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.
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:)
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.
Crystal's current area is Passo Corese, Italy.
Her address is:
Via Giacomo Matteotti, 187
02032 Passo Corese RI