Taking My Wand for a Nametag

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chapter 70: heyyy let's go camping⛺️

Hey friends. It's hot☀️ but it's been a good week. Mainly because I kind of got to go camping. And this upcoming week is gonna be EVEN COOLER but you'll have to wait u till next Pday to see why๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผ‍♀️Also, the sooner I finish this email, the sooner I can take a much-needed nap so we're gonna be doing bullet points today๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผ‍♀️ sorry not sorry๐Ÿ™ƒ

- We're still going strong doing volunteer work at the Caritas. I'm getting really good at chopping up vegetables ๐Ÿฅ’๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ…
- We had an awesome scambio with the Pisa sorelle. I was with Sorella Tueller, which is cool because we are related apparently? Anyways, I learned a lot and it was just a really cool scambio overall!
- We went to visit our less active Mariana who'd been showing a ton of progress... except for the fact that we showed up and she was completely wasted๐Ÿ™ƒ that made for a suuuuuuper interesting/stressful lesson. She was rambling. Peppa Pig was on the tv. Her two year was feeding an entire bag of M&Ms to the dog. It was a weird hour of my life.
- We met with Carolina Cabezas and she finally understands what commandments are๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ go team! 
- I biffed it hard core while crossing the street and now it looks like I was in a motorcycle accident or something. I legit tripped on air. Niiiiiice.
- We went on a day-long camping trip with our ward and the branch in Montevarchi and it was the best thing ever. Well, it started with some stress and crazy driving but finally we made it to Vallambrosa. It looked so much like Utah mountains I wanted to cry. It was like 90 degrees instead of the 110 we've been suffering, so it was like heaven. Trees, campfires, everything! Much needed, much needed ๐ŸŒฒ๐Ÿž๐Ÿ•๐Ÿš—
- Our investigator Maria and her family are headed to Sicily for the Summer, so we went to say goodbye to them. Super sad stuff, especially since she doesn't know if they'll be back before I finish the mission. Stupid Italy vacations that last two months. What even?? Anyways, the gem invited us on the spot to come with them to Sicily and I almost said yes. Oh how I love that fam.
- We spent pday doing some shopping and eating subway for the first time in a year. And soon we will be napping๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ
- I've been working a lot on the attribute of faith, and it's been pretty dang cool. There's this really cool quote I found from President Packer. I was gonna just choose my favorite part but then I realized the whole thing was my favorite part... so I'll just bold a few gems:

"Faith, to be faith, must center around something that is not known. Faith, to be faith, must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence. Faith, to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness. If everything has to be known, if everything has to be explained, if everything has to be certified, then there is no need for faith. Indeed, there is no room for it. …

“There are two kinds of faith. One of them functions ordinarily in the life of every soul. It is the kind of faith born by experience; it gives us certainty that a new day will dawn, that spring will come, that growth will take place. It is the kind of faith that relates us with confidence to that which is scheduled to happen.

“There is another kind of faith, rare indeed. This is the kind of faith that causes things to happen. It is the kind of faith that is worthy and prepared and unyielding, and it calls forth things that otherwise would not be. It is the kind of faith that moves people. It is the kind of faith that sometimes moves things. … It comes by gradual growth. It is a marvelous, even a transcendent, power, a power as real and as invisible as electricity. Directed and channeled, it has great effect.

“In a world filled with skepticism and doubt, the expression ‘seeing is believing’ promotes the attitude, ‘You show me, and I will believe.’ We want all of the proof and all of the evidence first. It seems hard to take things on faith.

“When will we learn that in spiritual things it works the other way about—that believing is seeing? Spiritual belief precedes spiritual knowledge. When we believe in things that are not seen but are nevertheless true, then we have faith”

I like this a lot. I feel like it's been pretty easy for me during life to have faith in the big things, or to have faith in the gospel principles and teachings. However, at least for me, it's a lot harder to have faith in the more individual situations and decisions we may be dealing with. It's harder to have faith in people. And sometimes it's just a bit hard to have trust and faith in God in a more personal/real sense. So I've been trying to be better by just making little changes here and there. Trying to make my prayers more sincere, choosing to have faith instead of stress (that one is a work in progress lol), just little things like that. And I've got a loooong way to go, but it's been cool to see the difference it's made. I feel like God has been able to work through me more, to help the people in our city and the sorelle we are over. It's been super cool to see how working on trusting Him has allowed me to align my will more closely to His. And we're becoming closer buds in the process, which is always nice๐Ÿค—

It's cool stuff. Now I'm gonna go nap. Buona notte cari miei๐Ÿ˜ด

XO
Sorella Smedley

1- Scambio!  2-7 Camping! Kind of…   8- Saying goodbye to Maria & her fam๐Ÿ’”  
9-10 PDAAAAAY

  


  

  








1- Scambio!  2-7 Camping! Kind of…   8- Saying goodbye to Maria & her fam๐Ÿ’”  9-10 PDAAAAAY

Chapter 69: "This Badge of Shame You'll Show Until You Die!"

This week's title comes from "Look Down" from Les Mis. Ironically fits a moment I had this week... you see, I'm going through a weird phase. A Les Mis phase. Not that this is anything new- I've belted these toons out with a lot of comps. Les Mis is one of my shower playlists, as lame as that sounds. Lately I've been using songs from it as my alarm clock to ensure I actually wake up on time.

Man, that came back to bite me in the butt, that's for sure.

So I set an alarm for something. I don't remember what it was for. Let's just say that, towards the end of sacrament meeting on Sunday, our ward was graced with the opening bars of "Look Down" on full-blast. I don't know if I've ever been scared that badly in my life, but just picture a serene sacrament meeting being rudely interrupted by singing salves and an awkward Smeds literally jumping out of fear. That sure woke everyone up. Go me for not peeing my skirt because it was a close call.

In better, less embarrassing news, we had a great scambio with the Montevarchi sorelle! I had tons of fun with Sorella Roseno, especially when we went to visit our old lady friend Ida haha. Her visits are always so interesting. We left and poor Sorella Roseno was like "Um..l I only understood like 20% of that" and I was like "eh, I'm at maybe 25% so all is well"

We also met with both Carolinas, and they're doing well! Summer is messin stuff up for us because everyone and their dog keeps going to the beach. All things considered, however, they're both doing really well. We also got to spend some time with some members. My favorite was an afternoon with the Ferrinis, the family I feel most at home with. Literally we spent half of lunch discussing all the Marvel things and it was seriously too good.

One super neat experience was coming across the Forni family. Sorella Forni is a member, but the rest of her family isn't. She has a husband, a 29 year-old son, and a 2 year-old daughter. They are all adorable. Well her family is basically Mormon but unbaptized. When you ask them about being members they say they "aren't believers" buuuut they are in church every Sunday, read the Book of Mormon as a family, do FHE and prayers, etc. Basically they are more active than a lot of our actual members. I had only maybe seen them twice before, because they spend a lot of time in Livorno visiting relatives. Even when in Livorno, however, they attend church. They are seriously too good. Well they invited us over for dinner after church on Sunday and it was one of the best experiences! Their fam is so cool, and I seriously had to keep reminding myself that they weren't actually members. During the lesson, they all participated, especially the son. It was all seriously so great, and they asked us to start doing family home evenings with them! 

We spent the first half of Pday up in Fiesole, just eating gelato in the Tuscan hills... last part was spent in the apartment with kebab because IT IS HOT AS HADES. Constantly in the 100s with awful humidity. Like even nightime trying to get to sleep, it's at least in the 90s. Also mosquitos are killing me. The tiger mosquitos have returned. I've been fighting back with windex- spraying the little jerks so their wings get wet and they fall to the fund. Then they crawl and it's creepy. And that's the story of why my comp keeps walking in on me climbing on top of furniture spraying windex everywhere. Fun times. Other things happened this week... but I just don't have enough brain power to keep writing... so here's two cool things that were floating through my mind this week!

1) The Bridge Builder: Completely by accident, I somehow found a random talk by President Monson from like 2003, and it was one of the most beautiful talks I'd read in a while. He starts by sharing this poem by Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide--
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A throng whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that great throng may a pitfall be.
They, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for them.”

He then discusses different "bridges" that Jesus Christ has built for us. Isn't that good stuff? I liked it a lot. Sometimes those chasms seem pretty big, and my legs are far too short to get myself across. So yeah, it was a good read. 10/10 would recommend.

2) Lessons from Les Mis: Well, some good has come out of listening to Les Mis this week, besides the unforgettable mistake during sacrament meeting. It's one of those stories that has a lot of awesome themes and ideas. One of the most well-known is the line used at the end, "To love another person is to see the face of God". I think about that line a lot as a missionary, and I love it because it's two-fold. On the one hand, we can have opportunities to see others as God sees them, and we feel His love for them. On the other hand, we can get to know God through loving others. It's such a neat principle. During our lesson with Carolina this week, we mentioned something about how much God loves her and wants to bless her. She responded that she honestly didn't know if He loved her, specifically. As she said that, I felt moved by the spirit to tell her that He did love her, and that I knew it because I could feel it. I can't describe it in words very well, but it was one of the coolest experiences. It's happened various times with people, being able to feel just an overwhelming sense of how much God loves them.

And I think it's safe to say it's a pretty huge amount of love ❤️ 

Even for those of us stupid enough to have "Look Down" play during church.

XOXO
Sorella Smeds

1- Ferrini Family   2-Florence๐Ÿ˜  3-Scambio  4 & 5-Elettra Forni❤️  6-10 Fiesole  11- I ❤️my city! 12- Windexing the mosquitos away:)


 

     

 


 














1- Ferrini Family   2-Florence๐Ÿ˜  3-Scambio  4 & 5-Elettra Forni❤️  6-10 Fiesole  11- I ❤️my city! 12- Windexing the mosquitos away:)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Chapter 68: I Missed the Fireworks Again ๐Ÿ˜•๐Ÿ‡บ

Happy America day friends!๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ’™❤️๐ŸŽ‡ we got to celebrate by having zone conference followed by a Zone Pday! Yay for hot dogs and parties! Although I've definitely decided I will never spend another Fourth of July outside of America, because I miss our beautiful country! Oh well, if I can't  spend it in the US, I may as well spend it in Bella Italia! Zone conf was a great way to spend the holiday though, hearing awesome trainings from President and Sorella Allen❤

We also had scambio his week with the Prato sorelle! I was with Sorella Harris and we hiked a hill together. Nice. Gaia had just bought a four-month-old puppy, so you could say it was worth it. Seriously though, I learned so so much from Sorella Harris, and it was so fun being her last scambio comp before she goes home!

Another highlight was seeing Betty this week! We've been working in some temple prep stuff with her, and she is doing so great! She also told us this week that she wants to get stuff in order to serve a mission in about a year! So we were pretty dang happy about that!

We also had the best lesson ever with young Carolina!! Seriously it was so neat. She asked so many great questions and prayed for the first time at the end of the lesson! In her prayer, she asked for help in being more open and to be able to know for herself if our message was true. We have another appointment with her tomorrow, so keep her in your prayers!

   There was also an awesome appointment with my bffs the Larrains! No squid this time, just cow intestine in a bowl of corn. Shoot me. They think it's hilarious to bring a food I dislike 
   to the table each week and make me try it. Such an odd relationship we have. Sorella Larrain still finds it so odd that I don't love random organs or fish, and yet she was disgusted when
   I mentioned that cookie dough tastes good right out of the bowl. Ridiculous. Seriously though, I just love them. I feel like I can just chill when I'm with them. Also, this convo happened:
   Sorella Larrain: Next time, we'll eat cow heart!
   Me: noooooooo
   Her: come on, it's great!
   Me: oh yeah, cookie dough is nasty, but cow heart is fine? Come on.

Something I love that was brought up multiple times this week is the concept of being "born again". Sorella Allen talked about it in her training on zone conference, as we discussed ways to make the sacrament a more personal experience. Our relief society president brought it up in her lesson on Sunday. One thing I love that she did is that she asked all those who had children to describe their emotional state right before and during childbirth.

Yikes.

There were a lot of feelings listed, including weakness, pain, fear, etc. She then brought up how all of these feelings are pretty awful and crazy, and yet women who've been through childbirth willingly decide to have more children. Why? Because the minute you've got your adorable kid in your arms, all those less-than-awesome feelings melt away and you're left mainly feeling joy.

She compared this process of childbirth to the act of being born again spiritually. This idea of being born again causes discomfort, pain, weakness, and fear at times. Repentance and change have never been easy. However, in the end, we feel so much joy that we don't really remember the hard parts of the process as visibly. I absolutely love the idea that thanks to Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we really can be spiritually reborn. If we are putting ourselves through the process of change and repentance each week, then us taking the sacrament on Sunday seals the deal. It's better than rewinding- it's literally like a restart button we can continually use to better ourselves, and to bless the lives of others.

Because as Ezra Taft Benson said, "Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men change the world."

xoxo 
Smeds❤๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐ŸŽ‡

1- Random Humanitarians  2- Following Jesus ๐Ÿ˜‰  3-Moroni???  4-It was a good lesson. He was very receptive  5-7  Scambio w/ Sorella Harris to visit Gaia(& her puppy)  8-9 She drew me a picture ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ญ

10- My favs, the Larrains  11-14 Zone Conf. & 4th of July Pday ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ❤️ 

   

   

  

  










Friday, June 30, 2017

Chapter 67: "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"-Aerosmith

Whale, I'd say the typical "it's been a good/hard/crazy week full of miracles/awkwardness/love" but after 67 weeks, I think y'all get the point that every week of my life here in good ole Italia is a big mix of all the things๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผ‍♀️ Anyways, it's been one of the loooongest weeks of the mish lol. There's been some health stuff to deal with plus some plumbing/apartment issues which has made it so a lot of our time was spent inside. Instead of out with my favorite people. Worst. Thing. Ever. Whatevs. Here's a rundown on the gems we did get to see!

Carolina Cabezas: Still on track for baptism sometime this transfer. We're currently working on commandments with her, and I'm just so impressed at how far she's come! She prays every day, and has finally starting reading the Book of Mormon! More than that, she is just eating it up! She is so changed! Now we just need to help her take the same actions on the rest of the commandments. We are currently praying with her so we can know which date is most realistic for her baptism, so keep her in your prayers!

Other Carolina: We finally got her to come to the church, and we gave her a big ole tour! She loved it, and had so many questions about baptism and what she will eventually have to do to be a member. She is so freaking close! We're hoping to set a bap date with her soon!

Members!! Got to chill with our favorite German sisters and they made us a stew thing that was kind of weird but also made me think of Sunday dinner. Bonus. Also got to see the Fallani family and the Rivera family. They make me so so so happy, with their cute kids and puppies and basically it was just what I needed.

There was also an Aerosmith concert going down at this park next to our apartment. Which meant we got to see it and hear it. Didn't even have to break any rules. Another much needed surprise during the week. Idk friends, it wasn't even that bad of a week! I think just a combination of things plus being cooped inside half the time took its toll. Basically, I was just feeling a little down. I didn't feel effective, even though our reasons for being inside instead of out were outside of my control.

Ironically, I happened upon a lovely little scripture that changed my everything. I couldn't sleep the other night, and so I figured it'd be a good use of time to read the Book of Moses lol. And I realized that Enoch is my favorite. Literally everything he says has me like "yes. You get me Enoch. I'm so glad I'm not a crazy person!"

..even though I'm just sitting here bonding with biblical characters. It's fine. 

Anyways, Moses 7:44 says "And as Enoch saw this, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens: I will refuse to be comforted;" At this point, I was just like "Preach Enoch!" This was at approximately 3:47 am.

And then I read on. "... but the Lord said unto Enoch: Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look." Well, I'd spent his whole time feeling like I was Enoch, so I figured I ought to take what the Lord said to him as a message for me. And so, I decided to look.

It ended up being the coolest thing ever. Because yeah, my greatest joy out here comes from serving these people who I love so dearly. However, it was so crazy for me to see how many little things God gave me here and there this week solely for the purpose of lifting my spirits a bit. Like eight-year-old Victoria bringing me a sticker to put on my name tag. Like having a perfectly dark, cloudy day, just because It's my favorite. Like having interviews with Presidente and hearing exactly what I needed to hear. Like Principessa Sara asking to take more bff pictures together after church. Like the really nice bus driver who saw us running to catch the bus and waited for us. Like one of my favorite member families telling me they planned a trip to West Jordan for after I'm home so we can get slurpees and cafe rio. Like Aerosmith deciding Novali was a good place to have a concert. 

And I'm not stupid enough to believe that all of those sweet little things happened just for me. Cloudy days happen just for fun, and I don't even know Aerosmith songs that well. However, it's pretty dang neat to realize just how aware God is of us, that he's willing to throw in little things here and there for the sake of our happiness.

Man, what a nice guy.

xoxo 

Smeds☁️

1- Candid photo of how I felt about my week  2-6  Man I just love my children!   7-Pday   8&9 My God-given gray day 10- Aerosmith

   

    





















Saturday, June 24, 2017

Chapter 66: "Sorella Shakira"๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿผ

Welcome back to the latest edition of "Smeds in Summer". It's still hot. It's still humid. And I'm still somehow the happiest human☀️

Last Pday was a rough one, saying goodbye to Sorella Arndt. Got ourselves some lamprodotto (cow stomach) sandwich. Did some shopping. Saw some pals. It was a good time. Still weird saying goodbye to her, though. We've spent our whole missions together, and spent the last 3 months literally connected at the hip. Now she's chillin at the beach without me. Lame stuff, but I'm over it.

Thursday morning, I got my new comp Sorella Wilson. She's pretty great! She's the kind of person who is super hard working whilst also being trunky for tacos ๐ŸŒฎ It's a fun time. We realized the other day that our companionship is basically like that scene in The Princess Bride where the old couple is like
"Have fun storming the castle!"
"Think it'll work?"
"It'll take a miracle."
Basically, I'm the "Have fun storming the castle!" one. She's the "It'll take a miracle." one. Not the clearest description, I know, but it's the best I can come up with haha.

Anyways, this week has been fun and crazy. Dealing with transfer stuff plus consiglio made for a week full of non-traditional things. Whelp, here we go.

We had CONSIGLIO up in Milano, which was a blast as always. Got to chill with Sorella Anderson, Sorella Fife, and Sorella Perkins from the MTC. Also I GOT TO SEE MAH BABY!!! Hahaha my amazing greenie Sorella Richards is a new STL in Verona, and you could say I'm a pretty proud trainer/mama. She's become even more amazing, and nothing beat sitting with her for the whole meeting๐ŸŽ‰ Pres had some awesome ideas and plans for the mission, so it was just great, then we got a nice four hour train ride home through the sunflowers. Not too bad.

Also, I just love our members lol. They make me so so so happy. I'm couldn't be more stoked to have at least another six weeks with these gems. We got to visit a few of them this week, including our beloved Sorella Larrain and her fam. Oh, they are the best. Also, crazy Cinzia brought us a bin of carrots? Also, my precious eight-year-old bffs wanted to do a photo shoot after church on Sunday, and you already know I was all about that๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ’๐ŸผEven in spite of the awful heat, Firenze is still kind of the best place to be.

We also got to meet with boh Carolinas this week. The whole "same-name" deal is really throwing me for a loop lol. Come on Italy/South America, get some creativity. Whatevs.

Lol, we spent today showing Sorella Wilson around Firenze (the leather market, Duomo, etc)⚜️ Lol, the leather market is the best pick-me-up๐Ÿ˜‚ I mean, the leather smell is already fab, buuuut also because all the people selling stuff will do anything to get your attention. Including irrational compliments. I love it. Today's highlights included:

"Congratulations on your blue eyes. You can have things for free!"

"Miss America! Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii!"

And then this gem:

"Hello! Are you Shakira?"

Go team. I'll pretend it wasn't just because they wanted my money. 

Also, we saw a field-trip group of nuns today. Sometimes I feel like I'm one of them⛪️

Super cool thing this week. Well, it started super sad... but then it was super cool. So we were teaching English class and all of a sudden this South American couple showed up. I stepped outside to see what the deal was. 
Them: Hey can we see your president?
Me Internally: Uhhhh wait, Trump? The prophet? Should I just pretend it's me?
Me externally: Um, like our church leaders? What is it exactly that you need?
Whelp, they were very much not in need of any of those people. Turns out they were actually super inactive members that showed up in Italy like 7 years ago. Their daughter and granddaughter just got to Italy a bit ago. That morning, however, the daughter passed away.

Didn't see that one coming, did ya?

So I sat in the hallway for a solid 15 minutes hearing about their daughter and hugging the lady while she cried. We got her on the phone with bishop and squared some stuff away. They want us to come over and start doing lessons with them and the granddaughter after the funeral is taken care of.

Idk, it was just super neat to me that after something as difficult as losing a child, the impulse reaction, despite not having entered a church in 7 years, was to come back. When we get blindsided by challenges or heartaches, where do we go for strength? I'm not a hymn person, but I'm gonna make the cheesy/cliche move and reference a hymn, because it just fits the situation oh so well.

Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?
Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

Sorry for being that person lol๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผ‍♀️๐Ÿ˜‚ but it's true, isn't it? When problems happen, we naturally want to go to those we love most, or to those who understand and have experienced our pain. We are just the luckiest ducks out there to have Jesus Christ, who fits the bill on all accounts.

And idk, that just makes my heart really happy,

xo
Sorella Shakira๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿผ


1-Sorella Larrain  2-Carrots from Cinzia??  3-5 Photo shoot with my BFF’s  6-Today I love it!  7-8 My baby, Sorella Richards 

9-MTC group-Fife, Anderson & Perkins  10-11 Zone Conference  12-13 Train ride through the sunflowers  14-15 My District :)  16- Nuns on parade