Monday, January 13, 2014

Ciao Ciao Roma?

Piazza del Popolo

I've been nervous ALL week about transfer calls.  I love Roma 2 so much and I didn't want to leave.. at all. I just felt like I had one more transfer in me... mostly because we have 3 baptisms coming this next transfer.  

The Office
But the hard thing about serving here is that because we serve with the office missionaries, they know EVERYTHING but can't tell us ANYTHING.  So they just give mean hints.  

They basically told me that I was leaving but they wouldn't tell me where.. so I was pretty upset because all week I was thinking about how much I love our investigators and the members here and how much I didn't want to go... 

But it was really good for me because it really prepared me and reminded me that the "I'll go where you want me to go" thing applies every transfer.. not just when you get your call.  We convinced Anz Prieto to call us at 6:30 first thing when we get up on transfer call day so we could find out.  So he passes the phone to me and starts by saying, 

"Sorella O'Connor, President is really happy with all the work that you've been doing here in Rome 2, and he just knows that he needs that kind of work in other cities in the mission... just not this transfer because you are staying here in Rome 2.

So of course I started yelling at him "YOU MEAN I'VE BEEN CRYING ALL NIGHT FOR NOTHING?!" and he timidly says "I thought you would be happy".. sorry anz.. 

I'll Stay Where You Want Me to Stay
but I am happy... so so happy. Now I know this will probably be my last transfer here and its given me such motivation to work REALLY REALLY hard. FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD. That's our motto this transfer. It's going to be so good.

This week was really crazy though.

What are You Doing New Year's Eve?
Decorations at the Vatican

NEW YEAR'S IS REALLY CRAZY HERE. Fireworks are not illegal.. at least if they are no one cares.. and they set them off ALL week. & they either sound like giant bombs or gun shots. So we were jumpy all New Year's Eve.  

Also because I THOUGHT President established a come home early time for safety but then I realized that he didn't.  I didn't want to be lazy, so I made us stay out till nine which probably wasn't the safest thing... especially after we saw people dropping fireworks out of there apartment windows 10 feet away from us.  (We might have exaggerated and said that people were throwing them AT us... but everyone likes a good story) 

New Year's day was boring because we just cleaned ALL day and got ALL the gross mold out of our apartment.  I took pictures, but I'm not showing Mom because she might make me come home.  

Also our upstairs neighbors broke a tube in their bathroom so our ceiling was dripping water until they admitted that it was their fault and fixed it... gross. but now its clean and shiny and free of mold for at least a week. 

Worst Lesson
Okay so I don't know if you remember that man we met on the street who stopped and listened to our message and took a Book of Mormon all because he said that he wanted to talk to us because we smiled and said good morning to him?  It was like a month or so ago.  Anyway, we finally set up a return appointment and it was THE WORST.  We invited the anziani because we wanted to pass him over and it was the worst lesson ever.

 He was really upset that we didn't have anything "new" to say about religion. He was like "You mean you just teach the SAME gospel that Jesus Christ taught and all the prophets in the bible taught?

"Yes. Exactly."  

Apparently he was hoping for some new found philosophy on to build his life on.  It is sad to see that people will accept the works of philosophers and musicians and politicians and all sorts of things before they will accept the pure, simple, faith building principles of Jesus Christ. 

Best Lesson
But that's okay because we had THE BEST lesson later in the week.  Remember that OTHER guy we met on the bus last week?  Who said he wasn't interested and then called us?  Well we met him as well this week and he texted us to see if he could BRING A FRIEND! So we said "no."  Just kidding we said "yes."  

But we asked him why he decided to call us back and meet with us. He said "You guys just looked so happy, and I wanted to know if it was possible for me to find that same happiness.

Thereby confirming every YW lesson I ever had in my life that said that people can see your light and your happiness and we can offer that to others.  

So we had a beautiful lesson about how God is our loving heavenly father and promised him that if he followed the commitments that we left him, that he could find that same happiness.  

This is Why
I left that lesson just thinking "This is it. THIS is why I'm here..."  

It's easy to get discouraged... I think I let it happen way too often.. but there really ARE those people that are just looking for a greater happiness and there ARE people who are willing to change and accept. 

Planting AND Harvesting
Before the mission (and a lot during) I had SO many people talk to me about "planting seeds," that Rome is SUCH a hard mission and that there are SO many Catholics and that people won't change and that I would just be planting seeds.  

And all that is true, but it's also not true.  Yes we are planting a lot of seeds that won't be harvested until many years later, but we are also doing so much harvesting now.  

We had a tourist give his testimony in sacrament meeting yesterday and he told all the members (with a translator of course) that 4 years ago his branch in South Dakota had 20 active members and that next Sunday, they would be splitting their ward into 2 wards. He started to cry and promised them that with their faith and work and the temple they would start to see miracles soon and that one day THEY would be able to split their ward... 

The sister in front of me turned around and said, "We've already done that twice in the past year," suggesting ... "Let's get settled a little bit first." 

Miracles are NOW
Yes, we are preparing for ones in the future, but God is preparing miracles for us now. I feel so blessed to be a part of it here in Rome 2. 

Also Carol came home this week and we got to see her and again it just made me so grateful to stay another transfer and to hopefully see her baptized.  She has grown so much and she bore her testimony to us and it was just the sweetest feeling. 

Celebrating with Carol, the anziani and the Steurers

We had a lunch at the Steurer's house on Sunday for the missionaries leaving and he asked us to go around and say one truth:  one thing that we know to be true.  Something that, no matter what, no one could convince us that it wasn't true.  

What I Know For Sure
It was hard because there are SO many things that I know to be true and so many things that I have learned these last 11 months.  But above all, I've learned so much about God's love and patience.  I've been so humbled during this time and nothing brings out your weaknesses more than missionary work.  But God offers his atonement to all.  He offers his love to us all. No matter what. And every time that we recognize our weaknesses and turn to him, he makes us stronger. every time. 

No one could ever convince me that there isn't a God, and that he doesn't love us.  And no one could ever convince me that the atonement isn't real, and that we don't need it every day.  Because it is real and we do need it every day..and as we turn to him and give him everything he makes our weaknesses strong. 

Bacci Bacci

With love from ROME! (still)

Sorella O'Connor

(Email Sent - January 7, 2014)

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