Year´s, even Saint Patrick´s day. So yesterday, when we saw all the green parties in the plaza, we realized that we had to wear ties the next day. All except Elder Molina. So we spent all morning pinching him relentlessly while he was screaming ¨FREAKING GRINGOS!!!¨

These Elders in our apartment are studs. I don´t think I´ve stopped laughing yet. They were together last transfer too, and are constantly sharing the most hilarious stories about it. With 3 yanquis and a Chilean that understands English, we speak in a perfect 50-50 split of Spanglish, so more awkward silences!

The biggest thing I´ve learned this week is that there are a whole lot of liars in my mission. Haha, during transfers, practically all I heard from other Elders was them whispering rumors about Villa 31 and all the craziness that happens in it. Pffffttt! Sure, it´s the biggest villa in the city, but as far as being the most dangerous, that´s a joke. It literally is the coolest place in Buenos Aires. The streets are tiny, absolutely nuts with bustling people, and with colorful but tiny houses that are stacked like legos. The people are very humble, and about 90% from other countries. Practically every person knows the Elders because they´ve been here for so long. Even the drunks, cops, and Jehova´s Witnesses greet us with a friendly smile. :)  It´s the greatest thing ever, and a huge difference from the porteños (rich city slickers from Buenos Aires) right outside the villa.

The ward is a mix of the people from the villa and the porteños with a ton of people from the US or Europe, and other people who speak English. My companion Elder Critchlow and Elder Molina are both District Leaders, so during Sunday School, us four Juncal Elders were out in the hallway talking to the Zone Leaders on the phone. This random lady from the street entered the building yelling all kinds of profane gibberish at Elder Molina. When a member of the Bishopric tried calming her down, she only got more infuriated and more explicit.

No one really understood what she was talking about, but she kept telling us that we brainwashed her son to become a Mormon. She finally left with the Police escorting her out as we just stood confused. Then we found out that her son was the 2nd counselor in the other ward. Haha- what? I was expecting like a 5 year old, if there actually was any credit to her hysterical screaming. Interesting. I wish there was some kind of significance to the Gospel, but if there is, I haven´t found it. I´m just going to keep praying for her.

On a different note, I still can´t get over how thouroughly God prepared this blessed part of His vinyard. The recent converts are already incredibly excited to learn more and share the gospel, the members are firm and steady, and even the less active members call to us in the street to give us referals. I can´t help but feel like there´s an immense amount of responsibility on my shoulders to be entrusted with such a prepared people. Of course the work is still a challenge, and we have to work 100% by the Spirit to get anything done, but I´m so excited and a little anxious to keep working here. I´m excited to see what the Lord has in store for Villa 31.

While comparing this area to others while I´ve been serving a mission, I´ve come to recognize two things. One, that no proselyting area is spiritually dead. There is always work to be done no matter how apparent or hidden it seems. And two, absolutely no effort in Missionary Work is a waste. Everyone has their own agency to choose to accept the Gospel. That will always be 100% their own. Our job is to provide as many opportunities to do so, and create as much good influence in the world as possible.

Qué tengan una semana tranquila y feliz. ¡Hurrah para Isreal!

-Élder Goff