23 March, 2011

March Miracles

Here is a plethora of miracles that have happened here in Italy in this last month of March.  I hope that you will enjoy them as much as we have!

(Mar 24, 2011)  
     From the past address we had from the Assistenti at interviews, and also from reading PMG, I have decided that there really is a better way to do missionary work, and that is through the ward.  Whitewashing this coppia last transfer was a little harder than my companion and I thought it would be, but our hard work with the ward is really paying off now.  
     Last week, we received four referrals from the ward, and a few more said that they had friends they wanted us to teach!  This is HUGE for me!  This has never happened to me before!  These referrals we are teaching are coming to church and they already have this great support system!  This means the ward trusts us and knows who we are!  I remember at the last training also, they talked about how we need to make sure the whole ward knows who we are, and we need to talk to people at church. I really believe this will make or break our missionary work, and will make or break our new converts and people we teach.  I am very grateful for the referrals we have received, and I know that God really is preparing people for us to teach as long as we are ready to receive them. 

(Mar 24, 2011)  
     I really like the start chart.  I do it for language study now and it gives more structure to my study.  I am also finding that I don't get stuck on what to say to people as often because I have these memorized phrases I can throw out there when I don't know what else to say.

(Mar 24, 2011) 
     Last week was incredible.  The Lord is so anxious to bless us when we are willing to tear down the traditions and limitations we inflict upon ourselves.  We were riding back from casa in the morning, content for having taught a great couple in Desio, when we passed a young lady at a bus stop on our bikes.  Just as we passed I got that classic thought, Anziano, you should contact that lady. 
     At this point (we ride really fast), I was already a few hundred meters in front of her, I didn’t know if the bus was going to come before I got back, and it’s always awkward bike contacting—especially young ladies all by themselves, we were late for lunch, and about eighty other really good excuses.  But it hit me again and I ended up getting stopped at a light. I turned around to my companion and told him my intentions and he, being the greatest missionary ever, silently turned around and we rode back. 
     I just jumped off my bike and approached the startled lady.  "Hey I know this is really awkward, but have you ever seen missionaries like us?  We bring an extremely important message from Jesus Christ.  What do you know about Christ?"  She gave us her number and address and even called us to confirm she’d received the right number on our card. We met her and her husband the next day in a park. They are from Ukraine and have been looking for a church since they’ve got here. She is concerned because her husband still needs to be baptized but knows he'll be a great follower of Christ because he doesn’t drink or smoke. They were so excited to meet us. They’ll be in church this Sunday and we'll set up baptismal dates for them tomorrow night. 

(Mar 24, 2011)   
     My companion and I were prayerfully trying to plan for the next day and decide where we should focus our efforts.  I spent 10 minutes looking at the map and finally pointed to a spot.  My companion asked me if I was sure because that place was in the middle of nowhere.  I was sure.  That next morning, we went and did some casa in that area.  It was a tough area, because the people weren’t exactly the friendliest.  We were walking down the street when I recognized a palazzo and said this is the one in which we are supposed to do casa.  We rang the citofono and got in and went all the way up to the top and knocked on the first door.  A man answered and we gave him a “teach to find” approach that we had been working on.  He simply told us that he wasn’t interested.  We persisted, and then out of nowhere his little dog ran out of the house and began going down the stairs.  
     I decided to buy us some more time with this guy and said, “I’ll go get the dog… not to worry.”  I ran down the stairs after the dog while my companion stood there talking to the guy.  When I came back, he had the man’s info. 
     We didn’t really think much about it at the time. We finished doing casa and went back home for lunch.  After lunch, we went back out and did casa in a new area.  As soon as we locked up our bikes, the phone rang.  The lady on the other end of the phone was talking really fast.  I had to stop her and ask who she was.  She told me that we had stopped by her house earlier that morning and we talked to her husband.  She said that the night before she had been praying for God to send her heavenly messengers to help her in this time of need.  The next morning we showed up at her house.  I asked her when we could come over and she said, “Right away!  As soon as possible!”  We got back on the bikes and went straight to her house.  We taught her the ten bullet points and the BOM and now we are teaching her and her husband.  I know that the Lord guides His missionaries to find those that are ready for the gospel.

(Mar 23, 2011)   
     We had ward council and discussed Samuele, who is supposed to be getting baptized this week.  He had smoked before and was still in the process of quitting.  This last week, he talked with the bishop in church and committed to quit completely in order to be ready for his baptism this week.  We talked about options for him and they wanted to have him wait a couple of weeks still. I felt prompted to basically argue with them, to explain to them how ready he is and how he found the church and his testimony.  Then I asked them to pray for him for help, so that he can be as ready as the Lord needs him to be this week.  We had come to the decision that if he had stopped smoking by Saturday, he could be baptized.  One of the members in the council suggested that we all kneel down in prayer at that moment and say a specific prayer for him, so we did.  Not five minutes ago, he called me to tell me that he had completely stopped smoking.  How true is this gospel!

(Mar 23, 2011)   
     The Start Chart works!

(Mar 23, 2011)   
     After leaving Zone Conference, my companion and I were so filled with the spirit, and we knew our lesson with Marco and Sarah was going to go great.  We took them over to Stefano's house (our new convert). We watched Finding Faith in Christ, and then we talked about following Christ.  The spirit was so strong, and everyone was in tears.  We then extended the baptismal invite; at first Marco was saying he didn't feel ready. Then Stefano came into play and bore a very sweet testimony and we ended up fixing a date for both Marco and Sarah for the 3rd of April. 

(Mar 23, 2011)   
     I loved Zone Conference.  A lot of the problems that I had were covered in conference, like cleaning the apartments, placing quality Book of Mormons, and asking more inspired questions.  Also, I really like doing the Start chart.  It’s not only something to do at nights and with free time in general, but it has already been really useful in teaching.  

(Mar 21, 2011)   
     Lunedi abbiamo fatto uno scambio con i capi zona e devo dire che è servito tanto sia per me che per il mio collega.  Abbiamo potuto migliorare il teach to find e il lavoro in strada.

(Mar 21, 2011)   
     The miracle for this week was that we were able to set a strong baptismal date!   We have an investigator and her name is Harriet.  We were able to bring a member to her lesson.  It was amazing how the two created a friendship within minutes.  My testimony of teaching with members has grown so strong from this experience.  At this lesson with Harriet, we were going to invite her to be baptized.  At the lesson, the member bore her testimony about baptism while we were standing in front of the font.  It was the strongest testimony ever!  I almost cried.  It was pure, and it was simple, but it was amazing.  At that point, Harriet caught the spirit and asked: “When can I be baptized?”  It was just amazing.  This is what I learned from this experience: 
     1. Members are very important when teaching; they become a huge determining factor.
     2. Testimonies from members greatly help in the conversion process.

(Mar 21, 2011) 
     We had a really, really great district meeting that really changed my outlook on my mission and what I can give and do every day. The Capi Zona came and did training on sacrifice and the blessing we can receive from it in reaching our vision goals.  This mission has not been easy, and at times I have felt sad and useless and even a little homesick.  But the Capi Zona gave us a list of really specific things that we could sacrifice every day on our mission.  Things like going to bed exactly on time, doing area book work every day, language study, what our conversations are about, doing our Book of Mormon reading, etc.  My companion and I really took this seriously, and already in almost two weeks, I think I could say that it has changed my mission and taught me lessons for life!  I wish I had figured this out earlier!  I mean, I think in theory, I already knew what it meant, but it took this District meeting to really get me going.  I don’t think I have ever felt happier in my entire mission!  The more I give and think and pray about our work, the more enthusiasm, energy, and faith I have!  I am very grateful for our mission leaders and the inspiration they give us. 

(Mar 20, 2011) 
     So on Sunday, we were “stood up” by investigators 3/3 times, bringing the total to 10 for the week.  Rather depressed, we decided to try casa by our house.  We began knocking and people were still getting super mad.  We almost gave up; however, we decided to do this last little palazzo.  We got in and found an American who doesn’t speak Italian!  He is now a new investigator.  Persistence and never giving up pays off!  Even when it gets hard, keep going!  God will bless you. 

(Mar 20, 2011)   
     Having had 12 investigators in church has made us ponder a lot.  We saw God's hand bring all these people to church with us and this made us think about how powerful faith in Christ really is.  We have thought about just how anxious God is for His children to come to His church and if we will just invite them and open our mouths to allow the spirit to testify, miracles will happen.  This experience just gave us a glimpse of the potential we really do have as missionaries.  When we are prepared servants, God will send us to as many prepared people as possible.

(Mar 19, 2011)   
     Last Saturday, we received a referral from a member; went to her house and we met Matteo and Lilia from Peru!  They are so ready for the gospel; they asked all the right questions.  They have been searching a long time for the truth.  This Saturday, we will meet with them and invite them to be baptized!  All our hard work—all those 8 hour days of casa—is paying off with the Lord blessing us.  Yesterday, I was on a scambio.  I was a little nervous considering we both are new and don’t speak Italian very well, but we just had faith that we were going to see miracles.
     We went out and worked hard.  I always felt awkward stopping people, especially since I have trouble understanding everything they say, and now I know that that doesn’t matter!  The first guy we talked to, we placed a Book of Mormon with!  We met a lot of people.  It was one miracle after another.  We ended up with 10 contacts, placed 4 BOMs and had 3 lessons!
     We met one lady doing casa, and discovered that her husband died recently.  I didn’t understand her, but I was prompted to share Mosiah 24: 13-14.  During the reading, her countenance changed.  We got her number and a return appointment for the following week!  It was just amazing!  Every person I bore testimony to, I felt the spirit work through me more than I ever have before.  I really cared about every person I talked to and I think that is such a key factor.  I learned so much; I could not have done it on my own.  I know it was the Lord working through me, and I know it was the best experience on my mission so far.  We were so excited!  It is just indescribable.

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