I love Zone conferences! We had zone conference on Friday and it was a wonderful uplifting experience. We learned about how to improve our prayers, charity, working smart, and finding new people to teach. The zone leaders also talked a lot about faith and working with members, which was wonderful to hear because we have been doing this and seeing the good results that come from it. I rarely have the experience where I feel like a talk or a conference is directed just at me, but this was one of those times. I felt that almost every point they talked about was one that I had been thinking about in the last few weeks, it was perfect! I particularly loved the reminders of how much our faith has an impact on the work and also how charity is something that is a gift from the Lord. With a lot of things in life, I feel like if I work hard enough, I can make it happen. I have realized that with charity, I cant just work hard enough until I earn it and feel all sorts of love for other people. Although what I do does make a difference to what extent I can receive the gift of charity, it is still a gift! I've seen clearly how I can't just create it on my own! I can serve others and pray for it and THEN receive that love for people as a blessing.
So, what has been going on this week?
The Tempesta family invited us over for lunch last week. When we were teaching them a lesson after, Sorella Tempesta got on a one hour tanget about dreams and how her dreams foretell the future. Haha, we felt so bad but while she was talking, we were both fighting to stay awake! I hope we didn't offend her!
We had a very productive time in Prima Porta on Friday. We talked to Carolina (16 years old and investigator for over a year) and Carolain (13 years old, her mom and sister are members and she goes to church) and asked them both specifically what was keeping them from baptism. Carolain is one of my favorite people, she is very bright and mature for 14 years old, and she told us that she wasn't sure because she believes the church is true but understands the commitment that baptism entails and is not sure she is ready for that. We don't know what else to do to help her! Carolina had similar concerns, she understands that baptism is a serious thing and wants to be sure before she commits. We are teaching Carolina's mom as well and hope that she will start to be a support in her life. We are also teaching Carolain's dad (the Cruz family) every Friday night and he is great because he listens and participates (we teach them as a family) although when we asked him to come to church with his family, he declined saying he only likes to listen but its not really for him. We have lots of hope for him though and are going to bring another member family this Friday to their house for the lesson, hoping that the strong priesthood holder will be a good influence on him.
My favorite lesson this week may have been with Teresa Gonzales, the wife of a Philippine member. She has been taught on and off by the missionaries for years and has a testimony of the church, although cannot and will not stop smoking. She refuses to come to church as well knowing that she cant be baptized. We were very bold with her and she was bold back to us. When we asked, she told us that she loved her cigarettes so much that she would choose her cigarettes over her family. That made us very sad. Although by the end of the lesson, she admitted that she prays to God to stop smoking and she admitted how much she wants her son to go on a mission and for them to go to church together as a family. I think she is just frustrated with years of missionaries telling her to quit smoking and her not being able to. Our goal right now is to help her at least come to church and do the other things that will help build her faith and testimony so that one day she may have the strength to stop smoking. And I love that we can be open with her, because no matter how blunt we are, she still ADORES the missionaries and asks us to come back. She is so generous as well, she cooked a huge Phillipine meal for us and made us take home all the left overs. Sorella Urban stubbornly tries to tell her no, but Teresa is even more stubborn than Sorella Urban. And while we were teaching her and her husband, Ben, Teresa would sneak out of the room every 10 minutes or so and bring back more random food from the kitchen to add to the sacks of food we were taking home. We ended up with 4 huge sacks of food! It was hilarious!
We did some casa (door knocking) yesterday and found a wonderful Italian woman who is disillusioned by the suffering in the world although very open to the things we have to say. When I meet people like her, people who are smart and capable and have a lot of difficult questions about why things are the way they are, I feel very humbled. I have my own opinion on things like that, but I do not have all the answers and I often don't know what to say when I see someone who is truly suffering as a result of the difficult world we live in. There are so many people that we teach who work long hours just to have enough money to pay for their rent, and their lives seem to be day after day of drudgery just to get by. I know that the gospel offers hope for everyone in every situation but I have not experienced the things that these people have experienced and I feel humbled coming from my background and having to somehow tell them that what we have really is the answer for finding joy despite the circumstances.
I hope to see this woman again, Daniela, and help her find joy and hope through the gospel.
I don't get to learn to drive stick shift after all :( The mission just came out with a new rule that a mission car can only be driven by the missionary pair who is in charge of it. That means no more borrowing the car from the assistants! So my one day of driving around Rome was all that I will get to have.
When we were doing house, an old woman came to the door. I don't think she heard us very well when we introduced ourselves and she told us to hold on a just a minute while she talked to her husband. She came back with a handful of change to give us! I don't know if she thought we were beggars (there are a lot of beggars here) or just collecting money for the church but it was pretty funny!
I have a bad habit of forgetting my umbrella at home on rainy days. And when it rains here, it pours!
One night this week, I kept being woken up by the buzzing of a mosquito. I would wake up and freak out, wave my arms, and throw my sheets over my head. This happened a few times. In the morning, there were a bunch of bloody streaks across my sheets next to my pillow, so I guess I killed them! Wohoo!
Sorella Urban likes to cook and I love to eat.
I am learning about how to have more confidence, more faith that the Lord will help me know what to say in lessons or in talking to people on the bus. I know that my trust in Him affects my confidence and that has a huge role in how well I am able to talk to people and teach them. If I don't worry so much about what to say and think just about what they are saying, it is much easier! And I am much more likely to be guided by the Spirit.
President told me that I will probably stay here in Rome next transfer and Sorella Urban will be transferred out. I will miss her! She is a wonderfully talented missionary. She always seems to know what to say to people (especially when I don't, phew) and is so good at forming relationships with people and letting them know that we care about them and making any situation easy and comfortable. She is diligent and hardworking and extremely charitable. And we have a lot of fun together! I have learned so much from her example of boldness and of taking action. She seems to have no fear! I don't know how Rome will run without her around! Ah!
Today I think we are going to the Bone church with the other sisters. Its a church filled with skeletons. Creepy!