Weeeeell, it's another week!
This week I was able to go and do a scambio with my follow-up trainer, Anziano Macdonald! That was really fun. We were in Castellemare. On Wednesday night we went and did a lesson with some of their contacts. The people's uncle who is a member was there and helped with the lesson. Well after the lesson we left with the uncle (named Giuseppe) and he took us out to gelato. He was talking about his son and how his son loves to play songs on the piano and sings and even showed me a video of him. Well we left the gelateria and we continued talking. He explained how his son wasn't a member (his son is 15) and how much he would want him to be baptized and go on a mission. Well at some point we saw this stray dog walking on the road and Giuseppe started talking about the dog. Well in Italian the way verbs work you don't have to say "he" or "it." For example in English you say, "He runs" but in Italian you can say, "corre" which can mean "he, she, or it runs" but if you want to specify who was running you have to say "lui corre" (He runs) or "lei corre" (she runs). Plus, at least in this case in Italian if they wanted to say "it runs" they would just say "corre" without a pronoun so as you can see it's a bit ambiguous. Usually you understand fine because you're following the conversation and you understand the context, but I didn't catch it, plus I kind of phased out thinking about his son. So as Giuseppe is talking about the dog I jump in and just say, "Si vede che lui sarebbe un missionario bravissimo!" ("You can see that he would make an awesome missionary!") You can guess what happened. Giuseppe just kind of gave me this wierd look and then said some comment about a dog missionary or something. Haha It was a good night. Giuseppe kept saying he hopes I come to Castellemare again. Haha I would love to go back and jam with his son on the piano. The next morning in Castellemare we went out and did finding on lungomare. It was so beautiful! Several times we would just be walking along and look across the bay and you could see the big volcano Vesuvio. It's those moments that just slap you back to reality and make me realize how amazing this opportunity is! After that we went to Caritas which is what they call a major Catholic charity institution and helped cook and make lunch for homeless people who come! That was the first time in my mission I got to do that. It was fun! I tried to follow the conversations of several of the other volunteers, but although by now I communicate just fine when I'm talking to an Italian it is so hard to follow a conversation between two Italians especially when they are talking fast. Plus even though Castellemare is part of the Campania region and pretty close to Napoli at that the accent is changed a bit and it was a bit harder to follow.
Well, this week Nonna came back from Tuscania! She's been gone for the past month! Right before she left she said she would be gone for just about 2 weeks, but then after about 10 days we asked Monica about her and she just said yeah yeah yeah she'll be back in like 15 more days!! Haha That's one thing I've kind of discovered about Italians. They'll say they're just going to visit some family in another part of Italy and so you'll think alright they'll be gone a quick little weekend trip or maybe at most a week, but then they basically move away for 3 weeks and then you will call them and ask if they are back and they'll just respond that they'll be back in another week or something. So that's what happened with us, but the good news is she is back so we are going to be doing a good'ole lesson with her hopefully soon!
Saturday evening we did a lesson just with Monica (Nonna's daughter), Pasquale (Monica's husband), Ylenia, and Roberta. Me and Anziano Sanchez talked about prophets and then shared our favorite general conference talks with them. I shared "The First Great Commandment" by Anziano Holland. We then challenged them to bring questions to General Conference next week and suggested that one of those questions should be whether they should wait until June when Roberta finishes the Catholic Comunione to be baptized. We have talked so much about baptism with them, and at least for Monica she has heard all the lessons many times by now. I have wondered if Monica really does want to wait for the Comunione to be baptized or if she is just using that as an excuse and then in this lesson she opened up and just said that she wasn't sure about some things so she wanted to wait to be baptized. She didn't want to say what those things were though so we challenged her to just take them to General Conference and search for answers. Pasquale opened up a lot too about his feelings and thoughts. He basically said that he feels like religion is like jobs. At different times in his life he has had different jobs--he has just moved on and found new jobs based on his situation. He said he feels fine with his current religion but someday if the Lord gives him some sort of revelation he will readily move on, but for now he just doesn't feel it. We talked about the importance of him doing his part to recieve an answer. The conversation kind of wandered all over the place and finally Pasquale just said, "Well one thing is at least certain and that is, Jesus Christ lives." In that moment the words to a part of the introduction to the Book of Mormon came to my mind where it says, "Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world..." I quickly pulled out the Book of Mormon and flipped to the introduction. I handed it to him and told him to read the last two paragraphs. After doing so I just said, "Pasquale, yes, you are right! Jesus Christ lives! And this Book testifies of him and strengthens our faith in him. And if you believe in him, you certainly can believe in his words. And if you can believe in his words you can believe him when he taught us to be baptized. You can also learn to recognize and know which is his true church that you should be baptized in. But how can you know all of that?" He then referred back to the paragraph he had just read and said that we could know by reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. We went on and talked a bit more and although he didn't really accept to read the Book of Mormon I feel so good about the lesson because I know that we tried our best. Plus, lately I have been trying to become more familiar with Preach My Gospel and the Book of Mormon so that I would be able to remember those things when the moment arrives and so I was so happy to see it happen this time. I have so much hope for General conference this coming week. I am just praying that they will be touched and be able to recieve guidance during it.
That's all for this week. I would encourage all of you to bring some questions to General Conference. They will be answered! Also, go look at the church's new Easter video and share it. It's so good! Love you, Anziano Stucki.
So remember that one time a month or so ago when I said that when I went to the Amalfi coast I would bring a bag so that I didn't throw up on that crazy windy road like I did when I went Positano? Well, not only did I forget to bring a bag, but I didn't take any motion sickness pills! Not to mention Amalfi is another 30 minutes farther than Positano on that windy road. The good part of the story is though, that I made it WITHOUT throwing up! I did get pretty sick especially on the way down and my companion was asking everyone on the bus for a bag so I became famous on the bus, but we also got some cool conversations out of it. At Amalfi there are so many Americans and just tourists in general! We met two different groups/families of people from Utah, but neither of them were actually Mormon though. Haha
Allora, sometimes with all the different (and it is definitely different!!) Italian people and language and culture I entertain myself by relating it to what I consider would be its equivalent in America. So lately I've really come to love Napolitano. Napolitano is a language that they speak here and spoken in its pure form (as in not mixed with Italian words) even other native Italian speakers from other parts of Italy can't understand it. What I've kind of learned too is that Napolitano is actually considered a bit uneducated and "dirty," or maybe a bit "slangy." Anyways so this week I have decided that if Italy was America, Napoli would be like the far far down south backwoods of Georgia or Louisiana with their super having accents and stuff. Hahaha Anyways that's just my connection I made. Maybe that will help you'll understand maybe just a bit of what Napolitano is like. I love it so much!
Well this past week we had zone conference and it was one of my favorite zone conferences I've ever had in my mission! During the zone conference they had an invite which was to make a list of all the regrets from our mission and determine now how we will choose to move past them and learn from them during the small time we have left in our missions. As you can imagine making that list was not the most "fun" thing I've ever done. It was actually a bit hard especially because as missionaries we tend to be extra hard on ourselves! It has actually been a very cool experience though because I have began to realize just how much 1) they don't matter anymore 2) they weren't in my control anyways and they happened even though I was doing my best 3) despite any mistake or hardship I've ever faced in my mission I am still here and still continuing forward 4) I can move and do the best with the time I have left 4) even though I can't go back and do things over again because of the Atonement I can be forgiven and I don't need to hold the burden of those things anymore! In doing that exercise I've learned just how much I need the Atonement because really I am imperfect and cannot do this on my own. It has motivated me to try harder and do everything I can to make the most of the small and precious time that has been GIVEN to me.
This past week it has been a bit hard meeting with several of our investigators. A new thing we've started doing lately is standing outside the church and handing out English course cards to people. The church here is on a pretty busy street so a lot of people pass. We have actually had many new people coming to English course because of it! Thursday night we were doing a lesson with Rita Roberta, Ylenia, and Monica before English course when a man came in early. He asked what we were doing and we said a lesson. Then Monica the mom of Ylenia just went off explaining to him what we do as missionaries and then after English course we were actually able to do a lesson with him! It's so awesome to see your investigator who's not even a member doing missionary work.
Anyways, that's all for this one! I know God lives and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is powerful. We need to just turn to Jesus Christ. Love you, Anziano Stucki.
First things first
First things first, Rita has a baptismal date this next Saturday the 10th!!! Rita is 14 years old and has been taking the lessons for several months now. She knows all the lessons really well and we have a group chat with her, Ylenia, and then their other friend Roberta (Roberta is very close to Rita. She's also 14 and would probably get baptized on the 10th too but her mom has forbidden her until she's 18) on Messenger. Every night they read a chapter in the Book of Mormon and then write up a short summary and send it to us. Rita is almost through 2 Nefi and Roberta is about halfway through 2 Nefi. I'm so excited because I think Rita is going to get to chapter 31 about the gospel of Jesus Christ and baptism just a day or two before her baptism. The other week the zone leaders substituted and taught youth Sunday school class and they asked all the kids to raise their hand if they read the scriptures everyday. The zone leaders said that one member girl and then Rita and Roberta were the only ones who raised their hands! They are so awesome! We have also started the lessons with Rita's mom! The dad is never around when we are there, but hopefully we'll be able to start teaching him. The parents were both very supportive. Rita took her baptismal form home to have her parents sign it. She returned later with the signed document and photocopies of her parents identification cards. Haha not sure that was necessary, but it's so cool to see how serious they are taking this!
This week I have been trying to just be better at talking to people like on the metro or just walking around. I prayed to be able to be better at that and God definitely blessed me with opportunities! This past Sunday was stake conference and so the church rented a big bus for all the members to get shuttled up there. After the conference everyone was getting back on the bus and as things often happen bus seats get mixed up and it happened that me and Pasquale our investigator and also the father of Ylenia ended up sitting together in the very front of the bus (I didn't complain because on the way to Rome we had sat way in the back and I got kind of car sick). Well me and Pasquale talked for a bit and then he fell asleep. It had been a crazy busy week and many times I felt like it was hard to even just get a moment to myself to think or relax, but in this moment after stake conference and everything it just felt so relaxing and peaceful. I don't know why, but the thought came into my mind to just say a prayer. Partway through, I all of the sudden became aware of the bus driver sitting on the seat right in front of me and the assistant sitting up front too. I wondered what he thought of this whole trip and us "crazy" mormons. ;) Suddenly two sentences in Italian just formed in my mind that said to go to him, thank him for his services today, and then ask him if he knew anything about this church whose members he was driving back to Napoli. It all sounds good up until this point, but my regret is that I started thinking about other things. Into my mind came tons of random excuses about why I couldn't get up and I soon found minutes ticking by. Other people started waking up on the bus and soon that moment seemed to slip by and it felt more and more awkward to go up and talk to him. I knew I had recieved a prompting and I knew I should follow it though. A bit later we arrived back at the church in Napoli and everyone began getting off the bus. I walked off and saw the bus driver talking to some people, but I walked over to the assistant and started talking to him I asked him if he knew about this church and he said he knew nothing. I asked if he had heard of the "Mormons" and he once again said no, but then muttered something about how a quick Google Search would bring him a quick summary of the things. At that moment I was all too happy to give him pass along cards for him and his friend and to refer him to Mormon.org. I told him about our Sunday meetings too and then we left. I felt better, but still wished I had talked to him earlier. You all might wonder why I share this experience and mostly I just wanted to relate it to the talk given by member of the Area Seventy Anziano Moreira in stake conference. He told a long story of him and his search to develop Christlike attributes. He prayed and prayed to develop them and noticed more and more how God gave him experiences to help him learn those attributes. He challenged us to do the same and then said how the difficult people and situations we face are not only helpful in our quest to become like Heavenly Father, but they are 100% necessary! He said if we are maybe trying to to forgive more and someone offends us we should go to them and express our love and gratitude to them because they helped us become just a bit more like our Heavenly Father! He concluded by simply inviting us to choose to be teachable in our lives, to choose to grow and learn from our experiences, and to choose to remember the eternal perspective as we face life's trials.
I am so thankful for the trials I have faced on my mission. I am not perfect and even though I make many mistakes I am so happy with how far I have come. I am thankful that Jesus Christ loves me enough to help me become a better a person. I know that thanks to the atonement no pain or sin is permanent. It can all be washed away and we can feel pure and peaceful and not even that, but an added joy and love that only can come from the spirit.
I love you, Anziano Stucki.
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.