As always I don't have time to write about everything. Probably the highlight of this week was zone conference. I love seeing President Pickerd and it was cool to see the AP's again after not seeing them since my first day in Rome, but over all the spiritual messages were so good.
The night before zone conference we did a Gesso which is basically where you put a sheet on the ground, right a question on it, and then stop and talk to people about it as they pass by. We haven't done that in Trapani yet, but with so many missionaries here for zone conference in Palermo, it was so fun! It also helps me improve my Italian so much. At one particular time during the evening, I stopped and talked to two guys who looked about my age. They didn't believe in God and didn't really believe in any purpose for life. There was another missionary who came over to talk to them with me. He had only been out one more transfer than me so pretty much both of our Italian was horrible. At first the two boys seemed more annoyed, or amused by the two Americans trying to talk in Italian, but somehow we just kept talking to them and understanding what they said just enough. At one point, one of them turned to me directly and asked if this gospel has benefited me in my life. I was so proud to bear my testimony that the gospel has without a doubt changed my life for the better. As me and the other missionary walked away after talking to them, all we could do was think how blessed we were that somehow despite our weaknesses and inabilities, God had magnified our efforts and done something amazing.
There are many things I would like to share from zone conference, but one of the best parts was towards the end as they talked to us about hastening the work as the Rome temple continues to make progress in construction. I couldn't help but think how lucky I have been to grow up surrounded by not just one or two, but many temples! The idea that when we're up in the Wasatch Valley we can even choose which temple we want to go to is incomprehensible for the people here. It is so strange to me to see so many people here who have been married for years but have never even recieved their endowments. The temple here is going to get a crazy amount of usage from the very day it is dedicated. In my zone, I think there are all American's except one who is an Italian. As the discussion moved to the temple, this Italian missionary shared a comment about how much he loves all the American missionaries, but with a slight laugh he said, "I really want more Italian missionaries." The significance of that sunk deep inside me. I know as we reach out to others to bring them into the church, the blessings of this gospel go so much farther than just having the knowledge of the truth on a bad day, just baptism the day they're baptized, just recieving the Holy Ghost, or even going to the temple and recieving the ordinances there. These blessings reach throughout the generations of our family who came before us and who will come after us. The blessings of the gospel are so much more than a one and done thing. It is a process as we go through our life and then raise children and bring them up in the gospel all the while reaching out to those around us who are in need. I am so thankful to be here among these people. Even when I honestly wonder if I am helping the work or just causing the Lord more problems (haha), I'm thankful that of all the miraculous things God can do, He let's me play a part in this great work and gives me a front row seat to see how He is touching hearts and changing the masses.
I love you all! By the way, I don't know if you've seen it, but the church has a really cool short video of the day they placed the Angel Moroni on top of the temple if you would like to watch it!
Have a great week, Anziano Stucki
This week was Easter here in Trapani and the town got overrun! Every Easter in Italy they have a huge 24-hr parade that goes from Friday to Saturday afternoon. They have huge bands playing, but the highlight of the parade is 12 statues each portraying different parts of Christ's life, or the Madonna, or other scenes. Apparently Trapani and Madrid Spain are the only two places where they have these statues so people come from all over the world to see these. It was so fun to be around all the festivities! There were the many different people, cultures, and languages and then just us two to Americans. Haha We went down to Storico Centro Friday evening where all the festivities were taking place to do finding, but it was very crowded and most people didn't want to talk with the parade going on so we started slowing making our way across town back to our apartment. We walked several blocks passing many people but there was this one guy that looked about our age who seemed like he was walking our same way. I didn't think to talk to him particularly and I didn't think he would be that interested, but Anziano Melling started a conversation with him. Turns out, he was actually extremely interested in our church. Over the next several blocks, we recited the 1st version, talked about the Book of Mormon and basically taught the whole Restoration lesson. It was so awesome! It was a testimony to me that you really just don't know who will or will not be interested.
Saturday morning as we were having daily planning, we talked about going to a neighboring city called Marsala to visit a less-active. We tried calling him before to make sure he would be there, but he didn't answer. We weren't sure if we should make the trip all the way down and just show up at his door, or if it would be a better use of our time to just stay in Trapani. We decided to pray about it. I remembered a quote that dad said in a recent letter where so often the correct prompting is the first one. Well, we finished the prayer and I just felt good about it. We decided to go down. Turns out, the less-active was in fact not home and we were not able to get ahold of him. We went to some other less-actives though. These other less-actives in fact had asked before to have their records removed so we were pretty sure they weren't interested in meeting us, but we went anyways. When we rang the citifono the wife just quickly talked to us over the speaker and said she didn't have time right then because she was heading to work. Having made all our visits we headed back to the train station to go to Trapani. The whole time however, I just felt good about our decision to come. And as it turned out, we were so blessed! As we were walking back to the station we were stopped by a man on the street who was very interested in our church and wanted to learn more. But the best was yet to come when several hours after returning to Trapani, the husband of the wife called and said he had been at work and was sorry he had missed us and that he really wanted to meet with us! I don't know what happened in his heart to cause this change, but somehow his heart had been opened and he was ready. God helps us so much!
Well, today was Pasquetta in Italy. It's the day where they celebrate Jesus Christ ascending into heaven. The members were mortified that we didn't get invited to pranzo on Pasqua. Haha so some members insisted that we come feast at their house today even though it was P-day. They take such good care of us!
Love you all, Anziano Stucki.
The other day we met some Canadians here vacationing for Easter. It was fun to talk to some real English-speakers! We didn't know they were Canadians at first and that they only spoke English. They freaked out when we approached them speaking Italian. Haha Easter is so big here!! We are so excited for all the opportunities it will give us.
One night while finding we heard a women speaking English. We were suspicious because she spoke English very well but had an accent. We talked to her and turns out she works at the school here. One of our investigators sons is in her English class (all the students take English classes here). She had heard good things about us and invited us to come to the high school the next day to speak English with her students. We went and it was so fun! We weren't allowed to talk about the gospel in the school but we met so many youth.
I feel like I haven't talked about the culture very much. There are so many things I love, but one of my favorites is so often when Italians are talking to each other they refer to those that are close to them with phrases like, vita mia (my life), tesoro mio (my treasure), goia mia (my joy), caro mio (my dear), and with us they'll sometimes say Anziani miei (my elders). I love it!! Haha
Have a good week!! Love, Anziano Stucki.
Ciao tutto!!! So much happened this week!
On Wednesday we went to another town in our area about an hour south called Mazzara del Vallo to see some less-actives. We went to one of the houses and they didn't answer. We went to our next less-active and he didn't either. I had the thought to look down at a door farther down. We knocked on it and it was him! Turns out we just had the wrong house number. He has severe diabetes and has lost one of His legs so he has to stay in a wheelchair. This man hasn't been to church for many years and has basically forgotten everything. We taught him about prayer. It was one of the simplest and purest lessons I've taught. I remember teaching how he could pray to God and ask Him for help with anything and that God would help him. This man looked at us with almost a childlike expression of joy as tears formed in his eyes and he asked us hopefully, "I can pray and recieve help from God?" My appreciation for prayer increased so much. I have never seen someone so happy to be able to pray! Even the knowledge that may seem so simple to us, could be the sweetest thing for someone else to know! I remembered feeling a bit disappointed earlier when it seemed like we wouldn't be able to see any of the less-actives after making the whole trip down. But, as I sat there in that lesson with this man, I remember the Spirit came so strong and told me very clearly that that was the reason I was there. If only to talk to one person on that trip, these were God's children and they are worth the world to Him. For Him, it was totally worth the trip.
Conference was so good!! We were able to watch the Sunday and Saturday morning sessions live at 6:00 in the evening for us. It was so awesome to see the prophet! It was also kind of weird seeing so many Americans. Haha
I have so many thoughts on conference but if I had to choose a favorite it would be the talk by Joy J. Jones. Honestly, when she began her talk I was tempted to just sit back a bit because it seemed that her message was more for parents, but as I listened it resonated in me so much! There is so much power in keeping our word! Especially for me as a missionary, I have recieved a call from the Lord and I have agreed to fulfill it. When I have a harder day, I am tired, or I'm tempted to not be as obedient because I think that I know what's better, I can always fall back on the fact that I will do it because I said I would. Sometimes, we may hesitate to fulfill a calling or responsibility because we don't see the direct benefits of it. We rationalize and doubt it because we can't really see a positive motivation to do it. When that time comes, we can remember the simple and powerful fact, that we can do it because, to the Lord, we said we would. And God has promised that when He gives a commandment He will always provide a way. That two-way promise brings a lot of peace and stability in the changes and trials of life.
Love you! Anziano Stucki.
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.