Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bug Bites

THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE PACKAGE. I got it and I loved it! Loved all the pictures.  We are going to make the cake at zone conference next week with the Sassari sorelle because Sorella Ruppe's birthday is that week.

Blood Suckers
Just another sweaty & beautiful day here in Cagliari.  

To give you a nice picture of what summer is like, twice this week I have reached to scratch my leg or arm and looked down later to find blood and realize that I had actually killed a bug WHILE it was sucking my blood. Twice. Once while I was sleeping.  Bugs here are vicious.

The weeks are going by so fast.  We have been really busy, which is great because the second week we literally had NOTHING planned all day every day.  Now it seems that we don't have enough time to do everything that we want.  That is the best feeling as a missionary.  We are being super blessed.  

Just Relax
Also I've been working on just relaxing more and having fun... Weird that I have to work on that, because usually it's the opposite and I'm not responsible enough, but here I just stress myself out so much that I have to remind myself to have fun and not worry so much.  

Just Serve
Grandma sent me a perfect email a couple weeks ago that helped a lot.  She said that so many people tell you to serve so you have no regrets.  "That's stupid because everyone has regrets.  So just serve."  I tell myself that a lot now: Just serve.

I always run out of time and I had to spend a little more writing President this week for scambi reports, so I'll just try to give the highlights this week.

Birthday Shopping
Last pday I used my BELOVED birthday soldi (money) to hit up the Zara saldis (sales).  (I got a CUTE green coat.  Do't be mad that it's summer.  It's like the one we saw at JCrew... originally around 80 euro that I got for 30... and a couple other things. Heaven.)  

When we were checking out I started talking to the ladies at the check-out counter and basically just bore my testimony about being a missionary and the great service that it is.  They were all super touched and we gave them all pass-along cards and they all said they are coming to English Course.  
So If I convert the Zara employees, my mission will have all been worth it.  I think I should be able to use that as an excuse to go shopping on normal days.  It's where I am inspired to do my best missionary work.

Meeting Again
Thursday we met with Maria Rita and Giuseppina again!  It was so good.  Sorella Nef and I planned this big lesson about faith and we really just wanted to break down what was going on and what they were thinking.  
Cokes with Maria Rita and Giuseppina
--each one has a different name on it

So we were expecting that they just want to exchange information to keep in contact when there are transfers and stuff (which is what we heard on the phone).  But they start out by saying "So tell us about tithing and fasting"... what?  Luckily I had been reading in Third Nefi that morning with the Malachi verses in it (3 Nephi 24:8-10), so I was prepared.  

So we talked about that, but we were still confused about the call and dropping us and I was starting to think I had made it all up. So I basically just said, "Lets get real.  What was this call about, are you having doubts? What worries do you have? etc."  Then they were quiet for about a minute and just explained that it just feels too fast and that they want to be baptized with us here, but that they also want to make sure they are really ready to commit. 

THANK HEAVENS. We said, "That is EXACTLY what we WANT you to do too!" 

I would love to be here when they get baptized, but ultimately what I want is for them to be ready and to have a testimony and to be truly converted.  Here in Italy it takes more time that other places just because it is a huge cultural change.  So it went really well and we are starting to meet them again this week!

Then we left for Sassari for the forever-long scambi!  It takes from 3-4 hours by train to get there so it feels like a three day trip: half a day to get there, a day there, and half a day back.  But I love the train ride.  There weren't very many people on the train, so of course everyone avoided sitting by the missionaries.  

Sorella Nef and I had some time to gaze out the window at the incredible countryside. Also there was a RAIN storm which was heaven sent (literally.  Sorella Ruppe said they prayed for rain), and we got to see this huge rainbow over the hills. Like a movie.

The scambi was way fun.  It's been so hot that we all decided to sleep out on the deck.   It was BEAUTIFUL because they live in a pretty part of town and we could see the stars and hear all the sounds of Italy.  

Balcony Serenade
Also the second night there was this local band who was singing in Sassarese in the bar under their apartment, so all the Italians were out on their decks listening. It was SO COOL. I have videos of us just dancing on the deck and chatting with the cute neighbor lady from our decks.  

It's also just fun to see a new city.  For some reason, you have a lot more courage to talk to people. Also a couple guys asked Sorella Kippen and I if we would marry them.  So there is that.

Saturday and Sunday we did mostras at i giardini publici which is this BEAUTIFUL public garden that overlooks ALL of Cagliari.  Sorella Nef and I decided to try a new approach by asking people if we could do surveys with them, and it has worked really well.  

We had several lessons and gave away several copies of the Book of Mormon to people who rejected us initially by the traditional "HI! We are the Missionaries from..." approach.

Some of my favorite people we met there were the young people. They are so much more open-minded.  We met one guy from Milan here on vacation and he said he used to be really believing, but after his dad died he lost a lot of faith and found comfort in other areas.  

It was cool to talk to him a little and share our testimonies of the Plan of Salvation.  At the end he said, 

"Wow, you guys are really convinced, aren't you?" Yeah. We are.  

We also met this girl here on vacation with a friend who lives here.  She said she is atheist and he said he is a religion but only by tradition, not by belief. We started talking about the Book of Mormon being a testimony of Jesus Christ.  

Science Experiment
I used an example that Taylor shared with me from his mission:  comparing the promise of Moroni to a science experiment.  You have to create a hypothesis, perform the experiment and then record and evaluate the results.  

The same is true with the Book of Mormon:  you read with the intent to know if it's true and to know if Jesus is the Christ, you read the book and pray about it, and then you evaluate the evidences--like the way it has affected your life, the spirit you feel or how your faith has grown. 

She was really impressed by the comparison because usually people consider faith and religion as contrary and I was explaining it as if they supported each other. (Shout-out to Taylor Grey for that one and also Dr. Handley from my Science and Religion class at BYU.)

Park Serenade
This is our 4th and last mostra at this park for a while.  The last 30 min we always spend singing because the sun is setting and it's beautiful and it actually gets people to stop and take information. 

 We have seen little miracles from it.  My favorite "fan" is this cute 4-year-old boy who has been there with his family every time.  He always comes and asks when we will sing.  

The last night we were waiting at the bus stop and his family started walking down the hill.  The mom said that her son was so sad they had left too late to hear us sing.  So we all pulled out our hymn books and sang right there at the bus stop for the little boy.  

Then they made their way home with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet.  I feel like those are some of the most rewarding moments of my mission: small moments where we bring the spirit and help others to open their hearts to hear our message.

Applying the Scriptures
Monday we got 2 new investigators:  a young mom and her daughter (about 14) from English course!  We handed out a little survey asking if people if they had any interest in other free services we offer.  They young girl checked "application of the scriptures in your life personally" (or something similar, the translation to English is kind of awkward).  So we had a sweet lesson with them and they want to know more!  BLESSINGS.

Mission Stories
Yesterday we went to a member's house for a little serrata, which turned into 2 hours of them showing us photos and telling stories from their mission about 10 years ago.  The cool thing about serving here in Italy, and especially Sardegna, is that EVERYONE is a convert.  Literally. 

Everyone has a story.  I love hearing the stories about how people accepted the gospel, or rejected it and then later accepted it. 

I asked Fratello Floris what his favorite thing about serving a mission was.  He said (rough translation) 

"It was realizing how small I am as a person, and then realizing how big I am when the Lord works through me." (It sounds more beautiful in Italian... sorry.)  

But it was the perfect description.  The mission is the most humbling experience ever.  It breaks down all of your walls and brings out all of your faults and insecurities. But all of that makes you rely more heavily on the Lord, and it shows you how present the Lord is in his work with us and with others.  That humbling process allows you to do great things, things far beyond your own power. 

I know I might have been complaining lately about how hard a mission is, and IT IS hard, but it's also the most rewarding experience ever.  Every day I go to bed thinking how lucky I feel to have this experience and to learn the things that I am learning.  

My testimony grows stronger and deeper every day, and I've really learned to apply the principles of the gospel in my life.  I've come to better understand the importance and the reality of the power in simple gospel principles like faith and repentance and charity.  I'm grateful for the perspective it has given me.  


WITH LOVE from Cagliari,
Sorella O'Connor

View from the bus 

Leaving Books of Mormon in Mailboxes

and Doors

Piccolo tan line... still working on it. 
I still don't get tan--even in Italy

(Email Sent - August 14, 2013)

1 comment:

  1. All types of pests are vicious. While summer is nice, it is marred by the number of mosquitos and other bugs that thrive in the weather. I hope you were able to enjoy the season, despite these pesky pests bugging you. Have a good day!

    Mindy Dawson @ Cooper Pest