Summing up this past week would probably best be done in the word frustrating. Not because I or my companion are, in any way, discouraged or feeling down, but because for some reason so many things did not want to go our way this week and yet we’re still both as happy and motivated as ever!
Update on Valerio . . . Oh, boy, where do I start. He has kinda fallen off the map. He and his girlfriend (the girl that just got baptized) have decided they want nothing to do with us anymore which is really sad. We made a plate of cookies to deliver to them because they have been going through a rough time, but they won’t answer our texts or calls. The member that was helping them out while they were going through this tough period has also gotten the cold shoulder. We’re all really broken up about it because they were so positive and happy before, so we don’t understand what happened. Anyway, that was kinda the low point for this week.
Some cool things that happened though were we got to have an impromptu lesson with Mateo and his mom and his friend! The mom is a very strong Catholic and the friend is borderline atheist, more agnostic. This lesson was focused completely on prayer and receiving personal revelation. I looked at the three of them and asked each one how they felt about their relationship with God. Mateo said he is sure there is a God; he just doesn’t know which “god” to follow out of all the religions. His mother said she believes in praying to all the saints and found it weird that we didn’t. The friend wasn’t sure at all whether there is a god or not. I went one by one and challenged each of them to pray and ask Heavenly Father specifically in the form of question the things they wanted to know. The mother smirked at me and I asked her why. She asked, “You really think if I pray to God he’ll tell me that I shouldn’t pray to saints?” I looked at her and I said, “Yes.” She was shocked at my simple, direct answer. She pressed for more, “How can you know?” And I answered back, “Because I asked.”
I then went to her with a question of my own, “Have you asked?” She said, “I never thought to ask.” I invited her to ask for herself so she can know.
The rest of the week was pretty normal. The Ward put on a summer party on Friday and it was super fun except for two things. First, like everything in Italy it didn’t start until late so we couldn’t stay long. Second, it was super stressful getting our investigators involved with the members. But we still had a good time.
Facing these past few days with what has been going on with Valerio has caused me to become very grateful to Heavenly Father for two specific things. One: my surety of the truthfulness of the gospel that is not based on anything other than a sure witness from the Holy Spirit, confirmed time and time again, that this is the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth with his authority. Two: I am grateful for the difficulties that I faced while I was in Ascoli that have enabled me to overcome the opposition here with greater hope in the future.
Heavenly Father knows us perfectly and he provides us with opportunities to be challenged in order for us to grow and overcome greater challenges in the future.
I love you all and if I can pray for you in anything specific please let me know,