Sorella Oakes will speak Sunday, February 10, at 9:00 am in Sacrament Meeting.
The address is:
1260 West 1150 North
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Saturday, September 22, 2012
I just want to tell you all that you are incredible! The service that you are all rendering in your lives, the faith that you have, the optimism for the future...I am amazed by how wonderful you are. Thank you for your example to me.
For a week and half Sorella Hanks is sick with a virus and possibly strep throat. She will probably be sick for a while longer, we are not sure. Poor thing. She never complains! Fortunately I have not gotten sick. I received permission from President to call up sisters in our ward to do exchanges with me. One woman will stay in our apartment for a few hours while I go out with another to teach our investigators.
Monday we had an incredible Blitz with Sorella Jones and Sorella...drum roll...McNamara! I love them both so much. Being with Sorella McNamara, I felt at home. She has grown and matured even more into a beautiful woman. She was already so mature and amazing before but it is neat to see how much three transfers and serving with different companions changes you. Luca whom we taught in Varese is getting baptized in October! I am so incredibly happy for him.
Once again, I got to serve with Sorella Jones and learned a lot from her. We went to two appointments and no one was home, neither responded on the phone. But that night we taught a man from Peru who is golden! I never want to forget that hour that we shared with him in his home. The spirit was so strong, our hearts were filled with love for him and for the Lord. When we presented and gave him a Book of Mormon he flipped through the first few pages and tenderly said, "I am content to have this book. I have read the Bible but I have never had the opportunity to read this. Now I can. I thank you both. I know God loves me because He sends people like you to teach me His word."
In Preach My Gospel there is a section entitled, "How to Begin Teaching." There are ten phrases that are suggestions of things we can say during the first meeting with an investigator, such as "We will guide you so that you can know personally if our message is true. But it depends on you to accept and act upon the message..." As Sorella Jones and I asked questions and just listened to this wonderful man he seemed to have memorized and recited these ten points from the manual! He said, "You both can guide me to know if this is true. But I need to read and pray about this and repent. I want to change and find the right path and follow Jesus Christ..."
When we left the lesson we yelled for joy for a half hour! We could not feel our bodies anymore, we were in heaven. I would not trade these experiences that I have had serving here in Italy for anything in the world. I cannot describe how fantastic it is to serve a mission, to learn from and to give love to companions and different people that I meet. My heart is full to the brim with gratitude for all of these opportunities. Challenges?! Who cares! They are nothing.
Love you all!
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
My heart is filled with love and gratitude. I have an amazing companion and the work is growing. We have a lot of new female investigators who are really interested in meeting us. Each day Sorella Hanks and I become more united in purpose and the spirit is truly guiding our every activity. During nightly planning we prayerfully decide where to do casa the following day. Within these past two weeks I have taught more first lessons in people's homes during findingwork than I ever have on my mission. Sorella Hanks expressed the same is true for her. I never preferred knocking doors. I would rather do street or bus contacting, but I remember thinking in my head, "We'll do this because our leaders have counseled us to." NOW I am seeing why.
Haha, Friday night we knock on a door and yet ANOTHER sweet Romanian kid answered the door and let us in. We followed him into his living room of four other family members- his mom, sister, girlfriend, and cousin. They are all so humble and down-to-earth. I love them soo much. We taught them again yesterday. Our meeting them was surely an answer to our prayers, to get into a home and teach a family, and an answer to my prayer this past week to teach more young single adults. There are four of them! I hope they will let us come back again, and read the Book of Mormon we left them.
I want to tell you about a beautiful Peruvian woman whom we are teaching. Her name is Fanny Fernandez. She has three young boys who live in Peru, and she takes care of elderly people here to send money home to her family. She has lived here for 7 years. She has a really hard life between a bad work environment and missing her family. As we talked to her, she only spoke words of faith and optimism, but her eyes continued to well up with tears. She was very excited to receive a Book of Mormon. When we invited her to be baptized she said, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" I was surprised with how happy she seemed about accepting a baptismal invite. She said, "I am very shy and do not like talking with people like you on the bus. But when Sorella Hanks looked at me and started talking with me, I felt something here," she pointed to her chest. She had felt the spirit, which helped her to feel comfortable enough to talk with us.
I have so much respect for Fanny. When I think about my mother and how hard it is for her to let my brother and me serve missions out of the country for two years, I realize that that sacrifice that we make is small compared to Fanny's life. Fanny said she will have to wait for another 5 or more years before she can save enough money to live with her boys. She is such a good woman, why is her life so hard? I do not know, but I am certain that everything is in the hands of the Lord. This gospel will bless her life immensely. I pray that her boss will let her come to church Sunday mornings. She was not able to come last week.
Well, I love you all very much. I pray for you daily. I know that when we serve others we are fulfilling our baptismal covenant to comfort those that stand in need of comfort, (Mosiah 18:8-10). As I have tried harder to live my baptismal covenant, I have felt the presence of the spirit more in my heart and feel love from Heavenly Father. I think that of all our goals, dreams and desires in life, more than anything, each one of us yearns to feel the love of God. I know that as we seek to love and take care of others, we will be filled with that love for them, and also will feel God's love and appreciation for us. We are His beloved children. He sacrificed His only begotten Son so that we can receive peace and strength in this life and return back to His presence pure and perfect. I know these simple things are true.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Let me tell you about the three elect Romanians we found this week:
Luca is a middle-aged man who has lived here in Italy for 12 years. His greatest lot in life is to earn money for his daughters so that they can continue their education at the university in Romania. While he is a workaholic, he is very honest, kind and spiritual. Even though he is very busy, he marks us in his agenda and is committed to meeting with us. He said, "I know that I need to put God first in my life and make time for him." For the first three lessons we tried to get him to agree to meet with the anziani because he is a single man, but he said he wanted to meet with us because he knew us. We felt it was because we are around the same age as his two beloved daughters. This week we explained to him that we feel it would be better if he meet with the masculine anziani in our ward. I was very pleased that he readily accepted meeting with them. He made sure that they had his number and set up an appointment Wednesday. They are so blessed to be able to teach him! He could very well be baptized. Luca is like a brother to me. I wish I could tell you more about his life and beliefs.
Now, about the two other amazing people we met:
It was Monday night around 7:30. Three of our first lessons had fallen through, and it seemed as though we would teach no lessons. After doing casa for a few hours we took a 5 minute break to sit down on a park bench. There was this woman sitting close by who would look at us occasionally. She seemed miserable, maybe even angry. We walked toward her and began a conversation. To our surprise, she was very pleasant and welcomed a conversation about Jesus Christ. This woman, Anna Maria, is from Romania, she attends the Pentecostal church though not yet baptized. She expressed her deep desire to know which religion teaches the complete truth of Christ. She yearns to feel closer to God in her life so that she can overcome personal trials. When we asked her if we could pass by her house with a Book of Mormon this week, she said, "Yes, I will walk with you to my house now. If you want, you can come teach me a little right now." I wanted to jump and shout, "Yes!! Yes! We would love to!!!" and do a cartwheel, but we maintained our composure and just smiled. Her beautiful 5 year old son Mario accompanied on his bike.
When we were inside her small, darkly lighted home, we knelt in prayer. The spirit was so sweet and still. Sorella Hanks and I felt prompted to sing them a hymn, "Abide with me, Tis eventide". Those two minutes were one of the most special moments on my mission. Anna Maria was beaming as we sang, as if the spirit was healing her soul. Mario, who had been full of energy outside, was now cuddling up by his mom, resting his head on his hands and watching us intently with his big brown eyes. He was calmed by the spirit. My heart was so full of love for them that I could barely sing.
After we finished, we explained a little bit about what the Holy Ghost feels like. We asked Mario "Do you feel the Holy Ghost?" He quietly nodded. Anna Mario said, "It feels so good in my heart." We got to know Anna Maria a little more and taught her about the Book of Mormon. It was very simple and very spiritual. We have a return appointment with them tonight! I am so thankful for Heavenly Father's guidance so that we could find this humble family! He is surely mindful of each of His precious children.
Monday, September 3, 2012
This week has been great! Sorella Hanks is such a sweetheart, I feel so good being around her. Sorella Hanks is the perfect exemplar of "preaching the gospel of peace". When we contact people and teach investigators, she listens with her heart and soaks in what that person is saying. It has been wonderful to see how others respond and open up when we take a little extra time to listen to their opinions. I feel inspired to be a more attentive listener myself to her as well as others. I am learning a lot from her.
Miracle! Last night after the sorelle conference we decided to contact and set up an appointment with at least one person before we went in. President's little training about the "miracle fence" kept me hoping that we would find a potential investigator! As we got closer and closer to home we contacted and contacted, and 10 minutes before 9 we talked with a South American couple. They did not seem interested, but when we asked them if we could come to their house this week they said yes! L'ultimo sforzo brings blessings. We will not accept any less than hoping for, and even expecting miracles every day! We are going to make our dreams a reality here in Genova 2! This is the great and marvelous work of the Lord.
We had an awesome district meeting on Monday. That morning I told Sorella Hanks, "We are doing everything in the manual, but how can we increase our faith that we can actually meet our goals, and baptize people?" I was befuddled. Well, in our meeting the zone leaders, Anziano Lenhart and Rodriguez gave an inspired training which answered our question! I will bullet point what I learned:
-happy people tend to be more successful!
-our habits affect our attitude. Meaning what we say, what we eat, exercise, thought processes, etc.
-Keeping a gratitude journal (Remember, Remember by Elder Eyring) helps us recognize the Lord's hand in our lives
-the difference between a puddle and a geyser is enthusiasm, haha
-2 Ne 2:25 the purpose of life is to have joy. Enjoying life is a daily decision, regardless of the circumstance!
It was awesome and really pumped me up to be more grateful for the blessings we see each day. I know there is a lot of power in just putting a smile on each day. The Spirit is a lot more present in my life when I have a good attitude. I am grateful for all that Sorella Hanks is teaching me about enjoying each moment. She is like Mary and I am more like Martha, we both need each other to have the right balance of working hard AND having a happy attitude.