Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Transfer to Ladispoli!

I am being transferred! Tomorrow morning I am headed to Ladispoli, a little town near Rome on the coast. Sorella Tutt (my MTC companion) will be my companion and we are being blown into the city, which means neither of us have served there before. Only sisters serve there and there is a branch of about 70 active members. It will be a big change, as so far I have always served in bigger cities with really big wards. And I will still get the benefits of visiting Rome for P-day! Ah! Lucky me!
We've been preparing the last few days for Sorella Pickett to take over Rome 2. Its a large area that Rome 2 covers and it can be sometimes tricky keeping track of all the buses, trains, and metros needed to get places. Also, there are lots of members, less actives, investigators, contacts and past investigators to keep track off. She has learned quickly though and knows almost as much as I do after three transfers. We are especially preparing because S. Pickett will be training, so she will have a lot of responsibility! I know she will do great!

Veronica update; We went to visit her last week on Wednesday and taught a fun lesson on authority and apostasy and the Restoration using our cup pyramid game. I felt really good about it until at the very end, we asked her if she had any questions.
She said, "Um, I just want to tell you one thing. I decided to go back to the Catholic church and stop seeing you two"
WHAT. That came as a shocker. I didnt know what to say. Luckily, S. Pickett chimed in with "Thats okay, thanks for every thing. It was great getting to know you."
In that moment I was torn. I have been taught to try my hardest to keep investigators, to do the best we can to work out concerns rather than just giving up. I want to pry more into it and figure out how she reached that decision. Part of me want to beg her to not let go just yet, to keep meeting with us and praying about it and searching for truth. And as soon as Sorella Pickett spoke, I felt part of me saying "No, no, dont let her go so easily!!". But I too simply thanked her for being willing to meet with us and accepted that she was done. We gave her and her family the invite to continue to read the Book of Mormon and come to church and left.
I felt okay about it afterward, I think it was the right thing to do. We wonder how much of an influence her mom was in this decision, as it sounded rehearsed and her mom is very Catholic. But at least they are good family friends with Bishop Celestini and his family, so if in the future they feel ready to listen again, they have a constant connection to the church.
This is something I've wondered a lot about on my mission. I wonder for everyone at one point we keep trying and pushing people to keep commitments and fighting to get appointments when they just seem to busy or not super interested and at what point we just let them go and accept that it is not their time. I know that we should be using our time most effectively and if someone isnt progressing, we should move on to find someone who is more interested. But its a little different actually putting this into practice. Perhaps especially here, where investigators are difficult to find. We can talk to people on the streets, on buses, on trains, at their front door for hours and days and try all sorts of different approaches, but it simply is difficult to find anyone who sincerely would like to listen to our message of peace and joy. I think I am relatively tough (haha, or atleast pretend to be!) when it comes to facing rejection. But it does begin to wear on you after a while.
Anyways, to have a investigator who is making progress and is sincerely interested has been difficult to come by in my experience so far. So even with the people who are willing to meet with us but are not super-motivated to keep commitments, I dont want to let them go! I've worked with several people here in Rome where we have tried for months to help them progress and have spiritual experiences and begin the process of wonderful change that I know the gospel brings but that I have yet to see in the lives of anyone I have worked with. And we have finally let them go, probably to their own relief! Haha.

I know there are lots and lots of people out there who are ready to let the gospel of Jesus Christ change them. Even if it is only by pure probability, I know they exist here in Rome because it is an awfully big city! But for some reason (okay, maybe for our own personal growth), the Lord lets us struggle to find them :) Managgia! I also know there is a lot more that I could do on my part. I try every day to talk to people, to do the right things to find them, to seek inspiration on which members to work with. BUT, there is always more that I can do. Perhaps when I get to the point when I am doing enough, when I truly make this great work my passion and my heart's desire, maybe THEN I will be able to see the miracle of change in a person's life.

Sometimes its hard too because I know that other missionaries in other cities in the mission and even missionaries in this city are having a lot more success with finding investigators and baptizing than I have found so far. I think the Lord is too busy working out some of my rough spots though, haha. That will take a lot longer than a year and a half to work out, so I hope I get a little bit of mercy from Him!

One of the things I am working on is faith. Remembering the experiences of the past and having the faith to move forward. Faith is a principle that underlines absolutely EVERYTHING that we do. Time for me to actively choose it a little more often.

Other random happenings of the week:
We were walking with a member Angelo Protopapa through a parking lot on Thursday night and the parking bar that lets cars in and out came down right on his head. It may have been the most hilarious thing I have ever seen. He jumped forward and rubbed his head and looked up in surprise. I couldnt stop laughing for days.

Sweetness of Italians. They have a tough exterior sometimes but are extremely generous and kind.
I show up to church on Sunday, I did my hair and tried to look nice and brought my camera to take pictures with members before I leave. We show up a little early and one older woman pulls us aside and asked for my shoe size. I tell her 40 and she pulls out a box of shoes and tells me to try them on. They are black high heeled tennis shoes. Now, Italians are usually very fashionable people but there are a few things that they dont have quite right. High-heeled tennis shoes are one of them. For S. Pickett and I, it is our least favorite fashion style we've seen here. And this older Italian member gave me a pair. To make it even better, she told me to take off my boots and give them to her and she was going to try to get a thicker sole put on them (So kind!!!), which left me with green knee high socks and my black high heeled tennis shoes to wear for my last Sunday in church and all my pictures. Haha! It was so extremely kind of her though, I have never even talked to her before but as she said "it was for the work of the Lord".

We met one university student this week who thought we wore only long skirts and long hair and bonnets. We tried to convince her otherwise (our appearance didnt help) and by the end of it she said "Now I dont hate you anymore!" Wohoo, good progress made!

Love you all!!

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