Thursday, June 16, 2011

Zone Conference

We had zone conference yesterday and it was incredible! It was a special zone conference because a general authority, Elder Texiera, came and trained us. I actually knew Elder Texiera's son at BYU, he lived in the Portuguese housing while I was in the Italian housing (they are Portuguese) and I still remember specifically a moving testimony that Miguel (his son) bore in church on seeing the authority of his father's call.

Elder Texiera gave an incredibly powerful training. He used some examples within his family and missionaries that he saw when he was a mission president to illustrate the miracles that can take place, and we all felt the witness of the Spirit that it is possible within our mission with each of us. He talked about his son and how he was called to the New York New York South mission (Emily Ball, I am thinking of you!) and how Elder Texiera worked in the missionary department at the time. He checked on the stats of the New York New York South mission and was disappointed to see that they were teaching an average of 5-6 lessons a week. He gave a long speech to his son before he left on his mission and made him promise to do one thing. Elder Texiera made his son promise to him that the very first week in the mission, he would teach 21 lessons. His son made the promise and as soon as he arrived to his new apartment with his trainer, he told his trainer about this promise to his father and asked for his help to accomplish it. His first city was Staten Island, one of the deadest areas of the mission for baptisms, but his trainer agreed to help him fulfill the promise to his dad, and the two of them immediately sat down and got to work planning how they could accomplish it. They ditched the car and instead took the ferry back and forth from the island and talked to literally 100s of people each day. A few weeks later they had 12 investigators come to church and several of these people were baptized.

He talked about his other son (Miguel!) who served a mission in Japan. During his mission, he didn't write much home to his family, but he saw an enormous amount of success, baptizing much more than the average. After Miguel got home, Elder Texiera pulled him aside and asked him, "I want to know, what was your secret? How did you find so much success?" Miguel, with tears in his eyes, responded, "I had plenty of weaknesses as a missonary, but the thing I did was that I learned to talk to everyone around me, all of the time." And he saw great success.

Elder Texiera talked about much more, about how to ask for referrals from our investigators, about how to set up multiple appointments, about how to have the faith to find. I was deeply touched and inspired. I am so grateful that I heard this from him at this time in my mission, it was absolutely perfect. I could choose to feel bad about my lack of talking to everyone around me up until this point, about implementing the things Elder Texiera asked of us and seeing immense changes in the work. I could choose to regret my year of not being as productive as I could have been. Or I can choose to look forward with faith and hope in the future, and be extremely grateful for the knowledge and the faith that I now have to see great success. Because I know without a doubt that if we are able to maintain the vision that Elder Texiera gave us, we will see great success. I have absolute faith in this, the only area in which my faith might waver is whether or not I am capable of keeping this desire with me to talk to everyone everywhere all of the time.
Elder Texiera asked us to leave immediately after the conference and return to our respective areas and talk to people along the way rather than stay around and socialize. Sorella Olsen and I did just that and from last night until this morning, we have talked to dozens of people, received 7 phone numbers, and gave away 5 Books of Mormons. It truly has been incredible.

Now the question is whether we can maintain this. Will we have the faith to keep talking to people with this momentum? I usually can sustain a good goal for a little while, and then its natural that we forget that initial desire and our effort drops off. But what will we need to do to sustain it? I know it will take a huge amount of faith and effort and prayer. But if we truly desire baptisms, if we truly desire to bring people to Christ and want it more than anything else, we can sustain it. I think this is one of the many many lessons I am learning in Italy; how to keep the faith and diligence long after the initial prompting is gone. Because that is how we reap any kind of benefit in life, whether it is spiritual or temporal. We desire it and we work for it even when the "natural man" starts to taper off and not care as much. We are called to overcome that. And something that Elder Texiera said that has hit home with me, "You are not called to Italy Rome at this time to comply with the status quo". Break out of mindsets and traditions, do what is right and what the Lord knows we are capable of and we will be able to see miracles. How difficult it is to set our standards according to the Lord rather than against other people, but that is exactly what we are learning to do.

I am so excited! I am going to be exhausted next week from all the talking to people that we will be doing this week. I'll let you know how it goes!

Laura's baptismal date is set back because she didnt come to church.
Awesome new investigator named Adriano and he is probably thirty and brilliant. He sees the goodness of the church and is friends with the members but still has to work through all the details before he commits to anything and changes his life. I love working with him, he reminds me of myself and I understand him and his concerns really well! He is searching for the truth.

Maria Grazia, the ex wife of Carlo the member, came to church with her two kids!

Language study at the Spanish Steps this week :)

Funny story. Yesterday morning right after we had gotten on the train to go to the special zone conference with Elder Texiera, I looked down and realized I had forgotten my tag! The only time I have forgotten my tag this transfer! It was too late to go back and get it, so we called the other sisters in Rome and Sorella Jones brought me an extra tag of hers. We stood in line to shake Elder Texiera's hand and I was right behind Sorella Jones. When he got to me, he commented, "Wow, there are two Sister Jones's!" Haha..... nervous giggle. Did I just lie to a general authority??

Love you!
Sorella Askew

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