BETA

Spirit calms horrors of war for Italian convert

Testimony of American missionaries leads to conversion, valiant service

KAYSVILLE, UTAH

Bombs raining down on her head and other horrors of war fostered a disdain for Americans in the heart of Ivers Fuzari, who was a teenager living under the Mussolini regime in Italy during World War II.

An obvious question during a recent Church News interview with the bright, charming and faithful convert in her apartment was: How did the American missionaries get into her home — then in Petropolis, Brazil — to teach her family the gospel?

Not totally confident in her English, Sister Fuzari did a pantomime. She stood up firm and erect and shoved her foot forward.

After she answered the knock, the missionary stuck his foot in the door?

She nodded. And what could she do, she said, but let them in.

Elder Wilford Hansen's bold and apparently inspired move enabled he and his companion, Elder Douglas Stanger, to get in the door to teach Sister Fuzari, her husband, Carmo, and their 19-year-old daughter, Carla.

Carla was the most interested, Sister Fuzari said, "and my husband was a very gentle man. He never said no to anyone."

As for her reaction to the missionaries' message, in light of her lingering ill feelings toward Americans, Sister Fuzari said, "The spirit was strong, but I didn't want to know it."

She said she told the missionaries, "You Americans threw bombs on my head and now you're here talking about the gospel?"

There was one particular obstacle to her belief. She said, "It seemed impossible to me that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet. How could there possibly be a prophet in our day — especially an American?"

With her daughter and husband readily accepting the teachings and challenges of the missionaries, Sister Fuzari said she softened and responded to the spirit. The family was baptized on April 23, 1972.

?That began a life of faithful Church service in many callings for all three. That included a full-time mission for Carla in Brazil and Brother Fuzari's service as a bishop in Brazil and continuing faithfulness after they immigrated to the United States.

Ivers Fuzari, now a widow, lives in a comfortable home surrounded by items related to her Church service. Earlier in her life, she suffered effects of war.
Ivers Fuzari, now a widow, lives in a comfortable home surrounded by items related to her Church service. Earlier in her life, she suffered effects of war. Photo: Photo by Greg Hill

Before Brother Fuzari died in 1992, he served a mission with his wife to the Bern Switzerland Temple where their Italian, as well as some proficiency in Portuguese, Spanish and English languages were very helpful.

After she lost her husband, Sister Fuzari returned for a second mission to the temple in Switzerland.

Later called to serve in the Salt Lake Temple, she said she was challenged by having to "learn everything in perfect English."

She also has served as a seminary teacher and in Young Women, Relief Society and Sunday School. Just a year ago she was released as a Primary teacher in the Kaysville 15th Ward, Kaysville Utah Central Stake, a calling she said she particularly enjoyed.

"I love children," she said, calling them "smart," able to hear through her Italian accent better than adults do.

She continues to serve as a visiting teacher, she said.The daughter of Italian immigrants, Sister Fuzari was born July 16, 1925, in Brazil to Giolia and Valentino Busato. Because her father was homesick, she said they moved back to Italy when she was three years old and stayed there through World War II.

To escape the devastation caused by the war, they returned to Brazil, which turned out to be a great blessing for Sister Fuzari. It was there that she met Carmo, also the son of Italian immigrants. They were married in Sao Paulo in 1952. Carla was born a year later.

It was while they were living in Petropolis, near Rio de Janeiro, that they met the missionaries, joined the Church and became stalwarts in the branch there. Among Sister Fuzari's contribution, as Relief Society president she worked tirelessly to raise money for a temple in Brazil. The efforts of the members came to fruition in October 1978 when President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple. Sister Fuzari beamed as she talked about attending the groundbreaking for the temple in 1976 — she still has her program from that event — as well as the dedication.

Brother and Sister Fuzari were sealed in the temple but had to wait to have Carla sealed to them because she had married an American and moved to the United States. Later, Brother and Sister Fuzari immigrated to the U.S. and had Carla sealed to them in the Salt Lake Temple.

With a photo of Ivers Fuzari and her husband, Carmo, is an image of the Swiss temple where they served a mission.
With a photo of Ivers Fuzari and her husband, Carmo, is an image of the Swiss temple where they served a mission. Photo: Photo by Greg Hill

While Carla has moved to Colorado, Sister Fuzari is surrounded by grandchildren and friends locally and seems content with her life. Her apartment is nicely decorated with mementos of her life well lived. They include photos of family. And placed next to a photo of her and her beloved companion is a small pitcher emblazoned with an image of the Bern Switzerland Temple.

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