Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Walking on water... or air: November 15, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
The Lord is blessing us greatly here in Florence. I'll begin with one, a man from Brazil. He was taught by missionaries in the past and found a piece of doctrine that he didn't completely understand. He told the missionaries to not come back, and they didn't, until one of them saw him in the marketplace and asked how he was doing (the missionary was there for a short while to renew legal documents). He got the address of this man and sent it to the missionaries - to us. We contacted him immediately, and met with him the next day. He told us his story and expressed a desire to cut off contact... and then we told him that we wanted to teach the Plan of Salvation. We showed him a diagram and explained that the Plan of Salvation would answer all of his questions about life. He set a return appointment with us. Our appointment was on Thursday; we were well prepared to teach from the scriptures. As we entered, I felt impressed to sing (we normally do)... and he stopped us and asked if he could bring his guitar. It was amazing as he played to our voices. We taught the lesson and watched as he changed - we could see the difference - from saying, "I don't believe in life after death and I don't believe there was a life before this one," to, "...This Plan is perfect! There are no holes! It makes so much sense!" All of his questions were answered and he planned on coming to Church Sunday. We called him Saturday and my companion understood only a few things. 1: He was really excited about something. Really excited. He had talked to his wife and she had gotten really excited. He wanted to meet with us as soon as possible. 2: He couldn't come to Church or the Baptism, but wanted to meet with us as soon as possible. We met with him Tuesday. We arrived and asked what had happened, and he told us, "When you guys left on Thursday, I had this really strong feeling about what you had talked about. It was a big feeling of happiness, of joy, of... I can't explain it. I was wonderful for 3 days, and then some little things happened that made me sad and the feeling went away. Now I'm confused, and a bit sad. I don't know why it went away. I want to feel it again. I want my wife to feel it." I'm grateful that the Lord has given us the opportunity to teach His children. We see them grow and learn and one day we will be with them in His presence. We taught him about the steps of the Gospel, including the gift of the Holy Ghost. He mentioned baptism about 7 times before we got to it, and told us that he needed to be baptized before we even arrived to a point where the invite would work. He wants us to teach his wife. He wants help in telling his family. He has already seen the change that the Holy Ghost is playing in his life - while under its influence he had great ideas to help people in Brazil (his native country), his family, his friends... he felt the desire to help everyone in the world to be happy. And he wants to arrive to the Celestial Kingdom. He wants to be saved. The amazing thing is that it's not because of us. My skills in teaching the Plan of Salvation aren't what caused the mighty change in his heart - it was the Holy Ghost that touched his life, and then he opened himself to it. His wife accepted the invitation to hear the Gospel, and we meet with him again tomorrow (he wants to be baptized as soon as possible). And I realize that I feel like I know him from another time... His face, the way he speaks, his great excitement remind me of... I feel that we were friends - good friends - and that the Lord has a Plan for each of us. I know that Plan is a perfect Plan. That's why he could be born in Brazil to a poor family and rise up in his education to be a math teacher. That's why he could have financial difficulties and so come to Italy to support his family. His tough life is not his choice, but he has the same choice to make it to the Kingdom of God as we do. That's his choice. That's why I could be born in Chicago to a family that already knows the truth, and go on a mission to Italy... because the Lord knew that we would find each other. That's what eternal friends are for, right? Tears...
A member told me last night that she totally trusted me... that she felt like she should do anything I asked her to do. Some days I wonder...
We have at least 4 investigators that are anxiously pursuing baptism. All have expressed their intentions to be baptized. One investigator accepted the Word of Wisdom Saturday - it looked like the only obstacle in his path, so now he can be taught all else and baptized. We are working with families - to whom we are going to teach the Plan of Salvation. We have contacts, referrals, progressing investigators, baptisms in the future, members that love us and are willing to do anything for the work, incredible blessings each day... Some days I wonder... The Italy Rome Mission is not the highest baptizing mission in the world. Our numbers are not the highest in other indicators. And yet, with few exceptions, I have been blessed with many people to teach and great success. I think it is a lesson on humility - I have learned here that much in life is a lesson on humility. Whether we are rich or poor, bond or free, in sickness or health... everything is here for a place. It is all part of a great Plan - a perfect Plan. I know that God lives, and that He has created a perfect Plan for us - the Plan of Happiness. The Plan of Salvation. The Plan of Redemption and of Forgiveness. I know that He knows us each and that, if we do what is right, everything that happens will be for our good. Everything. Everything will be for our good. Everything will be good. If we do what is right, no bad can happen to us - everything will be good. I love you all!
Anziano Peterson

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