Sunday, May 2, 2010

TITO AND "LESS-ACTIVES" April 21st, 2010

So there I was in Sacrament meeting, freaking out about where Tito had gone, scanning the room every couple of minutes trying to find him, when all of a sudden Tatiana reaches over and just gives be the biggest hug ever and cuddles her head up to mine. I completely forgot about Tito and just was filled with an overwhelming feeling of love. Tatiana was baptized about a year ago and is a super gentle and ridiculously elegant Russian woman who is living here without her family, and takes care of a really horribly cranky old Italian woman that basically emotionally abuses Tatiana. I had sat down next to her at the beginning of Sacrament meeting because she was chillin' all alone and I couldn't find Tito anywhere. After like 10 minutes she sat up a little bit and said something really sweet like... "Oh, how long has it been that I have been yearning for someone to hold and love. Thank you so much for being here."

Normally after Sacrament meeting I would jump up and spring around the chapel trying to talk to everyone that we needed to make appointments with, get to come with us to appointments, or ask about referrals. This time I just felt to stay and talk with Tatiana and not worry about all that, or about Tito. She started spilling her heart out to me then, and after a few minutes left right when Tito came strolling over. The day before, when I had called and asked him about his Book of Mormon reading, praying, etc. he had said, "Yeah, I have some things I want to talk to you about. Can we talk after church?" Hence my freaking out when I didn't see him after church. When I saw him I just said something lame like, "So, what are your thoughts?" ...the next ten minutes was practically him bearing his testimony! Apparently he had come to church with a bunch of questions and in the first lesson in Priesthood they had addressed them perfectly. He told about how he loves hearing everyone's testimonies at church and hopes that one day he will be able to bear his own. He straight up told me, I want to be baptized when I really feel I have my own testimony...blah, blah, blah...finally I couldn't take it anymore and just said, "Tito! Let's just choose a date! What do you think about May 15?" He said, "I don't really feel righteous enough yet...". I explained that we'd have May 15th as the goal and we could change it if necessary, but we'd work together to prep for that day. He got this big goofy smile, accepted the date, wrote it down really big in his planner, and that was that. Then, I found out that one of the members had invited him over for FHE the next night without us even having to ask them too!!!

In Zone conference this past week we learned about making plans inspired by the spirit and CONSTANTLY being guided by the Spirit so we can EFFECTIVELY accomplish the Lord's work. I swear, every Zone Conference they talk about exactly the concept that I had been pondering during the previous week. Or maybe I just get the message out of it that I am looking to hear. Who knows. Plus, right after Zone Conference I got a package with letters and an old-school BYU devotional talk from Kristen Moore. The talk also spoke exactly about everything we had discussed in the Conference. Anyway, those few hours of church were a good example to me of this concept. Along with like 20 million other experiences we have had this week...

1) I had been debating in my head when to call Andrea, Sister Prina's cousin, for about three days. Finally, at some random odd hour of the morning when we were running to the metro, I decided to just call him. He answered and asked were we were. He happened to be sitting on the metro right then at the stop we were headed towards. So, he got off and waited for us. He said, "That was the weirdest thing, I am never on this metro at this time of day and when you called I was right there and the doors were open." Anyway, we ended up being able to chat for a bit, weasel in a conversation about the plan of salvation we had taught him last week (using some awesome muffins I had made from a Sis. Prina recipe), and invite him to come to the church that night for the first time so he could drop something off for us that we needed.
2) We did a lesson with a member couple who live out in the boonies. The purpose of the lesson was to get them to choose an inspired Zone for where we should do finding work. After they said the prayer asking for where we should go, the husband immediately suggested an area that came to mind and the wife said a bunch of inactive names came to mind. So they walked over to the area with us and took us door to door visiting inactive families. This past week we had been trying to visit less actives by going through a long list we had, but we had always ended up just wasting time because the addresses were incorrect, the people didn't live there anymore, etc. In like 30 minutes we were able to visit and make appointments with a handful of families that really are searching for the strength to come back to church.
3) Last week after e-mail we went to the public garden nearby our house to enjoy the sun and write letters (you should google it, its beautiful!). Normally the park is filled with a bunch of families but for some reason on Wednesday afternoons apparently it is a haven for university age couples. I felt like I was back at BYU again with everyone scattered around us cuddling - except the couples here are a lot better looking, generally. Honestly, every other couple I pass by could be a JCrew model couple. Anyway, besides the point. We had decided to end our relaxing in the park a bit early and get back to work so that we could go to a free planetarium show that night. As we were walking back home some random drunk and homeless woman sitting on the side of the road with a couple of other drunk and homeless friends shouted something at us. So we stopped and talked to her. She whipped out some picture of her son who is or was (not much of what she was saying was very clear) a missionary in Peru. She was standing with him at the airport in the picture. He was wearing the tag, suit, and everything and she seemed normal and well-kept. She didn't have a phone number but we gave her the info for church and bore our testimonies that she could change her life again for the better....we'll see what happens.

Oh jeezz. Internet is almost up again. Here's a few other random quick thoughts from the week...
- Yesterday we went to find Luciano (the old man we first met at McDonalds with the member then continued to meet him and teach him in the park every week) at the park. He had gone on a trip down south and said to come find him in 3 weeks. When we went to the spot where he normally is and asked his friends where he was, one woman bluntly told us without blinking an eye...Oh, Luciano, he died... ?!??!??!??!??! Turned out he had just had a heart failure on the way back to Milan a few days after Easter. I guess he'll be taught by some other missionaries now. In the meantime we got an appointment with his friends to read some scriptures from the BOM about what happens after this life.
- People here in Italy these days seem to be really caught up in a lot of physical evidences of the truth of the Bible that have been revealed these days....if anyone wants to do some research on the following and give me some brief thoughts, I'd appreciate it....the Arc of the Covenant found in Ethiopia, the Sacro Sindole (the sheet that Jesus was supposed to have been wrapped in that they have in Torino right now), Noahs ark in Turkey. etc.
- The planetarium show we went to was hilarious. I'll send you the brochure that describes it.
-my favorite Casalino comment of the week: our work is like an orthodontist's. always just gotta keep calling people and calling people to confirm appointments.
-favorite old Italian man comment of the week: (while we were running on the way to an appointment we were late for...) Girls! You don't have to worry about running! I already won the prize!
- another thing we talked about in Zone Conference in connection with having inspired finding plans, was not to get in ruts. Earlier this week we had some old man shouting at us through his door for 5 minutes after we knocked on it and said who we were. One of the things he said was..."Why don't you go sign yourselves up at the hospital to teach people about Christ who really need him!" We remembered that that was actually one of the ideas listed in Preach My Gospel. So, we did it. Yesterday morning I opened up the white pages and made a bunch of calls to hospitals to see if we could get on the list of people available to offer religious guidance. Didn't work so well. At each hospital I got passed to the office of the priests who are hired to help people at the hospital. They were just thoroughly baffled by who we were and why we thought the people at the hospital would need someone other than them to guide them religiously. Made for some good laughs every time after I finally hung up the phone.
-Luigi and his mom, Brenda and her family, and the Brazilian family are all doing well and reading the book of Mormon!

Anyways, Thank you all for your letters this week! When I got here to do internet I was in a bummed mood because I had forgotten all of the notes Id written down about the amazing experiences this week I wanted to share with you, PLUS my plan for today's Pday to go to Lake Como or Maggiore which are only about 30 mins away had been shot down by the Assistants last night. We aren't allowed to leave Milan. So, I was about to just complain a lot in my email. But then I got an awesome email from Mona talking about all the amazing things there are to do and see here in Milan, plus her testimony that God really has a hand in everything. That reminded me of all my great experiences this week and got me excited again to be living here in Milan, even if I don't see nature ever. If anyone wants to do research for me about where I can find all these things Mona was talking about, or any other sweet things to do, I'd appreciate it...Emperors Palace (maybe that's the castle I went to to do finding work the other week??), where Constantine walked, etc.

Love you all lots and lots and lots.