Taking My Wand for a Nametag

Friday, August 18, 2017

Chapter 74: "Want You Back, Want Want You Back"

You know how in Harry Potter, they freak out when someone mentions Voldemort by name? Well, that’s kind of similar to the word "ferragosto" for Italian missionaries. Remember how all Italians just go on vacation for the whole month of August? Same. No wonder the economy here struggles🙄 Well, you can still usually find a person or two who doesn't do this whole month-long vacation thing. However, that is not the case for ferragosto, a holiday that falls on August 15th, and basically everything is closed and it's a bigger deal than Christmas... so it's been an adventurous week leading up to the 'day which shall not be named' full of slowness but also some crazy miracles🎉

I'm just gonna put it out there that if anyone needs good dating advice, I'm a good person to call. You're probs thinking "but Smeds... you've been basically a nun for the last year and a half!" Well here's my theory. The mission is kinda like one giant dating game. You've got your potentials, who sometimes show lots of promise, but more often than not stop answering your calls after the first date, er, appointment. Then you've got your investigators, who you meet with more regularly and either start progressing towards the big commitment, or they breakup with you. Occasionally if you get desperate enough, you call up some of those ex-investigators just to see if anything has changed. 

Well, Jelena (our bap date who dropped us out of nowhere a few weeks ago) has been a bit of a sly dog as of late😉 Background story- we'd tried calling and texting her since 'the breakup' to see what was up. She texted back once telling us it wasn't our fault ("it's not you- it's me" 🙄how typical) but we hadn't heard anything from her since. Well we miraculously ran into her at a bus stop a few days ago, and she was like "wow this is crazy, it must be God" and we were like "yep probably". Then she texted us this morning out of nowhere, and the 'flirting' began... 
Her: so... I don't work at all this week...
Us: Nice! What are you gonna do?
Her: Oh... nothing...
Us: Well... you know... we happen to be free tomorrow... maybe we could meet up?
Her: OK! ...I mean... I guess I'm free...

SHE WANTS US BACK🤗 no one can resist Hurst and Smeds I guess🤷🏼‍♀️💁🏼 soooo yeah, we have a date with our ex tomorrow. Wish is luck 🤞🏼

Other than that, there's been the slowness that comes with ferragosto. That awesome moment when you only have like 6 total members/less actives to visit, and just a handful of investigators... and all of them but like one leave... but it's whatevs. We've done some service for our members and Anziani, went and helped at a baptism in Ravenna for my bud Anziani Gibb's investigator, and had interviews with Presidente!

Another cool thing! Since we had no one to meet with, we've been trying to use some of this excess time to plan some firesides and programs that are coming up. We decided to take a break and call through some old potentials. Well, 3 hours later and not a single person wanted to meet with us EXCEPT for this lady named Salina. She met the missionaries at an activity 4 years ago but never met with them again. Well, she agreed to meet with us and that's how we ended up doing a lesson in a sketchy bar last Friday lol. It was neat though, she said she's been looking for spiritual direction her whole life, and that she'd decided finally to pray and ask God to guide her to the answer. Well, the minute she finished praying, she got the call from us aaaand the rest is history. She's seriously super cool- a total miracle! We're seeing her again tomorrow❤️

We also had zone conference! My last one, which was weird and meant I had to give my dying testimony. Vomit. Whatevs, it was awesome to see so many past comps and mission friends, and we got a ton of awesome trainings! One awesome thing was when President Allen shared a talk from a couple years ago by Elder Anderson of the seventy. 

"Years ago I listened to a radio interview of a young doctor who worked in a hospital in the Navajo Nation. He told of an experience he had one night when an old Native American man with long braided hair came into the emergency room. The young doctor took his clipboard, approached the man, and said, 'How can I help you?' The old man looked straight ahead and said nothing. The doctor, feeling somewhat impatient, tried again. 'I cannot help you if you don’t speak to me,' he said. 'Tell me why you have come to the hospital.'

The old man then looked at him and said, 'Do you dance?' As the young doctor pondered the strange question, it occurred to him that perhaps his patient was a tribal medicine man who, according to ancient tribal customs, sought to heal the sick through song and dance rather than through prescribing medication.

'No,' said the doctor, 'I don’t dance. Do you dance?' The old man nodded yes. Then the doctor asked, 'Could you teach me to dance?'

The old man’s response has for many years caused me much reflection. 'I can teach you to dance,' he said, 'but you have to hear the music.'"

It makes me think back to the dance days❤️ during those long, long practices, we'd often go through parts of a routine without music, for the sake of correcting errors or clarifying steps. Those moments were never as enjoyable (for the dancer or for the viewer) as it was with the music. I also remember moments where we did run the full routine with music, and afterwards our coach would say something like, "Look Kaylee, you're just going through the motions. You're not listening to the music, and your heart isn't in it." Those moments were never as fulfilling as the times when the I felt so connected to the music that the movements just sort of happened! It happened naturally. This is so much like how the gospel works in our lives. Sometimes we're just doing the dance steps- we're keeping the commandments and simply going through the motions. We go to church because we have to, or serve out of obligation. And, like, yay for doing awesome things, but we kind of end up cheating ourselves out of the joy that comes with doing those things. Elder Anderson goes on to say:

"We learn the dance steps with our minds, but we hear the music with our hearts."

Just like in an actual dance, the dance steps in gospel living require discipline, and that is both important and admirable. However, the joy in the dance, or the joy in living the gospel, comes only when we learn to hear the music.

xo
Smeds


1- Ferragosto lunch! 2-6 Last Zone Conference 7- Past comps-Orr & Carter  8&9-More Zone Conf. 10-12 The ‘dying’ sorelle 13-Anderson & I are piecing out✌🏼

  

  

  

 










Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chapter 73: The New Disney Princesses

"Disney is going to make a movie based in Italy, and we are going to
be the princesses in it. We chase sunsets and eat pizza and have
magical flower crowns, and we tell the princes they have to wait
because you guys are busy being missionaries and don't have time for
them." -Francesca

"Well... I liked the torture chamber part!" -Anziano Whitlock

"Man, you are about to make someone reeeeeally happy" -Francesca to
the pizza delivery man

"Look, if you get sorted into Slytherin, you've basically just been
screwed over. It's like 'hey 11 year-old kid, you'll probs be a death
eater one day.' Nice." -Anziano Jacobsen

It has been a week. What do you do when all but one person you're
teaching go on vacation? And you have under 10 active members? And
only 3 of the less-actives are willing to even talk to you? And there
are like no new people to find because everyone is at the beach? Well,
you get creative and try not to blame yourself for the slowness of the
work😂😂 also, you play Josh Groban music a lot. Also you try to serve
the Anziani in your city. And you try to visit or talk to anyone you
can. You also bake a lot, because we are not above bribing people. You
go on lots of crazy adventures, all in a skirt and a nametag. And, if
you're lucky, you get to do it all in a country you love with
missionaries you adore.🤷🏼‍♀️🇮🇹

Oh, funny story. So we went and visited this less active named
Christina. She's super cool, and the only reason she doesn't come to
church is because she's a live-in nurse. Well, we'd just gotten kebab
and had started our fast immediate after. Well sure enough, we show up
at Christina's house and she gives us each a giant pizza and makes us
eat it in front of her. I wanted to hurl. She also showed me her
kidney stone she keeps in a jar. I wanted to hurl x2

We also got to hold a mini sacrament mtg with the Anziani and a
less-active on Sunday evening. She hadn't taken the sacrament in almost a
year because of her work, and it was such a neat experience. Then we
got a call from her this week saying she's quitting that job- she gets
to start coming to church again first week of September! Man, faithful
people are so cool to me! Especially after normal sacrament meeting,
where a crazy Albanian guy showed up and called out all the members,
er, I mean, bore his testimony🤦🏼‍♀️🙄

In other news, we got wrapped up into a 30 min conversation with a
Muslim dude and it ended with him inviting me to convert to his
religion, then him accepting a Book of Mormon...? Whatevs. Good old
Isaac lol. Also, this random old lady who has adopted us as her
grandkids told this pizza place to put any pizza we order on her tab.
She also calls me kiwi and I adore her. Also, yay for small towns
where you are friends with all the bus drivers and shop owners. Makes
me feel like Belle in the beginning of Beauty and the Beast, and
sometimes it's nice to be reminded that some people in the city like
you❤️

Pday was reeeeeeal good today. We took a train to this city called
Gradara. It happens to be a full-on medieval city with a super dope
castle used in movies. Also, any of you literary people out there, a
lot of writers refer to the tragic love story of Francesca and Paolo.
I know it's for sure in Dante's Divine Comedy, but it's in other
stories too. Well anyways, their tragic love story happened in this
actual castle, so that's cool. Just imagine a medieval castle with
trap doors and torture chambers and a drawbridge and probably an
actual dragon stored somewhere, and that's the Castle of Gradara.
Super cool. Funny story though, last night at English class we told
the Anziani about how we were going to this castle thing. Sure enough,
today as Sorella Hurst and I entered the city, we saw the Anziani
sitting on the steps looking rather put out.

Us: "Wow, way to copy our Pday!..... and why do you guys look upset?"
Them: "We thought this was gonna be a super cool medieval thing!"
Us: "...aaaaaaand?"
Them: *points at the castle*
Us: *sees castle and streets have been covered with butterflies,
streamers, and a big glowing sign saying "Magic Castle"*

Ok, so yeah, they're doing a princess festival this week... buuuut
serves the Anziani right for trying to copy our Pday 🙄😂

We also got to do an awesome FHE with Francesca. She's so funny... we
went to the church to meet up with her, and instead of driving to her
house or someplace for the FHE, she headed to the beach...? And that's
the story of how we had a super spiritual convo on the beach whilst
watching the sunset. Also the story of how my childhood desire to be a
mermaid has totally returned. Maybe I'll look into it after this
mission thing😉🐬

I know I always talk about how much I love these stubborn Italians, but
y'all can deal with it since you only have to listen to me for about a
month longer lol. This last week, I got some emails from my precious
Firenze friends. It was really neat, because the bishop and his fam
sent me the talk "Cast Not Away Therefore Thy Confidence" by Elder
Holland. I'd read it various times before, and always liked it. It
talks a lot about the spirit of revelation- how it works, the ways
Satan tries to combat against it, and what we can do to remain
grounded. I love it because he utilizes Doctrine and Covenants 8 ("Now
behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit
by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on
dry ground.") to explain how revelation really works, and what we need
to do. His main points brought up were to come with a question, do not
fear, and remember that God will help us.

I loved this. In the end, it is really simple and super beautiful. He
knows all the answers and wants to help us, but we gotta invite Him in
and stay strong against whatever Satan might throw our way. The
adversary tries to discredit our spiritual experiences and cause us to
doubt and fear. We just need to not, lol. I mean, I'm sure the people
were pretty freaked out at this whole "parting the Red Sea" thing and
probs thought it'd be impossible, but there's a first time for
everything lol. God gets pretty creative on our behalf, and we really
just need to trust Him.

And that's all I've got today.

xo
Princess Smeds👸🏼


1-???  2-The Magic Castle LOL  3-Our copycat Elders  4-9 Medieval/Princess Festival 10-20 Beach FHE with Francesca

                   

Chapter 72: "The Sunset is My Boyfriend"🌅

Well, it's officially August😳☀️Crazy stuff. Last Wednesday, I finished saying my goodbyes💔 aaaaaand got up at 5am so we could send off Sorella Arndt✈️🇺🇸🇦🇸 and also catch our 7am train🙃 but fiiiiinaaaaaly we made it to Ancona. And I absolutely love it here! Just think of a smaller city where all the buildings and apartments are up in the hills looking over the sea, and that's Ancona🏝 It's a smaller branch here, which means the missionaries hold half the callings and usually teach on the spot, and there are typically like 15ish people in church. Also, the branch president is in the Philippines right now and no one knows exactly when he's coming back...? Ah, it all reminds me of the good ole days of Savona💕 Anyways, the city is beautiful, the people are great, and my comp is the best. Here's some memorable quotes from this week!

"Sometimes girls really scare me..." -Anziano Whitlock 

"Who needs boys? They're all stupid. The sunset is my boyfriend. Also, pizza." -Francesca

"The truth is, I'm not actually a missionary... I'm a tour guide. Welcome to the best-kept secret of the mission: transfer 12 doesn't really exist..." -Sorella Hurst, five minutes after arriving in Ancona

"You look tired... do you need cake or something?" -Francesca

*During Branch Council* "Ok Anziani, you should visit and teach this list of people. And sorelle... maybe you can bake something to send with them, and that'll count as your missionary work." -Paolo, who is only slightly sexist.

"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for one day. Give a man toilet paper, and he'll never use a bidet!" -Anziano Jacobsen

As for work, it's been kind of a crazy week due to different meetings, and having to go up to Rimini twice. Buuut that's ok because I got to see Sorella Orr, Sorella Carter, Anziano Gibb, and Sorella Anderson so no complaints here!❤️❤️❤️ We got to meet twice with our investigator Jelena, and it went awesome both times! Francesca came and was the perfect member-present. WAIT I didn't explain Francesca. So she's absolutely one of my favorite people in this country. She's like 30 and actually lived in Firenze for a bit, where she was baptized! So she knows all my beloved Firenze people❤️ Also, she's just the coolest person ever. I really think she's a big reason for why God wanted sorelle in Ancona for the first time. It's so neat. Every moment we're with her, it just feels right. She's working on her mission papers right now, so we're waaaaay excited!

ALSO on Sunday, we found two super cool kids we've started teaching. So their mom is from Ghana, but they were born here in Ancona. In September, they're moving to London with their grandfather who is a member of the church! Anyways, we've met with them twice so far (Jason who is 15, and Suzanna who is 13), and they are super smart kids. Pretty shy, but you can tell they're really thinking about the stuff we teach, and their answers to our questions are always so profound! We are meeting with them again tomorrow so we're pretty stoked🤗

Ok so that's all great. Most of this past week in Ancona has been absolutely awesome! However, we all have those harder days, and yesterday started out as one of them. There was a combined district meeting in Rimini at around 11. Well, what do you do when your bus doesn't come, and you live on top of the hill far far away from the train station? What do you do when eventually the bus shows up, but you miss your train? What do you do when you find a different train, but then miss the bus from the Rimini station to the church? What do you do when, during all this chaos, you get a text from your most promising investigator saying they won't meet again? Lol my list of potential included crying/saying "screw it" and going to the beach/eating my feelings🤷🏼‍♀️

...but here's the thing... Elder Richard G Scott once said, "Sadness, disappointment, and severe challenge are events in life, not life itself. I do not minimize how hard some of these events are. They can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining center of everything you do. The Lord inspired Lehi to declare the fundamental truth, “Men are, that they might have joy.” That is a conditional statement: “they might have joy.” It is not conditional for the Lord. His intent is that each of us finds joy. It will not be conditional for you as you obey the commandments, have faith in the Master, and do the things that are necessary to have joy here on earth.  Your joy in life depends upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His holy Son, your conviction that their plan of happiness truly can bring you joy."

And so, we chose faith and joy. First, faith. Sorella Hurst and I had a good long chat about the situations of the day lol. All the craziness with the transportation was 100% not our fault, and it was something very much out of our control. As for the situation with our investigator, we prayed for a good long while, and we know we handled everything the best we could, and we made some plans to potentially help her back on the path. In the end, we realized we can only trust in God, knowing that so long as we do our part, His will is gonna be fulfilled. 

Then came the joy. A cool concept I've been studying lately is how to consistently live in joy, despite the fact that most aspects of life are outside of our control. We can't stop disappointing things from happening, and we can't just wait for the good moments like vacations or whatever to come, saying "well, when ______ happens, then I will be happy."  The idea rolling through my head lately is that we are more likely to be living a life of joy if we can add happy moments on our own. So we tried to do that yesterday. I've got a lil list now of things I can make happen, so I can be happy no matter the circumstance. Granted, my list is a bit different here on the mission than it will be at home, but it's the same concept. My list includes things like getting gelato, having a 5 minute dance party, serving my comp, watching the sunset, visiting a fav member or investigator, laughing with other missionaries, etc. So yesterday, we ate our feelings a bit with the rest of our zone lol. Then, we played card games on the train ride home with our Anziani. We had a quick dance party to the Princess and the Frog soundtrack before preparing a lesson. And we ended the day watching the sun set over the water with Francesca.

And let me just tell you, trusting God and chasing sunsets is the best medicine for just about anything.

XOxo
Sorella Smeds🌅🏝




1-3  Last goodbyes from Firenze   4&5 Carter & Orr   6-8 Ancona Adventures  9-12  SuNsEtS🌅

        
  

Friday, July 28, 2017

Chapter 71: The Smedley of The Opera🎭

Guys! It's been a crazy awesome week full of literally all the emotions, mainly due to three things! 1) We done got cultured 🎭🎨🎼 2) We done got transfer calls ☎️🚊 3) I done ran into a wall and might have broken my toe. Idiot lol. Anyways, let's expound a bit on these three things! Well, at least the first two😅

1) CULTURE 🎭🎨🎼
Alright so in our mission, Presidente Allen has allowed us the opportunity to do what's called a culture event. Basically, once during the mission, you can find an event, concert, play, show, etc. and go, no matter what day or time it is. Well, everyone and their dog was freaking out because the world famous opera The Barber of Savile was coming to Florence... sooooo last week, we were doing a scambio with the Ancona Sorelle, my ex-comp Sorella Arndt and her comp Sorella Hurst. We got permission from pres to go to this opera together during scambio, and it was absolutely a m a z i n g😍😍😍 it was so good and fun and guess where we watched it? Palazzo Pitti. Yep, we literally watched a world famous opera. In Italian. At a palace in Florence. It was a good night, although I've realized I've completely lost my ability to stay up late😅 The show ended close to 1am and I was fighting not to fall asleep lolololol. Seriously, an unforgettable night!

2) TRANSFERS ☎️🚊
This past weekend, we got transfer calls, and they were shocking like always. Let me first just say how glad I am that this is my last time getting transfer calls lol! The anxiety and stress and PACKING are my least favorite parts of the mission besides tourist filled buses in the summer. Anyways, we'd been assuming I'd stay and finish the mission here in Firenze, but it looks like God's plan is different! Ironically, I'm going to go take Sorella Arndt's spot in Ancona! Only fitting, given that I've followed her for literally my entire mission lolol! When we got the call, I was suuuuper heartbroken. Firenze is my absolute favorite place in the world, and it just about kills me imagining leaving these people. However, God's been helping me out a lot. I've never felt more at peace with a transfer call than I have for this one. I know without a doubt that my place for these next six weeks is in Ancona with Sorella Hurst❤️ ALSO I'm gonna be right next door to my past comps Orr and Carter, and my buds Sorella Anderson and Anziano Gibb! So yeah, Ancona it is! The sorelle just opened there last transfer, so it's still new. It's by the sea. It's a small branch. Aaaaand that's about all I know, but I'm excited!

So yeah, this week has been a week of goodbyes which are MY LEAST FAVORITE THING! But it's ok. There're been some cool things! For one, we spent Pday today with Carolina our investigator, just chilling around firenze. Also, bishop's family was out of town so he Skyped them during church so we could say goodbye. I just about died, especially since church had already been filled with so many goodbyes! The last night with the Larrain family nearly killed me. I love these people so much. Then tonight, we're saying goodbye to the Fallani and Rivera family, and to their precious kids!

I think the coolest thing for me, however, was our final lesson with Carolina Cabezas. I really tried to soak it all in, and was reminded of our first encounter with her. It was, like, my second week in Firenze when Sorella Arndt and I knocked on her door. It was beautiful at the end of yesterday's lesson to sit back and see how much progress and change Carolina has made. When we met her, she claimed to be a Christian but really didn't have much religious knowledge. She'd never prayed before, and was pretty content with her life. Her responses were always pleasant but short. Now, she prays daily and has been studying the Book of Mormon! She loves going through the children's edition with little Cristian because she likes the illustrations. She's receptive and open during lessons, and we have a super strong relationship. She's honest with us about her concerns and weaknesses, and is slowly but surely trying to live all of the commandments. At the end of the lesson, we all knelt down to pray, and I couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my face as she prayed for me by name. 

This change I've been able to see in Carolina over these last four and a half months reminds me why I'm out here, and what the Lord's work really is. I think we sometimes picture missionary work as being just for nonmembers, or that there's some sort of time crunch for baptism and all of that. In reality, however, a missionary's purpose is to bring others to Christ. I don't think God cares who it is- if it's a member, less active, investigator, or just some rando you find on the street. I also don't think He cares how much time the process takes. In the end, the purpose is still the same: to bring souls unto the savior. 

And it's just getting kind of real to me that I only have six more weeks where that is my only purpose.

So I'm pretty stoked to go to Ancona and do just that👊🏼🏝

xoxoxoxoxoxo 
Smeds


1- 7 The Opera!   8-18 Goodbyes 😢