28 July 2010

the end.

I do not know if you expect the best letter of my mission or not, but seeing as I no longer will be mailing you weekly I say "let 'em have just one more."

It is hard to believe that more than 18 months ago I parted ways with my family and friends. Honestly I had no idea what to expect of this whole experience. All I knew was that I wanted to serve and I felt the Lord had a work for me to do. Having been so blessed to have the gospel in my own life, I only felt it would be selfish to keep it to myself. Then a sister missionary in the Mesa Temple Visitors Center read to me Doctrine and Covenants 4:4. That was the answer to my every question. Now here I am at the end of my mission. The black tag in the corner of my eye and my heart fills with love, gratitude, joy, happiness.

Being able to serve an extra three weeks added the miracle of all miracles to the millions I experienced during this time. Let me recount the event.

June 20th, 2010 Marta brought her neice to church to translate.
June 21st, 2010 Marta had her first lesson about the restoration.
June 27th, 2010 During a short lesson after church Marta set a baptismal date for the 24th of July.

In between the preparation we received a few calls from the bishopric about Marta's less active husband. We did not know him, and the first time we did meet him he happened to be smoking. We were very hesitant about discussing performing the baptism since he had already expressed disinterest.

Well, July 18th rolls around and it is time for Marta to be interviewed. Bishop has already confirmed with Paulo, her husband, that he is going to perform the ordinance. I decided to just get to know Paulo while waiting for the interview. Not far into the discussion I discovered that he stopped frequenting church while in Primary. He had not yet received the priesthood. Despite a slight road block, we let bishop control the situation and he made it to their house the following evening. After an interview he left Paulo with a goal to prepare to receive the priesthood and perform the baptism. Continuing forward with the impression he received to do this, we all searched to show our faith in Paulo that he would do whatever possible to be worthy to receive the priesthood. Next thing we know Paulo is getting dressed in white.

On July 24th both Paulo and Marta stepped into the baptismal font and we witnessed one of the sweetest moments. From the first time I met Paulo to the day of the baptism, he became a new man. He is happy. Marta has helped her husband find himself again. And all this in the space of a month.

The gospel - faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring - is the only thing that can save an individual and a family. These two individuals found another reason to fall more in love because Paulo already invited me back for when they will be sealed for time and all eternity in The House of the Lord.

I am humbled for the opportunity to teach and learn from such remarkable individuals. I am grateful to be a servant of the Lord and witness daily his Love that is shed abroad. Tears have been shed for many a reason, but most of all because I have learned what love is. I have learned that no matter what Jesus Christ loves us and has given everything for us. His church has been restored to the earth and a living prophet has received the priesthood authority.

Having learned all this, I prepare for missionary work the rest of my life.

I am happy. It may be hard to leave behind family and friends again, but it is all according to the will of the Lord.

Nothing is greater than knowing the truth and this is what I have been blessed with. I echo what was said by Alma:

"I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."

I smile.

of the story,
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll.


Marta and Sorella Carroll


Marta and Sorella Carroll and Sorella Prina


Marta and Paulo


Marta and Paulo all dressed in white


Amos before his baptism. Doesn't know that sister missionaries can't be hugged. :)

21 July 2010

smiles.

All smiles. For everything that is happening in life. It is difficult to put into words. If I were a poet I would write you a million. But (fortunately) today, I am a sister missionary in nothern Italy. I could not imagine life any differently.

As another week has passed, I feel it time again to express my deepest gratitude to what the Lord has given to me. I am grateful for life. The very fact that we have the opportunity to be here in a world created especially for us makes my face scream joy! My heart wants to burst with mushy love for everyone and everything. Even the ratty dog with leaves tangled in his hair rolling on the cobblestone street begging for me to pet him. Yes, even him. As crazy as I think this all is, I think I have become even crazier.

I could live here in this life style forever. Of course there are challenges. But as my sister put it a couple weeks ago, I realize more and more that mission life really is perfect. I decided that anything I have passed through in the past 18 months is no longer called a trial but a great learning experience. I am grateful I can look back and smile, and mean it. As I do glance in the past I question "where has this been all my life?" "Why can I not do this forever?"

Then I remember...that I can and I will!

Good news for you and for Marta! She is making the baptismal covenant on Saturday and her husband may even be able to perform the baptism according to our Bishop! I have never seen some one so ready and so excited about making this huge step. Having the privilege to help her along the path humbles me as I learn from her every footstep. My testimony has been growing right along with hers, and had I not had this opportunity I think I would have missed much of what Heavenly Father is trying to teach me.

Last week I thought, why not ask President if I can hang out here until December. Then Robert and I can storm the runway together. But before you know it I will be all up in your face and you will wish I was back on a mission.

I will give this one more week of everything I can. And then we will give the rest of life the justice it deserves.

I am sorry that my words are short. Right now, everything is just as short. I look forward to only one more of these love letters. Then I can just kiss you all on the cheek and tell you face to face.

Until next week,
Sorè Carroll

14 July 2010

life.

I think all parts of me are freaking out. My calves wake me up every night, multiple times, with charlie horses. My poor companion thinks I am dying every time. (Maybe I am still a little over dramatic.)

Yesterday everything became real. I gave my departing testimony at zone council, but gladly not a tear was shed. I just said how happy I was. What a blessing to be able to say that! Although I am not a perfect missionary, or person for that matter, it is a great joy to recognize happiness in ones life. Right now, that is all I can feel. Happiness for life, for the gospel, for eternity. What I really appreciate the most is helping others find that same joy.

Work is still progressing with our dear Marta, who we met only 4 short weeks ago. The baptismal date has been postponed until July 31st because she works on the 25th (which would have been her confirmation date). Therefore we decided together that it would be best to wait until the next week. Although I am sad to miss the celebration by one day, I am so happy for her. Marta is so strong and so faithful. The Lord is working miracles in her life, and before we know it, her husband will be active and they will become eternal. Actually a miracle happened. This past Sunday she did not make it to church because they were in the emergency room until 5 am. Her husband (Paolo) was having severe chest pains with high blood pressure. Well, following the visits Paolo was charged to quit smoking and to stop drinking alcohol and coffee. The first step towards reactivation. They are also starting to pray as a family every once in a while and Marta is so happy to see little changes in her love. Marta will be such a strength for the ward and especially for her husband!

An empty train ride home last week gave me a few moments to think. I sat against the window as we journeyed back from Marta's appointment and my heart filled with the deepest gratitude. Gratitude mostly for my Savior Jesus Christ, who made this opportunity possible. As we rode into Como my eyes filled with sweet tears. I spent more than half of my mission life in this beautiful place and I can hardly believe that before long my train rides will be gone. In fact they are already numbered. That is why I recommit every morning to give all I can, because this is the opportunity of a life time, but as dad said, this is not all. Just one of the necessary experiences to help me better understand and know Jesus Christ.

I think I am unconsciously trying to extend my time. Everyday is Saturday to me. Last Saturday. I even made a comment doing house when a woman said to come back Saturday. When she closed the door I said to my companion, in a serious question, "but doesn't she know it is Saturday?" My companion is helping me be sane. Although I have been crazy my whole mission.

Guess what we are doing on Friday. Participating in a wedding! Do you remember any info I gave about a little boy named Diego? Son of a less active? Well it had been quite a few months without any success of visits. During our exchange last week we were coming back from Marta and while on the train we stopped at the station where this family lives. At a spur of the moments I grabbed Sorella Simon and said we are getting off. We walked about 2 minutes to arrive at their front door. Surprise...the sister missionaries showed up! We taught a simple lesson and tried to offer some help. She shared the good news about the wedding and said we could come back to visit, but before all the stress. I called her 2 days later and we were back on Saturday for lunch. I decided to ask her if she had someone to take their pictures and she said unfortunately no, because of lack of funds. So I jumped on it and we are going to be wedding photographers and family photographers on Friday. We are going to be spending quite some time helping with the set-up. So although I could not participate directly in my sister's wedding, I will still get to help a family very dear to my heart make one more step towards covenant making in the temple. Plus, we are starting to prepare Diego for baptism!

President and Sister Wolffgram are incredible. We met them for the first time yesterday and it is a blessing to see how inspired their call is. They are just what the mission needs and are going to help the work progress so much! With only one month of service with them I am still grateful for the opportunity to have served under this Presidency!

The assistants told me a better practice my ping-pong arm. Apparently we are going to be having some rough competitions! I will be all brushed up and ready to compete against Eric. Or was it dad that schooled Eric at Carroll family Christmas? All I remember is getting comments from everyone about some intense matches. Love.

I love you all. Life is flying by and I am happy every moment of it. Even when my companion and I walk 3 miles in the sun and humidity only to sit down on a bench covered in bugs to permanently stain my skirt. Jealous? Good thing that was staying here anyway! On another, not as long and hot of a walk, we found black berries along the rode. We may or may not have enjoyed a few.

butterfly kisses.
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll

p.s. love you!

07 July 2010

a narrated week

I think it would be safe to say that it has been the best week of the mission.

And I know it is just going to get better. The mission and the rest of life.

By the way, do you know what today marks? July 7th, 18 months!

First the fun: Thursday night, culture night at the Opera. Don Giovanni, a scandal and a half. With president's permission we got home for 11 o'clock. But it was the fastest running either of us have ever done in skirts and name tags. (what we looked like upon the return home picture 070) Well worth getting home with 30 seconds to spare. Plus I went to my first act of my first opera. Outside stage at the villa by the lake. (picture 042, 065) Mosquitoes and all were in love. (picture 1)

Friday night was an even greater success. My companion has been organizing this concert for our investigators. (the primary singing picture 045) Unfortunately, I did not participate but was able to help out by sitting in the audience. We have been talking about this concert basically since Sorella Prina arrived and our ward turned around this last week and we had a great turnout, from members and non-members alike. Bishop also called and surprised us by organizing an after party. Barbecue for July 2nd. Only two days short of the big day if independence! (picture 071) My companion and I went to bed late for the second night in a row. (with permission)

Now if is does not sound like we have been partying, the fun did not stop there. Friday a package rolled in with all American goodness. July 4th was well celebrated and the ward loved our pride! (picture 002, 003, 009, 025, 050) So did our district at our district 4th of July party on the 5th. Watermelon was purchased an enjoyed all weekend! (picture 039, 063)

Amid all the dancing, eating, running, and laughing there was also a lot of success seen as far as our missionary work goes. Marta Guarisco is still preparing for baptism, although she is experiencing a little opposition she is also full of faith and ready for pioneer day, July 24th. Our newest investigator of one point five weeks came to church with us on Sunday and cried all the way through. Lara is still searching for her answers but is ever closer to making covenants with the Lord. And finally I had the wonderful opportunity to work with another Sorella, Sorella Simons, during exchanges my final exchanges. (picture 040) She is only a couple transfers behind me and we enjoyed the crazy rain and hail storm together. Being drenched from head to toe never has been so enjoyable. (picture 041)

My week ended with a lesson and tears. We are teaching a dear dear Maria from Ukraine. Apparently I invited her on the bus during the winter and she thought we were JWs and did not do anything about it. Then the elder's found her doing house and taught her a couple times before we met her. We are talking about the plan of salvation and the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. I left in tears because Maria does not believe that she can be forgiven for past mistakes. We are trying so hard to help her understand the purpose of the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ and she is holding back. As much as she would like to be forgiven she does not believe it is possible. Even if it was a difficult past for her, I am so grateful for the atonement because I know how merciful the Lord is in our lives. She is reading every day from the Book of Mormon and we promised her that she will find forgiveness. It was re-manifest to me how great my Savior Jesus Christ is and how blessed I am to have the entirety of the truth. Being able to help others find it has been the most rewarding work of my life. If I could, I would stay here forever with the people that I have given nearly my whole heart to. We just need to keep "relying wholly upon the merits of Him who is mighty to save."

As a final treat, I got to translate the dedica that would go in the English Book of Mormon being hand delivered by our ward member to Mika after his concert this week. WHAT!? I better get on that George Clooney thing. (Had I known there would be fireworks I would have asked permission for another late night, I just found out from you all it even happened. Bummer city.) The Gospel of Jesus Christ never looked so good. No, but really.

I hope a view of my life in pictures was satisfying until I can smile in your face for real. I am so grateful for your continual prayers and support. If is because of you, family, that I am here and I am happy! Dad is so fired for counting. I stopped.

Hearts!
Sorella Frédérique Stone Carroll


Como Ward Primary concert


Outside Como Villa before the opera


Sorella Carroll and Prina at opera in Como


After the curfew-run home from the opera


BBQ on the 2nd of July to celebrate the 4th


4th of July decorations from Target via USPS through Italian Customs and Postal workers to a window in Como


4th of July in Como


4th of July with Sorella Prina


4th of July and prepared for rain


Waving the flag for American independence


4th of July watermelon


Anziano Hunsaker prepping the watermelon


Our district on the 4th of July


Exchanges with Sorella Simons and Sorella Costley


A rainy bus ride home after exchanges