30 July 2009

don't tip the boat over!

Dear Family.

I love that I have a family back home making righteous decisions and using the Lord for direction and guidance. I am excited to hear all about everything that is going on. In fact I am always excited to hear about what you are all doing. Even though you are getting tans right now, I am not quite jealous because I still believe (and know) I am doing the greatest work on earth. I am just still working on being the greatest at it! But I guess you have to work when it comes to being very imperfect. Sai?
As you can see we are a day late in our e-mail. Why? Myldsmail was down and out yesterday. Instead I took time to write handwritten letters and catch up. While I was writing I was thinking about what I have done and will be able to do. With watery eyes I stopped and pondered on the moment I first opened my call letter. (Remember when I could barely talk?) I remember kneeling down in front of the envelope more than once before I opened it. I asked for the confirmation that serving a mission was the right thing and that I would know I was receiving a call from the Lord. A "Dear Sister Carroll" and a few tears later I knew this was it. A week later a confirmation came when I listened to the words of a Prophet. A month later the same feeling as I knelt and prayed for help and forgiveness for my imperfections. The MTC, evening one in Italia, my first baptism, my first transfer, onto companion number three, writing letters to fellow missionaries across the world, and finally this very moment. I am grateful the Lord is giving me constant reminders, through the Holy Ghost, that I am doing the right thing. With my sister, I say I am grateful for the sweet spirit that we feel when we know what we are doing is right. Or when it helps us make a decision that is right in the eyes of the Lord. After all, if there is anything I have learned in my 21.5 years of existence is that the Lord really does know me better than anyone else, so why not accept his guiding influence to direct my life for good?

I began to think about all this as I just learned at the end of this transfer I will send home not 1, not 2, but ALL 3 of my companions. It is hard enough sending one on her way, but knowing that the three people who have helped you grow and learn are all moving onto real life makes the whole end of this magic wonderland real. I am done thinking about it. In fact, I decided no one will know when I go home until the day I stand to bear my last testimony as a missionary.

Alright:
Torino is talented at getting hotter and hotter everyday. More and more people are leaving on vacation. Streets are getting more vacant and I cannot wait. It just means the Lord has chosen for me who I am to talk to, by keeping them here in Torino. I guess we could say he is technically making my job a little easier?

Last Sunday was a miracle. My companion and I have been struggling to commit our investigators to come to church and out of no where 7 people made their appearance. An August miracle!

My hair has faded.
We are making new friends everyday!
I still mess up the language.
Our ward has baptisms the next two weekends!
Our investigator Lucille accepted a baptism date.
Epifania brought her daughter to church last week.

And I have learned how important my work is now, and after the mission. Our transfer focus is working with members, meaning we are going to put in the extra effort to strengthen the relationships. But I have learned what it means to be a member missionary as well. Missionary work would be impossible without the help of you members, so thank you! Keep working.

I am in love with Italy, my mission, and you all!

rock the boat.
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll

22 July 2009

i'm glad.

Saturday afternoon my companion and I took a walk through the park on our
attempt to find new friends who are interested in the gospel. We approached the
typical group of Italian men who gave us the typical, "but how many wives do the
Mormons really have?" As usual we never get really far with the old men here in
Italy, they just make you laugh and you get on your way. But, while we were
talking to these 5 men I noticed a girl sitting on a bench watching kids play on
the play ground. I thought, "we should to talk to her." So on we go to try and
teach her about the Book of Mormon.

Claudia is a 17 year old girl with a 13 year old brother and a 2 year old
sister. The kids were spending the morning in the park together. (Immediately I
thought of my siblings and times that we would ride our scooters, bikes,
skateboards, roller blades, etc. to the school play ground. Oh the days!) I
could already tell she was one that loved others by the way she gladly accepted
us. We started explaining a little about the Book of Mormon and how it has
helped us in our lives. She seemed curious and mentioned that she would be
interested in reading. As we continued to converse we approached what she would
be doing for the summer. She started to talk about a community service program
that she participates in. There is a program set up for the "stranieri" (meaning
foreigners) to learn Italian, work on their education, make friends, etc. The
types of things they do remind me a little bit of Mini-Town. Claudia was
actually getting ready to go to the mountains with a few new friends from Iraq,
Peru, Romania and Italy for a summer camp. The reason I relay this whole story,
because at this point in the conversation is when she brought up the race
problems people still have in the world.

She has friends from all over the world, who have different religions, different
color skin, different personalities, we are all just different. Some of her
friends have seen the death of family members in war, which makes her wonder why
she has been so blessed to grow up in a family and country that does not face
those kinds of problems. Once again I thought about my life and wondered the
same thing. I have asked myself before, "What have I done to deserve all this."
But I still take it for granted at times. All I know is that I have been
immensely blessed. Blessed with a family who loves me, and who I get to spend
eternity with. Blessed with friends who have helped me stay strong, who have
served missions and help me be better missionary. Blessed to grow up in a
country of freedom. Blessed to be a member della Chiesa di Gesù Cristo dei Santi
degli Ultimi Giorni. Blessed to be in Italy, speaking Italian, being happy and
loving my life. Blessed to be a missionary. Blessed to know that I have a
Savior, Jesus Christ. Blessed to be living here on this earth.

The more you think about what you have, you realize that every second is a
blessing. It all ties back to who gave us life, Heavenly Father.

I'm glad I met Claudia, who reminded me of what I have. Whatever comes my way I
am trying to look to as being a blessing, because as I said...it is.

I was once again invited to investigate The Church of Jesus Christ by our dear
friend Fratello Spagnuolo. He told me how thankful I will be one day when I
understand. Although I find it humorous that he keeps sharing the gospel with
me, I am grateful that he does it. If an 85 year old, losing his memory can
still remember how important missionary work is, then I can too. I can be the
missionary that makes sure everyone knows where to find the way. I'm glad to
have examples helping me give more.

There seems to be a faint ringing in my neighborhood from the Bruce Springsteen
concert last night. Trash lines the streets and I have seen the shirts already.
If I were anyone else I might have participated in the festivities, but this
morning, instead of echoing the tunes we heard last night blaring from the
stadium, Sorella Glass put on our favorite EFY cd (the only one we have...so
yes, father, you may send ANY (or all) music that you would like. Sorella
Carroll would greatly appreciate church music in the form of CDs). I was
listening to the words of one song in particular as I straightened my hair.
Topic: giving more. Working on giving more of me. I'm glad I have the Book of
Mormon so I can learn how much of Nephi gave of himself. And he did not know
most of the time why. Can I give you an invite? Maybe you are already working on
it, but since everyone has need of this book I invite you to find someone in the
next month to share it with. What is the worst that could happen? Just like
Fratello Spagnuolo told me that one day I would thank him, that person will
thank you.

I'm glad.

I love you.

I thank you.

Happy week!

I hitched my apple wagon,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll


Rique finds another penguin friend in Torino (click picture to enlarge)


Fratello Spagnuolo (click picture to enlarge)


Fratello Spagnuolo again (click picture to enlarge)

15 July 2009

Good morning son.

To my dears.

Update of the week: Torino has officially become my home. I will be dwelling in
this city for another six weeks with Sorella Glass (first transfer without a
change! Weird!). I imagine I will be around here for awhile, which pleases me.

Adventure of the week: Mount Torre Pellice. 4:45 wake up call. Ten fun-filled
hours of hiking. Twelve missionaries and a mom in flip flops. Saturday was our
cultural day of the transfer and we took advantage of nature. I have more hunting
stories than I would ever want. I laughed more than you would think possible.
And I nearly lost my life from going too crazy. I am told, as people went back to
look at the area where I rolled over the edge, that had I not grabbed the branch
that I did it would have been the end. I believe I was fine all along,
especially since my companion and I were laughing before, during and after the
fall. I did learn to calm down, at least. The hike was a success and we made it
to the top, where once stood President Lorenzo Snow. We stood on dedicated
ground, where a prayer was said beginning the mission work in...Switzerland.
Lorenzo Snow also dedicated the land of Italy during his mission in Europe, so
it is all the same right? All I know is it was the longest day of fun I have had
in a long time.

Feelings of the week: The hike starts off our next transfer with a bang. We will
be receiving a new district leader, and Sorella Glass and I are ready to find
new investigators. (fresh and so clean clean.) New investigators because lately
our work has gone down hill, but it is already on its way up. I only have until
August 18th to work with Sorella Glass so we are going to make this short month
the best. Torino is going to turn upside down. Sai?

Spiritual thought of the week: Lately, being stuck in a pattern has had a
strange effect on me. I have been thinking a lot about who I am and who I want to
become. When my companion told me about a conference talk she recently read, I
decided this is what I need to read. Elder Dallin H. Oaks strikes again. In
October 2000, Elder Oaks left us with the “challenge to become”. Now in July
2009 I am taking him up on the offer. So here I go. Sometimes we find it easy to
just go through the actions because we are told or we know they are right. But
it is important to be converted in the process. Elder Oaks says it better, “It
is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments,
ordinances, and covenants of the Gospel are not a list of deposits required to
be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that
shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”
That is the whole purpose of life right? To gain everything our Father in Heaven
has. So it requires a little bit of extra effort on my part. I do it, to become
it. I am so grateful for the daily guidance that I receive. As I make new goals for
a new transfer I hope that I can become more of the missionary that my Heavenly
Father needs me to be.

Finally, mistake of the week: Mom, I remember I promised you I would not do
anything insane (i.e. chop off my hair) on my mission, but I broke a promise. A
promise that is soon to be unbroken, it is just a matter of when. No, I did not
exactly give myself a pixie cut (or even cut my hair for that matter) but I did
do something a little crazy. I mention mistake of the week because it was
definitely a mistake. Recently I have had two men, men mind you, ask me why my
hair is two different colors. That is my fault since I have not found time to
spend a couple hours in a salon getting my hair done. I found it humorous that
the male gender pointed it out to me first, so my companion and I decided to
finish the comments and do something about it. My hair is no longer blonde. But
will be shortly. We are resting at a light shade of auburn brown. Mother I
needed to take your advice from the beginning. I should always listen from the
beginning, but you have known me my whole life and for some reason I go off on my
own, make the mistake and then learn. Apologies.

Love of the week: My mission. (period). The adventure of a lifetime. Thank you
for the support, love, letters, pictures, prayers, joy, etc. that you have given
me! I am thankful everyday for a family that I love and get to spend eternity
with.

I am a bird,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll.


The Torino Skyline


Mole Antonelliana and Binoculars


The hike and auburn hair

08 July 2009

fun, fun, fun.

This week.
This week I think I want to tell you about why I love Italy. Love being a missionary. Love knowing I am a daughter of God.

I started this transfer 5 weeks ago with four days in Genova. I was separated from my real companion and when I finally got home I realized how much I missed Torino. Evidence that God does help us love everywhere we serve. It was an interesting week but a good start to a great transfer.

As Sorella Glass and I got used to each other I got us lost more than once. We have been on a hunt with our Relief Society President looking for our less-active members. Since phone numbers are old it has become a door to door adventure.

Part of the adventure happens when you get on the bus going to the next visit and a man stands up, walks over to you, grabs your hand and kisses it. It is even more awkward when you run into him again a few weeks later and you had rejected him when he tried to kiss you on the cheek...

I never told you that I saw my new best friend while I was riding the bus. She was on the street, headphones in and completely into what she was doing. I am glad to know I am not the only crazy who dances down the street. She even pulled out the lasso move, I do that almost every day now. Making missionary work that much more enjoyable. I love when people are driving down the road blasting a little Lou Bega. Or when an old man comes to the bus stop and sets his large bag of milk on the ground like he is waiting for the bus too. So you offer your seat and he accepts. He begins to relay how there is a great milk sale going on around the corner. Then he starts singing about the sun to your companion and looks at you and tells you need more sun. (What can you do as a missionary...). He stops singing to point out two dogs coming down the street and puts his foot out when they pass as if to trip them. He tells you all about his eye operations, half of which is in french. Finally the bus arrives and you ask if he is taking the same bus (mind you, it was the only bus that stops there) and he says "No, I live right around the corner" with a smile and starts on his way. Thank you for the company sir!

Oh, by the way...the Sorelle do not have to wear nylons in the summer anymore! Great news from President's Wife!

Another reason I love the above stated, is because I get the opportunity to work with such great missionaries, sisters and elders. My companion included!

Finally, Sorella Carroll has never laughed so much as she has in the past 5 weeks. Sorella Glass and I have been visiting a Sorella Spagnuolo and her father every week. Fratello Spagnuolo is a hoot and a half. He is 85 years old and my favorite. One visit we asked him to give the closing prayer, which may or may not have gone on for 20 minutes. As we were leaving he yelled "Thank you for the prayer" as we were already halfway down the stairs. Another time we helped Sorella Spagnuolo with the grocery shopping and came home to a sleeping Fratello on the balcony with the water in the sink running into an over-flowing cup. He woke up just in time for gelato. This same man offered me a Book of Mormon and told me "one day when we are in heaven you will thank me". Although he is a little pazz, I am grateful for his happy heart and kindness towards me. He has been a little burden lifter giving Sorella Glass and I another something to get excited about. I always hope he answers the phone when I call!

Since the list goes on and on and on I will stop boring you here and maybe I can come up with something good for next week. But one thing I have learned that helps me keep the love is making the choice. It all depends on a choices that I make. Namely, waking up in the morning with a good attitude. That makes all the difference.

I read a talk by President James E. Faust the other day that is another reminder of what I need to be doing. Entitled "Choices" I really learned that what I choose to do now will determine my future, and not only in this life.

"Some of our important choices have a timeline. If we delay a decision, the opportunity is gone forever. Sometimes our doubts keep us from making a choice that involves change. Thus an opportunity may be missed. As someone once said, 'When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that in itself is a choice.'"

This week I choose to keep going and keep trying to improve myself. I think for the first time in my life I am realizing how important my decisions are. I have heard for quite some time "decisions determine destiny," but now as I am watching others make some of the most important decisions I realize they really do determine everything to follow.

I was able to watch another baptism this past weekend. It was a beautiful and sweet experience watching Epifania from my position at the piano as she cried while singing "Come Follow Me." After a year of studying and attending church she finally overcame and made the decision that is the most important, to follow Christ. This is why I love being a missionary. I love to see people change their lives to give what they have back to God. I love seeing the joy that the Gospel brings. I love that I have this eternal happiness, but I love even more that I can share it with the world! It is impossible to love something so much and not share it with everyone you know.
We all have choices to make! So lets make them.

take the t-bird away,
Sorella Frederique Stone Carroll

p.s. I am a slacker with the photographs, I know. I promise to try and get better. I keep forgetting my camera.

01 July 2009

how does it feel?

I just looked down at my missionary tag. Nice and black above my heart. Representing what I am doing and who I am doing it for. Yesterday I sat across from my President, who I have so much respect for, in an interview. He helped me realize the things I am doing and accomplishing, looking back I suppose I have seen a Rique grow into more of a Sorella. I, of course, have much more progress to make...but I am grateful for all the experiences I have had and those to come to help me become a better servant of our Savior.

This morning in my scripture study I opened up to the Bible Dictionary and read about grace. I was lead through a chain of scriptures that punched me in the heart. Leading me to really understand what the power of grace is. "It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." But not until we do all that we can possibly do. So when it comes to being lazy, you just can not. My best may not be your best, but as long as I give mine then the Grace of Christ will come into play. I thank my Heavenly Father everyday for giving me the daily help that I receive. I am a witness of His miracles, everyday.

One miracle I would like to share has to do with last week. Before our zone meeting we were given the challenge to set up 5 appointments with members present. This is our standard of excellence and my Sorella and I were already working on it. As we put forth all our effort to get faithful members' help we were able to set up all 5. To our disappointment all 5 were canceled by investigators. In fact, on Saturday alone we had 3 appointments cancel in a row. Like dominoes. Since we were close to our apartment we went up stairs not knowing what to do with our last 2 hours of the day. You know those moments when you feel like there is no point to anything you do, so why even try? That was how we were feeling. Instead I went into our room by myself and got down on my knees and said a prayer. A prayer asking for the faith to keep going. As soon as I got up we were out the door on our way to Olympic Park. We placed two Books of Mormon, taught a lesson, and found two new investigators. All because we did not give up, and because Heavenly Father gave us the will and strength to keep going.

The second miracle I saw was Sunday after church. I may have told you about Epifania, but she is a dear little Peruvian lady who has been working with missionaries for over a year. With baptism dates come and gone it almost seemed unlikely she would ever fully commit. Two weeks ago Sorella Glass and I decided to give her some space and let her ponder on her own. Apparently she did just that. She showed up to church and immediately following Sacrament meeting went into Bishop's office. I heard a little commotion and walked outside to see the Anziani, a few members and Epifania. I walked up to Epifania who was standing by herself and asked her what had happened. She had watery eyes, then I started to cry because I already knew. She set her baptism date for none other than Independence Day! Saturday July 4th! She does not know everything, like all of us, but she is taking that step of faith and giving what she has to the Lord. The best decision anyone could ever make. I am beyond excited for this wonderful woman and feel so blessed to have been able to work with her for the past 10 weeks. The Lord works miracles, He does not let you down!

Family you are all over the place. You are crazy, wild, the best! Thank you for sharing all your experiences and adventures with me. I love hearing about the little things. Thank you for being the family that you are. There is another miracle of the Lord. We were brought together for a reason and I could not imagine my life without your love. Thank you for being so supportive of not only me, but all of my friends. I love you for your love.

I will keep working hard! I thank you for your prayers.

Happy fireworks!

to be on your own,
your daughter, your sister, your friend.
Sorella Frederique Stone Carroll

p.s. Mom and Dad I remember you mentioning something about a hot Sunday in church while in Italy...If only Italians knew air conditioning existed. Hot houses, hot churches, hot outside. Welcome to July!