28 October 2009

Lines that I couldn't change.

Today I have so much to talk about and no time to do it. We are running short today because high maintenance Riqué had to buy new shoes (finally). My poor companion. I found good, sturdy shoes that should last me till I see your smiling faces. We also are cutting our prep day a little short so that we can see an old investigator who has not been visited by the sorelle due to her schedule. She comes to church nearly every Sunday, just waiting on the divorce so she can marry the other man and be baptized! We will see.

Sad news, I just received word from Sorella Huber that Maria DiFranco will not be getting baptized on Halloween. Apparently it was a decision between her husband and the church. It is a tough decision when you do not have full support from your husband. We hope all the best, but keep your prayers going. Thank you.

As for the work here in Como, things are flying. Weird that I communicate with you only four times a month. When I think every week I get to write it feels like a lot, then I look back at my stack of old emails and think, “that is all?”

Last Wednesday I ran into a pole on my way home from internet. Literally. I hope someone else saw. Then Thursday comes and I am happily walking down some concrete stairs in the rain to visit Ernestina (an 80 or year old lady who gladly accepts gospel discussion, but does not understand exactly what we are teaching and the importance to her...a tough cookie. I think she likes the company. I wish it was not so difficult to leave behind people, but she may have to be put on the back burner for some time.) I slipped, fell to my knees, my bag flew over my head and my face went into the ground. All is well, brand new tights destroyed. A few good wounds on the knees for proof. Just funny that I can not walk. Nearly 22 years old and I am still learning the art of walking and paying attention.

Sunday the Stake of Milano (which Como takes part in) had stake conference with General Authority Elder Gérald Caussé. It was an inspired two hours that helped me appreciate even more the divine guidance we receive as members of a divine church. I often times feel very sad for those who believe revelation between God and man has come to an end. I suppose this is why I am here, to help people truly feel that God loves us just as much as he loves his children in times past. I am grateful for a living Prophet who speaks directly with our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ so that we can be better prepared for the ills that have and will continue to come.

At the end of our conference Anziano Caussé held a meeting for all the new converts. Us missionaries were able to listen. Anziano Caussé wanted to meet all the recent converts so the bishops introduced them all. I walked in the wrong entrance but was privileged to stand in front of the crowded room. I watched as all the faces smiled and their eyes bore testimony of their happiness. In fact, there was a couple who has very recently been through the temple together, to be sealed for time and all eternity. When their branch president explained their story to Anziano Caussé tears filled the woman's eyes. I felt for a moment her eternal joy. My eyes filled with sweet water as I thought about the eternal joys you, my family, and I enjoy. Then I thought about those joys that will continue to be added upon as my sister enters into the covenant with marriage with this selected Eric. One day, hopefully, I will add to it and Robert and Ramsey (and mother, yes the grandkids too.) I could not imagine eternity without you all in it. So thank you for being what and who you need to be, I will continue to work hard so that we can all be there together.

My favorite response at the door after we present what we have to offer is “there is no one here.” I do not know if the Italians think we American's are stupid. That could be it, but we are clearly talking to someone (often times looking them in the face) and they announce that no one is home. Thank you. Since most of the house finding we do is in apartment buildings I have developed a habit of always looking up (while we are ringing the citofono) to the balconies in case some one comes out and we can talk to them. It is my favorite when they peek over very slowly, see me, and quicker than you can say “Ciao,” have gone inside and locked the door. Five minutes, all it takes. At least there are those who are willing and ready to receive!

In fact, a few evenings ago we ran into an ex-investigator who started to talk to us. She seemed very happy to see us. When I asked her briefly her “story” she had a light in her eyes as she talked about the church. I looked up her information when we got home and found that she had been through quite a bit with the sister missionaries. We went to visit her two days ago and will see her tonight. Even if there were challenges in the past, I have learned that we do not happen upon anyone for no reason. The way she looked at me and the way she spoke to me on that bus caused me to feel like there was something we could do for her. Even if it is just to help her make a little more progress. Monica is her name.

No, I do not remember what I wrote.
Como has warmed up, we are happy. Dad has mentioned Darien's new home will be colder. Maybe I am just a big baby.
Glad the celebrating is still happening.
Have a wonderful week wherever you may be.
Here in Italy, I am expecting a good one too.

In my place,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll

21 October 2009

The lies of the monkey.

To my dearests.

I start by telling you the old ladies here mow their lawns in nylons and skirts. An old man came up to me yesterday and started chanting “la balla della schimmia” in my face. I later learned that “balla” means lies, never heard that version of the word I thought it meant dance. Translated: The lies of the monkey. I met my favorite comasco family, an artist couple with two kids.

Everyday is an adventure. Everyday is full of miracles. Miracles that sometimes I wonder why I am so blessed to witness. Amid difficulties, I managed to find peace. Everyday last week I took lunch time and evening time to listen to, read and ponder the words of our church leaders. It was in the silent moments in our room that I really learned of my Heavenly Father's love and guidance. Even when I am imperfect or selfish He still is offering help. Silent whisperings of the spirit, leading me to more happiness and comfort. This is the joy of a loving Heavenly Father I am trying to help others understand. I stood at the door of an apartment where two young men lived. One kept claiming this life is just for suffering and God does not exist. He said other things, but my only response was God does exist, He does loves you. I invited him to search it out. Since we could not enter the house without another woman we left a DVD called “Finding Happiness.” We will be visiting tonight to get back our movie. Hopefully Roggero has done some thinking.

Last week I sat next to a man named Richard on the bus. We went to visit him and his family on Sunday. Richard has put a lot of trust in us two 21 (almost 22! woo!) year old girls. He is interested in what we have to offer, but we keep trying to reassure him it is nothing that we have, it is what God will do. We are just His messengers. It is actually very strange how much trust everyone puts in us. Something I started noticing as a missionary is that people really to look at me like a representative of Jesus Christ. I wear His name above my heart, literally. An experience that I would never trade for a million dollars.

I wish I had news of baptisms and excitement, but I do have news of new investigators with plenty of will to learn. I am seeing my new dearest friends make changes in their lives without even knowing it. I have secret eyes that they do not have.

All is well in Italy. The weather is getting colder and colder. The humidity reaches right to the bones. I started getting smart by sleeping with the hair dryer next to bed to when I get cold I can warm up the bed in a minute. Doubled up nylons. Scarfs. And luckily today is only rain. Como and I have fallen in love.

Happy 100 degree weather, school, wedding planning, family fun, love, Halloween, etc.

La Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll

14 October 2009

All the way from Como.

Well, I will start by recommending a honeymoon location. If you even want my opinion at all, it is Como Italy. This city is beautiful and full of wonderful people. Although I love every moment here, I find myself missing Torino. I know this dream land will quickly become my home. It is a good thing I lived in Provo for three winters because I am going to have a very cold one here. Our apartment has a broken window and the heaters have yet to be turned on in the complex. Cold showers happen, I am just glad that I am not bathing with a cup. I am happy to be here, nylons and all!

One thing is for sure, the work here is much different. Adjustments are being made. There is not much progress with investigators so Sorella Casalino and I are on the hunt. Sorella Casalino has been here for her first two transfers and we are going on her number three. She is a great missionary. Our biggest excitements are getting lost together. I think I almost have the city down. This might be the fastest I have ever learned an area! Maybe my memory is improving.

Sunday number one was incredible. In fact, I feel like I knew all the members already. They are so wonderful, caring, helpful and full of life. Everyone is more than excited to help with our work and they have great goals to help their brothers and sisters find the restored gospel. A missionaries dream come true! Since I am completely new to the ward and the area I have a lot to learn, but I can tell that I will have plenty of help and support.

Would you like to know a little about my traveling companion? Sorella Sara Casalino was born in Southern Italy. At the age of 7 her parents migrated to the United States. The family currently lives in Rexburg, Idaho. And I thought Darien would be living in her own private Idaho, I am getting a little taste of it myself. She tells me she likes to write and draw anime. I enjoy her little quirks, I hope she enjoys mine.
I might have scared my poor companion on Sunday evening. We were having our regular “count the numbers” and planning session. I would like to share my emotional breakdown. We were talking about our Monday when one thing led to another and I began to cry. I do not cry very often on my mission. Maybe once a transfer, you just always hear about it. Anyway, I began to talk about missionary work and my thoughts about it. I bore a testimony that I did not really know I had. I knew I loved the work and I knew I would miss being a full time missionary one day, but I did not realize what was really going on inside me. The Lord helped me see as I spoke to my companion. I just want to say that I am so grateful for this time I have to serve. I am so grateful for the blessings of the Lord in my life. Missionary work is often talked about as making sacrifices – which sure sometimes you do eat two hours late or you do miss a couple hours of your preparation day, or you have (literally) cold feet or a head ache, and the list goes on – but in the end we see that it was not much of a sacrifice at all. The Lord gave you more than you probably gave. I am learning every day that this is not about me but about my brothers and sisters. About the eternal progression of others. I benefit in the end, but as long as I forget myself I will get more work done. The principle of diligence is staying on the top of my list. For the rest of my life.

Now I would like to tell you about some interesting experiences from this week. Probably mentioned already, but we have a mission goal of 10 invites everyday. That is 10 per person. 20 per companionship. I at one point had a fear of talking to people, now I am helping my companion get over the fear. She is getting better already! We are working together to reach the mission goal and to show the Lord we are willing to do all that is asked of us. In the mean time you get numbers and appointments to visit people! Karina was my favorite invite of the week. I noticed her reading on the bus so I asked her if she liked to read. I proceeded to tell her about the Book of Mormon. She did not want to accept an appointment for us to come, so I handed her the book in my bag. Who knows what will come of it, but I made a new friend in Como!
Sunday we had a return appointment to visit a couple from Africa that the sisters had met before I came. We headed over after church to find they were not around. We moved on to our other plans and visits are were turned down to both appointments. In the end we did finding work, success in the fact that we were able to talk to many people. That evening as our house finding was coming to a close we decided to hop on a bus and to a little talking. We happened to get on the wrong bus when everyone got off a few stops later. I decided, not effective, so we got off the next stop and walked across the street. The next bus had a few people so we got on and headed back. I noticed a woman look at my companion like she wanted to say something but did not since she kept walking to the back. I decided to stay next to the lady and started a conversation about getting directions. Even if I knew the way, you gotta do what you gotta do. She told me she was from Ghana and I said I have a cousin serving a mission there. (Elder Healey is in Ghana, right?) Then I asked her if she had seen missionaries like us and she proceeded to tell me that the sisters had visited her and her husband the week earlier and were supposed to come back today. Well, we found our African couple and got the right phone number this time. The merciful hand of the Lord at the end of a long day.

I have officially decided I need to learn Spanish, Ukranian, Russian, Romanian, Albanian, Chinese, German, diverse dialects from Africa and continue the Italian. According to everyone here I do not speak English I speak American.

A man I met the other day told me that the Mormons are “delicious people.” Good word choice.

Tip of the week: Do not give an Italian man a pair of scissors and your head of hair. Too bad I did not learn the language of hair when I came on my mission. We are not short short, but much shorter than I asked.

Week one in Como. Check. Life is great!

Yours very affectionately,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll

07 October 2009

Jesus loves you more than you know.


I want to write you a personal letter today.

It seems mom and dad are anxious to know what the big change is tomorrow! I will tell you that I am going to have a great film reference when I baptize George Clooney in Como! Yes that is right, I am going to Como, Italy. I am beyond excited because I hear only good things about the beautiful city on the lake. No tears yet, but I am sad to leave all of my friends here in Torino. I have made many eternal friends that I will one day meet again.

I have done a lot of growing up here in Torino. Torino, basically being the start of my mission, taught me a lot of things. I learned how to be a missionary my first four transfers, but with some companions and difference ideas about the work it was not REALLY put into practice until this past transfer. When Sorella Huber arrived and we got real work done everything literally blew up, in a good way. Sorella Huber and I have been so tired every night (although I still do not sleep often). I am actually really sad to be leaving her. I trust she will be taking very very good care of Torino and the people here already love her. But you get so used to a good companion, you have the best transfer of your mission and then next thing you know the Lord splits you up. Of course I am more than happy to go the will of the Lord, since He always knows better, but we work so well together. I hope I can help all my companions really find the spirit of the work and the rest of my mission will continue as such. I commit to you all to keep working hard. Mom, another roommate prospect...Sorella Huber (we already talked about it last night. She said the Yellow House. Darien will tell you what that is.)

The fresh fall leaves crunching under my feet have been music to my ears. Receiving a smile back is like music to my growing heart. More importantly the General Conference addresses are still playing music to my soul. It is a marvelous blessing to be able to hear the words of the Prophet, apostles and other General Authorities...half a world away. I see that it was well enjoyed by you all. Saturday and Sunday I left conference a new and determined missionary. I wish every weekend was conference weekend!

Everyone here is still progressing and we set another baptismal date. I am so excited for the new sister that is coming in to take my spot and work with these wonders. Funny story, I learned that our dear dear Maria is the aunt of a less active family in our ward. Small world. I will miss the confirmation of Katiuscia on Sunday, and our four baptisms. But I got to take part in a million miracles while here, it is time for someone else to see the magic! Plus, Como will be just as magical.

I have officially turned into, what many would call, a nerd. I like my life more than ever. The other day I sat next to a woman on the tram and started a conversation. She said she was good and I said I was too. Then she looked at me and said "You are good. I can see it. But not just on the outside, I can see it on the inside, in your smile." Probably one of the best compliments you can get. Do you know why I am good, even great!? Because I am living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray morning and night, I read my scriptures daily and I keep my baptismal and temple covenants. I share the gospel with everyone I meet. The way, the right way, the happy way is to living the commandments. Those who do it, understand. Even when the trials come, you have a reason to hope. This is not a rant to show you that I am a good person, because if you know me at all you know I am so far from perfect, but this is even to help myself understand the joy of it all! As Paul Simon said it, "Heaven holds a place for those who pray." Happiness in your heart.

The love just keeps growing.

I love you all con tutto il mio cuore. Until next week, in Como!

Here's to you Mrs. Robinson,
Sorella Frederique Stone Carroll

post script. I am not the only one who does the potty dance nearly every five minutes here in Italy. There was a man doing it the other day on the tram. Always glad to know I am not alone.

post script 2. I hope you enjoy my last week of Torino in pictures!

English Class in Torino

Olympic Bridge in Torino

Katiuscia's Baptism

Barbara Sets a Baptism Date