[A New Colleague, A New City]
Jk, I'm still in Pescara, but I do have a new companion - Anziano Strong! Quick run down on him: he's from Hotchkiss, Colorado and is the oldest in his family (just like me!). He has been in the mission for 1 yr and 3 months now, and is better than me at biliardino [Fooseball] (I'm hoping to be able to beat him by the end of the transfer, speriamo!) [Let's hope] We're looking forward to having a lot of fun together this transfer - we already started out strong with a great p-day in Ortona. It's a super tranquilla cittÓ [quiet city] that we visited that has a castle and some nice coastline.
This week went by pretty fast, it was a whirlwind from Monday to Thursday, sending Anziano Toronto and MacDonald off to the Napoli Zone. We visited all the people Anziano Toronto has become friends with during his time here. From Wednesday evening to Thursday night Anziano Snyder and I were together, and it was so weird to only have 2 Anziani in the house!! I don't know how I survived the first 7 months in a house with just 2 missionaries.... way too quiet as I'm now realizing. We had a good day with some fun finding an made a really good rag¨ for Anz Hansen and Strong to eat that evening, since we knew they were probably going to be pretty hungry. We kept it on the stove for a full 8 hours (secret being lots of water) and it turned out bellissimo!! [very beautiful]. It was the best rag¨ I have ever made Con l'aiuto di Anz Snyder [with the help of Anz Snyder].
We had some really good days finding people to teach this week, and it was probably the most fun I've had finding during my whole mission! I don't know why or how, but I have gotten super relaxed and confident with talking to people on the street. A lesson we had in priesthood meeting during church tied in really well, it was on the general conference talk from President Eyring, "Fear Not to Do Good" - which focuses on a scripture from D&C 6:33-37. This scripture explains to us that as long as we are planting our best, the product of our efforts surely will be harvested. Just knowing that everything we do will be rewarded is such a profound promise!
Tempo Ŕ scaduto per adesso, quindi - alla prossima!
[Time has expired for now, so - see you next time!]
Anziano Samuel Parker
1 Sono io... [It's me]
2 Really nice last supper depiction
3 Anz Strong e Anz Parker!
4 La vista dal Castello
5 Nuovo Distretto! Da Sinistra a Destra: Anz Hansen, Anz Snyder, Sor Lalonde, Anz Parker, Sor Warner, Anz Strong, Sor Acerson, Sor Schnell
6 Vecchio Distretto! Da Sinistra a Destra: Anziano Parker, Macdonald, Toronto, Snyder, Anz Bohn, Rummens e poi Sorella Batres, Cook, Warner, Lalonde, Acerson, Schnell
[Befana, the witch who uses a vacuum cleaner!]
This was a slow week for us in terms of missionary work - just normal finding, a really awesome conversation with an atheist, and then a pretty solid lesson with Adamo and Emanuela involving soccer and hunting. That was pretty fun.
Other than that, probably the biggest news is that President Monson, the current latter-day prophet, passed away on Wednesday (Tuesday in American). It's been really special to be able to reflect on all of his teachings and look over all my notes relating to him. It's incredible to think of how long he dedicated his life fully to the Lord - from the age of 36 to 90 years old he served as an apostle. He was able to change thousands, maybe millions of lives, and inspire many. He was renowned for the many personal and touching interactions he had with many people. I have several favorite quotes from him that have particularly inspired me while serving on my mission:
"For each of us must run the race called mortality; and must make the decison: Shall I falter or shall I finish?"
"The worth of a soul is its capacity to become as God"
"The great test of this life is obedience."
"Decisions are constantly before us, to make them, courage is needed."
And my favorite of all....
"I know of no experience more sweet or feeling more precious than to heed a prompting only to discover that the Lord has answered another person's prayer through you."
That last quote is what drives me every day. I look up to each one of the leaders of the church because I know they have spent their time mastering how to follow the promptings of the spirit and being on the Lord's errand. It amazes me that when I follow a prompting, overcome my fear, I am able to see how the Lord helps me touch the life of someone new. That's the best way I can sum up my life as a missionary in the Italy Rome Mission. I may not find many people that will receive the gospel, but the Lord is able to use this as a time of preparation, to help me become a better person too. President Monson was a shining example of a servant who put all he had in the hands of the Lord, and I want to try my best this year to be like him.
.... the title of this week's letter refers to Befana, a witch who on the f6th of January - in the place of Santa Claus - flies on a broom down all the chimneys and leaves treats in stocking. However we learned in English course that she has recently upgraded to a vacuum, thanks to the new technology that's being released these days!
Anziano Samuel Parker
1 Awesome jacket
2 Fresno was definitely not founded in 1972
3 I used to ride bikes, this thing is like my dream - simple but cool
4 Quotes from Pres. Monson
[A Christmas in Italy and a New Year]
Natale Ŕ avvenuto, e ora siamo nel prossimo anno 2018!
[Christmas has happened, and now we are in the next year 2018]
Well . . . I wrote an email last week, but then I decided to festeggiare di pi¨ [celebrate more] for Christmas, so this one will be just be a brief summary of "the holiday adventures of Anziano Parker."
The week before Christmas we had a really successful gesso and got to meet some really cool ragazzi [young men]. Then we had zone conference in Rome and we did a giro [tour] of some sights (Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps) before heading to the villa for our interviews with the Mission President. It's always so awesome to be with other missionaries! We dressed up to be a part of a nativity, and the Pescara missionaries definitely came with the best costumes (we for sure had the best dressed zone in the mission).
For Christmas Eve we had only Sacrament Meeting for church, and then we visited with Brother Luca, who is one of the most faithful members ever. Then we had Christmas Eve dinner with Adamo, Emmanuela, and their daughter Vittoria. I had lamb for the first time, and some really good tortellini in chicken broth.
On Christmas day we opened presents and then we had breakfast at the church building with the Sister Missionaries. While we were there we played biliardino (foosball) and Ping-Pong. Later we were invited to have lunch at the Favilli family's house, where we had a whole lot more lamb and were stuffed to the max. That night we all got to talk with our families and I quickly learned that 45 min is not enough time at all. It was impossible to try and say everything I wanted to say during the Skype call.
This past week we've been trying to keep the work moving, which was hard because most Italians tend to go into hibernation for the 3 week period of Christmas, New Year's, and Befana (Italian holiday with a witch which plays the role of Santa). It's been going good so far, and we're really trying to kill it this last week since the transfer is wrapping up soon.
For New Year's Eve we had to be in by 9:00pm, but we got to hang out with the members for a little while at the church for the beginning of their New Year's Eve party. We also got to try arrosticini [skewers] for the first time on Anziano Toronto's birthday (which was Dec. 30th). They are a traditional Abruzzese food - meat of sheep roasted on a stick.
I'm really excited to start this new year. I will spend all of 2018 completely in Italy, so I have this time now to set some really good resolutions for how I want to improve my missionary work. I did a personal study this past week on consecration, and how I can consecrate everything I have and do as a missionary to the Lord. During the study I read a talk that my Uncle Tim wrote and gave just after the death of my Grandma Bird. I realized while I was reading his account of her life, that the reason she was loved and appreciated by so many was because she consecrated her life to the Lord. As I move into the new year I want to make sure each day I am becoming more polished, and a more effective tool in my Savior's hands. I'm so grateful we can continually improve thanks to Him.
Auguri, e buon anno!
[Best wishes, and Happy New Year!]
Anziano Samuel Parker
Hardships often prepare ORDINARY people for an EXTRAORDINARY destiny -- C.S. Lewis
1 The Trevi
2 Spanish Steps - I really wanted to go into the church at the top, but we didn't have time
4 Nativity (Presepe in italiano)
5 Our Nativity play
6 Beast camel (I'm the head, it was a 3-man deal)
7 Rome East Zone (Biggest Zone in the Mish right now)
8 Merry Christmas
9 Pandoro (pane tradizionale di Natale) [traditional Christmas bread]
10 Arrosticini [skewers]
11 Bday Blanket for Anz Toronto!
[The Death of a Trio]
Mama Mia, ho un sacco da scrivere - spero di farcela....
[Mama Mia, I have a lot to write - I hope I can do it]
We had a great lesson on Tuesday with our recent convert Luca with Fratello Conforte - spiritual giant in Pescara. Basically we just listened to Fratello Conforte use his 40 years of study in the church to blow our minds and help us guide the conversation more smoothly (Luca really, really, really respects Fratello Conforte, and normally he goes on tangents when it's just us.) Then for English course that night we taught about Christmas in America with all our students! Quick note - In Italia they don't put baby Jesus in the nativity until the 24th of December!
Wednesday we went singing in centro with the other coppia of Anziani [set of Elders] and we walked up to random people asking if they had a favorite Christmas song that we could sing for them! It was really fun - we sang a lot of White Christmas and then people kept asking for "Merry Christmas," so we sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." It was really cool to see all the crazy reactions we got from people.
Thursday we were thrown a curve ball by President Pickerd, and found out that Anz McConkie was getting an emergency transfer from our trio to Rome, because another missionary ended up going home. We had a lesson with Luca in the morning, and then spent the rest of the day prepping for Anz McConkie to leave. He wanted to see people he's worked with for the past five months in Pescara. I was really sad to see him go, but he's gonna do great things in Roma! I'm really grateful I got to spend some time with him and have the experience of being in a trio.
Friday and Saturday I did a scambio [an exchange] with Anziano Snyder. We killed it Friday night doing two lessons and then having some good finding as well. We had to stay inside the house for a good portion of the day since the other Anziani took our cell phone on accident to their meal appointment, an hour away. We did get to go to a park dedication in the morning though, which the church somehow got involved in - I'm still not 100% sure why we got recognized so highly by the mayor, but I got to hold a ribbon so I'm happy. Then Anziano Toronto and Snyder made Oreo Tiramis¨ while I prepped for my talk on Sunday.
My talk was on service and it turned out that I was the main speaker because the other two speakers cancelled . . . I managed to finally give a talk that was over 15 minutes - and in Italian to boot! Preparing for it made me realize just how much giving service is an integral part of the church and that by doing it we are following the example of Jesus Christ. That night we went up to Chieti Alto to sing in centro with all of the other missionaries from Pescara! There weren't too many people in centro because it started snowing and was pretty cold, but we still brought the good old Christmas joy with some classic carols. Towards the end we split up and then sang in different restaurants for people!
Last Sunday I learned my Grandma passed away. As I was looking through a stack of letters I've had from home, I found one that was still closed. It was from my Grandma. She wrote it to me before I entered the MTC! I finally opened it and read her words and remembered just how much she loved me. She wrote about being proud of the service I'm doing out here on my mission. It was pretty cool to get such a sweet letter from her.
Also here's the post I put on Facebook for those who may not have seen it:
"I haven't been able to see my Grandma since back in March because I've been serving my mission in Italy, but I'm so glad I was able to spend so much of my life so close - just a 2 min drive away whenever I needed her. I rarely saw her without a smile - even when things were tough or she was in pain, she made sure the people around her were happy. I've learned all my life as a believer in Jesus Christ that I will be able to live with and see my family again after this life, but this really feels for me like the first time that belief has been put to the test."
Now that she has passed from this life, I am willing to put all my faith and trust in this scripture: "And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God." (D&C 14:7) I know my Grandma believed in this promise with all her heart, and that she wants it to be fulfilled for all of us grandchildren as well.
Mi manca per adesso, ma la vedr˛ infine [I miss her for now, but I'll finally see her.] I know that she wants me to continue doing my best to preach the gospel to the people here in Italy, and I'm grateful for everything she was able to teach me!
That's all for now, and Merry Christmas to everyone!
Anziano Samuel Parker
1 Chieti Centro
2 Park Dedication
3 Walked to the end of Pescara
4 Golden Italian Made Tower
Wow, this week was the lit!
We did a ton of stuff this week, and it's hard to think of everything I need to write! We had our first district meeting with the full district here - 10 from Pescara, 2 from l'Aquila, and 2 from Ascoli - it's crazy to have 14 missionaries total. Our district meeting helped us get pumped for the week - and we killed it! On Wednesday we went "finding" in the morning and we passed by this guy selling Clemintines (tangerines - Cuties) from Calabria (supposedly the best in Italy). When we walked by, I was curious and asked him, "What is the difference between a mandarin and a clementina?" Then we basically had the best conversation ever about the gospel! He was 100% in agreement with everything we said and even said all the verses we read from the Book of Mormon were true. I gave him the Book of Mormon and now I've got an awesome source for oranges next week. We're going to follow up with him on Wednesday. The rest of that day and Thursday we did a bomb job finding and talking to people on the street about #SiiUnaLuce, [#BeALight] it went pretty great.
Friday we sang at an old folks home and got to visit with some of the Anziani [Elderly] living there. They absolutely loved it and kept on saying "che bravi ragazzi [What good Guys]!" It gave me a nice, warm and tingly feeling doing service like that for them. We also met with Louis, our investigator, to remind him about his baptism date and to make sure he was all prepped for it on Saturday. We were freaking out for a lot of the week because we hadn't been able to meet with him because of his work. On Saturday he said he was busy and would try to make it by 4:20pm at the earliest. His baptism was scheduled for 4:30! Luckily he made it and our boy Louis is now a member of the Church! He's a super great guy from Nigeria who's been here for about 2 years, and he has an awesome testimony about the importance of following and being a representative of the Savior.
On Sunday we sang Christmas hymns in centro [downtown - center] all together as missionaries and made a whole bunch of new friends, tons of people loved listening to our singing (we think we sounded pretty good, who knows though).
Today for p-day we went to Chieti. It was the first p-day all of us missionaries have done something together, it was great!
Buona settimana!! [Good Week!!]
Anziano Samuel Parker
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