by David R. Crockett
President Vincenzo Conforte and Sister Carolina Conforte on the mission field
One day the missionaries met Vincenzo and his young son in a city park, in Foggia. It wasn't until four months later that they were able to hold a meeting with the family. Vincenzo was very argumentative during that first meeting and the missionaries almost decided not to return. The Ensign magazine later reported:
Vincenzo Conforte felt satisfied with his life as it was, and he thought the doctrines the two young missionaries had explained to him when they first met him were "crazy." So he harassed them when they came to his home: he smoked throughout their visit because he knew they were opposed to smoking, and he challenged them with difficult questions, asking them, for instance, how they could preach a gospel of peace when their country had been so frequently involved in war.
But the spirit prompted the missionaries to try again and this time Vincenzo's wife, Carolina, participated. She remembered: "Immediately, I accepted all the doctrine. I even accepted immediately that Joseph Smith was a prophet." But she feared the social consequences of changing churches.
The missionaries challenged the Confortes to be baptized. Carolina struggled with the decision but made it a serious matter of prayer. The following morning, she received a warm, peaceful assurance that she should be baptized. But still she wondered. She decided to ask the Lord to tell her through the Book of Mormon whether she should be baptized. She closed her eyes, opened the book, and put her finger on Alma 7:14: "Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God." Her experience was repeated several times and she could not doubt the witness that she received.
On that same morning while driving to work, Vincenzo felt a strong spiritual feeling. He quickly pulled off the road, got out of the car, and made sure that everything was all right. He resumed driving and had to convince himself that he was not dreaming. Soon he again felt the same powerful, peaceful feelings which caused him to cry and pray. He knew he must be baptized. At work he told his friends about his decision and they asked him if he would be paying tithing. The missionaries had failed to mention anything about this commandment, and he felt that he had been tricked. He became angry and planned to throw them out of his home that evening. But he soon calmed down and read in the Book of Mormon. He realized that tithing would not be a big sacrifice. The missionaries did get chastised that evening but it was a joyous meeting.
The Confortes were baptized on Christmas Day, 1975. Their lives drastically changed. Brother Conforte said: "It seemed all the forces of evil were unleashed against us." His parents were very bitter. His mother told him that he had to choose between the Church or her. She avoided seeing him clear to her death. His father later softened his heart. Sister Conforte's parents joined the Church a year after Carolina and Vincenzo did.
Service in the Church became an important part of their lives. Three months after their baptism, Brother Conforte was called as a counselor in the branch presidency and within a year he was called to be the branch president. His testimony increased and he later served as a counselor to the mission president, and then as district president. Carolina served as branch Relief Society president and later as district Relief Society President.
In 1986 Vincenzo Conforte was called to be the president of the Italy Catania Mission. They didn't have much time to rest after that three-year term, because in 1990 they were called again to preside over a mission, this time the Italy Padova Mission. On his return he was called as a regional representative over the Milan Italy Region.
(Sources: Church News, October 17, 1992; Ensign, July 1990; "The Book Gave them Answers," Ensign, July 1993.)
| © 2000 - 2003, David R. Crockett. Used with permission. |
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