Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Live in Thanksgiving Daily

"Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks."
Thomas Goodwin
Palermo Missionaries with Members
I Am Grateful for English Course
Sorella Wiltbank and I have been doing a lot of Finding again, which has led to quite a few impromptu lessons on the street.  The bad news: We have been unable to get a hold of Giuseppe for another lesson.  He texted saying his phone doesn't really work.  The good news: We have a new investigator who is ALSO named Giuseppe!  He first came to English Course on Tuesday, and when we had a spiritual thought on the Plan of Salvation (thanks to a question asked by another investigator, Rosa Anna), he stayed after to ask more questions.  We ended up setting an appointment with him after Thursday's English Course.  He came armed with lots of questions.  Sorella Wiltbank taught this lesson with Sorella Bradford because we were having a day of scambi (exchanges).  They gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon, and asked him to begin his reading with the introduction.  When we called him on Sunday to give him news about English Course (we are adding more days to accommodate the influx of new students), he excitedly shared that he had read the introduction and testimonies of the witnesses and looked forward to discussing it with us.  When we see him this evening, we are going to ask him to write down a list of his questions so we can make sure we teach to his needs.

I Am Grateful for Investigators
Others of our investigators, Rosa Anna and Josie (adorable middle-aged gals) are both doing well.  We had a brief lesson with Rosa Anna before English Course on Tuesday and answered some more of her questions relating to the Restoration, specifically about authority and prophets.  We have other potentials we are working on, mostly through English Course.
"Praise the name of God with a song...magnify Him with thanksgiving."
Psalm 69:30
Thursday, we are having a Thanksgiving party to which we invited members to come and fellowship.

I Am Grateful for Visiting Authorities
Friday, three general authorities offered a special missionary fireside.  Elder Randall Ridd (General Young Men's President), Elder Osguthorpe (General Sunday School President), and Elder Patrick Kearon (of the Seventy) came and held a special meeting with the missionaries before meeting with Palermo Stake leaders.  It was a privilege to have been in attendance because they were here in Italy on limited engagement only to promote better teaching to local Church leadership, and visiting missionaries in Rome, Milan, and Albania, if I heard right.  The talks were super great.  Elder Osguthorpe's son had served in Italy, so he shared what little Italian he learned, which was fun.  Elder Ridd spoke on "Real Intent," and how Real Intent means asking yourself in various activities, Why am I doing this right now?  Then direct our actions to consciously fulfill that purpose.  For some reason, this was a huge breakthrough for me and helped me resolve some issues that I didn't even really recognize as that type of problem.
"Do...all things with prayer and thanksgiving."
D&C 46:7
Intentional Living
Here's how I figure it:  Most of us spend our days following patterns and habits we've developed through the years - living life, going through the motions at home, online, at work, without much thought to it.  Living with Real Intent means taking our days and tweaking it with focus, modifying it with purpose.  Many things we do have some kind of intent.  Take some of my missionary routine, for example:
     •  I wash dishes because I don't want a messy kitchen.
     •  I say my prayers because I want to have the Spirit with me.
     •  I peruse the city streets, Finding, because I need to broaden our teaching pool.
Repeating these actions every day causes the intent to sort of fade away, which makes me barely aware of them.  It's mundane.  Routine.  Nothing special.  The intent was established long ago, so I don't need to think about it anymore.  This puts me in automatic mode.  But...
     What if that changed?
     What if I established an intention for my actions?
     How would that affect my deeds?  
     How would it transform my activities?
What if I washed dishes, but first thought to do it as a service to my roommates - to make them happy? Then doing dishes suddenly becomes a meaningful task.  The only difference is my intention.

What if I said my prayers with the intent of opening a Divine line of communication - of offering my desires for the day and waiting to hear my Heavenly Father's specific guidance?  Then prayer becomes a sweet two-way conversation with the Lord.  The only difference is added intent.

What if I did Finding after, first, mentally resolving to use that time to help uplift others along the way - to make people happy?  The process of Finding then transforms into an exercise of spreading the Joy of Christ.  The only difference is my intention.

And, what if I began each day determined to "live in Thanksgiving daily" (Alma 34:38) - to look for blessings threaded throughout my waking hours?  Then a ho-hum day suddenly turns into an abundant garden of goodness.

This is Intentional Living.  Tackling tasks with intention.  It's easy to practice in small amounts. The more you apply a Purpose, the more you see a difference.  Life is different.  More productive.  More content.  More meaningful.
     Dishes go from mundane - to ennobling.
     Prayer goes from routine - to inspiring.
     Finding goes from drudgery - to joy.
The only difference is intention.

Pause on Purpose
So, before you do your next activity, pause a moment, and mentally articulate your purpose.
     Why am I doing this?  Is it out of compassion for others, or self?
     Will this enhance the world around me?
     How is this going to bless another?
Then go and do, be mindful of your intentions, live in gratitude, and you will be living a life with Real Intent. (see family blog nefchronicles.wordpress.com Life with Real Intent April 2014)
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."
Melody Beattie

I Am Grateful for President Waddoups
President Waddoups showed up by surprise to the Fireside.  We had no idea he was coming.  He came rolling up in a taxi, paid the driver 50 euro, and grabbed my companion and I to come out and talk to the taxi driver.  We introduced ourselves to the driver and talked with him for bit.  Turns out, he lives nearby, so we invited the man to our English Course.

Starring, the Palermo District
During the meeting, President Waddoups spoke highly of us missionaries to the visiting authorities.  He intruduced Anziano DiCaro (our District Leader) as a new Capo Zona (Zone Leader).  A pleasant surprise!  From then on, our District seemed to be the star of the meeting.  Elder Osguthorpe used Anziano Nickle (from Orem, Utah) and Anziano Duffin (from Salt Lake City, Utah) as examples as they talked about their investigator Francesca.  The rest of our District couldn't help but chime in and talk about her because we all know her.  Other companionships participated in other aspects of the evening - always our District.  The authorities seemed impressed with our unity.
Sister Waddoups, Robinson, me, Bradford, and Wiltbank
Sister Waddoups borrowed Anziano DiCaro's coat to match us in the picture
I Am Grateful for My Sisters
After the fireside, Sorella Bradford decided to corner President Waddoups and ask him about transfer calls, "I mean, they are only tomorrow," she said, "and he is here right now so why not?"  He was very open and told us sisters we were all staying together.  "What about the elders?" we asked.  He looked at us (our whole District, at this point, gathered waiting for the axe to fall).
     "One of the elders is leaving," he said.
     "Which one?" we asked.
     He looked very thoughtful for a bit and said, "You will have to see tomorrow."
On the way home, Anziano Nickle debated back and forth as to which one was leaving.  They had been here the longest, so he and his companion figured it had to be one of them, especially since Anziano DiCaro was promoted to Capo Zona.

I Am Grateful for My District
Saturday - the dreaded Transfer call day - we got the news:  EVERYBODY IS STAYING!  Apparently, in the call to Anziano Nickle and Duffin, President Waddoups said, "I couldn't split you up.  Merry Christmas."
WE ARE SO EXCITED.  OH MY GOODNESS.  We had all been dreading having to say goodbye.  I can't believe we get the blessing of spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years together.  Eight missionaries are now on Cloud 9 and couldn't be happier.  Considering the huge gift we've been given, we plan on stepping up our game.
"He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious;
and the things of this earth shall be added unto him,
even an hundred fold, yea, more."
D&C 78:19
With Christmas around the corner, we expect the Lord to bring to pass some great miracles for the great city of Palermo.  Personally, I am the happiest I have been so far in my mission.  I love these missionaries.
Color coordinated Palermo District - Aren't we precious!
Anziano Duffin, Anziano Nickle, Sorella Robinson, Sorella Bradford, Sorella Wiltbank, me, Anziano Hurlburt, Anziano DiCaro

Where Much is Given, Much Will Be Given
I am so grateful for this Gospel.  My gratitude has driven me all the way to Italy to proclaim its truthfulness and declare it as the means to happiness and peace.  I am thankful to be in this city with these missionaries at this time.  It's truly the golden age of missionary work right now, and I feel incredibly blessed to be wearing a badge that names me as one of the Lord's laborers in His Vineyard of the final Dispensation.  One of the things Elder Kearon said was that the Lord does not send just any missionary to a country preparing for a temple.  "You must have done something right in the Pre-Existence for you to be here in Italy at this time." My heart is full.  Because I am so blessed to have the Lord's trust to send me here now, I intend to serve with all of my heart, might, mind and strength to help prepare these people for the blessings of eternity.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing...
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:
Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
Psalm 100
I am Grateful for All of You.  Have a Most Joyous Thanksgiving,
Sorella Ashley Nef

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