Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Departing Missionaries

December 18, 2013

We had two missionaries who were scheduled to depart on December 19th.  They will be home in time to celebrate the birth of Christ with their families.  Hopefully they will be returning with an increased testimony of the significance of that event.

As usual, we are sad to lose some of our leaders.  They have been great missionaries and will be missed, but their legacy will live on forever in the lives of those they have touched.

New Senior Couple

December 17, 2013

We picked a new senior couple up from the airport.  On the way back we stopped by the temple sight so they could see the progress being made on the Rome Temple.  The scaffolding is starting to come down and the temple is starting to show signs of progress.  As the scaffolding is coming down, the appearance of the granite on the temple looks lighter.  We were surprised when we first got here how dark the granite was.  Perhaps that's because it was shrouded with scaffolding and shadows.  As that barrier is being removed, the temple looks brighter and brighter.  Maybe that's how each of us is as we remove the barriers that keep us from communicating with our Father in Heaven.  As we draw closer to him, our personal countenance reflect an inner peace.

Senior couples are such a blessing to our mission.  We wish we had a senior couple to serve in every zone and even every branch.  Right now we have a senior missionary who is serving as branch president to help teach and strengthen the members.  It's a vital part of the process to help new members reach their full potential and become leaders.  We have another branch where the only priesthood holders moved away and a young missionary is serving as branch president.  He is doing a wonderful job, but it's a lot of stress on a young person.  We have another senior couple coming in a couple of weeks and they will be assigned to serve in that area.  The senior couples become mentors to the other missionaries.  We call on the senior couples to help us when missionaries are struggling with health or other issues.  They attend district and zone conferences with them and are a very stabilizing influence for them.  This new couple are filling a vacancy left by a senior couple who had to leave their mission early because of health issues.  The branch members and the missionaries are so excited to have them come.  Our counsel is to see that senior couples really enjoy their missions and have a good experience.  I think most of them do.

This senior couple will be a true blessing to the mission.  We are excited to have them here.

Traditionally we bring all missionaries to the villa, feed them a good meal, and have them sleep here.  Because of the repairs currently being made here, everything was so torn up and messy that we took them out to dinner at a nearby restaurant and had them spend the night at a hotel.  

Napoli Specialized Training

December 16, 2013

The missionaries in Napoli must be trying to outdo the missionaries in Palermo with their enthusiasm.  They decided to do a companionship gift exchange.  Nobody was allowed to spend more than 5 euros.  They came up with some pretty creative gifts.  They enjoyed a few minutes of levity before they settled down to the serious business of learning how to be better missionaries.

As we have traveled throughout the mission this transfer cycle and experienced the many different Specialized Training Conferences, we have been awed at how in tune the zone leaders are with the needs of their individual zones.  Some zones chose exactly the same topic, while other zones went a completely different direction with their training.  No assignments were made as to what to teach.  They were told to pray and let the spirit guide them.  They are learning how to be future leaders in the church and they are very impressive.

The nativity play always seems to be a hit.  One sister said it was just like they did at home every year only none of her bratty cousins were there.  (I guess she didn't notice the antics of some of the missionaries.)