Friday, February 16, 2007

Another Day in Napoli!: March 23, 2005

Dearest family,
Business first. I already have a new bag - The Mission President's Wife was cleaning out the Villa and found some that old missionaries had left. She gave me one, and I really like it. Email is probably the best form of communication to send me (anyone is allowed to email me) since letters take a while. You can still send them to me, as long as you don't mind having to wait a while for a response. Another email from the beautiful city of Napoli. By the way, la famiglia is the word for the family. It is pronouced lah fuh-me-lee-uh, with the accent on the me. Let me tell you some great stories.
We were on scambi a while ago (missionaries change companions for a day to learn different styles of tracting, teaching, finding) and I got in a door by offering to sing! We were in a palazzo (apartment complex) and the woman told us she didn't have any time, but when I asked if we could sing for her she invited us up. Afterward she sat down, invited her daughter in, and said she had time to listen. We taught the first lesson in Italian (yes, I can speak Italian - I can converse with people and 'everyone' gives me compliments on my speech, that is after they ask and I tell them I've been here for 3 weeks) and right now they are great investigators for the other companionship.
We found a family recently with a grandfather - he has 8 children 'figli' (feeyee) - 7 girls and 1 boy (all grown, but young). He reminds me of Grandpa, and we met two of his granddaughters in the street the other day. I had determined that we weren't being forward enough with our greetings, so when a 7-year-old girl on a motorino asked me what we were doing there, I told her we were representatives of God and He had commanded us to come to Italy and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her eyes widened and she grabbed all her friends, then proceeded to ask me what He was like. I told her we had not actually seen God, but that we have a living prophet (like Moses) who speaks with God, and he had given us the call. Two of the friends were the granddaughters - we were about to leave and they invited us into their house, which was actually where we were going for our next appointment! We had each given out a Book of Mormon and had no more, so we gave him an opuscolo (pamphlet) and said we would drop a Book of Mormon by within the next little while.
We had Zone conference, and, with it, we got letters! Little Brother - I finally got your letter you sent at the end of February. Let me tell you something about choosing Universities. I learned that the choice of a University is one you have to make yourself, but that you can ask the help of the Lord. Make sure you pray about your decision, and then once you feel right, go forward with faith that the Lord will bless you. I hope you did well on the ACT.
I am learning Napolitano - the language that they speak here when they're not speaking Italian (dialect). My most recent acquisition is vada gok (pronounced phonetically) - it means 'go to bed'. The people always laugh when we use Naptan.
Our most progressing investigator (acc. to my companion) dropped us. After many missed appointments she finally told us she didn't want to meet anymore. She still wants to read the Book of Mormon, pray daily, fast every month, and come to Church as often as her work schedule permits, but wants some time to herself without the 'pressure' of missionaries. I understand, but I hope she realizes the importance of this decision. Missionaries are here to invite and encourage people to come unto Christ by making and keeping commitments. Good luck friend!
We had a rough week - found one new investigator all week, then suddenly on Sunday we found 10 new people to teach! It was great fun - that was the night we found our 'grandpa'.
I got my new passport when we did super-scambi Friday. My companion had to go to Rome to pick up his permesso di sogiorno, and I was with my old MTC companion. We walked down to the Embassy (hundreds and hundreds of stairs) and picked up my passport, then walked back up (and I mean up), leaving publicity for English Class all the way.
Yesterday I realized the importance of working with members to make part-member into full-member families. We are working with a new convert into the Church, and we are almost finished teaching the new member lessons (my companion didn't grow up with Preach My Gospel, so we teach them a bit strangely, but hey... it works), and her mother is always there. She always cries during the lesson and during the prayers because she feels the Spirit. Finally, we invited her to take the lessons yesterday, and she accepted! I want to invite the Father as well (my companion is sketchy on that) so they can be an eternal family. The Gospel is so beautiful! Think - a family sealed together for eternity...
I also realized how amazingly active we are as a family in the Church. I couldn't imagine it any other way, but here there are people who have testimonies of the truth and don't want to come to Church. It's awful to see people who made sacred covenants and are breaking them because they don't like something...
We are having trouble here - our one good contact, the Branch Mission Leader, is moving to Milan next week because he finally found work. Perhaps this is a test. I'm not sure what to do... But I'm sure it will work out. This is the Lord's work, and as long as we do our best, He will take care of all the (seemingly broken) pieces.
We had a full day yesterday - we had appointments from 11:00 to 9:00. One man didn't really accept our baptismal commitment, but he isn't really on fire anyway... I want to find someone who is really willing to be super-active. Why aren't there more people who are willing to give absolutely everything for the truth? We went to visit a family yesterday - the mother was inactive for 13 years and began to come to Church again, and her life has gotten really difficult. Her husband left last week, and for a little while she got mad at God and stopped praying, reading the scriptures, and coming to Church. She felt like her prayers weren't being answered, but all she wanted was for her husband to come back. He still hasn't returned, but she has triumphed over her trial. Her eyes were softened, she was tranquil, and happy despite the problems she still needed to face. I watch people's eyes a lot - there is a part in my Patriarchal blessing about that - that I can look into people's eyes and see the feelings of their soul and what they need to come unto Christ. A couple people have noticed that I look at them and asked me what I saw. I told them, and each of them have become better people. I told this kind sister that she had been praying to God and He had given her the peace she desired. She had. Sometimes I feel like I am in a dream, here on a mission. I speak Italian with Italians, and they don't understand a word of English. I pray and the Spirit comes. We commit people to change their lives for the better, promise them blessings, and watch as the promise is fulfilled. I've only been here three weeks, and I've learned the best way to do missionary work is with members.
Because our branch is struggling, I have come up with a plan I hope will help. Since I am a junior companion and new, it probably won't be good to launch it with my district full-scale, but I am certainly dropping pieces as I can pull them off the shelf. It is a 3-tiered plan, similar to the A1 Heart theme a few years ago. 1:It begins with the ward council developing a ward mission plan that covers all parts of the Mission of the Church - Proclaim the Gospel, Perfect the Saints, Redeem the Dead. This will take a while. If all three aren't covered, the plan won't work. Then there is a uniting theme - scripture, logo, phrase, something like that, that can change every so often. 2:Every activity the ward does, everything (I mean everything - every mutual, every lesson, every talk in sacrament meeting, every fireside, everything) in fact, is focused on this plan - are we fulfilling the needs of this plan? Does this forward our purpose? What else do we need to do? Hence the need for a comprehensive and all-encompassing vision. 3:Biannually or every quarter the ward council has a special meeting once again to refocus the plan. Perhaps the theme will change at some point, or the scripture; they refocus the basics altogether so that each individual can plan their own part and the branch can work together unitedly to build Zion.
What we want to do right now is work with families to make them full-member families, and for the branch to become more unified. We want to work with families that have strong ties to active members of the Church, hence we identify part-member familes and extended families and strong families that have good nonmember families as friends. We want to prepare everyone to go to the Temple (Switzerland, Rome, ...).
I love all of you - send this on to others.

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