Saturday, February 17, 2007

I've been transferred!: July 6, 2005

Dearest Friends and Family,
The transfer call came in... and I have been transferred from Napoli to a little city west of Rome called Ladispoli. It's a tiny little place on the coast - everyone says it is much nicer than Napoli... but I guess anything would be more aesthetically pleasing than dirty old buildings... oops, I meant natural artifacts of ancient civilizations. :) So, don't send anything else to the Napoli address. It isn't mine after tomorrow morning. My new companion is a great piano player and I think we are going to rock the Rome 1 ward! I'll be serving in a ward! And, the Prophet is coming to Rome in a few weeks! I don't know if we'll be able to see him, (or exactly why he is coming, whether to look at the plot of ground we fondly call "the temple ground" or to determine the relationship of the Church with the new pope) but his simply being here is certainly making a stir among the members.
I think I realized the difference this week between South America and Italy. Our most on-fire member (behind another sister, who "belongs" to the other coppia) is from Equador. She had a birthday party and literally invited her friends to come and meet us and set up appointments. She tells everyone she meets about the Church and looks often at her address book wondering what she can do to help her friends all over the world find the truth. She frets everyday about missionary work, wants to get married so she can go on a mission with a husband, wants to be a help to the missionaries, and still feels like she isn't doing anything to help us. She is chalking a picture of Joseph Smith - the one that is at the front of the Book of Mormon - and it is beautiful... and she promised me one. She lets us know that missionary work is much easier in South America every single time we go to her tiny one-room apartment. Every time she says something like that I think, "My Dad must have been awfully spoiled on his mission to have people like that all around him." If the people were like her, you couldn't be anything but spoiled! I love you Dad.
Looking back on the city of Napoli...
I've been here for 4 months - a sixth of my mission. There were some interesting experiences, and lots of good ones! I pray that the Lord will take care of the people here (at least until Vesuvius blows up - have you heard that it is alive again?) and help them to change for the better.
We were listening to a CD on the Prophet Joseph today and Truman G Madsen recounted a few experiences where Joseph showed a different type of character than some would ascribe to a prophet of God. I was thinking about the importance of smiling, joking, lots of things that the Napoli life has sucked out of me. I need to lighten up. I think I will. No, I will. Perhaps I won't engage priests in wrestling contests, but that doesn't keep my companion safe... By far and large, missionary work is best performed by people who truly love others and have a sound and firm testimony of the Church and of the divinity of prophets. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true and living Church upon the face of the Earth, and I think that people can see that when they look into my eyes. We were talking with a missionary from the Catholic Church and she seemed very afraid of us. She had on this huge smile and wanted to scream at us as she just talked and talked and talked... I felt really bad for her, because she sensed our faith and it seemed directly contrary to everything she had held dear for all her life. It is, in a way, and no one who is not willing to give up all they have held to is ready to be a member of God's kingdom, on this earth or in the life to come. So, learn to truly love people - to love even the most brutal of people - to talk with the atheists and people that despise you - to truly love and feel deep sorrow for the people that would take away your freedom and your family - to care for the people that routinely break the promises they keep and walk all over the values you hold dear... and then your relationship will develop into one of true Charity. God loves all of His children equally. How can He love a killer as much as me? In His eyes, we are both valued; in His eyes, we both can change. In His eyes, we both have the same potential. Hence, our responsibility to help others change through our love for them. That's why we are "missionaries" - in fact, we are simply brothers and sisters that love each other so much that we are willing to give up everything for each other. Let's be good missionaries, and help everyone we meet along the way.
I've decided what I can leave behind in my apartments - I bought a little Basilico plant (Basil) and have been taking care of it. Today I split it for two of the elders in my apartment and gave them little plants with intructions on how to care for them. Perhaps they will die, but at least they will have a living tie. :)
For the debit cards - I have plenty of personal money, (I buy almost nothing) but it would help to know exactly what I had on the cards, since I use them as credit cards and everything here is in Euro (hence the difficulty in knowing what is left - $50 minus €4,24 is what?). The problem is that even the grocery stores here in Italy are a bit behind, so split-payments don't exist, and I have to expect that I have enough money on one card or the other. If I can determine exactly what I have and spend it, then I won't have any problems.
In closing, I love you all very much. It is amazing that we can truly feel the effect of prayers so far away. Thank you for your prayers, for your faith, and for your support. The Lord does not forget our acts of faith. Whether they are returned with a blessing upon our head or upon another, it doesn't really matter. We are all trying to make it to the end. What an amazing opportunity we have to help each other.
I love you!
Anziano David Peterson
(I'll have a new address next week)

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