Elder Stock comes home Saturday? Oh my flying time... that is unbelievable. What an example he has always been for me. I love Tate with all my heart. I hope you're there for his homecoming, Mom, to give him a big "CIAO!" for me. If not, just let him know how much I love him, how much his friendship means to me, and that he'd better write me an email every once in a while!
Sounds like the kids all have busy lives. I can only imagine how busy you are with all that on your plate, Mom. Best of luck! Not that you need it. Thank you for always being a good example for me of taking on hard tasks and finishing them.
This week was good. Really hot and draining, but good. I got to serve in another city for the first time in my whole mission. We do scambi often (companionship exchanges) with copie (companionships) in other cities, but I've always been the one who stayed in Padova. I finally got to go serve in Treviso, a very wealthy, beautiful little town north of Mestre (a land-extension of Venice). I served for about 24 hours with Anziano Miles, a brand new missionary in his first transfer, so I got something of a taste of what it will be like to train a greenie someday.
Anziano Miles is a bravo elder and we had a great scambio. We even got invited into an older couple's home to eat dinner with them and taught a little bit about modern day prophets and the Book of Mormon. Those are some of my favorite experiences, because I doubt I'll ever get anything like them again. Who gets to say that they waltzed into an old Italian couples' home, ate bread, salad, and fried zucchini with them, and then toured the garden behind their house to eat fresh cherry tomatoes and drink from their ancient fountain?
We ate with a few members this week, too. One old sister was so, so sweet. All four of us went to her (really nice) house and enjoyed a (really good) meal with her. We chatted, laughed, shared stories and history, bore testimonies, cried a little with her, and definitely felt the Spirit, all while devouring one of the best meals I've had in Italy. She was so sorry that we were using plastic disposable plates, but we were more than happy about it: amazing food and instant clean-up.
Ahhh, so many other things happened this week... thought after thought jumps into my head as I write this. I can't believe I'm in Italy, speaking Italian, loving Italians, preaching the gospel. We found a beautiful little park that we call Parco Magro, but we should start calling in Parco Miracolo for how many lessons we end up teaching on its benches. We find so many bravi potentials there, willing to sit down with us for ten minutes and listen to our message of the glorious restoration It's a very fulfilling feeling, being a missionary. Even if the people choose not to listen, I'm doing my part: inviting. I'll try to remember that contentment when the darker days come.
As always, thank you ALL for the support and prayers. My mom often tells me that many of you who read the blog really enjoy it. That's flattering and, sincerely rewarding. Many of you, I assume, are members of the Church. Many of you are probably not. To all I extend this invitation to fulfill my purpose as a missionary: come unto Christ. Learn of Him, strengthen your faith in Him, and try to be like Him. It will be the most exciting, joyful, and fulfilling thing you will ever do.
This week, Anziano Gessel helped me learn something very interesting about Faith, found in the LDS Bible Dictionary. Faith is kindled when we hear the testimonies of others, and strong faith is formed through obedience--and, I would add, experience--to God's commandments.
It's not a sin to try God. In fact, He encourages it in the Book of Malachi: "prove me now herewith". Go ahead, try a prayer. Obey a commandment. You're allowed to expect blessings, to expect miracles even, when you do what the Lord has asked you to do with true purpose of heart. If you ask in faith, He will make Himself known unto you. That's a promise from the holy scriptures, and if that doesn't mean anything to you yet, it's a promise from me.
Much love to all of you, especially those Italian speakers. Brother Henry, President Lybbert, you'd better brush up on your Italian before 2015! I'll need people to talk to when I come home.