4/22/2015 (week 25/104)

Buongiorno!

VARESE. This city is stupidly beautiful and we can see the Swiss Alps from the apartment.  What more could you ask for? The one thing about this town though is that it is small and everyone already knows us. Also, the population is almost solely adolescent teens and bitter old people, so it makes for some really funny experiences! However, the work is verrrrrrry slow here and it seems like just about every day, (in fact it seriously is about every day,) that we go out to find all day and maybe come out with one potential. I think this place needs some new finding methods! A renovation of finding, if you will! I feel like we are about to start seeing some real success if we just stick it through the rough parts. 

Went to Como today too, got some ties and saw the lake. Didn’t see Clooney though so that was a bummer, but hey you can’t get everything huh? 

Other new things: there is only a branch of the Church here with about 20-30 active members so it makes for realllll tight connections. Also, the Sorelle here have an investigator that is deaf and has a strong affinity to the Anziani. Her last target was a missionary that just went home from here, and now I think I might be the new one….. If not me, then Anziano Reese. Pray for us?

Cultural Bit: The Italian people are very resourceful with their food, and they hate to let anything go to waste. One grand example of this is Crostini, which is bread that has gone hard or stale and they make it into crouton type things to snack on. Love it.

Spiritual Bit: Love in today’s society is a trivialized and misunderstood concept. The commercialization of love is evident in the media, pornography, and modern views of the importance of self indulgence and self satisfaction. Love today, is an extention of the practice of pride. What can I get out of this? Who out there could I be with, spend my time with, be friends with, marry, or talk to that will ensure that I enjoy myself. Though many people never think of it, they are in relationships where they are focused on getting gain for themselves out of it. Love is not so, and will never be able to be sustained in such a manner. 

     Take for example a marriage between two parties: ‘A’ and ‘B’. Party ‘A’ focuses on taking every moment in an attempt to gain betterment to themselves, and party ‘B’ occasionally gives to ‘A’ out of love. As time goes by, ‘A’ will get habituated to the service of ‘B’ and will begin to require more. ‘B’ will give until they can’t anymore. ‘A’ will then want more. This is a cycle that will end eventually, and often in a brutal manner in which both parties have lost any sense of love for one another. Forget about a relationship where both parties take.

      Now, look at the relationship between ‘C’ and ‘D’. ‘C’ out of love for the other acts out of charity, service, and kindness to ‘D’. ‘D’ feels this love and also wants to give to ‘C’, and therefore does. This will keep going, and the beautiful thing is they will also gain enjoyment from seeing each other benefit from the service they did for one another. This love will not only sustain for the eternities, but will actually grow exponentially. It can only grow with such charity.

     In addition to being the only type of love that will sustain relationships between one another, it is the relationship that God wishes to have with us. What does He ask of us? He asks that we give of ourselves in service to Him, give our hearts, and trust in Him through faith. “Love the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and soul.” What does He promise? “All that the Father hath.” 

     Take for example the concept of faith. Faith is an abiding trust that shows you trust Him no matter what. When you are going through a trial, you have to do everything you can, and then when you think you can’t do any more, you leap. You leap into the darkness of incapability and uncertainty with the trust that He will catch you and carry you home. Only when we exhaust our effort, and then show that we fully give ourselves to His mercy, will we receive the miracle. “Do not dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12) When we give ourselves to the Lord in faith, He rewards us with blessings, miracles, healings, and happiness. This will only make us want to do more for Him. See the cycle?

      Christ gave the most perfect example of this during His lifetime. He gave to others. Even as He was being nailed to a cross, stripped, beaten, tortured, scourged, and ridiculed, He gave. This is Charity. This is what we need to exhibit.
     
      Ask yourselves this week: Am I giving in my relationships? Truly? Or am I seeking to gain something in return. You will know the answer to this. I promise though, whether you give or not, you can start now. This is a process that will yield results so beautiful that you cannot fathom the joy. It is infinite, it is everlasting, and it is eternal. Love your family, love your spouse, and love your God. There is beauty awaiting.

Anziano Squire

 Me and Anziano Reese with Ilee & Kaiden 

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4/15/2015 (week 24/104)

Ciao Tutti!

Transfers! AND THEY AFFECT ME THIS TIME! I am moving to Varese, Italy tomorrow, which is right next to Como, and also right next to Switzerland, sooooooo I will be having some fun Pdays 😉 Who knows! Maybe I’ll see Clooney in Como! Comunque, besides the excitement and the grandeur of a new city, I am sad to leave Cimiano. I have now spent 5 months serving these wonderful people here, and at this point these people are my family. What they don’t tell you when you leave for your mission is that you won’t be saying goodbye to your family just when you head out, but also every time you leave an area. I am greatly indebted to these people, and I just ask if you all have a few seconds to pray for these people here, for the things that they might be in need of.

This week was fitting for a last week in Cimiano with getting a baptism date, teaching a record number of lessons as a district, seeing miracles, sharing tears, and bearing testimony. The miracles of this week range all the way from: telling a man that God has a plan for him and that he can find work, and then directly after saying that, he gets a call from some guy, who saw him apply to a store, telling him he wanted to help him find a job and actually finding one for him, toooooooooo finding a man named Jorge. Jorge was a man that we approached at the subway station on a scambio with Anziano Tolman and I and he first responded by saying he only spoke Spanish and a LITTLE bit of Italian. So, we began teaching in Spanish. We don’t know Spanish. Nevertheless, we taught this man in Spanish and in Italian, and when he gave us his number, we entered it into the phone and saw that it was actually a referall that we were just about to contact. This man was meant to be found. We have an appointment with him this week!! Also, the father of a less active family we have been working with, has just gotten off house arrest two months early so the family can go to church now!! They are working towards the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity together. MIRACLES. I just knew these would come, and I wish to testify to each one of you that they do come! Just have patience, because if you are having a hardship or difficulty, then that means there is a miracle nearby.

Other than that, things are good!

Cultural bit: Okay, so all of the paramedics and ambulance drivers here are volunteers. If you want to be one, all you have to do is take a course and then you can volunteer your heart out! It’s all good and nice, I suppose, until you get a man saving you that works as a night manager at the nearby butcher shop. Cheers, right?

Spiritual bit: I don’t know if I ever shared this, but I want everyone to think about the situation that our Heavenly Father is in right now, and put yourself in His shoes. You are a parent with children that you love, and want to become as happy as you, and like you. You want all the world for them, but you know that a plan has to be made for this to happen. This plan would include them going away to an earth were they could recieve a fullness of joy, learn, and have experiences; however, they would go through trials, pain, sadness, and things that would break them in every way possible. Not only that, but they won’t remember you. If they remembered their previous lives, and you, then it would defeat the whole purpose of experiencing these things for themselves. So, what do you do? You speak to them, give them ways of communication to you, a way back, a guide that they can receive to lead them and warn them, an organization for their benefit. Then send your Only Begotten to show them how to live in a way that they will make it back, and then allow Him to die for their misdeeds, so that not one of them wouldn’t have every opportunity to make it back. But, the thing is, you know that some won’t come back to you if you send them out. So, you help in any way they allow you to, and you reach out at every moment, so they can receive eternal happiness with you.

Are we trying to make it? Take a moment and ask yourself, “what am I doing to show God that I want to make it? What am I doing with the tools that He has given me?”

I promise that He truly does love you, and this whole plan is centered around this family that we have, and the families that we make here. That’s it. If you can focus on this love that He has for you and for the love that you wish to show Him, then you cannot go astray. Because, if you love Him, you will follow His guidance back to him. It’s as easy as that. Grow this love through the scriptures, prayer, church, and trying to serve others, because this is what God has given us to help us. John 3:16-17. He loves you, and you are important to Him.

Until next time!
Anziano Squire

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Me and Giuseppe the homeless guy

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Italy in it’s glory

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A headstone at a sweet cemetery

4/8/2015 (week 23/104)

Ciao tutti!

Allllllora, we got cancelled on by nearly everyone we set appointments with this week (we missionaries call it getting bidone-d), so we had a TON of street finding. Lots of interesting characters met. I actually met this guy from the Sovereign Order of Malta, and this other guy that is thoroughly convinced he died in his past life in the war. Not to mention the crazy witch lady who preaches at the top of her lungs, threw water on the missionaries in Lampugnano, and cornered us in the subway all the while whistling like a bird. Cool people, and very….. unique people. Either way, life is grand out here and I am enjoying every second of it!

Another grand experience was getting to go visit my old MTC companion in Pavia last P’Day where I watched him eat 3 kilo of burger. I was not sure that was possible, but I saw and I believe. Was it a good idea? Well, no, but he did it! And we watched with whole hearted interest ^.^

Truly, nothing else really happened. It was a very finding-filled week.

Cultural Bit: EASTER. Alright, so Easter is a big deal out here. Not only that, but the whole week before. The Catholics out here celebrate every day in the week before as a type of holiday, and then they have Pasqua on Sunday, and a holiday just as big on the day after, Pasquetta. The fun part is everyone has a very religious spirit, and they all go to the masses on Pasqua, so the population of Italians here all go to church that day. The streets are EMPTY. It’s also quite fun because for every big holiday here they have assigned pastries and breads, and for Pasqua it is a sweet bread with almonds and fruit pieces shaped like a dove. They call it a Colomba (dove) and everyone has them out here around the holdiay season.

Spiritual Bit: I saw something that I think I will never forget this week. We were teaching this man out at a park and there was a lull after the small meal we ate until the lesson, and what he began doing surprised me. He got up off of the battered and worn blanket he had placed on the ground, walked over to the grass, and began picking weeds. Carefully, and almost lovingly he began to pluck them from the ground and cut off the roots with the same knife that he used to eat. After a few uprootings I asked him, “uhhhh what are you doing over there?” He then walked over and showed me the weeds he collected and while smiling at me he said “Look at these!! These are great! I’m picking some because when you fry them up with some spaghetti they are too good.” I knew that he was poor, but I truly had no idea. I was struck. He had just fed us a pizza that he had hand made, and what was left of his Pasqua Colomba, and yet here he was, picking up weeds to eat that week. Generosity truly has never had a kinder friend.

This is charity. True charity.

One thing I have truly begun to notice here on the mission is a simple truth: It is too easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of life. We forget who we are, why we are here, or sadly enough how to be happy. I walk the streets here every day and see this; these people have burdens weighing down on them that are crushing their hopes, their sanity, and their eternal perspectives. I know at least for me it is hard to think of my grand purpose in life to prepare myself to live with God again and do the things that Christ has asked, when I am stressed out by my current life issues. But here’s the truth of the matter: trials are just distractions. We are meant to be happy, work for happiness, give happiness, and gain happiness for all eternity. Only how do we knock ourselves out of this immortal cycle of stresses and impedances?

Love and Charity.

I cannot tell you how many times even smiling at a person on the street out here has changed their complexions, their demeanors. Anziano Holder’s brother actually served in Ukraine recently, while there was still war there, and this was the street contacting method he used: “Do you know where I can find a smile?” and then every time they would bust out laughing. These were people with families torn apart by war and who have lost everything. Yet, they forgot when they smiled.

If you want to get out of that horrific cycle, that depressing cycle, then don’t worry, you can do it. There a few steps. This man sure wasn’t bogged down, because he figured it out. First, reach out to others. I promise you there are people around you that need help and are actually put there by the Lord into your sphere of influence because there is something you can do personally for them. As you do this, not only will they often reciprocate, but also you will be filled with this love of Christ that will banish any worry or burden off your mind. Next, be kind to those around you. One of my favorite things to do was to write notes or messages to my friends, out of the blue, and tell them how much they mean to me, or how much they impress me. I would be sincere. I would be specific. I found that as I was kinder to those around me, and helped them see value and worth in life, that I was happier too, because I began to delight greatly in their joy. This will grow as you do that by the way. Lastly, and most importantly, search the charity and love that Christ has for you. It is everywhere, but it is easiest to find through the scriptures and prayer. Read about His acts. Read about His sacrifice for us. Then pray to feel that love.

I wish to make a promise right now to each one of you individually, that if you study this love this week, and pray about it at the end of the week on Sunday, asking to feel His love specifically for you, with sincerity, He will answer you. You will feel something incredible, and I know at least for myself when I did this, it changed my life. I forgot about my trials. I forgot about my sadness. I remembered my joy. As missionaries we are authorized to make these kinds of promises to people and God follows through on them, so I can promise that if you do this, with true sincerity, it will bless you. Life will be easier.

Moroni 7:45

Cheers everyone and I can’t wait to share more next week!!

Also, please email me! I would love to see how your lives are progressing!! Anzianojacobsquire.wordpress.com

Con tanto amore,
Anziano Squire

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Visiting with Anziano Holder in Pavia

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Anziano Savage Praying

4/1/2015 (week 22/104)

Happy Easter!

This week was one heck of an experience! We seriously spent most of our time on the streets with people trying to find and teach. Not much luck so far. I just hope with all my heart that we aren’t missing someone… if God wants to give me two years of rejection then I welcome it! But, I don’t want a single person that needs the Gospel to go without it. It’s difficult, because after being on your mission for a while, the pain you feel in rejection is pain for the people. There have been times out here in the past week, that people have described to us how there is no hope left, how they have lost faith in God because of the grief they’ve seen, and have altogether become hardened in their sorrow, and yet determined, to continue in the same such depression. They refuse to look up to the light, they refuse to grab the hand reaching out to them. They refuse the love that could so easily bind their shattered hearts and minds. I ache for these people. They deserve so much better.

Besides this, there are those that have accepted it, and I have seen miracles this week in blessings, the faith of some who have not refused, and those that have taken their broken hearts in their hands and cried out to their Savior, giving it and all they have to Him. I guess I really gained a testimony this week on Loving the Lord your God. Everything can be made easier with that love. Take the Pavilion from your eyes and look to Him as your Balm of Gilead. I promise he wasn’t the one that put that Pavilion there.

Lesson wise, well, we broke last week’s record! Our district (3 companionships) is now teaching 50 lessons per week, consistently! Even though we don’t have many investigators, the Lord will always bless you if you do what He asks. So, we did the best we could, and He made up for the rest.

The most fun part of the week, however, was a scambio (companion exchange) that I did with a greenie (new missionary) named Anziano Jensen. Man, that kid was on fire! We hit the pavement running and didn’t stop for hours. The payoff? We taught loads of people on the streets, in the shops, in the Piazzi, and really gained a great deal of faith doing it! Turns out, I was the dude’s first scambio, and so I made it worth it and raised the bar for the rest of the Anziani after me by starting off the scambio with some scambio-gelato (it’s a thing) from Cioccolat’Italiani. Look up pictures of that place online and you will see what I mean.

Cultural Bit: place your thumb on your pointer and middle finger as if you are about to snap, then bend those fingers just a bit so that the space in between is a nice oval shape. Next, turn your hand upside down so that the top of your hand is facing the ground. Last, shake that hand in accordance with the emphasis of your words. Now, you know how to affectively argue in Italian.

Spiritual Bit: I’ve been trying to think all week about what to write here, because this is how I can help each one of you this week. However, I feel impressed instead to share an excerpt from an email I got from a friend serving in Rome right now:

The other day on the bus, our phone got stolen out of my bag (this is a tragic thing for a missionary because of all the contact numbers we lose). The phone we received as replacement was an old phone of the Rome 6 sisters. We started getting a bunch of calls from a woman who mumbled and slurred all of her words, and all we could understand was that she wanted us to see her. We had no idea who she was or where she lived. Finally, we were able to understand that her name is Patrizia Gabriele. We could also hear shouting in the background. Because you meet a lot of mentally ill people here in Italy, we assumed that she was crazy. She started calling us over 15x a day. We asked the Rome 6 sisters if they knew who she was and we found out that she was a 40-something year-old woman who has been in a casa di cura for the psychologically insane for years. Before she was put there by her sister, she got the missionary lessons and wanted to be baptized. Her sister wouldn’t let her though, and she has since gotten the missionaries’ numbers and calls them almost every day asking for them to come visit her and bring her the Liahona (church magazine). After praying about it, Sorella Chandler and I felt impressed to go visit her. After SEVERAL conversations with her on the phone trying to understand her garbled Italian, we were FINALLY able to figure out where her casa di cura is. On Saturday, we told her we would come visit her. She was so excited that she kept calling us just to make sure we were coming. Neither Sister Chandler or I knew what to expect, and the other missionaries were kind of wary about us going to a mental institution. We felt strongly that we needed to go, though. We loaded ourselves up with as many Liahonas as we could find and told Patrizia to read 2 Nephi 4 to prepare for our coming.

The bus took us out in the middle of nowhere, right on the edge of our zone. We came up to a an old castle (I kid you not) with a giant stone and metal gate around it. We pushed the buzzer and were let right in. I remember feeling a twinge of fear, but immediately the spirit came to my heart and I distinctly felt the words come to my head: “Don’t be afraid. You are here in Christ’s name.” All my fear left and we walked through this grassy area with three large, old buildings. A woman popped out of one and told us to go around to the garden. We could see a garden with a metal fence around it filled with lots of people sitting, and a woman waiting with a bag inside the gate. Patrizia had been waiting for us and told us to unlock the gate so we could come in. As we came in, lots of the patients came up to us to meet us. They were so sweet and friendly! They all shook our hands and told us welcome! Many of them had scars and disfigurements on their faces, and over half of them had hunched backs from sitting for years. Patrizia led us through the inside of the castle to a dark room with benches where we could sit and talk. The castle was filled with mental patients just sitting around and watching TV. As we walked in, they immediately felt the spirit and were drawn to us like a moth to a flame. Many of them came up to introduce themselves and talk to us. They are some of the most friendly, sweetest people I have ever met. They had such a child-like innocence about them. Most of them were at least over forty years old. We sat with Patrizia and her friends and all read the Book of Mormon together. They would all be quiet, and after we would read a scripture, they would talk about how beautiful it was. There was one older woman named Maria who told me that she was feeling bad that day because her legs hurt and she started to cry. As I held her and kissed her head, I started to cry, too. The spirit of Christ was so present in the room. Sister Chandler cried, too. We felt down to our bones the deep love and compassion Christ had for these people. We testified to them of the love that Christ had for them, how He thinks about them every day. Maria cried as I held her and said, “Io so… Io so…” (“I know… I know…”) Even though these people had lost so much of their ability to function and had been shut away from the world, they had such pure testimonies of Christ. They knew He lived and they knew He loved them. They believed immediately the things we taught them about His love and how we see His love in the sun and the flowers and the sky, and how we will live with our Heavenly Father and be made perfect in the next life. They had so much hope and faith. It was so beautiful and the spirit was so strong that Sister Chandler and I couldn’t restrain our tears. One little man ran out to the garden and brought back two dandelions he had picked for us. His face was so happy to give this little gift. We showed them pictures of our families, told stories, read scriptures, and laughed and joked together. When it was time for us to go, they all gathered around and shook our hands and told us, “Buon Pasqua! Buon Pasqua!” (“Happy Easter!”) One little man named Stefano asked us at least five times to please bring him a Book of Mormon when we come back.

Sorella Chandler and I sat in silence on the bus ride back, just marveling at the incredible peace and love we were feeling. We both turned to each other and said aloud how we both knew that getting our phone stolen was an inspired act and that we knew we were supposed to go there and visit those sweet spirits. We were amazed that we were able to communicate with and understand them so well… most of them spoke with such garbled voices that we realized we never would have been able to understand them without the help of the spirit. It truly was a miracle.

As we’ve thought about it since, we’ve realized what an incredible blessing that was in our lives. We went thinking we would be standing in for Christ, ministering to the poor and down-trodden. In the end, they were the ones who were the ministering angels. Sorella Chandler and I had both been going through such a difficult time with the work, both of us just trying to keep our heads above the water and not get depressed. There have been so few times in my life where I have felt the love of our Savior so strongly, so powerfully, so beautifully as I did in that old mental asylum in the middle of nowhere. I know Christ loves us. I know it, I know it, I know it. I know that the Atonement is deep and real, that it is an act of love He did for us. I know that this is why I’m here. 100% this is why I’m here– to help others to feel that love that the Savior has for them, to bring them to knowledge of this incredible gift, to help them have hope and faith and trust in Christ. I’m not here because I’m great or because I have so much to offer– I am here because He is great and because He has so much to offer. How blessed we are.”

I just want to add my testimony to this (Anz Squire again) that Jesus Christ lives. He does in reality exist. He has a body of flesh and bones. He did in reality suffer for every one of us. I testify of the reality of this gospel, and the reality of the salvation and happiness that awaits us. Come unto Christ, and you will be saved. I close this in His name, amen.

Buona Pasqua
Anziano Squire

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Me and Anziano Jensen

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Anziano Savage

***You can reach me at Squire.Jacob@myldsmail.net***