Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New missionary fun!

Cara famiglia,

My new companion is Sorella Dall from Holladay, UT, just arrived in Italy. She is great! Sorella Dall is studying physical therapy and went to BYU Hawaii before coming on a mission and she is a ballerina! She is exactly what I imagined when I picture having a new missionary as a companion. She doesn't speak Italian and I love it! It has been such an adventure running around Ostia and Rome, helping her learn basic phrases like "I got to Italy 3 days ago", pointing to random people on the street and telling her "Your turn, go talk to them!" And she is wonderful!
I picked her up at the train station in Rome on Thursday. Our new convert Angela and one of our investigators Antonella came as well because they wanted to see Sorella Olsen off. It was so chaotic, saying goodbye to my companion, talking to Antonella and Angela, entertaining Angela's 3-year old, and getting to know my new companion, who had no idea what was going on! As soon as we left the station, all the feelings of anxiety and stress just simply left. It was such a blessing. Sorella Dall and I brought her bags back to the apartment and left to go to the Relief Society activity with our 27-year old investigator/neighbor Silvia. Sorella Dall understands little of what is going on (it reminds me of my first transfer in Taranto! It is a miracle to think of how much I have learned in the last year and how much easier it is to understand these fast speaking Italians now), and it is a big change from Sorella Olsen who bounced all over the place, talking to everyone. But I love it. I don't even know why. It has been the easiest transition and a great week.
That first night, we went finding together, her first time preaching the gospel to the Italians!! We talked to people on the train and on the street and picked up a gelato before heading home. Usually I would start talking to someone, tell them how my companion just arrived in Italy and was learning Italian, and ask them if she can practice and tell them about why she is here. No one can say no to that! It works beautifully! Then, Sorella Dall in broken Italian explains that she is a missionary and she came to Italy to teach about Jesus Christ. I'll then pick it up from there, explain a little more about our message and turn to Sorella Dall and ask her to bear her testimony. In the last few days, I have been pushing her a little more, approaching someone and standing there to let Sorella Dall talk for as long as she can - getting to know them, introducing the gospel message, explaining the Book of Mormon and when she runs out of things to say, I'll finally join and help out! It is the best thing ever! Sorella Dall is great, she is so willing to talk to people, whether on her own initiative or someone I point to, saying "that person wants you to talk to them!"

August in Italy is vacation month, and a lot of people we teach are either extremely busy working for the vacation season or they are out of town. So we will get to do a lot of finding this month! That's okay, its probably my favorite part of missionary work. We have seen some spectacular things. I have been praying more sincerely recently to find people who need to hear our gospel message. One day in particular, we said hi to an older woman and asked how she was. She looked at us with tears in her eyes and said "bad. My husband died 4 months ago" We sat down next to her in the lobby of her apartment building and talked for quite a while. She so desperately wanted to know about where her husband was now, what he was like, if he remembered her, and if he was suffering, and I have never been so grateful in my life to be able to answer all her questions with complete confidence in the reality of the Plan of Salvation. I have never been so struck by how truly incredible it is that we have all the answers. All the other people in the world have ideas, they hope, they have the faith that things are okay without the details. But to see this suffering woman look at me with earnestness as we told her about where her husband was and what he was doing, was a whole other experience. Even something as simple as the fact that he had the same personality, she would look up at me and ask "really? is that so?". And I could promise her with all sincerity that it was.
That same day as we were going home at night, we talked to a woman sitting on the bench with a suitcase. She was probably 30 years old, so full of life and kind, very religious. She had been married for just over a month and her husband started hitting her. She was hurt and sad and didn't know what to do, so she was escaping to stay with her parents in Calabria. We talked together and gave her a Book of Mormon, promising her that she would find comfort and answers in the words of that book. She clutched it to her chest and thanked us profusely. I know that we were led to these people.

As always, I have very few minutes left and much more I would like to say.

Luca our investigator is doing great, he came to church, hung out with the members at the beach the day after. He has been religious his whole life (he is 26) and gone to church and done the right things but he doesn't feel converted in his heart. He still has doubts and doesn't know if God listens to him and he doesn't know how to know what is true.

I have had several really spiritual experiences this week, especially in working with the members. Marco, 37, from a poorer family, little education, living at home, and yet watching how absolutely inspired he is and how much God has blessed him with wisdom and the Spirit because he is a humble seeker.
It is incredible watching how much Adriano still grows from week to week. His testimony is growing, his understanding is increasing. The gift of the Spirit he just received is truly working in his life.

I love this work, my love for it is growing. I know God answers our simple, humble, sincere prayers. I know we must desire the right things to have the right results.

Love you!

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