Thursday, March 3, 2011
I am happy to be in Ladispoli!
Thursday: stuck in Rome! It was transfer day and we made a trip to the mission office in Rome to get more supplies. I ran into Sorella Riffaldi (my Italian companion several transfers back) and she told me that my Italian has improved (yay! sometimes I wonder). We were stuck at the train station for hours trying to get home because there was some kind of accident and all the trains were delayed. We ate pretty much all of the candy from Bethany's valentine day package (thanks!)
Lately we have been doing some more finding on bus with a survey. We ask someone if we can do a survey with them and then ask three questions.
1. Do you believe in God?
2. What are your feelings towards Jesus Christ?
3. What do you think the purpose of life is?
Works great! About half the people are willing to do the survey with us and its a great religious conversation starter.
We got on a bus Friday evening and there were three people on the bus. Three teenage Italian boys sitting in the back of the bus, all with headphones in and all of them kind of looked like punks. With the help of Sorella Tutt, I got the courage to start the prophet game with them and it was wonderful!!! They all took out their headphones and participated in guessing who the prophets were in pictures. Afterwards, they were curious about who we were and what we believed so we explained it. They were great! I was glad that I found the courage to talk to them, although sometimes we have to be careful because three punk teenagers will just mock us instead of listening. It shows that you really can't judge though and you have to give everyone a chance.
Miracles in English course this week, I feel so grateful. On Saturday, there were over 15 students who showed up to my beginning English class (intimidating because I don't really know how to teach English and especially when I have to teach it in a different language!). But somehow I am getting lots of help because I always manage to make it through the hour and it is pretty fun!
For the spiritual thought at the end, we planned to talk about the Restoration. So, I put up a picture of Joseph Smith on the board and explained what happened to him and briefly touched on the Book of Mormon. Once again, intimidating to teach to a room full of Catholics about the Restoration and about how there was no true church on the earth. Especially humbling because I have really grown to love my English students, they are so beloved and I try to approach the gospel with them carefully. Anyways, I bore my testimony to them and afterwards there were a bunch of people that stayed around and asked questions! It was amazing, they really were open and curious, and I was running around grabbing Books of Mormon and pamphlets and trying to answer questions. Its the good kind of stress, the stress we love having as missionaries!
So that means that now, there are at least ten of my students who have stuck around and asked questions and have "borrowed" a copy of the Book of Mormon or have pamphlets. That is HUGE!!!! I am so grateful for this success and pray fervently that good things will continue to come of it. I am so convinced of the power of the Book of Mormon, that as soon as someone has a borrowed copy (I highlight favorite verses and the beautiful promise of knowing its truth and I write my testimony and tab all this in different copies to make it personal and more readable), I feel a big stress relief. If they are ready and if they are sincere and have real intent, the Book will do the converting.
There is a phrase in Italian "rompere le scatole" and it literally means "breaking boxes". They use it all the time here to mean when you go into a situation and you stir the pot, or when you tell someone just what they need to hear without sugarcoating it.
On Sunday, in church, I broke some boxes. We have been announcing for a while about the need for members to come to English course. The members ideally should be the connection between the English course students and us, they should be the ones who come and help people who have interest transition into learning more about the restored gospel. But we rarely have members who show up and Saturday was an example of that. There were too many people who wanted to know more that we didn't have time to talk to everyone before they left, we can't do it without the help of the members.
So on Sunday we made an announcement again in Relief Society and in Priesthood and talked about the miracles that were happening in English class but how there are still no members who come. We were pretty straightforward about it. Afterwards, one of the members thanked us and said "it was clear and precise and what we needed to hear". Tuesday, however, no members showed up for English course.
I am growing to love Ladispoli and my desire to help make this branch become a ward and to bring the gospel to people is growing. The members are wonderful and many of them are trying to share the gospel as well. But I don't know how to make them care even more. I don't know yet how to help them pray as hard as we are praying for miracles to occur.
There is a lot of opposition here. We haven't seen Giovanni since we set the baptismal date with him. He is in the process of moving and VERY busy. He isn't going to be ready in 2.5 weeks for his baptism unless something changes right now.
We met with another old investigator, Carmela. She is wonderful, such a strong faith in God and so sensitive to the Spirit. But she told us that she doesn't want to change religions. She is facing a lot of confusion and doesn't have the strength to commit herself to find out whats true. She thinks that this might be it, at least she recognizes that it is something very good, but she sees goodness in other churches as well and other people who claim to have truth and it scares her. It rightfully should, she should be cautious, she should take it seriously. But as she admits, she lacks the strong desire at this point to really commit herself to study and pray.
Lots of opposition but I am becoming more and more convinced that miracles can happen.
And the power of prayer is becoming more real to me!
Random funny story. Some guy was trying to flirt with me yesterday and I wasnt in the right mood to deal with him so I instead pretended to not speak Italian. Sorella Tutt came to the back of the bus (she was only like 10 feet away but not apart of the conversation at first) and ended up teaching him all about the Restoration and left him with a Book of Mormon. He seemed really interested but I am not convinced of his sincerity, haha. I just sat there listening and laughing inside because I couldn't participate.