Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Hand of God is made manifest: March 22, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,
First off, there is a new white handbook for missionary rules coming out - I would suggest getting a copy and reading it cover to cover to help keep your missionaries (myself included) in line. We don't as of yet have copies here in Italy, but we spent over an hour at Zone Conference talking about the clarifications and their ramifications on our work. I am grateful that the rules are more complete now (I just wish I could get my hands on a copy of them!).
For Grandma, laundry here in Italy is always done without a dryer. They don't exist, partially because of the low electricity level and the higher cost per kilowatt. Hence, no one would buy them... So we hang them up to dry on these clothing drying racks. Fun. Thanks Mom for the Cincinnati Chili Recipe - did you send it to my old companion? Another clarification (that our Mission President absolutely did not want to read us and dreaded the response) is that we cannot email anyone except for our Mission President and our family. (Which is not the Family of Adam). Hence we will now be sending a few more letters. Also, we will probably use a bit more personal money, as email costs and letters to others than family now come out of personal funds. Va bene. As President said, we have promised to live the law of consecration anyway, so what's the difference between support funds and personal? He gave a great lesson on the importance of humility and how to develop it. He finished saying that the two keys to developing humility are to be grateful and to give. I realized that is exactly what I've been looking for - opportunities to give and to be grateful.
And, about my new area and companion - I am now near Napoli (Naples, but the name really hurts in English - I will say Napoli until the day I die) again and the area is famous for Mozzarella di Bufala - called Buffmozz in Missionary. It's a cheese made partially from water buffalo milk. And it's really good. And it's not available anywhere else in the world. It's totally different from American Mozzarella. The only thing they have in common is that they are not purple. (one is yellow, the other white). Laugh. My companion incredibly humble. I love him so much! There is another companionship in the district (4 missionaries in the apartment), as well. I was sent here with a very vivid vision in mind... and President warned me slightly - this city and district needs a bit of help. I'm grateful that the Spirit is here to guide me so that we can work together to re-ignite the fire that was once here. In the meantime... I'm really grateful for 2 of the other missionaries here - they openly support me and they are willing to give up everything to be obedient. My companion is from Ogden, UT and has served in Napoli and now here. He is a bit taller than I am and has dark hair. I think the best quality I have seen in him so far is that he is sincere and humble. He prays aloud all the time - personally at meals, before going to bed, before his personal studies, and together we are doing good work together. He has a sound testimony of the truth, and I am grateful to have a companion on which I can rely that he is totally committed to living the Gospel. He writes his last email to his girlfriend today and then he'll only write letters by hand. I really love him, and I am grateful that we esteem each other as people from which we can learn, in different ways.
I left my last area and it seems that already years have flown by here in Battipaglia - I already know how to get to the grocery store without getting lost! (A joke for those of you who really understand how physically lost I get in life... I like to say that I am more open to the promptings of the Spirit because I don't rely on my own understanding... :) ) Dico (Discount Italiano) is across the street. Alvi is next door. The bottom floor of our palazzo is a Buffetti - an office supply store. I'm grateful.
One of the elders here would like the CD "My Servant Joseph" - could you send one?
The USB doesn't work... so no pictures today! I still love you.
Yesterday at Zone Conference we had such amazing trainings - and all of them seemed like they were specifically for us. Us - us four in our apartment. I know the Lord is looking out for us, and I'm grateful for the trust that President places in us - we are here to save souls and change lives. It will happen. The miracles will come. The Lord will prevail.
We have some great miracle stories - yes, the Lord does miracles here, too - we were walking down the street and enter a palazzo (apartment complex) and a man across the street sees us, thinks, and then goes and waits outside for us. I greet him as we exit (the contact wasn't home) and he asks, "Are you Mormons?" Taken slightly aback, we respond... and he explains that he had had the feeling to come and wait for us and to talk with us about English... and we set up an appointment. He is looking for the truth, and the Lord placed him in our path. Another man, the same day, was waiting for the bus and saw us enter a park. It was dark, and no one was there, but we decided to go in to get a drink of water... and this man comes in and we talk with him and he, too, had felt the desire to follow us and talk with us. He comes to Church on Sunday. Another woman was staring at us in the Piazza and turned to watch us as we walked away - we took courage and went back to talk with her - we could see the shining in her eyes that denotes the Light of Christ. What blessings!
My companion is soooooo amazing! He is right there behind me on every decision that we make, and we work together to get up the courage to talk with people. He's bold in contacting people, and I'm bold in making invites - hence, we are a great team!
I love this work - and I love the challenge we have ahead of us. I feel that we in our apartment have been given a huge stewardship - the eternal salvation of not only an entire city, but of each other. Suddenly I realize the importance of 100% obedience, and being the "perfect example" - not everyone is perfect. And we cannot convert others beyond the point of our own conversion. We talked with some members this week and almost argued about obedience - I love these people so much that I can't afford to be 99%. If we want to see the same miracles that I've seen in other places we need to open the windows of Heaven! It's the same way in life - be obedient to the standards of the Gospel - to the commandments of God - and then search out the miracles you want Him to accomplish. Then, work towards them and watch as His hand is made manifest. I know that He watches over us - all of us - and that He is there to bless us, if only we will reach out our hands. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that His Church has been restored today through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Church of God, and I know it because I have prayed to know. God has heard my prayer, and He has answered it. And now I am here. May the Lord bless each of you with the same love, joy, and peace that I feel here. May the Lord bless you with miracles. Be obedient! Declare the glad tidings of great joy! Ask for the blessings of Heaven! I love you all.

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