Friday, February 16, 2007

Letter to Mom: April 27, 2005

Dear everyone,
Sometimes the Italian government doesn't like packages, but as missionaries we get them just fine.
My ankle is ... abbastanza bene. It's very colorful, and swollen, and sometimes fa male (hurts), but there were no fractures, and the hospital report used words that literally were about THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS long! I couldn't even pronounce them - and Italian is phonetic! I think the ligament stretched or something like that (the doctor asked me if I played sports - I'm not sure if that was a good or a bad sign...) and there was a greater chance because of the spacing for the joint to slip out of place or something. I really don't know. Following President's counsel, I "baby" it - I only sometimes run on it, I rarely jump down the stairs, and I never run for the Metro. Either way, I'm sure the Lord had some reason for it, whether it was just personal strength testing or otherwise.
I am losing my English vocabulary! Ahhh! All too often as I think of a word to say in English I can't find it (the rare instances when we speak in English - whenever we are outside the house we speak in Italian, and the few appointments we have with people who speak English I have to purposely (I couldn't find the right word) -- deliberately (yes!) ensure that I use only words that they would understand. I couldn't even remember any medical terms to compare with the jargon on my hospital report for the 7 minutes they gave me to memorize it...
I would like to give a great big Grazie to all the people who are helping in the Lord's work, whether you are writing letters to missionaries, praying for missionary opportunities, being a good example, or simply living a good life as a member of the Church. I am learning more and more that missionary work is not something disconnected from the Church, something that only missionaries accomplish for a short 2 years of their lives. Missionary work is a central facet of the Church - as it says in Preach My Gospel, Home teaching is just missionary work to members of the Church, and Missionary work is home teaching to non-members. Thanks! And, just to let all of you know, I have a bit over an hour each week to email and another block of time to write letters. I'll send a big email to my family and if you write me, hopefully I'll remember to append a piece on the bottom.
This week has been great - we had ZDM - Zone development meeting - on Saturday and the 2 missionaries in charge gave a great training on the importance of the Book of Mormon - we have to express how crazy for the Book of Mormon we are to our contacts. We now have almost all our contacts on a Book of Mormon reading program - they read every day for at least 10 minutes, and then we give them a squillo around 2 o'clock to remind them... which reminds me - this is for Dad - I really have no clue why, but the telephone costs here in Italy are atrocious. We are allotted €30 a month for our cell phones - €1 a day, and there are huge charges associated with every call. Everything is 1-minute billing, and there is a 10c connect charge for every call. If you call another cell phone from a different company, they charge you 25c per minute! The problem is that in society today you have to use the phone - we went €34 over last transfer, and that was with €40 a month because my companion is our District Leader. I'm sure that the Church has done deals already, and probably has people searching for ways to save money, but the costs are atrocious - every companionship has a cell phone for security purposes - President can always get a hold of us, but there has to be a better way... ...I really don't know what you could do - free nights and weekends would be heaven here...
Also, (sorry it's all boring stuff so far) I need to get a personal credit card - we opened that account at the bank (did they ever send a card?) - because mission rules say not to use consecrated funds for buying clothes, gifts, etc. I brought $200 with me, but it $100 was stolen and the other $100 was used to buy a new passport, so I will need to have a source of personal funds for buying clothes when the ones I have wear out.
Happy Birthday Dad! Tell me what color tie you want, and I'll send you one. I should be able to just stuff it into an envelope. Either way, I love you!
One thing to be cognizant of when going on a mission - you save $ for "paying for the mission" but you need to save more than that - if you want to buy any clothes, souvenirs, gits for family, or spend on non-mission related items, you spend what is called "personal money". This distinction is actually made in the MTC - the money from the blue card is to be used only for missionary-related supplies. In the same way, the widow's mite that you get every week is only to be used for missionary purposes.
I did another scambi this week and sang for a Young Women's program - we were at ZDM and the other missionaries hinted that I could scambi and sing with them. I did, and we sang If You Could Hie to Kolob - with a flute accompaniment for the third verse to another Italian Anziano and me. We were so good that our pianist asked us to sing at the Fuorigrotto sacrament meeting the next day... I'm sure they were fine without me, even though all the Anziani claim they're stonati (tone-deaf) whenever I'm within hearing range.
And the spiritual thought... Please, take time every single day to read the Book of Mormon! It is more than a necessity, it is a commandment of God! If you don't drink water for a day, the stress will dehydrate you. Look at the spiritual stress of our world - we need to read the Book of Mormon in order to stay alive! I don't think that most members of the Church realize how utterly important the Book of Mormon is. Every point of doctrine is explained there. It is the proof and test of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is a direct conduit to God. It answers our questions. It manifests our faith. It is physical. The Church, and our faith, and the power of our testimony, stands or falls based on the Book of Mormon. Please, promise me and yourself and our Father that you will take time every single day to read from the Book of Mormon - at least 10 minutes. I promise you that your life will be better, that your mind will be clearer, and that you will feel closer to God as you endure the daily trials we all face. I can't give you squillo's to remind you, but you can set reminders on the computer, or put rocks in your bed or shoes, lock your door, set an alarm clock, ask a friend to call - anything to ensure that you do it. It is so important!
I'm grateful for another miracle - the funicolare almost crashed yesterday, but thankfully they closed it. You'll have to look up what a funicolare is online if you really want to know how it works... but the wire was ready to break, which would have sent both cars to the bottom to crash into each other. The other Anziani got there right as they closed it - if the conductor hadn't been paying attention, there could have been a horrible disaster. Praise to the Lord! How many times are our lives saved, and we do not even realize it?
The pasta here is amazing, but because it's different. Here's one example - absolutely heavenly - it's called Pesto Genovese. It's made with Basil and oil (normally also pine nuts) and it may be my favorite primo piatto (first plate - the Italians always eat in courses) ever. I don't know how to make it well - you can look up a recipe.

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