Good week! Especially Friday, I'll go over what happened on Friday.
First, we went to go visit Elena Nusca, a less active member. We see her for about 20 minutes once a week at her office where she works as a vet. She is a very very bright, nice woman who has a strong testimony of the church, and it is different teaching her than most people that we work with because she understands everything she needs to do but lacks the strength to do it. She is married to someone who is not a member and they have two kids and over the years she has made her family and work a priority over her relationship with God. As she says it, she is just tired by the end of the week on Sunday and would much rather stay at home with her family than come to church. She says it is hard to do without someone to help her along, without the support of her husband. I believe her, it is hard. She also says that when she does go to church, she enjoys it, but she doesn't feel the absence of it in her life when she doesn't go. She said she felt the absence of it more when she first started going but not so much now.
As she told us all this, we didn't really know what to say. She knows she should go but lacks the motivation to do so. Then, ideas started coming to my mind and I went from not having a clue what to tell her to having specific things I felt I should say. I told her about my own story a little bit growing up in Arizona. From age 10 to 15, there were a lot of Sundays where I did not have a direct parental influence waking me up and telling me to go to church. But every Sunday, I still did it. I don't exactly know why, I just felt like it was the right thing to do. And a lot of times I didn't really enjoy church, a lot of times I felt alone and the girls my age said mean things to me, but I still went.
Isn't it interesting how life is that way? There are so many times when we don't get an immediate reward for the right things we do. We don't ALWAYS feel super thrilled to be in church or get the amazing spiritual reinforcement that sometimes comes. But this life is not designed to be that way, we have the bigger picture knowing that this life is a test. We understand that it would be too easy if we got an immediate reward for every good act or an immediate answer to our prayers; it would leave no room for growth and learning!! We couldn't develop the character we need. There would be no test. Instead I believe a lot of what really counts is how we act when the circumstances aren't in our favor, the fact that we still choose what we know is right even if we don't feel like it.
President Eyring told a story once about how he was studying for a physics exam and he knew without a doubt that a certain equation was true, he knew as he studied it that it was right, that it worked. However, he still got a B in the class. What does that teach us? The test isn't in what we know, it is how we use it.
Anyways, with Elena, there are so many people who are silently suffering because of her decision to not come to church. She has two beautiful children who are not being raised in the gospel, a less active mother who says she will come if Elena comes, and many many friends who trust her and with whom she could share the things she knows to be true if only she had the courage. It goes so much further than her decision to not come because its not worth the effort to bring the family to church on a Sunday morning.
She was touched and cried and I really thought she was going to come on Sunday. And she didn't. I don't know what else we can do for her but we will keep trying!
Phew, that was just the morning!
We had a lesson with a funny Buddhist lady we met doing casa. We had a lesson with a wonderful new convert named Erica. Then we went to bring brownies to an old investigator family, Barbara and Angelo and their two children. We were on their street and said hi to some people outside who as soon as we passed started whispering "Mormon missionaries". We turned around and were like, yes, thats us! They were carrying things into their house so we offered to help and they invited us in. Cute cute Peruvian family who used to meet with the missionaries a long time ago and would like to meet with us again! AH!!!
Then we went to visit Barbara and Angelo and they were FANTASTIC. They were so kind and generous and Angelo specifically was interested. Perfect Italian family we can start working with. Family number 2!
Then on Saturday after English course, a few of my students stuck around and asked some questions about what we believed. There is a beautiful Italian family who comes every time, Ilaria and Angelo and their two kids. We gave them a pamphlet and a Book of Mormon and cant want to talk to them again. They were really excited to learn more!!
We also ran around with a giant sign on Saturday morning that said "Corso d'inglese gratuito", free English course and passed out a bunch of fliers. People thought we were funny, we looked pretty ridiculous but it worked!
Another English course student stuck around class on Tuesday and told us that she used to meet with the missionaries and likes the Book of Mormon and feels really good when she reads it. Ah, where are all these great people coming from? This is exactly what a missionary wants to hear!
Lots more happened but I have to go!