Sunday, January 31, 2010


Hey hey -

I have great hopes for email writing in the future. Google has taken over my myldsmail email account officially PLUS since Cory sent me a link to his talk which was written on OpenOfficeWriter I was able to download the program. So, I am typing up my email on the program, saving it regularly, then will copy and paste it to the email. Actually, that might not be necessary, eh, because GMail saves emails as we type.

Anyway. Its been an awesome week. A not so awesome morning, though. I woke up at 5:30so that I could exercise and shower before being at the train station at 7 to go to Milan for my permit. All three of us were going to have to go and we had bought our tickets the night before just to be safe (35 euros per person each way! ai yai yai, thanks to everyone who pays tithing!). When we got there, though, we were informed that our train was not coming due to a strike. We were not going to be able to make it to Milan on the next train until 3 (2 hours after my appointment to pick up my permit and 2 hours before the last train would leave from Milan back to Pordenone). So we hung around the train station for another hour trying to get our tickets reimbursed. The mission office is in the process of getting me a new appointment to pick up my permit now.

On the bright side, there are basically 2 things that have made this week awesome. The first being that we are on bikes now. I thought I loved walking. And I thought we looked ridiculous when we were sprinting home at nights with out big bags to get in before 9. But biking with skirts and giant bags just takes everything to a whole new level of excitement. I have seen so much more of the city in the past few days than during the first two weeks on foot...turns out there is a gorgeous river just a few streets away from us and a lake not too far away also. We found the lake a few nights ago while on what turned out to be a wild goose chase looking for an address of an ex-investigator that the elders had commented in the records was “golden”. Unfortunately the Elders did not record the contact information very well and we ended up on the edge of town by this lake where there was a long stretch without any houses nearby and no lights.

I think pop asked about what kind of bike i have...A couple in the ward I had talked to finally gave me their old grandma cruiser bike last Saturday. We were all on our cruisers for the first day, then my companion's bike broke. Luckily I discovered that the apartment actually already had 2 other bikes that my comps just had not wanted us to use because they are men's' mountain bikes (this city just changed over to sisters a few months ago). So Ive been on the men's' mountain bike for the past few days and I am pretty sure my legs are 20x stronger already. I just ride standing up in hopes that everyone doesn't see up my skirt...I'm pretty sure it is a lost cause, though. I normally have on about 20 pairs of spandex and tights, though, so whatever. And yeah, like mom said, in Milan all the old women wore skirts (which were always surprisingly short compared to what old women wear in the US) and rode their bikes too, so no big deal.

The helmets are the most ridiculous part, though. I have started laughing out loud a few times when I look in a window and see my reflection or try to have a serious conversation with my companions while they are decked out with their scarf, hat, helmet, riding a bike with a skirt. Ive been debating about whether or not I should top it all off with my head lamp on my helmet for nights like that described above (where we ended up in the middle of nowhere by the lake).

So, second source of awesomeness for the week – a training session that we did during Interviews this week was about doing 'door to door'. Our zone leaders were explaining that we need to show people that we really believe that they need our message and make sure they understand that we don't just want to stand at their door until they shut it on us. They had us practice being bold, enthusiastic and brief at the door and just stepping in, etc. Not only have we gotten inside homes and given way more lessons this week, but with this mindset door to door has become much more entertaining. People's reactions are priceless. Some pretend to not be confused. We were inside one house last week for about 5 minutes chatting before the woman really asked us who we were and what we were doing. By that time we had already gotten her to gather her whole family to hear our message. Other people are completely baffled and show it. One family (that we ended up finding right after our wild goose chase by the lake,) even after asking a million questions, couldn't figure out how we ended up inside, but we were so confident and acted like it was completely normal and eventually we got them to sit down and listen to a message.

OK, so three sources of awesomeness. We got an entire family of non-members to come to church this week. We hadn't even had a lesson with them yet (and in fact still haven't). They are from the Congo and have 2 daughters in middle school. Speaking of Africans, I LOOOVE their prayers. They are so passionate and interactive when they pray. Those that aren't saying the prayer, but are in the same room always give 'amens' and 'Thank you Jesus' and add little things to the prayer when it is being said. I tried to add something to my companion's prayer this morning, but then I wasn't sure if it was only OK for Africans to do...any thoughts on the topic?

And a few very minor sources of awesomeness...I discovered some Crystal Light hidden in one of our cupboards in the house. Must have been left over from one of the elders from a package from the states. I also found some gum here that is very, very similar to Trident Tropical Twist. The only problem is that gum here loses flavor after 5 minutes. Did you really send candy in my package?!?! What happened to the 'Coalition of Skinny Returned Sister Missionaries'? And FYI, so you don't worry too much because of that fat picture I sent last week, I weighed myself this week and I have lost weight since I left home. Must have just been a odd angle, bad camera, bad lighting, I dunno. Oh, and on the shallow topic of my French companion cut my hair this morning because she said I was picking my hair too much. She sounded exactly like Mom... “Sister Cozzens! If I see you picking your hair once more, I'm going to cut it all off!” and then while she was cutting it today....”I better not catch you picking it again (and then she added some analogy to baptism that I would just feel ridiculous sharing because only those of us with the missionary mindset would probably actually think it was funny).”

And of course Scripture Study is always the main source of awesomeness in my here is a bit about what I have learned:

In following up with our advice from President Paya to work on increasing our individual Spirituality (which he defined as our relationship with Jesus Christ) so that we can be more effective in building Zion, our President at 'Interviews' asked us all to read the conference talk “To Acquire Spiritual Guidance” by Richard G Scott. In the beginning of the talk he asks a few questions which I brainstormed:

What can you do to enhance your capacity to be led to correct decisions? What are the potential barriers in your life to receiving spiritual guidance? For me, I determined that pride was the number one barrier and I think it is for many of us. The reason why prayer is so important in increasing spirituality is because it humbles us. It makes us admit to the fact that everything we have is because of God's and Christ's mercy and everything we need we can only get by their help. (quote from the talk – "as you pray with all the fervor of your soul and with humility and gratitude, you can learn to be consistently guided by the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life"). Pride is generally what leads to contention with my companions which keeps me from feeling the guidance of the spirit. And Contention in turn keeps me from feeling the joy that can be felt by doing this great work. (Some awesome scriptures on the importance of not having contention – 3 Nephi 18:34, Alma 31:5). When we are not feeling joy we need to do a self check - see Alma 5:26-20. If we really are humble we can always feel the joy that comes from God's love. Oh man, I have a million more good scriptures to share on the topic but I have probably confused you all already and this thought is probably more for me than any of you. So, I'll just humble! And be patient with others as they are trying to learn humility!

Love you all so much.

Thanks for the letters.
Write more.
Help the missionaries more.
Read the Scriptures more.
And send more pictures.

Sorella C.


Hopefully you all buy into that saying because I now don't have very much time to write due to the time wasted waiting for slow public computers to load pictures (have I sent one email yet without complaining about computers or Internet? Maybe I'll make it a goal next week to not do that).

I know I should bear my testimony and uplift you all spiritually in every letter, etc., and I have learned a lot this week in the scriptures, but I really just want to share my funny stories...maybe look back to past letters if you have forgotten that I have a testimony that God is our loving Heavenly Father, Jesus is the Christ, Christ's Church has been restored through Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon is the Word of God and we have a living prophet today whose name is Thomas S. Monson (although two times now in lessons I have said Hinckley on accident).

Remember that man that ran away from me to chase down his train? And remember how ridiculously awkward it was when I looked up and saw all the people on the train staring at me. Well, a few days ago a woman sprinted away from us...and she was not trying to catch a bus or train...and it was right in front of our apartment with all of the store keepers and everyone that knows and sees us everyday watching. All I had said was something like, "Hello, we are disciples of Christ and have a message to share with you that comes from your Heavenly Father. I see that you are in a hurry but can we walk with you..." And off she went...

We did "door to door" on accident this week at 2 more offices and a fire station. The buildings really are tricky here.

Other highlights and notes of interest of the week:
I ate the best Tiramisu ever.
My companion has noticed my lazy eye wandering 3 times in the past two days...I thought I had grown out of that.

OK, there is time for a spiritual thought:
All of my companions here so far have been super good examples of not saying repetitive prayers and really taking time out of the day to say really good, well thought out prayers. I realized that I am probably missing out on a lot of divine help by having weak prayers, so I have started doing what we do with some investigators who have never said anything besides a memorized prayer before...make an outline of things to pray for. I literally kneel down with a page of 'Preach My Gospel' open (it is in the following the spirit section) and go through the nearly 2 page list, thinking of specifics, while praying. It is exhausting. I am finally starting to understand, to a small extent, what it means to pray with all your heart, might, mind and strength. I highly recommend looking up that page in 'Preach My Gospel' and giving it a go.

Love you all,

Friday, January 8, 2010


Im now in Pordenone with my two companions. I met them at Zone conference yesterday which was in a town called Mestre where they have the most beautiful church building I have ever seen. Apparently it used to be a stable of some type of plantation, then it was converted into a theatre, then into our church. One of my companions is from California. The oldest of eight super easy to get along with, live with, and a pretty hard worker. The other is Italian but has lived in France for most of her very talkative, bubbly and very loving and hard working also. They are both about the same height (which is not very high at all). I feel like a giant with them. We will probably not all be together for more than two transfers because the Sister from California will be going home then. I for sure am going to have to buy a bike, though. There are two bikes at the apartment already and the other two sisters have already had to buy a bike and leave them in other cities. So, based on how the rules work in our mish, it's up to me.

Pop, yes, I can go to Venice!!! Thanks so much for the list of things to see and do in Pordenone! Last week in Milan on pday we met the sister I did splits with at the Duomo to get a bunch of clothes from her that she didn't want and a sweet Kalai cd of hymns. Then she was able to convince everyone to go check out this awesome bone chapel that was in a random church by the it since I wasnt able to get a picture.

I havent seen very much of Pordenone yet since we arrived back from Zone conference late last night and were inside cleaning all this morning (this city has been an elders city for the past 30 years and just a month ago was turned into a sisters only city. The apartment has been rumored for years to be the nastiest in the mission. But I already know the members are incredible (last night one couple picked us up at the train station and took us to the grocery store and another met us at our apartment with a bed for me). Oh, man, last night I also saw the biggest bonfires this has got to be a cool town, right? Apparently last night or today was the festival of a witch type woman called Befama who brings gifts to people who were forgotten on Christmas. Im not sure how the giant bonfires are related, but I like it. Honestly, they were about 10 times bigger than any bonfire we have ever had at our house. I think we should adopt the tradition, though, of making a giant fire and celebrating this Befama woman. Do some wikipedia research, eh?

Speaking of traditions...when I was sitting inside the apartment back in Milan waiting for one reason or another to leave, as often happened, I made a list of family traditions to add to our list that you all made a few weeks ago:

1) Hardcore house cleaning and organizing on the day after New Years Eve. We all had to be in by 8pm on New Years Eve, and all New Years Day everyone in the mssion had to clean. It was such a good way to start off the new year. Sounds like this is what you all ended up doing anyway, yeah?

2) About a month ago my mission president challenged us all to start reading the BOM and underlining the references to Christ. By doing that and also spending as much time as possible reading in "Jesus the Christ" and reading conference articles about Christ, the month of Christmas became so much more spiritual for me. The tradition focus on learning about Christ during the month of December, not just the night before Xmas.

3) Always attend and bring friends to the events that the church holds for Xmas...the devotional by the first presidency, the sacrament meeting, the ward party, etc.

and thats all the list for now...

As for this past week...It didn't quite turn out how I expected it too. There ended up being a lot less time for teaching all the new investigators that we had lined up or doing any other real missionary work. But, I benefitted a lot from the extra time to ponder about the new year as well as the time spent living with and speaking Italian with Sister Simons' new companion who does not knows English.

Thursday we picked up Sister Simons new companion. The rest of Thursday we went from store to store finding food that the new companion needed and letting her unpack. Friday was cleaning day. Saturday we waited in line to get the new companion a metro pass. Sunday we were in church. Monday I went to an hour of the zone conference then to the police station with Grace ( a 20 yr old member of the ward who was my "companion" for the day ) to pick up my permit. We waited there for an hour, were told to come back in 4 hours, went back to Grace's house to eat lunch with her family, returned to the police station, waited for 2 hours, were told to come back to Milano on Januray 27th to pick it up because it was not ready yet, then waited outside my apartment for two hours because Grace's phone was out of batteries so we couldn't get in touch with Sister Simons and the new comp. Tuesday I drove out to Modena and was in Zone conference all day.

In our limited time working, though, the Lord still dropped in a few miracles here and there. A Romanian girl that we met last week on Monday already came to church, we have been able to teach her twice, and we have invited her to be baptized. The first time we met with her was technically English class, but it turned into her bearing her testimony about Christ's atonement. I'm not sure how it got to that, but it was incredible.

We also did an hour or so of door to door one night and met some man who is good friends with one of the Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic teachers at BYU who is currently the mission president in the Catania, Italy mission. The man we met is an Arabic and Islamic studies teacher here, had visited this professor in Salt Lake, knew exactly who we were, and told us we could come back to teach him the next night (I sure hope the other sisters ended up going back!!!).

Speaking of mission presidents, the dad of the second cousin of ours who is serving with Sorella Prina right now in Torino is the mission president in Rome.

Like I said, though, the great thing about this week was all the time that I had to be still and think a bit about this new year and goals that I want to set. Crust mentioned that you all had a FHE on goal setting and I'd love to hear what you came up with. I also read through my patriarchal blessing to get an idea and identified that I really needed to work on my prayers. After searching the scriptures more, thinking more, and participating in a mission wide fast this Sunday to prepare ourselves to hear the words of Elder Paya (the Area Seventy Authority) I determined that I needed to expand my goal to be something more in line with, "Developing my relationship with my Heavenly Father". Some of the scriptures that I read that I was deciding between to be the theme of my goal are as follows:
D&C 88:63-65, 67, 68
D&C 19:38
D&C 10:5
Alma 34:27
Alma 37:36-37
2 Nephi 9:50-52
1 John 2
John 15:4

I was a little bit overwhelmed by this and didn't really know where to start with it...
Then I rode in the car with Elder Paya yesterday morning and he clarified it all for me unintentionally, and expounded on it in the Zone Conference. My mission president was asking me what I had learned from the last transfer and was trying to give me advice about serving with a threesome when Elder Paya popped in and said something like..."I think the most important thing to remember is that as you develop your relationship with your Heavenly Father, everything will fall into place and you will certainly become more united with your companions. Think about everything in terms of the relationship triangle." Then in conference he explained this whole formula which I got so excited to share with you all when I thought my nieces middle name was Zion...too bad you faked me out and have changed it. Anyway, the formula goes - Spirituality + Love = Unity, which leads to (can't find the arrow on this computer) Zion. He showed us a bunch of scriptures where people went to Joseph Smith to ask him what they could do to help out more. Joseph Smith then got the same instructions from God for them...see D&C 6:6, 11:6, 12:6. 14:6. Also Moses 6:31-34 and D&C 109:57.

For me, this formula means...Spirituality is how I grow closer to the Lord, Love is what I will get in return, Love is how I will grow more united with my companions, those I am teaching, my leaders, etc. And Unity is how I will do my part to develop Zion. When I do my part to develop Zion I will be happy and feel successful.
I probably can't explain the formula sufficiently, and how it affected me, but suffice it to say that the Lord really had prepared me to hear Brother Paya's message, and I feel like Ive gotten the key to getting along with all of my companions and finding success as a missionary.

At the end of Brother Paya's message, my mission president got up and said something along the lines of..."Wow, you all really just got an inspired message. That was not the same thing that the Zone yesterday heard, but I have no doubt that it was exactly what you all needed to hear." Then my mission president went on to teach us about the importance of the Book of Mormon and how we can find answers to any problems we have at any point in our lives by delving into the Book of Mormon.

I really have grown in my testimony of our ability we have to recieve personal revelation from God. He loves us and wants to help us be successful both in this life and the life to come. We need to allow him to help us by truly seeking his guidance and an understanding of his will for us through sincere prayer and study of the Book of Mormon.

Im so excited for this new town, these new companions, this new year, etc. Life is good.

Oh, and For mapquest purposes...My new address Viale Della Liberta 19, Pordenone 33170.

And one last you mentioned to me in your letter, there is an American military base here. Thus, there is also an English speaking ward here. And subsequently a missionary couple who teach and serve on the base and in the English ward. Yet another sweet missionary couple mission calling..Mom and Pop, start saving up your money!

And, the awkward moment of the week: It was late at night and had been a long day when we were riding the metro back home. There were only two other people on the metro, a mom and her son, and after five minutes of sitting in silence using the excuse that i was tired, I got up and talked to them. I said something about families and then the woman rambled on for about five minutes about something I didn't understand. As a last ditch effort before I got off the metro I bore my testimony about eternal families and explained that she could be sealed in her marriage for eternity. My companion had gotten really quiet and I was kind of annoyed that she didn't back me up with her testimony. She explained once we got off the metro that the woman had been telling me all about what a lousy man her husband is and how he cheated on her, won't let the rest of her kids come live with her in Italy (they are in Peru), etc. Whoooops! She still smiled at me, though, as I got off, and took the Plan of Salvation pamphlet- so hopefully not too much harm was done...

Love you all.
Sorella C.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR! and on the road again....

On the balcony of Lauren's apartment in Milan
Surpise of the week: I AM GETTING TRANSFERRED ALREADY!?!?! The zone leader called last night for transfer updates. He calls everyone, though, whether they are being transferred or not. He asked to talk to me first. We thought he was just joking because obviously I wouldn't be transferred after six weeks into the mission. That never happens (or so they say). But nope, I'm off to Pordenone - six hours away by train, opposite side of the country, smaller city where I will be riding a bike and I'll be in a threesome.

I may have complained a little bit about how the work was going here in Milan initially, but I have honestly had the best past two weeks and am really pretty bummed to be leaving right in the middle of the momentum that I feel like my companion and I have just got going. BUT, I lucked out big time and at least don't have to leave tomorrow when transfers are supposed to happen. I have to be in Milan next Monday to pick up my permit to live in Italy, so my President is letting me just stick around until next Wednesday and drive to Pordenenoe then with him and a member of the Seventy who will be here for Zone conferences. SAWEEEET!!! And this means that I get to be here for the six or seven new investigator lessons that we have lined up for the next four days. I am so thrilled. I feel like my companion and I finally figured out how to free the work up from the waste of time traditions that had been set here, and subsequently have had so many blessings the past week and a half. We have taught the first lesson five times in the past eight or nine days, whereas my first four weeks we didn't teach any first lessons. I LOOOVE sharing the story of Joseph Smith.

Probably my favorite experience this past week with sharing the Restoration lesson happened three nights ago. My companion and I had received a phone call from a lady who said she had met us on the metro about a month ago and we had left her with a pass-along card. She said that she was out of the city and that her mom had just been admitted to the hospital. She also explained that her sister is still around the city and would be visiting her mom in the hospital, but she was worried about this sister because she had already lost a son this year. This woman was practically begging us to go visit her mom and sister at the hospital and share our message. So we did. We showed up and there were actually several relatives visiting the sick mom. She was really agitated so the nurses asked us all to go sit in the waiting room...where there were two other families waiting. About five minutes into the conversation in the waiting room, we were able to bear our testimonies about the Plan of Salvation and Eternal Families. At this point the other two families started talking to us. Twenty minutes into us sitting there and chatting we were given the perfect opportunity to explain the Restoration. And for the next 30 minutes all three families gathered in the waiting room were asking us genuine questions, explaining what we were saying to one another, passing the Book of Mormon around, reading through the introduction, etc. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!

On another note, a few days ago I started writing in my journal a list of random observations from Milan that I don't want to forget. I am sure glad I wrote them down now that I know I am leaving! As a little tribute to this city before I head out, I'll share a few with you all...

1) It is not normal to greet strangers in Milan. Every time I say "Hi" or "Good Morning" to a random person on the street who is Italian and over 30 yrs old they give me a head nod, trying not to show how completely baffled they are, take approximately six steps, then completely stop and stare for at least 30 seconds. I love catching them doing that and often go back and talk to them which confuses them even more.

2) Shopping bags from name brand stores make you cool. I initially thought everyone was just constantly shopping at those stores, but that is not the case. They just save bags from a select few name brand stores like they are gold and re-use them continually.

3) It is taboo to have a dog bigger than 15 pounds. Even more taboo is having a dog but not putting a jacket or sweater on the dog.

4) There is no limit to what you can put in a vending maching in Milan. Just in metro stations I have seen a special vending machine for books, another for freshly squeezed orange juice (squeezed in front of your eyes inside the machine), another for toy cars, one for mini travel toiletries....the sky is the limit.

5) You can see the Alps from one spot inside the city!! I found this spot by chance on Christmas Eve when wandering from one side of the city to another caroling to members and asking for referrals. I hope to return often to that blessed spot.

6) All Milanese women over the age of 40 here must have a brown or tan fur coat.

There are more, but I don't have time and you are likely bored already...

Awkward moment of the week: I was getting bored of all the conversations starters I was using one day and so tried a new one while walking next to a lady with a crazy, huge fur hat. I asked her if the hat had fur on the inside too. She said "no". I kept trying to pry and start a convo off of this silly hat. She just power walked away. Maybe that doesn't sound very awkward, but trust me it was. I made my companion turn on a street earlier than we wanted to just to escape.

Pop - I talked about Oracle twice yesterday. Once was with a man who worked for SAP that I met on the tram. I told him my dad worked for Oracle, but I liked SAP's advertising much better. He didn't believe that I knew what I was talking about so I further explained the comparison of Oracle's boring posters at the Frankfurt airport and SAP's posters with good pictures. He was pleased and said he'd pass the word along to his marketing crew. Then I demonstrated our advertising methods as missionaries by giving him a Book of Mormon pass-along card.

Ai yai yai, so much more to say, so little time.

I love you all so much. Don't ever hesitate to share your testimonies with each other or with friends. I know that the knowledge of the restored gospel is what can bring happiness to everyone, no matter what age, background, economic level, whatever. We all need the atonement.

Love you lots,
Sorella Cozzens