24 February 2010

mrs. nezbit

Do you remember in Toy Story, when Buzz gets depressed and the evil neighbor Sid wins the game for a little while. Yesterday the name Mrs. Nezbit came into my mind while teaching a lesson. I, for the longest time, could not think of where it was from. Then I remembered a pink flowered hat and a cowboy sneaking around the door trying to rescue his dear friend. My mission has taken the life of Buzz Lightyear, as of late I fell into a slump and I imagine through reading my letters you have too noticed this. Last night and this morning I have given much thought to the purpose of missionary work and specifically my purpose as a missionary here in Italy. Through the many difficulties and challenges that every missionary faces often times it is easy to let your eye off the ball, or so to say. I regret to say that there have been times that my determination was destroyed by difficulties. I know we are all imperfect people and there are times we all fall, but I have learned something through all this. No matter how tall the horse, there is a way to get back on. Good thing Woody is a Cowboy and can help his friend get back on.

This is actually a challenge we face often times with investigators who think all hope is lost. As of late, Monica has given up on everything. After we left her last Sunday she has given up. I know how important agency is, but when someone does not use it correctly is breaks a heart or two.

In the most recent searches for souls we have found a decent number of people interested in learning and making commitments. Have you ever read the Book of Mormon? It is changing lives for those who sincerely search for the truth. It has changed mine. Last week we finally made contact with a woman who mentioned we could return, so we tried not knowing if anything would come of it. She is a teacher in the catholic church. When we presented the Book of Mormon as another volume of scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ her eyes brightened and immediately became curious. When we bore testimony of the truthfulness within something changed in her heart. I have gained a great love for the bible since being in a Catholic country, and that love has only increased my understanding of the truth to be found in the Book of Mormon. Even if I cannot convince someone of the truth, I know this book can. As missionaries of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ we have the greatest tool to present the Plan of Salvation and the eternal destiny of our souls.

The man next to us is singing in Arabic.

The sun is shining.

We are happy to be spreading the good news of the restoration.

Our toilette works again.

I am playing the mean companion. My very first transfer in Italy I experienced being wet from head to toe thanks to a car (who went our of his way, mind you)and a puddle of water in the rain. On our way home the other night I saw a puddle and cars going through it. That was the place we were to stop and wait for the cross walk. I stepped back when I saw cars coming and my companion looked at me. Not even two seconds later she was splashed. At least is was not a big one ... I also like to play a little game of mother duck. With any companion really. When I take someone to a new place I have to lead because I only know the way. Usually they follow behind. Depending on the street I enjoy crossing back and forth (not too often, but often enough to be annoying) to see if they keep following. I am positive my co got annoyed yesterday because on the way home she walked 15 feet ahead of me the whole way.

I miss the bicycles.

Hearts from one to another.

And beyond.
Sorella Frèdèrique Stone Carroll

17 February 2010

love.

The only thing I do not love right now is this keyboard. Typos abound. Apologies.

I am happy to inform you that all is well and work is moving forward. New co, new goals, new opportunities. A little about the newest companion, she is from California and awesome. She is so much braver than I was and she even smiles when people yell at us. It is so much fun!

This week we passed all of our investigators to our partners in crime, the anziani. So we have spent many hours beating our knuckles against the door. I will tell you about Massimo. He is an artist for Disney kids books and is very happy. As a practicing Catholic he has a lot of faith in God and it is definitely manifest in his testimony. After he found out we could not come in to teach him we talked for some time outside his door. He is more of a Mormon than a Catholic based on what he believes, because he is the first I have met yet to talk to me about the Madonna. But really I love being able to testify to complete strangers of living prophets and know that they feel the spirit. I pray he will continue to feel the spirit and keep commitments to progress toward eternal salvation.

Sunday my new friend Diego came to church and sat next to me. He is more than ready to help his mom return to church and get his dad baptized based on how excited he was to do everything. He carried his Book of Mormon with pride and sang every hymn with me.

No more bikes for sister missionaries in Como because we had to return ours to Monica. We had borrowed them and now that we stopped working with her it only seemed right to return them. We left her with a spiritual thought Sunday when we brought them back and it was one of the more difficult lessons for me. I walked in and started crying. There was tobacco and cigarettes all over and nothing had changed since we last visited (meaning things on the table and in the sink, etc.). We read a short chapter from the Book of Mormon and bore testimony of the blessings of the gospel. Monica felt the spirit and knows what she can have, but the powers of the adversary and her own personal weaknesses are holding her back. Of course we all have weaknesses, but through our obedience we are able to find the strength to overcome the temptations that come our way. I love that our Father in Heaven does not leave us alone. The hardest part of this job is watching those you love not accept what you know they know they can have.

Cold in Como and loving life.
Family thank you for everything. I highly recommend you stop putting that cardboard cutout in pictures. (My red nose is less than attractive.) I'll be home soon enough to fill the empty space. Hah. Thank you for all the updates. Hearts loves and hugs.

Better letters to come in the future.

so happy together,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll

10 February 2010

ch-ch-ch-changes.

Another 6 weeks in Como! Are you excited? I will get to see the beginning of winter to spring transformations! (Question, did the groundhog decide more winter? It snowed last week, then poured rain, and snowed again.)

As for my companion, she will be making her way to Modena for awhile. I will surely miss having an Italian companion, but I am also excited for another companion. I am going back to Milan tomorrow to bring home a new missionary. It will be another experience for me that I am looking forward to, but more so I am looking to learn!

Now that you all know about my changes I will tell you about this week. It started out with a lot of trials and stress, but at the end I am grateful for everything that I learned, even if I did not always do everything right. We were able to teach many people this week and most of the lessons were successful. We even discovered the problem that is holding Monica back, it is going to be a long road for us and her if we are going to overcome the problem. I am grateful for promptings from the spirit that tell me when we need to go see someone and also the gift of discernment that allows us to more fully understand the situations of our investigators. The more I think about it, the more grateful I am that Heavenly Father has trusted me enough to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to His children. There are only four missionaries in Como, we have a wonderful opportunity and a great responsibility being the bearers of the restored "good word" and the truth. It really is a bummer when people look at us as if we are evil. If only they would open their eyes and hearts to have a clearer understanding of the principles and doctrines we teach and practice. I promise I am not crazy to leave the comforts of home to live in a foreign land for a year and a half.

I always get side tracked. Saturday was a beautiful day for us and our work. We took the morning to visit a less-active and when she bore testimony to us I knew that we were in the right place at the right time. I could see her desire to come back, but having been offended she has yet to make the real decision. My heart hurts for the children of God who have been mistreated, but I also hurt that they are missing out on the fullness of the blessings. Later that afternoon we visited our investigator Rodolfo. We taught him about the restoration and he was excited to start reading the Book of Mormon. Both him and his brother Mario are searching for something more in their life, and thanks to the help of our member friend Nelly they are getting closer to their Father in Heaven! We left that appointment a little too late and raced to the train tracks to find as soon as we have locked the bikes our train was gone. We called our next appointment and informed them we would be late. The Bellofatto family, less active members. When we finally did arrive the daughter, Veronica, and her son, Diego, picked us up and I was so happy to finally meet her since we have been trying to contact them for the past 4 months. Diego is 7 and was so excited to receive his first Book of Mormon. His dad is a non member and things are looking up for the family. I am excited to start really teaching them and helping Veronica return to church with her whole family! Later that evening I biked up one of the steepest hills in Como to arrive at Luba's house to teach her friend Tamara. Tamara was invited to be baptized and has agreed to continue meeting with us until she finds her answer. Her problem right now is her ties with her family and he religion. Her parents were orthodox, her kids are orthodox, her husband... She can not make the decision right away, but she is searching!

The only part I do not like about Italy is that nearly every day I return home with the stench of cigarettes. Yes nearly everyone smokes and it is hard to avoid.

Como is wonderful and being prepared for the spring. Branch cutting, seed planting and city cleaning.

I stopped a few women on the street who were confused as to why I said hello. I wish people were more friendly with their neighbors so people would not feel so strange when someone said hi. But, the advantage is that they notice we are different and we have an excuse to introduce who we are!

Happy are we!

turn and face,
Sore Frédérique Stone Carroll

03 February 2010

she's a maniac.

Yellow scarf around the neck, helmet on top of the computer, name tag above my heart. I am still a sister missionary and I am happy to have a smile on my face. This past week has been a little difficult as far as our work goes, but it is nice to know that I still feel good.

Last Wednesday we dropped Monica as an investigator. Thursday I sat in the midst of 4 emotional, southern, Italian woman (my companion included) as they all attempted to talk over one another and tell their story. In the end, every time I tried to calm them down it just got more heated. It was not an argument, it was just a conversation that the entire apartment complex could hear because no one wanted to listen to the other. In the end, Luisa still decided she does not need to come to church. At least she accepts our visits and really we hope that one day her heart softens in forgiveness. I know life is difficult and honestly I could not imagine living in Luisa's situation (who has a husband in prison, experienced the death of a son because he drove drunk, and is waiting to hear if her other son will be going to jail or not), but that just shows us how much more need we have of the Lord. It is only through him that the bruises of our soul can be healed. We will keep praying for Luisa and her grand return, because she really is missed in church.

Saturday I played following the leader through traffic on our bikes. I think the first time I was scared to ride my bike was following Nelly to find a bench. Good thing I am commanded to wear my dutiful helmet.

Sunday evening we scheduled an appointment with our new investigator Silvia to meet her younger brother. We showed up and met the brother (Hans) and another sister (Elisabet). This sister we had previously met bringing a Book of Mormon to even another sister (Erica) who I met on the bus. All in all, in these past few months we have met four members of the same family who all live in separate houses with their own families, but it all was brought together and obviously there was someone elses hand in the work. We are starting teaching Silvia and her husband Mauro, who we also met on Sunday. They are full of knowledge about the world, history, other religions, etc they are just waiting (even if they do not know it) to hear the message of the restored Gospel.

Monday district meeting and a power lesson with a member. Door to door was planned for all evening. The first apartment complex was a little difficult to enter, but finally made it in. We knocked our first door and a neighbor came storming down the stairs and threatened to call the police. The lady at the door slammed it in our face, and another neighbor came out to yell at us. The first time in my life I was scared doing house. We left. Police, not a thrilling thought. We did notice that there was another set of stairs and lo and behold our first door yelled at us. It was time to go. With my habit of looking up at balconies outside I noticed that a man was watching our every move. Our first accuser. He watched us walk around the corner and then when he could not see us he ran to his bedroom window to be sure we were really leaving. My tail was definitely between my legs in great fear.

I am very excited about tonight because we have planned to do finding work with a member. It is something new, but I imagine we will see success! This member is from France and is working here in Italy while her brother goes to school. She told me she is thinking about serving a mission so we decided to invite her to some of our fun casa time. I'll let you know how it goes!

The weather has been doings its fun dance between bitter cold and perfect. I am glad that February has made its way in and before long the trees will be green.

New news, the missions in Italy will be reducing from three to two in July. There will be the mission of Rome and the mission of Milan. Tuscany will be added to my mission, the most beautiful part of Italy!

I send my love to you. Happy February!

on the floor,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll