Dear Family and Friends,
I realized this week that maybe I can better explain what life is like here in Italy on a mission so that when I continue to write, you all can better understand the context of what I am saying.
Everyday we wake up at 6:30 a.m. which sometimes is really hard, especially now because it is a lot darker. Then we use the morning to exercise and prepare for the day. We also study our scriptures and prepare for the lessons we have together as a companionship.
Then at 10, we leave our apartment and set out to wherever we need to go. We live near both the metro stations and the central bus station so that makes transportation a lot easier for us, which is good because getting to people's houses on time is probably what we struggle with the most. If you miss one bus or one train, sometimes it takes a while for another one to come so I am learning to be a lot more punctual. Those of you who really know me, know I could have really improved in this area before the mission.
The weather is a lot nicer now and it rains probably once or twice a week, especially last week! There was nearly a river of water in the streets when we left church!
Italians have the custom to do a break from work and end school at pranzo or lunch. Lunch usually starts at one so like when we go to a meal appointmet, it will start at one, but actually later since the food takes a while to cook. And they really like to feed you a lot at these meals. First is always pasta, which if you think can't get much different than spaghetti, is totally wrong. There are tons of combinations for pasta. After that is a meat course (like chicken or beef) with vegetables, followed by fruit which is always fresh and delicious in Italy (the peaches and melon are amazing!). And of course it ends with a dolce, some kind of sweet like brownies, a fruit tart, and one of my companion's favorite thing to eat, chocolate salami (not meat, just chocolate). My favorite dessert has to be gelato though! Food is like art in Italy. The food is always so good, I don't what makes Italy special like that.
Because of all this food, it's hard to get back to work after, which is why most Italians take a nap after, but we aren't that lucky. We set off and get most of our work done in the afternoon and evening and usually arrive home at 9. There's a pizzeria right next to our apartment so Anziano Draghi and I sometimes like to finish the day with a good napolitano pizza.
This week I really saw the blessings of the Lord in our work, even among some of the discouraging things. Vera's husband, Elvis, returned home and we were able to finally meet him. It turns out he was baptized in Greece in 1992! And also doesn't remember anything about the church, so we are going to teach both of them at square one again. We wanted to meet again during the week but Vera kindly denied a lesson saying she was too tired, even though we spent an hour traveling to her house and it takes an hour back as well. Also one of our investigators dropped us over the phone saying she didn't need us to get close to God. Luckily with Anziano Draghi, even disappointments like that never get us down.
We challenged Raffaele to baptism and he accepted so that made our week. We were able to go to Ischia, one of the islands near Pozzuoli, (which is super beautiful!) to see a less active member of the church who was so happy to see us that he asked if we could call the Branch President so he could have the opportunity to take the sacrament right then. This man, Raffaele Mazzarella, is super spiritual, was a branch president 4 times in Rome, knows Anziano Draghi's family, and recently moved on the island to be with his daughter. The trouble is it takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to go from the island to church. He wasn't able to come this week like a lot of our investigators and less active members (except for Vincenzo!), but i am praying for the next time, that everyone can come.
The best part of the week was Sunday. Our Zone Leaders wanted everyone to have 2 new investigators with a baptismal date by the end of the week and we had only 1 by the afternoon. So we decided to go with the other Elders on the Lungomare and just teach people on the street. I had prayed to find an Italian family and I had faith. We found a lot of good potential people and it was a really great night but we didn't reach our goal by the end. But the other Elders actually found an Italian family who listened and accepted a baptismal invite!
I know our prayers are answered! While the odds right now seem impossible for a baptism at the end of this transfer, I believe and hope that it can happen. I know that we are challenged every day with trials and tests, and our job is to give our best effort, to listen and obey, and God will help us finish the work. I really do love Italy, especially when I meet members who describe how joyful it was when they received the gospel from the missionaries or when they received an answer that this was true. It shows to me that there are people out there waiting for the gospel, and it is my work to find them as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ. Thank you for all your love and prayers, and I hope you all have a great week!
Vi voglio bene!