Friday, February 16, 2007

What would it take?: June 15, 2005

...Trunky moment.
Ok, that's done with, at least until the next time we eat lunch together. I have realized here in the mission field that my childhood was not the "norm" as it could be stated. One elder was talking about Ninja Turtles and asked me if I ever remembered playing with them as a kid. I told him no. He then asked me to describe what kind of imaginary games I played... I explained one without much depth and I think he will reference it for the rest of his mission. Oh well. Life goes on.
Within the next few days I will have another sibling! Every time someone asks me, "How many children are in your family?" I reply that we are either 8 or 9 children - I'm not really sure. Of course, that always starts a discussion of how it is impossible to have many children in Italy because life is so hard, etc. ect, and I truly don't believe it a bit. If I grow up to be dirt poor I will still find a way to bring souls into the world and give them the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There really are no poor that cannot eat; at least here in Napoli there are always free cafeterias staffed by the Catholic Church, etc. It is a manner of how much you are willing to sacrifice to have a family.
On to the happy news. The baptism a few weeks ago did go through, and there is a new member of the Church. Since she became a member, her husband (previously called a lost match, lost cause, son of perdition by family members in the Church) has come to the end of Sacrament meeting every week, and to a few activities. He prays with the family and reads when they remind him. We are teaching him and he knows that we love him. He told us he needs some time to work out personal problems, and that then he would be ready to be a member of the Church - he doesn't want to be baptized before he can make and keep the commitment to be worthy for the rest of his life. Wow!
Our best investigator disappeared. She doesn't answer her phone when it is turned on, and often it is turned off. She would never give us her address here in Italy, so we have no options left. She hasn't come to Church. We'll wait, and hopefully she will miss the Spirit of the Lord enough to change.
We found an amazing question that encourages people to commit and shows them your love for them - "Cosa ci vuole...?" - it means "What would it take...?" or "What will it take...?" We have asked it (and it is a hard question to ask - so very, very hard) and every time it has brought the Spirit and the other person has felt our love for them.
For example, with an inactive daughter - What would it take to bring you back to the Church? She thought for a few moments and talked with us openly about why she had left the Church, what would have to happen for her to come back, and we tried to commit her to make the first step in getting it to happen. She didn't commit, but we were exceptionally direct (people don't like it when you beat around the bush - they think you are trying to trick them); expressed our love, appreciation, and support; and helped her realize that it was her decision to be in the Church or not - not the decision or actions of others.
Also, What would it take to bring you to baptism? We asked this to the Father in our newest member's family. That was hard, but he told us then that he had a problem he needed to work out first. He expressed gratitude for our willingness to help, and assured us it wouldn't take too long.
I think we will incorporate this question more because it is very direct and supplies the parts necessary for making and keeping commitments. When making a commitment, the first part is having a vision or reason. When we obey our parents out of love, it is because we understand they want the best for us. When we obey for a treat or to avoid a punishment, we still have a reason - a vision, but that vision isn't nearly as high. Asking "What would it take to ...." supplies the vision, whether it is the Church, Baptism, or the Temple. Then, we must realize that the vision is possible - we must change our dream into a goal. We do this by breaking down the infinite road of eternity into little pieces, and then realizing what the pieces are. By simply declaring what it would take to come back to Church, a less-active member declares that it is possible. Then, he defines the steps that need to be taken for that goal to become reality. Finally, he needs to commit to do it and have a way to measure progress and (normally) someone to help him - someone to check up and remind - a friend along the way. With all these, any dream can become a reality as long as the end results are based on our own individual actions.
It's amazing how in-depth a simple question can be, but I really think that "What would it take?" is a question that I will use for the rest of my life in helping people realize their own individual self-worth and the control they have over their own situations. ..."What would it take?"
We also took the extensive amount of time to map out the location of every member of the Church and mark them on our map, so that we can find inactives with wisdom. When we are in a Zone and have a few minutes we look in our StradaNapoli and figure out who is nearby. The families have all been incorrect addresses or moved. Sad. But, we are hoping to either update the branch list or bring back lost sheep.
I learned some awesome things recently - one is the importance of prophets in a clear way to explain. God wants to bless us. So, He gives us covenants - a Heavenly contract that lists the terms we must obey and the blessings He is willing to give us. He gives this contract to His prophets, who receive divine revelation on the covenants of God and also have the authority to "sign" for us, like the need for a notary in legal documents. Without being notarized, or sanctioned by the correct authority, the document is invalid regardless of prior actions. So, God has given us commandments and promised, if we make these covenants with Him via His prophets, that He would bless us. Also, these commandments are divided into two categories - the things we need to do and the things we must not do.
Amazing example! In school, there are rules. These rules (no cheating, no yelling, no lying, etc.) help the environment be more conducive to learning. If we do not obey these rules we will fail. But, if we -only- obey these rules we will fail school also, because we have to DO something. Hence, we are given assignments and exams. We must at least attempt all the assignments and exams to have any hope of passing the class. It is the same in life. God gives us commandments like don't kill, don't rob, etc. but also gives us commandments to help us learn. We must do both to gain exaltation.
I'm out of time! Love you!
Anziano David Peterson

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