BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND TWITTER BACKGROUNDS »

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