FYI: For Your Information

Cows Make Guest Appearance

Story and photography by Don O. Thorpe

Don O. Thorpe, "FYI: For Your Info - Cows Make Guest Appearance," New Era, Nov. 1993, 37

Girls' camp in Italy can be much different from girls' camp anywhere else on earth, and not just because a stray herd of cattle might come traipsing through one day. The camp is called Fiaccola, which means "torchlight," and it's held in the L'Aquila Mountains near Rome. One hundred thirty girls attended, including some Americans who didn't know the language. The Italian girls went out of their way to help the English speakers fit in and have a good time.

Around the campfire with no fire (because open flames are illegal in those mountains), the girls discussed how excited they were to be with so many other LDS girls. Many are the only members in their towns.

"Experiences like this help me have more faith in God and love for the people around me," said Iris Cartia. "They get me away from everyday problems and help me concentrate on important things like planning my life so I can go on a mission and get married in the temple."

[photos] Girls' camp in Italy is called Fiaccola, or "torchlight." The girls shine for months afterwards.

© 2004 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Ready to Die?

By Mauro Properzi

I was young, with my whole life ahead of me. But death might be around the next corner. Was I prepared?

Mauro Properzi, "Ready to Die?" New Era, Apr. 1997, 44

At 12:15 A.M. I left the police station and climbed into the blue Alfa Romeo of the Italian Carabinieri. I was putting in my obligatory year of service required of all Italian young men. I had been assigned to the police. My duty for that day was patrolling the cities of Jesolo and Cavallino, just northeast of Venice, from midnight to 6:00 A.M.

Suddenly the familiar sound of the radio caught my attention. "Avanti dalla trentuno," I answered. My heart accelerated, anticipating the potential danger. Headquarters informed us that a bank robbery had just taken place in a rural town north of Venice. The officer stated that a policeman had been shot during the robbery. Four men were responsible and were supposedly armed with Kalashinikovs, a Soviet-made automatic weapon. They were apparently heading at high speed toward Jesolo in a white Lancia.

"Ricevuto," I signed off, automatically reaching for the Beretta M12 under my seat. I turned to my partner and asked, "What are we going to do if we run into them?" His answer was cold and direct, "Shoot."

My partner quickly shifted gears. My mind started reviewing all the different circumstances in which I could find myself in the next minutes. I was aware that our lives were in danger and realized that if we confronted four armed men, our chances were not good of staying alive. My partner was showing little emotion, and since his answer to my last question, he had not said a word.

Am I willing to die for this job and my country? was the question that arose in my mind. It was quickly answered by the words of the oath I had taken at the beginning of my service. I had promised to serve the country and the people of Italy and to protect them from any criminal acts or injustice, even by offering my life.

As our car turned into the main street of Jesolo, my right hand tightened on the grip of the M12. Am I ready to die? Am I ready to go back to meet my Heavenly Father? were the questions in my mind. I started thinking about my family, my life, and my testimony of the gospel. I pondered my weaknesses and almost instantly realized that my conscience was clean. I had no major regrets in my life and felt that I had apologized to all the people I had been unkind to. That thought gave me an incredible feeling of peace.

We did not confront the robbers that night. I concluded my one year of service in the police a few months later, never having to fire my gun. But I will never forget that winter night. It helped me realize how our Heavenly Father can call us back home at any time. I realized I wanted to be ready to leave this earth with the peace of a repentant and clean soul.

Gospel topics: death, fear, preparation, repentance

[illustration] Illustrated by Gregg Thorkelson

© 2004 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Con Amore

By Stefania Postiglione

In Italian, that means "with love." That's what I needed to learn about teaching my friend the gospel.

Stefania Postiglione, "Con Amore," New Era, Sept. 2003, 26

My friend Roberta and I had always shared everything—until it came to the Church. We met the missionaries in our hometown in Italy and listened to the first few discussions together. But while my testimony grew day by day, Roberta became less and less interested. I found myself struggling to choose baptism, knowing my friend would not be coming into the Church with me.

One evening as I was skimming the Bible, I chanced to read Matthew chapter 10. Verses 34-38 struck deep into my heart: [Matt. 10:34-38]

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

"For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother.

"And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."

The Spirit testified that I should follow the path of righteousness, even though my friends and relatives might not understand. So I was baptized.

My friendship with Roberta did not end, but we were not as close. She could not understand my enthusiasm for the gospel, and I could not understand her desire for the worldly things that no longer seemed so important to me.

The dividing "sword" the Savior spoke of had fallen between us. I suffered because of this, but I also began to judge my friend: How could she reject something as simple and beautiful as the gospel? She must have a hard heart if she could not accept something so obvious.

Sensing my attitude, Roberta grew defensive. Naturally, she didn't like being thought of as hard-hearted. Every time I mentioned religion, she changed the subject. God became someone we argued about.

Two years passed. One day I asked Roberta if she would travel with me to the city of Foggia, where I was to receive my patriarchal blessing. She agreed to go, mostly because she hadn't been on a trip in a while.

While Roberta waited in another room, Brother Vincenzo Conforte gave me a wonderful blessing. Afterward, I was so caught up in the Spirit that I completely forgot about Roberta, who must have been feeling like a fish out of water as she waited for me. But Brother Conforte noticed her. When he learned she was not a member of the Church, he humbly knelt by her chair. Looking into her eyes, he bore a sweet and powerful testimony. God truly lived and loved her, he testified, and she could come to know Him through simple prayer.

That testimony touched Roberta's heart. And it completely changed the way I thought about sharing the gospel with others. With that simple gesture, the patriarch taught me how to be a true witness of God.

Now I realize that we can help bring our loved ones closer to God if we will speak about Him with the sweet, loving voice of the Spirit. God is love, and it is through love that we choose Him. Because of His love for us, God called Joseph Smith to restore His Church, so that we can learn to love perfectly. And the one we bear witness of is Jesus Christ, the most humble and meek Son of God.

Since I had this experience, many of my friends have come into the Church. My friend Roberta is even considering studying the gospel. And I have learned something I will never forget: Whenever we testify of the Savior and His gospel, we must do so with love.

Gospel topics: fellowshipping, love, missionary work

[illustration] Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh

© 2004 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.  All rights reserved.