Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Passo dopo passo!
This is my story. Wow... Mom, you made me tear up! I love you so much, and thank you for including those comments from the blog. All I need to be happy is remember how many people love me. I am unbelievably blessed. I don't apologize for my honesty last week, but I do apologize if it brought anybody down to think I was down. I mean... I was down, but why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.
I love my family so much. I pray for you nightly, many by name. Thank you for your love, prayers, encouragement, thoughts, and examples. Goodness, I can't believe how blessed I am!
I'm in Italy! I remember telling myself before I left that anytime I felt like I couldn't do it or that it was too hard, all I needed to remember was that I'm in Italy. That really hit me sometime last week, and I don't know if I've stopped smiling since. I'm in Italy! Serving a mission! Growing closer to God than I ever imagined and communicating with his children who think, live, and speak completely differently than me. It's so exciting, and so progressive. I love progress. I love growth. I just need to remember how much I love to grow from trials while I'm in the trial. Ha! Don't we all?
I'm finally beginning to understand Italian when I hear it. It's becoming my second language, and I can't tell you how thrilling that is. One of the best parts of that is what's happening in the ward. Now that I can communicate on a very basic level with Italians, I'm starting to get to know the families in the Padova ward. We've even been to a few of their houses for FHE! The famiglia Rosa, who Brother Henry should know very well ;) are delightful. Their home was the first Italian members' home I ever entered, and the spirit there while we shared a brief message was strong. We've also visited the Rotaru family. They're wonderful! They have a little girl named Samanta who is adorable--3.5 years old, brunette, huge eyes, soooo cute. Che carina! We went to their house for FHE a few days ago, and Sorella Rotaru cut Anziano Burr's hair this morning. I got to play with Samanta, and for those of you who know me, there is nothing I love more than being with children. We were under attack from some lupi cattivi but a tigre bravo came and saved us! Haha! It was so much fun. Makes me miss the Henry's a lot. I love you, Henrys!
Another woman in the ward is Sorella Baggio. She reminds me a TON of Mom. Like, it's almost scary... and also super hilarious and comforting. Mom, this next sentence is right to you, but I want to make sure everyone can read it: Every day I'm realizing more and more things you've done for me that I've never even thought about before, and your selflessness and love for me is beyond inspiring. Mom, thank you for everything. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!
Y'know, the mission here has a "battle cry" that President Wolfgramm swears by. They call it "GEM", which stands for Grow Every Missionary. It's based on the principle that missions are about service, and the first person you have to serve is your companion. If you serve your companion, you love your companion, and if you love him, ALL is well. You teach well together, you trust each other, and most importantly, you become friends. Friendship is so important in... well, life. Honestly, if we all focused a little more on strong friendships (and that includes the friendships we have within our families), the whole world would improve.
So how do you become friends with your companion? Yeah... that's the question. All you can do is your best and pray a lot, and trust that God will give you charity and love and strengthen your friendship. I thought all friendship took was Honesty, Loyalty, Generosity, Kindness, and Laughter, but even after all of that, some relationships struggle. I forgot the most important part: those elements are nothing without something we call "the Spark". There must be a moment, an experience, a decision, where you take all of those wonderful things and seal them. Only after the elements are ignited by the spark does true friendship come. And friendship is essential. Without it, there is a great limit on stress relief and lasting joy. With it, life is beautiful and so much fun! Focus on friendships--real friendships.
And guess what? Jesus said to his disciples that he will be our friend if we keep his commandments. President Gordon B. Hinckley often called Jesus his friend. I want to be able to do the same. When it seems you're friendless and things are hard, He's still there. What a relief and a blessing. Discouragement destroys faith, and then everything goes downhill. I cannot be discouraged! Of course I will be disappointed at times, but I must not let that grow into discouragement. There's too much to be happy about. I have so many wonderful friends (like you all!), and I'm in Italy! Who in their right mind can complain about that?
This my last week of my first transfer. "Transfers" are six-week periods of time into which the missions are divided. After each transfer, there's the possiblity you'll be moved to a new area or get a new companion. We got the calls from the assistants to the President this week, aaaaand... nothing's happening to me! Or the other elders in my apartment! I'll stay in Padova with Anziano Burr as my companion living with the Capi Zona (zone leaders), Anziani Treadway and Modugno, for one more transfer yet. I'm so happy! This'll be an amazing transfer: no sickness, and tons of potential investigators. Andiamo!
Anziano Burr is a singer songwriter, and already we've done 2 musical numbers in the ward. They love to hear us sing! It's a lot of fun and a good way to build relationships and trust with the members, especially since I still can't really talk to them. Ha!
Now for the wonderful questions you asked, Mom: as far as cooking goes, there's a really organized system that usually kind of works a little bit. Heheh.... Every week we do "spesa" (shopping) for that week's food at a store called Lidl (leetle). The two companionships in our apartment take turns cooking pranzo (lunch) for everyone. I haven't really cooked yet without help, but I do help a bit and try to learn "recipes". There's a lot of experimentation and stuff... it's so fun! And the food is so good. We have delicious and various pastas every day. And then we don't really have a scheduled time for dinner, but we just snack on stuff at night after our stomachs relax a bit from all the pasta at pranzo. It's so different here... I'll write a letter to Gentry that explains it a bit better. But you better believe that I'll come home in 2 years knowing how to cook real Italian food! Benissimo!
Again, thank you ALL for the encouragement. I need it, and it is in no small abundance. Much love from this missionary! Passo dopo passo!