Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Preparing for General Conference

Marsh, Jackson, Mikesell, me (Man, that orange apron is really unfortunate on me)
This week we had a great time prepping for General Conference.  We went around talking to as many people as we could, just spreading general pleasantries, meeting some cool people, and making friends in the process.

We've had a couple of lessons with Adriana, our new 10 year-old convert. As we talked about the Plan of Salvation on one occasion, and Prophets on another (using cut-out pictures and having her teach us), her mother (who is semi-active) seems to be gaining more from the Lessons than Adriana (who is doing great). The spirit in the lessons has been really beautiful.

Conference Games and Goodies
As we brought up General Conference, they agreed watch it on their computer, but I wanted to make sure.  So we went home and made some conference game sheets:  Bingo, and pages for coloring or writing:
1) The color of the speaker's tie. 2) What I learned from the talk. We also made brownies (every Italian's favorite American treat). When we returned to Adriana's house to deliver the games and goodies, it was met with some enthusiasm: Adriana's older brother, Andrea (also less active) wanted to participate.  They thanked us then told me I have eyes like Jesus from the movie Jesus of Nazareth by Franco Zefferelli.  I will take that as a compliment, thank you very much.

How Can We Share the Gospel?
The Boscia family had us over for lunch and admitted their insecurity about doing missionary work.  They asked for ideas. As we ate (pasta with tuna and red sauce - surprisingly tasty), we shared some ideas on how they could help in the work.
     Invite a friend to a Family Home Evening
     Invite someone to a Church activity
     Introduce them to the missionaries
     Share Church materials: DVDs, pamphlets, Book of 
       Mormon, and bear testimony
     Bring up the Church in casual conversation, "This 
       weekend I taught a lesson in Church on families."
     Refer friends to the mormon.org website
We didn't tell them anything they didn't already know, but you could tell they appreciated the confirmation to what they knew.

Who Are You?
We passed by Monreale Cathredral and talked with a guy running the restrooms behind the Cathedral. He wanted to know who we were, so we told him and then expounded on the fine little tid-bits of living revelation and prophets.  We then gave him a mormon.org card and told him he could read more about us on that site and find us in Church.

He too said I have eyes like Jesus of Nazareth (that same movie).  Since it's Easter season, apparently they've been playing it on TV.

Visit to Put Us in Sheep-shape
Pecorelle Easter Cookies
photo: siciliancuisine.blogspot
We did a couple of days of exchanges because Marsh and Mikesell had to do fingerprinting for their Permessos.

So Jackson and I went to Palermo 2 and had a meeting with a less active.  Lucky for us, they demonstrated how to make sheep cookies for Easter. The molded sheep are a traditional almond candy/cookie called Pecorelle. Once out of the mold, they paint details and display them.

Then we went to hang out on a bench outside the Church of San Severio for a little comp study time.  As we read Mosiah 3, some crazy homeless guy came over and played the recorder tunelessly in front of us. Good mood music.

Sorella Giambona's Arancine Festa
Assembly Line:  Orange Apron, Marsh, Jackson, Mikesell, The Wonderful Sorella Giambona, son, Rigby, Burnham
Saturday before Conference, Sorella Giambona had us over to make Arancine (Rice balls filled with meat, rolled in bread crumbs, and then deep fried). She had us making a variety of flavors: traditional ones with ragu, some with pumpkin and cheese, others with spinach and cheese...all were good.
About the size of a Racket ball.
Goo on hands and nose! Burnham photobombing
Everyone gets a turn in the hot oil jacuzzi
Sorella Giambona, Marsh, Jackson, Mikesell, Nef

Catchin' Conference 
Then we headed over to Palermo 2 chapel to watch Conference with the elders of Palermo 2.  It was the best!  Hunkered around the archive computer, eight of us sardined ourselves into the narrow room.
Jackson's sexy leg, Anziano Busdicker, Stout, Kennedy, and Carr

Conference Quote Un-Quote 
Loved Conference. Here are some goodies:

Loved it when Elder Holland said, "Some people like to say that Christ was a comfortable god. REALLY?!"

Loved Elder Bednar's talk on the loads we carry and the Grace of Christ.
"His Atonement also enables us to do good and become better
in ways that stretch far beyond our mortal capacities."
Elder David Bednar
It's funny because just two days before, I had just read his 2001 talk, "In the Strength of the Lord."  In it, he talked about the "strengthening, enabling power of the Atonement of Christ" - or in other words, the Grace of Christ.

The Grace of Christ
Christ in Gesthemane by Harry Anderson
I have been thinking a lot about Grace and how much we often underrate it.  We know that Christ's Atonement helps us be forgiven of sin.  To be washed clean.  Shame removed.  Guilt lifted.  But we often forget that the Atonement goes so far beyond all of that.  The Power of Christ's Atonement - His Grace - works side-by-side with us to help us through every day of our lives.

Because of that Grace, He helps us through stuff:
     Through sorrow and sickness
     Through weakness and frustration
     Through shortcomings and inadequacies
- to levels far beyond what we may have held possible.
"Thus, the enabling power
of the Atonement [Grace] strengthens us
to do and be good and serve beyond our own individual desire
and natural capacity."
 Elder David Bednar, "In the Strength of the Lord," 2001

What if I Don't Feel Like it?
The Atonement even helps us work beyond our desires (or lack thereof) - because, though we know we should, sometimes we don't want to do the right thing.

What do you do in that situation?  When you don't feel like doing what's right?  You turn to Christ.  You ask for help.

And because He loves you so completely, and understands you deeply, and has the Power to help, He will give you strength and desire and power to continue on and do the right thing.  He's the key.

Don't underestimate the all encompassing nature of His power - His Grace.  And, don't underestimate our need for Him.  He is the ONLY way we can make it back, because He is the only One that can get us to that level of goodness.  He pushes us beyond ourselves to places we could not go otherwise.  How?  One word: Covenants.

Covenants are the Way to Growth
Through the gospel, we make Covenants (promises) with God in the name of Christ.  Covenants are the means by which we link ourselves with the Savior.  The closer the link, the more active His power shows up in our life.
"The purpose of the gospel is...
to make bad men good and good men better,
and to change human nature."
Bednar quotes President David O. McKay
Making covenants links us to the Atonement and, with His help - His Grace, we are able to progress, refine, grow.  Anyone could make it to the Terrestrial Kingdom by "sheer grit and willpower," as Bednar puts it.  But the only way anyone makes it to the Celestial Kingdom is through Christ's power.

Loved the enlightenment I received this week with inspiring talks.  Great Conference.

This week, we have prepared for the words of the apostles and prophets. Now Conference has prepared us for the days and weeks ahead.

We came and listened.
Now it's time to live it.

Sorella Giambona put butterflies in our hair

Have an Enlightened Week, Friends,
Sorella Ashley Nef

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