well... where to begin... last thursday morning we had a lesson with antonio. he asked when he was going to get baptized and we said as soon as he was ready! and he said 'ok sono pronto!' hahaha not quite! i thought. so of course the next lesson we explained that if he can't keep his commitments to read the Book of Mormon, he is not ready to make this huge commitment with the Lord. it was really cute that he wants to get baptized so badly though. i think the thing is that in the MTC they tell you like make sure that your investigators are excited about baptism! its not scary or weird,make them pumped! and so we have been talking about how antonio will be cleansed from his sins and how he will get the Holy Ghost. lets just say he's pumped! even though now that he understands a bit better that it's not a joke, we are thinking that it might be a few more weeks. and then there's the other problem, the elephant in the room that no one wants to address. he lives in the boundaries for the other ward. yeah i don't really want to talk about it.
thursday afternoon something amazing happened!! the phone rang. it was ORAZIO the man from two weeks ago who said that he wasn't interested as he was READING the Book of Moromon and he said 'why am i still listening to you?' i know that the Spirit was working in him. so he called and he say, 'hey. i've been reading this book. i've been having some fun with it.' i said, 'oh really? so when can we meet again?' he said 'this week.' ha! we are seeing him tomorrow. not interested my foot!
friday. let's just talk about what happened last friday. it was amazing. a few weeks ago, we had pulled some names of ex investigators from the area book, one of whom was Anna Mola. she was taking the lessons in 1994. (when miriam was ONE) and then when her friend who was a member moved to america, she stopped coming. she is married to but separated from the nephew of the ward mission leader. so friday we taught a lesson to nicola, our investigator who still doesn't believe that Jesus Christ is even the Son of God, then we got in fllo curci's fiat 600 and went to an art exhibit that was put on my one of the less active members of the ward. this was basically the celestial kingdom. there were three young violinists who were playing,it was outside and LITERALLY on the beach. so we are sitting there listening to the violinists and the waves lapping on the shore, then we got to see this beautiful art and the member artist was SOOO happy that we came. it just made my day. then we got back in the 600 and wento to ANNA MOLA's house. it was about 8:30 and she had no clue we were coming. then there she was. she is amazing! her daughter who WAS 2 when she was taking the lessons is now 19 and lovely. she was super excited to meet us and we had a great little get to know you lesson. she gave us her cell number and we are going to go see her again on friday.
saturday morning we went to cellamare. it is so small it took about 15 minutes to know where everything was. jk jk we went to do some inactive dive bomb sneak attacks as we like to cal them, and we met a woman named lucia canonico who hasn't been to church in 20 years. when she saw us she didn't even know we were missionaries. that's weird cuz members know who we are. anyway after much confusion with the bus,we finally made it back to bari and prepared for another lesson with antonio. this lesson was epic. antonio is a very closed person, but at this lesson, the member, fllo carlucci really reemed on him. 'how is it possible that you haven't prayed or read once???' it's been a month that we have been telling him everytime to read and pray and he still isn't doing it. so at the end of the lesson we all knelt down and we made antonio pray and pray correctly. it was a nice prayer, but the poor guy was wringing his hands through the whole thing! the thought came into my mind, 'hillary, he doesn't know how to be intimate with someone. he has no close friends or relatives and the thought of talking to GOD scares him.' so i asked him, 'antonio, is there someone in your life that you can confide in? someone that you tell everything to?' and he said no. and i said 'well guess what, now you do. you need to talk to Heavenly Father. He loves you. He KNOWS you and He is waiting to hear from you. you have got to open yourself up to Him or He can't come in.' he had tears in his eyes. and i began to begin to understand the layers of this man. he has no one! i of all people have kind of a hard time relating. remember how if we are in different rooms of the house i will say MOM!!! come be with me!!! but then i just think about the first two weeks in siena. foreign country. by myself. 20 years old. didn't speak the language that well and that is antonio with Heavenly Father. he has never really met Him before. he doesn't speak the language of prayer and he feels completely alone. i love antonio.
after that lesson we had a lesson with paolo and andrea. paolo was great, but andrea was the icing on the cake. paolo we met the other day on the street. he said he had a Book of Mormon! so when he showed up to the appointment with andrea it was great. andrea and paolo are two slightly awkward single men in their 40s but man andrea is incredible. he literally asked us 'where do we come from, why are we here and where do we go after we die' then at the end, we asked him to say the prayer. he. prayed. perfectly. at the end he literally said 'in the name of thy son Jesus Christ amen' antonio doesn't even pray like that! after that we went to the house of angela strignano--another success from the area book :) she is so nice and friendly, always wants to make us food. but this was fast sunday and she was a little put out that we wouldn't eat. the lesson was hard to do thanks to her 89 year old mother who has no idea what is going on but talks incessantly. angela is great, but we can only see her once a week. we told her that she could call us if she needed something and we also said that she will feel the Spirit as she reads and prays. she said, oh i already do feel the Spirit! last week when you left, there was this feeling of peace in the house for about a day. cool.
sunday was great. the ward was fasting for missionary experiences so the sacrament meeting was great. antonio slept through it all. that evening we went to the park to see the costanzo family who are a family of eternal investigators.... i don't know what to do about them. we did an FHE with them, their son, the elders, fllo curci and another family of investigators. it was great. then the best thing in the world happened. as we were walking home, we saw a DALMATIAN!!!! IT WAS SO CUTE!!! a little overweight but i can't talk. then we went home and sat on the balcony on the couch that i moved outside hehehe and this car drove by blasting tiziano ferro. i took it as a sign that it was the perfect day.
monday we had a potluck with al the elders in the district! it was great. they didn't love our vegeterian lasagna but what can you do? that night we had a lesson with antonio and we realized that he likes to sing the hymns! haha of course! so we are doing our best to get him the inni on cd.
yesterday was... long. we had zero appointments and the morning we literally walked around bari from 10 am to 1:30 pm. we were tired. but we did find this young man named francesco. another one of those people that say 'i'm not interested' just because all the cool kids are saying it, not because they really mean it.
anyway things are going great!! a few weeks ago, after i prayed i had the impression 'hillary, things are going to worse before they get better.' then they got worse and now they are getting better :) thank you everyone fore the prayers and letters. special thanks to jolena for the pics! i love you all and i know that this is the Lord's work!
all my love