That's wonderful that you got to see a baptism in our ward!! Wow, how cool to think it happens back in Pasco, too. Ha! It's always so exciting and beautiful here. Good to know the missionaries are doing their job back home. Verona is the highest baptizing Stake in this mission. I got to see several during my six months here. There's a special spirit at a baptismal service.
My time here in Verona has been long and wonderful, hallmarked by a number of meaningful experiences. One of them happened just this last week. Our ward mission leader is one of my best friends in this ward. He and I have been talking about putting on a missionary concert for a while. Right when we finally got started nailing down the specifics, his foster/soon-to-be-adopted baby son got very, very sick. All of that family's time was taken up caring for this poor infant, and the weight of the concert fell on me. Fratello G said we could either cancel it or put it in my hands. Of course I took the challenge.
And it was challenging. It was really hard to balance putting a concert together among missionary work, especially when all twelve of the people involved are also busybusybusy missionaries with little to no free spaces in their daily schedules. But, without getting into the details of preparation, we did it! This Saturday the whole project came together, we were able to practice enough times (in the two days preceding the concert) to not have everything fall apart.
Even though everything was set up and ready to go--including the Zone Leaders as emcees/presenters--few people were seated when it started at 7:30. We began anyway. The Zone Leaders surprised all of us with hilarious jokes in Italian before every performance, and as the minutes ticked by and more people began filling up the chapel, the room was quickly filled with applause and laughter as Anziani Garner and McKinnon stole the show. They were so funny. I'd write some of the jokes, but you wouldn't get it. They were in Italian, ha!
Anyway, we had 10 really solid performances, most of them musical, along with Anziano Kessler doing some crazy backflip stuff while I beatboxed behind him. I sang "Fix You" (as I always do, haha! It's my cavallo di battaglia according to Fratello G, an Italian phrase that means "best performance"), we had violin numbers and soulful solos by sisters and elders from all over the place, and it turned out great. The best part is that more than half of the nonmembers Anziano Kessler and I had invited to the concert came! It was so fun to see our friends in and out of the church together in the audience, laughing and clapping and having a grand old time. Everyone who came seemed to really like the evening, and the members had prepared a big refreshment table afterwards. More than a hundred people came, and it was a really fun and memorable night. We even got a new investigator out of it!
It was a great way to end off my time in Verona, because it is ending. While eating at the beloved C family's house, I got the call from the Zone Leaders. I'm headed to Ancona to serve with Anziano T.
Ancona is the furthest city south that our mission goes. It's right on the coast, and should be super beautiful. Anziano Modugno was the branch president there more than a year ago. He told me a lot of great stories about the area and the members, so I'm pretty excited, even though I'm flat-out miserable to be leaving beautiful Verona. This is my home now--much more than Padova could be called such. These people are my dearest friends and my closest family. It's so hard to leave, not only the Italians but the missionaries I've come to love.
But that's the way of the mission. Anziano Kessler will get Anziano G, who I know and like. They'll make a good team. The work just started to surge here. We're teaching FIVE Italian investigators, which is unheard of and super exciting. I expect great things from this lovely town. And I'm sure God has some adventures in store for me down south... after a 6 hour train ride tomorrow.
I love you guys. I'll tell you more about Ancona when I get there. Until then, enjoy these pictures of some of my last adventures here, visiting Garda Lake and... just having fun. Who'd have thought?