Elder Parker's Missionary Blog

Week 42 - La Siccità

[The Drought]


It was a long week in the Pescara house. We've been without water for a full 7 days, and we just got it turned back on today. Here's a little explanation for how wacky the Italian water sytem is: As a renter, you need to pay the water bill, or "bolletta," and if you don't - well, there's not really a huge consequence until like 3 months ~ 1 year later. The renters who were kicked out before the missionaries moved in last summer, hadn't payed their bolletta and so we got our water meter (contatore) unexpectedly removed on Monday evening. Luckily, our landlord was on top of it and came Tuesday to figure out the problem. By Wednesday all the bills were payed by the church and the paperwork was sent in to the water company. We were told we would have water back sometime during Thursday, but it got delayed for 4 days somehow, and we suffered greatly. Fortunatamente [fortunately], the church was just a 4 min walk away from the house, so we were able to go there for most of our water needs. It was absolutely hilarious talking with the members about it, one member even yelled out "sei giorni?!?!?" when she found out how long we hadn't had it - all of us Anziani have been laughing a lot about the whole conundrum.

Anyway, water problems aside, this was a great week! On Tuesday we had our last district meeting with Sor Acerson and Anz Hansen, because they headed out this morning for home (staying in Rome, and flying out Tuesday). I got to lead one of the discussion and I talked about what I learned from zone conference and how I have been able to apply it since then. I learned so much in the preparation and also from all the comments made, but the biggest take away for me, was how we need to be as cheerful as possible while doing this work. We will always be happiest as we strengthen our testimony and LOVE serving the Lord and carry out His will. I've really been able to put that in practice this week and it has changed my perspective a ton.

After the meeting we had a huge district lunch at the church. I love this district! It's ginormous, we all get along, and we do great missionary work together! Nothing more I could ask for, and I'm crossing my fingers that I get to stay in Pescara for the next transfer. We'll be getting our transfer calls tonight, and until Thursday, Anziano Snyder, Anziano Strong and I are in a trio! It's been great, even just for the few hours we've been together today - it is pretty special to be with 2 such amazing missionaries. I have learned a ton from them!

We had a cool experience Friday night. We had scheduled to get out and see some inactive members, and as we passed by one house, the guy we were supposed to see wasn't there, but we got to meet his brother. Then as we were leaving the neighborhood we passed by a man just standing in the park eating a sandwich. I felt like it might be good to talk to him, but I shrugged off the prompting and only gave him a "Buona Sera!" [Good evening]. LUCKILY, God really wanted us to talk to him and as we were walking away he yelled out asking if we needed help going anywhere. We had been turning around to look at the bocci court, and I started explaining the game to Anz Strong. Turns out he was a good friend of the missionaries here in Pescara about a year ago, just saying hi and being really chill with them, but had never gotten around to learning more. He opened up about some of the problems he's been having and the perfect scripture, Mosiah 18:8-10, came to my mind! We had him read it and he was super touched. He said he's been searching for a way to draw closer to God, and we promised him he can do that by reading the Book of Mormon, and trying out the promise contained in the powerful verses 3-5 of the 10th chapter of Moroni. We invited him to church, and as we walked away he was already sitting down on a bench and reading the book that hopefully will change his life! It was a big lesson for me about how when we plan exactly where we will be going, God is able to prepare people to be in our path.

The end of this week was amazing, getting gelato all together one last time, hearing some amazing talks and lessons in church on Sunday, having an amazing first lesson with a member and some friends who are learning more about what we believe, and then finishing off with a big party to celebrate the end of Anz Hansen's and Sor Acerson's mission. Our lesson with Fratello Di Marzio was especially cool since his friend Matteo is a literal biblical genius. He was quoting verses left and right and already knew pretty much all of Mormon doctrine. He's studied the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price all on his own, and really tested all of our scriptural knowledge! We ended up not having nearly enough time to talk about everything, and I'm super happy to be able to have such an eye opening experience as to how well one can master the scriptures!

I would love to talk about the awesome party Laura and some other members put on, but I've already written assai [very much], so I'll just say it was probably the coolest way to finish a mission I've ever seen or will see. Our members here are the best!!! They did some really cool stuff for Anz Hansen and Sor Acerson to celebrate their service. I absolutely love all the moments I get to experience here, and the progress I'm able to make in becoming a better disciple and servant of Jesus Christ! It's a crazy life, but totalmente vale la pena! Italia è fortissima come sempre, non avrei potuto scegliere un paese migliore! [totally worth it! Italy is as strong as ever, I could not have chosen a better country!]

Vi voglio bene, e buon dì! [I love you, and good day!]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 WATER......IS...... BACK!

2 Trio life, gonna be a fun week

3 Pranzo di Distretto [District lunch]

4 Freeeee Cookies! nuff said

5 #PescaraRocks

6 Chieti Alto oggi

7 e 9 Teatro Marrucino

Week 41 - #Cibo



The eating was pretty amazing this week - sadly I didn't get pictures of everything we ate. HOWEVER! I did take a ton of photos visiting the coolest city on the planet, and doing other things throughout the week.

We started the week off by going to the big city for a Zone Conference, early on Tuesday morning. We got done with our interviews pretty early, so we got to roam around Rome for a while. We did a little bit of "finding" and then grabbed some lunch at a Napolitana Pizzeria called "Dan Michele." I haven't had a pizza that good in a long time, and it was definitely the biggest pizza I've eaten in my life! In the evening we did a mostra [exhibition] in Piazza del Popolo, the main piazza [square] in Rome, talking to people about the Book of Mormon. We had an awesome day in Roma. There's just so many monuments and places in Rome that we casually walk by and I just go crazy every time we're there! All the study I did for Italian Culture has paid off Signor Mariani!

The actual zone conference was great too! We went early so that we could practice a musical piece. It normally is about a 45 minute to 1 hr commute from our house, but we were blessed with trains practically waiting for us at every single stop we needed! As always we were "edificati" [edified] by the remarks of President Pickerd, the Assistenti al Presidente [assistants to the president], e Capizona. For the musical number, I sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth" with some other missionaries, and it brought back memories of when I sang that at my baptism over 12 years ago! It was especially cool to hear President Pickerd's thoughts about President Nelson, the new prophet, since he's had quite a few special moments with him throughout his time serving as a Seventy and being Mission President. President Nelson was the one to set him apart when he started serving. The thing I learned the most, from everything he told us about him, is that he is where he is now because he has an absolute love for enjoying and making the most of this life. He knows who he is - a child of God - and he has focused his entire life on reaching the divine potential he can attain as such. One of the funny little stories President Pickerd told was of an exchange that happened when President Nelson and President Pickerd were driving home after a long day of choosing a new stake presidency. President Pickerd mentioned that he felt a little tired and President Nelson just sat up and resoundingly exclaimed - "I feel great!" (They have about a 30 year gap in age between them!) This story helped me this last week, whenever I haven't felt fully committed or completely awake, I've had the image of President Nelson, come to my mind and thought, "he would be pushing to do his best in this very moment, I can too!"

We got to eat the classic BBQ Hamburgers we get at every Rome zone conference, which is the closest thing I get to America on a regular basis. Nothing like bacon, beef, fresh produce, and BBQ sauce smashed between two pieces of bread. #merica. On the ride back from the conference Wednesday evening we talked to a guy named Alfonzo for pretty much the full 2.5 hour ride! We also got to sit on the bottom level of the bus at a table, instead of the top in tight seats. #legroom. Alfonzo was super nice and super interested to know what we are doing here in Italy. Right before we pulled into the station in Pescara we showed him a video about the introduction of the Book of Mormon, bore testimony about how it's changed our lives, and gave him a copy! It was super cool to have such a miracle contact right after zone conference.

We got some great "finding" done the rest of the week, and also had a great time visiting with members! On Thursday we were invited over to a Brazilian family's house, who just moved here 2 months ago. We had a nice lunch and then taught the first lesson with their son who is 9 years old and preparing to get baptized. It was quite the meal because the grandparents only speak Portuguese (the grandpa speaks a little broken English) and the mom is learning Italian. We also had 2 members with us, one who understands Portuguese, but can't speak it, and the other who speaks English and Italian. We had a great time eating, visiting, and then going to the church together. They wanted to do some family history work and we had our English course.

The other meal appointment we had this week was last night, where we had polenta for the first time. It's a dish from Northern Italy, originally from Bergamo - and it was cooked by a Bergamasca! There's a corn based paste that's pretty tasty and then a sugo [sauce] with big chunks of meat and peas, but it's pretty much the equivalent of Italian Fu-fu. (Don't let an Italian hear you say that though.) We got to visit with Alberto, Alicia, and John Paul - all members from the ward - and we had some good laughs about the differences between Italy and America.

In other food news: we bought fresh honey from Abruzzo on Saturday at a market, and I ate legit pancakes for the first time on my mission!! We also got amazing donuts filled with creme this morning with Roberto (honestly it was more like a pile of nutella, whipped cream and creme filling surrounded by deep fried donut batter)..... Way too much sugar.

We had a lot of success Saturday night, as well as Sunday doing the America sondaggio [poll] again. It's always amazing to see people's reaction to hearing that Jesus Christ appeared in America! I love being able to bear testimony of that event and the message we have that God still speaks to His children. So many people don't know these things, and there's no other way to let them know! Like Anz Ballard has said, "Perceptions of the church are established one conversation at a time" - so let's get talking about it this week!

A dopo, anche buon San Valentino quest mercoledì!

[See you later and have a good Valentine's Day on Wednesday]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 & 2 Last Pday with Sorella Acerson and Anziano Hansen in our Pescara Crew

3 Roberto and Anz Snyder!

4 Anz Wagstaff, my brother in the mission! [we were both trained by Anz Ruiz]

5 Zona di Roma Est

6 The good ol' Trevi

7 & 8 NapTown Pizza da Dan Michele

9 Piazza del Popolo a Roma (Twin Churches in the background!)

10 & 11 It was quite the process getting stuff back to our district....

12 Dinner with John Paul, Alberto and Alicia

13 bombe stamattina

Week 40 - Tra il dire e il fare, c'è nel mezzo il mare

[Between saying and doing, there is the sea in the middle]


Allora carissimi, [So dear], (if you're an Italy Rome Missionary, you should get that)

I promised a good email this week, and I'm ready to deliver! I went into this week even more determined to make some miracles happen and see God's hand in the work, as I tried my hardest. The week started off amazing right off the bat doing some "finding." Then we felt the prompting to go see our recent convert Luca, who hasn't been able to come to church for a good bit. It was just what all of us needed! We talked with him about how he's doing, and Luca ended up giving us more of a spiritual thought than we gave him! I love him because he's got such amazing faith, and absolutely loves bearing his testimony to everyone he talks to. As we were talking to him I just had a confirmation that coming to see him had been the right choice, and as he was speaking to us about how we can be more positive and confident in our missionary work, I felt like my Heavenly Father was almost speaking directly to me through him. Definitely one of the cooler moments I've had following the Spirit.

On Tuesday we had district meeting, and afterwards all 12 of us (I love having a huge district) went out to grab pizza. Turns out while we were all eating at the pizza place a friend of the Bishop's wife was there and called her to just say how amazing it was to see so many missionaries all together, and just the light that was radiating from us. After all the tough moments we have during the week, where it seems like we don't make a difference in people's lives, it was like getting a big dose of sunshine. It was nice to hear Sorella Salvatori's testimony about the impact we have just being present here on the streets in Pescara! I absolutely love coming to church, taking the sacrament, and feeling the spirit so strongly every single week of my life! I've been able to notice even better than ever when I do or don't have the spirit with me, and it's something I hate living without.

We got to teach Louis about marriage this week and it was hilarious! We were able to talk about the importance of families, temples, and also what being married for time and eternity means. He's about 25, and we were telling him that it was time to stop messing around and how he needs to start looking for a wife. My favorite part of the lesson was when Anz Strong and I pulled out our temple recommends and explained what it means and requires to enter the temple. He's really excited, and it would be amazing to see him get to enter the Rome Temple when it's opened! (no, I don't have any inside news on that.)

On Wednesday we got to teach Adamo (practically a member by now, just hasn't been baptized), who is still struggling with keeping commitments, however on Sunday he had a good time in priesthood translating for a member visiting from Brasil, so maybe that will push him a little more. We also got to visit the Di Marzio couple and have a really amazing lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A really cool moment was when we were talking about baptism and the scripture Mosiah 18:8-10 came to my mind. I decided to have them read it and it turned out to be the exact set of verses that helped Fratello Di Marzio make the decision to get baptized exactly 7 years ago! We learned so much from talking to them about their relationship with the Savior and also how they came together thanks to the gospel - they got married a year ago, and Sorella Di Marzio is actually from Mexico; they started communicating with each other thanks to both of them being members! They said they spent Sunday afternoons a lot of the time on Skype talking to each other about the things they learned in church and bearing testimony. #RelationshipGoals It's amazing to see how strong their marriage is because it has an immovable foundation on the gospel. The night ended even better when we met Fratello Di Marzio's friend at the train station and it turns out he's read the entire Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, AND Doctrine & Covenants!! He's also read the Bible in Latin and Greek, in addition to English and Italian. Meanwhile, his girlfriend is reading the Bible for the third time in Italian! They said they would love meeting with us and Fratello Di Marzio to talk more and discuss what we believe - and we'll see how it goes this week.

The rest of the week was spent "finding," pushing through rejection, and having cool conversations with people in Pescara! Anz Snyder and I did a scambio [exchange] together and had like the funnest time ever on Saturday morning doing a sondaggio [poll/survey] about America. It's eases into the gospel sooooo smoothly, and we got to give 3 copies of the Book of Mormon away. One was to this guy who actually got our attention since he was singing opera while walking his dog, and then he ended up being pretty intrigued by what we believed.

Comunque, [Anyway] it was a great week! I learned a ton, and I'm suuuuper stoked for these next 2 days since we have zone conference in Rome. 1. It's in Rome and I can't get enough of that city! 2. We get to have some awesome training from the mission leaders, which we've been studying for the past couple days. Out of all the things I've learned in the past couple days, it's that we absolutely need to do our best to enjoy the moment - don't think too much about the future, and put the past behind you - because that's how we fill our mission with the most amazing experiences as possible. Whenever we make a mistake we shouldn't shame ourselves and say we aren't worthy of God's redeeming love, instead we need to learn how to constantly repent - even for the smallest thoughts or actions. If we do that, and make turning towards Christ a consistent daily process, we will always be able to find happiness as we face the unknown ahead of us.

Grazie per tutto che fate, e siete tutti bravissimi figli amati di Dio,

[Thank you for everything you do, and you are all very good children loved by God,]

Vi voglio bene, [I love you]

Anziano Samuel Parker

Here's a great quote: “It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.” - Abraham Lincoln

^Remember who you are, it's the key to happiness

1 The concert hall in Chieti where they had the 200th anniversary on Friday, so the #1 violinist in the world was playing there apparently!

2 & 3 Chieti, absolutely love this country

4 The one, the only - Anz Snyder (he's a stud)

Week 39 - Got to Sing!


So I'll begin by saying sorry for the short email, next week I'll try and make sure it's better.

This week was really tranquillo [quiet]. We had some solid member appointments, got to give people some church tours and talk to them about the restoration, and we also got to do a good chunk of "finding" - as per usual!

I just finished the Book of Mormon this morning and am planning on restarting tomorrow, hopefully I can finish again by Mother's day. Maybe you guys can read with me, and make it a priority too. It literally can give answers for all the big questions.

In other news, I got to sing on the lungomare [seafront] accompanied by our friend Joshua! His mom comes to our English course, and his whole family is really nice to all the missionaries. We came across them on Saturday and they asked if I could sing something on the spot, so I tried a couple songs! It was super nice to sing again, since it been a while since the last time I did something like that.

The Church is true, members (especially Italians) have amazing testimonies, the Book of Mormon changes lives, and beaches are awesome, even in winter!

Ciao ciao,

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 Anziano Hansen's amazingly-tasty-you-can't-believe-there's-spinach-in-it-pasta

2 More omage to Dean Martin in Montesilvano (his birthplace)

3-5 beach today

6 Restoration Gesso yesterday

Week 38 - Ummmmmmm


Ciao tutti, [Hello Everybody]

Ummm, è quel momento della settimana per scrivere, e non so che cosa sia successo durante la settimana, quindi proverò a ricordarmi. [Ummm, it's that time of the week to write, and I do not know what happened during the week, so I'll try to remember.]

Sorry for that italian bit, I just started writing and the Italian just spilled out. I had a really chill week with Anz Strong, and we had success doing finding! Tuesday we were able to watch President Nelson's broadcast and see the new first Presidency of the church. My favorite part of that night was pulling out the new first Presidency photo to show somebody we were talking to and explaining that we have a living prophet on the earth. There is so much power and knowledge that comes from that doctrine of God always working through prophets.

I guess the highlight of the week was being asked really thought provoking questions when we talked to people during "finding" and being led to have really amazing personal studies because of it. I learned so much, especially from a conversation I had with a guy named Luca, where we talked about the purpose of faith. We added him on messenger and then literally the next day we had an hour long chat about faith, the divinity of Christ, and the purpose of this life. Eventually we sent him the whole chapter of 2 Nephi 2, which answers all of his questions - soooo cool how powerful that chapter is. #PresidentPickerdHaRagione (it was the main theme of our last zone conference.)

We did my favorite sondaggio "Credi in Dio?" [poll] ("Do you believe in God?") a couple times and had pretty good results. It's crazy how many people don't want to put an x on a white board... We ended the week with an English Course and I got to make friends with a whole bunch of ragazzi from Foggia - Anz Smith and Sellers, hopefully they come your way, I gave you guys a shout out.

I'm just loving Italy and this mission right now! Literally my focus every day is to follow the Spirit as best as i can, and that always leads to a happy day.

Basta per adesso, e buona Settimana! [Enough for now, and good week!]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 & 2 Gesso Sunday Night

3 Didn't buy it

4 Calendar for 2018 with Jesus Quotes for every day!

5 Normal sized Italian Car

6 A Store full of Pandoro

7 un muro [a wall]

Week 37 - Un Nuovo Collega, Una Nuova Città

[A New Colleague, A New City]


Scherzo!! [Joke!]

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 città [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 ragù 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 ragù 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 è 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

Week 36 - Befana, la strega che usa un aspirapolvere!

[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!

Ciao ciao,

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

Week 34/35 - Un Natale in Italia e Capodanno

[A Christmas in Italy and a New Year]


Natale è 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 più [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

3 #Roma

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!

Week 33 - La Fine di Una Trio

[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 Tiramisù 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 vedrò 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

Week 32 - Louis, Don't be Late!!!


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

Week 31 - Una Settimana di Foto

[A Week of Photos]


Ciao tutti, [Hello everybody]

I kinda let this p-day fly past me - Oops.

This week was a good week. I am getting situated here at Pescara. I even participated in the open house the ward put together that lead up to the dedication we had on Saturday. Every night we had an activity focused on an aspect of the church. Tuesday we got to participate by giving a presentation about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration. We ended up getting a decent amount of referrals from members during the week, so overall it was a pretty dang good way to show of our new chapel and introduce the church to more people.

Friday we taught an English course in a town called Chieti, literally one of the funniest classes I've ever taught! We have some really great students who are super excited about learning the language.

On Saturday we had the dedicazione [dedication] of the new chapel with un sacco [a lot] of people there. We sang in the choir and met a ton of people. This open house was legit and a super big blessing helping me get familiar with the members in the ward. It would've taken forever if I only got to see the majority of people on Sunday.

On Sunday we had a really awesome church incontro [meeting] and then we did some "finding" in centro [in the center (of town)]. We asked two guys if they had 2 minutes to watch the video #LightTheWorld and then we ended up having a bomb 30 min conversation with them. Really cool to get to talk about the gospel with two awesome ragazzi [young men] using the new Christmas campaign from the church.

Vi voglio bene [I love you],

Anziano Samuel Parker

Enjoy the photos!

Week 30 - Mi sono spostato un po

[I moved a bit]


This was an awesome week, though it definitely ended a lot differently than I thought it would.

The first couple of days went by super fast, with a District meeting in Pescara and normal missionary work. On Wednesday evening Silvano, a member, came over and made us Fu-fu. It's a typical Congolese dish, and we got to eat it with some cooked plantains as well. First time trying freshly cooked plantains and they were pretty good. You typically eat Fu-fu by grabbing a glob of the Fu-fu with your hands and dipping it in the soup/broth mixture, then eat it. You can also do it with it with the plantains, which is Silvano's favorite way.

On Thursday, we had a Thanksgiving potluck dinner with the members of our branch and the students from our English Group. Anziano Bohn made some pretty incredible chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, and I made the creamiest mashed potatoes I've ever tasted! Then we got to eat some pasta, ham and other dishes that people brought. Probably the most interesting food I'll ever have for a Thanksgiving dinner!

On Saturday morning we did service at a grocery store helping with a food drive that is nationwide to collect food for those in need. It was a real eye opener to see Italians from a different perspective. It helped me see that Italy isn't too different in the sense that there are always those who are more charitable than others. While we worked we got to visit with Estefano a good bit, since he was volunteering with us. Also, we got an amazing referral from Brother Paolo, and the Anziani of Ascoli have an appointment with her this next Friday! We ended the day by going to a concert and finally meeting an investigator who we had been messaging on Facebook!

That brings me to my big news of the week, I got transferred! We got the news early on Saturday morning instead of on Monday evening, because in Pescara we are preparing for the dedication of the new chapel. I will be in a trio with Anziano McConkie (da Annapolis, Maryland) and Anziano Toronto (da Denver, Colorado). They've both been in Pescara for a good bit now, so they can teach me tons about the members and the city during our 6 weeks together! The crazy thing is nobody who was in Pescara since the last transfer is leaving, I'm coming in as well as another sister. We'll have 10 missionaries for one ward - two trios of missionaries along with 2 normal companionships. I'm in Pescara already for all the activities they have planned for this week, and then Anziano Bohn will be in Rome until he gets a new companion to serve with in Ascoli on Thursday.

Anziano Bohn taught me a ton about the language and about how to do missionary work more efficiently. But, I think the most important thing he taught me happened Friday night last week. We were doing an activity asking people to write down on a white board what they were grateful for, and I walked up to two guys and invited them to participate, but they shut me down and turned away. As I walked away I said something that prompted Anziano Bohn to explain to me that I needed to make jokes and laugh more. If I can't make jokes after getting rejected then the mission is going to 100% wear me down and tear me apart. However if we have the attitude of laughing things off, we will always be ready to try again in sharing our message of joy!

This week was really awesome thinking about all the things I'm grateful for, and it was really special to say goodbye to all the members of Ascoli. I thought I would be staying longer, so it was a real lesson for me to learn that I need to make every second in each area count. Here's an amazing quote I found recently :

“When the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, he marks, not if you won or lost, but how you played the game.” - Grantland Rice

I know that during this mission, my happiness and level of success won't be based on how many people I baptize or any other type of numbers, but rather how I acted as I went about as a representative of the Savior, serving his people in this beautiful country of Italy.

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 Fu-fu with Silvano

2 Presidente e Sorella Teodosi-they're pretty much the mom and dad of our branch

3 Estefano! My Venezuelan super-awesome-returned-missionary-from-Chile-ward-mission leader. He gave me a tie before I left, troppo gentile [too kind] :)

4 Ramo di Ascoli per Giorno di Ringraziamento [our Thanksgiving dinner with the Branch of Ascoli]

5 Most of our members from church on Sunday

6 Anziano Bohn and I on our way to Pescara

7 Lunch at Pescara, my new home!

Week 29 - "I can see Sunlight!"


Questa settimana è stata bellissima, a parte la pioggia che ha coperto il sole per un paio di giorni [This week was beautiful, apart from the rain that covered the sun for a couple of days]. It makes me remember the song: "I can see clearly now the rain is gone."

Our week basically got nuked because of Anziano Bohn's appointment for his Permesso di Soggiorno (Italian residency permit) in Catania, Sicilia. It's a 10 hour train ride from Rome to Catania, but my lucky companion got to take a 1 hour plane ride instead! He was serving there when he renewed his paperwork, so he had to go down there again to get it all wrapped up. Now he's good to stay in Italia for the rest of his mission (10 months). Sweet! Sadly, I'm still not completely legal . . . one day I'll get a cool Permesso card too. For mine I will have to return to Olbia!

Anyways, since my companion went to Rome and flew down to Sicily, I had to team up with some other missionaries. (#BuddySystem) I left Ascoli Wednesday night with Anziano Macdonald and Anziano Snyder to go to Pescara, just after Anziano Bohn got on a bus for Rome. (note: it was pouring buckets all of Wednesday.) We had an awesome time on the train ride back. Anziano Snyder is a beast at starting conversations with people after only 4 weeks in the mission field, so we were able to show a cool video to a ragazza [young man] who had questions about why there are still bad things that happen if God exists. This reminds me of an analogy about soap and dirt: there are dirty people in the world, does that mean soap doesn't exist? Nope, just that those people either don't have access to soap or choose not to use it. It's exactly the same with God! We also got to talk to a nice lady and a man, both on their commutes, and explained more about our church.

Thursday morning, I woke up on the floor of a freezing cold house with only 2 sheets and the cloths I brought with me. Literally one of the coldest mornings I've ever had. Later though, on our way home from the questura [police headquarters], we had probably one of the coolest contacts of my mission. We started talking to this ragazzo [young man] on the bus and as we got to know him, he told us that his grandma had literally passed away that morning. He is from Basilicata (region in the arch of the boot), so he had some bags and was heading to the station to travel down there for the funeral. We explained to him our beliefs about the opportunity we will have to live after this life, and were able to show him a real touching video about how Jesus Christ makes second chances, and a second life possible for all of us. It's called "Grazie a Lui" ["Because of Him"] check it out. As he watched the video, I could see how it helped him, and understood that God helped us be in a place to talk and help one his children in need. We were able to exchange numbers, and he said he's looking forward to learning more once he returns! He said he doesn't have a firm belief in God, but in his words: "maybe this experience with you guys is a sign from Him that I should believe."

We came back to Ascoli late Thursday evening, after having a once in a lifetime experience missing a train - that I won't get into - and then got to play tennis on Friday morning thanks to an old investigator! When we got back into the house and the sun was coming through the kitchen windows, Anziano Toronto said "I can finally see sunlight!" after being in a constant darkness under the clouds at Pescara for about 4-5 days.

Today marks one year from the day I got my mission call in the mail, hoping that I would get called to Italy. Tomorrow is the day I opened my call and found I would have the opportunity to teach the gospel to the people of Southern Italy for 2 years. It's crazy to think so much time has already flown by. A scripture Anziano Bohn and I memorized this week sums up this past year really well:

13 Ecco, io sono un discepolo di Gesù Cristo, il Figlio di Dio. Sono stato chiamato da lui a proclamare la sua parola fra il suo popolo, affinché essi possano avere la vita eterna.

[13 Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.]

I was sent here to this Earth by my Heavenly Father as one his children blessed to be born into and raised in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Now I have the opportunity to dedicate the rest of my life to making sure my fellow brothers and sisters have the chance to hear "his word" and receive "everlasting life." I'm so glad I'm able to have this experience and that I've been blessed to be able to serve among the Italian people. I have tons more to look forward to, and I can't wait to see where my journey takes me!

Happy Turkey Day this week, and hope everyone eats a pumpkin pie for me! I'm not sure what we will do for Thanksgiving, but it'll probably be something really small.

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 Panorama of Ascoli from our Hike last week

2 Cool castle built into a huge cliff above the city

3 Interesting food combination: Pancakes and sushi

4 La strada delle foglie [The path of the leaves]

Week 28 - Autunno è Qui

[Autumn is Here]


Well it's that time of year when you see rain clouds in the sky, yellow leaves on the ground, and people all talking about the various Starbucks pumpkin drinks (JK - just kidding). I've never even drunken one of those things, but it is funny to think back on all the things that are unique to America in the holiday season.

This week we started off with a district meeting like normal in Pescara. The cool thing was because Anziano Bohn and I are only speaking in Italian, a lot of the other missionaries started speaking more in Italian as well! Normally we do everything in English, but everyone started putting in a much bigger effort to do SYL! This is really going to help us. Then we ate at an Americana style restaurant called "American Graffiti". Afterwards we had to run from the lungomare [seafront, like a boardwalk] all the way to the train station, just barely getting there in time!

This week in terms of highlights, we met 2 people that had interactions with the missionaries many years ago! One was the brother of the Brazilian lady we met on the bus to Rome about a week or 2 ago. We stopped in the gelateria [ice-cream shop] where she works to say "hi" to her, but it turns out she's still on vacation. So instead we talked with her brother and he had fond memories of the missionaries he met a long time ago (before I was born!) We talked with a teacher who works at a Catholic theology school. He met the missionaries when he was on a trip in Torino (practically France area) and he still has the Book of Mormon they gave him. He said he doesn't want to change religions right now, but he is very appreciative of what we do.

This past weekend we had Stake Conference for the Rome East Stake. It's a pretty long trip to Rome, so the members watched a live stream of it from our apartment (which is currently the church meeting place) Saturday evening and Sunday morning. We also called up an inactive member whose name we found, and he came to church! I was super happy and I was able to talk with him a ton about where he's from, his family, and what his life has been like. It was awesome! I've been reading a book that talks about effective missionary work and I was able to put it all to use both with him and the other members. It really great to see it all work.

I love being able to wear a name tag representing the Lord, and trying my best to honor that calling. I'm not perfect, but every day I can get up and try again to follow in the footsteps of my Savior.

Anziano Samuel Parker

"The pleasant future belongs to those who properly use TODAY." - Marvin J Ashton

1 Fall colors

2 It's been a while since I had Dr Pepper, so good

3 This thing is called a "gru"

4 I really want to go rock climbing....

5 First ragù made by Anziano Bohn! 10/10

Week 27 - The Seasons Are Changing!


Tuesday was Halloween. We were out that night and it was pretty cute seeing all the little ragazzini [kids] going from shop to shop in little Halloween costumes. Almost all the housing in Italy is palazzi, large apartment buildings, so the kids go to the different small stores around the city to get candy. I took a picture of some kids at a little stand outside a restaurant that specializes in a special olive dish called "Olive all' Ascolane" (pitted green olives that are stuffed with meat and then deep fried in a breading - they're pretty dang tasty) and all of them started chanting "Olive! Olive!" It was pretty cute, but they didn't get anything. Made for a priceless Italian Halloween memory though.

On Wednesday, when we had an amazing day of stuff planned, but we got a surprise because we found out it was All Saints Day, and practically everywhere was closed! We ended up running into Paolo and Paola Bosco though, and had a nice visit with them. Then we had lunch at a Burger King (my first time going there while in Italy!) Then we traveled to Rome. We got to the Mission Home Villa (a beautiful 3 story home with a basement, that I haven't been to since May) around 10:30pm. It was great to see all the Anziani from Sardegna, and several from the main-land that I knew!

We had an awesome mission conference in Rome on Thursday, with about 3/4 of the mission there. The other 1/4 went to a separate conference in Palermo, Sicily since it was logistically easier travel wise. It was only two days after Halloween and we are already talking about Christmas and how to do missionary work during the Christmas season. I'm super stoked for another year of the #LightTheWorld initiative. Also, we got to hear from a general authority, Elder Engbjerg, and his wife. They are a total power couple! She had gave the best message I've ever heard from the wife of a general authority. They are both converts who joined the church in their teens. The biggest thing that hit me as I listened to them speaking, was that I need to live in a way so that I can always be of help to others. I can't do that if I'm not being obedient or thinking solely about myself. As I make changes in my own day to day life as a missionary, to be more dedicated to this work, I will be able to see the results - whether in the long or short term.

We got back home Thursday evening from Rome, and then had some good days of normal missionary work, trying to make contacts and meet with current potential investigators. On Sunday we had an amazing member referral from Andrea - our super member missionary! We visited a neighbor of his and taught a lesson about the Restoration. It was so cool to see him connect all the dots in his head and see how it all made sense! When we gave him a Libro di Mormon [Book of Mormon] as a gift, he even kissed it! He says he'll read it, and if he feels closer to God because of it, he will continue learning from us! It's the start of some great changes here in Ascoli!

On Friday Anziano Bohn and I started a 40 day fast from English - or in others words, we made a promise that we would speak only in Italian for the next 40 days, no matter what. As we've continued in this challenge, we've definitely not been perfect - when I get stressed out or am reacting to something exciting, I tend to just blurt out what I want in English still. However stopping our challenge just because we messed up several times right off the bat wouldn't do us any good! If we want to get better at something we don't just quit when we don't get it perfect right away - and it doesn't lessen our worth for failing while trying. Just like us in this life, we shouldn't give up trying to be a follower of Christ when we sin. We don't lose our worth in the eyes of God, and he wants us to continue trying in our quest for eventual perfection. It's so amazing to see how much more meaningful gospel principles become to me personally, as I see similarities in my own life!

I hope all of you can look for some principle of the gospel in your own life, and see the beauty of God's plan for us!

Per adesso, Buona Settimana!

[For now, Good Week!]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 MTC Group (we're missing a few who were in Sicily)

2 The Father and Sons Pic

3 La Grande Missione Italiana di Roma! [The Great Italian Mission of Rome!]

4 Halloween per i ragazzini in Italia

5 My comp's name means bean in German

Week 26 - Ai membri piace portarci dappertutto

[Members like to bring us everywhere]


Buon Giorno, [Good Morning],

I feel like the weeks are blending more and more together! Thinking back on it, it's crazy to think how long the 6 weeks felt like while in the MTC (6.5 months ago) as compared to out here in the field.

This week we got a lot of rides with members! The first one was when we went to visit the friends of some members who lived a ways away. On the drive we spent a good amount of time in the car getting to know Fratello Teodosi [Brother Theodosius] on Friday and then Andrea on Saturday. On Sunday we went to Pescara with Gordon, an awesome retired Scottish guy who's been living in Italy for a good while now, for the official opening of the Ascoli Branch! This was a branch that opened 17 years ago, but then it was closed until 2013 when they opened a "group" here in Ascoli. Now after 4 years of meeting in the missionaries' apartment, we will be our own church unit and have a chapel! After church we had lunch with the Pescara members and missionaries, which was pretty cool, then all of us stopped by our new building where the renovation and remodeling will start this next week.

We also had several very interesting experiences this week dealing with health problems and people not doing too well. One of our contacts, Franco, came to our house distraught because his wife went into the hospital. We gave him a priesthood blessing and tried to help him understand how he could find peace by putting trust in God's plan for him and his wife. Another time, while we were visiting with Andrea, he told us his uncle was in the hospital at San Benedetto, and asked us to go and visit him, but it was a bit of a drive away. The big surprise for us though, was that when we went to see him, we found him already in a casket and we were actually going to a viewing! Also, we visited one of his neighbors, Rita, who is having some very difficult times in her old age (can't walk, difficulty eating, and very limited sight/strength). We showed her an amazing video called "Mountains to Climb" at the suggestion of Anziano Bohn and she was really touched by it. It was amazing to see her desire to learn about God and how he feels about her situation as we talked with her. You could see a real light in her eyes as we discussed the gospel!

[culture note: Italian hospitals have a place called orbitorio, which is where people who have passed away are placed after being dressed and put into their casket. Then family members and friends come into these little rooms where they can pay respects before the funeral services.]

Biggest thought that struck me this week is just how important it is for us to be confident in our callings and responsibilities in order for us to carry them out. If we are not confident about ourselves, then we aren't in a spot where we can lift others. This week that's definitely been a struggle for me, but as I look to leaders of the church and other missionaries, I've been seeing ways in which I can build myself up. I feel so much love and admiration for the Savior, and it's incredible to think of how He constantly thought of how to help and lift up others, no matter how he was feeling!

I'm short on time, but pictures tell stories better than words, so I'll leave you guys with some of those!

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 & 2 A nice walk #photoception

3 A super duper old roman bridge

4 Statue I think looks like a Sith lord from Star Wars

5 District lunch at an American Style place! #bombburgers

Week 25 - Finalmente a Roma!!

[Finally in Rome]


Troppo è successo questa settimana che non posso neanche spiegarlo!

[Too much has happened this week that I can not even explain it!]

The first big thing happened was we got our transfer calls on Monday evening. Anziano Mayer found out he was being transferred to Pozzuoli, a city just outside Napoli (Naples). He's super excited to be able to eat Napoli pizza. And, I found out that I'm going to stay in Ascoli, and I'm going to be working with another Californian - Anziano Bohn! He's from Fresno, just like 2.5 hours away from Stockton. He was serving at Catania in Sicilia right before this (way down at the bottom of our mission) and has actually been to Ascoli once before when he served in Pescara! He's a master of the language, probably the best American Italian speaker I know. I'm looking forward to being as good as he is. We even plan on learning the dialect here in Ascoli together. We're really pumped to get the work moving and having people become closer to Christ, as we prepare to open the new chapel here in Ascoli.

On Tuesday we did a lot of prep for Anz Mayer to leave and said some goodbyes to members. Then on Wednesday morning we got up super early to take a bus to Roma for a mission conference with Elder Ballard. It was the Napoli zone and 2 zones from Rome who came to the conference at the Rome 1 stake center, and then it was also broadcast live for all the other missionaries in the mission to see. We got to hear from Elder De Feo (an area seventy), L Whitney Clayton (Senior President of the 70), and also their wives. Elder Ballard spoke to us last, and it was just an awesome experience to be in the same room with an apostle. Being in the same room with him and hearing him speak in a more casual setting, made him so much more real for me. It also helped me understand more about how each and every one of us has the opportunity to become a dedicated disciple of Christ.

Elder Ballard is where he is at now because in his 89 years here on the earth, he has learned to follow the promptings of the Spirit, as exactly as possible. One of the things I've noticed on my mission, is that missionaries who do amazing work are the ones who constantly focus on following promptings and try to be God's hands on the earth 24/7. In fact, that was the focus of the conference, that we need to be FULL-TIME missionaries who look for opportunities to share the gospel in all places and at all times. It was really uplifting and they gave us a lot of encouragement. I spent that night in Rome with some other Anziani, because my new companions was coming in Thursday evening.

I had the best "finding" session ever in the eternal city, (Rome - I'm not too sure about the nickname). I went out with some other missionaries and we had some amazing conversations with some amazing people, and it reminded me just how important each and every small interaction we have, can be. It was so cool to finally be walking around the city I've been learning and studying about since I was a freshman in high school. It was quite surreal actually being in Rome. I didn't see any super duper famous monuments or locations, but just knowing that I was actually doing missionary work in such a famous and historic city, was the coolest feeling! #cloud9

Once we picked up my new companion, we spent the night at another missionary apartment in Rome. The next morning we got up early and had to make our way to a bus stop on the completely opposite side of Rome (like 1.5 hours away). Then we had a nice 3 hour bus ride home. This weekend has been fun settling in and showing Anziano Bohn around the city. The members are really happy with him and it should be a great transfer!

I lost all my notes from Elder Ballard's talk at the conference, but one of the things that I remember most and stuck out to me is, how he talked about the way we should end each day. After we have done all we can - our absolute best to be representatives of Jesus Christ - we should kneel in prayer and ask our Heavenly Father to magnify our efforts so that they may be enough.

Fatemi bravo e buona settimana [Have a good week]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 Villa of Mussolini! It's a huge park area with tons of really big Egyptian obelisks and people to talk to!

2 #SmartParking

3 Anziano Bohn and our bfast today

4 Roma!

5 Our new church meeting space - it will be renovated and finished hopefully by the end of November

Week 24 - Si Mangia Bene

[You Eat Well]


Hello tutti, [Hello all]

Would you believe it if I said this transfer is quasi finito [almost finished]? Because sadly, it is . . . We get transfer calls tonight, and Anziano Mayer is probably saying "Arrivederci" because he has been here in Ascoli already for four transfers.

Anziano Mayer and I have had a lot of ups and downs, but I'd say overall we've made pretty good progress and improvements! This transfer a big focus for us, was building up Anziano Mayer's confidence with the language and I've been so amazed to see how much better he's gotten over the past 6 weeks! It's a pretty amazing testament to how small and simple changes such as talking more in the language, reading more in Italian, and just simply trying to speak more with people, can have a huge impact on how fast one can learn. I myself have gotten worlds better at speaking with members and developing good member-missionary relationships, which I know is going to be a good skill the rest of my life!

This week we had quite a few miracles, probably the coolest one - that I almost forgot about because it seems like ages ago - was on Monday night, literally like 3-4 hours after I sent last week's email. We usually have Serata Famigliare (Family Home Evening) on Monday nights, but not enough people could come this time, so we moved it to another day at the last minute. However, that left us with no plans for the evening. We could either go out for "finding" at a time of night in Ascoli that's not very suitable for that, or stay in our cozy apartment and study (#nerds). We both knew what we should do, but "finding" [knocking on doors] has been the biggest discouragement in this area. However, we powered through and acted on the "pricks" {Acts 9:5} of the Spirit. It turned out to be the best night of "finding" I've ever had with Anz Mayer! We decided to have him lead in all the contacts and I would just be there for "back up." We had the most pleasant conversations we've ever had, and even ran into Stefano - who bought us gelato! It was so cool to see another incidence of how we have specific decisions to make and when we make the correct choice, following the Spirit, we are blessed. It's important to remember that the blessing may not immediately come, but the Lord has promised that any act of obedience will bring blessings.

A summary of other stuff that happened:

- we had an impromptu dinner with a man we met on the street and his wife

- we ran into an investigator subito [immediately] after we prayed to be able to meet with him

- had a good FHE about technology and member missionary work with our member group

- got to do missionary work with a ragazzo [young man] in our member group who just returned from a mission in Chile

- went on a hike

- learned that Ascoli will become a branch and will get a new chapel! (pianoterra di un palazzo) [on the ground floor of a building].

- had 3 meal appointments with members! (4 meals with other people during a week is a new record)

I'm really hoping to stay here in Ascoli and continue improving the way I do missionary work! It's so awesome how many fresh starts and chances one gets to become better in the mission. The mission itself is an amazing time to develop new habits and skills, and have a new start with a new transfer - new cities, new companions. There are so many opportunities to make changes NOW that will benefit us in the future. This idea continues to be a big theme in my studies this week. I found several good quotes that gave me inspiration.

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” - Anon. Proverb

"You young boys need not wait to be great. You can be superior missionaries, strong young men, great companions, and happy, trusted Church leaders. You need not wait until tomorrow." - Spencer W. Kimball

"To lead the Church tomorrow, you must prepare today. Train hard, boys, and I promise you that you will live to be grateful that you made the effort to prepare." - M. Russell Ballard

Spero che tutti voi abbiate una meravigliosa settimana! [I hope all of you have a wonderful week!]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 Dinner Saturday with Alessandra

2 Almost everyone in our group

3 First time eating Fu-Fu with Silvano!

4 Andrea, our member missionary stud

5 And to your right you will see Ascoli . . .

6 Cool statue of Christ we hiked to above the city (#WannaBeRio)

Week 23 - I need to enjoy the moment!


This week was relatively uneventful, but I think I learned a lot from my studies, contemplating where I'm at right now, where I can be in the future, and by learning from others. I also had a lot of time to listen and read all the talks from General Conference again, many of my favorites multiple times.

In our missionary work we had some fun things happen. On Wednesday morning we had a District meeting over Facebook Messenger using a group video call. Not the most amazing sound quality - especially noticeable when singing, but still a really awesome way for us to keep in touch. I was looking forward to having Fu-fu, an African meal, for the first time with one of our members on Wednesday evening, but he had to cancel at the last minute. We'll see if I get to try it this next week!

We had someone come to church! He was the first person, who we invited come to church, since I've been here! He stayed for the first 2 hours, which were sacrament meeting and Sunday school, and I think he learned a lot about Latter-day Saints and what separates us from other churches! Outside of saying hi every once in a while when we see him in giro, this is the first time he's learned about what we believe and who we are. The members were really nice and the lesson we had on prophets was a perfect way to help him understand the purpose of having a living prophet on the earth today.

Crazy story/miracle of the week: We got home late Tuesday evening after some delayed trains. We were about to make dinner, but we had to check the gas meter outside for the mission office first. We closed our door and went downstairs to check it, but we forgot and left our keys in the apartment! We checked the gas meter reading and then we were left stuck trying to figure out how to get back into our apartment. We live on the third floor, and our balcony door was open - so climbing in was technically an option, but more of a last resort. We said a prayer that someone in our apartment complex would be able to help us and then hoped for the best. Literally a minute after finishing the prayer, a couple walked into the palazzo and we were able to ask them if they knew any way we could get out of our little pickle. Turns out they had done the exact same thing 3 days before and had been in the same situation as us! The husband called the fire department for us and then waited with us until they came. The firemen used some tools and were able to pop our door open in like 10 seconds. It was so cool to see Italians caring for us just like normal neighbors in need of help, even though we are foreigners. It was an awesome experience and reminded me just how much we truly need the hand of the Lord in our lives. A talk from last weeks General Conference goes really well with this, where Elder Rasband talks about how everything in this life is by divine design. From the words of the prophet Thomas S Monson -

“There is a guiding hand above all things. Often when things happen, it’s not by accident. One day, when we look back at the seeming coincidences of our lives, we will realize that perhaps they weren’t so coincidental after all.”

I've had many experiences so far on my mission where I have been able to see the hand of the Lord guiding us to certain people and putting us in certain situations, just so His timing would all work out. Just like with this experience, where some people had been prepared to help us, and they were placed in our path. It's been amazing to see such blessings first hand in my life, and shows me even more evidence of God and his influence in the world around me.

As I go on through this time in my life, I've realized I need to make more of each small and simple moment, and make TODAY a day that I can remember in the future. A good quotes I found relating to this topic is from a general conference held back in 1975 (those old conferences have amazing talks, I'm trying to study more from them).

"The pleasant future belongs to those who properly use today." - Marvin J Ashton

Something to think about.

Vi voglio bene, [I love you,]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 Our online District Meeting

2 Cool building that made me feel like I was on Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. That's exactly how I imagined a lot of the buildings to be while reading the books as a kid

3 Anziano Ruiz and his 2 "trainees" Anziano Wagstaff and me!

4 Sassari District from Sardegna

Week 22 - 3 Giorni di Conferenze!

[3 Days of Conferences!]


We had an epic end to this week! A change of our p-day came with that, hence me writing on a Tuesday.

On Saturday we got to see a little bit of General Conference in the evening. We had been away from home most of the day for an appointment we had in Macerata, but then they couldn't meet with us... So we had a nice ~ 2.5 hours of travel back again to Ascoli. We got back around 7:00pm and arrived back home just in time to watch the last talk of the morning session of General Conference [a conference where all members get to hear from the leaders of the church.]

I prayed right before we turned it on that I would receive some form of message or advice that would help me out. We listened to Elder Holland and I felt like it was perfectly written and directed toward me!! All my life I've had a really hard time comparing myself to others, and often feeling like no matter how much I'm doing, it's never enough. To a certain point, that's true. As Elder Holland explains, nothing we could ever do is enough for us to return to our Heavenly Father, because we are all imperfect human beings living in an imperfect world. Each and everyone of us has difficulties, challenges - and if we're being completely honest - nobody is ever 100% satisfied with where they are in life. However, we don't have to worry about our imperfections because as long as we are trying to "BECOME as He [Jesus Christ] is," we can rely on Him to make up for our imperfections. As long as I give my best to the Lord, to the world, and to those I love - it will be enough; the Lord promises us that! He promised us that when He sent His son to atone for each and every one of our struggles, mistakes, pains, doubts, temptations, and burdens that each and every single human being must carry during this mortal life. A quote I heard this weekend, I'm not sure exactly of the source, says "There are no perfect seasons in the game of life." I don't have to win every event or experience during my time here on earth, but I can put forward my best effort and try win as many times as possible according to my circumstances.

The rest of the General Conference talks continued to amaze me even more, and I already can't wait for the next opportunity we have to listen to apostles of the Lord! Cool little info: Anziano Waddell, an Elder serving in our Pescara district, got mentioned in a talk by his dad during conference! It was so funny to hear his name mentioned! In terms of watching/listening to conference we streamed it on our tablets using the Wi-Fi we have for the church. On Sunday morning we watched one of the sessions with 4 ward members. We couldn't watch a lot of it live since the time zones are so different. I have pretty much all the talks downloaded and have been listening to them when possible.

After General Conference we had a combined zone conference in Rome. It was the Napoli, Rome West, and Rome East zones all together! (I'm part of Rome East) It was super cool to see so many Anziani e Sorelle [Elders & Sisters], and it also meant I got to see Anziano Ruiz, my trainer, and Anziano Lamoreoux and Sorella Oveson, who are both part of my MTC group along with Anziano Mayer. I haven't seen anyone from my group except for Anziano Sellers and Mayer up until now, so that was pretty sweet. One of the things we learned and got trained on, was how we should use Facebook for missionary work! I'm excited to make use of it and connect with more people about the gospel through technology. We've seen and heard stories of people who have made contact and learn about the church primarily thanks to the open and convenient communication Facebook provides.

I'm super excited for another week in Ascoli, and use all the energy and spiritual uplift I got from a great General and Zone conference. If you haven't already I would encourage, even exhort you, to take some time out of your week and watch/read/listen to General Conference and the inspiring messages that were given or even relisten/rewatch it. The leaders of the church are truly prepared by the Spirit of the Lord to give talks that are meant to touch each and every one of us, some more strongly than others. As you try to find something that you can use to improve your life and have more happiness, I know you will be guided to it by the Holy Ghost! In everything we do, we can see evidence of God and His influences in our lives.

Vi voglio tanto bene, e spero che tutti voi stiate bene!

[I love you so much, and I hope you all are fine!]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 Roma East Zone

2 MTC Group Pic! From Left to right: Anziano Lamoreoux, Me, Anziano Mayer, Sorella Oveson, and Sorella Summerhays

3 Naples zone, Roma West zone, and Roma East zone (have fun finding me)

4 My amazing trainer

5 First burger I've had for a real long time, it tasted amazing

Week 21 - Camminando sotto la Pioggia!

[Walking in the Rain!]


Ciao tutti, [Hello everybody]

Questa settimana eravamo un po' bagnati. [This week we were a little wet.] We got rather wet with all the wonderful rain we've been having!

Last Monday we had a really fun Family Home Evening with a good amount of the members playing telestrations (kind of like the game "telephone" but with pictures and phrases). We also were able to have a good discussion about member missionary work and how we can work together to help people learn about the gospel. It was exactly what we wanted to focus on this week, so that was an awesome start.

On Tuesday we had the hugest disaster trying to get to our district meeting. We missed the train leaving Ascoli, or it was not running (I'm still not sure what happened). So we took a bus that would take us to the other station to catch our connecting train. Unfortunately, we had a 40 minute delay and so missed the connecting train as well. The next one wasn't until 2 hours later, so we decided to take a second bus, which got us about halfway to Pescara from San Benedetto. Then we took a third bus which got us all the way there. We pulled into the main station in Pescara just as the district meeting was ending. So we did a scambio [exchange] in order for us to make a good use of our travel endeavors! I had an awesome time with Anziano McConkie in Pescara and Anziano Mayer and Ridd got to go back to Ascoli. We taught a lesson in the afternoon and then had a real fun time teaching English in the evening (I haven't taught an English course for a while now). We had to walk all the way home across town, because our bus didn't come. It had been raining a ton, but we were blessed to have it stop for exactly the amount of time it took for us to get home! We ran the last 3/4 mile and then literally as we opened the front door of the apartment, it started pouring!

Wednesday I actually did get soaked. Anziano McConkie and I went out to do some "finding" in the morning, but there weren't too many people out. We walked by a ragazzo, [young man] and said "hi," and then he just kinda slowed down and turned toward us - so we started talking to him! We walked for a good 15 minutes in the pouring rain, getting to know him, and then exchanged phone numbers. He was really open to talking more with us. About 2pm we went to the train station, where we met our companions, and swapped back and went home to Ascoli. Anziano Mayer got super pumped from his scambio with Anziano Ridd which is exactly what I was hoping for! We had a good night of member visits, where one visit involved me cooking for all of us!

We taught an English course Thursday night and got to know a young ragazzo named Amit, who has known the missionaries for a good bit. We helped him with some English assignments he had. We also got to spend some time with Andrea, a member of the ward, and he helped us with some potential contacts we can meet.

The end of this week was amazing! We went to Macerata to see a referral we received from Mormon.org, who requested a Book of Mormon. It takes a full 4 hours round trip to get there and back, so the appointment took most of our day, but it was so worth it! We got to meet an amazing woman from Ghana and her husband, who's a pastor, and then talk with them about the gospel. They had some really good questions, and she is really excited to learn during her study from the Book of Mormon and the Bible together. We also got a referral from Andrea, a friend that is struggling and really needs the gospel right now. We were able to teach a lesson last night and it blew my mind realizing how many things in this gospel I take for granted. The guidance we have from our Heavenly Father to guide us is such a blessing, and the peace we can have at every moment in our life thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ is very real.

One thing I thought about this week was our brownie activity from last Saturday. In some ways it failed, since we only were able to give away 6-8 brownies out of the 4 plates we had made, but it also helped us understand a lot about how we need to go about missionary work. First off, brownies are amazing, and nobody should turn down free brownies, but if people don't know what a brownie tastes like, they are a lot more likely to not want one. Similarly, if one doesn't understand the benefits and joy that come from living a life in the gospel, they are much more likely to ignore you when you try to talk to them about your church. As missionaries - and this is especially important in Italy - we need to be the people that allow others to "taste test" the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once we do that, we can expect people to want more of our "delicious" message, and when looked at from an eternal perspective, is so much sweeter than any brownie could ever be.

This week try to help someone to see the joy and light that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you might be able to use brownies while doing it.

Siete tutti dolci! [You are all sweet!]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 Some pastries with Anziano McConkie

2 Main church in centro Pescara

3 La Chiesa di San Francesco in Ascoli with some great lighting

4 Guarda! Un cavallo! [Look! A horse!]

5 Avg lunch in the day of a missionary!

6 Some fountains we walk by all the time

Week 20 - Mi manca il mare, Ma mi piacciono le montagne!

[I miss the sea, but I like the mountains!]


Not gonna lie, this week was definitely tough. That's what you get when you put two missionaries, who have less than a years combined experience, together to lead missionary work in a city.

BUT!! We have passed through our difficulties and are ready to learn from our mistakes and failures! Anziano Mayer and I have talked a lot and we are learning how to be more self-motivated, since we are both so young and inexperienced as missionaries at this point. In just one week I feel I've already grown so much. It's amazing to see how when God puts us in tough situations, even though they seem insurmountable at first, we are able to rise above them and become even better than before.

This week started off with a great Family Home Evening in our apartment, {where the members meet for church} with several members. We had a good discussion about how important it is to be an understanding leader. It was a great way to get to know some of our members here in this area.

On Tuesday we went to Pescara for our District meeting. We have 12 people in our district! That's HUGE!! Our last district was half that size. I got to meet all the missionaries serving in our area, including some sister missionaries, 4 who work in Pescara, and 2 that are serving in Aquila. we had a great meeting, talking about the things we could use help with, for our respective areas. It was awesome! It's great to have these meetings because I feel uplifted a second time each week, not just on Sunday. Afterwards we had a quick stop for €1 pizza before going to the station and catching our train home. We ended up getting on the wrong one and had quite the long trip home, but while we were waiting outside one of the stations, I got to talk to an awesome ragazzo [young man]! He was talking about us with his friend, so when I heard "Mormoni" I straight up asked him if he was talking about Anziano Mayer and I. He said yes and then we had about a 35-50 minute conversation about our church, the Book of Mormon, and the differences in beliefs. I was able to give him a copy of the Book of Mormon, which he seemed really excited to read. Getting to have a missionary experience like that made up for leaving Ascoli at 7:00am and not getting back until 12 hours later, thanks to travel troubles!

This week we had two meal appointments, one on Wednesday with the Teodosi family, and the other on Sunday with the Bosco family. It's awesome to get to know members better and always is a treat to have real Italian food cooked by real Italians. I'm trying to fill up my recipe book as best as I can. Cool news: the Teodosi and Bosco Family (parents & a married daughter) are traveling to the Bay Area in California this week, and then they're driving to Salt Lake City, Utah to see General Conference (a worldwide conference for our church where we listen to church leaders). It's so cool they'll be going to my part of the world - they will probably even drive past my home town of Stockton!

Instead of memorizing a scripture this week I memorized a quote I found recently that was used in a talk by President Monson. It's had a big impact on me as we've been studying this past week and thinking about the importance of small decisions that determine where we end up. The amazing thing to me, is that no matter how far someone has fallen, they still have the potential to make changes in their life to become more like our Heavenly Father.

Il valore di un' anima è la sua potenziale di diventare come Dio

[The worth of a soul is it's potential to become like God]

Spero che tutti voi abbiate una buona settimana, e fate qualcuno sorridere per me!

[I hope all of you have a good week, and make someone smile for me!]

Anziano Samuel Parker

1 & 2 Name tag photos with some views

3 Drinking water from a lion fountain! Ascoli is one of the few cities in our mission with drinkable water from fountains like this

4 Activity we did on Saturday with free brownies and a display with some church pamphlets and a Mormon Message playing.

Week 19 - Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (plus a bus)


This week was the bomb!!

Sorry I didn't even mention transfer calls were coming up last week, there were too many awesome spiritual things to talk about. Also for those wondering, Anziano Castro and I got along really well. I guess I didn't write about how we were doing as a companionship because there was never anything to complain about! I learned a lot from him and he really refined how I'm going to do missionary work more effectively the rest of my mission. I also learned un sacco di Italiano da Lui, [a lot of Italian from Him] and now the language is coming almost completely natural in day to day situations.

We got transfer calls last Monday evening and I got the news I would be going to serve in Ascoli Piceno with Anziano Mayer, a missionary from my MTC group! Also my trainer, Anziano Ruiz, served here for 3 transfers before coming to Olbia. Some fun info about Ascoli: it was founded before Rome (means we have a cool centro area), the founders chose where to live based on a bird, it's the second most Northern city in the Italy Rome mission, and we have church in our apartment! Hence we have a super nice and clean apartment. We are technically part of the Pescara Ward, but there are enough members here that we have a group which meets together so they don't have to travel 2 hours every Sunday both ways to go to church.

Tuesday we did some work trying to find people and then I packed. That night we had an awesome final night going house to house and we met some really cool people and then we taught an English course. Lastly, we went to the Mazzone's house to have a little family home evening and dinner. It was an awesome way to end my time in Olbia and they were so nice!

On Wednesday through Friday I had a very long trip going to Ascoli, so I'm going to do a bullet list:

- Train on Wednesday morning to Sassari with Anziano Castro

- Train from Sassari in the afternoon to Cagliari with Sassari Sorelle and Anziano Morrill

- Took a bus and a train to the Airport with Anziano Hunsaker on Thursday

- Flew from Cagliari to the Rome Fiumicino Airport with Sorella Palmer (50 min flight, we were in the airport checking in and waiting for longer than we were in the air....)

- Got a car ride from Anziano Draghi and Campbell (the assistants to the President) to Termini station in Rome

- Went from Termini to the Tiburtina Bus Station on the Metro with Anziano Farinotti and 2 other Anziani

- Hopped on a bus all by myself and then had a 2hr bus ride to Pescara

- Spent the night in Pescara with the Anziani there and Anziano Mayer.

- Friday took a train in the morning to San Benedetto Tronto with my new collega! [colleague]

- And finally, took a train from San Benedetto to Ascoli

All in all, I spent 14.3 hours in transit over the course of 3 days to get to my new area! This mission is so cool!!

I lost my wallet on the train from Pescara to Ascoli, so we had to go back to San Benedetto on Friday afternoon once they found it. I realized that it was missing right before our train to Ascoli came into the station, and I was able to get all the info to a Police officer in order for them to find it. They were super nice when we came back to pick it up, and we even got to talk about our church with the police officers in the office.

This past weekend we've been cleaning out our area book and trying to contact all the people that have a history with the missionaries here in Ascoli. We also got to meet with some ward members, Alessandra on Saturday, and then Silvano (a recent convert that Anziano Ruiz baptized) last night. Church was awesome and the members are super happy! We also got good news from the Stake that they might be making some changes here in Ascoli....fingers crossed!

Anziano Mayer and I are super excited about the next six weeks. We both are going to push ourselves and help each other become independent, self-motivated missionaries in all aspects of missionary work. This city has tons of room to grow, and I know that there are many people we can find here that need the gospel in their lives.

Hopefully everyone is having a great transition into fall, and a good start to the school year for those in school right now. I can't wait for winter, and I'm looking forward to spending my time here in this new city!

Un abbraccio per tutti,

[a hug for everyone],

Anziano Samuel Parker

1&2: The District - Transfer 3

3 Flight coming into Fiumicino airport, I believe that is looking down on Ostia

4 The first photo with the our tags with Elder Mayer

5 Really chill dog we met in San Benedetto while waiting for our train back to Ascoli

6 #AnzianoMayer

7 Main piazza in Ascoli, Piazza del Popolo

Week 18 - La Corsa Fa Bene

[The Race Went Well]


We had a really cool week. We started the week and ended it by meeting two awesome ragazzi! [boys - young men]

Starting off from last p-day, we began a scambio [exchange] in Olbia on Monday evening. I went with Anziano Dunn into centro to do a really cool sondaggio [survey] that Anziano Castro and I came up with the previous week. We walked around with a white board and a dry erase marker and asked people to answer the question "Credi in Dio?" (Do you believe in God?) with a check mark under Sì, Forse, or No (yes, maybe or no). We got a whole bunch of responses and it lead into some really good conversations with people. (Interesting note: Atheists are the most open to talk and discuss beliefs with us normally). As we were about to go home, we decided since we had enough time we would do one more trip through centro. Immediately after we made the decision to turn the corner and keep on working, we ran into a ragazzo [young man] who we did the survey with. He said "no" at first solely because he had no "prova" or evidence. But we were able to tell him about the Book of Mormon and how it's a way he can receive an answer if God exists. He was really excited to talk to us and we were able to exchange numbers.

On Wednesday we helped John, a Nigerian member from the ward in Olbia, get some information figured out at the Questura of Sassari. For lunch, we got to have pizza from Francesco's Napolitano Pizzeria, which we haven't had for a couple of months. All four of us Anziani [Elders] then went to Sassari to meet up with the Sisters for our District meeting. We had to run to catch a bus for it (nothing like running to get you excited for missionary work). Then, after the meeting we had to run to catch our train to Olbia! It was an older train without good A/C, so we were absolutely dripping in sweat. Luckily, Anziano Castro and I have been running in the morning 3 times a week, so our exercise is paying off!

At the end of the week we had an awesome miracle finding a ragazzo [young man] about our age (22 yrs old) who is absolutely prepared for the gospel. We found him as we were going house to house in an area that I hadn't worked very much in. We were walking down the sidewalk just as this guy got out of his car. He stopped to answer a question that we asked, "what do you think of the word "Mormone"? We then explained who we were, why we do this work, and how the gospel and Book of Mormon in particular, have changed our lives. He was very impressed that a book could have such a big impact on us. He said that he wanted a positive change like that in his life too, given all the struggles he's been dealing with. We're looking forward to seeing him learn more and gain a testimony as he reads the Book of Mormon!

For this week I memorized Alma 56:47, which describes the 2,000 young (about my age!) warriors that went into battle to protect their families and allow their fathers to keep their covenants. I love that it says they were more worried about their fathers' liberty than their own lives. In a way I think it applies to all us missionaries, because when we become invested in this work for the sake of others, instead of doing it for selfish motives, it becomes a lot easier and allows to us to be more effective missionaries because of the pure and righteous reasons we are doing it!

47 Ora, essi non avevano mai combattuto, tuttavia non temevano la morte; e pensavano più alla libertà dei loro padri che alla loro vita; sì, le loro madri avevano loro insegnato che, se non avessero dubitato, Dio li avrebbe liberati.

47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

Un abbraccio a tutti voi! [A hug to all of you]

Anziano Samuel Parker

Week 17- Abbiamo Bussato un Sacco di Porte

[We knocked on a lot of doors]


It's weird, some days I feel like I don't have what it takes to do missionary work, but then by the end of the night or the next day I can be on the top of the world. And thus goes the missionary life.

We had an exciting start to this week because I got to do a scambio [exchange] in Sassari after our p-day in Alghero. We had an awesome evening finding people and got to have several great gospel conversations. One was even in English with a girl whose Dad is originally from Scotland! She was really open to talk about religion with us (rare for people to want to talk about religion here), and we were able to share with her why our church brings us so much peace. I learned a lot during the scambio and am now a lot more confident with my speaking and also my ability to stop people and have a conversation with them.

During our district meeting we set a lot of goals because the mission leaders want us to put more emphasis on pushing our limits and get more investigators. There is a general statistic that for every 20-24 investigators in Europe, 1 person gets baptized. As we have faith to find people and are able to make our finding efforts more effective, we will make it more likely to find those people that are ready to partake of the gospel more speedily.

We had an awesome lesson Thursday night with a mom and her son who we found several weeks ago! They let us in as we knocked on doors, and we taught them the first lesson. There is no feeling like being able to testify of something you know is true and has brought so much good into the lives of people in this world! They received us so warmly, and even though we never got a firm second appointment, they hopefully have a great first impression of our message and a general understanding of what we believe.

This Sunday was an awesome wrap up for the week. We chose two neighborhoods to focus on and knocked on doors. We were determined to talk to someone. Knocking on doors reminded me a lot of last summer when I did sales in Pittsburgh. On our way out of the second neighborhood, we heard someone playing the piano from an open window of a house. We listened for a good while because it was so dang amazing, and then eventually rang the doorbell. I was expecting an old Italian man with many years of experience on the ivory to come walking out, but it was a 16-17 yr old ragazzo [boy]! He was writing his own music, just free styling! He was really simpatico [friendly] and when we asked if we could share a message about our church he said "within 10 min." As we talked about the restoration of the church he got more and more open and interested. We left him with a Book of Mormon and invited him to read and learn of the truth for himself. I had literally complained just earlier how terrible it was that absolutely nobody wanted to listen to us (we had only been able to speak with two Romanian guys who gave us some grilled sausage! But they weren't interested in the gospel). And here was someone willing to listen. The Lord blesses us.

I chose to memorize Alma 32:30-31 this week, just because it totally is true that as you see the amazing fruits that come from the gospel - the blessings, the joy, the unity, and peace - you truly do gain a testimony of its truth! It is important not to ignore that correlation between faith and that result. I've seen a lot of people who don't want to see that connection, so as a result they go without a lot of happiness that they could have access to.

30 Ma ecco, siccome il seme si gonfia, germoglia e comincia a crescere, dovrete allora necessariamente dire che il seme è buono, poiché ecco, si gonfia, germoglia e comincia a crescere. Ed ora, ecco, questo non rafforzerà la vostra fede? Sì, rafforzerà la vostra fede, poiché direte: Io so che questo è un buon seme, poiché ecco, germoglia e comincia a crescere

31 Ed ora, ecco, siete sicuri che questo è un buon seme? Io vi dico: Sì, poiché ogni seme produce a sua propria somiglianza.

30 But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.

31 And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.

Anziano Samuel Parker

Week 16 - Io Vivo Ancora

[I Still Live]


Ok.... I missed a week of emailing, please forgive me. We had a pretty normal week the one I didn't email, the biggest event was being able to meet with and teach Doris, a referral who found the church on Mormon.org. We taught with a member from our branch and she is super excited to learn more about Christ's church restored to the Earth. She couldn't meet with us this past week, but we plan on meeting her fiancee as well, so we can teach them together in the coming weeks.

Moving up to current times, this last week was an absolutely crazy schedule, with zone conference in Cagliari, and Ferragosto.

Ferragosto is on the 15th day of August every year, and is the largest Italian holiday of the year. Every email from the other missionaries in other parts of Italy, said that their cities were missing tons of people.... but not Olbia! Olbia is a tourist city, so we didn't really see a change in the number of people we saw on the streets. The actual day of Ferragosto, for us, was spent cleaning our apartments. All the missionaries stayed inside and did deep cleaning ("yay") for the entire day. Even though we were working it was actually a relaxing day, and I got to listen to some great General Conference talks.

Wednesday we had a typical day running around various busy areas in Olbia trying to talk to people. We found a guy named Gianni in the evening while doing casa a casa, [house to house] who might become a solid investigator with a little work on our part.

On Friday we rode the train down to Cagliari (a 4 hour ride) to met with all the other missionaries in the mission and then had our interviews with the Mission President. In the evening we did a sondaggio + gesso in centro with all the missionaries.

Saturday we had zone conference for Sardegna! It was awesome, and the Assistants to the president and zone leaders prepared really well for it. Everything was tailored to our needs as a zone, and President Pickerd went over some new goals we are going to put into place as a mission. I got to do a musical number, "Come Unto Christ" the youth theme song for the church in 2014, and it was really cool. As I was singing, I focused more on making sure I was testifying of Christ, and when I did this, I immediately had the strength/air necessary to sing the hardest part of the song well. Previously I had difficulties getting through it, but with the right approach I was able to power through!

We had a great Sunday with some really good lessons, and Anz Castro gave an awesome talk on the Book of Mormon! A young couple from England, who were just married on Friday, also came to church in our branch! The wife was Venezuelan and the husband was from Bordeaux France. They were both super nice.

For p-day today we went to Alghero, as a district. Alessandro, a young adult from the branch in Sassari came with us. It's a really beautiful city on the eastern coast of Sardegna that was originally founded by the Spanish.

My scripture this week is the first one I have memorized from the Doctrine and Covenants, latter day revelation to modern day prophets! It goes very well with missionary work, but also is good to think about. Studying the gospel is so essential for us to know how to live as Christ did. The scripture is D&C 11:2. I have really found a LOT of answers to my questions, problems, and other struggles this week as I have earnestly studied the scriptures and words of the prophets.

21 Non cercare di proclamare la mia parola, ma cerca prima di ottenerla, ed allora la tua lingua verrà sciolta; allora, se lo desideri, avrai il mio Spirito e la mia parola, sì, il potere di Dio per convincere gli uomini.

21 Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.

I hope you can find some answers or peace in your own search for answers when you go to the scriptures in study!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Samuel Parker

Week 14 - Ma Che Caldo che c'è!

[But It is That Hot]


This week we did a ton of sweating! I never realized how hot and humid Italy is, and now I can't wait till winter time (although I've heard that's a beast of its own kind).

This week we had an awesome start getting to meet again with our investigator Roberto. He lives pretty far away and works a lot, so we can't meet him that often, but he's what one would call a "golden investigator." He found the church online, asked for a Book of Mormon and wanted to meet with the missionaries. We had one lesson with him at the beginning of July, and now we got to catch up with him. We asked about his Book of Mormon reading and talked with him about the first lesson. It went really well. He said if he gets an answer he wants to get baptized, but we can't meet with him regularly because he feels he doesn't ever have enough time. This weekend we've been praying and trying to figure out ways to get over this hurdle for him and also find a way to help him come to church. Hopefully his faith and his desire to follow the gospel grow as he reads more of the Book of Mormon!

The rest of this week was spent going from house to house in the burning hot sun, but we did have several cool experiences finding people. On Wednesday as we went to Sassari for the district meeting, we accidentally left our phone on the train and didn't find out until we got to the church. We were blessed to have a woman find it, call the sisters of Sassari, and figure out where it needed to go. She was from Olbia and knew where the church was, so she brought it by that night! Then as we were going house to house in a neighborhood, her house was the first one we knocked on! She wad so surprised to see us, and we had a good talk and got some much needed water.

We had a great Family Home Evening with the ward members on Wednesday night this week. They talked about their stories of conversion and how they first reacted to missionaries or contact with the church. It was awesome to become closer to all of them and also show how important it is we always reach out our hands inviting others.

For my scripture this week I memorized 3 Nephi 13:33

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

33 Ma cercate prima il regno di Dio e la sua rettitudine, e tutte queste cose vi saranno aggiunte.

This short and simple little scripture helps us to remember that when we put our trust first in the Lord, everything will work out. It's been amazing to see how no matter what happens, even if we don't have a solid plan for the "how to find people, " we always meet someone who seems like they needed contact with us. Whether or not they are interested in our message is another story, but we are always able to find someone who we can leave with a positive impact!

Anziano Samuel Parker

Week 13 - A Taste of Milano


Buon giorno tutti!

We just had transfers this past week and it used up a lot of our time to do missionary work. It's all good though because my new companion and I are going to kill it these next 6 weeks in Olbia! On Monday evening we got our transfer calls and I learned I'll be serving with Anziano Castro. He's from El Salvador originally, but has grown up in Milan (proprio Milan the city) since he was four years old. It's awesome to have a native Italian as a companion, both to get a deeper immersion in the language and also the culture of Italy. We talk in English while inside the house, and then in Italian as much as possible while outside. It's very interesting to hear about how different the culture is between Milan and the south of Italy.

Last week Tuesday was my last full day in Olbia with Anziano Ruiz since tranfer travel required us to go all the way down to Cagliari on Wednesday. We had a good morning out and about, but had to spend a good chunk of time letting Anziano Ruiz pack. On Wednesday we went to Sassari first for district meeting, and then afterwards took a train all the way to Cagliari as a whole district. Anziano Sellers, Ruiz, and Sorella Cardullo were transferred to Oristano (Sardegna), Napoli (Mainland), and Ragusa (Sicilia), respectively. It was quite the event getting all their luggage on and off trains and buses.

On Thursday morning I said goodbye to Anziano Ruiz . . . it was hard.

It's weird to think I will be with a new companion, with a new personality, and new habits for that I will have the rest of my mission. I'd gotten so used to doing missionary work with him, but I'm excited for some changes.

I did a short scambio with Anziano Stucki in the morning and we got to talk to a nice couple in the main park for a little bit. Turns out they were just visiting Cagliari and are actually from Olbia area! Afterwards we went to the airport and met up with our new companions. All the Sorelle on Sardegna are training, so they were pretty excited to meet their new companions fresh from the MTC. We then took a train to Sassari from the airport that was absolutely packed, we had to stand for the first 3 stops.

On Friday morning we took a train home to Olbia and then got back into the daily missionary work. I've been learning a ton of Italian and also some different ways to approach missionary work in the past couple days, which has been great.

This week I didn't have much study time to pick out a scripture to memorize, but one I did find on Saturday was really cool and goes along well with what my mindset is as we go into the next 6 weeks. It is from 1 Corinthians 13, and I think applies really well to how I am becoming more "polished" in my time here. This mission is called the "best two years" for so many people because it helps them to put their old habits, old interests, their rough sides, all behind them and polishes people into a shiny stone that is perfectly shaped in the way God wants them to be. Granted, it takes their will power for this to occur, but it is a process that absolutely changes lives. It is also our role as missionaries to help others realize their own potential as they follow the path God has made possible in life. In a talk I read this week, it explains that the biggest satisfaction we can have is reaching our full potential, and I'm sure that's where God gets his greatest joy as well!

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

11. Quand’ero fanciullo, parlavo da fanciullo, pensavo da fanciullo, ragionavo da fanciullo; ma quando son diventato uomo, ho smesso le cose da fanciullo.

Anziano Samuel Parker

1&2 District Photos! Sorella Cardullo, Anziano Sellers, and Anziano Ruiz are all heading out

3 Some Pizza + Kebab in Sassari

4 Last name tag photo with Anz. Ruiz (the top left is our apartment, bottom right is our church)

5 Anziano Castro and I our first night in Olbia

Week 12 - Transfers are coming!


This week was super tough, but we ended with a super awesome Sunday at church! I learned a lot from our time trying to find people to teach this week, and I think whether I stay in Olbia or go to a new city this next transfer I have a lot of stuff I can continue to improve on. Tonight we receive our calls to see where we will be going and who our new companion will be for the next 6 weeks! Most likely I will stay in Olbia, Anziano Ruiz will leave, and I will get a new companion. Who knows though, anything could happen!

Last Monday we were in Sassari with the other Anziani so we could trade companions and do a scambio. I stayed with Anziano Morrill - our district leader - in Sassari, while Anziano Ruiz and Sellers went back to Olbia. It was so weird to be in a big city with high rise apartments buildings (about 6-7 floors) everywhere. We spent time trying to find people to teach on the streets in centro and other parts of downtown Tuesday morning. We had an awesome English course in the evening. It's so cool to see how much enthusiasm people have to learn a new language! I always love teaching English in Sassari because they're so happy and excited to talk and learn. Recently we haven't been able to teach English in Olbia because everyone is at the beach in the evenings, but I look forward to having a bigger English course when the summer ends.

All of Wednesday evening through Sunday we tried to find people to teach, going from house to house (rare to do that here in Italy) and spending time in the main park. We also tried to get in contact again with the people we've met over the past 3 months here. It's a real slog sometimes, but every time we go out the door we have faith that we will find someone who we can have a good impact on. My scripture that I memorized this week goes really well with this theme, from Ether 12:6.

6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

6 Ed ora io, Moroni, vorrei parlare un po’ riguardo a queste cose; vorrei mostrare al mondo che la fede consiste in cose che si sperano e non si vedono; pertanto non disputate perché non vedete, poiché non riceverete alcuna testimonianza se non dopo aver dato prova della vostra fede.

For this transfer we have been striving to be as obedient as possible, always sticking to our plans for each day, and being diligent in our missionary work. We haven't seen much success from our efforts, but on Sunday we got to see a real miracle! We had a completely full church for the first time thanks to several people who came to church. One was a woman we had met on the bus and talked to about the church; she stayed for all 3 hours. Then there was a family who was on vacation from Piacenza (Reggio Emiliana Region). [Samuel's Aunt Denise served as a missionary in Piacenza.] Also, an inactive member came (we visited her and her family last Sunday), and our Nigerian member John brought about 10 of his friends! We had so many English speakers that we had to translate all the talks and lessons from the front of the chapel! We also got to have an all English gospel principles class talking about the importance of knowing and having faith in our Heavenly Father.

It's great to see that even though sometimes we don't get to see the fruits of our labors right away, we get to see small things that show our efforts are helping the work of the Lord move forward! This first 3 months in the field has been awesome. I got to serve my first 2 transfers in a small quiet city, I had a 5 star companion who pushed me to my limits every day, and I've had the opportunity to become friends and learn more about the people of Sardegna, this wonderful island in the Mediterranean. The Rock Rocks, and I can't wait to see what exciting new lessons the Lord has in store for me #SardLand 🇮🇹

Anziano Samuel Parker

1-2) name tag photos

3) amazing sunrise this morning on our way to Santa Teresa

4-5) our Pday trip to Santa Teresa, it was an epic end to the transfer!

Week 11 - Ho salito un' albero!


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


Week 10 - Grilled Onions Aren't the Same Here


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

In God We Trust


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!

Maddalena Miracles!


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

La fine della prima Trasferimento


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

This'll be a Short one...


Hello tutti,

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!

Anziano Parker

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...

Suppongo queste cozze sono buone...


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,

Anziano Parker

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!

Scambi Magic


Ciao Tutti,

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]

Anziano Parker

A trip across the Pond (figuratively)


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,

Anziano Parker


1 Just a peek at what we did for Pday this week! Super amazing town.

2 Bombalino

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

Rompiamo le Scatole!


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!

Anziano Parker

I Can't Escape the Pizza!


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,

Anziano Parker

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

This'll be a Long One!


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.

This'll be a Long One! Part 1

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.



Dammicinque tutti! (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.


Anziano Parker

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!

Tons of Change in Just a Week!


Ciao Tutti! (Hello Everyone)

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.

Arrivederci, Anziano Parker

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.

Una Buena Settimana Uno


Ciao amici e Familia!

This was a great first couple days at the MTC!

Martedi- 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.

Mercoledi- 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.

Giovedi- 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.

Venerdi - 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 - Arrivederci!

Anziano Parker

Elder Samuel Parker
Italy Rome Mission

Contact Information

E-mail Address:

Mailing Address:
Elder Samuel Parker
Italy Rome Mission
Piazza Monte Gemma 9
00141 Rome RM