In Italy there is a tower that leans. People used to think that the 12th-century architect meant for the bell tower to lean, but scientists have discovered that it was designed to stand straight up. The ground underneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa moves unpredictably, and water collects beneath the foundation, rising and falling depending on the season. For 200 years builders tried to stop the tower’s tilt, but one fact made it impossible: the tower’s foundation shifted with the movement of the unstable ground.
In Calci, a town just outside of Pisa, Judy and Christopher Sereni of the Pisa Branch don’t stand on shaky ground. They have built a strong foundation based on the gospel, their love for each other, and their love for their family.
Map © Mountain High Maps
Judy, age 11
School subject: history
Family activity: playing games together
Would like to visit: the temple
Christopher, age 8
Food: gelato (Italian ice cream)
School subject: literature
Family activity: playing video games with Dad
Place to visit: the ocean
When They Grow Up
Judy wants to be an actress or a singer.
Christopher wants to ride a motorcycle and play soccer.
The Strength of Service
One thing that keeps the Sereni family standing strong in the gospel is their baptismal covenants. Christopher was recently baptized and confirmed, and something that made it extra special was “when my dad and a friend sang together,” he says.
Now Christopher and Judy work on keeping their baptismal covenants all the time and doing what Jesus Christ would like them to do. “When I have friends who get hurt, I try to help out,” Christopher says. Judy also likes to serve: “I help out at home. I help Christopher with his studies, and I serve my friends.”
Dad adds, “When they’re asked to set the table or wash the dishes after a meal, they’re willing. Just of their own free will, they help out.”
A Solid Example
There aren’t many members of the Church in Calci, but Judy doesn’t see that as a problem. Her gospel foundation remains unshaken. “A couple of friends have asked me about the Church,” she says. “I brought a friend with me to church, and she came and she liked it. Sometimes friends have made fun of me, or somebody in class heard that I attend a different church. But for the most part my friends are understanding, and they ask questions.”
“Judy is very mothering and very helpful and tries to make sure everybody else is taken care of. Christopher is loving and kind. Together they are very happy. Of course there are the little family arguments that happen between brother and sister, but they’re happy, and that’s important.”
The children’s spiritual foundation is strengthened by attending Primary. Judy likes to read a scripture while at the pulpit, and they both enjoy singing the songs. Christopher’s favorite song is “I Am a Child of God.” 1 The good feelings they have at church continue in their home. “During family prayer I feel the Spirit,” Christopher says, and Judy agrees.
Today scientists are working to make the Leaning Tower more stable. They say it will be good for another 300 years or so. Luckily, Judy and Christopher have built their lives on a solid foundation, one that will support them for eternity.
Photographs by Jennifer Maddy and Kimberly Reid; background photograph by Jed Clark