Saturday, February 17, 2007

...and the world goes on...: September 1, 2005 I don't know my own family anymore. You all look so different. I guess I probably look different as well, but... I really couldn't tell who was who in the temple picture. ...And I guess I will totally miss some stages of other siblings. It makes me realize that 2 years is a very long time. I love you.
Dear Family,
Still here in Ladispoli, I am a bit tired today. We moved our Preparation Day to Thursday this week so we could go on a guided tour of the vatican gardens (one of the things I have been wanting to do). It was impressive, but certainly not worth it. I would rather go to the Reggia at Caserta - it's bigger and better and cheaper. The only thing I would suggest if you ever go to the Vatican is to buy 1 cent stamps from the machine. You put in 1 cent, wait one minute, and out pops a 1 cent stamp! (really, you aren't supposed to buy stamps in amounts like that (hence why it takes 1 minute - it's actually giving you change in stamps), but it is the cheapest souvenir you will ever find - and it comes in multiple colors too!) The gardens were nice, but they really aren't worth the €12 it costs to go through, in any case. I think I'm done with seeing the vatican. Punto basta.
I have found that I care deeply for the people here - so deeply that when they don't take commitments I am about to cry. One woman is very sick - her older sister is bedridden and she is almost that bad. She has doctor appointments often and everyone dear to her is dying. I felt the last time we taught her that if she doesn't accept the Gospel soon she, too, will die. ...And then there will be no one to do her genealogy work or that of her father and family. All of her children are atheists, and her husband is as well. Her friend is an only child - she lost her mother long ago, her fiancè died a year ago, and her father is about to die of a grave illness. She has no one near to her and often thinks about killing herself. ...If they don't accept the power of the Lord into their lives, they won't be here anymore! ...and I can't do anything but pray for them. I think the Lord gives us the opportunity to see changes and trials and decisions in others' lives so that we can learn to be humble - to rely on Him in all things. I have learned here again and again that this is not my work. Regardless of my skill with Italian or my persuasiveness or ability to teach, the Lord is the only One who is at the helm. And they have a choice. I do my best, and then they still have a choice. .......
We are putting together this big member-missionary project, and I hope it works out well. Maybe we could do something similar in our ward back home... We are having a missionary fireside where we give each family in the branch a packet with missionary materials. First, there are 3 DVD's - the first is for showing to everyone, including enemies, mean people, heads of state, other church officials... etc. It will have An Introduction to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ricerca della Verità (I think it would mean The Search for Truth), The Restoration, and President Hinckley's testimony from Special Witnesses of Christ. Next, one with Finding Faith in Christ, Lamb of God, and Special Witnesses of Christ. Finally, one with Together Forever, Our Heavenly Father's Plan, and How Rare a Possession. Then, a Joseph Smith pamphlet, a Proclamation to the Family, a Book of Mormon pamphlet, and a copy of The Book of Mormon with accompanying brani (I'll send a copy of the Brani and you can give it to the Elders in our ward - I'm sure they'll love you). We then have sheets of paper that explain what each thing is for and teach how to do member-missionary work. There is a great piece of paper (that I don't have typed) called the 7 habits of highly effective member missionaries (based off of Brother Covey's book). It's really good in helping with dissuading members' fears and preoccupazioni. Every family will get this packet, and then we have activities to invite their friends to. The next week, on the 17th, we have an Open House in the Church where we will show clips from the Introduction DVD and have a question and answer session. The 24th we have a service project as a part of Helping Hands - everyone in Italy is doing service to help with publicity and relationships. We'll have a big community-scale Open House in the Comune the beginning of December, and our other activities will be forthcoming in the meantime. It will work out really well - we simply want to help members transition from being members to being member-missionaries. There is a difference. I'm sure you know.
As far as missionaries go... could you send me email addresses once you have them of our missionary friends, and also their physical MTC and mission addresses? I know that may be in and of itself a big task, but if I ever have time to write a letter to someone, I need their address to send it. I remember in the MTC they mentioned that the Mongolian missionaries leave knowing how to say "How are you?" and that's about it. Some of them can't even say hello. Not really, but that's what they say... I'm sure it will be a different world there. It certainly is here.
We had our Zone Conference this week, and it, as always, was great. We have a few different training meetings that happen every transfer (6 week period). First, Zone Cenference. Mission leaders come and teach for a few hours in the morning. We eat lunch, they teach some more, and we go back to work. There are 4 big zones in the Mission - Rome, Pisa/Florence, Sardegna, and Napoli. Next, ZDM, Zone development meeting - with smaller zones. Finally, interviews. Well, I think we are about out of time. I'll send you the Book of Mormon Brani that my Elder sent to me... and let's see if the Anziani in Chicago like them enough to use them.
I sure love all of you. Don't grow up too much, and please be faithful.
Heres a thought for all of you. Prepare to go on missions (not just a mission, but missions - prepare to give your life to the Lord in preaching to Gospel) someday, and then, whatever the Lord calls you to do, you will be fit for the task!

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