Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It is a beautiful day!: 12 April, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,
I love problems with capitalization. I think that not capitalizing the name in an email address does something strange to the server... and so I resent the email from last week. Hopefully it arrives safely - thankfully the computer didn't eat my copy!
Adding on, we have had a bit of chaos here in tranquil Battipaglia. We have had a true "midnight transfer", and our new missionary addition is here to stay. I think. Whatever. We have had some great experiences, and some interesting miracles. I'll tell a fun story. Here in Italy, the cheese is different. Really. There is this cheese called Mozzarella, that is in liquid, and is not really like American Mozzarella. We wanted to know how to make it, as Battipaglia is one of the few places in the world to make Mozzarella from water buffalo milk!??! Well, we went out and bought caglio, which is like rennet, I think... and tried it. We failed, and then asked all the members how to make cheese. They were all totally clueless. Then, one of our investigators revealed that her family owns a cheese factory here in Battipaglia! We went to the store to ask her mother about the recipe, and she didn't know (but we taught her about the Gospel, since her husband died a year ago and she is awesome!), so she told us to talk to her son, who always works in the Caseificio (Cheese plant). She gave us directions, and we found it. He brought us into the factory and showed us how they make Mozzarella and Ricotta. Wow. We also received way too much free cheese in the process (you have to be careful about relationships with shopowners in the mission - it is a delicate balance between accepting too much... because they often won't let you buy something from their shop. They will simply gift everything to you. Which doesn't work financially.). We also are teaching the whole family now. They are incredible, and the son has been searching for more of a purpose in his life - during the Easter season, he works from 12:00 midnight to 6:30 in the evening. No breaks, except to grab food. Every day he works. Christmas, New Years... he's all alone since his dad died a year ago. There's no one there that really understands him, and he feels that he could never force a wife to make the same sacrifices he does. 33 and sad. Wow. But he saw the light in our eyes, and we are teaching him next week. He was excited. Amazing.
We went to the hospital with our Branch President and sang for a dying member. Our Branch President told us not to sing, but there was no way I was going to follow that indication - the man dying was a singer - and he has a tube stuffed into his throat. He can't sing or talk. Well, the family of the woman in the next bed then came over and asked us if we would pray for their grandmother. I went over and looked into the eyes of a beautiful Ethiopian grandmother - two of her 6 children were there, with grandchildren attending. The 20ish grandson had asked us to pray for her. We sang "Lead Thou me on" and there were certainly tears. I then sat and talked with her - also in critical condition and not entirely cognizant - for the next 20 minutes, and traded off teaching the family about simple principles of the Gospel (why are we missionaries, what is a prophet, etc..). As we left, the grandson (who we will talk with the next time we go) tried to offer us money, and we gave him a Proclamation to the World. They were simply staring at it, sort of in disbelief, his money still in his hand, faces still wet, as we left the room. Leaving, we said hi to another family, and a little boy (that reminds me of my little brother... tears coming...) asked, "Ma, chi era quello?" - "But who was that?" I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary.
As far as how I am doing, I am eating well, I speak the language well, we are teaching tons of people (Really. We don't have much time to try to find people. Instead we teach. Awesome (I would say totally, but I'm not sure it would be grammatically correct. :) We found a Spanish woman whose son works in a tie factory. She gave us ties.
I have re-realized this week how very blessed we are - my companion and I - in everything. We teach, we find, we have people who want to be baptized, the branch is improving, the weather is gorgeous (we are going today to the Amalfi Coast - go look that up on the internet!), my companion and I get along really well, and I suddenly realized that our influences reach much more than we could ever dream. I got a phone call from a missionary in Livorno (way North) asking me for advice on how to work with members. He had been my Zone Leader while I was in Ladispoli - about 6 months ago - and asked permission to call me. I hope I was able to help. We found a piece of information in the new Preach my Gospel that talks about how referrals should be reported, and I asked the AP's to look into it (one of them was my trainer, so I can badger him). We got a call last week telling us about the change, then this week telling us President wanted to counsel with the Area Presidency to see if they were aware of it. I think we are simply doing good work. I wish I could have been at the Emergency Preparedness Seminar - I am trying to do the same thing (on a much, much smaller scale) here. We may not succeed in doing an activity, but at least I will be able to unite the Branch a bit.
And then, my thoughts on the Gospel. Today I'll talk a bit on the Spirit. Everyone has a conscience - what is called in the scriptures the light that quickens men's understanding. This is the Light of Christ, and this is why all men innately know what is good and what is bad, regardless of their environment. This is how from a broken family the leaders of nations can arise - proof that nature and nurture have a part in defining morality. The Light of Christ leads the "willing hearer" to create his or her own set of beliefs, often apart from any standardized religion. Then, when people hear the message of the Gospel, they resonate with these prior indications of the Light of Christ. That is why the Gospel simply makes sense. It always has. More than that, we feel peace, tranquility, happiness, love, and all sorts of other amazing feelings when the Holy Spirit testifies to us, but if we do not receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, it cannot remain with us. We are lifted up only momentarily, to be left to wallow in our sorrows when the missionaries leave or the world re-enters into our lives. When we are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands after our baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we now have the right to the presence of the Holy Spirit whenever we are worthy. We can always feel the presence of the Lord - we can always feel that the problems of the world are small and overcomeable with the help of the Lord. I would ask each and all of you who read this to take account of when you feel the Holy Spirit, and to search after it. Pray for it. Meet with the missionaries and see if you really do feel the peace I have spoken about. Try it, and then follow the Spirit to lasting happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that He has called a prophet today. I know that we can truly be happy in this life, and I know that the Lord hears and answers when we pray in faith. I love you all!
Anziano David Peterson

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