Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Immigrant Song Email from 7/6/16 from Elder Adam Younce

This week has been brutal to us with our work once again. Sometimes
you just do everything you can to meet with people and to help them
progress and it just doesn't work out the way that you want it to. We
plan lessons and call to confirm the day before or that day so we go
to the appointed spot and they aren't there. We call again and either
they don't pick up or they forgot and are across the city. So we have
been stood up or "bidoned" as we call it more than ever before. Each
day we might plan 4 lessons and 3 of them fall through or something
like that. Putting so much love and work in every day and not being able
to see an equivalent amount of change in the people we teach
absolutely breaks my heart. Also, our investigator with a baptism date
set named Isidro just found out that he is going to have to go to
Toscana for 2 months starting Thursday for work. That means that even
if I do stay here for another transfer, I won't see him again. Luckily
there are missionaries where he is going so we will put him in contact
with them and he can be taught while he is down there. I don't even
care whether I'm able to be there for his baptism though because I
know that I did everything that I could do for him and that ultimately
it paid off even if I didn't get to be a part of the final process.

On a positive note though, happy Independence Day! We spent our Fourth
of July by bringing a bunch of American desserts to district meeting
and then we went to the apartment of one of the companionships in
Milano with the rest of the Milano people and we made burgers and
steaks for lunch. On the way over there I had a really special
experience. We were getting off the metro and a man recognized us as
Mormons and then told us that he is American. We were confused because
he looked Italian, started by speaking in Italian to us, and spoke
English after that with a thick Italian accent. He confirmed once
again that he is American and told us that he is from North Carolina
and showed us his license to prove it. I told him that I am too and
showed him mine and he totally freaked out and told us his story. He
is from Napoli and then moved to North Carolina to teach Latin at
Sanderson high school in Raleigh. I told him that I have friends that
went there and that there was recently a missionary in Italy who went
there. He then told us that his sister and her family is Mormon and
that he is not but goes to our church a lot. I asked where and he said
that he lives in the neighborhood right by the Raleigh temple and that
he goes to church there at the stake center right by it except when he
goes to Wilmington in the summer, when he goes to that church. I told
him that the stake center there is mine because I live in Cary and
that I've lived there my whole life. He seems to be someone who was
right on the edge of being baptized after many years by the stories
that he told us. He came to America to be with his sister who married
this returned missionary who served in Italy and then he was
introduced to the church through her. He had many students in his
class over the years who were members of the church and he told us
that every single one of them really impressed him, especially how
they got up early for seminary before school. Remember, youth, that in
every respect you are examples wherever you are. You have the capacity
to change hearts just by living righteously. Now this man came across
me completely by happenstance while he was in Italy looking for
records of his grandpa and it seemed to be some sort of answer to a
prayer for him. During our conversation he was crying the entire time
and probably said "thank the good Lord Jesus for the blessing" about
20 times. It was weird being able to talk freely with someone who
knows your hometown as well as you do and it was great to have such a
positive on someone just by existing and being in the right place.
Yesterday we woke up early to do some service but I didn't know what
kind of stuff we would be doing until we got there. All we knew was
that we couldn't wear our missionary tags in there and had to wear
normal clothes. Turns out that we went to this huge warehouse full of
old birth, marriage, and death records for the Milano area and got to
search through and organize these records so they could be taken to
the FamilySearch center here in Italy to be photo captured and then
put up to be indexed. I really felt the importance of the work that
these people do all the time and that I got to do this one time
because each name in each of these old books represents a person who
did not have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the
accompanying ordinances, just like any one of our investigators. Just
because they are no longer with us doesn't mean that they aren't
important. Over the past few months I have really gained a great love
for family history work and hope to do more with it once I get home
and have the time and resources for it.

I'd just like to end things with a little bit of a tribute to America.
Being away from it for an extended period of time has really made me
appreciate it for what it is: a choice land. There are few other places in
the world where children are brought up with the knowledge that they
can do or become anything if they work hard and even after over 200
hundred years of our government being established, it is still a
beacon to the world of freedom. We have some stains from a past filled
with racism and slavery, but the good thing is that we know that we
must change and then we actually do something about it. Also, while I
grow to love the Italians here a little more each day, I guess I have
a special connection with the massive amounts of immigrants here as well.
These people come to Italy for many of the same reasons that my
ancestors came many generations ago such as for work opportunities,
religious freedom, safety from a hostile government, simply looking to
improve their lives. Many of them want to eventually eventually get to
America where these things they seek are in even greater abundance and
are willing to work hard to get to that point. The fact that for the
most part we have been very good to immigrants in the past and that we
have such a rich tradition of immigrants in our country. Everyone
except for a few Native Americans can trace back their family to
European, Asian, or African immigrant ancestors who came looking for
freedom and opportunity and I think that is the exact attitude that
was needed for God to decide to restore His gospel on the earth once
more here in the United States, a place where it would never again be
taken from the earth, but rather protected and nurtured by this
country.

Vi voglio bene
Alla prossima!

Anziano Younce

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