It's been a good week!
At the end of last week, we started working with the members in our area a little bit more and have several appointments with different families Thursday-Saturday. We usually talk about Elder Ballard's talk on member missionary work and then leave them with a commitment. We've made these cutesy paper handouts for the members that we talk to, with a scripture and a big blank space for writing names. Our commitment is to have them write down all the names of the people they can think of, family and friends, and then with this list, pray to know who would be ready to listen to the gospel. We are keeping track of who we meet with and plan on following up with them to see if they have written the list and prayed and thought of anyone. So far it has gone great! Usually the members are excited when we give them this list and they start rattling off a couple of names of people they know who they think really could use the gospel of Jesus Christ right now. This is a great ward here in Rome, and there are a number of really solid families. There was particularly one family we met with on Friday, the Boscos, who I am really excited about. They are just a few years older than us and pregnant with their first child, so they aren't yet overwhelming busy with several children. They are both strong in the gospel, an adorable couple, very nice and bright, and the husband especially is way enthusiastic about missionary work! He told us that he openly tells everyone he is LDS and looks to find people he can share the gospel with. I can't wait to meet with them again and work with them to find people to teach!
We also are focusing on a few part member families, although they live far away and its tough coordinating a time that we can get out to Prima Porta.
We are making good progress with one woman in particular, Yolando. She is from Ecuador and speaks a mix of Spanish and Italian, so I have a harder time understanding her, but she is filled with so much faith! The biggest block right now is that she cant come to church on Sunday because she works, but in a few weeks she will be able to start coming! She knows that she is working towards baptism, although realizes how important that commitment is and wants to learn more about the Church and the commandments first. Last transfer we met with her once a week because she works so much, but we have started meeting with her twice a week, having shorter lessons so it isn't such a burden.
I am also excited about Gina, a 26 year old Romanian, who is very kind and open, although we want to meet with her more than once a week and help her understand how wonderful and life changing the message we have really is.
On Saturday, President Monson broke ground for the Rome temple! Most of the members and none of the missionaries were able to attend, but we watched the broadcast of it on Sunday and were able to see the image of how the temple will look. AH, I AM THRILLED! I cant even imagine how some of the members here must feel to be able to get a temple in their own city. I feel even more excited for this temple than the Draper temple, and probably that is because I know what a difference the temple will make for missionary work in this city and country, which is what my life is dedicated to right now. I just wish I could be around to see it! They plan to finish in 2013, that seems like forever!
Sorella Urban and I are really working on finding an Italian family in this area that we can baptize and prepare for the temple. I know that there is a family somewhere in this city who is ready to accept the gospel, we just have to find them! We pray every day for this family and are doing more finding work, especially in the area where we live, Fidene, because it is close to the temple grounds.
And finding work still remains one of my favorite things! We have some of the funniest experiences. One old man stood at the door and talked to us for a while, and although he was directing most of his talking to me, I didnt really understand what he was saying, so I just stood there smiling at him and nodding my head. Sorella Urban started giggling because she could tell I didnt know what he was saying, and that made me fight to not start laughing. Struggle!
One older couple let us in, they have talked to sister missionaries before and it was a very interesting experience. They were very bright and educated people, although very Catholic and very opinionated. The woman has read the entire Book of Mormon and knows that it was written by prophets of God and is what it claims to be, although she says to us that she has no desire to change religions. Ah! That is where free agency comes in, we can do all that we can to help them read the Book and understand what it means in connection with the Restoration, but if they have no desire to change, we've hit a block! It was still a wonderful successful experience in teaching with love and bearing pure testimony rather than Bible bashing and arguing points of doctrine. I learned early on that that gets you nowhere, even if we seem to have the responses to their objections! At that point, we can just love them and bear testimony and invite them to read the Book of Mormon. It works much better!
We also met one Italian man and his adorable son who told us we could come back when his wife was home. Perfect, that's what we hope to hear!
This mission is much different than I thought it would be, both the struggles and the successes! There is a language and cultural barrier that is more difficult than I expected it to be, and sometimes I wonder if I really am the right type of person to be here because my personality seems so much different from theirs. I am grateful for companions who are different than me and whose strengths are sometimes my weaknesses. I am also convinced that this is the best mission for me and personal growth. I am grateful that Heavenly Father also had my soul in mind when he sent me out to convert people. I get to more fully convert myself as well!! Every day I get to exercise my faith in Him and His perfect plan and the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to make everything right. I am more grateful for the things I have and feel less entitled than I used to, something that was probably a major struggle in the past.
I desire so much to become an instrument in His hands here in Italy. I may have ideas about the work, but only He knows the best way to do it. I plead with Him every day to help me despite my pride and despite my weaknesses, to find the people that need to be found and teach them what they need to hear. And I am grateful that things aren't perfect or easy, so that I do have a chance to exercise and grow my faith. I am praying for miracles in this city!