So much to tell! Where to start? I'll start with our awesome experience yesterday with Matteo in the TRC. I can't remember all that I told you last week but Matteo is from Italy and he moved here a few weeks ago and he is here for a few months going to school. He took the missionary lessons in Italy and now comes to the TRC every week as a volunteer. He knows the gospel is true, he has read a lot of the Book of Mormon and goes to church every Sunday and is here going to school because he loves the people. However his family back in Italy is very opposed to the church and this is a big reason why he isn't baptized. He is 20 though, so he doesn't need their permission.
Anyways, our district (3 companionships) takes turns teaching him every week and yesterday was our turn! We spent all week praying for him and preparing, so we felt great love and concern for him, although we were also nervous because the whole lesson would be in Italian! Normally we follow a scenario in the TRC and teach a specific missionary lesson, but for Matteo, we were to teach him just as he is, no role playing or anything. So we prepared questions in Italian to get to know him better and understand his needs and also a lesson on faith and acting and making covenants and the blessings that come from making covenants. We had heard from our teacher the day (our teacher is friends with Matteo now) that he talked with Matteo before and Matteo said he felt that he was ready to be baptized. Wow!
The TRC has two parts, the first 15 minutes are for practicing Italian in an everyday setting, such as getting to know someone and then we take a break and go back and teach a lesson. We went in and talked to Matteo and got to know him better, where he was from, why he was here, what he had learned before about the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was great, so helpful with the language and open and friendly. Then, we came back for the second round and taught him. We started off with singing for him Lead Kindly Light in Italian and asked him some more questions about his background and beliefs and his testimony of the gospel and the things the missionaries have taught him. We asked him if he had the desire to be baptized and he said yes, he was pretty sure we did. We talked about his concerns with his family and maybe a few other concerns he had. I asked him if we could set a date and he wasn't sure he was ready to do that. I asked him once more if we could pick a date right now for in the future and prepare him for that, but he said he wanted to make that decision on his own. Although we were pretty bold with him up to that point (scary!), I felt that that was okay and that he was just about ready and didn't need us to push him and we went ahead with our lesson. At the end, we asked him to pray and counsel with Heavenly Father about what He wants him to do. He eagerly accepted and I have little doubt that he will keep this promise. We understood a lot of what he was saying in Italian and we could express our own thoughts to him as well, which was amazing. It is really a gift from Heavenly Father to be able to teach people His truth and help them find joy in it. And it is a gift that we could have Matteo to teach right now; it almost never happens that we have a real Italian investigator in the TRC!
Okay, what more? We are doing 100% SYL (speak your language) and our district speaks almost entirely in Italian all day. It’s tough but I have already seen huge changes in some of the missionaries, especially the ones who are really diligent about it. Sometimes during class, we go into the hallway and each choose a brick on the wall and we spend 15 minutes talking to the brick in Italian about whatever we want to say. It's rather hilarious and the other missionaries think we are crazy but our teacher tells us to do it and it is way helpful in working on the language. The bricks don't judge us! We have a goal as a district to bear our testimonies to other missionaries 20X a day!! It is a tough goal but I feel it is one of the best preparations for Italy we can do and I have had some really good experiences with it. Sunday was a little bit of a rough day and I had no desire to bear my testimony but I made myself start doing it during our temple walk and it completely changed the way I felt. There was an undeniable light that came when bearing testimony of truth and it was wonderful. That is the light we need to have all the time in Italy! I can feel the moments when I really teach or bear testimony with the Spirit and strive to make those occur all the time.
We had a devotional for July 4 and got to stay up late to watch the fireworks from the MTC parking lot, haha. Funny story with the language…we were practicing teaching each other in Italian in class one day. I was teaching Anziano Parry and it was the end of the short lesson and I really wanted to express to him that God appreciated his efforts (in reference to keeping the sabbath day holy). I didn't know how to say that in the moment so I tried to think of some other way to tell him that God appreciated his efforts. All I could spit out was "Dio dice grazie", which means God says thank you. We laughed about that one for a while. But that's how it goes! We can't say everything we want to, so we try to express it in different ways and sometimes it’s a struggle, haha. But what matters is that we mean in and that it’s true.
I know that the Restoration of the Gospel is really, it was a Restoration of light and truth and authority. I am learning how everything is a gift from God. We are entitled to pretty much nothing and yet He blesses us with a lot! I am working on recognizing and appreciating it!
Love, Sorella Askew