For Enrico Morelli, the gospel completed a mosaic of beliefs that he had held all his life.
"I now have a completed vision of life," he said.Now an assistant to Pres. Frank Lombardo fo the Italy Milan Mission, Elder Morelli joined the Church with his mother and twin sister about three years ago. "We especially believed the teachings of the Book of Mormon about Christ visiting the ancient Americas," he said.
Elder Morelli is now teaching his fellow citizens about the restored Church. "I understand their feelings," he said. "I have had those same feelings myself. I have a strong testimony; I realize what it means to share it with other people and help them gain a testimony. Should someone ask me to serve another four or five years on a mission, I would say yes."
Elder Morelli is an example of the kind of people from northern Italy who have come into the Church in recent years. While the growth here isn't rapid, it is steady and new converts are making a substantial contribution to the Church, said Pres. Lombardo.
"We try to bring in families - that's the foundation - but we don't turn anyone away.
"For example, we have had five new families come into our ward in the past year," he reported. "The activity rate has remained high - all five of the men have received the Melchizedek Priesthood, and their families will soon be sealed in the temple."
The Italy Milan Mission includes northern Italy, parts of France and parts of Switzerland, an area with 28 million people. Most people are very traditional in their beliefs. However, the converts are those who are not afraid to face peer pressure, he said, and many have outstanding leadership qualities.
In seeking ivestigators, missionaries use displays, or street boards, that illustrate LDS beliefs, rely on referrals from members, hold English classes, and attend fellowshipping firesides at members' homes.
People of northern Italy know who the missionaries are," said Pres. Lombardo. "We are not a new mission."
The mission stays in the public eye. Pres. Lombardo recently presented the mayor of Monza, where the mission headquarters are located, with a copy of the Book of Mormon.
In addition, the elders went caroling through the downtown city streets at Christmas time. "That type of thing isn't done here much," he said. "Their singing was very favorably received."
He said Italian members, who understand English, recently enjoyed the showing of "The Book of Mormon: How Rare a Possession," which features the conversion to the Church of a young Italian clergyman.
"We have just had the video translated and will soon show it to the Italian-speaking members," said Pres. Lombardo.