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.
Grateful for an opportunity to learn and come closer to the Savior, Neal shares his mission experience with us.