First things first, Rita has a baptismal date this next Saturday the 10th!!! Rita is 14 years old and has been taking the lessons for several months now. She knows all the lessons really well and we have a group chat with her, Ylenia, and then their other friend Roberta (Roberta is very close to Rita. She's also 14 and would probably get baptized on the 10th too but her mom has forbidden her until she's 18) on Messenger. Every night they read a chapter in the Book of Mormon and then write up a short summary and send it to us. Rita is almost through 2 Nefi and Roberta is about halfway through 2 Nefi. I'm so excited because I think Rita is going to get to chapter 31 about the gospel of Jesus Christ and baptism just a day or two before her baptism. The other week the zone leaders substituted and taught youth Sunday school class and they asked all the kids to raise their hand if they read the scriptures everyday. The zone leaders said that one member girl and then Rita and Roberta were the only ones who raised their hands! They are so awesome! We have also started the lessons with Rita's mom! The dad is never around when we are there, but hopefully we'll be able to start teaching him. The parents were both very supportive. Rita took her baptismal form home to have her parents sign it. She returned later with the signed document and photocopies of her parents identification cards. Haha not sure that was necessary, but it's so cool to see how serious they are taking this!
This week I have been trying to just be better at talking to people like on the metro or just walking around. I prayed to be able to be better at that and God definitely blessed me with opportunities! This past Sunday was stake conference and so the church rented a big bus for all the members to get shuttled up there. After the conference everyone was getting back on the bus and as things often happen bus seats get mixed up and it happened that me and Pasquale our investigator and also the father of Ylenia ended up sitting together in the very front of the bus (I didn't complain because on the way to Rome we had sat way in the back and I got kind of car sick). Well me and Pasquale talked for a bit and then he fell asleep. It had been a crazy busy week and many times I felt like it was hard to even just get a moment to myself to think or relax, but in this moment after stake conference and everything it just felt so relaxing and peaceful. I don't know why, but the thought came into my mind to just say a prayer. Partway through, I all of the sudden became aware of the bus driver sitting on the seat right in front of me and the assistant sitting up front too. I wondered what he thought of this whole trip and us "crazy" mormons. ;) Suddenly two sentences in Italian just formed in my mind that said to go to him, thank him for his services today, and then ask him if he knew anything about this church whose members he was driving back to Napoli. It all sounds good up until this point, but my regret is that I started thinking about other things. Into my mind came tons of random excuses about why I couldn't get up and I soon found minutes ticking by. Other people started waking up on the bus and soon that moment seemed to slip by and it felt more and more awkward to go up and talk to him. I knew I had recieved a prompting and I knew I should follow it though. A bit later we arrived back at the church in Napoli and everyone began getting off the bus. I walked off and saw the bus driver talking to some people, but I walked over to the assistant and started talking to him I asked him if he knew about this church and he said he knew nothing. I asked if he had heard of the "Mormons" and he once again said no, but then muttered something about how a quick Google Search would bring him a quick summary of the things. At that moment I was all too happy to give him pass along cards for him and his friend and to refer him to Mormon.org. I told him about our Sunday meetings too and then we left. I felt better, but still wished I had talked to him earlier. You all might wonder why I share this experience and mostly I just wanted to relate it to the talk given by member of the Area Seventy Anziano Moreira in stake conference. He told a long story of him and his search to develop Christlike attributes. He prayed and prayed to develop them and noticed more and more how God gave him experiences to help him learn those attributes. He challenged us to do the same and then said how the difficult people and situations we face are not only helpful in our quest to become like Heavenly Father, but they are 100% necessary! He said if we are maybe trying to to forgive more and someone offends us we should go to them and express our love and gratitude to them because they helped us become just a bit more like our Heavenly Father! He concluded by simply inviting us to choose to be teachable in our lives, to choose to grow and learn from our experiences, and to choose to remember the eternal perspective as we face life's trials.
I am so thankful for the trials I have faced on my mission. I am not perfect and even though I make many mistakes I am so happy with how far I have come. I am thankful that Jesus Christ loves me enough to help me become a better a person. I know that thanks to the atonement no pain or sin is permanent. It can all be washed away and we can feel pure and peaceful and not even that, but an added joy and love that only can come from the spirit.
I love you, Anziano Stucki.
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.