Happy 4th of July (Late). I hope it was a great holiday, enjoying time with Grandma and Grandpa and enjoying hot weather! I had a fantastic holiday. I spent my fourth of July wearing a scarf and overcoat inviting others to come unto Christ, teaching the Word of Wisdom to Rosa, Eric's Mom, and seeing her eyes light up as she agreed to live this commandment of God. It was a great way to spend Independence Day and I'll never forget it. Last fourth of July was my 3rd day in Argentina, and I spent it moving apartments with Hermana Ferraez in Venado Tuerto. I'm excited to see what happens next year! :)
This week has been spectacular. You know life is good when one of your greatest sources of stress is finding baptismal clothes adequate for 6 foot 5 man named Sebastian. He's doing fantastic, accepted a baptismal date and is reading at least a page in the Book of Mormon each day. He loves our church meetings, especially the Hymns. We're excited for him and keep cracking up about his story. That's got to go in the Liahona someday, "I met the Sister missionaries in the street and they thought I was going to rob them until I asked them what church they were from." How embarrassing and delightfully funny at the same time!
Yesterday, I wrote in my journal the following: "This is how i wish forever to feel! Today and yesterday I have felt a joy that goes beyond description. This is my joy, my soul here, my laughter, my content. To invite others to come unto Christ and to walk by their side as they have faith, repent, enter the waters of Baptism, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am JOYFUL beyond description. Rosa accepted living the word of wisdom, tithing, and law of chastity without batting an eyelash. She came to church today even thought she and Tatiana got lost and she felt sick on the way. She will have her Baptismal interview tomorrow night and if all goes well, she will enter the waters of baptism on Sunday afternoon, July 13th. Hermana Rasband is so cutely excited in all of hte lessons and when we weekly planned she wrote a number 1 with jubilance in our goals for investigators baptized and confirmed . . . We are FELIZ. It is neat to FEEL empathy, love, sadness, compassion, etc. at such a magnified level. So much more, now. I feel that I was somewhat under an apathetic cloud, for a time, before my mission. But now I see that Christ has changed me. I understand now that there is no limit on How much love we can feel for others, nor is there any place we should find hate in us. I love my Savior for the person He's changing me to be, and for allowing me to feel of HIs love. My deepest desire is to bring others to feel of the same, as Lehi Did in his Dream (see Nephi 8). I am just SO HAPPY! A joy beyond what I can describe, beyond words. I only hope I can remember forever what I feel in my HEART forever, right at this precious moment in time."
That paragraph pretty much sums it up for me right now. There's so much anguish, disappointment, grief, frustration, etc. that we suffer as missionaries, but when it comes to moments like these, it's all worth it. We just have to forget our griefs, our desires, our plans for the future, etc. And give it all to him!
Presidente & Hermana Giuliani honorably finished their 3-year mission this past Monday evening and are now living in Provo, Utah. I am so grateful for all that my mission President and his wife have taught me. I will most definitely be going to their home often in Provo to drink matte and talk in Castellano and ask for advice on living life in the real world again. I feel pretty lucky to have the opportunity to learn from 3 different Mission Presidents and their wives. Presidente & Hermana Zanni serve here in Rosario now, and they are a young couple! they are both about 43 or 44 years old, about your age Mom and Dad. They are from the Provincia San Juan, the Western side of Argentina.
We had Consejo de la Misión on Thursday, we woke up at 2:30 a.m. to get ready and left from the Paraná terminal to go to Rosario at 4 a.m. ¡Asi es la vida de la viajante! We arrived around 7:15 and headed straight to the mission home, were we enjoyed breakfast in the Mission Home Garage with the other Zone Leaders and Hermana Capacitadoras. Hermana Zanni came in to give us a hello, and Mom, I met your Argentine twin! She is shorter than me, but is skinny, gorgeous, and does her hair just like you do. My eyes even welled up, she just reminded me so much of you! She said hello to all the missionaries, but somehow at the end of breakfast we got to talking just she and I. She has never served a mission before but is very excited to be here with her Husband serving in Rosario. Her father found the church when she was 11 years old, the Missionaries rang their doorbell. She and Presidente Zanni have 7 kids, 3 older boys and 4 younger girls (exactly the same pattern as your family, Dad!). The oldest son is on a mission in Taiwan and the younger 6 live in the mission home. After Breakfast we headed to the Fisherton Chapel and enjoyed learning from Presidente Zanni, His Wife, Elder Eliosoff and Elder Higginson about how to work better with the members, what Christ expects of us as leaders and how we should follow his example, etc. There was a powerful spirit as our new Mission President addressed us. I just love him and his wife already and look forward to the work we have to do together. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch, Presidente brought his kids to the chapel and they are just a hoot. Ana, age 4, Carolina, age 8, Julieta, age 10, Laura, age 15, Santiago, age 17, Leonardo, age 18. We ended up playing with the little girls outside for a small while later on and I was in Heaven, I miss kids!
So much more to tell you and so little time--I want to end by sharing something I've learned from Preach My Gospel recently. I'm sorry I've been a slacker at including this part of our Family study recently, forgive me for that. Page 198 of PMG, Bear Testimony Frequently in Chapter 11 KEEP COMMITTMENTS. We learn the following:
"To bear testimony is to give a simple, direct declaration of belief--a feeling, an assurance, a conviction of gospel truth. Sharing your testimony often is one fo the most powerful ways of inviting the Spirit and helping others feel the spirit.
Bear testimony several times in each lesson, not just at the end. Bear testimony that what your companion has taught is from God.
People may sometimes intellectually question what you teach, but it is difficult to question a sincere, heartfelt testimony."
I love this quote from preach my gospel. We must share what we know, we must declare it from the Heart. And whatever the world may say to rock our logic or reject our words, we must stand unashamed.
"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life. "