Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Where faith is, fear has no power!: July 5, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
Here in the little town of Battipaglia we have had some really, really hot days. Then I finally realized that I was no longer praying for rain (we had gone to Napoli for scambi - companionship exchange - and it was incredibly hot, so I prayed for rain. It rained... on me and a few other people... about 6 drops, and then stopped. I think the Lord answered my prayer in a way that helped me be grateful.) and we prayed for it. There was an incredible storm, to the north and south of us. Tons of lightning, thunder, huge winds... and we got about 6 drops. I think the moral for this one is that the Lord answers prayers, but He also answers them according to His own will. We are now praying for the patience and strength to suport the heat, and in the meantime the weather has subsided considerably.
We did two new finding activities this week. They are both a bit bold. But hopefully we'll see great results. The first is called "Church". In Battipaglia, there are 4 cardinal buildings that act as a sort of magnet for the thoughts of many of the people, even if you won't find them often in their vicinities. These grand edifices are called La Chiesa Cattolica Romana - the Roman Catholic Church. I have wanted to sway the influence of these giants (we are in Italy, friends - these places are the highspots of power) but rarely had a companion that was willing to simply follow me. Only once before did it happen - in Napoli we were walking by a Jesuit Convent and I had the urge to go in and teach them about the Gospel. But how do you do it? How do you first get the courage to buzz the citofono, let alone the words to ask and then... how do you teach? That day, my companion at the time (the only other one that would let me buzz a citofono like that) followed me and we set up an appointment with the Father of the Convent. We met with him and it was a great experience for understanding - he learned that we were sincere, that we loved the Lord, and that we truly believed and followed the principles of the Gospel. We walked out feeling that it was a great success - if he ever talks with someone about us, he will talk about us in an aspiring light). More recently, I worked up enough courage (where faith is, fear has no power, right? No fear.) to go inside a church to ask a while ago, but every time the priest wasn't there... and my companion started to get a bit wary. Then, we went to another church and simply asked to see the parrocco - the parishioner? (main priest) and asked him if we could set up a meeting with him. He said yes, and we scheduled for yesterday. We arrive and teach the message of the Restoration, and he accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and said he would read and pray. We'll probably only go back if he contacts us in some way. He wasn't overly convinced about the message, even if he did compliment us on our sincerity. Then we went to another church and talked to that priest for an appointment Saturday. He is much younger, bigger, happier... and he smiles more. I think he will be more receptive to the Gospel. The only problem is that there are only 4 churches here. Battipaglia is small. We'll have to help other missionaries put the tool into action in other areas. So - first you go in and ask to see the priest. When you talk with him, you ask to set up a meeting with him (un'incontro in Italiano). Then, you go back and teach. Simple. My companion still thinks I'm slightly crazy. The other mode of finding is still in the works... so we'll how well it goes. It takes a bit longer to prepare and effect.
We went to the home of the daughter of the Ethiopian grandmother we met in the hospital a few weeks back. We met on Thursday and watched a bit of Together Forever and then she revealed that she, like the woman in the film, is very angry with God. Very angry. So angry that she doesn't go to Church, she doesn't read the Bible, and she can't even say a Padre Nostro or Ave Maria. That's really, really mad for a Catholic. We talked about pain and the purpose of life, and how the Lord loves us... and then we prayed with her. We each offered a prayer, and then she prayed as well. She prayed, "Please Lord, help me to believe. I can't believe. Help me to believe again." We left her with the invite to read and pray each day, and she was visibly touched. I think she will progress very quickly once she comes to Church next week. There is nothing holding her back, and she has certainly felt the influence of the Spirit the fews times we have met her.
There was the festival for Battipaglia this last week. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday the main streets were closed to traffic and huge vendors came from all around with carnival games and sellings candy and statues and clothes and household goods and everything under the sun. We were a bit shocked to find that the main courtyard inside the Catholic Church was also taken by vendors... and a huge procession with the Archbishop of Salerno made its way around the town. We didn't see the Archbishop - we were doing streetboard. That, in fact, was a great miracle. We were speaking to some people and a woman came up to look at the mostra (it was a bit lopsided because a piece had been left at home... and so we had to rig it). She left for a bit and then came back when we had finished talking, and told us we had played part in a huge miracle for her. She was losing faith in God. Her father was Evangelist, her mother was Jehovah's Witness, her husband Catholic... and she was expected to go to the Catholic Church every Sunday... but lied and went on walks instead. She was losing hope for her husband, who is very sick, and then Sunday she left her house to just get out and saw the mostra. She hated the festival - it really is pagan - and told us we had answered her prayers and that this manifestation told her that our Church was true. She now knows that everything we teach is true. Amazing, but we don't have her phone number. Her husband would get very angry... and so we hope she will come to Church (first in secret, then slowly make it known, she said). It was divine acceptance of our want to do mostra.
Then, tonight we are doing Enrichment Night. One of the sisters heard I was gung-ho about food storage and they told me in Church on Sunday that I needed to do an Enrichment Night on it. Va bene. I'm prepared with my companion. We are going to teach them to begin a food storage working off of sales and saving the money to buy more food. It's a simple process, and very visual (putting coins in a jar), and you get to watch the money grow... so it should work wonders for Italians. I guess we'll see in a few hours...
We are doing a lot of finding work this week. All of our investigators began to flake out on us, so we are trying to find new ones. Ones that will commit.
Dearest loved ones, I know that this Church is true. I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that He came to the Earth to save us. If we will follow His teachings revealed to us through holy prophets, we can find peace and joy in this life and eternal life in the world to come. How incredible is the Gospel? I can talk about the Gospel no matter where I am, or with whom I am. I know the Book of Mormon is true. In this time of vacation, don't take a vacation from the Gospel. Don't take a vacation from the Book of Mormon - you can't afford to ever take time off from your career toward eternal salvation. Otherwise, you'll find that you vacation is stressful, tiring, and, even if fun, doesn't pull you towards the Savior. Read the Book of Mormon. Go to Church. Say your prayers. Do all the little things that you spent so many years forming habits doing. And the Lord will bless you with the opportunity to do more than simply have fun. You will have the opportunity to help others of His children to find that which they were looking for - eternal life. I know that God is with us. He is watching over us and is willing to give us all blessings if we will simply reach out and take His hand. I love you all!

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