“Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity” Jeffrey R. Holland

Ciao a tutti,

This week was a pretty eventful one: we had a scambio in Catania where I had to play trainer to a greenie who’d only been in the city a week and a half so we got lost. A lot. I mean I walked about 15 miles that day, and I’m pretty sure that’s not an exaggeration. We took the wrong bus but made it home eventually! Then we finally got home on Thursday and did a bit of language study before our lesson. I realised I needed something from my overnight bag and when I went to grab it, I realised it wasn’t there. Then it hit me that I left it on the bus… we had to rush down to the bus office, unfortunately cancel our lesson, and ask if it had been handed in. At that point nothing had been handed in, so the lady called the bus driver and he said there was nothing on the bus. My bag was stolen which meant an emergency trip to buy a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc… Basically everything I need on a daily basis! HOWEVER, if that didn’t happen we wouldn’t have stopped in a near by grocery store, and spoken to a lady who I think has some great potential! I woke up the next day feeling sorry for myself and wasn’t finding any comfort reading in Alma about how many senines is worth… So I figured I needed to read something that would put me in my place, so I decided to read ‘Lessons from Liberty Jail’ by Elder Holland which did the trick.

Joseph’s experience in liberty jail is described as a Prison-Temple experience, which is odd to first think about. However, just like a temple is a house of learning, those tough, bring-you-to-your-extremity-trials in life can help you to learn just as profound lessons as those learnt in the temple. “you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord  in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced…every  experience can become a  redemptive  experience if we remain bonded to our  father in Heaven through that difficulty. These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity”. Sometimes those experiences, no matter how difficult, bring us to learn things only possible to learn in that way, every experience is tailored for the individual but can help that person to teach so others can learn too. At times, these experiences feel like a punishment but we can learn from Joseph’s experience that “just because difficult things happen—sometimes unfair and seemingly unjustified things—it does not mean that we are unrighteous or that we are unworthy of blessings or that God is disappointed in us”, we came here to learn and sometimes we have to see these experiences as blessings because our Heavenly Father believes that, although we are experiencing these things, we have sufficient faith to rely on him and learn and do what he wants us to do and learn. It’s all part of the life of someone who follows Christ. “and when we promise to follow the Saviour, to walk in His footsteps and be His disciples, we are promising to go where that divine path leads us.  and the path of salvation has always led one way or another through Gethsemane. So if the Saviour faced such injustices and discouragements, such persecutions, unrighteousness, and    suffering, we cannot expect that we are not going to face some of that if we still intend to call ourselves His true disciples and faithful followers.” How wonderful is that? Well maybe not a thing to be ecstatic about but, it’s nice knowing we’re not alone, “If you are having a bad day, you’ve got a lot of company—very, very good company. The best company that has ever lived.”

In the midst of trials, please don’t forget to nourish your testimony, learn from those who have gone before us. “They remembered their covenants, they disciplined themselves, and they knew that we must live the gospel at all times, not just when it is convenient and not just when things are going well. Indeed, they knew that the real test of our faith and our Christian discipleship is when things are not  going smoothly. That is when we get to see what we’re made of and how strong our commitment to the gospel really is…remaining true to our Christian principles is the only way divine influence can help us. The Spirit has a near-impossible task to get through to a heart that is filled with hate or anger or vengeance or self-pity. Those are all antithetical to the Spirit of the lord.” When it said “self-pity” that struck me, because that’s where I was, it really helped me to humble myself so I could feel the spirit and be guided by him.

I went on to read sections 121-123 of the Doctrine and Covenants; I can’t, along with Elder Holland, imagine the Doctrine and Covenants without these 3 sections, so consequently I am very grateful for Joseph’s experience in Liberty Jail and need to be a bit more grateful for my own prison-temple experiences, after all I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 5:13). I’d invite you to read those 3 sections.

Apart from our scambio and the stolen bag, this past week and a bit has been eventful still. On Saturday we were invited to a pranzo in the country, where we picked oranges from their tree and ate salads with vegetables and herbs from their garden; Italy has the BEST produce and I’m just so grateful for this gorgeous land and food! We were also able to eat outside in the afternoon sun, it was truly a glorious day!

Thursday night we celebrated Carnevale, basically Italian Halloween, we had a Ward party and it was pretty fun!!

Then Sunday we spent the day with one of our American members, she lives a bit far out but we were able to spend some time with her, her husband is back in America for a while, so she’s alone. It was good to get to know her and we ate rice and beans, she served in Brazil and it was seriously so good!!! Then we were dropped off in Catania for interviews and then Zone Conference on Monday.

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I just love spending time with the missionaries, I’ve grown so close to some of them and I wish I could just live near them forever! I wish I could have all the people I care about live on the same street as me! Like Sorella Jarnagin’s mom says “heaven is living on the same street as those you love”.

Today is Shrove Tuesday, or PANCAKE DAY!!!! For those who aren’t British, it’s a pretty fab day when we eat pancakes. We went to the wonderful British couple in our ward’s home and made and ate pancakes! We explored more of Ortigia, literally my favourite place in the entire world and I’ll never get sick of it! But tourist season is starting up so it’s getting more crowded. Every time we walk by the sea I just realise how I can never permanently live away from the coast. The sound of the waves, the smell of the sea, the taste of the air, and the beauty of the clear water just feels like home and reminds me of all my summers spent in Cornwall, and I just smile. It’s the best.

I hope all of you have the best week, I love you all!

Sorella Tacchi xxx

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