Christmas was so wonderful! We had the opportunity to make 100 he is the gift CDs with a Christmas message and pass along cards and go take them to all of the less actives in our area this week and get some of the members involved with missionary work and come with us to deliver them! Such a special experience :) haha after doing about 10 of the CDs we checked one to make sure it worked and along with the he is the gift video it had "accidentally" downloaded the whole book or Mormon audio in Italian :) we had no idea how that happened...but it did and I'm sure someone needed it!
On Christmas we were able to go to the funeral of the cute mom of the Iacavelli family and it was such a special experience. Really helped me to focus on the importance of our Savior and the peace and comfort his atonement brings into our lives! I don't remember if I told you but this family lost a 19 yr old son in a car crash and then lost their other son, daughter in law who was pregnant, and grandson in a car crash when they were driving home from the temple. There are 3 other siblings who aren't members and one who is and she is so brava! Anyways, in other words they are such a special family and have been through so much together. All of the grandchildren talked at the beginning of the funeral and were very distraught and could barely get a word out, and the rest of the family in the congregation was sobbing it was so sad! Then fratello Santoro and fratello carnivale both got up and talked about the plan of salvation and brought the most beautiful spirit into the room. Sorella Dew and I did a musical number "our saviors love". A calmness came over the whole family and for the rest of the meeting no one was crying like they were before, you could feel the powerful message of Gods plan for us and the atonement bringing so much hope into these family's hearts. Simona, one of the granddaughters told her mom she wants to learn more about this plan so we are going over next Sunday, I am so excited! So grateful I was able to spend Christmas with them!
We had a HUGE surprise yesterday!!! elder oaks and his wife came and visited Rome for Christmas, and yesterday he felt very inspired to do a fireside with all of the missionaries here in this mission. so all of us missionaries in Bari took a trip to foggia and gathered in the tiny church and watched it broadcasted to all the missionaries here! Elder oaks had felt inspired just a few minutes before the meeting that both him and his wife would get up and speak together at the same time, and just go completely off of the spirit. It was incredible, they both said things and shared experiences that I believe every single missionary in the mission needed to hear. It was SO inspired and so specific to our needs in the mission. The spirit was very strong! One thing they talked about was how God is building the temple in Rome, and how God will not build a temple to stand empty! The reason this temple has all ready taken 8 years to build is because these sweet Italians just aren't quite ready, and we have a wonderful opportunity to help prepare them to make these wonderful covenants, it's all in His timing :) It was such a special experience and I'm so grateful I was able to be a part of it...watching it just confirmed my testimony that elder oaks is an apostle and was called by God and is very in tune with the spirit!
I hope everyone had a meryyyyyy Christmas! We had 4 pranzos 4 days in a row (in other words we ate 4 thanksgiving meals back to back) and my body still doesn't know what happened to it. I still know that God loves me because He sent me to a place where people LOVE food :) Thank you for all the love and support and prayers I love you all and hope you have a happy New Years!
Merry Christmas :)
I know that the greatest gift we can give back to our Savior is helping to bring one of His sheep back to Him! I wish I could put into words the feelings and emotions I have felt this last week and the mountains of miracles we saw helping Isaac prepare for baptism. It was such a beautiful thing to see Gods hand this last week-Satan had been doing all he could to discourage Isaac and us, and not let this baptism happen because he knows what an incredible strength Isaac is going to be for the church!! Not one more thing could have gone wrong the day of Isaacs baptism....but because of the incredible FAITH that Isaac has everything worked out, he was able to overcome the few doubts he had this last week and make this decision that he knows is right and will change his life forever :) All I can say is I have never felt a happiness or joy like I felt this last Saturday at his baptism, it was a beautiful meeting. Sorella Dew sang "I stand all amazed" and it was one of the strongest times I have ever felt the spirit and Gods love for His children!! I know that Isaac could feel it along with his brother who was sitting next to him on the front row. Isaac couldn't stop smiling and after the meeting, it was the happiest I have ever seen him! He was full of so much light!! We had 3 of our potential investigators there and he was talking to all of them and telling them what a "beautiful experience" this was and how he must persevere and stay strong even though it will be difficult. It was incredible, he is all ready sharing his testimony with others and his family!! The famiglia tonti picked him up for church the next day, (they have completely fellowshipped him,) and his confirmation was just as beautiful!!! He was literally glowing! so grateful to have been able to witness this whole experience :)
I am just so grateful for the knowledge that I have that we can be with our families FOREVER. Last night we went with with the Santoro family to a viewing at the hospital for Fratello Santoros aunt. It was so interesting to see how sad the others were in that room, them thinking that they will never see this lady again, and then to see fratello Santoro and the happiness and peace that he had because he knew he will see her again! We then went and visited the Iacavelli family in adelphia. Unfortunately the mom is not doing very well, she hasn't eaten in 6 days and is in a lot of pain. Last night we all sat around her bed with their family, and it was great because we had a wonderful opportunity to talk more about the plan God has for us! And that even though we don't understand the pain that their mom is going through and the sadness that the family is going through, CHRIST DOES. Because He suffered for us, He knows exactly how we feel, how to comfort and help us overcome ANYTHING. He is the gift and the whole reason we celebrate Christmas!! and if we accept this gift He will constantly be with us, every step of the way pushing us along and giving us the strength we need. He is our Savior and our brother, I know this because I have seen in my life the countless times He has picked me up and helped me get going again :) "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me, I tremble to know that for me He was crucified, that for me a sinner He suffered He bled and died."
I am so grateful to be spending two Christmases on the mission, I feel it's easier to not pay attention to all the distractions and chaos and to focus on the whole reason we celebrate. I wish I was better at focusing on the Savior throughout the whole year and every day, and I know as we try to change our focus from the things we want to instead the gifts we want to give our Savior this year we will feel closer to the Savior :)
Merry Christmas I love you all!!!! Can't wait to talk with youuuu :)
Well This week was WONDERFUL. Besides the fact that I got the worst news because we all have been JIPPED a whole week of our missions...haha that's a long ways away anyways this week was great :) lots of good things happening here in Bari, so many wonderful people we have found and are working with!
We had a KILLER ward Christmas Party this week. The chapel was pumping with so many humans and there were at least 30 contacts about 17 of our Corso students came and LOVED IT!!! It was a talent show so we had people singing Mariah Carey, Napolitano hits and people telling poems in Barese, Bari dialect!! Haha I'm telling you it was a huge hit, you know Italians they went ALL OUT. It was wonderful to have the contacts interact with real members and understand that normal people are part of the church not just some weird American kids!! The spirit of Christ here right now in Bari is really opening people's hearts and I am so excited that we can be here at this time and have such a wonderful relationship with the members :) At the party they gave all the contact Christmas gifts with joy to the world DVDs and book of Mormons that were wrapped as presents. Sorella Cedia brought her friend Carla. She won a DVD but because it was written in English in the outside she was convinced that it wasn't in Italian. Hahaha so we were like you know what how about we come to your house and week can watch it together!!!!. So we did and it was a wonderful experience, turns out she is very interested in the gospel YAY!
This week we were focusing more on member referrals and we have been using the He is the Gift Christmas video to help people understand that the greatest gift we could give to the Savior is to bring one of His children to Him :) So we prayerfully picked three members and one was Sorella Spagnoletti we went and visited her one night and she was so happy to see us! We showed her the He is the gift video and right as the video ended, before we even said anything she said "I have 2 people that live above me that I have been thinking about that you guys could work with!" Sorella dew and I just looked at each other like WHAT!?! It's amazing what happens when you involve the Lord into all aspects of missionary work!!!
Issac is GETTING BAPTIZED THIS SATURDAY. MIRACLES HAPPEN. SO amazing!!!! He is beyond excited and so is the ward everyone was like cheering when they found out!! After church they all hugged and kissed him haha they are wonderful. He is starting to realize that the reason he moved here from Peru 8 years ago was to make certain changes in his life and become a member of the church here in Italy. I wish I could explain the joy and happiness I have felt especially in the last 2 weeks being able to witness the change that has happened in him!!!! So wonderful :)
One night Sorella dew and I were walking home and this cute old man came out of his pastry shop and was like "sorelle! Come in I have something to give you" we went in and met his cute wife who makes the most amazing pastries all day long. He then started loading up a huge plate of pastries and gave them to us to take home....we asked him how we could repay him and he said nothing, "you have brought enough light into my shop tonight." It was so sweet....the people here really do have such good hearts and special spirits. I am so grateful for this time of year and for the spirit of Christ that we feel and see working in the people here every day :)
Thanks for all the love and support and prayers :) I love being a missionary. vi voglio bene
Wowww this week was crazy!!!!! Like Italian crazy. Haha I'm going to try and get my thoughts together and share some of the love with you that I have felt this week. we got our transfer calls and GUESS WHAT!!! I'm staying in Bari with sister dew for the next 8 weeks YAY:) I am so relieved and so excited. Sister Tapia is going to Rome and sister Thorpe is coming to us from Sicily, sister rackham got blown in to battipaglia!!! Cray. We had to do a scambi this last week for 4 days in foggia with Sorella kenendy, haha it's really crazy trying to manage both our work in areas 2 hours away from each other!!!!! But it's been sweet :)
We went to Sorella avantarios house for her bday and secretly cleaned the outside of her house and her garage door!! (She's in her 70s, has very very bad health and is a bit of a hoarder haha) anyways we bought cleaner and cleaned her garage door. Then we taped a bunch of pink paper hearts on the back of sister Rackhams jacket and as soon as sister avantario let us into her house we immediately plastered them all over the inside of her door! This all happened while sister dew was trying to distract her haha. We then gave her a big card and chocolate bar and sang tanti auguri to her...we asked her how her birthday had been and unfortunately no one had done anything for her, it broke my heart! We shared the Christmas video with her, "he is the gift." And bore testimony of our savior Jesus Christ and how he is the best gift we could ever receive, and how we have the wonderful opportunity to meditate and reflect on all the things that He has done for us. It was so simple but so special to her.
We worked a lot with isaac this week and saw so many miracles!!! Likes randomly catching a bus to his lesson after waiting for 30 seconds when people had been waiting for an hour!!!! The biggest miracle we saw was he feels ready for baptism!!!! Ahhhhh! We had a really spiritual lesson with him. We tried to apply the things that we learned from zone conference and apply the book or Mormon into everything we teach. We decided for this lesson, since Isaac has such a strong and powerful testimony of Jesus Christ we would share passages from the book of Mormon about Christ being baptized. We decided to try and be more comfortable with silence and asking inspired questions and it's amazing how the whole spirit and dynamic of the lesson changed. Heavenly Father has given us such an amazing tool, the Book of Mormon and we need to use it in everything :) We then asked him if he felt he was ready. He said yes!!!!!! I couldn't even try to hide the smile on my face, or the joy that I was feeling in that moment. He's having his bap interview TONIGHT!!!! :) speriamo bene
Right after the lesson Sorella rackham Sorella dew and I escaped to go catch our train to foggia....I could barely breathe I was so excited yet so shocked for Isaac. In preach my gospel it says you will never experience as much joy as when you are laboring in the work of the Lord and I can testify that this is true. He has been taught for almost 6 months now. I felt like the past 2 1/2 months I have had the opportunity to teach him we didn't do anything! And the thing is, we didn't. It was all the spirit and all the Lord. This is truly His work. And it's been so sweet to see how much he's changed. I am so grateful I have been able to be a part of this experience, helping him come closer to Christ.
On Friday in foggia we went to a family's house for pranzo from Sweden...the strombums:) it was such a wonderful experience I will never forget!! They have 2 of the cutest little girls, and one little boy named icchiro:) They moved to Italy because they wanted their children to be homeschooled so they could incorporate gospel teachings into their schooling as much as possible-and it is against the law in Sweden and your children will be taken away. This family was just so down to earth...the dad was the only member in his school growing up. His wife, when she was 12 yrs old, was best friends with David and ended up getting baptized along with her parents. They eventually fell in love and were married in the Stockholm temple! So rad! They are all vegan/vegetarian so for pranzo we finally ate something somewhat healthy hahahha. When the dad was younger he was called to the Austria mission, and after a few weeks at the MTC he became very sick and had to go home...he was never allowed to go back out. Because of that he realized that Heavenly Father had more important work for him to do somewhere else and he really has done so much for the church. They are such strong and faithful members. We decided to show them the new Christmas Mormon message. Their testimonies afterwards were so powerful!!!! They explained how they were only giving their children 3 gifts each this year because that was how many Jesus received...and they don't want their children to get distracted from the importance of Christmas!!! I am so grateful I had this opportunity to meet such an incredible family❤️
Spero che possiamo meditare sulle cose che Gesù a fatto per noi. :)
Love you all!
It was a wonderful week :) very busy and lots is going on, so grateful for all the many things I am learning and how much my testimony has been strengthened of the Savior after sharing this knowledge with others every day. I love being a missionary and I am so grateful to be here!!!
With it being thanksgiving this last week I just want to say how thankful I am! I hope you all find something to be grateful for. the other night we were coming home from the strazziati family's house from cassamassima, and the sun was setting and we were driving past a beautiful green orchard and could see the ocean and I was just so overwhelmed of gratitude! God is so good to us. Isaac always asks me how I see God in my life and I see him in everything he gives us but especially in nature and the beautiful earth He has given us :) I hope we're able to notice the beautiful things around us that we often forget to be grateful for.
Haha okay so about the subject title of this email, the other night me and Sorella dew were riding home on the bus and everyone was around us smoking and we could barely breathe/see. We were going through a dark tunnel and both felt we were going 100 mph and all of a sudden Sorella dew looks at me and says, "it's like we're on a real life Indiana jones ride." I don't know why but it was so funny.....hahaha maybe you had to be there.
A miracle from this week is our new cute investigator Chiara. She showed up to English course a couple weeks ago, listened to the spiritual thought and then came up to us after and asked us what the difference is between our church and others :) we had a lesson with her this last week and it was beautiful! She told us she grew up believing in Jesus and wants to know what the true church is. I'm excited to continue teaching her! God places so many wonderful people in our path.
This week I am just so grateful for the opportunity to go out and serve these people! My eyes have really been opened about the importance of just going around and doing good....and in turn becoming closer to our savior Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father! I have said this before but the people here have all ready helped me more than I will ever help them. One morning Sorella dew and I decided to go to the fish market and hand out oranges/ask people if we could help them with their groceries. It was such a wonderful opportunity to talk with so many people, and to see how many were shocked that we wanted to help them. I love being a missionary and the joy it brings me to see people coming closer to Christ!
Hope you all have a wonderful week :) love you!
Crystal's current area is Passo Corese, Italy.
Her address is:
Via Giacomo Matteotti, 187
02032 Passo Corese RI