Monday, February 26, 2007

We sing all the time with our investigators.: February 8, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
We, here in the city of Quartu, on the island of Sardegna (Sar-dayn-ya), are seeing amazing miracles... And there isn't room enough to write them. The children of a member are being baptized this coming Thursday (the nonmember father talked with them and they don't want to wait until March when he is baptized), and we had the best appointment I have ever heard of yesterday when we taught about the Word of Wisdom. He is totally committed. No questions about it. It's just a matter of meeting with him to teach - and he is so happy. His wife is happy. His children are happy. And, our branch members are finally waking from the complacent slumber that numbers over 25 can bring here, far from centralized Roma. We are getting referrals! The mother in our Peruvian Family, also last night, has agreed to a very firm baptismal date in the beginning of March - she will come on Thursday to see the baptism and her mother (who has been a difficulty the whole time - she is devoutly Evangelist) is supportive of her choice. Even if her mother is maybe over 90. We hope she will be baptized one day as well. We are sending the missionaries in PerĂ¹ to visit her family; her daughter mentioned that two Americans a little while back came and built a Church three houses away. We think it may be an LDS chapel - it's a small world! A story - this nonmember husband was a really healthy kid and adolescent; he began smoking later in life and then picked up light drinking... He distributes seafood to restaurants. He met someone in the market one day and the man offered to trade liquor for fish. He wanted to help him out, so he did the trade... over and over and over again, until he had a veritable bar in his kitchen above the cabinets. One day, he came home and was watching the TV, and he felt like something was different. He kept glancing up, but didn't ever realize that anything was obvious, and so kept watching. Suddenly, he looked again up, and realized that he saw nothing. It was all gone. His wife had thrown it all away. We were rolling on the floor (it was a very suspenseful story that followed in the middle of the discussion - he promised us his wife would take care of getting rid of all the tobacco and alcohol. No problem.) They are amazing, and he wanted to talk about the Gospel to his sister and her husband that are having marital problems. We stocked him with Proclamation to the World's, and then called the Capi to schedule the Church for a baptism next Thursday. Fun.
We had a meeting with our Branch President this last Thursday (we have been commanded here in Italy to do work that lasts - member work. As Grandpa mentioned, if we're not in far enough we may fall out, and being in with the members is the key. We have to do member work.) and, to be optimistic and concise, he told us good job, and continue to knock doors. On a sadder note, we learned he really doesn't trust us or that we can do anything to help the branch. Va bene. We will have to work individually with the members, and each Wednesday night we are now teaching basic principles of the Gospel that we can put into effect in our lives.
On a note for missionaries - when the mail server logs you out and you try to send the email, it will ask you to log in again, but the normal username (rome in my case) doesn't work. (Obviously, this is for missionaries) You can login with a full user name ( and password on that screen and it will instantly send your email. I learned that the hard way, in Napoli, after losing a beautiful email that we can all read in the Millenium when all the books are opened and the angels quote from our newly kept daily diaries.
We are happy to see our investigators progress, and on Monday I gave a lesson in DDM on making goals that take us somewhere. We made companionship goals (initiatives that will lead us to our end goals) and my companion is on track to becoming the best missionary in the mission. He will be a choir director / voice teacher when he returns from the mission. Smile.
For Grandpa... houses... the streets here are made of asphalt, and they're really good at digging it up and putting new down, which leads to a really bumpy ride even for a pedestrian. The palazzi (palace, or apartment complex) are only 3 or four stories tall here, which is nice. Basta.
I did finally send 4 letters this last Preparation Day. One to Napoli, one to Ladispoli, and two to Provo. Letters are difficult because they take multiple steps, including finally finding a letterbox close to the route we are walking on, and then remembering to put the letter in. Often the boxes aren't really letterboxes at all, but service boxes, because when they are delivering the mail they put it in these big red boxes that look exactly like the other ones all over the city... and so it take a while to send a letter sometimes... babble, babble.
My companion and I laugh a ton together. If anyone ever says "the principle of ..." or "il principio di...", the other supplies the word that obviously fills the blank - food storage! We laugh so, so much together. I love my companion, and I am ever grateful to the Lord for sending him to me and entrusting me with the first 3 months of his mission.
Let's see... my schedule for the Spring is to probably take a magnificent Mediterranean cruise (filled with pictures this time) to the luscious coast of Italy, docking in the port of Civitavecchia - a beautiful city built into the hill that functions as the port of Rome. I'll then take a train ride and journey into unknown lands. Etc. Etc. Etc. for the summer as well. (Mom asked about Spring and Summer schedules)
To be efficient today, we went store shopping. Pan for eggs and bread, Nonna Isa for milk, and Conad for cereal. This last week I made Pesto alla Calabrese again. I had a deep, unquenchable urge, and even the price of €2,00 a kilogram for red peppers didn't staunch it this time. 60 cents later, I had it! And we ate happily. Really, if you haven't eaten Pesto alla Calabrese, you have to try it. I don't have time to rewrite the recipe...
Tonight we are teaching members of the branch how to obtain miracles and other blessings through prayer. We'll ask them to identify blessings they want, then help them to make them more specific, within the power of God (which means not taking away the agency of others), and help them to have the faith necessary to see results. It really works.
We have seen great miracles. We asked to find a man, smart, thoughtful, extremely interested in the Gospel, and we found him. We asked to find families and we found them. We asked to find humble investigators and we found them. We asked for people with testimonies of the Book of Mormon and we found them. Now, we are seeing huge results and the members are finally learning to do missionary work. And their problems are resolving. And they are becoming more happy. When we do missionary work, the Lord solves our problems - all of them! We become more happy, we gain more friends, and blessings... Oh, if I were an angel! ...oops, I already am. The scriptures talk about missionaries as angels sent from God to proclaim the Gospel message, and bystanders most commonly have said to our investigators afterwards, "Who were those 2 angels? They were..." I'm grateful to have the support from a God that we love. I need to make a handout for our Vivere il Vangelo class tonight (Living the Gospel), and I guess I've taken enough of your time. I'll send this with my love - go out and talk to someone! Take a walk in the neighborhood and approach someone and say, "I don't believe we've met. My name is ... I live at..." Invite them to dinner. Invite them to Family Home Evening. Invite them to meet with the missionaries in your home. Invite them to receive exaltation! Well, I have never been so happy. I hope I can say the same thing next week. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

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