From Marilyn Jewett Sughrue: I served as a sister missionary in the Italy North Mission, November 1973-May 1975, under Pres. Dan Jorgenson and Pres. Ivan Radman. They, and my fellow missionaries were fabulous to work with, but the work was "seed-sowing", difficult and discouraging. The mission had been reopened only 5 years. The mission president gave us each a copy of the History of the Church in Italy, from which you quoted in your article. I drew great "solace" in reading how Elder Lorenzo Snow himself had been discouraged working there.
A highlight of my mission was witnessing the baptism and confirmation of a former nun, Sister Piera Bellaviti, now residing in the Salt Lake area. Her story was written in No More Strangers, Vol. 2.
A memorable, faith-promoting experience came in August l974. In the summertime, to escape the heat of the city, the women and children leave for the entire summer to stay in a 2nd house at the beach or in the mountains. This makes tracting very difficult for sister missionaries, for 3 months, as we are told not to approach men without their families! On August 17th, "Ferragosto", the Elders found out what we had had to "deal with". Unknown to us, it was the official holiday where the entire city shuts down, and the men go to join their families for the day. I was assigned at the time to Torino (Turin), a city typically "bustling". That day, we found every shop closed, every shutter drawn, public transportation halted, and the city...."vacant". Virtually every missionary in the zone gravitated by bike and by necessity to the streetboard downtown. Normally, we approached a number of people and a small percentage were willing to talk to us, and a small percentage of those accepted a Book of Mormon.
That day, we only saw, literally, about 5 people on the street, and they appeared to be foreign tourists wondering "what happened?!" Indeed, the scene had the "aura" of a "Twilight Zone" episode, where you stepped out of a vault to find an atomic bomb had gone off while you were away. "Eerie" stillness, in that big city. With a dozen missionaries approaching the 5 people on the street, we were "intimidating", and they scurried away. Among the entire group of missionaries, none of us had given out a Book of Mormon all morning.
One elder, (Elder Tim Edvalson) suggested we pray. We literally got in a huddle, near the streetboard. (there was nobody around to think us "odd"). A "help!" type prayer. We said "Amen", then as we opened our eyes, "whoa!" every missionary scrambled in every direction. Suddenly people had appeared from "nowhere" and we missionaries could scarcely approach them all. (It must have resembled the pioneer's miracle of the quail, with everyone scrambling to gather those "sent"). Every missionary was talking to someone, within moments of the "amen", and these people were actually listening, every one, and accepting the Books of Mormon offered! That group was replaced by another. We soon had "placed" every book that each of us had brought, plus more, brought over from the chapel nearby. It was a "stirring" experience.
Marilyn Jewett Sughrue (Bartlesville, Ok., formerly Farmington, Utah)