Our goal for the entire mission this week is to teach 21 lessons per companionship. The mission averages 5-6 right now. 21 is a very high goal and we can do it!!
We have some set backs this week but we are still on track to accomplish it! Sorella Olsen was sick with the flu earlier and we stayed inside all day, but we taught one lesson over the phone (hymn, scriptures, testimony, prayer, and everything!). Yesterday we taught 4 lessons and tonight we are doing splits with the members and doing another 4. Tomorrow there is a strike for the public transportation, so we will be stuck in Centro Giano (the suburb where we live that is completely separated from the cities and all our of work, ah). But we can still do it! When there are set backs, the Lord is there supporting us in our efforts and He will bless us!
Sorella Olsen got sick on Sunday night and threw up and we stayed at home all day on Monday. Poor thing, she was miserable! It was actually a very productive day for me though, I made a lot of phone calls and caught up with the records of all of our investigators. I feel much more organized and it was a needed blessing to have a day to call lots of people and organize the rest of the week's appointments. She is doing much better now! No more rice soup and frozen washcloths!
Laura is leaving us! As a high school teacher she finished the school year and is moving back in with her family for the summer in Reggio Calabria, which is in southern Italy. Luckily, there is a branch of the church and missionaries and we are preparing her and them for a smooth transition. I imagine she will be baptized in the next few weeks in Reggio Calabria. I wish we could be there but I am so glad we were able to spend this month with her, helping her making the changes in her life that she so desperately wanted. She still needs to understand and gain a strong testimony of the Restoration, but she is committed to going to church every single Sunday and keeping the commandments. It has been a huge lesson in love and patience with her, and often a roller coaster. We have tried to help her find peace by applying the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in her life, especially forgiveness, because she is very bitter and fragile from a lot of ruined relationships in her life and disappointments and fighting with her sister. Sometimes it was frustrating because we would tell her the same things over and over again, about gratitude and being positive and forgiving and changing desires and love, and she couldn't seem to get pass her fixation on how awful the world was and all Italian men and how much she wants to be a famous singer. But then sometimes we would see huge steps of improvement where she was much happier and more positive about the future and where she really seemed to understand what we were telling her. Yesterday we taught her a very direct lesson on forgiveness and the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how He asks us to love our enemies and pray for those who use us (Laura feels very used). One of the members of the church who was there, Fratello Battistini, was very blunt, telling Laura how she needed to pick herself up and keep moving on rather than dwelling on the disappointments of the past and wasting time.
Last night Laura called us to tell us that she had done all the reading assigned to her (we leave her homework that comes from the Young Woman's personal progress book to help her understand her divine nature and individual worth), and how her sister got mad at her and Laura reacted with patience and love and how her sister calmed down. It seems like such a simple concept, but it was a huge step for Laura! We have to remember that she is really just a child in the gospel of Jesus Christ because she has lived her whole life without being taught such simple principles as love and patience and faith and forgiveness. It has strengthened my testimony a lot on how important these basic but profound truths that Jesus taught are, and how when we learn to apply them to our lives we find happiness. I have seen so many people in Italy suffering because in their relationships with other people, they haven't learned how to apply these. I know that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the message that we bear about it truly does bring peace and joy to families. A family that is based on these principles will succeed.
Anyways, watching Laura grow and begin to exercise the principles of faith and optimism and forgiveness in her own life has been a wonderful blessing. There were times when she regressed and it was so frustrating to us because it felt like nothing was getting through to her, but then there were moments like the phone call last night that reminded us that she is making progress and her life is so different now than it was a month ago. It has been so fun watching her make friends in the church and asking "I couldn't come last week, what did I miss?" as if she has been a member of the Church her whole life. I know that she has made tremendous progress in one month and I am learning to exercise patience when its hard to see the progress. It is a lesson for my own life! How often do I get frustrated in the moment because I feel like I am making no progress and am instead regressing, when really I am just forgetting to look at the big picture and see how far I have come from the beginning. We even may take a few steps back, but it doesn't mean we should give up!
Everyone has their own journey through life, Laura, me, other missionaries, and we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. It doesn't matter if my weaknesses seem to be ridiculous (to me) and not a problem to anyone else, what matters is that I am improving and changing (even if it seems really slow!). Its important what the Lord thinks of me and my progress! Keep in mind the big picture and the eternal prospective!
Lots of good things going on in Ostia! I love this place!
Love you lots!