VARESE. This city is stupidly beautiful and we can see the Swiss Alps from the apartment. What more could you ask for? The one thing about this town though is that it is small and everyone already knows us. Also, the population is almost solely adolescent teens and bitter old people, so it makes for some really funny experiences! However, the work is verrrrrrry slow here and it seems like just about every day, (in fact it seriously is about every day,) that we go out to find all day and maybe come out with one potential. I think this place needs some new finding methods! A renovation of finding, if you will! I feel like we are about to start seeing some real success if we just stick it through the rough parts.
Went to Como today too, got some ties and saw the lake. Didn’t see Clooney though so that was a bummer, but hey you can’t get everything huh?
Other new things: there is only a branch of the Church here with about 20-30 active members so it makes for realllll tight connections. Also, the Sorelle here have an investigator that is deaf and has a strong affinity to the Anziani. Her last target was a missionary that just went home from here, and now I think I might be the new one….. If not me, then Anziano Reese. Pray for us?
Cultural Bit: The Italian people are very resourceful with their food, and they hate to let anything go to waste. One grand example of this is Crostini, which is bread that has gone hard or stale and they make it into crouton type things to snack on. Love it.
Spiritual Bit: Love in today’s society is a trivialized and misunderstood concept. The commercialization of love is evident in the media, pornography, and modern views of the importance of self indulgence and self satisfaction. Love today, is an extention of the practice of pride. What can I get out of this? Who out there could I be with, spend my time with, be friends with, marry, or talk to that will ensure that I enjoy myself. Though many people never think of it, they are in relationships where they are focused on getting gain for themselves out of it. Love is not so, and will never be able to be sustained in such a manner.
Take for example a marriage between two parties: ‘A’ and ‘B’. Party ‘A’ focuses on taking every moment in an attempt to gain betterment to themselves, and party ‘B’ occasionally gives to ‘A’ out of love. As time goes by, ‘A’ will get habituated to the service of ‘B’ and will begin to require more. ‘B’ will give until they can’t anymore. ‘A’ will then want more. This is a cycle that will end eventually, and often in a brutal manner in which both parties have lost any sense of love for one another. Forget about a relationship where both parties take.
Now, look at the relationship between ‘C’ and ‘D’. ‘C’ out of love for the other acts out of charity, service, and kindness to ‘D’. ‘D’ feels this love and also wants to give to ‘C’, and therefore does. This will keep going, and the beautiful thing is they will also gain enjoyment from seeing each other benefit from the service they did for one another. This love will not only sustain for the eternities, but will actually grow exponentially. It can only grow with such charity.
In addition to being the only type of love that will sustain relationships between one another, it is the relationship that God wishes to have with us. What does He ask of us? He asks that we give of ourselves in service to Him, give our hearts, and trust in Him through faith. “Love the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and soul.” What does He promise? “All that the Father hath.”
Take for example the concept of faith. Faith is an abiding trust that shows you trust Him no matter what. When you are going through a trial, you have to do everything you can, and then when you think you can’t do any more, you leap. You leap into the darkness of incapability and uncertainty with the trust that He will catch you and carry you home. Only when we exhaust our effort, and then show that we fully give ourselves to His mercy, will we receive the miracle. “Do not dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12) When we give ourselves to the Lord in faith, He rewards us with blessings, miracles, healings, and happiness. This will only make us want to do more for Him. See the cycle?
Christ gave the most perfect example of this during His lifetime. He gave to others. Even as He was being nailed to a cross, stripped, beaten, tortured, scourged, and ridiculed, He gave. This is Charity. This is what we need to exhibit.
Ask yourselves this week: Am I giving in my relationships? Truly? Or am I seeking to gain something in return. You will know the answer to this. I promise though, whether you give or not, you can start now. This is a process that will yield results so beautiful that you cannot fathom the joy. It is infinite, it is everlasting, and it is eternal. Love your family, love your spouse, and love your God. There is beauty awaiting.