To start off, I’m sure you all heard that all of us missionaries are safe here in Italy. The earthquake hit very close to where I was in my last area, Ascoli Piceno, so I have been trying to get in contact with all of my old friends/members/investigators who are up there and I hope they are okay. Down here in Taranto, we were too far away to feel anything. This has caused people to be a little indifferent towards the destruction which has been difficult because the damage and the loss of life is pretty catastrophic.
This week we had the chance to meet more often with Mateo and his family. Oh my goodness he is AWESOME!!! He took our invitation to read the Book of Mormon again but this time in a slower manner searching to truly understand the message it contains. Since doing this he has been having such a more profound experience and he has so many awesome questions. He has a true desire to know, but he struggles with how prayer and the Spirit work together to help us know. We help him by sharing our personal testimonies of receiving a testimony, as well as using the words of living apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ that testify with us of the ability to receive personal revelation. He even has started reading the Book of Mormon in English to have the original source to study. Unfortunately, he will be leaving us September 9 to head up to school in Scotland. When we were over at their house on Saturday the mom taught me how to make fried pizza which was so fun!
She knows how to make everything and she said she would teach me!!!!!
In other news we began a service project at the church. The property of the church here in Taranto includes a large field in the back as well as good sized soccer field but unfortunately no one has been taking care of it in years so it is all overgrown and uneven land. We started the process of getting everything put back in place so the soccer field can be used regularly by the members (and also us missionaries!). It was so hot and helped me feel right back at home working out in the Peltons’ yard last summer. I enjoy the feeling that comes from a good day of manual labor.
This past Sunday I had the nice surprise at 8am that the Gospel Principles teacher wouldn’t be able to make it to church that day so I would need to teach gospel principles. Was I scared at first? Maybe a little. But then I remembered that I have been out over a year and I probably should be able to do this on my own without too much difficulty at this point. Anyway, the class was going well and I was settling into the lesson which consisted of the formation and structure of the church of Jesus Christ in these days. It was going well until one of the sisters’ investigators had some very interesting opinions that she felt were necessary to bring up which began to take the lesson off track, BUT fear not because though Italians may be professionals at getting off topic, the Holy Spirit is even better at providing the way for servants of Christ to be able to tie it all together in the end. During the closing prayer, I felt incredibly grateful to Heavenly Father for providing the way for me to speak boldly and clearly in his name. Afterward, Mateo asked me how I was able to overcome all the outlandish questions that were being thrown my way and somehow have it all make sense. I responded with the most simple and true answer I could: it was all the Spirit.
People, there’s no denying it. I couldn’t have directed that class on my own. It was the Spirit that guided me every step of the way and put the words I needed to say in my mouth. He asked how it works. I explained that throughout the whole lesson I was constantly asking Heavenly Father to help me and each step of the way new scriptures, answers, and return questions came to mind. I explained how the Spirit can work like that for him in his life as well if he is willing to step out in faith to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost who will be his constant companion. I know this is true. I know we can receive divine guidance if we are seeking it and worthy of it. And I know we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows each of us and provides the way for us.
I love you all and please let me know what to pray for in your lives!