You remember that song from Kanye West called "Amazing"?? It's the one that pretty much just says the word amazing over and over again. About 17 times in a row. haha. Anyway, that's how I would describe this last week.
One of the amazing experiences I had was splits with Anziano Reyes. He's one of the Zone Leaders and he is an amazing missionary. He's Peruvian, but he's lived in Milan for the last 20 years. What makes him really great is his firm testimony, and that he puts it all into practice. What I learned from the splits is that I need to study and apply more. When he talks to people he says lots of things that are straight from the scriptures, and modern day prophets. He's very sincere and direct, and that's what makes him so effective. I've taken a new route with my language study because of him. My problem is that I don't study the doctrine enough in Italian, and so I can't always quote things in Italian because I don't know the exact translation. Lately I've begun reading all the general conference issues of the Liahona so I can quote apostles and prophets easily when I teach. I also loved how much he expressed his love for the people and willingness to help them. We were at a members house and he said, I love you, the Lord says to love your neighbor, and I do it. I've never enjoyed splits as much as that time because he is a really great example of a Christ-like missionary.
Another amazing thing that happened this week is we have a new investigator that used to be a frate. I believe in English it's a friar, or a Catholic monk or something. Anyway, he showed us photos, and it's those Catholics that have the whole brown tunic. He's amazing. Obviously, he knows the Bible really well. He was with them for 6 years. He came to church on Sunday, and then we had another appointment with him yesterday. We spent the entire time answering all his questions because he's really interested in the church. He went online and studied about the church a ton, but he didn't go looking for anti-sites, he actually found a lot of good information. He's exactly what this branch needs. We only have one worthy priesthood holder, and that's the Branch President. I really feel good about this guy. He's only 32.
I also met a less-active that came by English Course last night. He has a powerful testimony, but he is in Palermo on the weekend, and so he can't come to church here. I was wondering, what is the maximum age to go on a mission? He is 26, and I think he would be awesome. On Monday they had a special day for the dead. In other words, everyone went to the cemetery. We had to go to District Meeting in Ragusa, and got stuck in traffic for more than an hour. I'm getting used to driving here, but I'm going crazy because we don't have any music!! I have a couple CDs that I've already heard too many times, and my companion doesn't have anything! Fortunately, I was able to get another Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD from the Zone Leaders, and also one EFY CD that's pretty good.
The other night we went downtown (if you can call it that...the city is only 80,000 people), and we walked around talking to people about the Gospel. Well, me and my companion both like talking to everyone, and so we meet tons of people. This time when we went, we just kept running into people that we already knew that wanted to talk to us! A few of them were pretty crazy...one was anti-mormon, and another was someone that asked us to pray for him and he introduced us to a couple of his friends. One of his friends started bagging on the Catholic church, and we told him that we shouldn't judge and that we don't want to talk about it, then he started going off on the Jehovah's Witnesses, and we told him that we had to leave. I'm pretty sure if we had stayed a few minutes he would've gotten to us! haha.
It's crazy how many different religions there are in the world. Some people get really into theirs, and some people don't care. One that has stood out to me lately are the people who believe in God, but don't believe in religion because they see all the corruption. I think that what's important is that they realize that when Jesus Christ was on the earth he created a church, he called twelve apostles, there were other leaders of the church called as well (like Bishops). For many it is obvious that there was an apostasy and that things from the Bible and the original church of Jesus Christ were changed, but they think that the time of apostasy is right now! Instead, we are here to let them know that the apostasy is over and if they pray than they will know that the true church is here on the earth. Just because you don't know about something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. People give up the search too soon. The good news is that not everyone does, and we've been blessed to meet a lot of people that want to learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pray to know that His church is here again.
One thing that they advise us to do is to keep a study journal. I...haven't been the best about it, but now I've finally started one! It's awesome. When we study the scriptures, we receive revelation...when we don't write it down, then we forget it! I also generally have a pen and paper near my bed for thoughts that come to me while I'm lying down, or inspiration that comes to me during my nightly prayer. I also recommend writing notes in the margin of the scriptures. That's what I do, and it's really helpful. Maybe it can help you too.No photos this week. I've been taking them, but I don't really have a way to get them to you because the USB on these computers doesn't really work. Last week I was able to because I unplugged the mouse, plugged in my camera instead, used the keyboard to copy the images onto the computer and then e-mail them to you, but in the end I think I may have messed up the mouse. haha. . . . so unfortunately I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to do as far as sending you photos while I'm here in Gela. I'll always try and see what I can do. SORRY! Well, there's someone who keeps yelling in the internet cafè so I’m going to go. Yeah...we don't have the best place to use internet.
Have a great week!
P.S. What you were saying about me not being weird after my mission, hahaha, oh man. I actually had a conversation about this with my companion the other day. He's very focused on the world (girls, soccer, etc), and he says that he doesn't want to go home from his mission and be weird and totally into the gospel. He said he doesn't want to follow the missionary handbook when he goes home. Obviously. The missionary handbook only applies when you're a MISSIONARY. What I've come to realize lately is that people go to extremes in the gospel, while not actually following it. The reason why return missionaries are like that when they go home is that they don't understand the difference between mission life and life in the world, and how to help others whole all have their own free agency. I think that we should all try and shape our lives after Jesus Christ, and we can look to the Apostles and Prophets as examples of people who do a good job at it. For example, the apostles have non-member friends that they aren't friends with just to share the gospel with (some RMs end up like that), the Apostles have a great education. Elder Eyring has an iPhone. I say we should follow them. I may not get an iPhone after the mission, but I'll for sure get an iPod touch. hahaha.
Also, I heard a story that may or may not be true, but I liked it. Anziano Shaw's Bishop was at a Beach Boys Concert and saw President Monson. He was surprised to see him there, and started to talking to him. He explained that he was surprised to see him there, and President Monson said that we are to be "in the world, but not of the world" haha. I'm not sure if it's true, but I think it demonstrates a good point.