Monday, February 26, 2007

Va bene.: January 18, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
I am exhausted, and the space key on this keyboard is not the most reliable. Sorry if some of my words smash into each other.
This week was a good, hard week. Wednesday we did our shopping and I made lemon bars (for some reason lemon bars don't work here... or maybe I don't work here) and a lemon meringue pie/cake. Reason? Lemon bars - for our Family Home Evening presentation (treat), cake - our encounter with death. There is a family that has a bit of a feud here... and we wanted to see what we could do to help. Looking back, it was a very dangerous thing to do, and something that, if we were not missionaries, would have been social suicide. Va bene. I felt prompted to do it and so we did. We asked the address of a part of the family from the other part and then I made a cake as sort of an excuse to go by. We found the house and asked for them, and a man told us to knock at the door. The door opened and a woman came out and told us she was the wife... of the man who had spoken with us. Obviously they have a slight integrity problem. They refused the cake, thinking it was a gift from the other part of their family, (of course, just as I am, never mentioning even the names of the people... instead, it is "those who sent you") and we ended up leaving and they were mad. We were sad to not have communicated bene our intentions and that they had been so closed. I had just made a cake as an excuse - their family members knew nothing of our visit. We just wanted to help in a third-party way. Well, as we walk to Church, we get lost (yes, still...), and then finally find our way and are almost there when two people get out of a parked car and approach us quickly. Flashes of two teenagers in coats with a gun go through my mind in comparison... smile... They had decided to find us and follow us, on one-way roads that went the other way! They were fuming, and wanted to give us a message for "those who had sent us". The line I had wanted to say to explain, I said, and they slowly realized the truth. We explained it really didn't matter to us what the problems were; we only wanted to help everyone become a united family again. We bore testimony of the truth and they were hit by a testimony of the Spirit - it was visible, because each of them, individually and at different points in the conversation, suddenly became much more quiet and didn't know what to say or do. They left much more thoughtful, and with a certainly much higher regard for missionaries, having heard and felt the Spirit testify that the Gospel can also help them. It was an amazing experience, and one that would have been impossible as anyone other than a full-time missionary. They still didn't take the cake, so we ate it at our Family Home Evening simulation (it was really, really good), and then I froze it and I have found the true recipe for lemon bars - make the base for lemon bars and the filling for lemon merigue pie, ensure both are cooked, then freeze for at least a day! It is amazing! And, if you overcook it, it doesn't end up looking like a dying quiche-type-lemon-thing (which is what my originals were). Thanks to everyone for all the recipes they send. I also made Cincinnati Chili this week, without a recipe, and am pleased to announce that it works very well with ground horse. Don't throw up. Horsemeat is very low in fat, so it doesn't require any extra work, and you lose no weight due to fat content. I mixed up the ingredients and it was perfect - so much so that on our Scambi today another Elder asked me for the 'recipe'.
On an even more spiritual, but still nutritional, note, we were preparing to teach our Branch about the principle of food storage and we realized that one of us would be in Cagliari - my companion because he didn't feel able to explain by himself. So, for DDM he explained to me about the 10-minute meeting, our missionary fireside idea, and then Immagazzinamento di cibo (Food Storage). While he explained it and we worked some numbers together, he realized something amazing. If you buy 10 liters of milk every week and pay 6 euro in total, if you change stores and buy 13 liters for 5.85, all in all you save 2.10 (.15 cents in your pocket difference between 6 euro and 5.85, and then 15 cents savings on every box of milk)! You spend 5.85 and save 2.10 ... and that 2.10 you use toward food storage. He suddenly realized that with a method like this, you can do food storage and have food and pay very little for it. My companion wants to be a music teacher, and he doesn't want to leave Utah. So, he will have a very low salary. He also wants to have 6 children and a wife that doesn't have to work. He never thought it would be possible, but from learning the principle of 'food storage', suddenly his life-long dreams have become possibilities, only with need to put them into action. We now, every time we say 'food storage', simply leave a pause in our conversation and the other says it. It's a uniting thing, and we are learning from each other things we never thought possible. I realized that the people who always told me that raising a large family is impossible today were right - if you did math with their equations. My math was always different, and a big difference was that my companion saw the numbers. He tried to help his married siblings and watched as the problems commenced. It just didn't seem possible. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no clue how all the numbers work together... but I know very well how to save money, and how to buy food, and how to save money when buying things. I have firmly believed that raising a large family is more a force of effort and will than that of having a successful job to earn enough money. Money has nothing to do with raising a family in my mind. I'm sure that will change ever so slightly when numbers become a part of my life, but hopefully I can also apply the principle regardless of the numbers I am faced with. Hence, at the end of my mission I will have saved missionary support money to give back (only the things I really didn't need) and I love to save! It is so wonderful to spend less and to be frugal, to not waste, and to enable the Lord's Kingdom to be built that much more!
Well, our Branch Council meeting was cancelled last night, and we spent the whole evening knocking doors. More like buzzing buzzers. Va bene. When we heard Branch Council was cancelled we went to our golden investigator's house to do a daily contact - good idea, because he still hasn't read from the Book of Mormon. We explained the principle of Authority and the importance of ordinances and covenants (he had expressed the opinion, if we are good people and do good, God will save us - we explained that God required us to make promises with Him and thankfully has provided a way for all His children who ever lived on the Earth to make these through the restored priesthood authority). He understands amazingly well. We then went by our peruvian family. Yes, we are still teaching Peruvians that only speak Spanish, and I don't speak it well enough to resolve all the concerns. Va bene. I still love Italian. Today we had other plans, but they were cancelled too. Va bene. I scambied (did an exchange) with an Elder yesterday/today and am again grateful to have a Zone Leader in whom I can place my trust. He cares about the people and has a strong testimony not only of the truth of the Gospel, but in the changing power on the Atonement. We were not afraid to promise blessings or resolve concerns using the Book of Mormon. Slowly the work is changing here in Quartu. The Lord is opening the windows of Heaven, and we are seeing great success.
Thanks to everyone for all your support. I enjoy receiving letters and emails and packages, and I'm sorry if I haven't responded to everything. I love you all - go out and open your mouths! Make a friend today, and tomorrow you'll already have become a missionary.

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