Buenos dias!! Erm….. I mean Buongiorno!
I am becoming fluent in Itagnol (Italiano, and Spagnol or Spanish) out here and I think it’s funny because there are actually some words that I don’t even know in Italian, but just know in Spanish. Managia. It’s probably best to just keep me here in Cimiano my whole mission, haha.
The work is good, though, and we got a total of 15 lessons last week! 15!!!!!!!!! This is huge for my companionship, and good for Italy in general, so we can’t complain!! It seems that most of the work that we have been doing is in reactivating members and helping out their families. This work is such a joy to do, and I can say that we are very happy to be involved here. One family in particular, we have helped back into the church, gained strong relationships with each member, and helped them start the spiritual journey that has been bringing their family light, peace, and prosperity. I have seen it, and it is incredible.
Other than this work, the only other note of import is a high school class that we taught the other day to show them what it was to be a Mormon. This was a religion class, and every once in a while, they have the Mormon missionaries come to the school and give a presentation to the students. This is my second time doing it, and though I expected a lot of things with those teens, I didn’t expect what we got from them this week. Total and utter respect. They participated, asked good, thought provoking questions, treated every view with respect and tolerance, and didn’t laugh, text, or talk to each other one bit. There was even one girl in the class who was asking golden questions such as, “How did you each gain your testimony?” We had the opportunity to explain to them the process of gaining spiritual knowledge, and also, when we shared the first vision with them, the Spirit was so strong. I never thought that would happen in a high school class. The silence during the reading of the vision was profound and it was as if the very air stopped to listen so that you would have an unhindered chance to hear the truth. I enjoyed it very much and I felt like a kid again, in certain respects (obviously not the rut of immaturity) because they were all our age. We could really connect with them because we were JUST in their seats not too long ago. It made for a nice discussion.
Cultural Bit: A lot of people here in the city have dogs, but there is something a little different about Italy and dogs. The Italians, a lot of the time, have wolves. I’m not talking about huskies, I mean full blown wolves on leashes. Absolutely majestic creatures, yes, but if I ever experience one of those classic missionary vs. dog incidences, I fear that it won’t work out well for me.
Spiritual Bit: I wish to speak today on a subject that I fear might be a bit sore for some, but I feel impressed to address the issue. It is an issue that nearly every one of us, actually……every one of us deals with. This is the issue of obedience. God gives us fairly expressive commandments and laws of life that He asks us to obey, and these range from how to treat others all the way to what to do with your money. Now, some acts of disobedience are more grave than others, yes, mainly due to the inherent consequences to the broken principle or commandment, or even the time it takes to get over the effects. However, the harsh truth of the matter is that all disobedience is disobedience. Small or big. Whenever we are presented with a choice to obey or not we are presented with a black and white decision: Am I going to follow God or not? It’s simple, and if the decision seems grey, it’s a bad one. After all, grey means it contains a bit of black, and any degree of sin is unacceptable to God.
But why would God give us commandments? I wish to point out the scripture in Moses 1:39 where it states, “For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Guys, He gives us commandments so that we can live happy lives here on earth and after death. He gives them to us because He loves us. These are His best suggestions to make it back to Him and He begs that we follow them. A scripture in John 14:15 comes to mind: “if you love me, keep my commandments.” He loves you and me and He is trying to do everything He can, without forcing us, to help us back to Him. They are pleadings from a loving Father to His children to give them the best lives He can. And we should follow them out of love too, not obligation. Take a step back for a moment, and remember that this is about our eternal family, our eternal Father, and our eternal happiness. It’s so simple. So, next time you are presented with a choice, just think, “Do I love Him?” Because I promise, He would do anything for you, and He loves you too.
Now, after laying down some pretty straight forward doctrine on sin and obedience, I just wish to point out one more thing to emphasize not the hardness of the way, but the mercy of it all. God loves us SO much that not only did He give us these commandments, but He sent His Son to die for us, that when we mess up (because we all do, quite often really) we will have a way to make it back. Alma 7:11-13. No matter what, it is extremely doable, and it’s ok if you mess up, as long as turn again to our loving Heavenly Father. He will always extend His arms out again. Do not fear, just love.
Until next week,
Me with my companion, Anziano Savage