Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"Riders on the Storm" Elder Younce's email from May 18th, 2016

Ever since we baptized Anthony we have experienced a slowing down in our work. I knew that things were just too good to be true and that the mission couldn't be this rewarding without a few difficulties arising. We have been trying to figure out how to move our investigators forward but at every turn  something has been preventing us from doing so. It is especially hard to help these people to come closer to Christ when then don't show up to appointments also, like has been happening a lot lately. In the past apparently Cimiano has been the worst area in the mission when it comes to cancellations, sometimes approaching a 75% cancellation/stand up rate. We look at our whiteboard every day and glare at the empty space where we write baptism dates. We have decided that some of our investigators who are really not interested in baptism and do not keep our commitments, but have been meeting with us anyways because we have been hoping to change that, will be dropped. Instead of using our time on them, we will be helping those who ARE ready to accept our message whether it be the handful of investigators we have now who are ready to do that but we have had difficulty meeting with, or finding new people to teach. We have been going to lots of members houses and less active families to show a video that President Dibb is recommending. Actually, there is a funny story about this effort of ours. Since Friday I have been sick and Sunday was the worst day for me but I could stand and talk so I went out and worked. My symptoms included a headache, sore throat, and absolutely no appetite. We scheduled to meet with a strong member family followed by a less active family on Sunday to show them the video and talk to them about how they can be involved with missionary work. We didn't say anything to either of them about staying for dinner and, in fact, said that we couldn't stay long because we were very busy. I was dearly hoping that they wouldn't have food for us because I couldn't eat anything but when we got to the first house, they brought out enough food for 20 people and told us to eat. I ate as much as my throat and stomach could handle so that I wouldn't appear rude and then we showed the video and got out of there. By now I was feeling like I was gonna throw up because there was food in my stomach that didn't belong there. I was hoping beyond belief as we walked from our first appointment to the next that they wouldn't have food but when we walked in I saw a bunch of food on the table and almost walked out the door right then. Normally I would be excited to eat a bunch of traditional Milanese cuisine like risotto and fried chicken filets (I don't know what they call them) but not that day. I decided my strategy would be to get the smallest possible scoop of everything and the smallest filet and spread it out on my plate so it would look like I had gotten more than I did and then to take small bites and chew it for a long time. For most of the meal it seemed as though nobody noticed until somebody brought it up and they started making fun of me for taking tiny bites and chewing so much, like a baby. I'm afraid that they were offended that they made all that food for us and I didn't eat much.  I couldn't really do much about it considering with each bite I put in my mouth my body had the urge to throw up. When we finally got out of there my companion turned to me and said "why didn't you just tell them that you are sick so you can't eat much?" I almost decked him right there because I didn't know that I could do that. I really wish he told me that I could say that because it would have saved me the upset stomach and the relationship with that family. We are gonna go see them again soon so hopefully I can explain to them what happened last time and show them how fast and how much I usually eat. 

This week we have also done a ton of "finding", where we go up to people on the street or in the park and try to start a gospel conversation with them and eventually get their number so we could see them another time. We haven't had any success so far because I am awful at finding due to my very limited knowledge of Italian but I found myself getting better at it and becoming more bold. 

I chose the title of my email, "Riders on the Storm", because first of all it seems as through we have been riding through a storm this week, but also because  the opening lyrics of the song are "riders on the storm, riders on the storm, into this house we're born, into this world we're thrown" and I have been reminded of those lyrics so many times since I've been here. I see people every day who seem to have been thrown quite roughly into this cruel world and are left to eke out a meager living before they die. They are just hoping to hold on through the storm. Little do they know that they are designed for a much greater purpose and that their Father in Heaven is still there. This reminds me of one of my favorite hymns, "Master, the Tempest is Raging" as well, with the accompanying inspiring account from the Bible. When the Apostles of the Lord were caught in a great storm and it seemed that they would perish, God was still watching after them and he still loved them but he wanted them to literally and symbolically turn to Jesus Christ to save them. When they did, the seas were calmed and their faith was strengthened by the experience. Before, I had never thought of the story from the perspective of our Heavenly Father, but my experiences have helped me see his hand in our lives and in our trials. This week has truly been a storm for me and unfortunately I have been letting it get to me more than I should but I know that I have received strength enough to handle it by turning to the Master. The whole time I have never been forgotten but for some unknown reason, I needed to learn to turn towards my Savior for strength. Never forget that you can turn to Him in every difficulty and in every trial. Sometimes He will not help in the way that you want Him to, but the help will come nonetheless. If there is one thing of which I am sure, it is that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us with all his heart, might, mind, and strength and that He will not let us fail. That is why He sent His Son. Thanks to Them, we can survive the storm that sometimes seems as though it will envelop us.

Anziano Younce

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