Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Eagles, Hard Work, American Holidays


Hmmm, I don’t know if I’ve seen the Mormon Tabernacle Choir live before.  The Hill Cumorah trip sounds fun.  It would definitely be different now, taking that trip, rather than being a high-schooler going on the stake activity again.

NEW PEOPLE IN CHURCH.  We have had a couple of investigators in church each of the past two Sundays, and one was the Peruvian man who brought his family last Sunday.  What you say about keeping your own testimony strong is true, but it’s different for every person.  Our Albanian investigator is fairly high-maintenance, in the sense that we have to visit him regularly for him to keep to his commitments.  Wheras with Henry, we meet with twice a week, and teach a new principle each time, and he takes that new principle and internalizes it.

For example, we taught Fasting last Saturday, and he told us Sunday, “As I was pouring milk this morning, I remembered I was supposed to fast today.  So I stopped.”  I love his willingness to accept the gospel, and the progress he’s made.  But it’s definitely thanks to support of wonderful Peruvian church members.  Some cultures are more outgoing and loving than others – and it depends on the person too, but I’m finding that those character traits are much more common in the South Americans I’ve met.

SAME PLACE THIS TRANSFER.  The news for this transfer is: I’m actually staying.  YAY!  No big surprise there.  Anziano Kormylo is staying too.  YAY!  This is the first time I’ve stayed with the same companion twice in a row, since my trainer at the very beginning of my mission.  I was expecting to train, but I guess that will wait for a little bit.  No complaints here.

Last week I did yet another scambio (exchange – going with a different companion for a day), with an elder in my district who’s just one transfer behind me, Anziano Rojas.  It was good to talk with someone who is at about the same point I am, while also being nice to be slightly on top, tenure-wise.  We went around the other elders’ area, and met with a couple of people they are working with.  One man, Mauro, has a lot of conflicting ideas because he is Catholic, and has met with the Jehovah’s Witnesses for awhile now, and he’s also meeting with the Mormons.  But he was very pleasant and friendly, even if his dog was small and not declawed.

AMERICAN PARTY FRIENDS.  Happy 4th of July!  There are actually enough Americans in the ward to throw an America party, so we went to an American gathering, with grilling things, and someone brought A&W root beer (we had to split them, but that’s okay).  We also had Keebler cookies and fireworks (which we didn’t touch, because we’re missionaries: one of those safety rules), and one of those fire-lantern things.  And I even learned a thing or two about throwing and catching a football.  Granted, probably everyone there had more experience with a football than I had, but I can throw an acceptable distance.  And I just catch it with my body.  But after the food, there was a spiritual thought about 4th of July and the promises about American in the Book of Mormon, and we sang the National Anthem and said the Pledge of Allegiance.  It was a nice moment, with about 25 Americans or Italo-Americans.

We went to a member's house for lunch yesterday.  It was nothing fancy, but it was nice to have that friendly invitation.  Pesto-farfalle, then fish and salad, then some gelato and apricots (separately).  They are the parents of the Bishop.  She has been a member for 50 years, he for about 30.

ITALIAN LANGUAGE.  I love being able to talk in Italian to people in conversations.  It's strange...during short, 1-2 sentence interactions I'm more awkward, since there's usually some shorthand I don't know, that real Italians would use.  But I'm understandable.  Even when Italians want to speak to me in English, it's more: "Hi, how are you?"  "I'm good, thanks.  Do you speak English?"  "No, just that phrase."  (All right, then don't start out in English.  You're not impressing anyone...ha!)
map of my last area, Ferrara

LEARNING THROUGH EXAMPLE.  What have I learned from our Bishop...I haven't worked directly with him much.  But each week in Ward Council meeting, I see a lot of organizational skills and delegating skills.  Since each group (youth, primary children, women's Relief Society, and the men in different Priesthood groups) has their own world of activities, if they don't know how to do something, they present it to the Bishop.  So if the Bishop doesn't delegate, he has to deal with everyone's problems, and ends up talking to everyone anyway.

BEST MESSAGES I REMEMBER.  What is a message I particularly liked...I liked Elder Bednar's message from a few weeks ago, when he focused on being an Agent rather than an Object.  Scriptures that stood out to me are Doctrine & Covenants 58: 26-29, about being anxiously engaged and acting for ourselves.  
Also 2 Nephi 2:14 in the Book of Mormon, about God creating things to act and to be acted upon.  If we want to reach our full potential, we need to be active and productive and do things of our own free will.

A good story about that, is from Gospel Principles Sunday School class last week: the young eagle.  The eagle falls and gets injured, and the man brings it home while it heals.  He keeps it with his chickens, so it thinks it is a chicken.  The man tells the eagle it is not a chicken, and teaches it to be an eagle.  He shows it other eagles and finally takes it to the top of a mountain and lets it go, saying, "You are an eagle. Now fly!"  Another story like that is "Born to be a King," and another story I really like is 'The Egg,' about our eternal potential.  The last one isn't doctrine, but it carries a powerful point.

I have a Box account now, and I've uploaded a few Firenze pictures, and a video of me golfing.  I'm not very good, oh well :)

Love you!  Anziano Whitesell

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