The mother of a dear friend to the missionaries in our ward passed away this week. Her funeral is on Friday. I'll probably sing. She was a very old Brazilian, had only one lung and limited memory, but she was a saint if I've ever seen one. Carried a picture of Jesus with her wherever she went. Used to volunteer in the temple every day back when she lived in Salt Lake City. And she loved the missionaries. She recognized us every time we went over to their house, even though she could hardly recognize her own family. Our friend is doing fine: he knows the Plan of Salvation and that his mother is a lot happier and more comfortable now that she has been for a good number of years. Even so, losing a parent is very hard. We're praying for him.
Elder Russel M. Nelson came to Padova this Sunday evening. He gave a talk in the Sheraton Hotel here to several stakes. It was so hot in that room--or maybe it was just because we were a ton of missionaries standing in the back for two hours. Even so, the Spirit was wonderfully strong as he spoke of raising children in the gospel. He emphasized a few things I jotted down in my Planner: "Children should memorize the sound of their father's voice reading the scriptures to them." "There should be a picture of the temple in every child's room." "The Word of Wisdom allows us to run and not be weary, walk and not faint... and I may add a third promise: you'll be able to play with your great grandchildren." You can imagine how much I--who loves children more than I love water--enjoyed that talk. Teach the children. They need to know.
So... this week was crazy. Why? Transfers, that's why. For those of you unfamiliar with the organization of the mission, every six weeks is a new Transfer: the possibility of being assigned to serve in a new city by the Mission President by way of inspiration. I've spent the last two Transfers in Padova. This marks my last PDay of my 2nd Transfer, and I get to stay in Padova! That's a huge blessing for me, as I love this city, the people it holds, and the wonderful ward.
Besides the city, though, everything else is changing. Anziano Treadway confirmed that I am experiencing the most insane Transfer ever. Usually, you might switch companions, or the other companionship you live with swaps a member. Even little changes like that make a huge difference in the dynamic of the apartment and the work in the city.
Not only am I getting a new companion (Anziano Burr is going to Brescia), but both of the zone leaders are being transfered and replaced, and we're getting a new car, AND we're moving apartments. It's like I'm standing still and the whole mission-world is doing cartwheels around me, cackling at the top of its lungs. I'm not sure what to think, nor will I for quite some time. Maybe in one or two emails my head will stop spinning, but starting tonight when the capi zona leave, I'll be something of a mess.
I've been living with these guys for three months now doing one of the most stressful and bonding works I've ever even heard of. And now, suddenly, they're all just... gone. *snap*
I'll get used to my new life, of course, but that's just it: it'll be a totally new life. It'll be like starting my mission all over again, but with a little more language ability and a lot more ideas of what on earth is going on. Part of me feels kinda depressed and nervous, but most of me is super excited. This'll happen fourteen more times--maybe not this drastically, but that might be a good thing. I got my fever out of the way, right? Why not get my crazy transfer out of the way here at the beginning, too?
I'm glad things are happy and moving back home, and know that I'm doing just fine across the sea as well. It's a bizarre and humbling thought that things keeps chugging along without me in the States. If life can change this much for me in a matter of days, I'll be surprised if I recognize anything when I come home in two years. Wow... it's kind of exciting, isn't it? What a way to learn how life works. Things change. You change. It's just natural. It's our part to make those changes count for our good and the good of those around us--especially the good of those around us.
This life is all about people and the connections between them. Connect to your families, connect to your friends, connect to Christ and your Heavenly Father, and please stay connected to me. I love you all. Here's to another Transfer of miracles in Padova.
Funny story (you can put this on the blog if you want, but I knew you'd love it specifically): because Anziano Burr has been here for FIVE TRANSFERS (that's unheard of), he has a lot of families who love him in the ward. We set up a ton of appointments and for whatever reason 3 of them landed on yesterday (Tuesday). We went to a wonderful old woman's house for lunch and ate an AMAZING pasta dish from Sicilia (which must be where Spaghetti-Os comes from, but it was a lot better than Spaghetti-Os). All four of us went and ate and had so much fun and were STUFFED to the brim. She and her daughter who lives with her adore us and made sure we had a big lunch.
Then we went to the bishop's after a lesson with a bravo Peruvian investigator (who's totally gonna get baptized someday), and Vescovo's wife had prepared a little meal for us... and THEN we went to the Rosa family for dinner and ate ANOTHER huge amazing Italian meal. (The Rosas are the family Nathan Henry taught and baptized. They're amazing.) I have never been so bulgingly full in my life. It was like Thanksgiving times 3. Within a matter of hours. Classic missionary story, eh?
It was so much fun, and it's weird to think it really happened. I really ate in 3 Italian homes yesterday with 3 Italian families (the Vescovo is actually from the Middle East and his wife is Columbian, but they live in Italy, so whatever). Who would have ever thought I could sit down and listen and laugh and eat with Italians? What an enormous blessing.