Taking My Wand for a Nametag

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chapter 37: Share HIS Light

Happy December, lovely humans๐Ÿ’• Well, this week has been crazy! Lots of hard stuff (low numbers, catching the plague, etc) but also SOOOOO many blessings! Serving the Lord is funny that way- you find joy in even the hardest days. And honestly, this week has been such a blast teaching the gospel with my AMAZING greenie in bella Italia๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น 

Note: I'm sure many of you have heard about the church's new Christmas video and hashtag #LighttheWorld for those of you in the US, and #SiiUnaLuce for those of us in Italia. More on this awesome campaign at the end of this letter, but I'd very much encourage you to stop reading this lovely weekly email and check it out HERE ---> https://www.mormon.org and if you don't, well, you'll get many opportunities throughout this week's email. So may as well save yourself the trouble and check it out now really quick๐Ÿ˜‰๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ‰

Friday and Saturday were full of cancellations. (Ha, what a way to start out the account of this week haha) For those of you who missed out on last week's exciting edition of the crazy adventures of Smeds in Italia, it's been flooding here in Italy. Literally when we left thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, streets were blocked off as a result of major flooding. So thus anyone we were planning to visit that didn't live in the actual city of Savona cancelled on us. School was cancelled, places were closed, or was basically like August all over again! Luckily, our morning was booked, because we've started helping teach seminary and institute. We have institute every Friday morning now. An older woman in our ward teaches them all and she is such an outstanding teacher! I'm learning so much from her, and it's awesome getting the experience of teaching seminary and institute! There aren't a ton of kids, but I really am so impressed by them. Getting up early during the weekend, and coming and participating and learning. My love for them grows more and more! We had thanksgiving leftovers with the Anziani for lunch and then had an appointment with Francesca. We tried doing some finding afterward, sharing the Christmas video https://www.mormon.org but didn't have a ton of success.

Saturday we had seminary in the morning. Cute Silvana (the teacher) made pasta for all of us and it was great! Later that day, we did a Power Hour of finding with the Anziani, sharing THIS VIDEO https://www.mormon.org Not a ton of people were willing to talk with us, but we did have a few cool experiences! First, we met a girl named Lydia who is planning on coming to English class and had some interest in our message. We also showed the video (see: https://www.mormon.org) with two groups of teenage girls which was pretty cool! 

Sunday was church as normal, and I'm quite relieved it wasn't as crazy as last Sunday! We had stake conference being broadcast to us, which was awesome because I got to see some of my Collegno peeps on the screen! That, plus hearing from our awesome stake presidency and Presidente Allen made for an awesome meeting! We also did some finding + photos down the boardwalk, sharing with all who would listen about Christ, and of course the video on https://www.mormon.org. We came home and made some calls to try and set up a few more appointments, decorated for Christmas, and created a little video of our own that I will send in a separate email ๐Ÿ˜ Be excited, for it may or may not feature Sorella Richards and I in sparkly reindeer antlers๐ŸŽ„

Monday we decided to shake things up a bit. We've been trying to call or visit every less-active on our ward lists. Well Sunday night, we tried calling all who we had numbers for. We didn't have any luck, so we found a woman who lives in Loano, a city within our area, but like a 30 minute train ride away. We took lunch with us and had a picnic on the beach when we got there. We then started the walk to this woman's house. We figured it'd be a nice little stroll through the town followed by some finding... whale, we should know by now not to trust my skills of navigation given that I have yet to figure out where north is since arriving in Italy....๐Ÿ—บ It's fine. Our little stroll through the beach town just kind of ended up becoming a 45 minute hike up a mountain to try finding this lady... we trudged and trudged and after a short while, I began to wonder if we'd ever make it there BEFORE Christmas ๐ŸŽ„ we decided to do some finding on the way... but this is a rather odd town, and the first lady we stopped turned out to be literally crazy! I feared for my life slightly! Ok, that may sound a bit over dramatic... but I'm not kidding when I say all I could think of during the encounter was "holy freak, I CANNOT die on this random mountainside one month before Christmas... lady just take a card for our Christmas video (yes yes, the one located at https://www.mormon.org) and leave us alone!" But all was well. Another woman cloaked in fur and armed with groceries came to our rescue. She then informed us not to talk to most the people here, because they are all messed in the head...? She was super cool though and seemed fairly normal and we stopped and talked with her for a while before she (yep you guessed it) watched the video found at https://www.mormon.org

Well, after what felt like years, we got to Maria. She wouldn't even let us come in. ๐Ÿ™ƒ not even to see the video YOU all can view at https://www.mormon.org Lol when that happened, Sorella Richards and I just kind of sat there like "of course this would happen" but we rang the citofono a million more times until each resident had an opportunity to invite us in. Which, like, none did, but they had the choice so we left feeling content. And sick. ๐Ÿ˜ท Did I mention we felt less-than-stellar during this journey? It's ok though cuz we had enough fun/funny/strange occurrences, most of which occurred simply because we're sick and therefore not 100% right in the head. lol maybe we fit in with the residents of Loano more than I thought๐Ÿ˜‚ Some noteworthy moments include:
  • Falling asleep on the train ride there๐Ÿšž
  • Which of course includes the panic of wondering "holy frick where am I?!?" 
  • Realizing we didn't bring water with us..๐Ÿ˜
  • Talking about baking banana bread later that day, and how I was apparently concerned that it would turn out the size of a longboard...? 
  • The "woman in fur", as I like to call her, who so kindly rescued us from the crazy woman.๐Ÿ˜‡
  • Discussing how great it would be if we put out weekly podcasts for people, and what topics we'd discuss๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
  • Sharing with EVERYONE the amazing video found at https://www.mormon.org
  • Ringing the citofonos for two apartment buildings until a guy stuck his head out the window and informed us, on behalf of the entire complex, that no one was interested...?๐Ÿ™ƒ
  • Also, the fact that his head appearing out of nowhere startled me so badly that when we left I totes said "buona serata" instead of "buona giornata" despite the fact that it was clearly not evening ๐ŸŒค
  • And the fact that I actually have a bad habit of doing that a lot, especially when it's cloudy out...?๐Ÿ˜…☁️
  • Singing extremely loudly on our walk home. A nice medley of early 2000's jams, some T swift, "Ring of Fire", and a bit of rap #sueme
  • The dead frog we saw on the sidewalk that scared my dear greenie๐Ÿธ๐Ÿ˜‚
  • The train conductor who was singing Adele
  • Falling asleep on the train ride home๐Ÿšž

Tuesday we had studies and district meeting like normal. We came home for lingua and to get some stuff ready for zone conference. Since we've both been sick, we took a quick power nap and then headed out to do some finding. Before leaving, we prayed and I told Sorella Richards to pick a potential or ex investigator for us to pass by (and we'd do some finding on the way to and from). She picked a woman named Constanza, and we headed out. It was extremely disheartening at first. Literally no one would talk to us. And it was absolutely freezing. Ha, we honestly wanted to call it a night and go home lol. But we've decided to really work on faith together, so we continued on. We finally got to the apartment, and I turned to Sorella Richards and said, "Ok, you chose this woman- go ring her citofono and talk to her." She rang, and nothing happened. But she decided to ring that same one again, and this time we got let in. There, we met Constanza, an amazing Romanian woman, and a 89 year old woman she cares for. She invited us right in and got us some cake. We shared the new Christmas video https://www.mormon.org and talked about Christ. I felt prompted to tell her that God loved her and was proud of her for the service she was giving this woman. Constanza told us she had been visited by missionaries once before and that she had a Book of Mormon, but that they'd never come back. She was amazing, and the spirit was so strong as we knelt in prayer around the Christmas tree together. When we got up to leave, instead of doing a bacci like most Italian women do, she gave us huge hugs, and we walked home totally warm to the soul! We are seeing her again this week!

Yesterday, we were lucky enough to have zone conference in Genova! So fun to see my cute mission friends (especially Sorella Fife and Sorella Arndt). It was neat because we got to hear a member of our stake presidency and a recent convert share their conversion stories with us (in Italian of course). We also received many awesome trainings from Presidente and Sorella Allen, and our APs! Some highlights include:
  • Faith has to be in something true
  • Obedience is the first law of heaven, and faith is the first principle of the gospel. So obviously they have to go hand in hand in order for us to create miracles.
  • A picture of Presidente in Pisa wearing a rather goth-looking dog collar...?
  • Great analysis of the story of Jonah. The story has totally changed for me. (And for the first time ever, I found a reason behind teaching myself the word "balena" back in the MTC ๐Ÿ‹)
  • Eating a huge thanksgiving style dinner all together (even though Presidente kept trying to steal all the rolls!๐Ÿ˜‚)
  • Planning is essential, because we aren't just teaching lessons. These are real people who need us!
  • Sorella Allen asking me to plan their 50th wedding anniversary! Like... it's years away... but it's gonna be soooooo classy ๐Ÿ’•
  • The importance of going back to the basics found in Preach My Gospel. The spirit will testify of our simple truths we teach.
  • AP Santoro (from Bari) showing us his cool model walk๐Ÿ˜‚
  • Choosing what to study based on how the Spirit prompts you at that exact moment, and switching up your method of studying from time to time.
  • Getting to go up with Presidente during his conclusion haha, shout out to Slla Fife for getting an awk picture of me (included below)
  • With every decision made (in mission life of course, but also life in general), am I putting myself first, or second? Do I put the needs of others above my own, or do I make decisions selfishly? Am I more accustomed to doing what I want, or following God's will?
  • Pretending to take a selfie with the Allens during our zone picture 
  • And then actually taking a selfie with them!
  • More pass along cards featuring the new Christmas video https://www.mormon.org
  • Basically a day of remembering that the Italy Milan Mission is truly the best mission in the world๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Today is definitely more of a chill Pday. Sorella Richards and I still don't feel super awesome. So we opted on having a lazy day at home before going to English class tonight, where we will probably share this awesome Christmas video found at https://www.mormon.org

On that topic (lol) here's a cool little thing the other day. If you haven't caught on already, the work here in Savona is pretty slow right now, even by Europe's standards. People just aren't even talking to us. And honestly the other night during finding, my faith was at a zero. During our wanderings through the streets of Italy, we came upon a small pottery-type shop. We stopped to look through the window, where we saw a ton of nativity sets. We just stood there looking at these tiny scenes for a while, and I felt such a peace enter my heart as my thoughts were full not of my supposed failures, but of the Savior. Soon, a woman came and joined us in looking at the displays. I turned to her, and started talking with her about the nativities, and about Christ. Best convo ever. She turned to leave, but I stopped and asked her to watch the video (yes my friends, the one on https://www.mormon.org) she smiled and gave a sincere thanks. She wasn't interested in having us come teach her, nor was she just aching to jump into the baptismal font. But my heart was full. We had a beautiful conversation about Christ, in the middle of a random Italian alleyway, and I felt such a peace. That little moment wasn't anything earth shattering, but it was beautiful and it was a reminder. A reminder to me that God isn't focused on me converting a certain amount of people or achieving a certain number goal each week. No, our purpose as missionaries is to first and foremost help others to come unto Christ. And so if we, not just as missionaries, but all of us, use this Christmas season as an opportunity to come closer to Christ and bring others with us, our joy will be full!

My friends, that's what this beautiful video https://www.mormon.org is all about. It's about lighting the world. Christ IS the light of the world, but He put us here to BE lights UNTO the world, as the video so beautifully puts it. How are we going to do this, you may ask? Whale, this outstanding campaign gives us a small little act of service for EVERY DAY of December that mirrors an action of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Conveniently, December starts today. So we're gonna do this together, yeah? Alrighty, here's the lowdown for this week:
  • Thursday, December 1st: Jesus Lited Others' Burdens and So Can You! WORLDWIDE DAY OF SERVICE
  • Friday, December 2nd: Jesus Honored His Parents and So Can You! Call your parents, write a note to your parents, learn about an ancestor, etc.
  • Saturday, December 3rd: Jesus Helped Others To See and So Can You! Point out a virtue in someone else, donate an old pair of glasses, promote a vision charity on social media, etc.
  • Sunday, December 4th: Jesus Worshipped His Father and So Can You! Attend a church service (you're always welcome to one of ours๐Ÿ˜‰), make a goal to kneel in prayer every day this month, clean a church building, etc.
  • Monday, December 5th: Jesus Healed the Sick and So Can You! Sign up to be an organ donor, give blood, pray for any suffering loved ones, etc.
  • Tuesday, December 6th: Jesus Read the Scriptures and So Can You! Set your alarm 15 minutes early for scripture study, post your favorite scripture on social media, text a scripture to someone, etc.
  • Wednesday, December 7th: Jesus Fed the Hungry and So Can You! Donate to a food bank, invite a neighbor over to dinner, learn about spiritual hunger (see: John 6:35)

I'll be reporting to y'all each week about what me and my dear Sorella Richards are doing! I'd love to hear what you peeps are doing! Let's all be beautiful lights together, yeah? 

Sorella Smeds 

PPS: Also once you've checked out the video on and decided what today's act of service will be, check out mine and Sorella Richards' correlating video, "Light of Christmas" featured in a separate email. It'll also probs be on lds.org soon ๐Ÿ˜‰

1- Savona at night  2-I'm kinda a classic  3-Yay Christmas 
 4-7  Beach finding come sempre  8-#SiiUna Luce  9-Decorating the house
                    10-Beware of dog??? 11-15  ZONE CONF! Ft me and Presidente teaching ;), pics with the whole zone (look for me and the Allens faking a selfie), and then an actual selfie






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