Il vangelo in Firenze

Cara la mia famiglia e i miei amici,
Grazie per the emails! Love you all! And, happy birthday Mary and Grammie! Check the mail!
So, yes, I am in Florence, Italy.  Yes, it is as beautiful as I could ever have imagined.  I have never had my breath taken away so many times.  I can just keep gasping and gasping at every turn. The view of Il Ponte Vecchio is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my entire life. But, really.  There are beautiful Christmas lights strung between the buildings, and walking through Florence, Italy at night is absolutely stunning.  There are no words to describe it and there is no picture to capture it. Today I saw one of the 7 wonders of the world, no big deal, the leaning tower of Pisa. We ate pizza in Pisa. YUM.
And, as beautiful and as magical as the city of Firenze is, I am a missionary 🙂 And let me tell you about this place.
We had a baptism.  What a great way to show up to a city – hey guess what, you have a baptism tomorrow!
Her name is Carla, and she is an absolute miracle.  She was a referral from Peru, and was just ready to be baptized.  She is so beautiful and cute and brimming with the light of the gospel in her life. When she came up out of the water, we were waiting in the bathroom and we kissed her wet cheeks.  The smile on her face and the immediate light that just came to her eyes, it is unexplainably beautiful.
Funny story, we couldn’t get the water to get hot. We were running around frantically and our branch president was calling the electric company. Well, I got creative and emptied out all the little trashcans and started filling it up with hot water from the bathroom (those were working) and then dumping the hot water into the font.  Luckily we were able to get the water heater working again, but let’s just say we were panicking a little 🙂
They also baptized a family from Peru the week before.  We got to have a lesson with them about how they felt about their baptism, and it truly was a spiritual experience for me. Hearing this beautiful families fresh testimonies and excitement to have the gospel for their family.  The mother, Ines, said, “I never, ever, ever thought that I would be baptized to be a Mormon.  But, then I read the Book of Mormon, and when my husband and I prayed together to know that it was true, we couldn’t deny it.”  Their faith is so simple and beautiful and growing so much.
We are now the only sisters in Firenze, so we will be working with 2 branches.  This means that our area covers the entire city of Florence (and all of the surrounding paesini, and we teach all of the single women and families that we find. It’s crazy, and we’re trying to figure it all out since church meets at the same time.  We are trying to coordinate and get to know all of the members at once, and I am feeling pretty overwhelmed and trying to figure out my role in every situation.
As I look out the window of my apartment, (we are on the top floor) I see the city, and every day a beautiful sunset.  There are always birds flying against the blue blackdrop of the sky, and I feel peace.  There is so much work to do here with our members and less-actives, many investigators to teach, and many seeds to plant.  We are busy and running around and figuring out how to work in three.
Also, I want to tell you that I have some of the strongest, most amazing companions in the entire world.  Sorella Holloway has such an immediate love and connection with everyone that she meets, and I am so excited to learn from her about getting investigators to progress.  Sorella Beutler is probably one of the strongest people I have ever met in my entire life, and that is not an exaggeration.  She is teaching me about the power of the atonement in every situation.  Her testimony of how the Savior can help us through everything is powerful and truly touches people’s hearts. I love them both so much.
La vita e bella. Yeah, being a missionary in Italy is really, really, really hard.  But, hey, I just have to look out the window of my apartment and I know that my Heavenly Father loves me.  I know that Heavenly Father loves you too.  Just stop, slow down, and look at the Christmas lights.  Aren’t they beautiful? God loves you, because He gave you that. And since God loves you, go love someone else, because they need to know that God loves them too.
Vi voglio bene,
Sorella Strong


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