|Anziano Hughes & Anziano Ridd with their new friend SN, |
who was so grateful to be receiving his new Book of Mormon in Spanish
Thanksgiving celebration, complete with a turkey, to kick off the “Sii una Luce” or the “Light the World” initiative this December. Click here for ideas on how to help light the world this Christmas season.
This week was great. We worked a lot with members and less actives and the Lord blessed us because of it.
To put this in some perspective, Perugia was opened to missionary service again 6 months ago after many years without elders. Before this, the members had to go to Terni (an hour or more away by car) if they wanted to go to church. So when Perugia was opened, we had a few super awesome members who were coming to church switch over and come here, and then a bunch of other people reactivated. Nowadays we usually have about 25 people (including us) that come to church each Sunday. With that being said, there are still plenty of less actives or inactive members in the area, because they don’t know where the church is (it’s so new). And right now, the obstacle we need to overcome is the fact that the missionaries are the only active priesthood holders here. We need a good 3-4 to open a branch.
Ok, now y’all can see how Perugia is in a pioneer stage of its growth. Very exciting but very...delicate. As missionaries, it is our responsibility to edify and build the church where we are. Usually that is most effectively done by baptizing converts, but other times it’s about finding already baptized people and converting them by teaching repentance. This week, we did more of the latter, due to many of the investigators being very busy this week.
As it turns out, the Lord wanted us to do the latter. We saw a ton of miracles.
I’ll dive into some quick numbers:
Less actives known about before this week in Perugia - 7
Less actives known about after this week in Perugia - 14
Now I don’t actually know how accurate those numbers are, because the truth is we have more less-actives in the area; it’s just impossible to contact a lot of them. But of these people, I want to go off on a couple stories. First, a lot of these people found are men. Oh my gosh, I have never been more excited to meet with men in my life. We should meet with two of them this week. On top of that, these two guys either live right next to where we meet for church, or are about to move there.
It was perfect timing with one family that we saw. Two weeks earlier, their Mormon cousin moved in with them from Lima, Peru, and EL’s husband (not a fan of Mormons) was away. We brought them Books of Mormon and a message. IB, the cousin, came to church with us. But the coolest thing was when their 7-year old daughter came up to us and said how much she would like a Book of Mormon, but no one ever gave her one. We whipped one out and told her “Happy Thanksgiving” as we gave it to her. Her face just lit up.
Now on to my favorite thing and maybe one of the biggest miracles Perugia has ever seen! Since being here I have been praying fervently to find men and people to build the church…to find the elect. (People who are truly ready to follow Christ, no matter what). This weekend we received one of the answers to these prayers. Saturday night, after a long day of finding and being stood up, we received a call from Indiana. I answered it, as it’s not a usual occurrence. Fully expecting to hear a nice American “Howdy” on the other end, I was taken aback when I was greeted by a girl speaking Italian. She said she was a sister missionary from that area and had a referral to send to us, but it was not working the usual way. And in the process, I learned that her parents taught her Italian even though she’s American. So moments later I received a text about SN. Now referrals are rare here, especially something like this one. I was beyond excited to see where it led. I called his number immediately, only to be once again talking to a woman in Italian, only this time she was from Modena (northern Italy...and no, she didn’t want to learn about Christ’s ministry in America). Disappointed that the number didn’t work, we made a plan to swing by the address we had on Sunday night.
Sunday night shows up. We are traversing the cold (-1°C), windy, and twisted roads of the historical part of Perugia to find this address. After many wrong turns, we find his name on the buzzer. We ring it. We wait. We ring again. Then we hear a voice, “Chi è?” “Noi siamo i missionari morm-“ “SALITE! VENITE SU ELDERES!” So for those who don’t understand that, he was expecting us. We walk up the steep old Italian steps to his apartment and meet SN. SN was baptized when he was in his twenties, but since moved to many places and never went to church much. He still believes, and recently, his dear friends who are LDS from his country (Ecuador) just went through the temple and invited him to put God first as well. Well, this man has been prepared. He told us his story and how grateful he was to see us. The joy he expressed when he heard there was a church here was immense. He told us he wanted more than anything a fresh slate, a new start to his life completely dedicated to Christ. He then told us that his was sad, because all these years he hadn’t come to church and didn’t even have a Book of Mormon. Then something great happened. I pulled a Book of Mormon in Spanish from my bag and told him it was for him. This grown 45-year old man took the Book of Mormon, he hugged it and told us how important it was. He told us how he knows this is what he once had but was missing from his life - the full study of Christ’s ministry. Then he asked if we could take a picture of him with it. I obliged and I decided to take a selfie as well, to commemorate the miracle. To say the least, this man followed a spiritual prompting to contact missionaries and refer himself to us. He knows that following Jesus Christ is priceless above all things.
This week we also organized a Thanksgiving celebration on Wednesday for the members here to kick off “Sii una Luce” or the “Light the World” initiative this December. It went very well, and we even had some cool new friends I made in Terni come up! (Oh yeah, I did a scambio with Anziano Daniels in Terni). That event was great, because now our relationship with the ward and the Gans (YSA) is strong, and they are ready to help out in building the church here. Click here for ideas on how to light the world with service this special Christmas season.
Anyways this is long. Oops.
Love you all! I hope you loved this week!