Ahh such a special week.....I will never forget my Christmases in Italy.
Well do you remember Renata and Patrizia? The mom and daughter that we met when we went caroling in the park last week. We have met with them twice and taught them and they have been so prepared for the gospel. Renata has 70 years (yet acts as if she is 40) and her daughter Patrizia is married with a little boy. Renata's husband just recently passed away and Patrizia pulled us aside after one lesson and said "you found my mother in the most perfect moment of need. She needs this message." :) When we came back the second time Renata had read all the introduction, testimonies and most of 1st Nephi and highlighted everything she liked or had questions about in red...Almost every verse was red. The end of our last lesson she prayed for the first time and started crying and thanked Heavenly Father for the strange sensation she feels reading the Book of Mormon and the joy it has brought her...she then stood up, looked us in the eyes and said "I'm so curious about this and I am looking for truth." It was a beautiful thing telling her she will see her husband and can live with him forever :) She then noticed her cat was stuck in the top of this tree so we got a ladder and went and saved her cat while she chased these huge dogs away with a rake, hahaha it was quite the scene. Then one day this week we went caroling with the Relief Society at the old folks home--it was so special and RENATA CAME! She immediately bonded with everyone and it was neat for her to see how service oriented our church is. She loves music, and took all the hymns home with her and has been practicing them on the piano, (the very first gift her husband gave her:)
This week was beautiful. Full of writing our testimonies in many Books of Mormon and gifting them at the park, caroling with Bishop and his family, doing the nativity with our investigator Sabrina and her kids, delivering cookies and the sii una luce video to all the neighbors, making American breakfast for new convert Franca on Christmas Eve (she was all alone,) and gifting the Living Christ and Joy to the World movie to all our investigators:) It was special, especially for investigator Massimo..he was all alone on Christmas. Gods timing was perfect in us meeting Massimo.
One of my favorite things during Christmas in Italy is that people don't focus as much on the tree as they do on the nativity. All down the streets in our little town people have set up massive nativities, that cover their whole front yard. I am so grateful for the Italian people's faith in Christ:) Heavenly Father could not have given a symbol for Jesus Christ more perfect than what He used--light. He is the light of the world and has brought so many moments of light into my life:)
When Brayon and his whole entire family walked into church yesterday I was playing the piano for the opening hymn and completely lost my spot and caused a little scene. My heart felt like it was going to explode seeing the whole family sit in church together. At the end of the meeting the dad, Miriam walked up to bishop and said "bishop one day we will arrive, just have patience but we will all be in this church one day." I am so happy.
At the old folks home this week this sweet little lady looked at me, grabbed my hands, and then said "forza, coraggio, la vita è formaggio." (Strength, courage, life is cheese) hahaha, she then went on to explain how cheese has holes and sometimes we fall down into a hole but we can always get back out with strength and courage. I thought that was so cute.
I love my mission, it has blessed me in ways that I never expected. I want you all to know that what I'm doing here in Italy and what I have grown up believing my whole life is true. I know this is the truth with my heart. Bringing this truth to the people here in Rome Italy is a great thing to witness, I know this gospel changes people in a way that can't be described until you let it change you yourself. What I cherish most is how my relationship with my Savior has been strengthened. Now that I have a better grip and understanding of what He did for me I know the things I want to do for Him. I am so overwhelmed for what He has done for every single one of us & I am forever grateful that I got to gift that message to Italians this Christmas. I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ.
9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.
10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.
13 Yea, and that same God did establish his church among them; yea, and that same God hath called me by a holy calling, to preach the word unto this people, and hath given me much success, in the which my joy is full.
I can't wait to see these people dressed in white one day enter the Rome temple, oh how this work makes my joy so full :)
It's been a really beautiful and busy, busy week and I'm grateful....so grateful to be here,,,during this season:)
I don't have a lot to say about investigators this week because we spent most of our time doing a bunch of other cose importante, but I feel like you guys got a feel of the week from all the pictures, haha, so I'm going to keep this one short. At least I'll try....First off I got to do 3 exchanges this week with some of the coolest sisters.....Sorella Bicchieri from Italy, Sorella Tacchi from England, Sorella Walsh from Cali. And, looking back I really am so overwhelmed with gratitude and pure LOVE for the opportunity to meet so many faithful people from all around the world and hear their stories and be so so so strengthened by their testimonies...some people sacrifice so much more than I understand to come out here and tell people about Gesù cristo for 18 months of their life and it's so beautiful. :) So inspiring. Just felt the spirit so much this week being around them.
Friday we had specialized training and then got to go caroling at this huge cathedral by the Spanish steps....it was such a beautiful experience! We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into, turns out it was a competition and we took 3rd place out of 5, hahaha! But it really was so neat, the spirit was so strong....music just brings such a powerful spirit:) something I will never forget.
Thursday we had a family night with the Garcia family and then Alba and Nicolas family that we're teaching, it was awesome. We made pizza together and then we taught them the restoration and it was so cool because they practically spoon fed us the lesson....Alba was like, WHY are there so many churches and they all say that they are true so how can I know which one is? It was really neat, and we really focused on how the gospel and modern prophets bless families and they just loved the family proclamation:) I love this season because Italians sure love being with their families and there just seems to be a lot more love in the home:) Praying that this sweet family can put their doubts behind them and continue to show their faith in Christ:)
I hope everyone has a beautiful merry Christmas :) We got to do service 3 mornings in a row this week, cutting this mans lawn by hand (I have a new appreciation for our lawn mower), cleaning out a wine cellar and working in the marataros olive orchard....I love this time of year especially in the mission because people are a bit more willing to let their hearts be changed by Christ...it's been quite the rainy, dark, cold week up here in Passo Corese but I've truly been able to see how our message is LIGHTING the world:)) One night we went with all the Ward members out caroling in the park....again...the spirit that music brings! Cute Nicola (special needs ward missionary) was running around as we were singing and handing out all of our pass along cards...he would stop them and then motion to us if they had interest and we would run out from the choir and share a message with them. We found a really sweet mother and daughter, Renata and Patrizia and again saw their eyes LIGHT up when we started talking about Christ:) I know He lives, I know He loves us. This is the reason I came to Italy...to tell these sweet children of God that they can come to know who their Savior is better..and in doing so we find PEACE:) Take a moment this Christmas to remember what He has done for you...and follow His example by doing something for someone else! BUON NATALE A TUTTI
This week has been absolutely incredible!!!
I'll just have to start by focusing on one of the biggest miracles and a really powerful moment of my mission this last week:) Well I don't know if you remember Danilo, we started teaching him maybe 2 months ago and he is absolutely amazing, and then he looked up all sorts of things on the internet and stopped meeting with us. Well a couple weeks ago Sorella Erickson and I remembered it was his birthday so we decided to go over and take him a gift and talk with him. We did and it went really well and he just talked about how his family circumstances didn't allow him to meet with us at the moment but he will call us when things calm down. Well, a few weeks go by and cute RM Alessandra calls us and said "you need to go by Danilo right now" she had felt a very strong prompting to call us. So we did and we shared with him the sii una luce video and were just talking after and then he FINALMENTE opened up and we got down to what his biggest needs are spiritually. Long story short, his father who is extremely catholic told Danilo if he ever became Mormon he would never talk to him again...well we had a really powerful lesson and Danilo told us that he 'believes' our church is true and he doesn't care what his earthly father thinks of Him but what His Heavenly Father thinks of him. I'll never forget the feeling I felt when he said that. He told us he doesn't know if he's ready to start meeting with us again and we invited him to kneel down every night for a week straight specifically to ask Heavenly Father if this is the right thing to do. Well, then Friday Alessandra, the RM in our ward invited him over to her house to work in the yard and then watch "Meet the Mormons" together...Alessandra told us he loved it and didn't flinch the entire movie, his eyes were glued! They ended up talking all day long and he by the end of the night he chose a date for baptism. MARCH 2nd!!!!!!!!!! The next day we arranged for him to go with some ysas to a baptism of a girl in another ward, and then that night they went caroling in downtown Rome!!!!! Well we're not even to the best part yet, Sunday morning he comes to church like an hour and a half early and we just happened to be their for choir practice. He gets out of the car and has a huge smile on his face and said "SORELLE! I have great news for you. I'm getting baptized!!!!" The change that has happened in him in just these few days is unreal. He met with our ward mission leader and talked for about an hour before sacrament meeting. Well yesterday was fast and testimony meeting and we're sitting there and Danilo leans over to me and asks if he is allowed to bear his testimony...I said OF COURSE! And asked him if he wanted to and he just looked at me and laughed and said no not today....and about 30 seconds later he literally jumps up, and runs up to the pulpit and bore one of the most sincere and beautiful testimonies I have ever heard!!! He talked about how grateful he was that Heavenly Father loved him enough to help him find the truth. He talked about the joy he feels reading the Bible (he could quote it page for page) but even better the happiness and peace he has found reading the Book of Mormon every day. He said he knows God will bless him and his relationship with his dad because he is doing the right thing. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room it was so powerful!!! He stayed for all 3 hours and participated so much...gets along so well with all the ysas...the members all ready ADORE him. Well last night when he came to the Christmas devotional he told us that after church he took a nap and had a dream he was at his baptism with Claudia (the other ysa who just got baptized) and that he's never felt happier. As we're watching the devotional (by the way Audrey I LOVED seeing your beautiful face on the screen!) he leaned over and said he feels like he has finally found what he's been searching for. What a beautiful Christmas miracle!! His mom is very happy and supportive of him, she invited us over this week to meet her and share a message with her. The mission is unreal and just brings an indescribable JOY!
Well we did a gesso on Saturday night at the park and it was one of the best I have had on my mission....God sent every person in need to that exact spot in the exact hour we were there. First I was able to talk to this boy Enrico and he told me he drives past the temple every day and can't wait to go inside one day to check it out. Normally people don't say that to us....well all of a sudden he's like WAIT. you guys are the ones who meet in the hotel every Sunday morning??! I used to work there!!! I loved talking to all your members every domenica mattina....we exchanged numbers and he is excited to learn what we actually believe in. After he walks away this sweet lady comes up to me, and just hugged me and wouldn't let go for maybe a minute...then she pulls away and looks me in the eyes and says I was baptized in Naples many years ago. I love the church but am not in a place in my life right now where I can come back. Then she just starts walking away so I run, literally run after her haha and she wouldn't give me her number but she took ours and I got her name...and our ward archivista is looking io every single Rosa who was ever baptized in Napoli...pray that we will find her! Well a few minutes later this woman walks by and I've never really felt so strongly in my life to go and stop someone but it was so clear that I needed to. So I do and she looks at me and says "I was hoping one of you would talk to me." And then she just breaks down and starts bawling and hugs me! She goes on to say how she took the lessons with the missionaries in the past and she could barely get a word out and said how she has read the entire Book of Mormon and gave it to her friend to read and it's the most beautiful book she has ever read. She goes on to say how she was then diagnosed with cancer and is just about start another round of chemo...I told her our message will change her life and I just started crying because I felt so much love for her (Stefania)....she gave me her number and said to call her and hopefully we will find her at home...it's always amazing how after seconds of meeting someone you LOVE THEM. I love the mission.....last but not least this sweet woman who we had met weeks ago came up and said she needed help this week putting up her Christmas tree:) we're so excited.
Okay as you can see those were only a few small things that happened this week only a FRACTION of the miracles that we saw, the experiences we have every day just confirm again and again that this is truly the church of Jesus Christ and that I could not be in a better place at a better time. God is blessing us so much, many investigators who are preparing for baptism this next month. A sweet Christmas miracle, this last week we were teaching this sweet man and we showed him the sii una luce video and afterwards he looks at us and told us we were angels...he then said he had something for us and he reached in his pocket and pulled out this sweet little glass angel...I don't now why but it was just the sweetest thing!!!!! I love this time of year because people's hearts are so open to learning about their savior Jesus Christ...have a beautiful week! It's going to be a good one, we're doing lots of exchanges with Rome and Pescara and specialized training and caroling at the biggest cathedral in Italy! Feel like I spend more time out of my area than in it and I love it, I love learning from so many new missionaries and new experiences.
Wow wow wow it's just been a solid week.
To start off I just have to say how much I love this BE A LIGHT program. We are doing it together with members and our investigators and its so cool to see so many people coming together through service:) God put so many opportunities in our path and it was special because we were looking for them more than usual. Some favorite experiences, one day our cute investigator Cristina told us she hasn't been doing very well so we went and bought her flowers and took her a card and took them to her work and she just hugged us and wouldn't let go. Then we went to Mimmos pizzeria and ran a bunch of errands for him and got all his fresh mushrooms and pomodori for the pizzas and cleaned up the whole restaurant! It was so fun.
This week I felt the spirit so strong in so many of our lessons and I just want to share a few....One day we went to go meet with cute Elsa and teach her the restoration. She's the less active from Honduras with 3 adorable children. Well, it was so interesting teaching her the restoration because she doesn't remember hardly anything so we are treating her like an investigator. And then we will bring the whole fam back to the church :) Well by the end the spirit was really powerful in her home and I started talking about how each of us can have a personal "apostasy" in our lives where we stop following Christ or distance ourselves from God. As I'm saying this I'm thinking "what in the world are you saying, she's going to be so offended," but I just kept talking and really felt that that was exactly what Heavenly Father needed her to hear in that moment. She sat there silently and her eyes were all red and she opened up to us and said she had read a lot of anti literature on the church but still believes Joseph Smith to be a prophet and wants to feel this presence of Heavenly Father in her life again...she's been praying and reading the Book of Mormon every day for the first time in YEARS.
Another favorite lesson was with Massimo last night...so he came and sat down next to us on the bench with this huge smile on his face and said SORELLE I READ! But I didn't understand anything. Well we come to find out that this time he read but he forgot to pray! Piano piano, he is progressing slowly but surely and we read with him and it was so cool pointing out answers to his questions from the Book of Mormon. Well last night we taught him the plan of salvation and I don't think I've ever felt the spirit so strong teaching someone that...like I said last week I love teaching Massimo and I realized its because he is so ready...he's so open and everything he believes in is in perfect harmony with our church. Well by the end of the plan he had tears in his eyes and wouldn't even make eye contact with us, just kept his head down and said he felt "so good." And my collega asked him if he wanted to know if this plan was true and he said "I believe this is true. And I've never had a stronger desire in my life to know if something was true." It was sooooo powerful. And then he looked at us and was like why do you guys care so much about me and make time to share this message with me? And we simply told him that we know he is a child of God and God placed us in his path that day for a reason. He again looked up at us and quietly said "how do you know I'm a child of God?" It was one of the coolest experiences telling him of the love of God that we felt for him in that very moment......I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARIA.
Our lesson with Ada last night was incredible, we watched the talk by Elder Tad R. Callister called "What is the Blueprint of Christ's Church," its an amazing talk and perfect for Ada. Afterwards she sat there and was in deep thought and said "there's no way that a 14 year old boy made up all of these truths or even could have been able to write this book and do what he did. It would be a lot easier to believe that Joseph smith is a true prophet of God than to believe that he invented all of these things..." she's getting it! Ada is finally understanding and you can see every lesson she gets another piece to her puzzle and things are starting to click. Its so awesome...she told us last night that it's FINAL! She's going to make a decision and tell God what she is going to do (that she wants to be baptized or no) and to tell Him to lead her otherwise if it is not the right choice. I am so so so happy for her. I've never had an investigator who's made me as happy as Ada does...she's literally an angel.
Well, one of the happiest things during this week is we finally got our corso dinglese up and running again! Unfortunately we weren't able to do it for a couple months because we couldn't afford doing it at the hotel but now all is well. We had 10 STUDENTI at our first class last week it was awesome! And one student brought his 2 kids and they loved it so much and he was emotional during the spiritual thought and invited all of us missionaries to his house for dinner on Saturday and we went and it was amazing! I've never met so many families in my life that are so prepared for this gospel!!! And for the temple:)
BALDO CAME TO STAKE CONFERENCE yesterday:) he got all dressed up and he loved it. It was great.
So a funny tender mercy from the week....Sorella Erickson and I had run out of food/money for that last week of the month and couldn't go and do spesa, and we literally had 10 meal appointments this last week! Every night a member or investigator would call and invite us to eat the next day and we would just look at each other and say how do they know hahah....well we asked cute new convert Franca how she knew that we needed her food that day and she said SORELLE! Padre celeste (God) told me last night!
I absolutely am in love with my mission. I love everyone of our investigators....never in my mission have I needed to have so much patience with these people and I am really coming to understand how I truly am nothing, I am just the instrument in a his hands and I feel so blessed to teach these people the gospel. I LOVE teaching, and this week so grateful to be here during this season...it's so special. I've been studying the atonement a lot lately and have truly FELT how real it is and seen it working not only in our investigators lives but in mine and I have never been happier. Sometimes if I don't keep my focus on Christ and the purpose of His atonement in my life I lose sight and think of all the changes I need to make and I get discouraged when I fall short and am not doing as much as I could be. But when I make Him the center of my focus He is just there right by my side to tell me how proud He is of me and everyone of us and there to give me a second shot at it:) and I know he is full of second chances. I love this gospel because it is a gospel of change! I love my savior! His love is real and is available to everyone of us, don't wait any longer to come and feel it!
Have a beautiful week,
Don't forget to be a light:)
Crystal's current area is Passo Corese, Italy.
Her address is:
Via Giacomo Matteotti, 187
02032 Passo Corese RI