Sunday, March 26, 2017

2017-03-22 One Year on Italian Soil

On friday the 24, I'll have spent an entire year of my life on Italian soil. A YEAR. Crazy!

So the work here, all I can say is we're trying our hardest haha but we had to drop SIX investigators and none of the investigators we have left are super solid. But it's interesting, drops, because they seem so sad and so final but nothing's really the end. There's a quote I like about that, talking about the parable of the laborers in the vineyard,
"Like other parables, this one can teach several different and valuable principles. For present purposes its lesson is that the Master’s reward in the Final Judgment will not be based on how long we have labored in the vineyard. We do not obtain our heavenly reward by punching a time clock. What is essential is that our labors in the workplace of the Lord have caused us to become something. For some of us, this requires a longer time than for others. What is important in the end is what we have become by our labors. Many who come in the eleventh hour have been refined and prepared by the Lord in ways other than formal employment in the vineyard. These workers are like the prepared dry mix to which it is only necessary to “add water”--the perfecting ordinance of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. With that addition--even in the eleventh hour--these workers are in the same state of development and qualified to receive the same reward as those who have labored long in the vineyard.

This parable teaches us that we should never give up hope and loving associations with family members and friends whose fine qualities (see Moro. 7:5–14) evidence their progress toward what a loving Father would have them become. Similarly, the power of the Atonement and the principle of repentance show that we should never give up on loved ones who now seem to be making many wrong choices. (The Challenge to Become)"

So I just had to remind myself that even if these people won't meet with the missionaries anymore during this time, I don't regret the time we spent together or the energy I put into them. Honestly it makes me happy and I know that I helped them, even if they won't get baptized right now. Dropping Kate was so hard. She's this African lady who I LOVE. I LOVE her. When we got to the lesson, I turned to my companion and said, "non c'Γ¨ la faccio," which means I can't do this. I was supposed to be the strong one because she had never dropped anyone like this before! But she guided us through the lesson and we were able to tell her that we love her and she understood that and we told her she could call us when she wanted to come to church or when she'd received an answer to her prayer. So hard. I cried in the elevator. But she's not the first person I've said goodbye to in the mission and she won't be the last. I feel like I will see her again someday though.

Anyways, three transfers left I don't believe it!! I love the mission! I love you! Have a good week!

(Below is the first part of her email, but it works best at the end with the pictures)
Still in Firenze and I LAUGHED when President called me. My new comp is Sorella Smedley!! She has been with me since the beginning, I LOVE her, and she's followed me around the whole mission. We joked about being STL's together. I never thought I'd even serve with her. So so funny. I'll send a bunch of pics to make the point of how funny this is.  So I'm excited. She's super funny, I love her humor. She's like a friend from home for me. She comes tomorrow. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

2017-03-15 Getting to Know You

Some amazing things happened this Sunday and I'm so stoked to see them
come to fruition throughout the week. Those experiences are amazing
but they're not the ones I want to share. I just wanted to say that we
just had a lesson with a girl, who's a member, and we asked her life
and about how she met the missionaries. This is just a normal girl,
about 24 but looks a little bit older, Peruvian, a few inches shorter
than me, not skinny but not fat, just like, a normal Peruvian girl on
the streets of Italy (there are a lot of Peruvians in Italy). But
talking to her was just a reminder to me of how NOBODY is just a face
on the street. She talked about her friends when she was 13 and how
one of them was Mormon and she always saw him with a Book of Mormon.
She talked about how her parents split up and her mom went into a
depression which left her to play the role of mom and dad at that same
time. She talked about how her relationship got much better with her
mom after she got baptized and how she's the only member of her
family. She talked about the shock of coming here with her 14-year old
brother and finding out that her dad had started a family here. Out of
all of this she talked about how she has felt her Heavenly Father's
arms around her through the trials since she got converted.
The thing I wanted to say out of all of this though is that I had this
impression after the lesson about Jesus Christ. He is our example
which means we're supposed to become more like Him. I think one of the
most amazing things about the mission is when people just bare their
souls to you and you get to teach them about their Heavenly Father's
love and how that love fixes everything. But I think when people let
you in on their lives and the things they've been through, you become
a little more like Christ. I believe that. Because Christ, in the
Garden of Gethsemane, came to know every single one of our lives
personally. For this pain He has infinite empathy towards us and this
is why He is our Advocate. He feels for us. So I think that when
people tell you about their lives, even though is nothing like atoning
for their suffering, you still sort of feel a little bit of their pain
and you emphasize with them. And that makes you a little bit like
Jesus Christ. And I think that that's so humbling.

So I guess the lesson to learn is get to know people. And if you can,
go on a mission! Because then everyone tells you their life story! But
if you can't, then get to know people to understand them. You'll feel
the Spirit and be able to feel closer to Jesus Christ a little more,

2017-03-08 Member-Missionary Relationship

Here's a little story from yesterday:

We've been visiting members recently a lot and it's been good. So,
background: crazy stuff went down several transfers ago including a
6-man white-wash of Firenze two transfers before I got here. When I
got here, four of those original six remained. Unfortunately, a couple
things got even them off to a not-so-great start. So in pratica the
members here aren't too thrilled with us and (little) stuff has even
happened since I've been here. So we've been working on the
member-missionary relationship.

So today we finally got to visit with vescovo and his wife bc they're
really busy and it was such a forte lezione!! Davvero, this morning
when I was studying for it it was so guided. We invited them to share
their testimonies directly and clearly and it was the perfect
invitation for them. The lesson was brief, it was good teaching, it
was πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ and we were happy. And we gave them a little card at
the end just to say we're thankful for them and really want to work
hard here.

But wait, there's more!

So we were getting a car ride from his wife down to the bus stop
because they live far away from the city and his wife had to pick up
the kids from school. So we walk into the school to pick up her little
boy and I was like, "ah! Maybe we can meet one of Sorella Ferrini's
friends and get to know them," because we know she talks to her kids'
friends' parents about the church. So I went in with that mindset and
Lo and behold the little boy's English teacher I saluted her just
like, "ciao!" and she stopped subito and was like, "you're not
Italian!" Long story short we explained about the church and she
agreed to meet with us and once she's done moving houses.

It made me so happy not because I want members to think that any of us
missionaries as individuals are great but I know that she will talk
about this with her husband and it just makes me happy to know that
they might trust us more! We had another experience like that on the
bus because I've been trying to get back into talking to people on the
bus not just during scambio but always because *fake alert* otherwise
and it just so happened that on a 5-minute bus ride I decided to talk
to this lady and then when we got off the bus, I saw my companion was
with a member we are really close with!! Afterwards, Sorella Garcia
said that when she was talking to this member they both looked at me
and saw I was talking to someone and so then this member all the
sudden said to my companion that she has a friend that she would like
for us to teach.

I just know that missionaries are here to work. We are here to work
and not play around. I mean, have fun and be happy, but work. Members
have to see that we're working. When they do, they have trust in us. I
don't talk to people to be seen by people, I do it because I want to
because I love talking to people and sharing the gospel and I want to
do what I can to help members do missionary work. If helping them
trust the dedication of missionaries is a way to help them then I will
do it! But anyways I hope we get to teach some new people because I
really want to bring members to lessons we just don't have a lot of
people we're teaching right now.

We also talked to two boys about our age the other day in the park.
Let me just say I love young adults way more than adults. Young adults
are searching, they're intelligent, they're bright and they're open.
Old people are old and straight up tell you they're too old to change
and I hate that because no one is too old to change. Anyways, most
Italians are atheist, not catholic. That's a big misconception. Most
will say they are catholic but it's only because they were baptized
and it means nothing to them other than that they were baptized into
the culture of their parents. As far as I know, people don't even
really go to Christmas mass.

And our investigator Elizabeth came to church this Sunday!! I think
she really loved it, even though she had to endure me teaching gospel
principles lol. This week will be a good one, simps, potentials,
members, oh my!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

2017-03-01 Funeral

So, last Thursday my eyes were swimming. It was the funeral of a
dearly loved member from a dearly loved family in the ward. They are
from Peru. Two parents, two kids. Kids aged 20-22ish. It was the
husband/father that passed away. He has been battling cancer for eight
years, had already almost died, and had had two operations over the
years where they took out much of what was inside of him. The thing
that touched me the most was on Sunday though, on a lesson about
prayer, the wife was there and she had a comment. We had known for
about three days beforehand that Hugo had been rushed into the
hospital and that it looked serious this time, that he had almost no
I'm sure I'm not the only one who wondered what those days were like.
What it must have been like when Carmen got the news that this time,
we wouldn't make it. The race against time for their son to come home
from the mission to say goodbye to his dad and then head back out. If
their daughter would be devastated when she got off the plane from
Peru and realized that it was already too late. And what those last
moments must have been like, a husband and a wife taking comfort in
the belief that there is a life after death.
Well, during church Carmen told us what it was like. She told us how
he would often keep her up at night while he was sick and would ask
her what heaven would be like and if he was going to make it. She said
that those last days in the hospital she saw serenity on his face. He
had done his best, he had supported his trials, and he felt the
reassurance of the Spirit that he did what he was supposed to do. At
the funeral they sang a song that was so touching I'm crying now just
thinking about it. They sang about how the fight is over now and he
could go home.
Man, it just makes me think about how hard life is. It is hard.
Whether it be because of someone else's fault or our own, life is
hard. Hugo's life was very hard. Carmen's life has been very hard.
But I have never met two jokesters like them. We were always over at
their house and they would always make us food and joke with us. Of
course, there's more to life than food and lightheartedness but they
were also a couple of faith and hope.
I trust in the Lord to give me the trials I can support and the trials
I need to learn during this life. I hope with all my heart that I can
support them well so I can have that peace at the end of my life and
in the next life with the people I love.

We also had scambi miracles that I could write three more paragraphs
like meeting up with a less-active member and her non-member husband
and son who LOVED us, getting several people's numbers, and even just
helping each other out as sisters. We also had an awesome lesson with
our italian investigator couple and we met with a couple recently RM
sisters. We also had multiple people not show up to appointments. Beh,
Γ¨ la missione. It's the mission and I love it and I'm grateful every
day that I made the choice to go on a mission! I love you all and hope
you have a good week.

Fratello Larrain and family

With Sorelle's from Pisa and Livorno

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Investigator's cat

I guess this is still a thing.