We had zone conference on Thursday in Rome. I am in the same zone as when I was in Rome and we have zone conference in the Rome 2 church. I love being close to and going back to my old area. Zone conferences are always the best in the mission, interviews with president are great and I am so thankful that we have a time to all gather together as missionaries and reinforce each other in our goals and how to accomplish them.
Kind of special moment after President's interviews. He had told me that I was a good missionary and I felt that his approval came directly from Heavenly Father. Of course life isn't always like this, but I felt the perfect balance in the few minutes afterward between contentment and acceptance of where I was at, with also the desire and motivation to improve. I recognized that if I could feel this divine approval more often, or recognize it more clearly, I am more motivated to keep improving than if I feel inadequate all the time. I've been studying about pride and humility recently. I like what President Uchtdorf had to say about it in the last conference.
"Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman."
I am realizing more clearly that you can be humble AND confident at the same time and if we can reach this point, our efforts and success will be multiplied lots and lots!
Doors close and open and close (and open?):
We had an appointment with our investigator we found a few weeks ago, Paola. She is a middle aged Italian woman who walks along the street next to the beach every single day for exercise. We had planned to walk with her to the church and show her where it was, and we were meeting at a certain spot along the beach. While we were waiting for her, we started talking to a Romanian woman named Silvia who was sitting by herself looking out at the ocean. Paola showed up and joined our conversation and started talking to Silvia and it was so entertaining for me to watch but difficult to describe why. Paola was so completely Italian, she talked expressively and incessantly and quickly and complained about her husband and her health. Silvia was so completely Romanian, a lot more quiet, meek, spoke slower and with the rise and fall of the voice tone that only Romanians do when speaking.
Anyways, Paola told us that she couldn't see us anymore because her husband was too controlling and didnt want her to. We were very disappointed. (Door closed) Paolo left and it was just Silvia and us and I was thinking, "well, we planned to take someone to the church and show them around. Might as well be Silvia!" So we invited her to come with us and see where our church was and she did and we were able to teach her some wonderful principles based off the pictures (such as the first vision) hanging up in the hallways! We left her with a Romanian Book of Mormon and the invite to start to read it. (Door open!)
We ran into her a few days later on the street and was very happy to see us, but gave us back the Book of Mormon, saying she didnt want to be baptized for a second time. We didnt even talk about baptism with her, although she had no interest to listen when we tried to explain the concept of priesthood authority. (door closed).
She did tell us though that she was very happy to have met us because she was having a hard day when we started talking to her and we brought joy into her life and she wont forget us. That warmed my heart :)
It is so interesting how our experiences are like this. We see a lot of disappointments here, but then another door opens and we can try again and we keep the faith that there is someone out there who is ready to say yes when we invite them to do things.
We listen to church talks now (we found a collection of them on CDs in the cupboard) during lunch. I LOVE Henry B. Eyring's talk at BYU in 1983 about searching for truth. LOVE it. Also, Neal A Maxwell's talk, The Inexhaustable Gospel.
I offended my first Italian in our gospel principles class on Sunday! We were talking about the Creation and I made a comment about how the world was perfectly created for us to have experiences here and progress and such. A member in the back said "Whoa, I disagree. This world was not created perfectly" and continued to argue about why I was wrong. Haha, good fun. She later got into an argument with the teacher and I was stressed out because there was a potential investigator in the class. I just kept thinking to myself "read a scripture and bear testimony, read a scripture and bear testimony" It was the only way I knew to get them to stop arguing! So I did and it worked... for about 20 seconds until they started arguing again! Bah!
We ate lunch at the Squarcia home after church, this would be my former companion Sorella Urban's aunt and grandma and cousins. It was great, finally all the stories I have heard about "nonna" (grandma) make sense and come together!! I laughed so hard through it as S. Squarcia was yelling at Nonna because she is deaf and Nonna is yelling at us (well, trying to tell us stories about her dog peeing on missionaries and her making missionaries throw up because she fed them too much, but she was speaking really loud!).
We went to Cervetori on Monday to visit a family. Cute little town on the side of a mountain with a view of the ocean and Ladispoli. We did some finding and set up an appointment with a Philipino woman for Saturday! We also visited the Zorzi family (an intense intense single mother with a bunch of inactive kids) and played an FHE acting out the Book of Mormon stories activity. The rebellious 15 year old wasn't too happy to act out stories, much to her mother's dismay, but we kept the peace by inviting her to be our narrator.
Yesterday, we had a second appointment with Maria Anna the old investigator. I am now convinced that she really might be kind of crazy. It is IMPOSSIBLE to teach her, she interrupts us every 20 seconds with a random question or comment. Most of them were random but still religion related. My favorite part was when she interrupted us to tell us that she can't trust men anymore but she loves music. (???) When Sorella Tutt told her she loved music too, she asked her, "Whats your zodiac sign?" Haha, good lessons in patience.
One pretty much amazing thing from that lesson though. She randomly tells us that she has a picture with a leader from our church and runs to grab a box and pulls out this huge photo. It was of President Uchtodorf shaking hands with some people (I guess he came to Rome years ago). The first thing I noticed was President Uchtodorf, the second thing I noticed was my cousin, Rebecca Bishop!!! I started yelling in English, "Thats my cousin, thats my cousin!!" My companion told me to calm down and Maria Anna was really confused. My cousin Rebecca Bishop was one of like 5 people in this picture, two others being our investigator Maria Anna and President Uchtdorf! RANDOM!
Yesterday, I was also separated from my companion for a little bit, ah! We were on the bus and I was on the phone with someone and concentrating really hard to understand what they were saying. My companion was poking me and telling me to get off the bus but I wasn't paying attention because I was so focused on the phone. So she got off the bus and I had no idea. I got off the phone and turned to talk to my companion and she wasn't on the bus anymore!! Ah! I got off at the next stop and we walked to find each other. Phew.
I still love teaching English course. A couple new students came last night. Sorella Tutt taught intermediate so I was left alone to teach basic. Scary! Its hard explaining grammar principles in Italian! Love it though