Monday, February 26, 2007

The end of the rainbow: January 11, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
We found them.
This last week was really hard. Beginning Wednesday, my companion felt awful and it began our test of faith. Every single appointment, with members or with inactives or with investigators, was cancelled. Our progressing investigators all suddenly disappeared without a trace - literally. After having felt the shock of a sort of distrust from the Branch Presidency, we almost cried and then decided to work our pain out. It really is awful when you arrive at an appointment and something happened and they can't meet today, and then you get a call and the members are sick and then your next investigator appointment with a member ends up being inside and leaving you (and the member) on the doorstep for some reason and then finally your last investigator appointment with a member gives you an excuse that makes you sure they were lying. We felt very alone for a bit, but then we went to work! We fell in love with the park next to our house - every time we go in, we only have a bit of time (because it closes at lunch, like everything else) and we always teach. It's amazing. We also did a lot of knocking doors. Friday was Festa di Lavoro and we cleaned the house the whole day, to finally end with a dinner appointment with an investigator and a member to find that she is still awkward even after coming to Church and paying tithing and living all the commitments. At least she'll make it Terrestrial, and I am sure there is still something that will help her to understand - she doesn't want to have appointments or be baptized and is very vocal about it. Saturday... can I say we knocked out our stress? At the beginning of my mission, I loathed knocking on people's doors - I'm not really sure why. But recently, it has become extremely soothing - I can simply knock on the doors (actually, we never knock. There are always extra doors or big iron gates that would cause your neighbors to hate you forever in America that make the little doorbell buzzers - citofono - which sound awful zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! much more useful...) and talk with people. If they're not interested, I can wish them a nice day. It's so nice to have the opportunity to bless their lives in such a little way! I'm crazy. It gets worse. :) Saturday everyone disappeared, and we only had one investigator in Church on Sunday. She also came to the re-re-rebroadcast of the Joseph Smith celebration (wow - it was good). We also had our first 10-minute meeting (a meeting introduced by a Seventy that toured the mission a few years ago. He introduced a 10-minute weekly missionary-related-only branch council meeting and promised, "If you do this meeting regularly, you will [see great success]." For us in Italy, there is a big difference. It is a big promise - of miracles. Then, Monday the heavens opened. At DDM we planned a fireside for our branch, then talked with two 25-year-olds in the park. We took a member (that is not allowed to get a job, but is very cognizant and hence always available and willing and lives right next to us) to an a appointment, and then finished with house and went to another family to teach a Lesson to an Active Member (we listened to a talk by Elder Ballard at Zone Conference and we were encouraged to teach active members to revive the missionary spirit). It worked - he was visibly touched and we have gained the trust and time of another amazing member and his family. We went to Family Home Evening and there were again no investigators, but the family was there and the husband is inactive. Our lesson we had prepared for our investigator on the importance of the Holy Ghost, how we feel it, when we can feel it, and what we need to do to retain it, worked perfectly and I am sure we gained the trust of all the singles we couldn't normally teach to. Cha-ching! Yesterday we had an appointment fixed from Casa (door-to-door) on Monday and they weren't there, so we went and did house. We found a woman - another appointment tomorrow, Giorgio - in the park by the busstop and he will come to our Answering Life's Questions Seminar (a really amazing missionary tool for members - they can invite people with deaths in the family to come and learn - no risk - about what happens at death or the other questions we have chosen and will continue to rotate every transfer), and a woman in the park next to home(I think we will call it some name soon, it is called Parco Matteotti, but we'll give it a new name) that hadmet with the missionaries and suddenly realized when we testified to her of thereal truth that we were much more than just nice boys, and the Gospel is more than just something to follow for curiosity. I know she felt the Spirit. It caught her off guard, and she didn't know what to do. We are growing in faith. We saw our elderly contact again with our member (we had seen her on the street and she apologized profusely for having left on the doorstep and then not having been there) and she is also crazy. This brother is very sincere and naturally patient - he is accompanying her to our Answering Life's Questions 2 hours early because it gets dark early (then I suggested that they read from the Book of Mormon). We then made our way to the Church for our first Correlation Meeting with our Branch Mission Leader!!!! What a miracle!! A sister had called us and then was going to call us back, so I told the Lord, "We'll walk toward Church until this sister calls us, and then we'll do Casa." She never called us back, so we continued walking and did house on the same street. Oh! We found another thing when we did house yesterday - a way to ask for referrals that opens people up! I got it from my new companion, from the MTC referral center. You ask, do you know anyone that needs an uplifting message about Jesus Christ? Many people will suddenly stop, think, and say, "We all need a message about Jesus Christ," and we talked with a bunch of people that otherwise would not have left the door open, let alone learn about principles of the Gospel. So, we buzzed the first door and spoke through iron bars for a bit, then they felt bad and opened the gate and we talked about their memories of missionaries 20 years ago. We went to the next house and I almost finished introducing myself when the door opened. I knew he had heard me. It wasn't just that he opened it for someone he thought I was. We opened the main door and he invited us upstairs, explained he was waiting for his wife, so she would arrive shortly, and we were in amazement. He treated us like were we good friends, then sat down and said, "You're from that Church right there, right?" He didn't even know us and he let us in. His wife arrived shortly later and they have 2 little children and they love each other and they're normal and they were searching and they're normal and they're interested and they invited us back and made time for us and we found them. For the longest time we have been praying for miracles here - miracles to change our branch, to revive the work, to give the members life, and we found these two. To be truthful, they have not left our minds from the moment we walked into their home. We wake up during the night and our first thoughts are for them. We pray for them, study for them, plan for them, and suddenly we are in love with a family we knew for 20 minutes. We have so much hope and faith for them. We went to our Correlation Meeting and talked with our BML and he is totally on our side. I was able to communicate the absolute love I have of food storage... strange? I was always in charge of the food storage and it became a way of life to search for supersales and buy in bulk... and members here could benefit from it so much! We also planned a great fireside that will push the members to ask God for miracles and then to go and get them. We are coming back! We talked with the members there for Seminary and watched as a distant fire was lit when we said, "We found them! We found a family!" I know that the Lord answers our prayers, and that there are people right next door (literally) who are searching and will let us in! This is the importance of missionary work - loving people so deeply that you will spend every moment praying for their wellbeing, becoming a better person yourself, and trying to help them in any way possible. I do not think I have ever been so grateful - it made me think of being in my dorm one day and getting a phone call that my latest little brother would be born. I know the Lord answers our prayers and He will give us miracles. He really does. Really. I have seen them, and I hope that I can live the rest of my life to continue to see the little and the amazing miracles that the Lord sees fit to entrust us with. The Lord loves us, and we can show His love to others when we serve them and testify to them of the truth. If there were virtual teardrops... Oh well. I love all of you. Ask for referrals from everyone - it opens them up (yes, I'm talking to you non-full-time-missionaries) and gives you the opportunity to brighten their day. If I could simply communicate the feeling I have inside... May God rest with you and bless you in all your labors as you strive to bring His children home.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Custom Search