January 11, 2016
Pretty crazy week, lots of ups and downs. But overall it's just pretty great that, no matter what, we always have the opportunity to invite everyone to come to Christ.
This week we got a referral. He has already been taught once by other missionaries in Rome. We really have to pray for his wife though. She is a practicing Catholic who got really mad at him for meeting with us. He sent us a text yesterday saying basically "my wife is ticked so I can't meet, but don't worry I'll keep reading and learning from the Book of Mormon" in his imperfect Filipino English. So we'll need a miracle with that one.
This week we showed Liu "The Restoration" and he accepted the invite to be baptized!
We also saw Nicola. The lesson was a bit rocky as we ran out of time before English course at the end. And at one point we asked our great member Brother DeMateis what the Atonement meant for him and he must have been dozing a little bit because he went into a ten minute discourse about how he likes the aspect of this church that you can find out for yourself if it's true. But the Spirit was there and in the end he also accepted the baptismal invite.
John Pierr is doing really well. It's just super sad that his Dad left them and his mom works so long that some nights she sleeps at work and he's all alone. But we read Alma 32 together and he made a good connection to weight lifting so that was fine with me.
I wasn't planning on sharing this with everyone but I guess I will... Saturday was a pretty hard day. Marco told us he was leaving for Malta permanently for work, we found out a bunch of people weren't going to be able to come to church, and we faced a ton of rejection. At the end of the day I felt like I should be justified in crying, that I had worked so hard and not seen the success that I wanted. But I just could not find any excuse or reason to feel sorry for myself. That's just selfish. This morning I got a pretty powerful answer as I thought about Christ telling me "How hard did I work for these people's salvation?" It's true. No matter what effort I put into this work, it will never equal what He has already done.
Coolest escalator picture ever no?
January 18, 2016
I pondered about it, and would say that this week has definitely been one of the three hardest weeks in my mission. And yet, this was the first time that I legitimately had the thought that I could be a missionary forever. I don't understand how that works.
We met with Liu on Saturday and discussed the plan of salvation. He had only read 1 Nephi 1 but holy cow he remembered it like he was Bruce R. McConkie or something. It was such a good almost word for word description that I was looking down at my scriptures having to verify what he was saying was true! Ha-ha. Anyway he accepted the commitment to be baptized on February 27th! Woohoo. Then he came with us to watch the baptism that another companionship held in our church. Those are always great experiences for investigators.
We had a legit MIRACLE with Gian Pierr. It's so hard to get to his house. In fact, we felt terrible because on Friday we had to bedonae (cancel on) Marco (something you should NEVER do) because there was too much traffic on the long bus ride back from Gian Pierr's house. But then we saw Sorella Rossato on Saturday who lives close by and said that another sister in the ward was going to pick them up for church because this sister felt lonely and wanted company - and there was a spot for Gian Pierr! Unfortunately, he didn't come to church Sunday because his mom wants him to go study English every other Sunday, so that kind of broke our heart. But I had a very clear prompting last night that he needs to read and understand the Book of Mormon, and then it will all fall into place. Usually investigators struggle to accept rules because they don't understand principles, and they struggle to accept principles because they don't understand doctrine. So I figured if we hit the Book of Mormon hard they'll come around.
A heart wrenching experience: showing "Finding Faith in Christ" to Mauro. It hit PERFECTLY on his situation. I felt the Spirit strongly anyway, and knew it could have been exactly what we needed and that we might have been able to extend a baptismal invitation, had it not been for his two young kids who were no joke possessed by servants of the adversary during that video. I'm just kidding but it really was a trying experience. I had been praying the whole time for the kids to be quiet, but in the end I just had to rely on Isaiah 55:8-9 and assume the Lord knows what he's doing.
So we called Nicola to meet with him, who is still without a job and about to lose his house. He told us that we had nice words, but "Belle parole non si mangia" (you can't eat beautiful words). I kind of exclaimed "His faith won't grow when everything is all good and easy!" And I got kind of discouraged. Then it just *clicked* all at once to me and I realized that I was being EXACTLY like Nicola. Heavenly Father was testing MY faith, and I can't wait to proclaim my faith and trust in the Lord until when we have a million progressing investigators. It has to happen now.
I am super grateful for a great companion. We've been able to discuss some pretty deep feelings and missionary experiences that were cool to share because it shows that all missionaries usually go through the same things.
Ps if you get this email after 6 pm Rome time, I'm sorry but we had problems... As in no hot water. Elder Saffer didn't want to take a shower this morning and I was like "come on stop being a wimp" and took one myself. Well, I did it. But I will just say that there is a big difference between not having hot water in Sicily in July and not having hot water in Rome in January. We spent a while waiting for it to be fixed today.
Have you seen the movie "The Testaments"? I find it interesting that in that movie, the father, Helam, receives his sight back after being injured during the storm. Yet all of the healing the Christ did such as that I believe is mostly symbolic of how He heals us in a more important way - spiritually. In "The Testaments", it was in reality the son that received his "sight" back to be able to see things as they really are through the grace of Christ.
January 25, 2016
This week we found out that the Steri family, which we had met before Christmas, didn't actually live in the apartment we thought they did. So one morning we went over to this massive three story apartment complex to try and find them, knowing only that they were on one of the first two floors. We ended up choosing one hall that I decided "felt a little less dark" (because this is kind of the ghetto), and we choose a random door to knock on. This lady opened up and the husband in the background said "come in!!" It was them! Miracle. They didn't have time to hear the lesson right then but we have an appointment this Wednesday with our secret weapon: Fabio. Literally he is the best. He cannot stop smiling, it's almost a problem. No one understands it. But we love him and are excited to teach the Steris next week!
Frozen culture extends throughout the world, so I made an instant connection with the little girl and her Frozen apparel and toys because of my sister Elissa. It was easy to see that they have a lot of repenting to do - he smokes, drinks coffee, and they aren't married. But I'm so excited because that's what missionary work is all about! We are here to help people CHANGE their lives, not to find only those who already live just like we do.
Dang! Work is SUCH a big problem here... Honestly it is SO hard for these people to find any work, the general consensus is that you have to have friends and contacts if you have any shot at working. The English course lesson this week was "having a job interview" but the students turned it basically into a bash Italy for how much it stinks fest.
Wednesday we taught Jean Pierr (yes, I know I've spelled his name differently in every email). It's really true what Elder Holland said that we can tell exactly how well the lesson is going by looking into the investigators' eyes. And for Jean Pierr, it went really well. We FINALLY got to teach him the Restoration, and he really liked it! Saturday we saw Sorella Rossato in church, and she told us his mom Eva had switched jobs so she could be at home more. "What?" I exclaimed in English, so she explained it again, but I was just shocked that that had happened. We hope to see them BOTH this week and that Jean Pierr will have read his Spanish Book of Mormon.
There was an awesome worldwide training for missionaries this week. The title of the conference was "Preach Repentance and Baptize Converts" - very succinct and powerful. That night I went to bed, disappointed that I couldn't go out and work right then! It was great.
Also PS we still don't have hot water, if you want to know. My body temperature goes way down during my shower so then I usually have to bundle up in my winter coat to avoid freezing during personal study, ha-ha.
Liu is doing well! I was stoked with our ward and the way they opened up to him at church on Sunday. It's always so relieving when you don't even have to worry about investigators because they are busy making friends. Mauro's family came too, though we weren't able to teach them this week.
The gospel is true anywhere in the world. And the Atonement changes anyone, anywhere. For that I am grateful this week.