Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Everything in a moment...: March 8, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,
First, I transfers arrive next week, and I truly do not know what will happen. I have felt the desire to leave Quartu, and I think it may happen, even if our Zone Leaders, the Sister Missionaries, our Branch leadership, and all the members want me to stay forever... It's a long story. So, it would be best to send all correspondence to the mission office instead of to Quartu (don't worry if you've already sent it - it will still get to me!).

When I arrived in Quartu there were some vibes of malice towards the missionaries, and the work was nonexistent. My present companion arrived shortly thereafter, and with the help of the Lord (since the Branch was a bit occupied), we went to work. A Peruvian sister was baptized on Saturday, and for her confirmation on Sunday our investigators took up the right side of our little chapel. Another Italian Brother will be baptized on Saturday. Sorry, we don't have any pictures from the baptism because the dress that she wore wasn't very photo-pretty (in her mind). She didn't want any pictures, and last night (when we had an appointment with them) we were in Monserrato waiting for a bus that came while our member-missionary was at our appointment waiting for us.

All of our prayers and dreams came true this week. It didn't start out good, though. On Wednesday, we went to meet with our Branch President, and he absolutely chewed me out. He told me I didn't respect his authority, that I didn't show love for the Italians or the Branch members, that I needed to be instructed in the ways things worked, that I thought I knew everything... and for a good 30-40 minutes he towered over us in his store - us sitting, him standing - until we had to leave. We stood while he was serving a customer, and he continued to point fingers at me (he really had deep malice towards past missionaries). Then, the conversation suddenly changed. I didn't notice it, as I don't notice changes in tense anymore, but my companion said he began to speak to me in "Tu" form - the personal, never-used-with-missionaries (especially by him) form. He had suddenly made a chink in his armor of ire and he saw that we really cared about him and his people. He told us that in the past he had optimal relationships with missionaries, and that he wanted us to come to lunch one day. It had all changed in a moment. We went back to finalize the baptismal program and he was different. He couldn't make it to the baptism on Saturday because his son was ill, but we had set it up for him to do the confirmation (having not chosen anyone, and my companion didn't study the words... smile!). He asked our former Branch President how it happens, and in Sacrament meeting he confirmed the new Sister a member of the Church and gave her a beautiful blessing. He then called a Branch Mission Leader and two Branch Missionaries (our past Branch President - is the BML, and our ever-present member missionary and a returned missionary are Branch missionaries), and then bore testimony for 10 minutes about the great change that has taken place in his life and in this branch. In the space of a moment, it had all changed. Suddenly, all the problems had been fixed in our little branch of Quartu. Certainly, there are still difficulties - there are still marriages being ripped apart, and other awful things, but suddenly the Lord put it into perspective in the minds of all the members. All of our prayers had been answered with a colossal miracle that made the lame man jump up off his bed, pick it up, and carry it home rejoicing. We are going to the Branch President's house on Sunday for lunch. We met with our Branch Mission Leader, and he loves all of our ideas and will do everything in his power to put them through. Because he was a Branch President, there will be no problems with "going without authority" - he knows exactly what can and can't be done, and the Branch President looks to him for support. We finalized Saturday's baptismal program yesterday, and the Branch President asked us for advice on English Class and other programs. I am truly amazed at the change. I would not believe it if I had not seen it myself - from bitter loathing to esteem. The Lord has truly blessed us in this little Branch, and I have learned yet again the true impact that missionaries can have on the lives of members of the Church. Perhaps I'll never do a Branch Fireside on the principle of Food Storage... but that same principle changed the life of my companion forever. Perhaps we'll never see a true Branch Mission Plan put into action... but with the same principles in our companionship I helped my companion become the best missionary ever. He is getting there. We are teaching and finding and giving tons of referrals - we are not afraid to invite all men to come unto Christ. And I feel that my work here is done. Regardless of the revelation that the Mission President receives in a few days, the work here has been partially completed - and it will have to change. We now have a Branch Mission Leader and Branch Missionaries, and members that give us referrals and are willing to go with us on appointments. We have the love and the trust and esteem of the members and our leaders - all of them have thanked us for the work we did when they told us to leave them alone and knock doors by ourselves. I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to see such change here in Quartu - and it was all in a moment. Everything in a moment...
I'm sending a few pictures - we got the tray of dolci from the Sorelle Piccioni - they are sweetmakers near our home that knew missionaries a long time ago. We gave them a Book of Mormon and will invite them to hear the Gospel (not afraid of anyone, right?). They gave us a tray of dolci. The crazy missionaries in the back of the other photo are my Zone Leaders - the ones that asked President to leave us together. Then, because I messed up on the import, you get a bonus - transfer predictions! See if you can make them out. :)

I know that God lives and that His Son, Jesus, is the Christ. He speaks today through modern prophets - this is the message that all men need! I know that the Lord hears and answers our prayers, and that He guides and directs this great work. He will bless us, and then we will finally see everything in a moment...

Anziano Peterson

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