Wednesday, December 29, 2010
We don't have too much time today because we need to run off to some appointments soon in Prima Porta.
Christmas was great! On Christmas Eve we had lunch at the Villa (the mission home) with the other missionaries serving in Rome and the office couples and President and his wife. They fed us a wonderful dinner and we had a white elephant gift exchange and a small Christmas program. It was pouring rain and so when we all arrived, we were soaking wet! Luckily, Sorella Kelly gave us slippers to wear while our shoes dried. It was a wonderfully yummy dinner. Afterward, on Christmas Eve night, we went metro caroling with the sisters from Ladispoli. We hopped on a metro and sang Christmas songs to the people, it was great fun! Then we skyped home to our families and went home.
We didn't have any invitations from the members for Christmas so Sorella Pickett, Sorella Zeller, and I put together our own Christmas! We were able to sleep in (I was the last one to wake up at 10:00. Wow, it felt great) and we made french toast and then opened up our presents around our Christmas tree and listened to Christmas music. Then we went ice skating and to play Frisbee and football with the elders in our district and two members from the Philipines, Anthony and Louisa. Then afterward, we rented the Karate Kid to watch but we weren't quite sure where we were going to watch it. We stopped by the Crawfords (an office couple who live just up the street from us) to sing them a Christmas song and found all the office couples there, and they had just finished having Christmas lunch together. They invited us in for leftovers and told us we could watch the movie on their TV. It was perfect! Then we went home and read Christmas stories together, ate chocolate, and acted out the nativity story from Luke 2.
Other highlights from the week....
We have a new investigator! Her name is Veronica, she is 14, and her family is friends with our bishop and he invited them to the ward Christmas party. She is not sure what she believes right now but we have already met with her twice and is very open to trying the experiment of Alma 32, to plant the seed of faith and see it grow. We plan on meeting with her three times a week and hopefully get her family involved as well!
On Sunday we went to Beth's (a member from the Philippines) house and when we showed up, there was another woman and her daughter there. They told us that they were investigators in the Philippines and were really interested in learning more about the church and maybe being baptized and they really wanted us to teach them and come to their house. I was thrilled!!! A whole family that wants to learn about the gospel! We taught about the Restoration for about 30 minutes and it was going really well until finally she tells us, "I am just kidding! I am actually a member who just moved to Rome." HA! Mean joke!
We have a new finding activity that we've been doing the last few days and I am really excited about it. We bring our gospel art book and play a game with people on the bus. The game is "guess the prophet" and we flip to pictures of Moses and Noah and Daniel and Jonah and they have to guess which prophet it is (the animals and the ark, or the 10 commandments, or the lions, or the whale usually help). Then, we flip to a picture of Joseph Smith and they are like "Uh,,, I have no idea" and then we explain to them who Joseph Smith was. Good fun! It works well with some people who would never listen otherwise, it's a nice ice breaker, and its entertaining!
This Christmas season was special because I have been reading Jesus the Christ this transfer. I get on to "study kicks". I realize that I am not very good at studying if I have more than one goal at a time or if I try to spread out my studying. Its a lot easier if I just make one goal and focus on that for a transfer. Last transfer I read the Book of Mormon, this transfer its Jesus the Christ. The next transfer I am going to read through Preach my Gospel. Anyways, one thing that has really stuck out to me is how relatively few people in the world knew of the Savior and how many people rejected Him because He didn't come in great glory or in the way that they expected. I thought about how much this parallels the Church today, it is relatively small but growing and how interesting it is that many people reject it because its not exactly what they expected it to be. Big lesson in that God's ways are always higher than our own!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Christmas is in 3 days and we are excited!! So far, no appointments lined up for Christmas Eve or Christmas (our members are a little disconnected from the missionaries and most of them live really far away which will be impossible to get there on Christmas), but we have a couple of things going on! First, Sorella Zeller from Rome 3 will be joining us today through Monday so we will get to spend Christmas together in three. That will make it fun! Then, on Christmas Eve we are calling home to our families and having Christmas lunch at the mission home with the other missionaries serving in Rome. Hopefully we will also go caroling that day. On Christmas, we have permission to sleep in (wohoo!) and watch a movie. We arent quite sure what the guidelines are for that, what movie it will be, or where we are going to watch this movie, but it will be awesome.
Good week here in Rome!
On Saturday, we went to the Romanian 7th day Adventist church with our Evangelical friends Ramona and Yonika to watch Ramona play the organ for their Christmas choir concert. Then, we took them and a whole bunch of their friends (like 5 other people) to our ward Christmas party! The contrast was hilarious. The Evangelicals have this huge beautiful church and the choir was beautiful and dressed formally and sang like angels. Then our church isn't really a church, its a building that we rent out, and the party included a small Christmas program at the beginning that was just chaos, it was ridiculously loud and it included this funky disorganized dance by the teenagers all wearing Santa hats and the choir was just a last minute mix of women from the relief society. I loved it!!! I was a little stressed at first that it was so ridiculously loud and disorganized, but I think they liked it too :)
We also had Carolina and Alessandra come (other investigators) and lots of inactives and several members brought friends. It was a blast! There is so much love in this ward, I will really miss it when I leave Rome.
I've been giving away stacks of Christmas pass along cards this week, I make it a game to pass all of them out before Christmas. Its funny seeing people's reactions. They can call the card and get a free Christmas DVD, I hope that of all the cards we give away, at least one person will call! At least it helps people recognize us as a church and the Spirit we try to bring. One of my favorites was a woman we offered the card to and she said, "are you a testimoni di geova (Jehovahs Witness)?" "Nope." "Okay, then I'll accept it." I really like the Jehovah's Witnesses that we meet, they are very nice, but I never realized how difficult they make our mission here in Italy. Because they have been around for so long and a lot of people are really sick of them and don't like them, we have to fight to get away from the image of being a JW. There are a lot of people that think we are JWs and dont give us a chance to explain differently. Phew, its tough work, but we are trying!
We did a lot of finding work this week because a lot of people are busy this time of year. One night we were waiting at a bus stop and there was one other man there. I convinced Sorella Pickett that we should sing a Christmas song to him. She didn't want to because she thought it was really awkward, but I asked him if we could sing and she was stuck :) It was hilarious, he loved it!
We talked to one great girl this week on the bus, Tange, a student at the university here. She was really open to us and said we could meet again in January after the holidays and her exams were over.
Merry Christmas! I am trying to remember Christ more than I have before this season. I am so grateful for his sacrifice of mercy, that He understands every pain and sickness we experience and helps us through it all. Thanks to Him we have hope for the future!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
It is starting to feel like Christmas here in Rome! We drink lots of hot chocolate and everyone put up their lights (there is an official "put up your Christmas decorations" day here in Italy) and its cold enough to snow!
Highlights from the week:
Number one highlight would be the service we did yesterday. One of the families here lives about an hour outside the city and owns some land in the countryside, including an olive grove of 300 olive trees. We spent the morning harvesting olives from the trees, and it was one of the coolest things I have ever done. It was a beautiful cold, clear morning and the countryside outside of Rome is gorgeous. It was a wonderful break to be outside the city and the difference between the city and the country was more profound to me yesterday than it has ever been before. I now understand why people like to escape to the country and relax. PHEW, it was relaxing! They had these big green nets that would stretch out under two trees at a time and these small hand rakes that we could use to rake the branches of their olives. It takes quite a while to get all the olives off one tree and once we finish, we gather up the nets and dump the olives in a bucket and move to the next set of trees. The family would then take the olives t to the community olive press to make olive oil. WOW.
We had a wonderful Family Home Evening with a new convert family from Bolivia. We acted out 1 Nephi 16 with Nephi breaking his bow and them finding the Liahona. When we showed up, the mom said, "I need to run an errand, I will be right back" and we thought, "sure, that's fine!". We waited for an hour and a half for her to return!!!! She decided to go grocery shopping for the week. What??
A great lesson with Yolanda and the Tempesta family about Enos.
Elder Causse, a general authority, toured the mission this week and our zone conference for the transfer was centered on him and his training to us. Incredible! He talked about lots of great things, about approaching people on the street, planning every night to find people (first we choose who we want to find and then decide where we want to find them. For example, we decide that we want to find a young Italian university student and then we decide where we could find her, how, and what we could say to her. Its so important to remember that these are people, people who the Lord has in mind for us to find, we just have to have the faith that He will help us find them if we do our part), teaching the first lesson (talking about baptism from the very beginning of teaching someone), and preparing someone for baptism.
It was pretty funny, Elder Causee would call on random missionaries to come up and role play with him and if they weren't doing it right he would say, "stop, start over" and sometimes had to repeat this a bunch of times. Intimidating!
We have these great Christmas pass along cards that we are using to talk to people. I love it! Its still awkward but that's part of being a missionary!
I've been thinking about the process of conversion and how our testimony of the Savior is a precious thing and for some of us, it is not gained easily. Just like Joseph Smith said, the mysteries of God (or knowledge or testimony of any form) come through time, experience, and deep ponderous thinking. We need to be patient as our understanding and appreciating for the Savior grows slowly over time!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
My new companion is Sorella Pickett from Eugene, Oregon. She is starting her 8th transfer and has spent her whole mission in Sicily, so Rome is a big change! She is great, she is sweet and bright and will be a great companion.
This is my first time teaching a city to someone else in the mission and it has been a crazy week! I was surprised at how stressed out I felt, knowing that the weight of everyone we have been working with was now on me because Sorella Pickett doesnt know anyone. And there are a lot of investigators, members, and less actives to keep track of! Anyways, I felt an enormous amount of responsibility for them and went from making some phone calls every once in a while to making all the phone calls and making all the plans for what we would do each day. Phew! With this change, I have also seen that I have been blessed with a greater capacity to fulfill my responsibility. I am able to make all these phone calls in Italian, I am able to (for the most part) keep track of everyone and what we need to do for them, I am able to keep a conversation going and direct a lesson and lead us around this giant city of Rome (our area covers a large part and we travel sometimes 2 hours to visit people). I am particularly grateful for the example of my last companion who showed me to gain the trust of the people, even though I could never do it as well as she can!
Fun things from this week. We had a bunch of investigators in church on Sunday, including three hard-core evangelists, Ramona, Yonika, and Franca. It was probably the highlight of my week and one of the more hilarious parts of my mission. We met them on the street three months ago and they invited us to one of their baptisms and then came with us to a stake activity but have been really busy in the last few months. But anyways, they all came to church on Sunday, and they are all way intense and way into it! Our Relief Society lesson was on the gifts of the Spirit and Franca turns to me in the middle of the lesson and asks me, "What gift do you have?" Uh.... I dont know? She told me it was very important to recognize my gifts. At the beginning of Sacrament Meeting, Ramona and Franca were arguing (both very opinionated people) and in the middle of it, Franca turned to me and asked, "Well, what do you think? Is salvation a personal thing or not?" Uh....
In Sunday school, they started arguing with one of the members, haha, but it turned out okay. Overall, everyone was really nice to them and introduced themselves, which is a tremendous help to missionaries. I LOVE Rome 2 for that reason, we have some spectacular members in this ward and it makes missionary work a thousand times easier when we have the support of our members. I can't imagine leaving Rome and bringing investigators to church where people arent as friendly. I am lucky to be here! Anyways, I felt giddy having my three evangelical friends in church with me. Franca and I talked for a little while after, she is just great. She may be opinionated but these three don't come to argue, they come out of geniune curiosity and they are wonderfully nice to me and my companion. They all claim to be busy again but said they will come to the ward Christmas party!
Other good moments with meeting with the ward mission leader and his wife and talking about missionary work. They are incredibly bright and talented people, wow. If only I could live up to all they expect from us!
We brought the entire Duran (member family) family to the Cruz's (part member family) house and it went so well! I think they are a great example to Carlos and will hopefully help him more than we can in his journey to building a testimony.
We have also had good luck contacting people on buses and trains this week, we have meet some wonderful potentials. May still be my favorite part of missionary work!
Today for P-day we toured the Colosseum, the Palatine hill and the Roman forum (a huge area of ancient Roman ruins), and the Vittorio Emmanuele building. Lots of walking!