Sunday, August 24, 2014

Reflections about my Year Mark (sent August 18, 2014)

First of all, next week is transfers, so I won't be writing again until next Tuesday.

Okay, I got over myself about the whole Yeark Mark thing. I was really sad about it for a while thinking about how it's all half way over, but after pondering about it more, the Spirit confirmed to me about how great that is. I have a year of incredible spiritual experiences to use for another year of working in the greatest work there is. Now for the questions Mom sent me, and snippets of the answers that I wrote in my journal throughout the week.

What are the Highlights? Baptisms! That's an obvious one. There's nothing greater than watching a sincerely repented soul take upon themselves the name of their Savior after being washed clean of their sins. But also many of my favorite memories have been the hard times- or just the straight up crazy ones. The danger, the wildness, persecution- it all helps me see the awesome power of the Lord's protection. But the greatest highlights of all time have been the unexpected moments when the Lord poured out His love for me through His Spirit. Whether it be in a hard time, after a spiritual moment, or for no apparent reason other than to just tell me that He loves me, I've had more experiences feeling the divine sensation of my Heavenly Father's love than in any other time of my life, and that is sacredly precious to me.
What are some struggles that have caused you to grow? The obvious one is what's been going on in the family back home. Without getting too much into detail about such a personal topic, I've grown a greater appreciation for Eternal Families, and my testimony has evolved into seeing every aspect of the Gospel relating to God's plan to make earthly families something eternal. How glorious is the Plan of Salvation, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, when thought of in that respect. Other struggles would just be the lamer ones, like misunderstandings or friction bvetween companions that have taught me humility and patience. Robberies, no electricity, and persecution from religious zealots just make me laugh.
What have you learned from your companions?
   Elder Ellis and Elder Anderson- The biggest thing I've learned from them was following the Spirit to prepare for lessons and teaching in unity. We were terrible at Spanish, but at least we did it in a unified way!
   Elder Pirez- Haha, well seeing as I only really understood about 10 words the entire six weeks we were together, I'd say his example is what taught me the most. This guy works hard. No wonder he's an assistant now.
   Elder Fernandez- I learned pretty much everything else in training that Elder Pirez couldn't tell me. :) Also how not to get bothered by little things like differences in sense of humor, or another Elder sharing the pension that pushes you into traffic, and calls everyone sinners. Elder Fernandez taught me humble patience.
   Elder Bobadilla- Oh man, I've been secretly hoping that President had plans to put us together again because 1.5 weeks wasn't enough. This kid is humble, and loves people like I can't believe. I looked up to him so much, and I still do. He's rocking it as a zone leader now.
   Elder Valladolid- Patience. Haha! We're good friends now. But that's the biggest thing I learned. Also, we had a lot of success in an area that was supposedly "dead". He helped me learned that dead proselyting areas don't exist.
   Elder Critchlow- This kid's like a brother to me, and I love my brother. He's a lot like Elder Bobadilla (infact, they're companions now, haha). He's one of the few people that have rivaled my own mother in making me feel loved, and that's a talent that few people possess. He taught me how to better develop charity for absolutely everyone.
   Elder Adamson- This guy's direct. He sure helped me with that. Just say it like it is to the investigator. Fornication's a sin. If you don't go to Church, you need to repent. Your Catholic baptism as a baby is invalid. Haha, what a stud.
   Elder Aróstica- Aww, we were together so short a time, that I didn't have much time to learn something from him. But we were great buds. I guess I learned how to laugh in all kinds of situations.
   Elder Rosazza- I've learned how to drop people who aren't going to progress. We aren't here to waste the Lord's time. If they aren't prepared, we've got to let the Lord take care of that, and move on with those that He's prepared.
What are your goals for next year? Write in my journal everyday, atleast just a little bit. I can't let another day go by without recognizing the Lord's had. I'm going to master Castellano until I sound like a legit porteño. I'm going to do excercise more faithfully, because I miss being a skinny 150 lbs kid. I want to baptize weekly which is the standard of excellence. Everyone needs the ordinance of baptism, and I want to help them have that opportunity. Finally, I want to entirely yield myself to the Lord. I want to be completely consecrated, and allow Him to change me into the Celestial Being He sees me as. I want to be overflowing with charity for every person I meet, just as my Savior is.
What investigators have impacted you personally? Everyone who has rejected the Gospel for one reason or another. I won't put their names for privacy reasons, but they helped me realize a little bit of how Heavenly Father feels when I reject something He knows will make me happy. Those who influenced me for good are too many to write. A few examples are: Beatriz, who broke down the door to get baptized at 73 years old, Andrea, who had been praying for the Lord's representatives to come to her, and recognized us when she saw us, The Vilma Family, who were the most prepared I had ever seen, and accepted baptism 3 minutes after they met us, and kept every commitment until they had to move to Bolivia (we passed the referral to the Bolivian missionaries, and I pray that they were able to accept the Gospel there.), Gladys who was always happy inspite of an insane amount of opposition. The list can go on forever.
How have you come closer to Christ? I've learned so much about my Savior I feel inferior in trying to describe it. His love for me and every one of God's children is indescribeably incredible. His Atoning sacrifice that allows me to start over again and again until I become the perfect being that Heavenly Father wants me to be deserves all of my worshipful and adoring gratitude. Jesus Christ has become not only my leader and my God, someone to whose cause I want to consecrate myself. I want to be His best friend in the Celestial Kingdom. He's helped me see my many faults, and put His hand on my shoulder, comforting me when I need it, and pushing me to improve. I love Him.

Well this went much longer than I planned, and I don't even have time to talk about all of the great things that happened this week. Really quickly, Kiara was baptized, who is this awesome daughter of an investigator who is incredibly prepared, but can't be baptized until she and her less interested husband get married. It was a spiritual experience, and I felt inspired during her confirmation to bless her with the strength to be an example to her family so that the rest of the members can join the Church, and be sealed in the Temple. I pray with all of my heart that this happens.

I love you all so much, and I'm praying for every one of you. ¡Hasta la próxima semana! ¡Hurra por Israel!

-Élder Goff

P.S. Pictures
1. We did this Super Family Night with four different families. It was really spiritual, and everyone brought food!
2. I made chocolate chip cookies, and now I'm famous.
3. The Bravo Family. I don't get why it's latino culture to not smile in pictures, becasue they're a hilarious family! But they're the ones who have nieces in Utah.
4. Kiara's baptism with Hermano Zúñiga baptizing her.
5. Jared wants me to put as the caption "El mejor Líder Misional que he tenido en toda mi misión." Haha, Jared's an awesome Ward Mission Leader who has become one of my best friends. He's heading off to the Brasil Campinas Mission in a few weeks.
6. After Kiara's baptism, the Zúñiga, Bravo, and Capararo families took us out to eat at a Peruvian restaraunt. I was the only one there who wasn't Peruvian or a decendant of Peruvians. 'Merica! But at least I have a brother in Peru, so I guess I kinda qualify.

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