Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Io sono grato

Could I have a better Family?

As life has taken me to the other side of the world, thousands of miles away from the ones I love, I've come to understand just how important a family is. My family is everything to me.

One of the best ways to get people talking, really get to know them, and help them see that they need the gospel is to ask them about their family. Whether they're a member, an investigator or a person on the street, whether they're Italian, Afrikan or Romanian everyone has a family and it's always something important. I wish I had more time to think of words to put my feelings into but unfortunately I can't right now. With Thanksgiving tomorrow and Christmas around the corner my family is on my mind more than ever. They are so fun, so smart, so happy and so much of who I am. Rather than their absence making me depressed it makes me want to go and work and be the person they taught me to be. I'm thankful for my family. I'm proud to be a Lehnardt. I'm grateful for who each of my family members are.

Life in Padova is good. We're still working on building up the work because not much was happening when I got here. I think there are dementors in the area though because we've had a lot of fog lately.

I hope everyone has a good thanksgiving. Isn't God good? He's given us so much.

Have a good week. Happy Thanksgiving!
Love Ben

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Save Nigeria

Hello everybody. Life is good here in Padova. Things are getting a little bit chilly which is to say that things are freezing thanks to the humidity.

Padova is sometimes known among missionaries as Little Africa because there are so many Africans here. Really all of Italy is full of immigrants but Padova has a special dose of Afrika. (For some reason I like spelling Afrika with a K) This week we were talking to a Nigerian new convert named Adeola. I told him how nice it was to have so many Afrikans in our ward here because it makes it much easier. In fact they even have an English Sunday school class just for them. In Siena we taught some Africans but it was so hard to help them enjoy church because it was all in Italian and even with translation it was weird for them. But then he told us about how hard life is for them. He said that the women normally learn Italian because it's easier for them to find help. A lot of the time they will have a husband or boyfriend who emigrated earlier who already has a house and if not often times a rich man will make her his "girlfriend." If that doesn't happen they will often turn to prostitution which brings lots of money quickly. The men are faced with the pressures of sending money home so they immediately jump into trying to make money without being able to take the time to learn the language. Unfortunately many are driven by their frustration to make money in bad ways like selling drugs or even prostitution. I asked why they leave Nigeria and found that it's because there is so much corruption in Nigeria that there is no money for most people and everything comes from knowing the right person.

I can't believe how sad it is and I feel bad writing about it. Anyways I think someone needs to do something for Nigeria and I would like to do it. I think economics could solve a lot of their problems and I just wish I had Dad here to talk about it with me. Wouldn't it be great to make some good laws in Nigeria and help change the situation? I know I'm a missionary and really the gospel could solve the problems better than anything, but the part inside me that loves reading economics books wants to go to Nigeria and change the laws. I think it would be fun.

Anyways on a lighter note things are good here in Padova. I'm still in shock at how amazing the ward is.

Lately I've been realizing that I'm not exactly a young missionary anymore. I'm not old by any means but I'm not really young either. I've met a few missionaries younger than me and I love the reminder of how much I've learned. I still have so many challenges but luckily I've moved on past many of the challenges I began with. I don't have huge problems with the language, I've gotten comfortable with the system we work within and I feel comfortable teaching people. Of course I have plenty of stuff to work on, but it is nice to realize that I'm moving forward.

I love you all. Hope you have a great week.

Love Ben

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bring on the rain

I don't even know where to begin in starting to describe my new adventure here in Padova.

Padova is actually a really nice city. When I first got here I thought it was a big ugly city, which you can't really blame me for considering that I just came from Siena, but now that I've seen a little more I'm discovering that it really is a cool city. It's much bigger than Siena and is full of cool stuff and cool people.

How can I even describe the huge change that a transfer can be? I'm now in a completely new region of Italy with almost a whole new group of missionaries that I kind of know. I went from knowing every side street and corner to not knowing a single main road and I'm with a new companion which always brings change. It's not bad, but I'm just overwhelmed as I sit in front of this screen trying to think of how to describe my life.

So much has changed where do I even begin? The north is much wetter. It's rained a good amount since I got here which makes riding a bike even more fun. When I got here my bike didn't have brakes so that was something we took care of right away. Missionary bikes are always an adventure because they are never maintained beyond the point of lasting until the end of the transfer when there's the chance of passing it off to someone else.

The other night I was riding home through the pouring rain and it hit my how strange my situation was. Here I was riding a crappy bike through dark streets in the rain in a city that I didn't even know. I was far from home, soaking wet and yet I was happy. I took my hands off the handle bars lifted them up and looked up into the sky and let the rain hit me right in the face. And I couldn't help but laugh. One of the things I've learned in the last few months is not to care.

Let me use my suit as an example. A suit is something that you normally take care of. When you wear a suit you live life a little more on the careful side. A suit is too nice to do a lot of things in. It's expensive and easily torn or stained. But as a missionary this doesn't really matter. I have sweat to death in my suit, chased buses and trains. I've run and jumped, ridden a bike and recently been soaked by rain in a suit. The point is that I just don't care anymore. I've learned that even though a suit looks nice I can still let go and live. And that's the thing I love about the gospel lately. The gospel lets us let go. Life is full of hurts and pain, loss and heartbreak and no one escapes. We can't ignore it and we can't avoid all of it. But the gospel helps us let go and overcome. Thanks to the perspective of eternity a long wait of a letter doesn't seem so maddening. Thanks to the atonement we can let go of the weight of sin. Thanks to the gospel we can let go of hurt and laugh and smile and live our lives.

OK, my sermon is over.

Anz. Valli is from Draper. His Dad is from Livorno Italy and his parents met serving in Catania. He's in his 12th transfer so he's about 6 months from home. He's a nice guy.

Life is good and I hope all of you have a good week. I love you and I miss you.

Love, Ben