Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Day in the Life

Gooood Mooooorning Cagliari!
Sunrise in Cagliari
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;
the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the Light."
- Plato

Our Daily Missionary Work Schedule
6:30am  -  Up and At 'Em!  Exercise Time
     I actually get up at 6:20am to prep myself for exercise.  My companion and I run around the block to
     get our blood pumping.  Then we come back for some ab-work and stretching.
7:00am  -  Prepare for the Day and Breakfast
8:00am  -  Personal Study 
     I read at least half an hour in the Book of Mormon.  Lately, I'm in the war chapters.  Captain Moroni
     is the BEST!  Then I study a little from Preach My Gospel Manual.
9:00am  -  Companionship Study
     We sing a song (in Italian), pray, recite a daily scripture, state our purpose, state a bullet point from
     "How to Begin Teaching" (Preach My Gospel, chapter 10), then read 3 pages of the Missionary
     Handbook, discuss our studies, and then plan our teaching for the day.
10:00am  -  Out we Go!
     Finding and appointments etc.
1:00pm - 4:00pm  Pranzo
     Every day all of Italy closes down for pausa pranzo ("lunch break").  Spanish countries call it siesta.
     You cannot do ANYTHING during this time, so...we head on back to our apartment.
1:00pm  -  Return to casa for Lunch
     We are trying to eat more veggies and protein and less pasta.  Discovered the local market - the fruit
     is AMAZING.
2:00pm  -  Language Study
3:00pm  -  Training Time
     We do not do this Sundays (because of Church), or Fridays (because of weekly planning).
4:00pm  -  Out we Go Again!
     This can be difficult because it is hot and we are tired.
9:00pm  -  All the way home again for planning.
10:00pm  -  Bedtime

"Inspiration exists, but it must find you working."
- Pablo Picasso
District Meeting with Fratello Caravagna
picture a few weeks old
District Meeting every Monday morning.  It takes all morning.  Last Monday afternoon was taken by Sorella O's integration class she needed to get her permesso to stay here.  I will have to do this in September.  It was the most boring 5 hours of my life: 5 videos of 2 English speakers reading a terribly written script about the laws of Italy.  "Article 17.4 - the laws behind obtaining a permit to work in Italy.  Article 17.5 - the laws behind tax returns in Italy.  Article 17.6 - how to file a tax return"
and so on and so on and so on... Did I mention this was 5 hours long?  Sigh.

Wide open for teaching.  We usually schedule lots of appointments on Tuesdays.  Tuesday was the best day this week.  We had a member lesson in the morning, then did some less active search in Selargius (nothing came of it).  In the afternoon, we tried another less active in downtown Cagliari (near the port; beautiful part of town!).  Previously, we had tried her a million times with no luck, but we gave it another shot, and she was home.  She invited us in, her non-member sister was there, and we had a very nice chat.  She told us of the troubles she's been facing, and we did what we could to comfort her.  I shared a scripture:                 "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. 
I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; 
and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; 
for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, 
then will I make weak things become strong unto them."  - Ether 12:27
If we draw close to the Lord, He can help us turn any weakness into strength.  She took that as good counsel.  Her sister had a couple of questions about the Church, which we were happy to answer.  She said she would like to return to Church, but what has kept her away is the fear of being judged.  "The members won't judge you," her sister jumped in, "they are good people.  And if they do...who cares!"  We assured her that everyone would be welcoming.  In the end, she committed herself to come.  I hope she does!

Then we headed to Sebastiano, our miracle investigator who we saw for the first time in forever last week.  Turns out, he's read a lot of the Book of Mormon and has thought of some questions. We answered them as best we could and then explained more of what our purpose is as missionaries.  Then we started dropping commitment invitations: will you read the Book of Mormon and pray to know its truthfulness?  Will you come to Church?  When you come to know this is true, will you be baptized?  All of which he answered "Yes, yes, yes!"  Wow.  We were a little surprised, but very excited at his faithful willingness.  He had questions on baptism, so I referred him to read 2 Nephi chapter 31 and said we could talk more about it next time.

Tuesdays are swiftly becoming our miracle days!  I love it.  I hope they continue, and I hope we can make good use of them and what comes of them.

P-Day (preparation day, or day off).  We still have personal and companion study, then we go see something cool in the city, do grocery shopping, laundry, internet time (letter reading and writing), and then get gelato.  But it ends at 6pm, at which time we head back to the Church for English Course, then we head to our pizza place where we order something delicious and learn some new Sard words.  Immoi is "now" and asibirri (Ah-zee-beer-ee) is the Sard equivalent of "arrivederci".  Then home for study.  Not much time for relaxing on p-day.

English Course in the evening!  We usually can get a couple of gospel-teaching appointments scheduled during the day.

Weekly planning in the morning.  Last week we met the family of a less-active member.  The member wasn't there, but the family invited us in.  Apparently, they are still in contact with the sister missionary who taught their son.  They spoke very fondly of her, sharing a little of what was going on in her life.  They were very kind, and seemed to enjoy having us there.  How important to keep in contact with people!  They probably wouldn't have let us in if it wasn't for the friendship of Sorella King who used to meet with this family.  We shared a spiritual thought and concluded with prayer.  Hope to return.

By this point in the week, we usually have gone through everyone scheduled, and so we do some epic
Quartu Sant'Elena, suburb of Cagliari
finding on Saturdays.  Somehow, we always manage to end up in Quarto Sant'Elena (eastern most suburb of Cagliari).  It's lovely, and my favorite gelato place is here.  The downside is that it smells like sewers and smoke a lot of the time.  The gulf of Quarto Sant'Elena is one of two places where flamingos gather by the thousands.  The other is the South of France.
Narrow streets and
zipping cars -
Pedestrians take caution!
Charming shopping strip

The roads are very narrow,
so the space allotted for pedestrians is a sidewalk that
is about as wide as your head,
and you run the risk of being
hit by cars a lot of the time.
Sorella O and I walked around Quartu last week.  It was a very very long day, and we found ourselves worn out by day's end.

Church in the morning.  Back home for lunch.  Language study.  We go out by 3:30pm for more finding.  Return at 9:00pm for study.

Last Sunday evening we had our first Mostra (exhibition/display), where we took signs and literature to a popular piazza near the port to advertise for the Church.  Basically, the minute we arrived, everyone avoided the piazza and treated us like we had the plague, but we sallied forth anyway and tried to talk to a few people.  I met some very nice elderly people who were kind enough to listen to me talk to them, but not much else came of it.  At one point, we were approached by some young Jehovah's Witnesses who looked like they were prepping to lay into us (which has happened in the past), but we ended up having a pleasant 5-10 minute discussion about our beliefs, and the 3 of them ended up being quite interested and took copies of the Book of Mormon.  They were very cool and open minded.  Their dad, however, objected and about 30 minutes later they returned to give back the copies of the Book of Mormon, saying they would never read them.  They seemed genuinely bummed.  But the youngest leaned in and asked if he could keep a pamphlet on the Restoration.  This entire evening could possibly have been for him.  We'll see.

There you Have It
A day-by-day blow of the day in the life of a sister missionary in Italy.  Obedience is key to receiving the guidance of the Spirit.  Every day is a blessing, every meeting an opportunity, every teaching moment a chance to share the Light of Christ that we hope others will embrace.
Sunset in Cagliari
Lord, we ask thee ere we part, Bless the teachings of this day.
Plant them deep in every heart, that with [them] they'll ever stay.

In the innocence of youth, We would all thy laws fulfill.
Lead us in the way of truth. Give us strength to do thy will.

Father, merciful and kind, While we labor for the right,
May we in thy service find sweetest pleasure, pure delight.
Hymn #153

Buona Notte e Asibirri!
Sorella Ashley Nef

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Stuff of Legend

Nostra Signora di Bonaria: Church of Our Lady of Bonaria
We visited the Church of Our Lady of Bonaria here in Cagliari.  Very famous church for the history, but even more so for the legend that surrounds it.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria
Built between 1324-1326, Gothic-Catalan Architecture
Origins of the sanctuary date back to 1324 when the Argonese conquered Cagliari, sent the Pisans packing, and built their fort high on the mountain slopes overlooking the city.  The hill was known as Buen Ayre ("good air"), or Bonaria in local language, because the air was fresher than the inland Castle area that was adjacent to malaria-infested swampland.  During occupation, the Argonese built a church to offer spiritual assistance to soldiers committed in the siege of the city.  In 1335, King Alfonso IV (Alfonso the Kind) of Aragon donated the church to the Mercedarian monks of Barcelona, an order of Friars whose task it was to ransom Christian slaves from the Moors - a work that was booming in Cagliari.  Then in 1370, a storm brought fame and mystique to this obscure church.

According to Legend
March 25, 1370, a merchant ship sailing from Spain to Italy was caught in a hurricane in the Mediterranean Sea.  In a last-ditch effort to save the ship from sinking, the captain ordered the entire cargo be jettisoned into the ocean.  Last to be thrown overboard was a huge wooden chest.  The crew gave it a heave, and the minute the crate hit the water, the storm instantly ceased.

The sailors knew they had been miraculously saved and attempted to regain the mysterious crate, following it for some time.  When they were unable to retrieve it, they returned to their original course, and the case floated away eventually landing on the shore of Sardegna near Bonaria hill.  A crowd quickly gathered when they saw it wash ashore.  Curious as to its contents, some tried to open it, but were unsuccessful.  Others tried to carry it, but it was too heavy.  Someone suggested that they call for the Mercedarian Friars.

The Mercy Fathers came in haste, lifted the heavy crate, and brought it to the church where they opened it and found that it contained a 5-foot statue carved from a single piece of locust tree wood (probably Spanish workmanship): a statue of Mary holding the infant Jesus in her left arm (looks like Jesus is a fan of Bocce Ball) and a candle in her right hand.  The fathers placed the statue in the church and named it Our Lady of Bonaria.  Devotion to the statue quickly spread across the island and the world, especially among sailors who saw her as their navigator and protector.
Our Lady of Bonaria
5', carved from a single piece of Locust Tree wood
Our Lady of Bonaria in the Basilica
Proclaimed Patroness of Sardegna
Argentina Connection
When Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Mendoza discovered the land of Argentina in 1536 and wanted to name the coastal city, his crew of Sardegnan sailors opted to name it after their island's patroness, Our Lady of Bonaria.
De Mendoza disagreed.  He wanted to name it "City of the Most Holy Trinity."  There was a dispute among them, but in the end they settled on a compromise, calling it, "City of the Most Holy Trinity and Port of Our Lady of Bonaria." Since the name was ridiculously long, the last word is what stuck: Bonaria, or Buenos Aires, which is Argentina's capital today.

Because of this connection, Pope Francesco (who is from Buenos Aires, Argentina) will be visiting Cagliari on 22 September of this year.  I predict the missionaries will get zero work done that day.

Devil's Saddle and Angel's Gulf
The square directly in front of the Basilica (church) leads down to a long stretch of beach in Golfo degli Angeli, Gulf of the Angels, called Poetto Beach.  This is Cagliari's most popular stretch of beach and spans over to Sella del Diavolo, Devil's Saddle.
The large divot in the rock is Devil's Saddle
Horn of Devil's Saddle

Devil's Saddle is one of the most significant features of the
Cagliari skyline.  When the mistral wind blows, it is possible to understand the origin of the fable that gave Angel's Gulf and Devil's Saddle their names.

Lucifer's Fall: Gustave Dore engraving
from Milton's Paradise Lost

Legend has it
When devils looked down and saw Cagliari's beautiful gulf,
they decided to take possession of it.  Heaven wouldn't allow
it, so they sent its best angels, led by Michael the Archangel,
to win it back. The battle was long and intense, but eventually
the angels defeated the devils.

During the retreat, their leader Lucifer, fell off his horse, whose saddle slipped and plummeted to the sea and became this petrified structure.  Since then, angels are said to have taken care of the gulf and have promised everlasting peace.
Blue Sea and Sky in Angel's Gulf, Cagliari
Pictures do not do justice to the color of blue the water is.  In Italian, there are two words for blue - blu and azzurro.  Azzurro is reserved for the color of the sea and the sky.  Now I understand why.

Me in Angel's Gulf near the Aragon Tower
An Aragon Tower, from the 1200s

History in the Gulf
This was an Aragon Fortress tower, now called Torre del Poetto (Poet's Tower), built in the 1200s to guard against Arab invaders from the sea.  Cagliari is just North of Africa.  Look South, and Africa is over there!

Two Hot Sisters
It has been really hot here.  High 80s with high humidity is hot.  Sometimes I feel like I'm melting on these streets.  And what do the Sards tell me?  "This? This isn't hot! Wait until summer. It gets 40 or more degrees hotter!"  In celsius - 40 degrees more is over 104 degrees fahrenheit.  Are you kidding me?!  Yet, guess what just arrived the other day? Summer.  We have officially done tracting in 100 degree weather in I-don't-know-what percentage humidity.  But there was a breeze, so it was bearable.  I am continually damp.  Yay Mediterranean weather.

Lollipops of Hope
Monday roles around and Sorella O'Connor and I have absolutely nothing to do, because we have no investigators and no pass-backs and no meetings.  So, we decided to do some contacting in the park.  Good thing we did because we found Maria Rita and Giuseppina - a middle-aged daughter and her mother.  We started talking about English Course that we hold, then got to talking about the Church, and then for the next hour we talk about a little bit of everything from Joseph Smith (who they think is very handsome from his picture) to sacrament services, from temples to the Book of Mormon.  They are super interested to meet with us again and set an appointment.  BOOM 2 NEW INVESTIGATORS!

Then we meet this jeweler who had received a copy of the Book of Mormon from past missionaries who visited his store, but never had an actual lesson.  He gave us his phone number to set an appointment.  WABAM POTENTIAL!

We then discover a sweet old lady named Adelle who met with the missionaries in the past.  We could tell she was really lonely because she recently moved from Sassari and doesn't know anyone, never goes outside, and never opens her door.  "But when I saw two beautiful angels," she says, "I just had to open my door!"  So sweet.

Then we set an appointment with a woman whom we haven't seen since a month ago.  We met with her and taught the Plan of Salvation, which turned out great.  Sorella O'Connor dropped the baptismal invite (we discussed it ahead of time, and felt that we should), and Rosella didn't say no, but she did say that she would have to pray a lot before committing.  We testified of the importance of gaining a testimony through the Book of Mormon and praying to know the truth.  She agreed.  WHOOP ANOTHER INVESTIGATOR!

That same evening, we decided to visit a man who Sorella Cojan and O'Connor saw and gave a Book of Mormon to back in April.  They tried to revisit him a million times, but he was always either busy or unavailable.  Sorella O'Connor thought of him, so we passed by.  He not only was there, he invited us in, with his copy of the Book of Mormon on the table.  He told us about how he had read up through some of the visions (probably 1 Nephi 8), and he said he liked it.  We gave a brief Lesson 1, testified of the Book of Mormon, and asked if he would like to meet with us again.  "Sure," he says, "How about next week at the same time?"  WHAT, AT LEAST 4 NEW INVESTIGATORS - I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING ANYMORE.

We danced all the way home.  We don't know what's going to happen with these people, but the fact that the Lord is just handing out free lollipops to us fills us with a lot of hope.  We can see Him being like, "These poor green sisters don't even know what they are doing.  Let's give them a little treat to get them going."  And it's working!!

Hoping for the best.  We are really buoyed by this week of miracles.  Everyone's prayers are helping us out.  The Spirit is guiding our every move - we can feel it!

To Understand a People is to Understand their History, Tradition, and Culture
Understanding a people is to understand their history, tradition, and culture.  If we can break through tradition and culture enough for them to see Christ, then we will have done what the Lord put us here to do.  Boy, if He keeps guiding us this way, who knows, the missionary work in Cagliari may turn out to be the real stuff of legend.

Tutto e Possibile!
Sorella Ashley Nef

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sardegna Has Gone Green

Sorelle Nef, O'Connor, and Cojan
Just had transfers and Sorella Cojan has departed
for home, leaving Sorella O'Connor and I alone in the city.  We are nervous, but excited.  However, let me tell you - they are flooding Sardegna with Greenies (Verdini in Italian) = New Missionaries.
With this transfer, 50% of this island is being trained.
Of the 50% non-greenies, over half the missionaries have only served 2 transfers (3 months total).  Only one sister and one elder have longer experience in the mission field here.  Sorella O has given Sardegna a motto: train or be trained!  I just have deemed us Greeny Island.  And I think I know why Sardegna has gone green...
with Rafaella
Things Grow Fast When Green
The Sardegna District is going to merge with the Rome Stake.  Rome is eventually going to split into 2 Stakes - Rome East and Rome West.  Apparently, Area Authorities don't want any more districts or branches in Italy.  Between you and me, I believe they are anticipating a great movement of conversion.  I certainly hope to be instrumental in that.  Hey, my new mission president arrives next month!

We have vining flowers like this in California Bay Area!
So, things are happening, though we have yet to reap the fruits of our labors.  Haven't seen our first investigator, Felice, in 3 weeks.  He wants us to meet him on the beach.  Ain't gonna happen, Felice.  Beaches are off limits to missionaries.  Other investigators have not come to Church lately.  So, basically we are starting over.  Going to be spending a lot of time consulting our area book in finding new people to teach.  No doubt this will stretch me: challenge me.  Reaching out to strangers can be scary and downright intimidating.  My brother Connor isn't intimidated.  He and his friend Mark, back at home, have no problem bringing up the gospel in everyday conversations with their non-member friends - all the time.  It's people like them that missionaries like me absolutely ADORE and pray we have in our wards and branches where we serve.  Right now, the branch I am in is currently struggling.  They are having a difficult time reaching out to non-members and to each other.  Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching are even lacking.  I think this boils down to the age-old problem of not knowing what to say, which is not just a Sardegna problem - it's a problem we all share.

The Power of Everyday Missionaries
Makes me think of a book all members could benefit from; a book that was given to my home stake in digital form (before it was even published) just before I began my mission, The Power of Everyday Missionaries - The What and How of Sharing the Gospel by Clayton M. Christensen.  This book is aimed at helping members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints engage in missionary work, so I'm giving it a plug.  It's really a fantastic book!

Now, the world knows author Clayton M. Christensen for his position as a Harvard Business Professor, his amazing ideas on innovation, and for his New York Times best-selling books.  But for me, he holds high regard because he is linked to two people I love: my grandfather and my Stake President back in the California Bay Area.

Connection to the Author
My grandfather, Lamar Nef, was a missionary companion to Christensen's father, Robert Christensen, in Denmark in about 1947-49.  The two missionaries were well known in the area for the gospel they taught and for their appearance.  Elder Robert Christensen stood a towering 6'8" next to his companion, Elder Lamar Nef, who was 5'9".  Locals lovingly referred to the team as "fire tower and bee cart" - a term my grandfather still smiles about today.

My Stake President, Brent Knudsen, who knows and is friends with just about everyone on the planet, rubbed shoulders with Clayton Christensen when they attended the same ward back in Boston (their friendship is the reason our stake received a version of this book before it was published).

Sardegnans are Happy People
I know that people here would be open to the gospel if only we could find a way to get them to listen.  Sardegnans are happy people - very friendly and willing to speak with strangers.  They smile fast if you smile at them, and they enjoy it when people say hello to them on the street or on the bus.
Sardegnan boys
Sardegnan shepherds
Italians are people-watchers.  From their windows or from benches, they will sit or stand for hours and watch people pass by.  It's fun.
Sardegnan men spending time...watching
So, while we are starting over in finding people to teach, we know we are amongst a people of relaxed hospitality and a city of historic beauty.

Cagliari Municipio: Town Hall
Cagliari Town Hall
built between 1899-1907
Cagliari City Hall, close-up
Back corner of City Hall

Chiesa della Santa Croce: Holy Cross Church
As you approach "Il Ghetto degli Ebrei" (area that was once the Jewish Ghetto) you almost miss this church, as it lays hidden in the neighborhood surrounded by houses.
Holy Cross Church
Inside Holy Cross Church
Pre-medieval Baptismal Font just excavated within the church

Once inside, you are surprised by the wide, spacious interior.  Holy Cross Church was formerly a Jewish Synagogue.  In 1492, when the area came under Spanish rule, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabel of Castile expelled all non-Christians (how unfortunate!) from Cagliari and had the synagogue converted into a Catholic church.
Ceiling of Santa Croce
An island green with new missionaries.  A city green with prospects.  And two fairly green missionaries swallowing our nervousness and ready to sink our heels in.  Let's hope this companionship has the right recipe for: Operation Miracle Grow.

Augurarci Fortuna!
Sorella Ashley Nef

Friday, June 7, 2013

Scambi in Sassari

Thursday we got on a train and headed to Sassari.  Sassari is a city on the northern tip of the island, and the only other city on Sardegna with sister missionaries.  So, basically in going to Sassari for scambi (exchanges = temporarily exchanging companionship pairings) we had every sister missionary on the island in one spot.  Powerhouse!  But first, we had our train ride.
Train route from Cagliari (B) to Sassari (below A)
Sardegna Train

Trains are great.  I don't get sick on trains.  I really like trains.  The three-hour ride gave us a lovely tour of Sardegnan country, right up the middle of the island.  Lots of rural land or wilderness with lots of trees.  And then you get the occasional awesome ruin of a nuraghe (a type of ancient castle or something.  Archeologists aren't quite sure what these structures were used for).  They look like turrets from medieval castles.
One of many Nuraghes on Sardegna
The inner island is enriched with rugged mountains and hills covered with olive trees and granite rocks, romantic tiny villages, and lush farm land.  Very cool.  Also, there are lots of sheep.  Apparently there are more sheep on Sardegna than people. 1.7 million people to be exact, and the number of sheep is double the number of humans.
17% of Sardegna's land is used for sheep breeding and agriculture
Sheep waiting to be milked

There is a cheese made from sheep milk called Pecorino - it is really good.  Speaking of unusual cheese: you don't know mozzarella until you try mozzarella di buffala - mozzarella made from buffalo milk.  Amazing.  It's the preferred cheese of Napoli (that just sounded like a commercial).

Traveling Classroom
On the train, there weren't enough seats in one spot for the three of us to ride together, so Sorella Cojan sat a little bit away from Sorella O and I.  Sorella O and I started talking, just about things, and a lady sitting near us was eavesdropping and started to ask what we were talking about, so we invited her to join our conversation, which turned into Lesson 1.  We taught her about the Restoration and bore our testimonies.  It was great, because we did it all in Italian without Sorella Cojan to help - our first time!  Laura (our new friend) wasn't jumping at the chance to hear more, but she listened and was very very nice.  Gave her a pamphlet on the Restoration with our info.  Sorella Cojan, in the meantime, found a fellow Frenchman on the train and taught him the Plan of Salvation.  Oh, the magic of scambi (exchanges).

We had heard from several Italians that Sassari is the ugliest city on the island.  They hate it.  So we weren't sure what to think in going.  Then we arrived and discovered that Sassari is GORGEOUS.
Sassari was once the provincial capital and has medieval origin.  The streets are made of cobblestone.  Everything is so picturesque and beautiful, with plants everywhere, and gardens in every piazza and really cool statues and Roman ruins (there is a legit Roman bath there!).  The Church can be seen in the city's skyline, and you can hear the bells chiming every hour.  Here are some sites.
Sassari Street
Alley in Sassari
picture: new_reads

  Sassari Housing

Residence in Sassari
Saint Nicholas Cathedral
Saint Nicholas Cathedral's facade has a Spanish colonial style with 17th century ornate baroque.  The main cathedral has a gothic shell with baroque embellishments.
Baroque Facade
Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Sassari

Palazzo della Provincia
This magnificent building is the Provincial Palace.  It is filled with staterooms and used to house the King of Sardegna, Vittorio Emanuele II (b: 1820 - d: 1878).
Provincial Palace, Sassari
Statue of Vittorio Emanuele II
Last King of Sardegna
First King of United Italy

King Vittorio Emanuele II

Vittorio Emanuele II was King of Sardegna 1849-1861, then when Italy gained its independence March 17, 1861, he became the first king of United Italy and reined 1861 until his death in 1878.

Well, that's my picture show of beautiful, historic Sassari.  Not much more to report on the Sassari scambi other than it was good.  Did some publicity for English course.  Taught another lesson.  Did some unsuccessful less-active search.

I Want to Be That Type of Missionary
We attended a Church activity where they showed a Church movie, Treasure in Heaven, about John Tanner, the man who paid off a $2,000 loan to save the Kirtland Temple in 1835.  His is a great story.
Kirtland Temple, Ohio 1835, by Walter Rane
John Tanner was a wealthy entrepreneur who had outlived two wives and married a third and ended up having a total of 21 children (14 of which lived to adulthood).  He was so wealthy that he used six wagons to move his family from New York to Kirtland, Ohio, and donated 10 more wagons for other Church members.  He gave $2,000 to pay off mortgage on the temple property, plus another $13,000 for other purposes, and he signed a $30,000 note for merchandise to help the Saints move to Kirtland.  Over $45,000 in the 1800s!
An amazingly generous man.  (There is no known picture of John Tanner and no version of this movie is available to view online).
But the best part of his story was when a miracle happened when the missionaries found him.  John Tanner had cancer in his leg that was spreading infection quickly.  Doctors told him that if he did not amputate the leg, he would die.  Tanner refused, saying that he and his leg came together, and would go out together.  Tanner resolved to do all the good he could before he died.

First on his agenda: expose the Mormon missionaries.  So, he went to a couple of firesides where the missionaries were teaching.  But instead of finding falsehoods, Tanner heard only truths taught, became interested in the gospel, ended up taking lessons, and gaining a testimony of it all.  The elders invited him to be baptized and Tanner wanted to, but he said it would be impossible because of his leg.  He couldn't walk or stand, let alone go into water and be baptized.  Besides, he didn't have long to live.  And then, here is the kicker: The elder who gave the baptismal invite looks at his companion with a face like, "I'm gonna do it!" and he turns to John and says, "John, do you believe that Christ healed the sick and the lame?"
     John thinks about it and says, "Yes."
     The missionary continues to look into his eyes and says, "Do you believe that Christ's Apostles Peter and John did the same on the steps of the temple?"
     More determined now, John again says "Yes."
     "Then if you believe that," says the missionary, "and that the authority to do those same miracles has been restored again to the earth, I say to you John Tanner, in the name of Jesus Christ and by His authority I command you to stand and walk!"
     John Tanner looks at the missionary, grabs the nearby crutches and starts to stand with them.  The missionary looks at him as he struggles with the crutches and says, "Just believe."  John then drops the crutches, and his leg, that was moments before all black and gross with infectious cancer, is now completely healed.  John Tanner was baptized that night.

Now, I love John's faith, but even more impressive to me was the faith of that missionary - that he could command with such authority, and had faith that the Lord would back him up and his promise and blessing would be fulfilled.  AWESOME faith!  I love it!  I want to be that type of missionary.

Underwear Boy Revisited
Tuesday, we went back to the home of underwear boy to see if his mom was home (initial meeting in post: Oh Italy, Never Change!).  She wasn't, but the dad was!  We expected that he would send us away, but he invited us in.  We ended up having a good lesson.  He seemed really open, as did his other son, Andrea (not underwear boy). Underwear boy was in the back room - his name is Massimo.  He said he knew who we were when his dad called back to him in the back room.  He refused to come out.  :)  Didn't get a return appointment, but hope to in the future.

Sorella Ashley Nef