23 April, 2011

April Miracles

 4/30/2011 - Il Libro di Mormon è miracoloso!
La nostra meta è di regalare 2 libri di Mormon, ma abbiamo alzati gli standard perchè riusciamo a regalarne 10 al GIORNO! PER ME È IL PRIMO MIRACOLO, parliamo tanto per strada. avendo fermato una donna siamo riuscite ad avere un appuntamento con lei e l'abbiamo rivista in settimana, insegnato, e la rivedremo ancora. Sento che se fermiamo tutti troveremo le persone che il signore ha preparato per noi.

4/30/2011 - Members are inspired
We have had so many incredible miracles this week. It's been outrageous. One in particular was when we were working in Lodi the other day. Bidone. With a member. Major bummer! But that's okay. We went off to do some finding work, and the member we were with thought it was best to go down a certain street. So...off we went! We did some casa there and found an amazing kid named Matt. He invited us back for Monday night. We went back on Monday night and bam! The whole family was there just waiting for us. We had the same member with us, and had an incredible lesson of inspired questions and talk about the Restoration. The mother started crying as the member bore his testimony. She afterwards told us that she had been praying for a long time that God would send missionaries or someone to their home to bring them the truth that would solve the problems in their lives. She then told us that she knew that tonight God had answered her prayer; we had been instruments in his hands to, by His Spirit, share the words that they needed to here. We went back again the other day to see Matt and he's just incredible. I love him! This family is amazing. The Lord is guiding us all the time, every time. It's great!

4/30/2011 - Makeup + kids = miracle!
This week, we had an awesome experience as we taught Liliana on Thursday.  We were exhausted after a long day, and prayed hard for the energy to stay awake and teach her what she needed to hear.  Her children, Samuele (3) and Emma (5), were not being very quiet for the first 15 minutes.  And then, Emma began to take her mom's makeup and put it on my companion.  As my companion was distracted, I continued to teach.  But, then it was my turn for a makeover, apparently.  Emma came to me and proceeded to put lip gloss on my face.  I looked at my companion and tried hard not to laugh as I saw her terrible makeup job.  In the end, the two of us were covered in caked-on eye shadow, lip gloss, perfume, and lotion. 
But it didn't matter.  We stayed awake without a problem.  Most importantly and amazingly, Liliana was not distracted at all.  She didn't laugh at us, but listened intently to our words.  We went through the baptismal questions with her, and she bore a strong testimony in answer to every question we placed before her.  I know that Heavenly Father loves her because I have seen it.  She is a wonderful woman, a great mother, and a chosen Daughter of God.  I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to testify of this knowledge to the people here.  

4/27/2011 - Dreams come true
Well as far as I’m concerned, every referral from a member is a miracle. We dream of getting referrals and when we really get them it’s like a dream come true! On Sunday, I had a member, a young Peruvian mother, pull me aside and tell me all about her friend who has had a hard life and who needs the Gospel. She told me that she thought we were special missionaries, and asked us to come over to her house today so that we could introduce the gospel to her friend! I love our ward, and I know that as we continue to work with them and strengthen them, they will help us and help the work! We are so excited to meet her friend!

4/27/2011 - Amici dei membri sono i migliori
Domenica scorsa, sono venute 17 simpatizzanti in chiesa! 14 erano parenti e amici d'una famiglia membro che stava benedicendo il suo bambino. Purtroppo non abbiamo potuto parlare con tutti ma abbiamo messo un tavolino con tanti libri di mormon e opusculi e loro hanno preso tutto! adesso vedremo come possiamo contatarli a tutti.

4/27/2011 - Sentendo lo Spirito
Abbiamo un nuovo contatto a cui insegneremo la 1° lezione oggi. Lui era a casa di un simpatizzante ed ha sentito lo Spirito mentre insegnavamo ed ha voluto anche lui che andassimo a casa sua.

4/27/2011 - Allergies put on hold
Yesterday, we were doing casa. It was near lunchtime and I was getting tired, and hungry, and my allergies were driving me crazy. My companion felt like we needed to do casa in one more apartment building before we went home for lunch. I tried my best to put on a happy face and in we went. It was awesome. Right when we started knocking on doors my allergies stopped and I started to forget about myself. And lo and behold, we met an awesome lady. We have an appointment with her on Saturday! After we talked to her for awhile we finished with all of the rest of the doors in the building and we left. Right after we exited the building, I started sneezing again. I really think that the Lord helped my allergies to go away for that half hour just so I could really focus and we could meet that lady. It was awesome!

4/27/2011 - Speak and someone will hear
After lunch, we got on the bus as we always do to go to the metro station.  My companion and I immediately saw this woman sitting down and we feel impressed to talk to her. I started talking to her, but could tell that she really isn't that interested. We talked for a minute about Jesus Christ and I bore her my testimony and then she got off the bus.  So we thought nothing of it.  That is, until we got off the bus and started walking to the metro. 
We heard this voice behind us screaming, "Amico, amico!" This little Peruvian man comes up to us and tells us that his name is Samuele, and that as we were speaking to that woman on the bus, he felt something inside that gave him peace.  He then had a powerful thought come to him that he should talk to us, but he didn’t know why.  He told us how he was so nervous in his life right now and he has been praying all week that God will answer his prayers. We told him that we had a message for him that would give him the peace he has been searching for and we asked him if we could sit down on a bench for 15 minutes to explain it to him.  He willingly agreed and we taught him the Restoration. He was so sincere and listened to us with real intent.  So we talked about baptism, invited him to be baptized, and he accepted right there.  He said that he felt that what we were saying is true because he felt peace in his heart as we were talking to him, and that he knew that God had answered his prayers by putting us in his path.  So we set up another appointment and he walked away with a big smile on his face, carrying the Book of Mormon proudly in hand.  The Lord is really in charge.

4/27/2011 - Answering the prayer of a missionary
Last Monday, I went on a scambio, and something absolutely amazing happened! It was about 8:50, and we were heading back home for the night. We were walking up to this bus stop and this lady came up to us and asked, "Are you boys the Mormon missionaries?" We said, “Yes, that’s us.” She started telling us that that was the first time she had seen us in that city and that she had been there for 9 years. Then she told us that she moved from Peru 9 years ago to search for a better life. She left her family and everything. She said she had a son back in Peru who became a member of the church a couple of years ago, and that now he is a missionary in Argentina--just like us.
Then, she began to cry, because she said that he called her just a week ago and told her that she needed to find the missionaries here, and that he would find a way for that to happen. I know that we were an answer to his prayers because we found her that night--JUST before we were about to go in. Another great thing is that she started telling us that she needed help from us, because her life was really rough, and she said that she knew we could help her. That was a really cool experience; I know that’s going to go somewhere.

4/27/2011 - Follow the Spirit--Leave plans behind
On Sunday, we had a great experience.  The night before we had planned on knocking doors; but it was Easter and there were many people outside walking around.  We stopped, talked together, and decided to go talk to people in the nearby park.  The second we made that decision, we saw two ladies coming in our direction.  We both had the feeling that we needed to talk to them, so we dropped our bikes right there and hurried over to them.  They were both amazing and super prepared.  We had two other amazing invites in that exact spot - we never had time to even enter the park because the people came to us. It shows that our plans should never take precedence over what the spirit is telling us.

4/27/2011 - The reality of the Spirit
Last, last, last Wednesday after interviews, we were lucky to have been able to arrive home and do some finding work before the night was done.  We had just had a hardcore training about teach to find and the start chart, so teach and find we did. 
Rain started coming down and at about 8:30, it would have been a good time to do some phone calls and head home. But I felt like we should stay just a little longer and do some strada.  At that moment, a man came striding across the street toward us.  He was an older Italian guy, about 60 years old, named Tomas.  We saluted him, taught a brief President Principle, and asked some good questions.  He was a thinker.  We talked about the purpose of life, and exchanged a Piano di Salvezza pamphlet for his phone number.  Awesome! 
Saturday appointment came, and...it was a no-go. Tomas was hard to get a hold of, seemed so very uninterested on the phone, and said he would call us because he had some business to deal with at the time.  Man, he was so cool on the street, though! We felt a big loss, but, as always, the work rolls on!
This Monday, we had a district meeting about patience with others, patience in afflictions, and the Lord's time.  The invite of the week was, simply, be more patient.  Easier said than done.  That night, the rains came a tumbling down.  We had a very distant patch of casa we wanted to do, so off we went, and wet we got.  Hours of little success and it was the planned time to move to a different area.  This area was the last one planned for the night, and a little closer to home.  The rain had even slowed down, as if to make traveling more appealing.  But we stayed. 
31 closed doors later, one opened.  An older man of about 60 years of age opened the door.  "Venite, accomadatevi".  After entering, we knew who this stranger was.  It was Tomas.  Tomas had been very busy of late, putting family matters in place, as his father had passed away only a few months ago. 
We talked.  Almost immediately, Tomas inquired of us the uniqueness of our church.  We taught, we listened, and we testified.  Tomas took great interest in the First Vision and Joseph Smith.  We introduced the Book of Mormon and its role as the keystone of our religion.  He understood.  He read the entire introduction out loud, and had many questions regarding the peoples and plates.  We taught, we listened and we testified.  When Tomas read the last 2 paragraphs of the introduction, we knew what it was saying very clearly.  
I felt inspired to tell Tomas, "If this book is true, Tomas, your world has just been changed forever."  He nodded his head with understanding, still pondering very deeply.  We testified of the truth of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration, and miracles.  Tomas then asked us, "What is a miracle?"  We told him, simply, "The fact that we (my companion and I) are here."  He understood, and then added, unrecognized by us, that there had not been a stormy night, let alone, a cloudy day, since the stormy night when we first found him, almost 3 weeks ago.  Cool thing to notice.
At the end, we read Moroni's promise, and asked Tomas if he could kneel with us and pray to ask if the book was true.  "Sì, certo" had never sounded so good before.  It had been many years since Tomas had prayed, so we explained the simple manner in which we are asked to pray. Tomas asked the Lord in prayer to know if the Book of Mormon is true, and then we waited and listened.  The Spirit was strong.  After some time had elapsed, I felt inspired to ask Tomas if I could offer a prayer as well.  I gave thanks to the Lord, and asked him to help Tomas know if the book was true.  When we rose off our knees, the Spirit was still strong.  We asked Tomas how he felt; he felt good and knew it was true.  The Spirit is real.
Tomas committed himself to read the Book of Mormon and continue to ask if it is true.  Words fail to truly describe how we felt when we left George's house that night.  But I think the best way to word it would be, WOW!  MIRACLES!  YES!  (It even had stopped raining for our bike ride home!)
Many people we find confront us with the question, amidst all the calamities of the world, "What is God doing in the world today?"  The answer:  The same things he's always done yesterday, today and will do forever...  Miracles!

4/27/2011 - Have a boost!
 After one week of finding work and having never entered once, my companion and I were a bit pensive as to why things were going how they were. We didn't know what more we could do in terms of our attitudes, motives, faith, diligence, etc. After our discussion and upon entering the next palazzo, we were met by a woman at the door and we started to talk to her about happiness. After our invite, she allowed us to enter and we taught her, her husband, and her son. We left with a return appointment and an extra boost to our spirits. This allowed us to overcome the way the next palazzo threw us out! It was exciting and incredible to find a family to teach and it was a huge miracle from the Lord.

4/27/2011 - Beautiful words
We were doing casa, and we knocked on the door of a man who said, "I'm old, and I don't believe anymore."  Then, his big, fat cat came to the door as if to say, "I don't believe either, and you are wasting your time."  I remembered my last "cry" and didn't want to make a fool of myself.  So I just said, "Well, maybe one day he'll find joy."  The funny thing is that, looking back on that meeting, I thought he looked kind of like a stake president, but I didn't say that out loud because he had basically shut the door in our faces.
 The next morning, as we were walking back to our bikes after receiving a bidone, we met this same man.  We didn't recognize him, but he recognized us and stopped in the middle of the walkway starring at us.  My companion said, "Can we help you?"  (She's awesome about always having the right thing to say).  Then he said, "Don't you remember me?  You knocked on my door last night!"  We didn't remember exactly who he was.  We had knocked on probably hundreds of doors the day before.  Then he said, "I'm the one who said I didn't believe anymore.  But I want to correct myself.  I do believe in Jesus Christ, but not in churches." 
Then he went on to describe how he had lost a leg, an eye, and his other knee, how he'd had cancer and his heart was bad.  His wife had all kinds of health problems and now was losing her memory. Then he said, "I go to church, I confess to the priests, I give them my money, I recite my prayers, and I am not a bad person.  I always try to do what is right, and yet I receive no help from the church.  I don't believe that the church can help me."  Then we talked to him and told him about how repentance shouldn't involve paying money to the church, but how it is a personal thing between us and God, and most of all, that God wants to hear our prayers in our own words!  I was afraid that he might send us away again, but then we asked if there was anything else we could do, or if we could share more about our message.  He said, "Your words are beautiful.  They have helped me a lot already."  And then he agreed to meet with us! 
Yesterday, we taught him the first lesson, and he said he felt that what we were saying was true.  We told him that it was the Holy Spirit, and he said, "I will read and pray, and I also want you to teach my son and his family."  Awesome! Then, we scheduled the next lesson for tomorrow night, and he's going to try to have his son come, too.  At the end, it was beautiful, because we asked him if he wanted to pray.  He quickly recited "The Lord's Prayer" and then we taught him how to pray in his own words.  Then he did it, and it was so beautiful!  If nothing else, he has the Book of Mormon and now knows how to pray to his Heavenly Father in his own words!  But maybe he will be a stake president someday!  

4/27/2011 - Change is always possible!
James is getting baptized on May 14 with Michael! It was an awesome moment. Michael is amazing. Anyway, he had accepted a baptismal date for May 14, so we brought him a baptismal calendar to help him prepare. We meet with him on Tues, Thurs, and Sat mornings in the church at 10 am, and then with James the same days at 11, so they almost always see each other as James is coming in and Michael is finishing his lesson. Anyway, the day we gave Michael the calendar, before he left and after James had arrived, I asked Michael to tell James why he had decided to be baptized. (It was like Michael was the member even though he's not yet.) Michael bore this beautiful, super strong testimony about how he knows this is the right path to follow the Lord Jesus Christ (Michael was not Christian two weeks ago) and then be baptized. He showed James his calendar and said, “I don't know when you will choose to be baptized, but I know it is a good choice.” James was super touched and that lesson accepted a baptismal date! It is truly a miracle.
The first time we met with James, about two weeks ago, he told us that absolutely under no circumstances could or would he pray. Nor could he become a Christian. Then, the next lesson he peppered us with so many questions, which were actually the perfect questions to ask! He just wants to know about God and Jesus Christ so badly, and he was so distracted by constantly thinking of the next question that he couldn't even focus on the answers we were giving him! The next time, he told us that technically speaking he actually could become a Christian now if he wanted to, but he just wants to adjust the things in his life first. We told him that he could pray without being a Christian, so he started praying. He prayed with complete sincerity. Then, he came to church. The next lesson, we invited him to baptism, but he said the date we had proposed (May 7) was too soon, he needed to know more stuff first. Now he set the date for May 14! James is amazing and has such incredible faith!

4/24/2011 - The best week!
This week has been one of the best, if not the best, of my entire mission.  Yes, it's been very difficult for unavoidable reasons, but it has definitely been worth it.  I've worked harder, been happier, and felt more edified than I ever have before.  We're really being blessed in so many ways for trying to serve with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength.
April 6, 2011 - Strada, talk to everyone, don’t quit when rejected
We were walking down to catch the bus, and we passed by a woman sitting outside a cafe.  We decided to turn back and talked to her.  At first she told us to go away (like everyone when we start talking), but we continued talking for a little bit longer.  When we were about to leave, she made an offhand comment about how her companion died 2 years ago.  We started talking about the Plan of Salvation, and asked if we could come see her.  She said yes, and we went back a couple of days later.  We had a great lesson about the Plan, and we’re going back tonight to explain the Restoration.  We left her with a copy of the Book of Mormon and a chapter, and she said she'd read it.  We are going to see her with a member, so hopefully everything will go well.

4/20/2011 - Second chance
On Sunday, we were on a bus going home and I was talking to a nice guy, Romeo, who was very quiet. I mistook his quietness for a lack of interest, so I just gave him a pass along card. I had regretted not talking to him more, but I moved on.  After a mess of trying to get home from interviews on time, we walked out of the train station, heading home after missing our appointment. We saw a tram and got on. As I walked to the middle, I recognized the guy next to me- it was the same guy from the bus! Apparently he was quiet because he was Romanian! So we talked some more, and he asked if we could meet sometime and gave me his number. He was surprised when I told him we had the Book of Mormon in his language. I was very thankful to get a second chance.
4/20/2011 - Miracle blessing
A week or two ago, this nice south American lady in our ward asked us if we could come to the hospital and give a priesthood blessing to somebody, so we did.  A friend and her family (non-members) from Spain were staying with this member in our ward for a couple weeks. Towards the end of the trip, the little boy, about 7 years old, got SUPER sick and was not getting better and they had to hospitalize him.  The member asked the boy if he would like a priesthood blessing and the boy he said, “Sì! Sì!” 
Then she asked the parents if that would be ok and they agreed. 
We went to the hospital to give the boy a blessing.  Well at this point, Davide(the boy) had a 105.8 F fever!  He was not looking too good but was sleeping when we came in. So, we explain to the mother what the priesthood is-the same power that Christ and His Apostles had. My companion anointed this sick, sleeping boy, and I sealed it and gave him a blessing.  I was trying really hard to focus on what the Spirit was telling me to say and I felt good about blessing him that he would heal quickly.  I can't really remember what I said, but I know I blessed him to get better, among other things.  We stayed there for a little bit longer and then left.  Well a few days later, we find out that pretty soon after we left, Davide's fever went away and he walked out of the hospital the next day!  How sweet is that!?  I was SOO happy to hear that!  That is like, straight out of the New Testament or something!  How amazing is that?  Man, I love the restored church!  And who's to say there is no such thing as miracles today? Yeah right! We got the information of the mom and have already given the referral to the office.  The family is back in Spain now and should be getting a phone call...and then baptized soon!

4/20/2011 - Led by the Spirit
We were at a train station, sitting on a bench, and making some phone calls while we waited for our ward mission leader to arrive and come to an appointment with us.  So as I was making a call, a woman comes up to my companion, says "Anziano?" and my companion begins to talk to her.  She then begins to explain to us how she has read the whole Book of Mormon and met with the missionaries 6 or 7 years ago and was about to be baptized but did not go through with it.  She told us that she was just walking home and saw us but kept walking and when she got to her palazzo she felt like she needed to turn back and talk to us. 
She walked all the way back to the station and came up to us.  She told us about how she saw that the world was in a state of apostasy and that she feels like she needs to find the true church and that she needs to hurry because there are signs of the second coming happening everywhere.  We were shocked that she even knew what the word apostasy meant.  We talked to her about the restoration a little bit and then asked her how she felt while talking to us.  She went on to explain how she felt like she had "come home" while talking to us because we have a spirit about us that just naturally tells people to come and talk to us.  She expressed her sincere feelings with us and her desire to change and to be baptized.  We were shocked.  She is so elect we couldn't even believe it.  This was just another testimony that the Lord is preparing people for us and He guides us to them and them to us.

4/20/2011 - A firm decision produces a powerful change
We're working with a less-active 19 yr. old girl who has decided that she really wants to go to the temple to perform baptisms for the dead. I've been amazed to see how this girl who was impossible to see, impossible to get a hold of, and never kept commitments, is being completely changed by her desire to go to the temple. She's introducing us to others who want to learn about the gospel (her boyfriend, cousin, and then her relatives who we're teaching), keeping commitments, and is being completely honest with us about her fears about returning to church after being inactive for a year and a half. It makes me so grateful that the Lord never writes any of us off. I felt as though I had written off this young woman. I was upset at her disrespect and selfishness with all of the appointments she'd never show up for or rides we'd organize and she wouldn't take to church. But how often is it the same way with the Lord and yet he continually reaches his arms out towards us. She's changing sincerely and profoundly and I'm grateful that I have the chance to see these changes.

4/20/2011 - Members and invites=Miracles!
Last night we had a lesson with Raquele.  Her son had been pretty much anti-everything, and told her so, which then made her cry. We brought a member to the lesson who went to talk to him in the back room for a bit.  After about 20 minutes he came out, tame as a kitten, and said he wanted to learn more about the gospel.  We'll probably continue to teach him, or if we feel we need to pass him to the Anziani, we'll do that instead.  Another miracle is that we now have a family of 4-3 of them of baptismal age.  We actually found them doing casa, and our approach was 'eternal families,' which I never use on men.  But when he poked his head out of the window, I felt like I should say that I knew families could be together forever.  He invited us up, and (luckily) his wife and daughters were there.  We taught a lesson about families, and we have a return appointment tomorrow!

4/20/2011 - I miracoli sono ovunque!
Stiamo vedendo tanti miracoli. Abbiamo fatto la serata famigliare con una famiglia e le amiche della figlia. Eravamo tutte donne. Abbiamo cantato, fatto un gioco e portato un messaggio durante cui hanno sentito lo spirito. Abbiamo invitato loro a spiegare il nostro messaggio e loro hanno accettato. Hanno parlato con la mamma della loro amica, e hanno detto di aver sentito un sentimento forte. Per loro strano , che non hanno mai provato ma che hanno paura. Un uomo alla porta, che si è operato 3 volte di tumore, non ci ha fatto finire di parlare che ci ha dato il numero e che vuole sapere il nostro messaggio. Torneremo con un membro.
Poi, c’è Mary. Lei è cinese e sentir pregare lei è la cosa più bella della mia missione. Questa settimana la invitiamo con una data. Lei è simpatizzante da anni ma, guidate dallo spirito la abbiamo invitato al battesimo. Ha detto che vorrebbe battezzarsi, ma deve sistemare un pò di cose. Si è tanto legata a noi e ci dice sempre che è felice che ci sono le sorelle. Abita vicino a chiesa e possiamo spesso avere contatti con lei. Abbiamo fatto attività e lei ci dice sempre che sente lo spirito...wow!

4/20/2011 - FOUND: Elect woman
We had been working hard--inviting and doing casa. Finally, this lady opened the door and said come on in, but she was alone so we couldn't. We told her who we were, and set up an appointment with her in church. She seemed really interested, but a little bit shocked. Finally, after we confirmed the time and place and exchanged phone numbers, she told us, “You aren't going to believe this. Four months ago, I asked my friend if she knew anything about the church that the American boys were a part of.” She lived in California for a year, had been to our church and wanted to go to Utah, but she ended up not being able to. Her friend told her no, and she asked her friend if she saw them to ask them. Then, 2 days before we came, she asked her friend again if she had seen us and she still hadn’t. Then we knocked on her door! She said, “I don't think this is a coincidence.” You’re right, it’s not! God sent us to that palazzo to find her. I am sure about it. We taught her this morning and she was amazing! We had a member there who did great and she had so many questions. She is truly a miracle!

4/20/2011 - A full house at church
The miracle was church.  There was a branch council meeting!  We also had about 60 members at sacrament meeting, when usually there are 20!  It was packed!  People had to be outside the chapel to be able to fit! The best part was that there were7 less actives there! Hopefully they will keep on coming.

4/20/2011 - Prayers are answered
It had been a while since we had actually entered into a house while doing finding, so while we were in an elevator in a palazzo, we said a pray and asked the Lord for his help in finding someone to teach. He answered. As soon as we stepped off the elevator, we talked to a man in the hall and asked him if we could share a message about Christ for 5 minutes, and he said ok. He told us that he has member friends and that they gave him a Book of Mormon. We asked him if we could come back and he told us yes. We are excited to make an appointment for the coming week.

4/20/2011 - Eternal families
There were so many miracles this week! I must choose one. While doing casa, we knocked on the door of a guy who was mega atheist because his son died when he was 2. We were bearing testimony like crazy, but this guy was a little hard. He showed us a picture of his son. Then, as we were doing casa we talked to a lady and her son and they let us in. On the wall was the picture of the same kid that had died. She said that it was her nephew. We taught her a powerful lesson about eternal families. She did not give us a return appointment, but we have a number of both the father and the aunt of this boy and it will be awesome to teach them together!

4/20/2011 - Efforts are rewarded
Our miracle is Talia, our baptismal date.  We had been tracting with little direct results from our efforts.  However, I feel that God, aware of our effort and desiring to reward us, produced results from elsewhere.  She found us.  It's simple, but a miracle nonetheless.  God is so good.  I love Him. 

4/20/2011 - The Spirit does wonders
So, last week I wrote you about that one inspired palazzo where we taught a lesson and gave out 2 BOMs. This week I, without any enthusiasm, called Sara, the lady we taught (she was not super interested when we taught her). And surprisingly, she agreed to see us again! We taught her again and she said something like, "Quando venite l'altra volta faccio questo e quell’altro..." We didn't even have time to ask for another appointment and she already proposed it herself! WOW! Then her relative showed up and started making rude comments about us and religion in general. We were at the point of closing prayer, so we smiled and invited him to join us. Right after the prayer, he began to apologize for his rude behavior and added that maybe next time he will join us and listen to our message. "The Spirit of God as a fire is burning!"
4/20/2011 - Teach to Find is awesome!
We've just been having some super awesome experiences lately. Teach to Find has been making us have some of the most powerful street contacts ever. I used to not be the type of missionary who loved doing strada, but now I just look forward to contacting people so much--everywhere and every time! Finding work has become the most exciting part of the day, because we know that we will succeed in having awesome, powerful experiences with people the moment that we meet them. 
4/20/2011 - L’influenza del Signore
Abbiamo 2 date battesimali e il modo incui le abbiamo ottenute sono dei miracoli per me! Abbiamo visto l'aiuto del Signore in tante occasioni! Non posso descriverle tutte, ma davvero, quando medito e penso a tutto quello che avviene nelle nostre giornate,quando penso a come il Signore metta proprio accanto a noi, a come faccia in modo che persone con le quali desidera che noi parliamo-persone che sta' preparando o che soltanto ci permette di poterle influenzare ed aiutare, quando penso a questo e facile vedere l'opera del Signore!

4/20/2011 - Members are essential
We had four member lessons yesterday. Three of these investigators had never had a member-present lesson. We saw more progress with those three investigators yesterday than in all of the time that we've been seeing them without members (which, as embarrassed as I am to say, is a pretty long time for two of them).
Also, we've been teaching a ten year old from a part member family and we got permission for baptism from the non-member dad!  We all did a fast together and it worked. She's getting in the water on Saturday!

4/20/2011 - Inspired members
We have a few investigators who we don't feel are progressing. We are not sure how we should go about helping them, but we have just been trying. Last week, it seemed like they just were not interested. They are friends with a few members in the branch, and they invited us over to their house for FHE with these investigators. We went, and it was a really great evening. We learned a lot of the needs that these investigators have, and I feel like there is more trust now. We are still waiting to see how everything turns out, but I am really grateful that that member had the inclination to do this, when it was something that we needed so badly.

April 13, 2011 - Spiritual Sacrament
Our new convert said that she took the sacrament and felt really strongly that she had been with God before and that she would do absolutely anything that was necessary to return to His presence again.  She said it was a really spiritual experience. 

April 13, 2011 - Scripture Power
This past week, I was reading and pondering about the importance of the Book of Mormon in my life. It took me by surprise how much I think I take the Book of Mormon for granted, having grown up reading it and loving it. So one morning, I followed the advice from the Elder Wirthlin quote in Preach My Gospel about praying to use the Book of Mormon more effectively in the work. I prayed that morning that we could use the Book of Mormon more frequently and powerfully, and specifically that we could place a Book of Mormon with the first person we talked to that day. It happened! We stopped to talk to a man on the bike path and gave him a Book of Mormon and bore testimony of its importance. But it didn't end there! We ended up giving out four more copies of the Book of Mormon that day! I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon because it has so much power in its pages. I also recently read the article from Ezra Taft Benson about “Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon” and want to make that one of my mission goals--to flood Italy with the Book of Mormon. I know this work is true!

April 13, 2011 - Double Contacted Family
After a lesson, we had some extra time and decided to finish knocking some doors in the neighborhood. We knocked several with no answer or success. Then we knocked one and talked to a young, hard-working father. We taught him and will be teaching him and his family again this weekend. He was amazing. He is one so ready for the truth, and READY for the gospel. During the little front porch lesson, his Mom walked out. I recognized her right away--we had talked to her on the metro days earlier! Coincidence? Of course not! COOL! I am so excited to teach them. They are amazing, and I KNOW that their whole family will get baptized!

 April 6, 2011 - Dragnet style miracle
Saturday night 20:00- Casa area is cold as ice.  My companion felt like he saw some other random place during the day that had shiny new palazzi.  We go. 
Saturday night 20:30- New casa area is pretty slow.  Strange single house/gated community kind of place.  Most reject us at the ringer.  One Albanian man opens us up and walks out to meet us.
Saturday night 20:45- First miracle: he talks to us about religion at this time when it is late. 
Saturday night 20:50- Seemingly uninterested, we wrestle with him a little for a return appointment.  We get it.  Barely.  No phone number, just an invite to repass by. 
Sunday 17:45-  We repass by.  He doesn't answer. 
Sunday 18:00-  We re-repass by.  We ring.  They answer and let us in.  Meet his wife and little boy.  After explaining who we are, wife tells us that she wants to be baptized, and also her kids.  We explained that we don't baptize little children.  She feels in debt to the Lord because she saw a miracle with her sick daughter's health.  Cool.  Lots of other stuff happened.  Asked us to invite her to baptism.  We accepted.  She accepted. 

April 13, 2011 - The following week - Children quieted during film
Well I recounted our favorite miracle already, but to make it official, we went back to teach Mara and Gian, and it went really well.  We watched the Restoration film and it was amazing.  The little boy, David, was a little noisy playing during parts of it, but, I know that the Lord is on our side, and he quieted little David for the last 8 or so minutes of the film, to help preserve the reverence of the 1st Vision.  I felt like the angels of the Lord had shut the 'lions' mouths' (not that David is a lion at all, he’s actually a very sweet well-mannered boy) for us because we were sharing His message.  Amazing family, great lesson, amazing member testimony, it was all a miracle. 

 April 13, 2011 - All you need to do is open your mouth!
We were walking home after a night of casa, and we saw a woman waiting at the bus stop. It was basically 9pm, and we had just stopped the last lady we saw, and thankfully, my companion decided to talk to this woman. Her name is Lara and she's from El Salvador. As we started talking, she told us that her cousin is Alessandro, this great member that was baptized almost 2 years ago. So, we started talking, and she was friendly to us, because we know Alessandro. She gave us her phone number and we're going to go see her next week (she's going to be out of town this weekend). But how great! We were really excited. And, she was only waiting for the bus, because she had missed the one that came earlier. Right after we finished talking, the bus came and she went home. It was perfect timing.

April 13, 2011 - All you need to do is open your mouth!
This week I have really noticed the little miracles within my own heart. When a woman, heart and mind closed by a mix of hatred and fear, slammed a door in our faces, refusing us entrance into an apartment building, I didn't feel any consequent anger or frustration. I didn't say a disparaging comment to my companion about her to try to shrug off the feeling of disappointment that can often accompany rejection. I just felt within me a distant pain for her. My heart wanted to help to try to heal her pain. It is truly a miracle to feel my heart as it swells with the charity I have prayed so hard to receive. I still pray for that woman in my heart, that one day she will allow the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change her life.

April 13, 2011 - sempre sforzarsi a parlare senza scoraggiamento
Sto vedendo un sacco di miracoli negli ultimi giorni, non perchè sia un periodo diverso dagli altri, ma solo semplicemente perchè insieme al mio collega stiamo cercando di capire veramente quali miracoli ci attorniano ogni giorno. Il miracolo piu' bello che ci è accaduto in una maniera piu' ricorrente negli ultimi giorni lo chiamerei il miracolo di una testimonianza. Sono almeno 3 volte che incontriamo persone che in un primo momento ci dicono che non hanno assolutamente tempo e che per loro non è importante il ruolo di Dio o addirittura dicono che Dio non esiste veramente. Dopo pero' aver portato ogni volta la nostra testimonianza le persone dimostrano con le loro azioni che iniziano a dubitare della loro posizione e che "magari un Dio realmente esiste" e come conseguenza ogni volta ci è stata data l'opportunità di poter fissare un appuntamento per tornare a visitarli successivamente. Questo mi ricorda quando Brigham Young ha portato la sua testimonianza della sua conversione e ha detto che quello che lo ha sempre colpito del messaggio del Vangelo restaurato è una umile e semplice testimonianza e non complicati sofismi e parole complicate.

April 13, 2011 - Soccer player is answer to prayers
One really huge miracle happened at the end of the night, when we were just finishing and knocking on the last palazzo. Before we started, we had decided to say a prayer, in which I asked God specifically if we could find that person that was ready to see us. God knows best, and he blessed us with an answer to our prayers. As we entered that last palazzo, we passed a man who was going to play soccer. We said ciao, and asked if there was anything we could do for him. He said nothing, we wished him good luck, and he left. Nobody answered at the first door, and as we moved to the next, we heard someone running up the stairs. We turned and it was that same man! Once he caught his breath, he looked at us, and asked if we were Mormon missionaries. “Yes,” we answered. He began to tell us how many months ago some other Anziani had taught him, but that he never finished because he moved away. He then asked us if we could teach him. This is a miracle—divine and pure evidence of God’s direct awareness of us and the work we do. It is so great!  

April 13, 2011 - Waiting produces baptismal date
Last week, I found a guy on the bus named Giorgio, gave him a Book of Mormon, and he said we could teach him. So, we finally had an appointment with him. He took FOREVER to come to the appointment at the church, but we felt like we should wait for him and still teach him, even though it conflicted with our next appointment. We met Giorgio at the bus stop and started walking to the church. First, he was confused over whether or not we were catholic; we said we weren't. Then he asked, "Cosa devo fare per diventare un membro? Posso andare in giro con voi e predicare?" We said we would talk about it and not until he was a member.  We did a giro of the church, showed him the baptismal font and he already wanted to be baptized! So we taught the restoration and we could tell that he was feeling the spirit, so we talked about it and he already felt that the church was true—“La nostra chiesa"—he called it. So, we set a baptismal date for May 8th! It was really awesome and he's coming to church on Sunday.

April 13, 2011 - A plethora of miracles in a smidgen of time
We had some pretty cool experiences right after interviews. Also, throughout this whole week we have been having our investigators and less actives calling us saying that they want to meet. A few days ago, we got a phone call from an investigator that I have never met and he said that he wanted to meet with us and that he wanted to come to church. We have been trying to reach him for the past two transfers.
 Right after interviews, we had a lesson with a less active who called us the day before to tell us that she wanted to meet with us. She is from Nigeria and she was born in the church. The whole time she’s been in Italy, about 8 years, she has never gone to church. She told us that every time she saw the missionaries, she always felt so happy; she just knew that that was her church and she belonged there. Then, about three weeks ago she had a dream that she was on the bus and she saw two missionaries and that same feeling of happiness and joy came back to her. So, she decided to give us a call and start coming back to church. We met with her yesterday and she is so awesome! She is ready to come back to church. Then, we leave and go outside of the church and are waiting at the bus stop with her when we see this Philippine man ride by on his bike and he yells,"Hey, Elders!" Ovviamente, we stopped him and started talking with him. We found out that he was a less active member, too. We talked for a little bit and set an appointment to meet with him tonight.
We got on the bus and I saw a man that I had met a few weeks ago on the train while I was heading to Ancona for a scambi. His brother is a member and he also said that he wants to meet with us. He will be coming to church with his brother and us, and was sure “100 percent,” he said.
We get off the bus and run into yet another less active, who I had talked to earlier that day. We set another return appointment to meet and to talk about how we can help him.
Oh and I forgot! Yesterday, we ran into a man at the bus stop by our church who used to meet with the missionaries. His name is Henry, and he said that they met with him a lot, but lost contact for some reason. We started talking to him about the Restoration and about the Book of Mormon. He said that he knew that they were true. I had a strong feeling to invite him to be baptized right there on the street, but before I could even open my mouth and start inviting him, my companion was already inviting him to be baptized. He said yes and we are working for him to be baptized on the 29th of April.
It’s amazing! The Lord is truly blessing the work we are doing out here in so many amazing ways. I know that it’s because we are all united in one purpose as a zone. We are united in being 100 percent obedient, and I know that the Lord is seeing this and blessing our work! It was so cool to see the Spirit working through both me and my companion when we were inviting Henry to be baptized and how we felt the exact same thing. This work is true and I love being a missionary and I love my companion! “GEMS” is so inspired and I love it!

April 13, 2011 - Inspired planning
We had an experience that taught us how important inspired planning sessions are.  The night before we had felt we should go to an obscure town outside Bergamo to which we had never been.  When we went there, we ''stumbled'' upon the home of the parents—both non-members—of a member of our ward.  They were almost baptized 20 years ago, and now want to keep meeting with us.  We are very excited!

April 13, 2011 - Change of heart is golden
 We were doing casa and we knocked on the door of a lady from Sri Lanka. At first, she wasn’t interested in what we had to say, but then we started to talk about Jesus and something changed in her. We got her number and gave her ours, thinking that we would just call her another day and set up an appointment. The next day at church, we had a ton of chaos going on as usual, especially with two new missionaries in the city. At the end of church, I was haphazardly looking around and something caught my eye. I saw the Sri Lankan lady with her husband and their one year old kid standing there in the hallway. It was amazing! We set up an appointment for them that day and met with them. They are truly golden and are ready to jump down the baptismal chute next time we see them.

April 13, 2011 - The answer to a dream
One of our investigators told us that he had a dream where he felt like there was a pressure on him to accept the Book of Mormon. We were so excited. I was literally an answer to a ''mission dream.'' I have always wanted to teach someone that had a dream that the church is true!

April 13, 2011 - Praying on your knees and feeling
We set a baptismal date with Paolo!  We had challenged him to baptism twice, and both times he was on the verge of saying yes, but just couldn't bring himself to say it.  Fortunately, the Spirit did one of those, "open the head, dump in some inspiration and then close it again" things.  I looked over at my companion and said, “I've got an idea.” 
So I said to Paolo, “Look Paolo, you know that God answers prayers.” (We had talked about the first night we had met and also he mentioned how the BOM has been helping him answer questions too). Then I said, “We are going to get down on our knees right now and you are going to ask God if you need to prepare for the 30th of April and then we are going to sit in silence and listen to the spirit.” 
So we did.  He said a simple and humble prayer and then we sat there, all 4 of us praying silently.  It was powerful!  Then our member, who is slightly older, had to sit back down because the tile was hurting his knees.  And then my companion sat down with him.  And I thought, ‘Well someone has to stay down here with Paolo.’  So it was me and him kneeling on the floor together for over 10 MINUTES praying!  Absolute silence!  It was so powerful!  It was awesome! Then, Paolo looks up.  Our member says, "How do you feel?" and Paolo replies, "I feel good.  I feel warm inside."  And he said, “I have an answer.” 
And our member said, “What is it?”  And then Paolo said, "I need to prepare." 
OH MAN!  You could see the fireworks go off in my head!  It was amazing! We are SO excited! If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is!

April 9, 2011 - The power of prayer
One of our sweeter miracles of the week happened on new missionary day. In all the excitement of the new missionaries on the metro on the way to Duomo, a couple of the sisters (Sorella Smith and Silva) didn't make it off the train at Duomo and kept right on going out of sight. We had an emergency plan of what to do and where to go in the case anyone got lost, but we later found out that the Sorelle hadn't remembered or written down the name of the metro stop they were to go to and wait at. We had scrambled Sorella Burgoyne and Simkins from the office to go to Famagosta and meet them, but they didn't go there, nor did they come back to the Duomo to meet the rest of our group. With his group of 11 missionaries at Piazza Duomo, Anziano Gray bore a brief testimony of the miracle making power of prayer, we circled up and offered a prayer asking the Lord to bring back the Sorelle.
We learned that at that exact moment, literally exact moment, Anziano Mangrum and his missionaries had decided to pray, as WELL as Sorella Burgoyne and Simkins... and no one had said anything to anybody. Then, literally, literally 2 minutes after we finished praying... we got a phone call. Found. The Sisters had finally managed to find a working pay phone and called in their location. We got them back, but only when we finally went back to elementary school and asked the Lord for help. After that, finding our Sorelle was just a minor detail. It was super awesome. I know that we ask the Lord for what we need in faith, he delivers. Every time.

April 6, 2011 - Take time to meditate and visualize
My miracles this week seemed to all be very personal, mostly answers to prayers, but they were powerful spiritual witnesses to me that God is aware of who I am and hears my prayers. One thing in particular that happened this week was an impression I got during my personal study, that I was going to find the future stake president. I have never had a real impression of that kind and I felt it in a way that I can’t explain. It gave me the desire to be working just that much harder to make sure I didn't let the opportunity pass me by. The experience happened towards the end of the day just as we were traveling. I saw a man on the train a few booths behind us and I thought 'Well, I can't let this pass me by.' So I went over and started talking to him. It seemed to me that everything just clicked, that the man truly was prepared to talk to me, and afterwards I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and change of countenance. I don't know what will happen from the invite, but I felt that a miracle went on in my life and in the life of Stefano.

April 6, 2011 - The Lord blesses families back home
UCONN won the 2011 NCAA Tournament!  My dad and I are HUGE UCONN basketball fans. That's not necessarily the miracle though.  Before I left on my mission my father was less than supportive. He felt (and I must admit I felt the same way) that the result of being away from each other for two years would diminish or weaken our relationship.  At the beginning, the thought of my serving a mission actually made our relationship worse.  Hearing his joy about the NCAA tournament was great, but the thing that got me was afterwards was that he expressed how much more happy he is that I am on a mission. The change of heart he has developed during the course of my mission is truly a miracle. A dedicated two-year mission really does strengthen relationships. My miracle today is the overwhelming gratitude I have felt for all the blessings the Lord has given me since I've been out here.

April 6, 2011 - Great tithing lesson
Maria and Liliana came to watch a session of conference with us on Sunday, and afterwards, we taught them Decima with two members. The lesson was great because Maria bore her testimony about tithing and told us a crazy miracle story that happened to her years ago in Albania. She and her kids were pretty much homeless but they still made an offering to their evangelist church and that same day a group of Christian missionaries from Scotland came up to her and said, "We have been searching for a women with three children to give a blessing from God and we know it's you." They gave her 150 Euro! They haven’t gone to church in the 6 years they’ve been in Italy, but Maria has been saving money in a huge jar to offer to the Lord once she finds the right church. It was the best tithing lesson I have ever had.
April 6, 2011 - Diligence (example) brings blessings
We received a bidone for the appointment we had scheduled between Conference sessions, so we decided to do some Teach to Find near a metro stop. Our new converts were on the metro with us and they were intrigued about what we were planning on doing. We explained a little and they watched us speak with a few people. I thought they were waiting for a bus when they turned to us and said, "We're going to our nephew's house, do you want to come meet them?" We ended up meeting her niece who lives nearby, along with her husband and children, and the nephew and sister in law who lived over there, too! We gained a lot of new contacts, all because we strove to diligently use our time.

April 6, 2011 - Testimony of fasting
 One of our baptismal dates decided to fast to see if baptism was right. She is 15, and she called me and asked if it is ok to drink water. I told her that a fast is supposed to be a sacrifice, but if she was going to die that she could. Christ wouldn't want her to suffer. But she told me the next day that she ended up not drinking anything and she said that it was the first day since she set her date that NOT one doubt has entered her mind that what she is doing is wrong. She said it strengthened her surety that this is the right path to take. I was blown away by that experience. Fasting is truly the magnifying glass to prayer.

April 6, 2011 - Listen to the prompting
For me, amongst the myriad of miracles this week, the biggest miracle was from a street contact. We were careening towards our investigator on our bikes to pick him up for conference when I saw a man on the side of the street. Naturally, I didn't want to stop and talk to him because we were late and booking it in the opposite direction. But just quietly the thought graced my mind: What's his salvation worth to you, Anziano? An awkward turn around? a few more minutes late? God stopped us with a well placed red light again, and I finally united my body with my spirit and headed back to contact Michael. We just went up, introduced ourselves and asked for his number so we could meet with him. And he gave us all of it willingly. I don't know and won't see the end of the story but I'm grateful that the Lord speaks with and guides His children, and that He loves me and Michael enough to push us in the right direction.

April 6, 2011 - Great members-> great referrals-> baptismal dates
This week was amazing! We set 4 baptismal dates! They are all such awesome people.  Two are a couple who are so open and so ready for baptism. It took some effort to get the man to commit, but he said he would. The other two are referrals from a member in our branch, who is my hero.  If every member in this church were like her, this church would grow so fast! These two men she found both said yes to baptism. All are for April 30th, and we’re praying for the best!

April 6, 2011 - The Lord is in charge
Saturday morning we were doing casa all morning and were getting a bit dreary.  We decided to sit down for a second on this bench in the palazzo, re-align ourselves, and re-focus our minds on why we were knocking doors and what we were there to do.  The very next door we knock on, a man opens up and lets us in. We find out that he wants more peace in his family and feels that he is at conflict with himself and wants to be at peace.  We had a great lesson to finish off the morning and once again realized that the Lord really is in charge.

April 6, 2011 - Talk-you never know who’s listening
 Yesterday we were on the bus and we began talking to a man that was near us.  As we talked, he became uneasy, and we began to see that he really wasn't that interested.  However, a woman walked up to us because she had heard what we were talking about, and asked us if we were the Mormons.  We smiled and told her that we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, well known as the Mormons.  She then told us that she was very interested and wanted to know about us, and immediately gave us her address and phone number.  We gave her our information, and then got off at our stop.   

April 6, 2011 - Unexpected results not coincidence
There’s always something good that comes from bringing homemade goodies! This time the dolce was chocolate chip cookies, and carrying them on a plate while on bikes is not an easy task. But it paid off. Actually, maybe the blunt of the success had not as much to do with the cookies as it did the member that we brought to our lesson.
The investigator: A mother, Sarah, from New Zealand with her 8 year old son and 6 year old daughter.The plot: Teach the plan of salvation with a commitment to come to church.
The twist: The Italian husband who is mad at God is home from a business trip and decides to participate in the lesson.
The lesson: Using the members language and missionary skill to our advantage, we were able to address both the restoration and legitimacy of Joseph Smith (for the husband) and teach the Plan of salvation is relation to the restoration (for Sarah and also to address the husband anger of God letting a close friend die).
The miracle: the husband that we thought might not approve of his wife meeting with the missionaries and could be an obstacle for the wife’s baptism wanted to participate in the lesson. He told us about how he never prays and hates God, but by the end of the lesson he offered the closing prayer. He wants to meet with us more--the whole family together--and is excited to read the BOM and know for himself if what we say is true. I know that there was more to it than us getting lucky that the father reacted that way and now they are listening to the gospel together.  I am sure the Lord is directing this family's progress towards the celestial kingdom.