8/19/2015 (week 42/104)

Buongiorno tutti!!!

     Quindi, yet another six weeks it is for Mastino and I in Varese!!! You know what that means?? We get to keep working together with this sick investigator we found last week!! You know Bryan, that African I mentioned in the last email that would change the city? So, because nothing else is really new, I wish to dedicate this opportunity to tell you about this man’s story. So, this man is from Cameroon and decided that he needed to come here to Italy to make enough money for his family, also because it was far too dangerous in Africa. First event, at that point, was that he got captured by some people in Gabon and put in prison for 9 years there…. the first 8 months of which were in maximum security. However, the African maximum security in Gabon is different. They dig a hole and fill it up with water, waist high, and then put people in it. He began down there with seven other men who all died within two days. He was then down there for eight more months…..He said that by the time they took him out, he couldn’t walk, his flesh had rotted, and even his own friends in the prison ran away from him because of his monstrous appearance. He healed up within a few months but then stayed the rest of the 9 years in that prison.

     Next, he traveled through Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Libya, all the while getting shot, stabbed, robbed, and drafted into fights and wars. Once he got to Libya, he had to wade through the war and he made four attempts to cross that sea to Italy. First attempt, they didn’t even make it 30 minutes out before the boat sank and many people died, including his pregnant girlfriend. He somehow survived and floated all the way back to Libya. He was then put in a Libyan jail for about a year, and made a second attempt to cross, failing again, and then a third a year later. Finally, 2 months ago, he made his last attempt. He said to us that they gave him an inner tube to travel on, and that it would cost him 1,500 euro, but that it was the only way across, so he signed the paper and with a large group of people all holding hands to keep their tubes together they traveled out. In his words, “when you sign that paper and get into that boat or that tube you are signing your own death certificate. If you die, you die, but if you make it, then it is by the grace of God alone. So many people die in that sea.” After a long float on turbulent waters, holding hands the entire way with his people, he made it to Italy. 

     What’s your excuse on why life is hard?

Cultural Bit: In the 80s the missionaries here in Italy had mopeds. Gee, I wonder why we don’t have them anymore.

Spiritual Bit: I wish to correlate this with the update of the week. How many times do we lose faith or hope that the Lord will carry us? I guarantee that if I were Bryan, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to keep my head in all of that mess. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to. He, however, has somehow kept his faith so strong that he was able to go through 20 years of the most excrutiating experiences, seemingly with no end in sight. How can we learn from this man’s example? For those of you that do read these, here is a quote from Elder Henry B Eyring of the Council of the Twelve in which he said,

“One of my daughters-in-law spent many years feeling that God had placed a pavilion over her. She was a young mother of three who longed for more children. After two miscarriages, her prayers of pleading grew anguished. As more barren years passed, she felt tempted to anger. When her youngest went off to school, the emptiness of her house seemed to mock her focus on motherhood–so did the unplanned and even unwanted pregnancies of acquaintances. She felt as committed and consecrated as Mary, who declared, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” But although she spoke these words in her heart, she could hear nothing in reply.

      Hoping to lift her spirits, her husband invited her to join him on a business trip to California. While he attended meetings, she walked along the beautiful, empty beach. Her heart ready to burst, she prayed aloud. For the first time, she asked not for another child but for a divine errand. “Heavenly Father,” she cried, “I will give you all of my time; please show me how to fill it.” She expressed her willingness to take her family wherever they might be required to go. That prayer produced an unexpected feeling of peace. It did not satisfy her mind’s craving for certainty, but for the first time in years, it calmed her heart.

      The prayer removed the pavilion and opened the windows of heaven. Within two weeks she learned that she was expecting a child. The new baby was just one year old when a mission call came to my son and my daughter-in-law. Having promised to go and do anything, anywhere, she put fear aside and took her children overseas. In the mission field she had another child–on a missionary transfer day.

    Submitting fully to heaven’s will, as this young mother did, is essential to removing the spiritual pavilions we sometimes put over our heads. But it does not guarantee immediate answers to our prayers.

    Abraham’s heart seems to have been right long before Sarah conceived Isaac and before they received their promised land. Heaven had other purposes to fulfill first. Those purposes included not only building Abraham and Sarah’s faith but also teaching them eternal truths that they shared with others on their long, circuitous route to the land prepared for them. The Lord’s delays often seem long; some last a lifetime. But they are always calculated to bless. They need never be times of loneliness or sorrow or impatience.

    Although His time is not always our time, we can be sure that the Lord keeps His promises. For any of you who now feel that He is hard to reach, I testify that the day will come that we all will see Him face to face. Just as there is nothing now to obscure His view of us, there will be nothing to obscure our view of Him. We will all stand before Him, in person. Like my granddaughter, we want to see Jesus Christ now, but our certain reunion with Him at the judgment bar will be more pleasing if we first do the things that make Him as familiar to us as we are to Him. As we serve Him, we become like Him, and we feel closer to Him as we approach that day when nothing will hide our view.”

     We will be tried. We will be broken. The question, however, remains: will we let God change us and will we let this situation bring us closer to Him? Every trial will either bring you closer to Him, or farther. It just depends on what we decide in the middle, for these are opportunities to grow closer to God if we allow Him to work with us and mold us.

     I pray that we will all be humble enough to let God love us and help us, for I know that He always has a reward in the end for those who love Him.

     In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tante belle cose,

Anziano Squire

   Me waiting for a lesson

 Me and Bryan in church

  One of Bryan’s sheets to help his reading and writing

  The place we teach all the African’s at.

Our District

These next three pictures are of the town on the accursed holiday of Ferragosto where 70% of the people in Italy just get up and leave for like two weeks.
    
    The Piazza in the middle of Varese.

 The Piazza in the middle of Varese.

  The Piazza in the middle of Varese.

8/12/2015 (week 41/104)

Ciao Tutti!!

This week all of our hard work and trials paid off. Three months of almost dead work started going downhill this week and we were left with two semi-active investigators. We were brought practically to the bottom and we had no idea what to do, but as always we kept going. Then, we met Bryan.     

This man traveled from Cameroon, to Nigeria, to Niger, to Libya, to here and has been here 29 days. All the while he saw rapes, murders, thefts, mass homicide, and I don’t even know what happened to those close to him because he didn’t say. Just to give you an idea of how incredible this man is though, he said if we taught him to read and write, that he was also interested in the gospel and would read our books and walk to our house (1 hour away) every single morning to learn from us! He also said that if he feels in his heart that this is good that he had 20-50 friends that he would bring to be taught as well. We have been teaching him to read and write in the past few days and he is just one of the most sincere, reliable, and good-hearted people I have ever met in my life. Not to mention, he said that he has been looking at the Book of Mormon we gave him and just looking at the pages and pictures for the past few days wishing he could read it. Every single trial we have had here all makes complete sense now, and it was all worth it. All of it. If this man and his friends come to the light of testimony, then this Branch would practically become a Ward. This one man could change Varese.

Things are about to change here and it is all because of the tender mercies of the Lord. I have seen lately what my own efforts have done, (nothing that is), and now I see what the Lord can do. Truly incredible.

However, Saturday we find out what happens for transfers next week. Guess we’ll see.

Cultural Bit: They have these delightful machines out here that are essentially Roombas (the automatic vacuum) that mows the lawn. Perfect stripes and all. Che bello è!

Spiritual Bit: I’m constrained to time today so I will just leave something short, but I invite everyone to watch this video and respond to me what you think of it. For me, this has been one of the best things in the world and has helped me to strengthen my own testimony heaps.

The Hope of God’s Light

Dio vi benedica!! E tante belle cose!!
Anziano Squire

   Me and The Martins

 Near Laveno

 A place where we teach often

8/5/2015 (week 40/104)

Ciao Tutti!

I wish I had a bunch of new things to share but I totally don’t!!! The only new thing is that we were passed a new investigator from the Sorelle and he is doing INSANE progress. Seriously, I have never seen so much potential and so much desire in any other investigator for the span of my entire mission up to this point. His name is Antonio and he wants more than anything in the world to change and become a better person! YEAH! He wants to get baptised too! YEAH! Good progressions here…

Cultural Bit: Up here in the far north there is a political movement called LegaNord that wants to split off northern Italy from southern, and make their own nation called Padania. Its a rather big movement. Who knows! Oh, and Varese is one of their headquarters. ._.

Spiritual Bit: Everyone knows the parable that Jesus told about the talents and the servants who kept the talents while the master was away.

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

(Matthew 25:14-29)

The most common interpretation of that parable that I have heard, and almost exclusively, is that the Lord gives us gifts and talents, abilities if you will, and expects us to grow them and use them or he will take them away. While this is completely true, I wish to point out a different interpretation.

As humans here on this earth we are given a wonderful opportunity to live. Our Spirits are the same as they were in the pre-mortal life, but here we can grow even more. We can change our personality, behaviors, dispositions, desires, everything with help from the Lord’s atonement. God gives us a few talents, a life, and He expects that we expand upon it. He wants to see if we will take the person that He has given us and change ourselves. Will we change our character and our desires? Will we not only change our talents, but will we take this opportunity to change our lives? I know that if we do then we will show up to the master at that final day and he will say to us: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

I conclude that the talents are so much more than just gifts or abilities, but is our very nature and soul. If we don’t stop our own progress here in this life but try to multiply what we have I know that we will make our Father proud, and be able to live with Him again as joint-heirs in Christ. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Tante belle cose,
Anziano Squire

7/29/2015 (week 39/104)

Ciao tutti!

This will be a short update this week for those of you that actually read these, haha. The new stuff? Well there isn’t a whole lot but I’ll try to fill you all in. First off is we had a miracle where we promised a man we were teaching that he would find a job within two weeks if he would go to church that Sunday. This was a pretty large leap on both of our parts though because he has been searching actively every day for months and has found nothing. He even moved to Switzerland for a bit to find one but had no luck. After lots of praying and fasting we received a call from him the day before the deadline was up, two weeks after he went to church. He had found a job, or rather one was offered to him. MIRACLE. The cool thing is when missionaries are prompted to give a promise to someone, God follows up on that promise. I’ve seen some really crazy things out here and I can testify to that one. The not so great part of that story is that he doesn’t want to stop studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses just because he doesn’t want to leave them after working with them for 8 or so months. We already explained to him the truth about the authority and reality that is held within our church, and he has seen real live miracles from us to prove it, but he just doesn’t want to see them. I guess we’ll see what happens.
We also had some setbacks with all the rest of our investigators so we’ll just have to see what happens this week. Needless to say we need to find more people and help the ones we already have to take the steps necessary to learn. Either way, just kind of a slow week aside from that awesome miracle!!

Cultural Bit: We are coming up on the wonderful month of August which brings us to a very important part of Italian culture! Ferragosto! This is where literally 60% or more of the people in the towns leave on vacation for two weeks and nearly everything shuts down! Everyone leaves. Not conducive to missionary work XP

Spiritual Bit: Every week I try to expand on a different subject and elaborate on different applications as I see them, but this week I am going to do something different. This week I wish to share the most powerful thing that I thing I can. I wish to simply state that I know Christ lives. I haven’t seen Him, felt the prints on His hands or feet, or heard His voice, but it would be completely unnecessary even if I had. I know that He is not a figment of imagination or an idea created by man for man, but He is a living being with flesh and blood who knows me. He knows you. At the beginning of a cycle of belief you may not know for a certainty of His existence, but you want to, perhaps. That’s ok that you don’t know at first, you aren’t supposed to. God wants to see if you will decide to believe even when it is hard to. When you do that, He then gives you your answer, your witness. I testify with all the energy of heart on this special Wednesday (special because it is yet another day that we are blessed to be here) that Christ lives. He is real and He lives at this very moment. I testify also that it is possible to have a relationship, a real relationship with Him too, and its easier that you think. I know He is there, and if you just take that first step you can know too. This I say in His name, amen.

Tante belle cose,
Anziano Squire

   My penne al ragu

 This is a blurry picture of a simp (an investigator) and I for you guys that didn’t come out but he just said, “Wow…. That’s beautiful… It’s perfect…” He is such a sweet man and I will get a better picture later but I hope it goes to tell of his character a little. Just a sweet, humble man who loves God.