Saturday, June 5, 2010

Big Glass Bubble of Air - June 2nd, 2010

So my companion pretty much summed up the week with this one fantastic comment she made while we were walking past Sri Lankan trinket vendors at the Centrale Station who were trying to convince all the businessmen and world travelers without children that a container of bubbles was exactly the thing they needed for their trips...
She says, in the most sincere and joyous voice possible,
"It is so so nice to see bubbles as we walk through here!"

Honestly, her ability to not think negatively about anyone, not doubt, etc., blows me away daily and reminds me that the purpose of this life is to FIND JOY.

This morning I studied joy and happiness while trying to figure out what to teach an investigator, Miriam, who cries every time we come (sometimes I wish I were an Elder, I'm really just not good with knowing how to react to people crying, and women do it alll too often - more often these past few weeks it seems) and has had a pretty rough life. Basically, the simple conclusion (once again, a conclusion that most normal members of the church figure out without having to spend a year and a half on mission but whatev) I came to is that the only way to real happiness is living the gospel. Go check out 3 Nefi 17:17-18. That population felt JOY more than anyone had every felt before, an incomprehensible joy, when they were in the presence of Jesus. The way we today can come unto Christ and become closer to him is THE GOSPEL. Also read 4 Nefi 1:15-16. Pretty good script about joy. We all rush around trying to find happiness and fulfillment in life through so many different activities and rob ourselves of the things that will give us enduring joy. From what I understand in the scriptures, though, the enduring joys come trough spiritual growth, service, and hard work. I still am going to have to strengthen my testimony of this, though...I'm not going to lie - a day at the beach, a sailing trip around the world etc. still seems ridiculously more appealing to me than hard work.

Although I still have a long way to go to completely having a testimony of this concept, I've been blessed with a lot of experiences this week that have helped me really see the truth of it. For example last week on Pday I was pretty bummed after emailing because of the news about Mason and another letter I received with some un-expected news. Luckily, we had planned to go visit Ana in the middle of our Pday time because it was the only day and time during that week she could see us and we knew she needed the help, since she is trying to stop smoking and her life is simultaneously falling apart in 10 million other ways . So,about two hours after emailing, once we walked out of her house I was completely full of joy again and had 100 percent forgotten about all the bummer news I'd gotten earlier. It honestly was such a release to be able to sit there and just listen to her concerns and really feel like a mouth-piece for the Lord as we gave her advice and encouragement.

Then, of course, it just doubled my joy when Sorella Casa and I left the lesson and went on our hunt for the park of the week - Park Forlannini which ended up being super quiet, calm, green and a perfect place for p-day exploring and relaxing.

We also did Scambi, or exchanges, this week with the Sisters from Bergamo. When we got the news from the District leaders that I was YET AGAIN staying in Milan for exchanges I was probably more bummed than I was after all the bad -mail news. I have heard Bergamo is beaaaautiful. But, of course I found during the quick 24 hour scambi that being in the service of others brings even more happiness than...sit down for this one and save this email cuz I'm probably not ever going to say this again...traveling to new places. The Sister who was with me for Scambi has only been here for 4 weeks and has apparently been having a rough time...apparently her trainer is kind of lazy and isn't helping her much to get over the fears she has of talking to people. Sooo, I had 24 hours to change this Sister's view about the mission and help her learn how to talk people and I honestly was on a high the whole time. It was so fun helping her, encouraging her, seeing her change within hours, etc. Haha, not to mention how awesome it was when the man we were talking to on the metro stood up, took off his jacket to reveal a shiny tight blue shirt, then started demonstrating the belly dancing moves he was learning in his belly dancing class. He proudly claimed to be the only male belly dancer in Milan...I sure hope so!!

I've also seen the joyous fruits of hard work. Heavenly Father works in such a weird way though. We worked really hard and had really "high numbers" this week and had lots of success...but none of the success came from any of the hard work we did. For example, we must have invited about 4 people to baptism this week, trying to arrange to achieve our goal of getting one baptism during the transfer. We set a few baptismal dates but no one really felt prepared to get baptized in the next 3 weeks (before the end of our transfer). But then...Sunday the bishop called us into his office and introduced us to a woman that showed up from El Salvador. She has been going to church for the past 7 years, has had her 2 daughters baptized, has taken the missionary discussions at least 2 times, but could never get baptized because she was living with the father of her children who didn't want to get married. They finally got married last month, then she moved out here to arrange for everything for the rest of the family to move out here, and she wants to get baptized. We said sure. The last week of our transfer we're baptizing her. Good deal, eh? I honestly just feel like people are coming to us these days. Andrea, Sis Prina's cousin, called and asked us if he could come stop by the church and visit us there last night. Then, Louis, another guy we've been having a hard time getting appointments with, but who has been reading the Book of Mormon, called us last night and asked if he can meet with us tonight....

Life is good. Life should be joyous. You all should write to me and share with me the joy in your lives.