Monday, March 17, 2014


Hey guys. It's been such a busy week over here. But busy is good.  

Singing with President at Zone Conference

matching boots

We did 2 scambis this week and so that was really a lot to handle.  I'm going to be gone for three days next week, so we are becoming excellent planners trying to fit in everything we have to do. 

I LOVE it though.  We definitely go through stages, but our work is really picking up this week so that is great.

I can't remember if I wrote about it last week, but we sacrificed pday to meet with Simona after she had dropped us and the lesson went REALLY well!  She said she wanted to keep meeting with us and now has a new baptismal date!  She didn't come to church on Sunday though, so we were really upset about that.  But she is reading and praying and she seems really happy.

Not Yet
We were also a little down because we have been working with Shadi, just really trying to help her learn about Jesus Christ.. then one day she started asking Carol about baptism and she got really excited about it and asked us if she could get baptized.. 

After looking into the situation a little more closely we found out that she can't get baptized because it could be life threatening for her if she ever went back to Iran, which she was planning on doing.  

So we had to break the news to her this week and she seemed pretty upset about it, but we told her she can keep coming to church and to activities and to stay with it because one day laws might change and her circumstance could change too.

Are You Ready?
SO we did a lot this week, but I don't have time to fill you in on everything, so I just want to talk about Latina. 

President asked all the Capi in our zone to do a big blitz in Latina, to see if it was ready to be opened. We went the night before and stayed with the Sorelle in Ostia and the next morning we all drove up to Latina. 

In the morning the assistants dropped us off in little cities around Latina to check out the work and do some finding. So they dropped me and Sorella Anstead off in this little town called Ardea and basically said 

"Good luck.  Find a way to Latina by one o'clock and we will meet you there.

and we are like "Yeah, sure, no problem." and I'm slightly freaking out inside but at the same time really excited. 

So we just walked around talking to people on the street asking lots of questions like 
"Hey, where are we?

and "How do you take a bus to Latina from here?"

and they are like "You know it's 45 kilometers away, right? You have to take a bus to another city and then take a bus from that city to Latina."  

But we also got to talk to a lot of people about the gospel and had a ton of little miracles. The assistants had to come back and pick us and the ZLs up (from the neighboring city) and we all headed back to Latina for the afternoon. 

Finding Days
It was one of the coolest finding days on my mission. Sorella Anstead and I picked a less active to visit on the list and decided to just try and find our way there.. It took us the whole day to get there because every time we stopped and asked someone for directions we ended up teaching them the whole first lesson on the street. We gave away all of our finding materials and everyone seemed really interested. 

My favorite experience was with this Kenyan guy named Johnson. We were walking down the street and there was a huge group of people outside of the local church.  We found out that it was a funeral for an 18-year-old boy.  It was really sad because there were so many people and everyone was crying. 

The Plan
As missionaries we just wanted to go over there and just started preaching about the Plan of Salvation, but at the same time we didn't want to be inconsiderate.  Also it's against the rules to teach people outside of other religious buildings.  

So we were just torn up about what to do, so we went over to a little bench to say a prayer and to find out who it was we needed to talk to.  There was something that told us there was someone there we had to teach.  

After the prayer we felt peace to keep going, and so I turned to the man nearest us to ask for directions.  Then we started talking about the church and the restoration.  

He told us that he usually worked all day long, but for some reason he had finished his work early and decided to go to the park where we were. 

No Coincidence
We told him that it was no coincidence and that he was guided there to meet us. because it's true. he was.  So we left him with a Book of Mormon and we gave his number to the elders. 

Also, we spent WAY too much time with the elders in the van that day. Sorella Anstead and I are a little concerned about our 9 HOUR drive to Catania with them this week. I will survive. I will survive. Sometimes I forget that missionaries are 18-20 year old boys.

Overall though, it was just such a refreshing experience. I felt like a greenie again being a city I didn't know and every person we talked to was a miracle.  I don't know if President will open it up again, but it was a great personal experience.

All in all though, I'm glad to be back in Rome 2. I love it here. It's like home to me. I love the members here and I love church on Sunday. I love being a missionary. sorry no time! Love you!

With love from Rome,
Sorella O'Connor

(Email Sent - March 17, 2014)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Oh hey guys. 

So this week.  We just had a lot of people not show up to their appointments, and Simona who had a bap date last week sent us a text and dropped us, and then we dropped a ton of investigators because no one is progressing. 

So we did a lot of finding this week. Starting from the ground up again. 

But I keep saying to myself, at least I'm finding in Rome and not in Cagliari because we don't see all the same people every day.  Except sometimes we do.  

Sometimes we will be on the bus and someone will walk up to me and say, "HEY! How are you?!" and I have to think quickly to remember what I already talked to them about and try and talk to them about the gospel again.  

Then they say something like "Don't you remember? I said I'm really not interested at all.." So then we both end up just complaining about the rain and the traffic and the crazy people on the bus. It's really easy to bond with Italians, you just have to hate all the same things and ask them how to make lasagna. 

Forgotten History
But despite all the finding and missed appointments, it was a good week.  We went to the Vatican with Carol on Monday which was fun.. but also stressful because I remembered that I'm studying art history in college and that I've forgotten everything and I'm going to have to do a lot of makeup studying when I get back. 

Tuesday we had a lesson with our cute investigator named Sofia. The anziani passed her to us last week because she is a single 60 year old lady who lives by herself so they can't visit her. 

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.  (D&C 9:8)

Burning Testimony
She is going through menopause and every time she feels the spirit she starts to get really hot and hyperventilates.  So we invited her to be baptized on the 5th of April and she started to freak out and gets really hot and starts fanning her face.  

It reminded me of that time when Grandma ate that really hot pepper in the Chinese food and tears came to her eyes and she kept saying "oooh, oooh, oooh!" and we had to try and keep the spirit and not laugh. 

She didn't accept the date just yet, but we met with her again this week and re-taught her the restoration. We cleared some things up for her and she is feeling a lot more confident about baptism.

Our Findings
Wednesday we had our only two appointments cancelled. So we did a lot of finding.. 

Thursday, we did more finding. 

Friday we did a scambio with the sisters in Ostia which was fun.

Sorella Wiltbank and Sorella Kimball in Ostia 
doing language study at the beach

 It was fun to be with a young missionary again because they are still really energetic and will talk to anyone.. Especially the old homeless men with no teeth. It's funny because after a while you start ruling people out - or at least are wary of them.  

Take Care
I know it's bad and you probably shouldn't, but I just think "The Church has enough people to take care of; Italy needs people who can take care of the Church".. 

Anyway, we were on the bus and this sorella starts talking with these two gypsy kids.  Afterwards, she is like "Sorella, they are so golden!" & anyone who has ever tried to teach gypsies here in Rome knows it's not a good idea.  

We had an appointment Friday evening with a lady named Assunta.  She was a referral from some members and we did an FHE with her and her husband who is an inactive member and she agreed to take the lessons.  She is a sweet older lady who sings opera and paints. 

We also had English course and we asked Luca to give the spiritual thought about his testimony and how he gained a testimony.  It was one of the best testimonies I've heard.  He was so sincere and it was great for the rest of the students to see his example. 

Saturday we... did more finding. 

looking like Spring in Rome

The good thing about finding is that you meet really cool people and you have a lot of chances to teach and bear testimony in smaller ways. You really feel guided by the spirit to know what to talk about and how to find out peoples needs. 

For example I met this really cute 23 year old girl from Denmark. She is here studying Italian and we started chatting while waiting for the metro. Obviously we started talking about the church and she started asking all the normal questions that people think about Mormons like, "Are you allowed to use electricity?" and "How many wives does your dad have?"  

It's cute because they all say it in a curious way and try not to be offensive by asking.  Then they still don't believe us when I say we don't practice polygamy anymore.  

But this girl was telling me about how shocked she was that someone would leave everything behind to go talk to people about Jesus Christ and his church, because in Denmark people only get baptized so they can get money from relatives.  After a while she started to really open up and told me that she didn't know if she believed in God.  

Power of Prayer
She isn't an atheist, but she just has never had a relationship with God.  I asked her if she had ever prayed in her life, and she said "no,"  so I invited her to pray and taught her how to do it. It was just a sweet little experience, but really powerful to me. Who knows if she even will try to pray, but even small experiences like helping someone know how to open that relationship with God through prayer is such a meaningful and fulfilling opportunity. 

We met a lot of other really cool people this week too. There is a Buddist bus driver that we run into ALL the time. The other day he was driving the bus on the other side of the street and we were waiting at the bus stop and he stopped the bus and stuck half of his body out of the window to yell "DESTINY UNITES US AGAIN".. so cute, the bus driver. 

Last night we were coming home and there was a lady parked in the middle of the street because her engine had died... so we ask her if we can help push her car.  She was REALLY skeptical that we would be able to push her car. but we did. and it started rolling down the hill and she just hopped in and yelled "VADO!" and she was off. 

Also it was WOMEN'S DAY in Italy and Jomar got us flowers. 

and Sunday we did more finding! 

We are really hoping to find a family this week!  Send us prayers..

No Sacrifice
Oh I almost forgot.  We were really sad because Simona dropped us this week and she had a bap date and everything for this month.  We asked if we could just see her one more time and talk about it.  

So we sacrificed pday this morning to meet with her and it went REALLY well. The spirit was really strong and she said she wants to keep meeting and keep reading and keep coming to church. it was a real miracle. 

Next week we are REALLY busy.  We have a scambio with Rome 3 and then on Friday President asked all the ZL and STL in Rome to do a full day of finding in this little town in the Ostia zone named Latina to see if it's ready to be opened to missionary work.  

The week AFTER we are having Elder Keauren come to the mission and they are sending all the ZL and STL on a road trip down to Catania for a special capi conference with him. So cool. I'm really excited to see Sicily because I don't think Ill ever get to serve down there. anyway. until next week! 



Sorella O'Connor 

(Email Sent - March 10, 2014)

Monday, March 3, 2014

With My Own Eyes

Can you believe it? We still can't. 

All week we were like: 

"Hey, remember when we met Luca on the bus and he denied us and NOW he is getting baptized?
 (Read Letter from January 1)

It was one of the best baptisms I've ever been to.. (after Carol's... I mean it's only natural, right?)  The spirit was super strong and he was SUPER happy.  

He invited a TON of his high school friends to come and we got to meet his family for the first time.  That was the best part: while the elders were helping him get ready, Sorella Wiltbank and I got to talk to his family. 

They were really exited for Luca and couldn't believe all the changes he had made in his life. This is the kid who plays rock music and refuses to cut his long curly hair... getting baptized at age 17.  They were so shocked and so proud of him.  

They were asking a lot of questions and we started explaining to them the blessings of the temple and his parents started crying and were clearly touched by the Spirit.  Sorella Wiltbank gave them a copy of the Book of Mormon and we set up a Family Home Evening with them for this week.  

It was one of the strongest times I've felt the Spirit in my mission, at his baptism.  We were worried that he might not be ready yet, but the Spirit confirmed to me many times that he was ready and he knew the path that he was choosing to follow and how he is going to bring so many people with him.  

He asked Sorella Wiltbank and I to give the talks at his baptism which really touched us.. especially since we had passed him to the anziani a while ago.  

The best part, though, was his confirmation on Sunday.. it was one of the most beautiful blessings I had ever heard. It talked about him serving a full-time mission and being an example to his friends and family and about all the people that he had promised to bring the gospel.  

Sorella Wiltbank and I were just in awe. He truly is so special and people kept coming up to us saying "good job sisters" like we even did anything.. That's the thing.. all we do is invite... and we invite SO many people every day... The ones that make the difference are the ones that ACT on it.  

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for theLord aseeth not as bman seeth; for man looketh on the outwardcappearance, but the dLord looketh on the eheart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
The Lord Looketh 
And it just reminded me that sometimes it's the most unlikely people that accept the gospel. That night we had an incredible conversation with the bus driver and Luca just happened to walk on and we just gave him a pamphlet because he had been listening to our conversation... not thinking anything of it.. and the bus driver never accepted an appointment with us while LUCA GOT BAPTIZED.. 

It was really all him.. we just feel SO blessed to have played that small part. 

We had a really great rest of the week too. The ward organized this huge carnival activity for the primary and invited a TON of families to come. They asked us to set up a table with the "Family: Proclamation to the World" and other materials about the family. 

We worked ALL day setting up everything and helping the ward with the activity and it turned out so well. There were a ton of families who came and it really helped the ward to get involved in missionary work and share with their friends our beliefs about eternal families.

Torn Apart and Put Back Together
ALSO we had Elder Steven B. Allen and President Lisfardi come this week for our Zone specialized training.. They brought up all the missionaries from Napoli and the Rome zones to come listen and it was SO good. a huge answer to prayers. 

He tore us to pieces and then somehow put us back together again all in 3 hours.  Sorella Wiltbank and I were having a rough time because we both got critical emails from President about our work. 

We were REALLY down about it.. like crying in the back of the bus torn up about it (and I've only cried 4 times on my mission from sadness:  twice in the MTC, once when Maria Rita dropped us and this time).

Is That Everyone?
Then the next day we had this meeting and he started off by talking about how we only had 16 baptisms in Feb (the most we have ever gotten in our mission is like 21 or something in one month so we were feeling pretty good).

He asked us if we believed that the Lord had only prepared 16 people in ALL of southern Italy? and if not, then WHY don't we have more baptisms?  

But then he really helped by telling us HOW we can improve.  He was really positive and it really helped us to build up our faith and to WANT to work harder and see more success.  He helped us to raise our standards and make good goals to improve. It was just REALLY good.

Invitation for Happiness
As far as our investigators go though, we got another baptismal date this week:  a 21-year-old girl named Simona.  We taught her the Plan of Salvation this week and it went REALLY well..  

At the end, she just kept thanking us for sharing this knowledge with her and talked about how it made her so happy.  

So we invited her to be baptized the 29th of March and she said she is going to pray about it.. So the ward is really excited about her.

It was a really long and a really good week. 

Last pday we went bike riding in Villa Borgese and it was REALLY fun.  We wanted to just relax, but we didn't want to stay inside.  So it was the perfect pday because we just took big blankets and sat in the sun and wrote letters.

ALSO the Stuerers took all the missionaries out for Burger King and it was really fun.  But made us all drowsy for the rest of the day... American fast food.

Love Fest
& shout out to Carol, who is still the best new member.  

She moved apartments this week and we went to her new place last night.  I feel guilty going to teach her because we just love her so much and it's so much fun.  It was just a big love fest because we just talked all about how much we love each other and how close we have all grown through this process and how we will never forget each other. Like I said, love fest, but it was the best.

The gospel is so true. It works. It really does. I've SEEN IT WITH MY OWN EYES.  

As we follow the gospel of Jesus Christ and do all we can to share it with others, there is greater happiness to be found than can be found anywhere else.  I have never felt so guided by the Spirit and so led by the Lord.  

I couldn't have imagined the happiness that I have found by sharing the gospel.  I thank Heavenly Father EVERY DAY for the truth he has blessed me with.  

To know that God loves us enough to restore his priesthood power on the earth and to speak to us through living prophets and to give us a member of the godhead to teach us truths and guide us personally.  It's all just so incredible.  It's just so real. 

& the best thing is that it's true for EVERYONE.  

People always tell us "That's YOUR way, and this is MY way, but it doesn't matter because all roads lead to Heaven."  

But there really is one way, prepared for all, and it's through Jesus Christ.  I feel so blessed to put on my name tag every day and to know I am His representative.

With Love From Rome,
Sorella O'Connor

p.s. How crazy is it that I went to Paige's companion's farewell here in Italy?  She has the best family.  

I apologized ahead of time if Paige is mean and told them to tell their daughter just to feed her if she gets irritable. jk. I didn't.. but I thought about it. 

(Email Sent - March 3, 2014)