This past week has been so awesome!
We have walked all over this city. It sounds so weird to say, but my legs feel like they did after running the 5 mile in Moab, except this is from WALKING. Every evening we come home so exhausted. Anziano Melling makes a spontaneous random joke and then starts laughing while I give him a weird look. Then ten seconds later I finally get his joke and start laughing too and then he starts laughing more at me and really none of it is probably that funny, but we are so tired it's hilarious!!! We haven't disturbed the neighbors yet...that's a good sign.
On Tuesday we went to Palermo for DDM and then stayed the night and had exchanges on Wednesday. It was fun staying in the four-man house in Palermo and exchanges were awesome! Wednesday morning I went out with Anziano Rusch to visit less-actives. I didn't have a bus ticket and I'm kind of poor because somebody spent too much on groceries last week so we got to walk the streets (Jk jk I have enough, we just wanted to walk)! Towards the end of the morning at the last house we had to visit, we had the coolest experience.
We walked up to the gate surrounding the huge apartment building, found the person's name on the column of buttons and rung his doorbell. To our surprise his voice came on the little speaker and he anxiously welcomed us in. As we sat in his frontroom, he explained to us how just before we came he had been struck with the thought that he needed to change his life and there were things he needed to do. He expressed his feelings on how we as people must rely on God and even shared a scripture from the Bible that he liked. It was such a cool visit! It is amazing to me how the Lord prepares people.
It makes me think of a time just days before that, where Anziano Melling and I were leaving the apartment for the day and just two blocks from home, we said good morning to a father standing outside his house. We started talking to him and he opened up and told us about his daughter who has severe depression. We explained our message and that it is there to help us come closer to Christ and as a result will bless our lives. As we walked away, I remember getting the strongest impression that this trial was giving to that daughter to prepare her heart and bring her to Christ. I thought of the trials in my life and how grateful I am that I had the knowledge of Jesus Christ so that I could turn to Him and not only be whole, but improved. After that experience, I am trying to make it a mental habit to ask, whenever trials come, "How is this preparing me?" I can't say I necessarily love all my trials, but I am grateful for the opportunities to grow. And even more, I am thankful for the Atonement that allows me to truly change and grow. I love that process! Heavenly Father knew what He was doing when He sent us to earth.
Anyways, back to Palermo... So after we left that less-active's house a member had requested a blessing so we stopped by their house. There were two brothers that wanted blessings. Anziano Rusch did one and I did the other. I hadn't learned how to give a blessing in Italian, but the second brother spoke English well so it was okay to give it in English. It was a powerful moment. Everytime I give a blessing and I feel the Spirit and I know this is God's power.
It is so weird doing things like that in English. It reminds me of two Sundays ago when I stopped an African guy on the street and started talking to him about the Book of Mormon. Partway through, he said in gooder English, "What language are you speaking?" (In my mind I was like, "Well apparently not Italian!!") Anyways, I proceeded to switch gears and explain the Book of Mormon in the most clumsy bunch of English words I have ever used. It was so weird. Haha
Have a good week! Vi voglio un sacco di bene!!! Anziano Stucki.
Picture four is us in Palermo. To my left is Anziano Rusch my exchange companion and at the head of the table is Anziano Gibson from the MTC. It was good to see him. It's pretty rare for MTC companions to be in the same district out in the field so it is cool!
Picture six is us and the other Palermo companionship getting brioscia in Palermo (brioscia is the best!!!!!).
Hey all! This week has been so full! There are so many everday miracles.
One day this week, we walked all the way across town to go to correlation with the ward mission leader, but when we got to his house he was strangely not there. At first it was frustrating, and then I had the thought that everything is for a reason. Maybe we were supposed to talk to someone. We decided we would do some finding as we made our way back to the house. Partway home, sure enough, we started talking to a guy who was interested in taking the discussions.
Another day, we were walking through town when a women came out of her apartment to take the garbage out. We said hi to and then from there started having a conversation with her. As she walked down the road to the dumpster we talked to her about her faith and told her about the Book of Mormon. We bore our testimonies and told her to read and pray about it. The whole time I just kept thinking, "What if we hadn't opened up and said hello to her!" It is so amazing to me what God can do when we just open up our mouth and try. My Italian improves everyday, but I still have a long ways to go. As a result, I'm not very independant when I try to talk to people and most of the time I need Anziano Melling to translate.
This past week I really felt how even when it is just me, God can make up the difference. Sometimes, it almost doesn't make sense, but yet everytime I am bold and reach out, something good comes of it, and all I can do is wonder why I was even afraid to speak in the first place. One time this past week, I called a past investigator to see how they were doing. I started by saying I was a missionary and then she just took off speaking so fast. I didn't understand what she said, but I could tell she knew our church and she had a positive opinion of it. At one point she stopped. When I hesitated to speak, she said in slow Italian something like, "You don't speak Italian very well do you?" We both just laughed and I was like yeah I am learning. She then asked about our English course and said she would really like to come. I gave her the details and then hung up the call. I just stood there shocked. I couldn't believe what had just happened. I barely even understand what she said, my Italian was horrible, and I was a complete stranger to her, but somehow the message had got across and the call had been successful. I know that wouldn't have happened if God hadn't had some hand in it. Somehow, He can take my small effort, and do something that to me seems impossible. I found a quote in my Preach My Gospel book that said, "The feeling of the spirit will be its own invite." Even if all I can do is simply show up and put forth my menial effort, if I have the spirit and I trust God, I will fulfill my calling and that is all that matters.
One more story. This week, as we were walking past a fruit stand, I saw a random man that we had talked to in a store the day before. I smiled and stopped and asked him how he was doing. He looked at me with a confused expression. At that moment, I realized it was actually not the same guy, but another man who just looked very similar. We started talking to him though. He was religious and very kind, but didn't want anything to do with organized religion. Before we left, Anziano Melling mentioned that he really liked the man's scarf. Then, to our surprise the guy took off the scarf and gave it to Anziano Melling! We tried to tell him no, but he insisted. It is so amazing to me how kind of selfless the people are. I love the people here and I love this place!
Love, Anziano Stucki.
Dearest my favorite family, I made it here in Vegas! Okay jk jk. I am here in Trapani, Italy on the island of.....Sicily!! I am off the "boot" and am one of the closest cities in the mission to Africa. Trapani is right on the coast and as you will see in one of my pictures, we can see the Mediterranean Sea from our window! Before I start talking about the good times in Trapani I need to briefly catch ya'll up on the few days before though.
So we left the MTC at a ridiculously early time in the morning, flew to Atlanta and then Rome. I will not speak much of the flight to Rome. Needless to say, if you get more than two solid hours of sleep on a nine hour overnight flight, consider yourself extraordinarily blessed. Haha anyways, we spent our first two days in Rome. We went sight-seeing, did training, and practiced talking to so many people. My comprehension level was at about 5% when I came, so you can imagine how fun that was. Good thing the AP's stayed close by (sometimes haha) so they could translate for us. Me and another missionary from the MTC were talking to some lady on the metro. She kept asking us this question and we had now idea what she was saying. Then some random Italian guy on the metro a few seats over said in English, "She's asking you how many siblings you have." Who would've thought! Haha
Here in Trapani my companion is Anziano Melling from the great city of Lehi, Utah. He's awesome! We have so much fun! There are so many cool things that happen everday, I don't have time to write them all, but one cool experience was in a lesson with a less-active sister in the branch. During our visit her daughter spoke very angrily to us. I didn't understand all of it right then, but I recognized a phrase meaning basically, "I'll never change! I'll never change!" Anziano Melling went on later to explain that she questioned us because we were just young men and in her church she learns from men who have spent years studying doctrine. At one point, I distinctly remember the Spirit leaving. Anziano Melling handled it so well though. He didn't argue back, but just listened and then asked if we could start with a prayer. After that, we begin to teach about the first vision with an emphasis on personal revelation. I recited the 1st vision and did my best to testify in Italian that we as missionaries cannot help her know everything and so she needs to pray to God because only He is the source of all true knowledge. The Spirit returned so powerfully. It was so cool! Also, the other day we got stopped by a guy asking us if we could give him a copy of the Bible. As the conversation went on we began to talk to him about the Book of Mormon. We were just running a quick errand and we didn't have a lot of our stuff with us so Anziano Melling was about to explain that unfortunately we didn't have a Book of Mormon for him right then, when suddenly I remembered I had a Book of Mormon in my shoulder bag from when we were contacting people on our first day in Rome!! I pulled out the book and held it out. Anziano Melling's expression was priceless. Haha It was the perfect moment. There are so many little miracles like that. I love missionary work!
Well, that is all for this week. Real quick, we had our first meal appointment with an Italian family yesterday afternoon. The food was heavenly. It is all so good! I cannot say it enough. My mouth is literally starting to water as I write this to you. Haha
Vi voglio un sacco di bene! Anziano Stucki.
Ciao famiglia! This has been a good last week. My performance of Joseph Smith's First Prayer went well. I was so grateful for that opportunity to perform again. Also, today in the temple I saw Dallyn Bayles and was actually smart enough to shake his hand. Haha
This past week we had TRC and we got to teach an actual guy from Italy over Skype!! I LOVE Italians!! I could not stop smiling during our lesson. Haha Our only Italian challenge didn't not last the whole six days sad to say. Haha after the first day it was pretty miserable. We definitely made an extra effort to speak in Italian for the week though and it helped our Italian so much!
I've thought a lot about trials lately. During the MTC there's been difficult times, but I've tried my best to rely on God and they've turned into amazing learning experiences. One night last week after a harder day I just sat in my dorm thinking. As I sat there, to my surprise I didn't feel frustrated, stressed, or tired like I had early that day. Instead I just felt happy and grateful. It was a weird feeling, but honestly I just sat there and thought how cool it was that even though there had been hard things in my day, I had turned to God, and I felt so good now! That night, I didn't feel like praying that my trials the next day would be easier. I just wanted to pray that the next day when trials came, I would rely on the enabling power of the Atonement and that I could feel this cool again! Fast forward several days, there was a morning where we were stressed becuase we didnt have very much time to plan a lesson and for some reason me and my companion were just not on the same page. We needed the spirit to be with us before we moved on so we decided to just stop and pray. I started praying by naming off things I was grateful for. I started to say a phrase I had said so automatically in other prayers. It was, "Thank you for the opportunity to serve a mission." This time, however, I paused. It was a very real moment as i just sat there and thought. Why was a grateful? Was I really actually grateful? Why would I be grateful right now when things were stressful and not necessarily happy? As I thought, I knew the answer. I was grateful for this opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior. That IS something great and that IS something to be happy about. After that, I prayed with total sincerity as I thanked God for this opportunity. I'm so thankful for trials and how they help me grow. I am so excited to share that knowledge with the people of Italy in less than one week!!
I love you all so much! Thank you all for what you have done to help me grow and be better. Anziano Stucki.
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.