Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A very pensive missionary: June 14, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
First, to answer one of the questions, we have been informed that the 'quiet' hours of Italy go from 1:30 to 4:30. Stores are often closed around then, except for bigger supermarkets. Some restaurants are open - it depends on the menu. Museums are often only open in the morning, and sometimes have a maximum entrance time of 1 or 2 in the afternoon. It also depends on where you go... But it is incredible that the whole city shuts down at lunch time.
This last week has been long. We had transfers, and received an elder from Las Vegas, Nevada. He talks a lot about girls and cars and sports. Hopefully I can keep our apartment together for a while. Today we went to the Reggia di Caserta again - the other missionaries wanted to go and my companion had never been there before. We then went to see the Royal Apartments, which weren't on my ticket. The gatekeeper didn't seem to notice... they really didn't value the extra €4,20 (can you see the euro sign?) that my conscience made me pay before we left the building.
I've been thinking a lot this last week, maybe because it was the first week of the transfers, about how I can become a better missionary. We see amazing miracles and have great success, but here in our mission there just aren't the incredible signs that you can find in other parts of the world. President talked to us about statistics this last week in Zone Conference - he had never talked about statistics before and it was very sobering. It has made me think.
We've seen a lot of very sad things this week. We passed by an investigator that was losing interest, after about a week, and she was horribly ill. She lacked the faith to ask for or believe in a blessing, and she told us she had lost everything in life - even hope and faith. There was nothing for her when her health was poor. I almost left the appointment in tears. Then a boy we were worikng with began working a little while ago and we lost contact with him for a short time. We met him and he has begun smoking again - 30 times the amount, doesn't read the Book of Mormon, doesn't pray, can't come to Church, and was a totally different person. He had essentially died spiritually. It was incredibly disheartening to see someone with so much potential throw away eternal life... Another good investigator is moving tomorrow, and never told us. And then the 3 others in my apartment start talking about sports or cars or whatever and I find I have time to think. Our missionaries are very good missionaries. They are, on a whole, incredibly diligent. They are obedient. They are faithful........... I think this letter would be better if it were lighter in subject matter.
We went to an agriturismo this last week - a sort of restaurant on a farm - and it was gorgeous. It was amazing. It was from one of our investigators and we met his mother there as well. We invited her to hear the Gospel and she told us to come back another day to talk about it. That's fine with us. We have tons of people that we are teaching about the Gospel - finally our bikes are taking us places when we need to get there. We had Zone Conference on Monday, and the trainings were great. The weather is beautiful. Our apartment is getting much cleaner. Life is going well.
I know that the Church is true. It's in the times of difficulty that testimonies stand on their own. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that Gordon B. Hinckley is the Prophet of God today. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that we can all return to live with our Father in Heaven one day if we are faithful. Sorry this email is a bit shorter - I am a bit pensive. I love you all!

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