As you might have figured out by the power of deduction, today is finally my P-day!!! Yes, we survived a whole week without a P-day. It was long, but I'm glad its finally here. I'm so glad to hear that all is well back home. I'm so incredibly excited to hear that the US beat Honduras and qualified for the World Cup, but I'm even more excited that I've got Dad hooked on soccer!!! I miss watching it so much! I'm so glad to hear that Lizzy's birthday party went well and I want her to know that I was thinking about her on her birthday. But back to the stuff you actually want to hear about.
First week over and I love it here! The first day we were thrown into a classroom with two teachers who didn't speak a single word of English, only Italian. So it was basically sink or swim. Luckily, I caught on pretty fast and understand a pretty decent amount. I met my companion, Anziano Erickson from Puyallup Washington, and we instantly hit it off. He is really nice, smart, and a lot of fun to be around. We work great together! Right now, we are on fire! We are picking up Italian really fast. The third day, we had our first lesson with our investigator Luca. I love Luca!! He is so awesome, and he has such a great spirit about him. He is a pretty easy investigator because he has a really strong desire to follow Christ, but he only speak Italian, so that is pretty difficult. Our first lesson was suppose to be 15 minutes, but Anziano Erickson and I kinda taught him for 45 minutes...whoops. I was really nervous at first, but as soon as we started teaching him, I felt the Spirit so strongly and all of my fears were replaced with love for him. We taught him about the Restoration and when he read the First Vision, the Spirit was so strong. I could feel it, my collega (companion) could feel it, and Luca could feel it. The power of the Spirit is real. I have a firm testimony of that. During our first lesson, I found myself turning away from my notes to ask Luca questions that I didn't even know I could. I closed the lesson by bearing my testimony like I never had before. I only knew how to say a few things, but the Spirit ampliflied my words. I know that Heavenly Father really blesses his missionaries. Without the gift of the Spirit, I would not be speaking Italian as well as I do now.
To Dad's enjoyment, we all practice SYL (Speak Your Language) here at the MTC. We always try to speak Italian as much as possible, which was really hard the first few days because all we could really say was "Ciao!", "Buon Giorno!", "Grazie!", and "Prego!". I've noticed that if I take the time to think through what I'm going to say, I can usually say it in Italian, at which the rest of my District says is...."Che cosa?" (What?). I'm really doing well with Italian. One of my teachers, Fratello Jeter, told me in an interview that he is really impressed with how well I was speaking and understanding, and that was last Friday!! A few days ago, we were practicing trying to pass out pamphlets (opuscoli) in Italian, and after we were done practicing, our other teacher Sorella Turley told the class to watch me as an exampe and I tried to give Fratello Jeter a pamphlet about the Restoration. I was caught really off guard, but I just went for it and after both Fratello Jeter and Sorella Turley were really impressed with how well I spoke!
My district has 10 missionaries in it, who are all going to Milano. Otto Anziani e due Sorelle (8 Elders and 2 Sisters). Our Sorelle, Sorella Carter and Sorella Smart, both took two semesters of Italian in college, so they both speak really well. Our district as a whole was a little slow at the beginning, but they all have been picking up Italian really fast. I firmly believe that whom the Lord calls, he qualifies. Everyday we have time to study Italian by ourselves and so we spend that time helping each other learn and grow. It is so amazing. I love my District.
We have about 70 missionaries in our branch; about 30 going to Milano, about 30 going to Roma, and about 10 going to Romania. I love our branch. We all have such a sense of brotherhood with each other. Whenever we see each other, we always yell "Ciao Anziani!!!!". We have so much fun together, as we all try and learn Italian, and how to preach the Lord's gospel. Every gym time we all go play soccer and we have the best time. Because we are all struggling with the same things, we all have such a love for each other and we will always go to each other's aid.
Back to Luca. So Anziano Erickson and I have taught him at least 7 times since we've been here and we just love it. We now know enough Italian to be able to communicate our thoughts without notes, which is amazing because then we can really connect with him. He is so nice, everytime we don't know how to say something he always tells us that we don't need to worry about it, because our Italian is great! After the 3rd or 4th lesson, the Spirit prompted me to invite him to be baptized, so I did. he say there and thought about it for a minute or so before accepting. We were so excited and we couldn't stop smiling! He is getting baptized on July 3rd. Now, even though he's not a real investigator (he's a teacher), we still have such a love for him and we feel such joy when he comes closer to Christ.
Every night, our District meets in our room to sing an Inno (hymn) and then we recite our purpose as missionaries from memory in Italian. Nostro scopo e: Invitare le persone a venire a Cristo aiutandole ad accetare il vangelo restaurato mediante la fede in Gesu Cristo e la Sua l'Espiazione, il pentimento, il battesimo, il conferimento del dono dello Spirito Santo e peseverando sino alla fine.
I apologize for any spelling or gramatical errors, its starting to get hard to write and speak in English. Also, I never say the word "yes" anymore. It's always "si". I will be talking to someone in English and then I will just say "si" when I would normally say "yes". I've seen practically my whole ward here so far. I run into Elder Wirkus a lot which is so awesome. I love talking to him and I miss being with him all the time. His Portugese is great, at least as far as I can tell. I love when I see my old friends and we can share our love of the Lord and the language that we speak; whether its Italian, Spanish, English, French, Mandarin, or Portugese. I said this before, but the Lord blesses his missionaries.
I just want to close by briefly bearing my testimony in Italian:
Io so che questa chiesa e vera. Io so que Gesu Cristo e mio Salvatore. Testimonio que Lui vive. Io so che possiamo venire a Cristo mediante insegnare sua parole. Lui amo e so che ci ama tutti le persone. Io so che lo dono dello Spirito Santo e reale and mediante lo, possiamo benedire le vite di persone. Nel nome di Gesu Cristo, amen.
I tried to attach some pictures of our District, me and my companion, and some friends from BYU. I hope you enjoy them, and I hope they are the right ones. It's hard to tell on this computer. I will figure it out and send better ones next week. Also, we kinda have a competition in our District going on, so if you all could write me a Dear Elder letter every few days, that would be awesome. I love you all and can't wait to hear back from you!
P.S. 800+ missionaries came into the MTC with me last week
P.P.S. One of the members of our Branch Presidency's wife is from Roma, and whenever she talks to us, she reminds me of Sylvia. I love it.
Anziano (Elder) Langlois and companion Anziano Erickson