Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Miracles of Christmas

Dear Family and Friends,

You know you've had a good week when you end it with aching muscles and just begging to take a nap for P-day. All I can say is that I haven't ever experienced a week like this in my mission. It was unbelievable.

Suffice it to say, I am having a good time here in Cagliari. Every day it seems like is an adventure with Anziano Wiggins and having two other Anziani in the house helps with the jokes, but especially the spiritual strength we have together. As a house, we keep ourselves constantly updated on how the work is going, especially in finding new investigators, in an attempt to encourage one another to work as hard as possible. For example, one night we sacrificed taking the next bus home because we saw someone on the other side that we thought we should talk to and we had a very good conversation and we got his number!

Some funny events include a strike happened for the air traffic controllers so a missionary trying to get his permesso di soggiorno was stuck here an extra day, we had a ward party where the Africans sang a traditional song for Christmas and then we had to do the same unexpectedly (all we could think of was Jingle Bells), and looking for a smoke detector and finding out that no one in Italy owns a smoke detector. But the week was really defined by the people we taught.

First off, Victor. Victor is a refugee who is from Nigeria and is also only 22 years old. He is a friend of a member that just came to church one day and felt a different spirit than he had in other churches. We have had the great opportunity to teach him for the past 3 weeks and we had an amazing lesson with him and Bishop Maltesi on tithing. Actually, it was the first time I had ever taught the law of tithing to an investigator I think. It was amazing to see his dedication to endure to the end, that's definitely something that defines him. Since he is a refugee, he is interviewed by our mission president for baptism and so that wasa really cool expereince to participate in. We told Victor to show up at 3 and he showed up at 3:45. Good thing the interview started at 4. It's not their fault usually though, but in general Africans show up late thanks to buses being late or other things.

But all went well and his baptism will take place on the 23rd of December! He is really amazing and so we are glad he wants to take a big step toward becoming closer to God. If he was the only miracle, I would be content but there's more. John has been struggling to come to church on time even though he has so much faith in what we teach. We gave him a Word of Wisdom pamphlet to read over and he came to the lesson, explaining that he had quit smoking the day before because he felt that was exactly what God wanted him to do. He taught us the lesson basically and so we decided to really commit him to come to church and so Anziano Wiggins invited him to be at church at 8. He didn't hesitate a bit and said he would be there before we were (and we are usually the first ones in church). Sure enough we get a call while we are on the bus to church, and it's John asking where we are because he was in front of the church. Just so amazing!

And then there's Domenico. Our ward mission leader gave us the information to contact someone that was interested on Facebook. And so we met at the church for a lesson and in Anziano Wiggins' words, he is the most prepared person I have ever met. We sit down talking about why he wanted to meet and so he explains that he was thinking about how many denominations of churches interpret the Bible in different ways and then searched on the internet for scripture that hadn't been changed, that was original. And so the Book of Mormon came up. For me, he was exactly like Joseph Smith in his search for where the truth was. We explained it all and left it all up to him, to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it and to come to church. Well he started reading and had an amazing time in church and the members couldn't believe how cool he was. He is certainly one of kind. He even wants to see the Rome temple construction site when he visits Rome for Natale.

I've learned a lot this week. God has blessed us so much this week and is continuing to help us be his instruments. In my studies this week, I've found myself turning again like I did last year to charity and I remember the question posed to me by someone, Do you really love those you teach and serve? We are doing a lot of great work but the most important thing I should do, I realized, is love others. More importantly, show that I do love them. So I hope during this last week before Christmas that it will be possible. I love this mission and see the blessings that God has bestows on me everyday and I hope to share those with everyone. It's going to be an amazing Christmas in the Lord's service, all thanks to our Savior Jesus Christ.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Mission At Its Best

Dear Family and Friends,

So here we are. It's week two of the transfer and I feel like we have done so much yet there is so much yet to do. Exhausted and yet really excited for what's to come. Searching to improve, yet also very content with how the week. To put it simply, it was awesome!

We first had our zone conference which while being a little crazy and put together fast, it turned out really well. I love having the opportunity to try and make a difference in the lives of these great missionaries we have serving on the Rock of Sardegna! With the help of my companion, Anziano Wiggins and Sorella Demann, we delivered a great addestramento and we are shooting very very high this transfer, in terms of goals and working our absolute hardest. Better time now than never to rededicate yourself completely to the work. The tiramisù I made turned out really really well, miracles were seen the night before in finding as a zone, more trainings were done and pretty soon it was over. I'm so ready to work my hardest now.

And we certainly did. We had lessons with our investigator Victor as well as with John who brought his wife to the lesson with the bishop, both of whom are from Nigeria actually. They surprise me so much during the lessons with how much they understand on a spiritual level the gospel of Jesus Christ. I catch myself going into lessons thinking something will be difficult or that they won't understand a certain concept. Like take for example, when I ask them what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ? Everytime the answer blows me away, on a level usually that I never thought of. Victor and John have been through a lot in life and understand truly what is important in life.

But I have to say miracles just keep falling out of the sky for us. We are sitting in correlation and our ward mission leader mentions someone who we should see. So we proceed to message him on Facebook and he immediately responds with questions about the Book of Mormon and our testimonies. There's that and Anziano Wiggins randomly just talked to a man running a Cagliari jersey store that turned out to be both interested in English Group and also learning about what we believe. Crazy!

Anziano Wiggins is a really good missionary, just an inspiration in daily diligence and receiving revelation that is just incredible. Also he really loves NASCAR. Plus the other two anziani, Anziano Anderton e Hunsaker are really amazing and we have our own Christmas tree and we are going all out for Christmas! Cagliari is just a great place to be. On Saturday nights, we do a blitz which more or less is where we go out with a whiteboard that says we teach english for free and talk to everyone that is interested and give away a lot of pass along cards. The centro is packed with people and it is fun to just talk to italians as they try to speak broken english or make fun of our american accents.

Honestly, I have the mission at it's best right now. Sure there have been and still there are a lot of daily struggles and I realize that I am old diciamo in the mission, but really I realize that I have been blessed. Blessed to serve in really cool places, meet amazing people, have great companions, and just be a missionary. My message really is to just enjoy Christmas. To remember why we do this all. The fact is that we truly do have a Savior, I can testify that he lives and that means He heals us and performs miracles and comforts us and teahces us today, just like he did back in Judea. I've spent some personal study time looking specifically at the words used for Christ's Atonement, being ransom paid, blood spilt, and how he now can forgive us all. It really is an honor to be at his side and proclaiming His name for He has saved my life and I owe Him every tribute of gratitude I can muster. (Luke 7:41-47)

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, December 4, 2017

Welcome to the Rock!

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm sure you're wondering where I am. So am I because I got transfered to Cagliari and I feel like I am dreaming. Okay, geography lesson: I moved from the islamd of Sicily to the other island in our mission called Sardegna. Fun fact: legend has it that Sardegna is actually where the lost city of Atlantis is based. All in all, it has been a switch from night to day. Smooth streets, buses that are timely, no trash! It's like I've been transfered to a mix of northern Italy and England. And despite my heart being in Sicily, I love it here!

I bid my adieus right after I got the call on Monday night by visitng a few families, seeing our miracle investigator, Santo, and teaching our great English Group one last time. Someone must have mentioned that I was leaving because some of the students gave me some chocolate as a gift. I will miss the Sicilian generosity that I have experienced for a good while.

I found that I was leaving on Wednesday which was quite a shock because normally you leave on Thursday. So after a flight, I am here in Cagliari with literally one of the best people I could ever serve with, Anziano Wiggins. He is the best, just such an inspiration and a great hard worker. We are going to work so so so hard this transfer.

Okay I would write a lot more but we have zone conference interviews today, the first zone conference of the transfer and it has been crazy. Just know that I know God answers prayers. He certainly answered my prayers. I am so blessed to serve on a mission and so grateful to be here in this new place. I could finish my mission here. Time is flying but now is the time to literally make my mission memorable and life changing. I can't wait to get started.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, November 27, 2017

Last Thanksgiving Here

Dear Family and Friends,

It would be wrong not to say what I am grateful for and since I wasn't there to say it at the Thanksgiving table, you'll have to listen to my belated comments.

It would be rude not to thank my family first. That is my Heavenly Father and my brother, Jesus Christ. Without them, I would not be here. Without my parents and their amazing upbringing of me, I would not be here. Thanks to my siblings, I had a great time growing up, having fun and learning still, an education that prepared me for the experience that I did not expect, Italy.

I am so grateful for Italy. You can focus so much on what's wrong and doesn't work and there are certainly some aspects of Italy that are funny. 1-4 o'clock breaks, bidets, hand gestures, crazy street traffic, etc. But I just love it! There's nothing that really makes an experience depressing by thinking of how the grass is greener on the other side. There is no other grass, I'm in Sicily and there's no where else I should want to go or even compare this great island. There are things I will gladly take from their culture, like food, emphasis on family time, getting out of the house more, and general friendliness to random strangers. Sure normally you find those that don't say a word back, but Sicily has some of the nicest people I have ever met.

Speaking of people, I am thankful for all the members I have ever served while I was in their areas. This week we had another wonderful pranzo from the great Rochira family that filled me to bursting, just because it was so good and I can't resist that. They are such a sweet family, with laughter and with the spirit of helping others. They culiminate family love and I hope to follow that example for my family someday, including the italian cooking(seriously, I'm grateful that I have a love for cooking now. I made an oreo cheesecake and tiramisù ). The members here have spent what time they could to make me feel more at home, help me fulfill my purpose, and be a light in my life.

I thank each and every one of my companions. As I said in my talk in the american Sigonella Branch this last sunday, I have begun a journal that records all the lessons I have learned from my mission and really, it begins with my companions. I'm grateful for Anziano Draghi, Easton Anderson, Moscon, Albright, Mars, and my current companions, Perfili. They have taught me a lot and I am trying to write it all down. I hope they know that I appreciate and love them. They helped me when I needed it and gave me lessons that I will take for the rest of my life. They made me who I am and have made my mission the way it is.

The mission has been a miracle and I can't repay God enough. I say a lot of words and so I should show it with a story, rather than just write all these great sentences. We were walking in a park and we proceeded to stop the 2nd guy we had seen on a bench. We asked if he wanted to watch a video and he said sure. We showed him SiiunaLuce to which he then asked who we were and then where are church was. This led to a church tour later that afternoon, teaching him the Restoration, and he even came to church that weekend. Santo is amazing and I'm so glad I got to take part in that. That wasn't me, that was God. But I am grateful that we were worthy and ready to follow the prompting, go into the park, and were prepared to teach when called upon.

I'm grateful for forgiveness, especially forgiving others, because that was needed this week, as well as prayer and repentance. I'm grateful that I still got a little taste of Thanksgiving from an American family living here and getting giant arancini from a nice couple who want to begin investigating the church again. I'm grateful that I got to work hard this week and that I had a fun P-day playing ultimate frisbee with an entire zone of great missionaries, including Anziano Morrill and Gunnell from the MTC, who I hope to have influenced just a tiny bit. I'm grateful for every trial or at least I am trying to be grateful for them and see them as stepping stones to growth.

You see how easy it is to be happy and cheerful when you see the blessings before you? I certainly saw that the best thing to do is to look at a situation or people with grateful eyes and find the best in it or them. Nothing is easy nor ever will be and it is easy to be a pessimist. I choose to see things with the help of Christ's light as they are and always try to improve nonetheless. Will there be times still where I doubt my purpose being here? Yes. But now I have a long list of things to say I received from this mission and if nothing else, I know more than ever that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that we need Him more than ever in our lives. If that's all that comes, even though He always promises more, that is sufficient for me.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

P.S. If I get transferred, you'll find out next week :)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Joy to the World (I know it's not Christmas yet)

Dear Family and Friends,

What a wonderful week! I will attempt to recount the experiences with same vigor and feeling I had in the moment, which will hopefully give you a peek into my life as a missionary.

First off, it was the week of appointments. It just seemed like we barely fit in time to do studies because we were running from appointment to appointment (more like driving speedily sicilian style and trying to quickly find a "legal" parking spot). First it began with the Smedila family, then the Penroses, the Hawkes, the Sanfillipos, and the list continued for all the investigstors and less active members we tried to visit. Honestly, I feel spoiled to be in this spot on the mission. The members here cook so well, are welcome and open with the missionaries, and are sincerely trying to help us find people to teach. I love feeling the Spirit that is so abundant in their homes and challenging them to change and improve in spiritual thoughts while eating a delicious pistachio pesto pasta, a chocolate cake, chicken salad sandwiches, and even homemade sourdough bread (in this ward, there are some American families we visit).

One thing that has defined my mission is love for sure. I've tried to always show love to those we teach, serve, and minister to, especially the missionaries I work with as a leader. I had the amazing opportunity to go on two scambios. First, I went with a young first transfer missionary, Anziano Trickett, who I can tell has great desire and, like when I was a greenie, is nervous speaking with others and opening his mouth in Italian. I can say with little doubt that it was one of the best days of my mission. I forced ourselves to talk to a lot of people, the most people I have tried to stop in a while. Some stopped us before we could get words out of who we were, others answered our questions in the beginning but soon closed off. Anziano Trickett has the great idea ask people if they wanted to see a video of Jesus Christ. And so after receiving two bidones from investigators, we set out prayerfully searching for people to talk to with 3 hours left. Sucessfully, we showed the video at least 4 times to athiests, catholics, and those of the world (one group offered us marijuana at the end of our conversation). One person remarked that he would like to find more videos of Christ and so hopefully we can see him again. My favorite part was bearing pure testimony afterward of who we are, that Christ lives and has called a prophet to restore his Church and that even today we have a prophet who lives. We felt the spirit powerfully and we knew it was true, even if no one else we talked to believed us. What can finish a great night like that better than a scambio kebab?

All I can say is that I know there is a reason I am here, in the exact spot where I am, so that I can be an example and help these great missionaries I am serving with become even better than me. The other scambio was with someone I look up to very much and was very touching because God let me see how much I was needed here right now and how I have truly made a  diffference, even when the world might say otherwise. Losing yourself in the service of God is truly one of the greatest feelings one can have.

To close, we had an amazing stake conference here first in Catania and then at Siracusa. First off, I got to translate at least 5 hours of talks into a microphone for the English speakers which I have to say I was quite impressed that I had the capacity to even do something like that. My brain was certainky fried though. But the special moments were seeing all the wonderful members I have worked with again. The members of Ragusa couldn't cease shaking our hands and giving us hugs and baccios since Anziano Perfili also served in Ragusa too. They begged our mission president to send Anziano Perfili back and asked for us to come back down to Ragusa before I leave. Their reaction left my heart full with joy and then the Siracusa members came! I saw Giuseppe, a new convert who I was able to teach who still remembered me, as well as other great members who can't believe that I am still here. There were just too many people. They have made the great effort to make us happy and feel loved, and I have to imagine that it is because the missionaries changed each one of their lives.

At the end of the conference, we sang God be with you until we meet again. I can't help but feel that might be the last time I see any of the great members of Sicily again because transfers are next week and it just might be my time. I will miss it all so so so dearly. I don't know if there is anything that will come close to the feelings I felt, the experiences I've had, the memories I've made right here on an island that I didn't know existed. Did I think any of this was going to happen before I left on my mission? No way. Am I glad that I am here now? You bet I am! I have felt the most happy on my mission as I shared pure testimony, as I really tried to give it my all, when I was exactly obedient, when I served someone who had need of me (even if it is just making pancakes in the morning on a scambio, a pasta al forno for the house or giving a street performer a euro to thank him for taking a video of me playing the violin). I loved this week so much and I can't wait to try it again this week. It's all true and it's time to bring this joy to the world.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, November 13, 2017

Good Times

Dear Family and Friends,

What a great week! I can honestly say for the most part that I am trying my best and that of course I am genuinely enjoying my time here in Italy. And out of all places to be, it's Catania!

My love for Catania has grown and that obviously starts with the people. We spent several nights in the centro of the city and other piazzas waiting for contacts, stopping people, and I couldn't help but take all the wonder in. The small crowds of ragazzi, couples, tourists, foreigners selling goods, and the occasional homeless man. The snowcapped mount Etna in the background of a cathedrals, narrow cobblestone streets, and statues. It's amazing to really think that I am blessed to be in Italy just now to talk to people about God and having joy in this life. Literally, yesterday I spent the night asking people on a scale from 1-10 how happy they were. Maybe I should change the question because they all said they were 10s currently even though I promise you the gospel of Jesus Christ could have made them happier.

It's also been getting a lot colder, like cold enough for sweaters and coats some nights. I just can't believe it's already this time of year. One night we were sitting on a cold bench in this piazza for someone who never showed up and so to use time wisely, I spent it trying to start conversations by looking at them until they made eye contact and then trying to compliment them on something. It somewhat worked :) I'm just mosly trying to work on being more spontaneous in following the Spirit.

Being with Anziano Perfili during this time has been fun. We are teaching well, working well as zone leaders, and laughing together, although being on scambios were also great too. I should have took some pictures but had some fun and did some great work these past few days with Anziano Morrill from Ragusa and Anziano Haws who is also in Catania.

One of the most special moments was with Fratello Ghignola. He is a member that lives farther out and recently his wife passed away and we have been meaning to go see him. Finally we had this appointment that seemed like him mostly just talking about his time as a ward mission leader years ago and I didn't know if it was the best use of our time. But during our spiritual thought, I just felt that this is where we needed to be and he was the one to help. He is alone almost all the time and part of my mission was meant to help him out that night feel a little bit happier.

Nothing else to say. I'm loving it here. God is certainly blessing me with great appreciation for this city and the people in it. It was a great week and I think that really is blessing for how much more effort I put in, how much I really just tried even more to talk to everyone. I know it's true and I want to continue to let everyone here know.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Full Week

Dear Family and Friends,

As the the week comes to an end and you have to finally write about what actually happened, I always evaluate on the things I did. Did I help someone in need? Did I talk to everyone I could? Did I make this week worth it? What could I have done better? It's hard to constantly thinking of your performance (good thing I've had some practice with that from violin) but I promise you it's worth it. There's a difference from saying you are a missionary and being a missionary. I hope that my words express that I am honestly trying notwithstanding the many weakenesses I have and the faults that still get me.

Comunque, it was a great week to be a missionary here in Sicily. We had a conference in Palermo, one of the cities I have yet to serve in. So while everyone else was taking trains and buses, we took a nice classic road trip. And of course we stopped for a gelato and brioche, probabĺy one of the best I have eaten (because that's what Palermo is known for). There were so many missionaries that I haven't seen in a while so ot was great to catch up and just enjoy a great night before the conference. The next day, Elder Engbjerg (eng-byow) came and spoke to us as well as President Pickerd about focusing on the fundamentals, but especially about loving others, finding the One everyday, and never giving up. I have to say I quite enjoyed it but the fun did not stop there.

The day after, Anziano Perfili and I along with the sister training leaders caught a plane all the way up to Roma! There we held a council, bearing testimony of how we can make the mission more successful and it was just powerful to feel the Spirit and see how we can improve our mission leadership. It was definitely a fun trip there and back, and made me want to try better.

Side story: Well I thought the plane ride would be a good time to practice talking to the One and so I tried to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. Turns out he's from Vittoria, which was a city near Ragusa so we had plenty of things to talk about. Just a nice conversation. And you know what, on the plane ride back the next day I sat next to someone who was from Ispica, another town in the province of Ragusa. A couple tender mercies that just show the divine design of God in his plan for me.

Also funny story: I made cheesecake for the break the fast pranzo after church and all the members really enjoyed except for the first counselor who insisted that we should have made brownies. So far, he's one of the only Italians that would deny the cheesecake, unlike one member who asked to take the leftovers home :)

Being away was great, but we basically came back with only 2 days to work for the week. We made a goal to call everyone in our phone and out of it we actually got 3 potential appointments. But that night was also life changing. We were walking along the Lungomare and I felt the prompting to talk to quite a few people. But when it came to the opportunity, I backed out. I'll be honest and admit that I am scared to still talk to people. It happened so many times that night and I began to get really anxious. I have looked to people like Anziano Perfili around me to solve my problems, but this time, I finally looked up to Christ. In the last ten minutes I finally stopped 2 ragazzi, asked them some questions, they weren't interested and we left. It might not seem like much but I knew God was pleased that I tried because as I always forget, that's all he wants me to do.

This week will mark an entire year that I have spent in Sicily in the same zone. Everyone asks me, doesn't that drive you a little crazy? Sure it can, but I think it's something God intends for me to learn really well. To be content with the life. To be the difference and help others do the same. It's so hard and I am only touching the iceberg on it. It's my challenge, my struggle, and I'm finally going all in on talking to everyone, not being afraid, and finding the One to help each day. To put it simply, I'm trying to become like Jesus and help others do the same, no matter how difficult it may be.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price