Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017-02-22 Good and Bad

This week was definitely a departure from the norm, in some ways good and in another way really not good.

I will start with the good. We have been working a lot with the members for a month now but this week we had a LOT of member appointments. This means that I have a double chin now and that hopefully we will be getting some referrals soon. We also visited our investigators, but a new thing was that a lot of ex investigators have been coming out of the woodworks. We had an appointment with one who admitted to us that she's afraid of commitment because she's a really indecisive person and needs to be sure about things. We read in Ether with her, the verse that talks about weakness...

"27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

And we talked about how this barrier of uncertainty can come down if she prays to the Lord and asks to know if these things are true and asks for the faith to believe and to act. 

We also had a lesson with a girl who is just like, 22 years old. She is married, her husband is also a member. They are less active and have made some mistakes in their life, like we all have. Meeting with her I think is one of the reasons why I'm here, if there is a specific reason. Talking to her makes me realize how much I have to offer her and also how grateful I am for repentance. If anyone had ever repented of a mistake before, they know the awful feeling of guilt beforehand and during repentance, but they also know the sweet and peaceful joy that comes when we forsake those things, are forgiven, and can forgive ourselves. We want to help her understand that, even if we can't turn back time, our experiences will be for our good and for the good of others. She will be able to be a warning cry against sin and a messenger of hope to others who have made the same mistakes. There is a phrase I really like from the same talk I think I quoted last week, it says:

"Now, you may be thinking to yourself, 'I already blew it. My four minutes are already a disaster. I may as well give up.' If so, stop thinking that, and never think it again. The miracle of the Atonement can make up for imperfections in our performance."

I love that, it's so true. It's never to late to change which path we want to walk on.

Well, that was all the good was lots of appointments and lots of keeping busy and more talking to people on the bus and street than normal which was awesome (I love talking to people. Yesterday we met an Indian man who was studying mechanical engineering and then decided to study culinary arts so he quit that and started working in a restaurant and now is studying in Florence. Cool.). 

The sad thing was that a member passed away on Monday evening. He is a husband and a father who has been battling cancer for eight years, multiple operations, and then over the course of two days he had to be run into the hospital, a hemorrhage had to be taken care of so they did a surgery, he made it through the surgery but then he passed away soon after. Their son who is serving in the Rome mission got to come say goodbye to him, but their daughter was on the plane coming back. The worst part is that she didn't even know that his trip to the hospital was serious. My companion and I have tried to wrap our heads around how difficult this will be for her to hear but one can only imagine. 

Anyways, Fratello Larrain we will really miss. He was always joking. An interesting thing about this situation though, is that his son before going back to Rome called US and had an emergency meeting with US and asked US to take care of his mom and inactive sister during this time. After he had passed to, Sorella Larrain called US. It really impacted us because who are we? We are just Sorella Arndt and Sorella Garcia. We are nobody. But the level at which people confide in us (the 22 year-old) and trust us to support them makes me realize the true value of missionary work. Missionary work is literally just being a spiritual support to someone. That support can come in many ways. It can come from telling a brother on the street that our Heavenly Father loves him, or teaching someone about the restoration, or it can come from serving a grieving widow and her daughter. 

I love the mission and am grateful for this opportunity to be a part of something that is so much bigger than myself. I know that God and Christ live and that they love us. I love you all and hope you have a good week!

Italian Chickens are the same as American Chickens 
Squid Ink Spaghetti

Jill and Sorella Garcia

Fratello Larrain on the far right

Saturday, February 18, 2017

2017-02-15 Four Minute Performance

Hello, readers of this blog. How are you? I hope you're all doing well.

This past week we got to meet with a few members. One was for a
member-present lesson with our investigator and the other two were
just appointments with a members. The ward and the stake and our
president and basically all the church leaders of Italy have really
been pushing for us missionaries to work more with members. It's kind
of hard because I like to see immediate results like, go out and knock
on someone's door and tell them about Joseph smith and then boom you
have an investigator.  But I've felt since I got here to Firenze that
my purpose here, something that I personally really needed to work on,
was member work. Not for me as much as for them I guess. Of course we
need investigators and I'd love to have more people to teach but
anyways, so many of the members here in Firenze are in active! Like SO
many. And not all of the active ones are enjoying their membership in
the church. I'm convinced that they need to do missionary work. They
need something to shake up the ward. They NEED to feel the joy that
comes from sharing the gospel with someone and bringing a friend to
church. So maybe this isn't the sort of missionary work that you can
see numbers with and that sort of can be rough but honestly if I feel
happy and tired and satisfied by the end of the day and I feel The
Spirit with me then it doesn't matter who I taught that day, it just
matters that I'm bringing SOMEONE closer to Christ.

And we have been getting a fair amount of referrals from people. So
far they are all referrals of less-active members but we've actually
been able to see some of them and that's made me really happy. Maybe
in the future and with time we will be able to meet some people who
need to be introduced to the church still.

In fact, that did happen the other day! We went to an art exhibit to
do some finding (italy, Milan mission) because a member invited us
because they knew the presenter. So we went and met an older man, a
family friend, and set up a time to meet. In the end it worked out in
his schedule better for him to simply come to church so he did. He
came to gospel principles class. He mostly just came for curiosity's
sake but who says that being curious to learn about God is bad?

Anyways, I have been thinking a lot recently about how I want to end
my last 5 months of my mission and the talk that our presidents wife
asked us to read summed it up perfectly. It applies to missionary work
as much as it does to life as it compares this life to a race,

"My young friends, wherever you are in your “four-minute performance,”
I urge you to ponder, “What do I need to do next to ensure my medal?”
Perhaps during this conference, the Spirit has whispered to you what
that may be: to prepare more thoughtfully for an ordinance in your
future or to receive an ordinance that you should have received a long
time ago. Whatever it may be, do it now. Don’t wait. Your four minutes
will pass quickly, and you’ll have eternity to think about what you
did in this life."

So I know if I keep working hard up until the end then I will be proud
of myself! God and my family and my President and other missionaries
will be proud of me! I know the same thing is true of life, as well.
Let's all cheer each other on and work hard to do our best in these
four minutes we call life. I love you all and if I can do anything for
you, let me know.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017-02-01 Something New

This week was good. I did something I've never done before and gave
somebody a baptismal date on the first lesson. His name is candy (as
far as African names go, this one is by far the weirdest I've ever
encountered) and he is so great. Generally speaking, people from
Africa are super open. Missionaries love teaching Africans. After the
lesson we walked him to the bus stop and asked him if he could tell
where other Africans were from just by looking at them and as we
walked down the street he was like, "Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana," it was
so funny. If you ever get the chance to ask an African his opinion on
other Africans, do it. They are very opinionated and you will feel
very enlightened about Africa. Anyways, he will hopefully be baptized
on the 4th of March :) :)
As for our other investigator making progress, we gave her a baptismal
date of February 25 but she has a messy life right now (pregnant, not
married, living with her ex because he doesn't have a place to go so
he asked her if he could stay after he got her pregnant and then they
broke up) anyways, she is scared because every time the sisters have
given her a bap date, something bad has happened. She doesn't believe
that her ex will be able to move out in time for this date and doesn't
want something bad to happen again. Sorella Garcia and I know that God
will make this happen if she wants it but if she doesn't have faith
then it won't happen. I have 100% faith in God but it's us, the
people, that I sometimes lack faith in. Even in myself. Without
desire, answers won't come. Often we are afraid of the answer we will
receive so we will ask because we are supposed to but He won't answer.
You need to have the desire, the humility, and the faith to follow Him
when we pray. So, we'll see.

We also had two inactives come to church who are girls of 20 and 21
years! So cool. We were so happy. Today for pday we are going to see
the Davide. The story is that he was made when Florence was small but
strong. So the story of David and the giant makes perfect sense. He is
a symbol that God will give strength to those who are small so that we
can overcome big things. I am seeking to understand this truth more
every day. I love you all and have a good week!

Birthday Boots

Birthday Shoes


Basilica di San Lorenzo

Guess Jill's obsession

Can you guess?

Yes! Shoes!

Galleria dell'Accademia (If I were cultured, I would know what these were)

Galleria dell'Accademia, not Michelangelo, but don't know who.

Michelangelo "David", and Jill

Guliano Bugiardini - Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist 
Again, not enough culture to identify this

Michelangelo "The Atlas"

2017-01-25 Birthday Week

Hello! It is my birthday week! I had an awesome birthday and also an
awesome week!

So all of our investigators are kind of in a rut right now. I'm pretty
sure at this point that the only real cure is to find new ones haha.
But we have been being blessed I think because we randomly ran into a
Brazilian less-active girl who was only active for six months after
she got baptized (because her missionaries just went over to her house
and ate and played around and never read anything from "il libro"
grrr...) and so we met with her and good thing we have a cool group of
YSA that we think will be able to be her friends.

We also had two investigators in church! Norca and Leyder (these are
not Italian names btw they are actually both South American and are
great great people). Well, we don't know if leyder is more interested
in the gospel or Sorella Garcia but in any case, he said a really
sweet prayer in spanish at the end of our lesson before church that I
kind of understood. He asked for help to keep coming back to this
church and thanked Heavenly Father for the missionaries so that was
pretty positive :)

We also were able to do some service for the American family in our
ward who need us so much and we love them so much. The mom broke her
back recently in a bus accident so we went over and cleaned and cooked
and helped with homework and bought groceries...and we also have been
meeting with more members, one of whom is a phillipina girl who lived
in Utah for a while and is now studying art in here in florence. She
showed us some of her art. Guys, you'd never guess just looking at
this cute sister that she's actually a phenomenal artist. Like, she's
'good enough to study at the university in florence, italy,' good. But
our lesson was amazing because you also would never know the struggles
she'd been though or what her trials are now by just looking at her.
She's just a cute, shortish, phillipina girl around 25-30 years old
who mostly speaks English but some Italian and shows up to church
every week and just comes by herself and goes by herself. You wouldn't
think there's some incredible story behind her life but without fail,
every time I enter someone's house, I find a story. A big story. And I
always find that the Savior has the power to help them and I feel the
love that God has for that one person who is just one of millions.
It's so powerful.

Anyways I just want you all to know too that God loves you and knows
your story! He cares about you and He prepared a way back to Him. I
love you all and hope you have a good week! Ciao a dopo

Happy 21st!

Birthday Dinner