Monday, June 12, 2017
A Tender Mercy a Day Keeps Satan Away
Dear Family and Friends,
Oh how the time has gone by. By the end of this next week, I will have already finished 2 transfers(~3 months) here in Ragusa. Oh, and I turn 20 (or as Italians say, I will have 20 years)! One lesson you learn on the mission is just how precious your time is because it can easily disappear. While some days might drag on, we are always doing the Lord's work so I try to never wish the time to go away because sooner or later it will go away!
As always, I have a lot of thoughts. I guess knocking doors and looking for people to talk to also gives me a lot of time to ponder life and my purpose here. But wait, what even happened this week?
Well Anziano Albright and I wanted to start the week off to a great start so literally the first thing we did after P-day was door to door. We wanted to finally finish the area our ward mission leader challenged us at the beginning of this transfer and we were only missing a few palazzos, including the ward mission leader's (Fratello Lo Monaco). Like normal, there was fun, disappointment, people not understanding who we were, a little yelling by one lady, and someone at the end basically saying, "Do you think anyone will really let you in at this hour?". I guess it was 8 o'clock but we had a work to do. No one let us in sadly, but as we walked away, we saw the Lo Monaco family walking back to their home. We greeted them and like the amazing Italian family they are, they invited us in for gelato to make up for the struggle. That definitely cheered me up haha.
In other news, we had a lesson with Sebastiano one day and in the hopes of fellowshipping him with other members, we all had a pranzo appt. with Sorella Puglisi. IT WAS SOO GOOD! She made homemade ravioli and although all italian foods are really good, ravioli is like gold, especially with fresh ricotta from Ragusa. And I ate one of the best peaches of my life and so of course I docuemented it with a photo. Seriously, I am so thankful for the amazing sacrifice of these members who do so much for a meal with the missionaries. We don't eat often with the members, but as Anziano Albright says, "One meal is basically 5 meal appts at the same time."
For example, yesterday after church, we went to the Guastella's house. In my opinion, Carmelo Guastella is one of the best cooks in at least Ragusa. He and his family surprised us with risotto alla frutta del mare, which is basically smorgasbord of seafood(shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels,) with risotto. I've heard legends about this stuff being hit or miss and this time it was really good. So that proceeded to me eating two plates (I asked for "un pocotino" for seconds to which Carmelo gave me a full plate which is pretty typical. That would suffice for a normal meal but then we had roast chicken, roasted potatoes, and salad for the 2nd plate! And to top it off, a giant piece of watermelon that was really good! I made them a tiramisù as a gift for their hospitality but at the end we barely could touch it being stuffed to the brim.
Okay I am going to try and not mention food for the rest of this email. To summarize the week, we taught less active members, another lesson with Sebastiano, received bidones, taught Simone, a recent convert, bought a brioche for the sacrament at Gela because there was no bread, and attended theater course for Beauty and the Beast. We now have parts in the musical which is something I didn't think would happen on the mission but it's pretty fun! Also another crazy experience was with Falcone. Background: He's this religion and philosophy teacher that has studied all the religions for a long time. He has known about our church since the late 60's and has realized it is the "best" church but believes in universalism, that there can't be only one true church, a common belief for some italians. Comunque, he's been coming to church for a while so in the hope of trying to fellowship him we agreed to go to his religious library. Turns out in campagnia he uses his parent's old house as a library that he wants to make open to the public which contains A TON of books on religion, philosophy, etc. It was really cool to see and get to know his life better and even answer some of his questions about our religion. Only in Italy.
For the weekend, it was all finding. We tried changing it up a lot, going to the Marina, Ibla, Via Roma. We tried different methods, English Course, Book of Mormon, etc. But in the end, it was really hard. I remember saying to Anziano Albright that the next place for finding would be better everytime we moved on. But in the end, we realized that it only seemed better, and that every place we went to was just as hard as the last. Friday was especially long, difficult, and hot. I remember being pretty disappointed at the end that night. After passing an end of school concert to start off summer for the ragazzi(that could be the reason why it was a little unsuccessful), I remember feeling pretty disappointed and even a little discouraged. As we were about to get into our car, Anziano Albright and I heard a loud "Anziani!" and then saw Simone drive by with his friends. Immediately, we started to laugh (because we love Simone so much and he's an amazing person that always does that when he sees us) and the discouragement disappeared.
It made me think of Alma 26, when the sons of Mosiah were depressed and thought of turning back and how the Lord sent an angel to comfort and encourage them to continue in this great work. That day, I saw how Simone was a tender mercy, an "angel" if you will. Tender mercies like that occur daily in the mission, but for me it takes a really careful eye to see it. Like sharing a nutella pizza with Anziano Albright after a hard day of finding. Like when Vince, one of the best people at our English Course, says a prayer in English, thanking God for the "Mormon missionaries" even though he says he's atheist. Like when you finally are able to make a lasgna that tastes like it was made by a true Sicilian after planning for our one investigator and calling people in the Area Book. I know God is blessing me everyday and teaching me so many lessons. Sometimes, it is hard to keep track of all the things I have learned these past two transfers. But the biggest thing of all, is gratitude for the tender mercies of God, which tends to be the amazing people I work with, eat with, and just randomly meet on the street every day. I love this mission with all my heart and hope to continue to find the tender mercy of the day, each day until my time is up as a representative of Jesus Christ.
Vi voglio bene!
P.S. Sorry I couldn't think of a good title and this is the only thing coming into my head right now.