Its nothing new, but this week has flown by. We found out this morning that today is a holiday- so every Pday activity we had planned went down the drain, soooo I think we will head back to our apartment and maybe write a letter or two....? Or play with the persistent pigeon couple who are, once again, attempting to build a nest ONTOP of the water heater thats outside. Yesterday, the hot water never arrived while I was waiting to take a shower, so Slla Maera and I went out to investigate the water container (we think there might be a flame thats supposed to be on in the contraption) and so we pried open the metal cover and to her scream and my delight, there was an old nest in it! I think pigeons will always amaze me.
This week, I picked up my permesso di soggiorno, which always me to stay in Italy, which is a good thing :) I started the process and finished it in one months time- a record. AND the best part about it is that they didnt use the worst picture of me. (I have to say this: the entire time weve been here in the net cafe, Slla Nelson has been leaning in and making comments about someone smelling like a man in here, and then something about smelling a dirty diaper, etc, and THEN it hit her that it may be her because she didnt put deodorant on this morning! (she discovered an underarm rash yesterday morning, and has boycotted deo. Im not so sure how I feel about this- especially with the hot weather now. I might just have to get up in the middle of the night and tiptoe over to her bed and hunt out her armpits in the dark. Id laugh if, when we got up, I saw streaks of white stuff across her forehead. Id better not miss.
Well, now that Ive revealed her darkest secret and added her moms email to my recipient list, Ill get on with the week.
(Mom- are you working on my citizenship? Is there anything that I can do on my end?)
Besides the miracle of May 29th, which will be spoken of later bc desert comes after dinner, theres been lots of other small ones. Amber sent me a really long, thick letter that had no postage, and I recieved it! Ive heard delightful stories from other missionaries how they color a square in the corner where the stamp should go, and their mail gets sent to the right place. AND that you can send just about anything as long as it fits in the mouth opening of the post box; I sent mom something in a long cardboard tube, squished it in there, licked on a few stamps, and heard from Mom that it arrived- the miracle of Italian mail. Its one of those small, insignificant things that makes me happy.
Alright, Im going to tell you about the miracle of May 29th, because that date will now forever be a miracle day in my mind. As you all know, Laurents baptismal date was that day, but he ended up cancelling his baptism after his interview because he wanted some more time. Of course, I was disappointed, but its important to keep in mind that everyone has their free agency, and I can rest knowing that Im ok as long as I did my responsibility, which is lay it out for them and let them decide whether to accept it or not. Thats the hardest part the work- watching people reject it and so desperately wanting them to realize whats at stake. Seeing a couple decide to get a divorce and knowing that they could be so much happier if they just made room for Christ in their lives. Its hard, and its so sad to witness, but seeing others accept the Gospel and accepting the Atonement makes it worth all the disappointment and rejections. Laurent came to church this past Sunday, and, pulling me aside, he told me he had prayed the night before, with sincerity, and that he felt one after another of his burdens being lifted off his shoulders. He had an Enos experience- he spent quite some time on his knees, and he experienced the healing power of the Atonement. The way he described it was beautiful. He has always been a proud man, and now he recognizes that he really is nothing and that everything he has is traced back to Heavenly Father. He thew up his hands and said that he was ready for baptism, and wondered if we could just fill up the font right then and there :)
We are planning on having his baptism this Saturday, the 5th of June, because weve been praying to have a baptism that day. I am continually amazed at how detailed Heavenly Father is in everything He does. All this time, we have been praying and working towards having his baptism May 29th- and it turns out that although he wasnt baptized that day, that is the day that he accepted baptism and Jesus Crhist as his Savior. What a miracle. He wants a short and simple baptism, no refreshments, no nothing. Not even the ward to know, because "its something between me and Heavenly Father".SO. Maybe he will let me take a picture or two to send home :) I am so happy.
Laurent said that something Andrew had told him had helped him reach the point to get on his knees and pray with sincerity. Something to the effect of Laurent having kids of his own, and how, as a Father, he expects his children to obey him. Just like that, Laurent has that same relationship with his Father in Heaven, and He expects Laurent to be obbedient. Its as simple as that, and Andrew said in a few sentences what we have been teaching him since August. Thank you Andrew. Laurent also wanted me to thank you Mom, for being an example. Once, I told him that you had asked me to salutarlo, and that really touched him. One of his concerns is how young we are as missionaries, and who are we to teach him how to live his life when we havent experience half the things he has; he thought back to you, Mom, and he somehow related himself to you in the fact that you are older and yet, you live the Gospel, and thats helped him. So Grazie to you, too.
Last Sunday, we taught Katie, a 15 y.o. Chinese girl and her mom, Margaret, who is from Canada who moved to China after graduation from BYU, married a Chinese, and has lived in China since. Margaret intimidates me for various reasons (1 is that she is very opinionated and 2 is that she is very knowledgeable) so I usually ask simple questions to avoid possible arguments or difference of opinion. Sorella Nelson is also very blunt so they were talking and then, at some point, it got around back to China and how I used to live in Kaz, and Margaret paused and stared at me, and said "No wonder you talk like an expat". I asked her what that meant, and she said "The way you speak makes you sound intelligent." Her complimenting me almost blew me over, and somehow, her having said that makes her more human in my eyes, so she is less intimidating.... now that Ive seen that there are some warm, fuzzy feelings underneath all her armor.
Lenora, youll be happy to hear that it seems like the gap between my two front teeth seems to be getting wider. AGH. Maybe its my imagination that its getting worse, but its definitely there. Couldnt my teeth stay straight and if something had to go wrong, couldnt my feet shrink or something? :) I have a favor to ask of you- could you send me your black Jansport backpack? Im noticing visible differences now that Ive been carrying a bag on one shoulder, and a backpack would really help. Also, I dont mean to leave out apostrophes- this computer just doesnt have them. (Im saying this more for Grandmas peace of mind)
So Tommy and Dera are in Italy. Its cool having most of the family in one country now. Maybe I just wont return back to the U.S. afterwards- Ill just bounce back and forth from up North to down South and annoy you all. Which takes me to another point: Just a few more weeks of being in the Rome Mission!
Last night, as the 4 of us sisters were crowded into the kitchen preparing different things to eat, I brought up how lucky we were that we are surrounded by so much good food, and half my MTC branch is in Brazil eating beans and rice for every meal. (Per carita, I love beans and rice, but not for EVERY meal). I am so blessed in so many ways. Teaching families who are on the verge of breaking apart, couples divorcing, single adults who have no hope for a better future - all these experiences are so humbling and I am learning so much from them. In any other setting, I would feel out of place giving advice to married couples on how to save their marriage, etc, but the Gospel heals everyone in any situation. If Christ is at the center of everything we do, think, etc, then we can never go astray. Isnt that the best news? Its so comforting to know that!
Im so happy to be here. I am trying at being a little better every day, and to develop those things that will help me appreciate and utilize the Gospel to its fullest. There is always something to work on, something to be better at, and Im so grateful that He doesnt expect it to happen overnight. Just a little change at a time is what He wants to see- and He makes it all worth it.
Vi voglio bene,