Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Profile of a Prophet

What can I say about this week?  The holidays are fun, but they don't make for good news fodder.  All of our investigators were either sick or out of town.  We had English Course for one day this week and ended up combining with the Anziani's class since there were so few of us.  So, missionary-work wise, basically zero things occurred.

We did some more Finding (yay finding!) with no success.  Essentially, we just need to hit the streets more. Tonight we have another Opera Concert in the church.  This makes the third one I have attended on my mission - one of the many things that makes Italy great. :)

Adventures in Food
Sicilian Meatloaf
Monday we had a meal appointment during which the food caught me off guard.  I ate something that I thought was pizza made from dense bread, but when I picked it up it turned out that the "bread" was actually meat loaf.  Sicilian Meatloaf.  Sicilian Meatloaf is made of ground meat (which is beef, pork, and sausage) layered with ham and mozzarella cheese and sauce.  It looked like pizza.  So, I ate the meatiest pizza ever in the history of ever.

French Fry Sandwich
photo: wikimediacommons
Tuesday I introduced Mikesell to a sandwich joint called Al Porchettone (The Big Ham).  They have really good pork sandwiches with peppers. Along with sandwiches, we ordered what we thought were just fries, but ended up being a sandwich made up of french fries on a bun. Sometimes Italians try to be more American than Americans.

We stumbled upon an Indian market with everything you can't find in Italian grocery stores.  Things like rolled oats, sweetened condensed milk, limes, cumin, etc.  Hurray.

New Year's Fiesta - Ole!
Had to come home early New Year's Eve because of safety reasons (as mentioned in previous post). Good thing too because Italy turns into pop rocks on New Years.  It would have been hard to fall asleep for all the noise if it weren't for the fact that we were all EXHAUSTED.  New Years itself was a deep cleaning day - whooo!  Our apartment is now SPOTLESS.  Tapping into Mikesell's love of Honduras, we put on a New Year's Latin spread, because...why not?  I made salsa, refried beans, Mexican rice, and Sorella Mikesell made tortillas and then quesadillas from the tortillas.  It was super mega delicious!
me, Bradford, Robinson, Mikesell, Hurlburt, DiCaro (Duffin and Nickle out teaching)
photo from ward member, Paolo Hedfi
R.I.P. Fairly New Mission Camera
I would send pictures, but I can't because my not-even-one-year-old camera has officially died.  Yes, taken before its time.  A moment of silence, please....  So, I will be looking to adopt a new camera this week.  In the meantime, I'll try to swipe pictures from my companions.

District Dismantled
Sadly, time caught up with us.  Transfer news came on Saturday.  Staying:  all of us sisters (which makes 6 months for Bradford and Robinson in Sicily); Nickle and DiCaro (Nickle has been in Palermo, Sicily his whole time in Italy - 7 1/2 months. In fact, he arrived in Italy with me).  Leaving:  Duffin is leaving for Battipaglia, Napoli.  Hurlburt is headed to Catania, Sicily.

So we have to say goodbye to Duffin and Hurlburt. :(((((  This is going to be very sad, but we know they will do great work in their new cities.  But it is good news, indeed, that Bradford is staying because this is her "dying transfer" (meaning, she's going home in 6 weeks) - so we get to send her out in style!
Final photo together: Nickle, Mikesell, Hurlburt, DiCaro, Robinson, Duffin, Bradford, me
photo from ward member, Paolo Hedfi
Sorella Mikesell and I have become super great friends already, and we are setting goals and making plans to make this transfer great.  For instance, to help her learn the language, we are planning to SYL (speak your language) every day for at least one hour.  Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays we will speak Italian all day.  To keep things lively, we are going to do one crazy fun thing/week (is it kosher to set goals for crazy fun? - anyway, we're doing it).

Joseph Smith by David Lindsley
Profile of a Prophet
Ok - spiritual thing for the week:  I have restarted the Book of Mormon from the beginning, and I absolutely loved re-reading the Testimony of Joseph Smith.  I happened to read it the same day I read a talk from Canadian born lawyer, Hugh B. Brown, who became an apostle.  His 1955 talk, Profile of a Prophet, relays a discussion he had with an English gentleman (a member of the House of Commons and former Justice of the Supreme Court of England). This gentleman had a list of questions about the Church, but he was particularly skeptical about God still speaking to men and the validity of a prophet in our day and age.

During their 3-hour conversation, Brown and this gentleman outlined 11 characteristics that distinguish a man who claims to be a prophet, and he included this list in his talk.

11 Points of a True Prophet
1.   He will boldly claim that God has spoken to him.
2.   He carries a dignified message: no magic tricks,  no clairvoyance, but an intelligent statement of truth.
3.   He declares his message without fear (or making weak concessions) to public opinion.
4.   He speaks for God, teaching new and contrary principles to accepted dealings of the day.   A prophet bears witness to what he has seen and heard and seldom tries to make a case by argument.  His message - not himself - is important.
5.   He speaks in the name of the Lord, "Thus sayeth the Lord," as did Moses, Joshua, and other.
6.   He predicts future events in the name of the Lord, and they come to pass, as did those predicted by Isaiah and Ezekiel.
7.   He has an important message for his time and future times, such as Daniel, Jeremiah, and others had.
8.   He courageously and faithfully endures persecution and gives his life for his message (martyr), such as Peter, James, Paul, and others.
9.   He fearlessly denounces wickedness.  He is generally rejected by people of his time, but later generations of his persecutors would build monuments in his honor.
10. He does superhuman things - things that no man could do without God's help. His works would be convincing evidence of his prophetic calling; "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt 7:20).
11. His teachings are in strict conformity with scripture, and his words and writings would become scripture.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost
2 Peter 1:21
The Prophet Joseph Smith
The Prophet Joseph Smith by Brent Borup
Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the life of Joseph Smith knows that he meets every criteria on this list.  He always made it clear he was called of God. He translated the Book of Mormon - can I just linger on that for one moment?  This was a super human feat for an uneducated man in his early 20s to produce a book with over 500 pages that includes wars, historical chapters, visions and prophecies that correspond with the Bible, ministry of Christ that corresponds with the New Testament, that includes figures of ancient speech, similes, metaphors, exposition, description, narrations, oratory, epic, lyric, logic, and parables, and do it all in the space of about 2 months. Unprecedented!

Joseph Smith was a prophet.  You can see that in his audacious claims, his enormous courage in the face of unrelenting mobs, in his prophecies, his works, his character, and his writing - in the testimony at the beginning of the Book of Mormon.

The Angel Moroni told Joseph that his name would be "known for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people."  Joseph is a prophet alone for the fulfillment of that prophecy.  What I find ultra cool is being here in Italy, testifying of Joseph Smith in Italian - helping to fulfill that prophecy!

I know that Joseph was called of God and became His instrument in restoring Christ's Church to the earth, and I know that because I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  The Prophet Joseph Smith lived and died to preach and protect that message.
"Not in the entire history of America have we had anyone
who can reach Joseph Smith's stature.
The greatest religious minds of America, including for example, Henry David Thorough, William James, Emerson, and others
are by comparison to Joseph Smith - pygmies.
And this is essentially because of the product of Joseph's mind and life."
Harold Bloom, Yale professor and literary critic
(PBS Special, American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith, 26 Nov 1999)

Do we worship Joseph Smith?  Of course not.  This is the Church of Jesus Christ.  It is God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah whom we worship.  However, we do not forget the life and legacy of the man whom Christ called to restore all things.  The greatness of Joseph Smith doesn't begin and end with himself.  No.  His greatness lies in his ties with the Master.  His life, teachings, and death enable us to look, not just at him, but through him to Jesus Christ.  That's what a true leader does.  He reflects, not himself, but his Creator.

Lode all'uomo Che Vide Dio! (Praise to the Man Who Communed with Jehovah)
Sorella Ashley Nef

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