Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Starting Tomorrow

In my email to Ky today I sent a line from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's Conference talk 'You Can Do It Now!' as our missionary begins the second round of his best two years: "We acknowledge that your path will at times be difficult. But I give you this promise in the name of The Lord: rise up and follow in the footsteps of our Redeemer and Savior, and one day you will look back and be filled with eternal gratitude that you chose to trust the Atonement and its power to lift you up and give you strength."

I love that you quoted President Uchtdorf's "You Can Do It Now".  That was my favorite talk from last session.  Strange that was way back in October... and that I was still in Verona.  I've been here a long time.  But I would stay here for the rest of my mission for the members alone.  I've made so many good friends here and I love so many of the families.  Good thing I have another month to be among them.
Next conference will be in April, won't it?  That seems just around the corner.  Yet, at the same time, I'll be in another city with another companion.  That's very strange.  It'll be nice to get some change, for sure.  I'm realizing how much I love surprises on the mission.  But I'll forever remember my transfers in Verona, especially with Anziano Kessler.  They've been the best imaginable.

The Lord really loves us.  I'm finding more and more examples of the scriptures of the Lord working in mysterious ways.  Sometimes it takes a frankly ridiculous amount of time for prayers to be answered.  For example, Enos (in the Book of Mormon) and his fathers prayed for the truth to come to the Lamanites, but it doesn't happen until Alma!  That's generations and generations later.  We never know when our prayers will be answered, and who they will benefit in the long run.  I think the key is just to focus on other people.

Sorry about the super short email last week.  It was fun to go back to Padova.  Now I finally have my Permesso and I'm legal in Italy!  Took long enough, eh?

Our main efforts these days are gearing up for a concert that the missionaries are putting on in our church on the 15th.  It should be a lot of fun and we're inviting everyone we know.  Hopefully the members get on board and bring a bunch of their friends.  All of us missionaries in Verona are involved in one way or another.  We'll show a lot of talent, make a lot of laughter, and even bring the Spirit.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow is February 6.  That means that one year ago today, I was getting ready to be set apart.  I can say right now that "A year ago I was not a missionary."  Starting tomorrow, I can't say that anymore.  Then, suddenly, another year will flash by as quickly as this one did, and I'll be recounting stories in silly-sounding English instead of typing them out in a scary little internet point.

The first year of my mission was a roller coaster.  I got really sick, really sad, and really skinny (well, I've always been really skinny).  I also got a burning testimony, I learned Italian, and I've seen countless miracles.  I recorded every single day in my journal, a practice I intend to keep throughout this second year.  But other than that, what will happen to me in 2014?

Time will only tell.  It's weird to be at the top of the hill like this.  I'm excited for what comes next.  Now that I speak Italian and am comfortable with the life of a missionary, I feel like year 2 will be dramatically different than year 1, especially as far as personal goals set and met.  I'll keep looking for the hand of God, I'll keep praying for me and for you, and I'll forever be grateful for the support you all so lovingly give to me: in thought, in prayer, in letter, and in email, so many of you have lifted me in the first half of my mission.  Thank you.

Have a wonderful week, everyone.  Try to remember all the best parts of this last year, and then make our second year "together" even better.  It's a choice, we're learning, to be happy.

Anziano Burton

After seeing this photo of Elder Barber's return at the Pasco airport last night, he replied I just put my hand over my mouth and now I'm crying a little bit.  2/4 home with honor.  Wow.

Brad looks really good!  So do you, wearing my favorite coat.  Ha!  Thank you for sending this, and tell him I love him.

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