Why is it so hard to come up with things to write in my weekly email? Maybe its because too much happens that it seems impossible to even make a dent or put into words all the things that have happened this week.
I guess I should start off with the one and only thing that I want most right now- Laurent to get wet. Alot of you have asked how his baptism went- it went nowhere. We went to his house every day to read the scriptures with him, and he had the biggest grin on his face every one of our appointments with him. On Saturday morning, as we were rushing about, getting ready for the busy day ahead of us (going to the church and filling the font and making his program) the District Leaders called us and asked if we had seen the text from Laurent. We hung up on them and read it, and it said that his mom apparently hadnt understood his intentions with the Mormon church and that she was against it, and he ended it with saying he was confused. I immediately called him and he sounded the opposite of the bubbling man he had been all week. I told him we were headed over and to pray in the meantime.
We went over, and I asked the DLs to come and give him a blessing. (He has never accepted a blessing becuase he feels that he isnt in "communion" with the Father, but he accepted the idea because he really felt lost.) On our way over, I honestly felt sick. I kept trying to surpress my fears- I had the faith that things would work out and that Heavenly Father was mindful of his situation, but I lacked the faith that Laurent would make the right choice. ;(. It takes a little more than an hour to get to his house, and we sat in silence for the first part of it, and then the phone rang. It was Katheryn, the wonderful Peruvian young woman who we meet with every Sunday and who has a baptismal date for the 3rd of July. She said "Ive been meaning to call you for a while, but Im just getting around to it now. Im sorry, but I cant meet with you anymore". She didnt really clarify why she couldnt meet with us, and I guess I was too numb with shock to question. She mentioned something about her schedule just being too hectic.....
The worst thing about it is that it sounded like she was smiling on the other end. That is not the Katheryn I know. Katheryn would not have been happy to no longer be able to meet with us. She said shed get in touch when she could see us if that day ever came, and then hung up. I guess Sorella Nelson guessed from my expression, because she moved to sit next to me and hugged me while I cried for a few minutes into her shoulder. I dont know why Katheryn cant meet with us. Ive tried calling her several times, and she has always been good at returning calls, but she hasnt returned one since that phonecall. We are determined to keep in touch with her even though we cant meet with her in person anymore.
Somehow I managed to compose myself the entire time we were at Laurents- we went over and sat in a park while his kids played, and we talked............then we went over to his house and he recieved a blessing and he decided he couldnt be baptized without his moms consent. We were all disappointed and sad, but Anziano Neilsen said something in the blessing that helped me focus. He prayed that we would always remember to accept the Lords timing. Im not very good at it, and its something I am determined to get better at, as hard as it is. We left Laurents house with slightly heavy hearts, making a list of all the people we had to call to cancel the baptism, and as we were walking towards the station, a vendor woman called out to us "Mormons! I used to be one!" and so we stopped at her table, hoping to help her out, but she dominated the conversation and told us how shed been baptized in 2002 and suddenly she lost her intelligence, ringing started in her ears, and the back of her neck started hurting. "You have aliens in your church, or you are all aliens. Leave me alone" was the moral of her story. Not the best thing for all of us hear in our present condition, but it really made me reflect on the knowledge that I have been blessed with. I really wouldnt be a very happy person if I thought that I was possessed by an alien :S
Sorella Nelson came home and laid on our beds and made painful phonecalls ...... and we just needed to get it all out so we cried and fell asleep while reading the scriptures together for language study.
For the past couple of weeks, I dont know whats been causing it, but I have had swollen ankles and achy knees. Every night Ive been going to bed with packs of frozen peas, and when I woke up from that nap, I stood up and walked to the kitchen and it hit me that I wasnt in pain. I looked down and my ankles were still the wrong size, but the pain was gone! We left the house and I didnt have to take the elevator- Im still not back to normal, but Ive definitely been healed. I know Heavenly Father was especially mindful of us on Saturday, and to relieve some of my "burden" he took away some of my pain. I havent had to use icepacks since that nap on Saturday. It really is incredible how mindful He is of each of us, and the small miracles and tender mercies that he plugs into our day to help us get through.
The moment we got Laurents text, we started a fast for him and for his moms heart to be touched, and guess what? Laurent came to church on Sunday, and he pulled me aside after sacrament meeting and I could just tell he was in pain. He said he felt like he had taken a step backward, and that he should have taken our advice and not put off baptism. The entire sacrament meeting hed been thinking to himself "Right now I could have had my confirmation" and it tore his heart. He was really upset with himself but resolved to not put off speaking to his mom. The way he said it "Theres nothing in this church that she can be against. Nothing. Its not like Mormons murder eachother, right? Who knows- I dont know whats behind that door down there (points to the kitchen)... maybe 10 people go in and only 8 people come out, but I highly doubt that happens in this Church with all the things youve been teaching me"...
SO. He hadnt planned on talking to his mom over the phone, but he went home and called her up on Monday, and he basically blurted out all his thoughts and how he felt about getting baptized, etc, and she said "Youre right. I dont know what they stand for, so I dont have anything against them. You have my consent". Laurent was stupified it was as easy as that, but thats what the Lord does when we show that we trust that He will work things out!
Laurent is against setting a baptismal date, so we are just waiting for him to randomly call us up and give us the signal to fill the font. My selfish side wants it to happen in the next 6 days- who knows if Ill be able to serve in Florence for another transfer. I would love it, though. There is so much work to do, and I am so attached to the people here. We are also working more with the Duarte family, from Brazil. Really long story short, Sorella Nelson and I are focusing on their family because they so desperatey need it. We would like to be working with 5 less active families like most companionships aim to do, but their family really is taking the time and effort of 5 combined. Their family and the things that go on in that family has helped me always keep fresh in my mind how grateful I am for my own family and that I never was abused or harmed in any form.
A funny moment that could have turned awkward: yesterday we were teaching Laurent and Vittorine, his wife, and we were reading 1 N 12 together, and he asked me to expound on something... I was explaining who Nefi was (Nephi)? and how the Nephites came from him and the Lamanites from Laman and Lemuel, and how they turned their hearts against God and therefore were cursed with dark skin to set them apart ...etc, AND while I was getting to that part, it hit me that I was talking to uh...black people,...and Slla Nelson later told me that shed been silently freaking out bc she thought Id say something and itd all go bad, but thankfully I thought things out in such a way that I said "They WERE doing the wrong things and got dark skin, BUT now as long as we all do the right thing, we are all happy" and quickly moved the conversation onto something else. Phew, close call!
With it being so hot inside and so beautiful out, we have moved nightly planning to our balcony, and we sit on a wood chest that slowly gets more and more cracked.......oops.....but while we were congratulating eachother for the wonderful idea of watching the sunset and being in such a beautiful setting, Slla Nelson suddenly loses her voice and opens and shuts her mouth without sound, so I turned to see what was causing her brain damage, and there is an apt building across from ours, and there was a stark naked (except for speedos, but thats basically nothing anyways) on the balcony. As I was about to burst out laughing, another naked man (again, with speedos) joined him. As if that werent enough, they commenced to scratch themselves ... like monkeys... and fold laundry. (Once I saw a Gorilla in the Denver Zoo fold laundry too!) BUT the best part was that, behind them, in walked a Mom figure and a sister!!! Wow. What a close knit family. That is what we want our families to become, but not THAT close.
Another funny moment that happened this week. Wait, it wasnt funny. It was one of those moments that is followed closely by the thought "I will never speak to a Church leader again" but unfortunately, that thought never sticks long enough to save me from a next embarassing moment.
This past Sunday, an unfamiliar face was sitting on the stand, and I didnt catch who he was when they introduced him, but Slla Nelson whispered to me that he was from the 70. During the testimonies, I watched him and came to the conclusion that he spoke Italian, because he would laugh at the right moments, etc, and no one was translating for him. So, I thought he probably served in the Padova Mission decades ago.
As I was walking to Relief Society, I passed him (of course, unknowingly, otherwise I would have taken the long way around) and he stopped me and said in Italian "Sorella Urban, you speak very well" and I replied "So do you" and I was about to ask where he had served, when a member closeby burst out laughing at what I had just said, and he came up close to my face (which wasnt very hard, seeing that he is short and squat) and said "Sorella, it is generally expected for people to speak their native tongue well". AGH. I think I just gripped my face and ran off. Or I may have stayed around long enough for him to then laugh, (remember, this is still in my face) and for me to mumble that I had no idea who he was......I was trying to remember what the RM says when he tells the General Authority that there are just so many in the 70 nowadays that they should stick them on the fold out paper like they do for swimsuit magazines.......but I think he took pity on my quickly enough and let me go (after finding out that the member who had burst out laughin was his daughter, Simona, who I make a fool of myself infront of EVERY week. Yay.)
Another member approached me and told me that she had been in the Terni branch last week and had seen me and wondered why I was no longer a missionary AND had a husband. I guess Lenora did confuse alot of people :)
Well, in less than a week, Ill find out where Ill be next. Sorella Nelson and I have flat out told President that it would be a good idea to keep us together :)
Oh! While we were talking near the Duomo last week, someone stopped us and told us he was what is called a "junk mormon". I say "someone" because he is a man, but..... I think is confused with his orientation. Slla Nelson just said "I dont think hes confused. I think hes made a decision" ...bahha. I didnt know how to politely put it that hes gay, but there you have it. So, he gave us his number becuase he got a phonecall and had to leave, but he wants to meet up with us. Slla Nelson later was thinking outloud "So, if Douglas calls us and we meet up with him, would we have to take another member with us, or does he qualify as female?"
ay ay ay. This is the life. I would consider Saturday as my first hard day in the mission field, but its helped me learn and grow from what we experienced that day. Heavenly Father IS mindful of each of us, and His promise of not giving us more than we can bear is true. I love what I am doing, and I am grateful for the trust that He has in me to help carry out His work. Im getting out of it so much more than I am putting in.