Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tick...Tick...Tick... And time goes on.: December 14, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
It feels like years ago that I sat at this computer to write to you. Perhaps it was. Friday we had an activity - The trip to Hawaii one - and it went well. I had written the script and we had a member essentially read it as the angel of light. It went well - almost every companionship had at least one investigator from each of the two branches. We didn't have a big show from our Branch; we sort of feel mixed vibes from the new Branch Presidency. As far as activities go, it was a great hit with very little planning involved. I wrote the script, assigned parts (airplane captain, angel of light), gave out scripts to those involved, and then we had a cast meeting a half-hour before to explain. No one else had to be stressed, because no one else knew what was going on. It meant that they could simply enjoy it. It was a good start.
Saturday it hit me again that it's December and exactly what that means. As time runs by, it gets harder and harder to keep from crying. Thanks to everyone for not writing letters about 2007 and after. It really does help.
Singing has been a really good finding tool here in Florence and in the nearby cities. We sang on Sunday and met a bunch of people; Wednesday we went to Siena and sang there as well - hundreds of people stopped in the streets, many willing to listen to the message of the Gospel. It happens.
Sunday there was an incredible miracle. A sister in the Branch, was born Deaf. She met the Church about a year ago and was baptized by a sister in my MTC district. I, upon arriving here in Florence, made great friends with her thanks to my skill with sign languages. (Ecco - a reason why I took American Sign at BYU) I picked up a bit of LIS (Italian Sign Language) and I translate for her in Gospel Principles. Sunday was a bit odd, though. She arrived and had trouble concentrating on my signs. When I asked her questions she wasn't really paying attention to me - and that is not only uncommon for the Deaf, it is normally incredibly rude - something was wrong. I finally gave up and just watched her - she was staring at the teacher, intently reading his lips. She turned when another student made a comment, and then at one point just stared straight forward with an intent look on her face. I wondered what she was thinking, feeling... Then, she told me she had something to tell me. I pulled my companion outside and she told me this story: (paraphrased since there isn't room - we should send it to the Ensign anyway)
I went to the Temple recently and I felt that I had to return in December. But how? I can't go in December by myself! But there was a trip for the Young Single Adults, and I went. While there, I heard a voice that said that I would hear voices and sounds, but not words. All the way home to Italy I felt like Jesus was doing an operation in me to change me - I felt the Spirit so strongly! I returned last night from the Temple. This morning I woke up and all was silent. I went and put in my hearing aids - nothing. I changed the batteries and began combing my hair. Shwsh, shwsh, shwsh. What is that? I brush some more - shwsh, shwsh, shwsh - it's the sound of the comb! I've never heard it before! I take a few steps - I hear my footsteps! I open the window - I hear the cars passing by! I come to Church today and I can't concentrate because I hear so many sounds - I could hear the voice of the teacher speaking - and I had never heard a voice before! I can hear voices and sounds, but I don't yet understand the words. It is a miracle!
I had one of the sister missionaries hug her (as I couldn't), and I cried plenty. What an incredible miracle! The Lord continues to do miracles in our lives, as we allow Him to do so. I know He does!
I have an invite for all of you. I would ask you all to pray each day to talk with at least one person about the Gospel. If you believe that you have no friends outside the Church or you have no timeto find new people, listen to this (true, personal) missionary story.
We were on the train going to Rome for a Conference. I had prayed for the opportunity to share the Gospel that day, but it didn't look like we were going to have the opportunity - the little compartment in the train was empty except for missionaries. I started wondering how the Lord would help us. I thought of getting up and moving compartments, but it was a reserved-place train. Then, a ticket-controller came into our compartment. He asked for our tickets, then asked us if we were students. We replied we were missionaries, and he told us, "I feel inside that I should sit down and talk with you. I have learned in the past to follow these feelings, as they lead me towards God. Wait just a moment and I'll be back." He came back and we talked for 3 hours - the entire ride to Rome. He took the Book of Mormon and promised to read it before the weekend, then gave us his information to give to the Rome Elders. The Lord knew we didn't have time to go searching for people. He sent that man to us, because we had faith. Because we asked Him. Only a short while later, we got on the bus - a bus totally full of missionaries. I sat down next to a man that rolled his eyes at us and a nun. She looked at my nametag and started talking with me - very odd for a nun. She wasn't interested in the Gospel, but asked me all the 'right' questions that I ended up teaching her all about the Restoration. A man sat down behind us when she left and started to ask questions as well; I taught him, too. All in all, we had absolutely no time to search that day. We were on trains and buses and in a Conference. But because we had the faith to ask the Lord to place people in our path - and because we looked for them and found them - we found incredible people that would have never been found knocking on doors.
My invite to all of you, again, is to pray each day that the Lord will place someone in your path with which to talk about the Gospel. Pray for the Spirit to recognize the opportunity He will give you, for He will give it to you. Pray for the courage to follow the promptings of the Spirit when they do come, and then courageously follow them! I promise you that, as you do this, the Lord will show you how you can be an essential part in His work. Every single day He can place someone in our paths. Every day He can place 2, or 3, or 10... it all depends on our faith. Begin with one. Ask for the miracle, and it will come. I promise it will come.
I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that He is at the Head of this Church and this work. I know that God lives, and that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of God. Go out and share it with the world! I love you all!
Anziano Peterson

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