Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rome-- Weeks 13-16--OOPS--Got behind!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009:

Okay, do you want to know the song that has been in my head the most recently? It is from “Fiddler on the Roof.” “Wonder of wonders! Miracle of miracles!” This truly has been a week of miracles. Yes, Rodica did get baptized. Sunday was probably my favorite part though. The baptism was good and spiritual. But Sunday, I got to talk to her after she received the Holy Ghost. I got to sit next to her as she took the Sacrament as a member! (A member had told her not to take the Sacrament as a non-member, so she wouldn’t do it). And after it all she said, “Now I know this is the true church. There is not doubt.” She had felt the Holy Ghost as the men put their hands on her head and blessed her. She said she’d been baptized in other churches, but she has never felt what she felt in that moment. She did not expect it. She did not anticipate it to overwhelm her as it did. When she came back to sit down, her face was dripping with tear and she kissed both Sorella Tramacchi and me. She truly is amazing.

If that had been the only miracle on Sunday, I would have accepted it. But Heavenly Father decided to send me another one too. The story starts two weeks ago. We were having dinner with Marco Antonio and Monica. Monica mentioned that she had to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. I turned to Marco Antonio and asked, “So will you come to church to see her give her talk?” Like any prideful man, he responded, “BJ why did you ask that? Now I have to say yes.” Of course I felt a little bad, as though maybe I pushed where I shouldn’t. However, Saturday I asked Marco Antonio again if he was going to come. This time he responded more sincerely. “I don’t know,” he said. He said it would depend on how he’s feeling, on whether the sun was shining. I said I would pray for the sun. He said it was forecasted to be a gloomy day. I said I would pray for the sun, and boy oh boy, did I ever. When I woke up Sunday Morning, it was still dark, but it didn’t look promising. So I prayed again. As I was getting ready for church, the sun came up, and I knew it would be a good day. And Marco Antonio DID come to church! I don’t know what he’s going through right now. I don’t know if he’s decided to finish his steps of repentance. But, he has committed himself to coming to church every week this month.

The next story is called Thank you Refrigerator. Once upon a time there was an Elder Cooper who started his mission somewhere in the Napoli region. One day, he was helping a member move and smashed his finger with the refrigerator. Then he got transferred to Rome 1 and always liked to gross out the sister missionaries by showing his finger and threatening to take it off. One day he could contain himself no longer and told one of the sister missionaries (Sister Bjarnason) that if she didn’t go home and get a fingernail clipper, he was going to rip off his nail. People offered the option of the sisters not going home and going straight to a district activity, but this sister stressed that she needed to go home to get the fingernail clipper, thus she could drop off other stuff at home as well (stuff such as food from the baptism because we can’t leave food in church). All the elders complained that the sisters took too long at the house, but Elder Cooper called the sisters heroes because they brought him the fingernail clipper.

On the way to the district activity, the recently baptized new convert called the sister missionaries and said she had left her wet clothes in the church and asked if they could pick them up. So the sisters went back to the church before going home for the night to pick up the clothes. However, as this Sister Bjarnason was trying to unlock the gate, she twisted the key, but the lock did not turn. Unfortunately, the part of the key in her hand did turn, but the part in the lock didn’t, which caused the key to snap. Sorella Tramacchi then started to try with all her might to get the key out of the lock, but to no avail. In desperation, Sorella Bjarnason called the elders to inform them church was canceled because there was no way to open the gate. Finally, one elder asked if she still had the fingernail clippers and if she had tried using them. They tried and succeeded. Then Sorella Tramacchi jumped over the gate to get the wet clothes. So, church was saved thanks to the refrigerator. I think that’s all I have to say.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009:

This week went well. I don't have anything bad to say. Marco Antonio came to church again. A member actually said in her testimony, “And Marco Antonio, it's good to see you in church again.” I think he glared at her and all the people in the audience started whispering. Welp, the worst is over, he can't get any more embarrassed than that.

Rodica and Firuta are amazing. We pretty much spent all of Sunday with them. They live about an hour away. They took us first to Rodica's house for lunch, then to Firuta's for the lesson. A little story about how they came to the church. Firuta met a brother in our church. He called her and asked if they could grab a drink together. She was a little nervous at first, but eventually they went out. Apparently he asked if they could have a prayer together. She was impressed by how noble he was and how he wasn't after what most men are after. Firuta told Rodica about him and together they decided to investigate the church. Now, as of at least Sunday, there is no longer anything between Firuta and this brother. Things are a little awkward for them, but Firuta still wants to continue investigating the church!!! And then after lunch together, they both decided to come with us to zone singing! That was fun.

At zone singing I talked to a lot of great people, but no one wanted to meet with me again. Oh well, one day they'll say yes to the missionaries.

Sorry this is kind of short. There's really not much more to talk about and I have to do some other things on the computer this week. There's an inactive member who has traveled to Philadelphia. She called us to ask how to find the church. We told her how, but she doesn't have a computer. So, I'm going to try and look it up for her. I hope the church is still true in Philadelphia...anzi...I hope it's more true so that this inactive will actually go to church!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009:

Answers to Questions: Yes I’m listening to the music. Thank you so much for the package. Firuta is not baptized yet. Nor does she have a date. However, she answered a question in Sunday School! Hurrah! She was scared at first because Italian isn’t her first language. Slowly, slowly, she’s becoming more comfortable in church. I think it’s only a matter of time before she accepts the invitation to be baptized.

Other miracle: Okay, let’s go back to when I first came to Rome. Sorella Hansen gave me a list of three individuals that I needed to work with. Imagine my astonishment to find that all three investigators had been dropped. At least I had a reason to call them. “Hi, I’m a friend of Sorella Hansen’s, can I meet with you?” There was one Carmela that I tried. She seemed friendly on the phone, but after a few phone calls, she said she was really busy and would call us. That’s the type of response that leads an investigator to get dropped. So, I dropped it and stopped trying.

Do you remember the miracle of Cataldo? I found him because an inactive mentioned another investigator by the name of Carmela who lived on the street nearby. Thus I found Cataldo’s address (because his was written wrong). We happened to be in the area of Cataldo, and I decided to stop by to say hi. While we were there, a man showed up. His name is Mimo. Cataldo told us that he knew everyone. And it turns out Mimo is the father of Carmela’s child. (Yeah, I’m not really sure what his relationship with Carmela is currently). He basically told us to come over after Christmas. The door has opened again! The work will go forth, boldly, nobly, and independently!

Modern Day Christ: the other day I was on the bus. There was a small situation (so small that I don’t even remember what it was) and it made me think, “What would Jesus do?” I was stumped. I didn’t know what he would do. It seemed to me if he were on the bus people would react differently than how they react to me.

Later Marco Antonio was talking to Sorella Tramacchi and me. He turned to Sorella Tramacchi and asked what Jesus would look like if he were here right now. I told him my experience and he said, “But you are imagining an ancient Christ from the bible.” It’s true. All the pictures we have of him, he is wearing robes. Even the picture of His second coming, he is wearing robes. And I don’t doubt that that could be how he will come. But what if he dressed in a suit and shaved his beard. All of a sudden, would people still recognize him? Is it his robes that make him our Savior or who He Is? Exactly! The people who will recognize him will be the people who are like him.

Welp, I’ll email you next week I guess to tell you what time I’ll call. You didn’t give me a preference so I’ll just set it up with the elders. (My companion will be calling at a different time. Australia is on the other side of the world). I love you very much. Oh, and for sure I’m sending the Christmas package to Becky and Bryce. So, make sure they give you your Christmas presents. I love you so much. Keep smiling:)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009--Email 1:

Okay, I have like 5 minutes to talk right now. Okay, whatever it’s called, missionary business. I got grandma’s package and please let Uncle Bryant know that I got his package too. No, I didn’t get your Christmas package. The absolute chance will be today because our district leader is going to the office today to get his package. If it happened to get in since Sunday, he’ll bring mine too. If not I’ll have to wait until after Christmas.

The elders asked if I wanted to call home at 5 or 7. I guess that means they’re planning on taking two hours on the phone? I’m too impatient, I opted to call at 5. That means I’ll be calling at 8 in the morning. So, everyone please wake up. Sorry it’s so early. I just don’t want something to happen and not get to call. So, I’m calling at 5. Wait a minute…if there’s a miscommunication and they happened to forget that there are two phone lines…I might call at 6 which would make it at 9 your time. Plan for me at 8 and I promise to call before noon. (I have to be home by 9 which would be noon).

I wanted to tell you more about the week, but we’re in a rush. So, I’ll tell you in two days I guess. Sadness. I feel like I write better than I tell stories. Maybe you’ll have to wait another week to hear my highlight. Don’t worry…it’s nothing life changing.

Welp, gotta go. I love you. I will talk to you in two days at 8 am in the morning. Yes I remember my own number…that’s why I’m not even bothering to write it down.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009--Email 2:

Okay, I lied. I’ve been allotted five more minutes so I’m going to tell a quick story.

Sorella Tramacchi served in Rome 2 before Rome 1. She worked with a girl named Loisa. This Sunday Loisa had her baptism. Sorella Tramacchi was willing to do anything to be there. The rule is that you have to bring an investigator to go to baptisms outside of your area. We tried everything but it didn’t look like we’d be able to. Finally, the day before I told President about our efforts. He said, “I think it will be fine if Sorella Tramacchi is at the baptism.” There you go. Green light, let’s go.

Next problem, the baptism is at 1 on Sunday. Our church ends at 12 and it takes an hour (more or less) to get from our building to that of Rome 2. (Thank you public transportation and traffic). We left right after church, but due to traffic, we got there at 1:20. We came in the middle of the first talk. I don’t know the Rome 2 building as well, so I felt a little disoriented as we’re going through doors I didn’t know existed and trying to quietly shut them behind us. The entrance to the chapel is to the front and to the side. So we walk in and the entire congregation is looking at us. I see the empty expressions of the other missionaries and President and secretly suspect they're all judging us for being late AND not having an investigator.

I follow my companion to the back of the chapel to sit next to a Philippino man who’s sitting all by himself. I’m so nervous that I don’t even take off my coat or scarf. I don’t want to make anymore noise. I just want to sit back and not be noticed.

Up in the front, one of the assistants is translating for the speaker. Loisa is Philippino and so is the speaker. So the speaker is talking in English and Anziano Steiner is translating into Italian. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. Man, that’s rough. He has to translate in front of this group that also includes President Acerson. I am glad that I’m not part of this ward, and I currently don’t have any English speaking investigators, and I don’t have to do this sort of thing. Oh well, poverino. He’ll be blessed.

Meanwhile, the guy next to me asks if I have a Book of Mormon. I say yes. Then I realize he asked in English, I only have one in Italian. That’s okay. Okay. He flips to a scripture and then tells me he’ll return it after his talk. Ah hah! There you go. I have a reason to be here. If we weren’t here, the second speaker couldn’t use my Book of Mormon. There you go, President, I was meant to come to this baptism.

I can tell this man is nervous for his talk. As the first speaker starts to end, he is half out of his chair. The speaker sat down and so did Anziano Steiner. The man turns to me. What? You have my Book of Mormon. What else could he have to say to me? “And will you translate for me?”

Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! There are three other elders in the room who have been in Italy longer than me. I’m not from this ward. I really can do nothing else but follow him up to the podium, coat, scarf and all. Oh I was so nervous!!!! I’d like to tell you that the gift of tongues was present, and that I translated everything perfectly into Italian. Truth: the gift of tongues was present, but so was the confusion of tongues. What I understood of what he was saying, I was able to say in Italian. People came up to me afterward and said they didn’t understand what he was trying to say in English. Neither did I, and I was reading his talk! Oh well. It’s over. I gotta go. I love you. Keep smiling:)


Friday, December 25, 2009--Editor's note:

We spoke with Aubry this morning, and it was wonderful to hear her voice!! She actually speaks Italian and can say "Mamma Mia" like an Italian!! Merry Christmas to all!!