Bonus Post: Here is a letter we received in the mail:
I feel I must write an addition to my email home yesterday. We had a great p-day in Villa Borghese overlooking one of the most BEAUTIFUL cities in the world... and all I could think about is how I complained the whole time in my email.
So I'm adding an extra note of gratitude to make up for my sour email to tell you that even though we don't have 80 lesson a week, & we don't have Ipad minis, & I can't Skype my family into my lessons like other missionaries... there are still hundreds of reasons why I'd rather serve in Rome, Italy than ANY other place in the world:
1. The language: I LOVE the Italian language & I love speaking to people on the bus. Even if they don't have interest in the gospel, I love talking to people about their lives, their families, the city, learning new words, etc... I love learning new phrases and things that we don't say in English.
2. The people: are so nice. People are willing to stop & listen even if they have no interest & aren't willing to change. Everyone is willing to help me with directions when I'm lost or help me figure out what a word means.
3. The culture: the food, the art, the love Italians have for families, how everyone is willing to give up their seat on the bus to the old lady who gets on, how MUCH they love food and love talking about food, their obsession with jazz music.
4. I pazzi: which means "the crazy people." We meet a LOT of crazy people. Some that yell at us because we refuse to give them money & others that let you in their house to show you all the fotos they have of Padre Pio.
5. The members: are incredible. They all have made great sacrifices to become members and to follow Jesus Christ & many of them are the only members in their families. I love hearing their conversion stories and the things they felt as they changed their lives. They have a huge focus on missionary work and genealogy and they do their best to support us in our work.
6. public transportation: We don't really use it in America, but I love taking buses and metros and meeting people that way. I think I would still refuse a car if President offered us one just because it's a great way to find people.
I don't have much time to write more. But there is much more. There are many sacrifices and trials on the mission, but they are so small compared to the joy you fell and the ways you grow. My trials here on the mission are much less than thousands of other missionaries... serving today and in the past.
I'm so grateful for the support I have and all the many ways I have been blessed here. That's why I wanted to write this addition.... just because I felt so guilty for the small things I complained about.
Because really the mission isn't hard, we just make it hard on ourselves when we continually focus on our needs and wants and the things that discomfort us. But when we realize all the ways we have been blessed, we are able to focus on blessing others. (So feel free to delete all my complaining in my last email because I feel so bad about it.) I'm realizing now that my blessings FAR outweigh my small trials.
I only have one hour every week to write home about my experiences, so I feel bad when I only write about the hard things when there are so many great things about this mission. I've learned more about the Savior and his gospel in these 8 months, than all the 22 years of my life.
I love the quote by M. Russell Ballard:
"The essence of our ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to invite all people everywhere to 'Come Unto Christ' so that He can work miracles in their lives in whatever way He chooses. For some, that miracle will mean a significant change of life and lifestyle. For others it will simply mean new purpose and understanding in lives that are already rich with faith. But for all, it will mean peace and joy and happiness beyond all measure as the Master touches hearts and souls with His love."
That is the message that I strive to send home every week. That's what my mission and my purpose is. That is why they say, "Every Member a Missionary." Because as we truly come unto Christ, we grow in love for Him and our desire will be to share that joy with everyone. I'm grateful for the trials and the moments that remind me of that purpose so that I can use the atonement to change and grow.
Thank you again for your constant support and for your constant example growing up. I'm grateful for the chance to help others have this joy in their lives and their families. Hope all is well on your side of the world!
un abbraccio molto forte,
"Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give his life a ransom for many."
(Mailed - October 10, 2013)