Homecoming Talk January 25, 2015

15.3.15

Buongiorno, fratelli e sorelle. Quanto sono grata per parlarvi quest'oggi. How grateful I am to be here with you today. I am happy to see lots of familiar faces, and I look forward to getting to know those of you who are new to my eyes. I pray for the spirit to be with us today that we may learn and grow together.

I want to start off with showing you a bit of the Italia Milano Missione. But first, I want to begin by teaching you an Italian word 'mozzafiato'. It means breathtaking. And that is what the mission was to me. From the cities, to the food, to the beautiful people, the mission was incredible. And it begins something like this... you are kneeling on the floor, without carpet because it doesn’t exist, and you are praying. You roll into bed because it is 10.30 and your entire body is exhausted. You close your eyes and then your alarm rings. Its 6.30, time to do it all over again. You get up, do a few push-ups, but you might fall asleep on the floor doing 'yoga' because it is still dark outside, and it looks like it will rain today. You make breakfast from some bread from the bakery, and top it off with a glass of warm milk, because you don’t need to keep it in the fridge. Then, you shower. This morning, there is some hot water left. Miracles! Then comes the two hours of study, first by yourself, then together with your companion. Sometimes you two are on your feet so excited while discussing a story out of the Book of Mormon. The scriptures just come alive to you. Miracles! Then it’s time to head out the door and put it all into practice. You weren’t able to fix appointments this morning, so you head out on the cobblestone streets that are older than America and you decide to go pass by some less active members, to see if they are still living at that address. While you walk, you try to talk to people on the street, but it is raining, and they are grumpy, and aren’t interested. On the bus ride, you sit next to a nice looking woman, and have a conversation about her family, bearing sweet testimony that families are eternal. You get her number, and leave her a pamphlet of the restoration. Miracles! You pass by those less actives. Two of them are not home, and the third doesn’t want to see you. She invites you in because you are soaking wet and she feels sorry for you, but she tells you 'va bene cosi' I am happy, I don’t need the church. You cry because it makes your heart hurt that she doesn’t see the truth.  You see by her house that she loves elephants, so you talk about how elephants are social creatures, and are happiest when they have someone by their side. And you tell her to be strong like an elephant and to repent and to cleave unto Christ. She cries a soft tear, and commits to say a prayer to Him that night. Miracles! You are still soaking wet, but it’s okay because today a member invited you over for lunch. You will eat a hot plate of pasta with chunks of meat and vegetables. Then she will feed you a second plate of meat and potatoes. Then she will give you seconds of that even if you say you are full. You don’t mind; it really is really good. Then she will give you a salad, and next a fruit and then a dessert to finish. You share a bible story, and she cries to you saying 'How did you know that I needed that today?' you cry with her. A sweet testimony of the spirit and that God is using you as His instrument. Miracles! You roll out of that house, then it’s off to your next appointments. You take a bus that’s playing Imagine Dragons and Michael Jackson (MIRACLES!!!) across town to the train station.  Then take a fifteen minute train to the next little town over. On the way you talk to people, but they laugh at your accent and see your nametag and turn away from you. Sometimes people see your nametag and won’t even sit next to you. It makes you sad. But you smile and tell them that Jesus loves them and died for them. They listen. And maybe somewhere inside, they feel it’s true. Miracles! Then, you teach your investigator. She begins to cry as you teach her of Joseph Smith, and you invite her to pray about it. She tells you 'I don’t need to pray, I already feel it is true.' You invite her to read the Book of Mormon and come to church. She accepts. And you leave with a prayer. Miracles! Other appointments follow, some with less actives, investigators, or even with members, because here they need the missionaries to help with visiting teaching. Whatever you face, you are prepared for it, because in companion study, you prayed and prepared specifically for each of those people. Today, however, a few of those appointments fell through, and you are left in the cold, wet streets in your leaky boots. You give a princess sticker to a crying little baby, and she smiles at you. Miracles! You go knock a few doors.. No one is at home. You glance up at the windows and see someone sticking their face out the window, you smile and wave and say 'Siamo le Missionarie per la Chiesa di Gesu Cristo' but they get scared and slam the shutters. You keep walking, passing by the ancient Catholic Church, admiring the artwork and the Old Italian style. It is beautiful and people wait their whole lives to come here... and you live here. Gratitude and love fills your heart and you say a prayer to God thanking Him. Miracles! You take heart and keep searching for those lost sheep. But no one will listen now, and they feel they are too busy to hear a message of redeeming love. You pray for each of them in your heart, especially the ones that call you names and say mean things. But on the way home, the bus driver asks you to sing a song about Jesus. So you give a private concert to the bus full of people. Singing, there is sunshine in my soul today. Miracles! Finally, exhausted you arrive at your house to do one final hour of language study. And then, you plan for the next day with your companion. You talk about the people, their needs, and what you want to share, and what we will invite them to do. Then, you pray together. And then you get an hour to shower, write in your journal, or make a music video with your companion. Miracles! Then after praying you hit the sheets again, dead tired, but super happy, ready to wake up and do it all again tomorrow.
This was a true story. Fratelli e Sorelle, I loved the mission. With all my heart I am grateful for God as calling me for to be a missionary to share His love with my Italian family.

Today I have been asked to speak about how the spirit touches the lives of people. From some of the examples I just gave, you will see that this is something pretty familiar to a missionary. But I have broken it down into three short categories to share with you today.  

First, I wanted to share my witness of the spirit touching people who were not members of the church. I saw many many miracles from the experiences, and but now I just want to share one that happened about two weeks ago. We found a little woman on the bus. She was from Ecuador and only spoke Spanish, but we were able to communicate and we got her number and went to her house the next day. Then, my companion and I taught her the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Spanish. To help her see that the Book of Mormon is a testament of Christ, we read first Nephi 17.13. “For I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.”  I watched her face as she read, and saw the spirit touch her. Her eyes filled with light and hope... and she cried. And she turned to me and she said, I have been waiting my whole life for someone to tell me that. I have been waiting my whole life to read this book. I don’t even need to pray, because I know he is a prophet of God.' She will be baptized in three weeks. I saw the spirit touch her heart. And I saw this same thing happen with many other people.

I also saw it in my companions, which brings me to point two. I saw the spirit touch the lives of my companions. Out of sixteen, I had only one companion who was perfect. And she is sitting here today. I suppose she would disagree, but we go on. I had a lot of struggles with companions. I had a few who didn’t have a testimony of the prophet or the Book of Mormon. I had three who had eating disorders, and a few others with mental and emotion struggles. My compassion for them grew and I spent every day seeking to serve them and to love them. And even though I didn’t understand what they were facing, I wanted to help them, and I needed to rely heavily on the Spirit to know what to say to help them, because I had not experienced it before. My mind was always brought to the verse in D&C 33:8 “Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness”  I testify that that is true. He was able to fill my mouth to help them. And through those words, He was able to give us both the strength and the comfort to go forward as a companionship and fight together. Through the Holy Spirit, my companions received the strength, guidance and peace that they were searching.

And I did to, which brings to my third and final point. Of I have seen the spirit work miracles in myself. As I awoke every morning, I started the day with this scripture found in 2 Nephi 16:8 'And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said: Here I am; send me.' I sought each day to in every moment ask the Lord, okay, Signore, what would you have me do? I sought each day to be more humble, more teachable in His hands, like it says in D&C 112:10 “Be thou humble; and the lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to they prayers.” And I sought to be led by Him in everything. Fratelli e Sorelle, this is the key. To be humble, recognizing His hand in everything and, to be willing to give our whole heart to Him and we can be LED by Him. In everything and then, like it says in Luke, when we are converted, we can strengthen our brethren.

It is like a battery and a lightbulb. God is our source of life; our source of eternal energy. The light bulb is our testimony, or another’s testimony. We are like the wires. The more pure the metal of the wire, the easier it is to conduct the energy source. You see where I am going with this? We must strive each day to be more pure conductors of the spirit. we all have that gift and we will always have that gift, as we strive to always remember Him and keep His commandments and to take the name of His Son upon us. And He has given us the means to do it. Repentance; as we sincerely repent, we can be purified. Of our sins, of our weaknesses, of others negative choices. Of every negative thing we can be purified and we can draw the force to go forward and better ourselves. We can have the strength to overcome anything. This is the enabling power of the Atonement.

I am so grateful for the experience of  the mission. I have learned so much. But above all else, I have come to know my Savior; who He is for me. And for that, Italia will always be so sacred to me. I know He loves us. He knows us by name. And He is always there for us, hand outstretched. He has given us all we need; now it depends on us to trust Him and rely on His spirit to be steadfast and enduring. He is a God of progression. So we, also, must be progressing every day. Step by step. It does not matter how fast or big the steps, only the direction in which they go.

To finish, I would share with you a verse in the bible. Of the sheep of the Good Shepherd. in John 10.4 it says, “…he goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice.” That we may learn His voice, by following His steps, and striving to become more like Him, is my prayer.

Voglio lasciare la mia testimonianza con voi,nella lingua che e piu facile per me. Voglio che voi sappiate che c-e un Dio, che vi ama cosi tanto e vi conosce per nome. Porto testimonianza che Gesu Cristo e il nostro Salvatore. E il nostro Redentore. e il nostro fratello maggiore. Quanto sono grata per Lui e per tutto cio che Lui ha fatto per rederci possibile di tornare. E possiamo tornare, quando noi lo accettiamo, and lo seguiamo. Piu che possibile ogni giorni. So che questa e la sua chiesa qui sulla terra e che noi abbiamo la sua propria autorita per guidarci nel buio. E so che Lui vive. E ci rivedremo un giorno.  E lascio queste le mie parole, nel suo nome, Gesu Cristo, amen




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2 comments

  1. Loved you homecoming talk you were awesome. Your testimony has grown so much while on your mission. Love you a lot and are grateful for your example and love for the Savior.

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  2. Your welcome talk was just exactly what I expected, perfect. You have grown so much and you are a special missionary and many people in Italy love you for what you have given them. You have planted so many gospel seeds. I am so proud of you, you are my rock and I have been influenced by your wonderful tender spirit and your testimony of the Savior.

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