Taking My Wand for a Nametag

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Chapter 63: "Use the Force Lucca"

Cheesy email title bc we spent today at b e a u t i f u l Lucca! Just picture a beautiful Toscana city with trees on top of towers and city walls. We hiked up said towers and walls, so it was kind of the best🌲🌿🌳🏰

This week definitely kicked me in the butt lol, and not just because I've been hard-core studying the Book of Revelation🙃 We had back to back scambi, which was really tiring but also a tooon of fun! We first had scambio with the Pisa Sorelle, Sorella Diciolla and Sorella Rindlisbacher. I don't think I've ever learned more from a scambio than I did during this one. Those two are soooo amazing☀️💕 Our other scambio was with the Prato Sorelle, Sorella Harris and Sorella Weaver. We were dying of heat, buuuut we also visited some amazing people☀️🌊

We got to meet with lots of members this week, which was super awesome! One experience was especially neat. There are 2 families that most missionaries have said were cold & unfriendly, sooo I made it my goal to get an appointment with them lol. I just kinda forced myself in, hugging & bacci-ing them each Sunday & talking to them, & we scored an appointment with one of them! It ended up being one of the best member appointments I've had. For starters, the Fallani fam is AMAZING & I just really enjoyed being with them! Then out of nowhere, their nonmember uncle showed up. One of the kiddos leaned over and whispered "it's the perfect missionary opportunity!" So we taught him, & the family bore amazing testimonies! It was legit the best❤

Church was crazy this week! For starters, we've talked to a ton of cool people on the bus lately & exchanging numbers, & a few of them randomly showed up to church! Pretty cool since that NEVER happens. Although one came asking for money...? ALSO during scambio, there was a great lesson with Carolina, & her cousins who are members came. Well, they brought her & her boyfriend to church, & it was great! Well, except for gospel principles... our teacher is American, so we have to translate for the class (weird, I know). Well he decided to teach the most complex, deep lesson I've heard about the abrahamic covenant. Lol what a nightmare. We ended up making up our own stuff during the translation lol. Luckily it went over their heads haha. The rest of church was full of lessons directed specifically at Carolina! But for future reference, if you ever teach a class full of investigators/new converts, PLEASE don't just spout off deep doctrine😂

Our ward also got to have a special fireside with the guy who makes the stained glass windows for the temples! 🎨We got to translate that one for the ward too, which is fun because we hadn't really studied words like "vetrata" lol, it was super cool though, and he gave us a sneak peek of the windows he's done so far for the Rome temple😍😍😍 guys, it's gonna be gorgeous.

ALSO the investigators Claudio and Victoria from my fav fam in Muggiò got baptized on Saturday!! Shout out to my girl Sorella Orr for getting them there!❤❤❤

This week, we learned a ton about recognizing the Spirit. I mean, we're both pretty comfortable receiving & acting on promptings to talk to people or share certain things during lessons. This week, however, was different. We were slapped by the humble stick & taught that while the Holy Ghost comforts, guides, & teaches, that's not all it does. At times the Spirit simply guides our will to align with God's. We had a lot of experiences with this last week, but I'll just quickly share two.

We had an appointment with an investigator, but we were pretty stressed because we couldn't decide what to teach her! We did everything. We prayed about it/studied a ton, but nothing felt right. Well, we finally settled on something & went to the appointment. We showed up and a new lesson just kind of happened. We ended up kind of dropping each other just because she's content with her current way of life and isn't quite ready to change. She also had some questions and problems she asked us for help on. It was one of the most Spirit filled lessons I'd ever had.

Flash forward a bit to scambio. It was super stressful leading up to it, because no one was available! Scambio always has a bit of pressure to schedule a lot of good appointments, so we can essentially have what Presidente calls the "ideal missionary day". We literally called everyone in our contacts, & only 1 person was free during that 24 hour space. We were pretty stressed, to say the least. Well, we showed up & quickly realized there was a reason God hadn't helped us get a full scambio. The sorelle had needs that needed to be met, & that was more important. We wouldn't have been able to do what we did if we'd had a normal appointment-filled scambio.

Now with both of these experiences, we noticed something interesting. Our desires were good. We wanted a good lesson for our investigator, & we wanted to teach & help a lot of people during scambio. However, God knew that in order for us to meet the needs of our investigator, there wasn't a lesson for us to prepare. He knew that in order to help these two sorelle He loves so much, we needed to not have many appointments. However, at the time, we weren't thinking very clearly. We tried to force a lesson for our investigator, & we tried to force appointments for that scambio. In reality, we should have been staying close to the spirit where we could've realized that although it wasn't clear at the time, God had something different in mind for us.

There's a quote by Elder Rasband that I found the other day during studies that I reeeeally liked. 

The Holy Ghost binds us to the Lord. By divine assignment, He inspires, testifies, teaches, and prompts us to walk in the light of the Lord. We have the sacred responsibility to learn to recognize His influence in our lives and respond.

I just love the way he phrases it, that the Holy Ghost binds us to the Lord. It's through the Holy Ghost that we learn the will of God. If you have a righteous desire that God isn't helping out with, there's a reason. It's because he has something better/more essential planned. The best things of my mission and my life have happened thanks to God's plan, not mine. This week taught us a lot about the importance of paying attention to the Spirit, so we can follow the will of God.

Because, ya know, He kinda knows what He's doing🤷🏼‍♀️

Sorella Smeds☀️

1-Fireside speakers!  2-Claudio’s & Victoria’s baptism!   3&4-Pisa Scambio  

5&6-Prato Scambio  7-13 Pday in Lucca





Friday, May 26, 2017

Chapter 62: But Does Your Bishop Rap????

Happy Summer! ☀️ the heat and mosquitos are killing me, but it's been a fun week anyways so I can't complain🤷🏼‍♀️

Jan, our awesome bff from the Philippines, took us to this park where all her buds get together and make Filipino food and play poker. It was a blast and a half and the food was amazing!! Found some awesome potential investigators too👏🏼 lol, and Arndt always jokes that I'm a kid magnet, so we did a little experiment that ended with me teaching the resto to a group of hecka adorable Filipino kids. Oh how I love my life❤  

We also did scambio with Rimini which meant I GOT TO SEE SORELLA CARTER!!!! Ugh seeing past comps is the beeeeest😭 I was on scambio with her comp, the amazing Sorella Roloff! We had an awesome lesson with Carolina about the Plan of Salvation! It was a super awesome lesson, despite that three year old Christian tossed the Plan of Salvation diagram off of the balcony at the end... eh, it happens, right? Arndt and I met with Carolina another time this week to talk about faith and repentance. I'm stoked cuz Carolina has a clear vision of what changes need to be made in her life! Now if we can just get her to act on it all😅💕

Saturday, we got to do a super dope activity! Ok, so I've mentioned a few times that I looooove our bishop and his family. Well, we found out that in the past, he was part of a rap crew. Like they would travel and perform, or do underground rap battles (basically pitch perfect riff offs, but with more of a mafia flavor, ya feel?). They did graffiti and breakdancing and everything. Lol, none of us saw that coming. Well, he brought the gang back together for a little reunion on Saturday! So we invited everyone and got to watch them rap, learn how to do graffiti, and basically party to a ton of non-mission approved music without guilt😎 success, right?

Eeeeexcept the demon four year old from the music concert activity (remember, the one who kept rolling around and dropping those stupid pencils and yelling and basically creating my own personal hell?). Yeah, she came. And rolled around again. And mooned everyone. And sprayed spray paint in her eye. Fun times, amiright🙄

We met with our investigator Cenaido this week. I adore her lol the lessons are always... an experience... yeah...😂 just imagine a short South American who looks and acts like professor Trelawny from Harry Potter, and that's her! Oh, and did I mention she's also a Jehovah's Witness? Yeah, sometimes we wonder if she's trying to convert us? Bless her heart, she brings up bible questions to throw us off sometimes, and so far we have yet to not have the correct answers for her😂❤ so grateful I've read and love the Bible lol. We're really working on helping her gain a testimony on the Book of Mormon, and she's actually been reading a lot, so yay!

We saw a lot of other various investigators, members, and less actives this week, so we've been pretty busy. We've found a lot of new potential investigators this transfer, just by talking to people on the bus on the way to and from appointments. Just this week, we've found and taught principles to Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Catholics, Pentecostals, Jehova's Witnesses, etc. Basically just a lot of people from different backgrounds. And I swear, after each encounter, we're always a tad surprised at how intrigued these people are about who we are and what our message is. There's a cool quote I found while studying the New Testament this week:

As children, we learned how to keep darkness away by turning on a light. Sometimes, when our parents went away for the evening, we would turn on every light in the house! We understood the physical law that is also a spiritual law: light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time.
“Light dispels darkness. When light is present, darkness is vanquished and must depart. More importantly, darkness cannot conquer light unless the light is diminished or departs. When the spiritual light of the Holy Ghost is present, the darkness of Satan departs.
“… We are engaged in a battle between the forces of light and darkness. If it were not for the Light of Jesus Christ and His gospel, we would be doomed to the destruction of darkness”

This idea of light can represent a lot of things. Knowledge, the Holy Ghost, love, Jesus Christ, etc. However, no matter what symbol we're talking about, there are some common principles. Like this quote explains, light and darkness cannot occupy the same space. It dispels darkness. Light is undeniable. It stands out- it draws us in. With each of these encounters we have with people day to day, someone always says something to the effect of "there's something different about you guys". Even those who choose not to accept our message or don't continue to meet with us can't deny that there's something different, some sort of light. That light found with the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Isn't that just the neatest?🕯🌞🌇⭐️🔦🌅🔥☀️🎇⚡️💡🌄✨


1-5  Yay for Filipino food & adorable children!  6&7- Scampi & Sorella Carter  8&9- Rap Activity!

10- Sorella Francom from the MTC!  11- These Pentecostal people loved us & asked for a selfie



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chapter 61: "Your Mom Goes to College!"

If you don't know where this quote is from, you may as well stop reading this email.

Just kidding.

But really, I hope all you mothers out there had the best day ever! I know I looooved chatting with the fam on Sunday❤ yay moms! Moms are the best!

We met with a ton of members this week, and set a soft bap date with Carolina! We still have to finish the lessons with her and get her in the habit of coming to church, but she's on the right path! We also spent today's Pday at this famous rose garden hidden at the base of piazzale Michelangelo. It was kinda the coolest.

We also got to meet up a few times with Francesca, a less active a couple years older than us, who wants to start coming back. She's one of those people I just clicked with. Like it took no time at all for me to just love her.❤We've started working with her so that she and her husband can get sealed in the temple soon! Seriously, she is making so much progress and I'm just beyond stoked for her!

We had two baptisms this week!! Not for investigators lol, but for Sara and Katherina! Their families are members, but we'd been doing the lessons with both of them in prep for the baptisms, and it was so fun! Plus a lot of our investigators came to the baptisms which was the best!🤗

We also got a new investigator, Maryam, a friend of some of the college students in the ward! She's been to church the last two Sundays, and we've been meeting with her twice a week! She's originally Muslim, so it's been a challenge. Seriously her lessons have been the hardest I've had on my mission! We always leave them feeling totally drained haha, but she's making progress! It goes a lot slower, given that it took us an entire hour just to explain who God is (and she's still not quite getting it...), but she really is searching for the truth. She came to Sara's baptism, and felt the spirit so strongly she started crying. She kept asking what that feeling was, and how she could feel it again. *cue comp fist-bumping* She also asked for a blessing from the Anziani, and it was super neat!

In other news, we had deep fried Oreos for district meeting. Our district is the same as it was last transfer- us, plus Anz Young, Younce, Challis, and Tumblin. We have too much fun🤷🏼‍♀️ the Anziani bought deep fryers once they found out we were all staying... sooo we've been frying everything😂😅 in unrelated news, Arndt and I have started doing P90X every day...

Aaaaaanyways I've been reading in James lately, where we find the all-famous scripture that led Joseph Smith to ask the question that instigated the restoration of the Christ's church: 

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Something interesting though, is the scripture that follows it.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

Joseph didn't merely ask God a simple question; he asked in faith. He asked not "Which church is true?" Instead, the question was "Which church should I join?" He wasn't just curiously seeking a response- he had faith that God would answer him, and he was already committed to act on whatever response he did receive.

That's something we've been working on with our investigators and the others we've been working with. It's essentially just having them ask themselves if they are learning solely out of curiosity, or if there is an intention to act. I feel like that is key anytime we are seeking answers from God. Faith doesn't just signify 'belief'- it's an action word. So surely we are a million more times likely to receive answers and guidance once we've already decided to act on whatever answer God gives us, no matter how difficult it may be.

Sorella Smedley 

1-Mother’s Day!   2-4 Sara & Katherina’s baptisms  5- District Mtg.  6- Beautiful Florence  7-10  Pday in the gardens




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chapter 60: Wizards Are Too Immature for Museums

Friends... we have spent the entire day at this palace in Firenze. I have zero desire or energy to write emails. Thus, these three following lists will be comprising my sorry excuse for an email🤷🏼‍♀️ sorry not sorry, Italy problems and all that.

What has even happened this week?
- We met with my fav Carolina again! We were trying to figure out a good realistic baptism date for her, but it was hard since she works Sundays. Well, she just called us and her schedule changed so she NEVER works sundays! So we're planning to set a date with her next time we see her!
- We got to do pre-baptism lessons with both Sara (bishop's daughter) and Katerina! They both get baptized this weekend, so we're stoked! They're sooooooooo cute!!
- We met with a heck ton of members this week, really trying to help strengthen them AND help them with missionary work! It's inspiring how willing they are to share the gospel!
- We're working with one of my favorite people in the world right now... I'll share more about her next week though because we are seeing her tomorrow!
- Norca, who has been an investigator for over a year, is finally making progress! It looks like her main roadblock for getting baptized will be out of the way within the next month or two, so we couldn't be more stoked!
- We had concilio (leadership council) on Monday! Which meant a) Sleep over in Reggio with my MTC comp Sorella Fife! b) amaaaaaazing trainings from Presidente and the assistants c) seeing some of my fav missionaries d) ROOOOOAD TRIIIIIIIP from Florence to Milano, and then back! Haha Arndt and I road tripped it with our zone leaders and had too much fun. You'd best believe I created a super dope playlist of Disney and Christian music and everything lol. Anz Young gave me the dj name 'DJ Asmedic' because smeds🙄🤷🏼‍♀️

Pday today was a Palace woohooo. I loved it! Well the palace part at least. There was also a hecka long museum inside. 
Palaces = awesome 
Museums for 30 minutes = fab
Museums four hours = you've lost me
My experience can be summed up in a couple of quotes:
- *sees completely red throne room* Omg its gryffindor!
- "Hey that sketchy guy in the painting looks like Snape!"
- *sees completely green sitting room* Ew slytherin!
- "Are these staircases gonna move or nah?"
- *sees completely gold room* Heyyyyy its hufflepuff!
- Me: "Omg its the golden snitch!"
Arndt: "Yeah no... that's supposed to be the Holy Ghost descending like a dove..."
- *sees completely blue ballroom* Nicely done gryffindor
Basically do take me to Harry Potter world. Also palaces. Probs not art museums though..."

Concilio was the best and here's why!
- Presidente talked about the importance of being anxious without anxiety! I love this principle so so much because it's so pertinent not only to missions, but to life in general! We need to be anxious- we need to careful about things and constantly be working towards something good. However, it serves no one to get overly stressed about it. Maybe by the time I finish this dang mission, I'll finally have learned to apply this idea ;)
- "Christ says, “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. … Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”’ -cs Lewis
- I got to chat with some buds from the MTC during concilio, and it was just fun to realize how much we love the mission. Seriously stuff is still hard. People are frustrating, the language kills you sometimes, and honestly we are pretty inadequate most days. However, I'm just kind of at that point where I love what I'm doing more than anything else. I miss all my peeps and my movies and whatnot, but I'm not wishing I was home. Anz Wilkinson said that people often asked him if he was trunky or ready to be home, and he said "I would be embarrassed if I felt that way". I love that. I feel that. I know that day will come, but right now I'm just loving where I'm at❤

Also, President Allen did a He-Man impression for us. Oh, how I love this mission!

Sorella Smeds

1-2  Rooaaddd Ttrrriipp!  3-5Concilio! Saying bye to Anz. Wilkinson & Sorella Williams and seeing my favs Gibbs & Jones

6-10 Combined District mtgs. lol  11-20 Palace Pday!!