Taking My Wand for a Nametag

Friday, July 28, 2017

Chapter 71: The Smedley of The Opera๐ŸŽญ

Guys! It's been a crazy awesome week full of literally all the emotions, mainly due to three things! 1) We done got cultured ๐ŸŽญ๐ŸŽจ๐ŸŽผ 2) We done got transfer calls ☎️๐ŸšŠ 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 two๐Ÿ˜…

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 g๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ 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 late๐Ÿ˜… The show ended close to 1am and I was fighting not to fall asleep lolololol. Seriously, an unforgettable night!

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 that๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ


1- 7 The Opera!   8-18 Goodbyes ๐Ÿ˜ข





Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chapter 70: heyyy let's go camping⛺️

Hey friends. It's hot☀️ but it's been a good week. Mainly because I kind of got to go camping. And this upcoming week is gonna be EVEN COOLER but you'll have to wait u till next Pday to see why๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผ‍♀️Also, the sooner I finish this email, the sooner I can take a much-needed nap so we're gonna be doing bullet points today๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผ‍♀️ sorry not sorry๐Ÿ™ƒ

- We're still going strong doing volunteer work at the Caritas. I'm getting really good at chopping up vegetables ๐Ÿฅ’๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ…
- We had an awesome scambio with the Pisa sorelle. I was with Sorella Tueller, which is cool because we are related apparently? Anyways, I learned a lot and it was just a really cool scambio overall!
- We went to visit our less active Mariana who'd been showing a ton of progress... except for the fact that we showed up and she was completely wasted๐Ÿ™ƒ that made for a suuuuuuper interesting/stressful lesson. She was rambling. Peppa Pig was on the tv. Her two year was feeding an entire bag of M&Ms to the dog. It was a weird hour of my life.
- We met with Carolina Cabezas and she finally understands what commandments are๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ go team! 
- I biffed it hard core while crossing the street and now it looks like I was in a motorcycle accident or something. I legit tripped on air. Niiiiiice.
- We went on a day-long camping trip with our ward and the branch in Montevarchi and it was the best thing ever. Well, it started with some stress and crazy driving but finally we made it to Vallambrosa. It looked so much like Utah mountains I wanted to cry. It was like 90 degrees instead of the 110 we've been suffering, so it was like heaven. Trees, campfires, everything! Much needed, much needed ๐ŸŒฒ๐Ÿž๐Ÿ•๐Ÿš—
- Our investigator Maria and her family are headed to Sicily for the Summer, so we went to say goodbye to them. Super sad stuff, especially since she doesn't know if they'll be back before I finish the mission. Stupid Italy vacations that last two months. What even?? Anyways, the gem invited us on the spot to come with them to Sicily and I almost said yes. Oh how I love that fam.
- We spent pday doing some shopping and eating subway for the first time in a year. And soon we will be napping๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ
- I've been working a lot on the attribute of faith, and it's been pretty dang cool. There's this really cool quote I found from President Packer. I was gonna just choose my favorite part but then I realized the whole thing was my favorite part... so I'll just bold a few gems:

"Faith, to be faith, must center around something that is not known. Faith, to be faith, must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence. Faith, to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness. If everything has to be known, if everything has to be explained, if everything has to be certified, then there is no need for faith. Indeed, there is no room for it. …

“There are two kinds of faith. One of them functions ordinarily in the life of every soul. It is the kind of faith born by experience; it gives us certainty that a new day will dawn, that spring will come, that growth will take place. It is the kind of faith that relates us with confidence to that which is scheduled to happen.

“There is another kind of faith, rare indeed. This is the kind of faith that causes things to happen. It is the kind of faith that is worthy and prepared and unyielding, and it calls forth things that otherwise would not be. It is the kind of faith that moves people. It is the kind of faith that sometimes moves things. … It comes by gradual growth. It is a marvelous, even a transcendent, power, a power as real and as invisible as electricity. Directed and channeled, it has great effect.

“In a world filled with skepticism and doubt, the expression ‘seeing is believing’ promotes the attitude, ‘You show me, and I will believe.’ We want all of the proof and all of the evidence first. It seems hard to take things on faith.

“When will we learn that in spiritual things it works the other way about—that believing is seeing? Spiritual belief precedes spiritual knowledge. When we believe in things that are not seen but are nevertheless true, then we have faith”

I like this a lot. I feel like it's been pretty easy for me during life to have faith in the big things, or to have faith in the gospel principles and teachings. However, at least for me, it's a lot harder to have faith in the more individual situations and decisions we may be dealing with. It's harder to have faith in people. And sometimes it's just a bit hard to have trust and faith in God in a more personal/real sense. So I've been trying to be better by just making little changes here and there. Trying to make my prayers more sincere, choosing to have faith instead of stress (that one is a work in progress lol), just little things like that. And I've got a loooong way to go, but it's been cool to see the difference it's made. I feel like God has been able to work through me more, to help the people in our city and the sorelle we are over. It's been super cool to see how working on trusting Him has allowed me to align my will more closely to His. And we're becoming closer buds in the process, which is always nice๐Ÿค—

It's cool stuff. Now I'm gonna go nap. Buona notte cari miei๐Ÿ˜ด

Sorella Smedley

1- Scambio!  2-7 Camping! Kind of…   8- Saying goodbye to Maria & her fam๐Ÿ’”  




1- Scambio!  2-7 Camping! Kind of…   8- Saying goodbye to Maria & her fam๐Ÿ’”  9-10 PDAAAAAY

Chapter 69: "This Badge of Shame You'll Show Until You Die!"

This week's title comes from "Look Down" from Les Mis. Ironically fits a moment I had this week... you see, I'm going through a weird phase. A Les Mis phase. Not that this is anything new- I've belted these toons out with a lot of comps. Les Mis is one of my shower playlists, as lame as that sounds. Lately I've been using songs from it as my alarm clock to ensure I actually wake up on time.

Man, that came back to bite me in the butt, that's for sure.

So I set an alarm for something. I don't remember what it was for. Let's just say that, towards the end of sacrament meeting on Sunday, our ward was graced with the opening bars of "Look Down" on full-blast. I don't know if I've ever been scared that badly in my life, but just picture a serene sacrament meeting being rudely interrupted by singing salves and an awkward Smeds literally jumping out of fear. That sure woke everyone up. Go me for not peeing my skirt because it was a close call.

In better, less embarrassing news, we had a great scambio with the Montevarchi sorelle! I had tons of fun with Sorella Roseno, especially when we went to visit our old lady friend Ida haha. Her visits are always so interesting. We left and poor Sorella Roseno was like "Um..l I only understood like 20% of that" and I was like "eh, I'm at maybe 25% so all is well"

We also met with both Carolinas, and they're doing well! Summer is messin stuff up for us because everyone and their dog keeps going to the beach. All things considered, however, they're both doing really well. We also got to spend some time with some members. My favorite was an afternoon with the Ferrinis, the family I feel most at home with. Literally we spent half of lunch discussing all the Marvel things and it was seriously too good.

One super neat experience was coming across the Forni family. Sorella Forni is a member, but the rest of her family isn't. She has a husband, a 29 year-old son, and a 2 year-old daughter. They are all adorable. Well her family is basically Mormon but unbaptized. When you ask them about being members they say they "aren't believers" buuuut they are in church every Sunday, read the Book of Mormon as a family, do FHE and prayers, etc. Basically they are more active than a lot of our actual members. I had only maybe seen them twice before, because they spend a lot of time in Livorno visiting relatives. Even when in Livorno, however, they attend church. They are seriously too good. Well they invited us over for dinner after church on Sunday and it was one of the best experiences! Their fam is so cool, and I seriously had to keep reminding myself that they weren't actually members. During the lesson, they all participated, especially the son. It was all seriously so great, and they asked us to start doing family home evenings with them! 

We spent the first half of Pday up in Fiesole, just eating gelato in the Tuscan hills... last part was spent in the apartment with kebab because IT IS HOT AS HADES. Constantly in the 100s with awful humidity. Like even nightime trying to get to sleep, it's at least in the 90s. Also mosquitos are killing me. The tiger mosquitos have returned. I've been fighting back with windex- spraying the little jerks so their wings get wet and they fall to the fund. Then they crawl and it's creepy. And that's the story of why my comp keeps walking in on me climbing on top of furniture spraying windex everywhere. Fun times. Other things happened this week... but I just don't have enough brain power to keep writing... so here's two cool things that were floating through my mind this week!

1) The Bridge Builder: Completely by accident, I somehow found a random talk by President Monson from like 2003, and it was one of the most beautiful talks I'd read in a while. He starts by sharing this poem by Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide--
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A throng whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that great throng may a pitfall be.
They, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for them.”

He then discusses different "bridges" that Jesus Christ has built for us. Isn't that good stuff? I liked it a lot. Sometimes those chasms seem pretty big, and my legs are far too short to get myself across. So yeah, it was a good read. 10/10 would recommend.

2) Lessons from Les Mis: Well, some good has come out of listening to Les Mis this week, besides the unforgettable mistake during sacrament meeting. It's one of those stories that has a lot of awesome themes and ideas. One of the most well-known is the line used at the end, "To love another person is to see the face of God". I think about that line a lot as a missionary, and I love it because it's two-fold. On the one hand, we can have opportunities to see others as God sees them, and we feel His love for them. On the other hand, we can get to know God through loving others. It's such a neat principle. During our lesson with Carolina this week, we mentioned something about how much God loves her and wants to bless her. She responded that she honestly didn't know if He loved her, specifically. As she said that, I felt moved by the spirit to tell her that He did love her, and that I knew it because I could feel it. I can't describe it in words very well, but it was one of the coolest experiences. It's happened various times with people, being able to feel just an overwhelming sense of how much God loves them.

And I think it's safe to say it's a pretty huge amount of love ❤️ 

Even for those of us stupid enough to have "Look Down" play during church.

Sorella Smeds

1- Ferrini Family   2-Florence๐Ÿ˜  3-Scambio  4 & 5-Elettra Forni❤️  6-10 Fiesole  11- I ❤️my city! 12- Windexing the mosquitos away:)





1- Ferrini Family   2-Florence๐Ÿ˜  3-Scambio  4 & 5-Elettra Forni❤️  6-10 Fiesole  11- I ❤️my city! 12- Windexing the mosquitos away:)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Chapter 68: I Missed the Fireworks Again ๐Ÿ˜•๐Ÿ‡บ

Happy America day friends!๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ’™❤️๐ŸŽ‡ we got to celebrate by having zone conference followed by a Zone Pday! Yay for hot dogs and parties! Although I've definitely decided I will never spend another Fourth of July outside of America, because I miss our beautiful country! Oh well, if I can't  spend it in the US, I may as well spend it in Bella Italia! Zone conf was a great way to spend the holiday though, hearing awesome trainings from President and Sorella Allen❤

We also had scambio his week with the Prato sorelle! I was with Sorella Harris and we hiked a hill together. Nice. Gaia had just bought a four-month-old puppy, so you could say it was worth it. Seriously though, I learned so so much from Sorella Harris, and it was so fun being her last scambio comp before she goes home!

Another highlight was seeing Betty this week! We've been working in some temple prep stuff with her, and she is doing so great! She also told us this week that she wants to get stuff in order to serve a mission in about a year! So we were pretty dang happy about that!

We also had the best lesson ever with young Carolina!! Seriously it was so neat. She asked so many great questions and prayed for the first time at the end of the lesson! In her prayer, she asked for help in being more open and to be able to know for herself if our message was true. We have another appointment with her tomorrow, so keep her in your prayers!

   There was also an awesome appointment with my bffs the Larrains! No squid this time, just cow intestine in a bowl of corn. Shoot me. They think it's hilarious to bring a food I dislike 
   to the table each week and make me try it. Such an odd relationship we have. Sorella Larrain still finds it so odd that I don't love random organs or fish, and yet she was disgusted when
   I mentioned that cookie dough tastes good right out of the bowl. Ridiculous. Seriously though, I just love them. I feel like I can just chill when I'm with them. Also, this convo happened:
   Sorella Larrain: Next time, we'll eat cow heart!
   Me: noooooooo
   Her: come on, it's great!
   Me: oh yeah, cookie dough is nasty, but cow heart is fine? Come on.

Something I love that was brought up multiple times this week is the concept of being "born again". Sorella Allen talked about it in her training on zone conference, as we discussed ways to make the sacrament a more personal experience. Our relief society president brought it up in her lesson on Sunday. One thing I love that she did is that she asked all those who had children to describe their emotional state right before and during childbirth.


There were a lot of feelings listed, including weakness, pain, fear, etc. She then brought up how all of these feelings are pretty awful and crazy, and yet women who've been through childbirth willingly decide to have more children. Why? Because the minute you've got your adorable kid in your arms, all those less-than-awesome feelings melt away and you're left mainly feeling joy.

She compared this process of childbirth to the act of being born again spiritually. This idea of being born again causes discomfort, pain, weakness, and fear at times. Repentance and change have never been easy. However, in the end, we feel so much joy that we don't really remember the hard parts of the process as visibly. I absolutely love the idea that thanks to Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we really can be spiritually reborn. If we are putting ourselves through the process of change and repentance each week, then us taking the sacrament on Sunday seals the deal. It's better than rewinding- it's literally like a restart button we can continually use to better ourselves, and to bless the lives of others.

Because as Ezra Taft Benson said, "Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men change the world."


1- Random Humanitarians  2- Following Jesus ๐Ÿ˜‰  3-Moroni???  4-It was a good lesson. He was very receptive  5-7  Scambio w/ Sorella Harris to visit Gaia(& her puppy)  8-9 She drew me a picture ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ญ

10- My favs, the Larrains  11-14 Zone Conf. & 4th of July Pday ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ❤️