We have seen miracles thanks to the Church's new language program, English Connect. Through its emphasis on the Gospel, we were able to start teaching a woman named C. We began working with her after she posed questions about what we were teaching in English class. We answered her questions about the Atonement by using passages from the Book of Mormon. She was very touched and intrigued by how the verses clarified the Bible and wanted to know more. We taught her more about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration and she loved what she was learning.
We were later able to recognize God's hand in how she was found. She explained that she had gotten our number from a flyer advertising our English class. Her ex-boyfriend had given it to her years ago while she was visiting Bologna. Although she lives far away from here, she had received hundreds of messages from our English class group chat for 2 years, knowing she would never be able to come to it. She told us that every time she thought of leaving the group chat, a voice in her head told her that staying would benefit her someday. Thanks to COVID-19, we started holding our English class online and she was finally able to participate. This led to us being able to teach her the lessons.
When we taught C. about the Restoration, we had a member who she knows from English class join in on the call. C. told us she knew exactly how Joseph Smith felt. She had experienced the same confusion and doubt with all the churches and opinions around her that Joseph Smith had. She had assumed she was the only one who thought something was missing. After learning about the First Vision, she explained how she had never felt more peace and serenity in her whole life. She told us that she now knows Joseph Smith was a prophet and called of God because there’s no way he could have translated the Book of Mormon without divine help. She also said that she has finally found the right path in her life and has already seen so many blessings by keeping the commitments from our lessons. She is now reading the Book of Mormon enthusiastically on her own and knows all of this was part of Heavenly Father's plan for her.
At our next lesson, we decided to teach about the Plan of Salvation. When we called, we asked how she was doing, and after saying 'so-so,' she related that a close friend had passed away that morning. We explained how we were planning to teach her about what happens after death. She became so excited and stated again that nothing is a coincidence. She answered every question we asked perfectly and said she didn't know anyone else believed the same things that she did. At the end of the lesson, we held up a sheet of paper on which we had been drawing a diagram of the Plan of Salvation. As we held up the completed diagram, she gasped and covered her mouth. She told us that she had had a dream about our lesson a year ago, but at the time, she was really confused about what the 'plan' was, why two girls were teaching it to her, and why she was participating. She texted us after the lesson, 'Thank you, today was incredible.' Even though she will miss her friend, she's not sad about it because she knows exactly where she is and can now imagine where they will be able to meet again.
At our next lesson, we followed up about the scriptures we had given her to read and found out she hadn't read them yet! This was very unlike her, but then she explained that she felt like she needed to keep reading about Nephi and ended up reading about the Tree of Life. She had tons of questions, which led perfectly once again into our lesson about the doctrine of Christ. She has said multiple times that God is guiding her on a path, but she doesn't know the end goal. As a result, we were able to relate that to the Iron Rod and the Tree of Life. She told us that every time she talks to us something tells her that this Church is true, and she wishes she could belong to it. We extended a baptismal invitation to her and she had the biggest smile on her face. She said that she would pray about it non-stop over the next few days and be baptized when she got her answer! The next day in English class, we were talking about recognizing answers to prayers. She shared how she receives answers through a feeling of peace to know it is right. She hadn't said anything yet about receiving her answer about baptism, so we were very anxious. She sent a voice recording later announcing that she received her answer and is convinced that she needs to be baptized. We are now working with her towards the baptismal date!
We know it wasn't a coincidence that C. kept our number so we could guide her onto the right path. We feel so blessed for all the changes that have happened due to COVID-19. They helped us to find C. and bring her the truth she was so desperately searching. We know God has a plan and is in every detail.
Sister Winger & Sister Schmidt
Italy Milan Mission