Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mom Says to Write More!

Hey y'all,

So I got an email from my mom saying they have to tell people "as far as we know he's doing great." I guess I need to lengthen out my emails a bit. 

I really am doing well. I love being a missionary. It's hard, often we have long stretches with little success but there are so many little miracles that make it worth it. 

So a little more about my companion. His name is Elder Yates, he's from Oregon and lives on mount hood. He is very service oriented and is always looking to do stuff for people. We ended up busting concrete and then pouring new concrete foundation on Saturday for a deck that one of our investigators is building. We do a good job together in lessons because we both know our stuff and are seeking to follow the spirit. It's fun too because he might play college basketball when he gets home (I can still beat him 1 on 1 though). 
As for the work it was a good week and a hard week. We had one of our best days in a long time on Friday. We were in homes teaching with members almost all day and those lessons each felt like they really helped our investigators feel the spirit and see the things they can do to progress.

It started off with our investigator that is progressing the fastest. His name is Roland and he's about 70 years old. He referred himself to the missionaries by calling the mission home and asking for a large Book of Mormon. When we dropped it off to him he asked, "is there any way you could come back and explain the church a bit more to me?" Naturally we got super excited and when we came back four days later he apologized for only reading 10 chapters! (We normally struggle to get people to read a full chapter in a week.) "I'm really just trying to take it slow and soak it all in" he said. So we explained the restoration to him and asked if he would be baptized and he looked at us and said "of course." He explained that his wife died and he's lonely so he really wants to have a place for fellowship and something that will inspire him so that's why he asked for the Book of Mormon because he knew so many Mormons through the years that seemed so happy. He keeps saying "if only I had this 40 years ago."

He's definitely an example of someone that has been prepared by people that have been planting seeds. When we explained the priesthood to him he said "yeah, you have melchizedek and aaronic right?" and we asked him how he knew that and explained that he worked with a Mormon once that he was driving home from the airport and explained it to him. He said "yeah, people said he would go far, his name was Monson, have you heard of him?" and we said "Thomas?" and he said, "yeah, did he end up becoming president or anything?" We're pretty sure he's already a member and is just messing with us at this point. 

It's super inspiring to work with him. It shows me that the Lord is preparing people all over the place and we just need to find them. We biked past his place ten times before we got that referral from Headquarters and all that time he was waiting there being prepared. He's going to set a date for early December so hopefully I'll still be around for that, not that I'd complain if my visa came in but I really love this man. He has some back issues and so originally when we talked about when he would be baptized he said "you gotta be patient with me, I'll do it but I want my back to be well for it. So how's... sayy... March?" Ahhh, I'm sure glad he's healed well since the blessing we gave him and he feels good enough to do it sooner.

Well that's been the big miracle from this area. There's been little ones too though. Of course it feels like a small miracle any time someone invites us back. We just met a kid my age that plays basketball and believes in God but doesn't go to church and we really felt the spirit when we talked with him and as I encouraged him to read the Book of Mormon. We're going back on Wednesday so we'll see how that turns out next week. 

I wish I could write about all of the people we're teaching but I can't. Here's one more though before my companion drags me away to go get our p-day stuff done. His name is Emilio and we're teaching his whole family. He really knows how important God will be in his life as he raises his kids. The cool part is that when we stopped by the first time after he said we could come by some time he told us about a dream he had the night before where we were riding our bikes in the rain and there was a light around us and we were completely dry while all the elements were clashing around us. He's been really good about having his kids join the discussion and hopefully they're coming to church next week. 

I'm having a good time, I love sharing this message, I'm getting better at staying on my bike, and I love you all.

Que perseverem ate o fim,

~Elder Della-Piana

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bike Crash #1

Hello Everybody,

Colorado is a mighty interesting place. Maybe it's just being a missionary here. In fact I'm sure that's what it is.

President and Sister Murdock
with Elder DP
I met my first false prophet this week. He claimed to be "Bishop, Apostle, Prophet and Reagent of the United States of America." He talked a lot about how many billions of dollars Obama owed him by divine right and how the United States would struggle until he received it. It was actually kind of sad because he looked like he was probably homeless and it was a bit scary how serious he was about it. I also had a drunk guy toast me and then yell at me to go back to Utah. Ahhhh good times.

I also had some awesome experiences. Last night we had a devotional with Matthew Holland, President of UVU and son of Jeffery R. Holland. He shared with us how he knew the Book of Mormon is true. He said that he went to the mountains to pray and try Moroni's promise but he prayed and fasted and read and kept doing all these things and felt nothing. Finally after a crazy attempt to summit another peak he was on his way back down and he had the line "line upon line, precept upon precept" running through his head. When he talked to his father about it he realized that that was how he had developed a testimony. He already had one. He had learned bit by bit as he experimented upon the word and found that it was true by experience. It made me think of my own knowledge of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I am sure that the Book of Mormon is the word of God because every time I read it my mind is enlightened and I gain new insight and feel that peace that can only be explained as the spirit. Although for me it was not one spectacular moment of the Spirit as some people have described I believe that our witness of truth can come in many different ways as we seek it humbly.

One super cool experience I had this week was that we had a super motivational Zone Meeting and I got really fired up to talk to everyone I saw and the first person we came across gave us a conversation! That never happens. He had actually investigated the church previously and talked about how he had half-heartedly tried Moroni's promise and didn't feel anything after he read a couple pages. He talked about how he assumed that other people had and that not every member of the church was dishonest or hadn't received it but he expressed a desire to hear people express how they had received that promised witness. We explained to him what a Fast and Testimony meeting was and how he could come to a meeting where he would feel that and then I shared with him my experience of how I came to believe that the Book of Mormon is true and that the teachings of this church are true. After all of that it turned out that the day after he was leaving to move to Minnesota and so we won't get to hear the end of the story but he told us he would go to a Testimony Meeting on Sunday and try it out again. He was a super humble guy and very astute. He posed some really good doctrinal questions that were sincere and we were able to clarify misunderstanding as well as explain to him what we believed. It was an all around superb experience. It was cool to see how sometimes you will plant a seed and never know how it turns out.

So our area is one ward and we bike the entire distance. I'm still getting used to the whole biking thing. The other day we were going down a hill and I had a loony-toon-esque crash. I was reaching back with my right hand to get a flashlight from my bag as it was getting dark and we were headed down an unlighted trail. As I was doing this my companion slowed down quickly to make a turn. I reacted quickly so I wouldn't run into him and hit the brakes. Unfortunately my left brake is my front one and as we all know when you hit your front break your bike tips forward. This, combined with my exceeding momentum, caused me to catapult over my handlebars. I almost caught myself on my feet but I lost it and went down hard on my hands. Fortunately there was a patch of grass to my left and I was able to roll myself onto the grass so my looong skid would be a bit softer - whether this was by my own quick instincts or maybe some kind of Angels in the Outfield type thing I am as of yet unsure. My wrist has been a bit sore since it and I was pretty scraped up but other than that I came away in one piece which was good.

I love you all, thank you for the emails and letters. You are all in my prayers and I'm thankful for yours as I serve the Lord.

Ate Mais,

~Elder Della-Piana

Monday, October 7, 2013

Conference Weekend

Chilli and Cheese on Eggo Waffles
(Normal people don't even think of doing this - missionaries do)
There are so many things I want to write about today but I don't have very much time. This weekend's conference was so sweet!!! I came away from each session with added understanding and increased desire to do the Lord's work.

Adam said it snowed hard and melted quickly
(Snow is tricky when you packed for BRAZIL)
This week we had a lot of hard days, but many rewarding experiences on top of them. It's hard to talk to so many people that are not interested in even talking to us. We've had days where we have spent hours trying to contact people that had been interested or trying to meet new people and had no success. It's hard to have a message that is so precious to my life be so easily rejected by other people. Even when we just offer a card so they can contact us with service opportunities we get shot down regularly. Fortunately, I know the Lord's hand is in this work and there are people out there that we will be able to help.

We got to the email late and we're getting kicked out but we are excited about one investigator that apologized for "only reading 10 chapters" of 1 Nephi and has been prepared by positive experiences with members throughout the years. He even knew President Monson from work. He rocks.

Sorry this is so short, I love you all

~Elder Della-Piana