It's actually interesting that you mention goals. There's a lot of push to make and achieve goals in this mission. Though I think that from reading "Preach My Gospel" that's just the general case here. I don't know if you remember this, but I've never been much for goals myself. But we set goals everyday for finding investigators and for all the different kinds of lessons that we teach. Our Mission President is pretty big on goals. Since I've gotten here the big goal that the mission has been working towards is "One companionship, one month, one baptism."
It's also interesting that you mention the difficulty of achieving goals that regard things that have a high level of variability and are out of our control, because in fact, that's all of our goals.There are of course things that we can do to influence those things, but in the end, it's not up to us. What's also interesting is what it says in the first chapter of "PMG" about what a successful missionary is. And not one of those things has to do with achieving goals.
When I was being trained, my trainer told me that in the mission, the rhetoric swings back and forth between "we need to get numbers" and "numbers don't tell you that you are a successful missionary." And it turns out that he's right. Right now we are in the "numbers are important" phase, and that may have some relation to the degree of stress that I've been feeling regarding "working hard," especially because I have a companion who is very worried about numbers, but not very willing to work in order to try to get those numbers.
But what I've come to understand more and more is that the Lord just wants us to keep going, to keep trying. If the Lord was really focused on getting high numbers, about getting people baptized, he could do it. Like my district leader told me the other day, he could just send a natural disaster, humble a lot of people really fast and lots of people would get baptized, like what happened in Sendai in 2011. If He was focused on that then every companionship would be perfect and no one would ever feel discouraged about missionary work. But that is not the case.
The Lord lets a lot of things happen on missions. Lots of things that are really hard. But I think that more than you help anyone else change during your mission, whether that be companions, members, or investigators, he changes you so many hundred times more.
On a different topic, I had a chance to talk with a very interesting, quite old man whose been investigating the church for about 10 years. He has traveled all over the world, and used to be a researcher who studied culture, specifically that of developing countries and he is very impressed with Mormon missionaries. Also, since he's been in contact with missionaries for a long time and being a person who just thinks about lots of things, he has thought a lot about how the church could do things for non-members that would help missionary work a lot.
Anyway, I talked to him for about an hour and a half on Friday, and two more hours on Saturday and it was very interesting and all in English which was a nice change.
Have a good week,