We have eaten at many members houses over the past weeks. People would always tell me to be careful not to eat too much in the beginning courses so that I have room for the later courses of the meal, but I never really new what they were talking about until this past Sunday. We ate with this one couple (I'll send a picture) and it was so so good as always, but oh my heck, talk about trials! Usually they say as long as you eat slower than the host you can escape them continually piling on tons of food on your plate, but with this meal, we could not eat fast enough! Half-way through the meal I realized I could loosen my belt, but after awhile even that didn't help. Towards the end, everytime I took a bight, I sort of wondered if that one was going to be the one to make my stomach pop. Haha
This week we did the smoking workshop. We had prepared so much, passing out fliers, talking to people, handing out billitini's, and working with the members to invite their friends by word of mouth or social media. We created a slide presentation and had everything set up for the course. Hours before, one of our investigators called and said her brother had fallen and possibly broken his leg so she couldn't come. We were pretty sad because we had high hopes for this course with her, but we continued preparing for the course. Turns out, no one showed up at all to the course. It had the chance to be very discouraging and sad. We had put a lot of hope in this course with our goals and plans. We didn't want to believe it was reality. I remember pausing after realizing no one was going to come and just thinking I could allow this to discourage us or we could just keep pushing and looking for opportunities to serve. I remember feeling such a surreal and warm peace come over me. I know we had done our part and that was all that mattered. I know God will bless us because of our effort. 30 or so minutes after the course was supposed to start, a member came. We hadn't asked her to come, but she decided on her own to drop by and bring her testimony to share with the people at the course (She had once been a smoker before baptism and had quite in a very miraculous way). Even though there were no people in the workshop, just having her there was a profound testimony to me. The members are so awesome! Honestly, never underestimate your power as a member for the missionaries. We have seen so many blessings from having the members with us in lessons and just helping us contact and fellowship people.
I know God is with me and the members are so solid and supportive. It is so inspiring. Thank you for all your prayers. I feel them! I know this gospel is true and Jesus Christ is the head of this work. There's no one else who's name I would like to take upon me and serve under.
Love you all! Anziano Stucki.
Hey all! I can't believe I'm already at one transfer! The time goes by so fast. Tonight we will get calls from the mission to see if we are transferred. I love this place so much! The members are so awesome and solid. In a lesson this past week, we were teaching about the Great Apostasy. I explained the Great Apostasy in my best Italian. Afterward, the investigator just sat there and kind of nodded their head slowly like they didn't quite understand. The member quickly jumped in with lightning fast Italian and explained it better so the investigator understand then stopped and turned back to me. I was like, "Alright, sweet!" Haha and then went on teaching. I wish you could meet them all. It's so wierd to think that if somehow they came to America with me I wouldn't be able to introduce them to anyone! Haha I love all the non-member friends we've made just walking down the street too. I'm so grateful to be a missionary!
On Tuesday we went to Palermo for DDM as always then rode a bus back to Trapani for a lesson and English course and then got on the bus again and went back to Palermo because Wednesday morning Anziano Melling had an appointment to pick up his permesso. In the rush to get back to Palermo though, Anziano Melling forgot his passport. When we got inside the Questura the guy casually told us that he couldn't give us Anziano Melling's permesso without the passport and that we could just come back any other day to pick it up. We were dying! uugh... luckily, there was a Brioschià place across the street to go cool off in before we got back on the bus for Trapani. Haha
If you remember, in my very first lesson in the field 5 weeks ago we went to teach a less-active lady, and her daughter yelled at us and criticized us, and then we just started with a prayer and taught the first vision and it ended up being so good. Well, we have been visiting the less-active mother every week since then. For the first several lessons, this mother did not except the Book of Mormon. Now, as we go back to her, it is so cool to see a light in her eyes that wasn't there before. When we go, she tells us all about the things she's reading. She loves the Book of Mormon now! She tells us about Nephi and Laban and getting the plates. It is so crazy to think that this is the same lady who several weeks ago adamantly rejected the Book of Mormon. It is also so cool to hear these Book of Mormon stories that I learned in America since Primary, being talked about and recounted in Italian. I may be in a different country surrounded by people who speak a completely different language, but the gospel is still the same and the power of the scriptures is still there. It is so cool when you can very clearly see the change the gospel has had on someone.
We are having our first class to help people stop smoking this Saturday! We have been hanging up signs in all the panificio's and handing out invites to people. Please prayer for us and the people who will be coming to the workshop. As we have handed out cards to people (many of them as they are smoking) they have expressed how much they want to stop and how much they hate smoking. It is so sad to me, but brings me so much hope. I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is sufficient for all of us no matter what our burdens are, if we just come to Him.
Sorry I can't write much today!! We went to Favignana with 6 of the missionaries from Palermo. Favignana is an island just off the coast of Trapani. It was so beautiful! I will send pictures!
This week was great! We had a less-active member and her mom in church on Sunday! The less-active girl also brought her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is an African refugee from Nigeria. The funny thing is we had met him several weeks ago when we went to the refugee camp to contact some less-actives. The other refugees had pointed us to him because he spoke English better. Anyways, like many of the refugees he speaks English semi-fluently and is trying to learn Italian. Anziano Melling translated all of sacrament meeting for him and I tried to translate Sunday school, but it is pretty hopeless. Haha
This week we also had an interesting run-in with some Jehovah Witnesses. In fact, it was actually really funny. We contacted an older man on the street and set up a lesson with him for the next day at the church. Honestly, now that we talk about it now, Anziano Melling and I both felt something kind of wierd was going on when we contacted him, but at the time we didn't who he was. Anyways, he showed up the next day at the church and we started the lesson. A bit later, we hear someone else come in and it turns out it was his companion! There we were, Anziano Melling and I sitting across from two Jehovah Witness missionaries who were much older and experienced. Luckily we had invited a member to come, he was just late, and came in soon after. It was kind of an awkward situation of like, "So who is going to teach who?" Haha They kind of went on for a little bit, before we got a chance to ask them if we could start with a prayer. When we did though, they did not want to pray. They kind of went on talking for a bit more. I felt so strongly that we needed to pray, however. I had no idea what to even say though. The scripture came to my mind, "Open your mouth and it shall be filled." I was still hesitant and scared, but when there was a break in the conversation, I interjected. Suddenly the words just came! I bore my testimony as best I could on prayer. I said that we as missionaries are teachers, but God is the greatest teacher and is all-knowing. When we pray to Him, we invite Him to teach us in this lesson and to help us know the truth. It felt so good to say it and the Spirit came powerfully, but they still would not have it. We kind of went on talking for a bit and explained our beliefs more, but then said goodbye to them and left on good terms. It was the wierdest, but coolest experience. Haha
It has been so so windy here this past week and the winds were incredibly strong. The people say it is the winds of Africa. Kind of crazy! Haha Anyways, that's all for this week. Love you all! Ciao, Anziano Stucki.
We have seen so many miracles this week. This has probably been the hardest week I've had yet, but it was so rewarding. As the week went on I was more and more tired and humbled. I came to rely on the Lord more and more.
On Saturday we had pranzo (their big lunch they have every day) and a lesson with one of our investigators and two other members in the ward. Our investigator has been smoking for so long and she has been through many missionaries who have all tried to help her. Anziano Melling and I both wanted to help her stop so bad and we had carefully prepared a lesson to share, but after pranzo they started talking and much of it was Siciliano. Siciliano is a dialect they speak here. It is very similar to Latin. I understood almost none of it and Anziano Melling only some. We tried to switch gears and get into our lesson, but it's very hard to stop Italians once they get going. Needless to say, we both felt pretty lost and frustrated afterward and we didn't really get to help her like we wanted.
Right after that we had a lesson with a less-active. Going into this lesson, we started off well but things deteriorated as she asked some odd questions. As we tried to answer her questions she started to become defensive and frustrated. The conversation started to turn into an argument more than a lesson. I felt like she needed to just talk out her concerns fully before she would be more receptive to listen so finally we just stopped talking. She explained her concerns fully, we gave her a satisfying answer and then to our surprise her non-member began to explain a time several weeks ago (about a week before I came) when Anziano Melling gave her a blessing in the hospital and how it gave her the strength to go through some of the hardest testing she has ever had. After that experience, the mom said she wanted to take the lessons! We were so excited!
The next day was Sunday and we had a random less-active from Marsala (a town about 30 min away) walk in and bear his testimony that he new this was the true church and he wanted to come back. That night we also had a member call and say they had planned a dinner for us to come and eat with their non-member grandchildren, and then another ex-investigator from several months ago called later and said he wanted to start taking the lessons again!!
I've thought a lot about the quote "Success is given." I know God always does what is best for us to learn and grow. He may bless us with success one day or withhold it from us another day to test our faith and help us come closer to him. Our job is to strive for exact obedience so we will always be ready to recieve those blessings.
Speaking of obedience, on a more random note one hard thing we are working on following right now is a "no Biacare" rule. Biac-ing is the greeting thing that many Europeans do where they kiss each other on either cheek when saying hello or goodbye. No biac-ing is a new rule that President Pickerd put out only a couple weeks ago. It's very deeply ingrained in their culture so we are having to work hard to resist people everywhere we go. Haha
Anyways, I am doing good! I love the people and I could not be more grateful to be a missionary right now. It is so cool seeing the miracles God creates. I know everything is possible through God. He really can do anything. We just need to trust Him.
One last thing, if you do not feel like singing in church because you are worried what others will think of you, I would like to introduce you to a small branch of 30 people in Trapani, Italy who could out sing 100! They sing with their whole souls! They sound horrible and they're off tune, but few times have I felt such a strong spirit during a sacrament meeing hymn as I have here. I get to play the piano every week for sacrament meeting and I love it so much. There are few things as beautiful as the song of a sincere heart.
Love you all so much!!! Anziano Stucki.
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.