Monday, February 26, 2007

Catch the vision and not butterflies...: December 28, 2005

First, business...
We finally went to change money and there are places to get good rates... but then there is also the exchange fee (that an American debit card doesn't charge). I went in with 20 dollars and came out with a little over 11 Euro. It was supposed to be the best exchange rate available, and it was awful.
Dear Family and Friends,
I'd like to thank everyone for the recipes. I love recipes, and I am teaching my new companion how to cook Italian-Style. I realized this week how colossal of a task it is to train a new missionary, and I was actually shortly past the realization stage when the Christmas call hit. Sorry I sounded a little bit dead. We are tired here. There was no snow for Christmas. Maybe you can send me some (not - I'm not sure that even Mom's and Dad's determination and ingenuity could preserve snow in the Italian mail system... and shipping costs are high. You can save me some in the freezer.). I thought it was interesting in our Mongolian Elder's letter that he talked about chess... I think one of the most recent parables I recounted used chess as well. Well, here in Italy there are a few interesting traditions. They say (maybe it's just in the Church...) that Baby Jesus came and brought presents. Baby Jesus came! Baby Jesus came! Did you see him? Absolutely hilarious. We didn't get the Joseph Smith fireside because the member who needed to turn on the projector apparatus didn't come. No one else did either, except for all the missionaries. We were really sad. I'll have to catch up on all the conferences I've missed, the broadcasts, the everything... here we don't really have spare time.
My new companion is amazing. Smile. He is from UT and his old Stake President is the mission president in Chicago. He knows the kids - one who's on a mission right now and the others... We are working on doing some great planning for ways to turn around the members. Hearing about 30 baptisms on the 30th (actually 12) and big numbers in Mexico makes me very humble to be working here in Italy. We have baptisms here, but not a lot of them. Here in Quartu there hasn't been a baptism for over a year... and we are just now finding investigators that we feel can progress toward baptism at some time. The catholic church has so much power here. I am grateful to be a missionary where, even if we don't see the direct results of our work, I am sure that we have an amazing effect to pull people out of the midst of darkness.
I am getting lost (directionally) very often for some reason. I like to call it suddenly being open to being guided by the Spirit - but very recently I think the added stress level has made me lose what little sense of direction I have... and the Lord has to do everything. Ok. I trust that somehow we will get around. My companion colored our map and we finally found an index, so hopefully we won't continue to get lost forever.
One great blessing of having a companion from Utah is that he understands the principles of food storage and other things... We are pushing really hard to apply the principles of the Church into the lives of our members. We had an almost terse conversation over Christmas dinner in which we talked with our Branch President and his wife and another family about financial planning (of all the things to teach!). The wife of Branch President was more than excited to finally hear in detail about the "amazing things my family does" to support 9 children on a less than extraordinary income. The Branch President was convinced it was an American thing that was only possible with lots of money, and then the other couple came in to back me up with specific examples of things they did to save food, time, and money. We talked about meal planning, food storage, store shopping, buying in bulk, travel expenses, and then they went as far as talking about personal savings choices... For example, this family puts a pot of water on their wood stove that heats their whole huge house, and uses that water to clean dishes... among other little things to save money. The Branch President's biggest concern was that he didn't have money to buy two cans of tuna if he only had enough money to buy one. That makes sense, up to a point. This morning I had revelation (probably has come to others, but it's good) to make a specific number-oriented way to do food storage and keep perfect track so that you never use more money than you did in the first place. I need to save. Ok. Now I'm in WordPad. Better security. Here's how it works. You make a chart of everything you buy and the average price that you would normally buy it at. This takes a little bit of time, but we'll work with a few members to do it. Then, you begin the accounting. If I want tuna and normally spend 50 cents, I can say I have 50 cents to buy tuna. On a normal week, I spend 50 cents and get one can. On a week where the tuna is on sale for 25 cents, I now buy 2 cans and mark on them the date I bought them or the expiration date (to rotate - very simply) and the "food storage savings" - in this case the normal priceis 50 cents and I paid 25 cents. To say that I saved 50 cents is true, but where is that 50 cents? I don't have it in my pocket, and I won't have it for a little while. Hence why we mark the cans of tuna with our savings. When I open a can of tuna, I add the savings written on it to my "Food storage account" - the money I have "saved up" to do food storage. I actually take the money and put it in a piggy bank or something like that. So, after 2 weeks, I have now 50 cents of food storage savings and I need to buy tuna again. I have 50 cents to buy tuna, and today tuna is on super-sale. Super-sales activate my food storage account. How many can I buy without spending more than I normally would on food? Tuna costs 20 cents a can. I have 50 cents to buy tuna, and 50 cents saved up so I can buy 5 cans of tuna and not go over my spending allowance. On these cans of tuna I write 30 - for 30 cents saved off of 50, and when I eat them I "earn" even more for my Food storage account. If you proceed in such a way, you will always have money to buy food and you will have much more food. You will also never spend more money than you are right now! (Obviously, if you buy tuna and it costs 60 cents you have to write -10 on it) Isn't that amazing? Then, when you have enough money, you can always save about 100, 200, 500 dollars to use on super-sales and then you have more money that you can use for other things... like going to the Temple, or anything! In our families, we practice the same principle but don't add the numbers. We try to save money and have enough money to buy things when they go on sale. Hopefully a number-oriented game-like activity like this will help the Italians to catch the vision. We are going to change this little island! We want everyone to understand that because the Gospel has been restored we can apply its principles into our lives. In the meantime, I am almost broke thanks to my splurge on tickets... and we're out of time, so I love you bunches and bunches (bought all at 90% off with the same high quality).
Anziano Peterson

No comments:

Post a Comment

Custom Search