Friday, November 29, 2013

Rome for the Holidays!

I'm staying in ROME!  

President didn't want to make a lot of changes because there are THREE holidays this transfer: Thanksgiving this week (which no one celebrates, so I kind of forget about it--sorry Aimee I know it's your favorite) and then Christmas and New Year's.  So Sorella Foster and I are staying together.

But I'm really happy to be staying in Rome.  

Christmas in Rome.  

What a dream come true.  I love our ward and our investigators. Things have been really going well lately; we have a ton of new potential investigators and we have been working really well with the elders in our district.  

(Even when they make fun of me.)

Mail Call
Also I got the packages THANK YOU!  Sorella Foster has to keep me from opening all the days of the advent calendar at once. This year it's not even for chocolate (because there is none) but it's so cute and I just want to see what's behind all the doors. 

Thanks for the pens. I didn't know I was so picky about pens, but I am. so grateful.  Also thanks for the conference Liahonas.  It was perfect timing because I got them at a missionary conference we had this week, so I gave out the extra copies to my favorite missionaries there.  

We have been DYING for the conference Liahonas, so it was the best gift.  So I got those two packages this week! THANK YOU. 

I thought Paige's email last week was so funny, so I printed it and read it to everyone. (Read Paige's blog HERE

Secret Sister Stuff
I'm so happy we are both in Italy because there are just some things that no one else can really "get" unless they serve here.  I also got a cute letter from her this week with the best Anziano Holland talk and a picture of her to show to the cute elders--because I'm shopping for a brother-in-law. 

It's been a really cold week here in Rome. It's rained almost every day.. and I got holes in my RAINBOOTS too... (Thanks Nonna for convincing me to bring rainboots) so my feet have been cold and wet. 

I bought myself a Thanksgiving present. don't be mad. new boots. 

But other than the rain, it's been really good.  Last pday we went to the craziest museum.  It's a crypt decorated entirely with bones of dead friars. yes, you heard me. so creepy. Imagine walking into a dimly lit room COVERED in human bones.  

Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini

Also we went to the mall after to buy things for winter because its WAY colder than I thought it would be and I NEEDED a warm blanket. 

But while we were there, we walked by the movie theater and I died a little because they showed the Hunger Games trailer AND The Hobbit trailer with LEGOLAS and my fangirl teenage heart wondered if it was worth the sacrifice to be a missionary, and I decided it was.
(Small interruption: this cute little boy whose mom works in the internet stop just gave me a drawing of his Pokemon character and my heart melted a little.) 

As far as actually missionary work goes, it's been good.  We did a scambio with the other Rome sisters and I got to go with Sorella Fossa again!  

I love Italian companions. 

It was really fun because they have 4 sorelle in their house and the 2 sorelle from Ostia were down for their baptism (because they don't have a font in Ostia).  So there were 6 sisters there that night--pajama party as the Italians say.  

Sorella Fossa and I got to teach this pregnant lady named Zara the Plan of Salvation and it was so good. It was cool teaching with a sister who is about the same age as me in the mission and who speaks the language.  The lesson went so smoothly and it just felt good to testify of Jesus Christ and his role in our lives here on earth. 

Then we got to go to this cute baptism where I cried. (I might cry every time I see a baptism, especially the Robles family on The District, because I'm still sad I wasn't there for Maria Rita's baptism.)  

(Robles Family's Story:  HERE )

She was so cute and her boyfriend baptized her.  Then we found out he is going on a mission in a WEEK to Ogden, Utah. (I hope he is companions with Taylor Basset.) I love baptisms.

Real Intent
Thursday we had a really great chance to go to a missionary fireside with the Sunday School general president and Brother Ridd from the Young Men's general presidency. It was so great to just sit and learn and feel like I was back in the MTC again. 

(Kaitlin is right behind Brother Ridd and President Osguthorpe)

We learned about what it means to have "real intent" as a missionary: what is our intent in teaching and how can we help people through our teaching skills?  

The Big Three
I learned a lot and it reminded me a lot about the three most important characteristics in missionary work/life: faith, hope and charity. 

Real intent is just hope, realizing your desire and your intent for doing missionary work, and applying the faith and charity to that desire will give you the power to have success.  It was a great booster because sometimes you just get so into the pattern of things that it's easy to forget your hopes, desires, and your intent. 

We have seen lots of other miracles this week, one of which is a new investigator. Guess where from: BRAZIL. not just brazil, Belo Horizonte. (where her friend, Dallin Bergquist, served).  

Anyway, some elders ran into her on the train and referred her to the elders here... Turns out the elder that found her had to get transferred here for an emergency and found out that she hadn't been contacted!! 

So he called her and she came to church and they decided that we sorelle would be a better fit for a cute, single 20-year-old.  I'm not complaining because she is SO cute and SO prepared. We are so excited to be working with her. 

Our other investigators are progressing but slowly. Missionary work takes a lot more time then they make it seem in those stories they tell at conferences and in talks.. but I heard a quote once that says something along the lines of "success is sweet, sweeter if long-delayed and obtained through trials."

What I've learned this week is that the real joy in missionary work is seeing people change. It's seeing the clouds of darkness being dispersed from their lives and watching as the Light of Christ starts to fill them with joy (see Alma Chapter 19--King Lamoni). 

This week I have been grateful for the constant support of my Heavenly Father, who strengthens me and gives me all that I ask for as I strive to do his work. 

The Center
Every week I am more grateful for my chance to serve. My mission experience has been so different than I ever imagined it would be.  I've grown in ways that I didn't know I needed, and my testimony has grown deeper and more secure of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I'm learning what it means to make the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of my life, and it's something that I am eternally grateful for. I have been continually blessed by daily scripture study, the words of modern prophets and apostles (and my sister), quiet prayer, and bearing testimony in the rain. 

I feel so blessed to be given the chance to serve a mission here in Rome and to be blessed by the people with whom I serve. I know the Lord is working miracles and I know that this is His gospel, that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows what it means to have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I am coming to know Him and understand more of his love as I serve His children.  That's all the reward I could ask for, and yet he gives so much more. SO I'm grateful. 

With Love From Rome,
Sorella O'Connor

(Email Sent - November 25, 2013)

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