Hello dear family,
I love Sicily! We went to Taormina today for P-day, its a little town on the side of a mountain about an hour away. It has an ancient Greek theatre in an absolutely spectacular setting. That is, on the side of the mountain overlooking the beautiful Sicilian ocean. From the top of the theatre you can see the town, the ocean, beach, Mt. Etna, and even across the ocean you can see mainland Italy! It is just incredible, one of the most beautiful places in the world. I sent pictures!
This week was great! We had one really really good day full of appointments where everything seemed to go perfectly well. Each day had at least one really good moment, but the highlight of the week was that Giorgia got baptized!!!
On Thursday we had zone conference, my last zone conference of the mission. I love our mission president and his wife and pretty much all the missionaries in our mission. They are wonderful people. I loved sitting and listening and taking notes, just as at every other zone conference. But this one was particularly special to me. As I sat there, I had a very strong feeling of satisfaction. It's hard to explain but as I reflected back on the work I have done over the last year and a half and the thousands of people I have shared even just a piece of the gospel with, I felt satisfaction and joy. I felt that I had accomplished a great thing and that the Lord was pleased with my work. No matter how imperfect I was or how much I wasn't able to do, I could feel very clearly that the Lord accepted my mission. He accepted my sacrifice and was pleased. I remember back to some more difficult times when I wondered if what I was doing really made much of a difference, if I could really be here for a year and a half. And now I am so filled with gratitude that I was blessed with enough faith to keep moving forward and working and talking to people. It is as if all the small things I did that seemed useless at times all of a sudden added up to one complete mission of hard work. On Thursday, God gave me the vision so that I was able to see this. How wonderful!
On Friday night we went to the US military base, Sigonella. It was a little piece of America!! Big cars, English, grass yards, bikes out front, it was so cool! We met a less active member of the Sigonella branch, Aubrey, and her non-member husband and left them with a spiritual thought. They were so kind and actually asked us to return as soon as we could! So, we are going back this Friday! Afterwards we ate at an American member's house: breakfast for dinner! Pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, yum!
Saturday was 11-year old Giorgia's baptism! It is officially counted as a convert baptism and we taught her all the lessons before, but the ward was heavily involved and planned the entire baptismal program. All we had to do was show up early and fill up the font! It was a beautiful baptism and Giorgia was so excited.
The other great news is that Lidia is all ready to be baptized this Saturday! The more we meet her, the more I love her. She has a huge desire to follow Jesus Christ and even asked us this morning if she could serve a mission like us! She passed her interview on Sunday morning and we are doing all we can to get as many members possible to her baptism. The members have been great too, really taking charge to help her find the right size for baptismal clothes, and volunteering to do musical numbers for the baptism. An involved ward makes a huge difference! And I honestly do love this ward, just as I have loved every other Italian ward I have been in. It's hard to explain how uniquely special Italian members of the church are. One of my favorite things to do is participate in ward council, as we did this Sunday afternoon. Oh to sit with the leaders of the church and watch as they seek and receive inspiration to help others, wow! They argue and laugh and say some of the most inspired things, all in one breath.
Well, Sorella Buma is leaving us on Monday to transfer to Ladispoli mid-transfer. I am a little terrified that we are being left in the big city of Catania all by ourselves without a sure knowledge of the buses and no existent bus map or schedule. Sorella LeCates and I have some of the basic buses figured out, more or less, but as soon as we get lost on the other side of Catania, I will have no idea how to get out!! It's not as easy as "find a metro station" like Rome, haha. Things will be okay!
I love the work here, we are finding and teaching and baptizing and that makes us happy!
I am especially excited for Rosario the evangelist, Angelo the brilliant socially-awkward student, Dora the gorgeous searching-for-answers mom, Mary the Nigerian, and pretty much everyone else! Good things are happening here!
Love you all!