Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016-12-21 Buon Natale!

Good Christmas! Buon Natale!

There are high points in the mission and low points. Month by month, week by week, day by day, and even within the day. This past week was filled with both. We were doing weekly planning and were so saddened during the whole thing because so many of our investigators aren't making progress who we thought would be so promising (we think all of our investigators will be promising). But they just don't want to see us or can't see us or repeatedly don't do the things we ask them to do. This is sad but also makes time and room for us to work maybe in a different way, maybe we will even find a better way, to meet new people and stretch to be better. Sometimes I get sad if people don't make progress and I had a moment this week where I just wanted so bad for Jesus to come down and be my friend and walk with me and go to lessons with me because He would just do everything so much better. But, then I remembered....His whole life practically. People who saw and met Jesus didn't even believe in Him. Even if He comes down in the flesh, sometimes people just aren't ready for the gospel. And so that gives me the comfort along with the plan of salvation that good-bye isn't goodbye forever really, it just means that our paths will cross again not during this mission maybe, but definitely some day in the future and I will be very happy that day.

I just want everybody to be happy! Dang it that's all I want.

In any case, we also had high points like an incredible ward lunch for Christmas in which we got to talk to a member who, during our time here, went from less-active, to re-activated. So she is 19 and so cool, she is really smart and just a neat person. We were eating at a table with her and the Spirit somehow led the conversation to going on a mission. Now, before I went on the mission, I hated when people asked me if I was going because I wasn't. But I asked her and she admitted that there was a time when she felt like she should. We could tell that the Spirit was telling her in that moment again that it's still the right thing to do, so we asked her that (what the Spirit was telling her), and you could just see the fire of the Spirit burning inside of her when she admitted that it was telling her to go. I could totally see her going and I think it would make me so so proud and happy for her if she did. Then the day after we visited with her and her mom and testified that they are both lights to others and I could tell the Spirit was telling her the same thing again. Moments like that, sharing a Spiritual moment with someone, is what makes the mission such a rich experience.

I have loved getting to share the message of Jesus Christ with people during this time of year! It's hard for me to even express my feelings about Him because He is what I live, eat, and breathe right now. But I just want to say that I know He lives, we have four whole books of scripture that say that he does. If four books of scripture all talking about one man isn't a sign from heaven of His divinity then I don't know what is. 
"26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." 
I'm grateful for a Savior. He is the reason for the season, the reason for three major faiths, the reason for missionaries, the reason for the scriptures, the reason for hope, the reason for every good thing in life. I testify of this and wish you all a merry Christmas in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016-12-14 Miracle Center

Sooo this week has been miracle center (I almost tried to spell that 'senter' because I knew I had to say the 's' sound, but in Italian with a 'c' it is pronounced 'chenter'). Let's see, we had a train episode (I LOVE riding trains because it almost always leads to a positive conversation about the gospel), in which this guy, let's get real, was being really WEIRD and kept turning around in his seat to peak through the crack between his seat and the one next to him so that he could stare at me for long periods of time, trying to read my name tag. So I told my companion that I thought I should go talk to him but I kind of didn't want to because men are creepy here. But I went and talked to him anyways. I'm like, if you're gonna stare at my tag so hard that your eyes bug out your head, I'm justified in telling you, "hey, dad you're staring at my name tag, mind if I sit down here across from you and tell you about our church?" So we sat and talked there for maybe 10 minutes and it was really cool. Unfortunately he hasn't wanted to get in touch with us again but for those 10 minutes and the rest of that day, it was real, and it was cool, and a miracle.
Then I had been trying to talk to a lady earlier on that same train and she was sort of not wanting to talk so I dropped it but then she saw us talking to that one guy so she started staring at us and I was like "she's jealous," so we talked to her after, too, and gave her a resto pamphlet.

We also had another train episode yesterday because there was a girl studying a 'psicologia' book so obviously I talked to her. It was really amazing because she was actually raised in an atheist home but she's been looking for God recently. It was even cooler bc there were 6 of us sisters and I got to teach her with another sister, a Sorella from Sanremo, because she was sitting by me so it was like a little mini-scambio. And another sister talked to so it was just like this big group conversation in which we talked about God, His love for us, the scriptures, prophets, the restoration, the word of wisdom, tons of stuff. We hope to see her again, too! I need to respond to her text today...

Anyways, I spent way too much time writing all of that but there's never enough time to write even a fraction of what happens on the mission....but something even more miraculous happened this last weekend! When I got to tell people about it during a mission conference, Sorella Allen got all teary-eyed (because she thinks we are more awesome than we actually are), but anyways it was with our incredible investigators, Rosy e Vittorio. They are like, 45-50's and are so cool. They were like, hot stuff when they were younger, but now life is getting them down. Rosy has problems with her siblings and she smokes, vittorio gambles and is having a hard time finding work. But God Bless the missionaries who have come before me because they have actually been taught before but then lost contact. Because of this, when we met them, Rosy was basically ready to be baptized. She's been wanting to come to church for but Vittorio her boyfriend hasn't felt up to it because of his mothers death. On Saturday we had a lesson with them and invited them to church. The Spirit was so strong, I knew that not only did they need to come but I knew that they would. Despite the fact that vittorio didn't want to, they are crazy poor so Rosy had to give up her pack of cigarettes to pay for the bus tickets, and tutto, on Sunday they came. All three talks were SO powerful. Guys, I have never been to a sacrament meeting comparable so far in my mission. Our bishop talked, who is a no-crap business guy, and he got choked up during his talk! Rosy was CRYING during sacrament meeting! She held my hand and her husbands hand and I just knew in my heart that they were in the right place. We have been praying so hard for God to be true to His promises and bless them and what do you know, Rosy had the joy of praying with a friend later on Sunday and sharing the gospel, vittorio has been finding some work, and in one day after 20 years, Rosy went from twenty cigarettes a day to two cigarettes. MIRACLES. I know that God helps us in this work and I'm so grateful to my family and Him and members who support me. :)

Christmas Lights

Jill Shopping

View from a castle they hiked up to

Friday, December 9, 2016

2016-12-07 Night Club Dancers

I just want to share a little about this couple we are teaching! Their names are Rosy and Vittorio, they are like, 50, and so interesting. If I understood right, he used to be like, one or those male dancers in night clubs? And she looked like a model to me too in their photos. He's got long silver hair now and they're both older, living up sort of up a canyon on the edge of Genova now. His mother has just passed away. We ran into them a few weeks ago because we were visiting a member who had Alzheimer's and per caso we ran into them in a caffe. We got their numbers and met up with them again the next time we were in the area. 
Regardless of their past, they, especially Rosy, are just looking for Jesus Christ right now. They actually had missionaries frequent their home many many years ago and then lost contact. We have lots of obstacles to overcome with with them. He drinks and gambles, she smokes, and together they aren't married so this will be a work that will definitely be involving some miracles....BUT they are so filled with love towards our message and us! These people are so poor at this point in their lives that they couldn't even do grocery shopping this last week because they just barely were able to pay their rent. But I mentioned once that I like the little apricot pies that you can buy in supermarkets here. Every time after that they've forced them on us and won't let us say no, going out of their way to buy these little pies for me.

1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

These people are so generous here and there's nothing more than I want for them to accept the gospel so they can be free, so they can be happy! I love these people and hope to be able to truly do the Lord's work here especially around this Christmas season.

Apricot Pies 
Jill's Apartment Balcony

Balcony, at night

A couple of Reindeer

A Genovese specialty, Pandolce

Not missing out on the best Christmas goodies 
Looks like Costco

Monday, December 5, 2016

2016-11-30 Learn by Example, It's Easier

Learning from example is so, so great because you just take the best
from what other people have already tried. Learning from experience is
so hard and makes you realize ALL of your shortcomings and how you're
NOT where you want to be and you have a LOT to learn.

This week was a lot of learning by experience. I realized I'd been
slipping in lots of things I used to do good at, that I wasn't paying
enough attention to my companion and her progression as a missionary,
that I had a lot of room for improvement in things I've never even
done and should have been doing. That's good though! Because now I'll
come out of these experiences and be a better person. It's just very

We had a really funny/sad thing happen this week, cioè we had two
back-to-back lessons planned in church with the same member to help us
teach. The first one didn't show up. The second one didn't show up. We
were there for two hours. He's in the bishopric so he just did other
work and made fun of us while I sat by the heater cuz I was sick as a
dog. He's a funny guy. Anyways, the second investigator who was
supposed to come is this atheist lady who seems to actually be
interested in the missionary lessons, rather than just for curiosity's
sake. She is the teacher for a group that the church hosts but isn't
associated with for people who have lost work. So she was supposed to
come at 4:45. She came at 5:30. She teaches at 5:30. She showed up,
apologizing for being late, and sat herself down in front of us at our
table. I looked at the time and I laughed,
"'s 5:30."
*still sat there*
"Okay, so maybe we can see each other on Friday?"
" okay, yes. Yes on Friday at 4 I can :(."

I just thought that was so funny because she WANTS to hear this
message! I was like, hon, we're sorry you're late too but you have
other responsibilities to attend to. We also had a second lesson with
a college student and she pulled out her Book of Mormon...she had READ
into those first few chapters, had marked it ALL up, and was so
excited about it! She explained the whole story in her own words,
begged for the "spoiler" about what happens to Laman and Lemuel, and
then proceeded to ask us all kinds of historical questions. It was so
crazy for me because that was the first time, even IN the church, that
I had ever seen someone take the Book of Mormon so seriously! It was
amazing and made me rethink my perspective on the Book.

Anyways, Mormon messages aren't my go-to for anything except a couple
times we've watched them during lunch as if we have tv for once, but
the one the church just came out with for Christmas is SO beautiful,
it's seriously made me cry like 3 times in lessons. If you're reading
this, I'm finishing here, so just pull up and watch it right
now it's like 2 minutes and it's really good. I love you all! Thanks
for everything!

This invite is for my family too just watch it because it's nice and I
know it will make you feel good because it's just really nice and I
liked it a lot so I hope you all get to watch it and tell me what you

Zone with B&S Allen.  Jill is far left.

Glad she found a chocolate Advent calendar.  We still buy these for our kids each year.

Jill Loves Melograna (pomegranates)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

2016-11-23 Crazy Small World

This week merits a really good email!! Every week does but like, this week extra does.

I think before the mission I learned something about obedience bring happiness. After that it's been a little easier to be obedient. I'm not perfect, but I just know that in every aspect of life, if we work hard and put in our 100% then we will be much more satisfied with who we are and what we're doing with our lives. It's the same for the gospel, that is not an aspect of our lives, but is in fact the base for the way in which we live every aspect of our lives.

So this and my companion were a little down. Despite the fact that we like, never break any rules ever. We have many people to work with but we just felt like we were failing in so many aspects. Even our full days kind of stank. We didn't feel the Spirit, we didn't feel like we were reaching the people on any level deeper than just was really depressing, frankly. We felt sort of listless. Planning was frustrating because nothing was coming to mind and it was just like, "what are we doing wrong?? Where is the SPIRIT? Where is some GUIDANCE?"

Va beh, so I woke up one morning to face a day that I really didn't want to face, went to check my email, saw an email from my mom. I always like getting letters from my mom so I was instantly a little bit happier. But this email was different from every other email I've ever received on the mission. She told me that during a work party, her and my dad had met an Italian with whom my dad works! Crazy, small world! 
But wait, where is he from? In all of Italy, where? GENOVA. And as it happens, his wife and two sons are HERE and they live in OUR Ward boundaries 😱😱😱 so he gave my parents all his family's contact information where it fell into my hands that rough-start morning.

Well I called her and she said yes subito to us going over. We had the most fun time with her and her sons who speak both perfect English and Italian, accents and all. We talked to them about the Book of Mormon and they fed us genovese cake. So cool!! Like, what are the odds of that? And it's so great that it came on a day when we were down.

Now, yesterday. Yesterday my companion was feeling, as she put it, "defeated." Like most girls, she sees all her flaws and doesn't think she's good enough and was just feeling defeated. Then we lost our phone. With all of the information necessary for like, setting up appointments...mind you, this week we had set a goal to teach 21 lessons which is approximately 10 more than our average. Or like, double. It's entirely possible, it's just that people ALWAYS cancel every week so it's never happened so far. So, defeated companion, less-than-average focaccia, lost phone, and defeated-looking ambitious goal...mmyeah. At a certain point we just had to put our big girl pants on and move on. We lost our phone and we both kind of suck but we have four lessons in four hoursso we need to focus on those people and what God wants to tell them and not on ourselves.

That night ended with an amazing lesson with new investigator Margherita who will be coming to church on Sunday, amazing lesson with atheist Silvia with whom we felt the Spirit so strongly, a bidone (it's inevitable, but the cute fruit stand guy said I was beautiful so that was cool too), and an amazing, classic Italian lesson which included fresh pasta, tons of chatting, and three European university students who asked us amazing questions. Our RM friend was an amazing help and thanks to him and God and every other good thing in life, we will see these three girls again on Sunday to teach them more.

We also had a super powerful lesson with our less-active couple the Gali's. They are about our age except married, we like them a lot. They joke around a lot and it's really refreshing. We listened to the awesome talk, "to whom will you go?" from the last gen conf. Then they invited us over for Christmas to watch a movie and probably eat like always and we're going to build gingerbread houses with them this week. But more importantly, we committed them to come to church this week. 

All this is possible when we love God and love the people!! I LOVE LOVE italy. I LOVE italy. I love the people here and the culture and the people. And the culture. To everything there's a time and a season. And I'm so grateful for this time, this season in my life. I still have so much room to grow but I'm just grateful for people and the human experience and I'm grateful for God's plan of happiness for us. I'm grateful for you and hope you'll let me know if I can ever do anything for you! I love you! Have an amazing, prayer-filled, gioiosa settimana!

Luca with Ronney and Martha, SLC Utah

Francesca, Marco, Stefano, Sorella Arndt (Jill), Sorella Strachan

Sunday, November 20, 2016

2016-11-16 Being Tested

I am being tested! It's good when you recognize it though! I hope that this period in my mission will teach me something that will help me bless others. I need to learn calmness and organization and other skills like that. I'm also trying to develop my teaching skills by using more parables. Right now no one is close to baptism but Christmas is a magical time so maybe something good will happen if we keep trying to do our best :)

Genova.  Beautiful city.  Ignore cars, Jill says.

Jill in Genova

Genova Missionaries

Santa Margherita, Coastal City by Genova

Eating Lunch in Portofino

We sent an early Christmas package to Jill.  This is all the Sorellas opening the package.

A tacky Christmas sweater.  A necessity for Americans.

A stuff animal goat (Capra).  Jill loves stuffed animals, and watching cute goat videos.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

2016-11-02 Good Week in Genova

This was a good week! We had TWO of our investigators in church!! One is our age for, Honduras and the other is a mother of a convert daughter who is now serving in temple square. Anyways, it was really good. Our ward for some reason has been doing this weird thing for the last two weeks in which after sacrament meeting, they have like, a 2-hour convention instead. Last week was pretty intense so when we realized they were doing it again, we decided to take our investigators out of the fire but I'm pretty sure we just threw them into the frying pan because we had no gospel principles teacher so I had to teach on the fly. It was horrible, but at least we got them to come to church and they didn't seem to be aware that we were flying by the seat of our pants. I'm not sure if I used that expression correctly.

Anyways, we taught a lesson to a woman who came to English class! None of our regulars showed up so it was just me and my companion and her. She talked a lot, like every Italian, and a lot of what she said was like "YES we believe that, too!" Like she disagreed with a lot of things we see in the Italian mindset and general attitude towards faith. So we asked her if we could teach her what we believe about the purpose of life and she was like "yes! Please! Of course!" So we taught her the plan of salvation......or we tried to at least. We thought she was going to be really open to the message but after explaining a little bit she was like, "wow, that's great that you think this is true. It's great that you found what works for you." And we were like......but you can know if this is true, too. And she was like, no no I think everyone is right. I can't tell you that you're wrong because it's right FOR YOU. But nobody's path is really wrong. And we were just like 😑🙄🤔😫 She agreed with us that there is a truth (ex, a God really does exist or He really doesn't, it can't be both), and that the point of this life is to get closer to that Truth....but she basically was saying that everybody is right. It was very self-contradicting and it sort of made me and my companion stop so we could think about what to say.

Anyways, I just want to say that there is of course a truth. Either God exists or He doesn't. It's one or the other! And everybody's efforts to know the truth are valiant. I just want to say that I know that God didn't send us done here for the purpose of never having the hope of knowing the truth. He has given us the Holy Ghost, that good feeling, and the scriptures to guide us. I think it would be sbagliato of God to send us down here and then shut off all communication with us. 
"Good luck!" 
*shuts the door behind him*
No! I know that He's there, that He's listening. He probably won't descend down in a cloud for you, but he has sent us so much that if we just exercise faith in the signs he has given us, I know we will be guided along the right path. 

Anyways, I love you all so much! I know I'm not right all the time. But I'm glad for all the many things the church has taught me, which I believe to be right because I've seen firsthand their fruits. I love you all and I hope this entry was uplifting because I think that woman's spiritual journey is great, too. I just hope she knows that God does answer prays and we can know the truth, and I think that that's amazing and I want the whole world to know it.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

2016-10-26 Lots of Stairs

Jill did not send much of a blog, but because of the earthquakes in Italy she was able to send a couple of short emails.  So I am posting parts of those, and some pictures this time.  Earthquakes did not affect her area.

I RAN OUT OF TIME! You can say we're teaching two great investigators and a few part-member families. We have lots of good stuff lined up, it just needs to get rolling. Halloween is way cooler in the states. Genova is still gorgeous even if it rains a lot. Hoping to see a baptism with my greenie, maybe Sorella Surace. We have faith! And a great ward!

The mission let us email home because there was an earthquake or something. I'm fine and I haven't received any panicked emails from you guys.

See where the CARS are at down there? Yes, that's how many stairs we walked all at once. This is "what makes Genova special" summed up in one picture. My legs are smashed.

Hah!! We get to send you guys an email AGAIN!! I had to buy hydrogen peroxide for my companion whose head I let a feral cat scratch. I'm not a great "mother." Anyways, I didn't get killed in an earthquake. Happy Sunday:)

Sorellas of Genova

Sorellas di Genova & di Savona

Posing with hergreenie

Ocean in the background

Rocean (family joke)


Sunday, October 23, 2016

2016-10-19 First Week in Genova

Ciao, tutti! This is for my first full week in Genova! 

So I love Genova. I had heard really good things about it before I even got here but then I got here and I was like, "oh my gosh, I didn't know." The members are so nice and there's seriously so much work...admittedly it was a rough start because I'm training and neither of us have been to this city before, so we had to ask other missionaries a billion questions and wait for ward councils to roll around and stuff like that, so it was slow but now we have TOO MUCH work so I guess you can't really win. The mission isn't perfect, surprise!

Anyways, I wanted to talk about a couple ✨miracles✨ today.....cioè actual miracles.

We actually had to read a talk for zone training and there was a part in it that I really loved, it said: "Consider this: What of Jesus’ ministry if He had performed additional miracles but without the transcending miracle of Gethsemane and Calvary? His other miracles brought blessed extensions of life and lessened suffering--for some. But how could these miracles possibly compare with the greatest miracle of the universal Resurrection? (see 1 Cor. 15:22). The multiplying of the loaves and fishes fed a hungry multitude. Even so, recipients were soon hungry again, while those who partake of the Bread of Life will never hunger again (see John 6:51, 58)." - Maxwell, Consecrate thy Performance

So the idea is that consecrating/sacrificing is great, but up to a certain point, it's fairly doable. Just like in sports, the real champions are the ones who keep going,  AFTER it hurts. It's easy to warm up your muscles, get your heart racing, and even work up a sweat. But what about when it hurts? When you push through the hurt is what elevates you from the average athletes to an elite.

It's like that in the gospel. We see the perfect example, of course, in Jesus Christ's life. Just like the quote said, his life was spectacular but the miracles are empty in comparison to his eternal atonement. When we push ourselves to the next step, we find that God blesses us exponentially more than we had been previously. For example, this week we have had so many days that were long and frankly kind of sad and then because we decided to stay out even though we were tired and had basically nothing to do, God threw a new potential or the chance to teach a lesson to us. So, so blessed. I know that personal sacrifice verso Dio ci aiuterà a diventare le persone che vuole Dio che diventiamo. Vi voglio bene! A presto!

Jill and Sorella Smedley.  Don't know who the third one is..

The Zone

Appointment got canceled.

The girl in the hat knows a missionary on Temple Square that Jill knows also.  Lessons to come.

Enjoying the fine Italian leathers.