Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Addio Italia!

Cara Famiglia,

Merry Christmas!!! It was awesome to be able to talk to everyone yesterday. The Noda family had us over for Christmas and they are awesome! We were there all day and we watched The Emperor's New Groove in Italian and it was really funny. They also had a ton of awesome food, and Sorella Noda even got gifts for my companion and I! She gave Anziano Thompson a pasta recipe book and she gave me this awesome book of 90 Italian recipes that also talks a lot about the history of the various foods. It is awesome, I'll show it to you in a couple days!

This week the work went well. Actually great. Tony and Jacqueline are a go for baptism on Saturday which is going to be fantastic. It's going to be in Brescia since we don't have a font here in Piacenza. Unfortunately I won't be there! But Anziano Thompson is training so his trainee will be really lucky to come into Piacenza which is an amazing city! The work is going really well. We did Tony's interview and he is so humble and ready for the gospel, it's awesome! He reads the Book of Mormon every day and it just helps him feel the spirit so well. The Book of Mormon is incredible.

Then we also finally saw Esther again! She had been really sick which was a bummer but she has read all the way to Mosiah 7!! She puts up on facebook the stuff that she likes and her friends love the stuff she posts! She is so elect! Unfortunately her work situation makes it difficult to meet and come to church but she is so awesome. We will definitely be helping her to get to baptism.

We also had four people in church on Sunday which was really good. Three of them were husbands of sisters in the ward, and then also Cinzia came which was really good. Other than that we are just working with a bunch of potentials and there are some really cool people including some that have met with missionaries in the past. So pray everything goes well there!

I am really bummed for this weekend but also excited to come back and see everyone again. All I can say about the entire experience of my mission is that it has been one giant miracle. The most important thing I've learned and felt is the pure, complete love that Heavenly Father has for all His children and the importance of living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whenever we are sad, discouraged, facing adversity, or even just going through the motions, turning to our Savior with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength will change everything. I'm grateful for all the experiences I've had in Italy, both good and bad, and especially for all the investigators, companions, members, new converts, and less-actives I've been able to get to know! The people of Italy are amazing, including all the non-Italians. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that it will help anybody who honestly reads it grow closer to their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ more than any other book on this earth. It has changed my life! I love you all lots and thanks for all that you do!

-Anziano Benjamin Smith

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Buon Natale!

Cara Famiglia,

Christmas is coming! It seems like everyone here is getting into the Christmas spirit with Pandoro, Pannettone, Christmas Parties, and lots of trees and lights. Those first two things are Italian bread treats that are typically common around Christmas, especially in missionary apartments as gifts from members. I will try to bring a Pandoro home, because it is delicious and I'm not a huge fan of Pannettone.

This week everything continued pretty smoothly, except that sickness is still afflicting a number of our awesome investigators. Esther is still pretty sick and also Maurizia couldn't come to church because of illness this week. We were also missing some other key investigators in church which was a bummer, but it was a good week nonetheless.

We taught Tony yesterday and he is doing awesome! He and Jacqueline are both so ready for baptism and will be baptized December 29th. They are both feeling a little bit nervous and excited but they will have such a great experience! It is so awesome to see them progress and strengthen their testimonies.

Cinzia is also doing really well, we taught her with a member yesterday and it was an awesome lesson. Members make such a huge difference in teaching, they help so much and it just makes everything better! She is progressing slowly and surely. The Book of Mormon rocks.

We are also teaching a cool Peruvian girl named Adelaide who has been through a lot of churches and has already read 11 chapters in the Book of Mormon! She is really cool but unfortunately we can only meet once a week since she is really busy. Everything else is fine and dandy in Piacenza, including the fact that it snowed this last week again and is really cold every day. I love it!

This week we had our awesome Christmas Zone Conference with the Wolfgramms! Anziani Wilkey, Scheurn, and I got to give our final testimonies. It was scary. But it was an awesome conference and I got to see a bunch of missionaries, including Anziano DeVincent! He is such a stud. It was a great conference.

During the conference an Anziano shared a thought about the greatest Christmas gift of all time, the Atonement. It's interesting to think about gifts given during this time, and he mentioned that Jesus Christ gave the gift of the Atonement, loving and bearing the sins of everybody even though he knew not everybody would receive it. I've been grateful to see that gift have such an effect on my life and especially the lives of others that I talk to and see every day. The Atonement really is the greatest gift we have ever been given. I know that it can help us through good and bad times and that our Savior Jesus Christ has a perfect love for every single one of us. I know that this is His church and that He guides His work and us missionaries. I love you all lots, and have a very Merry Christmas!

-Anziano Benjamin Smith

P.S. I got all the birthday letters finally! Thanks to Bishop Higbee, Fratello Osguthorpe, Sisters Richards, Scheurn, Hanks, Evans, The Goodsells, The Smiths, and Ashley for their letters!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snow Problem!

Cara Famiglia,

It snowed this week! It was pretty fun to bike around in and made finding work really interesting. We only got like 1-2 inches. Biking on leftover ice is quite the adventure too. I might be able to send some pictures of the snow.

We had a great work week! We had six people in church on Sunday which was really exciting. We should have had two more but they didn't make it. But it was a good experience for all of them.

Esther is still really sick and we couldn't see her this week and also Angelo and Paola are working like crazy so we haven't been able to see them in a while. But we are hoping they will still progress slowly and surely.

One sweet miracle happened yesterday! Tony accepted the 29th of December as a date for baptism! He seems really on board and is just doing great reading the Book of Mormon and feeling the spirit. He and some other investigators are coming to our Branch Christmas Party on Friday which should really help out a lot.

Not much else is happening. Everyone is excited for Christmas, they put up a big tree in centro and a bunch of lights! I might have a picture to send.

I was reading Alma 13 this morning and really liked verse 12: Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God." I like the connection between sanctification and not looking upon sin save it were with abhorrence. I think we would do good to see at what point we stand on this and try to be more like our Savior! I also like that it gives hope by saying there was an "exceedingly great many" who went through this sanctification and entered into the rest of the Lord. I know that as we study the Savior and become more like Him we will be a lot happier. I love you all lots, and I know this is His work!

-Anziano Benjamin Smith

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Cara Famiglia,

Well it is getting nice and cold in Piacenza. Although after reading Elder Richard's email [who is in Denmark] I probably don't have much to complain about. But we are staying warm and are teaching a bunch so it's not too bad. Today we had a good Pday, we went to Parma (which is a surprisingly cool, big, and beautiful city!) with the Anziani from Reggio Emilia and Modena. It was a good time. We saw some a cool opera house that got bombed in WWII and of course ate pizza.

The work is still going well! We are doing a lot of finding work every day and it is great to just hit the streets and talk to people. There is no limit of people to talk to about the gospel. We have found a bunch of cool potentials this last week and the Lord is blessing us a lot.

Esther is doing well but we haven't been able to meet with her and she couldn't come to church because she was sick. Also we haven't been able to meet with Angelo and Paola since Angelo found a new job and is now super busy. However, we did meet with Tony, and he is awesome! He is just a stud. He and his wife are reading together from the Book of Mormon, and he says he just feels different when he reads or prays or meets with us! We are seeing him again tomorrow. One thing you can pray for is that he'll come to church! He is awesome though.

We had a really great miracle this week! We were talking to people on the street last Friday and we stopped and talked to this lady for maybe two minutes and just got her phone number. We barely talked to her. So we called her on Saturday and invited her to church and she actually came! It was awesome! She came to Sacrament Meeting and the members were so awesome at greeting her and we met her again on Monday. It was sweet, we are seeing her again tomorrow! She is really Catholic though, but she has a lot of potential.

I really love Alma 7; it is probably one of the most awesome chapters in the Book of Mormon. This morning I really liked verse 13 which says: "Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me." I liked the connection with some talk by Henry B. Eyring, where he talked about how Jesus Christ could have learned how we feel in our trials by revelation, but instead he chose to experience it himself. Kind of like the difference between knowing something by reading it in a book and by actually going through it. It's probably one of the most comforting thoughts of all time to know that Jesus Christ knows every single feeling we have ever felt and can help lift us in our afflictions. I have felt that many times in my life, sometimes without even realizing it! I know this is His work and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I love you all very much!

-Anziano Benjamin Smith

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Merry Thanksgiving!

Cara Famiglia,

So this last week was Thanksgiving, as you probably know better than me. I enjoyed hearing about the usual Thanksgiving feast. Anziano Thompson and I had a nice Thanksgiving meal as well. We got pizza, kebab, focaccia, and gelato. It was filling and delicious, almost like a real Thanksgiving dinner. There might be turkey in kebab, I really have no idea haha. The weather is getting colder! For the past couple days it has been nice and cold and rainy. Fortunately we have had a bunch of appointments so we haven't been out in the rain a ton.

The biggest news this week is that Esther set a baptismal date for the 22nd of December!!! She is so awesome! We taught her for the third time and she had already read up to the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon! And she said that when she reads something she likes she puts in on Facebook to share with everybody! It was awesome. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and she even said "Yeah, I already believed we existed before this life." It was freakin' sweet!

We also have been able to see both of the part-member families we are working with and they are both so awesome! They are really close to just being baptized and can add such a huge strength to the branch here. On Sundays the chapel is almost full, it is awesome!

This week I also got to do a scambio with Anziano Wilkey!! He is in my district and was in my MTC group and is probably the most humble kid I have ever met. And he's British! He is a stud. We had a lot of fun together and worked really hard. It was weird to think how long it's been since we were in the MTC together.

I really liked thinking this week about Mosiah 28:3 - "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble." It is so cool to see how their desires were completely aligned with God's to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all men. And then just thinking about not all the success they had but also the trials and difficulties really gives a missionary strength and hope. I also really loved the cross reference to Moses 7:41 which you should all go look up! I know this work is the Lord's work and that he guides it every single day! I love you all lots!

-Anziano Benjamin Smith

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Cara Famiglia,

So gesso can mean two things in Italian, either 'chalk' or 'cast' as in a cast you get when you get really injured falling off your bike! Just kidding, I didn't fall off my bike! Sorry to scare you on your birthday mom! Speaking of which, Tanti Auguri! I hope you have a fantastic day and everything goes perfectly! Also speaking of birthdays, say thank you to the Walton and DeVincent and Blake families for their birthday cards! They were much appreciated.

Today we didn't do anything for Pday except clean the apartment and take a nap. It was excellent. It is good to feel rested.

So the reason the subject is 'chalk' is because we tried it out as a new finding method this week. It goes like this: we get sidewalk chalk, go into centro on the main street, and start drawing out the Plan of Salvation. While my companion draws, I talk to people. It was actually a lot more fun than I thought it would be and a lot of people stopped to talk and look at it. It was fun.

Quick other cool note to Elder Goodsell in Germany. His friend Anziano Day is in my district!! I got to do a sweeeet exchange with him, he is an awesome missionary and a funny kid. We found a ton of really cool people.

As far as the most important things go, Valerio got confirmed!!!!! Woooo!!! He is a stud. He said he just felt 'benissimo' after the ordinance. We also gave him the special Liahona issue about Temples and he was really excited to do some family history work.

We also taught Paola again, and she is awesome! She loves reading the Book of Mormon but is a little nervous for baptism. Pray for her!

We also had a cool little miracle this week that shows how bravo my companion is. We got a bidone and so we decided to walk to the train station to check times for a conference we had to go to. On the way through some really empy streets we saw one lady so we decided to talk to her. Turns out she has been going to a lot of different churches and is just really searching for the truth! We have an appointment with her tomorrow morning so pray that it goes well! We are looking for a lot of new people.

Another cool experience we had this week was with the branch, which every year co-organizes a concert with this little city near Piacenza. We got to go and hear it and had a little information table with Books of Mormon and stuff afterwards. It was awesome because some of the people that performed (including one fratello in the ward who is a dang good opera singer) have performed at the Scala opera house in Milano! It was my first time hearing real Italian opera.

This week we had a sweet conference in Verona, and I wanted to share a spiritual thought from something President Wolfgramm shared. He talked about how when Adam was in the garden the Lord asked him "Adam, where art thou?" and "Adam, where goest thou?" He talked about how those are really important questions in our life; the Lord may obviously wasn't asking Adam where he was physically because he knew, but he was giving him a chance to be accountable and make an honest evaluation at what point he was in living the gospel. We could evaluate our spirituality and ask where we are, and where we are going. I'm grateful that Jesus Christ is the way and also the light, which gives us a pretty clear path to follow. I love this work, and I love you all lots!

-Anziano Benjamin Smith

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Cara Famiglia,

Even though the subject says transfers, Anziano Thompson and I are staying the same! It is awesome! I am really glad he is my last companion since he is such a hard worker and an awesome missionary. Everything in Piacenza is going just dandy! Today we are in Milano for Pday though. We saw The Last Supper this morning! And now we are going to play soccer with some Anziani here in Milano. Hopefully it won't rain.

So the work is still going awesome. Kind of a bummer was that Valerio didn't show up to church to get confirmed! We were kind of freaking out. But he just kind of had some last minute doubts or something, but we saw him yesterday and he is definitely committed to the gospel. He'll get confirmed this next Sunday. The biggest thing we are trying to do now is get him to wear a suit to church haha.

We are also still teaching Lalit, Tony, and Paola although we haven't been able to see them this past week and none of them came to church. It is tough to meet with people who are really busy with work. But we had an awesome miracle find this week! The Zone Leaders came and did a blitz scambio here in Piacenza, and Anziano Hardy was with my comp. They found this Ecuadorian lady named Ester who is married with a son here in Italy. Her entire family are members and live in Utah. We taught her and her husband a first lesson on Saturday and they are just so awesome! They are really searching for the truth. We taught her again Monday and she had stayed up til 2 am reading the Book of Mormon and the Restoration pamphlet and highlighting what she liked. She read 13 chapters! It was amazing. She is so awesome. Hopefully we can set a baptismal date with her by next week.

Other than that everything is going really well in Piacenza. The weather isn't too bad. We also had a good cleaning on Monday where we threw out a ton of old furniture and broken stuff from our garage and apartment. We actually have a little 'scarico' right across the street from our apartment where you can throw away old furniture, appliances, etc. and so we started bringing stuff over there. After we had brought a big wardrobe, a mattress, and a bedframe, they told us "Okay guys, that's enough for today." We were shocked to find out that at the dump here in Italy there is a limit of stuff you can throw away in one day! So we had to go back yesterday morning and we'll have to go back again tomorrow and maybe Friday. Missionary apartments have a lot of junk in them.

This week my companion was finishing reading the Old Testament and we were talking about some sweet verses in Zechariah(who?). In Zechariah 13:6 it says:

6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

It reminds me of when Jesus said "Greater love hath no man than he that layeth down his life for his friends" or however it goes. I'm grateful for the fact that we can truly come to know our Savior and what he has done and still does for us. I'm grateful that through him we can be the best person possible. I know this is His church and that this work is true. I love you all lots!

-Anziano Benjamin Smith