Well, it's officially August😳☀️Crazy stuff. Last Wednesday, I finished saying my goodbyes💔 aaaaaand got up at 5am so we could send off Sorella Arndt✈️🇺🇸🇦🇸 and also catch our 7am train🙃 but fiiiiinaaaaaly we made it to Ancona. And I absolutely love it here! Just think of a smaller city where all the buildings and apartments are up in the hills looking over the sea, and that's Ancona🏝 It's a smaller branch here, which means the missionaries hold half the callings and usually teach on the spot, and there are typically like 15ish people in church. Also, the branch president is in the Philippines right now and no one knows exactly when he's coming back...? Ah, it all reminds me of the good ole days of Savona💕 Anyways, the city is beautiful, the people are great, and my comp is the best. Here's some memorable quotes from this week!
"Sometimes girls really scare me..." -Anziano Whitlock
"Who needs boys? They're all stupid. The sunset is my boyfriend. Also, pizza." -Francesca
"The truth is, I'm not actually a missionary... I'm a tour guide. Welcome to the best-kept secret of the mission: transfer 12 doesn't really exist..." -Sorella Hurst, five minutes after arriving in Ancona
"You look tired... do you need cake or something?" -Francesca
*During Branch Council* "Ok Anziani, you should visit and teach this list of people. And sorelle... maybe you can bake something to send with them, and that'll count as your missionary work." -Paolo, who is only slightly sexist.
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for one day. Give a man toilet paper, and he'll never use a bidet!" -Anziano Jacobsen
As for work, it's been kind of a crazy week due to different meetings, and having to go up to Rimini twice. Buuut that's ok because I got to see Sorella Orr, Sorella Carter, Anziano Gibb, and Sorella Anderson so no complaints here!❤️❤️❤️ We got to meet twice with our investigator Jelena, and it went awesome both times! Francesca came and was the perfect member-present. WAIT I didn't explain Francesca. So she's absolutely one of my favorite people in this country. She's like 30 and actually lived in Firenze for a bit, where she was baptized! So she knows all my beloved Firenze people❤️ Also, she's just the coolest person ever. I really think she's a big reason for why God wanted sorelle in Ancona for the first time. It's so neat. Every moment we're with her, it just feels right. She's working on her mission papers right now, so we're waaaaay excited!
ALSO on Sunday, we found two super cool kids we've started teaching. So their mom is from Ghana, but they were born here in Ancona. In September, they're moving to London with their grandfather who is a member of the church! Anyways, we've met with them twice so far (Jason who is 15, and Suzanna who is 13), and they are super smart kids. Pretty shy, but you can tell they're really thinking about the stuff we teach, and their answers to our questions are always so profound! We are meeting with them again tomorrow so we're pretty stoked🤗
Ok so that's all great. Most of this past week in Ancona has been absolutely awesome! However, we all have those harder days, and yesterday started out as one of them. There was a combined district meeting in Rimini at around 11. Well, what do you do when your bus doesn't come, and you live on top of the hill far far away from the train station? What do you do when eventually the bus shows up, but you miss your train? What do you do when you find a different train, but then miss the bus from the Rimini station to the church? What do you do when, during all this chaos, you get a text from your most promising investigator saying they won't meet again? Lol my list of potential included crying/saying "screw it" and going to the beach/eating my feelings🤷🏼♀️
...but here's the thing... Elder Richard G Scott once said, "Sadness, disappointment, and severe challenge are events in life, not life itself. I do not minimize how hard some of these events are. They can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining center of everything you do. The Lord inspired Lehi to declare the fundamental truth, “Men are, that they might have joy.” That is a conditional statement: “they might have joy.” It is not conditional for the Lord. His intent is that each of us finds joy. It will not be conditional for you as you obey the commandments, have faith in the Master, and do the things that are necessary to have joy here on earth. Your joy in life depends upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His holy Son, your conviction that their plan of happiness truly can bring you joy."
And so, we chose faith and joy. First, faith. Sorella Hurst and I had a good long chat about the situations of the day lol. All the craziness with the transportation was 100% not our fault, and it was something very much out of our control. As for the situation with our investigator, we prayed for a good long while, and we know we handled everything the best we could, and we made some plans to potentially help her back on the path. In the end, we realized we can only trust in God, knowing that so long as we do our part, His will is gonna be fulfilled.
Then came the joy. A cool concept I've been studying lately is how to consistently live in joy, despite the fact that most aspects of life are outside of our control. We can't stop disappointing things from happening, and we can't just wait for the good moments like vacations or whatever to come, saying "well, when ______ happens, then I will be happy." The idea rolling through my head lately is that we are more likely to be living a life of joy if we can add happy moments on our own. So we tried to do that yesterday. I've got a lil list now of things I can make happen, so I can be happy no matter the circumstance. Granted, my list is a bit different here on the mission than it will be at home, but it's the same concept. My list includes things like getting gelato, having a 5 minute dance party, serving my comp, watching the sunset, visiting a fav member or investigator, laughing with other missionaries, etc. So yesterday, we ate our feelings a bit with the rest of our zone lol. Then, we played card games on the train ride home with our Anziani. We had a quick dance party to the Princess and the Frog soundtrack before preparing a lesson. And we ended the day watching the sun set over the water with Francesca.
And let me just tell you, trusting God and chasing sunsets is the best medicine for just about anything.
1-3 Last goodbyes from Firenze 4&5 Carter & Orr 6-8 Ancona Adventures 9-12 SuNsEtS🌅