Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You Never Know

I'm so glad Gentry got the letter I sent!  Hope it was a terrific birthday.  Cute picture, too, Mom.  Jed looks older already!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TEENAGER BROTHER!

It's strange this time of year.  I want to be excited about Halloween and Thanksgiving, but... neither of those really exist in Italy.  So I'm left to be excited by myself.  You can imagine me drawing creepy pictures at my desk and pretending my outstretched fingers are a turkey.  Yay...

I have seen a couple cool Halloween displays in the shop windows, and that makes me happy.  The ward here is putting on a big Halloween activity the night of the 31st and we're invited.  That'll be fun.  I'm not sure we're allowed to proselyte out on the streets at night, anyway.  At least in America that's surely forbidden.  

Witch:  "What are you guys supposed to be?"  
Elder:  "We're missionaries for the Church of--"  
Witch: "Oh, I get it!  You're the Mormons!  Haha!  Wow, those tags look just like the real thing!"
Elder:  "Uh... yeah..."

A member gave us a referral of a family that lives near them this week.  They live up in the mountains north of Verona.  It was a nightmare organizing our way up there.  I've never listened to and spoke so much Italian in a two day period.  But we finally did it, got the help of several member families (who we got to know better), and met with them in their home.  It was a wonderful experience, even if I was exhausted, and we're going back again with much more tranquility and organization this next Sunday.  I hope we get to help them find peace in their home.

Yesterday I got a call from the Ferrara companionship, Anziano Chipman and his trainee.  When I left Ferrara, I accidentally left my beloved apron that Gentry gave me in the kitchen (because it hangs a little hook in there since I use it every time I cook).  It eventually returned to me a few weeks ago, but Anziano Chipman called to make sure.  I confirmed gratefully and asked him how things were going in that old little town.

He let me know that there have been two baptisms there since I left.  That alone is a miracle.  Ferrara hadn't seen a baptism in years.  But the bigger miracle, and the one that nearly knocked me to the ground, was the name of one of these new converts.  After a series of questions, I came to the sure conclusion that I had been the one that first talked to him.

It was in a kebaberia.  Anziano Marin wanted a kebab.  I think kebab is disgusting, so I just sat in there while he ate.  I noticed a young man sitting alone at a table nearby and struck up a conversation.  We talked about his studies, his family, and his travels.  I ended up getting his phone number and asking if we could share our message sometime.  He agreed, but every time Anziano Marin and I tried to set up an appointment, he had been busy.

Anziano Chipman had better luck, it seems, and this young Ferraran student was baptized earlier this month.  I'm shocked and humbled at this confirmation of the missionary's most-heard encouragement: you never know what affect you might have on people.

That applies to everybody, missionary or not.  You never know how far your reach extends, how much of an impact you'll have from a little tiny action.  Make sure every action is a good one, and whether you know it or not, miracles will come of it.  God's ways are not our ways, and the more you remember that, the happier you'll be.  It might seem contradictory, but every minute of my mission I am learning that it's true.

Much love from the Boot,
Anziano Burton

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