Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blessings of the week

Marta loves taking pictures!

My companion and I were extremely blessed this week, truly. I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I distinctly noticed myself being guided by the Lord in where to go or what to say. We were, without a doubt, the busiest we've ever been. We had struggled last transfer and the first few weeks of this transfer to hit 10 lessons. This last week we taught 19 lessons! I can't even express how big of a deal this is for us. I love teaching; it's the best part of this calling. In every single one of our lessons the Spirit was so strong. I am completely aware, that I am never actually the teacher. The Spirit is always the teacher; I just say a few words He picks for me. 

The Muslim man we are preparing for baptism is doing so well. We're meeting with him almost everyday, and each day he is so much more willing and ready to do whatever it is the Lord will ask of him. Last Wednesday, we had planned to meet him before English Course, but he didn't show up. Sorella Stewart, Elvira, and I were really sad, but then he showed up two hours later. It turns out he had been lost for two hours and even asked the police to help him find the building. This is how much he wants to learn. If I were being honest, I would have given up and gone home! We skipped Family Home Evening to have a lesson with him. I actually left during the lesson to call President Dibb and set up an appointment for them to meet. When I came back in, I had no idea what they had been talking about or if they had followed the lesson plan. As I sat down, he read a scripture about the atonement. We sat there in silence, and then I bore my testimony to him. He was so interested in what I was saying, and I could feel how much he yearns to have this same knowledge. 

The next day we brought Rami to the lesson with us. He's a recent convert from Egypt, and so he speaks Arabic. He was helpful in translating for us, but, by far, the most important thing he ever said was his testimony. I love listening to the testimonies of our members; they are extremely beautiful and touching. At our next lesson, Kamau bore his testimony on baptism. As our investigator listened to his words, he was absolutely beaming. I've never met a man who responds to testimonies in quite the same way. He is extremely spiritual, and he puts God first in all things. Yesterday he reminded me so much of Nephi. He told us that he wasn't going to come to the lesson because he was running late and needed to go to the Mosque. But God told him he needed to be at the church, to continue learning, and so he came. He told us, whatever God tells him to do, he will do it, no questions. That's why he's preparing for baptism. I'm so grateful for his example. In his situation, I don't know if I would continue to meet with us. It is dangerous for him, but he so wants to do whatever the Lord asks. His faith is so beautiful and strong. 

We set a baptism date with our other investigator, Jimmy. It's been so amazing to see the changes in this man's life. In our first lesson, he didn't believe in God. I didn't even understand why he wanted to meet with us. Alberto has been coming to all of his lessons, and his testimony has really helped.  In every lesson, Jimmy has become more and more open. Almost every time we read a scripture with him, as he finishes, he says that it's true. He responds so well to the written word. We read so much with him, and it's beautiful to see how he applies it to his life. He is a different man than when we first started teaching him. He's more tranquil and feels the spirit so strongly. I love how much the Gospel changes us for the better. It makes us the people that we would always hope to be. We're so blessed to live in a time when we have the restored Gospel.
Alberto found a sign for Giardino Primo Moroni!

After one of our lessons with Jimmy, Alberto stayed and we taught him about the title of liberty and Captain Moroni. It was such a fun lesson! At the end, we each made our own titles of liberty and put them in our scriptures next to the story. Then, Alberto told us there was a Giardino Primo Moroni very near the church. So we took a field trip to find it! It's not so much of a Garden as it is a tiny square of grass with absolutely nothing in it, but still. 

Payne finally got his corn dogs!
We had our last District Meeting of the transfer. It was so sad! Most likely, next transfer, half of our district will be gone. Here's the fun part of our meeting though. I always ask at the end of a phone call with a missionary, if there is anything I can do for them. I won't take no for an answer. Anziano Payne likes to ask for impossible things. Three weeks ago, he asked for corndogs. You can't get corndogs in Italy, and apparently he loves them. So, I wrote my mom and asked for a recipe. Everyone in our district knew, accept for Payne. He just kept asking for corndogs, and I just kept telling him it was impossible. Sunday night, I made corndogs. Granted, I had to change the recipe, because you can't find all of the ingredients in Italy. I'll be honest, they looked whack, but it was the best I could do. Sunday night I was talking to Payne to give him our numbers, and he asked me to bring corndogs to the meeting. Of course I said no. When I asked him what I could do for him, he told me during the meeting, everything I said had to rhyme. I was so not excited for this. But Anziano Heaton saved my life. I heard him yell to tell me if I didn't want to rhyme, I had to bring corndogs. I told Payne I'd be rhyming all day. In the meeting I was talking, and Payne got mad at me because I was just talking normally. He didn't believe us when we said we brought him corndogs. After the meeting we went into the kitchen, and I thought he was going to die of excitement. True story. Apparently they tasted good, even if they looked cray, so that's a plus.

Then we decided to do March Madness for transfers. Everyone in our district is guessing where we're all going to serve. Almost everyone has guessed I will be training in Milano. All of the Anziani are adamant about this. I'm terrified, so if it turns out to be true, I'm going to need all of you to pray like crazy for me. I don't think they're right though, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

There is so much more I want you to know! For instance, one night when I was calling Anziani telling them about miracles we had seen, I spoke in all Italian. It was good Italian, too! Yes! Granted, it was to other missionaries, so I'm not sure if it counts . . .

I love you all so much, thank you for the letters and the support. I could not do this without you. 

Ti Voglio Bene
-Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin

Sweet Anziani

My comp takes so many pictures!

After district meeting

This is abnormal.

Missionary shoes!

So this is my district (except for the assistants). Basically
they are some of the greatest people ever. Anziono Heaton,
Me, Sorella Stewart, Anziano Garner, Anziano Malzone,
and our capo distretto, Anziano Payne. I would just like to
point out, Anziano Heaton is not taller than I am. He is
most definitely standing on his toes . . . 

This is Anziano Payne's model face. Please help
me convince him to choose another career.

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