Elder Parker's Missionary Blog


Week 27 - The Seasons Are Changing!

11/6/2017

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]

10/30/2017

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]

10/23/2017

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]

10/17/2017

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!

10/9/2017

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


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Elder Samuel Parker
Italy Rome Mission

Contact Information

E-mail Address:
parker.samuel@myldsmail.net

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