Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Breaking Boxes and Break-Ups

Our Miniature Nativity (I like how Jesus is just as big as Mary and the Angel)

Breaking Point:  "Temple Marriage, like Salvation, is Free"
I and my companion run the English Course - Basic Level Class, and the other set of sisters teach
Intermediate English Class.  As mentioned in the previous post, all of the district's investigators have somehow managed to move into the Intermediate Class.  Josie and Guiseppe are in there, Francesca, Angela and Allesio and several other promising individuals are in there.  So they have a lot of spiritual potential sitting in that room.  For spiritual thoughts lately, they have been doing question and answer sessions.  They open it up for any student to ask questions (usually Francesca asks something that leads into good discussion), and everyone shows interest and asks further questions.

On Tuesday, Josie starts off the spiritual thought session by raising her hand and telling everyone about her experience of coming to Church and how wonderful it was and how everyone else should come. Francesca, at one point, gets to talking about the Book of Mormon and testifies about it (again), and Josie interjects that she too is reading and believes it is true.  Angela then raises her hand and says the same thing - she's been reading and believes it's true (she's only taken 1 or 2 lessons).  The Temple was then brought up, and the sisters began explaining Temple marriage.  They had the temple magazine with pictures that they showed the class.  The students were struck by the beauty of it all and started asking lots of questions.  Francesca stepped in and testified about it as well.

That's when another student blurts out, "Sure, Mormons are married forever, but they don't tell you how many times!"  
     Before the missionaries could even respond, Francesca turned in her seat, looked at this student point-blank and said, "NO.  This is their Church.  Their English course.  Their spiritual thought - and you don't even know what you are talking about!"
     Josie leaned into Francesca and asked, "What did she say?"
     "I'll tell you later," Francesca said,  "but it was something very duro."  Francesca and Josie are friends now.  Things at that point got a little loud and the sisters had to calm everyone down.
     Marriage is something you have to pay for in Italy, so the sisters reverently mentioned, "Marriage in the Temple, like salvation, is free."  Instantly, everything in the room hushed as the women sat in awe.
     "How beautiful!" was all they could say.

Brigham Young Women's Club
Usually spiritual thought segments run 5-10 minutes, but this was easily 20-30 minutes that this discussion was going on.  Francesca, Josie, and Angela all were bearing testimonies all over the place and taking on all the other students that were being a little rude or downplaying the beliefs of the Church.  The trio were testimony-bearing Ninjas as they were "breaking everyone's boxes" (explanation on that expression in a second) that the sisters have named them the "Brigham Young Women's Club" (because Brigham Young here has the reputation for taking people down with his words).

Rompere le Scattole - Breaking Boxes
Rompere le scattole - "Breaking boxes":  idiomatic expression in Italian for chastising/scolding/shutting people down/using sheer words to destroy people or putting them in their place.  Actually, it doesn't always have to be with words.  It could be through actinos (actions) as well.
Alma Arise by Walter Rane
painting: ldsart.com
Christ and the Moneychangers by Carl Bloch
painting: ldsart.com

For example:
•  Twice, Jesus drove out moneychangers from the Temple and broke their boxes.
•  The Angel confronting Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah broke their boxes.
•  Jesus fasting in the wilderness 40 days and Satan came to tempt him - Jesus broke Satan's boxes!
•  Brigham Young was known to verbally break people's boxes.
•  And, if I were to spend another week sick, President would probably break my boxes.
That is your Italian tip of the day!  Rompere le scatolle.  It's basically the favorite expression of every missionary, ever.

Cold-Flu Breakthrough
And yes, I was sick again this week!  I thought I was doing better, then I crashed and burned.  Wednesday was pretty rough, as was Thursday.  So, I got a blessing from the elders on Friday and, BOOM!  Better the next day.  I spent Friday evening inside with my companion, and we watched a DVD of Mormon messages that Anziano Duffin's dad put together and let us borrow for the evening.  I am feeling WAAAAYY better now, so I really should be good to go for the week.

Breakout Mini Zone Conference
The Zone.  I'm the angel with the sagging halo.
My Dayplanner is the one with the hat puffball
When I say mini, I mean mini - it was only 2 hours.  We talked about the Spirit, and Sorella Bradford and Anziano DiCaro gave a super great addestramento (talk) on making sure we live our lives so we "lose the battle against the Spirit" - meaning giving-in to the Spirit instead of fighting against it. Then for President Waddoups' addestramento, we re-enacted the Nativity.
     I was an Angel with Bradford
     Nickle and Wiltbank were Narrators
     Duffin was a Sheep
     Hurlburt was a Wise Man
     Robinson was Mary
     DiCaro was the Donkey :)
These roles were assigned to us by the President, by the way.  It was very nice, and we sang Christmas songs.  Our District came with matching scarves for the girls, matching ties for the guys, and our planners - when puzzled together - create a giant Christmas picture.  All in the fun of unity.

Christmas Break-Up
TERRIBLE NEWS.  Because Christmas flights are basically impossible, missionaries going home this transfer have to go home before Christmas (Merry Christmas for their families!).  But this means that there are some missionaries who need companions, which means some people must move around.  President originally told us that our District was safe, we didn't have to worry.  Then at Zone Conference on Thursday, he reneged and said we might have to worry.  Sure enough, we got the call on Friday.  Sorella Wiltbank is being transferred to Rome 2.  Her plane leaves Wednesday morning. :(((  Dang it!  I only got
1 1/2 transfers with her!  We were all surprised and pretty bummed.

But the good news is that her new companion is - drumroll please...Sorella O'Connor!  So cool!  I told her all about Sorella O and I just know they are going to be best of friends.  Roma 2 is like the paradise of the mission - it is the most established area with a million missionaries, the mission office, the Temple grounds, all the cool sites of Rome, and a great ward that has been growing so fast it has had to be divided two times in the last 2 years to create new wards.  She is going to have a blast.

Breaking-in A New Companion
My new companion is Sorella Mikesell.  I have heard that she is super nice and an absolute riot - really witty humor.  Bradford says that she served in the same area as her for 3 transfers and thinks we'll get along well.  Mikesell was in Sorella O's group in the MTC and they are good friends.  I remember one time Sorella O saying, "I just hope you get to meet her."  And, looky here, waiting for her arrival as my companion!

So, that is the GIANT news for this week.  Pretty sad for us as a District, but we plan on making our last District Meeting together (tomorrow) a super awesome one as we exchange our Secret Santa gifts. Fun!
Me, DiCaro, Wiltbank, Duffin, Robinson, Nickle, Bradford, Hurlburt
The Wall of Boxes
Bad information mixed with a bad spirit can lead to some prejudiced behavior.  Not that the people are bad, just misinformed.  That's what happened this last week in English Course when a few cutting accusations flew through the room.  What countered them, however, were two missionaries and a squad of bigotry-demolition experts - the Brigham Young Women's Club.
     Their charge:  Blast bias into dust.
     Their weapon:  A fusillade of testimony.
     Their mission:  Break down barricades that separate Heavenly Father's children from each other.
That's something we can all do.  Are there any Walls that separate you from a relationship with your Savior?  There you sit - on one side.  And on the other are gospel truths that others (not of the faith) have twisted or told you to disdain.  What do you do?  Who do you believe?

Jesus was in The Business of Breaking Boxes
The Jews were taught to hate the Samaritans in Jesus' day.  Talk about a Wall of Boxes.  The apostle John wrote, "The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans" (John 4:9).  The two cultures had avoided each other for a century.  Jews disagreed with Samaritan behavior, so Samaritans were blacklisted.

Jesus, however, played by a different set of rules.  He was known to walk through Samaria when others walked around.  He visited the Samaritan woman at the well when others would have shunned.  He sent Philip to Samaria to teach an Ethiopian when others would have hesitated, and he told the parable of the Good Samaritan - all to show that he loved to Break down Boxes.

Jesus came to teach that wall-builders separate, but His Church was established to Unite.
Jesus Christ...is our peace, who hath made both one,
and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
That he might reconcile both unto God in one body...
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Ephesians 2:13-14, 16,18
The gospel creates a new people, a people motivated to unify, to help, uplift, and inspire.  And, if someone else's shortsighted comments or actions are hurtful or damaging - then it's time for Breaking Boxes.  Jesus is in the business of Breaking Boxes in order to keep the unity.  His goal from the beginning has been to create one flock with one Shepherd (John 10:16).

On a personal level, if there's a wall dividing you from a relationship with the Savior, how's about breaking a few boxes yourself.

Ask questions from those who know the truth, then pray, and follow the Spirit.  As you follow those feelings that are Uplifting and Happy and Peaceful - that's the sure-fire way to know it's true.  Positive Joyful Peace is the gauge.  And when you KNOW it's true - BOOM - boxes down.

I'm so grateful to have had these past couple of months with Sorella Wiltbank.  She's a Finding machine.  Rome 2 is lucky to be getting her.

One last Gelato together!

Love to you all.

Rompere le Scattole, and Buon Natale!
Sorella Ashley Nef

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