I know it's been a while, and I apologize, mainly to my parents, for that one 😬
The past few weeks have been pretty awesome actually. It's been like almost 3 weeks since we last had transfers, and so far so good! 😌👌🏽 my comp is super sick and he's from the state of Washington. When we aren't teaching and preaching, we talk about sports and music cuz be both love those things. I'm glad to have him as a comp—we get along really well and it makes missionary work (& life) much more enjoyable.
Since so much has happened since I last wrote, I thought I'd mainly recount what happened this past week since it's still fresh in my mind and probably the most eventful.
We didn't really get to be in our city too much this week (unfortunately), but it's ok because we were out for some really good reasons! 😊😌 on Wednesday morning we left for Palermo, met up with the zone and ate lunch at McDonald's which totally ripped me off (it's expensive in Italy, and smaller, and at the train station it's even moreexpensive). But anyway, what's done is done! Then we took the bus together to the airport for our plane to Rome! But it wasn't just any ordinary trip. Aside from one of the sisters forgetting her passport, we witnessed something pretty cool while waiting by our gate (we were super early and had lots of time to pass). Amongst the group of missionaries was one named Anziano Melling. He's new and in his 2nd transfer, and another named Anziano Kolsen who is in his 1st transfer. Melling is a BOSS at the piano and Kolsen has some serious vocals. ANYWAY...as we were waiting by the gate, we were bored and noticed a piano just chillin' there right in the middle of where hecka people were walking to their gates. We pointed it out to Anziano Melling and nudged him into playin around on it. Then after like a minute of plucking around, we coaxed him into playing a hymn for real. (I'll send a video after). He started off by playing Savior, Redeemer of My Soul but not just how you find it in a hymn book—he straight up PLAYED it. Like concert status. Some ridiculously amazing compilation or something. Then everyone's attention was caught; they realized something was happening. He then switched into Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, once again playin it super complex and beautifully. And it was really in the 2nd chorus of that song when the Spirit of God just came thru the airport and swept across hitting everyone right in the face practically. After he finished, people didn't know whether to clap or whether to remain silent for how strong the Spirit was at the time. But, not knowing what to do, and wanting to express their gratification they were experiencing, they all clapped. At least 40 people surrounded around (not too closely to the piano though) were clapping and asking him to continue. Now let me tell you, there were select people that clearly had something to do and had their suitcases in hand on their way to either leave or go back, but some in particular couldn't help but stop and listen. They couldn't move. Then, we talked Anziano Kolsen into joining Anziano Melling for a duet. They ended up doing a run-thru of what they had planned on doing for the mission conference in Rome. It was absolutely amazing. Babies stopped crying, people shed tears, and people were actually confused and the feelings they were feeling while they sung. It was incredible. These people who haven't felt the Spirit of God in years, if ever, were now feeling it probably stronger than ever, and they were straight up dumbfounded. It was so spectacular, I can't describe it in words. Anyway, we talked to some people after that, so that was cool.
The conference...mamma mia, that was awesome. It was short unfortunately 😕 but hearing from the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was really something else. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and say hello. His eyes were just so different. They were blue, but really light, and his pupils were so small and his eyes looked almost white because of how light they were. It's kinda crazy to describe, but I just felt something different looking into his eyes. I learned a lot at this conference, as I had hoped and expected. Not just from him, but from the other authorities and their wives. I'd have to say something that really hit me was a reflective question or 2. They asked us something of the sort of how we serve people, like if we do it with true love or we do it just to do it. and Nelson explained how we are literally a part of the gathering of the 12 tribes of Israel. It was pretty cool to think about. He also instructed us on a lot of other things, but they were a little more deep so no need to share them right now haha. But just know that it was edifying and thought-provoking to say the least. It surprisingly tied in with the multi-stake broadcast we had Sunday morning, in the which I had the possibility to hear President Dini Ciacci speak for a while. He is now an Area Seventy of the church, but first was the Stake President of the Rome West Stake and lived near Rome. However, he was actually born and raised in Caserta (my first city in the mission) and I had the opportunity to meet and chat with him back when I was there and he came to hold a meeting there. He's incredible. He spoke a lot about things that needed to be addressed in this country, but things that apply to all of us. Here are a couple highlights/notes I took from his discourse:
23 October, 2016
- Elder Dini Ciacci talked about cooking Italian food with American ingredients
- His wife was crying in the grocery store because she just didn't know what to do...how could she keep cooking her Italian food with American ingredients?? It just wasn't the same
- Elder D. says, "we need to leave behind our old traditions that aren't agreeable with our new ingredients...such as the gospel. We can't be leaving right after sacrament meeting so we can go cook some food for lunch"
- Also talked about the chapels—how each one has the same stuff inside all throughout Italy, but are we the same?
- Could people see the gospel inside of us, but from the outside? We need to let the gospel of JC shine through our exterior from our interior...even in the exterior it should show
I know this may not make a ton of sense, since these are simply notes to jog my memory about his 30 minute talk, but I hope you can get the gist. He also referred to one of my FAVORITE verses of scripture, found in Matthew 7:21. It reads:
21 ¶Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
President Dini Ciacci went on to explain that, like the scripture clearly states, just simply "being a good person" or "having faith in Christ and talking about Him" isn't enough to reach the kingdom of God. This is a very common misconception in the world today, and practically the motto for the country of Italy as a whole—"do good things, help others, be a good person and don't be mean to others, and you'll be saved in the kingdom of God!" Luckily, we have the Bible, a set of ancient historical records and scriptures that can tell us what Jesus Christ said Himself 2000 years ago (that shouldn't be changed unless He Himself authorizes it). I'm so grateful and at peace to know exactly what I need to do to return to God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. It's written down! If I follow the will of God, and not the will of the world, I will inherit what He has for me. And having said that, I'm beyond grateful for prophets, especially the fact that there is one today. That he receives the continuous guidance and revelation from God to know exactly what His will for the people is at any given moment, and then to righteously and rightfully relay us the exact same message—unchanged and uncontaminated with partial truths or commandments of men. But instead, it's nothing but the pure will and commandments directly from God Himself. I'm soooo so so happy for this, that it's real, and that God is literally handing me the roadmap to my eternal salvation 😊🙏🏽 I could never thank Him enough. But I'll try. And right now my way of trying is thru this 2 year mission. I wouldn't be out here in the prime of my life, away from my family, and missing my best friend's wedding if this wasn't the will of God. I'm 21 for crying out loud! This is the truth and I'm glad I know it. Nothing brings more peace in life than knowing what God wants you to do, and then going and doing it! I can promise every single one of you that ignorance is not bliss, and that once you come to know what God has ready to show you, then will you find what true "bliss" really is. I wish I could convey how happy and at peace I am right now in my life. Even when teenagers spit fat loogies on my brand new shirt and face, or throw their bottles of soda (or pee) out the bus window onto me and my suit, or when a man I've never met in my life comes screaming at me and punches me square in the face because of my religious beliefs...I'm HAPPY! It's insane, I know, but it's because I know what I'm doing and a part of is true.
Well guys...it's official, I got 2 months left haha. It's weird as heck, but it's real and it's natural. Lots of pandering is going on now, and lots of reflecting. I love you all so much, and I hope you all take what I say for real, because it's extracted straight from the innermost core of my heart.
Talk to you next week, ciao!
Anziano Carter Blaise
Piazza Monte Gemma, 9
00141 Roma, RM
|My MTC group + Adepoju on the far left haha|
|Me,my son, and grandson!|
|Old comp Anziano Martin on the far right...love that guy so much!!! Middle we got another dope one Alexander! He's in Foggia right now so us 3 took a Foggia pic for Roberta (in Foggia)!|
|.....2 Month Departing Packet..|
|The Sears couple!! Love them to death. They treated me like their own while I was in Rome 3|
|Lots of traveling gets ya after a while|
|The #squad on the way to the President Nelson Conference in Rome!! This was the bus we all took from Palermo to the airport|
|my new comp from Washington|
|watching General Conference|
|Polipi e neonati|