Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Count your many blessings!: September 13, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been incredible. Thursday we had a conference in Rome and learned a ton; the new white handbooks came in for everyone and we spent a while talking about ways that our mission would change. I was impressed with the trust and respect that President places in us - when we asked potentially loaded questions (sincerely), he was willing and able to guide the discussion. I am grateful that he is my mission president. Sunday we saw a few miracles. The less-active families we have been working with all came. It was incredible. And they smiled, and one even sat with and spoke the whole time to one of our best investigators. They could feel the Spirit of the Lord again in their lives and were very happy for the change that they had finally been able to effect. Both of them are returned missionaries, and they will be great assets to the work. Sunday evening we went to talk with a man near the train station - his car had broken down, so he couldn't arrive to the park where we had scheduled the appointment. He called and asked if we could meet in a different place. With him, he brought an old copy of Il Libro di Mormon, with many pages folded in the corners, showing it to be well-read. He explained how he saw fulfillment of prophecy and counsel in the Book of Mormon in Latter-day times. He felt the book was true and wanted to take the steps to learn about our Church and become a part of it. What a miracle. He also has one good friend that, someday, he will let us know. I am grateful for the ability to see the blessings that the Gospel can bring to the lives of the people we teach.
Monday we began another round of companionship exchanges. I went with the Elder in our apartment who arrived only 2 weeks ago. We went out and the Lord truly blessed us. Everywhere we turned there were people wanting to hear the Gospel. All Monday night we were in parks talking with people, and then Tuesday morning we went out again and taught the truths of the Gospel. We found a mother with two children that at first told us she wanted peace (not us) because of her children. We kept talking, and she slowly asked us questions, becoming more and more interested as her prejudices slid away. She knew a little about us - the family is important, we don't use technology, we live in all-mormon communities where it is easier, and things like that. When she realized that it was possible to apply and see results of the heavenly qualities of a happy family, she invited us to her home (wow!) and even said, "You can eat dinner with us, right?" She lives very close to a strong member family, also a new couple with two little children. I can already see their future happiness. What an amazing experience! We were talking about it as we walked towards another person to teach (also interested), and I hope that in 'real life' I can have the same incredible experiences of teaching the Gospel and changing lives, if on a different level. I know that every Mother or Father that has one of those 'teaching moments' feels the same way, or when you finally teach your Primary class and they listen or respond in just the right way. I hope that I can learn the skills we teach missionaries and actually apply them for the rest of my life... like talking with everyone! It's hard to talk with everyone... until you realize that everyone wants the thing you have! We can talk and be bold in the promising the blessings and bearing testimony of the Gospel - we have the Lord Jesus Christ as our backer! Finally, last night we went to visit an investigator that came to Church on his own... He willingly accepted the Law of Chastity and other commitments, explaining to us that he was changing his life and wanted to become a better person and a member of our Church. It made us a bit more cognizant of the blessings that the Lord gives us. The work is exploding in South America... and here we can still see great blessings. I'm grateful that I was called to be a missionary in Italy. Correction from a past email: your parents are allowed to pick you up from your mission (we got a clarification from the Mission President's Handbook).
I've become much more cognizant of the way that we look at leaders here in Florence. I remember in Battipaglia one evening, an Elder called me and asked me for advice in working with members of the Branch. He had finally gotten time in Elder's Quorum to talk about missionary work, and he felt it important enough to call me miles and miles away. He had been my Zone Leader 5 transfers before (a long time in the mission - that was two areas before) and we hadn't seen or talked with each other for months. We talked for a few moments, and hopefully I was able to help him. A few weeks later he was assigned to be an assistant to the president. This morning I got a phone call from the assistants asking for some information on a way we found to save money traveling; I was humbled to realize that, in reality, I knew missionaries that practiced what they preached. Humility and service, compassion and love, accountability and hard work are the qualities we want to see in leaders and then we want to emulate in ourselves. I'm grateful to have missionaries that strive to become così (such). Following has sometimes been a bit difficult for me; I ask a whole lot of questions and I may have a hard time not seeing and understanding as much as those who make decisions. It's ok to follow in the footsteps of another person in the Gospel setting, because we have covenanted to. When we magnify our calling and allow others to magnify theirs, we enable men and women to become the Sons and Daughters of God they really are. We can help each other to become great leaders, whether we are at the front or in the back. We lead through example, and we lead each other towards the Lord Jesus Christ.
I know this Gospel is true. I know the Lord will bless each of you to be missionaries as you seek His guidance.
Anziano Peterson

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