Monday, September 30, 2013

Denver - "Fifty-two eighty"

I thought about writing this in Portuguese and making you copy it into google translate so I could practice my Portuguese while I'm here but that's not very fair. I don't think my Portuguese is good enough anyways for that to work.

So, Colorado has been sweet, they call Denver the "fifty-two eighty" because that's the elevation. I'm in a biking area which is kind of nice because it's getting my cardio back into shape. The other day we had an appointment on one side of our area and then Dinner right after on the exact opposite end, we ended up doing near 20 miles on the day.

It's fun though, one of the coolest things is meeting so many new people. In our mission we call it OYM or "Open Your Mouth" so we'll just stop and talk to any given person about whatever and then at the end we'll offer to pray with them or come by and share a lesson with them and if that doesn't work we ask if they know anyone else that might be interested. We've had some success with it, a good number of people will at least let us pray with them but fewer have let us come back for a lesson. We've had some fun with it too though, like the other day we stopped and shot around with two guys and played some basketball with them for a bit and ended up sharing a spiritual thought with them. They didn't seem all that interested in becoming investigators but we at least had a cool conversation with them.

There are some cool people that are investigating the church though. It is so inspiring to see people seeking to turn their lives around. There is a man that we are teaching that has had a hard life with drugs and jail time but he is learning so much about the church and has a real desire to change. He has learned how good he feels when he seeks to turn to God rather than to his old habits. He's cleaned up so much and has overcome some hard trials even in the past week. I shared the scripture with him from Ether 12:27 about how God gives us weakness so that we may be humble and that God promises that if men "humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." I truly believe that principle.

I've been learning to eat like a missionary too. This is our first Preparation Day so we've been making due with what we had until we get to shop today. We ate lots of grilled ham&cheese sandwiches but the best meal was when we heated up some canned chile and threw it on toasted eggo waffles - we were hungry.
Well I gotta go, sorry I don't have pictures this week, I'll remember to bring my camera next time we email.

Love you all,
~Elder Della-Piana

Thursday, September 26, 2013

First Note from Lakwood, Colorado!

Hey Hey Hey!!
How's it going all! I just have a few minutes to shoot off a quick email to let you all know my new address and let you know Colorado is SWEET!!! I love my mission president so much already and I love the people so much already. We had an awesome first day in the field. We had a couple lessons with investigators and less-actives that were so fun to be a part of, I fixed the breaks on a bike for one investigator, had breakfast with a member that gave me a bike to use for a little while, and just all around had a great day. My trainer is Elder Yates and he's way cool - he is 6'7 and loves to play ball so this is going to be SWEET! The field is so awesome, yesterday was day 1 and it was seriously the coolest thing. A lot of interesting people that weren't easy to teach but were easy to love. I can tell he's an awesome missionary and that I'll learn a bunch from working with him. He looks for opportunities to serve at every chance we get.

One big thing in our mission is OYM - Open Your Mouth. What we do is just whenever we see someone we look to strike up a conversation and even if it doesn't turn into a gospel discussion we try to leave them feeling good about missionaries and knowing that we would love to come by and pray with them or share a message or even just serve. It is so cool to just go out and talk to people all day and just enjoy being around people. We contacted so many cool people. 

One of my last days at the MTC we did an activity where we went around to the pictures of Christ in one hallway and looked at them as we read accounts of his earthly ministry from the Bible such as when he walked on water, taught in the temple as a boy, washed the feet of his disciples and appeared to Mary after his Ressurection. As we read those accounts and I considered Christ's life I was so touched by what my savior has done for me. I want so badly for everyone to feel this joy that I feel as I follow the example of my savior and as I improve when I make mistakes.

I love you all and I love hearing from each one of you, 

Ate Mais,
~Elder Della-Piana
Lakewood, CO

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last Letter from the MTC

Querido Familia e Amigos,
Mason, Sara and Adam
After six weeks at the MTC it's strange to be heading out. Sometimes while we're here we've forgotten that there is an outside world almost, hard to imagine a place where people don't have nametags, walk around with phones and hold hands with the opposite sex. Every once in a while we will see a teacher or a senior couple pull out a phone and we're like WOAAH!! WHAT IS THAT? Honestly that's not even an exaggeration. Whenever we walk outside my companion points to the mountains and says "Those are fake," and some days we question reality when they look just a little too much like a fake backdrop for an old movie....

Speaking of my new companion, I HAVE A NEW COMPANION! Yes that is companion number FIVE in SIX WEEKS. I guess I must be difficult to work with or something because I have just blown through companions. Actually what happened is that he is headed to Toronto Canada Portuguese speaking so he needs to be able to understand the Continental Dialect which his first district was studying to go to Africa in Mosambique and Cape Verde and then he spends this week studying the Brazilian dialect with us. It was actually really hard to see his district go because we grew almost as close to them as we did as a district. They left Monday and Tuesday morning and I couldn't believe how much I was missing them after only knowing them for a few short weeks. 

Elder Langdren and I have had a great time together. Since this has been my first time with just one companion it has been a new experience and I've loved every second of it. We have a room to ourselves as well which is nice to just have a bunch of extra space and it's been really cool to just have deep conversations in our down time. It's been cool for both of us because we both want to be super diligent and obedient and we have had the Spirit edify us so much more as we have worked for it

So one of the things I've thought about the most this week and at the MTC in general is the scripture in Alma about "Having the image of God engraven upon your countenance." There are some videos that we get to watch on sunday nights that are recordings of previous firesides at the MTC from Apostles and Prophets and I'm pretty sure they are only available here. The number one video is by far the one from Elder Bednar at Christmas 2005 about the Character of Christ. He talks about how the Character of Christ is that when the natural man would turn in, Christ turns out. He describes the natural man by paralleling it with the Cookie Monster "I want cookie NOW!!!" and how sometimes we as missionaries say "I want Baptism NOW!!" or "I want investigators NOW!!" and we forget our purpose. "It's not about you" he says, "so quit worrying about yourself and get to work." As a missionary I am a representative of Jesus Christ. That means I am standing at doors and sitting in lessons acting more or less doing what Christ would do if he were ministering. In order to do that effectively I have to turn out as he would do. Elder Bednar says that as he talked to recent converts and asked why they let the missionaries keep teaching them they said that often they understood very little of what the missionaries were saying, whether out of complexity or inability with the language, but they let them back because of how they felt. I hope to be able to be a conduit of Christ's love for the people of Colorado and then those in Brazil.

On a fun note my former companion Elder Moore caught a little bird the other day. It was cool and he was petting it and everything and I know that he loves baby animals and that's a calming thing for him while he's away from his farm so I was happy for him. So we went to lunch and he kept it with him just kind of holding it and petting it and next thing I know a Sister made him jump and the bird goes flying around the cafeteria!! It was ridiculous. He caught it back pretty quickly but not without making a bit of a disturbance. Good times.
One last note I saw my man Sean Clancy here the other day. He came to my table and looked past me and after asking if we were speaking spanish or portuguese asked if we knew an Elder Della-Piana, then I did a double take and realized who he was and it was super awesome to see him. 

Well I'm signing off for now, I love you all. Know that Christ loves you too and wants to hear from you so pray and then search the scriptures because that is where you will find answers.

~Elder Della-Piana

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Visa-waiter in COLORADO

Hey y'all!

President & Sister Murdock
Colorado Denver South Mission
So we got our reassignments today and I'm headed to the Colorado Denver South Mission on Monday!! I'm so pumped. My flight is at 7:24 and I land in Colorado at 8:46 and from there I presume I will hit the field straight away! I'm so excited to hit the field. Honestly I could care less where it is because I'm just ready to start serving. Honestly it will be kind of nice to adjust to being a missionary in English before I try it out in portuguese, I just hope it doesn't take too long for my visa.

(UTAH on Left and WYOMING at the top)
We had an "in-field orientation" today where we got a bunch of awesome training about how to be super awesome missionaries. One of the things that stood out to me the most is that you can do good things your whole mission and not fulfill your purpose, to fulfill your purpose as a missionary you have to consistently do the best things. What an inspiring concept in any facet of life, if we consider in every decision what would be the BEST choice rather than just a good one then we will always find satisfaction in whatever we do.

Okay well I've got to run. They just gave us a few minutes tonight to let our family know about travel plans and reassignments.

I Love you all!!

~Elder Della-Piana

Friday, September 13, 2013

"All good in the lagoon"


De boa na legoa! That is one of my new favorite lines. It's like saying "All good in the hood" but it translates more closely to "All good in the lagoon". (It's pronounced gee-bow-ah-nah-le-go-ah) Portuguese is seriously so much fun. We've been getting closer to conversational in the last couple weeks. I'm finally to the point where I pretty much understand everything and I'm just slow and clumsy at articulating my thoughts using my limited vocabulary but it is so far from where we came. I am farther along after one month than I was after my third year of Spanish. The Lord truly does qualify those whom he has called and blesses them with all things necessary for their success, in my case the gift of tongues. 

So a super highlight of this week was the two firesides we had, one Sunday night and one Tuesday night. The one Sunday night was by the Administrative Director of the MTC and when I heard that I thought cynically to myself "lucky us, another lecture on behavior in the Residence Halls" or whatever but it turned into one of the most profound messages on prayer I've ever heard. He pointed out that as missionaries the whole success of the work hinges on our prayers and the prayers of our investigators. That only through prayer can we receive guidance and the gift of discernment to know their needs and only through prayer can they know of spiritual truths. He used one of my favorite quotes from Preach My Gospel about "either the message of the Restoration is either true or it is not. We can know that it is true by the Holy Ghost... No one can know of spiritual truths without prayer" (pg 39). 

A old friend Elder Jewkes who used to live in Massachusetts.
I want to invite anyone who reads this, whether you believe in the message of the Restoration, whether you believe in a God or not, or whether you have already prayed and either received the feeling of comfort and peace the spirit brings or didn't feel that, I invite you to pray to your Heavenly Father. Thank him for those things you appreciate in your life. Tell him about the things that are hard. Ask him for guidance and for those things you need. Ask him if he's there. I PROMISE that if you ask with real intent to act on the answers you receive, with a sincere heart, desiring to know of the truth, he will manifest it to you because he loves you. I have felt that, I have been guided when I needed it. I testify that Christ lives and that through him we can be cleansed from sin and overcome trials.

We also had an inspiring message from a member of the Seventy on Tuesday night that talked about including members in the missionary effort. He expounded on the story of Amulek, pointing out that Alma sought him by revelation, not just by need to have a member present as a checklist. He pointed out that the way they found was that Amulek acted in FAITH and invited his family to hear and then his extended family and as Alma taught, Amulek was able to relate to the people and help them see how the gospel could relate to their life. As missionaries it can be hard sometimes to relate to our investigators that have more life experience than us but as we invite members that can relate to them and share experiences and their conversion we can effectively show people rather than just telling them how the gospel can change their life. 
Life at the MTC is also super fun. I have a friend in another district that will be my companion next week because his district and companions are all leaving for the field but he has to stay an extra week because he is going to Canada to speak Portuguese and so he has studied the continental dialect but now I have to help him learn the Brazilian dialect. It will be way fun because he is hilarious. Every time I see him he comes up with a new acronym for DP - Dancing Pony, Dangerous Pterodactyl, Doctor Pepper, Daily Planner, Dill Pickle, Dangerous Pope, Dude Perfect, Diving Pelican - the list goes on. He also enjoys random trust falls so the other day we finished the spiritual thought in his room and I heard from above me "Well, lets see how this goes- Trust fall" and I look up and he is cascading into my unprepared arms. Fortunately I caught him but it was quite the event. 

Gym time is super fun too. The other day I was playing basketball with one elder on Scholarship for D-II ball, another that is walking on and was good enough to do it, and another elder that's playing football for Harvard when he comes back. We also played some awesome sweet volleyball the other day. It's always nice to get out after a long day of studying.

I love you all, seek truth, stay strong to the truth you already know, act in faith and all will work for your benefit.

Ate a semana que vem! (Until next week)
~Elder Adam Della-Piana

Friday, September 6, 2013

Half Time at the MTC

Elder Klingler - Elder DP - Elder Burton

Dear Family and Friends, 

Wow it's crazy how time has flown here. I can't believe we are only 15 DAYS AWAY from potentially getting our reassignments to our stateside missions if visas don't come through. It feels like just yesterday I was walking in with my orange sticker with no idea where I was or what to do, having to look at the maps to know where I was going and looking lost in the cafeteria feeling like the first day of high school again. It's amazing how the MTC distorts time.

One of the crazy things that has happened to me is that I have not had a single chance to get in a rhythm while I've been here. Every time I get in a flow they switch it up on me. First it was the companions and becoming Zone Leader but now it's that they made us switch buildings for class and completely changed our schedule. The new schedule is actually really nice, we went from 6:30 breakfast to 7:15 and class starts at 9 instead of 7 now, but we are definitely being prepared for being flexible once we hit the mission field. 
Elder Johnson - Elder Moore - Elder DP
So the great thing of the MTC is how much you grow. 

Every day I get new inspiration that shifts my perspective or uplifts me or just reminds me of how true the gospel is. One growing experience has definitely been seeing how the Lord truly knows "how best to succor his people" (Alma 7:12). The MTC is hard. It's hard to study for long hours and try to teach in a language you've only known for three weeks. There is a lot of pressure to because of the importance of the task that sometimes I have gotten angry at myself for making mistakes. Sometimes it's hard also to see other missionaries wasting time or being disobedient and driving away the spirit because of how important our purpose is as missionaries. The Lord has blessed me that as I have asked and been humble I have been guided to find inspiration on how to overcome this. 

One of the important lessons I have learned is that we are not expected to be perfect, but we are expected to improve. I thought of President Watson's council that growth requires repentance. I have learned that even though I am not perfect now, the Lord has suffered for my imperfection and I can rely on him as I identify my weaknesses and seek to repent and change. One specific experience has been as I have sought to develop my relationship with my companion Elder Moore who has a very different attitude from me. We may not have been very good friends even though we are both football players because we are very different in attitudes about study and obedience. As I have prayed I have grown to love him and we have been united in our purpose. It's awesome.

At the same time the MTC is so much fun. I have a super fun Zone and District and we have a ton of fun at gym, in the residence, at lunch and sometimes too much fun during study time. Yesterday it was funny at dinner when we peeled a banana down the side so you couldn't tell it was empty and then we put it back and just watched peoples reactions as they grabbed it and were totally stumped so they put it back for the next person. You have to have a little fun right?

I am so thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that through faith, repentance, baptism and the Holy Ghost I can receive blessings from the Lord, that I can be guided by him as I pray and study the holy scriptures. I have seen it again and again in my own life and I am so glad to get to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel." As we come unto Christ and live according to his Plan of Happiness our souls are filled, we find our purpose in this life and I have faith that we will receive a fullness of joy in the life to come. 
I love you all, 
~Elder Della-Piana