Another week in Sardegna! This island has such an awesome culture,and I'm pretty happy I got to do my training here for the first couple months out in the mission field. Everything just keeps going faster and faster, we've got 2 more full weeks and then I'll probably be saying goodbye to Anziano Ruiz. It's funny because just when I think I'm finally used to mission life, something completely unexpected just knocks me back down! #Life 😑
Last Monday we rushed around for Saldi and tried on some crazy fancy Italian suits that are still super expensive being 50-60% off, and then we got to do some finding I'm the evening. We met these 2 cute little boys with a stand on the side of the road, and they were selling random stuff "for a good cause" they said. Apparently it can be considered a charity sale if one is trying to get money for gelato. 😁 We spent the rest of the night getting lost trying to go back to Centro, but going way out to the edge of Olbia on a back road. But, we got to talk to two awesome Italian Nonni about our church for a little bit! Most people have seen missionaries "in giro" but never have any idea who we are or what we do, so it's great to explain our purpose to them.
After district meeting on Wednesday we had a district lunch at Francesco's pizza place and we all ate bufalina pizza! Then....we had to run all the way down to the train station to catch the train back to Olbia. Running is like the second best thing to get you excited for missionary work - turns out the number one is reading a talk by Elder Holland! Anziano Ruiz and I took turns reading paragraphs from his talk "Miracle of a Mission," and it was so inspiring! I'll attach it below if anyone wants to read it. We got home and were just super pumped to get off the train and do missionary work.
We've been able to see tons of miracles happen these past couple days as we "move swiftly" to planned activities. We have been able to meet people that God places in our path and are ready to be touched by the gospel. On Thursday alone we ran into like 4-5 people while traveling on the bus or walking to areas we had planned to be in! When you stick with your schedule and are diligent in talking to everyone you can, it becomes easier to see God's hand in your life. One of the coolest ones was that we met two ragazzi who were getting off a vespa right after we had gotten off the bus and were heading into the park. We were able to have a full gospel/ philosophy discussion with them about our beliefs all in English, which is a nice change from Italian. This also brings me to the title, we met a grandpa of two kids afterwards and while we were talking to him they got their soccer ball stuck in a tree. We tried to shake it out, but it was stuck in pretty good, so I climbed up and shook it out! I haven't climbed a tree in forever it feels like.
We got to have our first member pranzo with Sorella Frimmu on Friday, and she absolutely stuffed us full of some amazing pasta, fried zucchini, and mozzarella balls. Super good meal and then we taught her and her friend Andrea the Plan of Salvation! We had a fun experiences seeing a friend Giuseppe and trying raw mussels, meeting a super nice inactive member family, and getting free prosciutto from Pinuccio - a man who owns a really cool meat and cheese shop!
This week I memorized Mosiah 2:22, which explains that as long as we keep the commandments of God, everything will be made all right thanks to the blessings we are promised by him! In the mission, obedience is the most important thing you can do, because when you are obedient it allows you to more effectively evaluate yourself as a missionary in addition to being a way we show God we are committed to the work, even if it takes small sacrifices on our part.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
22 Ed ecco, tutto ciò ch’egli richiede da voi è di obbedire ai suoi comandamenti; ed egli vi ha promesso che se obbedirete ai suoi comandamenti, prospererete nel paese; ed egli non varia mai da quanto ha detto; perciò, se voi obbedite ai suoi comandamenti, egli vi benedice e vi fa prosperare.
Spero che tutti di voi avrete una buona settimana!
Anziano Samuel Parker
1 Gelato today with all the Anziano here I'm Northern Sard-land
2 All of us and our Bufalina pizza
3 Prodotti Tipici Sardi da Pinuccio! 50 years in the business and still going strong
4 Lunch we made on Saturday! Normally it's just pasta, but we got a little dandy thanks to the prosciutto we got from Pinuccio
Super fun week, seems like it started ages ago looking back on it now! We had a scambio starting it off. I stayed in Olbia with Anziano Sellers and then Anziano Ruiz and Morrill went back to Sassari.
I got to celebrate the 4th of July with Anziano Sellers going up to Santa Teresa to teach our new investigator Roberto a lesson. He's super excited to learn more about our church and read the Book of Mormon to find out if it's true. He said if he does find it to be true, he will get baptized, "because that's the path Jesus wants me to take." It was a little scary going in without Anziano Ruiz to back me up, but we were able to have a great discussion about the gospel!
We got to make brownies for English course, although only 2 people showed up.... so we gave them to our padrone's family afterwards!
Wednesday we went back to Sassari for district meeting and on the train we got to talk to a lady sitting across from us about the church! She was whispering to her friend about us and then started reading my name tag out loud, so I was like: "if that's not a prompting to start talking to them, I don't know what is!" We talked about the restoration and she even read a couple verses I showed her from the Book of Mormon. She said she's busy with school at the moment, but I think if she has another contact with the church she'll be really interested in learning more! We had a great evening finding, and then went back to Olbia for an amazing week of finding!
I'm short on time since we had a busy day running around, but we had tons of great conversations and had several other miracles happen.
For the scripture this week I memorized 2 Nehphi 31:20
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
20 Pertanto voi dovete spingervi innanzi con costanza in Cristo, avendo un perfetto fulgore di speranza e amore verso Dio e verso tutti gli uomini. Pertanto, se vi spingerete innanzi nutrendovi abbondantemente della parola di Cristo, e persevererete fino alla fine, ecco, così dice il Padre: Avrete la vita eterna.
No matter what, we can keep pushing on knowing that more light and joy is just around the corner!
Anziano Samuel Parker
Hardships often prepare ORDINARY people for an EXTRAORDINARY destiny -- C.S. Lewis
1 new "name tag picture a day" thing I started. I'll post my favs each week
2 made pasta with fresh cozze!
3 My burger with really weird tasting / looking grilled onions
This week was a roller coaster of feelings for me, but we were able to have success week in the long run and ended up with 3 new investigators! I hope everyone at home has or had a great 4th of July celebrating the birth of our wonderful country!
This letter was originally a lot longer and described all the stuff that happened this past week, but it got deleted by scheming google.....technology at its best, and I don't have much time to re-do it. But, I will talk about one short experience we had this week that goes very well with the birthday of our amazing country, the United States of America.
We got on a bus and briefly talked with a man named Moses from Nigeria, and when we said we were American, he responded with the great line:
"In God we trust"
I was so happy to hear this, and it almost seemed like an answer to prayer, or a confirmation of what I've been studying, because this week all my studies have led me to the thought that I need to put my trust in the Lord and "lean not unto mine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5) As I go throughout this next week my goal is to look for the ways that I can more fully trust the Lord in this work. This Church exists today because men and women built a country based on the trust they had in Lord to guide them. I'm so grateful for America and the foundation it provided for the restoration of Christ's church on the earth to occur some 50 years after its birth.
Memorized Scripture: Moroni 7:33-34
33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
34 And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.
33 E Cristo ha detto: Se avrete fede in me, avrete il potere di fare qualsiasi cosa mi sia opportuna.
34 Ed egli ha detto: Pentitevi, voi tutte estremità della terra, e venite a me e siate battezzati nel mio nome, ed abbiate fede in me, per poter essere salvati.
For everyone in the US, eat some hot dogs and burgers for me. 🌭🍔
Happy 4th of July!
Anziano Samuel Parker
Hardships often prepare ORDINARY people for an EXTRAORDINARY destiny -- C.S. Lewis
1 Zone Conference from last week, all of Sardegna
2 Our house got painted this past week! It looks super good
3 Sorella Cardullo and DeMann made me a cake for my birthday that we ate at district meeting!
4 Waking up and getting out the door early has its blessings
5 Nicola's (an investigator) "bow" made from a piece of wood he found in the countryside
6 a 4-door Renault, I love cars here!
I am finally out of my teenage years! I turned 20 on Tuesday and we had an amazing day learning and teaching about the church. We left the house a little earlier than normal to catch a bus going to Santa Teresa Gallura (STG). We had an appointment with a referral we received last week, and we were traveling up there to finally meet him and give him the Book of Mormon he had requested. Unluckily for us, the bus didn't stop at the correct stop and we went all the way to STG, just to take a bus back down to Palau an hour later from the same spot. Once in Palau, we took a ferry across the bay, hoping to try and find an inactive member still on our church records. There used to be a U.S. military base on the Maddalena, so the membership used to be a lot higher until the base closed and the extra church influence left the area. We decided to stop in a park and catch up on our studies. We talked with a guy sitting on a bench drinking some boxed wine and eating some crackers. Turns out this guy, Toni, was like a "golden investigator". He had a good knowledge about God and expectations for a church! We talked with him about how important a personal relationship with God is, and then he said he finds it sad there a so many churches, but none of them have a way to find out if what they say is true. Anziano Ruiz and I just looked at each other and got huge smiles on our faces as we showed him the Book of Mormon and explained that it is a book of scriptures that shows God still loves us in these latter days. It is also the one and only way to know if the Church of Jesus Christ is restored on the Earth. As we handed it to him, he couldn't stop getting emotional as he accepted it. He said he would definitely read it and treasure its message. It was an amazing experience and such a blessing to be in that EXACT park at that EXACT time to find him. We set up appointment with him to meet in the same park on Wednesday as well, and to talk more.
We did the same thing Wednesday morning, and this time determined not to miss our stop to see Roberto. We made sure to tell the bus driver the area we wanted to "scendere" at. Well..... he dropped us off like 3 miles away from the street we had wanted, so we walked about 2 miles back along the highway before calling Roberto and telling him we'd be a little late. He said he could meet us where we were, so he started driving out. Once he got there we found out he actually lives in STG, and the address we got for him was wrong :( We did get him his Book of Mormon though, and he was super excited to finally be able to read it! Once we gave it to him he was like - "I'll be done in about 3 weeks and then we can meet and talk about it." We were just like "woah!" so we explained that we're here to help explain the message of the Book of Mormon and how it connects to the true church being restored to the earth today. We said good by and then o waited at the bus stop for the Guercios (a senior couple) to take us home for apartment inspections. Sadly we had to miss our appointment with Toni to fit the Guercio's schedule.
The rest of this week was spent at a zone conference on Thursday and Friday in Cagliari and we spent most of Saturday inside doing weekly planning and studies. Zone conference is always super fun to be with the other missionaries of Sardegna and getting to see President and Sister Pickerd. I got to do a musical number with some other missionaries and we also had a extra training meeting for new missionaries after all the normal zone conference stuff.
Sunday was absolutely awesome! We had a Norwegian family come visit! They have 4 kids, an older daughter and son, and then two younger daughters who are twins. The oldest kids and the parents speak really good English, so we were able to visit. During church, I translated for them during sacrament meeting. For primary I helped out and translated from Italian to English, while the mom translated from English into Norwegian so the twin girls could participate in the lesson. It was so cool and we were able to have an awesome lesson answering questions and talking about the gospel in 3 languages! After church the family had to leave for another town down in southern Sardegna, but they're looking forward to meeting the missionaries in the ward at Oristano next week. We had a pranzo with the members and then did studies at the church before going out and having one last "finding session" for the week Sunday evening.
I totally forgot to memorize a scripture this week, I normally pick one out during our weekly goal setting, but I think I forgot to choose one.... Anywho, this week since both our new investigators are really excited about the Book of Mormon, we've been doing a bit more study focused on the conversion that comes from study of it. As one reads the Book of Mormon, it is promised to them that they will "gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost" when they go to our Heavenly Father in sincere prayer. As I have studied it, I have learned from ancient prophets who were called of God to testify of Christ. As George Cannon wrote:
“No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”
I know the Book of Mormon is truly another testament of Jesus Christ in these latter days, and that it is the necessary keystone of one's testimony of the restored church.
Anziano Samuel Parker
1 I'm 20 years old!
2 Sardegna water, can't get enough of it
3 Picture from primary on Sunday of words written in Italian, English, and Norwegian
4 Pics from Cagliari on Thursday when were on one of the streets in Centro talking to people about the church
Wow! This week absolutely flew by. We started it off with an amazing p-day and then got to have a great member meal appointment where we introduced a young family to the gospel! A ton happened in between, but I'll try to pick out the best bits. Also, happy belated Fathers Day! Hope everyone was able to spend time with or thinking about their dad's back home :)
On Monday we got to go to Golfo Aranci, a town just North of Olbia that has some amazing views of the ocean and a really cool island right of the coast! It's the prettiest water I've ever seen, I really want to come back and swim in it eventually! We hiked along the coast for a ways and took pictures from various spots. On the way back to the train station we ended up having a sheep chase us down the road! It had gotten loose and we ended up having to lock him behind a gate after we hung out with him for a little bit. We met some girls on vacation from England at the train station and got to talk to them about why we're here on missions and some of the beliefs of the church. After the train ride we went and got gelato and then helped them get to some of the places they wanted to go in Olbia before they went home. We ended the night on a sad note getting transfer calls and finding out Anziano Cutler was getting moved to be a zone leader in Bari. He's spent the last 6 months on Sardegna and really didn't want to leave. We did however get to end the day with one last pizza all together from a Napolitano pizzeria :)
Tuesday I went to the questura, for like the 7th time, and found out we didn't have all the correct paperwork from the mission office, so we have to go again on the 27th. I'm not sure I'll ever get my permesso at this point... We spent the afternoon studying and preparing a lesson for a man we had a good discussion with Monday night about faith and the importance of acting on the information that we receive. He ended up not making it to the lesson, but we were able to learn a lot in our preparation for it.
We started out super early Wednesday morning to take a train to Sassari for DDM and and got to have breakfast with the other Anziano there. Then we had our last district meeting of the transfer. We took some photos and then Anziano Ruiz and I headed off to the train station to get back to Olbia in time for Family Home Evening with the Mazzone family and Santo. Sadly Santo wasn't able to make it, he was helping a friend out before he left for Sicily. (Anziano Sanchez and Sorella Oveson from the MTC are going to be in his new ward!) We still had a good lesson, and we were able to talk about faith and how growth in the gospel never becomes stagnant.
Guess what we did Thursday? Got on a train back to Sassari! We got to the station early and hadn't eaten breakfast so we stopped by a cafe to grab some orzo and pastries. (Orzo is similar to coffee, but non caffeinated, also mixes good with Nesquik.) I also grabbed a pair of sunglasses for really cheap since the sun's been killing me this past week! Our train was 20 mins late so at the train interchange we got on a bus instead to go the rest of the way to Sassari. It was cool to get a different view of the countryside, plus we got to be right in the front seats looking through the huge front window! We met up with Anziano Sellers and then waited for Anziano Allen to get in from the airport before grabbing pizza at Francesco's and then taking him to the train station. English course in the evening was super fun, everyone in Sassari's English course is just so energetic! I got to sing "Where Can I Turn For Peace" in Italian as the spiritual thought and bore my testimony about how we can be lifted up by Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father as we turn to them through prayer.
Friday was very slow since about halfway through our plans for picking up Anziano Morrill completely changed, which also meant we would be staying in Sassari until Saturday morning. We ended up having a great time contacting people in Centro during the evening, and even met a man who had taken the missionary lessons back in Olbia several years ago. We ended up missing our bus to the airport and had quite the fiasco trying to figure out how to pick up Anziano Morrill, but we got it figured out! Anziano Sellers and I ended up sitting at a bus stop in beach chairs.....but that's a long story :p
Saturday and Sunday were awesome, the highlights were getting to translate in sacrament meeting from Italian to English for a family visiting from the Czech Republic on holiday, and then having pranzo with some members and a family whom we hope wants to learn more about the church. Barbara is friends with the father and we had a "get to know you lunch" that ended up being perfectly focused on the gospel simply out of their curiosity! We taught the restoration and they even accepted a book of Mormon.
This week we memorized Ether 12:27, a really good scripture about making the most of our weaknesses. I find it cool that as we try to understand this scripture, it explains that weaknesses are necessary for us to be humble, but the purpose of this life is to use those weaknesses and make them strengths! I'm so glad that I have specific weaknesses in my life because it lets me know that God knows I can overcome them if I face them with the right attitude and turn to him for help.
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Se gli uomini vengono a me, mostrerò loro la loro debolezza. Io do agli uomini la debolezza affinché possano essere umili; e la mia grazia basta a tutti gli uomini che si umiliano dinanzi a me; poiché, se si umiliano dinanzi a me, ed hanno fede in me, allora farò in modo che le cose deboli divengano forti per loro.
Anziano Samuel Parker
Hardships often prepare ORDINARY people for an EXTRAORDINARY destiny -- C.S. Lewis)
1 Still trying to learn how to dab
2 Sardegna is pretty cool (there's a boat!)
3 Pizza from Francesco's
4 The District: Transfer 1!
5 Chilling at the bus stop
We had a crazy long p-day today traveling and visiting with some tourists from England who we shared a decent amount about the gospel with, so I haven't had much time to write during the day. We did the most walking I've ever done in the mission today, not a lot of down time!
Some brief highlights of the week were:
- getting to speak again with a family we met in the park about 2 weeks ago and teaching them about the restoration
- talking to a man about the restoration of the church and how he can receive an answer if it is true through the Book of Mormon. He said he felt super calm and peaceful while we taught, so he will read it to be reminded of us! We exchanged numbers so we hope to get in touch with him soon
-eating fresh pizza while running to the train station in Sassari to get back to Olbia on time for a teaching appointment (sadly didn't get a picture of that pizza)
-having an intense discussion in English course about Italian and English grammar! We only had 3 students so we did more of just a conversation, went so well!!!
-getting to ride a pennyboard (tiny skateboard) of some ragazzi and then talking to them about the beliefs of our church, the restoration, and what differs us from the Catholic church that they've grown up around
-talking to some really chill guys visiting from Cagliari, a southern city, about why we are here on a mission and why we follow commandments
-talked to a guy visiting from Florida! He grew up here in Olbia but has been living in the US for the past 15 years
-gave a full talk in Italian on Sunday!
-got an update for my tablet to Android 7.0 Nougat, makes everything run so much smoother!!
This week we were able to meet and talk to tons of people giving them a "first touch" with the gospel. It is often this first contact they have with missionaries that determines whether they will accept the invitation to learn about the gospel later in their life. It is our job to help them feel the light of Christ that can be ever present with them through righteous living!
My focus for the talk this past Sunday was on prayer, and the personal relationship we can have with God. This gospel is pretty special in that it is one and the same everywhere you go in the world, but it is able to help people of any background and through any trial because of the wholeness of Jesus Christ and His atonement. We've been able to teach the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ a ton this past week and what always resonates with me is that it shows us how personal a relationship we can have with Heavenly Father if we go to Him with humility and faith. It goes really well with our scripture to memorize this week, James 1:5 - the same scripture that inspired Joseph Smith to go and ask Heavenly Father in prayer.
James 1:5 - If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Che se alcuno di voi manca di sapienza, la chiegga a Dio che dona a tutti liberalmente senza rinfacciare, e gli sarà donata.
Hope everyone has an amazing week, and always remember your Heavenly Father wants to hear all your joys, trials, and blessings!
1 This is the lungomare, we walk along it almost every day to get to centro
2 Anziano Ruiz just happens to be a professional chef. Almost completely homemade ragu, even used whole tomatoes to make most of the sugo. (He had to use a little bit of store bought pasta in the end)
3 Cool little park we found Sunday night while doing casa a casa
4 San Simplicio, a huge historical landmark for Olbia. As you can tell I'm pretty excited...
Questa settimana era meravigliosa!
I learned my new favorite word this week, "suppongo!" It means "I suppose," and I say "I guess.." so much in English I've been dying to find its equivalent in Italian. We also finally tried cozze - mussels - from Olbia, and they were absolutely bomb! Olbia apparently has the second best mussels in the world, and guess where the world's best is? ......another port town in Italy!! (Maybe I'll get to serve there as well and do a taste test, crossing fingers) We got to spend a ton of this week with the Sassari elders which was awesome, in addition to all the tiny miracles we've seen the past few days.
Last Pday we spent the morning visiting with a member of our English course and taking photos around centro in Olbia. We hadn't planned on talking about anything particular related to the gospel, but while we sat in front of a church we ended up started discussing a pretty cool carving on the side. It has a picture of a prophet holding a sword with the word "verbum" on the blade. I asked her what it meant and it literally means "word of God!" Our discussion edging up going towards what it means to have faith that something is "the word of God." Since so many people in the world today want to see all the evidence right in front of them, many refuse to take an act of faith and try to find for themselves if something is true. In fact, since religion is even more becoming a thing that is not emphasized around the world it requires an even bigger step to make your way out of the larger crowd. There are so many things that create doubt for someone when they are trying to learn more and strengthen their testimony. As we talked about he challenges of developing faith in something so intangible I was able to recall a simple yet beautiful quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the first Presidency of the church: "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith!" As one is able to take these hurdles that could get in the way and instead turn them into building blocks to strengthen the foundation of their faith they will be able to grow and have a more resolute knowledge that what they believe in is a worthwhile endeavor. She ending up really liking it, and we were able to open her eyes a little bit about how we believe the things we do. We ended the morning with some super good Gelato! I'm absolutely in love with hazelnut and ice cream, best combination know to man.
Tuesday was pretty normal overall, we spent the evening going to a neighborhood where an inactive member lives, but didn't find him home. His wife was very nice though and said to come back some other time to try and catch him while he's free (he has a lot of work commitments) We also got to meet one of his neighbors, who was interested in hearing our message! He's one of her good friends and I think the gospel has left a good impression on her.
On Wednesday we had district meeting and got to do some more train riding. (I should be keeping track of how many miles I ride on a train during mission, that would actually be cool to figure out) We got to have lunch again with the Sassari elders, but then we just barely missed our train again for the second week in a row! Apparently all the buses in Sassari end up consistently being like 5-10 minutes off the schedule no matter what. We did finding in the park near the station and both Anziano Cutler and I as well as Anziano Ruiz and Sellers found people who were interested in the message! Two young adults accepted a book of Mormon and exchanged numbers so we could contact them again, and Anziano Ruiz met a man who happened to be praying in the park for help with some stuff he's dealing with. Anziano Cutler and Sellers just met with him on Saturday and he's already accepted a baptismal date!
About halfway through Wednesday we decided to do a Scambio, with Anziano Sellers and I swapping. To explain how this scambio thing worked out I'll just do a list form, it was a lot of traveling and this email is already long enough!
-all of us went back to Olbia from Sassari and stayed the night
-I packed all and got all the stuff I needed for a 1 day trip to Sassari and then left Thursday morning with Anziano Cutler
-Spent a full day in Sassari teaching some lessons, doing finding, and then ending with a really fun English course!
-headed back Friday morning after studies to Olbia so we could swap me and Anziano Sellers
-Got trapped at a huge pranzo with the members so Anziano Cutler and Sellers missed their train back to Sassari
-They spent the night, and then finally headed home Saturday morning
The pranzo we had was at Santo's house, one of the recent converts in our ward. Friday was a celebration for all of Italy because it's the anniversary of its unification. He's also going to be leaving to live in Messina help out his mother for a couple months so it was a sort of goodbye party as well. We got invited to come along with some of the members and his nonmember friends. Some of them it turns out have already met with the missionaries before, several years ago! We had probably the biggest lunch I've had here in Italy, just course after course of seafood! The meal started of with some salmon pasta as well, probably one of my favorite sauces now. Highlights of the meal were finally trying cozze (cooked in some seasoned water to taste amazing), eating a fishes eye, eating what I think were prawns, and having some awesome desserts - including brownies made by Anziano Ruiz and Sellers that everyone loved!
Saturday and Sunday were full, of miracles just following simple promptings to go certain places or talk to certain people that worked out amazingly! Saturday evening we went to an old apartment we had knocked on my first week here, and the nonna just let us in like we were old friends! We got to teach her grandson the restoration, and then we taught her and her friend Luccia (who we had actually met our first time there) about some our basic beliefs in the church. They seemed really happy to hear our message and are going to meet with us next week too. On Sunday we felt like we should go by Giuseppe, the inactive member who we had gone by earlier, and he let us in so we could get to know him! He is super nice, and was super open with us about why he doesn't come to church, but we were able to leave him with the simple commitment to read the Book of Mormon again and pray about it. On the bus going home Anziano Ruiz taught a man about the restoration, and he seemed super excited to learn more! Right before we had to scapare he asked for like 3 more biglietini to share with people. Super excited for this coming week and all the experiences we're going to have.
Sadly I didn't memorize a scripture this week. However the one we were going to memorize , Alma 30:44, actually goes really well with what we talked about on Monday. We have so much on this Earth that is evidence there is a God, but we also have many people trying to prove that this world could exist without a Supreme Creator. One thing that my companion and I go to pretty often is that we don't know the specifics of how God created the world. We don't know the time frame or the how, but we know that through His omniscient knowledge He created the earth. That could very well mean that science is completely right about everything, but He was the one to get the ball rolling.
44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.
Ma Alma gli disse: Segni ne hai avuti abbastanza; vuoi tentare il tuo Dio? Vuoi dire: Mostrami un segno, quando hai la testimonianza di tutti questi tuoi fratelli, e anche di tutti i santi profeti? Le Scritture ti sono poste dinanzi; sì, e tutte le cose denotano che vi è un Dio; sì, anche la terra e tutte le cose che sono sulla faccia della terra, sì, e il suo movimento, sì, e anche tutti i pianeti che si muovono nel loro ordine stabilito testimoniano che vi è un supremo Creatore.
Always be looking for ways you can strengthen your faith!
View voglio bene,
1 Gelato on Monday!
2 Best companionship ever!
3 Traditional Sard dessert we picked up at a food market before District meeting on Wednesday
4 My fish!
I remember reading Sorella Holiday's emails when she was serving in Rome and I was always confused when she said "Scambio!" So paying homage to her emails that gave me a first taste of the "Great Italy Rome Mission" I've named this week's letter Scambi Magic. A scambio is an exchange between companionships, where we trade companions for a full 24 hour period and do a full day of normal missionary work with them. This week I was able to do my first scambio! I swapped Anziano Ruiz for Anziano Sellers of Sassari, and we had an awesome time!
We started of the week with a trip to Alghero for P-day, a super beautiful city on the northwestern coast that was founded by the Spanish. Cool little blessing that happened when we stopped by the church was that the Sassari Branch president ended up giving us a ride all the way to the train station and also hooked us up with a ride straight from the train station in Alghero to a place where we could rent bikes for the day! We were able to ride all over the historic centro [center] area and see some pretty ancient buildings/streets. It's right along the coast, and has a beautiful view looking off to some Islands in the distance. For the evening we started the scambio and did a gesso with the sister missionaries. It was my first time doing one, but it was cool to see how it works. (Put a sheet on the ground and have people write with chalk on it about a certain question or topic, then us missionaries walk up to people along the street or in the piazza and start talking about the chosen topic) We got home a tad late since we got lost as we left the main square....oops.
Tuesday we had district meeting in the morning and then were going to catch a train out of Sassari, but we forgot some stuff so we ended up having lunch and doing studies before heading back to Olbia. I got to make homemade pizza with Anziano Cutler, who is a self-proclaimed pizza critic. We had a pretty good time putting everything together and the toppings were all amazing! We tried to catch the train, but we were off on the time by 15 minutes so as we walked into the station and it was already pulling out :( We ended up taking the next one which meant we had to cancel our Tuesday night English class.
Wednesday we made some really good German pancakes for breakfast! Wish I had taken a picture because they bloomed up perfectly. We did studies and then I had to get my Permesso paperwork done at the questura (basically my residence permit for while I live in Italy). Anziano Cutler and Ruiz were supposed to meet us in the morning to help me figure it out, but they got on the wrong train (lots of train troubles this week, haha) so we had to go on our own. Luckily my Italian is good enough I was able to communicate/understand everything I needed! Afterwards we went home to make pesto for a group lunch and studied together before going out finding for the evening. We had an awesome time going door to door in a neighborhood we picked out, not too many people opened up their doors to us, but Anziano Sellers is just a super positive guy! We ended up meeting Gino, a former investigator who is about 70ish. He showed us around his house - which is under construction right now - and then we exchanged phone numbers so we can come back again, once his house is all finished. We also met a lady named Luccia who was super nice and gave us the sea shells she has collected! She said we can swing by this next week and teach her a lesson! We ended the night by grabbing some Gelato [ice cream] for our success.
The end of this week we spent tracting in various neighborhoods around Olbia and going to the park or centro [center] to pass out English bigliettini [notes]. We did meet a Romanian family while going through the park on Friday. They are in a rough spot right now and we had a really good conversation about the blessings that the gospel has had on our lives and how we know it will help them! The dad is planning on coming to our English course and said they'll be able to come to church this next Sunday. We're looking forward to teaching them. We also ran into a ragazzo [boy] a couple times and ended up spending Saturday evening in the park talking about the questions/doubts he has about the gospel and how he can find answers to them in the Book of Mormon. I'm always really impressed by how mature he is compared to the other ragazzi [boys] we see.
This week I really was able to see that I can have a real impact if I open my mouth, so I'm excited to try and talk nonstop this next one! We've had several good discussions with people where I've had the opportunity to lead/start the conversation and they've gone great. I just need to remember the prophets in the Bible and Book of Mormon who spoke with power and authority, because the were called of God! I have a similar calling to preach the gospel, and share the message of Jesus Christ with all those who want to receive it. Just like it says in the scripture below, he's the only way!
For our scripture this week we memorized Mosiah 3:17:
17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
Ed oltre a ciò io vi dico che non sarà dato alcun altro nome, né alcun altro modo né mezzo per cui la salvezza possa giungere ai figlioli degli uomini, se non nel nome e tramite il nome di Cristo, il Signore Onnipotente.
Vi voglio bene, [I love you]
Ajò! - Let's go!
Looking back, we spoke to a ton of people that speak English really well! This week has been the most normal so far, but it's hard to believe we're already into the 3rd week of the transfer. We had a pretty slow p-day [preparation day] last Monday, just shopping and doing stuff around the house. Later, we got to do a "Missionary FHE" with the members of the branch, focused on how members can reach out and do missionary work among their friends. It was pretty cool to go over the lesson on the Restoration and ask them to share their testimonies about specific topics from it - albeit we still had some good old Italian arguing over doctrinal topics every once in a while :0
We had our weekly district meeting on Wednesday, where we get to meet together with the other missionaries in our area (6 total) and get pumped up to do missionary work! Afterwards for lunch, we went to a pizzeria recommended by the Sassari Elders' friend. By far the best pizza I have had in Italy so far!
Thursday we started the day off with a run to one of the bakeries we always pass. We got these super cool donuts filled with Nutella called Bombalini and then ran back home to eat them. To fill our morning hours before pranzo we made a trip to the park. On the bus there, we met two girls from England, and got to talk about our church and America with them. They were pretty excited to meet some people who speak English, as were we! In the park we met a religion teacher who works at one of the local schools and talked to him about the differences between Mormons and the Catholic church. It was an interesting conversation and it made me grateful that everywhere you go, the church is the same. I got to end the day teaching English to a really good class, and I had a lot of fun talking about the languages with them.
I finally made German pancakes! (One of my favorites dishes to make) After we at that awesome breakfast, we did another trip to the park and met a young man named Ricardo, who is actually just visiting Italy on vacation right now. He works as a nurse in Africa so his English is really good and we got to talk to him about the Restoration of the church, differences between Catholicism, and also the churches stand on some political issues. I'm really glad I was able to speak in English because I don't think we would have been able to answer in Italian!
Saturday night we had an awesome time with this guy named Max who just waved us down as he drove down the street! We thought he was a random tourist who happened to be LDS, but he's a native Sardegnan who knows a ton about our church and also speaks amazing English! We walked down the street with him and stopped at a bar (Italian cafe) to have some drinks and talked for a while about his beliefs and a bit about how he is so good at English. Turns out a really good friend of his was LDS and taught him a lot about the church. He has even read the entire Book of Mormon! He's also read the Karan and the Bible multiple times. He just loves learning and even though he's agnostic he still studies the beliefs of other religions. He also happens to know 8 LANGUAGES! Italian, Sardegnan (way different than Italian), English, Arabic, Russian, Hebrew, Spanish, and Portuguese.....not sure if that's all of them. A man walked by while we were sitting outside the cafe and stopped to listen to us speaking in English, and then we got to hear him and Max speak in Arabic together! It was pretty cool, and the street vendor was pretty impressed. We spoke with Max a little more about the plan of Salvation and then exchanged info so we could meet with him again sometime!
This past week I got a lot more time to think about Jesus Christ and the reason why I'm out here, serving a mission. On Sunday I started reading the book "Jesus the Christ " by James E Talmage and I'm looking forward to learning more about his earthly ministry in detail. It actually goes really well with the scripture we memorized this past week, 2 Nephi 25:26.
26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
E noi parliamo di Cristo, gioiamo in Cristo, predichiamo il Cristo, profetizziamo di Cristo e scriviamo secondo le nostre profezie affinché i nostri figlioli possano sapere a quale fonte possono rivolgersi per la remissione dei loro peccati.
This next week I want to focus more on helping people see how church and Jesus Christ can have a real impact on their lives. Many people over here have grown up in the Catholic Church, but don't actually see how Christ's gospel can have a personal and lasting effect on them. My goal is to help then understand the ways they can bring themselves closer to the Savior of the world, and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Con Amore e Pace,
1 Just a peek at what we did for Pday this week! Super amazing town.
3 & 4 Best pizza ever! (Napoli style made by a guy who grew up in Napoli)
5 Amazing church with a really cool dome and spire here in Olbia
6 View of the bay of Olbia from tracking on Tuesday
Questa settimana, abbiamo avuto la conferenza della zona!
Super fun week that absolutely flew by, when you're traveling time just zips past. We got to do a decent bit of train riding, and when we take the bus for city transit I'm starting to not fall over when I'm standing up!
Last P-day we took a trip to Sassari early in the morning (2 hour train ride there) and then once we met the rest of the group we had a 1 hour bus ride to Castel Sardo, which is a town on the northern coast of Sardegna that has a hill with a castle on the top. We got some amazing photos on the walk up towards the main castle with views of the city and the coast. We almost missed the bus going home, and Anziano Cutler ended up chasing one bus leaving the city down the street - thinking it was our last way back to Sassari for a couple hours - but we were able catch one that pulled up to the curb just a couple minutes later! Then another 3 hours of wonderful travel to get back to Olbia by 6pm for contacting in centro until 9pm. Anziano Ruiz also made an amazing white sauce pasta for dinner (I'm spoiled having a cook as a companion)
On Tuesday we spent the morning doing my Permesso paperwork, so I can stay in Italy longer than the 8 days that my visa provides me, so that was exciting signing papers and mailing stuff off. After we wrapped up we were walking by the Mazzone apartment (branch President's family) and his wife invited us in to see what she was cooking. She gave us the the recipes and ingredients so we could cook some red sauce for pranzo and then we went home to put it into practice! (Turned out pretty good, except for using too much carrot) Afterwards we did some studying where we tried not to fall asleep. We then went to do a lesson with Dino, the man we made an appointment with us the previous Saturday. I could barely understand him at the beginning of the lesson because he speaks really fast, but after saying a little silent prayer, a couple of minutes later, I could understand almost everything! We didn't really get to teach him a lesson because he kept on telling us what he believed for about an hour. Then we had to get going to do some finding before doing the free English group we offer every Tuesday and Thursday. I taught the basic course, which is going over basic verbs and all the different tenses for them. Teaching is just so fun! It was a fun end to the night. Anziano Ruiz broke the bidet handle while washing his feet so it never turned so off unless we turn off the main valve in the house.
Wednesday morning we spent some time figuring out whether we could fix the bidet issue and ended up deciding just to turn the water off for the house whenever we aren't showering, using the kitchen or using the commode. We spent the morning looking through the area book, a list of all the people missionaries have contacted in the past, to see if there were any people we should contact. We started making a list so we can have a good idea of where to start when deciding where to do house to house finding or calling people. We spent the evening contacting Casa a casa in a neighborhood and then stopped for dinner at a really good pizza place! The owners were super nice, and we had a short discussion with them about why we were here in Italy.
Thursday we headed off to zone conference on a 3 hour train ride to Cagliari in southern Sardegna. We spent the afternoon doing some studying while waiting to have interviews with President Pickerd and then Anziano Ruiz and I decided to go on a quick shopping trick for some snacks. At the checkout I accidentally bought a bag for our 3 items, so Anz. Ruiz made a big deal out of wasting 10 centisssimi (cents). We ate in a little park outside the store and then since he didn't like seeing 10 cents being wasted we started picking up trash around the park. As we went around I found two 20 euro bills just sitting by a park bench, so we went and ask the man on the swings if it was his but he said no. We had no idea what to with it, but we ended up deciding to use €20 each to buy Mother's day gifts. To end the night we did some contacting in centro and then had pizza from a pizzeria from one of the Cagliari missionaries' investigators. It was pretty amazing for just a cheese pizza! (We also had an amazing conversation on the train with two guys that surf and snowboard for a living, one of them actually has really similar beliefs to ours, but we didn't get to talk for very long.)
Friday was zone conference with all the missionaries serving on Sardegna. It was pretty much all day, but some of the highlights were singing a musical number "Teach Me to Walk in The Light," listening to all the amazing baptism stories from last transfer, and talking about the power of the Book of Mormon in conversion. We got on the train afterwards with the other missionaries headed north and it was absolutely packed! No empty seats anywhere, but I was able to have an awesome BoM study session for the ride home. We spent the evening talking to a young family and having a man yell "Rompere le scatole" at us for knocking on his door at 8:30pm! (It means he'll break our boxes, haha)
Saturday was full of weekly planning in the house most of the day. When we got on the bus we started to have an amazing conversation with a ragazzo named Filippo. It's a miracle he was on the bus for so long because we able to tell him the entire Restoration story and give him a copy of the Book of Mormon. Afterwards he actually texted us and said hi (we gave him our number but didn't have time to get his) so hopefully we meet him this week.
Sunday was exciting because the Simoncinis, an Italian senior missionary couple, visited the ward to inspect our apartment and to do a course on self reliance for the branch members. Church went well, and Dino -the man we taught Tuesday - actually showed up to sacrament meeting! We had pranzo together as a branch and then visited until I got to Skype with my family for Mother's Day! We had a really good visit, then I studied for a little while before going out to contact some more. We ended the day with a really good conversation about the gospel of Christ with a man named Johnny!
These emails are always so much longer than I want them to be, but it's so hard to fit everything in. To wrap up this week I just want to ask everyone what their favorite scripture is, whether it's from the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants or Pearl of Great Price. I'm memorizing one scripture a week in Italian so it would be great to have a list to pull from. Just shoot me an email with the scripture and a little explanation of why you like it! (Also, I'm taking homemade brownie/cookie recipes as well)
If you want to check out my companions mission blog search for Romanruizinrome on blogspot.com
Scripture of the Week: Helaman 5:12
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
Ed ora, figli miei, ricordate, ricordate che è sulla roccia del nostro Redentore, che è Cristo, il Figlio di Dio, che dovete costruire le vostre fondamenta; affinché, quando il diavolo manderà i suoi venti potenti, sì, e i suoi strali nel turbine, sì, quando tutta la sua grandine e la sua potente tempesta si abbatteranno su di voi, non abbia su di voi alcun potere di trascinarvi nell’abisso di infelicità e di guai senza fine, a motivo della roccia sulla quale siete edificati, che è un fondamento sicuro, un fondamento sul quale se gli uomini edificano, non possono cadere.
Vi vedrò prossima settimana, in bocca al lupo!
Greetings from Italia!
It's hard to believe I've been here for almost a full week now. Sorry I didn't get an email off last week, I had it almost finished and then about halfway through p-day we all started freaking out about packing and getting the residences ready to head out. I'll just say that the last week flew by really fast, and it was pretty hard saying goodbye to everyone in our district going to Milan. It's been a ton of fun learning Italian and more about the gospel with them, and they all have amazing testimonies that I'm going to miss hearing. Highlights of it were getting to the temple one last time as a zone, seeing Character of Christ again, singing "Nearer My God to Thee" as a quartet at the new missionary devotional, and having some amazing final lessons with Sorella Grifffin and Fratello Sloan.
As for this week, it was jam-packed full of stuff. On Sunday night we said goodbye to everyone going to Milan and the Romanians, then we went to bed and tried to get some rest before our early morning travel. We woke up at 3:00am and checked out of the MTC at 4:20am before getting rides to the Frontrunner (Utah's train line) Station and getting on the 5:00am line to Salt Lake. Since we had about 18 people in our travel group (16 going to Rome, 2 to Barcelona) it was really fun guarding the luggage and transferring it from Frontrunner over to Trax to get to the airport. We got all checked in and some people made calls to family while waiting. Then we got on our flight to New York JFK from SLC. I got to sit next to Sorella Oveson for the flight and it was cool to visit with her since we hadn't been in the same district in the MTC. Our flight landed at JFK about 3:20pm and then we had a 2 hour layover until our flight for Rome left. JFK airport is the most crowded and crazy airport I have been to in my life! We had no idea where to go but eventually were guided to the international terminal, got our tickets for the Alitalia flight, and made it through TSA for the second time that day. We got about 30 minutes of chill time before our flight left so everyone had some time to buy overpriced airport food! Then we got on our flight to Fiumicino Rome.
It was an 8 hour flight total, from 6:00pm East Coast time to 8:40am European when we landed in Fiumicino Rome airport. Even with all the time in the air I was only able to sleep 2 hours because my legs were so tight. I did have an awesome conversation with the man sitting next to me though. When we had dinner I asked him a question in Italian and we ended up having a really good conversation in my very slow Italian for about an hour and a half! We talked a bit about the church and also about the differences between Italian and American food. At the airport we were greeted by President and Sister Pickerd, Anziano Spencer and Draghi (assistants to the President), and Anziano Guercio - one of the senior missionaries here in the Rome mission. Right off the bat we got to go see the temple and then headed to the mission villa to take some photos with the Mission President and finish some interviews before going to the center of Rome for some contacting and sightseeing. We got to go by the Coliseum as well as Basilica San Giovanni which were both amazing! Afterwards we had dinner, pizza, at the villa and ended the day at around 7:30pm because we had technically been up since 3:00am Mountain time without a break.
The next day we did a group training at the Rome 2 building, which was pretty cool since I'd seen pictures of Taylor Holiday (a sister from my ward who just got home from the same mission) at the same building! Then we walked to the mission office and got some training from several of the senior couples. We wrapped up the day with a nice Lasagna for dinner and opening our first area assignments. Everyone got to go up one by one, open their call, and then announce to the group their city and show everyone on the map where they were going. I got up for mine, opened it and found out I was going to Sardegna (Sardinia) in the city of Olbia on the northeastern side! I was pretty pumped since one Elder, Anziano Sellers, had already opened his and got called to Sassari (the northwestern side) so I didn't think anyone else would be able to go to Sardegna. We ended the night by singing the mission song and saying a prayer together.
We flew out to Alghero, Sardegna Thursday morning from Rome and then took a bus into Sassari with our new trainers. We had some really good pizza and gelato as a first meal and then went back to Anziano Cutler and Sellers' apartment to do language study. We did some contacting on the bus and then Anziano Ruiz, my new companion, and I took the evening train from Sassari to Olbia. We ended the day with a pretty good homemade red sauce by Anziano Ruiz!
Friday was full of weekly planning as well as getting ready for a baptism on Saturday. An investigator that Anziano Ruiz and his previous companion had taught called them one morning and said that after he had been reading the Book of Mormon and received a prompting that he should get baptized as soon as he could, there was no need to wait! It was pretty cool to learn about him and when we got to teach him a lesson Friday evening he actually told us he had just finished the Book of Mormon!
Saturday we got the font (a square pool) filled up with water, and while we waited went into centro (downtown) to see the Giro Italia (a massive bike race throughout Italy) while it came through. They rode into Olbia Friday evening and they rode out Saturday morning so we got to see them take off. It was pretty special, plus centro was packed with people to talk to because of the event! We then went back home and had pranzo (lunch) with the missionaries who had come in from Sassari for the Baptism. The Baptism was really good, and there were some great talks given by 2 of the members in the branch. I got to sing "Seguitemi" as a special musical number and then we had dessert and cleaned up the building with the branch president. While we were cleaning up a man ended up walking by and got into a conversation with one of the members about the church! Anziano Ruiz talked with him a little about the Book of Mormon and what we believe and then set an appointment for Tuesday of this week.
Sunday we started by having correlation meeting with the branch President and then having our normal Sunday meetings from 9am to 12pm. We actually had a couple visiting from Switzerland who have a vacation house here in Olbia! The members were pretty excited to have some new faces in church. To break our fast we had pranzo at President's house which was a huge 4 course Italian meal that stuffed me full! If I hadn't been fasting beforehand I don't think I would have been able to finish everything, haha. Afterwards we took a walk with everyone through centro and went to the Olbia Museum since it was a free day. Once we had finished looking at several cool display of ancient archaeology from Olbia's history Anziano Ruiz and I went home to do some studying before going out for the last couple hours and contacting people on the bus and throughout town. It was a very long day....
I'm so happy to be serving here in Italy, and even though I can't understand everything perfectly it's amazing to hear the testimonies of the members. I don't think I'll have as much time to write the next few weeks so I'll definitely try and condense my emails from now on. It should be easier since my days are consistent from here on out for the next 22 months!
Spero che tutto sia forte,
PS. The title is true, there's a pizzeria wherever you look.
Samuel did not take time to update his blog last Friday. But, we did receive an email early this morning that he arrived in Italy.
Here are two photos:
Samuel at the construction site of the Rome temple
Samuel with Mission President and Sister Pickerd, at the mission offices
Scusi per la lunga attesa,
Well, this is my first time missing a weekly update. Hopefully I never end up missing one again because the events really add up. I'll try to do my best to summarize last week as well as this past one.
Week 4/15 - 4/21
SABBATO - Well we tried SYL (Speak Your Language) on Saturday again, but it kinda flopped without enough motivation and hype in the days leading up to it. Anziano Bardsley and I did a mock lesson with Sorella Berrey and Sorella Evans for class, where we took turns being an investigator and practiced teaching a lesson. For our evening lesson, we talked about how to introduce people to the Book of Mormon.
DOMENICA - Pasqua! We had leadership meetings in the morning like normal and then had an Easter devotional! It was with Dallin H. Oaks and his wife. The main focus of the talks were on what the resurrection is about and how it applies to each of us. Afterwards we walked by the temple, then had classes and sacrament meeting. We had an amazing evening devotional as well, with Sheri Dew as the speaker. She talked about how to receive help from God and the importance of asking questions to strengthen your testimony. She is one of the best speakers I have ever heard! Afterwards we got to listen to an old talk from 2009 that Elder Bednar gave at the MTC about recognizing the Spirit. It mostly comes down to being good, keeping covenants, and always acting on whatever good thought enters your head.
LUNEDI - My companion got to go on a trip to see Temple Square in Salt Lake City. All the missionaries from outside the US get a chance to visit Temple Square while in the MTC because it might be the only chance they have to see the Salt Lake City Temple. We had some really awesome lessons that were more personalized since we were missing 3 people out of the normal 9. Anziano Melchin, Hakanson and I did a TRC Skype call lesson with a man in Minnesota that served in Milan on his mission. It wasn't the clearest sound quality, but we had a good discussion. With our teachers we went over some of the more difficult language concepts for review and then talked about how to make sure we have the spirit in lesson. Then we got to teach some lessons outside, in addition to seeing our teacher do a demo-teach.
MARTEDI - Today I finally started my Book of Mormon tab system! I'll add some pictures of it when it is somewhat finished. Then during our study time I taught about an hour long lesson to some people in our district about how reflexive verbs work, which was really fun! I love teaching the language. This week we started playing the investigators ourselves and now we teach 2 lessons a day, and get taught twice as well. For the devotional we heard from John A. Uceda from the Seventy about how we can learn more from the scriptures by digging deep. He spoke for 1 hour and 20 minutes about Matthew 28:19-20, and the majority of that was on a couple words that actually mean disciple when not using the English king James translation.
MERCOLEDI - I learned a completely new tense finally! We've caught up to my four years of high school Italian in about 5 weeks. (Albeit my overall vocabulary is still much larger than most peoples). Basically just normal lessons today and some amazing volleyball. With the new French Elders we got last week, who played volleyball in high school and college, so it's a lot more fun and competitive.
GIOVEDI - On Thursdays we have an awkward schedule. We spend all morning with free time and then we have meals and classes from 12:45-9:00pm. It makes for a super long day. We spiced up the morning free time with an audition of "Nearer My God to Thee" for a special musical number. We've been practicing for the past week as a quartet to sing it in Sacrament meeting. After the audition, we were asked to sing for the new missionary training meeting next Wednesday. Classes today were mostly taken up with investigator teaching. It's crazy how much we do in a day in terms of material learned, that we cover in both the language and the gospel.
Week of 4/8 - 4/14
SABBATO - We implemented a "Speak Your Language" Saturday for our zone where we decided to only speak Italian for the whole day! We had a couple hours of study time until lunch and we did amazing, literally every time someone spoke English they would catch themselves and go back into Italian. It was an awesome day even though most people had broken into English by dinner. It really showed how exhausting speaking a language your learning can be, if that's your only option. For class, we had a lesson where we looked at the paintings of Jesus Christ they have in the main administration building. We just walked around viewing pictures and thought about the different ways they depict Him. At the end of the day as we were walking back to the residence it started snowing! It was a super light dusting, but pretty cool to have snow in April.
DOMENICA - Snow on the ground in the morning! It stayed on the ground for a decent amount of time until about 3:00pm. It was Fast Sunday, which means we don't eat or drink anything for the day and instead focus on a specific thing we are fasting for. It could be something we want to learn, need help with, or we can even fast for friends and family who may need help. The walk up to the temple was super fun since the snow was still on the ground. I went to several leadership meetings for our branch (church unit) and then we had a fast and testimony meeting with some awesome testimonies about the Savior. For the evening devotional President and Sister Martino of the MTC talked about their conversion story, how they met and the impact that missionary work has had on their lives. It was really cool.
LUNEDI - (I need to to shorten these summaries, molto veloce now) Lessons in the morning like normal and I decided to make a really cool tagging system for my Book of Mormon, that is based around the Preach My Gospel (the missionary lesson handbook).
MARTEDI - Study in the morning and then we did TRC (Teaching Resource Center) where we talked to 2 Italian-speaking members for about 20 minutes each and gave a short lesson. We had a devotional with Valeri V. Cordon of the Seventy, who gave the same talk during the past General Conference! He focused on the idea that we have the opportunity to live a "mini-life" while we are on our missions and how we should make sure to carry that into our lives after our mission as well.
MERCOLEDI - Super fun day! We started with class doing investigator lessons in Italian and then we got to host the new missionaries coming into the MTC! We were able to meet them at the front curb, where they get dropped off, and then take them to their residence, drop their bags off and then they go right into classes on the first day. I got to help an Elder going to serve in Turkey and one going to France! After one more 3 hour class, we had an Italian Zone Volleyball tournament where everyone got wrecked by District B. (who have 4 really good athletes, and one Sister who played volleyball in college). To wrap up the day we had a Tie Exchange, which was super fun and everyone really enjoyed!
GIOVEDI - Service, volleyball(gym), and study in the morning and then a sack lunch with my companion, so we could plan for our upcoming lesson with our "investigator." I was really nervous because we haven't been having much success getting her to open up. We ended up not giving it and instead got to watch Sorella Griffin and Sorella Reber (the resource teacher) do a demo lesson. It was really amazing to watch them bear their testimonies in Italian and I had such an awesome confirmation that I know I'm doing the right thing being out here on a mission, no matter how tough it gets.
Venerdi - Normal Preparation day with a temple trip in the morning, laundry, and then a lesson in the evening. We learned a lot about how every lesson we give should have a strong focus that the investigator can't miss.
1 & 2 are from our temple walk on Sunday. It snowed on Saturday, so it made for some really awesome photos.
3 - My roommate Anziano Sanchez dressed up in some random St Patrick's day and Easter things that got sent to some guys in our zone. He was walking around the residence pretending to be a missionary.
4 - Anziano Baker and I flipped all the chairs over in our floor's lounge and listened to a great talk by Brad Wilcox.
(Give me five everyone!)
That's probably my most used phrase from this week, we learned it on Monday. But before we get there, I have conference to talk about! If you didn't watch it I recommend you go to lds.org and watch some talks, it was bomb! (Elder Holland gave one you can't miss)
SABATO - Wish conferenza generale could be all day every day, but we only get 4 days of it a year, guess I'll have to settle with that. The big focus of most of the talks was on how we can come closer to Christ and improve ourselves by staying close to Him. The best part of the day was reviewing it as a district after all the day's meetings were done. It was a straight hour of testimony about how glad we are to be serving missions for Heavenly Father and showing our faith to the world. I'm so glad to be in the MTC with the people in my district because they all have such great testimonies.
Quote of the day:
"On those days when we feel a little out of tune, a little less than what we think we see or hear in others, I would ask us, especially the youth of the Church, to remember it is by divine design that not all the voices in God’s choir are the same. It takes variety—sopranos and altos, baritones and basses—to make rich music." - Elder Holland
DOMENICA - Before conference at both sessions while we were waiting we decided to sing as a quartet and it was awesome! It feels so good to be able to just sing hymns in a crowd and bring a spirit of peace for like a straight 40 minuti. My favorite talk from conference was from D. Todd Christofferson about how we should not hide the gospel in our hearts simply because of the views that the world has. After conference we had a devotional, and guess who it was?!? Vocal Point! Nobody was expecting it and they put on a pretty good show talking about the importance of missions in their lives and expressing their testimonies through song. (Vocal Point is a 9 man BYU acapella singing group that has some amazing music) For the quote of the day:
"God knows you perfectly, He loves you perfectly.... and He wants YOU to abide in His perfect love" - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
LUNEDI - Class with Fratello Sloan and Sorella Griffin. The main thought was about how important the Restoration is in starting a foundation for a testimony of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the restored gospel. We had a meeting scheduled for 8:00am, but the teacher never showed up for some reason! We ended up singing some great hymns and having an amazing testimony meeting where we focused on the beauty of eternal families. The Romanian Elders and Sisters in our zone were there too and bore some beautiful testimonies about why they have chosen to take two years of their lives to serve the Lord.
MARTEDI - We escaped the MTC! Just kidding, but we got to go to Salt Lake City with a small group of people from our zone and get our visas for Italy! We took the train from Provo to Salt Lake, got on Trax to get to downtown and had no idea how to find the consulate. Miraculously, the lady helping us get the visas was on the rail car right behind us at our final stop! We got to go to the church office building, filled out all the paperwork at the consulate, and then had some free time until our train left at 2:00pm. We walked around temple square and had an amazing lunch at the Cheesecake factory! (A much needed change from MTC food). That evening we had a devotional from the MTC president's brother, Elder Martino, about how important members are when it comes to missionary work. Interesting note, the "Prodigal Son" can also be called the story of the "Running Father" and likened to how Heavenly Father is reaching out to us as we humble ourselves and repent.
MERCOLEDI - Long day of lessons learning Italian and also discussing the importance of the Holy Ghost in each lesson. Volleyball was amazing today, the Portuguese Elders are all super competitive so it was nice to actually get consistent volleys in. Our "meeting" from Monday got rescheduled and we learned more about how the Spirit can help us learn the language. Most importantly, the Lord can only magnify what abilities we already have. Also, the best motivation for learning a language is loving the people.
GIOVEDI - I felt terrible half the day! For some reason I woke up with a queasy stomach, so I spent the first couple hours of the day ineffectively trying to hold food down. After a nausea pill at the doctors and some Gatorade, the rest of the day went by great. Our lessons were amazing today, and we discussed the importance of making sure the things that help us become better on our mission continue into our lives after a mission.
Today we had a good trip to the temple and then did laundry and studying. Tomorrow is SYL Saturday where we have decided to only speak Italiano to the people in our zone. Hopefully it goes well! Only 3 more weeks to go, or something like that.
1 My companion and I taking a funny photo at the temple
2 Picture of the group that went to SLC on Tuesday for visas
3 Me at the Salt Lake temple for the last time in two years!
I can't believe another full week has gone by, it seems like we'll be out of here in no time. We got some amazing lessons and talks over the past several days from our leaders and teachers.
SABBATO - We had a training meeting as a zone (all 3 Italian classes) on learning the language more effectively and how to receive help if we're struggling. One of the things we did there was memorize the scripture Moroni 10:5 from the Book of Mormon.
"E mediante il potere dello Spirito Santo voi potete conoscere la verità di ogni cosa" -> English -> "And through the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of every thing"
We had a lesson with our investigator Polin, who we talked to about the Book of Mormon and how to know if it's true. It went really well. But, the majority of the day was spent on personal study or language study as a class.
DOMENICA - This was easily the best day of the week, although all the days were pretty amazing! Sunday is a bit different at the MTC because we are already devoting our lives to Christ, so it basically involves just a more structured day with less personal and companion study. We started by getting dressed and then going to our normal classrooms to have some study time before going to breakfast. It's always crowded in the cafeteria because the leaders of the Wards and their wives are all there as well (there are a TON of wards for all us missionaries because they like to only have 1-2 language groups put together in a church unit). Then we went on a walk on the grounds of the Provo temple and took pictures as districts and as a Zone. Afterwards we had meetings for Priesthood and Relief Society. Brother Webb one of the ward leaders (and my personal favorite) had some amazing insight on receiving guidance from the Holy Ghost. We got to sing in choir practice prepping for Tuesday's devotional and there were over 500 people! For the Sunday devotional we listened to the BYU Men's Chorus, it's been so long since I listened to a great choir. We ended the day with a bang listening to Elder Bednar's talk called "Character of Christ." Pretty inspirational and moving talk about what makes the character of Christ and how we become more like him. To summarize: no matter what Christ did in his life he turned towards others and never turned inwards. Contrary, the natural man always wants to turn inward and focus on self. Something to think about when we are trying to improve ourselves.
LUNEDI - This was a rough day of language learning. I'm still trying to adapt to the schedule and I think that is why it wasn't as great. We had an okay lesson teaching Polin, but I felt a little flustered since Anziano Bardsley was still relying on me to do most of the Italian speaking. Volleyball can change my mood any day though, so it was a good note to end on.
MARTEDI - Complete switch from yesterday! I was happy like all day long. I opened up a little to Anziano Bardsley about what I thought we could do to improve on as a companionship. I also got a paperback copy of the Book of Mormon that I plan to read and mark up while I'm here at the MTC. For the Tuesday devotional we listened to Elder Palmer, of the Quuorm of the Seventy, who is from New Zealand. Anziano Miller, an elder in our district, is from there as well, so he was pretty excited. He spoke to us about the importance of the Holy Ghost and that He will be using us as the Lord's hands to do His work. He also made sure to emphasize staying happy and dedicated to missionary work while on our mission, no matter what our success may seem to be at a specific time. We also got to sing "Count the Lilies" with the MTC choir for the devotional!
MERCOLEDI - Lots of studying on our own and as a class after having a lesson with Fratello Sloan in the morning. I was able to memorize the first vision in Italian during our study time. We also got some new elders in the zone! 4 Elders and 2 Sisters headed to the Romania/Moldova mission where my friend Lucy Gleason is serving.
GIOVEDI - Tons of stuff happened on this day!! We did service as a district in the morning by cleaning the bathrooms of one of the other residence buildings, 8 group bathrooms spread over 4 floors. We spent the rest of the morning doing study and then got to play Volleyball. Probably one of the most competitive groups I have played with while here at the MTC. Anziano Bardsley had to get shots, with a couple other elders in the zone, so some of us did a puzzle while we waited in the lobby. We had an amazing lesson just discussing the scriptures together with Fratello Sloan and our class. For our second class we met our Investigator! Polin is actually Sorella Griffin and our second teacher here at the MTC. She is super nice and it's great to have a different style of teaching now. It turns out she is a returned missionary that served in the Milan Mission about a year ago. The sad news of the day was that Anziano Abplanalp found out he needs exploratory surgery on his ankle because of a problem he's been having with it, so he left the MTC on Friday. Since he was the zone leader, I ended up being called to replace him.
VENERDI - We had a great time saying goodbye to Anziano Abplanalp by going to a temple session this morning. We got special permission to go extra early because of his departure time. We got there at like 6:15am and it turns out the temple doesn't start sessions until 7:00am! While we were waiting outside I got a bloody nose that didn't want to stop. I ended up getting it under control, but not before using like 20 million tissues over the course of 15 minutes! The temple session was amazing, and then we had breakfast in the cafeteria as a zone. The rest of the day we did study, laundry, and some exercise playing volleyball (best sport in the world).
I love the MTC even when stuff gets a bit hectic, and I'm looking forward to the next several weeks I have here.
PS. I need to start making this shorter, so expect a much more concise letter next week.
The picture at the temple is our whole zone.
The last is our district (class) - from left to right: Sorella Mayes, Sorella Hensen, Sorella Evans, Sorella Berrey, Anziano Bardsley (my companion), Anziano Miller, Anziano Abplanalp, me, Anziano Hakanson, and Anziano Melchin.
Ciao amici e Familia!
This was a great first couple days at the MTC!
I started my trip as a missionary on Tuesday by flying from Sacramento to Salt Lake City. I got to say goodbye to my brothers, Mom and Dad at the curb and then was off on my adventure. I got picked up from the airport by my Aunt Denise and Uncle Paul who live in Sandy Utah. We were able to visit my cousin Emily, her husband Doug, their beautiful dog Penny, and best of all - my first Parker nephew Silas! [actually a cousin -- first of the next generation] He's just a couple weeks old but he's so happy! After visiting we went back to have a home cooked meal at Aunt Denise's where I had Elk steak for the first time! Definitely the most gamey meat I've had. We met up with my Aunt MayLynn who I stayed with Tuesday night before heading into the MTC on Wednesday. (We got to watch the Best 2 Years and have turnovers before going to bed!) I also got to hear some amazing mission stories from Uncle Bryan about his time in New Zealand and what impact sharing the gospel had on a family during their time in Montana.
Got all my stuff gathered up and Aunt MayLynn and my cousin Daryl took me out to a brunch where we met up with my cousin Lorri (who is going to BYU Provo) and her boyfriend Garrett. Got to learn a little bit more about what the MTC and mission experience would be like, and then they dropped me off! I got to shake hands with President Martino, the MTC president, when I was coming in off the curb and it turns out he served in Italy as well! (Milan sadly, not Rome) Got my official name tag, in Italian, study books, and scriptures, and then was popped right into class with 9 other people. My 4 years of Italian have been amazing! I'm keeping up pretty well and I've been able to help a lot of my classmates understand the teacher since he only speaks Italian. Surprisingly I'm not the most experienced in the class, we have an elderly man who can speak fluently because he lived in Italy for 9 months with a family in Venezia. My companion while I'm here at the MTC is Anziano Bardsely who hails from Perth Australia of all places. He had 30 hours of travel time to get to Utah! He has a crazy Australian accent and he'll be serving in the Rome mission with me. Everyone else in our class is going to Milan. There are 3 Italian classes total, with various combinations of Milano and Roma missionaries in each one. Anziano Bardsely and I are living with 2 other Anziani, Anziano Imes (from Las Vegas) and Anziano Sanchez (from the Dominican Republic) both of which are hilarious. We had introductions in class, and then went to an introductory meeting with the MTC presidency. Also I saw 3 people I knew from outside the MTC all on the first day! My friend Trevor (now Elder Woods) from Pacific YSA ward I caught before going inside my residence. Emma Guiterrez (from Las Vegas) is a sister I met at EFY a couple of years ago who is going to serve in Brazil. Finally I saw Isaiah Elias, Bishop Elias' grandson who is going to Kentucky! So exciting to see so many familiar faces.
Tons of study time in the morning with my companion where we worked on the language as well as a spiritual thought for Thursday night. Then we learned a bit more about how to relate to investigators and share Christ's love. Italian class was super long, like 4 hours! We got ready to teach an investigator from Italy over Skype the next day, all in Italian. We had our branch meeting after class, where we introduced ourselves to the Branch Presidency their wives, and President and sister Martino (they wanted to crash in on our branch meeting). We had some great testimonies we heard and then Anziano Bardsely and I talked about adapting to the mission.
We got up at 6:20 like normal and got to go to the Provo temple right across from the MTC. It looks so small on the outside but it's ginormous on the inside! Once we finished our session we came back to the apartment, changed into some casual Preparation day clothes (normally we wear a white shirt and tie but on prep day we can wear street clothes) and did some emailing. Since we didn't have much to do we just started preparing for our first lesson which we did all in Italian! We have "investigators" that are actually members who volunteer at the MTC to help us get experience in role play lessons. Ours is from Verona and her name is Polin. It went pretty well but we couldn't get around the Pope topic, haha. She also was blown away when we invited her to church that it was 3 hours long. The only other thing we did was go to the gym for the first time, and I got to play volleyball! So nice to play with a full 6 on 6 since I haven't had that since BYU Idaho.
That's about it per ora, ma finche poi -