You've always been a big Fourth of July fan, Mom. Maybe it's because you were born in July, or maybe you just have an innate love for our wonderful country. But it's only here in Italy that I've been realizing just how wonderful our country really is, and how much I love the 4th of July. Everything I see that reminds me of home--the stylish t-shirts with the American Flag patterns, the hats that say the names of American cities--makes me shout "AMERICA!" really loud. I've never been more excited for the 4th... tomorrow. I'll have to sing every America song I know. "GOD BLESS AMERICA, the land I love!"
Speaking of blessings from God, hurray for Jax Roy and his awesome name! You didn't let me down, Stephensons. I might have just spelled your name wrong and that might let you down, and if so I apologize. Regardless, what a beautiful baby boy you have. One more precious, adorable spirit in the home. Congratulations! June 28 is a good birthday. Audrey should know.
Speaking of Adult Audrey (I was about to combine those into "adultrey", but that doesn't really work), good for you for surviving 18 whole years! Here's to many, many more, including one at BYU. That is so exciting. You'll have to tell me all about it so I can relive my freshmantastic glory days.
It's really hot here. We sweat a lot as missionaries, but so does everyone else, so it doesn't hinder the work too much. It is uncomfortable, though, especially because of the humidity I'm not used to. We went to Venice today, and you can imagine the humidity of a city on water. It was so much fun, though, because it was Anziano Chipman's and Anziano Sanacuore's first time there. So beautiful. We went down roads I'd never seen before and got some beautiful pictures. The internet here is too slow to share those, but I'll send 'em when I can.
I had a really amazing experience this week I'd like to share. I think I've told you about Prato della Valle, the giant plaza in Padova where we frequent to find more of God's children ready to hear the gospel. We have a certain place where we lock up our bikes every time, but as we were nearing it yesterday, I had the distinct and directing feeling to keep going forward and park our bikes "behind the church". Those three words especially bounced around my head. I followed the call, probably to Anziano Chipman's confusion.
We locked up the bikes on an empty street and started walking. One of the first women I saw I felt impressed to stop. She turned a corner and began walking away, but I shouted "Mi scusi, Signora!" and she turned around. We spent a good ten minutes talking to her and it quickly became clear that she was in dire need of God's love in that very moment. We have plans to meet with her again in the near future. I offered a prayer of gratitude immediately afterwards. I've never felt so guided by the Spirit before, and with such clear fruit from doing so. My faith was greatly strengthened from that.
Anziano Chipman and I are already good friends. I love him, I love working with him and learning from him, and we have tons of fun together. Our apartment still doesn't have gas to cook food and warm up our water... not to mention we have 2 more Anziani living with us for a few weeks thanks to an emergency in Treviso... but we're all still smiling and looking forward to good changes, especially with a new Mission President.
All is well in the Venice Stake of Zion. We saw a baptism last week and have 3 more coming up in the near future. All from other cities besides Padova, but with all the miracles we see from week to week, I believe that will change very soon. Bringing people to Christ is a big job, and a hard job, but it's also a happy job and--as I'm learning--can be a very fun job.
I love my Savior, I love all of you, and I love Italy!! Non sono fluente ancora, ma io posso parlare con qualsiasi italiano nativo che io vedi. Che strano è ad iniziare una conversazione in un'altra lingua!