Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Where can I turn for peace?: November 22, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been a good time for reflection. First off, Happy Birthday!
Wednesday after I wrote you we went to have interviews with President. I'm ever grateful to have him as my Mission President; he seems to know exactly the needs and personality of so many missionaries. One of our investigators is going faster than I have ever seen before. Every time we go he throws out a one-liner like you only dream about. "I'm a Mormon!" (shouted as he jumped from his chair on Monday) "...Since you guys came, my goal is the Celestial Kingdom. I'll do... Anything to get there!" (After the invite to live the law of the Sabbath; he works multiple jobs on Sunday) He is incredible, and he is one of the things that keeps us going each day. There are people like that out there... who need the Gospel in their lives, desperately, and don't know where to find it. Transfer calls came and went... we survived and I am staying here in Florence. It's been raining a lot, and then not, and then yes... It may be starting to get cool as well; our 75-degree mostly sunny weather hid for a few days as almost-thunderstorms shook the city. Time just seemed to fly this week, for one of the first times in my mission.
I had an interesting experience this week; I asked the Lord for a miracle and, as usual, asked Him to tell me what I lacked if He wasn't going to give it to me. That evening He told me, and again I have a list of qualities to improve upon and develop to be a better missionary. But I also realized that perfection is not an end goal in this life. The thought came to me of Moses; he was commanded of the Lord to go and smite the rock, that water would come forth. He did so, and the miracle was accomplished. Some time later, the Lord called upon him to speak to a rock, that water would come forth. Moses was afraid - he didn't believe it would work to simply speak to the rock, so he hit it a few times. Water came out - the Lord did a miracle - but for his unbelief Moses was denied entry into the Promised Land. There's a dual blade to this story - even prophets are afraid (and have other imperfections) sometimes - Moses was the meekest of all men and yet still feared men more than God at some points in their journeyings in the wilderness. But, just as it wasn't OK for Moses to lack in faith (or anything else, for that matter), it is not OK for us. Sometimes they are little things. Sometimes they are bigger... but I would that all of us could be ready and trust in the Lord when He calls upon us to do anything - and that we do it in His way.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and all the missionaries in Toscana are invited to go to the American base at Pisa to a huge activity. I guess we'll see... it should be fun. Many missionaries have said some of their best memories came from that activity. Friday one elder in our apartment goes to Rome and we receive an Italian in our apartment; hopefully it will help my companion in his language skills (and maybe they will talk about something other than football!). He got the phone this week (we all have cell phones, since home lines cost way too much. Cell costs are still huge - up to 30 cents a minute with connection fees!) and his self-esteem is slowly growing. Training here in Florence is much different from in Quartu. In Quartu I had perfect control over what happened - there were no other missionaries. Here it's a bit harder in an apartment with two other missionaries and a district with 4 more and frequent zone activities... that goes to 12 missionaries total! If we were all perfect, it would be optimal, but we are all still learning. I think I feel a bit of the stress that parents do when their children start spending time with their peers. It's a good thing, yes, but...
I know that this Church is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that the Lord's hand is in this work. I love you all!

Anziano Peterson

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