Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Are you kidding?: September 27, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
Let's see... I'm not sure that any of the languages in which I can communicate can express the excitement I feel. This week we saw incredible (or marvelous - an investigator had trouble with the word incredible) blessings. Thursday we went and gave service at the Mensa (cafeteria for the poor foreigners), and the cooks asked us all the golden questions (the ones that preface the, "Can you tell me about your Church some day?"). We met with some of our investigators and went to meet a family that is wonderful - they invited us to dinner and we taught as we ate (one of the few times I have ever done it - and perhaps the only time no one was distracted by the food). Wow. Hopefully there will be more on them in the future. We have great hopes. Saturday we had a project called, "Helping Hands" - a program put in place by the Area to help Public Affairs. We cleaned up Piazza San Marco and Piazza della Independenza. It was great - a bunch of people asked us who we were and we taught as well. Saturday night we had sort of an adventure. The new rules on bikes called for some fixes in ours... We had to get/fix lights and brakes and make sure reflectors were in place. I was very blessed - my brakes work well, and there is a dynamo connected to the bike. I only had to buy a replacement bulb for the back light and then do some engineering to ground the circuit (the part of the bike it was attached to was so thickly painted that the current couldn't flow). I would get it to work, then mount it and it wouldn't light. So, I'd take it off and get it to work again (with a bunch of work) and then it wouldn't light mounted. I finally realized (after a bit of prayer and the illumination of the Holy Ghost) that it was perfectly mounted... except that there was no ground. The dynamo only generates one part of the flow - the circuit has to discharge into the bike itself to make the lamp glow. So I grabbed a spring and over-stretched it, hooked it on the grounding screw and to another metal piece, and tightened both ends. It looks a bit interesting (when you're close up), but it works like a charm.
Saturday we went out to an appointment a ways away, and my companion's bike tire blew up. We were on a major road and already very late, so we kept going and locked our bikes to a lighted pole. We ended up leaving them there for the night (dangerous) and a member gave us a ride home. That night, we prayed that the Lord would protect our bikes (and the easily removable brand-new lights my companion had mounted that same day) and ensure that we found them in the same condition in which we had left them. We went back yesterday (Tuesday) because we needed to take the bike in to get it repaired. Sunday wasn't an option; Monday we were waiting for an appointment for so long that we lost our time slot (and bike shops are normally closed Monday). Tuesday we found our bikes in the same place as before, with everything mounted. What a blessing! What more, the bike shop was in that same piazza - the only bike shop within miles! They offered to fix in within the hour, and then told us to remove the lights because we were in a high-risk area (people walk by the shop and anything easily removable is removed and bikes are easily stolen. We saw a bike tire locked to a pole. They took the bike and left the tire!). Our bikes were obviously protected by the hand of the Lord. He loves His missionaries.
In Piazza della Signoria (the original resting place of Michelangelo's David, for those wanting to know the significance of name), we sang Sunday night and I started losing my voice. Singing in the piazza has been my idea... and there was almost a consensus between the other 11 missionaries that if I lost my voice that we would simply stop. Sad... So I said a quick prayer that the Lord would help me sing. Suddenly I realized something very interesting. Talk about how the Spirit of the Lord will tell you ALL things that which ye should do: I suddenly was prompted to stop singing with my throat (which hurt) and to simply form the sounds with my diaphragm and let them resonate in my throat. I realized that the opera-like tone that came out was a lot easier on my vocal cords, and I was able to sing for the rest of the night even if my nose was running like a faucet. I wasn't even hoarse later that evening. What a blessing.
We are trying to acknowledge the blessings that the Lord gives us. It may seem trite to write about bikes and singing, but I have realized that the Lord blesses us according to our needs. He blesses us according to our prayers, and according to our faith. ...Signs follow those that believe in my name...
My companion and I have had a few more heart-to-hearts. We are certainly very different, and we have very different ideas on some things. He brings up a subject and what he thinks should be done, I express my idea, we talk... and then we go and look in the scriptures for anything that will help us. We think of examples and try to determine what the reality is. Then we pray and talk some more... and in the end we realize how we can improve in our thoughts and feelings. I'm grateful to have a humble companion that is willing to reason with me. I'm also grateful that he doesn't think I'm too hard-headed when I always want to know what is right (not just simply what will work). We do good work together. Our biggest effort recently and in the near future are what are called ZSR's... zone status reports. I would assume that in every mission there is some way that the mission president learns about how missionaries are doing outside of interviews and zone conferences. In our mission, President has asked that there be a report compiled on each missionary and companionship to help him know their needs and abilities (mostly for transfer purposes). It's easy to write them when there are no problems. It's harder to determine what to suggest when that is not the case (and everyone has problems).
Today we are planning on going to a museum on Leonardo da Vinci - it has interactive, life-size exhibits from his etchings. It should be a lot of fun. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary in Florence - talk about the opportunity for cultural experiences!
I know that this Church is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that He sends His angels... His missionaries, to teach the Gospel throughout the Earth. Go out and teach with the voice of an angel! Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost - when you testify of the truth, the Holy Ghost carries the truth of it into the hearts of those that hear you. You speak with the voice of an angel! I love you all!
Anziano Peterson
p.s. - One investigator came to church after having read an incredible amount of the Book of Mormon. He started recounting to us the pride cycle. We looked at each other and almost asked, "Are you kidding?" The field is white - The Harvest is ongoing. Let's get going!

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