they just keep on coming.
lesson number one: africans are elect.
remember valentine? yeah me too ... every single day. well i found some new african gems, this time sicilian style. they names are joy and hope. right? so great. joy is the mom and hope is the little baby daughter that scratched my finger and made me bleed but i didn't even care because she is so cute. joy is pentecostale (which is italian ... because i can't actually remember really how to say/spell it in english though i know it isn't really that different than the italian way but ...), studied with jehovah's witnesses, and married a catholic but said that if joseph smith really was called of god, she is willing to do or stop or start whatever possible to know for herself. yeah! elect. oh and hope: she sings and smiles and scratches and steals my heart. that's all.
lesson number two: god prepares his children for the truth.
i know what you're thinking, you have been on your mission for how long and you are just now realizing that? well my answer to that question is yes; i learn it more and more every single day. including a few different days this week. for example, we found this lady named olga in the area book. not going to lie, it took me a few moments to force myself to stop thinking about hey arnold. however, olga progressed beautifully and even had a baptismal date a few years ago with the sorelle. yada yada yada ... we introduced ourselves the other day. she told her story of meeting the sisters, having a change of heart, having a burning desire to follow chirst, then getting distracted. she added that a few weeks ago she was facebooking the day away when she noticed a site that was familiar. she ended up reading everything it had to offer and after 3 or 4 hours of reading she realized that it was lds.org. ha! she ended up teaching us about joseph smith and the importance of baptism with god's authority. so even though the area book might have forgotten olga, her heavenly father didn't. he was aware of her and helping her the whole time.
lesson number three: i have the best mission in the world.
here is another example of the truth being reinforced. this week was zone conference. the anziani in gela picked us up at our house the evening before to take us to our interviews with president kelly in catania. man, the drive from ragusa to catania is a good one. sicily is crazy good. and catania ... SO PRETTY! our zone consists of all the missionaries in sicily. which means 6 sorelle and like 20 anziani. all 20 slept in the teeny catania anziani apratment. hearing their experiences really explained the differences between a sorella mission experience and an anziano mission experience. they were all complaining because there wasn't any food in the apartment and there weren't extra mattresses so they all slept on the ground in a room infested by mosquitoes. our evening on the other hand was lovely. the sisters had set up all of our beds before we arrived, prepared french toast with fresh cream and juicy strawberries and we chatted over peach juice (fyi that is the biggest pity that we don't have this peach juice in america) and were tucked away in bed even a tad early. haha! but the crowning event was the inspired words and counsel from my mission president, his wife and the other mission leaders. we talked about patience and how that is key to a happy successful mission. imma be bold and say that it is also the key to a successful and happy life. coincidentally it is something that i don't think i have ... at all. which leads me to number four ...
lesson number four: everyone can change and that is the biggest miracle of all.
this is one of the many reasons that heavenly father sent his son to suffer and die for us, so that we will never be stuck in habits or confusion or lifestyles or stereotypes. we never have to say "that is just the way i am" or "i cant help it" or "i am just not good at remembering names" but instead, we can change. we can BECOME people that can remember peoples names. we can BECOME runners even though we get winded walking up the stairs. we can BECOME followers of chirst even though sometimes we think it is too late, or we have sinned too much, or we haven't felt the spirit in so long. all it takes is hard work and patience. but isn't it worth it? isn't being in shape worth going to the gym? isn't a big plate of delicious cookies worth reading the recipe, buying the ingredients, perfecting your skill, and waiting for the timer to ring? isn't being more christlike worth doing the basics everyday? i am telling you yes; it is worth it. but it requires work and it requires patience. but if i have learned one thing on my mission it is this: god respects his promises. he loves us. and he wants us to have all that he has. he wants it so bad that he has given all the help that justice requires and all the love the mercy provides.
i love you, my americans. you matter to the almighty god.
work hard and be patient.
the blessings will come.
you have my word for all it counts.