Wednesday, December 25, 2013
I can't believe that Christmas is next week! WHAT???? That's crazy. I'm so excited but it is going to be weird without everyone. I'm really excited to Skype you. And speaking of Skype, I know what time I will be doing it, but I don't know the Skype name. I'm going to do it at 5pm here, so it will be 8am for you guys. The name may or may not be in Italian, I have no clue, because we are using a members computers. I will probably try Mom first, and then if that doesn't work, I will move down the line until one works. I will have an hour max. It is encouraged to be around 40 minutes, so we will try and stop as close to that as possible.
Next matter of business, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINDA!!!!!!!! (I know your birthday is Sunday, but I didn't want to forget, so happy early birthday. haha). Also, Happy one day late anniversary Erin and Dan!!!! That's crazy that you've been married for 2 years. Time really does fly.
Next, I sent my Christmas package last week, so it should hopefully be there the 23rd, if not, then it will be there after Christmas. I really hope it gets there, and I hope my package gets to me. haha.
It's funny how Dad was telling me about Christmas lights, because we put up some lights of our own! We have a couple investigators that own a store and they saw us looking at the Christmas lights, so they gave them to us. We put them up in our room and they are on 24/7. No joke. When we leave the house, they are still on, when we sleep, they are still on. It's great. I love Christmas lights. The Christmas lights in centro are awesome. We have a giant, real tree in piazza comune, so I love passing by it and looking at it.
So, now let's get spiritual. So this week, I have really seen the power of prayer and how the Lord always answers our prayers. Like I mentioned last week, we answered one of our investigator's questions without even knowing it. Well, this week, we passed by again and just gave another spiritual thought and it turns out that we answered another question she had. And then after the prayer, our other investigator told me that he got his answer during my prayer. Then yesterday, we had no idea what we were going to teach this couple, so we prayed all day and thought of a million ideas, but none of them seemed right. We eventually came to the conclusion that we should watch the film Finding Faith in Christ. That was a good idea. The spirit was super strong, and even though there were firecrackers going off outside the entire lesson, the spirit was there and powerfully. The movie really touched them and then we basically had a testimony meeting with them and the members that were there with us. At the end, we ended up committing the couple to get married and baptised. However, they are going to wait until April, which was hard to swallow at first, but I know the Lord has his timing for them, and I prayed to know his will, so I completely recognize his work and his hand in this. I'm so excited for them and even though I probably won't be here when they get married, it doesn't matter, because they know its true and they are going to be following the saviours example and coming closer to him. I'm just so grateful for the opportunity to teach them and love them. They are really special to me and I'm so happy for them. You can really see the difference that they gospel has had in their life. I'm so grateful for this time to be a missionary and to help people come closer unto Christ.
Yesterday at lunch, I watched the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration movie. I love that movie so much. It is so incredibly powerful and I felt the spirit so strongly. I can't describe how incredible and amazing the prophet Joseph Smith is. I am so grateful for the great faith that he had, and for the even larger trust he had in the Lord to put up with all of the persecutions and vile acts that he faced in his life time. I went out yesterday determined to share my testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith to the people here in Prato and that's what I did. I passed out about 4 or 5 pamphlets about him in about an hour, which is pretty good for the circumstances we had. My heart is so full of gratitude for my Father in Heaven and for the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ through the boyhood prophet. The Book of Mormon contains a fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we can receive a powerful testimony of Joseph Smith and his divine mission by reading that book and praying about it. I love this gospel with all of my heart and I love you all so much. I want everyone to feel this joy that I feel for my savior every day. What a beautiful time of year to remember our savior and what he did for us.
Thank you, like always for your emails, prayers, and support. I love you all so much and I hope you all have an amazing Christmas. Just a heads up, I probably won't be able to get an email out next week because p-day is on Christmas. But I will be able to see you on skype, and I can't wait. I hope you all have an amazing week.
Vi voglio tanto bene tutti,
Monday, December 16, 2013
Ciao tutti! Buon natale!!! (quasi)
First of all, I'm so pumped for Christmas. The lights and trees are all up in centro, so every time we're there, I get super excited. Yesterday we had our Christmas conference, so that really got me excited. This is such a beautiful time of the year and a great time to talk to people about Christ. The people are generally more open to talk during this time of the year. However, the cold does not help that much. Speaking of the cold, we no longer have wind here, we have ridiculous amounts of fog. Like you can't even see 10 feet in front of you thick. It's super fun to ride our bikes through. And don't worry mom, we have lights on our bikes. As for using my card, yes, I've been using it for Christmas presents. I'm almost done getting them for everyone, so I will probably send it this week, so it should be there by Christmas. I don't know how expensive it will be, but if its ridiculous, then I will try to figure something else out. Yes, Sean and Sylvia will be here and we're planning to meet up on p-day, so we will have the most time. I'm really excited to see them. And speaking of being really excited, I hit my 6 month mark tomorrow, that is NUTS!!!! But that also means that I get to Skype with you in about 2 weeks or so. So I don't know where we will be yet, but I will know per forza by next week. So I need you to send me your Skype information and when I know mine, I will give it to you.
Dad, thanks for the sports report. It should be an interesting world cup. Let's hope we can hold our own and get out of the group stage this time. As for Italy, of course I will be cheering for them, because I'm here, but if the US plays Italy for any reason, I'm all USA raga. I'm excited to hear about the bowl games as they happen. Even though we are in a small bowl, let's hope we can win it. Last year was a good game, and I hope we can do something like that again.
OK, on to spiritual matters, and then some other random things. So we have this less active from Honduras that we've been teaching, and she is basically only less active because the lady she works for, wont let her come to church. So we see her every week and try and boost her spirits. We taught her this past week, and to be honest, I had no clue what we were going to teach, so during studies that morning, I said a prayer specifically to know what we should teach her. I then opened my little plates (study journal) and immediately found what to teach her. When we taught her that night, it was confirmed to me again that was exactly what she needed. God really does answer our prayers. And then yesterday, we taught this couple like we normally do on Tuesday nights. They were super busy at their store when we showed up, so we started a little bit late. Because of the time constraints, we decided to share a spiritual thought instead of the lesson we planned. Anziano Andersen shared a scripture and bore testimony about it, then I added my thoughts and then we got into a really good discussion about "bearing your cross and following Jesus Christ". At the end of the lesson, they thanked us like normal, but during Michiela's prayer, she thanked Heavenly Father for sending us with that message, because she had a question during the week and we answered it, without even knowing it. She then thanked Him for listening and we saw a real change in Michiela. It really was a miracle and such a testimony builder to show that God really does answer prayers. I know for a fact, that Heavenly Father listens to our prayers and he answers them. It is sometimes through others and sometimes through our own thoughts and studies, but he always answers. Never be afraid to ask him for guidance or help. I have prayed more this transfer, than ever before in my life, and I have seen so many answers and help from our Father in heaven.
Then, this past week we met with one of our regular investigators, and we've really been trying to help him come to church and one night, we were late to our appointment with him, so we raced there on our bikes and when we got there, he asked us what time we could meet the next morning for church. We told him and then we prayed really hard that night that he would come. The morning came, and it was bitter cold and super foggy, so it wasn't looking good, but then he gave me a call and asked if it was OK that he came then. I almost jumped for joy. He then came despite the cold and fog and had a great time at church. I was so happy, and then I got called on by the Branch presidency to bear my testimony in sacrament, so I really prayed hard that I would know what to say, and I don't remember what I said, but it must have been good, because I had a lot of people come tell me how great and powerful it was. I know for a fact that was nothing of my doing, but the spirit's. Without the spirit, we can do nothing, but with the spirit, we can do anything. We can "speak with the tongues of angels" like 2 Nephi 32 says. I have seen this so many times here on my mission, and I'm so grateful for the gift of the Holy ghost.
OK, some other crazy news. So at the Christmas conference yesterday I got to see Anz Salmon again, because he's in La Spezia now, which is now in our zone. So that was super awesome to see him again. He hasn't changed one bit. He is so funny. Anyway, so while we were together in Genova, we found this miracle investigator that we taught and gave a blessing to, and it was just great. So she went back to Austria, and according to Anz Salmon, she supposedly got baptised on the 7th! I happened to write her last week, but I haven't heard a response yet, so I'm not positive that it went through, but I'm pretty sure it did. I will let you know. It seems to always happen, but even though I didn't get to see the fruits of my labors, I'm still super super happy for her and excited. I can't believe it. Crazy stuff.
OK, now for some random notizie. So first of all, streets here in Italy don't make any sense. Like zero whatsoever. We went out to this paesino the other day and found 2 streets that were just ridiculous, of course they happened to be the streets of the referrals we were looking for. haha. It was super crazy and made no sense, but we somehow found both of the houses. Only with the Lord's help. Any who, then since Anz Andersen has been here, we have bought about 4 new tires for him. I don't know how he keeps popping all of them, but as soon as we replace one, the next day it pops. It is so frustrating and takes a lot of time to walk to the store to buy a new one, and then walk back and fix it. Basically, bikes are annoying, but also super fun at the same time. Oh well, I'm used to bike problems now. And continuing on with Anziano Andersen, so we ran to catch a train yesterday morning to get to the conference and we all hopped on (or at least that's what we thought). The doors then closed and we see Anz Andersen still standing outside....and then the train started pulling away. So we yelled at him to get on a train to Firenze. We had both phones so he couldn't call us and since there are a ton of stops in Firenze, we got off at the one we needed to get off at, and every time a train passed by, we run up and down it looking inside the train for him. We probably checked about 10 trains, and in the process I found the Siena sorelle (who were very nice and helped us check trains) and the Pisa/Livorno Anziani. After checking a ton of trains Anz Andersen saw Anz Windley running past the train and jumped off. Meno male. That was a fun call I had to make to President. He was actually super cool about it and was joking around about it at the conference with us. Presdient Dibb is really awesome. I love him so much, and he really is inspired.
Any who, that was my week in a chestnut shell (there are a ton of them here and they are super good). I absolutely love it here and I can't imagine myself anywhere else then here in Prato serving the Lord. I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and for this time of year. I wish you all a happy 12 days of Christmas and I look forward to hearing from you all next week.
Vi voglio bene,
PS. Holy cow, my computer just stopped working and I thought I lost this whole email. Meno male gmail saves drafts automatically.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Alright, first things first. My address is:
Via Pietro Giannone 12/1
59100 Prato Italia
Second. I should be sending home a Christmas package soon, so expect that in a couple weeks. Next, that sounded like an awesome week for sports!!! That Auburn v Alabama game sounded sweet! I love college football, its so much fun to watch. I'm really jealous of your Thanksgiving back home. Ours here was a little more hectic and crazy. So as you might have realized, Thanksgiving this year fell right on the day of transfers. Yay!!! And on top of that, Anziano Walker had an appointment to renew his permesso at the questura that day. So basically, the questura is like the DMV, but about 30 times worse. So we waited in line, only to find out that we had to come back later in the day, so we did, and then we waited even more. Then we got let inside, where we waited in yet another line. Then when he got to the window, it turns out that we didn't have his pictures for it, so he now has to come back on the morning of Christmas eve, fun. So we basically sat in line all morning, freezing our butts off, and not understanding a single word of what anyone was saying around us, (because they were all Chinese) for nothing. It also took forever, because like I said, no one spoke Italian or anything, so there was this one lady who kinda spoke Italian, so they all tried to use her to communicate. It was really frustrating for the workers, so when Anziano Walker came up, they were super happy because he could speak Italian. Then we rode home and got his bags. We went to the train station and saw that our train was leaving, so I sprinted up the stairs with his super super super heavy bag (like easily 80 pounds) and I threw it on the train, and turned around to help him, but he wasn't there. So I ran back down the stairs and saw him at the bottom, so I grabbed his other super super super super heavy bag and sprinted up the stairs. I then slipped and smashed my knee into the stairs, but I got up and kept running, I got there right as the doors closed, and we watched as the train and one of his bags pulled away from the station. We then called the capi in Firenze and told them to look for his bag, they found it, so it was all good. Then coming back, Anziano Windley and I went to the wrong platform and so we missed our train. So we finally got back, and it was just a nightmare. But then we had a party for English class and they brought really good dolce, so it was all worth it. Now, Anziano Andersen and I are tearing it up here in Prato. He is from my MTC district, so that's awesome, and he's from Scottsdale Arizona.
Allora, next, we had a really good week full of miracles. As a companionship, we decided to set an alarm on our phone to go off every hour to remind us to pray. So we pray in the streets, on our bikes, and basically anywhere and everywhere. We have seen so many blessings already from doing this. It's crazy. On Sunday, I called an investigator that we were trying to get in contact with for the entire last transfer, and he answered and we set up an appointment with him! Then that same day, we had just finished church and this member walked up to me and told me that her friend wanted to take the lessons with us. He had been coming to church the past 2 weeks. We just taught him last night, and wow...the spirit was so strong. We have really been praying to have a baptism during December, and we set a baptismal date with him for the 28th!! It was super awesome and I still can't believe how great that lesson was. It was all the Lord's help, we couldn't have done it any other way. So yesterday, we got 2 new investigators and one with a bap date!!! MIRACLES!!!!!!!! It's so amazing how the Lord blesses us. I love being a missionary. It is super tiring. I am literally tired every single second and I sleep like a rock, but this is such an amazing experience. I can't possibly describe it.
Now, not everything goes smoothly in missionary work. The problems that occur are usually from means of transportation. My bike broke this week, so I had to get it fixed. And then yesterday, Anziano Andersen's tire exploded, so we had to get that fixed. And then Anziano Mollari's (Anziano Windley's comp) tires both popped today on our way to spesa. So yeah, bikes are a mess. Goodness me. They are really fun and fast, but boy are they annoying. Then when we went on a bus this week to the outer part of our area, there was a market in centro, so the bus took a different route than usual, so we had to walk super far to get to where we wanted to go, and then when we came back, there was no stop going the other way, so we had to basically walk back to Prato on the side of the highway. It was super windy and cold and dark. We held our bike light behind us so people wouldn't hit us. I got a funny video out of it, but it was pretty crazy. Oh the fun times you have on the mission. haha.
I really wish you all could be here to experience these adventures with me. I cannot describe what I feel every day. You feel the extreme opposite sides of emotion in about 30 seconds. You are colder than ever before, you are hotter than ever before. I've never been so tired in all my life, and yet, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I know this work is hard, but I also know that this is the Lord's work, and I'm here to serve him. I love being a missionary, and I can't believe that I will hit my 6 month mark next week. That is crazy. Time really flies when you're out here doing the same thing every single day. haha. We have so much fun and we do so much work. It's impossible to describe, but if you've serve a mission, you know exactly what I mean. This is one of the greatest experiences of my life and I am so grateful f or this opportunity to serve the Lord for 2 years.
Random side note. My prayer timer just went off, so now I can check off praying in an internet point in Firenze. haha.
As always, thank you all so much for your love and your support. I pray for you all and I can feel your prayers. I hope to hear from you all soon, and I hope you are all excited for Christmas! I know I am!!
Vi voglio tanto bene,
PS. Let me know about the US Men's soccer bid when you know Dad.