Well, I'm right now sitting in an internet point in Firenze. I can't believe that I am here. It is seriously crazy. This city is AMAZING!!! Sean and Sylvia put it the best, this city is an open air museum. Sadly I don't have a lot of pictures to send of Firenze right now, because we decided to do internet first and then go walk around so it's easier to take our train back to Prato, but next week, there will be a ton!
I don't even know where to start right now. Life as a missionary is amazing, and life in Toscana as a missionary is even better!!! This area is down-right gorgeous. I can't wait to show you around in a year and a half. And speaking of that, that is crazy!!!!! I can't believe that Christmas is next transfer!!! I'm almost a quarter done with my mission!! Time has literally flown by. I never thought it would go this fast, but it has. I need to go out and do more stuff while I still can!! haha
Well, like always, it always makes me super happy when BYU sports does well. Especially when my team upsets a high ranked team like Portland or Penn St. last year. Its so weird to hear about missionary work happening back in good old TO3, but I'm really happy the missionaries are working hard and that there is going to be a baptism!! Dad, keep on working with the missionaries and helping them, having a good member (especially one as awesome as you) makes all the difference. I'm really sad and shocked to hear about Sister Needham though. I can't believe it, that's crazy. Please send my love to Brother Needham and thank him again for being such amazing teachers in Sunday school. I learned so much from them and I'm very grateful to them. While death is a very sad thing, I'm so grateful that we have a knowledge and testimony of the Plan of Salvation. As I've been teaching the people of Italy about this marvelous plan that Heavenly Father has prepared for us, I am just humbled by how loving and merciful he is to us. Every single day, my faith grows stronger and my testimony becomes more and more built upon the rock of Christ.
Speaking of being built on the rock of Christ, the other day we were doing some finding work on the fiume and we stopped to talk to this man sitting on a bench. He then proceeded to tell us that our church was a lie and rubbish (he was British), and that we were deceiving people and destroying peoples lives. He said a ton of really hurtful things about us and then he asked us if we had a bike pump because his tire was flat. We very kindly told him where he could pump up his tire for free and then wished him a good day and left. I was so shocked at how hostile he was towards us, it really caught me off guard. But I was thinking about it for a while, and I noticed that it really just strengthened my testimony of this gospel and the truthfulness of this church. I know without a doubt that Joseph [Smith] did not make up this church, but that he really saw God the Father and his son Jesus Christ, and through him, the Lord's church was restored in it's fullness to the Earth. If I wasn't 100% sure of this, I would have come home by now. This work is hard, but the Lord's work is never easy. I know that despite the fact that I am rejected over and over again and spat on, that this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and that this gospel can and will change the lives of those who are humble enough to let it into their heart. I love the Saviour, and I am so grateful for the help he gives me every single day, the strength and the faith that I need to go out that door every day, even when I know that maybe 5 people will even stop to listen to me for a minute. It's always worth it. I love this work and I love this gospel with all my heart.
Dad, we had similar experiences yesterday night during lessons. Last night, we were teaching this couple, and we decided that we really need to reinforce prayer and what it is. So we reexplained it and bore powerful testimony of how we can receive answers through prayer. Then we watched the Restoration and after the spirit was really strong, they both told us that they knew it was true. We haven't set a baptismal date yet, but they are close. It is so incredible to teach this people about the gospel. Like it said in my Father's blessing, as I teach the gospel, my testimony will grow. I love teaching this gospel and being able to see the power that it really has.
Now, for a little less spiritual things. So Anziano Walker loves to sing....like all the time. And our District is actually blessed with really good singers. So he calls us the Singing District. But anyway, we have Anziano Texiera, from the Area Presidency, coming down next week for a conference and our District gets to sing a musical number. We decided to sing "Anima Mia" or "Be Still My Soul". It is absolutely gorgeous, and I just feel the spirit so strongly. I'm really excited to sing that next week, so you will hear about it next week. And speaking of my District, Anziano Holland's granddaughter is in it. Sorella McCann. She is awesome! Its really funny, because we are all hesitant to bring him up, but she's super cool about it. Anyway, just thought that would be a little cool note.
So this past week in Prato, we've had some exciting things in Centro. There was this little mini chocolate festival, and oh boy.....was it good. Mom, I just thought of you the whole time. You would have loved it. The chocolate was incredible. And it was crazy, this one lady made chocolate tools. Like a hammer and screwdriver, but made of chocolate. Nuts. haha...pun. And then the other night we had this huge chestnut festival, so there were a ton of people all eating chestnuts. They had this giant cauldron thing that they were cooking them in and passing them out to people, we didn't get any because the line was really long, but it smelled really good. And of course, Anziano Walker had to start singing "chestnuts roasting on an open fire!!". He is such a goofball, but I love him. He is the complete opposite of Anziano Salmon, which is pretty funny.
Lastly, there is this African here named Sammy, and he is probably the coolest person ever. He lives in Pistoia and turns out he was baptized by Anziano Gibbons who was my Capo in Genova. And so that past two weeks, we've gone to institute to translate for Sammy. It is really funny, but really hard at the same time. It is really good practice though to pick up the language. I don't know if I already told you about this, but if I did, sorry. He's just that cool that I need to say it twice. haha
Any who, thank you all for your letters this week, I love reading them all and hearing from everyone. It's crazy to hear what's happening back home. I miss you all and I can't wait to see you at Christmas over Skype! Please keep me and the people of Prato in your prayers. I pray for you all and hope everything is well.
Vi voglio bene,
PS. Jason, do you remember a Holly Mancuso from BYU theater? Because she is in my District here and she says hi.