Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Benvenuti a Como!

Once upon a time, I lived in the prettiest place on Earth. Literally, mercy alive, Como is BREATHTAKING. I'll get to this bangin' city in a sec.

My last day in Vicenza, my beloved Vicenza, Beuts and I had a final p-day and lunch with Maria and Lisa. Oh, my, saying good-bye to them - hardest thing ever. And peacin' out my city, the Arbogasts, and my beautiful Beutler=soooo hard. Now I realize what all of the missionaries were talking about when they said that transfers and changing cities is rough. But the Lord blesses us and how grateful I am that we worship a God of compensation.

Sunday, I received the BEST birthday present ever.... you ready for it?...... KELUM GOT THE PRIESTHOOD!!! When I found out, my whole darn heart was just so glad.

Allora, I'm all over the place! Ok, COMO: yes, it looks in person exactly how it looks in the pictures. We had no time to take any pictures of the city this week, so I'm really sorry-- next week. Our bus ride home from the church is BEAUTIFUL. Our church is up on the mountain, so when we come home, we can see all of Como and the lake and it's just... mercy... too much. Our area is HUGE and it includes part of  Switzerland. So yup, we HAVE to go up there often. Half of our ward lives in Switzerland, it's unreal.

Saturday night, my friends, I experienced propria Italiana cultura (their Italian culture) for real. We're talkin, walking in centro. Cobble stone streets. Accordian music. Walking on the boardwalk next to the lake. All of the Italian families out talking and eating. It was HEAVEN. It was one of those moments where the Spirit bore witness to me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Our work here? Let's say this, we're turning Como upside down! Sorella Hallum my new comp, said that they have only had an investigator in church once in the past three months. Well, this past Sunday, we had TWO! I don't know what happened to the sugarcoat-y Kelsey Baer, but Sorella Baer is just plain bold these days. When we invite people to church, we promise them the blessings, establish expectations, and wrap it all up in the love the Lord has for them. It's my FAVORITE THING TO DO. One of these two, Ileana, is my homegirl. She's 22. Italian. and the dearest thing to happen to me recently. We both met her for the first time on Friday and she is honestly one of the most prepared, elect individuals I've ever met. She has every desire to understand the principles of the gospel. She keeps her commitments, and she took notes in every class on Sunday. Needless to say, the ward ADORES her. I adore her. We just love each other! We look forward to setting a baptismal date with her tomorrow!!

And then there's Nazzareno. We set a bap date with him yesterday! and surprisingly so! We were just talking about the scriptures, and then my bold, preach-my-gospel missionary of a companion, asked him if he woud be baptized when he came to know that our message was true. He was a bit caught off guard. But we promised that if he has the desire to know, he WILL know. We showed him the font (yup, we have a beautiful font in our church!) and set the date! He said that this will be something good for him to commit himself too. I absolutely love to promise people blessings! You'd best believes I was blessin' him right up!

Sorella Hallum and I are really excited about our potentials and about taking care of the investigators we have, getting them to progress. I've also really been feeling about using our members more. Making them feel important and needed, because I've gained such a testimony of the 'marriage' between member and missionary and the miracles that can happen.

Another miracle: I live with my soul sisters. Sorella McCann and Sorella Carter. They're the other sorelle in our apartment and they're over the other ward in Como. Sorella Carter is hilarious and like a mix of Alex Staib (Rahn) and Liz Hinatsu. And then there's Sorella McCann, who's literally Kelsey Baer 2.0. I swear we're the same person. She went to BYU, too, we have like 914 mutual friends. She reminds me a ton of Alli Olsen and Gabi Butler. Needless to say, the four of us sure enjoy our time together! We came home after church on Sunday, and Sorella McCann and Sorella Carter had decorated our apt with birthday stuff and made a cake for me! Bless their hearts!

Anyway folks. The mission is good. The mission is hard. But oh, so good. The work is beautiful. One of the greatest blessings I claim as a missionary is the love we are endowed with for the people in which we serve and meet. This love is real. It's lasting. It absolutely occupies my whole heart-- I don't know how there's more space in my li'l heart to love more people, but there's always more space! I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!

I invite you all to realize the love you have for others and then thank the Lord for this gift of charity and the love we're given. It is His love and absolutely a gift. Jesus, my Lord and Savior lives. He's why I'm here. Follow His example, and you have the promised blessing of exaltation with those whom you love.

 My heart is so full of love for you all. I feel so fortunate to know those whom I do.

Be good to each other, won't ya?

Con tutto del mio amore,
Sorella Baer

p.s. I love you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nella forza del Signore-- (in the strength of the Lord)

Ciao tutti. Transfer news, mercy alive.

It breaks my heart to say that I am leaving my dear Vicenza and my dear, beloved Sorella Beutler. It is still a surprise and a shock. I haven't quite processed it. Sorella Beutler will be staying here in Vicenza and training again--- shout out to that lucky new Sorella! don't know who she is, but she sure will be blessed with Sorella Beutler as her trainer!-- and I am headed to.........

drum roll please.....

COMO! It's the most northern city in the mission sisters can serve in. It's right next to Switzerland and I heard that George Clooney has a home there (on Lake Como) , so consider him converted.  I've heard from everyone that it's absolutely beautiful, so I'm thrilled for that!

                                 Como, Italy

Here's my new address: 
Sorella Kelsey Baer

I literally can't even fathom leaving my sweet Sorella Beutler; she is an absolute angel who I adore with everything that I am. She has taught me so much not only as my trainer, but as my sister and my friend. I'm so grateful I'll have her for eternity! We have SO much fun together and just enjoy the heck out of each other's company. She's blessed Vicenza so much. I'm glad that they still get to have her!
And there's nothing that confirms to me more how much I love this place than the fact that I am so, so sad to leave these people, the members, new converts, everyone. Monday night, we had our FHE, which was so great and so hard all at the same time. Saying goodbye to all of our soldiers just about ripped my heart out, but I know that there's no better hands I could leave them in than Beuts'. Yesterday, I said good-bye to Kelum, which was hard. Mercy, I love that man. I can't wait until I can see him again. And last night, we had our final dinner with Lilly. That woman will change the world, because she's already changed mine. She is someone so dear to me whose influence can't be expressed. I'm grateful that these relationships are for eternity, because I can't imagine saying goodbye forever. Wahoo for visits to Italy! Dopo la missione!
And in a couple of hours, I'll say goodbye to Lisa and Maria. Mercy, not prepared for that one! Or the Arbogasts! Goodness sakes, People! Vicenza has occupied my heart, how can I leave these people or this place?! I know that the Lord has people and experiences for me to love and enjoy in beautiful Como. I'm truly fortunate for the time I've had here! I invite you all (such a missionary phrase, sorry--habit) to head on over to Vicenza one day, you won't regret it! These people are GOLDEN! 

This is where we go to church in Vicenza!

Well, Beuts and I better head. We're off to grab last minute American things from the base. (Yup, I'm TOTALLY stocking up on peanut butter - arrivederci, mini-America) and then we're going to enjoy the very same Margarita pizza con mozzarella di buffala that we ate our first p-day together:) She's my priority, and I want to soak up and cherish as much time as I can with her.
My dear friends and family, "In the strength of the Lord" was our transfer vision this transfer-- (the first Sunday of the transfer you and your companion come up with a theme for your work). Beuts, the genius that she is, chose this one, and boy has it explained our work together. This transfer has been beautiful and tough for both of us. We both had some hard trials to lean on each other and the Lord for, and we had two beautiful baptisms and many miracles. Through the good and the bad, the Savior and His grace carried us. In His strength, we can do all-- be it just waking up in the morning and moving forward, or seeing miracles happen. In His strength, we can.
I've learned so much. My mission is precious to me. Vicenza is so dear to me. There's a book in a bookstore here called "Vicenza-- la citta preziosa" and that sincerely is true. This city is so precious. But you know what, it's not "arrivederci" just, "ci vediamo."
Be so good to each other. Enjoy and cherish every moment you have with those you love. The Lord blesses us with such sweet relationships and so many things to enjoy!
Con tutto del mio amore,
Sorella Baer
p.s. I love you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Who Wants to Go to Italy?

These photos are from Marostica and Bassano del Grappa. Beautiful, lush country!

A Changed Missionary

This week was revolutionary, my friends. So, so, so, so good. I'll save the explanation for the title for the end.

Some highlights?

-#1 Kelum and Lilly. Oh my. What incredible individuals. They both have such a glow. Sweet Kelum loves to tell us everytime we visit how many more people he told about the gospel. He's our little missionary and we absolutely adore him:) and our beloved Lilly. We saw her last night and she recounted to us beautifully how after being baptized and confirmed her ability to say "no" to things has been strengthened. Her membership in the church reinforces her. She shared with us how as a brand new member there are somethings she's still trying to get used to, but she said that as she prays she says, "Signore, obbediro." Which means, "Lord, I will obey." Her faith is exemplary and that dear woman has taught me so much and I'm eternally grateful for her.

-#2 WELCOME, PRESIDENT & SISTER DIBB! We finally got to meet our new mission president at zone conference. How long awaited was his arrival! He's so kind and SO knowledgeable about the gospel. That man has so much to teach me! His sweet wife is an angel. I feel so fortunate to have these two individuals! The Spirit bore witness to me of the divinity of his call and I sustain this man preordained to be my mission president for the majority of my mission. I look forward to the year I'll have with him!

-#3 We made muddy buddies for our English class and you would've thought those Italians were eating manna. They loved it! It was so so fun going over the recipe and having each of them shake their own ziploc bag! Grazie, military base-- we have these good things! We also made it for district meeting.

-#4 We have had such incredible FHE's lately. They've been so fun, we play Catch Phrase and needless to say, I'm not too shabby:) We're always well fed, thanks to Sister Arbogast, and the Spirit is in GREAT abundance. Last week we testified of prayer and that sacred, tender relationship we can have with our Heavenly Father. One of the soldiers, out of the blue, and quite surprisingly, said, "I'm sorry, but I feel like I really need to bear my testimony." It was powerful. We meet with about 4 or 5 soldiers each week, and it was one of the most profound blessings I've had here. This week we testified about becoming as a little child. I talked about my sweet Kyler and how that little boy has stolen my heart and taught me more than anyone I can think of. The Lord has been teaching me about the importance of patterning ourselves after these Celestial, pure-hearted, little ones. To be meek, humble, forgiving and optimistic.

AND NOW. For the explanation of my headline:
This week I've witnessed a miracle. Elder Oaks has said that the greatest miracle that can occur is a change of heart. And for me, such was the case. I don't know how it happened, other than through the grace and Atonement of Jesus Christ, but my attitude about my mission changed DRASTICALLY this week. I always appreciated it. I always knew it was so good, and I was doing what was was right. My heart was divided with lots of things. But now, I can confidently and gratefully say that my mission claims my heart and only that. Nothing or no one has my heart and desires. Yes, I love and miss my family and friends unbelievably so, yet my desire is to be here. To give all of myself. To exhaust myself. And continue to strive to consecrate my thoughts, actions, words, and desires to this sacred work I'm so privileged to be a part of. This opportunity is so precious to my heart, and I want to do all I can to do it justice. I've become a PRESENT missionary. Whose mind is here now. I'm certainly not perfect and am constantly praying for the Lord to take me by the hand and forgive me, but I've never felt so much missionary fire.

The Holy Ghost taught me something so profound this week:
"I am a Child of God, and He has sent me here." He really has sent me here to this mission, at this time, to this very area, and with my beautiful blessing of a companion. I'm on His errand and solely going where He wants me to.

"Has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear." I thought I loved my parents before my mission, but mercy, how I love them now! I appreciate them more and more, and have even a stronger desire to be the type of parent that they are to me.

"Lead me, guide me, walk beside me. Help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday." I've never realized how much I rely on the Lord for absolutely everything. I feel like a toddler, stumbling along, and nothing is more comforting than that helpful hand of a Parent to guide me. He directs my every move, and oh, how I have need of Him. 

Fam and friends, folks and homies:)
My heart is so full. I finished the Book of Mormon last night. I started it my first day here in Vicenza and I took Elder Bednar's challenge to read it with a specific topic in mind. I choose grace. I wanted to learn more about this "enabling power of the Atonement." Now, I don't know everything there is to know. But this I do know: that we worship a Savior so full of grace. He is a Redeemer of Mercy. His is a love of perfection. Through His grace, we literally can do all things. I have had to lean on that grace to empower me to keep going, to push forward. Only through His Atonement can we become the parents, missionaries, friends, students and children of Him that we're divinely created to become. I have gained such a testimony of the beloved grace of our Savior. It is a topic that has occupied my study and thoughts for quite some time now, and I'm so grateful.

May the Lord bless and carry each of you.
Con tutto del mio amore,
Sorella Baer

p.s. I love you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Onward And Upward!

The Lord sure is good to us. I have the strongest testimony that regardless of how crummy things might be, we can pray to our Heavenly Father and through the grace of our Savior and His infinite Atonement, we can be lifted, empowered, and able to find beauty, light and goodness!

Here is our new mission president and his wife with us at our zone conference. Welcome President & Sister Dibb!!

La Nostra Settimana (Our Week)--

Lilly, our beautiful Lilly, is baptized and a new, confirmed member of the church!! Saturday was one of the most uplifting days I've had yet. After she was baptized, she bore her testimony and shared that after knowing the church for 11 years, she knew it was time to get baptized about 3 weeks ago. She said that one night, she had had a dream where the Savior asked her, ''Lilly, will you be baptized now? It's time.'' She said that she would. A couple of days later was when Beuts and I felt this burning to just have a straight up lesson with her about baptism, where she simply accepted the invitation and date chosen! She was prepared, and Beuts and I were able to see that the Spirit had been prompting us to be bold and honest with her. And then to see her enter the waters of baptism, and make that covenant-- THAT's why people serve missions, she's absolutely radiant and I'm edified constantly by her! After her baptism, we went back and had refreshments! Kelum had come to her baptism too and the little shindig dopo (after), and my word, it was MAGICAL seeing him so integrated into the branch. Everyone was talking to him, putting their arms around him, it was Christmas. Naturally so, Saturday was the highlight of this week:)

Some other fun\interesting things?

- one Elder asked me straight up, ''Sorella Baer, were you a hipster before your mission. I kinda think you might've been.'' yeah... ne'er gotten that before!

- Beuts said, ''You know, you kinda remind me of Amy Poehler.'' Compliment? I think yes. Nah, maybe I've just integrated Baby mama quotes into my everyday lingo.

-Beuts and I did sharing time on Sunday for Jr. and Sr. Primary in our military branch-- the little ones love us. We enjoyed it:)

-the gelato here will kill me. I will never again be satisfied with Dreyers. This stuff is SINFULLL. but it's fine, because we get it a couple times a week!

-Beuts and I are mega champs at killing all of the freaky bugs in our apartment! Took the life of a daddy long legs this morning like it was my birthday. The mosquitoes don't stand a chance either, when Beuts chases them with a flip-flop to squish them!

- Hermana Jess Israelsen's family came to Italy! I was able to speak with her mom on the phone. I swear, Dana Israelsen is an angel sent from heaven! Hearing her voice and talking to a mother figure was DIVINE. She's a remarkable woman and absolutely a tender mercy when I needed it most. (Hermana Israelsen is currently serving in the Spain-Malaga Mission!)

- ADVICE FOR THOSE FUTURE MISSIONARIES: Not that I'm a fount of wisdom and experience, BUT I HIGHLY recommend developing and strengthening your talents now. The mission requires our best, and our talents are used. The Lord gave us gifts to share and develop, and I recommend doing so! Oh, what I would give to go back in time and have practiced the piano more in the past two years. Before my mission, I hadn't played since high school, now, I play for everything, Sacrament Meeting, Relief Society, Zone and District meetings, Baptisms-- Practice and develop! It'll help!

I just want to leave a short message about the peace and comfort we can receive from our Savior. He is the Prince of Peace, the Author of Hope. He is the Founder of my faith. His is a gospel of light. His is a love we cannot comprehend. When nothing makes sense, when we feel in the dark, when we seek answers, peace or comfort-- we can always turn to our Elder Brother with the faith and trust that He's already felt every feeling we have and already suffered for our pains. His burden is light. Don't carry your pain anymore. Hand it over to Him, He's already paid for it. I love my Savior and without Him and His grace, I would be absolutely nothing. I could do absolutely nothing, but with Him, I am someone. I am a daughter of the Almighty, with the potential to become like Him one day.

As Sister Dalton says, ''Remember WHO you are. and remember WHOSE you are.''

Con tutto del mio amore,
Sorella Baer

p.s. I love you.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A few new photos! July 3, 2013

Look up at the beautiful wall along the castle!

Part of the aforementioned castle. Hey. Are those BLINDS in the windows? Hmmm.

This is enough to freak a Utah girl out. The squatty potty. Where's the green toilet seat, Aubrey?

Sorella Baer's dream ride. Not yet mission-approved!

How Swell Is This Work?

First things first,

KELUM'S BAPTIZED!!! Oh, how my heart is full of love for this dear man! He got baptized on Friday, after having to take care of lots of things, and all of the things that could've gone wrong, did. We made it! There's nothing so sweet and so tender as seeing him in white. I told him, "Kelum, questa e esattamente come L'ho visto la prima volta che abbiamo incontrato l'un altro. Cosi. In bianco. Che bello (this is exactly how I saw it the first time we met each other. That's it. In white. How nice)." And it's true. As he entered the waters of baptism, Beuts and I just hugged each other with tears in our eyes. Seeing covenants being made is one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed. And his confirmation blessing was UNBELIEVABLE. What a dear, dear man, who we all can learn something from, and who the church will be blessed by, magnificently so.

Nextly, (is that a word? Losing my English.)

HAPPY 32nd babein' 'rents of mine! I couldn't feel more fortunate to have the lovely parents that I do! 32 years, to have been born under the covenant. Here's to 32 more! Filled with groovin', BYU game cheerin' on, and lots and lots of food. :-) I love you both! Enjoy your special day and SPOIL YOURSELVES!

Happy 4th of July y'all! Last year, I was in Europe for the fourth, and this year, I am, too. But meno male (thank goodness), we have a military base here so we're actually gonna celebrate with a bbq and that good stuff! I'm very very very very stoked. Exceedingly so, to say the least!

This week we had lots of things to get together for Kelum's baptism, and we also had a ward activity literally in the mountains-- when the branch told us where the activity would be, they said, "Sara in montagna." I was like, "What the crumb does that mean? In the mountain?" Somehow these marvelous Italians know what mountain everybody's talking about. It was 45 degrees and rainy, but so, so, so, so pretty. I was lovin' the nature!

Sunday, in our American branch for Sunday School and Relief Society/Priesthood we watched the Missionary broadcast. I was LOVING it. We watched it as a whole branch and it was incredible to see the members catching the fire of missionary work! If any of you guys haven't watched it, I highly encourage that adesso! Che bellissimo (now. How beautiful)!

This language was made for me. These Italians just fly their hands round town as they speak, and the best part?! So do Beuts and I. We both studied Sign Language for years and years, so when we teach lessons, mercy alive. My hands are flying!!! However, una piccola cosa reguardo questa lingua che e dificile per me (a small thing regarding this language that is difficult for me)? I feel like there's like 3 words used to describe things. My adjective pool is only a measly three options (basically), at least what they use, buono= good (for food), bravo=good (for people), bello=beautiful. Sometimes, they spice it up with some "issimo's" but di solito, e cosi (usually, and so) those who know me, know just how much I enjoy using fun words and making the language my own, and it's un po dificile (a bit difficult) to change it up with Italian.

And my thoughts and feelings this week?

-- cara famiglia, cari fratelli e sorelle (dear family, dear brothers and sisters) --

Oh, how we need to be brave and bold. The Lord has reserved us until these, the last days not to be indifferent, apathetic or passive. He's looking for soldiers to stand up, to stand out. We need to join the ranks, suit up for this battalion that we've been blessed to be a part of. We need ALL, EVERYONE. Our church is founded upon "activity", which is necessary for each member. But we must pay attention to that word, "active"-- it is not passive. We must be the one to sit next to the new convert, to visit the less-active, to involve the member who sits alone, to invite optimism into our meetings, to initiate and follow-through with activities-- let US be the one to be active, to step up. The Lord's created us to be this way. It's in our very natures to lead, to make a difference, to bear our testimonies, to love, to serve and to prepare the Earth for His second coming. We're not here to be passive members, passivity in terms of our relationship with the gospel is dangerous. Let us be active. I hope that I sound as zealous as I feel because I've felt this so strongly. The church is growing rapidly so, and we've got to take care of it and continue the growth! And the best part is? Through the grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ, EACH of us is enabled and empowered to do so!

I love this gospel. I love the beautiful family the Lord's blessed me with. I feel lucky beyond explanation to have been sent to them. I have a testimony that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us so incredibly that He gave us the gift that would bring us more joy and happiness than all else: eternal families. I love mine and think of them sempre (always).

As missionaries, we always invite: I invite you all to love your families, show them and tell them, a bit more this week.

For in THIS, will truly happiness come.

Con tutto del mio amore,
Sorella Baer

p.s. I love you.
p.s.s. Aubrey, don't worry. I totes bought "Meet the Robinson's" in Italian so we can watch that I can get back. It also can be switched into Portuguese, so we both can enjoy it:)