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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Christmas Is Less Than Six Months Away!

I've had a Christmas countdown since December 26, 2012, and now the wait is halfway over! I think it's always time for Christmas! I drink hot chocolate often, we listen to uplifting Christmas music, and this weekend we're having a Christmas in June party with two of the dear soldiers we've been meeting with. Our sweet Kevin heads back to the states on July 3! We're heartbroken to lose him, but we're thrilled for this new chapter in his life, and what better way to celebrate than with a Christmas in June party!!!

As I mentioned last week about Vicenza being on fire, I'd have to say that temperature wise, that statement was fairly accurate. This past week, one of the days was 102 degrees Fahrenheit, not including the humidity! and that day we were outside for the majority of the day. I knew that it was ridiculously hot and my body was a bit overwhelmed, but it wasn't until the next day that I realized how dehydrated I was. After some alarming symptoms, and advice from my lovely mission mom, we realized I had heat stroke and I needed to rest for a couple of days. Ugh, being slowed down. World's worst. I HATE slowing down. But we soon realized that we can't be as effective instruments or missionaries if we can't take care of ourselves.

So, Friday as I was resting, something absolutely UNBELIEVABLE happened. I was in some groggy, half- sleep, half- dreamland state, when I woke up and walked out into our living room. My bangin' Beuts asks me how I slept then said to me with absolute honesty and seriousness, "I'm about 90% sure we just had an earthquake." She then said, "I'm about 90% sure you have heat stroke too." She then proceeded to tell me about how she was sitting on the couch with her head resting on the wall behind her when her head was bumped a couple of times by the wall-- she thought it was the neighbors blasting lots of music. But then she saw our drying racks outside start to shake, and our large bookshelf start to sort of sway back and forth.

COME TO FIND OUT... there was in fact an earthquake! Never doubt Sorella Beutler! I must've been gently lulled to sleep by the movement! I think I heard that the epicenter was in Firenze, and we just got a bit of it, but yup, we had an earthquake! I'd like to think it's in response to the powerful missionary work here in my beautiful Italia, that the earth beneath our feet just can't handle it no more! No, scherzo. Pero, davvero, questa terra e benedetta e speciale! (No joke. But, really, this earth is blessed and special!)

Comunque, (However,) I love to be a missionary. I never imagined a year ago, that I would be here, at this age, speaking this language-- and yet, how fortunate I am. I have a testimony of a living prophet, his announcement 8 months ago changed my life immediately. At times, I still can't believe that I'm a missionary, I'm one of "those people" with the black tags, I can't believe that I'm living in Italy. That sense of marveling usually kicks in when we're travelling on the bus or train and I'm able to see more of this beautiful country. I can't imagine being anywhere else or doing anything else.

Sometimes I have dreams that I'm back at home but my heart is always broken as to why I'm not a missionary anymore-- my mission is so precious to me. These moments and memories I cherish. I adore my sweet companion and cherish her with all of my heart. My heart is in this work because I've been able to witness the sweetness of the Atonement not just in my own life but in the lives of these good people. Grazie all'Espiazione, sono qui. Sono una missionaria. Sono grata, fortunata, e contenta. Il mio cuore e piena con amore e felicita. (Because of the Atonement, I'm here. I am a missionary. I am grateful, lucky and happy. My heart filled with love and happiness.)

Beut's and Baer's desk. You can sure see Sorella Baer's style!

The world is ready for the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. The earth is even shakin' it's so stoked:)

Con tutto del mio amore (With all of my love),
Sorella Baer

p.s. I love you.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Che Fortunate Siamo (We Are Fortunate)! Mamma Mia!

My dear friends and family,

VICENZA IS ON FIRE! Davvero, non posso spiegarmi. Pero, sono emozionata. (Really, I can not explain. But, I'm excited.)

Allora, this week. Where in the crumb can I start? There has been soooo many wondrous things!

A bittersweet experience was our last zone conference\meeting with the Wolfgramms. There were many a-tears to be shed. They had all of the newer missionaries with soon birthdays come up one-by-one. I was first. It was so swell, Mama. We have a mission tradition when it's someone's birthday that they have 3 people say things that they love about the birthday person, and then we all sing, and get chocolate and toothbrushes and toothpaste (I wish I could just channel Sorella Wolfgramm right now because the way she describes all of this is just darling). Comunque, it was soooo fun. Singing to all of the birthday missionaries. Good times. I felt like I was amongst my dear friends. I ADORE being with and meeting up with other missionaries. It's so fun to be edified by their goodness and tell each other about our cities. I swear, these missionaries here are POWERHOUSES. I learn something from each one of them. After birthdays we had a farewell slideshow for the Wolfgramms, how we love them so. May their family forever be blessed by their goodness and service. I cherish and herald them and will sincerely miss them. And yet, we are so blessed to receive President and Sister Dibb in about a week and a half! In fact, President Dibb and President Wolfgramm were mission companions in the Italy South Mission YEARS ago! Isn't that incredible how the Lord works?!

Ok, now for the explanation of why Vicenza is on fi-yah!

My dear friends and folks, Sorella Beutler and I are pleased to announce that both Lilly and Kelum will be baptized in two weeks!!!

Kelum-- our dear dear Sri Lankan man. I am forever changed for the things he's taught me. We have a tough time with the language barrier because neither English or Italian he understands very well, but we teach and learn and work, piano piano (slowly). He's taught me about the simplicity of the gospel, and the beauty and power that can be found in simplicity. He's so dear and refers to the Book of the Mormon as ''la verità'' or ''the truth'' he says alllllll the time, ''Si, si, mi piace la verità'' We absolutely adore him, he has the purest heart and the tenderest desires. He will be baptized 28 giugno!

And our Lilly. Sweet Lilly. She's a Brazilian young wife and mom who's lived in Italy for about 8 years. She met with the missionaries in Brazil for years. And has met with the missionaries here in Italy for years and years. She's basically a member. She teaches her darling 4 year old son Davide the primary songs. She's an outstanding mother. The ward adores her. This woman, is unbelievable. And folks, she's  ready. Oh what joy fills my heart to say this. Yesterday, we had a magnificent lesson with her and one of the most powerful moments yet in my mission. Beuts and I desired to go in there and talk about baptism, where's she's at, what she's feeling, etc. We sit down, and my dear companion beautifully introduces the topic. As it's my turn to speak, I open my mouth, and spoke, what I know to be the best Italian I've ever spoken in my life, for about 3 minutes. Mom, I don't even really know what I said. I know I was far, far, far more bold than I ever expected myself to be. The Lord filled my mouth with the very words I needed the very moment I needed them, as the scriptures promise countless times. I expressed to her how it doesn't make sense to me to live like a member, but not receive the blessings that we all can enjoy through baptism. I testified of the magnificence and the magnitude of the baptismal covenant-- how sacred, beautiful and necessary it is. I was bold. And those who know me, know I'm never bold like that.

Sorella Beutler testified after me with such sweetness about the sustaining power of the Holy Ghost that she will receive. Of how the Holy Ghost will help her as a wife, mother, member, friend, etc. The Lord blesses companionships, where when one companion stops, the other companion steps in and picks up. Thank goodness I have my dear Beuts, because she follows the Spirit and expresses what is on my mind but I can't express. We looked at Lilly, our sweet friend. I asked her point blank, ''Cos'è il tuo desiderio?'' and she replied with some of the most poignant and wonderful words, ''Di essere battezzata (to be baptized).'' She wants to be baptized. She proceeded to tell us how she's ready. How it's time. How she's known of the truth for so long and that she needed to be baptized for a long time, she just didn't know when. And when she went to church and saw that Vicenza got sister missionaries, she knew that was her answer. The date is 6 luglio:)

The Lord places us where we need to be, when we need to be there, if we're following Him. I testify, and know with all of my heart, that the baptisms of Kelum and Lilly and their progression is not accredited, and can not to be, to me or Sorella Beutler. We acknowledge and appreciate the many other missionaries and individuals that have taught and aided them in their journies. We also realize and are so grateful for the lives that both Kelum and Lilly have lived. That they're here. Now. Ready. We feel so privileged to watch them enter the waters of baptism and make those beautiful covenants with the Lord.

Nothing is more fulfilling than bringing desirious, willing, pure individuals closer to their Savior. To remind them of a relationship, knowledge and feeling that is familiar. To see this message resonate in them and ring with familiarity. They already know this. We're just here to remind them. Ultimately, this is the Savior's work. He is in every district meeting, baptismal interview, street contact, companionship study, extension of an invite, and pleading prayer that we offer. He is in it all. He guides this work. As we're submissive to His will and worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, He places where we need to be. I pray to be an even more worthy missionary so I may be a better vehicle of His love.

That is my favorite thing to do, share His love with everyone I talk to. The universal language, as President Uchtdorf calls it, the language of love. We're here to love and be loved, and this is only accomplished through the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

It's His name I bear on my tag. It's His name we close our prayers with. It's His life and ministry that is our PERFECT example. It's His gospel that is faultless. It's His arms that are opened and extended to all. It's His grace and mercy that empowers to be who we need to be. It's His message that I delightfully share.

Let's come unto Him, shall we? And bring people with us:)

Con tutta della mia amore,
Sorella Baer

p.s. I love you.
p.s.s. Mom, I'm now the Sacrament Meeting pianist too. Mercy alive. Color me freaked out of my mind.
p.s.s.s. Beuts and I got a new phone. Like new new. Like we're literally talking touch-screen, droid. Trust us, we don't know what to think. We're overwhelmed. and loving it;)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Drum Roll, Please...

TRANSFER NEWS?? ............................. We just completed our first 6 weeks and...BEUTS AND BAER ARE AT IT AGAIN IN VICENZA! We were so stoked. Basically everyone we've heard about got switched and changed, but not us! Our work and time together here in Vicenza must not be finished! We're excited and grateful!

To explain the pictures, just know that Lisa, the "Adoro Gus-Gus" girl, is arguably the World's Best Person. She took silent note when Beuts mentioned that Queen is one of her favorite bands and when I mentioned how much I love Michael Jackson... so SHE GOT US THESE SHIRTS!!! She wrapped them up all cute. I opened it, only saw the "L.O.V.E." part, but knew instantly with that "V" that Michael was comin' at me live. That "THIS IS IT" pose of him with his arms out, was all too familiar:) This was definitely one of the highlights of this week. To say I appreciate, worship and adore Lisa would be an understatement. With the shirts or without, she's a remarkably strong, capable, loving and warm individual who I will be friends with forever. We LOVE taking her with us to lessons and she adds such wisdom!

The members here have stolen my heart. One woman, Kornelia was born in Hungary but has lived in Italy for a long time. She served her mission at Temple Square, so her English is UNREAL. She's young, like 35, has the darlingest (yup, totes a word) family and is literally my soul sister. She has us over for lunch weekly, and we just enjoy each other's company. She told me that as soon as she saw me she thought I was familiar, but as our friendship has strengthened, she realized that we were absolutely friends in the Pre-Existence. Goodness, this woman. She's taught me so much about motherhood, service, using our talents, COOKING, missionary work-- Mom, Dad, we're visiting her after my mission. DONE.

But, really, these members, both in the American and Italian branch are too good to us. We have an appointment tonight with a dear non-member friend of ours, she's about 25 and cute, and she is teaching us how to make tiramisu! We love to teach her, and let me tell you, she teaches me TONS, like Italian for example. God bless the patience of these people for teaching me and helping me with this language! 

Speaking about this language, let's chat about that for a while. It's coming, I can communicate. But there's this strange thing called 'everyone thinks I'm from crazy places'. The Italians hear my Italian and think I'm from the U.K. I get, "Vieni da Londra, giusto?" all the time. (which means, you're from London, right?) And the Americans think I'm from the South, WHEN I'M SPEAKING ENGLISH. Seriously, the Americans in our branch and all of the missionaries when they first meet me think I'm from the South. I've gotten Texas, Alabama, Florida. The works. I swear, I didn't develop some southern accent. But no one can believe I'm from Utah. Oh, what the mission does to you.

Alas, this dearly beloved week of ours. Our missionary concert? Awesome. We had lots of people come, the Spirit was so strong, and Sorella Baer (me!) played the uke and sang a solo. Yup, Mom, indeed. First time EVER. I did this Jamican-esque version of "We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet", it was swell. The audience was groovin' along with me:)

Missionary work here is BLOSSOMING. We've been up to our knees with lessons. But per troppo, dear Sorella Beauty has been so sick this past week, so we've been staying in, getting her healed up. We have been able to reactivate some people, we have lots of new and potential investigators, and our dear investigator Kelum, a sweet man from Sri Lanka, will be baptized 22 June! We're stoked! I love sitting next to Sorella Beutler and hearing her testify, she calls down the Spirit so powerfully and delivers everything with such love.

We love our dear Vicenza and the people here. And got new bikes yesterday, so that should help us get around! (But really, we just rode them for the first time, getting here, and mercy, you would've thought I'd never ridden a bike before!) With the helmet, broken tailbone, balancing my bag on my back, being a rusty bike rider, 180 degree weather with 300% humidity, and Italian drivers-- it was a golden experience. Beuts and I were DYING we were laughing so hard.

The absolute highlight of my week was hearing from Elder Nelson on Sunday. All of us in the Venice stake met at the Sheraton in Padova. As we entered the room, and saw all of the dear faithful Italians, I was overcome. And then as we stood to welcome our sweet Apostle, I felt like my cheeks were on fire, as the Spirit bore such strong witness to me that this truly was an apostle of the Lord. They announced to us that after calculating the statistics, the odds of having an apostle come to your stake is once every 27 years. How fortunate we are! The sweet Italians, clung to his every word. He taught us of things we should be teaching our children because the future of this church rests on them. He said the sweetest thing, "Fathers, read from the scriptures to your children daily, so that they may memorize your voice and associate it with holy things. They already know the voice of Mom. Let them hear from you." As I pondered on this, I reflected on how beautifully blessed I've been to have the voice of my dad memorized as he gives us blessings, prays and reads the scriptures. Dad-- I honor and cherish you for being such a man of God and a father of goodness. At the end of the meeting, unbelievably so, we ALL had the opportunity to meet Elder Nelson. I shook his hand and told him that we pray for him. He said, "Sorella Baer, we pray for you." What a remarkable experience, the first time in my life, I was able to meet an apostle. I'll never forget that special night in Padova, where I met Elder Nelson.

My dear family. My heart is full of love. My spirit, fed. I pray that we remain optimistic and joyful. For our message is one of delight, let's express that in our every action. How blessed we are. How great is our calling.

Con tutto della mia amore,Sorella Baer

p.s. I love you

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Venice and Bergamo Photos, June 5, 2013

Adoro Gus-Gus

That subject line was a quote from our dear ward missionary, Lisa. She's 18, basically our sister and comes teaching with us. She's the CHILLEST. We love each other, per esempio (for example), Monday, she wore an Edward Scissorhands shirt. She's lovely, and she was telling us about Cinderella and how she ''adores gus-Gus.'' Maybe it was one of those 'had to be there moments' but her accent, and enthusiasm, and how she said 'Gus-Gus'. Mercy, I was ROLLINGGGG.

COMUNQUE (However): Can we believe that we're already at week 5?! That transfer week is NEXT week. We'll see what happens! Beuts and I are pretty convinced, we're staying together, but vediamo (we'll see)!

This past week, was just, one of them weeks. Seriously, every .2 seconds I was raising my eyebrows and shaking my head in awe that something that obscure happened YET again.

Let's take a walk down memory lane for a minute. I ripped my skirt right in half getting on a train home from Verona. Like absolutely in half. That darn giant leap from the platform to the train. Then the next day, in Venice (more to come later) I sat down to take a picture, and unbeknownst to me, I sat on fresh bird poop. And yes, I chose to wear a black skirt that day. Those poor Venetians, and thousands of tourists who had to see that big spot on my skirt all day. The next day, I dropped my ring behind the washer. No fear ,folks, I could just bend down and get it. But lo and behold, I greatly overestimated the space I had between my face and the corner of our bathroom cabinet. One bloody face later, and I've learned my lesson. THEN. I decide for the first time this transfer to dry my clothes on the rack outside our apt. My ONE white shirt that was out there, consequently enough-- bird poop on it. FOLKS WHAT IS MY DEAL?! Mom, I literally couldn't believe it. Every darn thing. To be honest though, each time, I'd just crack up. I mean, it was humorous. The amount of times I laughed this week hopefully ensured that I'll live a long life.

-when the oldest woman in our Italian branch whipped out her magnifying glass to read a scripture in Relief Society
-when Sorella Beutler leaned over to me on the train and said ''Oh no.'' I asked what was wrong, and she then proceeded to tell me that as we were in a hurry that morning, she had made oatmeal that was too hot. So she put it in the freezer to cool it down before we left. And there it remained. Until we got home that night. Bowl, oatmeal, spoon and all-- frozen. It was AWESOME.
-when Beuts and I taught the Italian primary class the ASL for ''I am a Child of God''. Goodness, it was difficult, singing in Italian, signing in ASL. But it was so cute. We had 4 little, rowdy Italian ragazzi (boys), they were so dear. We loved it.

And now for our Venice chapter! It was INCREDIBLE! Literally, JUST like the pictures. Beuts and I were so stoked. Well, actually, initially we had serious paura (fear) of the rain. Because here in Vicenza it was pouring. We're thinking, ''It best not be rainin' on our Venice day!'' All of the other missionaries in our zone were planning on going too that day, but peaced out as soon as they saw the rain. Steadfast we stood, and as we pulled up to bella Venezia, blue skies and 75 degree weather was ours for the enjoying. From gondolieri singing to a sinfully delicious lasagna lunch under a lantern-lit awning, Beuts and I lived the Venetian dream. It was arguably one of the most defining days in my life. I joke, but it sincerely was the world's best! We took a water taxi to San Marco and with the wind blowing in our hair, we saw Venice by water, and then by walking down the little alleyways. Mercy, that city is romantic. Beuts and I were like... ''We're so grateful to have each other!'' She's great. We loved that WHOLE day. Despite the bird poop. and frozen oatmeal. I hope the pictures adequately portray just how beautiful it was!

Also, this week-- we traveled ALL over the place. We spent a day in Verona, a day in Venenzia, and a day in Bergamo! Oh, my goodness, Bergamo. As soon as we got off the train, I felt of the Baer legacy there. My dear big bro, Anziano Baer served in Bergamo and I was STOKED to finally do a blitz in an area where he had served! I was with Sorella Hanson, she's the smartest and greatest. She told me that we had an appointment with a less active that no one knew and that a member would be joining us. This member was just off his mission from London, and loved to go teach with the missionaries! As we met up with this member, I learned that his name is Mikhail Botta and that he's the bishop's son. I didn't think too much about it until I decided to take a shot in the dark. I said, ''Mikhail, do you know an Anziano Baer?'' His jaw drops. His eyebrows raised high. He then proceeded to tell me that Anziano Baer ate at his house often back when Mikhail was 14 or 15. He said that my dear bro was a great missionary! It was NUTS. I know that it wasn't by chance that he happened to come with us while I was on a blitz there, and that we met. I had a little taste of home, feeling the Baer legacy. Mercy, it was the world's best. It made me realize how grateful I am for the example of diligence my brother gave me. I couldn't be luckier to serve in the exact same mission as one of my heroes, and to be reminded of him, his goodness and his service OFTEN. I love it!

And for a parting thought, I want to talk a bit about grace. On the plane ride over from Chicago to Frankfurt, Anziano Lemmo, Sorella Bollwinkel and I decided to read the Book of Mormon together starting at the beginning for examples of grace. I have LOVED learning more and more about the beautiful grace of our Savior. Anziano Lemmo shared this scripture with me in 1 Corinthians 15:10 which says that 'I am who I am because of the grace of God.' How beautiful of a statement that is!!! As defined in the bible dictionary, grace is the enabling power from Jesus Christ that allows us to obtain blessings in this life and to gain eternal life and exaltation. It is only through the grace of Christ that we can do the things we need to. As a missionary, it is only through the beautiful grace that I can get up every morning, that I can open my mouth, speak this language and with courage and optimism share the gospel. We need this grace to be worthy of every blessing-- and the magnificent part of it all, is that His grace is sufficient for each of us, to 'heal us' as it says in 3 Nephi 17. We all are blessed by this grace.

May we realize this blessing. Utilize it. Rely on the Atonement. And strive each day to be empowered by grace to do more than we ever thought possible. Because with Him, we can.

I love this gospel with all of my heart. I have the remarkable privilege each day to bear with gladness and delight a message of hope and love to these people here. What joy fills my heart!

I love you all. I appreciate all of the support, and I pray that you all feel of my prayers in your behalf!

Con tutto del mio amore,
Sorella Baer

p.s. I love you.
p.s.s. Mama, I'm the RS pianist in our Italian Branch.
p.s.s.s. THIS WEEKEND IS THE MISSIONARY CONCERT AND ELDER NELSON! I'm so stoked! Even the uke will be makin' an appearance at the concert!