Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Week of Miracles and Love

Hello again, my dear family and friends. I hope you're all doing just smashing, loving life and all. I know I am; I've seen an abundance of blessings in this last week. Let me tell you something - God loves us. He wants up to be happy. He puts little as well as big miracles in our path everyday. Sometimes they're hidden a little bit, but I suspect that's mostly because we're easily distracted. 

If you try to take a picture of the surrounding area, an
Italian will probably insist on taking a picture of you.
Speaking of easily distracted, let me tell you a story. One time I was riding my bike when I noticed something shiny on the ground. I glanced at it, only to realize it was a piece of garbage, so I looked ahead . . . and ran into a stop sign. Don't worry though, this happened three years ago. I haven't crashed my bike in a good three weeks! This is one of those miracles I was telling you about. Without God's help, there is no way clumsy me would be able to ride a bike in Italy without getting killed. True story. Poor Sorella Burkman had a little crash. She did something to her hand, and it's been wrapped for a week. She's a pro though. Doesn't even let it slow her down. 

After I emailed last week, we had another lesson with Christian and Valentina. It was amazing! They thought the plan of salvation was beautiful . . . which, lets be honest, it is. Their two-year-old daughter was there this time as well. Oh my goodness this child is adorable. What I appreciate most about them is how much they really want to understand. Christian writes down questions for us as he reads. It's the best! Even better then this lesson, Christian came to church on Sunday. Valentina had to work, unfortunately. We walked into the church, and Christian was already there. He was being welcomed by members in the branch. Everyone was excited to greet him and tell him they were excited he came. We left him in Priesthood and went off to Relief Society. When he came into Gospel Principles [a basic Sunday school class], he was so excited about what he had learned and even more excited for the next class. As he walked in, everyone invited him to sit with them. He ended up sitting with Emilio, which was great because Emilio explained things to him. We talked about the Word of Wisdom [commandment regarding health]. The teacher asked Christian what kinds of things he thought God might tell us not to eat or drink. He immediately gave the perfect answer. He and Valentina are so concerned about being healthy and natural. He thought the Word of Wisdom was just the greatest thing ever. Then we went to sacrament meeting. Again he sat next to Emilio, who helped him out the whole time. At the end of church, members swarmed him. He loved it! He started planning activities with them, and he was invited to come to a family home evening with us. Before he left, he asked if he could be baptized sooner! 

The next day we taught them about The Gospel of Christ. Emilio came to the lesson with us, which was really helpful. Christian had a list of questions about everything in the world. We can explain things, but there is something really powerful about having a member bear testimony on something your investigator has a question about. Valentina was curious about the word of wisdom, and we talked about it briefly. The spirit was so strong throughout the lesson. This family is so ready. We got permission from President Dibb to move their baptism date up. Usually they need to come to church three weeks. Unfortunately Christian has to work this Sunday. President Dibb said as long as Valentina comes Sunday and they both come the next week, they could be baptized the week after. They were ecstatic! 

This is Emilio and Ilaria's backyard. 
Sunday night we had dinner at Emilio and Ilaria's house. Another couple from the ward came as well. They made us pizza! Mostly, I'm just grateful for any time we have to bond with our members. I never understood how much missionaries really rely on members before. Not just for the investigators. We need our members for ourselves. They give us strength. There is nothing better then knowing one of your members loves you, that they are there for you. It's hard to be away from home, but we are able to have all of these new family members. I love them, with all of my heart. 

Sorella Padula, one of our traveling sisters [sisters who have been serving longer and help with training] called me Monday night to see how I was doing. That's it; she just wanted to check up on me and ask about my family. We were talking about how special prayer was and she reminded me of something important. Missionaries are servants of the Lord; our prayers sound a little stronger in his ears. This is something President Wolfgramm told me in my first meeting with him. It's still blessing my life. I feel like it's true. Maybe it's because I'm closer with the Lord then I have ever been before. Maybe I just notice my responses more. Regardless of the reason, I become more and more grateful for this mission everyday. I am so much closer to my Father then I have ever been. I also feel closer to my family here on earth. That seems strange, because I'm on the other side of the world, but it's true. I feel closer to my friends as well. I know part of that is because of your prayers on my behalf. Thank you for those. I feel them lift me up every single day. 

Vi Voglio Bene
Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin

So this is the Gelato sandwich Emanuele made us . . . heaven.

This is a normal sunset in Rimini . . . Second Coming?

Family [me and Sorelle Burkman & Alley]

My sweet district: [back] me, Sorella Alley, Anziani Miller,
Simcox, Anderson, Valentine, & Kekoolani
[front] Sorella Burkman and Anziano Mustafaraj

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