Saturday, June 5, 2010

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


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.


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 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 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 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-

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, 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. the way, transfer calls were last night. I'm here in Milan with Casa for another transfer.

Love, Peace, charity, etc.

Sunday, May 2, 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.

gotta sign off,

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.

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.