This week was too good. I am so thankful to be a missionary and I am thankful for my mission and simply God who makes life so sweet and who is so good to us. This thanksgiving was very different this year and by far the most meaningful I have ever had. I don't know if you remember the story about our bishop, but practicamente they left everything behind down south and moved here about a year ago because they felt strongly prompted to. He got work and one weekend they all went to the temple in England and then as a result of being gone he lost his job and they have been struggling ever since. Well, he talked to us a little ago and told us how badly his wife wanted to cook us thanksgiving but they weren't able to financially so my sweet sorellina had the idea to cook them thanksgiving dinner ourselves and surprise them. So we did and got in their house just before they were getting home and set the table and left them dinner, it was so much fun. The love we felt for their family was so real and grew even more after that night, I won't ever forget this thanksgiving!
So unfortunately Satan is throwing some obstacles Brayons way and he's been struggling a bit with his testimony and wasn't able to have his interview but it's all okay because I know and feel that everything will work out in Gods time :) The most awesome thing happened this week though, Friday night bishop organized a youth activity and both Brayon and Teuta came AND Giulia and Georgia came (the daughters of Nicola and Albas family we have been teaching). We had more investigators than members there and it was the biggest turnout they have had in over 20 years! It was amazing, and the activity was all centered on the Christmas theme "be a light," and bishop did this activity that I will never forget. He turned off all the lights in the room and we stood in a circle and held candles and he lit his and talked about his gratitude for Christ and the light He brings in our lives, and what he is going to do to illuminate the life of someone this season and then he lit the candle of the person next to him. We did that until everyone's candles were lit and the room was glowing and the spirit was pounding in all of our hearts! It was so special to hear our investigators testimonies of Christ and see how excited they are to be that light of Christ this season.
So I never wrote about this but me and my collega were talking this week about the first time we had met Massimo on the train and figured out that strangely during that moment both of us had envisioned Massimo with his hair cut and in church clothes as a member of the church..we don't do that everyday haha, but it was neat we both had that same impression. Well, we had a lesson with him last night, he seemed a little off and tried to give us back the libro di mormon and told us he had prayed and received an answer that our church isn't true but then we came to understand that he still hadn't even picked up the Book of Mormon and read it or asked God to know if IT was true along with the restoration. After talking everything out for a little he looked at us and said, "You guys really are convinced of this and it's so beautiful. I can see the happiness it has brought you. I have some work to do." And he took back the Book of Mormon and said he would read and pray this time with a desire to truly know. I don't know why but for some reason I love teaching Massimo so much...just like the first time meeting him I can always see his potential, and the impact he is going to have on all the members!!!! And the joy he is going to find:))
We had a really sweet miracle this last week--weeks ago this cute Romanian mom called us over to her shop and asked us who we were and told us she wants to learn more. Well, we shared a small message with her and during the past weeks she has told all of her friends about us. Unfortunately, every time we have tried to pass by since then her store is soooo busy and there's not a second to catch her alone and finally this last week when we went she said "satan knows your message is true and doesn't want me to hear it and I don't care! You are teaching me today no matter what!" And guess what....we were able to teach all of the restoration without any distractions and the spirit was so powerful and her desire to learn about the gospel just grew even stronger. She is orthodox but not practicing of course, and loves loves loves our church and everything we believe in. She has been reading her Romanian Book of Mormon and is praying:)) I just have to say one reason I love serving here in Italy is in the past couple weeks we have taught Romanians, Albanians, Peruvians, Italians, Americans, Macedonians, and a family from the Philippines...I know that God is sending so many people from all around the world to areas where they will be touched and blessed by the good word!!!! È fantastico.
Okay, funny story that I just have to share.....I don't know if you remember my all time favorite English course students from Bari, Maria Teresa and Giuseppe?? Well they were like family to me, they were the first people I talked to on the first day of my mission and I adore them. Me and my trainer were able to teach them a couple times and do family history with them but unfortunately after looking up a world of information on the internet they weren't interested, we still kept that solid relationship though:) They moved to a different town in Puglia and sent me an email this week with some pictures of the new bed and breakfast they just opened and GUESS WHAT!!!! Hahahahahahaha, they named it after me and my trainer!!!!!!!! I can't wait to go stay there one day.......
I am so thankful for this gospel. Yesterday I was asked to speak on how living the gospel daily has changed my life and I could have talked the whole time about all the blessings, miracles, tender mercies and moments of pure joy the gospel has brought me every day. God is so good to us and when we strive to do the right things and follow Christ we will feel His love so strong in our lives...and even when we aren't following that path as good as we should be, HIS LOVE IS THE SAME. He is not waiting to love us until we have come back and changed or overcome our trials, He loves us TODAY and that love will never change. I love love love being a missionary.
Mamma mia the weeks just start blurring together and getting better and better. I don't understand how it is all ready Monday again......well, to start off we got calls and I will be doing a full beautiful 6 months here in the land of Passo corese with Sorella Erickson and couldn't be any happier :)
Brayon is doing WONDERFUL, he has his baptism interview on Saturday! We went over to his house this last week with bishop, planning just to teach Brayon but instead we were surprised to find the whole family home! Bishop was amazing in the lesson and brought such a powerful testimony and as we were talking about temples all of a sudden the dad stops bishop and says, THAT PLACE I WORK IN IS YOUR TEMPLE? Well, turns out he has been doing construction and working inside the temple di ROMA for a good amount of time now....GOD is preparing this family like you can't even believe! I can't imagine the spirit the father has felt being on the temple grounds everyday :) Brayon came to church yesterday and also to the young men's activity last night--the members adore him and he's getting so involved with everything, it is so cool to be able to witness someone's conversion as strong as his. He told us the day before he had prayed before his soccer game and he got pretty beat up but fortunately nothing was broken, and he said it was a blessing that God allowed him to come to church yesterday even after how exhausted he was! He said he feels amazing every time he prays and reads and knows this is the truth. BELLO
Okay, I just have to talk about one of the greatest moments from this week....So I had been praying that I would be able to see Elsa, I knew in the back of my head though there really wasn't much of a chance of seeing her because I'm an hour away from Rome and even if I had gotten transferred to a new area the chances of being at the train station or on the same train were VERY FEW. Well, Tuesday I get this phone call from the assistants asking if me and the other STL could go out and give a tour to all the new missionaries of Rome and take them finding on their first day in ITALIA. MAMMA mia, just the biggest tender mercy, they have never let any of the STL's come on the tour it has always just been the assistants. But because they had such a big group they wanted two other missionaries to help keep track of all the new missionaries so we were the lucky ones...thank you Heavenly Father. He knew how important it was for me to see her....Wednesday rolls around and I can't even eat because I'm so excited...we head to Rome and go in the villa, Elsa has no idea I'm there and we go wait at the door for them to come in....they open the door and Elsa was at the very front of the group and just screamed (you can only imagine her scream) and hugged me and picked me up and we couldn't let go of
each other!! It was such a happy moment of my life seeing her as a missionary. She was literally glowing...we go to the colosseum and we both just look at each other and we're like "we got called to the same mission...the odds of that happening...." and it was just so special. I won't ever forget that moment, being a missionary with Elsa, walking around Italy and preaching the gospel di Gesù cristo WITH her:))))))) I am so grateful for that day...there is just something so special being around new missionaries and their sweet spirits, and seeing their faith. The next morning we had to go to the train station so I was able to accompany Elsa to her train and give her one last big hug and wished her the happiest mission.....pure joy, she is on fire and so ready to save Italy!
I just want to talk a little bit about our lesson this last week with Ada....well, she is doing amazing and we go over one night with the cute marataro couple and Ada is calabrese and so is fratello marataro. So they just understand each other and immediately connected and he shared his 6 year conversion story from the Catholic Church to our church and it was INCREDIBLE and perfect for Ada and at the end fratello marataro just smiles his great smile and says, "ADA I WILL BAPTIZE YOU!" Haha, love those calabrese people....but it was just so cute because he kept telling her that when she gets baptized she has a family in the church now and an eternal family right in our ward, which was exactly what she needed to hear because she lives all alone and doesn't have any friends or anything and the Spirit was testifying so strongly about the fact that we truly are her brothers and sisters. We went over a couple days later to see how her doctors results went and we prayed with her and it was so special, she says she doesn't know what's blocking her from being baptized but God is truly humbling her and bringing her closer to Him...She has been reading the book of Mormon every day and has a baptism date for the end of this month.....pray for a Christmas miracle:))
One of my favorite things this week was we have been visiting a part member family the Manninos, and the father Baldo is not a member YET but he is so close and we have finally come to understand what's blocking him and what he needs. We had an incredible lesson with him this last week and he told us that he doesn't believe he is a child of God and wants to believe it but he has never felt any sort of confirmation. Well, we sang I am a child of God together, and surprisingly Baldo knew all of the words and was just belting them at the top of his lungs, it was the greatest. I just knew and felt so strongly that this man IS a child of God and has divine worth and a divine role as a father and grandfather for all his beautiful children and grandchildren and that God loves him perfectly even though Baldo may not recognize it. Well, he hasn't been to church in years, and Saturday night we prayed and prayed and invited the wife to pray with us and Sunday morning I look out from the piano and there's BALDO! Smiling and excitedly waving to me.....I couldn't be any happier!!!!!!!! God is blessing so many of our investigators! Sabrina also came to church yesterday, (she's a friend of a member, we've been teaching her & her two daughters) Well it was the primary program yesterday and SHE CAME! And stayed for all 3 hours and I could tell that she felt something different in relief society, SUCH A BEAUTIFUL SABBATH DAY!
We met with Massimo last night, I just get so excited thinking about him because he's absolutely AMAZING! He told us yesterday that nothing in his church makes sense to him anymore but everything in our church does. He said "I AM SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH, HELP ME FIND IT." And we began to tell him all of the blessings of this beautiful gospel and it made me SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL to be a member of this church! I know it's true! I'm so happy this week is thanksgiving, I wish I was more grateful during all of the seasons of the year but I am just especially overwhelmed with gratitude right now for my mission and this gospel and the love of our Savior, and that I get to see this gospel being taken to the far corners of the earth and being restored here in Italy:) I love my mission and I love my Savior and I know He lives! And loves us! Write down all your blessings this week and think of someone who needs those blessings...and share this message with them!
I would be lying if I didn't tell you that this has been one of the best weeks of my mission. And I don't even know why!!! I feel like every week I say it's been the best week but truly every day gets better and better and I am more in love with the mission as the minutes days weeks and months go by! Just right now as I'm reflecting back on the week and all the hundreds of tender mercies and miracles and seeing Gods hand guiding and protecting us and blessing our sweet investigators makes me want to cry. And tonight we have transfer calls and I think I'm just beginning to realize how fast time truly is going and how if I do leave Rome 5 my heart will be left with so many incredible people!! And knowing that Elsa is on a plane right now on her way to Italia to come preach the gospel....... my heart could burst :)))
My testimony of the plan of salvation has really been strengthened this week..I don't know if you remember Giuseppe from a couple of months ago, Sorella Frogley and I found him and taught him quite a bit, worked in his olive orchard, got him so involved with all the members and I truly loved him, he treated us like his granddaughters. Well this last week as we were running to our appointment our neighbor told us that he had passed away and his funeral was that day. I've never had someone that close to me pass away and at first I just felt so empty. I loved Giuseppe not because we've known each other for years or we're family or something like that but because I had the opportunity to teach him the gospel and feel Gods love for him! We then went to Adas and she said the doctors had found a cancerous tumor and she was feeling so down and we had the most beautiful lesson about the Holy Ghost as our COMFORTER and a way for us to feel HIS presence daily in our lives. I've never seen Ada emotional and she just sat there and listened to us and cried, I know that trials are a way of humbling us and helping us to become more like our Heavenly Father and COME closer to the Savior and feel His love stronger in our lives than we could without these trials. As well yesterday we were meeting a member who was coming to help us with a lesson and for some reason we accidentally texted him the address of Gianni who's been in the hospital for the past 3 weeks. Well we end up still meeting at his house and we saw the light was on so we knocked and he had just returned from the hospital..seeing him made my heart brake...he received some really sad, unexpected news at the hospital and will be doing treatments for the next few months and won't be able to see us anymore. As we were talking the Spirit prompted me to tell him this quote (he used to be a sailor) "We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails" and we practically just stood there and told him how much we loved him and he thanked us for these past weeks and the peace he has found through prayer and the Book of Mormon and we said goodbye:( that night I was feeling so sad and I prayed and could not even get a word out because I just felt the most overwhelming feeling of peace come over me that there are some people here we have had the opportunity to prepare for the spirit world and I just felt so much GRATITUDE for His perfect plan. I have a strong testimony that if we trust in that plan our lives will change.
Special experience:) One day Sorella Erickson and I were waiting at a bus stop for about an hour and this lady came up and looked so distraught and was frantically walking up and down the street and crying. We decided to go and talk to her and she just broke down and told us her boyfriend had just recently passed away and now she is feeling so sick and needs to get to the doctor and was afraid she was going to die. I'm not quite sure what was wrong with her but we could tell she was in so much pain. We asked her if we could say a prayer with her and she said "please!" and right there in the middle of the street we asked Heavenly Father to bless this sweet woman and help the bus to come so we could get her to the doctors. Minutes later the bus came and she made it safely there...I know that God places us in situations where He needs us to help His children so we better know where He needs us...that was the first day in months we had decided to not use the car and take the bus.
So Bryan is getting baptized...soooo beautiful! He's amazing and has been ready from the very start, 4 months ago, but needed that time to develop that relationship with God and find this answer for himself of the truth!! We had the most amazing lesson with him and his sister Teuta on forgiveness and as we were bearing testimony to Him and Christ's atonement I realized I needed to hear just as much as they did, or more, everything that was coming out of my mouth. I know with my heart that God knows us perfectly and our imperfections and weaknesses and all the times we have messed up and is SO PROUD of us and loves us as we strive to be better today than we were yesterday. We talked with Bryan about the baptism interview questions and he is just so ready. Ever since he heard about the sacrament and that we can renew those covenants every Sunday in church and be forgiven and become CLEAN AND FEEL JOY it has changed him. He came to stake conference yesterday and loved it.
Months ago before Sorella Erickson and I were companions we were on SCAMBIO together and met this amazing guy in Fiano Romano doing casa casa and never were able to go back and see him...well..the other night we were at the train station, same day we decided not to use the car, and we see him running to catch his train and we turned around and buy tickets and ran to get back on his train! We talked the whole ride about the gospel and it was great, and set up an appointment. He's incredible, he lives in this sweet little cottage and lived on an island by Morocco for a couple years, has an adorable little daughter, he is obsessed with the mountains and hiking and is just so earthy. But more beautiful he is PREPARED for this gospel. We've seen him twice now, He's reading the Book of Mormon and praying and set a date for baptism for December 16!!!!
I am in love with the mission! I love my Savior Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father, as I was studying this morning for our investigators I was just so overcome with His love for each of us, His children. He knows me perfectly and my struggles and imperfections and He's so sensitive to all of them and patient with me and helps me feel His love in so many ways every day. I LOVE that we can pray in any time of need and directly communicate with PADRE CELESTE. The blessings that have come into my life since living the gospel daily are infinite!!!! Pray to Heavenly Father tonight and listen to what He wants to tell you....He wants you to know He loves you and is so proud of all of us!!!!
Vi voglio un mondo di bene buona settimana cari Xoxo so che questa chiesa è verissimaaa!
It's been such a special week...
First I just want to talk about Bryan and Teuta--we have seen such huge progress with them and Bryan has that real desire to follow Christ, it's been such a miracle! We were able to teach just him and his Sorella Teuta this week and one lesson we had was just extra wonderful. They told us they wanted to read with us and they had just left off reading in 2 nephi 31 and we decided to continue reading with them, and it was exactly what they both needed to hear. They both told us after what they had learned. Teuta explained how being baptized is beautiful because you are being washed clean and can feel stronger the presence of Christ. And then Bryan comes in and says how wonderful it is that Christ has laid out everything we need to do to receive eternal life, we just read about it in the scriptures and follow his example. They talked about how peaceful they feel when we come over and we knelt in prayer at the end to ask if this is the truth, it was really special. Well then Bryan came to church yesterday and was all dressed up. During gospel principles our teacher asked him what we need to do to prepare for the second coming and he said purify ourselves, be baptized and take the sacrament every Sunday in church! He's really coming to understand it now and it's beautiful, and he told us after church that he's been praying and he BELIEVES this is the church of Christ and he said he wants to be baptized! 26 novembre IT IS :)
Next huge blessing this week was Alessandro, 21 years old. Well Sorella Frogley and I had met him our very first week together in Passo Corese and then he escaped to London to go to university! Well, we felt the other night we should call him and turns out he had just broken his leg playing soccer and had to come back to Italy. We met with him on Friday and had the most beautiful lesson! Turns out when he was taught two years ago he had read the entire Book of Mormon, prayed and was preparing to be baptized but he felt he hadn't received that sure confirmation yet. He said for those past years he continued to pray and felt he should go to the Pentecostal church so he has. But then he told us the day he met me and Sorella Frogley he felt something different and it scared him knowing that what he's been believing his whole life wasn't true. He felt peace getting away from us and going to London but guess who immediately found him in London? The missionaries:) and he was taught. We were able to talk about how maybe God allowed him to have this time to search for answers and grow and now He has lead him to the truth and Alessandro explained how much serenity he felt. He's been so humbled with his broken leg, he's READY!
Okay update on the beautiful family that the Garcia family referred us to...they came to our earthquake preparedness activity up in the mountains this last week and it was AWESOME and the members just reached out to them and loved them. Well then we decided it was time for us to go over to their home and teach them and when we did the cute mom told us she had been making dough all day for us to make pizza with her. So, we ate with their family and had an amazing experience and that night the father, Nicola called Fratello Garcia and told him on the phone that he felt a "spirit" and a sensation that he's never had before when we were together in their home. José García said he just kept saying how contento contento contento he is! And then the mom got a hold of the family and said I want those girls coming over more, my husband needs to develop a closer relationship with God:) Fratello Garcia shared this story in testimony meeting yesterday and just cried! It was so sweet to see how happy this work is making the members, and how much more we appreciate the gospel when we share it with the ones we love. We will see this family in the tempio di Roma one day :)
Funny story of the week, last night we were out finding and it started pouring buckets of rain and this sweet old man took us under his umbrella and into a cafe and we began to teach him about the family and I pulled out a picture of our fam and even after putting on his huge thick glasses he pointed to dad and asked me if it was me! He wasn't joking.....hahahaha! I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard, not sure if those tears were of joy
Had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with Leticia and Marcello this week...wow do I love them so much. It's funny because I've actually only been with them twice in person but I feel like they are my family-they took us to lunch and then we shared a message with them in the car cause it was all rainy outside. I felt the only way for me to show them how much I love them was for us to write our testimonies in a Book of Mormon for them. Before ending she told us she wants to read a verse with Marcello every day together. I am so happy.
Nicola, the special needs member in our ward was just made the assistant to our ward missionary leader and I have never found so much joy in doing missionary work than I have with him! He literally is a ball of light and checks up on us almost every hour of the day and makes sure we are talking with everyone about the gospel. He also makes sure we have a meal appointment every day ayyyyy.....well this last week our ward mission leader was praying and asked God to move forward the missionary work in the Ward and the answer he received was "I'm helping you with the Earthquakes." I KNOW it is true-some people are really beginning to think about their purpose in life and the beautiful infinite atonement of Christ and the pure joy he brings to us quotidianamente :) I LOVE IT! I love being a missionary here in Italy and learning from them because of their grande faith in Christ. I know this church is true!
Crystal's current area is Passo Corese, Italy.
Her address is:
Via Giacomo Matteotti, 187
02032 Passo Corese RI