Hello dear family!
Do you remember last week how we found "baptism street", the street where we talked to everyone on it and in 45 minutes, 7 people gave us their contact information?? This week we have been meeting with some of the contacts from baptism street! It's such a blessing too because they all live really close to each other- we can set one appointment right after the other and just walk down the street. What a change from the usual Rome traveling where it takes an hour or more to get from one appointment to the next. Instead we found this little niche in our prostelyting zone, a little town called Vitinia where you can walk from one side to the other in 20 minutes, that seems to be full of people who are willing to meet up. And where we find gold, we keep digging! We are going to continue to concentrate our efforts in Vitinia.
Vitinia success story number 1:
One of the people we met in the miracle 45 minutes was an Albanian man named Pietro. We stopped and talked to him, but he spoke very little Italian. We explained to him briefly the Book of Mormon and told him that we have a copy in Albanian, could we bring it to his house? He said yes and left us his address. Now, in the past I haven't had great experiences with Albanian men and I will admit that I was a little skeptical. I figured that he didn't speak Italian very well, and didn't really understand what we were saying or have much interest, but invited us over because we were two young American girls.
We decided to pass by anyways a few days later and walked down the steps of the address he gave us to find a kind of junky yard and a basement apartment. Sorella Dall and I were a little unsure if we wanted to keep going or turn back but we swallowed hard and walked around the corner to find an open door. Hmm, now what to do? We called inside "Permesso?" and an Albanian woman popped out from behind the corner.
"We are looking for Pietro"
"He's not here right now," and she asked us "Who are you?" We explained how we were missionaries and met Pietro the other day on the street and he agreed to let us bring him a book. She looked at us a little waryingly but muttered under her breath "Pietro does like to read". We talked to her for a few minutes at the door and discovered that she was Pietro's wife (sigh of relief, he has a wife!), but during our conversation, we were literally hopping up and down, swatting at our legs because the doorway was covered with mosquitoes. Finally we asked if we could come in and get away from the mosquitoes and she surprisingly said yes! She let us in and we quickly discovered that their house was like one giant shrine to everything Catholic. All the walls were covered in the pictures of Padre Pio, other saints, the Pope, crosses, figurines adorning all the dressers, a giant statue of a bleeding Madonna, and even holy water at the door (the wife blessed us with the holy water!). Pietro's wife (Veronica) warmed up to us a lot and introduced us to one of their children, a daughter our age who was incredibly nice. She teaches catechismo (the class for all the Catholic kids before their first communion). After getting to know us a little bit and deciding we were harmless- I think Sorella Dall's broken Italian and sweetness soften anyone- Veronica agreed to let us come back and share our message.
We went back on Monday night to find Pietro waiting for us at the table, Albanian Restoration pamphlet in front of him. He had read the whole thing and was very curious. Even though he didnt speak much Italian, with the help of Veronica we explained very simply the whole Restoration. He listened intently and asked a few questions, and at the end told us he would immediately start to read the Book of Mormon. It was a simple lesson but I was amazed at the Spirit that was there. I know he will read the Book of Mormon, and we are praying that his heart will be touched. What a difference from our first impression of Pietro to our powerfully spiritual experience teaching him of the restoration. It turns out that Pietro was a deeply religious, well-read man with a beautiful family. We finished our lesson and I didn't even want to leave their house, there was such a special spirit there.
Vitinia success story number 2:
Silvia! I can't remember if I talked about her, but she is an older woman with health problems that loves meeting with us. She almost almost came to church on Sunday, came out of her house to tell the members that were there to give her a ride that she wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it. She felt so bad though that she sent us a text message apologizing and called us after church. We need to help her get hooked on the Book of Mormon though!
Several other people from Vitinia as well that are looking great!
Other randomness from this week:
I gave a talk in church about the value of the scriptures. I don't know why I still get so nervous speaking in front of other people and how to get over it! The talk stressed me out the entire week and I though about it a lot and prepared well. But I decided to bring to the stand with me just a list of bullet points to go over. Somehow I managed to do it and I think it turned out okay! Now I know that if I can give sacrament meeting talks in Italian with only bullet points instead of all written out, I can certainly do it in English! We used the fact that I was giving a talk as an excuse to make Luca stay for all three hours in our church rather than escaping to his baptist church the last hour :)
Luca is doing about the same. Sorella Dall and I determined we just need to help him feel the Spirit and the way that we can do this is to jump start him reading the Book of Mormon. He has commented several times how strange and different our church is with our whole idea of the Restoration and other scriptures, but has said, "I guess I just need to read the Book of Mormon to understand a little more". Yes! But we tell him that every time we see him and he still isn't doing it. How are we going to help him? A reading calendar!
We came up with a new idea: when we are doing house, we are going to offer to sing a hymn for them! It worked once beautifully since we started trying it. Also, when we go home at night, we started singing I am a Child of God to the lone person working at the train station. It always makes them smile and we hope that more than that, they feel the Spirit.
We had zone conference this week and they gave each companionship a DVD player!! AHH!!! There is a set of missionary training DVDs called The District 2. A year or two ago, they had a camera crew follow around a real district of missionaries in San Diego and now they use the clips for training us how to teach better. But it is so wonderful having a DVD player that every night Sorella Dall and I get home and after nightly planning, we "treat" ourselves to 10 or 15 minutes of The District 2. Haha, its the best!
This week I have been thinking about the power of specific prayers again. I know that when I have very specific prayers, I get very specific answers and then my faith in Heavenly Father grows and I feel more love and gratitude towards him. It really is a remarkable concept and my testimony of prayer has increased tremendously. Try it! Pray out loud and pray very specifically! Counsel with God! Tell him about your desires and how you think you could reach them with His help! Or, if you are like me, you can also pray that your desires will change and become more righteous. Slowly slowly, they will, and your heart will become more converted to Him.