31 March 2010

we are painting a picture.

Everyday changes drastically. Sun, mist, pouring rain, sun, rain, fog, rain, fog. Spring and all its wonderful changes make for a wonderful change inside a missionary named Sorella Carroll. I will start by telling you my new companion is a natural health and food guru so she is getting me into a great big change. I like these changes. Change is good for the soul, even if it means a great big change of church (as it would be for many of our investigators).

I know sometimes I, myself, am afraid of change. But I am learning to accept it and learn from every moment. I am also learning how to help others accept the change that will change their life (not only on the earth, but the life here after).
This week I spent time studying all sorts of topics and really enjoyed remembering how the spirit teaches me personally. Spending time reading the bible or the book of mormon has caused me to really reflect on my beliefs and understand each thing in a logical manner. When the scriptures tell me "in your mind and in your heart" I completely understand it. Before I left on my mission I felt these things, I knew these truths, but I still did not understand everything and why. Now my mind is catching up with my heart and understanding the reality of everything. It just makes sense. I find myself saying that more and more often and thanking my Father in Heaven more everyday for His hand in my life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ (and all that it entails) just makes sense, and were it not for a restoration of the authority we would ALL be confused. But since God is not the author of confusion, and loves us, He again gave his children (by the way, that is you and me) the way.

Sorella Prina and I have big plans for this transfer and are working our way to go meet and teach her family. She has Italian descendants and it will be a great blessing to work with the family of my loving companion who is so ready to help save their lives as well.

Since we have not met them yet, I will tell you about the family that took care of me yesterday. Gabriella Nicastro and her daughter Michela. We had found them knocking doors a while back and yesterday we returned. Unfortunately it was pouring rain and I had given my umbrella to a man on the street that afternoon. Let us just say I needed a towel and hair dryer for some time while Sorella Prina got to know them. Ooops. (We are dry today.) Plus they are excited to learn with us!

Lilu came to church on Sunday and loved it. She has member friends already and is making huge changes in her life.

Did I forget to mention that this weekend is easter!!! And vacation weekend for us missionaries. That is right. The best vacation I could ask for right now. Conference. I am so excited to hear from our beloved Prophet and profit from the great and healing word of God. I think I have told everyone on the street and bus what they can experience if they come with me. Fortunately Italy is up-to-date with technology and we will be watching Saturday and Sunday morning sessions live and Saturday evening recorded on Sunday afternoon. It will almost be my bed time while you are all just waking up to hear the good word. I hope you are all as excited as me. As I said, spring time is a time for changes, and the counsel of the Lord can only help us make the better change! Happy days!

Speaking of changes. I started to cry on the bus today coming down the beautiful mountain overlooking a blue lake. I know I still have awhile, but the thought of changing what I am doing now and moving onto real life is something that does scare me at times. I hope you are all still happy, healthy, and in love with life. I am all of the above and more here in Italy and am full of gratitude for the wonderful blessings I have received here. I would almost, almost, call myself Italian.

We are taking the days of our lives and creating a story. The story that never ends, but keeps adding the pages. Any good book must be written well. This is why we must act but we also have time to change. I am learning to make sure I am writing mine well. But thank goodness for editors!

A happy day.
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll

24 March 2010

let us start the wave.

It has been a couple of interesting weeks here in Como. A couple weeks that have helped me understand how grateful I am for the gospel and how much it has helped myself and us as a family. I know it is a lot easier to say than do, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ really can bring hope to a broken world and a broken life.

I am always meeting new people and learning about their lives. As I have stated previously, it is amazing how much people trust us and recognize us missionaries as people who can help. I am grateful for the spirit, because without it we could not offer any words of hope, but when the spirit is there to guide the recipient absolutely understands that we are just the instruments in God's hands. We have had a few great experiences teaching and speaking with people. My gratitude is great for the opportunity to teach the wonderful message of the Gospel.

Two weeks ago my companion and I attended a funeral of a woman in our ward. She was a mother of two teenagers and had been battling a tumor for quite some time. I had the privilege of getting to know her mother and sister while in Torino and it was an emotional reunion when we saw each other again. This sister was very well loved as there was no space for everyone in the chapel, but it was beautiful to celebrate a life and be reminded that the plan of salvation is real and in effect everyday of our lives. I got very emotional during the funeral as I put myself in the situation. To loose a loved one, a mother in fact, would be a great challenge for me. I thought about all mom has done for us and how grateful I am to still have her around cheering me on. As I think about the great role mothers play in our lives it is hard to imagine a world with out her, you mom. Although it is not always the happiest of occasions I am grateful to have been blessed by the spirit that afternoon with a greater appreciation for the knowledge of our purpose.

As the days passed, we spent much time teaching people about the hope and joy to be found in the gospel. Tamara, a friend of our new investigator here spent an evening with us learning about Jesus Christ and how he can help us overcome or difficulties in life. Her grandson was born with a disability. Her daughter just had another baby girl a month ago and they just found out the father has a tumor in his stomach. She feels like there is too much weight on her and there is no way to over come the pain and despair. Tamara is slowly accepting Jesus Christ as her true Savior and has agreed to start reading the Book of Mormon. We had already taught her a lot of the lessons and she said she is not ready to change religions, but after that evening together she looked at her situation differently. When we are living in the world it is often times hard to have hope for the future and eternity, but Tamara's eyes were opened a little bit and it was great to see her heart change through the spirit.

We received a phone call from the office who had a referral for us. Who does not like a referral!? Well this one is special. Lilu. She came to meet us after a relief society service activity on Monday morning in the church. She met one of our great member missionaries who conveniently speaks English. Lilu is looking for the comfort from God and called the missionaries a few weeks after meeting them in another city. She pulled out a photo book of her Daughter who passed away in December at 1.4 years. I imagine as a single mother you feel a little like your heart has been ripped out, stomped on, put back in and now your body just does not function the same way. Tears were shed for sadness and hope. Lilu is ready to hear the joy the gospel has to bring and she opened her heart right up to a God, our Heavenly Father, who she never really believed in before.

In situations like these, you never really know what to say. But I am still learning that the spirit does and sometimes the right words just come out and you know that God is speaking for you. These past few weeks have helped me feel much closer to my Father in Heaven and helped me understand more about our plan. I am still amazed everyday at the wonders of eternity, but I know it is all true. We just have to find out for ourselves. Truth is everywhere.

I love working as an instrument in the hands of the Lord.

We are going to start the wave,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll

p.s. I rest in Como another six weeks. New companion coming tomorrow.
p.p.s. Mom, I ironed my pajamas this morning.

17 March 2010

Via Milano.

We do a type of lesson with members called "a power lesson." A quick spirit puncher and a sincere prayer offered by the member. We ask them to ask for inspiration as to where we can go to find investigators and I have now received Via Milano three times. Now that I have finished work one.5 times on the street we are starting over. Yesterday it was a good thing to get working on it right away because of a very special experience we had.

Her name is Michelle. A philipine mother of three. She became an investigator six weeks ago and has been rather hard to get ahold of as she is always at the hospital when we set up appointments. There was an evening we went out with a member from France who is preparing to serve a mission herself. This is when we happened upon Michelle and Ian who welcomed us into their home with open arms. We left a brief but spiritual message about the family and the blessings we can receive from God through faith and the restored gospel. This was the evening we learned about their entire family. Their oldest son Alesandro is autistic and for that they are often in the hospital. Our second visit was a "maybe we should go visit Michelle and Ian" instead since they had previously not been there for the appointment we scheduled. We ran home to get her Book of Mormon in Tagolog and went to go visit. She was surprisingly home and very happily received the Book of Mormon. Since she did not have much time we were able to leave with a little explanation of the book and make a return appointment. Lo and behold, they were at the hospital again and to be honest I have started to feel like maybe this is not their time. We have tried atleast three times a week to see them, but they are never home. Yesterday morning I was with Sorella Rossi on an exchange and we received from our wonderful Giustina to go do work on Via Milano, so we did!

We were walking to the bottom of the street to make our way back up when I saw an open door, we decided to take advantage and entered. We met a couple of individuals including a woman who knew us through her sister who I began teaching nearly 5 months ago. After we finised our door to door there, we continued to the end of the street. Sorella Rossi was new therefore I let her lead since I had done house two times and would be hesitant to pick an apartment I had already knocked. She chose the number 13 which was exactly the palazzo of Michelle and Ian. We rang them from outside, no answer. We did manage to get in, though, through a stranger. We started from the top down, but Michelle and Ian's door is the first. We knocked anyways not really expecting anything. To our surprise Michelle answered and again welcomed us in. We sat with her for thirty minutes and listened and taught. She began to cry as she told us of all the trials she is facing right now. The biggest being that she has not seen her son Alessandro for 4 weeks. He is going through intense therapy and has a hard time being away from his family so the doctors prefer that he does not see the family because it makes his progress slower. Through tears of my own I bore testimony that through our faith we can overcome these trials and the our Father in Heaven is right by our side. Michelle bore a strong testimony but is just like the rest of us because she needs the strength from God that she does not have herself. To sit with this 25 year old woman and talk about the atonement of our savior Jesus Christ made my testimony that much stronger and made me that much greater for the incredible blessings we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ have received. Michelle really believed what we had to tell her and she knows that the message we bring will bless her life more than she ever imagined. What a great blessing to bring restored truths to people who are searching!

At the end of the lesson our friend closed with one of the most powerful and sincere prayers I have ever heard in my life. Giustina told us to listen and it ended up being exactly the right thing. Listen to the spirit, listen to the people!

I always get emotional while writing e-mails because of what I learn while I tell you of my experiences. I am recognizing more and more as each day disappears the hand of the Lord in my life. I follow the same schedule everyday, but everyday is new and full of miracles. Have I told you I love my life! We are making a lot of progress and will hopefully be seeing our investigators do the same. They are definitely seeing the blessings of the gospel already in their life and will be seeing even more as they continue along the path God has prepared for them!

Michelle reminded me of the plan God really has prepared for each of us!

I can not help but smile.

From me, to you.
Sorella Frederique Stone Carroll.

p.s. Happy Saint Patrick's day! I am wearing green, my companion is not and keeps wondering why I am pinching her! She even knows why!

p.p.s. A picture for your enjoyment. This is the statue of the hands in Como. I have no idea what it means.

p.p.p.s. I went without a Jacket yesterday! Spring is approaching!

Hands in Como

10 March 2010

white ...

is the color of my neighborhood again!

Red is the color of my cheeks.

Happy is the color of my soul.

It is funny how things happening on the other side of the world can have such a great affect on someone. I layed in my bed last Wednesday while reading letters and cried. Mostly I cried out of comfort and peace. It was such an inspiration to read the many testimonies mom forwarded to me which had a great impact on the rest of my week. We had an inspiring zone conference on Friday and this past week left me with a new resolve to do even better and reach even higher.

I think the mission experiences between my brother and I differ quite a bit. In stressful moments for the family I imagine it would be much more comforting to be all together. Although I love you all so much, I felt a great deal of help staying focused on my work here and accomplishing what I need to be doing. I am grateful for the service of a brother so dear to my heart and his testimony and strength. It is always a joy to hear about his successes and trials and especially in these moments I know how much of an impact he and his testimony have have on the wonderful people of Chile.

The lastest is on Silvia Sedano and her family. When I first met her three months ago she told me she did not know what she believed and had not even been teaching her children about God or Jesus Christ. A month or so later we were able to make another visit and she mentioned she was looking for a way to teach her children and help them gain a knowledge, but she wants them to make decisions for themselves. We had a few lessons since then, one specifically where she told us she was not ready. More specifically, not ready to pray. She told us she looks for just about any excuse not to believe, despite the fact that she wants to. We decided not to call her for a couple of days and waited until english class. She came up to us when we walked in the room and asked why it had been so long, circo 3 days... It was surprising since she had almost told us no at our previous lesson. We ended up at her house a couple days later where she prayed for the first time with us. Even though they are small passes, they are really huge passes in her life that will help her reach the divine potential God has for her and her family! It is nice to be a part of the blessings of the gospel! Silvia's son Giovanni, 5 years, explained to his cousin, 6 years, that we come to talk about Jesus Christ. Giovanni asked me at our first visit who Jesus Christ was, he must be learning something too!

All is well and truly happy in Como. I feel like a local here. I just have not picked up the valley girl northern italy accent. I am stuck with the american one.

I am, dear family,
very affectionately yours,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll

03 March 2010

times running out.

I was going door to door when the elevator started moving. It made me nervous just a little bit because I had a very strong inkling this person was going to get off while we were knocking his door. This is true. Something happened right when he stepped off the elevator, nerves went away and we started talking to him. This man is actually the one who informed me of the big earthquake in Chile and I had a little panic. But at the same time it did not phase me because I knew my brother was being protected by the Lord. I appreciated the help I received in being calm this week even when we received opposition.

Sunday I was grateful for member missionary work when an 8 year old boy came up to ask me to review his dedication in a Book of Mormon he was preparing to gift to his religion teacher at school. I have been paying close attention to the children in the ward when we are in church and teach families and it amazes me their sensitivity to the gospel and its truths. No wonder we are commanded to become as little children; submissive, meek, humble and willing to submit to all things that our father seeth fit to inflict upon us. I am truly impressed at the testimonies these little people have to offer. Often times much purer and honest than our own.

With our fun weather games I like seeing the change people make from day to day. Although it is still chilly, the city changes when the sun comes out. The other day while on the bus I glanced out towards a park and saw a couple holding hands in their fancy clothes going for a walk with their dog. I think I like that aspect of Italy, the people get dressed up just to go outside. I also enjoy the fact that it is warming up because more people are outside on their private adventures, but little do they know we are searching for them. It is a roller coaster from day to day, everyone you meet is different and amazing. Last night I stopped a lady in a white marshmallow coat to ask a simple question about the city and start a conversation. She ended up telling us all about her family and that we will be seeing each other soon. Another lady looked at us and smiled when we said hello. It is not often you get a huge smile from someone on the street late at night but it was nice to have someone stop and talk to us. I think things are turning around, the more we receive opposition the more I recognize we are getting to closer to something good. I am learning, though, to count all things as good. Learning from challenges will help us all in ways that really are inexplicable.

I have been thinking about something for a little while now. What is the greatest event in all of Christian history to take place?

Naturally I think, the atonement of Jesus Christ. But then comes the first vision into mind and the Restoration of the Gospel and Priesthood authority. Although, obviously the atonement of Jesus Christ is the most important aspect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is the Restoration that teaches the entire truth of what Christ did and how we can fully utilize it. I realize now, that without a living Prophet we would never understand our potential as children of God. Without the authority of the holy Priesthood of God, we could never return to live with our Father in Heaven. All of the true knowledge about the gospel of Jesus Christ comes back to the restoration of the gospel and keys through Joseph Smith. And to know if this is true relies on our faith, prayers and reading of the Book of Mormon. This week I am grateful and full of love for a Father in Heaven who loves us and trusts us enough to have received again the fullness of the gospel. I am grateful for the call to be a missionary and bring this message to those who are searching. We have had the opportunity to teach a few families in the past three weeks, these families are going to be wonderful additions to the Kingdom of God. I have the faith that we will be able to help them prepare to enter in the way! What a blessing to bear testimony of the truths of eternal families and an eternal father in heaven with eternal amounts of love.

Speaking of families, I laminated a couple photos this week of mine. Anytime I showed them to members or friends they said, "are these your friends?" When I said no these are my siblings they said, "oh, your brother looks Chinese." Ramsey, I love you. We can be the odd balls out, blonde and Chinese. Giustina claims that we have Chinese ancestors according to Ramsey's eyes. Family history work?

Do not worry family, I am a nice companion. My companion is awesome and we get along really well. She teaches me how to speak better English and wears a purple skirt which makes me really happy.

Hearts loves and hugs.

I keep you in my prayers.

in all aspects,
Sorella Frederique Stone Carroll