Sunday, September 22, 2013

L'Italia è in Fiore

Really great week here in Italy. I kind of feel bad because I think my last letter might have been slightly on the depressing side.  Mostly because I was stressed out of my mind.. 
Too tired to open the door

The only comparison I can come up with is: "trying to jump onto a treadmill on full speed in a room full of people watching you WHILE carrying someone on your back... and trying to speak italian." 

(she'll be dancing in no time)

Greenies say the funniest things
BUT it's getting a lot better.  Sorella Foster really calms me down because she is always joking and makes me laugh.  
The "non fregga niente" face that Italians give us when we say we have a message for them.

The face we make when we are standing in front of a door 
and we know someone is looking at us through the peep hole. 

I told her yesterday that every day I am writing down something she says or does in my planner. She said, "Yeah they did that to me in the MTC too.  I don't know why everyone thinks I'm so funny."  

Some of my favorites:  

"That's why I like tigers: because they are so regal.. What's your favorite animal?"   

Yesterday she started singing the preamble to the Constitution during our nightly planning session.. 

and then there was the time she told me how she loves to read fact books and how shark babies eat each other in the womb.  She is hard not to get along with. 

Apostolic Teaching
We had some really incredible things happen this week.  First of all, we had Elder Ballard come on Sunday!  It was soo cool.  

He asked to have a special meeting with the missionaries beforehand (It was all the missionaries from Rome, Sardegna, and Napoli.. who will be part of the new stake) and he was the best.  

He basically started out by teaching us the first lesson, but much more eloquently then I've ever taught it.  It was cool to sit and be taught by an apostle of the Lord of the importance of the message we are teaching.  

Future Leaders
He also told us to start focusing more on people between the ages of 12-40 because those are the people who will be the future leaders in Italy.   Our job is to find those future leaders.  

He let us ask a few questions and he prefaced it by saying, "But don't ask me where Kolob is, because I don't know."  ... so he took my only question... just kidding.  

Apostolic Advice
The best advice that he gave us is to teach clearly the Apostasy and the need for a Restoration... and to teach it with the Spirit.  It was really cool to get direct revelation and advice for our specific circumstance.  

We all got to shake his hand and head into the conference with all the members.  During the conference he had the new Stake Presidents bear their testimonies and then he had them stand up with President Waddoups and make a promise to do missionary work.   

Then he asked ALL the missionaries to come to the front stand and he made all of us raise our hands and promise to work to share the message of the gospel here in Italy.  
(Kaitlin is on the far left in the green coat)

Then he had all the bishops and branch presidents stand up and he said, "These are your missionaries.. put them to work." and he made them all promise to do missionary work and to work with us.  

It was one of the coolest things ever:  to stand on the floor in front of the podium where an apostle of the Lord is speaking to us, in front of all of the members here in Rome, Napoli, and Sardegna, and to make a promise to continue our work.  

President said that he has been to a LOT of conferences and he has NEVER seen anything like that happen.  It was amazing to see the emphasis he put on missionary work.  

That's what he wanted the leaders and members to take away from the conference.  He wants us to go forth and help others to have the same beautiful knowledge that we have here... & it's going to take more effort and more sacrifice.. but we have been called of God to do this work, to do his work, and we are entitled to his power. 

Zone Conference
THEN on Monday we had ZONE conference.  So two days in a row of spiritual uplift.. which I desperately needed.  

MTC friends at zone conference

I realized the reason WHY I was so stressed was because I was lacking faith.  I was lacking the faith that as I am willing and obedient, I am entitled to the Lord's help.  

President is making a big push for more baptisms.  Here in the Rome mission we are a lot lower on the number scale compared to other missions, and I think we let that get to us too much.  

It was great to remember our goal:  we aren't here just to serve or to help people to feel the Spirit, but we are here to help people change, to help them make the covenants that they need to make in order to receive a fullness of joy.  

Faith and Miracles
So this week I've really been studying to work on my faith.  The faith that people WILL accept the message and that people WANT this in their life... and I've seen many small miracles come from it. 

So here is a quick list of miracles I've seen this week: 

-WE GOT A NEW INVESTIGATOR her name is Alesandra and she is super Catholic... like reciting at least 5 different Catholic prayers in the first lesson.  But Sorella Foster taught her when I was on my scambi in Rome 3 so she found her first investigator!  We met with her the second time last night and she came to the conference. 

- Here in Rome I've found a ton of different opportunities to serve that I had a hard time finding in Cagliari.  For example, I got to help a blind lady cross the street and I got to hold a little boy's hand down the escalator to the subway because he was scared and his mom's hands were full. (my heart melted)

- We miraculously ran into a less active (the only one I've met here) riding his bike the other night as I was praying to find someone to talk to.   He said that he wants us to come by and start teaching his girlfriend who has started reading the Book of Mormon

- Yesterday an investigator called US to set an appointment. 

-We ran into an English Course student on the bus and we were able to pass his information to the anziani who are going to start working with him. 

- We met these two businessmen by the metro when we got lost and spent 45 min talking about the church (and were late for lunch) 

- and my FAVORITE miracle... Sunday after the conference we had nothing planned because we didn't want to set any appointments because our schedule was constantly changing.  So we decided to go do finding near the temple... and it was RAINING.. so there was no one on the street.  

 I said, "Well let's do some casa, because God always gives miracles in the rain."  So I said,  "Okay Sorella Foster, pick a house."  So she did and I had been thinking about the one before it, so we walked over to these two apartment buildings.  

We were getting rejections and then we hear a voice behind us say, "Ciao sorelle!"  

We turn around and it's our cute young Relief Society President and her husband who is the 2nd Counselor, and she says "My husband always says Sunday night is the hardest time of the week.  Do you want to come for dinner?"  ummmm.... yes.  

Then she points to their building which was the one Sorella Foster had picked to do casa. miracle.  So we got to go to their house and it was so great.  They are the cutest family.  They are like the Italian version of Taza and family.. seriously.  

Miracles always happen in the rain. 

And there were lots more blessings that I don't have time to write about.  The Lord really has been blessing us.  Blessing us with more appointments, more investigators, and more service opportunities.

It really is a huge blessing to be here in Italy.  I'm growing so much and learning to have more faith in the call Heavenly Father has asked me to do.  

I love being a missionary.  

It's not easy.. obviously.. but its the most fulfilling work I've ever done.  I know this is the most important work in the world and I am grateful to be doing it full-time for this short time here in Italy. 

Also!! I almost forgot... there is a brother and sister serving here in the Rome mission from Paige's last ward in Pordenone! I met them at the conference and they said Paige had emailed them and told them to say "hi" to me. small world.  Watching them see each other for the first time on the mission was so cute. Sorella Fossa and I are doing pday together.. also cute. 
Elder and Sorella Fossa from Pordenone


Sorella O'Connor

(Email Sent - September 18, 2013)

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