Monday, July 17, 2017

Next stop, Utah! 🇺🇸 🇮🇹


Well there's a whole lot I could say but I'll try to eliminate the sappiness haha. I'll save that stuff for home :) 

What an incredible week we've had!! We were able to go on my very last scambio to Ragusa this week. I was with Sorella Torres. She's from Venezuela but has been living in Milano for the past 3 years. We had so much fun! Ragusa is breathtakingly beautiful. We got to go to visit a family on their farm and I milked a cow 😎 Then we came back and walked down the entire mountain to this tiny little part of the town called Ibla. Look it up guys, it's unreal 😍 We talked to some really sweet people in the park and then we made the trek back up. We walked 12 miles just after 4pm guys. Over 150 flights of stairs. I was DYING haha. The elevation is a lot different than Catania at sea level! Utah elevation is gonna destroy me.

Church was great yesterday because a few of our investigators came! I feel like all our hard work is finally starting to pay off and it feels so good. 

My heart kind of feels like it's going to explode haha. I've never felt so much love towards people--even random strangers--as I have on the mission. It's a sweet experience to be able to see a glimpse of Heavenly Father's love for us. 

I was flipping through my old journals from my first few transfers the other day and was getting a little emotional thinking back to those days when I was terrified to open my mouth and make a mistake with the language or to be rejected or make myself look silly. I quickly realized that this isn't going to be a very positive experience if I'm only going to be thinking about myself. In the MTC they show us a talk by Elder Bednar called the "Character of Christ." It talks about how when trials come or things get hard, the natural man in us would have us turn inwards and feel sorry for ourselves. Instead, the Savior would turn outward and focus on what He could do for someone else to make their day better. By so doing, He is able to get over those feelings of frustration or embarrassment or sadness or sickness or whatever he was feeling and feel true JOY. I promise you all that if you're ever having a tough day, you will feel better if you go and serve someone else. 

My dad gave me the best advice before I left and I've thought about it nearly every day of my mission. He said, "Whit, the mission is gonna be hard. It's not going to be all fun all the time. You're gonna disagree with companions or meet rude people on the street that try to tear you down. You might be homesick and want more than anything to be able to talk to me or mom. You'll be exhausted and be working harder than you've ever worked. It's not going to be easy--but that's what makes it so worth it. The best thing you can do when you're feeling like that is to hit your knees, pray and plead to Heavenly Father to help you through it, get up, and go to work. He will help you every step of the way."

I testify of the truth of that. My Savior has been with me every step of the way. He atoned not only for our sins but He felt everything we ever have or will ever feel! He won't leave us comfortless. I've missed talking to my parents more than anything these past 18 months but I quickly learned that although I can only email them on p-days, I can talk to my Heavenly Father whenever I want. He has been listening to me every single day. He has heard and answered each of my prayers and given me the strength to keep going even when those hard days come. I've learned so many countless things on the mission, but I think those are two of the most important. That we are ALL children of our Heavenly Father and that the Savior lives and atoned for each of us. 

I'm not the same person I was 18 months ago and I'm thankful for that. My mission has been perfectly shaped to me and my needs. I've met people here that have truly changed my life and will be my eternal friends. I am so thankful that I have been able to serve here in the Great Italy Rome Mission surrounded by the greatest leaders and missionaries. I have loved every minute here in Italy. I'm nervous for the future but "I'm on a rollercoaster that only goes up!" :) I'm thankful I still have one more week as a full time missionary. We have a busy week planned and we're ready to go. 

My homecoming talk will be July 30th at 9am. It's on 3540 North in Pleasant Grove. Food afterwards at my house I assume haha...right Mom? 😉 1519 W 3600 N Pleasant Grove. I hope to see you all there! Thank you for the love, support, & prayers on my behalf these past 18 months 💕 It's been the best experience of my life thus far. See you all soon!! Ci vediamo prestissimo! ❤️

Con tanto amore,
Sorella Whitney Hess

Le foto:
2-Cannoli 😍
3-Slla Torres, Tenney, e Zapata :)
4-Best scambio ever 🐮 
5-It hit 109 degrees this week :')
6-7- Trecastagni has the coollllesssst view!!!

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