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Saturday, June 5, 2010

MAY IN MILAN - Models, Misadventures, Member Help, Men'sVolleyball...May 26th, 2010


Ciao,

Here's a summary of the goings on this past week of May in Milan.

Models - I pretty much told you all about Sydney already. It really was so so nice to have someone to teach for a week that had a desire already to be baptized and a firm testimony of the Book of Mormon and had free time to see us! It was so sad to see her for the last time on Sunday. She was proof that there really are people out there being "prepared" to hear the message and be baptized. She explained to us one day all the miracles that happened that honestly just made right now the perfect time for her to join the church. For example...every January for the past few years she always committed to being dry for the month (as in not drinking alcohol). It was in the beginning of January that she first met the missionaries and so was able to have a clear mind during the whole process and feel the spirit easier. Plus it was easier for her to start living the word of wisdom. The other day I translated a conversation between a member that was baptized 3 years ago and Sydney. The member, Lucia, was explaining all the miracles that led to her conversion too...she had been working in a model showroom, was living with a lawyer in some town by the ocean, theoretically "living the life" but got to a point where she knew something was missing from her life and from the Catholic church. She left her boyfriend and moved to Milan and a few days later a missionary handed her a pass along card. She came to church that Sunday and was baptized a month later (her version of the story was obviously a lot more emotion and detail filled, sorry.)
Anyway, It is currently "model season" in Milan, apparently, so I have been trying to find us a new Sydney to teach, or at least more wife options for Cory. So, I try to talk to every thin, pretty girl I see. A few days ago we got the phone numbers of one model from Poland and one from Slovakia...hopefully we can get in contact with them and set something up!!

Misadventures - I kind of told you about this already too. Our bike adventure last P-day was a disaster. The bike was too heavy or something for my companion so we walked around the city with the bikes. I really would not have been a good older sibling. Good thing I came on a mission where I can learn patience, love, charity, etc. I've also learned that everything happens for a reason...because we walked the bikes we were super late to the dance recital of Ana's little girls and for that I am SOO grateful. I guess I hadn't realized how removed from the world we are as missionaries. I almost was in tears at the end of the 10 minutes we saw of 6 to 11 year old girls dancing like MTV dancers to songs like "Womanizer". It was horrible!!

Mexican Food and Member help - After our the bikes and dance class we rushed off to a Mexican dinner at the church for Relief Society. Kind of an odd choice of theme since there are no Mexicans in the ward but people from every other Central and South American country. Four investigators came, 2 less actives, and a friend of a member...probably one of the best nights everrrr. The ward honestly has changed so much in the past 5 months as far as helping out with missionary work goes. Our goal at the beginning of the transfer was to have 8 different member families working with 8 different investigators regularly and helping them in their progression...we are already at 8!!! This work is so so much easier and so much more fun when the members are involved.
Weird thing though is that 2 days later we took Sydney to an American member's house for dinner and FHE and they made Mexican food too?!?! I'm pretty sure Sydney never ate Italian food while she was here at all.

Men's Volleyball - Nope, that's a lie, there was a bit of Italian food (tomatoes, cheese, bread) at the Men's Volleyball fireside. Mostly the fireside was really long because we had to translate everything. There was one really sweet talk though that one of the married players gave. They were all talking about how the principles in the gospel are related to principles of sports. He told a story about a coach in high school that constantly yelled and him and told him what he was doing wrong. One day he yelled back and the coach took him aside and explained that he only treated him the way he did because he could see his potential and wanted him to become the best that he could. He compared that to hardships in his life and the knowledge that God is just helping him grow and become more refined as a person. He then gave a shout out to my companion and I and noted that we should be so grateful for the time we have on our mission because looking back, it was the hardest time in his life but the time when he was closest to Heavenly Father. It was a good reminder to appreciate every day here on the mission.

Here's a another good spiritual thoughts from a talk I read in the Liahona this week...mostly I liked it because it made me laugh but it has a really important message too.
When you stop and think about it from a diabolically tactical point of view, fighting the family makes sense. When Satan wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, he doesn't poison the world's peanut butter supply (this is where I started giggling), thus bringing the Church's missionary system to its collective knees. He doesn't end a plague of laryngitis to afflict the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He doesn't legislate against green Jell-O Casseroles. When Satan truly wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, he attempts to confuse gender and he attacks God's plan for His children. He works to drive a wedge of disharmony between a father and a mother. He entices children to be disobedient to their parents. He makes family home evening and family prayer inconvenient. He suggests family scripture study is impractical. That's all it takes, because Satan knows that the surest and most effective way to disrupt the Lord's work is to diminish the effectiveness of the family and the sanctity of the home." Ballard
Soo...make sure you are all doing all that you can to fight back!!!

Much love,

Big Glass Bubble of Air - June 2nd, 2010


So my companion pretty much summed up the week with this one fantastic comment she made while we were walking past Sri Lankan trinket vendors at the Centrale Station who were trying to convince all the businessmen and world travelers without children that a container of bubbles was exactly the thing they needed for their trips...
She says, in the most sincere and joyous voice possible,
"It is so so nice to see bubbles as we walk through here!"

Honestly, her ability to not think negatively about anyone, not doubt, etc., blows me away daily and reminds me that the purpose of this life is to FIND JOY.

This morning I studied joy and happiness while trying to figure out what to teach an investigator, Miriam, who cries every time we come (sometimes I wish I were an Elder, I'm really just not good with knowing how to react to people crying, and women do it alll too often - more often these past few weeks it seems) and has had a pretty rough life. Basically, the simple conclusion (once again, a conclusion that most normal members of the church figure out without having to spend a year and a half on mission but whatev) I came to is that the only way to real happiness is living the gospel. Go check out 3 Nefi 17:17-18. That population felt JOY more than anyone had every felt before, an incomprehensible joy, when they were in the presence of Jesus. The way we today can come unto Christ and become closer to him is THE GOSPEL. Also read 4 Nefi 1:15-16. Pretty good script about joy. We all rush around trying to find happiness and fulfillment in life through so many different activities and rob ourselves of the things that will give us enduring joy. From what I understand in the scriptures, though, the enduring joys come trough spiritual growth, service, and hard work. I still am going to have to strengthen my testimony of this, though...I'm not going to lie - a day at the beach, a sailing trip around the world etc. still seems ridiculously more appealing to me than hard work.

Although I still have a long way to go to completely having a testimony of this concept, I've been blessed with a lot of experiences this week that have helped me really see the truth of it. For example last week on Pday I was pretty bummed after emailing because of the news about Mason and another letter I received with some un-expected news. Luckily, we had planned to go visit Ana in the middle of our Pday time because it was the only day and time during that week she could see us and we knew she needed the help, since she is trying to stop smoking and her life is simultaneously falling apart in 10 million other ways . So,about two hours after emailing, once we walked out of her house I was completely full of joy again and had 100 percent forgotten about all the bummer news I'd gotten earlier. It honestly was such a release to be able to sit there and just listen to her concerns and really feel like a mouth-piece for the Lord as we gave her advice and encouragement.

Then, of course, it just doubled my joy when Sorella Casa and I left the lesson and went on our hunt for the park of the week - Park Forlannini which ended up being super quiet, calm, green and a perfect place for p-day exploring and relaxing.

We also did Scambi, or exchanges, this week with the Sisters from Bergamo. When we got the news from the District leaders that I was YET AGAIN staying in Milan for exchanges I was probably more bummed than I was after all the bad -mail news. I have heard Bergamo is beaaaautiful. But, of course I found during the quick 24 hour scambi that being in the service of others brings even more happiness than...sit down for this one and save this email cuz I'm probably not ever going to say this again...traveling to new places. The Sister who was with me for Scambi has only been here for 4 weeks and has apparently been having a rough time...apparently her trainer is kind of lazy and isn't helping her much to get over the fears she has of talking to people. Sooo, I had 24 hours to change this Sister's view about the mission and help her learn how to talk people and I honestly was on a high the whole time. It was so fun helping her, encouraging her, seeing her change within hours, etc. Haha, not to mention how awesome it was when the man we were talking to on the metro stood up, took off his jacket to reveal a shiny tight blue shirt, then started demonstrating the belly dancing moves he was learning in his belly dancing class. He proudly claimed to be the only male belly dancer in Milan...I sure hope so!!

I've also seen the joyous fruits of hard work. Heavenly Father works in such a weird way though. We worked really hard and had really "high numbers" this week and had lots of success...but none of the success came from any of the hard work we did. For example, we must have invited about 4 people to baptism this week, trying to arrange to achieve our goal of getting one baptism during the transfer. We set a few baptismal dates but no one really felt prepared to get baptized in the next 3 weeks (before the end of our transfer). But then...Sunday the bishop called us into his office and introduced us to a woman that showed up from El Salvador. She has been going to church for the past 7 years, has had her 2 daughters baptized, has taken the missionary discussions at least 2 times, but could never get baptized because she was living with the father of her children who didn't want to get married. They finally got married last month, then she moved out here to arrange for everything for the rest of the family to move out here, and she wants to get baptized. We said sure. The last week of our transfer we're baptizing her. Good deal, eh? I honestly just feel like people are coming to us these days. Andrea, Sis Prina's cousin, called and asked us if he could come stop by the church and visit us there last night. Then, Louis, another guy we've been having a hard time getting appointments with, but who has been reading the Book of Mormon, called us last night and asked if he can meet with us tonight....

Life is good. Life should be joyous. You all should write to me and share with me the joy in your lives.

Pace.
SLC.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy Birthdays, Graduations, Births, and Parents Days to You. - May 12th, 2010


Thanks so much Pop and Mona for the list of awesome things to do in Milan. I think the key is pretty much exploring the center of town. I love walking down the streets that run in random directions with all the old apartments and unique stores, restaurants, and incredible churches scattered here and there. This morning, in an attempt to find some new shoes for my companion that were affordable, we went to some store called "The used market" that she had looked up in the phone book. Apparently she didn't look up the small print words in the phone book that described the store because it was all just antique house stuff and there definitely weren't any clothes or shoes. Luckily, since the store was near the center of Milan, it was not a waste of time at all since we saw cool things walking along the way. We stopped into one really pretty church that you can google...San Carlo al Lazzaretto. Built in 1488. The store itself was pretty neat too - waaaaay nicer stuff than anything you would find at DI. They take good care of their old things here. Anyway, because of that failed attempt to buy shoes we got to find another place this afternoon. Plus, a member made me promise I would get my companion a "hair makeover" asap...Mom is probably laughing right now at the fact that someone asked me, the girl who never would blow dry her hair for church, to give someone else a hair make-over. Anyway, we are both going to get haircuts today. Moral of the story, I don't know how much time we will end up having today to do and see all those cool places.

We weren't able to go last week to any of them either because the Assistants called us and asked us to meet all the new missionaries at the Duomo and help them do their first 'contacting' there for an hour or so. At first I was really annoyed that they were taking away some of our Pday time...but it was well worth it in the end. My companion and I got there before the rest did, so we were sitting inside the Duomo writing letters. They didn't see us when they walked in. They were all gathered in a big group (there were 5 new sisters and 8 new elders) and not really paying attention to anyone else. I hid my tag under my coat and walked up to the sisters and in Italian said, "Are you Mormons? You aren't allowed to be in here. You really need to leave immediately!" Their faces were classssssic. One Sister was really impressive, though, and actually tried to explain to me that they weren't going to proselyte or talk to anyone inside. I had that same sister with me when we split up into little groups to go talk to people outside the Duomo. She was really confident ├Čn using the little Italian she knew and we had some great conversations with people. It was refreshing to see her enthusiasm and desire to use everything she has to do the work. Then afterwards we all got gelato...love living in Italy!

Ha, so here is a fun language fact of the week: To say the flavor of gelato you use the word gusto. Like...What gusto do you want? Gusto comes from the verb root gustare which means to please. So technically you are saying what pleasing do you want? Oh, here's another fun one...you know how when we hear someone talking and don't understand we say "Its all Greek to me!" or "It all sounds like gibberish to me." Here they say..."It's all ARABIC to me." Hahaha.

And speaking of Arabs...a man from Cairo (originally Orthodox Christian) is getting baptized next week! He is a friend of Nady, another man from Cairo that got baptized in August. This friend just started coming to church 2 weeks ago with Nady and by the second week told us he wanted to get baptized so the Elders started teaching him. He has a wife an a few kids in Cairo still that he wants to be taught too, so maybe there will be some real Egyptians in the ward in Cairo soon instead of just Ex-pats.

My companion and I had an intersting experience with another family from Cairo this week. So basically whenever you knock on Egyptian's doors they are really friendly and welcoming and will let you in and feed you because Egyptians are awesome and that's how they are. But, we try to clarify at the door before going in whether or not they really have interest in our message. Normally, once we emphasize that we are coming in to talk about Christ, they finally say no. But one family the other night understood clearly and still let us in. We chatted for a bit, shared a summary of the message of the Restoration, then asked if we could say a prayer together. The prayer is kind of crucial because it doesn't really count as a lesson unless we pray. They were all "Yeah, good idea, let's pray together! First we need to prepare ourselves though." You probably already know from all our trips to mosques that they have to wash themselves and cover themselves before praying. We tried to convince them that it wasn't necessary for our prayer, but eventually gave in and agreed to washing ourselves. The woman takes us into the bathroom and shows us how to wash all the different parts of our bodies three times...then she whips off her pants and starts washing herself in the bidea three times too!! ai yai yai...My friends in Egypt never made me do that part. Then she runs to her room and brings out a pile of long robes (galabeyas) and scarves (hijabs) for us to cover ourselves with, plus prayer rugs for the ground. Twenty minutes later after we were "prepared" and the husband had done his style of prayer we were finally able to offer a prayer. They took some pictures of us and promised to send them, but we haven't received them yet....

Shoot, that entire day was just a crazy day. We had done about 9 hours of "finding work" because no one ever wants to make appointments with us on the free days on Saturdays. A bit earlier that day we created a mob at the park...we started talking to one man and 5 minutes later there were 3 other people gathered around arguing about politics involved in the starving children of Africa situation. We also had some guy who answered the door explain to us that we couldn't be the right chuch because we didn't know the real name of God. Normally ths is the first sign that we have foud a Jehovas Witness. This was not the case, though...he continued to explain to us that God is the Sun and the constellations are the apostles. I didn't really get it. My companion was saying crazy funny stuff left and right that day too...my favorite quote was something along the lines of - "I'd like to do that - just sit in the park with a dog. Actually, I used to do that with my guinea pig. She'd eat the grass and I'd just watch for hours. It was so fun."

Well, I wanna see if you guys have written anything else to me in the past 15 minutes since Ive been writing this....So I'll send this and write more later if there is nothing interesting from you to respond to.

Tanto amore-
SLC

Sunday, May 9, 2010

NON-TEACHING - May 5th, 2010


The week:

Last night we had a cancelled meeting with the bishop so we ended up with an extra hour to do door to door. We had picked an "inspired" area as a backup plan last night where we wanted to do casa so off we went, trekking across the city in the POOOURING rain to this area. We got in super easily to the first apartment complex we found...all 3 gates were opened already without us having to talk people into opening them for us. On the second floor we did a super cute family with three little kids opened the door. The dad was all...no, no, thank you, we already found Jesus in our own way and shut the door. Then as we were walking down the stairs the mom pops back out and says "Make yourselves comfortable!" I thought she was being sarcastic and meant like "Hurry up, get out of this apartment building you scoundrels" like most people mean when they pop back out of their doors. But after her saying it about 5 times I realized she was inviting us into her house. This was about to be my dream come true. We chatted for a minute, watched the 'Finding Happiness' video, gave a quick minute tie in to our message about the Restored gospel....then the next 20 minutes they spent trying to convert us to their neo-Catholicism movement.

Maybe its just because that was the last big thing that happened this week, but right now in my mind that kind of sums up the entire week. People trying to convert me instead of me being able to fulfill my calling invite them to come unto Christ by accepting his restored Gospel. A few days ago we sat down to eat in a park because we didn't have time to go home for lunch. A Jehovah Witness came and sat down next to us and for the entire lunch hour chatted away about the proofs of his movement. At the end he said a prayer, asking God to help us find the right way, then thanked us because he knew God was pleased with him for sharing his testimony with others.

A few hours later, we knocked on the door of a man that had seen us sitting in the park getting lectured by the JW. We laughed together about the experience at the door, then I peeked in their house and saw that it was a sewing studio. So, I got his wife to sew my skirt (the one I ripped in the MTC) up again while we shared a message with them. The man was a hard core atheist though, and I probably got two sentences in total. The next day our new member Ludmilla called to see if she could meet with us once more before she moved back to Genova. She spent the first 30 minutes trying to sign me up to join her Xango pyramid scheme (isn't that based out of Utah). She had done a whole astrology based background research on me and decided, based on my birthday and characteristics she had observed, that I would be the perfect partner with her. Nothing I could say to divert the conversation would get her off the topic.

We did have a few appointments with people who weren't hard core anything and trying to convert us. But we didn't really teach in any of those appointments either for one reason or another it seems...
We visited Luciano's (the park friend that died) wife. I tried reading one scripture but she was way too depressed and everything was going straight over her head. So we spent the rest of the lesson just asking questions and trying to show our love for her.

We had lots of lessons with investigators and the members house...mostly all of them turned into story times with the members explaining every detail of their conversion. Marco's story literally lasted 1 hour.

I was frustrated at first by all of these experiences but started reading\researching Christ and his ministry today. It seems like half the time he taught people they were distracted by other things and didn't really listen to what he was saying. And to teach, mostly he just asked people questions. So somehow I guess I just need to work with these opportunities I am given and leave the rest up to the Spirit! Aka, have more Faith. I liked the explanation in the Gospel Doctrines manual that I read about faith which connected it to motivation...It is a principle of Power that motivates our daily activities, It is a strong belief of truth that motivates us to do good. If we have faith and righteous desires, Heavenly Father will work miracles. For example...Heavenly Father revealed the Book of Mormon to us today because he promised he would to others in the past who had righteous desires and asked him to. See D and C 3: 19-20 and Enos 1:16.

Hummm, this e-mail so far kind of makes it seem like it was a bad week, eh? It really was quite the contrary...

Victoria and Rafaella came to church for the first time as well as another guy that we met at the ward picnic who we invited to meet us and come with us. Victoria went to another baptism with us (for another ward)...unfortunately we missed the actual baptism part because I've had a sick stomach for the past 3 days due to the meat I ate at the Ward BBQ. Luckily she has a good sense of humor and wasn't upset about it at all.

I made Christi's Carmelitas.

A friend of the Relief Society president who I was talking to at the picnic and who has been coming to ward parties for years but never has met with the missionaries, invited us over to teach her the lessons. She has two adorable little girls and we started teaching them on Sunday.

Out of time. But...by the way, transfer calls were last night. I'm here in Milan with Casa for another transfer.

Love, Peace, charity, etc.
SLC

Sunday, May 2, 2010

TRIPS NOT 1/2 AS EXCITING AS POP'S AND BOBBY'S, BUT..... April 28th, 2010


Pop - Pretty sure I haven't been to San Diego ever. Tell Mom she'd better do a good job cracking down on the alcohol thiefs so that I can go to San Diego when I get back. I did have a crush on a kid in my 2nd grade class at Dogwood, who moved into our class half way during the year from San Diego, though. Those few months I was genuinely grateful for Mom's Nazi Kuman regime she had made us follow growing up. Because of my superior math skills I was able to go to a special advanced math tutor twice a week with the San Diego kid. Just him, the tutor, me and some worksheets. Basically a second grader's dream.
- There is a big store right down the street from me that is called 'North Sails' or something. They sell super preppy sailing-ish outfits and had a big picture of the Oracle sailboat in their window a few weeks ago. Or maybe that was at the other super preppy sailing-ish store a few streets down. I sometimes get confused with all the super preppy sailing-ish stores here.

Crust - The picture of Rio running on the piano stairs in Penn reminded me of probably one of the coolest things I have seen in Italy yet, but somehow totally forgot to tell you all about! Back around Christmastime there was a set of stairs leading out from the Metro stop right in front of the Duomo that had piano keys painted on them. When you stepped on them, they actually played notes!! Unfortunately there were a million people walking on them at once so it was like the worst 5 chords at the same time that you could imagine. A really cool idea though.
- I am glad that you bring your own bag to the grocery store! Here they make you pay for every grocery bag and I think they need to adopt that everywhere in the States.

Bobby - See the comments I left for Pop. If I never thanked you for Kuman, consider yourself thanked now. If you were thinking of slacking off on your new job, don't. I need to go to San Diego still. I'm jealous you got to go to a Keleman get-together. They are the best! I remember having some super good salad and homemade pizza at the last one. Did you go to Cafe Rio while you were out in Provo? Any news with the Petersons these days? Anything changed in Provo?

So, I was inspired by Mom's and Pop's crazy travel plans that they had described they were going to have in their last e-mails, so I snagged myself a few trips outside of the Milan 2 boundaries again. Immediately after I emailed you last week, we got a phone call from a man named Andrea. He said he had gotten our card from a friend at work who wasn't interested in our message at all but knew that he was trying to learn more about Christ. He told us he would come pick us up from the church on Sunday. He came and got us with his 20 year old daughter after church as he promised...then he drove us about 45 minutes away to his apartment that was for sure not in our Zone, or in any of the Milano Zones for that matter. Whooooooooops. Super interesting guy, though. Within 10 minutes of the car ride we knew way more than I know about a lot of people we have been teaching for weeks. His wife left him 18 years ago and that's when he started "searching for Christ", he has been chaste ever since then, even though many woman at work try to get with him, has taught his daughter, also, the importance of being chaste in order to become "sanctified" of Christ and subsequently she has zero friends, etc. Basically he was SOOO excited about everything we told him, had 10 million questions and was super upset that we could only be at his house for an hour and a half and was begging us by the end to come on a day trip with him and his daughter to Como. Somehwere between teaching him basically all 5 of the missionary lessons, we had one of the best Italian meals ever...7 courses! Three of the courses were dessert. I kind of felt like I was at a 5th grade birthday party with all of the desserts, being peer pressured to eat more. The first dessert was strawberries with whipped cream, and the minute I took my spoon out of the bowl to put some strawberries in my mouth he would dodge in and refill it with whipped cream. Out of control!

After being prepped by him about how to teach the law of chastity we hurried back to our part of Milano after to teach Tito and his girlfriend the law of chastity. We are waiting for his decision now about whether they want to get married or if he wants to move out.... we will see what happens.

Also, last Wednesday after doing e-mail, I was skimming through my planner and remembered that I had Luciano's house phone number. He had given it to me that first day we had met at McDonalds but then got scared and crossed it out in my planner because he didnt want me to call and have his wife answer. But...I was able to figure out what the numbers were and we called the wife and have an appointment with her this week! She lives outside our zone, too, but the President's heart was softened by the news of the loss of Luciano and is letting us visit her a few times to see if she is interested. Of course she will be...her husband is now on the other side working for us!

We also visited Elder Boer's family this week. Out in the outskirts of Milano where there are houses and the mountains can be seen. Since I was back in Milano prez said we could try with them once more and see if they would be interested in meeting with the Elders. Like last time...the meal was great but the lesson not so great. We only had a 5 minute window to do the 15 minute lesson we had planned for them because of crazy, family Saturday schedules. It was as we were walking out the door that I was able to bring up the whole baptism topic...suffice it to say we didnt convince them to start meeting with the Elders there. BUT...yesterday we left the house a little early and saw the dad walking down the street! Aparently he works at a building 2 minutes from our house. Ha. He's totally trapped now1

I read a really good talk in an old Ensign about the importance of laughing. You should look it up. You should also look up the talk that Kristen sent me last week. Hummm, never mind, I cant find where I wrote down the name of that talk that Kristen sent me. Ask her. Anyway, heres a few attempts to get you laughing...
- We were on the metro around the time of day when High School kids are going home. One kid pulled out a "Jesus pen" from his backpack. Another kid grabbed it, stuck it in a bottle of water and was all...." look, Jesus is walking on water!" I only giggled in my head because I didnt know if it was "sacrildge" or not. Use your own judgement before laughing out loud at it.
- We were doing casa and a woman opened her door. I start talking to her. Sorella Casalino is standing a bit behind me where I couldnt really see her then all of a sudden I hear her doing one of those snort laughs that people do when they are trying to hold a laugh back. Then she just full out bursts and stops even trying to hold it back. I quickly wrap up the convo with the woman who wasnt going to let us in anyway then turn to Sorella to figure out what had happened. Turned out nothing at all had happened....yeah. Thats the end of the story.
-Last names in Italy are awesome when translated. As much as I hate citophanos (the little buttons on the outsides of apartment buildings with peoples names that you have to ring in order to get into the whole complex) because we normally spend a lot of time waiting at them and getting shot down through them, I love reading the names on them. Here are a few favorites (translated into Eng) I wrote down from yesterday...Bitter, badwater, little turkey.
- I got stuck in the metro door. It was bound to happen sometime with all of my last ditch efforts to give someone a pass along card after wasting too much time trying to build up to my invite. Taught me a lesson, that's for sure.
- I got proposed to by a Muslim who came to church on Sunday. Maybe next week I'll have time to tell you the whole convo. It was classic.

Alright,
gotta sign off,
L

TITO AND "LESS-ACTIVES" April 21st, 2010


So there I was in Sacrament meeting, freaking out about where Tito had gone, scanning the room every couple of minutes trying to find him, when all of a sudden Tatiana reaches over and just gives be the biggest hug ever and cuddles her head up to mine. I completely forgot about Tito and just was filled with an overwhelming feeling of love. Tatiana was baptized about a year ago and is a super gentle and ridiculously elegant Russian woman who is living here without her family, and takes care of a really horribly cranky old Italian woman that basically emotionally abuses Tatiana. I had sat down next to her at the beginning of Sacrament meeting because she was chillin' all alone and I couldn't find Tito anywhere. After like 10 minutes she sat up a little bit and said something really sweet like... "Oh, how long has it been that I have been yearning for someone to hold and love. Thank you so much for being here."

Normally after Sacrament meeting I would jump up and spring around the chapel trying to talk to everyone that we needed to make appointments with, get to come with us to appointments, or ask about referrals. This time I just felt to stay and talk with Tatiana and not worry about all that, or about Tito. She started spilling her heart out to me then, and after a few minutes left right when Tito came strolling over. The day before, when I had called and asked him about his Book of Mormon reading, praying, etc. he had said, "Yeah, I have some things I want to talk to you about. Can we talk after church?" Hence my freaking out when I didn't see him after church. When I saw him I just said something lame like, "So, what are your thoughts?" ...the next ten minutes was practically him bearing his testimony! Apparently he had come to church with a bunch of questions and in the first lesson in Priesthood they had addressed them perfectly. He told about how he loves hearing everyone's testimonies at church and hopes that one day he will be able to bear his own. He straight up told me, I want to be baptized when I really feel I have my own testimony...blah, blah, blah...finally I couldn't take it anymore and just said, "Tito! Let's just choose a date! What do you think about May 15?" He said, "I don't really feel righteous enough yet...". I explained that we'd have May 15th as the goal and we could change it if necessary, but we'd work together to prep for that day. He got this big goofy smile, accepted the date, wrote it down really big in his planner, and that was that. Then, I found out that one of the members had invited him over for FHE the next night without us even having to ask them too!!!

In Zone conference this past week we learned about making plans inspired by the spirit and CONSTANTLY being guided by the Spirit so we can EFFECTIVELY accomplish the Lord's work. I swear, every Zone Conference they talk about exactly the concept that I had been pondering during the previous week. Or maybe I just get the message out of it that I am looking to hear. Who knows. Plus, right after Zone Conference I got a package with letters and an old-school BYU devotional talk from Kristen Moore. The talk also spoke exactly about everything we had discussed in the Conference. Anyway, those few hours of church were a good example to me of this concept. Along with like 20 million other experiences we have had this week...

1) I had been debating in my head when to call Andrea, Sister Prina's cousin, for about three days. Finally, at some random odd hour of the morning when we were running to the metro, I decided to just call him. He answered and asked were we were. He happened to be sitting on the metro right then at the stop we were headed towards. So, he got off and waited for us. He said, "That was the weirdest thing, I am never on this metro at this time of day and when you called I was right there and the doors were open." Anyway, we ended up being able to chat for a bit, weasel in a conversation about the plan of salvation we had taught him last week (using some awesome muffins I had made from a Sis. Prina recipe), and invite him to come to the church that night for the first time so he could drop something off for us that we needed.
2) We did a lesson with a member couple who live out in the boonies. The purpose of the lesson was to get them to choose an inspired Zone for where we should do finding work. After they said the prayer asking for where we should go, the husband immediately suggested an area that came to mind and the wife said a bunch of inactive names came to mind. So they walked over to the area with us and took us door to door visiting inactive families. This past week we had been trying to visit less actives by going through a long list we had, but we had always ended up just wasting time because the addresses were incorrect, the people didn't live there anymore, etc. In like 30 minutes we were able to visit and make appointments with a handful of families that really are searching for the strength to come back to church.
3) Last week after e-mail we went to the public garden nearby our house to enjoy the sun and write letters (you should google it, its beautiful!). Normally the park is filled with a bunch of families but for some reason on Wednesday afternoons apparently it is a haven for university age couples. I felt like I was back at BYU again with everyone scattered around us cuddling - except the couples here are a lot better looking, generally. Honestly, every other couple I pass by could be a JCrew model couple. Anyway, besides the point. We had decided to end our relaxing in the park a bit early and get back to work so that we could go to a free planetarium show that night. As we were walking back home some random drunk and homeless woman sitting on the side of the road with a couple of other drunk and homeless friends shouted something at us. So we stopped and talked to her. She whipped out some picture of her son who is or was (not much of what she was saying was very clear) a missionary in Peru. She was standing with him at the airport in the picture. He was wearing the tag, suit, and everything and she seemed normal and well-kept. She didn't have a phone number but we gave her the info for church and bore our testimonies that she could change her life again for the better....we'll see what happens.

Oh jeezz. Internet is almost up again. Here's a few other random quick thoughts from the week...
- Yesterday we went to find Luciano (the old man we first met at McDonalds with the member then continued to meet him and teach him in the park every week) at the park. He had gone on a trip down south and said to come find him in 3 weeks. When we went to the spot where he normally is and asked his friends where he was, one woman bluntly told us without blinking an eye...Oh, Luciano, he died... ?!??!??!??!??! Turned out he had just had a heart failure on the way back to Milan a few days after Easter. I guess he'll be taught by some other missionaries now. In the meantime we got an appointment with his friends to read some scriptures from the BOM about what happens after this life.
- People here in Italy these days seem to be really caught up in a lot of physical evidences of the truth of the Bible that have been revealed these days....if anyone wants to do some research on the following and give me some brief thoughts, I'd appreciate it....the Arc of the Covenant found in Ethiopia, the Sacro Sindole (the sheet that Jesus was supposed to have been wrapped in that they have in Torino right now), Noahs ark in Turkey. etc.
- The planetarium show we went to was hilarious. I'll send you the brochure that describes it.
-my favorite Casalino comment of the week: our work is like an orthodontist's. always just gotta keep calling people and calling people to confirm appointments.
-favorite old Italian man comment of the week: (while we were running on the way to an appointment we were late for...) Girls! You don't have to worry about running! I already won the prize!
- another thing we talked about in Zone Conference in connection with having inspired finding plans, was not to get in ruts. Earlier this week we had some old man shouting at us through his door for 5 minutes after we knocked on it and said who we were. One of the things he said was..."Why don't you go sign yourselves up at the hospital to teach people about Christ who really need him!" We remembered that that was actually one of the ideas listed in Preach My Gospel. So, we did it. Yesterday morning I opened up the white pages and made a bunch of calls to hospitals to see if we could get on the list of people available to offer religious guidance. Didn't work so well. At each hospital I got passed to the office of the priests who are hired to help people at the hospital. They were just thoroughly baffled by who we were and why we thought the people at the hospital would need someone other than them to guide them religiously. Made for some good laughs every time after I finally hung up the phone.
-Luigi and his mom, Brenda and her family, and the Brazilian family are all doing well and reading the book of Mormon!

Anyways, Thank you all for your letters this week! When I got here to do internet I was in a bummed mood because I had forgotten all of the notes Id written down about the amazing experiences this week I wanted to share with you, PLUS my plan for today's Pday to go to Lake Como or Maggiore which are only about 30 mins away had been shot down by the Assistants last night. We aren't allowed to leave Milan. So, I was about to just complain a lot in my email. But then I got an awesome email from Mona talking about all the amazing things there are to do and see here in Milan, plus her testimony that God really has a hand in everything. That reminded me of all my great experiences this week and got me excited again to be living here in Milan, even if I don't see nature ever. If anyone wants to do research for me about where I can find all these things Mona was talking about, or any other sweet things to do, I'd appreciate it...Emperors Palace (maybe that's the castle I went to to do finding work the other week??), where Constantine walked, etc.


Love you all lots and lots and lots.

COMPANIONSHIP UNITY - April 21st, 2010



I think this can be applied to the family too, eh?

Love you all.
L

Cari Anziani e Sorelle,

I have felt to share the following quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland with you all. This is from the devotional address in June 2009 that he gave at the MTC. You will recall that I played this for you in our zone conference last transfer. Those of you with Italian companions, would you please translate it for them if necessary.

Thanks for all you are doing in the Lord's service.

-Presidente Dunaway

Unity is so crucial in this work. If there is disunity or a lack of harmony of any kind or any sort of break between a missionary and his companion, the work is crippled... Now whether we are children playing in the sandbox, teammates in an athletic contest, members of a symphony orchestra, missionary companions, or a husband and a wife in a marriage, we all have seen some form of this principle at work. The Lord has said, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). So that is one definition of “The Divine Companionship” I want you to think about as you prepare to teach by the Spirit. I would ask you to leave this devotional determined to be the best companion—the most “divine” companion—you can be to that elder or that sister or that spouse, regardless of what problems arise and however fatigued or stressed you may feel. Leave tonight promising to take the idea of Christlike attributes literally. If you have not yet learned that it is more important to help someone else succeed than it is to focus on your own success, then please start learning that divine lesson now. It will help you understand the Atonement of Christ, among other great lessons that have come down to us through the dispensations.

THE ELECT - April 14th, 2010


Last week I was kind of annoyed with my President because he basically told me that park contacting was a waste of time and we should be trying to teach people in their homes. He explained that we would be more likely to find "the elect" this way. To be honest, I don't think I really believed there was such thing as "the elect" or people just waiting for me to knock on their door. From what I had seen, it was up to us as the missionaries to be interesting enough, spiritual enough, ready enough to answer their questions, etc. If all that was in place, then anyone could be converted. Based on this theory, park contacting worked better, especially for Italians, because we had more than the 20 seconds yelling through the closed door to do all of the above and touch people's hearts.

This week I was humbled. There is such thing as "the elect". We did lots of door to door this week, even though it was so hard to walk by all the groups of families chillin' in the parks, walking along the river. We even took the time the night before to pick out exactly what road we wanted to go to. Here are a few of the people we found...

Luigi, a 20 year old Italian, model-esque, semi-professional soccer player living at home with his family while recovering from knee surgery invited us to come back and meet with him and his mom. When his mom, Sylvia learned of the Book of Mormon she was in shock and couldn't believe that she hadn't heard of such thing before. She was really upset that no one at the Catholic church had taught her about it. We told her all of her questions and concerns about life could be answered in it and in faith she continued to ask us about a million questions she has been pondering. We will try to answer them all tomorrow when we go back.

Mirella - a 25 year old Brazilian with the cutest 2 year old boy ever after Rio. She invited us in without hesitation and had her husband, uncle, and cousin at the next 2 lessons.

Brenda - a 30 year old woman who lives in the same complex as her sister and mother so invited them all to come over and meet with us. We only had a 5 minute lesson with them but they all were so excited to set the next appointment with us. Brenda was all "Yeah, two days from now should be perfect. We are going to need that time to reflect about all that you have taught us."

Hamda - An Egyptian Muslim who wandered over to us while we were talking to an old Italian woman through her window. He joined into our conversation and by the end was asking us for a Book of Mormon. We said yeah, wed bring one by that week. He called us the next day to ask us when we were going to be able to bring it. Then he came to church on Sunday to get it and stayed for 2 hours of church.

As I was pondering this new idea of "the elect" and what exactly that means. I have been trying to read all the Ensign articles possible about converts and what converts feel during the finding and teaching process. There are some incredible stories. Mostly what it seems like is that the elect are those whose hearts are not hardened against learning the truth. When they hear the truth and the Spirit testifies of the truth than they readily accept it.

This lead me to start studying the spirit a little more. My favorite phrases I read about the spirit is that it is a "foretaste" of eternal life and a record of heaven. When you put that in perspective using the scripture in D and C 14 that says that eternal life is the greatest of all the greatest gifts of God...that means the spirit is a foretaste of the greatest gift ever!! And we are told that, based on our worthiness we can constantly be tasting of this greatest gift. Then working in the opposite direction...in Galatians 5:22 we read that the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith - meaning that eternal life is all of that times a million. That is what we are working for. That is why we need to keep the commandments and make covenants.

I was also pondering this week about Mom's favorite section from the Harvard lecture where Oaks talked about the 3 fold sources of truth. I read an enlightening paragraph in Jesus the Christ that said something along the lines of...Christ was able to progress and develop during his youth so rapidly because he didn't have the retarding and dragging weight of sin. He loved and obeyed the truth and therefore was set free. This really impressed upon me the importance of being sin free. We cant receive knowledge when we are not cleansed from our sins because the spirit can't be with us to teach us. 2 Nephi 32:3-7 goes along well with this thought.

Hopefully you all find these thoughts as interesting as I do. I feel like they are probably things we are all taught from day one, but some concepts seem to just take a few years till they finally click for me. I am glad that I learned at least these few concepts this week. I was really having a hard time during personal study because our president had assigned us a handful of scriptures from the Bible to read and every time I start getting into a story in the bible I start reminiscing about various vacations we have had to Biblical sites.

Not really anything funny to report from the week. Sorella Casalingo has started talking quite a bit more. She actually probably talks more than me when it is just us two together. We'll just be walking along, then she'll tell some completely random story from her life that is related to nothing, then we walk some more in silence until she thinks of another story. One of my favorite stories was about how the highlight of every week during high school was going to the homeless animal shelter nearby her house where they LET people take the dogs on walks. Mostly it is her giddy smile and light in her eyes that makes the stories awesome.

I'm going to send you some pictures from last p-day. It was her birthday and she wanted to go to the cemetery to celebrate. Her mom had served a mission here in Milan and went to the cemetery and told Sis Casalingo about it so she has been dreaming about it since childhood. I also tried making Sister Prina's bread pudding recipe for her for her bday. Didn't turn out half as good as Prina's, but I tried.

After internet today we are going to go enjoy the sun in the park nearby us and write letters. I basically have the best friends ever and have about 15 letters backed up that I need to respond to, so I'm going to try to get them done while getting some sun.

Love you all,
SLC

WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG - April 7th, 2010


First things first, then I'll explain the title:

TO DO
- find out when the missionaries PDay is and invite them to come with you all to activities or sites in DC.
- make arrangements necessary to have the family in Napoli for March 26, 2011 (I think i should be done with the mish then?) for Marco and Valentina's wedding ceremony (they have only had the technical state wedding but haven't celebrated it yet or had a ceremony that the church recognizes so that they can go through the temple). They are the new convert couple that we do stuff with all the time...I think I sent a picture of them from Christmas Eve.

GOOD LAUGHS FROM THE WEEK
- when the angry old woman who called us because we had given our phone number to her married husband. It was poor Sister Casalingo who answered the phone and as patiently as possible explained who we were and our intent. The funniest part of the whole situation was that afterward Sister Casa couldn't stop giggling for about 20 minutes and just kept shaking her head and repeating, "I can't believe it, I can't believe that woman thought we were trying to hit on her husband, I just cant believe it."

-best April fools joke anyone has every played on me: we were on the metro on our way to do casa at a specific stop we had previously planned. when we got to that stop the metro stopped for abot a minute, everyone lined up at the doors, then the train just moved on without ever opening the doors. Everyone was getting really upset, a few started to run up to the front of the train to yell at the driver, then one of the passengers standing near us started cracking up and said, "It's April Fools Day!!!"....which in Italian is called "the fish of April." I'm sure that's not why the doors didn't open but it sure helped to lighten every one's mood.

The not so funny part of the story... When we got to the next stop, Sorella Casalingo and I were about to hop on the train going back in the opposite direction so we could go to the stop we had chosen, but then I remembered what one of you had told me last week about the missionaries in Oakton Stake always assuming that if they got lost it was for a purpose. I told Sister Casa about that and so we did casa nearby the stop we had been taken to instead...it was hailing and raining and no one let us in. Maybe someone just needed to see us??? who knows.

FAVORITE PEOPLE OF THE WEEK:
- The Italian flower man (still don't know his name) that owns the fancy flower shop down the street and that I have been inviting to church every week for the past 3 months. This week I tried bribing him with chocolate to come to church. Unfortunately he said he'd just trade me some free flowers for the chocolate instead.
- The old construction worker Italian man that randomly burst out into song as my companion and i walked by with our flowers. It was some song about roses. we invited him to church. he didn't come :(

FAVORITE MOMENT DURING CONFERENCE:
- Tito came to both sessions on Sunday which was awesome! During the Japanese mans talk when he mentioned that the missionaries had told him that he needed to take up the challenge at the end of the book of Mormon and really read daily and pray to know the truth Tito leaned over to me and said as if he had just had some big epiphany "hey, that's what you guys keep telling me!" Afterward the conference he said something to me about how now he understood why i was always so persistent in asking him if he had read in the BOM whenever we called and he really appreciates that we do so.

Alright...so back to the title. Why can't we just all get along instead of it being necessary for us to all accept one religion. This is something that a lot of people have been asking us recently and as someone who likes to study other religions, cultures, etc. it is often difficult for me to answer. There are so many Italians turned atheist, Buddhist, or just have their own theories because they just want peace. And indeed, they do seem more peaceful in a lot of ways than those who are hard core into whatever other religion. On Easter, before we ran off to Conference, my comp and I went to a Multi-religious Easter potluck lunch. We were invited by the Arabic professor that is friends with the BYU Arabic professor who is now the mission president down South. It was mostly a bunch of super open minded Syrian and Moroccan Muslims, a few Jews, a Catholic priest, and a few random other people that were doing there own thing religiously. It was nice to be in an atmosphere where people weren't yelling scripture verses at us to prove to us what "the real name of God is" or "what time of the day Jesus was really crucified."

So I have really been trying to strengthen my testimony of Jesus Christ this week so that I can respond with more ease. I learned a lot about the importance of the atonement. Every time anyone sins they are lead to unhappiness and feelings of guilt and shame. If people aren't feeling good about themselves then there is no way we can all get along as well as we should! It is only through Christ that we can have those feelings taken away. From what I understand, Buddhists believe that overcoming cravings stop us from suffering. It is also through Christ that we can easiest overcome carnal cravings.

Also, it is ONLY through the priesthood authority restored on the earth today that we can feel the joy of having the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The Fift of the Holy Ghost is literally a foretaste of eternal life and a record of heaven. When we get a glimpse of what heaven tastes like we can more fully achieve the goal of just having peace.

Plus, see Mosiah 24:5-7. This population loved each other, were well behaved, etc but they were not taught in the ways of Christ/God. Therefore, when it came to interacting with other populations they were not fair, and they were selfish, mean (sorry, I don't have the scriptures in front of me right now so I don't remember the exact words). Without the grander perspective and deeper understanding that we are all Children of God that need to use Christ's atonement through the teachings of the restored gospel we may be good to those that are similar to us or close to us but won't have the drive to be good to EVERYONE.

Ughh, internet time is never long enough to really describe my thoughts clearly.

Love you all.
Hope you all share the gospel with your friends so that we really can have more peace.

Love,
SLC

Silence is GOLDEN - March 31st, 2010


This week I have fallen in love with silence and Italians.

I absolutely love serving with Sister Casalingo. We walked for about 30 minutes in silence the other day trying to find an apartment of a member. First we had to walk along a river , cross over a bridge, then through the most beautiful neighborhood ever and I got to just look around and enjoy the beautiful Spring weather, look at the neat old Italian buildings, etc. and not have to worry about entertaining or listening. Then, when someone walked by with their dog, neither of us were distracted and we both knew that we both wanted to talk to her. Being with Sister Casalingo this week has reminded me about the comment that Dave made when the Prez was over at our house to set me apart. He said the companion that he loved serving with the most was the one who he could tell really wanted to be there on the mission and reallly loved doing the work. Sister Casalingo may not talk a lot but she is also ridiculously focused on the work (but in a calm way that doesn't make anything stressful), super humble, and never has wierdo emotional problems that come from thinking too much about yourself. Plus, I asked her the first day if we could speak only in Italian and she has been super dedicated to that and it has helped my Italian so much just in this one week.

The best part is that since she doesn't talk much, when she does talk the things she says are soo so memorable. Both in lessons and just in the apartment. For example...instead of trying to say something enticing when a person opens the door when we are doing casa she just says, "Hi, I'm Sister Casalingo, can I come in for 5 minutes." And when she does invites to people on the metro or park or whatever I can see her working on building up the courage, slowly sneaking out a pass along card, then she pounces,and just says "Hi, I'm Sister Casalingo, I want to invite you to church." At first I thought for sure no one would respond well. But who am I to judge? In the scriptures we learned that anyone with desires to do the work is called to the work. I've found by watching her, that if a person really does have interest, really is being prepared, it doesn't matter how awkwardly we approach them. Well, to some extent...

Anyway, on to why I love Italians. Mostly I love them because I have started talking to them more and more instead of following the normal missionary trend of picking the foreigners to talk to. Also because they do what they say they are going to do and tell you they won't do something if they really don't want to. They really do call you when they are interested. Plus, they are hilarious. I think I am just discovering this recently because I am understanding more of what they are saying these days. Also, they love being in the mountains and being active...automatic bonding points.

A few highlights of awesome Italians I met this week...
- Francesco: A super sporty, young dad at the park with his daughter who had his dog tied up to the sign that said no dogs at the park. Later on in our convo he admitted that he switches sides of the roads whenever he sees the Elders. I died laughing and burst his bubble, explaining that he is not as smooth as he thinks he is and we definitely notice everytime someone tries to dodge us.
- The old crippled man who walked by in the park while we were talking to a woman with a baby and shouted something like "they're the Mormons!" I shouted hi and invited him to come join the chat. We asked him what he knew about us and he rambled on about how kind and well dressed the missionaries that he talked to for 30 seconds like 60 years ago were.
- The woman who swung open her door when we knocked, shouted hello, gave me bacci (the kisses on the cheeks), then took a step back and realized that I was not the person she was expecting...mumbled something like "who are you, no, you like like..." then slammed the door and double locked it.
- Tomas: A short Italian man, in his 50s, standing right in front of me on the bus. I was looking around the bus for someone to talk to and almost missed him. Then I heard him say something like "I'm reading your tag." We had like a 30 second conversation then he had to get off so I gave him a card. He called us a few hours later and asked if he could come to church. The next day he took the hour long trip to get to our church from his house and was early.
- The old men sitting in the park that we talked to about bocci ball, then the church. We said a prayer with them at the end of the "lesson." The one saw me bowing my head and closing my eyes so he asked if he needed to do that. I said sure. Then at the end of the prayer he shouts out to his friend "Pascuale you are such a faker! I saw you with your eyes open!"

Well, as you can see, all is well here in Milan. I have had about 10 million other tender, funny, exciting, humbling, etc. moments this week that I wish I could share with you but the time is too short and I'm sure your attention span also.

Much love,
L

Threesome to Twosome - March 24th, 2010


Assignment - can someone compile a list for me of where different fruits and veggies should be stored? ie - fridge, bottom pull out drawer of fridge, out on the counter.

Recommended reading - the speech that Oaks gave at Harvard in Feb. of this year. I think you can find it online.

So I had to use most of the email time today snagging pictures from Sister Prina and Simons because we got transfer calls yesterday and they are both leaving :( I normally am completely excited for change and it doesn't upset me at all, but I am super, super sad about this one. I really have enjoyed being in this threesome, especially being with SIster Prina again. We were talking last night and both confessed that we are baffled why we get along so well because we really are completely different in a lot of ways. Anyway, she's off to Como without me. We had plotted in the MTC to serve there together, because that is where there is a whole village of Prinas for us to convert. Simons is going to Bergamo. And what is coming my way will be a HUGE change, especially after being in so many 3 somes. Sister Casalinga, who has been serving in another part of Milan will be my new companion. She is a native Italian (but moved to the states when she was 10) and so speaks Italian perfectly...maybe it'll help me out a bit!

On another note though, here are some highlights of the week...
- On Friday we had a repeat of Tuesday with tons of bidones and lots of time running around from point to point talking to people on the way. (yes Pop, we do call and confirm with people 2 days or one day before, and often a few hours before). We met lots of awesome people though...
A personal favorite was a woman on the street walking her dog with her daughter. She had a bag with music notes on it that we complimented her on. After talking for about 10 minutes we knew that she was a singer of sorts but did not know much more than that. As she was walking away Sister Prina shouts out, "Do you have any concerts coming up in the area that we could go to?" Without looking back or stopping the woman shouts out "yeah, at the Scala..." Sister Prina almost hyperventilated and was so sad that all we knew about the woman was her first name (we had tried to get her phone number but she said she wasn't ready to hear our message. booo.) . Then, A few days later when doing casa for a few hours and not getting in anywhere, the last door we were going to knock on let us in. They were an old Chinese couple with a bunch of ballet pictures everywhere. Turned out they were ballet dancers at the Scala for years. We are going back to them on Saturday.

Also when we were out and about on Friday a woman pushing a stroller does a double take when she sees us, then stops and with a ton of enthusiasm and asks who we are. We explained briefly and she was just so giddy and asked if she can hug us,then continued to thank us a million times for our work. We were completely baffled. More often than not Italian mothers literally run away shaking their heads no at us when we even say salve (hi)...not kidding, we did park contacting the other day and had this happen several times. We never really figured out in the end why she was so excited to see us. She had never heard of our church before, didn't really want to go to our church or meet with us when we explained why our church was different, etc. Oh man, then just a few minutes after this woman had stopped us there was another woman that responded super enthusiastically when i said hello then stopped as if to chat. Turned out she thought I was some Russian friend of her daughter and didn't really want to talk much when she discovered I wasn't. At least we were able to give her a little pamphlet though.

- We went back to Sister Prina's cousins house and this time went MUCH better. There were only 2 of his friends there so it was a much easier crowd to teach.

- In the middle of a lesson with Doris (an El Salvadorian woman who has had a super hard life and does not smile much or ever seem happy), during a pretty crucial spiritual part of the restoration movie, she shouts. I think she is creeped out by Heavenly Father coming down to visit Joseph Smith or something, but then I follow her pointed finger...the floor is COVERED with a white liquid substance. We had bought a container of Soy milk on the way to our appointment with her so we could make a dessert to bring to dinner at Andrea's house and I had punctured the container when scooting back my chair. It was awesome, though, because we all just busted out laughing and it was the first time I had seem her really smile. Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways...

- We had 5 of our investigators in church for all 3 hours which was saweeet. Tito and Luzmilla, Vincenzo (a Bolivian man that we had just taught the night before because he was randomly at the house of someone else we were teaching), and Lilia with her daughter (we met them on the street a few days before and had one appointment with them).

Alright, I'm out of time.

Thanks for all your love and letters and prayers.

Sorella Cozzens

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CAN'T THINK OF A GREAT TITLE THIS WEEK

We rarely have member lessons and\or eat with members but somehow yesterday on scambi we ended up with two (Luckily we actually had a bit of time because we got bidones, or cancellations?, from the other 7 lessons we had planned). We showed up to this woman expecting just to give a brief lesson before running over to a lunch appointment with another member and our hearts sank when we smelled food cooking. I said, "oh, how nice, are you cooking for your husband? He gets to come home for pranzo?" She shakes her head. " Oh...so this is all for us? We really weren't expecting anything. You really don't need to worry about it..." She then launches into a million and 5 stories end on end about how she used to do so much for and with the missionaries but this horrible thing and this other horrible thing and some other horrible thing are happening in her life these days. And she knows that there aren't many Bolivians here and so she decided she needed to run out and buy all the ingredients for this special Bolivian dish. The she continued to fry everything in sight (potatoes, hot dogs, eggs, etc...) while telling us another million tragic stories about her less active children, her non member family members, etc. We then were encouraged to add mayo and ketchup to this heart stopping Bolivian combo. I have developed some really handy food dodging skills here on the mission. I was able to stop her from serving me the 5 scoops she gave my companion then sneak all of the hot dog slices back into the bowl and steal all the veggies from my scambi companion who doesn't like veggies while the member wasn't looking, then pretend like i was using the mayo. In then end I enjoyed a really delicious, hopefully only heart slowing rather than stopping version of this Bolivian surprise and somehow was able to direct her tear jerking, life is hopeless stories to the passage we had planned on in the Book of Mormon.Then we sprinted over to the next member and the games started all over again....

This time it was heaps of boring pasta that I had to escape from and really crude stories mixed with semi apostate theories that we had the challenge of directing towards a conversation and message about following modern day prophets. On the bright side, we came out of the appointment with a whole slew of new ideas on how to use Bideas (I'm not sure how to spell it but am referring to those things that go next to the toilet that spray water as a means of cleaning up instead of using toilet paper) and a big slice of home-made focacia. My scambi companion is going home next week (I seem to always be put with the ones going home, eh?) and had not used a bidet during her whole time here so decided to try it last night at our house...apparently she is not the only missionary who doesn't use Bidets...the faucet spouted out nasty brown water for like a minute.
If any day is a good day to eat as much unhealthy food as we ate though, yesterday was it. We for sure walked it all off going to all of our back to back lined up cancelled appointments. I was so tired at the end of the day that it was kind of a big relief when I realized we had been going in the wrong direction on the bus for 30minutes trying to get to our last appointment of the day and would have to sit for another 40 minutes to get where we needed to go (one of my real companions had taken my map with them on accident). Of course, didn't even matter we were late though cuz...you guessed it, the woman wasn't even home and hadn't been all night and no one knew where she was. booooo.

Also encountered a few people of interest yesterday during all our running around...1) a drunk man sprawled out in the middle of the sidewalk at 12 in the morning 2) two really creative campaign workers who were dressed up in renaissance clothes with a trumpet and one of those announcement scrolls and were going from one metro car to the next giving a hilarious announcement about some big political debate the next day. A few days ago Prina Simons and I used the car hopping technique on the metro for contacting and it was kind of effective but now I see that we could improve our work by leaps and bounds. I will be suggesting a trip to the local renaissance store when I see my companions tonight. 3) Diana. We actually met her a few days ago, not yesterday, but she definitely has a story worth mentioning. Her mom is from Eritrea, her dad from Ethiopia. Because of some political issues and this ethnic background she and her brother were not allowed to stay in either of the countries. So, they fled from the South of Ethiopia, worked their way up through Libya (or maybe it was Algeria) to the ocean, got packed onto some boat and 5 months after their journey started, ended up in Northern Italy. The kicker is that she was pregnant during all that. And now, since she doesn't have a job she has had to give her son to the "soure" or...I guess in English that would be like a monastery, or place where the nuns live so that he can at least get a little food. She is only allowed to visit him once a week and if she doesn't find a job and a way to take care of him herself in the next few months then the Soure will have possession over the kid somehow and he'll have to grow up a priest.

And a few interesting people while doing only 30 minutes of casa...1) A Milanese woman hard core into occult sciences in order to communicate with God or the dead or whoever. 2) An American girl here on a mission for another Christian church who wanted us to go out to a club together later on. ha ha, apparently her mission is a bit different than ours. 3) A 90 year old woman who, well, I'm not even sure how to describe her. She grew up really poor in Rome, had a really rough life, but has some incredible stories and the biggest heart ever.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the other pictures...

Anyway, other highlights from earlier in the week...
We had dinner with one of Sorella Prina's distant cousins and a group of 5 of his other single adult Italian friends. It was the cousin that a few months ago had said that one of his friends had met me on the metro. That friend was at the dinner too. The dinner was super chill and a good time, at least for me. They were all big skiers and travelers. A few had been to Cuba...pretty jealous of that one. We planned a ski trip for a year from now. Then we sat down to have a lesson. Oh jeez, for sure the most awkward lesson ever. Sorella Prina had been stressed about it for days so we had tried really hard to plan a perfect lesson but we had realized at some point during the dinner that what we planned wasn't going to work at all....so we tried to improvise. Didn't work. We were all sooo bummed and just in shock when we got home. Sister Prina said something along the lines of..."Thank you Heavenly Father that we made it through that night" in the prayer when we got home and then I just busted out laughing and we continued all laughing for like 10 minutes straight in order to keep ourselves from crying.

We have a few really promising new investigators. Marcella and Roxanna. A mom and daughter from Peru. The Elders found them doing casa then passed them over to us. We have only taught them 2 times but they have already read a ton in the Book of Mormon and also brought up baptism. Normally we have to force that conversation into lessons...nope, they just rolled right into it. Plus, they already have member friends because I accidentally tricked (does it count as a trick if it was on accident) a member into coming to a lesson with us. There was yet another transportation strike the night of our first lesson with Marcella and Roxanna so I called a member family to ask if they could meet us for the lesson then give us a ride home. Clearly my Italian still is not very good because they had no idea they were doing a lesson with us when they got there. But they were good sports and changed their plans a bit so they could do it. I might use this strategy more often so members have less time for excuse making. My favorite excuse I got this week for why a member couldn't come to a lesson with us was something like "I really am not feeling up for it because my dog died four months ago..."

And in my last few seconds here's a bit of food news for pop - Sorella Simons and I made home-made Eggplant Parmesan a few days ago. Sooo good. Recommend trying it.

Love you all -

SLC

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I NEED SOME AIR March 10th, 2010

That little trip to the countryside last week and beautiful day in the park gave me an insatiable need for fresh air and nature. Last P-day we planned to go to the park after email so Sister Simons and I could go running while Sister Prina wrote letters but by the time we got out of email it was POURING RAIN. It was still a treat, though, because I got to wear sweats outside for a total of 3 hours because we had the intention of doing something physical. Oh man, I almost forgot how much I love sweats. I've decided that when I get back home I want to go hike the entire Appalachian trail. After a year and a half of wearing skirts and being in cities I will probably need 6 months at least of the extreme opposite - only nature and sweats. Then I will be ready to live a more equilibrious lifestyle.

So yeah, we weren't able to go running. Then we had a whole day inside for Zone Conference (which, as always was really enlightening...details to follow), then about 3 or so days mostly inside because Sister Simons was sick. Even when we were stuck inside Sister Prina was up doing the charts for our investigators with me, teaching me how to cook various healthy treats (got another good cookie recipe for you Crust) , making phone calls, giving me private voice lessons, etc. Then we had another day inside for Interviews yesterday. And today....we planned on going back out to Ludmilla's to go hiking for Pday, but then it started snowing last night and hasn't stopped since?!?!? Instead, to satiate my craving for fresh air and movement, I read an article in the Ensign during study that related skiing to some gospel principle and we stopped by a book store for a bit and looked through some books with incredible nature pictures. I was inspired by the Ensign article to be better at making up real life personal examples to teach doctrine principles in lessons. It will be good practice for me and help me get more creative. I read something else in the Ensign the other day talking about how creativity is a Godly attribute (he designed the world, us, etc). Mostly looking back at the week what stands out is all the things I have learned from the Ensigns...
I will spare you all my detailed thoughts, though, and just let you explore most of them yourselves. Here one though...
- There is one article (Putting Families First) about a family that started a "Family Club" instead of doing all the extracurricular activities that were causing them all to go crazy and taking a toll on them individually and as a family unit. The story demonstrated that we can have less stress and more joy when we prepare EVERY NEEDFUL THING versus EVERYTHING. I think I am naturally drawn to the latter of the two and then I end up pushing my companions too much and take a toll on them and their patience. But if I really learned to follow the Spirit to know what the needful things to do are, then no one would be drained and sick at the end of the day, but we will still have been diligent in getting what needs to be done done.

Despite all the indoors time, we have taught a few noteworthy lessons too...
Tito and Ludmilla: We found them our very first week of the transfer doing Porta. Ludmilla was the only one home and just peeked her head out the door. She said no to us like 10 times but we just kept talking to her, asking her about herself, etc and after about 10 minutes she finally opened the door all the way. Being in three is pretty useful...If the door is just cracked opened people can't see all three of us and get curious about the mystery voices. After about 15 minutes we were inside talking about the Book of Mormon. After 20 minutes the guy that she lived with came home and after 25 minutes he had scheduled an appointment for us the next day and said he would be in church that Sunday. He has come to church every Sunday since but has not let us come back to teach a lesson because he only wanted a lesson when Ludmilla was around at the same time...which is never. People work soo so much in this city. Especially foreigners. FINALLY on Monday they called at 5 and said we could come over at 7. So we cancelled our other appointments and made it there. We taught the plan of salvation and...I'm not even sure what else to say. Mostly it was just a miracle that we were able to teach them both. Tito is awesome. From Ecuador, has a long pony tail, always kickin it in sweats, super sincere, looks you right in the eyes when he talks and does exactly what he says he is going to do.

Haha, funny language story for the week happened at this lesson...My tag broke, Ludmilla asked if I wanted some glue (cola) and I said, "No, I'm fine, but maybe some water...".

Neyusa: We found her also a couple weeks ago doing door to door during a time of the day that is normally not super productive because doormen are working and won't let you in, plus no one is really home anyway. She was one of the doormen that we went up to to ask for permission to go in...we ended up talking to her for about 30 minutes about the importance of families. She is from Portugal, married to an Italian, and is pretty much an Ensign style mom with an Ensign decorated house. We have taught her two times since then but leave having learned more from her about mothering than she has learned from us about the church. During my study the morning before teaching her the third time, I was lead to two different scriptures from the BOM that I thought would really relate to her...Mormon 2:23-26, a story of moms and families that loved each other and wanted to protect each other but couldn't because they did not have faith in and the strength of the Lord VS Alma 56:45-48 where the children had been taught to have complete faith in the Lord and succeeded in defending themselves because of it. Then, when we planned our lesson, we decided we shouldn't share that because she really just needed a basic Restoration lesson. Turned out when we got there and got into the convo, though, those scriptures were EXACTLY what she needed.

Sister Malinverno: Her last name is translated Badwinter. She is one of the few Italian members in our ward and invited us over for lunch when she noticed Sister Prina singing during sacrament meeting. This woman is obsessed with Opera (but does not sing at all herself) and the second we walked into her house started pulling out piles and piles of opera cds then for the next hour and a half while we ate an Italian style 7+ course meal and taught our lesson we listened to opera in the background. I actually really, really enjoyed it. Sister Prina is always so calm, super genuine with everyone, really dedicated to speaking the language correctly, and an incredibly clear and engaging teacher. I have felt so much more joy and love and enthusiasm for life just having her around me for the past couple of weeks again.

Well, that's about all I have to say.

Love you all, miss you all, hope someday I will get the package from you all...

Sincerely,
Sorella Cuzz

OUT OF MILAN! April 3rd, 2010

Pop, you complained about my letters getting boring since I had been in the same city for three weeks in a row. I was not able to get myself promoted to Assistant to the President yet, but I was somehow able to work out two trips outside of Milan. Neither were really on purpose. The first one was pretty close to Lake Como (not to the city of Como, but to the part near the city of Lecco) and at the foothills of the Alps. We have this crazy (but in a really good way) new convert named Ludmilla who was baptized in another city but recently moved into our ward...or so we thought. She has been begging us to come to her house for some native Belarus food and relaxation (she is superduper into health, yoga, massage, etc.) and we finally decided to go the day after her birthday for our 2 hours that we have everyday for lunch and language. She didn't tell us exactly where she lived but told us to go to the train station then call her to find out where we should take the train to. Bad move. We found out that she lives about 45 minutes outside of our zone. Long story short...our Mission President and Ludmilla had a battle, and Ludmilla won. Our good fortune. It was sooo sooo sooo nice to breath fresh air, see a real Italian village, sit in her kitchen with the window open looking out on the mountains, rolling hills, etc. and listening to the stream rush past her house. It is no wonder the people in Milan generally don't think much about God! If they can't see any of his creations ever it would only be natural to forget about him and focus on the things that are constantly surrounding them...clothing stores, money, food, etc. Speaking of food...Ldmilla made some really good potato pancake things that I loved. She said it was a Russian dish. If you want to google this town, the train stop was called Olgiate C.B.

Our second outing this week was to Torino. It was not quite as relaxing as the other. We got a call from the office on Friday saying to go on Monday to pick up Sister Prina's permit. We got up at 4am to get there when the office opened at 9, wait in a giant hall with about 600 other people for 5 hours, then got back home around 7. We had a few really nice experiences, though, while waiting. There was a family from Romania sitting next to me with 2 little kids. The parents were completely ignoring the kids and the kids were super duper intrigued by me writing in my journal, so I started drawing with the kids and entertaining them. In normal life I probably would have been annoyed by them for distracting me...that's the great thing about being a missionary...in the end we are called to love and serve people and there really isn't anything more important that I should be doing. A little later on we talked to this awesome family of gypsies from Yugoslavia that live in a "camp" here. They had about 6 of the mot beautiful children I had ever seen. Haha, one of the little boys was telling me he wanted to be a police man when he grows up and I thought he said he wanted to be a house cleaner so I started telling him about how much I love vacuuming and miss having carpet and asking him about which chores he liked to do most. Lots of confusion during that conversation. Anyway, we shared a little bit of our message with them and left them with the Torino missionaries address. I didn't see too much of Torino...we stopped by one of Sister Prina's favorite chocolate shops and to 2 different train stations and that's about it. To get to one of the train stations, though, we went through the center, older par tof town which was really charming. I think I saw the spot where Pop took the picture when Mom and Pop were there on their mini trip.

On our way back on the train we met my favorite Italians yet. There was a big group of businessmen that work together in the city and during their hour long transit every morning and evening they play a very roudy game of cards on a big piece of cardboard that they set on their laps and bring with them every day. Since we don't get into many houses of Itaians doing door to door (or even have many of them open the door...they prefer to just have conversations yelling through the door) it is always really nice when we have positive interactions with them out and about and get to learn a little more about the culture, etc. In fact, yesterday we had another really nice native Italian experince. Last week after doing email my comps had a very odd craving for McDonalds and were positive they couldn't make it until we got home to eat. So, even though our day time was over, we stopped by McDonalds. I was kind of frustrated, but Heavenly Father, as always, was merciful and taught me another lesson on patience and placed a golden opportunity for work in my path. One of our Italian members was sitting in McDonalds with a group of about 6 friends and had just been talking to them about the church. So, I was able to chat with them while my companions had their "McItalians". Then we had a return appointment set up with this group of retirees yesterday at a park where they all hang out together in the afternoons. If we would have just approached the group and started trying to explain who we were, what we were doing, etc. no way they would have listened to us. But because of the member they were way way more open. Haha, except for Pascuale who is really aethiest and really didn't think there was a need to pray to invite the spirit into our lessons. I had to convince him to let me pray by saying I would just pray for the people in Chile... by the way, I really have no idea what happened in Chile so if anyone wants to update me Id appreciate it.

Remember the girl that was starving herself...we finally had an appointment with her and a friend this week and it went really well. They are meeting with us again but are afraid to talk to tell their parents about it just like our group of underage Filipinos...

OK, I am going to try to send some pictures now so I'll wrap this up and write more after if I have time. I am really sorry if this letter is not understandable...the keyboard is really horrible.

Favorite scriptures of the week: The whole book of Ephesians.

Love you,
Lauren

CARNIVAL WEEK - February 24th 2010

This week was Carnival week in Milano. Apparently every city in Italy has a different Carnival week or day. From what I understand Carnival is kind of like Halloweeen...or at least that is what the 60 year old woman wearing a bright pink bunny rabbit outfit while riding the metro to go to the hair salon told me. I didn't really see many other people dressed up, though, so maybe she was a bit confused. Either way, she made my day. When are other holidays this year by the way...like Easter? General Conference? Mothers Day?

Here are some other highlights of the week besides talking to the bunny rabbit lady...

Food: Sister Prina's Chocolate Bread Pudding. Instead of stopping at Pastry shops she took to the kitchen this week and whipped up some amazing desserts.

Most touching moment: We didn't see as much success this week doing door to door. One old couple let us in the other night, though. The wife was really reluctant to let us in at first saying that her husband wasn't well, she didn't need anything, she prays already (while holding up a picture of the Madonna situated by her door as proof), etc. Finally we convinced her to let us in and say a prayer with her and her husband. She wasn't kidding - her husband really wasn't well. He had some problem with his chest that made it so he couldn't eat and he was probably like 70 pounds at most. It was really, really sad. We chatted a bit, shared a comforting scripture with them from the Bible, and said a prayer. After the prayer he just had this glow about him and you could really tell he was touched. They didn't really understand anything we tried to explain about he Restoration but at least I really felt like we helped them feel Heavenly Fathers love a little more.

Most entertaining moment: Encounters with Italian men from the South. They are hilarious. I think I already told you about the Man from the South that helped us last week...We were looking for someone but couldn't find their exact address. I had asked him for help but when he couldn't find the address either he said..."Well, this is how we'd do it in the South, then started yellling out the name of this contact while walking up and down the super busy street. Then this week...we were trying to get into an apartment building one morning to do porta porta (tracting) but weren't getting past any doormen. One doorman we got stopped by looked at our tag and immediately said "You won't find any work here Sorellas. We are all Gay, Hebrew, atheist, and murders." We then continued to have the most amusing conversation ever, figured out that the apartment building was mostly photography offices for models and in the end (after setting up an appointment with us and his family for Friday...woohoo!) he advised that we go try working a couple streets down where we could find a few apartment buildings witout doormen and people who eat a little more.

Most disturbing moment: We walked past a man standing outside the gate of an apartment building. I felt like I should go talk to him. So we did. After we inroduced ourselves he jumped right into explaining that he was waiting for some woman he didnt know to let him into the apartment building so they could...make love. He knew he shouldn't but God hadn't been helping him out with any of the things he needed and this was his last resort for finding happiness. We bore testimony of a few gospel truths and then left. I felt bad for getting my companions into the situation but my companions after both said that they had felt like we needed to talk to him too and were glad we did. Sis. Simons said when we walked by the first time she had gotten an image in her mind of him teaching the Young Men's class or something. Who knows what will happen...

Favorite scriptures of the week: We are teaching the commandments (starting with the 10) to the high school philipeano girls so I read the story of Moses and him getting the 10 commandments. Super fun to read, imagining all the places he was in that I have probably been to or at least near. Highly recommend it for the fam and Kristen. Might make you all appreciate more the jaunt I sent you on over to the Siani even though you were all dying at the time.

No more time.
Love you all lots.

Sorella Cozzens.

EMOTIONS AND FOOD - Feburary 17th, 2010

Thinking back about the week those are the two things that stand out. I feel like everyone I came across was an emotional wreck (so many tragic stories that are pent up inside of people!!) and I feel like I have stopped in every pastry shop in Milano in the past week. Somehow, Heavenly Father was still able to use us as instruments in his hands to teach some 21 lessons, get 17 new investigators, 5 people in church, and give a lot of much needed spontaneous acts of service...incredible considering that last time I was here in Milan 11 lessons in one week was our max. I learned some really useful tools while in Pordenone and I think applying them here has really helped us out. But even with those little tips I still couldn't have imagined how well things turned out this week. Honestly, looking back at how many pastry shops we stopped in, how much time we spent looking for massage therapists around town, how many unexpected disasters came up (like loosing Sister Prina for an hour in the Metro System0, and how little time we spent doing what I, based on what I learned in Pordenone, thought needed to be done to have "success" it was an incredible week. While the last threesome I was in seemed to be steamed by pure hard, hard work and diligence I think what allows for success in this new threesome is love...as cheesy as that sounds. Even though we aren't running around as much and inviting as many people, I think these two Sisters focus more on loving more each person they do invite and teach and that may be even more important. Plus, they take the time to show love to each other and be concerned for each other (and me of course). So quality rather than quantity?

So the emotional wreck trend started on Friday. We were walking to an apartment building to do porta porta. We had chosen this specific apartment building because it was the address given to us by one of the many people that gave us fake phone numbers at the market last Saturday. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a girl leaning against a pole bent over. I went over to see if everything was ok and then saw that she was shaking, and having a hard time breathing. Long story short, we sat with her in a store for about a half hour waiting for her dad and the ambulance to show up. In the meantime we found out she was only 15 and had not been eating all week because she wanted to lose 15 pounds. She had about 10 million hard things happen in the past month and just couldn't take it all anymore. Super duper tragic. On the bright side, we are teaching her a lesson tomorrow. We also have been teaching 3 high school age Filipino girls (they are all cousins of each other and babysit for a member family) that are so so incredible and progressing way more than any of the adults we are teaching. About 3 days after we first gave them the Book of Mormon we had a lesson with one of them and she was all embarrassed when we asked her what she had read in the BOM. After making a million excuses of why she wasn't able to read very much she told us she had read the first 10 chapters of 1st Nephi...ummmm, yeah, that's more than I read this week probably. I'm thinking from now on I'm just going to talk to teenagers on the streets, in the metros, etc. Way more open than the adults here.

We ended up making it over to that apartment building to do door to door eventually and were let into 3 different doors again out of the first 9 we knocked. And there were families in each of them. On the same road that we found the girl shaking and not breathing and where this miracle apartment building is a few days ago apparently there was a huge fight between some Egyptians and South Americans and one Egyptian was killed...hear anything about that out there on the news? I'm a bit bummed about it because we had a return appointment with an Egpytian family we had gone in doing door to door with and they were going to make my favorite Egyptian food when we went back but now my companions don't think its a good idea to go back because of the recent events...

As for food this week...We had incredible Peruvian hot chocolate 2 nights in a row at the houses of 2 different new investigators. They use a couple chunks of dark chocolate bars, fresh cinnamon sticks, cloves, milk, and lots of sugar. So good. Also had some incredible home-made tiramisu at the house of a less active. And some really good Filipino dish at a members. I am really horrible at describing food, definitely should not be a food critic. Moral of the story, I have had way too much sugar this week. Oh, I also discovered Polenta. I don't think I will ever eat rice again. I recommend making Polenta with Parmesan and rosemary someday. I also recommend reading the Book of Mormon (as in the book written by Mormon that is within the Book of Mormon). Super powerful. You can feel his emotion and love for the Lord and the people just pouring out through the pages.

I love you all and miss you all really badly and although I love being here I really can't wait to see you again in exactly one year.

Love,
Sorella Cozzens