Monday, July 11, 2016

Dove sono I miei genitori???

Hey everyone, for some reason my parents decided to go somewhere I've never been today... Rome!! C'mon! I guess they decided to do an Italy trip without their tour guide son. Anyways, this week was pretty eventful.

Soo our new mission president did a meet and greet with us this week. He is a really nice guy, who really has a love for others. I think he will make a big difference in this mission and a big difference for the members in this area. All the missionaries were thrilled to meet him.

I also had my first bistecca fiorentina this week. Basically it's a huge thick Tuscan cut steak cook very quickly to were it is the rarest of rare, and then you add olive oil and salt. It was strange for me because I usually like a little more well done, and it was sooo chewy. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it was tasty! One of our new converts wanted to be the first one to make me this steak.

For simpatizzanti Adama is doing really well. Even though there is a language barrier, his Italian is getting better, and our bishop loves teaching him in French. I haven't seen someone as spiritually inclined to become better than I've seen in him. He's got a ways to go, but he wants to make that change.

Liviu is doing good, he is starting to read the scriptures, and realizes there are a lot of good things that can come from them. We just need to help him understand the nature of God and how sometimes God will or will not interfere with events. We don't understand the mind of him, but we understand that he is perfect and does it for the benefit of everyone.

Stefano is ready to start meeting with us again so we are excited to get back on track with him. We know he is ready for the gospel, he just needs to personally acknowledge his own testimony out loud.

On the Fourth of July (God Bless America!) after our meet and greet with the new mission president, we went to an American style grill, and I borrowed a tie from a member and we took a California picture with all the missionaries from California. Needless to say, even though I was far away from home, I still kept my pride high.

This last little period has been focused on gratitude. It is something I have been trying to think about because sometimes we don't realized how blessed we are. I am blessed to have served a mission, I am blessed to have come to Italy. I have been blessed with the gift to learn a new language, and to be able to see so many amazing things. But I've also been blessed with struggles. I have been blessed with long days of no success. I have been blessed with sleepless nights,
loneliness, exhaustion, mental breakdowns, and other trials. But I have been blessed because it all came from Heavenly Father. He plays a part in every moment of our lives. He knows that everything that happens to us, happens for a reason. We should Always be grateful for whatever comes our way. The trials make us stronger and the blessings give us even more hope. When we have an attitude of gratitude we can be happy. We can understand that God wants well for us, and that we are blessed abundantly. I know this mission has and will bless my life forever. I know his gospel is true, and that it is he perfect way for us to return to him. I know that he answers my prayers and that he allows me to have my agency in the path to him. I know he loves us, and I know that we are his children.

I can't wait to see you all very soon, and have a fantastic week!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Firenze adventures - Week 94

This week sure has been a busy one! We've been going at it and it has been really nice. Anziano H., my new companion is a stud. He knows this city well and is really willing to work hard for the people here in Firenze. He welcomed me in with open arms.

We have a simp named S. He is a great man. We have been working with him these last couple of days. He had met with missionaries in the past but he said he had started to feel something different in his life. He started to actually believe God could possibly exist. We invited him to pray out loud and he said it is helping him be more confident that God is real. We are working with him to solidify his testimony and it is going great.

We have another simp we met named J. He is a real nice man with a wife and daughter. We have been working with him on the importance and point of commandments. Commandments are only to protect us, they don't limit what we can do, they are there to free us from losing our rights. They give us promised blessings and constant freedom to choose.

While doing strada one day we met a guy named F. He is from Chile, so I used my dad to try and make a connection with him. (It wasn't a very necessary thing but I thought it was fun to throw that in there) he is a nice man with a family. We talked about how this life is to find joy. We then added how Jesus Christ gives us the ultimate opportunity to be happy. He has given us the ability to start over whenever we want. His atonement gives us an everyday opportunity to be happy. He liked that and said we could possibly meet him again.

Sunday we were able to have a multi-stake conference for the west Europe area. It was broadcasted from Salt Lake. Anziano Christofferson spoke and the focus was on daily repentance and charity. At our church we have a lot of visitors from foreign countries, and I ended up having to translate for 40+ Americans.... But the conference was great and I loved the part about repentance. We should repent everyday because it helps us remind ourselves of the Lord's power of forgiveness and the love he has for us. He wants to bless us, and when we repent daily and rely on him with all we have, he can bring himself even closer to us.

A little scare, at about midnight Tuesday morning we heard an alarm go off five times in our apartment complex. We and our neighbors went to see what it was. It was late so our neighbors were upset, and it turned out to be 2 Islamic ladies with 4 kids in an elevator. The elevator stopped midway during the ascent. The kids were very young, with a couple being newborns. Normally 6 people in an American elevator is not bad, but many elevators (including this one) can maybe fit 3 people in it at a time. So these women were panicking and we helped keep them calm until the firefighters arrived to get them out. It was definitely a strange experience and we were dead tired the next day, but at  least they all were ok. Moral of the story, follow the weight and capacity limits, or, don't use Italian elevators ever. I would follow both.

We have a lot more great work going on too, and it's really exciting. Today was our luxury day, so we took a trip down to Siena (I get to visit Firenze every day, so I thought Siena would be a nice place to visit) it is a just a nice little city. We went with some other missionaries and it was beautiful. We went to the duomo and the main palazzo. They have a special horse race on July 2nd, so we are going to see if we can get a pday moved to go see it. It started down-pouring on us and we had to race to get to the car that the other elders use. It took us 40 minutes to find it and we got soaked, so we took off our ties and blasted the AC to dry them in the car.

Over the week, I have been focused on a thought. When we look at adversity and see all the bad things that always seem to take center stage in the world, it can be easy to get depressed. Bad things seem to be the most common thing that happens. A quote came to mind, "We fail only if we fail to take another faithful step forward. We will not, we cannot, fail if we are faithfully yoked to the Savior--He who has never failed and will never fail us!" We will make mistakes, there will be a lot of bad things that happen. We have moral agency, but when we are faithful we hope and move forward. The prophet Paul said it best, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) God will lift us up, we just need to use the strength he has given us to take our next step forward.

I know this gospel is true, Christ is the head of his church! Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Il finale: Firenze - Week 93

So I'm am starting the last transfer of my mission, and with that, the mission office decided to send me to another city for the last six weeks. For some reason or another, they chose to send me to Firenze, just a little tourist city that some people like to visit when they come visit this country. I'm only just a little excited to be in this city...... The only sad part about leaving Gorizia is saying goodbye to all the people I've been with since the beginning of December.

This week was quite busy saying goodbyes but we were able to see some people. E. is doing great. We met with her, and we had a great conversation about having the desire to believe in a concept we don't necessarily understand.

We were able to go see the C. family again, and we picked strawberries for a good deal of time. Eating strawberries right off the plant/vine/I don't know the correct term, is just sooooo delicious! Well, we were able to teach them one final lesson, and it was on the atonement of Jesus Christ and on miracles. There are miracles, big and small, everywhere. We are the ones who define the miracles. It was a very spiritual lesson.

P. is doing well, I'm gonna miss him. We finished by talking about how we accept God's will even when we don't see any logical sense in the decisions made by him. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither his ways our ways. When we accept God's will, we accept that it will be for our good.

So, I am really excited to finish hard, and give it my all, so my mind has been focused on diligence. When we set goals, it gives us motivation to work for something. As a missionary, I can set goals to work hard for two years, but sometimes at the end, it gets hard to run to the finish. So these last couple days I have been changing my goals to be for the time that I am in Firenze, and what I want to accomplish. When we set big goals, such as working for two years, we also can set smaller goals for smaller periods of times, and that has been a big help to me especially in these last 5 months or so.

I know Heavenly Father has a plan for me these last little while, and I am excited to see where this journey takes me. I know his gospel is true, and that there is someone waiting to hear it from me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

For those who keep trying - Week 92

This week has been extra busy with things, but that's life out here. We were able to have another church tour this week for an elementary school class of ten-year-olds. It was really awesome because one of the students is a member so there was a lot of excitement from these kids to see what our church was all about. These ten-year-olds blew my mind again by asking so many deep questions. They were really intrigued by the message of the restoration and the Book of Mormon. We were able to spend an hour with them answering questions, explaining our beliefs, and give them a small tour of our building. It was another great experience for us to have here.

Then we had another exchange with the Anziani in Udine, and I felt like both of us needed to be working in their area for the day, so there were four of us working in that city. It was nice for me because I was able to teach some of their investigators and get a feel for what may be good for them to teach these people. Usually, I am always in my assigned area for exchanges to instruct missionaries but we felt this would be a good opportunity to help them with their people.

Friday we had a zone conference in Pordenone, and it was really nice. Our themes were based off of really teaching people instead of just principles, and on true conversion. It was nice because this is something always on my mind, because the people we teach are more than just investigators of the church, but are people with thoughts, feelings, and personality. If we don't come to learn who these people are, we will never be able to know what will be of most help to them. So needless to say I enjoyed this zone conference.

Zone Conference

P. is doing ok, he had some sad news from back home, but the branch like always is being so supportive of him. He is really stepping up and being a good friend to others in the branch who he meets.

We have been doing a lot with members and on a visit to a member's house, we met their friend M. He is a really nice man and has known this family for a while. We met with him and he gladly let us share a message with him. It was great because this family was spot on in adding their testimony to him. He lives in Pordenone so we won't be teaching him as much but it was nice because we feel that he is willing to continue learning about our message.

This week I also had the lovely surprise of a visit from Brother McBryde. It was pretty dang awesome to see him again. It is really nice to be able to keep seeing him after over a year, knowing that we are good friends and that we left a good impression on him. He came up and we talked and during lunch, he took us to a thing called an escape room, which is basically a locked room in which you have an hour to find clues, solve puzzles, and escape. Well, we did it and we set a new record by escaping in 34 minutes!

This week my mind has been centered around a quote from a conference talk. This talk was centered around diligence and perseverance, and Elder Renlund talked a little bit about how Nelson Mandela was someone how was considered a saint for forgiving the people who imprisoned him for years. He quoted something from Nelson that I really liked. He said, "I’m no saint--that is, unless you think a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying." I really liked that quote because no one is or will be perfect in this life. I like this because it shows that everyone people look up to, are people who are trying every day, just like us, to overcome temptation and sin. No matter how perfect someone looks, they still are overcoming things just like we are. We all can keep trying to be better people and with the help of he savior we can make a difference in the world. We just need to keep trying everyday!

I know is gospel is true I know it molds us to be better people and I know every day we can become more like our Heavenly Father, if we keep trying!

Muddy Buddies!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

La benedizione d'imperfezione - Week 91

Hey everyone, once again we are back here.

This week went by decently fast sometimes it's hard for me to remember that I have been in Gorizia for six months now.

Anyway, we were able to meet with E., who has been coming to our English class, and were able to give her an overview of our church and our beliefs. We talked about the word of wisdom with her, and she really appreciated our desire to be faithful. She is a practicing Catholic but she really is engaged in what we are teaching her, and she expressed desire to learn more.

Saturday we had the unique opportunity to have a branch activity for a returned missionary. Not that often does a small city have a missionary serving from their branch, so this a special occasion. It was pretty nice, because when we met her, she just wanted to go out and teach with us, which we don't mind at all.

We had another great lesson with En. We were able to finish the plan of salvation of her, and were also able to explain the importance of the will of God in all things. Sometimes things happen that we don't understand. We don't get why God would allow this to happen. We use Isaiah's teaching that "God's ways are not our ways" to simply state the fact that we can't comprehend everything. I also like to use the fact that every thing that happens in our lives is meant for learning and growing. The challenge in life is to put our trust in God and to accept that he putting us in the path that will help us become the best that we can be.

P. is doing well, he has been busy with school, but we are happy that he gets to study and improve. He has been slowly reading the Book of Mormon and asking us questions to help him stay spiritually focused.

G. is also doing well. We were able to have him open up a little more on what his doubts were, and it gave us new ideas on how we can help him keep growing in his faith. He invited us to have a dinner with him this last week too for his birthday, which made us feel pretty special. He likes us just enough to celebrate his birthday with him.

Today we spent the day with the Bressans for M., the daughter, for her birthday. We do a lot with them, and thankfully being pday, it was the perfect day to do things with them. We made lots of food, and will be doing an activity tonight with some of the youth in the branch for her too.

Just to leave on a thought, I was thinking about how God blesses us with imperfection. When we think of imperfection, how could we ever see that as a blessing??? The blessing of imperfection is the ability to learn, grow, and become perfect. If God blessed us with instant perfection, we wouldn't learn anything, we wouldn't appreciate anything, and we wouldn't know true happiness. Because we are imperfect, we can learn from our mistakes, we can learn what sadness is, and in turn, learn what happiness is. We can grow, and become something great. The purpose of life is to become like our father in heaven, and the only way we can become like something, is if we start from imperfection. God blesses us because we try in our imperfections. He wouldn't need to bless perfect people. We get credit for trying and doing our best, and that is when God wants to bless us the most.

I know this church is true, and that we can become like our Heavenly Father. He has given us the tools to become like us, and has blessed us by making us the people we are at this moment. He guides us in everything we face. Have a great week everyone!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Eccomi - Week 90

This week was another good week. I mean I got to skype my family, which makes any week a great week. It was super weird to realize I won't skype them again... For those of you who don't know why, I'll just leave it to you to understand for yourself.

Thursday we were in Mestre for an exchange with the Mestre Anziani. My companion for the day and I went and were able to see a man who had been inactive for five years. He had called the Anziani a few days earlier asking to see them. We didn't know what was going to happen, or what we needed to talk about, but spiritually prepared ourselves for whatever would happen. When we started to talk with him, he told us he felt like he needed to start over again, and find the gospel in his life again. He said he realized he had abandoned it all, and now knew he needed it more than anything in his life. We had a great conversation about the atonement of Christ and how it is for every single individual to have. When we know we need to change, the power of the atonement washes away our sorrow, and gives us the strength to start again, just like this man so desires. I really believe that this person can make this change in his life. He knows he needs to rely on God every step of the way.

So I accidentally busted P.'s lip the other day... We were invited to a young single adult game of calcio, and we took P. so he could get to know some of the young single adults in the stake. Plus side was that he was a soccer player in Ghana, so he was super excited to come. Anyways, we were playing and I position myself for a header. Little did I know P. had come racing over to try and get the header himself. So as I go up his face connects with my shoulder due to his momentum. I ended up cutting his lip pretty bad.... But overall the activity went great and he made a lot of new friends.

We had the opportunity to finally go and visit the geletaria that G.'s parents own. It is in a city a ways out from Gorizia, but we thought it would be a good gesture to go out of our way to stop by and see them. They are really busy with their store, but they really are trying to make it to church more often so they can all be ready for G. when we set his baptismal date.

G. is doing good. We were able to talk about the will of God and how sometimes we need his correction in our lives. Sometimes we feel like we are doing great in our path to success, and then all of a sudden we get a spiritual correction telling us to stop or to change something. We sometimes feel like we shouldn't need to be cut down, that our bush was becoming a beautiful tree. We can sometimes get upset that we were corrected or given council. But Elder Christofferson said something important. He said that God is the gardener and he knows the best way to make us a beautiful tree. We never would become that tree without the guidance and love the gardener has for the tree. He knew that cutting out bush a little bit would help us grow in the right way to become a beautiful tree. When we allow God to give us advice and help, we are rewarded by him. He wants us to grow ourselves, but there will always be times when he, the gardener, will need to step in and make changes to protect our growth.

Today it was super rainy so we didn't get to do much, but it was nice to rest for a bit. Anyway, I just wanna end with a little phrase. "Teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if necessary, use words" the gospel of Jesus Christ lives within us. We live what we teach. The light of Christ should be seen in us when we strive to live by the teachings he gave us. I know this is true. I know it is why people see the difference in others who strive to live a Christlike life.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Il solitudine - Week 89

Hey everyone, this week has been interesting to say the least. A new companion, a talent show, being sick, but still needing to work. It's been crazy

So my new companion, Anziano S., showed up. It was a little strange at the beginning because at first I felt like we were just doing another exchange, like we always did in Busto Arsizio, and then we realized we were actually companions now. So that was pretty interesting. We both know each other super well, so it made the transition easier.

Well to start the weekend off, we had a branch activity. We had a talent show, and tons of people showed up. There were almost 30-40 non members there, and it was a blast. Having a reputation for putting on a show when I was with AnzianoB., the branch insisted that Anziano S. and I do a talent. The only problem was that we had absolutely no time to prepare and scarcely any ideas to choose from. About five minutes before our talent, we decided to sing a funny Italian song called "il solitudine". It is a relatively high pitched song, and with the lyrics the branch couldn't help but laugh and applaud. Needless to say, it went pretty dang well.

After that the sickness came like a storm. I would say in total I have had about 10 hours of sleep in 3 days and have had to buy new big packs of tissues every day just so I could somewhat survive the day. I would have preferred to sleep and fight this sickness away, but I had a lot appointments already set up, and decided it was better to see these people. Even today I don't feel that good, but I'm still functioning.

P. is doing well, and has made good bonds with the members. One lady was singing in the talent show and as she got nervous he started to sing along with her for a little bit of support.

E. is doing great as well. She has been super busy with work, but told us that she is really appreciative of the kindness of the branch and that willingness for us to freely answer all her questions.

D. is doing well. He has been sick too, but we were able to talk a little more this time because he couldn't work as long. We were able to focus on the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion.

Today we went to Venezia because after we have an exchange with the zone leaders. So it was perfect for us to go because we didn't have to worry about taking a train back in the middle of the afternoon. It was nice, makes me miss the Pacific Ocean, but it was neat. We also got our feet eaten by little fishies!


I just want to touch a little more on the Holy Ghost before I finish. There was a quote I really liked that explains the importance of the Holy Ghost by Joseph Fielding Smith. “When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even of the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase". The truth in this sank deep with me. Sometimes we feel things that we can't explain. Often we see things and forget them weeks later. But it is much harder to forget the things we feel. The feeling of holding your first born child, the feeling of when you first received a testimony of something. It sticks.

I know this church is true, I know it blesses lives. I know that God is watching over us, waiting to help us. I know that prayer is the link to these blessings, and that we can receive answers to our questions! Have a great week everyone!