Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I love the world

Dear World-

How are you doing today?

This morning we went to the market. We had a few things we were thinking about looking for but mostly we just wanted to check it out and it ended up being so cool. The crowds of people filled the narrow paths between the stands that sold everything from cooking utensils to roasted pigs to underwear. It's hard to describe how cool it is to talk with old Italian men as they wander through the same market they've been coming to for years.

One of the things that really made me happy doing missionary work when I was in Bologna was talking to people. I talked to anyone and everyone in any place and I loved it just for the thrill of talking to Italians in Italy about the gospel.

And then I got nervous about my language skills and I was talking to people a lot less and when I did speak it was much more cautious and guarded. I worried about grammar rules and what to say and the conversations were awkward and never went far. But this week things changed. For one reason or another I started seeing the joy in talking to people again. I stopped worrying so much and just started talking and making friends everywhere. And it has been wonderful. It has totally changed my outlook on working and I feel so much happier. Maybe it's the bit of my mom in me but I just want to go around taking pictures of people. People are so cool. I'm amazed at the depth of each person. All the millions of people in Italy and the rest of the world for that matter have a life. They have a family and a past, hopes, dreams, fears, and plans for the future. It's amazing how great each human soul is.

So now I'm repenting. I'm changing and I'm determined not to go back to missing the amazing people that I'm surrounded by. It makes me think a bit about Pres. Uchtdorfs talk about the paradox of being everything and nothing to God.

I'm so grateful for the people that I get to talk to everyday and I'm so grateful for every one of you. I love thinking how each and every person has a full life. It's amazing. I'm so grateful for all the wonderful people that are in my life. I would make a list but I'm sure I would forget someone and then I would feel bad. So let me just say all of you.

Thank you for your love and prayers. I can't tell you how much they mean to me. I hope you all have a great week.

Love, Ben

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Love love amore

Another week has come and gone here in Siena and I am still happy to be here. This week my body taught me a wonderful object lesson that I was only able to catch thanks to my wonderful Dad who was never shy about boogers. I've been a bit sick, but luckily I'm well stocked this time thanks to a lovely package I got months after my last cold. Anyways my head has been pretty full of boogers and after blowing my nose for the millionth time I realized that missionary work is a bit like blowing your nose- sometimes you just have to keep pushing and blowing without seeing any results and then all of a sudden everything comes and you feel the wonderful relief of...success. I know it's not a perfect analogy for everyone because it takes a special person to appreciate great gobs of mucus, but you get the idea.

This week we traveled quite a bit for our work. We went to Torrita di Siena to contact a referral. Unfortunately there wasn't a phone number so we just had to go hoping that we would be able to find the guy at home. The address turned out to be the jewelry store that he worked in and when we found him he looked a little confused. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon because we were told he had asked for one. He had no idea who we were or what the Book of Mormon was. This is the second referral we've had like this in the last few weeks and I'm afraid some very well meaning members may have sent us to some very uninterested people. Oh well. I still like the idea of spreading Book of Mormons around the world. They always have a tendency to find someone who needs them even if it takes a while.

I loved the talk in general conference about the Book of Mormon and how it must either be from God or from Satan. Not only did he give a great talk, but he quoted C.S. Lewis too. I wish I could help people see this type of decision. We have seen so many people with this idea of subjectivism lately. They all say that everyone finds what is right for them and that is where truth is found. They say that Joseph Smith is all good and well for me because I believe in him, but that Maria, or Allah, or Buddah is right for them and we can't judge each other and it's not possible for someone to say that what someone else believes is wrong. Argh. It's so hard to watch so many people walk in confusion and darkness and then watch them turn us away just because they can't take a stand on what is really right or wrong, true and false.
Don't get me wrong though, Siena is still good. I love Siena. I feel bad saying anything bad about it or the people here, even though it can be so frustrating sometimes, but after I write things like that I feel bad and always want to reassure all of you that I still love Siena and I'm still happy to be here.

I hope you all have a great week. Thank you for all the goodness in you.

Love, Ben

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

There are other Mormons in the world

Hello to anyone and everyone that may be reading this-
Conference was definitely the highlight of the week. Because of all the BYU students the branch got permission to show conference here in Siena instead of all of us traveling to Prato. I loved conference for so many different reasons, but one of them is because it reminded me that there are other Mormons in the world. In fact there tons of them. Sometimes its easy to feel like the only Mormons in the whole world. In fact last week in district meeting one of the Anziani that just got transferred from Genova where they have two wards, read 1 Nephi 14:11-13 and said he felt like he was seeing this prophecy fulfilled ever since he came to Tuscany.

Anyway, yes conference was great for the fact of reminding me that we really are involved in something much bigger than we realize. It was really amazing too to see how well the church is moving into the future and world of technology. Here in our little branch we were able to watch live conference in Italian, Spanish, and English. We got to see all the sessions except for the Sunday afternoon session because that would have started at midnight for us.
There were so many talks that I loved, that there just isn't time to talk about them. But, can someone tell me what happened to Elder Hales? I couldn't even recognize him, it was so sad. It seemed like quite a few of the twelve were looking older and more fragile. Is it bad that I speculate about how much longer some of them will be around. There are just a few that I feel bad for and I wonder about how comfortable their lives are. I don't want to get rid of any of them, but there a few that I think have a lot more for them waiting on the other side than they have holding them here. Before I tread into blasphemy I'll just say that conference was great and long live the Book of Mormon.
Life is good. I'm happy to be alive. I'm eating good food. Missionary work can be so hard, but I think that's how it's supposed to be. I can't say I've often heard missionaries take credit for people they baptize, because it's so hard to deny the Lord's hand in these things. I often think that missions are more to teach us missionaries than to find people to come into the church. I really do feel grateful this week- not for all the great investigators because there haven't been any- but for the simple things like prayer and the scriptures. I don't think I would have ever found such an appreciation for them if I wasn't asked to do something that was so hard.
Have a great week everyone.
Love, Ben

Mom- I loved conference too. It was funny to see how we seemed to notice a lot of the same talks. I thought Sister Dalton's was great and Elder Anderson's was really interesting too. I remember hearing that that was something they used to talk about, but it's a new subject for this generation. You asked what I eat. Well like I said, mostly pasta. I made my own pesto this week which turned out really well, but most of the time there just isn't time or money get too into cooking. Don't worry though, I'll still be able to impress you guys with good stuff when I get home. I brought a kilo of pasta to conference for lunch and I was very proud when the Italians said it was good. I love your emails. I feel like I never have time to relax and let some of my worries go because we never have any time to relax and slow down. This morning I was remembering how Dad used to call me worry wart. Your emails and blogs help me slow down and appreciate life a little more which I think is something really important. Missionary work can be so stressful. Anyways, thanks for writing me. I love hearing from all of you.
Stefan- Isn't it a bummer to see how much fun our family is and then have to leave? Don't feel too bad about leaving the beehives behind- I've never even seen them! Before long you won't even be at home and then you'll really see how cool our family is. You were always pretty good at that though- seeing how cool our family was- just make sure you make the most of it now because your days of living at home are numbered and once you leave you can never really come back. That sounded dramatic, but that's just how I am. Anyways, enjoy being at home, soak it up, notice how good our family is. I'm glad you still have time to read your scriptures amid all they craziness of life. It sounds like you're really busy. Where do you want to go to school? It sounds like you could go anywhere, but where do you want to go?
Hans- Ciao- sounds like life is good- auguri on the cross country race. Are you going to run next year? Oh I miss running. Welcome to the world of cell phones. Is it everything you dreamed it would be? Don't text. Just kidding, but I will tell you that you should call whenever you can instead of texting. I can relate to the exhaustion- I've been falling asleep on trains all week. I always mean to do other stuff, but before I know it I'm waking up from a nice little nap.
Xander- We had to put our suit jackets on this week and now we are even more intimidating. I think you would enjoy the power that comes from wearing a suit. I wrote another poem about cookies and milk, but I was to tired to make the whole thing rhyme. It's also hard to make it all in English. Oh dear I just don't speak any language very well anymore.
Gabe- You have rocks for homework? What does that mean? Do you have to talk to them and make friends? I'm sorry that you have to do so much homework. Wouldn't it be fun to have Legos for homework? How did you make a lightbulb? Have a good week. Thanks for emailing me.
Mary- Did you know how popular you and Big Mary are over here. They all call you Maria though. They really like you guys though. They sing songs about you and and have lots of paintings, sometimes they even draw pictures of you guys on the sidewalk. We have to tell people not to pray to you though, that's kind of a problem. Maybe you could write them and tell them all that Jesus is the really cool one and even though you are pretty cool they shouldn't pray to you. Have a good week Maria.
Have a good week everyone. I love you all and I am so grateful for the wonderful people you are. I feel so lucky to be a Lehnardt.

Have a great week. Love, Ben