Monday, May 8, 2017
I'm a Dad!....Technically
Dear Family and Friends,
How are all of you? I am doing just fine, having the time of my life here in Ragusa! Oh yah, transfers have come and gone and I am still here in Ragusa AND I am still with Anziano Albright. Totally unexpected but super cool. We are excited to work hard together and make it a great probably last transfer for him here in Ragusa. Also, I have technically become a father in the mission because Sorella Torres is training a new sister missionary, Sorella Tenney, and according to tradition, the district leader of the city is the "father". Mission traditions are pretty strange but I guess that's what happens when you are by yourself in a small Italian city with the only 3 other people that speak English.
Also, thanks to travel situations, transfer day was crazy! First off, we dropped Sorella Demann off at the train station to go to Napoli early in the morning which left Sorella Torres without a companion for like the whole day. Luckily we have an amazing new convert who was able to stay with her for the whole day until her greenie arrived. Anziano Young in Siracusa was also without a companion for the day and by the afternoon didn't have anyone to be with, so we took charge and roadtripped to Siracusa. By far, a fun miracle to see Siracusa again. And luckily, it worked out because then Sorella Tenney missed her connection to Ragusa (since the train down from Rome is always late) and so they sent her down to Siracusa. In the end, I finally got to eat another pizzolo, and we finally arrived home at 10 at night. I definitely wasn't expecting any of that to happen (especially the two "apostate" TJ trios we did).
For me, I learned a lot of lessons this week. First off, I still need to work on my Italian. We were doing a gesso in Ibla about the purpose of life and how we can find that in the Book of Mormon. I was chosen to draw and write the question this time since none of us our artists (even though I still think I have the worst handwriting). People passed by and no one seemed really interested in our message which is quite normal to expect. I stopped this one couple who were reading the question and I asked what they thought. They proceed to explain in english that it was wrong. I think, what's wrong with understanding the purpose of life? And then Sorella Torres looks at what I wrote and points out that I wrote "scopa" rather than "scopo". A one letter difference that means "what is the BROOM of life?" I couldn't believe it. Luckily, it was pretty funny in the moment. No wonder people think missionaries are weird sometimes.
As for our work, our lessons with Sebastiano are going better and he is planning on getting baptized the 10th of June. He was finally able to come to church this Sunday since his back was feeling better. In fact, a lot of people came like Giuseppe Guastella, a less active we have been working with, and a lot of others. The chapel was full, especially with tourist eason beginning. In fact, that was probably the sweetest moment. A missionary who served here 37 years ago came to church and asked if the Chines family was still. Turns out she was one of the missionaries that taught them. The ex-missionary didn't know if the Chines family would recognize her since after all it was 37 years ago. Upon Sorella Chines seeing the ex-missionary, Sorella Chines yells out her name and runs into a hug and then begins to cry. It was quite amazing to see the happy reunion and how that missionary helped 3 generations overall join the church.
Probably the biggest lesson for me though was about gratitude. Thoughts of leaving, staying, new companions, new cities, one of my former companions "dying", members, missionary work and especially my "father" becoming one of the new assistents to the president, have all given me a lot to ponder about. Reading through my journal and remembering my "mission" really struck me this week. I've seen a lot of improvement and as I look back, I really only seen the good, the fun, the joy. But even more importantly, I've seen how I get so stressed, frustrated, about things that really weren't important. For example, I remember my transfers with Anziano Moscon in Siracusa having some of the hardest experiences I have ever experienced. I felt lost and most of all, I felt that maybe I failed Anziano Moscon and didn't how enough love to him. Fortunately, now he is one of my greatest friends I have made, just like all my other companions, and I realize how much I really love and miss his humor and uniqueness, and really how great those transfers were.
Sorry if that makes no sense. In the end, I realized I am really bad at being grateful for things in the moment. I should've been more grateful and appreciative of the amazing members of Siracusa, with Anziano Moscon, with every day that has passed already as a missionary. I am just so happy I have the chance to try again with Anziano Albright and especially for the members of Ragusa. It's so hard to change but I know if I don't express my love for these people immediately, if I don't work my hardest every single day, then I only deprive myself of the maximum amount of the joy I can feel at the end of my mission.
I am grateful to be here, to serve with all my heart in Ragusa, to have an amazing companion, to have an amazing district, members who cook the best food I have eaten and cause me to make the same mistake of asking for seconds, and I am starting to be grateful even for those hard days where you end up asking only non-Italians about the Book of Mormon by accident, where people hang up the citofono after they hear Jesus Christ, and replace the stress with joy. This is a joyful work, our message only brings happiness to others, and I don't want to miss out on any opportunity to bring that joy to someone else, even if that ends up just being myself.
Vi voglio bene!