Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 21, 2011

Good rainy monday-

It rained here most of the day yesterday and is supposed to continue through Wednesday. Perfect for the week when we don't have the car. However, I am excited to walk a more so in turn I can eat more at dinners and such. I could feel myself getting soft sitting down all week.
Happy Thanksgiving a few days early. Tomorrow our ward is having an annual Pie Night. I am sure there will be plenty of sweets available kind of like my memories of Grandma Barnes' house during Thanksgiving time when there would be at least a half dozen different kinds of pie available. On Thursday morning we get to play in the ward's Turkey Bowl - that should be a lot of fun. Everybody keeps thinking I really want to play quarterback but I would be just as happy blocking or receiver. My mindset now is certainly different than a couple years ago in full competition mode. We are going to the house of Br. and Sis. Carroll in our ward for Thanksgiving meal. He is the Ward Mission Leader and is really great. The members of our ward are so nice to missionaries and are also really happy to have a set of missionaries solely dedicated to their ward. It has been a while since that has happened so there seems to be a fresh energy and excitement developing.
We had another investigator at church on Sunday, Sierra. She was supposed to get picked up by one of the girls her age, but at 5 minutes til start time, we found out that girl got in a roll over accident the night before. So we drove with Br. Carroll and picked her up. It was a bummer to have to be late on her first time at church, but she met a bunch of the other young men and women her age and ended up enjoying herself. The youth of this ward are also really strong and very helpful at welcoming in new faces. That is something I got to experience first hand in Arkansas - the universal feeling of love throughout the church. It is so comforting that no matter where we go in the world, we will also have the Lord's church to enter and feel the same Spirit when doing so.
This week, especially Friday and Saturday, were two of the days that a lot of missionaries talk about I guess when no plans really seem to work right. We had a lot of set plans and also people we wanted to visit, but for one reason or another, they canceled or people simply weren't home. I have been praying that God will help my Spirits during times like these, and in fact came across a great thought that I clearly felt was an answer to those prayers. "Plant with love in the vineyard of the Lord. Perhaps you will never see the tree grow and produce fruit, but the Lord will. Many missionaries will never be aware of all the results of their labors. But if you spend your lives doing all the good you can, without wondering and worrying about the consequences, you will find the true joy of the Gospel." Like I said, that fit right into the situation, and gave me some extra strength to go about my work without worrying about the immediate outcome. One of the things I have been doing, and I may have mentioned this in a past email, is to write down 3 things every night that I am grateful for in my journal. This was a challenge we received in the MTC. Regardless of how a day goes, I know that God is still watching over me and blessing my life.
Speaking of which, I am so grateful for the nice birthday cards and packages that came. Grandma Bunny sent some incredible homemade goodies. There was some chocolate coated caramels and some toffee brittle and both were outstanding. The only bad thing was the timing of them arriving during a week where we had the car... Jennifer Whitaker sent a great package too with a couple ties and some other things... Incredibly awesome and appreciated. Also, the thoughts she includes in her letters have answered my prayers many a time. I am so grateful to have her support.
One of things that is fun to do have been service. This past week we raked leaves a couple different times, helped organize Christmas lights for an older couple, played basketball at a retirement home, and helped some strangers who were moving and we were walking on their street. The retirement home basketball was fun and funny. They would try and shoot a nerf basketball into a 5 gallon bucket. One of the ladies kept saying "Give me a real basketball and see what I can do" when she would miss. She also got so mad at others on her "team" when they would miss. That feeling of serving others is so great and I am grateful for the chances we have to do it.
One of the scriptures that really touched me this week was John 16:33. It was a great reminder to me that Jesus already overcame the world. If we but remember this always, and be of good cheer, we will not let the everyday frustrations and difficulties of life get to us. Granted there are times that are meant to push our limits and in these times we can really experience growth. However, the blessing of the Atonement is so infinite, and as we humble ourselves to reap the benefits of that great sacrifice, we can truly can overcome some of those feelings of the world too.
I almost forgot, I completed my electronic visa on Thursday. This was the last step I was waiting for. Now I just wait until the real visa come through and I will going to Brasil. That was real exciting. Elder Stephens also got to do his electronic visa on the same day. Elder Werner, my MTC companion received his visa and he is leaving today for Brasil. I got to see them on Friday. One of the General Authorities came to talk to the mission and it was great.
Well thank you all for the love and support and prayers. I am so happy and blessed and pray to be the instrument the Lord needs out of me.
With love and charity,
Elder GrazianoL

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