Hello Famiglia! This past week has been sooooo busy!! I can't believe how much I have learned already. My companion Elder Gibson and I have taught our investigator Simone four times all in Italian so far! I would never have believed that was possible. Language mistakes are many, but so are the opportunities to laugh. During our lessons, I accidentally told him that he should expect angels to appear to him after he prays. Rather than saying I was away from my family I accidentally said that my family was gone (like they were killed). My companion also said "the beans of God" rather than "the Son of God." Needless to say, I love Italian! It is so beautiful. I wish I could abandon English forever. Haha
For the first few days here, many people would say "Just make it til Sunday." I realize now that they would say that because so much spiritual strength would come on Sunday. Plus it was fast Sunday so there was even more spiritual strength. I think that is a good goal to focus on every week though. Every Sunday we get to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants and we have so many opportunities to gain spiritual strength. We just need to make it until Sunday. Ce la fate!
By the way I got called as the music director in my branch. I get to choose hymns, play piano, and organize special musical numbers for branch meetings. My branch also loves to sing. Yesterday a bunch of the Italian missionaries got to ride the train up to the Italian consulate in Salt Lake to do some paperwork for our visas. At the train station on the way back we met a guy who's a bass in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He was just coming from the capitol. The choir had sung there for the governor's inauguration. Anyway he knew some Italian so for the ride back on the train we sat in the top floor of our double decker train and sang hymns in Italian! After each hymn we would go through the words and translate them into English. The meanings of some of the common hymns we sing are so beautiful in Italian. Once again, I love Italian!
One more experience. One day in my class someone was talking about their non-member mom. This person's mom had criticized one of the missionary statements that our message will improve quality of life. The person went on to say that we really don't know what will make people happy. We don't know where they've been or what they've been through. They also went on to say that eternal life with their family honestly wasn't that appealing to them because they didn't really want to be with their family forever (they shared a lot more, but you get the idea). As you might guess, the Spirit had definitely left the class. I wasn't shaken by it but I felt increasingly uncomfortable. I knew there was an answer, but I didn't know what it was. I felt like something needed to be said though so I bowed my head and said a silent prayer. Immediately a thought came into my head. It hit me so hard I started to get emotional as I just sat there. I was afraid of voicing it because I didn't want to offend this person (especially since the topic of the discussion had to do with their mom). Then I remembered hearing a thought from another missionary in my zone who said that we were placed here at this exact time for our exact teachers, our exact companions, our exact investigators and so on. The Spirit seemed to be saying, "You've been given this thought at this exact moment. Can't you see you are meant to share it now?" So, I raised my hand and began speaking. I began to explain, "Yes, yes. You are so right! We do not know at all what will make someone else happy! We don't know where people have been. We way too often judge people unrighteously and we think we know exactly how to fix their life when we have never even walked in their shoes. And it is for that reason that we convert people TO CHRIST. Not to us, not to the church. Only if they are converted TO CHRIST will they really be converted. We don't know what will make them happy, but Christ does. Isn't that what the atonement is all about? He felt our pains and joys so he could understand us! HE can convert them. We cannot. We are just his servants." Needless to say the Spirit returned and no one was offended. If there is one thing that I've learned from this week, it is that Jesus Christ knows what will make me happy. We don't know everything, but we know that if people turn to Christ he can and will help them. There have been many hard times during my week, but knowing that makes it all okay. I keep thinking of Sheena's comment that trials are just an opportunity to come closer to the Savior. I have embraced that so much this week and I know He will take care of me and I will be okay. I love you all so much! By the way, thank you for the packages. :) Elder Stucki.
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Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.