Monday, October 31, 2016


This is the only picture I took this week.  I know I look like a giant! This was my companion from the exchange to Siracusa.

I hope you all had a very happy Halloween!! Unfortunately here in Ragusa our ward didn't have an activity because the members didn't want to do it in the chapel because it is satanic haha. Which I mean is a little bit valid, but in my opinion you can have a Halloween party without making it satanic. Maybe next year. 

It has gotten quite cold and windy in the past week here in Ragusa. Actually like really cold. I have started wearing tights and my winter coat. And I wish I could tell you all that has happened and all of the crazy and funny experiences, but unfortunately there is absolutely no time and it would probably be a pretty boring email to write it all so I'll try to keep it exciting haha. 

This past week we went on a scambio to Siracusa which really isn't that far away, but takes three hours to get there because the bus stops at every stop. Then when we got home it started pouring rain and we were not prepared for that. Basically we ran home, changed, ran down to see an investigator and ran back up the hill for English course. The English course students probably thought we were the craziest people ever because we're just running in barely in time out of breath and ready to teach haha. Anyway. That was funny. I have now had two fun memorable pouring rain memories here in good old Italy. 

Our investigators aren't really progressing so we have to figure out what to do with them this week. And our members have been quite in need of some help and encouragement. As you all know, there was another earthquake in Rome and when we go around talking to people and telling them that we are missionaries, they like to tell us that God is angry at the world for all of the wickedness and now He is punishing us and the end of the world is coming. We I can tell you that one of my greatest joys here has been to be able to stand as a representative of Jesus Christ and testify that through him we can find light in this world of darkness. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. We are so lucky to be able to have that hope. That no matter what happens we will be able to be saved because there was one who loved us enough to die for us. 

I am sorry this is short. I hope you know I love you all and I hope you all had a very happy Halloween!!!!


Sorella G

Ps: this week we went to lunch at a member's house and they were talking about the earthquakes and then about Mount Etna because that is like super close to us and is still very active and the wife goes:

what's the difference between Mt. Etna and the mormons?

Answer: Mt. Etna smokes when it's active. 
Instead, the mormons smoke when they're inactive. 

Hahahahaha. It was kind of a 'you had to be there moment' haha but it was really funny because she just said it out of nowhere and it is pretty accurate for the people of Italy. 

Monday, October 24, 2016


Hey guys! It's me here writing you from a little church in a little city called Ragusa in a little island called Sicily in a country called Italy haha. And this week I was so lucky to have the opportunity to go to Rome to hear the words of President Russell M. Nelson. Why exactly did he come visit us? I'm not exactly sure. Actually President Pickerd didn't really know either, but he said he believes that the statues of Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles have finally been finished, after two years of work. So he came to look at them. 

On Wednesday morning the Edgel's (senior couple in Catania) picked us up from Ragusa and drove us to Catania. There we rode a bus to our airplane haha. And then boarded the plane. There were some New Yorkers on our flight and it was so funny. I got to talk to them for a little bit and it just made me think of Ralph and Abby! The flight is super short. About an hour and a half to Rome. Then we took a train to get to the main train station and then the metro to get to the church in Rome 2 (there are six different areas in Rome). So you could say traveling in Europe is a little hectic. 

We got together with a bunch of other sisters in the mission and did a gesso (which if I haven't described it clearly before, is when you lay out a bed sheet and write something on it or draw a picture and talk to people as they walk by). Sorella Bicchierri and I set out to do finding in this big park. Hahaha. It turned out to be not that successful because everybody was exercising and so obviously they don't want to stop and talk to anyone, let alone missionaries. BUT we did find this awesome African man. He is from Senegal and he is a diplomat. So he was talking all about how he has lived in 25 different countries but how he loves America. My companion speaks French and the conversation was switching from French to Italian to English haha it was very confusing. In the end he just really really loves America but was very kind and would be an awesome member so we were able to get his contact information and hopefully the missionaries in Rome will be able to contact him before he moves to America. Other than that, the finding wasn't very successful. Not in the fact that we didn't talk to a lot of people, because we were very successful in that aspect, but no one really wanted to know more which is totally fine. They're not ready yet. But we had some funny experiences hahaha. One old man put his hand straight up to Sorella Bicchierri's face and then walked away haha. Sometimes we would walked very fast with people who were exercising, but they didn't like that very much. And we also stopped this lady and she gave us a classic line haha. Which was, "Listen, I have a meeting right now and I don't know what is worse, you guys, or my meeting, but I have to go to my meeting, so bye." Hahahahaha. We ended the night off with some solid gelato so that was really yummy. 

Then on Thursday morning we woke up early because we had to be there early to practice for the musical number. Luckily we didn't have to take public transportation, but the Pickerd's took us to the chapel. The meeting was incredible. The musical number was really cool. The two Anziani that sang have like a ton of choir experience so they sounded really good. We all got the chance to shake the hands of President Nelson, President Kearon (again), and Elder Hallstrom, and their wives. 

There were so many great things that they shared with us, but I will try to keep it kind of short. 

I really loved some of the things that Elder Hallstrom shared. I think he is a businessman and he started off talking about like incomes and outcomes and stuff I don't understand in business. But he related it because he asked us to think about how much money the church spent to get all 200 missionaries in the same building for two hours. SO MUCH MONEY. Someone told me our mission is like the third most expensive in the world, which is so ridiculous. Anyway. He said you think about that cost, but that is not the highest cost we paid to have you all here. The highest price we paid was to take this time away from the work, but we feel that it is worth the sacrifice because we expect the outcome of this meeting to overpower the time taken from the work. I thought that was super cool. He also talked about how important it is that we are on missions right now. I feel so lucky to be on a mission. It is a time of foundation building. Instead of worrying about myself, my work, my school, my career, what I want, I get the opportunity to worry about the salvation of other people. I get to help them return home which is why we are all here anyway. And when we are worrying about others, we find ourselves. How incredibly grateful I am to be on a mission. I don't think I could live in this world and face Satan and this world that grows darker everyday without the testimony that I have grown on my mission. He just helped me to realize how truly fortunate I am to be serving a mission. 

Then sister Nelson said a famous line that I will never forget haha. She said, "You better be having a successful mission. There are 15 million people praying for you!!!" Which is so true and it is what you make it. Regardless of whether it is hard or not. 

And then we got to hear from the incredible Russell M. Nelson. Holy cow that man is a machine!! Here is this 92 year old man and he is sitting upright on the end he of his chair like a primary kid waiting to give their part in the primary program haha. He taught us for an hour! With no notes which is not that surprising, but he also was able to name one of the elder's whole priesthood lineage in the middle of it because President Pickerd told him this elder was related to a member of the seventy. He had this copy of scriptures that looked brand new and he was like I didn't bring my old ones because they are falling apart. I just got this new copy and I was able to read all four works in two weeks! 🙃😶🤔(Sorry I just wanted you to get a feel for how remarkable this man really is if you didn't already know.)

The VERY first thing he said when he got to the pulpit, after thanking us for being on missions was, "And make sure you tell your parents thank you too because you wouldn't be here without their help." Which is so true and I can't express my gratitude and love for you mom and dad. And President Nelson is really grateful for you too haha. Then he started off talking about the Abrahamic Covenant. I think everyone was a little confused at first because how does that relate to our work here in Italy? But just you wait. We started off reading a ton of verses from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We went through the promises of the covenant and all of the lineage of Jacob and Joseph and the birthright. We talked about how the tribe of Judah was responsible for preparing the world for the birth of Jesus Christ. And then we got into the lineage of Joseph. Ephraim and Manasseh. He had everyone who was of those tribes stand up, which was basically everyone. And that was basically the punch line. The sons of Joseph and Manasseh are responsible for preparing the world for the second coming of the Savior and that is exactly what we as missionaries are here to do. To gather scattered Israel. We have been saved for this time. I am serving on the front lines of the battlefield!!!! I am a child of the covenant. I am a living fulfillment of the prophecies of the prophets of old. 

Our whole purpose on this earth is to return to Heavenly Father. But he honors our agency and wants us to choose to come home. 

We concluded the conference with the song, "Redeemer of Israel" which was so powerful. 

President Nelson told me I did a great job which was very nice and I don't think I will ever have that opportunity again and I was super lucky to be sitting on the side he walked out on because I wouldn't have been able to talk to him otherwise so that was very memorable for me and very special. 

I don't want to drag this email on any longer, but I just hope you know how grateful I am to be on a mission. It is so humbling and so frustrating at times. I have this strong desire to share what I know with these people and none of them want to listen. But that doesn't matter. I have faith that Heavenly Father knows what he is doing. And I will work my hardest to do all I can to be worthy to help His children return to Him. 

I can't express my gratitude for being on a mission.

I love and miss you all and hope you are enjoying fall

I miss it 

Sorella G

Monday, October 17, 2016

the w i n d y city

Hello hello!!! 

I'm not really sure why but it has been suuuuper windy here in Ragusa this past week. And Sorella Bicchierri said it's never windy so that's a little interesting. Also it is definitely FALL here. There are some days where it's cold and others where it's burning hot. All of the cars were super dirty from African sand. So that's kind of cool. Also I'm grateful we're here in Ragusa on the hill because in Catania it's still burning hot. Just a little weather update haha. 

My first full week in Ragusa was a success!!! I love it here. We live at the top of the city on top of the hill and the center of the city is at the very bottom. So I will reiterate, LOTS OF WALKING. I love it though. 

This past week we traveled to Catania (which is a two hour bus ride) for zone conference. It went really well. I love seeing President and sister Pickerd. They are so awesome!! It is crazy how much President Pickerd has changed our mission. He has stressed obedience a lot. He said the number one thing every single missionary tells him right before they go home, is how they could have been more obedient. He encouraged us to start now so we can say we did our best. He told us he felt prompted to talk about being a successful missionary. In Preach My Gospel it gives a really incredible description of being a successful missionary. Out of all of the characteristics that make you a successful missionary, none of them are key indicators. They are things you can do to lead you to achieve your goals for key indicators. Which a lot of time it's frustrating because you set these goals in faith and then you don't reach them and it's like. Ok well I'm the biggest failure ever, but really you're not haha. It just is really hopeful. If you break it down to what really matters and what our purpose really is, you will find that you really can be a successful missionary or disciple of Christ or even just a successful person. 

This past week we made lots of plans and basically all of them fell through!! But that's ok!!! Haha that is when you see miracles. And I can honestly say we were able to see a lot of miracles. 

One day we were on our fifth plan and we went to go visit this less active. Well it turns out she wasn't home so we started to make our way home. We saw this young mom putting two kids in her car and she was sooo nice to us. She gave us her number and sounded like she could meet with us soon. We tried calling her yesterday and it said that the line was out of order. So she either blocked us, or discontinued her line. But that doesn't matter!! It doesn't matter if she gets baptized or if she even has a lesson with us. What matters is that Heavenly Father gave us a miracle that night. And that is more than enough for me. 

Here is another miracle we saw this week. Last night we went to Via Roma (which is like the Main Street in the middle of town, remember Ragusa is tiny so there aren't a lot of people anywhere) and I got to play my violin. Sorella Bicchierri sat down and talked to this lady who was sitting on her cell phone. They talked for about twenty minutes and she said she was looking at her cell phone but her mind was in the music. She felt calm and she felt peace. She was just divorced from her husband and she's from Romania. Her children weren't allowed to stay here in Italy with her so it's really a sad time for her. She was really interested in learning more and I really hope something good comes of it. 

My companion is awesome. Haha I am so grateful for her example of hard work and obedience. We have a lot of fun and I am learning A LOT. 

This week one night we were in the middle of planning. It was after a longgggg day and we were laughing at something that had happened to us. I don't remember exactly, but I looked down at my desk and I saw the gourd that my mom had sent me in the MTC. It was a little Santa ornament and on the back is painted the word HOPE. I stopped laughing and immediately just felt the spirit so strongly. I have no idea why it was turned around to the word because I always have it going the right way so I can look at the front of the gourd, which is santa's face, but for some reason it was turned around. That was a little tender mercy for me to see that word. I am so grateful for this gospel. For the hope it brings into this dark world. We are in the eleventh hour and it is just going to get harder. We have to have a strong foundation, built upon Christ. And we have to be strengthening our testimonies every single day or else we will lose them. I feel honored to be a part of the generation saved for these last days and hope I can live up to the task that I have been asked to do, which is to help gather scattered Israel. I know that this gospel brings hope. 

I was reading Jacob 5 this past week and the Lord of the Vineyard says "What could I have done more for my vineyard?" 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said about this line, 

"After digging and dunging, watering and weeding, trimming, pruning, transplanting, and grafting, the great Lord of the vineyard throws down his spade and his pruning shears and weeps, crying out to any who would listen, ‘What could I have done more for my vineyard?’
What an indelible image of God’s engagement in our lives!"

I HOPE you all realize how lucky we are for our Savior, whose hand is always stretched out towards us, waiting to lift up those hands that hang down. 

I hope you all have a marvelous week! I love and miss you all. 

Sorella G

PS here is a preview of the week ahead...So on Wednesday the Edgel's (senior couple) are picking me and my companion up and driving us to the airport in Catania. On Wednesday at 12th. Then we fly to Rome and get there around 1:20pm. That night we are doing a gesso (street contacting) with a bunch of missionaries in front of the Spanish Steps. 

And then the next morning we will hear from President Russell M.Nelson. Our flight leaves Rome at 8 pm on Thursday so we will be back in Catania at 9:45pm and then will stay with the Edgel's in Catania and then they will drive us home in Friday morning. It should be amazing and I get to play my violin!

my cute companion Sorella Bicchierri



district of RAGUSA!

Monday, October 10, 2016

S I C I L I A - - - R A G U S A

Hello family and friends!!! This has been quite the crazy week haha. And not really full of a whole lot of stuff except for lots of trains. 

Last Monday night I received a call that I was being transferred to Ragusa!!!!!! It is a little tiny town in the mountains of Sicily. It is the farthest south a sister can serve in our mission. And I think an elder, besides Malta, but that's like a different world. It is on the Catania side of Sicily so the east side and it is beautiful. 

So I was thinking when I received the call I would leave Thursday because that is when transfers are. But I figured out on Tuesday that I was leaving Wednesday morning. So basically I said goodbye to no one in Taranto, besides our English course students. I am sad to leave that city. I will miss the ward and the food, but it's ok. Heavenly Father needs me in Ragusa and so I am here!

Then on Wednesday morning I went to Foggia by myself. I'm not exactly sure why, but that is where my train went. I got to see a lot of traces from the "Queen of Foggia" which is Sorella fuller haha. And spent the day with the Foggia Sorelle, basically cleaning their apartment and saying goodbye to the members of Foggia that they were saying goodbye to. Then on Thursday morning my train left to a city called Potenza at 5 am. By myself. Then to a city called Salerno which is by Napoli area and I waited there for my train to come for a half hour. But it's not allowed for a sister to be alone really anywhere so the Battipaglia Anziani had to come and sit with me until my train came haha. Oh man. And then they helped me get all of my stuff on the train and then I was with all of the people traveling to Sicily. But that was a lot of STRESS!! Mom remember how when we came to Europe we were only allowed to bring a carry on because it's just easier that way? Haha yeah. Traveling with two sixty pound suitcases with a heavy side bag and a violin on your back alone in Italy is quite stressful if you ask me haha. Our train to Catania took a ferry over to Sicily and then from Catania we took a two hour bus to get to Ragusa. 

BUT I made it to Ragusa finally!! 

It is full of Hills and we walk A LOT!! I love it. Even though my body isn't used to it haha. My new companion is Sorella Bicchierri (cups in Italian) and she is Italian haha. She is from Verona which is way up north but she actually knows quite a bit of English. She is awesome and has the strongest testimony. She was baptized about two years ago and her aunt was in our ward in Taranto!! I am excited to be this transfer with her. She is a hard worker and we are going to find the ELECT in Ragusa!!!

Other than that stuff not much happened this week because of all of the travel. So next week hopefully my email will be more exciting haha. 

I have been reviewing conference talks this week and I read President Nelson's and truly loved it about joy. I especially loved these quotes. 

That is why our missionaries leave their homes to preach His gospel. Their goal is not to increase the number of Church members. Rather, our missionaries teach and baptize to bring joy to the people of the world!
Joy is a gift for the faithful.
His joy is constant, assuring us that our “afflictions shall be but a small moment” and be consecrated to our gain.

Joy is a gift for the FAITHFUL!!!!! We are never alone and if we focus on the mark, who is Jesus Christ, our joy will be full. 

Then our dear President Monson told us some things we need to do to be truly happy in life:

We need to work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve. We need to know God’s laws and live them. We need to receive His saving ordinances. Only by so doing will we obtain true, eternal happiness.
We are blessed to have the truth. We have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth, that we might merit all that the Father has for us.

I love you all and hope you know I am grateful to be a missionary. When you walk around a little city and knock on doors and talk to every single person you walk past for hours and just hear no, no, no, no, no. It seems weird that you could have a good experience. But I can honestly tell you, that it just makes me happy to share this gospel. I have a message THAT WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES forever. I love and miss you all. 


Con tanto amore,

Sorella G 

Ps NO ONE here can say my name so I am now officially known as Sorella G hahaha

sorella Bicchieri

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Libero arbitrio

This is Elliot - he was frustrated I didn't let him hold the camera 
Sooooo not a lot happened this past week and general conference is like the best thing ever. 

We did a scambio (exchange with other sisters)  in Crotone this past week which made up about the majority of the week. The lady that gave me my bus ticket spelled my name "liusi goghnour" so that was cool. I've never got that one yet!

There was a tv on the bus and they played Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, day haha. Worst movie ever!!! I was trying so hard to ignore it, but it helped with my language study that's for sure. 

Sorella Condé was sick. I think she might have an ear infection and so she and my companion stayed inside most of the day. They had us still do the scambio because they needed to try to get some work done in the city so Sorella Hills and I went to work!!! We had a lesson with a recent convert who is like 13. She and her family are from Nigeria and Sorella Hills was talking to her mom in English and I swear they were not speaking English. I have no idea how Eli understands that language haha. 

We also saw a pretty cool miracle. We were walking back from our appointment and this lady was like smiling at us really big. Which sounds very strange and was very unusual but I was like Ciao!!! And she asked if I remembered her. I looked at Sorella Hills because obviously I don't know anyone in Crotone and Sorella Hills didn't know her either and so I said no. But it turns out the Sorelle helped her carry her groceries home one day and she is very catholic but was super grateful for the help and remembered us!! So that was a cool experience. 

We had another lesson with Elena when we got back to Taranto and it is just frustrating sometimes. I love her so much and she is so smart and it's so painful because she is so close!!! She tells us that she believes everything in the pamphlet (the restoration pamphlet) but then we try teaching her a lesson about prophets and the priesthood authority that ONLY OUR CHURCH HAS. And she just doesn't accept us and starts telling us that we can't say that we are the only true church. I also think she doesn't believe us because we are 19 and 20 year olds and she doesn't see us as REPRESENTATIVES OF JESUS CHRIST. Sorella Flansberg was getting pretty frustrated. It's hard when a person tells you what your beliefs are (and those actually aren't your beliefs) and it is very easy to sit there and argue back and forth. But I just told her. ELENA. The only way you can know of these things for yourself is to pray. You have to pray. And she said she has prayed and I asked if she has received an answer and she said no. And so I asked her to pray again and ask specifically if our church is the only church. And bore testimony that I know that she can receive an answer if she will ask in faith, believing she will receive, with a desire to believe, and with a sincere heart and real intent. And she said she would do it again but this is the last time.......I HAVE FAITH that she will pray. It's such a cool promise that ANYONE. A N Y O N E. Can receive an answer. 

One thing I have really learned about Italians, or at least the Italians in Taranto, is that you HAVE to have charity for them. You have to love them. You have to be patient with the,  maybe they don't want to listen to you are maybe they don't want to believe or act on anything you invite them to do. For me I feel like sometimes the ONLY thing you can do is to be an example. Heavenly Father gave every single one of His children the beautiful gift of free agency. Of which I have really grown to appreciate on my mission. It's frustrating sometimes to have people choose to not follow the example of Jesus Christ. That doesn't mean we stop inviting or we stop trying. It just means that we do all that we can and do our best and the rest is in the hands of Heavenly Father. 

We had a fun relief society activity with our ward. Sorella Flansberg and I got to play some music for it. It is fun to be with our ward. I love the members in our ward.

I felt so lucky to be able to listen to most of the general conference talks and luckily I was also able to listen to most of them in English. I can understand them in Italian, it's just not the same. I loved watching the Saturday morning session live and just thinking. Last year I was sitting in that beautiful conference center with my cute dad and sister listening to the beautiful words be delivered by incredible people. And know I am sitting in a church in the boot of Italy watching it on an iPad!!! So cool!! Conference is truly an incredible gift we have been given. There were so many things I loved, but I haven't had much time to look over and organize my thoughts so I will just share a few of the things that really stood out to me. 

  1. Faith can nor violate another persons agency
  2. Jesus Christ is the center don't look past that
  3. The fathers will
  4. Heavenly Father will ALWAYS listen when we pray
  5. You will make it!!
  6. Trust in him 
  7. He will always love us but he will not save us from our sins 
  8. Focus on the simplicity of the gospel 
  9. Sharing the gospel is not a burden but a JOY 

And then I was reading in the institute manual and I came upon this quote given by elder Dallin H. Oaks and I thought it was very applicable to me and hopefully to all of you. 

He said, "A message given by a General Authority at a general conference--a message prepared under the influence of the Spirit to further the work of the Lord--is not given to be enjoyed. It is given to inspire, to edify, to challenge, or to correct. It is given to be heard under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, with the intended result that the listener learns from the talk and from the Spirit what he or she should do about it."

I feel so incredible grateful for this gospel. For the leaders of our church who are inspired by Heavenly Father to help guide us and correct us on the things we can do better to build His kingdom. IT WILL NEVER FALL!!!! 

We receive transfer calls tonight. The most likely thing to happen is that I stay here and receive a new companion, but no one actually really ever knows. Anything can happen! So I will let you know next week what happens haha. 

I love you all 

Have a great week

Sorella Liusi goghnour

That is Taranto in the back ground