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Catania – Week 22

Ciao Tutti!!

We had a great week and it flew by once again with how busy we have been! We are loving it and it has been a lot of fun for sure! We had a family home evening last week at the part member’s family and we were able to bring our new convert to the lesson who is a ward missionary and we think a super nice fit to our investigator who is around the same age. It was a great lesson and we were able to teach about obedience, the 10 commandments and following the prophet. It was a really good lesson and I am so thankful for the fact that Jesus Christ leads and guides his church through a living prophet today and helps us along our journey through mortality. We are very blessed to live in such a time where we have aide along the way through this life.

We had a good time Tuesday where we had a lesson after English group where we picked up a new investigator. He is super nice and was really open to listen to us so we will see where that will go. Wednesday we were able to go on scambi with the other Anziani here in Catania and I had the opportunity to be able to go on a scambio with Anziano LaPray again. We had a good scambio for everything that happened on it. We essentially got 3 bidones and were able to prepare for the Halloween activity while waiting on the people that never arrived at the lessons. We were really hoping have all those lessons, but we had different plans put before us though. Ended up being really cool and we were able to see little small miracles in running into some people on the street and had some good finding at a piazza. It was great to work with Anziano LaPray again and be able to observe his work ethic and his missionary characteristics that are so unique to each one of us.

Thursday we were given the chance to go and do some service on the military branch of Sigonella near to Catania with all the missionaries. We cleaned the chapel and that was a great moment for us to be able to serve those around us. We met some great people there and had a great time rendering that service in cleaning up the chapel.

It was interesting to have some American pizza there for lunch and then some Taco Bell as well. It was super weird. I enjoyed being able to see all the different religious faiths there and see the unity that we can still have as Christians and event others of other faiths. I am thankful for the fact that we have religious freedom where we live and that our founding fathers saw such a need to establish a land where we can each practice our religious beliefs as we see fit.

Friday we had another lesson with our part member family and then headed to the church for the Halloween activity that we were throwing in church. It ended up being super awesome and it was the best turn out I have seen here at any activity thrown. We were a little worried that not many people would be there at the beginning, but we were able to see a lot of people come and we had some really great activities for everyone to participate it. We had about 100 people there and a good majority of them were non members, almost half of them. We had pumpkin carving, candy fishing, cookie decorating, the guess how many jar game (where some guy started eating out of the candy hahaha), and then that game where you stick your hand into a box to feel brains and eyeballs. We had a last box labeled worms where it was empty and when they stuck their hand in there it was grabbed by my hand since I was hiding under the table where no one could see me. It was super funny to hear people’s reactions hahaha. The activity was awesome though and we had a great time putting it all together. We had a great spiritual thought on the Atonement and we hope that all the people that came were able to feel a beautiful spirit with us.

We had a great Saturday and had a scambio in Ragusa that went super well. I had a great chance to be able to go with a new missionary named Anziano Wright who comes from Long Island, New York. He is a great missionary and I was able to learn a lot from him! He did a great job in leading off on the lessons and taking the lead in his city. It was a great opportunity for him to grow and be able see that he is capable of doing what he needs to do. He is super focused and really working towards that standard of excellence to have a baptism per transfer. He is great at getting to the chase with people and I love that. It was super great working with him and I look forward to seeing how much he will continue to grow.

We had a wacky Sunday where we had to take one of our sisters to the hospital because she wasn’t feeling well. She is ok though and we were able to figure out that it wasn’t anything to grave, but they also didn’t give a solid diagnosis at all though. We were with them for the morning though and had the opportunity to bless the sacrament later that night for us and all the sisters that weren’t able to partake of it. I was thankful for that opportunity to partake of it and bless the sacrament. I am thankful for the wonderful ordinance of the sacrament and all the blessing that we gain from partaking it and renewing our covenants with our Heavenly Father. It was very special to see how personal that the Atoement is and as well as the sacrament. I am thankful for the chance to change and be better through our Savior Jesus Christ. I love this quote from the apostle Elder Dale G. Renlund last general conference talking about repentance.

Instead of making excuses, let us choose repentance. Through repentance, we can come to ourselves, like the prodigal in the parable, and reflect on the eternal import of our actions. When we understand how our sins can affect our eternal happiness, we not only become truly penitent but we also strive to become better. When faced with temptation, we are more likely to ask ourselves, in the words of William Shakespeare:

What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?

A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.

Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week, Or sells eternity to get a toy?

The fact that we can repent is the good news of the gospel! Guilt can be “swept away.” We can be filled with joy, receive a remission of our sins, and have “peace of conscience.” We can be freed from feelings of despair and the bondage of sin. We can be filled with the marvelous light of God and be “pained no more.” Repentance is not only possible but also joyful because of our Savior. I still remember the feelings that washed over me in the branch president’s office after the firecracker episode. I knew I had been forgiven. My feelings of guilt vanished, my gloomy mood lifted, and my heart felt light.

Brothers and sisters, as we conclude this conference, I invite you to feel more joy in your life: joy in the knowledge that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real; joy in the Savior’s ability, willingness, and desire to forgive; and joy in choosing to repent. Let us follow the instruction to “with joy … draw water out of the wells of salvation.”

May we choose to repent, forsake our sins, and turn our hearts and wills around to follow our Savior. I testify of His living reality. I am a witness and repeated recipient of His incomparable compassion, mercy, and love. I pray that the redeeming blessings of His Atonement may be yours now–and again and again and again throughout your lives, as they have been in mine. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I really love that part of the talk and the fact that it is truly joyful that we can repent and forsake our sins. Change is real and possible only through our savior Jesus Christ. I have felt that change and am thankful for the utmost divine love I have felt that my Heavenly Father and redeemer Jesus Christ have for me. They have the same for you as well. I love you all and am thankful for all your support and help while I am out here! Talk to you guys again next week!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Garrett

Catania – Week 21

Ciao tutti!

This week was really awesome, but man it passed by super duper fast!

We were able to accomplish a lot of things that we needed to do and got it all done in a manageable amount of time. We had a family home evening last Monday evening that went really well with our part member family. We were able to address the questions that they all had and still teach what we felt was right for them in that moment. That is something that is so amazing about the gospel that it can be tailored, then taught, and applied to everyone initially. I really enjoy that we can be able to bring to the table exactly what the Lord knows will make people happy and live with joy in their lives.

We were able to visit a less active family at their house for lunch which also went really well. We had an interesting conversation about a dish of food found here in Sicily called parmigiana which is made with eggplant, tomatoes, cheese, and some other things that I am forgetting. It was interesting for the fact of the name and how we started talking about how much of a melting pot it is here in Sicily.

There is such a mix of cultures which makes it such an interesting and unique place. The food is a mix of certain dishes which causes even the cities in Sicily to have different dishes that are specially made in those places. For example when I was in Trapani they are famous for their cous-cous which comes from the country very close on the northern tip of Africa called Tunisia. Here in Catania there is a special dish called pasta alla’norma which is a ragu based pasta with melanzane and ricotta salata. It is super cool to me and I enjoy learning about all these things and being around it all. That is a little culture story for everyone! The lesson went really well though and we were able to talk about family councils which is something that Elder M. Russell Ballard talked about last April in general conference. It is where we can meet as a family and discuss situations and make goals as a family to continue to grow and progress in this life together. He explains how their are four different types of family councils and it is something I can’t wait to apply in my future family. Really something I want to do because it is something that is so special for the family. Here is the link if you are interested in reading more about it.

We had to wake up at 3:30 on Wednesday morning to make our way up to Rome. We got started nice and early and we made our way to Messina where you have to take the ferry across the strait with the car. It was a nice long drive and we were making good time and of course we had some stops for the restroom, gas and lunch. We stopped in Napoli on the way up for lunch and it was amazing to finally eat a pizza from Napoli. I will say expectations were high, but the pizza definitely lived up to what it was. I will put a picture in there. It was the best pizza I have definitely had. Not to say there isn’t good pizza out there, but it was awesome. We made it up to Rome and parked the car up at the mission office. Got on the Metro and headed down to the station to meet all the other Anzinai in the zone that had to travel up on the train. Unfortunately the train arrived late, and this caused us not to be able to make it to our Geso spot in Piazza Spagna. We were however able to make the best of our time and get down to a different spot where Anziano LaPray and I went finding for the brief 30 minutes that we had. The First Lady we saw ended up being a great conversation and we got her number which we really hope turns out to be a cool opportunity for the missionaries to teach her up in Rome.

We had another early morning in order to prepare for the conference and make our way down to the Rome 1 church. The conference was so amazing. Once they were all in the building we were able to go down the line and shake all their hands and meet them all. We had such a spiritually strong few hours with all the general authorities and their wives. We were able to here from every single one of them there.

It was super special and amazing to be able to hear and see some overall themes among them, but how they all each had some different things to take away form each individual talk/testimony. They all had so many great things said I don’t even know where to start. Time was a big theme that was talked about as well as just remembering how great and wonderful this calling is as missionaries. I will definitely keep close the things that the talked about and do my best to apply the things that I learned through the spirit. I loved that we were able to hear from them for so long. Sorella Nelson talked about a lot of great things and one thing that I really liked was if we were able to see a short 10 minute clip of who we were at any point in the pre mortal life that it would change the trajectory completely of our life on earth. We would know what are true purpose is and without a doubt would work with all our might, mind, and strength to accomplish what we know we need to accomplish. She also told a cool story about how once in Russia with members of the church she addressed a group and said she wanted to get to know them all a little better. She then asked the whole group to stand when she called out one of the 12 tribes of Israel. She found 11 different tribes that day! Every one except the tribe of Levi was there, but then the next day in their travels they were able to meet a missionary that was a Levite. Pretty cool stories.

President Russell M. Nelson was able to address us for about 45 or 50 minutes and his topic was very interesting, but applied so well to missionary work and who we are. One of the first things that he does though is the asks the whole room who had their paper scriptures with them. Most people didn’t since traveling with the iPad is more convenient and what not. He said that he likes and uses both, but said there is just something about the paper scriptures. He then told us how he just recently got that copy that he was holding. He then turned it in the inside where the date was written, May. He decided that he would read every word of the entire quad, in which he finished 2 weeks later. He talked about the 12 tribes of Israel and the Gathering of Israel which was amazing to see. We were so blessed to have him there and instruct us on something that we maybe didn’t know everything about, but something that was able to stick with us in such a way to open us up with a drive to find more. I am thankful that we were able to talk about this great gathering of Israel that is taking place and the Abrahamic covenant. We are able to participate in this great gathering in helping Heavenly Father’s children find the truth. I really loved all that we were able to learn from the conference and hope to retain the feelings and apply the knowledge that I have now.

It was nice to see and catch up with some people after the conference and talk to everyone I haven’t seen in a long time. It was definitely just an all around amazing conference and interesting how it differed from the last mission conference when it comes to the aspect of knowing a lot more people in the mission now. We had to switch out our car after the conference and made our back home, but since we weren’t going to make it all the way we had to stop in Cosenza and stay the night. That was weird to be back in that city as well. Was able to get a nice run in Cosenza that next morning which was awesome. We made our way back after that and have had some awesome few days back here in Catania. We were able to go and have another lesson with our part member family, have a special broadcasted conference to our stake, and found 3 new investigators this past Sunday.

One of the new investigators we were supposed to go over and teach a lesson to our investigator that came to church, but at the end she wasn’t able to come down for the lesson. We had a meal, which was super good by the way, with a less active daughter of the family. She made this pasta with a sauce that uses the inc sac of a squid. It was super good! Sorry those are my food rants, but we were able to teach her boyfriend the whole restoration and we will be headed back there next Sunday to teach them. That was a super cool miracle! The other two were found at the Geso while Anziano Parkinson and Anziano Ponce went off to make sure there weren’t too many missionaries concentrated a small area when we were stopping people. They both sounds awesome too!

It was a crazy past week with lots of fun, spiritual, and instructive moments. I am so happy to be here serving in Italy with all the fellow missionaries and laborers around me as well. This past week I was able to be in 3 of my 4 cities, which is something super strange. I have had a ton of thoughts and memories flooding back to my head about many different experiences over my mission so far. I am so thankful for the cities I have served in, the people I have been able to meet and serve to the best of my ability, the people I have served with, the miracles, the lessons, all the experiences, lessons learned, etc. It has been such an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I can’t wait for the lessons and all the things I will do today and the rest of my time here in Italy as a full time missionary of the Lord. This makes me think of a few scriptures in Alma 29.

10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.

11 Yea, and I also remember the captivity of my fathers; for I surely do know that the Lord did deliver them out of bondage, and by this did establish his church; yea, the Lord God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, did deliver them out of bondage.

12 Yea, I have always remembered the captivity of my fathers; and that same God who delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians did deliver them out of bondage.

I will always remember the wonderful things that the Lord has done and hope to always cling to those feelings and memories so they will always stay close to me. I am thankful for the great times and the difficult ones as well. It all is for our benefit and helps us to draw closer the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you all again for all the prayers and help that you all offer me. I love you all and am so grateful to know that we all as missionaries have so many people supporting us.

Have a great week!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Garrett

With Anziano Spencer, my companion from Trapani, at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

With Anziano Spencer, my companion from Trapani, at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

With friends at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

With friends at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

Some friends at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

Some friends at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

We stopped in Napoli to enjoy world-class pizza on our journey to Rome for the Mission Conference, October, 2016

We stopped in Napoli to enjoy world-class pizza on our journey to Rome for the Mission Conference, October, 2016

Napoli pizza - pizza doesn't get any better than this

Napoli pizza – pizza doesn’t get any better than this

Catania – Week 17

Ciao Tutti!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! Feels like just yesterday I was in Rome on my birthday. Weird how another year passes by so fast! Sorry again I couldn’t get to every one last week! All of us Anziani were able to go and take a trip up to Etna with a member. It was a lot of fun and we had a really good time together. We got to hike a little bit and really enjoy all the scenery with him. It was really cool and we had a great day with our member. Had a nice and busy week again! We have been really staying busy throughout this whole week and we were able to see some really cool miracles.

We had a great week trying to see all the people that we have to see.

We were able to see a lot of new converts and less actives this past Tuesday and the lessons went super well. They were all really receptive to what we had planned for the and what we shared with them.

We have been doing our best to apply the counsel that was given to us at the President Kearon conference. For instance one of the families that we are working with we did our best to teach to their level and teach them and by doing so we can also at the same time catch the attention of the parents by doing so. It was really neat to see the receptiveness of the family as we taught them. It was also super neat to see them all make it out to church yesterday which was amazing.

We had a great District meeting this past week with an excellent addestramento by Anziano LaPray on love and charity which was super applicable to all of us to hear and learn from. I really enjoyed being able to talk about how that is the essence of the gospel. I am so thankful for the love that the Savior gives us and how we need to emulate that love to others. I love how it works as we serve others and pray continually for that charity we can be filled with the pure love of Christ that we can then offer to others. I am thankful that love is what can help fuel our desire to continue to do all that is right for our love for God. Something I really enjoyed learning was from this verse in the gospel of Matthew when Jesus Christ is asked which of all the commandments is the greatest.

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Here we may only think that two people are the ones we are showing love for, God and our neighbor, but Anziano LaPray underlined the fact that it states as thyself, meaning that we need to love ourselves. Of course not in a prideful or evil what, but in a way that really helps us remember that we are loved by others. This is really good for our own self esteem and was something that I really enjoyed.

That evening we were able to get over and visit a member at his house after a lesson outside of Catania and we had a good family home evening with them and they invited over some of their friends that the sisters used to meet with. It was cool to get an update on how they are doing and being able to share a little spiritual thought with them. It was a really cool spiritual evening with them all.

Thursday we went and did a scambio with Anziano Whitaker and Anziano Jackson in Reggio Calabria so we went to Messina and then crossed the straight to go and spend half of Thursday and Friday with them. The scambio went really well and we were able to see some really cool miracles from it. It was a lot of fun and a good time to get to know them better and work with them in their area. It was nice to get a little bit of finding in with them. We had a cool experience Friday morning where their investigator didn’t show up, and we finished up the scambio with some finding. The last couple that we ended up talking to were these moms on a bench in the park. It was super cool to see the progression of the conversation as we shared the restoration with them and then gave them a Book of Mormon and offered them to read it. After the Presdient Kearon conference I have been really trying to work on smiling  and being excited about leaving invites and it is really interesting to see how that is working. I think that when we know that the gospel has worked so much in our lives we need to be excited about all that we are doing and what we are inviting them to do. They were eager to read the Book of Mormon and also learn more. We got a return appointment and it was a really sick miracle.

That evening upon our return to Catania we had two lessons. We ended up sharing the same talk at both lessons. They really fit for each of them. We were able to explain to them a little of what General Conference is and why it is important and then share the last message that President Monson shared with the world. It was cool to see how this message applied to both groups personally. A lot as well with keeping commitments to read the Book of Mormon, pray, and come to church. I really enjoyed watching it with them. With the part member family that we are visiting the daughter was able to make a connection on how the message that he shared with the everyone ran in correlation with the chapter that she was reading in 1 Nephi 17. It was super cool to see her applying the things that she is learning and not just reading for curiosity, seeing how it works and can apply in our lives personally. I am so thankful for the converting power of the Book of Mormon and then help that it offers each and every one of us.

We were also able to visit some others over the weekend and we were able to see a baptismal service for one of the sisters’ investigators who is over 80 years old. It was wonderful to see him and how happy he was to be baptized and make this great covenant with the Lord. We are headed into our last week together for Anziano Nielsen and I. He will be headed up to Rome next Monday and head off home on Tuesday. It has been awesome to work with him and be able to learn all that I can from him. I am excited to see what we will be able to accomplish this week as well. It will be a lot of fun.

I am so ready for General Conference this week and being able to hear from the Prophet and all the other Apostles. It will be super special and I always get really pumped to hear the messages that they have prepared for us. I was studying a little bit about general conference in preparation for this weekend. I really love this quote from Elder Robert D. Hales.

These conferences are always under the direction of the Lord, guided by His Spirit. We are not assigned specific topics. Over weeks and months, often through sleepless nights, we wait upon the Lord. Through fasting, praying, studying, and pondering, we learn the message that He wants us to give.

Then a quote by Jeffery R. Holland

If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.

I know that if we prepare for General conference we will be able to listen to the messages and receive the answers we so seek to our questions and concerns. I invite you all to tune in to a session of general conference and search for the spiritual answers and comfort you are seeking or may just plainly enjoy. Here is the website with the information, times, and how to watch from the comfort of your home!

I love you all and am thankful for the love and support you give us all! Love you guys and have a great week!

Vi voglio un sacco di bene!

Anziano Garrett

This picture is from Anziano Scott's blog (far left). This is my comp, Anziano Nielsen (center) and 6 of the 7 companions he has had on his mission. Taken at the Mission Conference in Palermo.

This picture is from Anziano Scott’s blog (far left). This is my comp, Anziano Nielsen (center) and 6 of the 7 companions he has had on his mission. Taken at the Mission Conference in Palermo.

Catania – Week 16

Ciao tutti!

We have been really busy this past week! We had a lot of conferences that we had to go to and then all in between that we did our best to get over and visit all the people that we needed to visit. We had a lot of fun and we really learned a lot as well.

Monday night we went and searched for less actives that we are trying to find, people that we can help and go visit. Tuesday we were really busy in the morning with three appointments. It was really nice and we had a good time visiting them all. One was the new convert that we are teaching the commandments right now. She is doing really well and gave her first short talk in church this week so that was really cool! We then visited a member we haven’t been able to see for a while and that went really well too! He is so nice and is a real deep thinker so it is always fun to see what is on his mind and what the has to say. Went and then visited another less active family and were able to eat and share a simple message on the scriptures with them. It went really well and they seemed to really enjoy that simple spiritual thought.

That night we had to go get the car appraised for repairs and then made it over to a member’s house where we were able to watch a young woman open her mission call. It was really cool to see the excitement and remember how it was at my call opening as well. She is headed to the England Manchester mission this December! It’s super exciting and we are pumped for her!

Wednesday we headed to Palermo early in the morning. It was a really pretty drive through the center of Sicilia. It was only supposed to take 2 hours and 15 minutes, but we got stuck in traffic for over an hour and then we went to the Palermo 1 church instead of the Palermo 2 church which is on the other side of the city. Needless to say we were late to the conference hahaha. It was pretty crazy. The conference went so well! There were so many amazing insights that we were all able to take out of the conference. I definitely can’t write all the things that we talked about. Some things that really stuck out to me was having a pioneer mentality and how we as a church have been able to be as pioneers and not take the persecution that they received early in this dispensation. President Kearon then talked about how we are a resilient people who thrive on adversity. I thought that was a very interesting point that we can really put to practice in this life. We are all exposed to adversity and surely Satan tries his best to get us to be anything that God wants us to be. I am thankful for that quality of resilience that we can try to emulate in our life. He also really had many things that we discussed together.

At the conclusion of the conference we took the assistants to the airport and then headed back into Palermo to pick up Anziano LaPray and Anziano Parkinson. Picked up a brioche from Brioscia (best gelateria in Italy) and headed off home. We arrived at home to plan a little and get to bed. Thursday we did our weekly planning session and then picked up Sorella McKenzie and Sorella Pinnegar, who are sister training leaders, and headed to he airport. Our flight was supposed to leave at 5:30 so we got there about an hour in advance or so. Well we then got a delay on our flight which was no big deal, but then it turned into another and another and another. Our flight didn’t leave until 11:30 hahaha. We were there for a long time! They at least gave us a free meal which was really nice. We got picked up by Anziano Guercio, one of the senior couples, about 1:00 a.m.. We passed by the temple at night and the lights were on the inside so that was real neat! We got back to the villa at 2:00 a.m. and went to bed as fast as we could.

The conference was so great up in Rome too! We had a great time at that and there was a really special spirit. We were able to discuss insights and highlights that we felt like we had during he two conferences. We discussed them a little more in depth and President Pickerd went through with all of us and we were able to set goals as a mission to work towards. I am so excited about them, and really think they will help us all be able to reach where we need to be. I am very excited about it and know it will really help us reach our standard of excellence as a mission to have one convert baptism per transfer per companionship. I will go into more detail next week on those steps that we are taking and I sure hope to have some cool experiences as well to go along with that. President Kearon was amazing to have at the conference along with Anziano Sabin and his wife. We were able to gain so much from the insights and the stories they shared with us.

President Kearon shared a really tender and amazing experience when he was a branch president about two years into him being in the church. It was a beautiful experience where I felt there were many lessons to learn and much to just look forward for, have faith, and hope for all the best.

It’s been a great week and I really enjoyed my studies and everything that we were able to do and especially going and preaching the gospel as servants of the Lord. Last night we met an inactive member for the first time and as we listened to her we did our best to make sure that we were involved and engaged in what she was saying and the experiences she was sharing with us. I couldn’t think of something to share when I felt it was right to go for the scriptures. I struggled for a minute as just 2 ideas came into my head. As I offered a short silent prayer and pondered while Anziano Nielsen was talking one of my chapters in Mosiah came to mind from the Book of Mormon. Is is when Abinadi is teaching a wicked King Noah and reads from the book of Isaiah. He reads this to him.

1 Yea, even doth not Isaiah say: Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all.

I know that the atonement is real and heals us. All that is unfair in life can be made right through the atonement. I am so grateful for this sacrifice and the love that the savior showed to put his life on the line for us. It is truly through the charity that he possess that he offered his life so we can be saved and clean. So he knows how to comfort us because he has suffered with us in a sense. He knows what you are feeling and you can draw on his love, healing, and strength always. Always. I know that is true. I love you all and am sorry I didn’t have time to get to everyone at all this week! I hope you all have a great week and enjoy yourselves!


Anziano Garrett


Here are a couple of pics from the Rome leadership conference (from Sis. Pickerd’s blog):


Mission leadership conference in Rome, September, 2016

Mission leadership conference in Rome, September, 2016

Mission leadership conference in Rome, September, 2016

Mission leadership conference in Rome, September, 2016

Catania – Week 15

Ciao tutti!

I hope that everyone is doing super well! We had another busy week and were able to do a lot this week as well. We had a good lesson Monday night with two of our investigators and a member and it went really well. We hope that they will be able to really get rooted in the Book of Mormon. We were able to have another good lesson with the girl that Anziano Goode and Anziano Berger baptized a couple of months ago. She is doing really well and has been in church almost every week since! I think yesterday was the first time I have seen her miss. We also were able to go and visit our part member family in Castel Di Judicha which went really well! They are so much fun to visit and we are really able to feel the spirit in abundance when we go over. That was a really interesting lesson because the daughter asked a pretty profound question on why she needs to believe in something in her life and why this religion would be the right one to pick and go with. We studied for a few days about it and felt that we were prepared to address the question going into the lesson. It started out really rough and it was just not going like we though it would. We weren’t on the same page teaching, but then it seemed that once we took a step back and approached it doing our best listening and trying to feel the spirit it went so much better. The spirit was really strong in the lesson and it ended up being a really cool experience.

This week Anziano LaPray and I were able to go on a scambio and be companions again for another day which was a lot of fun and just felt normal quite honestly hahaha. We were able to work on their part of the work and go to go and visit some people that will hopefully turn out to be some investigators here in the near future. We had a good time together and I always love seeing Anziano LaPray’s love for the scriptures and the gospel and how much he dedicates to studying the gospel and really applying it in his life. We of course had a good amount of time laughing and enjoying being back together too! Had some good stories to reminiscence on and talk about. Crazy to think we were together like a year ago at this transfer. The time just flies by.

We were granted the opportunity this week to travel down to Ragusa to grab the Anziani from there and then make our way to Gela so that we could do a baptismal interview for someone down there that will be being baptized this Friday. He has an amazing story and it was really nice to get down there and do all that for them. It was a long time in the car about 5 hours. I was really sore from sitting down that long, but maybe that was partly due to the fact that I did an ab workout the morning of that I haven’t done in like months hahaha. We got back and had a family home evening with a less active family at their house and we made pancakes with them and it was a blast. We had a good time and shared a good spiritual thought and everything! We then had another scambio here in Catania and it went really well! The Messina Anziani came down for it and I had the privilege of going on a scambio with Anziano Jacob who was in my group at the MTC so it was cool to get to know him better and we were able to work hard and learn a lot from each other. We had a great time for sure.

We then went again to our part members family’s house and shared another lesson with them and we watched the restoration video together. It went really well and it was good to be able to help them see more of Joseph Smith’s life and how we can learn not only about him and his experiences, but also learn from him in examples of faith, humility, courage, and love. It was a good lesson and went really well. They are such a special family and we are excited to see that the daughter is reading and they both are thinking when we are teaching and helping them understand the gospel. Yesterday in church I was able to give a talk and I was able to talk about observing the commandments. I am so grateful for the commandments and I really love that it is through obedience to them that we are able to receive all the blessings that Heavenly Father has for us. Just like loving parents give rules to their children it is only for protection and in their best interest so they are happy and can experience the most joy possible. Heavenly Father gives us to them so that we are happy and that we can make sure we are receiving all that we can. In the talk I used a quote from President Uchtdorf’s last General Conference talk that talks about obedience that I really love.

Obedience is the lifeblood of faith. It is by obedience that we gather light into our souls.

But sometimes I think we misunderstand obedience. We may see obedience as an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. Or we may pound the metaphorical hammer of obedience against the iron anvil of the commandments in an effort to shape those we love, through constant heating and repeated battering, into holier, heavenly matter.

No doubt about it, there are times when we need a stern call to repentance. Certainly, there are some who may be reached only in this manner.

But perhaps there is a different metaphor that can explain why we obey the commandments of God. Maybe obedience is not so much the process of bending, twisting, and pounding our souls into something we are not. Instead, it is the process by which we discover what we truly are made of.

We are created by the Almighty God. He is our Heavenly Father. We are literally His spirit children. We are made of supernal material most precious and highly refined, and thus we carry within ourselves the substance of divinity.

Here on earth, however, our thoughts and actions become encumbered with that which is corrupt, unholy, and impure. The dust and filth of the world stain our souls, making it difficult to recognize and remember our birthright and purpose.

But all this cannot change who we truly are. The fundamental divinity of our nature remains. And the moment we choose to incline our hearts to our beloved Savior and set foot upon the path of discipleship, something miraculous happens. The love of God fills our hearts, the light of truth fills our minds, we start to lose the desire to sin, and we do not want to walk any longer in darkness.

We come to see obedience not as a punishment but as a liberating path to our divine destiny. And gradually, the corruption, dust, and limitations of this earth begin to fall away. Eventually, the priceless, eternal spirit of the heavenly being within us is revealed, and a radiance of goodness becomes our nature.”

This is longer then I quoted in the talk, but thought that it added some more weighted value that I loved. I know that obedience is what pushes us down that path and it is how that we can really come to know who we truly are. I am thankful for that and am grateful for the love that he offers us through his commandments. I know that he loves us and he is only watching over his in all that we do.

We have a busy week ahead of us and we will be driving down to Palermo on Wednesday for a mission conference where we will be visited by President Kearon. I am really looking forward to it and the opportunity to feel such a rejuvenating spirit from all that we can learn and understand together. It will be really edifying and I hope to continue to prepare in any way that I can. It will be such a wonderful opportunity. Then Anziano Nielsen and I will be headed to Rome this Friday for a leadership conference. I am excited about that for sure! Will be cool to see Rome again, but it will be super cool to be with President Kearon again and hear from him on an even smaller scale. Thank you for all that you guys do! Hope that you guys have a great week!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Garrett


[Taylor sent this excerpt from Anziano LaPray’s message home this past Monday]:

Last Monday, we went to a city called Taormina. It’s about an hour north of here by bus and totally worth the trip. I will try to include some pictures; hopefully it works. Basically, it’s just this super cool city on top of a giant hill with a castle an old amphitheater and other pretty sites to see nearby. Another bonus was the incredible gelato in the downtown. So good. We had such a good time we might try to go again in a few weeks.

[Excerpt from Wikipedia]:

Taormina is a hilltop town on the east coast of Sicily. It sits near Mount Etna, an active volcano with trails leading to the summit. The town is known for the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greco-­Roman theater still used today. Near the theater, cliffs drop to the sea forming coves with sandy beaches. A narrow stretch of sand connects the mainland to Isola Bella, a tiny island and nature reserve.


[Here are some of the pictures Taylor sent]:

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Anziano LaPray in Taormina, Sicily

Anziano LaPray in Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Anziani at Taormina, Sicily: Anziano Parkinson, Anziano LaPray, Anziano Nielsen

Anziani at Taormina, Sicily: Anziano Parkinson, Anziano LaPray, Anziano Nielsen

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Taormina, Sicily

Catania – Week 13

Ehi tutti!

I hope that everyone is doing well! Crazy to think that summer has wound down back home and is winding down here. August is a big month for everyone in Europe to go on vacation. It has been great being able to see miracles continually though! We were able to get over to work with the members a lot this week and it was really nice!  The members here are amazing and they are wonderful people. We are really excited to see all the work that we can start doing with them as well. They have strong testimonies and desire to share the gospel with those around them. We had some planning to do for our activity and it went really well! Friday we had the American breakfast with everyone that came. We had around 40 people which is less than we had planned and expected for unfortunately, but it ended up being great! We had some trouble with all the griddles and skillets we had and only one out of the three worked so it took a while to cook everything unfortunately, but everyone seemed to really enjoy it. I thought that the pancakes would definitely be the crowd favorite but it happened to be that the hash browns with cheddar cheese were the go to for everyone, but it was unfortunate that they took so long to make. It was a great activity and we topped it off with a little church tour to finish off the night.

That night at the activity we found out from the Edgels that they had a service opportunity for us in Acireale, a small city outside of Catania, with a group that was going from the military base, Sigonella. So the community in Acireale has this old park that they finally are restoring and there were these hot spring baths that will be available once it is done as well. So we spent the morning picking up a ton of branches and pine needle leaves to clean up the park. It was super weird being around so many Americans and to hear so much concentrated amounts of English from others. It was an awesome opportunity and it was well appreciated by the group. They then took us out for granita and we got a little lunch as well. We had the oppurntiy to meet some really cool people and were able to make some cool friends. I really hope that we will continue to find these opportunities to serve others like we had the opportunity to do Saturday.

We also had the great opportunity to search some more less actives and we were able to see little miracles with it. Last night we had one where we were checking at this house to see if the less active still lived there. Before we were able to ring in this lady asked who we were looking for. This was a lady of at least 80 years old and it just so happened that the member would have been around that same age. We told her the name that we were looking for and she said, “Woah that is me!” It was so funny and we came up and talked to her and I don’t think that she remembers too much at all but she showed us some pictures and then we left setting another appointment where we could bring someone with us. It was only a few minute conversation, but she was super cute and it was a funny conversation because things kept lining up. At first the first name on the list we had was wrong but then we said the second name and she said that was her. It was super awesome. On the way home we were cutting through a neighborhood and on the way up a hill at this intersection this guy stopped and asked in English if we were lost. We went up to him and he was a young guy in his mid 20s. He offered a ride and said that the neighborhood that we were in wasn’t the nicest part of town. It was super nice of him to pick us up I and unfortunately he wasn’t super interested in religion at all but he spoke English really well so we hope that he will make it out to English group. It was a super cool miracle to finish off the week.

I am enjoying being here in Catania with Anziano Nielsen and really learning all that I can from him. He is a great missionary and really helps me realize where I can get better in my reasoning and decision making. He is super practical and helps me really see how important a all the little things we do that makes the big difference in what we do here as missionaries. It has been great to pick up conversations like it was yesterday with Anziano LaPray. It is funny how we can do that but it keeps everything really fun here in Catania together.

Anziano Parkinson is a sick [missionary-speak for “awesome”] new missionary and he played soccer before the mission so we will talk about that and he is just trying to learn everything that he can from everyone. I am loving it down here and really looking forward to seeing what we all can do to really bring this work forward here! I know many of you heard about the earthquakes here in Italy and thankfully all the members and missionaries are safe, but we do know that there are many that were killed and injured and we really pray for them and their families. I hope that each of you has a wonderful week and that you all will have a great start to September! I love you all and hope that you are doing well!


Anziano Garrett

Catania – Week 12

Ciao tutti!!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful week! This week was really bust and we really enjoyed being able to do all that we needed to do. It was pretty hectic with everything that we had going on. Monday night we had transfer calls and I found out that I am staying here in Catania with Anziano Nielsen. We were super excited and I am happy to be working with him! We get along great and have a lot of similar interests and everything! We have been running every morning so that has been great these past two transfers. He ran cross country in high school so it has been great to be able to run and try to get back into shape. Anziano Berger got blown in training to Pozzouli and I was super excited when I heard the next day that Anziano LaPray would be training here in Catania! It was super awesome and we have been enjoying being in the same house! It will be odd because at the end of this transfer will hit a year mark when we first got together in Trapani as companions.

We had a really busy week! We had to take care of transfers and be sure that everyone got where they needed to go and were on time for all their travel arrangements. It was a lot of fun and this time around very easy to handle and take care of. We had Anziano Brandon who is Messina with us for a few days and then we had Anziano Dunn and Anziano Clasby as well. I went on scambio with Anziano Brandon and Anziano Clasby during those day periods and it was super cool to be able to learn from them and get to see how they work and talk about how much the mission has grown and how different it is from the time that we first stepped into the mission. It is changing and only for the better! It is really awesome.

We had some good lessons this week even though we weren’t able to fully focus on the work a couple of times! Something that was really special and awesome was the fact that we were able to go over to the less active that I talked about a couple weeks back that is from Mexico, but she hadn’t been able to find the church. Her husband and daughter are not members of the church and it was super special to be able to go to their house and meet with them. They are awesome! The spirit was really strong and abundant during the lesson and they all listened so closely with so much intent. It was super cool! They showed us around their house and farm since they have mandorla (almond) trees and olive trees. They are super open also to have our help when they need to pick the almonds and the olives later in the season! That will be a lot of fun to be able to help them out with that! The sister has really been doing her homework too! In the past month and a half or so she has read the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and is now reading the manuals of the modern day prophets! So cool how she wants to be as fully active as possible and wants to even get her patriarchal blessing and prepare for the temple!

She even this morning was telling me how she was telling her aunt that the thing that is missing in her life is God and that He can help to solve our problems! They are so special! She even made us homemade Mexican food the other day and we had bean tacos and potato tacos!  They were so good and she spoiled us for sure!

We have been really seeing the greatest improvements with our relationship with the ward and it has been so awesome! We have been improving all the relationships that we can and it is really helping with us being able to work with them! We are excited to see what the next 7 weeks will have for us and how much good we will be able to do.

We have a ward activity going on this Friday and we are doing an American breakfast for dinner! It is going to be super awesome and we are really excited to see what kind of turn out we will have. We have some good and simple activities planned and we really are pumped to see our members bring and invite their friends as well! Should be really sick. We have had a great time together thus far and are really looking forward to the business that we will have together.

I was studying in Helaman this past week and a verse really popped out to me.

Helaman 7:

17 O repent ye, repent ye! Why will ye die? Turn ye, turn ye unto the Lord your God. Why has he forsaken you?

I thought this was such a powerful and interesting work. We read in the bible dictionary that

“…repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God”

That is so cool to me that Nephi the prophet at this time is inviting them to turn unto God. I think that is so very interesting and really special because that is the only way to true and everlasting change.

It is only through the Savior that it is possibile and I am thankful for the opportunity to change and turn unto him for the help to change. He can shape and mold us into who we need to be. I am thankful for that and know that the Atonement is real and it is something that we need to be applying consistently in our lives. I love my Savior and Redeemer and am thankful for all that He went through for each and everyone of us on a personal scale.

Thank you guys for all that you guys are doing and all the love and support that you guys have been giving me in every moment of my mission! I love you and miss you all!



Catania – Week 6

Ehi tutti!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful week back home and that you are all enjoying your summer!

This week went by super fast and we were able to have a lot of really cool moments this week where we were able to teach some sweet lessons! One of the really cool miracles for me this week was while we were doing some less active finding in a part of town that we hadn’t been to and we were searching for two families that a member had mentioned we could go and check out. We went in search of this house and it ended up being really strange. The number that we had of the address was 123 and we were on the right street, but we made it further down and noticed a problem.

We got to 121 on the corner and then the very next house was 125. It was really weird and seeing as I forgot what spell we were supposed to cast to get into Sirius Black’s house we had to resort to asking people where the heck this house and family lived haha. They unfortunately didn’t know either so seeing that it was kind of late we moved on to go the next family’s house. We ended up finding the daughter of a less active and she is not a member. She and her husband were home and we were able to come in and share the Restoration with them. They agreed that they would read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if was true. It was really awesome and they have two kids! One that is 9 and the other is 2. We really hope to get back over there this week and see what we can do to help them out even more. It was a really special miracle and I really pray that their hearts will be open and they will be willing to just try their best to search for the answers.

We were doing finding in the park here in Catania the other day searching for some people and we had 3 lessons that morning with people that we were meeting on the bench and it was going really well.

The last lesson we had ended up being one of the better ones where they were into what we were saying and it was the last one that we had before going home for lunch. We are doing our best to search for as many people that want to act on the message to just find out if it is true or not. It a was amazing to see at the end of the week on Friday we were able to have two baptisms one from each of the companionships. These girls are super awesome and they were so happy to be baptized.

It was really special to see and I am so very thankful that we were able to be there to witness it. They have really grown spiritually and were so happy to make these covenants with Heavenly Father. I was able to confirm one of them on church Sunday which was the first time that I confirmed the gift of the Holy Ghost to someone. It was a special opportunity for sure.

Anziano Goode went home Saturday and we sent him off nice and safely up to Rome. It was a pleasure to work alongside him and I was able to learn a lot from him over the past few weeks. He trained Anzinao LaPray in Trapani so we would often chat about Trapani and all the great and wonderful people there. I do have a friend that decided to go on his mission again from Trapani and I am so excited for him! He will leave this September I found out today! Super cool!

After that we went and did service at an English Group member’s house and we primed the tile on his porch. We then ate pranzo with him and I have never eaten 3 arancini [stuffed rice balls which are coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried. They are usually filled with ragù (meat and tomato sauce), mozzarella, and peas.] in one sitting with 2 mini pizzas, fruit, and gelato to top it off. It was super fun and great to be able to do that service for him. We were also able to share the restoration with him and his wife. It was super special and they were so very nice to us. Hope all goes well with them as well!

We have been in a trio ever since Saturday and it is going really well. We are doing a good job at trying to stay as busy as possible and we hope that we will be able to continue to be as effective as possible until transfer day. We are all staying the same and Anziano Berger will be getting Anziano Neilson who served with Anziano Rasband in Sardegna. I am excited to talk to him some more and he likes to run so we will all be going running in the park here in town. Been able to pretty much run everyday lately and I was able to go for a nice 6 mile run the other day. It definitely feels good to be able to run. I am excited to stay with Anziano Albello and we hope to continue to be able to do all we can to find as many people to teach and work side by side with all the members. We will be getting 2 new Sorelle in the city so we will have 8 missionaries in the ward. That is a ton! It’s the most I have ever heard of in one ward so we really hope that we will see a lot of great things this summer as we help as many people by inviting them to come unto Christ.  [Note:  Several other missionaries have reported that this transfer is affecting 72 out of the 75 companionships in the mission, so it looks like only the two anziani still in the middle of training new missionaries, including Taylor, and the two assistants aren’t changing this transfer!]

We have been studying a lot about repentance, change, and coming unto Christ as a mission. I enjoyed this scripture from the part in the Book of Mormon when Alma and the sons of Mosiah are converted. They are going around destroying the church and bringing people away form the truth. An angel appears to them and commands them to stop. Alma falls and loses all his strength. [Read more…]

Catania – Week 1

Ciao Tutti!!

So this week went by super fast! We had a nice busy week, full of fun things going on over here! Monday, Tuesday, and Wedneday I was able to have a lot of lessons with people while saying goodbye to less actives, investigators, and members. It went really well and we were able to have a lot of spiritual lessons with people. I was pretty shocked for sure about recieving my transfer call so I had to say bye to a lot of people really fast. It was really nice though and I am thankful for the things that I learned in Cosenza and for what the experiences that I learned there really helped me to gain things that I needed and helped me grow more into who I need to continue to work on becoming.

I definitely made a lot of amazing friends over there in Cosenza.

So Thursday was the day of transfers and it was a pretty hectic day.  We got down to the station and everything with the help of some ward members that gave us a ride to the train station so that we didn’t have to walk. It was really nice and super awesome of them to do that.

We had to wait in the train station at Paola for a little bit and then my train came. So I knew that my greenie was going to be on the train and I happened to get a picture from my Grandpa [from Sister Waddoups’ blog] of the two new missionaries that had just come in. So I thought they knew I was going to be joining them on the train there. I get on to a cart, but I was supposed to be on cart number 5. Thinking that logically it would make sense that the first one started at the front, I made my way backwards on the train trying to get to number 5. I have three giant overweight bags with me as well. I remember that Presdient Waddoups asked me on my first transfer day if I have ever heard about preaching without purse and script but it seems that lesson has still not settled in for me quite yet. I made my way all the way to where I think 5 should be and I am squeezing past people. Well there comes a point when I can’t go any further and I run into a group of people that tell me I am now at number 2 and happened to actually get on the right one the first time.  But I hadn’t seen any missionaries there at all. So at the next stop I get off the train and race back up the platform with the help of the Crotone missionaries and the senior couple and manage to get on the train just fine, but still haven’t found anyone. I left my bags with a nice lady in my assigned box on the train and ventured off in search of my greenie. Finally managed to find 2 missionaries on the front of the train that were headed to Palermo, but that meant that the front part of that train would split off once we got down to Messina. So then I finally got the information (after a ton of time) that they were sitting in first class which happend to be the very last cart of the train. So needless to say I was finally able to find them and meet my companion who is Anziano Albello.

Anziano Albello is from the Philippines and is a super awesome guy!  He is a little quiet, but he is super cool!! He really has so many amazing Christlike qualities that I have been able to learn so much from all ready! I don’t know why he went to the MTC in Provo, because he lived in Milan for 6 years and then moved back to the Philippines 2 years ago. When he first started talking Italian to me I was super impressed and he told me that he had studied for a year. I didn’t find out until we got to Catania (from someone else) that he lived in Italy for 6 years. He is using grammar that I haven’t even been able to scratch the surface of hahaha. That helps out a ton when it comes to missionary work! He is going to do amazing things here with all the skills that he has. I am excited to be with him and get to know him better! He is from a family of 4 and likes movies, music, to travel, and guitar as well! He is going to be an awesome missionary and we have already been able to see some really cool miracles together! [Read more…]