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

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