Monday, February 26, 2007

We sang "Love at Home" 5 times this week in people's houses.: February 1, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,
At request from Grandma Jan, I'll make sure to tell you a bit about the people we are teaching, how they came in contact with the gospel, etc... (except that I won't put their names online)
We have.... one couple - they are great; we are teaching him now and when he is baptized I think she will be only a question of time. Right now she doesn't have any interest. We knocked on their door and they let us in. The elect will welcome you. He is a carabinieri - government policeman - that does forensic science, with shiatsu treatments on the side. She is a typographer - they hire her to go to big meetings and type everything that is said. They have 2 children who are 5 and 20 months.
We have.... the Peruvian family. The mother is progressing, and finally looks happy. She smiles and laughs much more. She should be baptized soon.
Another humble Italian was found, again, knocking doors (in reality, knocking doors is the absolute least effective approach here - you have a chance of baptizing about one in 10,000 doors that you knock). He is happy to have found the Church and remembers a kid that worked for him and refused to go buy alcohol and cigarettes.
A single woman was found at a bus stop, and we since haven't seen her. She promised us to come to Church this week.
The "very anti" husband of a member has a baptismal date for the 4th of March and has given permission for his son and daughter to be baptized - maybe we'll have 3! He will probably be the most likely to steadily progress - he has member support. The danger of having so many investigators found through missionary finding work is that, especially here in Italy (especially Sardegna), they don't become integrated members of the branch. People here are not at all open, and they are much more willing to come to the missionaries and ask, "Who is that person?" than to go up to them and ask questions and introduce themselves. That is why members need to not only become Sunday friends of investigators, but they need to get their phone numbers and call them, learn what they do, go to the park with them, become a part of their social circle. Otherwise, they are quickly changing in their lives - losing friends, breaking off relationships, only to find that the only people they can rely on are their missionaries. This is wrong. We can't expect people to change and leave behind their old lives without also changing peer groups, and without offering our own individual friendship, they are locked in the society of the past. We are trying desperately to involve members in our work, but we are still having big problems. Tomorrow we go to talk with our Branch President (Our Branch Mission Leader was released) about all the things we have been doing despite the lack of support, and to plead for help. Obviously,the Lord has blessed us in our efforts, and if we had the help of the Branch members, we could actually do work that would stay. The spacebar doesn't work correctly on this computer. Va bene. Back to before, this husband of a member is excited, and his wife was ecstatic. We'll work clearly and steadily to help him change his life.
Our man on house arrest is changing. His eyes are brighter, and his lawyer found a loophole that will probably get him out the end of March. I probably won't be here. Va bene. He wants to change his life. He wants to frequent different people, make new friends, hang out in different places... He also got rid of his girlfriend. I'm happy.
Hey little brother! You should write me, so I know what is happening out there in Hawaii. Otherwise, I have no clue what is going on, and I can't really help.
Yesterday we had Branch Council, finally, and it started late and we had to leave after 15 minutes. We talked about the 10-minute-meeting and then left, to run to our appointment... to find that they weren't there. Talk about frustrating - we had confirmed it and had a member with us. I am so grateful for the simplicity and sincerity and availability of our faithful member friend. He comes with us at a moment's notice - we call him and he takes a shower, grooms himself to a shine, and is willing to spend the whole evening, from 3 to 9:30, with us. Wow. Even when our appointments constantly cancel.
As far as the language goes, I would call myself fluent in Italian. I can speak with anyone and they'll understand me. My companion is great - we are together for another transfer (and then probably I'll go away... it happens in the mission here). We have an investigator named Max whose house smells like cats, and earlier we have tried to determine multiple words that, when read together, would say something... sort of like Mad Gab. Well... MaxMaxCats. MaxCatsMaxMax. We were rolling on the floor during our daily planning session. Yes, we plan every day and every week.
Difficulties? Well, it rained this week. And I'm not sure I've been in such a big rainstorm ever. Really. It wasn't coming down hard, or in big drops, there was just a ton of rain all at the same time for hours on end. My overcoat works... and it was soaked. Everything in our backpacks got soaked, and bled... and thankfully my shoes still slightly have soles. We looked for new shoes today at the mercatino, but none of them looked strong enough to hold up to another 10,000 kilometers of walking, rain or shine. There's a shoe repairman and he'll repair them. The shoes I took with me are nice... but any pair of shoes you buy for a missionary will be absolutely destroyed. Period. Even shoes that are guaranteed for life are not guaranteed for missions. Così, fully leather-soled shoes don't work too well either. They slide really well on wet cobblestone. No traction. Those shoes have holes in them about an inch in diameter. The other shoes, which were again of leather with a rubber sole insert, have no rubber anymore... the heel is worn down past the wood, the sides have split and torn, they have nice cracks that run laterally and let in water... and there are indentations where the 1 inch diameter holes are waiting to come in. That's why we are going later to fix them. Good. It really rained a lot, and all of our appointments got cancelled. We were with our member-missionary.
One last thing, and then I have to leave. I remember when we went to a family's house (husband of a long-time member), and we ate lunch with them. We then taught the 3rd lesson (he didn't need a repass on the first or second, as we taught the super-concise-clear versions from the Book of Mormon. Yes!) and I was explaining about the Holy Ghost and Baptism and I said, "Vorremmo invitarLa a prepararsi a ricevere il dono dello Spirito Santo. Vorremmo invitarLa ad essere battezzato affinchè possa riceverlo." That would be, "We would like to invite you to prepare to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. We would like to invite you to be baptized so that you can receive it." He expressed concerns... "I'm not ready to be baptized!" And we explained that we would never baptize him unready, and that we wanted to set a date, like setting a wedding date. You can say yes, and then later, if it doesn't work out, you can cancel. If you need to, you can move it up, or postpone it, but it is a real commitment. I really like that paragon - explaining it like a wedding date really worked well, and explained it perfectly. He accepted and his wife was so happy - she started talking about going to the Temple and being sealed and we told her we would talk about it later... slowly, slowly... there's still a lot to be learned, but in 14 months there may be another Celestial Family.
I love you all! Once you talk to everyone, then start talking about families! You have a missionary friend/family member, so you can then transition easily to the Gospel. Bear your testimony about the blessings of having a missionary in the field. Families are the key to helping everyone learn about the Gospel. Invite them to family activities, to come to mutual or seminary, or institute, or achievement days, or scouts, or baptisms, or anything! Invite, invite, invite... when you invite people you help them to repent. If you do not invite them to do something, you are denying them the blessings of the Atonement! Invite them! I love you all!
Anziano Peterson

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