Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Ciao, tutti! Come va? Posso sentirmi che sto diventando fluente in Italiano, e questo è un sentimento stranissimo! Who'd'a'thunk that I could be speaking this much Italian in less than two months in Italy? I've definitely had the Lord's help, and I honestly think I'll reach my goal of fluency after 3 months. June 20, vengo!
Lots of great stuff to write about this week, but almost zero time. So I'll be brief and share a lot: "a little about a lot of things", as my mom always says. Speaking of which, Happy Mother's Day to all the mamme out there. I got to Skype mamma mia and Dad on Sunday and see/chat with my family, and that was so much fun! I think next time will be better since I have a more clear idea of how it works and what to say. The time difference was sure weird, though... everyone but my mom was dead tired. Ha!
I don't know if it's just the stress of the mission or what, but I've been having some of the weirdest dreams ever. I write a lot of them down in my journal to "study" later--the Italians and Africans here believe so much in the power and significance of dreams. It's starting to rub off on me. Speaking of my journal, I finished the first volume. 180 pages of hastily handwritten experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Pretty cool to thumb through it... I'm sure it'll be even cooler when I'm, like, 50 years old. Or when my grandkids read it. Heehee! What a cool thought. The mission is so important, but I have to keep in mind that life goes on after. The reason to do well right now is to make the future even brighter, eh? That's what I'm learning, anyway.
Italy makes it really easy to immigrate because of their dropping population, so there are tons of people here from Africa and other poorer countries in Europe. It's so much fun to work with Africans. They're very open and energetic and we get to speak with many of them about the gospel. They're just like every other kind of people, of course: there are some that are more bravo than others. This last Sunday I gave a short discorso in sacrament meeting during church in Italian, and that went much less smoothly than the English Gospel Principles class I got to teach to 7 African members of our ward. MAN, that's fun! "And after we chaaaange ourselves--" "amen" "--after we chooose to inherit the glory through the miraculous sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ--" "Lord and Savior!" "--then at that judgement day we will be embraced and led into the ppppeace and the jjjjoy that exists ONLY within the City of God, that great Zion, that Celestial Kingdom!" "Glory glory!" "Amen!"
Yeah, so... I have a lot of fun. I know a lot of doctrine thanks to my mom, and I'm a decent teacher thanks to the amazing examples I've had all my life, and God gives me all sorts of strength and courage when I plead for it, so missionary work is getting more and more fun and rewarding every day. I'm starting to really see why they call it the best two years.
Of course, sad days will come again. I'm sure I'll go through cycles of ups and downs, just like real life. Let me rephrase that, because Elder Holland adamantly teaches that the mission is real life. "This is as close to real life as you're ever going to get!" he said (yelled) in an MTC Devotional. The mission is a microcosm of what's around the corner in a lot of ways, and one of them is this principle of choosing to learn from the hard times. What a blessing to learn that at 19 years old, giusto?
We met with a man from Peru this week who had taken all the lessons in Italy, moved to Peru, and just came back recently. He came to Church last Sunday on his own accord and we scooped him up like pistacchio gelato (which is AMAZING, by the way). We got to teach him and his adorable little family this week in their home. We got to know them and addressed some of his strongest concerns. His fears and doubts are very real and sincere, and we were privileged to spend time with him. We committed him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, because as we were taught recently in Zone and District trainings (as well as in Preach My Gospel), everything hinges on the Book. Joseph Smith called it "the keystone of our religion" for a reason. If the Book of Mormon is true, it's all true. Jesus is the Christ, Joseph was his prophet, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only Church with God's authority to make eternal covenants on the earth today. All answers can be found in the Book of Mormon. I love that book so much. Hopefully they accept our invitations and we'll be able to meet with them again. I'd love to see God work in the lives of such a cute family: him, his Italian wife, and their 5 year old son. Bravissimi.
At the beginning of this email, I used the verb sentire. That's a verb in Italian that means... well... a lot of things. It means "to feel," as in an emotion, but it can also mean "to hear" and "to smell" and "to taste". You might think, "Well, those are kind of important to distinguish." Yeah! I agree! I've been puzzled since the MTC for why those are all bunched into one singular verb.
I came to conclusion this week that sentire means "to sense". And isn't it amazing that we ask people to sense the Holy Ghost with the same word we use to tell them to sense our words in their ears or sense the pasta in their mouths? The Holy Ghost is as real as a sound or a taste or a smell. Feelings and emotions are just as real and enlightening as something you hear. I think that's an important principle that gets brushed aside or even attacked in today's world. What people see or hear or touch doesn't really change them: it is only feelings that truly change people in the end. That's not just a religious principle, either.
Anyway, gotta scapp (scappare: to escape, Italian slang for "I need to leave"). Arrivederci, grazie, e buona fortuna con tutto!