Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Shaped By the Lord and the Work

Messina, Sicily
Tuesday was our day to see people before we left for Catania and Messina for a couple of days.

We went by Giuseppe and Katia's - Giuseppe couldn't stay because something came up, but we were able to catch Katia up on what she had missed from the Plan of Salvation lesson.  She loved the lesson, saying, "I feel so good when you are here.  You bring a special feeling."

We explained what she was feeling was the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, and talked about how we can recognize it and what it means.  But then she went off on some other topic right away and we couldn't quite recover the moment to invite her to consider baptism. Gah!  Foiled.  Oh well.

We had an appointment with Giusi, the 15 year-old, and asked her to read 3 Nephi 11.  More on that later.

Heading to Conference in Catania
This week was Zone Conference.  So on Wednesday morning we packed and headed north to Catania and Messina by train.  On our way up the coast we talked to a man from Firenze (mainland Italy) who seemed pretty bummed about life.  Tried to talk to him about the gospel, he wasn't very responsive, but I managed to get his contact information to pass along to the missionaries up north.

Zone Conference Addestramento
photo: Thank you Sister Waddoups!
Zone Conference went pretty well. Sorella Kippen and I gave our addestramento (lesson) about how to be Empowered Missionaries.
We broke it down into 3 sections:
     How to Prepare
     How to Teach
     How to Overcome Weaknesses & 
     stuff (through the Atonement).
It went pretty well, I think.

Then I gave my "dying" testimony (my final testimony before ending my mission).  Gosh, what does one say to sum-up a year and a half of feelings fostered and lessons learned?

Dying Testimony
I talked about Alma 29:9 (the verse listed with my blog picture - right) and what it means to be an instrument in the hands of God.
photos: Thank you Sister Waddoups!

Alma Arise
Alma Arise by Walter Rane
I told the story of Alma, how he was visited by an angel, and that angel changed his life forever because he invited Alma to repent.

In chapter 29, Alma expresses how he wants to be like that angel himself and call repentance to everyone (so they can feel the same blessings he has felt).  But then he has a change of perspective and sees that he already has been doing that (sharing the gospel).

I like verse 9 because it talks about how man's Joy and his Glory is to invite others to repent, to come unto Christ.  Compare that thought with this verse:
Adam fell that men might be;
and men are, that they might have joy.
2 Nephi 2:25
Man's purpose is to have joy.  That joy comes by bringing them closer to Christ.
Now look at God's purpose.
Behold, this is my work and my glory -
to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
                                           Moses 1:39
God's purpose is to have everyone come to Him and live forever.  Look at that, man's purpose and God's purpose are the same. 

The Meaning of Life
photo: Sister Waddoups' Blog
We are here to help one another out and make it back to God.  In doing so, in helping each other, we gain the purest of joy.  That is the meaning of life.

Then I tied that in with a verse from Moroni.
Behold, [God] sent angels to minister
unto the children of men,
to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ;
and in Christ there should come very good thing..
And the office of their ministry
is to call men unto repentance...
by declaring the word of Christ
unto the chosen vessels of the Lord.
Moroni 7:22, 31
Missionaries (who have the same purpose) are, thus, ministering angels.  Then I bore testimony on that and talked a little about the mission and how it is a process of growth and progression that comes with time.  

Shaped By the Lord and the Work
Right now, I am the best missionary I have ever been, but I am also the product of a year and a half of the Lord molding and shaping me.  Growth and experience come with time.  When we are trying our best to do and be something, we are more stubborn with ourselves in the process than we would like to be, but the Lord is patient.  We should be too.  He wants us to be happy, so in our journey of learning, doing, and being, look for ways to be happy.  Ended with my testimony in Italian, talking about miracles.

"Ribasso" means "price cut," "sale"

Watermelon Abundi!
Before Conference, we were in a leadership meeting with the President and Zone Leaders.  Pres sat down and asked the Zone Leaders if everything was set for Conference.  They said yes, and mentioned that sandwiches were on the menu for lunch.
     "Do you have watermelon?" asked Pres.
     "Uh...no," they responded, "We do not have watermelon."
     "I think we should get some watermelon," said the Pres. 
Then he paused and added, "Yes, if we have a knife, we should get some watermelon!"

So, during Conference, he sent out the senior couple dudes to purchase melons in grand amounts.  It was definitely yummy!

Scambio in Messina
Messina Cathedral
After Conference we headed out to Messina for our scambio (exchanges).  

In the center Piazza of Messina is the Messina Cathedral (built by the Normans) with its grand bell tower.  

This modern reproduction of the original tower (that was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in the 1700s), was rebuilt in 1933 by a Strasbourg clock company.

What makes this 200-foot bell tower special is that it holds the worlds largest astronomical clock, which works on some complicated levers, pulleys and weights system. 

Oh, but this isn't all.  At noon everyday, the 10-foot gilded figures on the tower come to life.  It's amazing. Come mid-day, the bells ring, the rooster crows, the lion roars, the saints bow, a gold church emerges, while Ave Maria blares on a loud speaker for the entire city to hear.
Messina Cathedral
View of the tip of Italy's boot from Messina coast
Well, Messina was charming, but what made it even better was my time with the two great sisters who work in the city.

Sorella Palmer and Sorella Foster
photo: Sister Waddoups' Blog
Messina Friends
I was paired with Sorella Palmer, with whom I became SUPER great friends.  That evening we had a member appointment with a woman from Sri Lanka who told me I had a lot of courage and that I'd be successful and marry someone handsome.  There you go!

The whole experience in Messina was a fun one.  Sorella Palmer and Foster are now my really good friends.  Turns out they have a passion for writing too, so I have some writing buddies when they get off their missions in the future.

Back Home in Siracusa
Kippen and I striking a pose in the Messina Cathedral
Then Kippen and I came back to Siracusa.  We missed out town.  I do love this place.

Let me update you on Giusi.  The lesson with our 15 year-old friend was good. We had left her with homework to read 3 Nephi 11, and when we came to the appointment, she said she had read it - not once, but twice - she loved it so much.

We talked about her favorite parts (when Jesus invites everyone to come and see Him and calls up Nephi and the other disciples).  

Then we talked about baptism.  She said she'd like to think about it, but asked a lot of questions.

See You Next Sunday
We did our best with the time we had left this week, but appointments kept being cancelled and falling through, and our investigators who promised to come to Church did not.  Sigh.

Giuseppe, when we saw him on Saturday, said that he doesn't see the point in asking for one true church if all churches lead to God.  We tried to teach, but something was off, and nothing seemed to make it through.  Odd.  It was like he had forgotten everything we taught him.

Speriamo Bene
Our goal this coming week is to get in touch with these families and try to help them see the importance of the gospel in blessing their lives.  

Farewell Party
In other news, the ward is throwing me a farewell party this Thursday, so if anyone is in Siracusa, you can stop by at 7:00pm and say goodbye to me, even though I will still be here for another week and a half. :)  It was announced on Sunday as a surprise for me.  Cute.  (Between you and me, I think they just ran out of ward activity ideas).

Though the Lord and this work has shaped me and continues to do so, I plan to keep sharing what I know so that others can feel what I feel.

Speriamo Bene.  Now where's some more watermelon?
Sorella Ashley Nef

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