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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

La Settimana Due

Folks, Fam, Friends and all.

I can't believe that we're at this again! Mercy alive, how time is flying. it seems like days are like 46 hours long and weeks take .2 seconds. But goodness. I realized that last week I told y'all jack hinder about this beautiful place, Vicenza and other important stuff. Quindi, I will now take the time to take care of some much needed business:)

(in numerical order for organizational purposes--)

1. Happy late Mother's Day to all of the magnificent moms out there! It didn't dawn on me until after I send the last newsletter that Mother's Day was last Sunday, mostly because I get to talk to my family and mama this week! Special shout out to the most generous, talented, Celestial woman I know who I have the remarkable privilege of calling "Mother": Lori Lynn Baer- I love and miss you! Can't wait to Skype you this week! I couldn't be more grateful for the blessing of having you. Motherhood is the most sacred calling and I know this because of you! Another shout out to my beautiful Britt-- happy Mother's Day, dear! You're a phenomenal sister-in-law and mother, it's a joy and delight to see you be an absolutely incredible mother to Bridger! and Happy Mother's Day, Jam! You've brought into this life the most darling lil' 7 yr old nephew I could ask for! 

2. Happy late birthday to all of my dear best friends! Mick, Syd, Treysers-- happy 20th! All though we're all over the world (New York City, Provo, and Paris) I was prayin' for y'all and sending my love! 

3. And now, perhaps the most excitin' piece of news yet--- WELCOME HOME, IRMA BAER! Folks. Yes, my dear sister and other half is finished with her mission! As we speak, right this second, I'm emailing her, while she's in Portugal with Mama and Papa Baer! Abes-- I woulda been there, hope you know! But I'm exactly where I need to be! You're an exceptional missionary whose dedication, example, service, testimony and faith got me out here on my mission! I can never fully express my gratitude and admiration for you, Irma Baer, but I can think of no better thing we both could be doing! I'm so proud of you! It was hard for me to swallow at first the fact that had I been called to report even two weeks later, I could've seen you. But I know that this is where I need to be, and when I need to be here. And also, that there's no better place for us to reunite after 3 years then the Rome temple. See you there, baby, August 2014:)

(and nowww for some mission stuff!)

4.Vicenza is about 40 minutes away from Venice. We're in the Venezia Stake and all, and.... drum roll please..... WE'RE A-HEADED TO VENICE ONE WEEK FROM TODAY FOR P-DAY!!! Color me stoked out of my mind!

 5. Dear Anziano Matt Colemere is here and it's lovely! I saw him my first day here and he's actually Anz. Axson's companion! They're PERFECT together! I'm excited to see them both on Friday for a training meeting in Verona!

5. There is simply nothing dearer than children singing for Mother's Day. But, picture this. ITALIAN children singing. Oh my, I was dying. The darlingity killed me. As they sang the "Mother Dear, I love you So" song in Italian-- please bless my kids can speak Italian one day, because it's adorable!

6. Embarassing story? Yup, it's high time I explain-- It was about my second day here in Vicenza. My beautiful companion recommended we eat lunch at this Kebab place (a Turkey panini place-- #theyredelicious) so we're in the little restaurant, I'm trying to make small talk to the guy making my Kebab. I ask, "come si chiama lei?" which means, "what's your name?" (in the formal form, mind you) He thought that I was asking what was the name of the thing he was making. So he says, "panino." I look at my companion and say, "Oh my goodness! How fitting! His name is Panino and he's making me a panino!" I was like way amazed at the coincidence... until I realized how dumb I was. So, in fact, his name is not Panino. The sandwich, is a panino. 10 points for me. 

7. Small sidenote: yesterday, we were getting groceries. And I was just boppin' along, getting pesto, when to my wondrous surprise, one of my favorite songs came over this beautiful Italian loudspeaker-- 'Thrift-shop'. Tender. Mercy. That's all I have to say about that!

ANDDDDDD now, let's talk about the work here. My most favorite thing. The reason I'm here: the missionary work qua a Vicenza.

For the Italian Branch: on Sunday we had 5 investigators come to church! We're meeting with these dear investigators often. One of them who is remarkably close to my heart, is a beautiful 16 yr-old girl, Maria. She's one of the most elect people I've ever met. She had problems with her Catholic Church, she thought it was fake and a bit hypocritical. So she somehow stumbled upon the church online, found the address, and got herself, by herself, to church one Sunday to ask for a Book of Mormon-- she was SEEKING the truth, we couldn't feel more privileged to spend time with someone so special and desirous. We taught her last week, and we felt like we should teach about prayer and the precious gift we have to pray, and develop the tender relationship with our Heavenly Father. She broke down and explained that this was so good to hear, because it was hard for her. Sorella Beutler nudged me, and so I invited her to be baptized. My first real lesson-- I was nervous, to get the words right, to be too forward. But with faith, I stumbled out the words, and she said yes. How sweet the word, "Si," is to my soul:)   She comes to church faithfully be herself every week, and BEST THING EVER? We're spending our entire p-day today with her! She's going to show us around Vicenza! best stores, restaurants, and then after, we're going to have another lesson with her tonight where we want to land a baptism date! And this was all Maria's idea! I love her fully. With all of my heart, I desire so much for her because I feel of her goodness and desire.

And now for the American Branch: we've really been trying to strengthen the members here. There's some less actives that we're working a lot with. The young, single soldiers here have been struggling trying to maintain standards and withstand temptations and peer pressure while being enlisted in the service. We've been meeting with them and feeling of their strength and potential! They're such good men. I absolutely love them, and it's my privilege and pleasure to be edified by such honorable and desirous men. Sorella Beutler and I had the idea to start an FHE every Monday night with the single soldiers at the Arbogast's home. We know now that this wasn't just some random thought, but an impression from the Spirit. On Monday, we had our first one. We had 5 soldiers show up, one of which is not a member. (He is playing the guitar in the picture at the end of this letter.) He came to church on Sunday with one of them. We love this brotherhood and fellowshipping that we see as the soldiers bond together. This exactly what we wanted, for them to be unified in being good men and strong members of the church. Now Monday was without a doubt, my favorite day here yet:) We ate delicious food at FHE (grazie, Sorella Arbogast) and chatted, we played games, and then we had a spiritual thought. Steven was so touched and started to cry. He wants to take the discussions and we have a lesson with him tomorrow! He's a powerhouse, my friends. I absolutely have such charity for this incredible man of God-- his desire to serve God and his country astounds me. He wants to join the church. I felt inspired to testify at the end of the spirit that we felt in the Arbogast's as well as the evident, pure love that we can see in the beautiful Arbogast couple-- and that this eternal love can be ours. That the phrase "happily ever after" is not reserved strictly for fairytales and bedtime stories, but it's ours, and it's ours for the joyfully claiming if we but choose the Lord, and abide by His commandments. He expressed how that was his desire at the end of the day. Goodness, I can't explain how unbelievable it is to hear someone express their desire to come closer to their Savior. THIS is missionary work. THIS is and will continue to be my favorite part of being here and serving the Lord, witnessing the hearts of individuals change and to see the love of the Lord manifested in someone! Che  bellissimo!

And now my final thought and parting words: We had a district meeting on Monday, and our sweet district leader Anziano Burr shared powerful testimony of the importance of the Book of Mormon, in our own conversion and in the conversion of each of our investigators. And I am here to testify of the same. If you don't read or remember anything else, remember THIS:

THE BOOK OF MORMON IS THE KEY TO EACH OF OUR CONVERSIONS. I have a firm testimony of the power and the fortitude we receive from the Book of Mormon. Oh how we must read it from daily. We CAN NOT go one day without the protection that book provides. We will be reinforced, edified, nourished and comforted. It is this we must express to those non members we love and cherish. It is this we must remember. For once we receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon, we receive a testimony that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, Jesus is the Christ, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is His restored gospel on Earth today. I hope that I'm seeming as zealous as I'm feeling. Of this, I've gained a stronger testimony of here, than anything else. It is our key, our tool, our friend and our gift. Oh, how we have need to "drink deeply from the living waters" daily and encourage our friends to do the same. More peace and answers can be received through the Book of Mormon than anything else.

I love that book and will cherish it forever. It is truly His word and was translated by a man who was preordained to do so. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I love you all and pray for you daily. I feel so blessed each and every day here in Italy to be be able to bear His name as I bear witness of His beautiful and joyful restored gospel! This is true happiness, and this is where the joy lays! Let us share this message of joy and gladness with all! 

Tutto del mio amore,
Sorella baer

p.s. I love you.

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