Taking My Wand for a Nametag

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chapter 35: Life as a Single Parent

Happy last week of the transfer lol🎉 yep, transfer calls are in! Shocker, Sorella Richards and I are staying together to finish training! Honestly I'm so relieved we get another transfer together💕🎉 Anziano Jones is staying as well! However, Anziano Gibb is heading to Montevarchi, thus leaving me a "single parent" here in Savona. 🌴 in addition to transfer calls, its just been a busy but awesome week!

Friday we had weekly planning, and then took a train up to Finale Ligure. Once there, the De Milatos (a family in our branch) picked us up and literally started driving up the mountain 🏔🏞 holy freak, I want their house! I will attempt to describe it to you... its nestled into the mountain, and basically looks like a hobbit hole. Their balcony overlooks the entire valley. They literally have crops and vineyards and a river. Like just a million and one adorable things, and basically I had to remind myself at least twice that coveting is a sin... to make matters worse/better, we had one of the best meal appointments ever, and they gave us all the remaining food😛 about half way through the appointment, I noticed a familiar face in their family pictures. Ilaria Tonon! One of my favorite lil kids from back in Collegno! Yep, turns out she's their granddaughter!!! I about died, and the De Milatos were soooo happy when I showed them my pictures and videos with Ilaria! As we prepared to leave, fratello De Milato stopped us and said, "You know, we consider you to be our granddaughters too" ❤️😭

Then we had an appointment to meet with a lady we'd found on the street a few weeks back named Fedricah (the lady we met that one weird week... she's the one who witnessed the bumblebee attack in which I barely made it out with my life🐝) Lol, she was like "now listen, I wanna be friends with you and I'm curious about who you are, but you won't be able to convert me so don't try." However, the entire rest of our meeting together just turned into talking about the gospel, just like last time. When we left, she was like "you guys can meet with me again next weekend. But just know we're not meeting so you can teach me or covert me". Now, normally hearing something like this would come across a tad bit discouraging. However, since she's said this literally every time and yet SHE has been the one to instigate talking about our message, I'm pretty confident in how our next few visits will go😂💕

Saturday was a bit crazy. First of all, there were transfer calls! Then we had an appointment with our investigator Francesca. Craziest thing happened. About halfway through the lesson, we got a call from the STLs so I moved away from our bench a bit. As I talked with them, I kept seeing this blonde guy walking past and staring at Francesca and Sorella Richards. Finally, he approached me. He's German but started speaking English and just started firing question after question. We went from topic to topic for at least 20 minutes (a round of applause to my dear greenie for managing to teach Francesca on her own this whole time) and then he brought up more stuff. After a while, Sorella Richards finished the lesson and then came to join me. We talked more and more and then he was like "meet me here at 6 next Saturday and be prepared to answer a question" and we were like "um alright what question?" And he was like "what makes your church different from all other churches. Oh, and bring me a Book of Mormon too. I'm willing to test this." 😳😳😳😳😳 um, ok! That is kind of our job!

Sunday was, well crazy and random lol. During sacrament meeting, a less active who hasn't been to church in a looooooong time came and bore her testimony. However, rather than the usual testimony one would hear, we were lucky to endure the most awkward thing I've ever experienced during a fast and testimony meeting. Not only some long-winded unrelated story, nor was it full of so much crying you couldn't understand the words. I wish lol. This lady literally got up and informed all of us that the branch president refused to give her a temple recommend for absolutely no reason. And she preached about this for 15 minutes. Awkward. Presidente was way offended by this, so the last two hours of church were full of lectures and arguments that we missionaries weren't even allowed to attend. Yep, they stuck us at the back of the church with the youth and wouldn't let us help fix any of the issues. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the day figuring out what we as missionaries are gonna do to save this branch. They really are awesome people! However, the church is YOUNG enough in Savona that the leaders and members here don't really know what they're doing. Luckily we know that through our efforts, God will be able to fix it😊 Also, about halfway through sacrament mtg, this girl Elizabeth showed up with two of her friends. She used to live in this ward but now lives in London, and she and these friends came to Italy to visit. They were so cool lol I felt like I'd walked onto a BBC set lol! So obvi we asked for a pic with them💁🏼

Monday we had district meeting and studies. Then that afternoon, we headed out to Celle, one of my fav cities in our area😍 it's seriously beautiful. We taught the less-active Garcia family, and wow I just love them! Sosososo cute! Weird/cool thing happened though. So their son Andy is barely 12 years old and so he doesn't have the Priesthood yet. Idk what happened but after we finished the lesson I asked him if he'd like to get the Priesthood, and he said yes. I then asked his parents if they'd be ok having the Anziani come over to help him prepare. They got way excited about it, and now the Anziani have an appointment with them tomorrow!!

Tuesday we tried a few passbys before heading to an appointment with Simonetta, a less active in our branch who wants to start coming back to church. It was good to get some of her feedback regarding things to unify our branch, and I really think she liked helping us haha! She also invited us to return Friday evening for dinner with her and her 19 year old daughter who wants to learn more about our church! So yeah, we were pretty excited! Also, the moon was huuuuuuuuge tonight and we have no clue why, but I've literally never seen it so big!

And that leads us to today. We started the morning out by getting up early and going on a run to the beach 🌊 then we did some shopping (meno male my greenie loves adorable book shops as much as I do!) Also we may or may not have bought matching antlers for Christmas time... you'll just have to wait and see😉 and then we headed to the church for food with the Anziani since Anziano Gibb leaves tomorrow🙁 we made tiramisu and they made Mexican food so it was quite the party!

Elder Jeffery R. Holland said "Pure Christlike love flowing from righteousness can change the world!" Isn't that true though? One of the things I love most about the mission is how easy it is to love people so easily and so quickly. Like next thing you know you're super close with people you've only known for a few months, a few weeks, even a few days! I think of how much I love my Zone from the MTC- both those in this mission and the Rome mission. I look at how much I love and miss the people I met in both Collegno and Vicenza. I see how much I treasure the friendships I have with various missionaries I've met! It's the coolest thing- like I think that's my favorite thing being a missionary is how it's taught me to love others as God does! And what a nice thing for us to think about as we get ready for the holiday season yeah? Yeah.


1-Meeting fancy British people  2-10 Beautiful Celle  11- How I feel about being left a single parent
12- JK we’re still a model family  13-15 Family pictures  16-We didn’t know what to do for our family pic…Jones said 'start fighting', so we did:)
17-18  He’s trying to act like me... #rude  19- Faking friends…jkjk  20-Ciao Anziano Gibb






Thursday, November 10, 2016

Chapter 34: Can I Write in Robert Downey Jr for President or Nah?

Im not going to get into politics because I'm on a mission and whatnot but I'm just gonna leave this title here and move on with it.

But just think...

I'm certain he would wear his Iron Man suit to every important speech or meeting and frankly that's what our country needs, among other pressing issues.

I'm sorry I'm sorry... Moving on...

I'm sure many of you are wondering, "Why is the lovely Sorella Smedley stooping so low on the scale of apostasy as to email NOT on Pday??"

Well my dears, chill✋🏼 cuz Pday IS in fact on a Thursday this week, because yesterday we were up in Milano for New Missionary Training. Which means today we got to take a train ride to the lovely Porto Fino❤️🌴🌊 What is Porto Fino you may ask? Only one of the most beautiful places in our mission; occasionally called the "Cinque Terre" of Liguria. I could write an essay on this beautiful place, but instead I'll opt to send a few photos, cuz a picture is worth a thousand words right?

Anyways, now to the important part of the email: missionary work💕

Last Thursday and Friday we had Scambio with the Milano STLs, Sorella Bastian and Sorella Deem. Typically, we go up to Milano to do scambio. However, this time I got a call about 2 weeks before that was basically like this:
STLs: Yo Smeds you guys cool to do scambio in 2 weeks?
Me: Yeah works for us!
STLs: Cool, cuz we're actually gonna come down to Savona. You're planning scambio this transfer!
I didn't know whether to get power hungry or stressed or both, so I decided to do neither and have a gelato. Good coping method, 10/10 would recommend.

I think it went well overall. I sent Sorella Richards and Sorella Bastian to an appointment with our investigator and then to English class, while Sorella Deem and I went to Celle Ligure to visit a less-active family, the Garcias! They are such a cute family, and the spirit was really strong during our lesson! I left feeling a really distinct connection to their family, like they are one of the reasons I'm supposed to be in Savona! Cool stuff! Then we met up with the other sorelle to get gelato, before returning home... where we may or may not have made a Prince of Egypt music video... in which Sorella Bastian and I may or may not have beards and ragazzacci hair... possibly...

Friday Sorella Deem and I did a few passbys before getting the Milano STLs on their train. Then Sorella Richards and I took a train to Cadare, where our new convert family the Robiolos live. We were really excited to start teaching Aicha, their 12 year old daughter who wasn't baptized. Interestingly enough, as we started teaching her I realized that she had absolutely zero religious background or knowledge... that's when we found out the sad truth: Sorella Robiolo's ex husband essentially put a ton of restrictions on their daughter, and one of them was on religion. So she doesn't even know anything about God or Jesus Christ. But she wants to! After much conversation (in which the spirit was there helping me every step of the way so I could understand all the details), we realized that we are able to teach Aicha in the presence of her mother, and she can come to church and church activities. However, she cannot be baptized until she is 18 unless her father miraculously grants permission. Prayers on this family's behalf would be much appreciated! So for the time being, we are starting fresh and teaching her the basics! It's gonna be a long but beautiful route. I adore her and her family so much, and it's kind of exciting to think that this coming weekend, she's going to learn that not only is God real, but that He is her loving father in heaven! I'm too stoked!

Saturday it rained and it poured. We took an hour and a half bus ride up into the mountains to visit a lady and her daughter who are unable to come to church consistently due to health problems and distance. The drive was beautiful, because we were literally in the mountains the whole time! However, winding roads in a bus full of people smoking for over an hour doesn't do many good things for your stomach. But it's fine because I could tell it meant a lot to them that we came❤️ Although they have a freak ton of cats... all named after characters from Twilight... and they were treated like royalty...? At one point, I was supposed to move seats so that cats were more comfortable... Idk how I feel about that... like dai, puppies I understand. I'd give my seat to a puppy🐶

Sunday we had members of our stake presidency come and speak. They announced that exactly a year from now, the church is going to make one of two decisions regarding our branch: either move them to a newer, better building, or close the branch😳 woah, crazy stuff. But the stake presidency is amazing and handled it all so well, so our branch is now a lot more motivated and ready to create what we are calling "Il Miracolo di Savona". It's a perfect motivation, because our branch wants a new building soooooo badly! However, they aren't paying their tithing, and aren't helping to bring others into the church. Lol our stake president, being the perfect blend of spiritual and sassy, said something to the effect of "Yo we get that y'all want and need a new building, but how can we get you that without money and members?! It's literally in your hands at this point guys." Lol it was perfect! The members really seem to be taking the challenge! Also, the Garcia family came to church today!! And she told us she wants us to start teaching her sister! Seriously great! Then our stake president met with us missionaries to discuss our part to play in this grand plan, after which we made Mexican food with the Anziani to break our fasts!

Monday was a day of area book, area book, and more area book. However, in attempts to not be totally stir crazy (and to be a "cool trainer" lol) we left the house that afternoon for a special lingua study... aka reading the Book of Mormon in Italian by the beach 🌊 which was essentially our best idea ever! The tide has gone up and there were tons of surfers and it was just a really nice break from updating our area book! We returned home afterwards to work on it some more, and then finished the night up with watching "The District" for 12 week, which basically turned into a pajama party 🎉 And we definitely didn't laugh at the people in "The District", nope not once!

Tuesday morning we had an appointment set with a potential investigator we'd found last weekend. However, when we showed up, her husband told us she'd been taken into the immigration office...? We'll see how that one pans out lol... Then we had district meeting where we did kinder egg predictions since transfer calls are this weekend! Lol, a lot less stress this time around since Sorella Richards and I know we're staying together to finish training haha, but we're anxious to see what'll happen to our Anziani😬 Vediamo. Then we spent the rest of the day finally finishing our area book!

Wednesday was c r a z y because we were in Milano most of the day for new missionary training! So so so fun! I absolutely love seeing and meeting other missionaries, and especially getting to be reunited with Sorella Anderson, Sorella Fife, Sorella McCormick, and Sorella Stephens from my MTC group! We got some seriously awesome trainings from President Allen, Sorella Allen, and the APs. I also got a surprise goodbye with my darling trainer Sorella Smith... so crazy that she heads home to Trumpsville, I mean America, next week! Lol jokes aside, I wanted to just hug her and never let go!

One of my favorite things President Allen mentioned was what defines someone as a successful missionary. He mentioned that a successful missionary isn't determined by numbers or achievements, but on whether or not you are doing your best. Well, I'd heard that before and didn't think much of it, but then Presidente continued. He said that when we are doing our best- when we are being obedient and acting on our faith and doing all we can- we are giving ourselves to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. At this point, the Holy Ghost can exercise God's will through you! And maybe God's will isn't for you to baptize 3,000 people. But maybe it is. What's important is that we are doing our part so that whatever His will is will be accomplished!

If you go home from a mission not having baptized a single person, you can still be considered a successful missionary IF you know without a shadow of a doubt that you did your best. Essentially knowing that if someone didn't get baptized or wasn't interested in the gospel of Christ, that that was due solely to their agency or God's will, and not as a result of slothfulness on your part.

I absolutely loved this. I looked back on my mission so far and evaluated how successful I'd been. I noticed areas where I truly have succeeded, and areas where there is more I could do. Seriously, couldn't have had a better training!

This principle is so beautiful, because it's not just for those of us who are missionaries- it applies to everyone in all phases of life! How often do we wonder what our purpose is in life. Maybe wondering which college to go to, who to date/marry, what major/career to have, where to live, etc? Because deep down we know that if we are doing what God wants us to do in this life, we will be as happy as we possibly can be! So how do we ensure that the path we're on and the choices we are making are right? Well, we do our best and be as worthy as possible, and then have the patience and faith to know that God's will shall be made manifest to us❤️

Remember this. Have a good week. And if the state of America is getting you down, just check out these sick Porto Fino pics below and be happy instead🤗

Sorella Smedley

1-3 Exchanges  4&5 Music video  6-My favorite investigator🐶
7-9 Church and Mexican dinner  10&11 Studying :)  12-Pajama Party
13- 3 Generation Picture (Mama Smith, Me & my baby Richards)  14-21 Porto Fino








Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Chapter 33: We Finish Each Others'-


That's what I was gonna say!

Well folks, this week has been fairly normal in comparison to the craziness of last week. However, I've really just come to terms with the fact that "normal" really doesn't exist here in Italia

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we tried to pass by a ton of less actives and old investigators we had in our area books. I'd like to say that they were all receptive and let us in but actually none of them did😂 lol actually two let us in but neither were the adventures we'd anticipated. The first buzzed us into the building and we went up, and saw a young mom who most definitely was not 54 year old Elizabeth... But we had a fun convo lol. They're a family of Jehovas Witnesses so that was an adventure! Lol, apparently that bit of info was lost on my dear greenie, because as we left, she asked me why we hadn't tried to get their contact info haha. Oh Jdubs lol. The second time we got in actually started kinda scary but ended awesomely. We were searching for another woman, this time a girl in her 30s. We rang her citofono and got let in right after we said who we were. We headed upstairs and the door opened and it was just this group of guys... needless to say, I was pretty freaked out. Sketchy apartment building, about 6 floors up, and a group of random guys... I mean like obviously I was prepared to hash out my sick ninja skills and kick A and whatnot but like I'm a missionary guys. But all is well- these guys actually ended up NOT being like typical ragazzacci guys we've encountered in the past and we're actually super cool. Lucky for them haha, cuz I was like seconds away from becoming their worst nightmare 💪🏼

Jokes jokes, I have zero skills and knowing me I would've probs would've tripped or pulled a muscle or something like that just for good measure if I'd tried anything😂 Luckily God is protective and also most people are just nicer than we assume! We ended up having an awesome and kinda hilarious convos with these guys and now they're gonna come to English class and the Anziani are gonna start teaching them and THAT my friends is how God works. From terrifying almost-epic battles to miracles. Just like in the Bible right?

Sunday was our senior couple's last day, so the branch had a party after church. Food and friends and goodbyes and way too many pictures haha!

Monday was HALLOWEEN!!!! lol awkward cuz it's def not as huge of a thing here as it is in America, and all the older people get pretty offended by it haha. But we missionaries made it a rather fabulous day! Anziano Gibb was Superman, Anziano Jones was Helaman, and Sorella Richards and I were Elsa and Ana❄️💁🏼 We decided to have a Halloween party for our branch, and they loved it! They said it had been at least 10 years since the missionaries had held a party for anything other than Christmas, so I was glad to see that it meant so much to them❤️ We had food and music and games, one of which was a pudding eating contest. I was so not wanting to be part of that one, but one of our investigators asked me to do it so of course I said yes🙄😂 I was a total mess but it was worth it because I just love these people so much!

Tuesday was rather uneventful. Our mission just started using the area book app on the iPads, which is going to be waaaay nice! Buuuut for right now, it means we're stuck transferring all of the information which is quite the lengthy process. We only fell asleep like twice during the process so yay us🤗

Today for P day we did some shopping. And I got my first Italian haircut and it wasn't a bad experience💇🏼 lol I went to this one place cuz the daughter of a lady in our ward works there.  I think it was a pretty grand experience cuz she wants us to teach her and her boyfriend, so yay💁🏼

Cool thing, it's officially been a year since I opened my mission call! Which has made it such a week of reflection. I'm definitely not the person that I was that fateful day a year ago when I read the words "Italy Milan Mission" and my life changed forever! Choosing to serve a mission was by far the best decision I could've made, and I'm grateful for the way Christ's atonement has helped me throughout the process❤️

1&2- Celebrating 6 mos. in Italia! 3-The nest of the jdubs
4&5- Matching with Jones  6-11 Halloween ft. Elsa, Anna, Clark Kent & Helaman
12-16 Ward Halloween Party  17-20 Haircut before & after featuring an awko selfie that almost caused me to fall out of a window