Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gelato on a Mountain

I love Italy!
So, I've been having a hard couple of weeks. Stress, tiredness, end-of-mission freakout, call it what you will . . . it's just hard. The last two days, God knew I needed a little something to help me. These two days were perfect, and I've never felt so close to my Father in Heaven. 

Yesterday we were walking home for lunch. We were going to take the bus, but at the last minute decided to walk instead. As we were walking, I saw a woman whom I thought I recognized, so I decided to go talk to her. As I got closer, I realized it was a woman from one of the other wards in the area. She was having a really hard time. She was crying, and she just wasn't okay. We sat with her for a while, and then we helped her get home. We thought she might need a blessing, so I called the anziani in her area, and later that night they came over with her home teacher and his wife. We were with this sweet woman from 1 p.m. until about 7 p.m. when we left with the anziani. I have never felt more like an instrument in the hands of my Savior than I did yesterday. She needed to remember she wasn't abandoned, and in a moment of feeling that way, she turned and saw missionaries of the Lord walking towards her. This is what our work is. To cry with those who cry. Sometimes I think we get so focused on the numbers we report, how many lessons we teach, how many baptisms we've had. Those things are important, but what is so much more important is just how we are living our lives, how we help people. There is nothing better that feeling as if the Lord has used you to fulfill His purposes. 

Awkward moment of the week . . . or my life:

So, he was the only person who would let me talk to him
when we did Parco.
Last night I was on the phone with Anz. Pagano. Here's the conversation . . .

"Ciao Anziani, come state?"

"We're sweaty . . . but good, really good."

"I'm glad . . . not about that other thing, but that you're good."

. . . .

"Sorella Ervin, can I just ask you a question?"

"Of course, anything you'd like."

"Do you just live for awkward moments?"

Don't worry, my friends; I fully intend to come home just as awkward as I've ever been. 

Okay, so back to the spiritual. Sorella Russell and I have really wanted to get out of the city. We just wanted some nature. So we knew there was a hike up to a really beautiful church on top of a mountain. We passed a sign once that pointed to it. So . . . we decided to go. Keep in mind we didn't know anything about it, how steep it was or how long it would take. We just wanted to go. So we did. We start walking up this hill. There are rocks paving the trail . . . real tough to walk up . . . also super, super steep. BUT, it was the most spiritual hike of my life. There were a series of crosses we passed showing from the time Christ was lifted up to Him resurrected. It was so incredible. Then you arrive at the most beautiful little abbey I've ever seen. People's devotion to the Lord is incredible. I felt so close to the Lord out there in the mountains, thinking about what He did for us. We sat on a bench for a while and just thought. It was truly incredible.

We went into the bar before heading back down to pick up some gelato. What did they have? BEN AND JERRY'S! Oh my goodness, we've never been so excited. We talked to the couple who own the bar for a little bit, and then we had to run back down the mountain. We were running out of time, but we made it to the station just as the train was pulling in. MIRACLE. We ate bread and cheese on the train. We might be too Italianized . . . if that's possible. 

This hike was so incredible. It wasn't really that long, just steep. Guess what . . . it used to be a mule train. We feel like champions, but mostly, I think we're just truly grateful that we were able to leave the world behind for a little while, to focus only on the Lord, and to come to know him better. It doesn't matter what we know, there is always more to learn. 

Vi Voglio Bene!  

Getting lost in Torino you see some pretty things.
This is a view from the base of the mountain . . . looks hard . . .
. . . but we're real excited.

Still loving Italy!
Admiring the view for a while . . .

. . . and, oh, what a view!

San. Michele

Okay, so there were a series of crosse on the hike. Each one had a depiction of the Savior either on the cross, being lifted onto the cross, or being taken down. So, as you walked up the hill . . . you saw the whole process.

When you get to the end of the first part of the hike, there is a stone to symbolize the one that was in front of the tomb.

On the other side of the stone is a depiction of the resurrected Christ.

At the end of the hike we were at Sacra San Michele and a piece of an old monastery.

I wish pictures would do this place justice.

We found Ben & Jerry's at the top of the mountain!

This is lunch . . . bread and these on the train home.

Real tired . . . but real satisfied!

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