It's been another week! Things are going well here in Rome.
This past week was so full! On Wednesday we did a zone afternoon of finding. Pretty much from 4:30 in the afternoon until 9:30 at night our whole zone just went out on the streets and did finding in our various areas whether it was on the bus, the street, the metro, parks, anywhere! We were all connected too because we had a zone WhatsApp group and everytime each companionship made attempt to talk to someone (whether it was successful or not) they sent the stop sign emoji or if we gave a Book of Mormon away we sent the Book emoji or for a citifono rung the house emoji. Haha it was fun and as you can imagine basically all evening the chat was blowing up! For me and Anziano Castro, after doing finding for several hours straight had had several good conversations, but we hadn't received any new contacts. We found ourselves in this kind of abandoned park when it started raining. We felt pretty discouraged and went under some trees and sat on a bench to reevaluate our progress and talk about what we could do differently. We said a prayer together and then began talking to people again. We left the park soon after and then it started raining once more. We ran to stand under the overhang of an apartment building roof. It was raining a lot so we finally decided it would be best to finish out the evening just talking to people in the good'ole underground dry metro. When there was a break in the rain we headed down a street that we thought would take us to a bus stop where we could take a bus to get to the metro. On the way we ran into a man and asked him where the nearest bus stop was. We began talking to him and he asked who we were. He spoke English and so we started talking about how he had studied and school. Then his friend came along who also spoke English. The conversation after awhile came to an end and they started to say goodbye when I interrupted them and just asked if we could leave them with a Book of Mormon. I gave a brief explanation about what it was and added how much it had had a positive impact on my life. Anziano Castro then came in with the most amazing testimony and they happily agreed to take them. It was the coolest experience and let me know that God answers our prayers and is guiding us to where we need to go so that we can meet the people we need to meet.
Secondly, we had another really cool experience on Thursday when we did a scambio with the zone leaders (since Anziano Castro is the district leader). We started Thursday evening with me staying in our area with Anziano Baker. Well, we had a lesson with Ali our Egyptian investigator so we went right away to the Colosseum to meet him. As we were walking by we met a returned missionary who had served here 6 years ago. He is actually from Green River which was kind of cool. He wanted a picture with us and then we headed on our way. It was only a small moment and soon I forgot about the whole thing as we went on with the scambio. About 24 hours later we were finishing the scambio and me and Anziano Baker were on the metro heading to our predetermined meeting point where we would re-swap companions. I was sitting down on the metro and Anziano Baker had just finished talking to a man when another man, who I noticed had been listening to their conversation, pulled out his smart phone and asked Anziano Baker, "Ma questi siete voi?" (Is this you guys?) Anziano Baker just had the most shocked look on his face. I got up and walked over to see what they were looking at and I saw on this man's phone on his Facebook, a picture of me and Anziano Baker with that returned missionary from the day before, standing in front of the Colosseum!!!! It was the craziest most unbelievable moment ever!! Turns out that man was a convert of that returned missionary 6 years ago! They were friends on Facebook and somehow within a 24-hour period we ended up running into both of them and in the most miraculous way!!!! Hah the sad part is this man has since stopped going to church. He didn't even want to meet with the missionaries, but still he gave us his Facebook so who knows! Obviously some pretty miraculous things can really happen on Facebook! 😁 I know the fact that we met was for a reason. We will do the best we can and just pray for him and pray that we can have patience.
Anyways, those were just two miracles from this week. My last note is: this week I finished reading Il Libro di Mormon (The Book of Mormon) in Italian for the first time! I was so excited!!! It has been an adventure from reading those first verses in the MTC and understanding less of the Isaiah chapters than I ever have, until the last chapters of the book of Moroni where I sometimes would almost forget what language I was reading in. I know that my Italian isn't the only thing that Book has helped me with. :) That book has shaped me as a person and missionary. I am not the same person I was when I first started reading it. I know it is true because I followed the instructions in Moroni 10 and prayed after I read it and I felt in my heart the spirit telling me it is true. I invite you all to read it and pray about it.
Love you, Anziano Stucki.
I am just going to write really quickly because we have a short p-day today. Wednesday is Ferragosto so pretty everything is closed and it's also that time where the mission wants us to do a deep cleaner of our apartments. So since we will be doing that on Wednesday we have a shorter p-day today so we can get more work done.
Anyways, we did have transfers last week. I am still here in Roma 2, but I got a new companion! He is Anziano Castro from......Milan!!!! I always wanted to have an Italian companion. I figured after so many transfers coming and going without me getting one it was just never going to happen. Well, not only is Anziano Castro my companion, but he is also in my group! We didn't go to the MTC together (Italians go to the one in Madrid and just for like 2 or 3 weeks), but we arrived in Rome at the same time and spent the first few days of training together. Anziano Castro is originally from El Salvador, but since age 3 he has lived in Italy so he is definitely Italian through and through. I stinkin love it!! I feel like I am getting to experience the culture in a deeper way that I never have before. He speaks Italian, Spanish, and English fluently and then Portuguese, Chinese, and French on varying levels. We established kind of right off that we would speak English in the house and Italian out of the house. My Italian is literally sky-rocketing! I feel so so lucky to have this opportunity because there are not very many Italian missionaries in our mission. His Italian is also pretty different though. Northern Italy, but especially Milan, has a different accent. It's a lot more distinct and the pronunciation is more pointed if that makes sense. To make a comparison, Milan could be like a British accent, Rome could be like a Utah accent, Napoli could be like a hillbilly, and Sicily could be like just a Southern accent. Haha
One quick story, this past week we did an finding exercise with some other missionaries in our zone on the metro. So we got into pairs and then basically did a loop. We would get on at a stop called Repubblica ride it three stops down to a stop called Flaminio (it takes about 4 minutes) and then at Flaminio we would walk over to the metro going the opposite direction and ride it back to Repubblica. We did this riding back and forth between the two stops for about 40 minutes. The objective was to get on and then just start a conversation with someone. We would do our best to bring up the gospel and get their number and then get off at Repubblica or Flaminio depending on which direction we were going. We could stay on the metro and ride down farther with them if we felt really impressed to, but then we would return back and keep doing the loop between Repubblica and Flaminio. What we did we actually is we had each companionship take a different train (the trains pass like every 2 minutes) and then the companions were even advised to spread out just a bit from each other (obviously still within sight and sound) on the metro. It was such an amazing practice to just discover how I personally like approaching people and doing finding. I felt more free not having another missionary right beside me so I could just relax and focus on the person I wanted to talk to. After this exercise we all regrouped and then discussed tips or tricks we discovered. I loved it a lot! It made me really examine how I do things. I loved how they just encouraged us to be ourselves as we approached these people. We are all missionaries, but we are different people with different gifts and we each bring things to the table. Anyways, I just wanted to share that with y'all because I thought it was so interesting and I want to add my testimony that there are people who want to hear this message and we are all called to stand as witnesses and share it. I know God helps us.
Alma 32:27 "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire..., let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can...."
I love you all! Anziano Stucki
This week I wanted to just talk about one lesson we had with our friend Reza. He is from Iran. This is the first time that I have been able to meet him during my whole time here because he has been very busy with exams. He is here studying to be a nurse. He speaks English perfectly and is learning Italian. When I met him, almost the first thing he said to me was, "Your president is sending attacks on my country everyday." It was kind of awkward for a second, but not that awkward because he didn't seem upset about it. I tried to lighten things up though and added that I'd be sure to call Trump and tell him to stop. :) He went on to explain the very difficult situation in his country and that he loved Trump because he was the only one who was doing anything about it. Haha I'm not updated enough on the news and all, but I thought it was an interesting conversation nonetheless. There is something so humbling about hearing so many good and bad things about different groups of people around the world, and then one day actually meeting one yourself. You realize just how much you have in common and how the gospel of Jesus Christ applies to them just as much as it applies to you. I am so grateful for the knowledge that we are all children of God and that invites every single person on this whole earth to come to Him. Well, Reza went on to explain how he feels that he has been guided here to Italy. He told about how hard it was to leave his family (and he will never be permitted into the country again if he wants to return). He has had many experiences in which he felt like giving up, but he heard this voice that just said, "Keep going!" Well, a couple months ago he saw some missionaries on a bus and noticed something special about them. Something he hadn't noticed in any other church before. He approached them and got their information. They taught him awhile very slowly because he doesn't have a Christian base, but they taught him all of the Restoration and now a month or so later we got to meet with him. When we met him this time he actually got after us because we hadn't been contacting him enough! He told us how important these things were to him and how he wants to become a good man who tries to make other's lives better just like Joseph Smith did. :) I just can't believe that weeks ago when we tried to set up an appointment with him we thought he wasn't making time for us because he wasn't interested! He really just has the tightest schedule and even now we will only be able to see him every other week or so, but we will keep doing our best! It's just so amazing to me to see people like this who have literally been led by God to meet us and hear the message. Even if there are some countries where the church is not permitted to go, there are so many from those very places who our message still makes it to!
Love you all, Anziano Stucki
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.