Monday, February 26, 2007

Even better days: February 15, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,
I eat my words. This week is a bit better than last week. :) What day is it? Wednesday... Well, we've had some good times, some really tough trials, and the Lord has continued to be right at our side. Our nonmember husband appeared in Church shortly before meetings were supposed to start and began yelling at us. Obviously something had happened to change circumstances (yes, I am not telling the whole story. It's more optimistic this way) and his children won't be baptized this week. We may see his wife tonight, and we can re-evaluate the situation. We did scambio yesterday & today and I went to Cagliari and left my companion in Quartu. I went with another Elder and we did some good work. Back at Quartu, they saw huge miracles. They met with our policeman golden and taught about the Apostasy and authority - and the contact thought for about 3 minutes without saying anything. He hadn't slept after our last appointment. They met with a referral from a Sister (she has finally caught the missionary spirit, just needs to be refined on missionary work - no space doctrine) and it went really well as well. They also met a Hare Krishna who essentially tried to teach them the plan of reincarnation. Ummmm.... If we go back, we will use films from the Church to help guide lessons. People don't talk about strange things during films. ...Then again, my companion said the man had some strange films as well... I guess we will have to make a personal lesson from Preach my Gospel that addresses concerns and teaches for understanding. Perfect! They then went to the Peruvian family (yes, Dad, we are still teaching Peruvians, and 2 of them are going to be baptized, and the Grandmother would as well if we had someone who spoke Spanish well enough to resolve her concerns) and the mother had made a cake for my companion's birthday (Saturday). They ate some, and then she brought out another cake to take home. Wow. They had been talking about the principle of fasting beforehand (for some reason, they seem to know what we are going to talk about and they discuss it before our appointment) and Nonna had said to her daughter, "You can't fast! You'll die!" I almost died laughing when my companion recounted it. I can just see this 90-year-old Peruvian grandmother telling her daughter, "You can't fast! You'll die!" and being totally serious. I love missionary work. They accepted the Law of the Fast, and she is learning how to understand the Spirit - she expressed the feeling that Fasting could be out of gratitude for the Lord. She also said she had never thought about it before, but she felt it was right. Turn, look, stare... (By the way, that's the thing that companions do when they are amazed or are making a decision. They turn and look simultaneously at each other. You stare if you are amazed or until the decision has been made. I think it has something to do with reading their eyes... but it works. You can tell. Believe me.)... and be amazed. Mother and son are racing to finish the Book of Mormon, and the mom is winning. She is on 1 Nephi 3. They are reading. Nonna is reading. Our policeman is reading. The African referrals are reading. The Italian builder is reading. Another referral is reading. The man on house arrest is reading. I guess we simply need to raise our eyes to a higher view and let the Lord show us broader horizons. What blessings.
Our addestramento was on humility, and our Capi love us. They gave a great training, and we are almost perfectly united. My companion and I talk and finish each others' sentences, we act similarly, laugh at the same times, and everyone can tell we are united in the work. We love each other, and, more importantly, we love God, the people, and the work. We know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ restored upon the Earth, and that the message of the truth is the message that all people need to have to be happy. I'm so grateful that my fingers are finally used to Italian style keyboards. I remember when I first came into Italy and I couldn't find the apostrophe. Now I can type without looking down at the board. Yes, it is slightly different from American keyboards, because on this board I can write words like Gesù Cristo and Buon dì and è tu or avversità. It's fun. Backtrack... We are united. Today we wanted to try Italian sweets, so we went to the Market in Cagliari. We walked around, and we realized we had tried most of them. We were happy to simply look at them. Isn't frugality a bit ironic? I am still happy I didn't buy or eat anything. Back to our training, the Capi taught us about humility (a topic we talk about a bit) and then I learned why afterwards. It seems that we are doing good work in Quartu, and our Capi wanted to make sure that we didn't get proud and lose it all. I'm grateful for their love and support. I will ever look at leaders in the Church in a different light thanks to my missionary service. We can, and have the responsibility, to be the best no matter where we are. If I am a missionary trainer, I want my companion to quickly become the best missionary in the mission. He is quickly becoming it. I hope I can take with me the perspective of eternity and help everyone around me learn the importance of doing things well. The prophet has said that our responsibility within our own spheres is as important as his in his sphere - we have a responsibility as important as the prophet! In fact, this is the whole point of Paul's "the body of Christ" discourse - we are to understand that every member of God's family is essential and important. As one of my brothers knows, the head without the toe can do almost nothing. Così, (As such,) we need to do the best we can in our own sphere of influence and not degrade or prejudice others (better or worse) based simply on who they were called to be. Which is better - a Caesar salad or a fresh sweet roll? They are made for different purposes, and it would be unfair to the conceptual design to compare them. It is the same in life and on a mission.
The Lord continues to answer our prayers. The busses arrive when we do. Really. The rare busses. Is it busses? It looks strange... Or maybe it's just that writing it so many times makes it lose its meaning. Busses. Busses. Bzzzz. That's better. I am happy. I'm sure that trials are coming (we have had them before), and I know that the Lord will be with us. Stand strong! Stand firm! Onward! The work is changing, and the Lord takes notice of a little town on an island in the middle of the sea.
I love you all. Go out and make friends, and tell them about the miracles in Quartu. The stoplights are always green. The busses come when we need them. We make appointments right when we need to. We get lost and suddenly find our way. People read and pray and receive answers to their prayers, and people who were once sad are now happy. Truly happy, filled with the light of the Gospel of Christ. That is the greatest miracle - conversion. When you are converted, strengthen your brethren.
Anziano David Peterson

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