This week has been one of the most sacred and spiritual weeks in my mission!
Brayons baptism was such a beautiful moment. I would be lying if I didn't say that everything that could have gone wrong in the last week went wrong, and this for me was just a strong testimony of how important this ordinance with Heavenly Father is:) but that's not what I want to focus on because that would just take away from how beautiful it all really was. The change we have seen in Brayon and his family is incredible. Sorella Bishop and I are not sure exactly what has changed in their family but EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED, and I know a great part of this is because of all the many, many prayers and fasts, and how much missionary work Brayon is all ready doing. I will never forget the feelings felt as we taught him this week and saw how truly prepared he is and how badly he wants this for his family. One of my favorite lessons was when his cousin came and sat in on our lesson and Brayon taught him how to pray for the first time. "Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others. … A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others." This is exactly what we have been seeing with him, he's doing all he can to help his family feel the pure joy the atonement has brought him. We also taught the whole family together this last week and Brayon told them he would like to be serving a mission one day. The dad began to talk to bishop about how 10 years ago when they were living in Florence the missionaries always came by and they never let them in their home, even after the missionaries kept trying and trying and trying. They then moved to Passo Corese 6 years ago and the Sorelle knocked on their door and they let them in every now and then and fed them. Then, the missionaries lost contact with them until July of this year;) The father explained how he was definitely guided by the spirit letting us in to his home this summer. I can't wait to meet those missionaries one day and HUG THEM! At the end of the lesson the father prayed for one of the first times, and cried. He's a completely different person.
Brayon's baptism was the most beautiful baptismal service I have ever been to. Everything went absolutely perfect, and the Spirit was so strong which was especially beautiful because we saw it touching the whole family's hearts. When it was time for bishop to baptize Brayon, Vasilika grabbed my arm and we went over to the font together. As soon as Brayon walked down into the water Vasilika just started bawling and put her hand on her chest. He was baptized and as soon as it was over she looked at me and said "as soon as I saw him dressed in white I felt something in my heart." Then she hugged me and wouldn't let go for a long while:) I can't explain the amount of love I felt for their family this night, and for the Savior and the peace and redeeming love He brings people. I've seen it change people for the last 18 months and I know it's real!
Bishop then got up and told the story about how one day he was at the post office and had the strongest desire to share the gospel with this woman but didn't know how to go about it or want to seem creepy because they were both alone. He prayed about it and the next Sunday she and her son (Brayon) walked into church:) I know that Heavenly Father has been preparing this family so much. They were on the front row just in tears as bishop told this story. Brayon stood up and bore a beautiful testimony on his Savior and how this gospel has changed him. Yesterday he received the Holy Ghost and his brother was on the front row just mesmerized by everything. Brayon was GLOWING and smiling from ear to ear...he later whispered to us that he wants his family to feel how he feels now and he is excited to do the lessons with us and his brother Bred! I have never seen Brayon happier, literally his countenance has changed and you can see Christ through him!
Well the past 18 months have been the most beautiful, refining and fast months of my entire life. I have learned so much. I have learned how to be patient driving in Rome while there are a million Vespas barely scraping our car:) I have learned how to live off of pasta and squeeze 6 meal appointments into one day. I have learned how to laugh when absolutely everything goes wrong. I have learned that when Italians are yelling and using every hand gesture possible it's a sign of their love! I have learned how to be honest with Italian men and tell them we are nuns so they will leave us alone. I have learned how important the family is to God. I have learned that if we listen to the worlds advice we will never find true happiness. Overall I have learned and come to KNOW that we have a Father in Heaven who knows us and see us with perfect eyes and loves us. I have come to know why it's so important to use Christs atonement in every moment of the day. I never understood the importance of daily repentance and now I have seen the pure JOY it has brought becoming more like the Savior. I have felt so much joy as well knowing that no matter how far away I am He is by my side and patiently waiting for me to pick myself up and come back. I've seen this in me and the lives of every person I have been working with here in Italia. Wow, I have loved being able to tell the people of Italy about our Savior Jesus Christ:) God has blessed me with so many people to love and share this message with. I know this church is true. I know the authority has been restored to the earth and our church is ministered by the same authority that Jesus Christ had. I know this, I experience the peace and joy that comes from it everyday through my baptismal covenants, patriarchal blessing, priesthood blessings and taking the sacrament every week so I can become more like the daughter He needs. I know the Book of Mormon is the truest book on the earth and no matter how many opinions or sources we can look to in all the world, there is one that will meet all of our needs and give us answers to every question or trial we face in this life. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and we have a living prophet today who guides us! I love this gospel with all my cuore!
Ci vediamo la prossima settimana❤
Well this has been a FANTASTICA week:) Despite the earthquakes and all we have been kept safe and saw Gods hand in every moment. One thing I have really come to understand this week is how He is in the details of every single thing. This week He has guided us, made sure we were in the right place at the right time, guided our words, protected us from danger and helped so many come to feel His love!
Well, I just have to start talking about my all time favorite family! This Friday Brayon will walk into the waters of baptism, oh how we all have been waiting for this day soooooo patiently! The exchange with the Albanian Sorella, Sorella Muçe, was a very special moment for me this week. We went (and since she was a guest they had this whole feast prepared for her). At first the mother, Vasilika, was the only one home so we started teaching just her the restoration (in Albanian) and the Spirit was so strong and I got to experience the power of the gift of tongues again. Even though I couldn't understand all that was going on I felt Vasilikas heart being touched by the spirit. Then, the whole family came piling in the door from soccer practice and they just adored Sorella Muçe and it was so neat for them to see a member from their own country and to hear her conversion story, especially since her parents aren't members. I will never forget this part....the dad said "I have opened up the Book of Mormon only a few times but I have felt and seen the good that it brings and the unity and spirit it has brought my family, and for that I am leaving the option up to my children to choose to do part of this church!" It was soooo sweet hearing them talk about the blessings they have seen since taking the discussions, as soon as they free up their Sundays for church and make some small changes in their lifestyle their lives will be CHANGED FOR GOOD:) Well a couple days ago before Brayons baptism interview we taught him about tithing and at the end he asked us if he could pay tithing for his parents so they could receive blessings as well...I was so touched. This gospel has changed him! We pray the rest of the family will be ready by next month:) They are so excited to come to Brayons baptism.
Another very special experience from this last week...we have been visiting a sister in a ward every week for the past months now and she is just so special. She has been through it all and has a testimony of fire, every time we go there we always walk out in tears because of her stories and inspiring experiences, and her testimony of Christ. Shortly after being married in the temple her husband looked many things up on the internet and decided he didn't want to be a part of the church anymore. She knew that the gospel unites families and doesn't destroy them so she kept faithfully going to church every week and her two little kids go with her as well....well last week we talked with her about some new goals she would like to achieve this year and one of those was to go to the Switzerland temple in the Fall, with the permission of her marito:) and guess what....she talked with him and he ended up being okay with her going to the temple. So, we went back with bishop this last week and she will be going to the temple for this first time in 9 years!!!! Sorella Bishop and I couldn't contain our excitement....the best part is that we ate lunch over there for my first time (my whole time here) and it was the first time the husband met us and talked to us. He even let us do a spiritual thought and it was beautiful...we talked about the atonement and I think his children's testimonies about Christ will be the key to his coming back.
One afternoon this week, some of our plans fell through and we both had the feeling to pass by our sweet Luisa (who unfortunately got a job in Rome and so we haven't seen her in a couple months) and when we went by her son and his wife were there!! And they were surprisingly so excited to see us:) When we sat down with them they began to ask us all about the church and the experiences we have had in our mission and we ended up teaching them the restoration and giving them a Book of Mormon. Cute Luisa is moving back to Peru in march with her daughter (who's a member of the church) and her husband who is the bishop! They live right next to the temple, so I believe this family is being very prepared:) I am just so grateful to learn how the Spirit talks to us and to have seen where he lead us that night.
I love my mission with all my heart. This week I have been thinking a lot about the picture of Christ on the beach and how there's only one set of footprints in the sand, we weren't walking with Him but instead He was carrying us. And it made me think about how hard it would be to think I could never be forgiven for all the wrongs I have done, and the great burdens I would have to carry by myself, and how alone and discouraged I would feel not understanding that there's the possibility of changing and become like Heavenly Father. The knowledge of Christ who perfectly LOVES US, gave us His life and carries us in this life, helps us know we can have a more joyful life and change, repent, and become wiser so we can figure out the path we need to take to get back to Him! I know this gospel is true--please take time to find out if it's true for yourself as well. I know it will change your life and there are blessings waiting that you couldn't imagine:) vi voglio tanto bene
Oh my goodness it has been the most beautiful week I am so incredibly grateful to be a missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:) We had Zone conference and my interview with president which just brought me overwhelming peace and we were able to talk with so many new people about the gospel! I love it.
So this week everything changed with Brayon and his family, God has been truly listening to all the prayers!!!! We went over Monday night to do a family night and the WHOLE entire family was there and the lesson went so well and the spirit was powerful and guess what....they all chose dates for baptism!!!! Brayon has chosen to be baptized this coming Friday, the 28th and the rest of the family wants more time to read the Book of Mormon and ponder on these things and chose to be baptized at the end of February. We are praying and doing all we can to get Brayon there, we all have faith that he will make it. Our bishop interviewed him after church yesterday and he told us some beautiful things that Brayon said.....he said that Brayon couldn't even get a word out talking about the Savior because his feelings are so profound for Him and all that He has done for him....and Brayon explained how months ago the only thing that mattered to him was sports and now everything has changed and the Savior has allowed him to realize that there is more to his and his family's lives!!!!! Our sweet Bishop decided to plan with us a play of the restoration for the beginning of February and had the great idea of letting Brayon act out the part of Joseph smith...I can't think of a more spiritual way for him and his family to gain a testimony of the restoration:) We need all the prayers we can get for this family. We went to Rome today with Vasilika, the mother, and she is just such a good person. On Thursday I will be doing an exchange with an Albanian sister so we will teach them the lesson in Albanian (well, Sorella muçe will:)) Never been happier to have found an eternal FAMIGLIA!
Last week we went and taught cute new investigator Maria Teresa the restoration and it was nothing more than beautiful. We did something with her that I haven't done very often with investigators and we had her read the first vision and Joseph's story in his own words. (Instead of us reciting the first vision) and as soon as the words "I saw two personages" rolled off her tongue chills just ran all down my body and my heart was pounding. It was absolutely beautiful to hear her read his story and at the end she told us how beautiful and true she thought it was. She "cherishes" the Book of Mormon and is excited to continue reading and learning more about this truth! She accepts everything and realizes that there is something missing in her life. Her father, along with MANY of our investigators right now, recently passed away. I can't wait to tell her about the restored truth of the plan of happiness:)
Well we went over with our Bishop to Renatas last week and had a beautiful lesson on the plan of salvation. Bishop was just so incredibly sweet with her and as I watched him listening to her and comforting her as she mourned over the death of her husband I was just overcome with love for how Christlike he truly is. At the end Bishop went over to the piano and played "Where Can I Turn for Peace" while we all sang together. It was beautiful. When Renata walked into church yesterday Bishop about jumped off his seat. She is preparing for baptism:)
Funny story........cute English course student Laura came last week and we had felt to do the spiritual thought on the Book of Mormon. She comes up to us afterwards and says, "GIRLS I found one of your books on my shelf this last week. I have no idea how or when that got there." What are the odds of that, we invited her to start it and she accepted:) Well then yesterday we invited her to come to church with us, she texts us back and said that it was saint Antonio day and on this day everyone takes their pets to the priest to be blessed:) So, she was taking her fat cat to the priest to be blessed:) Some things about this country I will just miss way too much.
One of the best moments as well this week was finally being let up to the top floors to clean the Marataros house...for the last 6 months they have let us come over every week to work in their orchard and do some handy work and last week was the first time they let us upstairs into the "rooms..." let's just say we filled a whole vans worth of garbage bags and cleaned up lots of things...such as dead animals and other things I don't want to mention here. Anyways this is one of my favorite things to do on the mission because immediately (literally) so much light entered the house but also SPIRITUALLY the spirit was much more fully able to abide in their home...and the picture of Jesus on the wall was the perfect finishing touch:)
I love being a missionary:) I love seeing light come into lives of these sweet people. Through Jesus Christ always:) I know He loves everyone of us unconditionally, His love is there no matter what, no matter the person we were yesterday or today. We don't earn that love it's just simply there for us. Have a beautiful week:)
Vi voglio bene
Wow, it's been such a beautiful week, unfortunately lack of time today just won't be able to do it justice:) But if anything I hope you all know and take from this email just how much I love my mission and am in love with the Italian people. And seeing the atonement work in their lives.
This week has dropped degrees like crazy, everyone says it's the coldest winter they've seen and there's snow in the mountains we can see from our house it's beautifullll!!! Anyways, to bed this past week we have worn what I would wear on a nice ski day...haha cioè scarf, hat, few pairs of leggings and a couple sweaters and sweatshirt and wrap ourselves like a mummy with every blanket we could find in the house:) it's been quite chill.
This week we saw more miracles than I have space for in this email....we were able to see ALL of our investigators this week, more than once, almost all of them with members, and almost all of our investigators are still continuing to progress, read the Book of Mormon, come to church and sincerely seek for the answer to know if this church is true!!! It's absolutely incredible:))
One of my favorites was with Renata and her whole family yesterday. We ate lunch with them, and then started to teach them about the restoration but the dad was just pounding us with all these questions and concerns he had with things he had read on the internet and I was just praying that he would be able to calm down a bit so Renata and her daughter could feel the spirit....he immediately got up and left, realizing he had forgotten to do something for work and we ended up talking about the plan of salvation. Renata's husband actually passed away with the same cancer that my companions dad passed away with and it turned out to be such a beautiful lesson. I know President was inspired and God sent her here to help and connect with some of our investigators in a way that I just couldn't. Renata and Patrizia's hearts were so softened and we will be going over with our Bishop again this week:) Renata is still reading the Book of Mormon and her testimony is growing like fire.
One night we met with Alessandro, I'm not sure if I've really talked about him much but we met him a couple weeks ago at the park after giving him a Book of Mormon with our testimonies in it. The next time we saw him he had read quite a bit and prayed to know if it was true..we had an incredibly spiritual lesson with him with our member Alessandra and asked him (using the scripture "what man ought ye to be? Even as I am") and we asked him what man he wanted to be, and he paused for a second and thought about it and told us he wants to be as Jesus Christ:) and the spirit was so incredibly strong. We just kept reading from the Book of Mormon and there was just so much power from what we were reading, I testify that book is TRUE! It is the key to our religion. At the end he said such a beautiful, sincere prayer, asking Heavenly Father to tell him, if this is true and thanked Him that He had spoken through us that night. It was so neat.
I am so so so full of gratitude for the members here and all the help they are giving with our work. This last week, sweet Sorella Marataro came up to us and said "Sorelle are you teaching a man named Massimo?" We told her yes....and then she got all red eyed and told us when she was putting names on the temple list she felt so prompted to put down the name Massimo...and she had no idea why. But I know he definitely had need of those prayers this last week.....I was so touched with how in tune with the spirit she was.
We did service for a part member family this week--Francesca the wife is a member and her husband Flavio instead is not...they have the cutest little girl:) Well, we went and moved them all out of their basement which I think was just a huge sign of our love for Flavio and I could see how grateful he was. Service is so cool. Well, then afterwards we taught a lesson and it was just so bold but full of amore:) We read the family proclamation with them and then asked them where they wanted to see their family in a year. We talked about the construction of the Rome temple and testified of eternal families and asked Flavio if that was something he desired and was going to work for this year:) he said YES! We gave them a picture of the temple to hang in their new remodeled house and had them make goals for this new year of how they're going to accomplish this!!!!
We found two new investigators this week, Tiziana and Maria Cristina, they are both amazing and such special people:) Tiziana is about 45 with 2 adorable daughters and her father just passed away so Sorella Bishop was really able to comfort her and we taught her the plan of salvation in her little shoe shop and the spirit was....so powerful..I love telling people they can see their family again because I KNOW that it is true and it brings us so much comfort:) Maria Cristina we taught in her tiny little store/cottage in Farfa and took a Book of Mormon and when we taught her again she just cried because she told us she knows this is something new for her and something she needs.
By the way Brayon is doing AWESOME, he went to a stake dance this last week in Rome haha and everyone was asking him when he is getting baptized:) He's ready he just is taking time to continue to strengthen his testimony because he realizes the commitment of this decision and how it is going to affect his life forever. I couldn't be happier for that reason in waiting for his baptism:) We went to Adas this week and took the stake patriarch with us and he talked about the power of the priesthood and how another way for us to communicate with God and receive counsel from Him is through a priesthood blessing. It was so powerful and his wife talked about all the blessings and comfort she has seen in her life having these blessings:) She asked for a blessing and we're going over this week with bishop !!!!
I love my mission! I love this gospel and I know this church has been restored once again to the earth:) I know that Christ not only suffered for me but for the WORLD:) I love wearing His name. I am not going to spend time being sad that this is coming to an end but enjoy these moments I have meeting new people and loving and sharing what I know about my Savior with them:) Life is beautiful!
CIAO:) a tutti.
First, I got all my Christmas letters this week I want to thank you all, you know who you are:) thanks to the Ward and friends and fam MY HEART IS FULL.
Okay, it's been an awesome week. Got transfer calls and I'm finishing strong here in Passo Corese and couldn't be more grateful that I've been able to see so many amazing things unfold here the last good 7 months! God is so good to us:) New collega is Sorella Bishop she's sooooo great and the moment we met we just loved each other so much....we had our first lesson yesterday together, spontaneous on the spot and didn't have time to prepare before and I don't know if I have ever felt more unity in a lesson like we did there! It was amazing,...afterwards we just looked at each other and were like what just happened....just feel like God really blessed us to start off like this so we can hit the ground running and do lots of good work at the start of this new year!!!!! Forza forza forza
Allora we had a pretty beautiful experience with Brayon and the whole family this last week. We went over there with a member and the anziani were just going to wait and study in the car while we were there but the mom, Vasilika wouldn't allow it so she made them come in and it turned into a big testimony meeting and the spirit was amazing. Well, especially powerful when Teuta and Brayon bore their testimonies as well. Brayon talked about how he knows without a doubt that God is by his side in every moment no matter what and will help him make this decision. Tonight we will be setting a final baptism date with this family and it's going to be BEAUTIFUL
One night this last week we went by Ada's and sang the hymn 'oh how lovely was the morning' to her. I'll forever be grateful to music and the power that it can bring into a setting, it touches people's hearts in a way that's different than anything :) She was reading along with the words and afterwards we all bore our testimonies of Joseph Smith and she got emotional. SHES GETTING THERE! In that moment though I again received another confirmation that Christ's church exists here on the earth today!!!
I'm grateful to have seen so much happen here in the last months and to see how God is truly so good to His children. HE LOVES US. As I was talking to Sorella Bishop about our work and explaining all the situations of the people we're working with and their stories and needs and everything I was completely overwhelmed. God has filled my heart here in Passo and helped me to love a lot of people. Renata has read 50 pages in the Book of Mormon. Alessandro asked us what he needs to do to become a missionary like us. Brayon & Teuta are reading the ldm everyday together. Ada made us a promise she will read the Book of Mormon every day with a question in mind and will read until she finds the answer, EVERY DAY. Massimo is continuing to develop this relationship with His Padre Celeste and is learning how to find strength through the atonement. Alba & family are praying for the first time together and we're starting personal progress with the daughters. Sabrina and kiddies told Sorella Malara how it makes their week to do spiritual thoughts with us. This work is real and is changing people hearts everyday I promise you because I see it EVERY SINGLE DAY and it's been like this ALWAYS. His children in need are around us, we need to pray to have the eyes to see them and then we need to act and help them.
Favorite phrase of the week. Today we went to the Vatican and this sweet woman from Nigeria looked at us and then got this huge smile on her face and yelled "are you missionarieS!? I LOVE YOU GUYS. God bless you. And, WIN FOR JESUS!"
Siccome it's the beginning of the year I feel it's fitting to invite you all to choose a couple ways you are going to come closer to Christ this year & also how you're going to help others come to feel His love :) This past year has been the greatest in my life. Christ is my hero!!!! I am grateful for the trials and challenges faced this last year that have helped me, in the smallest sense, come to know my Savior better and what He went through. I'm grateful for the JOY I have felt seeing people change their lives, which has helped me understand how happy Heavenly Father is when a child comes back:) I love love love love love this gospel with my heart and I know it's true. ITS TRUE. Please seek this year to understand your relationship with your Savior better.
Crystal's current area is Passo Corese, Italy.
Her address is:
Via Giacomo Matteotti, 187
02032 Passo Corese RI