Hey all! Singing went well. It was a very spiritual experience. Every opportunity I get to do anything with music is the best! As I got up to sing I looked at all the new missionaries who had just come into the MTC and remembered how I felt only four weeks ago sitting there listening to someone else sing a musical number. I remember how I was nervous and the suspense was high, but throughout it all I felt the Spirit saying to me, "This is where you are supposed to be and you can do it." The words to Savior Redeemer of My Soul were perfect for the welcome ceremony. I felt the Spirit so strong as I sang the line, "Then let my lips proclaim it still, and all my life reflect thy will." I was so glad I got to do that. AND yesterday I got a note saying they are going to use my other audition piece for the missionary welcome meeting next Wednesday! I will be playing my piano arrangement of Joseph Smith's First prayer. I'm so excited! I am determined to not let these opportunities diminish when I go to Italy.
Yesterday my district played a game called Who's The Italian. Basically you aren't allowed to speak English and you have to speak as much Italian as possible. It was pretty hard and sometimes it was frustrating not being able to express myself completely, but honestly my Italian improved so much just from that. My teacher said one of her districts awhile ago set a goal to only speak Italian for five days straight! We are determined to beat it! So, starting tomorrow, we can only speak Italian for six days (we can speak English to someone if they only speak English). It is going to be crazy, but as we like to say, "Perchè no?" (Why not?) Haha
One thing I've learned is that when the spirit prompts you to speak you should speak no matter how simple it may sound. During a lesson with our investigator this week, he kept asking how he can receive answers to pray. I had the thought to explain the importance of praying sincerely and being patient with God's timing. I also had the thought to share a personal experience that I had with prayer. It seemed too simple. I felt like I needed to have some long, deep explanation. Finally, when our investigator made it clear that we weren't answering his question, I decided I'd give it a try. I shared a story about a time when I prayed and God didn't seem to be answering. I was so frustrated. I didn't understand why he wasn't answering right then. Then, I had the thought to simply get up and go serve someone. When I did, the Spirit came and I found the answer to my prayer. As I spoke, the spirit was so strong and my mind was able to speak Italian freely. I felt joy and excitement as I encouraged him to look for the answer to his prayer.
This past week at Tuesday devotional was awesome! During the devotional I had the thought come to me that the time is now to try my hardest, to be as obedient as I can, to open my mouth and speak with power. It's not when I get in the mission field, when I know Italian well, or when I feel comfortable in my surroundings, or anything else. I felt the Spirit telling me so powerfully that I am enough right now for Christ to work with. Good thing it's not about my power or capacity or else I couldn't do it. It's about Christ's power and capacity. He is the one who makes it all possible. I can do it with him. Also, when I came on my mission I thought it was going to be all about me helping others and me teaching them. But, I have been continually surprised at how much I have been learning instead. I used to think that was bad, like maybe I wasn't prepared enough before coming on my mission, or that I needed to stop focusing on myself so much. But, during the devotional I remembered a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland where he says that every aspect of the conversion process must happen to us before it can happen to our investigators. I realized that it's okay if I feel like only I am learning. When I grow and learn things for myself it adds power to my testimony and in turn it enables me to be able to help others better.
That's all for this week. Love you, Anziano Stucki.
I cannot believe how fast the time is going by!
I got the results from auditions. I am singing Savior Redeemer of My Soul next Wednesday afternoon at the welcome devotional for the new missionaries. I am so excited and grateful I get to do that! Also, speaking of that, I saw Dallyn Bayles in the temple today!!!!! He came at the very end of the session and was directing people to the veil. It was a huge surprise and the timing was weird so unfortunately I didn't get a chance to talk to him, which is good because I was shocked speechless!!
I realize now I haven't really told you about my zone. There are three Italian districts and two Romanian districts in my zone (probably around 30 people total). Half of the Italians are the Rome mission and the other half are the Milan Mission. My district has two companionships of elders and a tripanionship of sisters. One sister in my district is Canadian and one elder is British (Elder Maytham). The rest of us are American. Everyone is obsessed with Elder Maytham's accent. Good thing he's not annoyed by it, because we have a lot of fun with it. Haha By the way, Donnie Osmond's son is in my zone. He is a really cool guy and a good missionary! Look in the pictures I've sent. I'm sure you can recognize him. He looks just like his dad. Also, as I mentioned my companion is from Pennsylvania. He reminds me a lot of Cade! Haha we have lot's of fun. Good thing he likes to sing also. Whenever we have a spare minute we stop in an empty classroom and belt out a hymn or two while I play the piano.
We did an exercise in class this past week where my teacher took the role of a less-active Italian member. As a class, we practiced teaching a first lesson with her. She basically believed religion was there only to give people hope in a troubled world and that it wasn't relevant to her. As we continued to ask her questions, she also said she didn't feel God's love. I thought of a quote that I heard Hank Smith share at a BYU music camp last year. He said, "Someone with an experience is always more powerful than someone with an opinion." I thought of how literally and powerfully I have felt God's love. I felt the spirit as I bore my testimony in my kindergartner-level Italian that I know God loves her. I have felt that love so powerfully in my life. I wasn't able to say all of this, but I thought how a belief in God is so much more than just hope. It is strength, direction, help, and ultimately purpose. The scripture that says, "This life is a time for men to prepare to meet God," has been on my mind a lot. This life on earth is so momentary. It is not the final destination at all. We left our Heavenly parents to come here for a short time to learn, but the goal was to return to Him and to go back home. Several times I have had moments where I have felt God's love for me and others very powerfully. I now realize that that is the pure love of Christ. That feeling is the best feeling I have ever felt. That love is so empowering and it has kept me going throughout this week. At the end of the class I had this thought, "Dove c'è Dio, c'è casa." (Where there is God, there is home.) Even though I am no longer at my home (in Moab) I am coming to realize that ultimately the most joy, peace, and comfort comes when we are close to God.
One thing I've discovered about myself is how much I love talking to people. One day last week when I was feeling down there were two people who randomly reached out to me. One was a man who I sat by in the endowment session and the other was a member of the new mission presidency who randomly came and sat with my district during lunch. He was so kind. Even when he looked at you, you felt genuine and sincere love. I wanted to do that for someone else. Several times this week I would just reach out to someone around me and introduce myself. This week I got to host new missionaries again. They recruited a lot more hosts than they needed so we spent a lot of time waiting on the curb waiting for the new missionaries to come. During that time, I got to talk to a lot of other random missionaries and I enjoyed it so much. Often we think of missionary work as inviting people to church or teaching them the missionary discussions, but being kind to those we meet is sharing the love of Christ and that is definitely missionary work as well.
By the way, yes, I did get the packages. Thank you so much! My nose bleeds are better. My district always makes fun of me when I take my supplements, but this past week they all got the flu and I didn't so I got the last laugh on that one. :) Haha
By the way, thank Shaunna Sanders for teaching me how to speed read effectively (in the ACT class). It has come in handy here! Haha
Love you all! Anziano Stucki.
Dear Family, I have no idea what to write for this letter. Haha There's so much that happens every single day. Yesterday, I auditioned to sing or play piano for devotionals or special meetings here at the MTC. I won't find out for a bit if they are going to use my musical numbers for anything.
We are getting a new MTC mission presidency so on Sunday Elder Neil L. Anderson spoke. It was amazing, but honestly the most spiritual part for me was at the end of the devotional when Elder Anderson walked down and shook the hands of the missionaries who were sitting on the edge of the main isle. Many of the missionaries around me kept whispering, "I hope he walks over here!" I wasn't by the edge of the isle though so like most of the missionaries, I didn't get to shake his hand. Everyone stood still and just watched the apostle as he slowly made his way through the crowd. Before leaving, Elder Anderson turned and waived to all the rest of the missionaries. A thousand hands went up as all the missionaries waived back. In that moment I thought of the Nephites when Christ visited the Americas. I thought of the scene in the Testaments video right after Christ appears and He is walking through the crowd and all the Nephites are reaching out their hands trying to feel for themselves the prints of the nails in His hands. I felt so strongly that Elder Anderson is one of Christ's apostles. It made me think of the end of Elder Anderson's talk where he bore his testimony. He said, "I know that Christ lives. I am his witness." I had the realization that as a missionary, so am I! I feel so blessed to have that responsibility. There is no one else I would want to spend these next two years serving.
This past week we talked a lot in my class about not just teaching the doctrine, but teaching WHY it is important. In doing that, we have practiced listening to the investigator's concerns closely and teaching by the Spirit what they need to hear. As a missionary, a huge part of my call is to teach repentance, or simply put, change. I have thought a lot about the change that has happened in my life. Even after these past two weeks, I have to say, I have changed a lot. I am not the same person that was dropped off at the MTC a couple weeks ago. Part of it is kind of scary haha and it's been a weird feeling as I've adjusted to the MTC, but I have come to trust in the Lord on a new level that I never experienced before. If I could give any advice to a new missionary, it would be, even more than coming close to your friends or even your family before your mission, come as close as you can to Lord. I don't remember where I heard this quote, but it's something like, "There is a God-size hole in every human heart that only He can fill." I have come to realize that although the Atonement is made to change us, it never takes away what's good. It simply builds on the good already inside of us. And that is what we have to offer to the world! Many people in the world don't want to change, but if they will have faith in God and his plan, the Atonement will take them wherever they are with whatever good or bad they have, and build upon it. Jesus Christ will change them for the better.
This past Wednesday I got to host new missionaries coming into the MTC. It's kind of unusual to ask missionaries to host when they've only been here for two weeks. It was kind of funny as I'm trying to lead my new missionaries around the campus and they think you know everything, but really the whole time in my mind I'm like, "I have now idea where that even is." And, "Oh, that's what's in that building!" Good thing they have maps! Haha I think they just asked us because my district has sister missionaries and they need as many sisters to help host as they can get. It was a cool experience though watching the new missionaries pull up in their cars. They look so excited and curious as they pull up. I gained a very real perspective of just how amazing missions are. Several times this past week I've thought to myself, "Missions are so cool. Everyone should go on a mission." I love my mission so much. They don't lie when they say it's hard, but they don't lie when they say it's worth it either.
Sorry, not a lot of stories this week. One more thing though, I love Italian so much! There are several times where you will be conjugating a verb and they will randomly add or omit letters just to make the word roll off your tongue better. It can be really confusing sometimes, but it's cool to be speaking a language that literally was designed to be as beautiful as possible. I'm not perfect at it, but the gift of tongues is definitely real! My English is getting worse and worse however. This one day I was reading and I accidentally pronounced an English word like an Italian word and it sounded really funny. My whole class was laughing about it. Haha
By the way, shout out to Dallin for being the first to write me. He is now my favorite sibling. Nachelle (and Kylee and Jacob) were the second to write so they're now my second favorite. The rest of you get the idea, right? ;) Haha just kidding.
Also, Jessica, thank you for the blanket and the Italian food! When I first tried the Italian food on Christmas it wasn't that good, but then one night a week ago I was really hungry so I pulled them out to snack on and now they're all gone. Haha
I love you all! Anziano, Stucki.
Hello Famiglia! This past week has been sooooo busy!! I can't believe how much I have learned already. My companion Elder Gibson and I have taught our investigator Simone four times all in Italian so far! I would never have believed that was possible. Language mistakes are many, but so are the opportunities to laugh. During our lessons, I accidentally told him that he should expect angels to appear to him after he prays. Rather than saying I was away from my family I accidentally said that my family was gone (like they were killed). My companion also said "the beans of God" rather than "the Son of God." Needless to say, I love Italian! It is so beautiful. I wish I could abandon English forever. Haha
For the first few days here, many people would say "Just make it til Sunday." I realize now that they would say that because so much spiritual strength would come on Sunday. Plus it was fast Sunday so there was even more spiritual strength. I think that is a good goal to focus on every week though. Every Sunday we get to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants and we have so many opportunities to gain spiritual strength. We just need to make it until Sunday. Ce la fate!
By the way I got called as the music director in my branch. I get to choose hymns, play piano, and organize special musical numbers for branch meetings. My branch also loves to sing. Yesterday a bunch of the Italian missionaries got to ride the train up to the Italian consulate in Salt Lake to do some paperwork for our visas. At the train station on the way back we met a guy who's a bass in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He was just coming from the capitol. The choir had sung there for the governor's inauguration. Anyway he knew some Italian so for the ride back on the train we sat in the top floor of our double decker train and sang hymns in Italian! After each hymn we would go through the words and translate them into English. The meanings of some of the common hymns we sing are so beautiful in Italian. Once again, I love Italian!
One more experience. One day in my class someone was talking about their non-member mom. This person's mom had criticized one of the missionary statements that our message will improve quality of life. The person went on to say that we really don't know what will make people happy. We don't know where they've been or what they've been through. They also went on to say that eternal life with their family honestly wasn't that appealing to them because they didn't really want to be with their family forever (they shared a lot more, but you get the idea). As you might guess, the Spirit had definitely left the class. I wasn't shaken by it but I felt increasingly uncomfortable. I knew there was an answer, but I didn't know what it was. I felt like something needed to be said though so I bowed my head and said a silent prayer. Immediately a thought came into my head. It hit me so hard I started to get emotional as I just sat there. I was afraid of voicing it because I didn't want to offend this person (especially since the topic of the discussion had to do with their mom). Then I remembered hearing a thought from another missionary in my zone who said that we were placed here at this exact time for our exact teachers, our exact companions, our exact investigators and so on. The Spirit seemed to be saying, "You've been given this thought at this exact moment. Can't you see you are meant to share it now?" So, I raised my hand and began speaking. I began to explain, "Yes, yes. You are so right! We do not know at all what will make someone else happy! We don't know where people have been. We way too often judge people unrighteously and we think we know exactly how to fix their life when we have never even walked in their shoes. And it is for that reason that we convert people TO CHRIST. Not to us, not to the church. Only if they are converted TO CHRIST will they really be converted. We don't know what will make them happy, but Christ does. Isn't that what the atonement is all about? He felt our pains and joys so he could understand us! HE can convert them. We cannot. We are just his servants." Needless to say the Spirit returned and no one was offended. If there is one thing that I've learned from this week, it is that Jesus Christ knows what will make me happy. We don't know everything, but we know that if people turn to Christ he can and will help them. There have been many hard times during my week, but knowing that makes it all okay. I keep thinking of Sheena's comment that trials are just an opportunity to come closer to the Savior. I have embraced that so much this week and I know He will take care of me and I will be okay. I love you all so much! By the way, thank you for the packages. :) Elder Stucki.
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.