Taking My Wand for a Nametag

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.



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,

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 





Friday, June 16, 2017

Chapter 65: The Last 12 Weeks

Heyyy friends☀️ Hopefully you're not dying in the heat like I am. First of all, transfer news! Sorella Arndt is leaving to open sorelle in Ancona, and I'm staying and getting Sorella Wilson! Super stoked, especially that I get to stay in my beloved Firenze⚜️ It's hard saying goodbye to Sorella Arndt though. We've spent literally our whole missions together, and now we're gonna be seperated. And then she'll be home. And then I'll be home. It's all getting a bit weird and a bit real, folks๐Ÿ˜ณ We redid a picture from my first transfer (see below) and it's just a little surreal to see that now we're the old ones in the mission...

Ew let's move on.

We had our last scambio of the transfer with Sorella Ruby and Sorella Montgomery from Montevarchi, and it was a blast! I had soooo much fun with Sorella Ruby. The highlight was definitely our appointment with Carolina. She's so cute haha and kept asking questions about her baptism next month. Her boyfriend also apparently asked what he needs to do to become a member of the church lol, so we're going to try and meet with them both together this weekend. We're worried Carolina's baptismal date might have to get pushed back because her work schedule is getting crazy, so keep her in your prayers!

Also we finally managed to see OTHER Carolina for the first time in a month! She was in school so it was crazy, but we had an awesome appointment with her and she wants to keep meeting with us! Also I low key wanna set her up with someone in our ward sooooo...๐Ÿ˜

Sunday was a day of tears as my comp said her goodbyes. We got to spend evening with my favorites, the Larrains. And she didn't feed me squid this time๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿผ go team. Although they do all tease me about it still.

Monday and Tuesday was packed with saying goodbyes to people. We saw our awesome investigator Maria and our lesson with her was awesome. She always says she feels like we're her kids, and it legit melts my heart๐Ÿ’• We also had a lunch with our bishop with his family. They remind me so much of my family back home. We had the coolest discussion during it and literally it ended with all of us crying, ugh. Ugh, they are just too good for me. We said goodbye to the Evertsens, Norca, and a few others too. I feel so beyond blessed to be able to spend at least another six weeks here in the place that had literally become my home.

In the mission, there's the program you do while being trained called "The First 12 Weeks". Well, someone kindly pointed that it's now time for me to embark on "The Last 12 Weeks". Vomit. But in all reality, it got me thinking. I'm happy with a lot of the changes that've happened in the last 15 months, but there are changes I want to have happen during these final 3 months. Do I want my last 12 weeks to be spent feeling burnt out, trunky, stressed, or lazy? That's the last thing I want๐Ÿ˜‚ I want my last 12 weeks to also be the best 12 weeks- 12 weeks of consecrated work for the Lord.

So I guess my question was, "what should I change?" Because the thing is, I'm a pretty imperfect person. There are a lot of options as far as what to change lol. Luckily I accidentally found the awesome talk "What Lack I Yet?" It was pretty dang good. Would recommend. Here's a little teaser for ya๐Ÿ˜‰

"I would like to suggest that each of you participate in a spiritual exercise sometime soon, perhaps even tonight while saying your prayers. Humbly ask the Lord the following question: “What is keeping me from progressing?” In other words: “What lack I yet?” Then wait quietly for a response. If you are sincere, the answer will soon become clear. It will be revelation intended just for you."

Love it. I'm trying it. There were so many moments this past week where I just felt really aware of God's love. I mean, it's a pretty common feeling during lessons for me to feel the love that God has for them. However, it's not necessarily the same as feeling the love He has for me specifically. This week was different, though. There were just so many instances where I could feel Him looking out for me, and blessing me in little ways. I'm just so grateful that He's not just some abstract God, but that He is, in fact, a father. I love my pops quite a lot, and so it's pretty dang cool to me that God is like him! But for all of us! Pretty dope, no? And so just like all fathers, He wants our happiness. He wants us to learn and grow. And just like any father, He provides loving correction when needed.

So shout out to my pops. Shout out to my heavenly pops also. I'm super stoked to see what He's wanting from me these next 12 weeks!

Sorella Smedley 

1-Scambio with Sorella Ruby  2-4 Larrain family  5&6- Bishop’s fam (feat. my lil princess who stole my glasses)  7-9 Craziest District ever!

10&11- A year later…the same picture…a lot less chairs :(   12&13- Carolina Cabezas & Evertsen girls  14-Gonna miss her :(


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Chapter 64: "Its Like Pirates of The Caribbean!"

Hey friends๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿผ it's been kind of a hard week, but most definitely a week full of innumerable miracles. Kind of like the past 63 weeks lol๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผ‍♀️๐Ÿ˜‚ but really though. This week was an emotional rollercoaster hahaha. We didn't have time to see a ton of people, because we had zone conference x2. We gave our training at the Bologna/Rimini zone conference, and at our own conference, so that shot out two of our days. It was fun though, seeing all the mission buds! And the conference was good! The Allen's and the APs had some amazing stuff for us! I especially loved a special training Presidente gave just for us sorelle. They are seriously the best❤

Of the people we got to see, here were the highlights!
- Less active Elena hadn't shown much interest in the past, but this week she called US wanting to meet. There's a lot about the gospel that she has forgotten or doesn't understand. However, she works with "troubled teens" and loves the heck out of them, so we've been relating principles of the gospel to her work and it's been so so so great!
- Saw our simp Maria and had a super eye-opening lesson with her. Now that it's Summer, she wants us over every week so we can start including her kids in on the lessons! We're so stoked and have been getting a lot of inspiration as to how to best help them progress! God is good❤
- We were preparing a lesson for less active Betty and felt super prompted to teach about the temple. Well, we show up and found out Bishop has been working on temple stuff with her, and so we helped explain some things. It looks like she'll be able to go through the temple this summer! God is just so real lol☀️ 

Stuff is starting to slow down in some ways. Summer is always rough here in good ole Italia. People go on vacation for, like, a month lol. Also, I'm very much sick of tourists๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿผ‍♀️ and heat. And mosquitos. And it's only June. But anyways, we've decided to try and schedule as many appointments as possible, and then be guided by the spirit as for what to do during the empty days. Well, we were guided into some awesome service. We found a soup kitchen run by the Catholic Church that we signed up to volunteer for each week. We just spend like five hours every Monday morning cutting up fruits and vegetables for the free meals given to the homeless and refugee community here in firenze. I love it❤ also our kitchen friends are the coolest! One has an eyepatch #piratesofthecaribbean You best believe I pretended I was chopping up food for Jack Sparrow instead for homeless people. Jk, both are good. Buuuuuut yeah.

It's been a week full of challenges, but we've been noticing so many miracles- even with normal things. Like the fact that it rained yesterday so we got a break from the scorching heat. Or getting tackled by a super happy German shepherd puppy. Or like the new kebab place that opened up next to our apartment. And the fact that we went there. And the guy gave us free Pepsi. Miracles, friends. But our biggest miracle came just yesterday.

I mentioned last week how we'd been working on following the Spirit more. Well, we had a lesson scheduled with our investigator Carolina, my fav person. We'd been feeling the need to set a baptismal date with her, but didn't really know how to go about it. We'd taught the first half of the gospel of Jesus Christ lesson (faith + repentance) so we figured the next step would be to finish that lesson (baptism + Holy Ghost) and then give her the date. Well during personal study, I kept feeling prompted that we needed to talk about repentance a bit more instead. When we got together for comp study, Arndt had felt the same thing! Yay spirit! Buuut then we realized our ideas for how to present the lesson were definitely not lining up. We couldn't reach a good compromise, which was so confusing since we both knew the spirit had confirmed that we needed to teach about repentance. It was so frustrating to me that God would help us with the first half, but not the last half, so to speak. Well, we ended up kind of getting rid of both of our ideas and just creating a really simple explanation of repentance and the blessings we receive. 

Well, we showed up for the lesson, and it was by far the best lesson we've ever had with her! The spirit was so strong, and we kept feeling prompted to share the bits and pieces of things we'd found during studies. lol I guess God wasn't holdin out on us- he just needed the lesson to be arranged in His way. And we were very much incapable of doing that on our own, so the Holy Ghost just kinda threw us into the situation. It was so cool though. She really seemed to understand the things we were saying! And then, out of nowhere, we felt prompted to pop the question๐Ÿ˜‰

We asked her if she would be baptized the first week of July.

And after a bit of thought, she said yes!


And as the icing on the cake, she wants us to start teaching her boyfriend and her sister too! Keep her in her prayers folks! We wanna make this goal a reality for her!! I know it was most definitely not by chance that knocked on her door Easter weekend❤

There's a quote I found by Joseph Smith during studies that I really loved. It says,

This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed.

I just love it. Cuz here's the thing- I think it's important to look to examples in our lives. However, I think we sometimes get too focused on what others have done in the past that we close ourselves off to the revelation from the spirit. Maybe we're too set on following the advice from a leader or a missionary or a parenting blog or whatever, when in reality the answers are right there for us. God handles all things through revelation, because He knows that each of His children are different. Hence why each situation is different, and requires different solutions. If we'd done the normal missionary route with Carolina, the lesson would've been fine but I know she wouldn't have felt ready to commit to baptism if we hadn't done things God's way.

Just when you think 15 months has taught you all ya need to know, God is up there lovingly wagging his finger at you the way all the old Italians do๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผ‍♀️


1-6 Zone Conf. part 1 & 2   7- Soup Kitchen shenanigans-it’s a nice look for us, yeah?  8-10 Pday fun  11-13 Pday fun ft. a rather large skeleton- Can u spot the Smeds? 14-Pday??