Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oh, what a beautiful day!: June 7, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,
Since the email a little while ago when we talked about the incredibile heat, Battipaglia has turned into paradise. We have rain and thunderstorms at night sometimes, or bright, clear, sunny days, or brisk winds that dry our clothes and sheets even while it's pouring rain! (That's a story - clothes dryers don't exist here because of the high cost of electricity. So, we have to hang up everything to dry. I had my sheets hanging up outside yesterday (it was a beautiful morning) and then stormclouds gathered and it poured cats and dogs. The sky actually turned yellow-green from the updraft - picking up soil or debris - and I wondered if I would still have sheets when I went home to our 7th-floor apartment. Well, I arrive home, go outside, and because the roof above the balcony where we hang up sheets is exactly placed as it is, no water can touch them. Only the raging, rushing wind. They were dry. It was pouring. Incredible.) We just got transfer calls and I am staying in Battipaglia for at least another 6 weeks. Battipaglia (as a tourist site) is near Salerno - one of the major port cities in Italy. Salerno is on the edge of the Amalfi Coast - truly, one of the most beautiful places in the world to simply see the countryside as you're driving along the winding mountain roads. There is also, close to Battipaglia, Paestum - an ancient site with the ruins of Greek Temples - one of the best-preserved Greek Temples in the world is here in Paestum. The pizza in Napoli is world-famous (everyone will tell you that you can't find anything like it anywhere else... it's true), there is always Vesuvius and the ruins of Pompei and Herculaneum... there are certainly lots of things to do, as well as the beautiful seasides (not Napoli, but on the islands of Capri and Ischia... or a little further south). Battipaglia is famous for a type of fresh cheese called Mozzarella di Bufala.

The work here in Battipaglia is great - we have a long list of people and it is growing... pages and pages long! We have to plan out exactly how to contact everyone to make sure no one slips through the cracks, and we are seeing great blessings. One man came to church on Sunday, even though Saturday he had diabetes at 385 (whatever that means... he was really sick) and he can't walk more than 2 meters without someone supporting him and he is almost blind and feels always sick and can't wear shoes because his feet and legs are so swollen... and he came to Church. He loved it - he mentioned that he felt happier the moment he entered, even if everyone didn't come to say hi. He will probably be baptized this transfer, and then he will be a great help for the rest of his family.
We have been trying to teach entire families... but their schedules make it almost impossible. We are hence teaching different parts of families at different times... and hopefully they can all progress together. My companion is great - I'm really grateful that he and I can spend a bit more time together. We learn a lot from each other and he knows, as I know, that the work we do is true. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. He is at the head.
We have perfected the way to ask storekeepers if they would like to hear the Gospel. We have had a bit of stress - like any other type of situation, people can tell you flat out, "No." But it went to another level when a woman saw us and began shaking her head before we even entered to ask about leaving English Class flyers. She said no to absolutely everything. It helped us remember what most people would say when we knocked on their doors. Most people say no, which is why we have to find other ways to ask them. People don't want to say yes at their doors - they want a low-stress commitment. So, we simply need to find better ways to give options to learn about the Gospel. There's or passalong cards (we really don't use them because people don't call here - it's our number on the card so we would know...) or simply inviting them to activities. We will probably do a bunch of activities here... but that's another story.
Oh! Another thing - on Friday I was looking in my mouth as I flossed and found that one of my teeth was gold-orange underneath... and that when I shook my head really hard I felt a slight pressure near the tooth. I thought to myself, "Cavity... I have a cavity?" I took a few pictures and asked my companion to look... and brushed my teeth about a thousand times between the times I used mouthwash and floss. I went to the dentist on Monday and he looked inside my mouth and there was nothing. Huh?!?!!?? I had looked right before going down (he is in our apartment building) and there was still something there. He said all there was was a slight crack in the tooth (all natural) that would need to be filled so that food couldn't get inside. I guess my fervent prayers made my cavity go away, so that he could do some preventive work on the tooth. I had to pay 40 euro for the procedure... but then another elder went down (I told him to go - he has a big cavity and was having gum problems) and taught the dentist the Gospel. Isn't it incredible that we can help people to understand the truth in every situation - even in the dentist's chair?
Transfers will happen tomorrow - I am staying with my companion and our difficult elder is going to Rome. We'll get another elder in is place - I don't know him very well, but I am sure he will help the work along here in Battipaglia. More than that... we are working hard. The weather is great, and we are seeing blessings.
I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that He came to save us. I know that God is our Father and that He loves us - each of us individually. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church on the earth. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know because I have prayed to God and He has answered my prayers. May we all turn ourselves to Him - our we loyal to our own thoughts and beliefs, to those of our parents and friends, or to the thoughts and intents of our Creator? Let us all take the time to ask God to reveal to us the truth, that we may all know His plan for us here on the earth. I love you all - go out and share the good news with everyone!
Anziano David Peterson

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