La fede porta speranza – Faith brings hope

Ah! So every time I read your emails I start bursting into tears because I love you all so much!  When I get homesick, I just have to forget myself and go to work.  Which is what I am trying to do. And I’m not gonna lie I miss you all a lot. I can’t really look at my photo book without crying. Happy crying I think. Where did this crying Emma come from? Not really sure 🙂

We are still doing some major finding work.  My companion and I have both felt very strongly that our answer to finding people lies with working with the members.  We haven’t watched the big broadcast yet, we’ll do that this week in Italian, so hopefully I understand it, haha 🙂 But, from what you’ve all been saying, I think it will be an answer to so many prayers.  Our members are AMAZING, seriously, now we are encouraging them to share the gospel with their friends.  I think the broadcast will get them pumped for that.
As part of that, as missionaries we had a “culture night” this week for the ward members.  Since the ward is made up of people from all of the world.  It was so so so much fun, and I am trying to get to know everyone.  I just kiss all the ladies on the cheeks and listen (yeah, still getting used to that), and even though my Italiano is slow, they are so kind and patient with me since I’m trying to learn their language.  The culture night was a blast and there was delicious delicious delicious food from all over the world.  We made brownies from America. Yum.
I am finding that I need to trust the people that I am teaching – that they really are willing to change 🙂 This week we taught the word of wisdom to one of our investigators.  I’m not gonna lie, I thought he’d be mad about it.  But, I was really blunt and bold when I taught it – and the way he responded really touched my heart. “No coffee or tea? Oh no, I didn’t know! I wouldn’t have drank those before. I’ll do it for Jesus.”  We are preparing him for baptism, and it is truly a miracle.  His love for God and the willingness he has to change his life for Christ, it’s absolutely beautiful.  Watching the message of the Atonement change his life, it’s undescribable.
There are some things I have experienced this past week that have made me realize – this mission is going to change me.  This mission has already changed me and I’m hitting my 2 month mark in a couple days.  Not even that much.
Here is the experience I want to share that taught me a lot. I can’t really go into that much detail for privacy reasons and such, but you’ll get the idea. The other day I felt like we should walk toward this bike shop in Verona.  Pretty pretty random, but we went.  After we passed it we ran into a woman carrying a ton of luggage and we offered to help her.  She was an immigrant from Romania, but her Italian was really good and my companion was able to communicate with her pretty well. I couldn’t understand a lot of it, but I’m picking up on more. We help her carry her stuff, and we follow her all around the streets of Verona, until we end up at another woman’s house.  It turns out it was an advocate for this woman we were helping.  She had been kicked out of her house because she had been threatened by the man she was working for… yeah, bad stuff.  Shocking stuff.  And I could understand a lot of it but not the bad stuff and I felt like that was such a tender mercy because my companion told me it was terrible and that I didn’t want to know. When we went back to get more luggage with her, we saw this man, and he wasn’t wearing anything. (May I just say, scared for life, thank you very much). And he started yelling at her and we just grabbed her luggage and got out of there as fast as possible.  Half way back to the advocate’s house the woman just stopped and started crying.  She had been praying so hard, and we had been the answer to her prayers.   If she hadn’t gotten all of her stuff out in a timely manner bad stuff would have happened to her, and there was no way she could have done it without us.
So basically – the world can be a terrible place.  And I know that, I’ve just never really seen it so first hand in such a personal situation.
Our message isn’t going to make all the terrible things in the world stop.  Trials won’t go away once someone is baptized.
Our message brings people the hope and faith that through Jesus Christ, we can get through anything. Anything.  Because He has felt it all, has been right there by our side, and that knowledge can give us the strength to endure through anything.
It’s humbling, it’s so humbling, and words cannot express, how much closer I have felt to my Savior than I have ever felt before in my entire life.  How my prayers have become so much more earnest.  These people are hurting and struggling.  And we pray every day to be an instrument in His hands just to make life a little brighter for everyone else.
I’m seeing things and I’m getting to know these people so deeply who are suffering so much, but they rely on Jesus Christ, and their faith is astounding.  Faith brings hope, as all of our pass along cards say.  The Italian people need some hope in their lives.  And faith brings it. Some don’t accept it, but I still try to love them with all of my heart.
On a bright note, it has rained this week.
And it’s still way hot, but here are the advantages:
My skin has never been so smooth. No need for lotion.
I don’t need a blanket to sleep.
And I get to drink lots of water all the time.
It’s hot, so… let’s eat gelato 🙂
I officially fell in love with Verona this week.  An appointment fell through, so we bought some gelato (the most delicious…words cannot describe) and sat on a bench in this beautiful piazza for a couple minutes and watched the sunset over the old colorful buildings while listening to beautiful Italian opera music in the background.  Today after we email we’ll do all the touristy things like go to Juliet’s wall with the letters and everything.
The work is hastening, we’re finding people, and we are seeing miracles as we look for them 🙂
Vi voglio bene,
Sorella Strong
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