Alright people, this week was a good week. It had happy times and sad times, but definitely a week for the memory book. We’ll start from the top. I’ll go day by because it was actually that good.
We got some super cool soccer gear that was on sale in this sports store, and I found a pretty cool Taranto soccer shirt.
For lunch we went to this trattoria (which is basically comparable to a normal American restaurant) and had pretty good pasta and then a horse steak that actually sucked. It was super thin and tough as can be. But there’s a member here that really likes horse and he said he would make us good horse steaks so that should be good. Then that evening we went to visit our less active pizzeria owner who made us pizza which was pretty good!
District meeting, which went really well actually. I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the importance of who we are becoming more than on what exactly we are doing. Immediately after that we went to Matteo’s house for his going away lunch with just us missionaries. We had a variety of small appetizers including bruschetta and caprese follow by his mom’s fresh made lasagna that was INCREDIBLE followed by my homemade cinnamon rolls. Honestly, it may have been the best meal I have ever eaten.
After the meal we began talking to Matteo about asking God specific questions and being able to recognize the answers and how faith plays into that. I had the opportunity to explain to him how the Spirit works in our lives and how receiving guidance from the Spirit is like going for a walk at dusk. There will be small light posts along the way that are dim off in the distance yet grow brighter as we approach them. When we arrive at a light post we can’t remain there because we must continue on to the next light post off in the distance that again seems dim at first but ends up being a little bit brighter than the the previous light once you arrive. And so it goes. He committed to pray directly to Heavenly Father and ask Him a specific question and then allow himself to focus on his feelings and thoughts afterwards, instead of just returning immediately back to whatever he was doing before or wanted to do after.
We see Matteo briefly in the morning because his mom wanted to come drop off the lasagna leftovers for us (I love Italians) and I asked him how his praying went. He said he prayed and afterwards he couldn’t really distinguish how he felt and he thought about it for a while after. But right before he went to sleep he had the distinct thought that he should keep trying. I commended him for praying and having the faith to follow through with what we asked him to do, then I told him how the Spirit works based off our diligence and commitment to know. I also told him the next time he had a feeling like that – “to try again” – he should follow it immediately! He recognized that he should have done that and he felt bad for not doing it, but I assured him that he was new to that and it didn’t mean he missed his only chance to receive an answer.
Then in the afternoon the zone leaders came in to town to do an exchange with us and it went well. The lessons we had set up for my companion to do went great! They visited a less active, stopped by a member and committed them to pray specifically about a friend or family they could invite over for a family home evening activity with us present, and also saw a less active who is working on coming back to church along with his girlfriend who is not a member she committed to a baptism date! I’d say it was a productive day.
Matteo invited us over again for his real going away Pranzo because it would be his last day here. We came over and his mom had prepared a seafood galore. We ate black ink squid spaghetti, oven baked clams, and stuffed cuddle fish. It was actually really good! I have really grown to love clams. Then we had apple pie and pineapple tiramisu for dessert!
That night after English course we planned to go out with Matteo and his older sister to go get Panzarotti as a last hurrah. It was a good time but nothing compared to what happened after. We were walking along the street looking for a creperia and Matteo started telling me that he prayed again. I asked him what happened. He began by telling me he wasn’t sure exactly how to explain it but when he prayed again he only had one question and that was, “God do you even exist?” After he asked his question he felt, in his own words, this indescribable feeling of good. He didn’t know how else to explain it, he just felt GOOD. And then he said he immediately thought of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and us missionaries, and the members, and how he always feels good when he is around us. I was floored, the only thing I could muster up to say was that what he was feeling was the testimony of the Holy Ghost telling him that God is real and that He knows him personally. He said he is going to find the church in Scotland and wants to see for himself if he feels the same there as he does here. When they dropped us off at home, it was a very tear-filled goodbye and we will dearly miss him.
In the evening we visited Maria Grazia who we hadn’t seen in about a week. She has been doing well but hadn’t been reading the Book of Mormon as often as she would’ve liked in the last week. We read together and talked about how the Book of Mormon can be a guide for us in our daily lives. I asked her if she believed the Book of Mormon came from God. She said yes. I asked her if she believed the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was God’s church on the earth. She said she thinks so. I asked what would be holding her back from being baptized and she said she just isn’t sure about the necessity of being baptized a second time, why can’t she just believe and that be enough?
I testified to her that Jesus Christ laid out the perfect example for us and that she could pray specifically to know what it is she would do and then I committed to specifically pray to know if she needs to be baptized by proper authority.
We visited Matteo’s parents because we knew his mom would be struggling with him being gone. As we were talking and laughing she asked us to begin teaching her what we had been teaching Matteo because she was impressed with how we had become so close with Matteo in such a short amount of time and the good influence we had on him.
We began teaching her the Restoration through the ministry of Jesus Christ and when he established his church in a very specific way and gave authority to very specific people. She was very open to what we had spoken about prophets and believes that we still the need the guidance of our Heavenly Father on a wide scale. Then we ate the best pizza I have had since Napoli! It was so nice to taste good quality pizza again.
Church was incredible. During Ward council this week the bishopric had asked if we as leaders could set the example of being seated reverently 15 minutes before the meeting started to improve the spiritual atmosphere of the meeting. I felt a strong difference because of this small action. I had the chance to give a talk which was exciting for me being the second time here. Then for Sunday School, I taught Gospel Principles and Heavenly Father blessed me throughout to be able to teach by the power of the Spirit and testify with boldness of the importance of faith in Jesus Christ. Then in Primary, I bore testimony of the blessings of being a missionary.
After church we went to Pranzo at the Relief Society President’s house and she made us pasta orecchiette with red sauce, meatballs, pan fried chicken, caprese, mozzarella and prosciutto, and oven baked chopped potatoes, and brownies to finish! (We had a little wager going on who’s brownies are better and after trying hers I can tell you in all humility that mine are still better!). After lunch we blessed the sacrament for and elderly member who couldn’t come to church today and she was very grateful and then we went to a hospital clinic to bless the sacrament for another member. When we walked in the clinic we found that there were 3 other members there along with Maria Grazia, our investigator!!!!! I still have no idea why she was there but as soon as we walked in the members were giddy for her to tell us her story.
She told us that the night before she had prayed specifically to know if baptism was right for her, like we had invited her to do, and then she went to bed. She went on to say at she had a dream that we were all at the sea except she and I were dressed in white and all her member friends were present. Basically she had a dream about being baptized!!!!!
So what can I say after a week like this? (And an email this long). I can say that God is real. He is our Father and we are His children. He loves us. And He is willing to answer all the questions we have if we will ask Him in faith and continually show that we want to know. I know that each of us are capable of receiving the guidance we seek in our lives and finding the purpose that brings ultimate joy which is living obedient to the commandments of God and returning to live with him for eternity.
I love you all and I still want to hear about those prayer needs!