Thursday, August 29, 2013

Miracles Happen

"There are two ways to live your life.  One as though nothing is a miracle.  
The other as though everything is a miracle."
Albert Einstein

Mostra on the Bastione

We had another Mostra on the Bastione this week.  Very gorgeous! But a highlight of my week up to today was on Saturday night after our Mostra.  Sorella O'Connor and I decided that we could use something of a relaxer for our evening, so after we cleaned up shop on the Bastione and got some kebab (yum!), we hurried back home and put in a movie that Presidente Caravagna gave us.  The movie: 17 Miracles.

Back Story
So, back in the MTC, the one movie I heard mentioned more times than any other was 17 Miracles.  I had never even heard of this 2011 movie before, but apparently I was the odd-man out as far as that was concerned because EVERYONE knew of it.  Movie buzz stirred even more when a song, Savior Redeemer of my Soul was performed not once, but twice during my stay at the MTC.  Then I came here to Italy, and I still continued to hear about it.  An Elder translated the song into Italian and sang it for his last Sunday here.  Sorella Cojan (my trainer) loved the song so much she played it on the piano every chance we had in the Church.  It is a gorgeous song, and I really only wanted to watch the move the more because of it.

This week, Presidente Caravagna mentioned that we should see the movie and then handed us each our own copy!  So, Saturday evening we finished our studies, changed into our PJs, and put in the movie.

17 Miracles
17 Miracles is the story of the 1856 Willie Handcart company and the miracles they saw.  It follows the journey of Levi Savage, a sub-captain of the ill-fated company.  Levi kept a journal as he came west toward the Salt Lake Valley.  Many of the miracles depicted come directly from his record, while some miracles portrayed were added into the mix from other companies that crossed the plains, but all of the events actually happened.  It shows, in a beautiful and stirring way, the immensely difficult trials these pioneers faced - but more than anything it shows the sustaining influence of the Lord during their darkest, most impossible situations.  What many of the pioneers come to realize in their journey is that for every tragedy, there are also miracles.
Photos: Excel Entertainment Group

 The song, Savior Redeemer of My Soul comes at the apex of difficulty for these pioneers, but also at the climax of the Lord's support of these good souls.

Heroes and Champions
The pioneers were good people, but what made them incredible was not that they endured hard things, but that they endured in their faith, despite everything.  For every bad, unfortunate, or tragic occurrence on that trek, the Lord was there to assist and comfort, to give aid and cheer - because of faith.  And, the power of faith was two-fold.  It allowed them to summon Heavenly help, and also to recognize Divine deliverance as it occurred.  All I could think in watching this film was - 'Well, shoot, I think I need to work on my faith.'  What a spiritual booster!  People are imperfect, people make mistakes, people can be weak and petty at times, but under the power of the Lord, they become heroes and champions, even in the lowest of circumstances.  That's the legacy and beauty of the pioneers, and that's the beauty of this film.  So inspiring.
"It's not miracles that generate faith, but faith that generates miracles."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Your Legacy as a Missionary
Last Thursday we had Zone Conference and were reminded about how our legacy as missionaries will be to fill the Rome Temple with people.  Working on it!  This is what I came here to accomplish.
The Sardegna Sorelle
Vediamo, We Will See
Maria Rita is doing fairly well.  She was sick the second half of last week, so we weren't able to see her until yesterday, but she is still contemplating baptism.  We emphasized the commitment that is baptism, just to make sure she understands what all of this means, and she seems very willing.  Vediamo.

Last week, most of our appointments cancelled from Thursday onward, so we returned to our old favorite
activity:  FINDING.  We did some casa in the rain - but the rain was short-lived (sadly enough).  The clouds here have been very pretty.  We went to parks, we contacted referrals, and we tried pass-backs we have been sitting on.  Unfortunately, nothing came of it.  But I know that the results of faith always take time to measure.  Despite little contacts and few lessons, I see miracles on the horizon.

Miracles Happen
Miracles happen every day, however, most people don't notice them.  People don't notice them because they're not looking, or not believing, or not realizing that miracles have not ceased.  The good news is that miracles are alive and well.  Listen to what the prophet Mormon taught:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased
because Christ hath ascended into heaven...?
Behold I say unto you, Nay;
Neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me
ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
And now, my beloved brethren,...has the day of miracles ceased?
Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men?
Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them?
Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand,
or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
Behold I say unto you, Nay;
For it is by faith that miracles are wrought;
and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men.
Moroni 7:27, 29, 33, 35-37

Isn't that great to know?  We don't have to refer to ancient text to see that God is current and active in our lives.  Miracles have not ceased.  And I've come to understand that we all get our portion of miracles - large and small.  I don't need to sail on an ark, or get swallowed by a large fish, or even have my life saved as a member of the Willie Handcart company crossing the plains in the dead of winter, to see His hand in my life.  My miracle is simply this: Of the 75,000 missionaries dispersed in 405 missions worldwide, I was called to serve in the Rome, Italy mission - the home of my ancestors.

In the years preceding my call, my family completed temple work for thousands of Italians on my mother's side of the family, and many miracles attended that genealogy (see family blog March 2014 Hearts of the Children to Their Fathers, Reluctant Genealogist, and Guardian Angels).  Shortly after completing the majority of their work, it was announced that a Temple would be built in Rome, Italy.  And now, just prior to its dedication, I was called as a missionary to find and prepare individuals and families to fill that Temple and receive its sealing blessings.

Miracles: Signs of God's Presence
Sorella O'Connor and I were carrying groceries home today, waiting at the bus stop in the sun, and both of us were sooooo thirsty.  We pulled a water bottle from our bag and started sharing it.  Got me thinking about Zion's Camp (June 1834) when 205 men were marching in sweltering heat and they had no water (the water they had been carrying was poisoned) and some of the camp started to complain.  So the Prophet prayed, grabbed a spade, walked to a random spot on the prairie they were on, dug a few feet deep, and struck water!  The Prophet had found an underground well.  Told this to Sorella O (we like swapping stories randomly), and she added - you know, that just goes to show.  God can provide us with anything we need.  If God can get the Prophet to find water underground for a camp in the middle of nowhere, He will get us whatever we stand in need (as long as it is what is best for us, and we have faith).  Great insight!  Miracles are signs of the Lord's presence in your life.  All you have to do is watch, pray, and believe.  God awaits to send a heavenly surprise to bless your journey.  Just look.  You'll see.

So, while we continue to do our Finding, I continue to believe that it is no accident I am here, now, in Italy, with an almost completed Temple.  As long as I have faith, the Lord will guide me to the faithful who will fill His House.

Miracoli Accadono.  Vediamo!
Sorella Ashley Nef

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