This week was a roller coaster of feelings for me, but we were able to have success week in the long run and ended up with 3 new investigators! I hope everyone at home has or had a great 4th of July celebrating the birth of our wonderful country!
This letter was originally a lot longer and described all the stuff that happened this past week, but it got deleted by scheming google.....technology at its best, and I don't have much time to re-do it. But, I will talk about one short experience we had this week that goes very well with the birthday of our amazing country, the United States of America.
We got on a bus and briefly talked with a man named Moses from Nigeria, and when we said we were American, he responded with the great line:
"In God we trust"
I was so happy to hear this, and it almost seemed like an answer to prayer, or a confirmation of what I've been studying, because this week all my studies have led me to the thought that I need to put my trust in the Lord and "lean not unto mine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5) As I go throughout this next week my goal is to look for the ways that I can more fully trust the Lord in this work. This Church exists today because men and women built a country based on the trust they had in Lord to guide them. I'm so grateful for America and the foundation it provided for the restoration of Christ's church on the earth to occur some 50 years after its birth.
Memorized Scripture: Moroni 7:33-34
33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
34 And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.
33 E Cristo ha detto: Se avrete fede in me, avrete il potere di fare qualsiasi cosa mi sia opportuna.
34 Ed egli ha detto: Pentitevi, voi tutte estremità della terra, e venite a me e siate battezzati nel mio nome, ed abbiate fede in me, per poter essere salvati.
For everyone in the US, eat some hot dogs and burgers for me.
Happy 4th of July!
Anziano Samuel Parker
Hardships often prepare ORDINARY people for an EXTRAORDINARY destiny -- C.S. Lewis
1 Zone Conference from last week, all of Sardegna
2 Our house got painted this past week! It looks super good
3 Sorella Cardullo and DeMann made me a cake for my birthday that we ate at district meeting!
4 Waking up and getting out the door early has its blessings
5 Nicola's (an investigator) "bow" made from a piece of wood he found in the countryside
6 a 4-door Renault, I love cars here!
I am finally out of my teenage years! I turned 20 on Tuesday and we had an amazing day learning and teaching about the church. We left the house a little earlier than normal to catch a bus going to Santa Teresa Gallura (STG). We had an appointment with a referral we received last week, and we were traveling up there to finally meet him and give him the Book of Mormon he had requested. Unluckily for us, the bus didn't stop at the correct stop and we went all the way to STG, just to take a bus back down to Palau an hour later from the same spot. Once in Palau, we took a ferry across the bay, hoping to try and find an inactive member still on our church records. There used to be a U.S. military base on the Maddalena, so the membership used to be a lot higher until the base closed and the extra church influence left the area. We decided to stop in a park and catch up on our studies. We talked with a guy sitting on a bench drinking some boxed wine and eating some crackers. Turns out this guy, Toni, was like a "golden investigator". He had a good knowledge about God and expectations for a church! We talked with him about how important a personal relationship with God is, and then he said he finds it sad there a so many churches, but none of them have a way to find out if what they say is true. Anziano Ruiz and I just looked at each other and got huge smiles on our faces as we showed him the Book of Mormon and explained that it is a book of scriptures that shows God still loves us in these latter days. It is also the one and only way to know if the Church of Jesus Christ is restored on the Earth. As we handed it to him, he couldn't stop getting emotional as he accepted it. He said he would definitely read it and treasure its message. It was an amazing experience and such a blessing to be in that EXACT park at that EXACT time to find him. We set up appointment with him to meet in the same park on Wednesday as well, and to talk more.
We did the same thing Wednesday morning, and this time determined not to miss our stop to see Roberto. We made sure to tell the bus driver the area we wanted to "scendere" at. Well..... he dropped us off like 3 miles away from the street we had wanted, so we walked about 2 miles back along the highway before calling Roberto and telling him we'd be a little late. He said he could meet us where we were, so he started driving out. Once he got there we found out he actually lives in STG, and the address we got for him was wrong :( We did get him his Book of Mormon though, and he was super excited to finally be able to read it! Once we gave it to him he was like - "I'll be done in about 3 weeks and then we can meet and talk about it." We were just like "woah!" so we explained that we're here to help explain the message of the Book of Mormon and how it connects to the true church being restored to the earth today. We said good by and then o waited at the bus stop for the Guercios (a senior couple) to take us home for apartment inspections. Sadly we had to miss our appointment with Toni to fit the Guercio's schedule.
The rest of this week was spent at a zone conference on Thursday and Friday in Cagliari and we spent most of Saturday inside doing weekly planning and studies. Zone conference is always super fun to be with the other missionaries of Sardegna and getting to see President and Sister Pickerd. I got to do a musical number with some other missionaries and we also had a extra training meeting for new missionaries after all the normal zone conference stuff.
Sunday was absolutely awesome! We had a Norwegian family come visit! They have 4 kids, an older daughter and son, and then two younger daughters who are twins. The oldest kids and the parents speak really good English, so we were able to visit. During church, I translated for them during sacrament meeting. For primary I helped out and translated from Italian to English, while the mom translated from English into Norwegian so the twin girls could participate in the lesson. It was so cool and we were able to have an awesome lesson answering questions and talking about the gospel in 3 languages! After church the family had to leave for another town down in southern Sardegna, but they're looking forward to meeting the missionaries in the ward at Oristano next week. We had a pranzo with the members and then did studies at the church before going out and having one last "finding session" for the week Sunday evening.
I totally forgot to memorize a scripture this week, I normally pick one out during our weekly goal setting, but I think I forgot to choose one.... Anywho, this week since both our new investigators are really excited about the Book of Mormon, we've been doing a bit more study focused on the conversion that comes from study of it. As one reads the Book of Mormon, it is promised to them that they will "gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost" when they go to our Heavenly Father in sincere prayer. As I have studied it, I have learned from ancient prophets who were called of God to testify of Christ. As George Cannon wrote:
“No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”
I know the Book of Mormon is truly another testament of Jesus Christ in these latter days, and that it is the necessary keystone of one's testimony of the restored church.
Anziano Samuel Parker
1 I'm 20 years old!
2 Sardegna water, can't get enough of it
3 Picture from primary on Sunday of words written in Italian, English, and Norwegian
4 Pics from Cagliari on Thursday when were on one of the streets in Centro talking to people about the church
Wow! This week absolutely flew by. We started it off with an amazing p-day and then got to have a great member meal appointment where we introduced a young family to the gospel! A ton happened in between, but I'll try to pick out the best bits. Also, happy belated Fathers Day! Hope everyone was able to spend time with or thinking about their dad's back home :)
On Monday we got to go to Golfo Aranci, a town just North of Olbia that has some amazing views of the ocean and a really cool island right of the coast! It's the prettiest water I've ever seen, I really want to come back and swim in it eventually! We hiked along the coast for a ways and took pictures from various spots. On the way back to the train station we ended up having a sheep chase us down the road! It had gotten loose and we ended up having to lock him behind a gate after we hung out with him for a little bit. We met some girls on vacation from England at the train station and got to talk to them about why we're here on missions and some of the beliefs of the church. After the train ride we went and got gelato and then helped them get to some of the places they wanted to go in Olbia before they went home. We ended the night on a sad note getting transfer calls and finding out Anziano Cutler was getting moved to be a zone leader in Bari. He's spent the last 6 months on Sardegna and really didn't want to leave. We did however get to end the day with one last pizza all together from a Napolitano pizzeria :)
Tuesday I went to the questura, for like the 7th time, and found out we didn't have all the correct paperwork from the mission office, so we have to go again on the 27th. I'm not sure I'll ever get my permesso at this point... We spent the afternoon studying and preparing a lesson for a man we had a good discussion with Monday night about faith and the importance of acting on the information that we receive. He ended up not making it to the lesson, but we were able to learn a lot in our preparation for it.
We started out super early Wednesday morning to take a train to Sassari for DDM and and got to have breakfast with the other Anziano there. Then we had our last district meeting of the transfer. We took some photos and then Anziano Ruiz and I headed off to the train station to get back to Olbia in time for Family Home Evening with the Mazzone family and Santo. Sadly Santo wasn't able to make it, he was helping a friend out before he left for Sicily. (Anziano Sanchez and Sorella Oveson from the MTC are going to be in his new ward!) We still had a good lesson, and we were able to talk about faith and how growth in the gospel never becomes stagnant.
Guess what we did Thursday? Got on a train back to Sassari! We got to the station early and hadn't eaten breakfast so we stopped by a cafe to grab some orzo and pastries. (Orzo is similar to coffee, but non caffeinated, also mixes good with Nesquik.) I also grabbed a pair of sunglasses for really cheap since the sun's been killing me this past week! Our train was 20 mins late so at the train interchange we got on a bus instead to go the rest of the way to Sassari. It was cool to get a different view of the countryside, plus we got to be right in the front seats looking through the huge front window! We met up with Anziano Sellers and then waited for Anziano Allen to get in from the airport before grabbing pizza at Francesco's and then taking him to the train station. English course in the evening was super fun, everyone in Sassari's English course is just so energetic! I got to sing "Where Can I Turn For Peace" in Italian as the spiritual thought and bore my testimony about how we can be lifted up by Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father as we turn to them through prayer.
Friday was very slow since about halfway through our plans for picking up Anziano Morrill completely changed, which also meant we would be staying in Sassari until Saturday morning. We ended up having a great time contacting people in Centro during the evening, and even met a man who had taken the missionary lessons back in Olbia several years ago. We ended up missing our bus to the airport and had quite the fiasco trying to figure out how to pick up Anziano Morrill, but we got it figured out! Anziano Sellers and I ended up sitting at a bus stop in beach chairs.....but that's a long story :p
Saturday and Sunday were awesome, the highlights were getting to translate in sacrament meeting from Italian to English for a family visiting from the Czech Republic on holiday, and then having pranzo with some members and a family whom we hope wants to learn more about the church. Barbara is friends with the father and we had a "get to know you lunch" that ended up being perfectly focused on the gospel simply out of their curiosity! We taught the restoration and they even accepted a book of Mormon.
This week we memorized Ether 12:27, a really good scripture about making the most of our weaknesses. I find it cool that as we try to understand this scripture, it explains that weaknesses are necessary for us to be humble, but the purpose of this life is to use those weaknesses and make them strengths! I'm so glad that I have specific weaknesses in my life because it lets me know that God knows I can overcome them if I face them with the right attitude and turn to him for help.
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Se gli uomini vengono a me, mostrerò loro la loro debolezza. Io do agli uomini la debolezza affinché possano essere umili; e la mia grazia basta a tutti gli uomini che si umiliano dinanzi a me; poiché, se si umiliano dinanzi a me, ed hanno fede in me, allora farò in modo che le cose deboli divengano forti per loro.
Anziano Samuel Parker
Hardships often prepare ORDINARY people for an EXTRAORDINARY destiny -- C.S. Lewis)
1 Still trying to learn how to dab
2 Sardegna is pretty cool (there's a boat!)
3 Pizza from Francesco's
4 The District: Transfer 1!
5 Chilling at the bus stop
We had a crazy long p-day today traveling and visiting with some tourists from England who we shared a decent amount about the gospel with, so I haven't had much time to write during the day. We did the most walking I've ever done in the mission today, not a lot of down time!
Some brief highlights of the week were:
- getting to speak again with a family we met in the park about 2 weeks ago and teaching them about the restoration
- talking to a man about the restoration of the church and how he can receive an answer if it is true through the Book of Mormon. He said he felt super calm and peaceful while we taught, so he will read it to be reminded of us! We exchanged numbers so we hope to get in touch with him soon
-eating fresh pizza while running to the train station in Sassari to get back to Olbia on time for a teaching appointment (sadly didn't get a picture of that pizza)
-having an intense discussion in English course about Italian and English grammar! We only had 3 students so we did more of just a conversation, went so well!!!
-getting to ride a pennyboard (tiny skateboard) of some ragazzi and then talking to them about the beliefs of our church, the restoration, and what differs us from the Catholic church that they've grown up around
-talking to some really chill guys visiting from Cagliari, a southern city, about why we are here on a mission and why we follow commandments
-talked to a guy visiting from Florida! He grew up here in Olbia but has been living in the US for the past 15 years
-gave a full talk in Italian on Sunday!
-got an update for my tablet to Android 7.0 Nougat, makes everything run so much smoother!!
This week we were able to meet and talk to tons of people giving them a "first touch" with the gospel. It is often this first contact they have with missionaries that determines whether they will accept the invitation to learn about the gospel later in their life. It is our job to help them feel the light of Christ that can be ever present with them through righteous living!
My focus for the talk this past Sunday was on prayer, and the personal relationship we can have with God. This gospel is pretty special in that it is one and the same everywhere you go in the world, but it is able to help people of any background and through any trial because of the wholeness of Jesus Christ and His atonement. We've been able to teach the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ a ton this past week and what always resonates with me is that it shows us how personal a relationship we can have with Heavenly Father if we go to Him with humility and faith. It goes really well with our scripture to memorize this week, James 1:5 - the same scripture that inspired Joseph Smith to go and ask Heavenly Father in prayer.
James 1:5 - If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Che se alcuno di voi manca di sapienza, la chiegga a Dio che dona a tutti liberalmente senza rinfacciare, e gli sarà donata.
Hope everyone has an amazing week, and always remember your Heavenly Father wants to hear all your joys, trials, and blessings!
1 This is the lungomare, we walk along it almost every day to get to centro
2 Anziano Ruiz just happens to be a professional chef. Almost completely homemade ragu, even used whole tomatoes to make most of the sugo. (He had to use a little bit of store bought pasta in the end)
3 Cool little park we found Sunday night while doing casa a casa
4 San Simplicio, a huge historical landmark for Olbia. As you can tell I'm pretty excited...
Questa settimana era meravigliosa!
I learned my new favorite word this week, "suppongo!" It means "I suppose," and I say "I guess.." so much in English I've been dying to find its equivalent in Italian. We also finally tried cozze - mussels - from Olbia, and they were absolutely bomb! Olbia apparently has the second best mussels in the world, and guess where the world's best is? ......another port town in Italy!! (Maybe I'll get to serve there as well and do a taste test, crossing fingers) We got to spend a ton of this week with the Sassari elders which was awesome, in addition to all the tiny miracles we've seen the past few days.
Last Pday we spent the morning visiting with a member of our English course and taking photos around centro in Olbia. We hadn't planned on talking about anything particular related to the gospel, but while we sat in front of a church we ended up started discussing a pretty cool carving on the side. It has a picture of a prophet holding a sword with the word "verbum" on the blade. I asked her what it meant and it literally means "word of God!" Our discussion edging up going towards what it means to have faith that something is "the word of God." Since so many people in the world today want to see all the evidence right in front of them, many refuse to take an act of faith and try to find for themselves if something is true. In fact, since religion is even more becoming a thing that is not emphasized around the world it requires an even bigger step to make your way out of the larger crowd. There are so many things that create doubt for someone when they are trying to learn more and strengthen their testimony. As we talked about he challenges of developing faith in something so intangible I was able to recall a simple yet beautiful quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the first Presidency of the church: "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith!" As one is able to take these hurdles that could get in the way and instead turn them into building blocks to strengthen the foundation of their faith they will be able to grow and have a more resolute knowledge that what they believe in is a worthwhile endeavor. She ending up really liking it, and we were able to open her eyes a little bit about how we believe the things we do. We ended the morning with some super good Gelato! I'm absolutely in love with hazelnut and ice cream, best combination know to man.
Tuesday was pretty normal overall, we spent the evening going to a neighborhood where an inactive member lives, but didn't find him home. His wife was very nice though and said to come back some other time to try and catch him while he's free (he has a lot of work commitments) We also got to meet one of his neighbors, who was interested in hearing our message! He's one of her good friends and I think the gospel has left a good impression on her.
On Wednesday we had district meeting and got to do some more train riding. (I should be keeping track of how many miles I ride on a train during mission, that would actually be cool to figure out) We got to have lunch again with the Sassari elders, but then we just barely missed our train again for the second week in a row! Apparently all the buses in Sassari end up consistently being like 5-10 minutes off the schedule no matter what. We did finding in the park near the station and both Anziano Cutler and I as well as Anziano Ruiz and Sellers found people who were interested in the message! Two young adults accepted a book of Mormon and exchanged numbers so we could contact them again, and Anziano Ruiz met a man who happened to be praying in the park for help with some stuff he's dealing with. Anziano Cutler and Sellers just met with him on Saturday and he's already accepted a baptismal date!
About halfway through Wednesday we decided to do a Scambio, with Anziano Sellers and I swapping. To explain how this scambio thing worked out I'll just do a list form, it was a lot of traveling and this email is already long enough!
-all of us went back to Olbia from Sassari and stayed the night
-I packed all and got all the stuff I needed for a 1 day trip to Sassari and then left Thursday morning with Anziano Cutler
-Spent a full day in Sassari teaching some lessons, doing finding, and then ending with a really fun English course!
-headed back Friday morning after studies to Olbia so we could swap me and Anziano Sellers
-Got trapped at a huge pranzo with the members so Anziano Cutler and Sellers missed their train back to Sassari
-They spent the night, and then finally headed home Saturday morning
The pranzo we had was at Santo's house, one of the recent converts in our ward. Friday was a celebration for all of Italy because it's the anniversary of its unification. He's also going to be leaving to live in Messina help out his mother for a couple months so it was a sort of goodbye party as well. We got invited to come along with some of the members and his nonmember friends. Some of them it turns out have already met with the missionaries before, several years ago! We had probably the biggest lunch I've had here in Italy, just course after course of seafood! The meal started of with some salmon pasta as well, probably one of my favorite sauces now. Highlights of the meal were finally trying cozze (cooked in some seasoned water to taste amazing), eating a fishes eye, eating what I think were prawns, and having some awesome desserts - including brownies made by Anziano Ruiz and Sellers that everyone loved!
Saturday and Sunday were full, of miracles just following simple promptings to go certain places or talk to certain people that worked out amazingly! Saturday evening we went to an old apartment we had knocked on my first week here, and the nonna just let us in like we were old friends! We got to teach her grandson the restoration, and then we taught her and her friend Luccia (who we had actually met our first time there) about some our basic beliefs in the church. They seemed really happy to hear our message and are going to meet with us next week too. On Sunday we felt like we should go by Giuseppe, the inactive member who we had gone by earlier, and he let us in so we could get to know him! He is super nice, and was super open with us about why he doesn't come to church, but we were able to leave him with the simple commitment to read the Book of Mormon again and pray about it. On the bus going home Anziano Ruiz taught a man about the restoration, and he seemed super excited to learn more! Right before we had to scapare he asked for like 3 more biglietini to share with people. Super excited for this coming week and all the experiences we're going to have.
Sadly I didn't memorize a scripture this week. However the one we were going to memorize , Alma 30:44, actually goes really well with what we talked about on Monday. We have so much on this Earth that is evidence there is a God, but we also have many people trying to prove that this world could exist without a Supreme Creator. One thing that my companion and I go to pretty often is that we don't know the specifics of how God created the world. We don't know the time frame or the how, but we know that through His omniscient knowledge He created the earth. That could very well mean that science is completely right about everything, but He was the one to get the ball rolling.
44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.
Ma Alma gli disse: Segni ne hai avuti abbastanza; vuoi tentare il tuo Dio? Vuoi dire: Mostrami un segno, quando hai la testimonianza di tutti questi tuoi fratelli, e anche di tutti i santi profeti? Le Scritture ti sono poste dinanzi; sì, e tutte le cose denotano che vi è un Dio; sì, anche la terra e tutte le cose che sono sulla faccia della terra, sì, e il suo movimento, sì, e anche tutti i pianeti che si muovono nel loro ordine stabilito testimoniano che vi è un supremo Creatore.
Always be looking for ways you can strengthen your faith!
View voglio bene,
1 Gelato on Monday!
2 Best companionship ever!
3 Traditional Sard dessert we picked up at a food market before District meeting on Wednesday
4 My fish!
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