Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"All Along the Watch Tower". Email from May 4th, 2016

As always this week has presented its own new challenges and new
blessings. I will first present the blessings because I don't think I
can wait until the end to write about them. Anthony finally had his
baptismal interview with Presidente Dibb and he passed with flying
colors! He is going to be baptized this Saturday and then the
following Sunday I will give him the gift of the Holy Ghost so I'm
pretty excited to do that ordinance for the first time (especially
since it will be in English). Last week at Sorella Avila's goodbye
party a member brought a friend of his who is interested in learning
English so we invited him to our free English class and he came! We
have arranged to meet him tomorrow and he seemed super excited to see
us again. Hopefully he understood that we are not meeting him tomorrow
for a private English lesson though.

Ok now for the difficult stuff. This week one of our investigators
dropped us because while we wanted him to progress towards baptism, he
wanted to stay Muslim. His reasoning is that he is a Muslim and so he
can't be a Christian. We tried explaining to him that we wanted to
show him our beliefs so that he could find out for himself if it is
the truth and that if he found it to be true, that he would be
baptized but he didn't quite understand. He didn't seem to be in any
danger from other Muslims if he were to be baptized like some are but
he said that his parents and grandparents and everyone from his
country were Muslim so he will always be Muslim. I thought that kind
of attitude was limited to the Italians we've talked to but apparently
it also affects refugees as well. In my experience though, even the
refugees who are Muslim are very open to us and are more ready to
accept the gospel as any other group of people. We are told not to
seek out refugees and to only teach them if they come to us and are
interested but they still end up being the majority of baptisms in
this mission. For the past couple of days Anziano Hansen has been
pretty sick and we have tried to get out and proselyte as much as he
can handle but nevertheless we have been staying in a lot. I've
actually forced him to stay in more than he has wanted to because he
needs to recover but he has been worried that we haven't been putting
in as much effort as we could into our work. I'm just glad that my
trainer isn't the kind of missionary to make excuses to not do
missionary work.

Before I say my final remarks I would like to talk about some more
quirks about Italy. Almost no places here take credit cards. They only
take cash which is a trait which is mostly limited to hotdog stands in
America. I guess it's just a part of the stubborn traditionalism that
reigns supreme here. That sense of tradition is also probably the
reason why there is no such thing as air conditioning in Italy. It's
not that it is too expensive for them but rather that they are afraid
of it. The missionaries who have been here longer say that it is
because of this belief here that a swift cool breeze to the back of
the neck can cause all sorts of sickness. I'm not totally sure if they
were telling the truth because it seems pretty far fetched but it
would make sense considering the church buildings here have air
conditioning installed but it isn't turned on during the summer. This
stubbornness is one of the reasons I love Italians so much but it
makes it difficult while we are trying to find new people to teach
because when we talk to them they are either stubbornly Catholic or
stubbornly atheist but either way they don't know why they are one of
those. They don't know why they believe something and never have
considered changing. Even when we come to them with some new ideas.

I've been watching the Joseph Smith Papers (downloadable in the Gospel
Library app) during my free time at night and have been thoroughly
enjoying it. The series satisfies both my curiosity regarding history
and the early church and I highly recommend it. While watching it and
pondering on Joseph Smith, I have realized how important prophets were
to the early Saints and how important they are to us today. Their
words cannot be taken too seriously and only good can come from
heeding them, as history can bear witness. They truly are watchmen in
the tower, seeing danger from afar and warning us of it. I have seen
in my life and in my service here that when I try to follow closely to
their counsel, I am protected spiritually as well as physically and
when I do not do so, I don't have those same blessings in my life.

Vi voglio un sacco di bene!

Anziano Younce

Anziano Younce

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