Well I did get transferred. They say "All roads lead to Rome." All I can say is, "That's true, but apparently mine also leads to Pescara!" Haha for those of you who don't know your Italy geography, Pescara is located in on the east coast of Italy by the Adriatic sea. If you care about compasses, it's a bit more north than Rome. By bus it's about two and half hours from Rome. It's a lot smaller than Rome. There is no metro and the buses are a lot more scant, but there are no gypsies so I'm not complaining! Random fact, the city center has so many gelaterias! Not even joking, in like a square mile there are probably 30 gelaterias. That is definitely the highest concentration I have ever seen. For now I am considering that a blessing, but my bank account and bathroom scales might tell me differently in a month or two. Other random fact: We live like 1 minutes walk from the church and like 2 minutes walk from my favorite Italian grocery store (Lidl) so I'm also really excited about that! Haha Here there is us and a companionship of sister missionaries. My new companion is Anziano Heywood from Meysa, Arizona. He is so awesome! He is in his fourth transfer, but already knows Italian so well! He is also very spiritual and good at following the lessons in Preach My Gospel. Let's just say, I think the Italians are rubbing off on me a bit and I have the tendency to wander around in lessons a lot. Haha I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve with him.
The church here is actually doing very well. There is a ward and they have an actual church building! As I said, the city is small, but there are also a lot of other little cities around it where various members live. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve here at Pescara. There is work to be done! Funny thing is, I have never been so determined in my life to push through this! We don't have many investigators and we need to improve the relationship with the members and missionaries. All I can say is, this city doesn't know what hit it! We have been trying so hard to talk to everyone on the street. I have never been so outgoing in my life! Haha I have definitely been praying a lot too.
One night we exited the house and just had the impression to go a direction that we usually don't go. We kind of walked up this hill and there was no one. We pulled out our map and decided to walk down a road to our left. We went down there and met a few people. We tried talking to them, but they just waved us off. We walked down to a busier road. We crossed one lane and then were standing in this little divider when a lady walking her dog crossed the lane coming towards us. She too stopped on the little divider between the lanes. When she saw us she just came up and asked if we needed any directions. We said that we weren't we were just out talking a walk to go and share our message with people. We started talking and she expressed how much she just had given up on God. She said she had searched him so much, but didn't feel like he ever answered her. She said she saw us though and just wondered how we could do something hard like this and have such conviction. What was the power that motivated us and that she couldn't seem to find? We just bore testimony that God is there and that He loves us too much to let us wander, and that if we search for Him we can find Him. We talked about a lot of other things too. It was just so cool to see how we were led to her.
I know God is leading us! We just have to follow the spirit. It will help us know what to say and what to do.
Love you, Anziano Stucki
What a week! I definitely had some very interesting experiences this week that I have never had before. We'll start off with the saddest one and then end with the best. 😉
I don't even know how to go into this, but I'll just start by saying I think the Lord must have heard my complaints about my bag being too heavy and annoying to carry around, because in His mercy, my bag got stolen this week! He also was merciful enough to give me a spiritual prompting to NOT leave my bag unattended in the chapel of our church as we walked outside onto the patio behind the church where some video producers for the church were going to be interviewing and filming my companion to make a short Italian Mormon message, but I ignored it! I have learned this week that there are times where you recieve a spiritual prompting and follow it and it increases your testimony, but there are other times where you recieve a very clear spiritual prompting and don't follow it and then the consequences teach you and hopefully strengthen your testimony! All I can say is, some say that the Spirit isn't real. I say that the bag, wallets, and keys that I don't have tell me differently. Alright, since you're all probably dying I will just say that pretty much as we were out behind the church building while these workers for the church were interviewing and filming my companion, I left my bag on this table in the chapel after we had just finished district counsel meeting. I am always SO SO careful about not getting robbed. Trust me. We see someone either get robbed or almost get robbed everyday by the gypsies on the metro. You will never see ME walk on the metro without putting my bag in front of me and holding it with both hands. To be honest, this time in church I felt this extra feeling that went beyond the usual caution that I take about protecting my stuff. My companion, as I found out later, felt it too and hid his tablet under a chair before we went out behind the church. Well, I justified leaving it on the table because there were several other missionaries around who had to do a few things in the church. So (all unbeknownst to me as I am outside with my companion and the filmers) the missionaries inside see this man enter the church (when we are in church for meetings we often leave the front door open so people can come in). He is a member and works for the church and just had to take a few measurements so they waved him off and went back to whatever they were doing. Well, a bit later, I don't know how long, another man comes in. Thinking he is also a worker they politely salute him and go off to whatever they were doing in another part of the church, all while I am outside. Well, a bit later the other missionaries inside the church apparently left. I'm not sure how long it was after that, but at some point I happened to look through this big glass window in the corridor of the church and see a man lightly jog out of the front door of the building holding a bag at his side. Several weird emotions and thoughts just went through my mind. My gut instinct said, "That guy kind of looks like he just stole something." The other side of me said, "He was not running very fast at all and he was running so relaxed." Plus, I was able to actually get a good look at the bag and it was grey and looked smaller than my bag (which is brown). I went through the thoughts in my head for about 5 to 10 minutes. I was also standing behind the camera and they happened to be filming and in order to walk around to enter the building I would have had to walk past the camera, so I waited. I grew more and more uneasy until finally when they had a break in filming I walked away for a minute and went inside just to check on things. To my hoar, when I went inside, my bag, where I had left it hanging on a chair, was gone! I have been with a missionary before who got his backpack stolen last transfer, so I guess you could say I "knew the drill." Hah my first thought went to my credit cards, but I had to be sure it was actually stolen. I began searching all over the church to make sure I hadn't just misplaced it as I also pulled out our phone and starting calling all the companionships in our district to make sure they hadn't accidentally grabbed it. When they confirmed that they hadn't seen it, I called the mission office and asked them to cancel my church credit card. In order to cancel my personal credit card though I myself would have to call and since our cellphones can't make international calls, I had to get over to the mission office so I could use their phone. Luckily at that point, my companion and the filmers had finished filming the segments they needed outside. I explained to them what happened and they were so nice. They paused everything and we jumped in their car and they took us to the office so we could call my dear American bank. I felt pretty good up until that point, but as I started thinking about all the things I had lost it was pretty upsetting. I was thankful most of all because, even though my tablet was sitting right on the table in front of the bag, the guy only took my bag (there were also a couple other bags and tablets of other missionaries lying around, but he just took my bag)! After taking care of everything at the mission office, we had to get lunch and they also wanted to take more clips of us just walking around and doing normal everyday stuff. We walked into this pizzeria and they began filming us as we ordered pizza from the man at the cash register. I didn't know to laugh or cry as I just told myself, "Ok. Just stand here, get some pizza, and smile as if you didn't just get robbed!" 😂 I never knew missionary life could feel so glamorous as, with all cameras up and going, they told us to go stand on the other side of the street and then cross back over when their weren't any cars passing. Hahaha Well, after several hours of filming we finished and then ran off to the police station to file a report (it was especially important for this because in my bag that was stolen there was my Italian residence permit and the police can give me a paper that will help me get a new one extra quick). Well the miracle of it all is that just as we were finishing up at the police station our mission president's wife, Sorella Pickerd, called us and said excitedly, "Anziano Stucki I have your wallet!!" Pretty much, some man had found it laying on the ground by a dumpster near the mission home (about a kilometer from the church). The man must have seen my residence permit and knowing that there are two Americans living near there must have thought to give it to them. That was a huge blessing! My credit cards and money were gone, but I got back my residence permit, temple recommend, drivers license, and a €30 gift card to an anonymous favorite Italian store. 😉
Well, please don't worry about me. I am doing well. I am a bit frustrated about the money I lost, but in the end, I didn't lose anything of great monetary value so it really isn't that bad. I have kind of been praying every night that the man who took my bag won't figure out that in that bag there is a full set of keys for the church that he stole it out of, and that I won't get a call some morning from a bishop about how the church got vandalized last night. I think they are going to change the locks on the church soon. Yeah, about that, let's just say I'm kind of becoming famous among the bishops here in Rome. Apart from the things I lost, I guess you could say the one thing that I have gained from this experience, that I didn't have before, is a vivid understanding of how important it is to follow the Spirit. It really is a protector. So often I think of it as a protection spiritually, because he is a spirit, but thankfully for us, he is much more; he will protect us physically and temporally. We just have to listen to him.
Wow, that story took a lot more space than I expected. I am just a firm believer that if you're going to tell a story you've got to tell it right! Hah Speaking of which, I said I was going to end this with the best part of the week. That would be yesterday when Bishop Waddell of the presiding bishopric came and spoke at our stake conference and then did a special meeting with the missionaries later that afternoon. It was one of the most spiritual meetings I have had in a long time. I could not be more grateful to have heard his advice at this point in my mission especially seeing that this evening I will probably get a transfer call to my last city in Italy. Before I get off topic though, I would like to just include some of my notes from his talks. He talked a lot about gathering scattered Israel. He shared the scripture that says "My elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts." He also shared with us 15 words from Jesus Christ that basically teach us everything we need to know about follow God and observing our covenants. I don't have time to include the scripture references for these phrases, but here they are. Bishop Waddell also added a comment saying, "Convenient and covenant are not often found in the same phrase."
"Here am I. Send me." -I will do it as you say. I won't change the conditions.
"Not my will, but thine be done." -I will do it your way.
"It is finished." -He didn't stop until it was completed.
Bishop Waddell concluded by saying how we will be able to look back on this experience (our missions) and say, "I can do hard things, with the Lord's help."
If I am learning anything from my mission, that is one of the biggest lessons! I know God can help do what is necessary. The point is that we need to just do what is necessary.
I love you all! Anziano Stucki
Oh family, I always have all these cool stories and experiences that I want to tell you during the week, but then when P-day comes I can't think of anything. Haha
I am literally just looking through our planner to see what interesting things we did this week. Hah
Allora, this past week we had zone conference. Purtroppo I didn't get any pictures, but it was awesome! They talked a lot about loving our mission and seizing the day. In my interview with president he just asked me what my biggest concerns were. I said I just wanted to finish strong. He gave me advice as always and promised me that at some time or another I would have a confirmation that my mission was successful. I thought a lot about that as I went into zone conference the next day. We went through most if the conference and all the trainings and testimonies were good, but I didn't feel especially impacted by anyone in particular. It wasn't until the very end of the conference when there were the missionaries who will be going home this transfer bearing their testimonies. This time it was a sister missionary who bore a simple and powerful testimony of Jesus Christ and the Atonement. I don't even remember what she said that made me think this, but I suddenly thought about many many people who I have met in my mission who, when they pray about the church or about the Book of Mormon search for signs to prove to them that these things are true. I also thought of how we are so often warned to not look for signs, but that those who believe without great signs will be blessed. It is a very wide misunderstanding and it can be frustrating with all the people we meet who think like this. In the moment a thought came to me that I had never considered. I realized that that is the way I was thinking! I looked at this sister missionary who had been an outstanding missionary. Her mission had been built from the bottom up of small but numerous acts. I realized that mine was like that too. I didn't need to search for a one or two big moments that define my mission, but rather continue to do the small things that contribute to the final outcome.
Also, this past week we also had a very unique experience. Thursday was the most packed day ever. We had quite a few lessons and had to run around everywhere. We went around to different things in the morning and had a couple of lessons and then didn't return home until about 3:30. We hadn't eaten lunch yet and (long story short we were trying to save money last week and so we didn't buy very much food, but maybe we tried a little too hard because we kind of just had a lot of random wierd foods so I couldn't find very much to eat and kind of just didn't eat very much food at all for breakfast haha) we were just going to go make food really quickly when our zone leaders called and said there were some missionaries from Slovakia who had an Italian investigator who didn't speak Slovakian at all and English only a little, and so they wanted to do a Skype lesson with us, them, and her so we could communicate to her better since we speak Italian. We agreed and then a bit later the Slovakian missionaries called us and we talked with them for a bit about the Italian woman (Antonella was a her). The lesson was going to be at 5:00 and by the time we ended up finishing talking to them on the phone it was 4 and we still hadn't eaten! I swear there were angels helping me as chopped up peppers, potatoes, and onions practically flew from the cutting board to the frying pan. I ate at fast as I could and then we rushed out the door to go to the church's institute building where we could use Wifi. We arrived just in time and we began the call. The other missionaries just kind of sat off to the side and we just went off talking to her in Italian. She is from Northern Italy and just moved there to Slovakia because of her husband's work. After awhile we handed it back over to the other missionaries and they taught her the lesson they had prepared as we translated and expounded everything in Italian. It was such a unique and cool experience. Antonella was so nice. She has A LOT of doubts though. We focused a lot on just how she can recieve a testimony of these things. We invited her to pray and read the Book of Mormon, but she wasn't convinced that that would help her. She even doubted if God even existed or if she could recieve an answer from him. We invited her to just try it and she kind of just said, "We'll see!" We had a long conversation with her and finally at the end just invited her to say the closing prayer. She did and in it said that she hoped something good would come out of these lessons. That's kind of where we are at with her. We can definitely promise her that good things will come out of this, but she will need to do something if she wants to find out for herself. Anyways, it wasn't at all the outcome we wanted from the lesson, but it was a really cool experience and we should have another call this week so we will pray that things go better and that she can just exercise a little bit of faith!!
Anyways, that is my assaggio for y'all this week.
Love you, Anziano Stucki.
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.