Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Some optimal work: June 21, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
Life here in Battipaglia has heated up. A lot. I think it may be 99 degrees with 100 percent humidity at night with no wind. Wow. Long sentence. In the day, it is obviously much hotter. Especially in the sun. Even so, we are out working and hopefully we will continue to see success. A man committed on Sunday to be baptized, the 15th of July. Then, Tuesday he told us he wanted his son-in-law to do it in Milan when they go in September. I talked with the daughter in Milan, and she was the one who gave us the superlative in the title. That's fine - now we have to work on the rest of his family here. Sometimes I wonder about the people here in Italy and exactly what missionary work is like in other places... I guess it's a two-edged-sword that we are called to only one mission. I have no clue how missionary work works in France, or China, or even Mongolia or Mexico, regardless of friends and family serving there. Nor what success is there... I sometimes wonder if there are the same problems there... or what other problems present themselves... or how they are affronted in the light of different situations. Missions, as a whole, are totally individual entities, as least from my perspective. It's the same way that, in the Church, someone in the ward over, or stake over, could be doing something and you have no clue. I wonder if there could be a way to correlate ideas and activities/plans between units in the Church without undermining their individuality...
We are hot right now. Sweat is running down my face.
I love the other missionaries in my apartment - we did scambi (exchanges) on Tuesday and two of them (my companion included) went to Salerno and got me a gift - a carnivorous plant (we have a lot of flies). It's a little thing, but it made me realize they care. Added to our collection, we now have 3 cedri, a walnut tree (which I'll plant at Church), an onion, basil, and a carnivorous plant. Fun, huh? It likes sun and water.
Today we went to Paestum again - the best preserved Greek temples in the world or something like that. We ate a lot at a family's house. Food is a really big part of the culture here. Lots of it. In both senses. (Come on, think a bit.) Tonight we went to a member's home and I saw how Seminary had helped a son who was almost following his brother into apostasy come back into the light of testimony. Way to go Seminary! Maybe we should invite other people to attend - nonmembers sometimes attend Seminary...
Our investigators are hitting "make or break" points - where they either tell us to not come back (and go home crying) or finally make and keep commitments. An old investigator is trying to stop smoking and committed to be baptized after over 30 years of knowing the Church. Another is trying to stop smoking as well. We are trying to find the people who will do the things that will bring them unto Christ.
We were inspired to find another finding method this week. Here in Italy they post death announcements on the walls of buildings. Sometimes they have the address of where the funeral procession will begin - the home of the deceased. I was prompted to knock one house and they asked us to come by in a few days. I then realized that those who have experienced a death in the family are often more open to the Gospel, and I have taken notice of the dozens of new notices that dot the buildings (they are big notices - half-poster size). We will see how open the people are, and who the Lord has prepared to hear His gospel.
For those of you out there, there is a film out by the Church - Together Forever - that has a scene that talks about a family that recovers from the death of a daughter through conversion to the Church. Think and see if you know of anyone who has had a death in the family, and offer to show them the film and introduce them to the missionaries. Often people close to the veil (birth, marriage, death, etc) are more open to listening to the Spirit's voice.
Spiritually and emotionally and physically and otherwise, I am doing very well. I love the opportunity to be a missionary and become intensely involved in the spiritual lives of the people around me. I love the duty to talk with everyone about the Gospel, even when it gets tiring. I love the Divine help that seems to pick us up when we take that first step - when we ring the citofono or stop the person on the street or strike up a conversation. My companion is incredible - we get along very well (even if we are incredibly different). I marvel each day how different we really are, even with blue eyes and blond hair (a rarity here).
I know this Gospel is true. We as missionaries pray often and I have felt the confirming witness of the Spirit that this work is the work of God. There is no other way into His kingdom except by and through the authority of His Son Jesus Christ - the authority that was restored to Joseph Smith and that we hold today. We are not just another Church to make good people better. We are out to procure salvation for the human race through the making and keeping of sacred covenants. No one else can do this! We have the key to eternal and lasting happiness and peace. We know the absolute truths in life. What greater blessings can we ask for? May we all go out and talk to one more person each day - go out of your circle of comfort. Become the outgoing person you wish you could. Smile and talk about your family. Talk abour your missionary. Talk about your Sunday School class. Talk about your prophet. Talk about your Savior. Just smile, and pray. It will come naturally, and your mouth will be filled with what to say. The words will be given to you in the very moment that you need to say them. I know - it has happened time and time again to me.
I love you all!

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