3/25/2015 (week 21/104)

Buenos dias!! Erm….. I mean Buongiorno!

I am becoming fluent in Itagnol (Italiano, and Spagnol or Spanish) out here and I think it’s funny because there are actually some words that I don’t even know in Italian, but just know in Spanish. Managia. It’s probably best to just keep me here in Cimiano my whole mission, haha.

The work is good, though, and we got a total of 15 lessons last week! 15!!!!!!!!! This is huge for my companionship, and good for Italy in general, so we can’t complain!! It seems that most of the work that we have been doing is in reactivating members and helping out their families. This work is such a joy to do, and I can say that we are very happy to be involved here. One family in particular, we have helped back into the church, gained strong relationships with each member, and helped them start the spiritual journey that has been bringing their family light, peace, and prosperity. I have seen it, and it is incredible.

Other than this work, the only other note of import is a high school class that we taught the other day to show them what it was to be a Mormon. This was a religion class, and every once in a while, they have the Mormon missionaries come to the school and give a presentation to the students. This is my second time doing it, and though I expected a lot of things with those teens, I didn’t expect what we got from them this week. Total and utter respect. They participated, asked good, thought provoking questions, treated every view with respect and tolerance, and didn’t laugh, text, or talk to each other one bit. There was even one girl in the class who was asking golden questions such as, “How did you each gain your testimony?” We had the opportunity to explain to them the process of gaining spiritual knowledge, and also, when we shared the first vision with them, the Spirit was so strong. I never thought that would happen in a high school class. The silence during the reading of the vision was profound and it was as if the very air stopped to listen so that you would have an unhindered chance to hear the truth. I enjoyed it very much and I felt like a kid again, in certain respects (obviously not the rut of immaturity) because they were all our age. We could really connect with them because we were JUST in their seats not too long ago. It made for a nice discussion.

Cultural Bit: A lot of people here in the city have dogs, but there is something a little different about Italy and dogs. The Italians, a lot of the time, have wolves. I’m not talking about huskies, I mean full blown wolves on leashes. Absolutely majestic creatures, yes, but if I ever experience one of those classic missionary vs. dog incidences, I fear that it won’t work out well for me.

Spiritual Bit: I wish to speak today on a subject that I fear might be a bit sore for some, but I feel impressed to address the issue. It is an issue that nearly every one of us, actually……every one of us deals with. This is the issue of obedience. God gives us fairly expressive commandments and laws of life that He asks us to obey, and these range from how to treat others all the way to what to do with your money. Now, some acts of disobedience are more grave than others, yes, mainly due to the inherent consequences to the broken principle or commandment, or even the time it takes to get over the effects. However, the harsh truth of the matter is that all disobedience is disobedience. Small or big. Whenever we are presented with a choice to obey or not we are presented with a black and white decision: Am I going to follow God or not? It’s simple, and if the decision seems grey, it’s a bad one. After all, grey means it contains a bit of black, and any degree of sin is unacceptable to God.

     But why would God give us commandments? I wish to point out the scripture in Moses 1:39 where it states, “For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Guys, He gives us commandments so that we can live happy lives here on earth and after death. He gives them to us because He loves us. These are His best suggestions to make it back to Him and He begs that we follow them. A scripture in John 14:15 comes to mind: “if you love me, keep my commandments.” He loves you and me and He is trying to do everything He can, without forcing us, to help us back to Him. They are pleadings from a loving Father to His children to give them the best lives He can. And we should follow them out of love too, not obligation. Take a step back for a moment, and remember that this is about our eternal family, our eternal Father, and our eternal happiness. It’s so simple. So, next time you are presented with a choice, just think, “Do I love Him?” Because I promise, He would do anything for you, and He loves you too.

      Now, after laying down some pretty straight forward doctrine on sin and obedience, I just wish to point out one more thing to emphasize not the hardness of the way, but the mercy of it all. God loves us SO much that not only did He give us these commandments, but He sent His Son to die for us, that when we mess up (because we all do, quite often really) we will have a way to make it back. Alma 7:11-13. No matter what, it is extremely doable, and it’s ok if you mess up, as long as turn again to our loving Heavenly Father. He will always extend His arms out again. Do not fear, just love.

Until next week,
Anziano Squire

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Me with my companion, Anziano Savage

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3/18/2015 (week 20/104)

Salve!

The work is just exploding here with Anziano Savage and I! I could not be happier! Usually the work here in Italy is pretty slow, but we were able to get four new investigators this week, start working on a baptism date or two, the Sorelle set 6 baptism dates, the other Anziani had 2, etc. It is a miracle in and of itself!

New stuff from this week! First off, we had Stake Conference where a member of the Seventy, Anziani DeFeo, spoke to us, and he gave one of the best talks I have ever heard!! No notes or anything, just went up to the pulpit and preached doctrine. So incredible! Made so much more dramatic by the fact that it was in Italian, haha. Also, we had a lesson with our golden boy, Marcello, in which he got so excited at the things we were teaching that he began to start taking furiously quick notes as we were talking. We tried to set a date for baptism with him, but he said he isn’t ready for that yet and that he just wants to learn a bit more, but we have a lot of hope for the man!

Well, that’s really about it. I’m sure there’s more but I have cioè no time left and I can barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning.

Cultural bit: There was a film a few years back about the Amish that was made in America and translated here for Italian, then shown to the people here. HERE’S THE ISSUE. They messed up with the translation and instead of calling them Amish, they called them Mormons. Now, every single conversation I have with people where they talk about our ‘communities’ and no electricity and such makes total sense. It’s a hard knock life guys. Also, right around Easter time the Catholic Priests roam the neighborhoods and give blessings on peoples homes, so when we go house to house they think we are there for that, and then they get really mad when they find out we aren’t Catholic Priests, haha.

Spiritual Bit: It is mentioned to us in Alma 40:41 that we will be judged according to our actions and desires. I wish to talk a moment on this. If you pay attention, you will learn that actions are just an outward expression of our true desires. If we truly desire to have a clean house, we will clean it. If you truly desire to see a movie with friends, but have a load of homework or work to do, you will find a way around it. This is how we humans work.
     At the judgement day, the Lord will pay attention to these actions and desires and judge us based off of them. My message to you all this week, and my invitation, is to write down on a piece of paper what your true desire above all desires is. Then, pay attention to your actions for the next few days and see if they match that desire. If they do not, don’t fret, because we have been given a way to change. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and through doing the small things that He asked of us, we can change not only our actions, but our true desires. Do you wish to be more loving? Practice by serving others. Do you wish to be more hard working and have a greater desire to work? Practice by working hard. This life is a life that has been given to us to give us the opporutnity to change our natures and become. Choose ye this day whom you will serve, right?

After you have evaluated yourself, tell me what you learned in an email!! I would love to hear from each of you!

Just remember, you can become the person you want to be by consistently doing the things that person would do.

Con Amore,
Anziano Squire
Squire.Jacob@myldsmail.net

Pictures of Anziano Ostergar’s “Funeral” mentioned in blog post on 3/4/2015

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3/11/2015 (week 19/104)

BUOOONNNN GIORNOOOOOO Tutti!

Wow this week was great!!! We got dropped by a few investigators, others dropped off the map, haha, we have a half new district, and I’m pretty sure the mold in our house will eat me one of these nights, but things are incredible!!! Would you like to know why? Because I’m making them be!

About 6 months ago I was getting ready for bed one night and I sat down and decided that I was going to make tomorrow the best day of my life!!! However, that next morning, I walked down my stairs to find my dog, my baby girl of 13 years, permanently resting on the floor. She had laid down to take a nap and just didn’t wake up. At a certain point in the relationship with you and a pet, they become your sibling. She was my sister, veramente. I hadn’t felt that kind of grief for a long time. I remembered, though, the promise I made to myself the night before, and I decided that no matter what happened I would make that day better. And I did. To this day, that was one of the saddest yet best days of my life, because, despite the horrible circumstances, I chose my attitude.

Every day can be your best day. Just make it so.

So, I got a new companion too, and his name is Anziano Savage! He is the absolute BOMB and we get along so well! Our personalities are very complimentary and we have a ton of the same interests, down to our types of humor to our favorite sculptor. It’s Bernini. He’s the best and you can’t convince me otherwise. We have been doing incredible work out here and we have been finding with most of our time actually. It’s good for both of us.

Also, we met a new golden investigator named Marcello, and he is probably the most interested person I have ever met. We have been so blessed here and I can’t thank the Lord enough!!

Cultural bit: Talk with your hands. Everything makes more sense in Italian when you talk with your hands. Even if I say the exact same words without and then with hands, some people won’t understand unless I use my hands. Fun stuff.

Spiritual Bit: A question came up from a less active we visited that really interested me: Why am I not seeing answers to my prayers?

Sometimes, it is because we aren’t asking with sincerity and real intent (Moroni 10:3-5). Sometimes it is because we aren’t making any effort on our side to find an answer. But sometimes, and this is the one I believe the most common, is because we aren’t meant to know right now. We are here on the earth to prepare ourselves to live in happiness with God and our families forever. We do this by showing to God that we are willing to make the hard decisions to do this. Sometimes, not knowing why is exactly the trial we need, because, without that, we wouldn’t be showing any faith or trust in God. For years with my depression, I remember asking God why He did this to me. Why was I going through it? Why, when everyone else seemed to be happy, did I have to be lost? I didn’t receive this answer till years later, but now, instead of kneeling down and questioning God, I kneel down and thank Him for it, because I know now and I am grateful for it. Sometimes, for some reason or another, we aren’t supposed to have the answer, because this is the trial of our faith. But remember, as it states in Ether 12:6, you will always receive an answer after your trial. Hold on just a little bit longer. I promise that you haven’t the faintest idea of the thing that God intends to make out of you. His purpose in life is to bring about our happiness (Moses 1:39).

He will always be there so just trust in Him, I ask of you.

3 Nephi 22:7-11

Cheers and until next week!!

Con Amore,
Anziano Squire

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Me and Mahesh Rai on Mahesh’s moving day.

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My new district

3/4/2015 (week 18/104)

Buongiorno Tutti!

TRANSFER CALLS ARE THIS WEEK. I AM STAYING IN CIMI!!!!!!!! However, my companion, Anziano Tolman, is being transfering to Muggio, 20 minutes away to be a Zone Leader. He’s even more in charge of me now, haha. Also, Anziano Ostergar is going home to California, which we are all sad to see, and Sorella Burgess is going to be opening up Colegno! It’s a small town near Torino.

Big events this week would have to start with a cultural event that we had in which over 9 nations were represented, food was brought, and dances/music talents were shared. The miracle of that whole thing was this group of Ecuadorian flutists that perform at the Duomo that the other Anziani ran into at centrale. Turns out, one of them is inactive and when they told them about the cultural event they asked if they could play. So, they brought these giant speakers and PA system, all sorts of instruments, effects, soundboards, and everything. It felt like a professional performance and everyone was blown away. Not bad for one month of planning and the conception of the idea by us missionaries, eh?

Next up, we are about to meet someone who we hear is a miracle. His name is Marcello, and I will have to keep you all updated on him, but from the missionaries that found him, (our incredible sisters), he sounds golden. Lo faccio sapere!

The other grand event this week was a funeral that we held for Anziano Ostergar. I’ll post pictures next week. Anyways, when a missionary finishes their mission we call it “dying.” SO, Ostergar is DYING tomorrow. Therefore we held a funeral for him! It was a surprise and we  all dressed in black, got pictures from his mission off of his flash drive and printed them out, got flowers, eulogy, musical number, and parting words from those present. It was a beautiful procession and there were goodies from the Panificeria and cheesecake to follow. As well as a gourmet meal from our Sicilian friend, Michele, and his daughter. It was actually one of the funniest things we have done on our mission just because of its quality. Like I said, pictures next week! Can’t send any this week.

The sad events were that Johnny and Rosa left for Ecuador for good, but we had a beautiful last meal with them yesterday, and also Mahesh left for Nepal for the next two months to get married. However, both of these things are so good for them!!!!!! I’m excited for where their lives will take them!

Cultural Bit: In America, most places have carpet. It’s when you start getting into higher class stuff that you start seeing floors with marble. Here in Italy, it’s the other way around. EVERYTHING has marble floors, even the ghetto buildings. Also, our house has marble flooring which makes it fun in the morning due to it’s chill factor. Slippers are a necessity, and because I’m cheap I just bought random black, furry, chinese girl slippers from the nearby chinese shop. No shame. (Chinese shops are essentially thrift shops here). NOW, when you start getting into higher class, you start seeing carpet. It’s so weird.

Spiritual Bit: In the Bible, there is a beautiful story of Jesus where he was out on the water and the apostles were in a boat. Peter, being so excited to see his Savior, and seeing Him walking on the water, jumped out of the boat and ran to his Redeemer! As he was walking on the water, he began to be filled with fear and started to sink, crying, “Save me Lord!” Christ was immediately by him, pulling him out of the water and said to him, ” Oh ye of little faith.” I have come to have a new love of this story because of something that another missionary said to me. He said, Christ responded as such, almost as if to say, “Did you not think I would?” Peter’s faith was failing because he was being filled with fear, and he kept crying out desperately for help to the Lord. But the Lord was there, no matter what. I testify with all the authority that I have as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ that He Will Save You. Fear not because your feet are wet, but marvel at the fact that you are walking on the water with His help, and with faith in Him. Remember, you have to go through difficulty to see the rewards. He loves you, and I bear testimony that He is real!!

Con Amore,
Anziano Squire