Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Be Found Doing the Work of the Lord

No Permesso for You!!
This has been a very interesting week indeed.  I did not get my Permesso (Visa renewal).  I went to the Questura (Police Commissary) in the afternoon with high hopes and found a crowd of people.  They called for individuals with appointments and handed them numbers to wait in line.  They carefully hand-selected a few more people, gave them numbers, and then said for everyone else to "back off."  Obviously, being a lucky number holder was not on a first come, first serve basis.  I wondered what the secret was, so, I took a chance, flashed a smile, and kindly asked, "May I please have a number?" No luck.  Then the lady who had given Sorella O'Connor her Permesso a few months ago recognized me and talked to the lady in charge of numeric distribution, and after about an hour, I was finally selected and given a number.  I felt like I hit the lottery!  Like I had found a Golden Ticket.  I was so happy - here I come, Permesso!  But for now, I'd sit and wait for my number to be called.

I began talking with the lady sitting next to me - an elderly woman from Russia - who had not seen her grandkids in years.  She lives a couple of hours away from Cagliari, so the time and effort it took to come to the Questura was difficult.  Her dream was to get home to her family, but she had already come three times to the Questura, and three times had been turned away.  As our conversation died off, she got up and walked away.  Then the Spirit hit me strong, "Give her your number!"  What?  "Give her your number!" I was shocked.  At first I thought I was just thinking crazy, but then I remembered a verse in Moroni 7.
Behold, that which is of God
inviteth and enticeth to do good continually;
Wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good,
and to love God, and to serve him,
is inspired of God.
Moroni 7:13
'Dang it!' I thought.  I am so close!  It's almost my turn!  But the Spirit kept compelling me, and without even really thinking about it (as if the Spirit was carrying me), I got up, walked toward her, and placed my number in her hand.  She couldn't believe it.  She was so very grateful!  Shortly, when her number was called, she got up, received her Permesso, and headed out, just like that.  I remained, standing back, hoping they would just give me another number.  Finally, they finished calling all numbers and asked for anyone else with a number.  The lady paused and stared at me..."What is your number?"
Soup Nazi
No Soup for You!!  Come back - One Year!!
     "I don't have a number," I told her.
     "Come mai non ha un numero?" (Why don't you have a number?)  She knew I was given one.
     "La Signora l'aveva" (I gave it to the Signora).
     She turned to her colleague, "She gave her number to the signora!" This triggered some kind of seething volcano inside of them because they both blew up and told me to LEAVE, saying, "WE GET TO DECIDE WHICH PEOPLE TO HELP AND WHO NOT TO HELP!"
     Are you serious?!  Was I being punked on some sort of reality show?  Was this for real?  And, just in case I didn't understand their first ejection order, this time they Demanded that I leave.  So, I left, wondering, What just happened?  I felt like Elaine, ousted by the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld.  "No Permesso for You!  Come back - One year!"

And, guess what - I'm actually returning this afternoon to try again. Glutten for punishment, you say?  No.  Just crossing my fingers that they'll be a little more forgiving.  I know I followed the prompting of the Spirit, so I'm counting on Heavenly Father to back me up and soften the heart of the Permesso Police.

Conference Techno-a-Go-Go
For Saturday and Sunday's General Conference several Swiss families joined us for Conference viewing.  This presented somewhat of a challenge in orchestrating places to watch the sessions because the chapel was exclusively for the Italian Session, the classrooms in the Church building are very small, and we only had a couple of computers available.  Also the internet was malfunctioning some.  So, I watched General Conference on each of the following devices (note the series of progressively smaller screens):  DVD and projector (RS Broadcast), Desktop computer, Laptop, iPad, and finally an iPhone for the Sunday morning session.  Because Italy is in a different time zone than the US, we were able to watch the morning sessions live at 6pm, and Saturday's afternoon session we watched on Sunday at 4pm.

General Conference 
I loved Conference!  The theme seemed to focus on covenants, emphasizing strengthening families and missionary work.  In President Monson's brief opening remarks, he announced that the total Church membership had surpassed 15 million.  Among the reasons for this amazing growth is the missionary force that has increased by almost 25,000 in just a year, making the number of full time missionaries now total over 80,000.  He said:
"The holy scriptures contain no proclamation more relevant,
no responsibility more binding,
no instruction more direct
than the injunction given by the resurrected Lord
as He appeared in Galilee to the eleven disciples.
Said He: 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: 'After all that has been said,
the greatest and most important duty
is to preach the Gospel.'"
President Thomas S. Monson
President Monson reminded us of President David O. McKay's familiar phrase, "Every member a missionary!" and added,
"Now is the time for members and missionaries
to come together, to work together,
to labor in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto Him."
President Thomas S. Monson

Elder M. Russell Ballard's talk was fun because of the shout-out to us missionaries whom he had just visited a couple of weeks ago!  Of course, I loved his missionary focus.
"We are not asking everyone to do everything.
We are simply asking all members to pray,
knowing that if every member, young and old,
will reach out to just 'one' between now and Christmas,
millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And what a wonderful gift to the Savior."
Elder M. Russell Ballard
Can you imagine what would happen if EVERYONE did that?  Think of how many people would be brought to Christ.  And, if we do our best, we will not fail.

Conference Quote UnQuote

Elder Richard G. Scott's talk on the fathers of the Sons of Helaman and Repentance was excellent.
repentance is not punishment.
It is the hope-filled path to a more glorious future."
Elder Richard G. Scott

Elder Holland's talk on depression, touching.
"Above all, Never lose faith in your Father in Heaven,
who loves you more than you can comprehend."
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland


Highly energetic EXCLAMATION POINT guy was fun.
"Missionary work should be accompanied by a big, enthusiastic Exclamation Point!!!"
Elder S. Gifford Nielsen


Elder Quentin L. Cook focused on the Family:
"How we preserve time
for family
is one of the most significant issues we face in most cultures."
Elder Quentin L. Cook

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf is always so inspiring:
"Doubt your doubts 
before you doubt your faith."

Zone Conference Feast for the Body and Soul
Zone Conference, of course, was great.  President and Sorella Waddoups talked on obedience and the importance of doing everything we can to follow the rules because in so doing we bring down the blessings of Heaven.  For lunch, my companion and I provided the meals.  Bear in mind, my companion is a Personal Chef (in training), so she had all the ideas, and I was her sous chef - I just followed instructions.  We had homemade chili, 7-Layer Dip - all made from scratch (she took dried pinto beans and created refried beans on her own.  They were so good.  She is amazing.  She also made salsa and guacamole).  We made Tiramisu from chocolate cookies.  We made cornbread.  We made Parmigiana.  I am amazed with the amount of food there was.  We were fed spiritually and physically - and it was SOOOO good.

Maria Rita and Giuseppina Update:  For the second time, we had set up a Baptismal interview (the final step before baptism) - this time the interview was going to be with President Waddoups (since he was in the area), but for the second time Maria Rita and Giuseppina did not show up.  Sigh.  Maria Rita has a testimony.  She's felt the Spirit.  She knows it's true.  Yet, fear is overshadowing her faith.

Sunday in the Park with President
Monte Claro Park, Cagliari
After General Conference, President and Sorella Waddoups wanted to work with us, so we took them on a very exciting afternoon of FINDING.  We went to Monte Claro, a large park in the center of the city.

We talked with everyone we met about the Restoration - just stopped people and went through the full lesson in 5 minutes.  We got a few numbers out of it, and handed out a copy of the Book of Mormon.  President started a couple to get us going, but mostly he observed how we did the work.  I think it was all good.  Then he went off to a dinner appointment and we talked to a couple more people on buses that evening before returning home.

Open Sesame Miracle
I must share a small miracle this week.  We arrived home one day and the back gate that leads to our apartment was locked.  They recently changed the lock and didn't give us a key, so we have been left to the mercy of chance for when it is propped open or not.  There we were, locked out.  So, I started to say aloud, "Okay Heavenly Father, we read a verse today:
O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves
a god who can do no miracles,
I would ask of you,
Have all these things passed, of which I have spoken?
Has the end come yet?
Behold I say unto you, Nay;
and God has not ceased to be a God or miracles.
Mormon 9:15
Thou art a God of Miracles, and we know thou canst do all things.  We need a miracle right now.  We need this door to open..." and AS SOON AS I SAID THAT - LITERALLY AT THAT INSTANT - the gate opened.  No one was around to buzz it open, but it opened nonetheless.  Amazing, huh?  God of Miracles indeed.

Be Found Doing the Work of the Lord
Final tid-bits of info for the week:
     •  P-days are now being switched to Mondays.
     •  Transfer calls are this Saturday.  
Everyone thinks I'm leaving, but I don't want to.  President Waddoups is the man in charge and he will be inspired as to whether I am voted off the island or not.

I leave you with yet more words of wisdom from our prophet Thomas S. Monson.  "Be found doing the work of the Lord," even if it costs a permesso.  Because, the act of kindness grants an even greater Permesso.  In this week's case, a woman is at long-last reunited with her family.  In a gospel sense, someone could be reunited with their family for eternity.

Oh, and while you're at it, expect miracles, because, who knows what gates might open for you too.

Ti Siam Grati, O Signor, per il Profeta (We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet),
Sorella Ashley Nef

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