25 November 2009

oh mexico.

That's where I want to goooo...

But really, next year I will want to be there.

I hope Thanksgiving is fabulous for you all. I will not be celebrating this year since I am the only American sister around. Yes, my new companion is Italian. Plus, today being preparation day would be my only day to celebrate, but as our day has it, we only have time to do email. We will soon be running across the boarder to Switzerland for an appointment, and back to Italy for two more appointments. Busy day, but this is what I love about missionary work. Happy Wednesday in MEXICO!

So I have a new companion. She was born in Milano but at the age of 13 moved to Calabria (southern Italy). It is interesting being with a native, who definitely teaches me more than I could teach her. New missionaries are always better than old ones, and she is teaching me a thing or two about my work, the culture, and the language. Maybe "someone" is trying to tell me I need to actually get this language down, instead of just faking it. This co comes from a family of 9, one older brother on a mission in Rome and 5 younger siblings. We are doing well and are seeing miracles, even if not everything goes according to plan.

Yesterday doing our fun door to door hunting an old woman in a wheel chair let us in. We talked, she told us she was a real believer. In fact, she told us she believes too much. We knew she was catholic from the outside of her door in which is placed a rather large photo of Padre Pio. We walk in to find other little treasures from the catholic church gift shop. She started to point out all that she had and that she believed. I waited for about 5 minutes for her to tell me something about Jesus Christ. She continued with the Madonna, Padre Pio, other Saints, the madonna, even an image with Mary and baby Jesus (but only mentioned Mary). I wanted to cry for her at that moment. Not that this woman is a bad person, but how could one forget so easily the reason she has life? I do not think she even mentioned our Saviors name once. We tried to talk to her about who He is without much success. What has happened to our world who has forgotten about our Redeemer?

We, all of us, have a rather large responsibility to bear witness of Jesus Christ. Everyone here sees his name next to mine, but like I said a few weeks ago I hope my actions and words also show that I am his disciple.

Can I tell you a sad story? We have a convert of a little over a year that has requested we visit every week. She is in need of support, for problems in the family, and we are more than willing to offer what we can. Last night she told me that she did not come to church on Sunday because her usual ride forgot, or just did not go get her. It is hard for her to get to church alone because she has a bad back and a long walk to the bus stop. She said that before she was baptized the members were always willing to help. Always at her house. Being her friend. Calling her. Then came the baptism and has been abandoned. I sadly have actually noticed this with other converts and less actives in not only this ward but others as well.

I wonder if I did that when I was at home. It is so easy to get excited about a new investigator, get them ready for baptism and once they make it we dust off our hands and move on to the next. How many new converts go less active within the year? Too many. It is not that we want more members for our own stories of success, but we are trying to save souls. Yes, part of it is personal (which thank goodness this woman has a strong testimony of the gospel that she does not need to rely on the members anymore) but part of it is our responsibility as members. I am just venting...sorry. It is like raising a child. As children we rely on parents or leaders for our testimonies until we gain our own. But even after that we are not left to fend for ourselves, parents still care for the children. New converts are in need of that care and strength. This is not a game like some people may think. I am praying that we will find a better way to help these new members find the strength in our Savior and also his saints.

Last night I ran for the bus and missed two because I ran too far.

I wish my companions wanted to get bikes. We are allowed bicycles but my companions have been less than excited about the idea. I will continue to run for the bus.

I love you all. Happy Turkey. You can celebrate my birthday in the Mexican restaurants for old times sake, just try it without the tequila.

Cheers to the Pioneers.
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll.

18 November 2009

la settimana di luce. (the week of lights)

Well family, it is time for changes again. Tomorrow I make the trip to Milan to bring a new companion back to Como. Companion number 8! I am excited! Plus I get to spend Christmas in Como. I live on Viale Roosevelt, 12 [click here for map] which is right next to one of the main streets that leads to centro. They are hanging Christmas lights down the road and everyone is starting to get into the spirit. The magic of the season begins!

Remember I had the goal to learn how to whistle a tune on my mission. Well I think I finally learned. I used to whistle hymns walking down the street, but I was informed by a dear member that it was inappropriate for a girl to whistle. Ooops. Is it also inappropriate in the United States and I just am oblivious?

A few weeks ago I was walking home with my companion. There is a rather large catholic church where a man plays his accordion. I have a few cents in my pocket and felt the need to give him something. It was probably just 15 cents, but it was all I had. I dropped it in and left. I believe a few nights later we were home a few minutes early so we decided to walk around and find someone to talk to. A little man was walking across the street so I greeted him. He was so excited to talk to us and just started rattling things off. It took us a few minutes to learn he was from Romania and had only been in Italy a few weeks.

We gave him a pass-along-card with the address of the church since there was not much we could do. We saw him a few days later and said hello. A couple more days went by and he stopped us to ask about the church. He could only say "Gesù" (Jesus) and we pulled out another pass-along-card to give him with the address. Then to our surprise he opened his little wallet and pulled out the one we already gave him. I said "bus numero uno" and pointed in the direction of the area of the church. Then he started talking and talking. Since we were near our apartment I asked him to wait 2 minutes and we ran inside to get him a Book of Mormon in Romanian. This was our only mode of communication, he could read the Book of Mormon. He gladly received it and started to look in the back for hymns. When he found nothing he started to sing. He sang a whole hymn to my companion and I on the street. By the end he was crying and walked away. It was a special moment with Lucian.

We were sitting in Gospel Principles when the door opened and Lucian and a friend were lead to a couple empty seats. I believe they are homeless, but took the time to gel their hair and walk all the way to church (a 20 minute bus ride up hill). I was actually very surprised he came, not to mention with a friend. They understood nothing, but the Anziani took over and were able to set up an appointment with a Romanian family in the ward to teach them. Yesterday evening we were walking by the Catholic church and I noticed that it was Lucian, the accordion player. Again, who knows what is going to happen, but I was glad to meet someone who already had much love for Christ and was willing to put in the effort to do more.

I am excited for everyday. You never know who you are going to meet!

Another story. Lucia De Tommaso who lives on Via Ferrari number seven. I saw her walking up a hill with a couple grocery bags from the market. Being in her late eighties she was struggling a little bit. I decided we could help her. She gladly accepted calling us her "marvelous little girls" or "angels." She was walking back up the hill to find an umbrella that she lost. First she thought it was in the church because she had gone to Mass that morning. When we did not find it there we started back down the hill. About every 2 minutes she asked us if it was okay that we helped her. I reassured her that was what we are here for.

About 30 minutes later we found the umbrella, she was praying the whole time, while I had no idea how she was going to find it. The market seemed like a difficult place to find anything. She took us back to her house and introduced us to her husband. They were so sweet and invited us back anytime. We shared a message with them and asked if we could pray. After I prayed she got excited and started reciting her prayers. We remained reverent. At the end her husband noticed that we did not make the sign of the cross when we prayed, Lucia explained that were not Catholics but were Christians. Then he says, "oh okay, non practicing Christians." We will be explaining a little more when we return.

I tell you right now I am very much a practicing Christian. Of course I can improve, but I practice what I preach and I preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, I repeat, I can always improve and am working on it!

Thank you for all the updates at home, I am glad to hear that all is going well. I love you and miss you! Thank you for your prayers, love, concern, help, support, examples, etc. etc. etc.!

heart it races.
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll


P.S.
I sent a package home, finally. It does not have very much exciting stuff. Not like you send me. Sorry. I hope you get it. Picture CDs also went in the mail.

I wish I could tell you something about my new companion, but I do not even know her name. She is going to be spending at least her first transfer with me. Last night when we got the phone call from our zone leaders I was sure Sorella Casalino and I would be staying together. I was not even worried about a big change. Then they gave us the news. All I know, is I will be relying a lot on the Lord to help me do a good job being a good companion. I have yet to be so nervous about a call. I will meet her tomorrow morning bright and early!

Happy week, happy wedding planning, happy seminary, happy pittsburgh, happy chile, happy idaho, happy school, exams, fun, life, and everything else you are doing!

Riqué

11 November 2009

blank.

Dear loved ones.

I am happy to tell you that I am still a missionary roaming the streets of Como. I do not know why I would be anywhere else, but I am just happy about that. Even in the moments that I miss you, I still manage to find something to smile about here. The joys of sharing the gospel.

This past week ended well and a new week started. I wish I could remember all that has happened...Maybe I will tell you about Sunday.

Sunday was a special Sunday for me. Before, during and after church. We had nothing planned for the day, all things we wanted to do, but nothing set in stone. We departed for church, all the while I was praying to hear something that would help me find more hope in my work as a missionary. (It gets, at times, discouraging when you are rejected all so often.) I just prayed to feel the spirit. I did. I was more aware of the silent whisperings than ever before.

It started in Relief Society. Sunday school was incredible and I even learned things I have never heard before. Finally, sacrament meeting! Before the meeting started I watched a recent convert who recently received the Melchizedec priesthood practice the prayer. He was so focused and a little nervous. It made me understand even a little more about how important the sacrament prayer and partaking of the sacrament are. I take the opportunity for granted sometimes, but when I really think about it I am actually renewing the covenants I made when I was 8. It is like being baptized all over again, as along as I partake worthily. What a blessing to have that promise of forgiveness! I paid attention to the words of the Hymns and was strengthened even mor through that spirit. Then the talks.

The last talk was given by an Anziano, there are two Anziani and two Sorelle in our ward here. Topic: Missionary Work. He shared with us an experience earlier in his mission. An investigator came to a fast and testimony meeting and left very disappointed because he heard nothing said about Christ. If our church really is "The Church of Jesus Christ" then why would not even one person bear testimony of Him. This comment caused Anziano Murdock to think about what he does as a missionary and member of the church. The question came, "Is everything I do centered around Christ?" I thought about that, a lot. In fact still thinking about it, obviously. I wear his name on my tag, above my heart. It is he 2nd biggest name (next to mine) that one sees. How important is it that I represent Him with ALL respect. With or without the name tag. My new daily question is that. After all, it is Him that saves us.

On my way to write you I stood on the bus next to a teenage boy who looked at my tag. When I caught him he quickly looked away. I asked if he had ever seen missionaries with the same tag. No. He just saw the name Gesù Cristo and told me he freaked out. I asked him why. He would not tell me. I invited him to learn more about Christ and to come to church. Although not super interested there is the possibility that he makes the change in his life sooner than later. That conversation was much better than the four teenagers who got on the bus looked at me and my tag and literally laughed at me this morning. It is a good thing I like being a missionary.

The rest of Sunday...
Our member friend Nelly called us right after church to explain that she did not set the alarm and that is why she was absent from the meetings. She invited us over to dinner where we met Joquin again. Nelly is from Peru and here with out her family. Joquin is 19 years old, from Peru and the son of Nelly's friend. He ate with us and let us share another spiritual thought. Apparently he has never listened to the missionaries before, and this time he accepted to meet with us next week after reading a chapter in the Book of Mormon. People really do change. Of course I have no ending, but it was a good beginning.

Then we called a family we met the day before and they said sure come on over. One of the nicest Italian families I have ever met! Pasquale, Paola and Valentina. It is always something exciting when you find a family!

The rest of the evening was here and there running into potentials and investigators and making more friends. I love happy Sundays.

I am making more friends and using them as substitute family till I see you. Thank you for making this experience all that much better! I love you and I miss you more than you know.

Friends.
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll


Family,
Did I tell you I was counting down until Christmas? Bad missionary. I am excited to celebrate it here, christmas lights are already going up! I am more excited to hear your voices. I know I still have a bit of time, but I am still excited!

I told Darien I was missing you a little more than I should, but thank you for all the information and news on what you have been doing. I love to hear the little things about your life.

Mother, I am sorry about Rae and I will keep her and her family in my prayers. We are truly blessed to have a testimony of the atonement and how it saves us from temporal and spiritual death. We have the promise because Christ gave his life out of love. I talk to many people here who have no hope or do not believe in Christ as our savior. I am happy to be a representative of Him and bear my testimony everyday of my gratitude for the plan of salvation. I could never deny it to be true, even if 5 Muslim men in the past 2 days have tried to tell me I am wrong.

I love you. Keeeeeeep going!

Riqué

04 November 2009

everything good goes here.

Letters from mother, father and sister all included Eric in the first line so I thought I might as well too. Sounds like a fun week and I will tell you, I can not wait to come back home to join in on the fun. Good thing, though, I am having fun here!
Today I met the man who (apparently) lives next door to George Clooney. He does not believe in using paper, therefore would not accept the pass-a-long card I attempted to put in his shirt pocket while my hands were full of grocery bags. He could just be crazy (like the rest of us) with holes in our hats and dirt on our shoes. I threw away the cheetah boots due to some rather big holes that just appeared one day. Brown shoes, destroyed. Messenger bag, almost destroyed. (Side note, Darien or Dad do you know if there is a warranty on Manhattan portage, because if so maybe I do not need to buy a whole new bag. It is just the zipper that is broke. So 'destroyed' was an exaggeration, story of my life.)

In the life of a missionary it is obvious that you would be meeting a number of people. Last week was no exception.

Last Thursday I met Maria on the bus. I leaned over and complimented her on her scarf. Next thing I know it is around my neck. Maria gave me her scarf.

Frederica and I bonded over having the same name. She is interested in learning about eternal families, so we are going to teach her.

Mustapha believes religion was created to tame the savage man. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was put in place, I guess you could say to "tame the savage man." We will also be meeting with him again. I forgot my bus pass on my desk after lunch on Monday but did not realize it until we were too far to go back. Companion had an extra to get me to the top of the hill. Returning that evening would have been a long walk, so we walked into the Tabaccheria. There stood Fernanda, like she was waiting for us. Bought the tickets, but I could not help but notice her staring at us and our name tags. I started to just talk to her. It turned into a 30 minute conversation about the restoration of the Gospel and parts of the Plan of Salvation. At one point, Fernanda started talking with no pauses. She just told us what was on her mind and finally said..."Why am I saying all this?" I believe it was because she knew we could answer her questions. She is excited to introduce us to her family!

Yesterday we had time to do finding work. Door to door was the decision. We met Emma as she got off the elevator. I asked about her family, told her a little about me, and she invited us in to see the pictures. She then showed us a picture of her daughter at the age of 4 or 5 before she passed away. She said she believed her daughter was with God. I told her she was right. Then she said "How do you know?" We will be visiting her. Although we did not teach a lesson to Emma (due to her lack of time), I asked if we could pray with her. She agreed. After I said the prayer she looked at me and said "thank you, I needed that prayer." I saw a miracle unfold before my eyes with Emma. She was closed and had no interest in the beginning, but as soon as we showed her we actually cared about her she understood a little more that we could possibly have something she has been searching for.

I do not have the end of the story for any of these individuals, but whatever happens I hope they know their Father in Heaven does love them!

Tonight I am going to visit Monica Angliotti to invite her to be baptized. We are praying that this time she commits.

I love my life!

I love you!

your affectionate friend,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll