Thursday, April 30, 2015

Week 13

We didn't receive a letter this week other than individual ones.  I think it was an error...

The best pizza in the world..again!

lol my haircut that they kinda messed up so i had to fix it so i didnt look like a 17 year old italian bad boy

sick name!

Zone Soccer

Week 14.5, Good Week

everyone, sorry i didnt email monday, our p day was postponed til today! and another quick one haha

so, it was a pretty normal week, except i need to tell you two major things. one, about the bednar conference, and two, about our investigator named Guiseppe. I'll start with Giuseppe, since this story goes back to 2 sundays ago. the reason i didnt tell you yet is because i didnt wanna jinx anything, but this dude is legit. ok so it starts off with me and my comp walking into sacrament meeting about 10 minutes before church starts. we see this stranger sitting down near the back; neither of us have seen him before. so, naturally, we strike up a convo and get to know him. well, it turns out this guy had been studying to be a catholic priest from about 2003-2013 or so, but then some missionaries found him. long story short, they got a lesson with him. and during this lesson they testified of the book of mormon and its significance in the truthfulness of our church. this sparked curiosity in Giuseppe, and he actually read and prayed the following night. he said that as he prayed, he felt a hand lightly touching his head, so he looked up, but no one was there. he continued to pray, and as he asked about the book, he felt that same comforting hand brush the back of his head, like a father would do. he immediately took this as his answer. he left the catholic church and began taking lessons with the missionaries. after pretty much all the lessons were taught to him, his mother died. this destroyed him. and because of this, he stopped meeting with the missionaries, and kinda fell off the face of the earth. well, about 2 years later almost, he felt something missing in his life. he then remembered the comforting hand that brushed the back of his head years ago, and decided to come to church...that's when we first met him. now, after teaching him about 5 times in the last 13 days, he is more than ready for baptism, and will be baptized on May 9th. he is the most ready i have ever seen. he has an unshakable testimony of the most important principles of the Gospel, and he knows the Bible more than anyone I can think of. this guy is the definition of prepared. he is amazing. this was and is a great experience for me, because of the rareity of it, and the reality of it. God really does know his children, all of them. and sometimes as a missionary, we have really good lessons, but then get really discouraged because nothing happens after, and we may never even get a 2nd lesson.  after a while, you start to tell yourself it's something you're doing wrong, and you blame yourself and become discouraged. i'm starting to learn that that's not what we should do. the Lord has His timing, and His plan for everyone, and it is a perfect plan. sometimes people just arent ready yet, and we cant control that. all we can do is put our best effort forward and never stop doing so. i think of how the missionaries must have felt almost 2 years ago with Giuseppe. they had amazing lessons, and he even developed a testimony of the book of mormon, but just stopped. they must have been super discouraged, and may have even blamed themselves for it. but I can testify that they didnt do anything wrong, and that it wasnt Giuseppe's time. I know that now is his time, and the Lord has prepared him more than we know. I have no clue what I did to deserve this experience on my mission, especially so early on, but it's beautiful to see the Lord work in mysterious ways. I love this.
Another highlight was the bednar conference. now, i could go on for hours and hours about it, so i'll just keep it brief-ish. the entire Italy Rome mission had the privilege of hearing from an Apostle of the Lord, David A. Bednar, and it was unforgettable. he didnt even give a talk, in fact, it was more of a Q&A session. to hear this man's testimony and his answers to such profound questions was unreal. almost as unreal as the fact that i shook his hand and talked with him face to face. this man is amazing, more amazing that you can see from watching him on conference. since i dont have a ton of time, i'll just share something that really stuck out to me. someone asked "how do you know when you're truly converted?" his answer was remarkable but simple. he replied by saying, "if you ever think you are converted, you're in trouble." he explained that once we think we are converted, we not only stop progressing, but we digress. he likened it to another situation. he said that some of us may think "oh i could never fall away from the church, i'll never lose my testimony" and he said that with that mindset, that is how it happens. if we dont think we are susceptible to falling, then we will let our guard down. and if we let our guard down, thats how Satan gets you. he said that we must constantly be seeking to progress, and never think we arent susceptible to even the worst situations, because we are. he said that progression does not come all at one, but over time through consistency and diligence. 
I had some very spiritual but personal experiences this week. I've really grown to love this work even more, and i love my life as a missionary. i love it!!!!! i miss you all a ton, but i love you all enough to sacrifice these 2 years for a better cause, and i know you guys will be blessed for it. love you guys so much.


classic pose of the dude is all over caserta

horse in the middle of the rode, italy probs :-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Week 12.... I Believe

sheesh, another quick week.
it was a good one. despite my super close buddies getting transferred out of our area and apartment, it was fun. on saturday, my birthday, these guys made it one to remember. first off, they went and bought fake ray ban glasses to casually make fun of the ones i had was hilarious haha. they made some amazing food and dolce, and we finished it off with some Napoletanna pizza for favorite :) i feel bad because we ended up staying up til like 11:30 talking and laughing about random stuff, so we were pretty tired the next day. but hey, it was my birthday..
anyway, we had some interesting experiences this last week, some were bad, some were good. I think i'm going to just ignore the bad ones and talk about a good one or two. so, one lesson we had with this 21 year old couple on wednesday went great. their names are Guido and Flori. it was our first lesson with them. they are soo sick, they speak good english too. they are both studying to be doctors, and Guido is a professional sick! anyway, we talked about our message and such, but we asked them why they wanted to meet with us and what they wanted to get out of our lessons. she said, "well, you're so happy, i can tell. and you're especially happy when you talk about your church. so i guess i want to know why you guys are so happy all the time...if that makes sense" lets just say from there, the lesson went swimmingly haha. they asked so many great questions and the spirit was definitely there testifying of the truth. we met some pretty cool people while finding and have high hopes, as usual. oh, almost forgot, we got a baptismal date for Guido and Flori! it's on pace for may 23rd!
man, I truly do love it out here. it's honestly pretty tough and tiring to be a full time missionary, but it is totally worth it. just seeing the happiness our message brings makes it all worth it. It's a huge learning experience for me out here, and it would take me forever to tell you everything i have learned so far. generally speaking, one of the biggest things i have grown to learn, is that God knows and loves all of us individually. He created us, He knows us perfectly. He knows exactly how we feel in every situation, and He will always be there for us. however, he does require that we ask for help when we need it. i have learned many times, that He does in fact hear our prayers, and He will answer them, as long as we are listening with real intent. dont give up no matter how hard it gets, because He is always there, especially when we think He isnt. I have perfect knowledge of this, and it brings me peace knowing so.
I love you all so much.

anziano blaise

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Week 11, General Conference and Pasqua/Pasquetta ..

well...hello everyone,

let me first start off by saying how awesome these past few days have been. so much has happened this last week, I think i only have time to talk about the past couple days.
as you all know, general conference was this weekend, which is basically christmas here in the mission haha, its so sick. we went to the church to watch it since we dont have a tv. and since we're 8 hours ahead of Utah, we had to watch it at odd times kinda. but it was so sweet.
on saturday night, we watched the saturday morning session of conference, and it was sweet. tons of focus on families and marriage and the whole eternal aspect, which truly is amazing to think about. we bought a bunch of snacks to bring to the church to snack on during our GEN CONF MARATHON lol. the next day on sunday, we got to the church around 9am to watch the saturday afternoon session, and our 75 year old romanian friend Gheorge Bob showed up to join us. after that, he had to go home to make food. then, we watched priesthood session, twice. one time in italian and another time in english (long story). then we snacked for a bit before we started the sunday morning session at 6pm our time. and upon starting it, a member named Vincenzo comes in to join. Not sure if i have talked about him previously, but he is quite the character. he's mentally unstable, and talks at very high volume and nonstop. so, during conference, he would often talk, usually to himself, and took a total of 200 selfies at least, with the computer screen in the background. all in all it was an interesting experience.
despite the disturbances, i really took a lot from this conference. it helped me to come to the realization of many things such as the importance of family, and the atonement. the atonement is a broad subject, but one thing i felt was repeated, luckily, was the fact that we must MOVE ON from our mistakes. Heavenly Father cares about who we are, not what we WERE. He sent His only begotten son to this earth, so that the burden of sin may be lightened so much, even completely off our shoulders. through His atonement, we can not only become clean and happy again, but we can forget our mistakes and, like God, remember them no more. it truly is the best gift, along with eternal families of course.
monday was sweet. other than deep cleaning in the apartment, it was Pasquetta, which literally means little Easter, in Italy. and it is a huge holiday. so, we went to this Italian family in our ward the Bruno's house. we had a 6 hour pranzo, then went back. it was so much fun. everyone was just laughing and having a great time the whole 6 hours. we had 6 courses of food followed by some amazing desserts, yes more than one dessert. the Italians are so loving and I love it. as soon as the found out I was american they just always called me "Anziano Americano!" and they thought it was so cool that i spoke english (even though italian is way cooler)
anyway, once we got back from this feast, we had about 30 minutes of proseltying time. i was bummed we had to do it, but it was whatever, so we said our prayers and went out. let me tell you, we saw a total of 3 people the entire time, stopped all of them, and only one was willing to talk with us. i felt prompted to ask if he believed in God, he said no and that he was agnostic. long story short, 10 minutes later, we have each other's phone numbers and an appointment to meet with this 16 year old named Gabrielle this week to explain how to know if God exists and how to enjoy the happiness that this brings into our lives. if anything, it was just a reminder to never give up. even if it seems like nothing will get done and its pointless to go out and proselyte, its not. the Lord works in mysterious ways, and obviously knew we would go out finding, and put this guy in our path for a reason. i look forward to find out what this reason is, and to encounter many more miracles similar to this one throughout my mission. i'm so blessed to be out here in Italy, and I wouldnt trade it for the world. i love you all so much, and think and pray for you every day. God bless

anziano blaise

here's part of napoli and mt. vesuvius

got some glasses, lol not prescription

so yeah, that thing im eating is gelato..i dont wanna even explain how good it was cuz you will all cry from jealousy ;)