Wednesday, December 25, 2013
I can't believe that Christmas is next week! WHAT???? That's crazy. I'm so excited but it is going to be weird without everyone. I'm really excited to Skype you. And speaking of Skype, I know what time I will be doing it, but I don't know the Skype name. I'm going to do it at 5pm here, so it will be 8am for you guys. The name may or may not be in Italian, I have no clue, because we are using a members computers. I will probably try Mom first, and then if that doesn't work, I will move down the line until one works. I will have an hour max. It is encouraged to be around 40 minutes, so we will try and stop as close to that as possible.
Next matter of business, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINDA!!!!!!!! (I know your birthday is Sunday, but I didn't want to forget, so happy early birthday. haha). Also, Happy one day late anniversary Erin and Dan!!!! That's crazy that you've been married for 2 years. Time really does fly.
Next, I sent my Christmas package last week, so it should hopefully be there the 23rd, if not, then it will be there after Christmas. I really hope it gets there, and I hope my package gets to me. haha.
It's funny how Dad was telling me about Christmas lights, because we put up some lights of our own! We have a couple investigators that own a store and they saw us looking at the Christmas lights, so they gave them to us. We put them up in our room and they are on 24/7. No joke. When we leave the house, they are still on, when we sleep, they are still on. It's great. I love Christmas lights. The Christmas lights in centro are awesome. We have a giant, real tree in piazza comune, so I love passing by it and looking at it.
So, now let's get spiritual. So this week, I have really seen the power of prayer and how the Lord always answers our prayers. Like I mentioned last week, we answered one of our investigator's questions without even knowing it. Well, this week, we passed by again and just gave another spiritual thought and it turns out that we answered another question she had. And then after the prayer, our other investigator told me that he got his answer during my prayer. Then yesterday, we had no idea what we were going to teach this couple, so we prayed all day and thought of a million ideas, but none of them seemed right. We eventually came to the conclusion that we should watch the film Finding Faith in Christ. That was a good idea. The spirit was super strong, and even though there were firecrackers going off outside the entire lesson, the spirit was there and powerfully. The movie really touched them and then we basically had a testimony meeting with them and the members that were there with us. At the end, we ended up committing the couple to get married and baptised. However, they are going to wait until April, which was hard to swallow at first, but I know the Lord has his timing for them, and I prayed to know his will, so I completely recognize his work and his hand in this. I'm so excited for them and even though I probably won't be here when they get married, it doesn't matter, because they know its true and they are going to be following the saviours example and coming closer to him. I'm just so grateful for the opportunity to teach them and love them. They are really special to me and I'm so happy for them. You can really see the difference that they gospel has had in their life. I'm so grateful for this time to be a missionary and to help people come closer unto Christ.
Yesterday at lunch, I watched the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration movie. I love that movie so much. It is so incredibly powerful and I felt the spirit so strongly. I can't describe how incredible and amazing the prophet Joseph Smith is. I am so grateful for the great faith that he had, and for the even larger trust he had in the Lord to put up with all of the persecutions and vile acts that he faced in his life time. I went out yesterday determined to share my testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith to the people here in Prato and that's what I did. I passed out about 4 or 5 pamphlets about him in about an hour, which is pretty good for the circumstances we had. My heart is so full of gratitude for my Father in Heaven and for the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ through the boyhood prophet. The Book of Mormon contains a fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we can receive a powerful testimony of Joseph Smith and his divine mission by reading that book and praying about it. I love this gospel with all of my heart and I love you all so much. I want everyone to feel this joy that I feel for my savior every day. What a beautiful time of year to remember our savior and what he did for us.
Thank you, like always for your emails, prayers, and support. I love you all so much and I hope you all have an amazing Christmas. Just a heads up, I probably won't be able to get an email out next week because p-day is on Christmas. But I will be able to see you on skype, and I can't wait. I hope you all have an amazing week.
Vi voglio tanto bene tutti,
Monday, December 16, 2013
Ciao tutti! Buon natale!!! (quasi)
First of all, I'm so pumped for Christmas. The lights and trees are all up in centro, so every time we're there, I get super excited. Yesterday we had our Christmas conference, so that really got me excited. This is such a beautiful time of the year and a great time to talk to people about Christ. The people are generally more open to talk during this time of the year. However, the cold does not help that much. Speaking of the cold, we no longer have wind here, we have ridiculous amounts of fog. Like you can't even see 10 feet in front of you thick. It's super fun to ride our bikes through. And don't worry mom, we have lights on our bikes. As for using my card, yes, I've been using it for Christmas presents. I'm almost done getting them for everyone, so I will probably send it this week, so it should be there by Christmas. I don't know how expensive it will be, but if its ridiculous, then I will try to figure something else out. Yes, Sean and Sylvia will be here and we're planning to meet up on p-day, so we will have the most time. I'm really excited to see them. And speaking of being really excited, I hit my 6 month mark tomorrow, that is NUTS!!!! But that also means that I get to Skype with you in about 2 weeks or so. So I don't know where we will be yet, but I will know per forza by next week. So I need you to send me your Skype information and when I know mine, I will give it to you.
Dad, thanks for the sports report. It should be an interesting world cup. Let's hope we can hold our own and get out of the group stage this time. As for Italy, of course I will be cheering for them, because I'm here, but if the US plays Italy for any reason, I'm all USA raga. I'm excited to hear about the bowl games as they happen. Even though we are in a small bowl, let's hope we can win it. Last year was a good game, and I hope we can do something like that again.
OK, on to spiritual matters, and then some other random things. So we have this less active from Honduras that we've been teaching, and she is basically only less active because the lady she works for, wont let her come to church. So we see her every week and try and boost her spirits. We taught her this past week, and to be honest, I had no clue what we were going to teach, so during studies that morning, I said a prayer specifically to know what we should teach her. I then opened my little plates (study journal) and immediately found what to teach her. When we taught her that night, it was confirmed to me again that was exactly what she needed. God really does answer our prayers. And then yesterday, we taught this couple like we normally do on Tuesday nights. They were super busy at their store when we showed up, so we started a little bit late. Because of the time constraints, we decided to share a spiritual thought instead of the lesson we planned. Anziano Andersen shared a scripture and bore testimony about it, then I added my thoughts and then we got into a really good discussion about "bearing your cross and following Jesus Christ". At the end of the lesson, they thanked us like normal, but during Michiela's prayer, she thanked Heavenly Father for sending us with that message, because she had a question during the week and we answered it, without even knowing it. She then thanked Him for listening and we saw a real change in Michiela. It really was a miracle and such a testimony builder to show that God really does answer prayers. I know for a fact, that Heavenly Father listens to our prayers and he answers them. It is sometimes through others and sometimes through our own thoughts and studies, but he always answers. Never be afraid to ask him for guidance or help. I have prayed more this transfer, than ever before in my life, and I have seen so many answers and help from our Father in heaven.
Then, this past week we met with one of our regular investigators, and we've really been trying to help him come to church and one night, we were late to our appointment with him, so we raced there on our bikes and when we got there, he asked us what time we could meet the next morning for church. We told him and then we prayed really hard that night that he would come. The morning came, and it was bitter cold and super foggy, so it wasn't looking good, but then he gave me a call and asked if it was OK that he came then. I almost jumped for joy. He then came despite the cold and fog and had a great time at church. I was so happy, and then I got called on by the Branch presidency to bear my testimony in sacrament, so I really prayed hard that I would know what to say, and I don't remember what I said, but it must have been good, because I had a lot of people come tell me how great and powerful it was. I know for a fact that was nothing of my doing, but the spirit's. Without the spirit, we can do nothing, but with the spirit, we can do anything. We can "speak with the tongues of angels" like 2 Nephi 32 says. I have seen this so many times here on my mission, and I'm so grateful for the gift of the Holy ghost.
OK, some other crazy news. So at the Christmas conference yesterday I got to see Anz Salmon again, because he's in La Spezia now, which is now in our zone. So that was super awesome to see him again. He hasn't changed one bit. He is so funny. Anyway, so while we were together in Genova, we found this miracle investigator that we taught and gave a blessing to, and it was just great. So she went back to Austria, and according to Anz Salmon, she supposedly got baptised on the 7th! I happened to write her last week, but I haven't heard a response yet, so I'm not positive that it went through, but I'm pretty sure it did. I will let you know. It seems to always happen, but even though I didn't get to see the fruits of my labors, I'm still super super happy for her and excited. I can't believe it. Crazy stuff.
OK, now for some random notizie. So first of all, streets here in Italy don't make any sense. Like zero whatsoever. We went out to this paesino the other day and found 2 streets that were just ridiculous, of course they happened to be the streets of the referrals we were looking for. haha. It was super crazy and made no sense, but we somehow found both of the houses. Only with the Lord's help. Any who, then since Anz Andersen has been here, we have bought about 4 new tires for him. I don't know how he keeps popping all of them, but as soon as we replace one, the next day it pops. It is so frustrating and takes a lot of time to walk to the store to buy a new one, and then walk back and fix it. Basically, bikes are annoying, but also super fun at the same time. Oh well, I'm used to bike problems now. And continuing on with Anziano Andersen, so we ran to catch a train yesterday morning to get to the conference and we all hopped on (or at least that's what we thought). The doors then closed and we see Anz Andersen still standing outside....and then the train started pulling away. So we yelled at him to get on a train to Firenze. We had both phones so he couldn't call us and since there are a ton of stops in Firenze, we got off at the one we needed to get off at, and every time a train passed by, we run up and down it looking inside the train for him. We probably checked about 10 trains, and in the process I found the Siena sorelle (who were very nice and helped us check trains) and the Pisa/Livorno Anziani. After checking a ton of trains Anz Andersen saw Anz Windley running past the train and jumped off. Meno male. That was a fun call I had to make to President. He was actually super cool about it and was joking around about it at the conference with us. Presdient Dibb is really awesome. I love him so much, and he really is inspired.
Any who, that was my week in a chestnut shell (there are a ton of them here and they are super good). I absolutely love it here and I can't imagine myself anywhere else then here in Prato serving the Lord. I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and for this time of year. I wish you all a happy 12 days of Christmas and I look forward to hearing from you all next week.
Vi voglio bene,
PS. Holy cow, my computer just stopped working and I thought I lost this whole email. Meno male gmail saves drafts automatically.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Alright, first things first. My address is:
Via Pietro Giannone 12/1
59100 Prato Italia
Second. I should be sending home a Christmas package soon, so expect that in a couple weeks. Next, that sounded like an awesome week for sports!!! That Auburn v Alabama game sounded sweet! I love college football, its so much fun to watch. I'm really jealous of your Thanksgiving back home. Ours here was a little more hectic and crazy. So as you might have realized, Thanksgiving this year fell right on the day of transfers. Yay!!! And on top of that, Anziano Walker had an appointment to renew his permesso at the questura that day. So basically, the questura is like the DMV, but about 30 times worse. So we waited in line, only to find out that we had to come back later in the day, so we did, and then we waited even more. Then we got let inside, where we waited in yet another line. Then when he got to the window, it turns out that we didn't have his pictures for it, so he now has to come back on the morning of Christmas eve, fun. So we basically sat in line all morning, freezing our butts off, and not understanding a single word of what anyone was saying around us, (because they were all Chinese) for nothing. It also took forever, because like I said, no one spoke Italian or anything, so there was this one lady who kinda spoke Italian, so they all tried to use her to communicate. It was really frustrating for the workers, so when Anziano Walker came up, they were super happy because he could speak Italian. Then we rode home and got his bags. We went to the train station and saw that our train was leaving, so I sprinted up the stairs with his super super super heavy bag (like easily 80 pounds) and I threw it on the train, and turned around to help him, but he wasn't there. So I ran back down the stairs and saw him at the bottom, so I grabbed his other super super super super heavy bag and sprinted up the stairs. I then slipped and smashed my knee into the stairs, but I got up and kept running, I got there right as the doors closed, and we watched as the train and one of his bags pulled away from the station. We then called the capi in Firenze and told them to look for his bag, they found it, so it was all good. Then coming back, Anziano Windley and I went to the wrong platform and so we missed our train. So we finally got back, and it was just a nightmare. But then we had a party for English class and they brought really good dolce, so it was all worth it. Now, Anziano Andersen and I are tearing it up here in Prato. He is from my MTC district, so that's awesome, and he's from Scottsdale Arizona.
Allora, next, we had a really good week full of miracles. As a companionship, we decided to set an alarm on our phone to go off every hour to remind us to pray. So we pray in the streets, on our bikes, and basically anywhere and everywhere. We have seen so many blessings already from doing this. It's crazy. On Sunday, I called an investigator that we were trying to get in contact with for the entire last transfer, and he answered and we set up an appointment with him! Then that same day, we had just finished church and this member walked up to me and told me that her friend wanted to take the lessons with us. He had been coming to church the past 2 weeks. We just taught him last night, and wow...the spirit was so strong. We have really been praying to have a baptism during December, and we set a baptismal date with him for the 28th!! It was super awesome and I still can't believe how great that lesson was. It was all the Lord's help, we couldn't have done it any other way. So yesterday, we got 2 new investigators and one with a bap date!!! MIRACLES!!!!!!!! It's so amazing how the Lord blesses us. I love being a missionary. It is super tiring. I am literally tired every single second and I sleep like a rock, but this is such an amazing experience. I can't possibly describe it.
Now, not everything goes smoothly in missionary work. The problems that occur are usually from means of transportation. My bike broke this week, so I had to get it fixed. And then yesterday, Anziano Andersen's tire exploded, so we had to get that fixed. And then Anziano Mollari's (Anziano Windley's comp) tires both popped today on our way to spesa. So yeah, bikes are a mess. Goodness me. They are really fun and fast, but boy are they annoying. Then when we went on a bus this week to the outer part of our area, there was a market in centro, so the bus took a different route than usual, so we had to walk super far to get to where we wanted to go, and then when we came back, there was no stop going the other way, so we had to basically walk back to Prato on the side of the highway. It was super windy and cold and dark. We held our bike light behind us so people wouldn't hit us. I got a funny video out of it, but it was pretty crazy. Oh the fun times you have on the mission. haha.
I really wish you all could be here to experience these adventures with me. I cannot describe what I feel every day. You feel the extreme opposite sides of emotion in about 30 seconds. You are colder than ever before, you are hotter than ever before. I've never been so tired in all my life, and yet, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I know this work is hard, but I also know that this is the Lord's work, and I'm here to serve him. I love being a missionary, and I can't believe that I will hit my 6 month mark next week. That is crazy. Time really flies when you're out here doing the same thing every single day. haha. We have so much fun and we do so much work. It's impossible to describe, but if you've serve a mission, you know exactly what I mean. This is one of the greatest experiences of my life and I am so grateful f or this opportunity to serve the Lord for 2 years.
Random side note. My prayer timer just went off, so now I can check off praying in an internet point in Firenze. haha.
As always, thank you all so much for your love and your support. I pray for you all and I can feel your prayers. I hope to hear from you all soon, and I hope you are all excited for Christmas! I know I am!!
Vi voglio tanto bene,
PS. Let me know about the US Men's soccer bid when you know Dad.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Well, transfers are this week, and I am very happy to say that I will be staying here in beautiful Prato for yet another transfer. Anziano Walker is going off to Modena to be a Capo Zona, so I'm super proud of him. Anziano Anderson is going off to Bergamo with one of the famous Pinnocks, and his trainee, Anziano Windley is staying here and getting a new comp named Anziano Mollari. As for my new comp, I'm really excited. It's another Anziano Anderson, but this one is from my MTC District! I'm so excited!!!! It is going to be such a fun transfer. And on top of that, its almost Christmas, so the lights are all over the city and it is gorgeous. I love it here. It's still pretty humid, and by pretty humid, I mean freakin' humid and so its just bone-chilling freezing. The wind doesn't help at all, but oh well. Succede (it happens).
Well, just a few stories from this past week. So first of all, I tried to make Tiramisù again.....it was at least better this time. It was less soupy, but still soupy nonetheless. Oh well, I'll get it right one day. But we did use hot chocolate instead, so that was yummy. And speaking of that, send hot chocolate Mom!!! It's a great way to warm up when we get in for the night and all the bars are closed. Next, we played some good old calcio the other morning in the park right by our house. It was super fun and I kicked some butt, might I add, but that's not super important. haha. OK, so I've decided that it is SUPER WEIRD to hear American here. And yes, I mean American. American English is so weird to hear. There are so many tourists in Firenze, so it messes with my brain, because I'm so used to Italian now. Oh well. haha. In fact, when we were in Firenze last P-day, we ran into a couple American members. It was super weird, but awesome to talk to them. We took some pictures with them, so some of them might show up on Facebook. Next, I had another Dad mission flashback this week. One night Anziano Walker and I were doing casa and then we stopped to look at the bellissima Toscana sunset, and then I turned to Anziano Walker and asked him "What am I doing here with you? I should be here with my wife." I seriously can't even begin to explain how gorgeous this area is. In fact, we went down to Siena today for P-Day, and lets just say......WOW.....I took over 100 pictures, and none of them do it justice. That city is incredible. Also, in their basilica, they have the head of a Saint from about 1358 or something. It was pretty schifo. Kinda cool, but also really strange. Whatever, I still can't believe that I am here on my mission. I am so lucky.
Next, we set a baptismal date!!! It was our first one of the transfer and it, just like a ton of other baptisms, is scheduled for the 21st of December. His name is Tullio, and he is awesome. He is so ready to be baptized. Last night, we were teaching him and then he asked us straight up if he could be baptized. We then felt prompted to set the date of the 21st with him. It was crazy inspired, because we hadn't talked about a date for him yet, and then we both thought of the 21st on the spot without saying anything to each other. It was such an incredible lesson and spirit. I'm so happy to be here in Prato still. I will really miss Anziano Walker, but Anziano Anderson and I are ready to get to work. We WILL baptize this transfer. I can promise that. This branch is growing so much and just talking about it now, I can feel the spirit. I know that sounds silly, but I love this branch so much and the people here.
As for news back home, thanks for the sport report. I'm really sad that BYU had such a bad week, especially because my team is out of the tourney now, but I'm super proud of them. They did great for losing so many good players last year. I've decided that Linda and Peter have the cutest kids ever because Ellie is adorable. I'm really jealous that I don't get to see them. I miss Jude like crazy. I was actually just writing Erin about this, but I can really feel your prayers and I thank you. Sometimes, it feels like you all are standing right there with me, helping me go on, when it gets tough and its pouring and I'm exhausted. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for all of you. I pray for you all every night and I hope that though my letters you can feel the love I have for you, but more importantly, the love that your Father in Heaven has for you.
So yep, I'm staying here for Christmas, so I will start figuring out what I'm going to do for Skype and we will keep in touch. You are OK to send my package here to Prato now Mom. And I can't wait to hear from you all next week! I hope you all have an amazing week and watch out for a Christmas package from me in a few weeks. I'm really going to try and get it sent of this week, so it gets there in time, but we'll see. I love you all so much and I wish you the best of God's blessings!
Vi voglio tantissimo bene,
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Let me just start by saying thank you to everyone for your emails and prayers and support in general. It seriously means the world to me. I love you all so much.
And now onto the week. So let me just start by saying that its really windy here in Prato. I know I mentioned that last time, but its seriously been really windy for the past 2 weeks and its always right in our face when we are riding back home at the end of the day. Goodness me. And it also doesn't help to have that wind when you need to be home in 8 minutes and you are halfway across the city like we were last night. I don't know how we did it, but we did. My legs had never been so tired. But we were blessed with no cars and all green lights. It really was a miracle, and the lesson went really well. Besides the wind, this area is gorgeous. We went out and explored the far reaches of our area this week and we basically rode our bikes through the Tuscan hills. Yeah, it was pretty awesome. Dad, you are going to love to visit this city, because there are a ton of fun things you can do on bikes. So we went to this little town called Calenzano and we found a castle. From this castle, we could see the Firenze Duomo. Sure it was a little foggy, but still incredible. I cannot think of a more beautiful area of the world to be. Tuscana is amazing. Simply breath-taking. I still can't believe I live here.
Any who, on to some more spiritual matters. We had a baptism this week!!!! It was for the other Anziani, but it was still really exciting. The baptismal service was incredible and really spiritual. We had two investigators come and they felt the spirit really strong. They are both going to get baptized in the near future. I love the work here. We are teaching a ton of lessons each week and we have some really solid investigators, so I'm super happy. One of these investigators is actually American. He is here on study abroad and we met him on the street and then met him the next day and taught him. He is super humble and was really open and willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true. We can only see him on the weekends, but I'm really excited to go and teach him again. He is so ready to hear the gospel and we were so lucky to find him.
This past week, we really tried to push our number of new investigators we find, because as a mission, we are really trying to teach more people and hasten the Lord's work here. So we set our goal in weekly planning, but then at District meeting, Anziano Walker told us to increase our goal by 2, so we wanted to get 5 new investigators this week. We got 2 during the week, but then it came to the last day of the week and we still needed 3 more. Our 1 lesson that day cancelled, so we had a lot of time to do some finding work. So we literally talked to EVERYBODY for about 6 hours straight. We taught a bunch of lessons, but couldn't set up any return appointments. So we decided to call some old potentials and try to set up lessons with them. We got two set up. 2 new investigators. Then we pushed really hard to get the last one. We even stayed out an hour longer than we had originally planned to search for that last person. We were working so hard, but we couldn't find them. At the end of the day though, we looked back and realized that we had really good gospel centered conversations with a lot of people and we even got some phone numbers that we can call later. Although it wasn't in the way we were expecting, the Lord really blessed us. We have been working so hard and the Lord is giving us people to teach. The Lord will always bless us when we are obedient, but sometimes its not in the way we are expecting. We just need to keep our "eyes and ears of faith" open. I really love that phrase from Elder Bednar's talk.
On other silly news, I tried to make tiramisù this week. Well.....turns out I made tiramisoup instead. I messed up. It was still good...ish, but it was just really liquidy. I'm going to try again this week and don't worry. I've asked a couple expert Italians on their tips. So I'm pretty sure I know what I did wrong.
Dad, as always, I love the sport reports, so keep them coming. It's been a really good week for BYU sports. I'm really happy that they killed Weber St. 4-0. That's so awesome. Go cougars!!!! As for other sports news, it was a week for crazy endings to every game. That USC Stanford game sounded crazy. And Big Blue pulling off the literally last second field goal is crazy. I'm really happy Kershaw won the Cy Young award. He deserved it. He had a great season. And it gives the Dodgers some more recognition. Lets hope they can continue their great season next year.
I'm sad to hear that my bed's gone, but I'm really happy to know that it went to a good place. I'm all for helping those in need. And sorry about all the stuff still left in there. I'm glad to hear that WHS is doing well this year, and I can't believe that it is already time for finals. Wish them all my best, especially Madz.
I guess someone else did send me a package. But..who knows. I still haven't got it yet, so we'll see when it comes. As for sending me things. I'm most likely going to be here for Christmas, but I will know for sure next week, so I will tell you. If I stay, just send everything directly here. It's a lot easier, and I get it faster.
As for Skyping at Christmas, I may go to a member's house or just an Internet point, I'm not sure yet. But I will let you know. And it will be through Skype, so you don't need to worry about getting anything different. Thank you so much for the picture. It absolutely rocks. Oh the memories. And as for requests on my package, peanut butter. And that's all I can really think of right now. haha. I will keep you posted on that.
I'm so glad everyone enjoys my letters. I wish you could all be here with
me to experience these things, because I can't put it all into words. Thank you again for everything. I love you all so much and I wish you all an amazing week!
Vi voglio bene,
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Again, I'm sorry for last week. It was just kinda crazy. But don't worry, we have a very relaxing day planned. We are going to go play some basketball and calcio, so I'm pretty excited. Also, shout out to Erin. Happy Birthday! You are such an awesome sister!!
OK, temporal things first. So my package is here Mom, but I haven't got it yet. I think I should get it next Thursday because of a mix-up, but we'll see. I know it's here in Italy though. Next, sports. Wow! What a crazy week for sports! I'm so glad to hear that my team got a piece of the WCC championship, and that they are into the tourney again. I will definitely want to hear all about that when it happens. Weber St. first? I'm OK with that. That is HUGE that bball win against Stanford. I really hope they beat St. Mary's. I'm still hurting from last year, but oh well. And Stanford coming through to beat Oregon again? That's crazy and sounded like a great game! But the real awesome thing is that good old WHS beat Oaks!!!! That game is always so much fun to watch, and what an ending. I probably would have died if I was there. I would have been going nuts and probably stormed the field. That is such an awesome way to win! And now that we are actually doing good, I'm happy, because I thought that it was going to be an interesting year.
OK, now onto more spiritual matters. haha. So this past week (like I already mentioned), we had the conference with Anziano Teixiera, and that was really awesome. But after the Capi Zona came back from consiglio, we learned the truth. So basically our mission isn't doing that great right now in Europe. In fact, we are the lowest baptising mission in Europe. So hearing this, I've decided to personally do all that I can in my own work here in Prato to move the work forward. I know the rest of the mission feels this push to do better and work harder and everything. So we've been trying to literally talk to everyone. We have been passing out pass-along cards like no other and we are starting to see results. So the other day I was on a scambio and we didn't really have any success doing our finding work, but we were still doing it and passing out bigliettini left and right. At the end of the night, we still had 3 left, so we decided to pray to know who we should give them too. After doing that, we headed off towards home searching for these 3 people. We found two of them and they seemed slightly interested, but nothing special. Then I stopped this ragazzo and starting talking to him. Long story short, he wanted to hear about our message, but didn't have time, so he gave us his address and phone number, and told us to come by sometime and teach his family. Miracle!!! It was literally the last 10 minutes of the night or so, like it always is. Then during another scambio I did this week, we had 6 lessons planned and it looked like it was going to be a good day. But before we even left the house, 3 had cancelled on us and then the other three also gave us bidoni. So there was every reason for this day to stink, but we kept our heads up high and kept talking to people. At the end of the night, we ended up teaching 3 lessons. It really was a miracle. And another quick miracle. So like I said, we are really trying to pass out bigliettini like crazy, so we were on our bikes yesterday waiting at a stoplight and I decided to give one to this man next to us, so I did. Then the light changed and we drove off. We were then waiting at the next light, when he came up to us again and told us that he wanted to meet with us tomorrow. We gladly set up an appointment and got his number. We are planning on seeing him tonight, so I'm super excited. I've seen the Lord bless my life and my work so much this past week. I know we can turn this mission around and put it back at the top like it was only 2 years ago.
Time for some crazy stories. So on the same scambio where we got 6 bidoni, we were heading in for lunch and we decided to pass by the fiume (river) to see if anyone was there. I saw this guy sitting on a bench and just drove past, but then I was prompted to go back, so I did. Right as we start talking to him, he says "who sent you to me?". Turns out that he is in a really hard place right now and was about to go drown himself in the river. He said that he had nothing to live for and wanted to know why we came and talked to him. I bore powerful testimony of God's love for him and why we have these difficult times and was just really trying to follow the spirit. He told us that he loved us and was really grateful that we talked to him. We tried to do all that we could and then he said bye and left. We then said a prayer for him and I really hope he felt the spirit when we talked to him. I'm so glad that I recognized the spirit and went to talk to him. If I hadn't, who knows what would have happened. The Lord really does put people in our path and puts us in their's so that we can help his children. I'm so grateful and humbled by the opportunity to be a missionary of the Lord right now.
Now the next few stories are just kinda silly, but still crazy. So we get ready to go to church on Sunday and we walk out the door only to see that it's pouring. So we go and grab our jackets and set off on our bikes...in the rain...to the church....which is about 20 minutes away....in the rain. When we got there, it looked like we had gone swimming. I turned my shoe upside down and a cup of water fell out. It was nuts. And of course it stopped right as we got to church, and then started up again right when we left church for back home. But I guess I don't really have anything to complain about. I didn't have that in the jungles of Guatemala for 2 years. haha. Then the past two days, we have had ridiculous amounts of wind. It's been so bad that when we were biking home last night, the wind literally stopped us in our tracks. It was crazy. Luckily today is not that bad, but oh man, it was crazy.
Any who, I can't believe that I've been out for almost 6 months. Christmas is next month. WHAT???? I can't believe I will be skyping you all in about 40 days or so. That's crazy. It literally feels like I've been here for about 2 weeks. The transfer is half-way over and that is nuts. I'm going to try and see if I can send home a Christmas package. Its kinda expensive, but I'm pretty sure I can do it. Any who, we'll see.
Thank you so much for your love and your prayers. I have learned so much about the power of prayer. I've literally been trying to pray before and after we do anything, so I can have the spirit and be guided to know how the Lord wants his work done. I know that if we ask Heavenly Father for help and we thank him for all that he's done for us often, we will be guided by his spirit and we will be able to recognize the promptings that come to us everyday easier.
Continue to be the incredible member missionaries that you are. Keep helping the missionaries. Keep being such great examples to me and never let yourself doubt. Like President Uchtdorf said last conference, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith". I know, without question, that this is the restored church of God and that Thomas S. Monson is his prophet, seer, and revelator on the Earth to help us and to guide us back to our Father in Heaven.
I love you all so much and I want you all to know that I pray for you all daily. Thank you for your love and support, and I wish you all the best in this upcoming week. Remember that I love you, but more importantly, remember that your Savior and Father in Heaven love you more than you can even comprehend.
Vi voglio tanto bene,
PS. We did some plan of salvation drawings the other week too!
|Chalk drawing of Plan on Salvation|
|1000 year old castle|
|Bridge 1000 years old|
|Apparently Anziano Walker thinks he is a tree|
Thursday, November 7, 2013
I'm really sorry again for a really short letter this week. It was a crazy day because we had planned to go with these member and climb to a castle near their house, but we missed our bus and so we were late and it's just a mess. So I apologize, I literally have like 10 minutes.
So I just want to tell you really quick about a miracle we had this wee this week. So last p-day we were out doing some finding work in centro, when all of a sudden, we stopped this guy and started talking to him. He was pretty cool, but he said he was agnostic. While talking to him, some guy taps Anziano Walker on the shoulder and asks him for a Book of Mormon. So he starts talking to him and I keep talking to the other guy. I taught him the Restoration and then he left and it turns out that Anziano Walker got the info from the other guy and we were going to visit and teach him and his family. So we went over a few days later and he told us that he had a lot of questions. We were a little scared, but then his questions were like "Where can I find the right path to follow?", "What happens to the people who didn't have a chance to hear the gospel after they die" and other golden questions like this. It was an incredible lesson and he accepted the invite to be baptised. We haven't set a date yet, but when we meet with him and his family next time. We definitely will. The Lord really does prepare people for us to teach. It's incredible. I'm so grateful to be a missionary.
Like I said, I don't have a lot of time, but I love you all and I will write you all back next week. Thank you so much for everything! And again, I'm really sorry!
Vi voglio tanto bene,
PS. Here are a few pics of the duomo in Firenze and the castle!
|Duomo in Florence|
|View from the Castle|
Monday, November 4, 2013
Well, I'm right now sitting in an internet point in Firenze. I can't believe that I am here. It is seriously crazy. This city is AMAZING!!! Sean and Sylvia put it the best, this city is an open air museum. Sadly I don't have a lot of pictures to send of Firenze right now, because we decided to do internet first and then go walk around so it's easier to take our train back to Prato, but next week, there will be a ton!
I don't even know where to start right now. Life as a missionary is amazing, and life in Toscana as a missionary is even better!!! This area is down-right gorgeous. I can't wait to show you around in a year and a half. And speaking of that, that is crazy!!!!! I can't believe that Christmas is next transfer!!! I'm almost a quarter done with my mission!! Time has literally flown by. I never thought it would go this fast, but it has. I need to go out and do more stuff while I still can!! haha
Well, like always, it always makes me super happy when BYU sports does well. Especially when my team upsets a high ranked team like Portland or Penn St. last year. Its so weird to hear about missionary work happening back in good old TO3, but I'm really happy the missionaries are working hard and that there is going to be a baptism!! Dad, keep on working with the missionaries and helping them, having a good member (especially one as awesome as you) makes all the difference. I'm really sad and shocked to hear about Sister Needham though. I can't believe it, that's crazy. Please send my love to Brother Needham and thank him again for being such amazing teachers in Sunday school. I learned so much from them and I'm very grateful to them. While death is a very sad thing, I'm so grateful that we have a knowledge and testimony of the Plan of Salvation. As I've been teaching the people of Italy about this marvelous plan that Heavenly Father has prepared for us, I am just humbled by how loving and merciful he is to us. Every single day, my faith grows stronger and my testimony becomes more and more built upon the rock of Christ.
Speaking of being built on the rock of Christ, the other day we were doing some finding work on the fiume and we stopped to talk to this man sitting on a bench. He then proceeded to tell us that our church was a lie and rubbish (he was British), and that we were deceiving people and destroying peoples lives. He said a ton of really hurtful things about us and then he asked us if we had a bike pump because his tire was flat. We very kindly told him where he could pump up his tire for free and then wished him a good day and left. I was so shocked at how hostile he was towards us, it really caught me off guard. But I was thinking about it for a while, and I noticed that it really just strengthened my testimony of this gospel and the truthfulness of this church. I know without a doubt that Joseph [Smith] did not make up this church, but that he really saw God the Father and his son Jesus Christ, and through him, the Lord's church was restored in it's fullness to the Earth. If I wasn't 100% sure of this, I would have come home by now. This work is hard, but the Lord's work is never easy. I know that despite the fact that I am rejected over and over again and spat on, that this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and that this gospel can and will change the lives of those who are humble enough to let it into their heart. I love the Saviour, and I am so grateful for the help he gives me every single day, the strength and the faith that I need to go out that door every day, even when I know that maybe 5 people will even stop to listen to me for a minute. It's always worth it. I love this work and I love this gospel with all my heart.
Dad, we had similar experiences yesterday night during lessons. Last night, we were teaching this couple, and we decided that we really need to reinforce prayer and what it is. So we reexplained it and bore powerful testimony of how we can receive answers through prayer. Then we watched the Restoration and after the spirit was really strong, they both told us that they knew it was true. We haven't set a baptismal date yet, but they are close. It is so incredible to teach this people about the gospel. Like it said in my Father's blessing, as I teach the gospel, my testimony will grow. I love teaching this gospel and being able to see the power that it really has.
Now, for a little less spiritual things. So Anziano Walker loves to sing....like all the time. And our District is actually blessed with really good singers. So he calls us the Singing District. But anyway, we have Anziano Texiera, from the Area Presidency, coming down next week for a conference and our District gets to sing a musical number. We decided to sing "Anima Mia" or "Be Still My Soul". It is absolutely gorgeous, and I just feel the spirit so strongly. I'm really excited to sing that next week, so you will hear about it next week. And speaking of my District, Anziano Holland's granddaughter is in it. Sorella McCann. She is awesome! Its really funny, because we are all hesitant to bring him up, but she's super cool about it. Anyway, just thought that would be a little cool note.
So this past week in Prato, we've had some exciting things in Centro. There was this little mini chocolate festival, and oh boy.....was it good. Mom, I just thought of you the whole time. You would have loved it. The chocolate was incredible. And it was crazy, this one lady made chocolate tools. Like a hammer and screwdriver, but made of chocolate. Nuts. haha...pun. And then the other night we had this huge chestnut festival, so there were a ton of people all eating chestnuts. They had this giant cauldron thing that they were cooking them in and passing them out to people, we didn't get any because the line was really long, but it smelled really good. And of course, Anziano Walker had to start singing "chestnuts roasting on an open fire!!". He is such a goofball, but I love him. He is the complete opposite of Anziano Salmon, which is pretty funny.
Lastly, there is this African here named Sammy, and he is probably the coolest person ever. He lives in Pistoia and turns out he was baptized by Anziano Gibbons who was my Capo in Genova. And so that past two weeks, we've gone to institute to translate for Sammy. It is really funny, but really hard at the same time. It is really good practice though to pick up the language. I don't know if I already told you about this, but if I did, sorry. He's just that cool that I need to say it twice. haha
Any who, thank you all for your letters this week, I love reading them all and hearing from everyone. It's crazy to hear what's happening back home. I miss you all and I can't wait to see you at Christmas over Skype! Please keep me and the people of Prato in your prayers. I pray for you all and hope everything is well.
Vi voglio bene,
PS. Jason, do you remember a Holly Mancuso from BYU theater? Because she is in my District here and she says hi.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Oh boy, where do I start this week. Well, I'm here now in Prato and this city is gorgeous. Bellissima!! There is this river that runs right through the city and there are olive trees everywhere. They are literally lining the streets. Everyone comes and picks them and then makes their own olive oil. This city is a lot smaller than Genova and so we have bikes here. I really like how small the city is, but I hate bikes. My legs hurt all the time and I'm always sweaty and I've been tired every single day I've been here. I'm glad I'm on bikes though because it forces me to exercise. I'm getting a pasta belly and it really stinks because the food is so good and you just want to keep eating it.
So here's a little more about my comp, Anziano Walker. He grew up in Escondido but he moved to St. George and now lives there. And get this, he was really good friends with Becca (Eric's cousin). He kinda freaked out when he found out that we were cousins. So Becca, if you're reading this, he says hi. Cool thing is that he is a pilot. He really likes to sing...like all the time. Even when we are in the middle of centro. IN fact, we actually do singing finding in centro. We just go and sing while the other two anziani go and talk to people. The first time we did it, this lady tried to give us money! Instead we gave her a pass along card and she's coming to English class probably. We actually have talked to a lot of people doing this. It's just strange enough to work I guess. haha. So the other two anziani in our apartment are Anziano Windley and Anderson, both from Utah. It's really weird because we are basically all at the same level in the language, but we were all in different parts of our missions, so we are all learning together. Our apartment is huge and brand new. This is the 3rd transfer that we've had it, so its really nice. Two bathrooms...yeah, that's pretty nice.
So going back to Prato a bit, the river flooded the other day when it rained and let's just say, it was pretty full of water. I will attach some pictures. We do a lot of finding work on the side of the river. It's a really nice bike path (Dad, you would love this city). We actually met some guys who are mountaineers and they offered to take us up the mountain sometime and so we did this morning. We hiked this mountain that separates Prato and Firenze, so at the top, we had an amazing view of the entire valley. It was so much fun. There is actually a really old house up there Casa Bastone, and we stopped by there because the guys friends work up there and maintain the house and what not. It was a little museum thing. Dad would love it. They were all really nice and they actually grabbed an American flag they had and hung it up on the flagpole with the Italian flag. It was awesome! They were all so nice and really funny. And it was really good practice at just normal conversational Italian. I had a ton of pictures from this hike, so I wont send all of them.
So, we have had some really great miracles with me. Heavenly Father is very patient with me. We had fast Sunday this week because last week was District Conference here in Firenze (they are almost a stake!). So we fasted and the power of fasting really works. We had a day of basically all finding work, which is never very fun, but we managed to set up an appointment with an old investigator. So we met him, his name was Salvatore, and we taught him. Then after we said goodbye, this ragazzo walked past, so we started talking to him and we ended up teaching him a lesson too! He was super interested and his name was Salvatore too! So we got 2 new investigators within about 30 seconds of each other. It was crazy! And then during sing finding that night, this man walked up to us and told us that he really respected us because he never sees us doing anything bad. We are just always so happy. And guess what his name was....that's right. Salvatore!!! So that was a crazy day. Then yesterday we had a lesson fall through so we went to do some casa, and I will be honest, I didn't have the best attitude about it, but I went and did it. We got rejected about 15 times and then we met this girl at the door of her palazzo and she was actually interested! We taught her for 5 minutes and then gave her a restauration opuscolo and she said that she wanted to meet with us again! Heavenly Father really has a funny sense of humor. He gives me these little miracles right as I'm losing faith. I'm so grateful for the Lord's help in this work. It really is his work. I'm so grateful to be here serving the Lord. This work is really hard, but its really rewarding.
Reading your letter this week Dad it reminded me of a really cool experience I had last night. We were teaching this really cool couple about the Plan of Salvation and they had a ton of really confusing and odd questions. We tried our best to answer them, and then at the end of the lesson, I felt prompted to promise them that if they go to the Lord in prayer, that he will answer their questions. The spirit was so strong and it really just affirmed to me that I really am making a difference in these peoples lives. I love being a missionary. Sure its hot and humid and I have to ride a bike everywhere and no one really wants to talk to us and I have to pay almost 5 euro to email you, but I know that I am helping the Lord's work move forward. I'm so grateful. I'm learning so much and it honestly feels like I've been here for a week. I can't believe I've been here for 4 months already. 2 years is going to fly by so fast. It's crazy.
I want to thank you all for your prayers and support. You are all so amazing and I couldn't do this without you all. I love you so much. I love hearing from you and I hope that you can all feel a little piece of the joy I feel when you read these emails.
BYU sports is the best. I'm glad to hear that we are all now in winning ways. Keep me updated. I still have my 2 BYU women's soccer posters up in my room. I'm a dedicated fan, for life.
Really quick, we had a branch activity this past Saturday that I just kinda walked into. It was a western, so we had little gallery games and then a "campfire" together in the chapel. We sang songs and I kinda acted one out for the Italians who had no idea what we were saying. Its super hammy (prosciutto-ey here in Italy), so I'm sure you will all get a kick out of watching it. Any who, now the branch loves me and I think I'm always going to be remembered here as that one Anziano Pacus Bill.
I love you all and I hope you all have a great week!!
Wo ai ni!!!! (I love you in Mandarin. There are a lot of Chinese people here)
|Anzianos Anderson, Windley, Walker and Langlois|
|The river before the storm...|
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Well, transfers are tomorrow and sadly, I'm leaving Genova. I got the call late Monday night after a lesson and I'm going to Prato. A city that is literally 15 minutes outside of Firenze( Florence ). My new companion's name is Anziano Walker. He is from Anziano Salmon's group and he's from San Diego area. That's all I know about him right now, but I will tell you more next week. So yep, today is my last day in Genova. We are having a Ward culture night party food thing tonight so it will be a fun way to leave. Then tomorrow morning I go with Anziano Treadway to Milano where I meet some other missionaries who are heading down to Firenze and then I will meet my companion there. Anziano Salmon and Erickson are now companions and they are staying here in Genova. Anziano Treadway is going District leader in Pavia. I'm really excited to go to Prato, it is going to be so cool to see another city and to be so close to Firenze! I noticed that you said that Sean and his family are coming here in January, well there is a very high chance that I'm still there in Prato at that time, and like I said, its literally 15 min outside of Firenze. That is super exciting.
So before I forget (like I did the past 2 weeks), Happy Late Birthday Jason and Jude!!!!!! I'm really sorry I forgot, but better late than never. And speaking of birthdays, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also, a very Happy Birthday to Jess and Annie!! I hope you all have a great birthday!
Ok, so I want to apologize again for my really short email last week. So like I said, we climbed a mountain for P-day. It was super fun and super tiring. We followed this road, but then it ended up being someone's driveway, so we decided to just go straight up the side of the mountain. It was pretty dark because we wanted to beat the sunrise, and the way was very thorny. Our legs took quite the beating. Anziano Erickson got bit by a spider and later that night his leg was all swollen up, but he got some antibiotics and he's fine now. Any who, at the top, we saw that there was a road that went up the mountain, so we went back that way. But we decided to take a few shortcuts between the switchbacks. It was not a shortcut. It was super thorny and ridiculous. We found our way out and then stuck to the road after that. It was a super fun trip though.
So Anziano Salmon bought Scarabeo, which is basically an off brand version of Italian Scrabble. We tried playing and it is REALLY REALLY HARD!!!!! It was actually really good language study, because we had to think completely in Italian, which was really hard. Switching languages, we taught English class this week and a new student came and we found out that he and his twin brother own a pizzeria. So last night, we stopped by and ordered some pizza. While we were waiting, they made us some farinata which was really good and then they gave us our food for free! It was like 20 euros! They were so awesome and they made some good food.
This past week, I've been sick, which has really really stunk. I've wanted to go out and do things, but I had to stay inside to get better. I'm feeling better now, so that's good. And just in time for transfers! Meno male.
So this week, we've had a lot of miracles. We had 3 less actives in church!!! One stayed for 1 hour, another for 2, and the last for all 3 hours! It was really awesome, because the one that stayed really liked Sunday school and priesthood. It was so great to see all the members talking to them and welcoming them back. I really hope they keep coming. But the biggest miracle we had this week was very unexpected.
And that segues perfectly into my conference report. So like I said last time, it is so cool to be a missionary and watch conference. It went by super fast, but I felt the spirit so strongly and I really learned a lot. I just want to touch a little on the talks I really liked. Like I already mentioned, I really liked Anziano Bednar's talk about tithing, but especially how "eyes and ears of faith are required" for us to recognize the blessings that we receive. It's so true how if we aren't paying attention, we can easily miss the blessings that he gives us. Then I really liked President Uchtdorf's talk about the church and how everyone is welcome and fits in perfectly. This church is amazing and the gospel of Jesus Christ applies perfectly to everyone, that is the most amazing thing. Then I really like Edward Dube's talk. First of all, I really loved how he talked and just everything. Second, he had a really powerful and important message. It doesn't matter where we serve, but how. The Lord cares about where we are willing to go to help progress his kingdom. Then President Monson's talk at the end of the Sunday Morning session was super powerful. You could really feel his testimony of this gospel and how it was such a help in the difficult times. The spirit was so strong during his talk and I will never forget how human he seemed. Sometimes we forget that the Prophet and the Apostles are normal people too. They have trials and hardships just like we do. It was super powerful. But my far, my favorite session was Priesthood, especially President Monson's talk about hometeaching and beings a true shepard. I have such a strong testimony of the importance of hometeaching. Thank you so much Dad for always talking me with you and teaching me how to really be a friend to the people we visit, and not just lazy sheepherders. You have been such a great example to me all of my life of how to really be a disciple of Christ. I love you so much and I'm eternally grateful for your help. Keep on being the amazing Dad and priesthood holder that you are.
To finish up, here is my less spiritual sport talk. The Dodgers suck. I'm not surprised that they choked, but I had hope. Oh well, maybe next year. We need to get some better and more consistent hitting. I'm sad to hear that my team lost, it's always a downer, but its part of the game, so I know they will get it back on track. I have faith in my girls. I'm glad the volleyball team won and in such a dramatic fashion too! haha. Its always a good day when BYU football wins.
That is so crazy how many missionaries you have now, but we are in the same boat here. About 75% of our mission is below their first year mark. Crazy! But its just proof that the Lord is hastening his work. Keep on helping the missionaries with lessons and feeding them. Missionaries love it when members feed them. Trust me. haha
I want to see pictures/video of Lizzy's field show! It sounds super cool! And thank you for the greeting Mr. Peter!! (I guess I can call you Brian now). I'm glad to hear that the CD is underway, I'm really excited to hear it when it's done. Send all my love to everyone in the band program, especially studio.
As always, thank you so much for the letters, I love hearing from you all! I love you all so much and hope you have an amazing week! And sorry again for the short email last week. I hope this one makes up for it!
Vi voglio tantissimo bene!!!