Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rome is Enlarging the Place of Thy Tent

Sorella O'Connor's birthday was last week.  We visited a couple of members, watched the Restoration with Maria Rita and Giuseppina and bore testimony on Joseph Smith and then ate cake that was made by our friend Michela from our Pizzeria (it was very yummy).  We finished the day at Sorella Safina's house and ate a cake that she and her daughter created.  Covered in whip cream and candied cherries, it was a celebration on a plate!  We loved it.

Transfer News
During our lesson with Maria Rita and Giuseppina, the call came from the mission office.  Sorella O is being transfered to Rome 2, the same area as the assistants and President Waddoups.  She will train a greenie (new missionary).  She was pleased, but wondered how in the world she would do it.  As for me, I am staying in Cagliari (yes!) with a Sister Rost (who was in my Zone in the MTC, so we are the same age in the mission).

Graffiti Artist at Large
The mouth is around a hole in the wall
From the first day that Sorella O was in Cagliari, she has wanted to find the man whose prolific graffiti is throughout the city: the fish, the whales, the eyes etc...

This piece is actually quite large
Many refer to the eye graffiti as the Eyes of Cagliari
Federico Carta: Laboratorio 1984
Laboratorio 1984
Per caso (by chance), we found the artist's studio last week on P-day.  We recognized the art on the building outside and on the canvases inside, but it was closed.  Friday, we decided to pass by again, just to see - and it was open!  We finally got to meet the artist - Federico Carta is his name, also known as Crisa.  He's in his late twenties, likes Indie music, and was pleased to have met a couple of fans.  Turns out, we're the first missionaries to don his doorway and talk with him, so we had a nice chat.  He used to be Buddhist, but calls his art his religion now, which led him to open his own studio in 2012, Laboratorio 1984.  Though one of his passions is his little girl, whose artwork also hangs in the studio, his main creative influences are graffiti art and primitivism.
Inside Federico Carta's Studio,
Laboratorio 1984

He's not interested to hear our message, but he did accept a copy of the Book of Mormon, saying, "I probably won't read it, but maybe I will paint on it."  But, hey, he has a Book of Mormon in his studio.  So glad we met him.

More News:  Cagliari Doubles-Up on Missionaries!
Along with Transfers, there was more news: Cagliari will receive another set of Elders and another set of Sisters, making the total number of missionaries in Cagliari - 8.  So, in addition to me and Sorella Rost, there will be another set of sisters sharing our apartment.  Sister Caramia (whose name, incidentally, means My Dear) will be training a greenie straight from America.  Sorella Caramia is famous in the mission for being a "fireball missionary" - she had 8 baptismal dates set up in her last area.  She is Italian, from the North, is nearly done with her mission, and has spent a lot of it in Rome with a Sorella Omer, another Italian.  Sorella Caramia's father is a professional chef, so she also has a reputation for being an AMAZING cook.  Really excited for that!

Still More News:  Sardegna is Becoming Part of Rome West Stake
And more news: Sardegna is officially becoming part of a new Rome Stake, and Cagliari will change from being a Branch to a Ward.  The new Stake is coming from the current Rome Stake that is really big right now.  They are dividing Rome down the middle, with 2 new Stakes forming from the old one: Rome East and Rome West.  Obviously, Sardegna will be part of Rome West (along with Napoli).  They are holding a giant conference in Rome for it on 15 September, to which every member is invited (actually, not just invited, but strongly encouraged nigh short of commanded to come).  All the missionaries from Sardegna are being flown in to Rome for the conference (so I will see Sorella O again and Rome!)  Elder M. Russell Ballard is going to preside at the meeting.  Presidente Sanna, counselor in the mission presidency, and Presidente Dessi (branch president) bore their testimonies on Sunday on how every member of the branch should make every sacrifice necessary to go to the Rome conference.  This is a big deal - a monumental event, really.  Sardegna has only ever been a district, and now it will be a part of a stake.  Big things are happening in Sardegna and I get to be here for it!  So exciting!

"Enlarge the Place of Thy Tent"
The Church is growing in Italy, and as numbers multiply, the Lord tells us how to handle the growth.
Enlarge the place of thy tent,
and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations;
spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.
For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left.
Isaiah 54:2-3

Ancient Tabernacle in Moses' time
The tent reference is reminiscent of the Tabernacle of Moses, a tent to which all of Israel was invited to come.  It's from this Old Testament verse that the Church draws the word stake for naming our ecclesiastical unit of 6-8 wards.  Here in Sardegna, we will become part of the Rome West Stake.

Now, when you want to put up a tent - the primary items needed are tent stakes.  Stakes ground the tent walls and secure its position.  President Ezra Taft Benson said that ancient prophets likened the latter-day Church to "a great tent encompassing the earth.  That tent was supported by cords fastened to stakes.  Those stakes, of course, are the various geographical organizations spread out over the earth" (Come Unto Christ, 101).

When numbers are multiplying so rapidly that the tent is "breaking forth on the right and on the left hand" (ie: the current Rome Stake), what needs to happen to make the tent larger is to pull up stakes and move to a further distance from the center pole (ie: "lengthen thy cords").  And, the more the cords are lengthened, the stakes are driven deeper and made stronger to secure and stabilize the tent.  What can we do to strengthen those stakes?  Isaiah tells us in the verse.  Check out these verbs:
     Enlarge:  Through missionary work.  Sharing the gospel.  Make all feel welcome.
     Stretch Forth:  The key word here is stretch.  Reach out a hand of compassion, love, and kindness.
     Spare Not:  All are welcome, doors are open.  I also see this as - don't hold back.  Give your all.  
                         Be generous of time and talents.
     Lengthen:  Lengthen your stride.  Pick up the pace.  Is there more you can do, give, or be?
     Strengthen:  Strengthen those around you in word, testimony, service, and kindness.

As the tent of Israel continues to broaden, its fabric extended, its cords lengthened - we have a responsibility.  Our responsibility is to secure and strengthen our ward and stake.  And as we strengthen the stake - it serves, in turn, to protect us.
Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth,
that thy light may be a standard for the nations;
And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion,
 and upon her stakes,
may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm...
D&C 115:5-6

That protection will come as we extend those cords and unite together under the tent of the gospel, which is secured, in part, by the wards and stakes.  What a blessing.

Goodbye Sorella O!
District with Fratello Caravagna
I said goodbye to Sorella O on Tuesday.  I have the remaining Sorella from Sassari (Sorella Kippen) here to keep me company.  We are thinking on going hunting for a Sardegna cookbook and making Tiramisu this afternoon.  Yum.  I am going to miss Sorella O'Connor a lot.

We have become very good friends, but I know that she is where the Lord needs her, as am I.  But I must admit, I am excited to be in Cagliari for this next transfer with so many cool changes and things happening.  I get to be here for General Conference, and the Pope, and the forming of the new Stake and Ward.  What a time it will be!

Sempre il Lavoro del Signore sta Andando Avanti (Always, the Work of the Lord is Going Forward),
Sorella Ashley Nef

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