This week was exciting! Because of transfers we got put in a trio with Anziano Bacon for the first half of the week here in Pescara. That was exciting. Being in a trio always adds a different dynamic to things.
Later on in the week we did a lesson with Emanuela, a Brasilian member, and her non-member Italian husband, Adamo. In light of the suggestion from our ward mission leader, we decided to invite Adamo to be baptized. He has been coming to church for years. He knows our church extremely well, but we don't think he has ever been officially invited to be baptized so we decided to try! For the lesson we started out by reading Mosiah 18. We read the first ten verses and then began talking tabout baptism. It was super intense but we just went for it and invited him to be baptized and do the necessary things in order to prepare for it. I half expected him to just say we were crazy and deny it, or have a change of heart and say yes. Well he did neither and just responded saying that he's never really felt like he needed to and that he just doesn't see the point. Well, we explained many things to him including the fact that baptism is one of the necessary steps to having an eternal family, but he didn't really say much. It was kind of sad because Emanuela kind of went off on him for a bit telling him he needs to do this or that. In the end though, it has to be Adamo's choice. He did commit to start praying consistently everyday though. It's a small step, but it's the right step. We will just have to be patient and do some praying of our own!
The highlight of the week was for sure last night. I'm not even sure how to put this, but pretty much we got invited to a birthday party of a Nigerian member's 4-year old daughter. Now if that sounds like it might be boring, I will tell you very quickly that it wasn't! It all started when on Sunday in church we went up to the mom, Tessy, to see when we could come by that week to do a LESSON with them. This family is so so busy and we have literally been trying to get an appointment with them for weeks. She was in a hurry to leave, but mumbled something about how we could actually come to their house that night because her daughter was turning 4 and they wanted to have a little party. Well, we decided to go. We were planning on doing a gesso with the district at 6:30 so we thought we would just drop by and then head off to centro where the gesso would be. Well, when we got there, we went into the frontroom and there is a bunch of Nigerians all gathered together, some sitting some standing. Many of them were decked out in fancy African dresses. I don't know how to describe it all, but pretty much they were praying for the little girl whose birthday it was. Praying doesn't seem like the right word though. You could say they were "calling down blessings" upon the girl. At certain points there was one who was speaking a prayer while all the others would be shouting "Amens" and "Hallelujah's." Then they would break out into a ton of individual but still spoken prayers and then sing some hymns that I didn't know. Well, that was the first 15 minutes of the party. Then my companion was asked to give the opening prayer. All I have to say, is it seemed like the most boring prayer I have ever heard in my life. He got a handful of "Amens" and "Hallelujah's" so I don't think the Nigerians would have agreed, but then the Sorelle who un-beknownst to us had also shown up gave a spiritual thought. Then us and the Sorelle sang I Stand All Amazed. I also felt like our performance was pretty lame for that hymn too. 😉 Well, the party got more hyped as we gathered everyone around the table to sing Happy Birthday and have the cutting of the cake. At the top of our lungs we spelled/yelled the letters of, "JESUS" and when we arrived at the last "S" the adorable 4-year old birthday girl brought the knife down on the pink frosted cake and cut it. As the chants and singing got loud and as I began rethinking everything I have ever thought that made a good birthday party, someone pulled out a big sparkling bottle with some clear liquid and began pouring everyone a glass. Now, I may not be the expert on my alcoholic beverages, but two years in Italy has definitely taught me what a bottle of champagne looks like. Nightmare visions started passing through my mind as I thought of the scene of us, headaches and dizzy showing up drunk to the gesso that evening and about the headlines of "District leader and companion get drunk at African party with two sister missionaries, one in the first week of her mission...." Ok. PAUSE! PAUSE!!! Don't freak out. I refused it, they showed it to me and read that it didn't have alcohol so I ended up drinking a sip. It definitely wasn't alcohol. It just tasted like sparkling cider. Anyways, time is up!
I have to go. Please don't worry about me. It was all good.
Love you! Anziano Stucki
Our mission decided to change some things and so we now receive transfer calls Monday morning instead of Monday night. That being said, I will be sticking it out hear in the beautiful city of Pescara with my dear companion Anziano Heywood! This transfer is kind of a fun one because there are, no joke, 25 new sister missionaries coming in this week!!!! Then next transfer there is like 30 missionaries going home (about half and half anziani and sorelle). That is a lot of turn over in a short amount of time! The reason why there are so many sister missionaries coming in is because they, or at least many of them, are visitor center missionaries for the temple! We are all just praying that they can learn Italian in time for the open house in January. In light of that, our mission has also made a big intuitive to push everyone to speak Italian more so now, from 10 in the morning until 9 at night unless we absolutely need to, we are supposed to speak Italian (P-days, companionship studies, and weekly plannings excluded). Exciting times!
I don't know how to sum up this week. It's been interesting with a lot of ups and downs. Fun fact, a man named Camillo from Switzerland (he is originally from Italy though) came to church here on Sunday and he knows a ton of Stucki's in Switzerland!!! He is not a member, but has a lot friends in the church here in Pescara and agreed to let us come to his house here near Pescara to talk about the gospel. I didn't know why, but I felt strongly that we should bring a member to the appointment. We spent half of the week trying to find a member to come with us/give us a ride, but no one could so we took a train to the city of Manoppello where he leaves. We only had two hours to be with Camillo (which for an Italian meal appointment is no time!! haha) so we ate quickly and then got ready to share our message. Well, before we could start, his brother who by the way was also there and who is a member of our church, but less-active, started talking with Camillo about the missionary rules. The fact that they were even talking about the mission rules was pretty pointless and ridiculous especially because Camillo started getting really heated and started talking bad about them. I just thought to myself, "Wow if he is so against our mission rules, which don't even apply to him, I feel like we are not going to get anywhere with him with talking about our church's gospel..." To my disappointment but not to my surprise, a second later they started talking about certain commandments that we have in the church. His brother kind of defended the church, but was content in saying that even though he understood the reasoning behind the commandments, he was content and convinced that he couldn't and wouldn't follow them. Camillo went on and on bashing the commandments and our church. Up until that point I hadn't really said much, but I quickly came out and pretty much just said, that in the end it just depends if you believe Joseph Smith was called by God or not. That was the only thing I got to say. Camillo just exploded. Cutting me off he went on to deny everything and continue bashing. After a minute or say we offered to say a prayer and then rushed out the door to catch our train back to Pescara.
The next day in church was my favorite. We sat in the chapel waiting for our investigators to come. To our disappointment the meeting soon started, but none of them arrived. The first two talks came and went. Then me and the two sister missionaries got up to do a musical number. We had chosen to sing, Joseph Smith's First Prayer to a favorite arrangement of Come Thou Fount that I had acquired from a missionary months ago. Me and one of the sister missionaries sang and the other sister missionary played the piano. My companion didn't participate at all. I feel bad, but I know he definitely preferred it that way. Hahaha anyways, I got up there and I sang as good as I possibly could. I tried to look at each person in the congregation in their eye as I bore my testimony of the Restoration of the gospel through song. The spirit came so strong. I thought about the night before as I listened to Camillo talk so rudely about things he didn't even understand and about the gospel and church that I love. I thought about how he interrupted me and how, being a native speaker, spued out ideas and phrases in Italian much faster than I could. I smiled as I sang knowing in that moment there was no one who would interrupt me and that my testimony would be accepted and recognized. Anyone with a pure heart wouldn't be able to deny the power of the Spirit as it declared that what we were singing was true. After we sang the last note, the room that was filled, was permeated by a profound silence. Several people had tears in their eyes. In the right moment and in the right place we had borne our testimonies and the impact it had was very apparent by the undeniable power and warmth of the spirit that filled the whole room.
I think often to the words of Jeffrey R. Holland when he talks about the "songs sung and unsung." Sometimes our song is unsung because we are simply lazy and don't take advantage of the opportunities before us. Other times our songs are unsung because we simply don't have the strength. Try as we might, we never quite succeed at voicing them. But sometimes, last of all, our songs are unsung because others simply reject it and maybe even drown it out with a cacophony of doubt and bitterness. I also take a lot of comfort thinking back on another talk by by Anziano Holland. Even though we may try as hard as we can to sing our best and not "die with our music still in us", in the gospel, we always get credit for trying! And that is the basic and most fundamental lesson that we can ever learn. We never lose until we quite trying. We must never get discovered when things don't go as planned and it seems like our efforts have been fruitless. God sees our desire and he knows our hearts. He hears all the songs, those that sung and those that are unsung. I invite you all to never give up trying and doing what's right! I know God notices and the good news is that He blesses us for it.
I love you all! Have a good week.
One thing, awhile ago the church came out and said that the "missionary library" for studies has been expanded to basically anything in Gospel Library. In light of that, I have decided to start reading the churches new book "Saints," but in Italian. I actually really really like it for language study because it is written more like a novell and uses an amazing vocabulary. The first time I opened it up, I read the first paragraph and didn't understand anything. Hah Needless to say, I am enjoying it a lot and learning so many new things that I didn't know or had ever even heard of before. Mi raccomando. :)
It has been an awesome week! We had zone conference in Rome. It was so awesome to go back to that place! Tuesday night we went with the other missionaries of the zone and did a gesso in Piazza del Popolo. There were a lot of missionaries and so me and a few others got together and sang hymns for a bit. It was a fun experience! Anyways, this past zone conference was great! I found out halfway through that it was my last one and that was kind of freaky. It's my last one because even though there is still another transfer, next transfer we won't have zone conference, but instead a general authority will come speak to us!
Anyways, love you all! Anziano Stucki
I am excited to write about this week because there is a lot to say and it didn't get the opportunity last week.
First off, all I can say is, General Conference was so amazing this week! I actually have only been able to watch the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions, but I am so excited to watch the others. I heard about the temples being announced too and I am so excited. Being in a country that is about to get a temple for the first time, I was especially excited to hear about all the countries this time who will be getting a temple for the first time. The temple brings such a spiritual power and lifts everyone's eyes higher than just baptism and going to church. Also, even though Nigeria already has a temple, I just have to say I am so excited for that temple. I have never served in the mission of Nigeria, but I, especially at certains points in my mission have definitely served in the "Roma Italy mission of Nigeria" and it is sweet! I can't wait to see the blessings that will come to those amazing people and the blessings that will come to their country which desperately needs it.
Well, this has been an amazing week which I will remember for many reasons. One, which I will remember for years and years and years to come, will be the moment in the Sunday morning session when we were watching Anziano Bowen's beautiful talk with a bunch of members in the church where the session was being projected onto the sacrament meeting wall. At a certain point Anziano Bowen standing on the conference center behind the pulpet disappeared and a video of a little girl playing with toys appeared on the screen. Let's be honest, in this conference they used A LOT of visual aids, which, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love! In fact a lot of my companions will kind of make fun of me as that one missionary where every time our investigator has a problem I instantly suggest to send them a Mormon Message or something. Hahaha What can I say... There is just something powerful about the combination of a beautiful track of music accompanied with inspired words of prophets and carefully captured visuals and camera footage 😊. Anyways so in that moment everyone was confused, but no one really freaked out. A moment later the video went on as the camera spanned to show a cluttered room of toys most of which were pink. A moment later the video exited out of fullscreen view and we saw before us a YouTube page and upon reading the title of the video unraveling before our eyes, we soon discovered that we were watching an advertisement for Barbie on YouTube, BUT might I add, with the continual voice of Anziano Bowen that played in the background!! When I first saw that I was horrified because we had investigators and it totally interrupted the spirit of the conference, but it was only about 15 seconds before one of the bishopric counselors jumped up and with a quick flip through the menu using the projector remote, discovered that somehow the input on the projector had been changed from the broadcast of general conference to the tablet of a member's very very young daughter who was sitting in the chapel having the time of her life watching Barbie on YouTube!! We actually don't have a confirmation of that, but that's what me and my companion pieced together based on what we saw. In the end, it was so startling and confusin, but thinking back on the Barbie commercial detour, me and my companion spent a good amount of time dying of laughter later that evening when we got home. Hahaha well, just wanted to share that story with y'all so maybe y'all can laugh too. I'm not really sure what we can learn from this. Maybe first off, to make sure that when you are streaming general conference to your local church building that some child's tablet doesn't accidently connect to the projector screen. Maybe also we can learn that just as Anziano Bowen's voice continued on despite the fact that the screen changed, the spirit will always speak to us, but based on what we have before us (or in this case, what we are watching) it may be really easy or really hard to concentrate on its message.
Well that's all I have time for for now, but just wanted to finish saying how much I loved President Nelson's talk about the correct name of the church. I know he is a true prophet of God and he really is inspired to know what to say and do. I am so glad to be a missionary and to teach people about the Restored church. I did a scambio last week in Ascoli Piceno (cue Google Maps) and at one point me and my scambio campanion, Anziano Bacon (Yes, that is his actual last name 👌), and I stopped this man on the street. This old man asked who we were and I was about to say the usual about how we are well-known as Mormons and so on. Well, thankfully Anziano Bacon took the lead and started out by saying how we are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The man looked confused and asked, are you Catholic? We said no, we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He asked if we were Jehovah Witnesses. We said no, we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And then in the next few minutes we began to explain how the church after Jesus Christ was corrupted and lost and how it has been restored on the earth today. He was so interested and began asking more and more questions and it turned out being the coolest and most beautiful conversation ever. I don't know what has happened with that man since, but I am grateful we chose to teach him who were really are rather than giving him a quick explanation that would have led him to simply make assumptions or be satisfied with whatever information he has randomly heard around town. I know we will continue to have more blessings as we obey this commandment and remember most of all, to never ever leave out Jesus Christ.
Love you all, Anziano Stucki.
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.