It's warm but we are drinking lots of water (and eating lots of fruit too, don't worry Mom!)!
We have been doing a lot of finding this week because most of the people we teach or want to start teaching are on vacation or too busy right now. I think I have heard probably 37 times in the last few weeks, the phrase, "Call me in September". Good news, September is just around the corner! We are pushing through it though and the great thing is that I love when we have set aside time to do finding work.
We've seen some good results and are following up on some of the potentials.
Remember the Catholic priest, don Serafino? As we went into Rome for our district meeting I told Sorella Dall about how we once went to go teach this Catholic priest in his church, close to where we have district meeting every Monday. Her eyes got all big and I asked her if she would like to go back and follow up to see if he has started reading the Book of Mormon. "Absolutely!" she said and we gave him a phone call and stopped by. He has not started reading the Book of Mormon yet (he says he is too busy right now) but Sorella Dall bore a beautiful testimony to him and we agreed to come back next week and talk more. I told her to bear her testimony on the apostasy and restoration ("I know that this is the only church with the authority of the priesthood, etc) but luckily Sorella Dall didn't listen and she stuck to the more tactful testimony of the Savior and the Book of Mormon and the peace it brings into her life. Don Serafino is now officially an investigator! Does he know that? Haha, I think not.
We are teaching a new woman named Silvia who was a result of our awesome baptism street finding experience on Saturday (see audio recording). She has been going to different churches for her whole life but has never been to ours. She is currently meeting with the Jehovah's Witnesses (we can't get away from them!) and is impressed with them because they seem to really live their religion rather than simply professing it in church. I think she will like our church as well then! Although we had kind of an interesting church experience last week with Angela's husband Angelo. Angelo is the not-religious Italian husband of the new convert Angela, and he has been coming to church every week with Angela. Elder Larcher told us about how in priesthood the other week the bishop asked for volunteers to help someone move and no one raised their hand. "Monday?" no one. "Tuesday?" no one. "Wednesday, Thursday, Friday?" no one. Angelo spoke up and said, "this is ridiculous. I smoke weed, I don't go to church, but if someone needs my help, I am there instantly to help them." Now, I personally know these members really well. I know that they are charitable, wonderful people who are willing to sacrifice for others, and that they really were probably very busy that week. And I also have gotten to know Angelo pretty well, and I know that he has had a hard life and avoids the sister missionaries when we come over, but I know he has a heart of gold. It was a striking example to me of how we have to be careful not tto judge others, whether Angelo judging them, or the members judging Angelo.
The best part of this week by far has been working with Luca, the 26 year old Romanian baptist who is coming to church and meeting with us, but full of skepticism. We have been praying and studying hard for him this week and on Monday night had a very spiritual experience. After a family home evening with him and some members (singing spiced up hymns with the guitar!), we sat down with Luca on a bench at the train station and talked for almost two hours. He really opened up and told us everything about his life, his doubts, his feelings of inadequacy, his concern of not being converted or a real Christian. He described to us how he grew up Baptist but always felt like a hypocrite because he would always go to church and participate in the choir but never was converted in his heart. And then he quoted from the quote written in our pamphlet on the Restoration. There would be a famine in the land, not a famine for bread or water, but a famine for the word of God. He described how in the last year, he has felt this famine in his own life personally for the word of God. His desire keeps growing but the emptiness cannot seem to be filled.
We know that at least part of the reason that he feels this emptiness is because he was being prepared to meet us. It is so difficult for me to describe how clearly I know that the gospel truths we have will fill up this emptiness he feels. I know that. Sorella Dall knows that. Luca doesn't yet believe that what we offer will help. But to hear him express how much he wants to know God and how his church cant seem to fill this emptiness was glorious and frustrating at the same time. Glorious because we have the solution. Frustrating because we cant give it all to him at once, he must begin to pray sincerely and search the scriptures and find out for himself how the restored gospel is the answer to his need.
We both felt so much love for him that night, so much desire to help him, and it was a clear answer to my previous prayers for charity. It was also a bold confirmation, clearer than I have ever received before, that right now Sorella Dall and Sorella Askew are called to be
Ostia for a very specific purpose. Never have I been so sure that I was supposed to serve in a particular city, with a particular companion at a particular time. For all the other people I may feel inadequate or incapable of teaching, I know that right now we are the best two missionaries to be here helping Luca at this exact moment in his life. His concerns have touched our lives and we are the ones that God very specifically chose to help him.
And so the work continues!