Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oh, what a beautiful day!: 5 April, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been a bit stressful, but we were able to see General Conference in Napoli (at least 4 of the 5 sessions) - and the video worked! Amazing miracles follow us everywhere we go. To highlight the week... Wednesday and Thursday we slam-packed with appointments because we would be out of town from Friday until Monday. None of our investigators could come to sacrament meeting because there was conference... and Conference was over an hour and a half away driving. We were doing companionship exchanges with the Zone Leaders in Napoli, so we left Friday morning after our weekly planning session to go to Napoli. We realized that they had no food for us. Talk about food... And yes, Grandma, I do eat very healthfully. I am reknowned in the mission field for eating things that simply reek of good health. I ate a full bag of lentils while in Napoli - more than a pound of dried lentils, either crunched raw or cooked in water with a bit of milk for breakfast (mmmmm, good!). Don't go crazy - I absolutely love them, and an elder (who has awful eating habits) happened to have them. What a blessing. Food here in Italy is high-quality, and there are many things here that are not available in America with the same economy. For example - you'll find dried legumes in high quantities everywhere... who uses dried legumes in America? But, they're really healthful, so I eat them. We eat pasta for most lunches, with a red sauce based from tomatoes. We don't have any problems with critters, and only recently have flies decided to invade the town of Battipaglia... and then tomorrow I am deciding to get rid of jackets. Yessiree, our Mission President esteems his missionaries enough in this quarter of the world to give districts the opportunity to decide when the jackets come off (normally it is a mandate from Rome - jackets on, jackets off). On of our elders is getting back his summer pants from the cleaners tomorrow, so we'll be in our white cuffs from then on. Nice. Well, I scambied with one elder, who helped me to realize the importance of keeping our bodies healthy - your body is a temple. He is very overweight, and has no self-control in eating habits. When the other missionaries arrived for General Conference (having brought their own food), he commenced eating all the things they had brought, without asking and despite their remarks! I agree with the remark that it is easier to follow from a distance - our leaders, no matter in what field we are working, will not be perfect. Hence, we must work with what we have until the Savior comes (there's a scripture that talks about making do until perfection comes. Can you find it?). We didn't teach anything - we spent the day searching for his backpack and going shopping for him... I realized how much I loved Battipaglia as we went to sleep and I could pray with my real companion. We went to General Conference in Pozzuoli (Pozzuoli is built on the top of an ancient volcano (that still has active geysers) and the name is actually derived in Italian Puzzo - suoli - puzzo means stink, suolo is soil, hence Pozzuoli is the soil that stinks. Sounds a bit like Chicago, no? ...But Pozzuoli really does smell a lot like sulfur, because of the active sulfur springs. I actually like the smell. It's soothing.) and I arrived and the missionaries told me there was no video in English. What? Last year in Pozzuoli the Satellite hadn't worked, so I didn't want to miss 2 conferences out of 4 in my mission. We went down, and the wires were frayed beyond belief. The television they were using didn't seem to accept the video input at all - there was absolutely nothing. The screen worked just fine, but it didn't take the signal. We grabbed another TV that they said was broken, and I found there was a tape jammed inside, which caused the emergency shutoff to trigger instantly - turning off the TV the moment it was turned on. I said a silent prayer, pushed a few buttons, including the multiple power buttons on the side of the screen (strange, that), and then the main power button, and viola! it worked! The other missionaries were certainly impressed. We worked with the cords and finally I was able to jiggle them enough to get an image and some sound. But it was supersoft. I realized the cord had been plugged in the input instead of the output, and moved it, and the sound jumped a few decibels. The screen was tiny - a little more than a handspan across - so we put it up on top of a chair with hymnbooks underneath and were very grateful. The conference started... and it was in Spanish... but it was in English before! They went to change the language, and scrolled through German, French, and a couple others before the voice turned to English. Nice. Then, the audio turned off. I went back and jiggled the cord a few times, pulled it out, and it came back. Phew. I had to do that a few times, and then finally I only needed to threaten to touch it and it worked. The Lord loves us. We loved conference, and, while there, I saw lots of members and lots of contacts of mine that had been baptized! Wow! I hadn't even realized it, and they had done missionary work and found other people and... already?
We had interviews on Monday and then the chaos began - one elder was really struggling with laziness and was pulling down his companion a lot. They were dying, and the work needs people here. Suddenly after interviews the Zone Leaders decided to do a 1- week scambi with - one elder went to Napoli and another elder came here to Battipaglia. I hope the Lord can help us to help this elder become a good missionary. Doing less than mediocre work on the Lord's time has far-reaching consequences. But, already we are seeing great results. We are going forward, and our new addition to the district is actually teaching his extended family. Nice move. We are teaching our padrone - landlord - to stop smoking, and his daughter is really interested in the Gospel. This will be awesome - his wife really wants to quit smoking. I love the opportunities we have to teach people the Gospel. From our service opportunity, we are teaching other women who are really looking for the Gospel. Wow. The work is exploding here. Today we are going to Paestum - a set of ancient Greek Temples that are supposed to look like the Parthenon. Cool. I'll take some pictures and maybe even send some. I love you all - I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true! If you don't, go pray to know!

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