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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas week


Seeing that its alot easier writing in bullet points....:

Last Wed night, we had the primary program at our house. It went well despite it being just the 8 of us, and I think each of them were at some point or other in our kitchen. Meee. (strange sound that Sicilians make that Im getting to like). Pres. Porteras family brought a pandoro (italian christmas cake) and they gave it to me to prepare- under the watchful eye of their youngest daughter, Lucrezia (Im making a list of names I definitely DO NOT want to use for my children, and Lucrezias at the top of the list!) I tore open the plastic bag around the pandoro and out fell a packet of powdered sugar. Ooops. Lucrezia was sweet enough to point out that I shouldnt have tore the bag and now "How will you put the sugar on?" Ah ha. Thats when the dormant part of my brain kicked in (Mom, "I like to use both sides of my brain" :) ) and I managed to avoid breaking the cake as I put it into a cardboard box, poured the sugar into it, and then shook it. It worked! But the best part was proving to Lucrezia that I can redeem at least some of the stupid things I do. I could just tell from her expression, "Oh, Americans arent that stupid."

Friday, Christmas Eve. We drove to the train station and seeing we had a few minutes before the Elders arrived, we walked to the beach and somehow I cut my finger open, so SR told me to wash it off in the water....I carefully approached the water and bent down, waiting for a little wave to roll back towards me, but a giant wave came instead and washed me up to my ankles. I stood there and laughed, and SR apparently got it all on video. Now I have salt marks on my new pair of shoes, so I switched to my old pair because Ive been too lazy to shine them, and ... I have mold marks. haha.

The Anziani from Trapani (one of the three points of Sicily) arrived, went to Angelas and interviewed her, ate Mexican Chef Salad burritos (Liria, Antonios sister (the man who always feeds le sorelle) was there with us and she kept suggesting what I needed to do for the salad. Like adding salt into the meat. I love how blunt I can be with people here. I was able to flat out tell her that Id made it before and knew how to make it and she didnt have to tell me how to make it (of course, in a nice way) and she understood and shut up. I think I was made to live among Sicilians. Theres really nothing I could say that would offend someone, just if I didnt eat what they give me.

When we walked into Angelas house, Liria said "I have to talk with Anz Rolland!" and pulled him into a different room. A few minutes later they emerged, and Anz R asked if he could speak with me. Liria had told him ALL of Angelas problems and said that she wasnt ready for baptism. He went ahead and interviewed her and the baptism is... still on? ... for tomorrow, but Angela needs to live the law of chastity! So maybe its not going to happen tomorrow. We dont know, and we have been trying to meet with her but she went to a different city for Christmas and yesterday when we were supposed to meet, she had to go to the emergency room for ...........drumroll..........her toe. A toenail had fallen off.

SR and I made stockings for eachother; shed always used tights because "they can fit more!" so we did. It was alot of fun carrying our stockings to our bed and taking turns opening them. We just got alot of junk food for eachother. And I bought her a thing of shaving cream so now she has no excuse. Now I just need to lock her into the bathroom or strap her into the tub. She thinks we have bed bugs (which the sister prior to us did :S) bc she feels something biting her legs- I told her to save her lamenting till AFTER the shaves to see if the bed bugs stop biting. I know its just her hairy legs.

We went to bed and I started to not feel so well..........

and Christmas was spent in our bedroom. It was killing me the thought of having just one christmas in the mission and spending it under 10 blankets, but the thought of going out wasnt appealing. We did have a lunch invite with the Purparis to eat pig head pasta, which might have played a role in my decision to not go.......

We talked with our families and then SR dressed up in a Santa outfit and sang hymns for me while tring to keep the moustache on her face.

A couple members stopped by the wish us a merry christmas and they found out I wasnt feeling too well, so on the way to church the next morning, this is how the conversation went;

Antonio (we ride with him and Liria) : "Sorella Urban, if I may be so intrusive to say... you know what you have to do for your diarrhea? Eat white rice or bananas. Actually, I dont think you should be upset over having diarrhea. I consider it a blessing when I have it because I usually have a hard time going" and this whole time is looking in the rearview mirror at me, and Lirias next to him, nodding. Who said I had diarrhea? SR hadnt said anything about why I wasnt feeling well! But that wasnt the best part.

Guess what was said over the pulpit?

"Thank you all for coming today. We are happy to see Sorella Urban with us, and hope that she can get over her upset stomach soon and that she can soon eat food without it giving her problems. (then turns and looks at me) You know what you should eat? White rice or bananas. Theyll help you get over the diarrhea. We will now sing hymn number.........."

yes. It really happened.

And I had to then stand up and go play the keyboard.

And then Daniele and Renzo and Nino, (why all men?!) each asked me a dozen times how I was doing.

Guess what Antonio handed me during English class last night? A bag of bananas. Really? Why did everyone jump to that conclusion? Oh well. And everyone has been asking me how Ive been and all I have to say is "SR made me white rice" and they all nod their head approvingly. Its easier just to go along with it. The moral of the story? Be grateful your bowel movements havent been announced from the pulpit during sacrament meeting.

After church, since we unfortunately missed out on eating pig head, we went to the Purparis and ate pig thigh lasanga. Luckily, since everyone knew quite well about my upset stomach, they didnt force me to eat anything. We then drove to their piece of land in the countryside and Vito showed us his plans of what he will do with the land. He and his wife, Lina, and their son Daniele (who brought us a bag of a green plant that looks alot like dandelions but they boil, fry, and then eat them- the last bag he brought, I boiled them and made an omelet. I cant help but feel like a cow most of the time) disappeared for a second and SR and I peed behind a rock. One of the most liberating moments of our lives. I almost felt back at Marvine, except for being in a skirt.

On Sunday night there was a little bit of drama with Francesca- she moved out of Ninos house and is now back with her "husband". Theyre still techinically married but hes under police watch becuase of the things Francesca filed against him. He had a dream that he had to go save her from her current situation, and Francesca believes him and has moved into a different house where he comes each night in the dark and in secret, to deliver some food for her.

Last night, Pres. Portera wanted to see where she lived so we went with him to her place and then she wanted to "confess" and Pres begged us not to leave him alone, so we sat on the stairs and tried to not eavesdrop while they talked. She needs to gain 4 more kilos and then shell not be considered anorexic. Whenever we are with her, we bring cookies or something and make her eat it. I love Francesca- she has the faith and humility of a child.

While we were at the track running (we found a "track" here in Mistretta that we have started going to during our lunch hour, seeing that SR is incapable of functioning at 6:30 am) we met a Mario who has met with Elders in the past and invited us to come over to meet his family. YAY! We found his record in the area book last night, and we are really excited.

Yesterday, we stopped at Lirias and she said that she and Antonio can give us rides, but now refuses to give a ride to Angela because "shes so big and heavy that she broke the motor". ?!

It makes me think---------what are some stupid things I do or say that limits me?

Now we have to find Angela a ride to church. Sonia could, but she doesnt want to come bc of Francesca.

No one else has a car.

.... MIstretta has alot of problems, but I am loving it here.

I am so excited that I have one more week with SR and then, on the 5th, Ill pick up Carla in Catania and get to serve till the end of Feb with her. A whole transfer and more!!! Im excited to spend the coldest winter months with her. hehe. What precious memories we will make here together. If I had a blast in London and that was just 10 days, I cant imagine being companions with her for 7 weeks.

On Monday, we got a delivery. THe postman pulled out a box that I thought was a new fridge- it was a package from the Riffaldis. We now have matching pjs- mines flaming orange. I feel like a mandarino in it.

Last night as I was in bed writing in my journal, I looked down and saw a giant, black spider crawling up me. I wailed and think I tossed it to SRs bed and she came out of the bathroom and we TURNED THE ROOM OVER looking for it. We couldnt find it so we moved our beds. bahaha. It reminded me of sitting on the lawn at Grandpas house with Carla and Lenora and they suddenly looked at my neck, jumped up, started screaming, and pelted off. I do not like spiders on me.

We were speaking with someone and somehow we got on the topic of names and I asked "Nerina, do you like the name Nerina?" and she got this face and shook her head. haha. Then SR said "Do you like the name Noemi?, its better, isnt it?" and they both nodded. Why grazie :)

Ok. We need to run off and go....home. I think we are going to go pack a picnic lunch, come back to santo stefano and eat lunch on the beach, and then go to Sant Agata to look for shoes for SR. Her mom sent her the UGLIST shoes. We both were horrified as we pulled them out of the box. To make her feel better, I put on brown tights with my black skirt and shoes. Thank goodness we dont run the risk of bumping into Pres Kelly here.

Vi voglio bene. Happy new year!

Sorella Urban

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

how is it gia natale?!?!

I can kick myself for forgetting my plannner- Id made a list of things I HAD to include in todays email. Ill do my best without it.

This morning we woke up early and ... put on JEANS!... walked to Ninos house and went together to his land patch. We cleared out pokey weeds and I "mowed" the lawn with a scythe. I loved it. Reminded me of Kazakhstan. Ill try attaching some pics at the end. Its been a good morning. Its my first time wearing jeans in the mission, and its quite comforting that I can still fit into them.

I had a disturbing dream that I was with Lenora and she kept complaining about her weight and I remember getting really annoyed because she didnt seem to notice that I should have been the one complaining. Haha. Apparently Lenoras been having crabby dreams about me, and Im starting to have dreams about her where I get upset. Lenora, Lenora

I cant believe I dont have my planner! I cant remember what I did yesterday, how am I supposed to remember whats happened since last Wed?!

Ok. Last Wed, we left Catania and Sorella Riffaldi and I headed back to Mistretta. Luckily, ALOT of the snow has melted and is almost gone, so we dont risk breaking our necks every time we leave the house.

Its great being back with SR. She loves Mistretta and Im starting to fear because she might convince President to take my spot and I get kicked down to her spot in Siracusa ;) The members love seeing an Italian sorella.

Guess what? Angela is getting baptized the 30th!!!! This is her 6th baptismal date but she really is going through with it this time. We really feel it. She feels it, too. I asked her why she thinks shes going to go thru with it this time, and she said that while she was sitting there, listing to us teaching her parents last week, it hit her that she cant keep putting it off. Shes taken steps to observing the law of chastity so she should be ready for her 3rd interview on Friday. She has been out of work for more than a year, and the past few days she ran out of wood; the members are WONDERFUL. They got together and pooled some money and bought lots of groceries for her and went to the forest and cut wood. Angela was in tears when they delivered it all last night. Sorella Riffaldi and I were at the point where we were clearing out our own kitchen shelves to donate to the cause but the members wouldnt have it. I love them, they are so incredibly generous and humble.

At church, we Sorelle teach young womens (the daughter of Pres. Portera) and then we teach primary (the other 2 daughters of Pres. Portera). They are putting on a Christmas program tonight at our house. I decided to make brownies for it last night, seeing that we thought wed be spending all of PDAY doing yard work, ... our oven doesnt have degrees on it. I have no idea how Sorella Miller baked banana bread, but something weird happened to the brownies and smoked our house out. So, I think even the wall paper has a permanent smell of charcoal. Maybe if I continually burn food, the members will get sick of it and decide to stop using our house for activities....now, thats an idea :) This past Sunday, as church finished and I was walking out towards the car, Francesa pulled me aside and told me my slip was showing. Slla Jones then says, "Oh yeah, I noticed when you got up to play for sacrament but I forgot to tell you". I had my skirt tucked up and my slip showing for ALL of church. All of it. Nevermind that we had a member of the stake there. Nevermind that I get up 2 during church to go to the piano. mamma mia. che figura.

Monday stands out in my mind for some reason. We decided to take the train from Santo Stefano (half hour from our house, where church is) to Palermo to have a district meeting with the Anziani and Zone Leaders. Thank goodness we left early:

9:00 am: leave house

9:05 fill up on gas

9:07 left gas station

9:07.15 heard strange noise

9:07.20 pulled to the side of the autostrada

9:08 our front tire was propio flat

9:09 finished laughing and very slowlyyyy drove the car to a gravel road

9:15 realized that neither of us knew how to change a tire. Decided to pray to get revelation in hopes of being enlightened on how to change a tire.

9:18 no vision on how car mechanics worked...so we called up Antonio and he came over and fixed the tire :) We love Antonio. He loves us.

10:00 left gravel road.

10:02 Got pulled over by police. Handed over my UT license. They looked at it, whispered to eachother, and handed it back.

10:07 I started breathing again

10:08 not more than 200 meters later, I got pulled over again by 2 other policeman. This time, they asked me to point out where my name was on the license and DOB.

10:15 Sorella Riffaldi snapped a picture of me talking to the policeman

10:16 One officer told us we needed to teach about Christ to the other.

10:17 Took off again. SR and I were soo tempted to just turn back and head home and lock ourselves in for the day. We feared what else was in store for us.

We got to the station and the next train to Palermo wasnt leaving for another 2 hours. The Anziani asked us to drive there. We did, and I have to say this. I thought driving in Armenia was bad. There is NOTHING that compares to how Sicilians drive. I dont think I should be allowed to drive for at least a year once I get back to the U.S. I dont think any officer would take my excuse of having served here as being an excuse for my bad driving.

Somehow, we missed the toll highway and we took the street that got us home at 18:30. DDM ended up being a 9-6 trip. The waste of time was painful. Im pushing towards doing DDM twice a month, not every week. We can do it over the phone if we really needed to. Otherwise, its not worth the time or the cost.

Yesterday, we had an appointment to go meet and teach for the first time a man that Sorella Miller and I had met doing house about an hour from Mistretta, in Sant Agata. We finally made it to the right street after parking the car and making it on foot, and then I called him up and asked him where he was, and he said he was at 171 on Via Nazionale. I told him we were there, and he said he was there too. He wasnt, so I jokingly said "Well, there are two streets with the same name. How are we going to find you?"

Turns out we were on the right street at the right number, just in the wrong city.

We got back in the car and drove about 20 min to the right city, and this time, he was at 171. He was the only one home so we stood at the door and taught him a few principles and we want to go back with a member, Renzo.

Renzo has been inactive for a super long time but in the time Ive been here, hes been to church every sunday and he comes to institute and Sorella Miller and I felt really good about him being the possible next branch president. Guess what? Pres Portera pulled us aside last night and said that he feels like Renzo is being prepared to the next church leader here. YAY!!!

English class is fun. Daniele, (24 y.o. young man who served a mission in Milano for 2 months and then returned to Mistretta, the nephew of Antonino and the brother of Beatrice, the 18 y.o. with 2 kids) insisted and insisted that we eat the pringles hed brought. I finally ate one to silence him but he kept at it so I had to be a little "firm" with him and then ....... he left our house and came back with a huge poinsetta for us. It is strange and something I need to get used to having people in our house. We came home and were putting our shopping away while institute was going and we were in the kitchen trying to eat something and Daniele KEPT knocking on the door and poking his head in to ask the most random questions. Finally, I had to tell him to stop asking questions and to leave us alone till English class started in an hour. He seemed to understand until there came a knock at the door no more than two minutes later.

I have to try a little harder to love Daniele than I have to with Angela :)

I just love it here. Its awesome. And times running out so I need to attach some pics.

I really had thought Id have time to write everyone Christmas letters and find a place to develop pics to send, but somehow Natale has snuck up on me. Oh well. Know that I love you all and that Im thankful for all of you and your examples.

Carla cant come down till the first week of January, so I have to call Pres today and ask him if SR can remain till after Angelas baptism on the 30th, then we will drive to Catania and spend New Years there. From what Ive heard, they launch fireworks from every balcony. Im excited to not get a wink of sleep that night! And then.... Slla Squarcia a few days later, so I think Ill just be in a threesome with the Catania Sorelle.

Now we are going to head home and get out of our muddy jeans and get the house ready for tonights program. We dont have a christmas tree, but thats ok- Sorella Riffaldi and I are going to have stockings :) maybe we will end up having to use our tights, but thats ok- theyre longer and stretchier- even better. Too bad Dad wont be around to fill them with oranges :)

I have to be honest- Im really not that excited about Christmas phone calls because Im really not sure what to say.......so please be the ones to talk or ask questions if you want to hear about anything in particular. I can just see it as being the same phonecall I made from the airport where I had just too much to say that I couldnt say anything.

I love you all. Buon Natale. Isnt it wonderful having faith in Jesus Christ- knowing that he was born to die so that we might live with our families for eternity? Heavenly Fathers plan is so detailed and perfect. It continues to astound me. Im so grateful for the people He has put in my path- Im learning alot.

2010 has been an incredible year. 2011 can be even better. Lets all set goals that will make us stretch and grow.

Sorella Urban

p.s. can someone fwd this to amanda miller?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sicilians are crazy!

It would be alot easier if I didnt have time to write today. How can I put into words the experiences of this past week?

I guess Ill start off with Sorella Miller. She took a trian back to Rome about two hours ago. We drove to Catania yesterday afternoon after making a round of Mistretta all morning and saying goodbye to members and investigators. We slept at the apt of the Catania sorelle and then we got up at 6:00, drove to lungomare (sidewalk running along the entire coast) and ran and ran. It was raining and we were freezing but it felt really good. We wanted to go on forever, probably because we didnt want to accept the fact that our time together was drawing to a very abrupt end, but we climbed back into the car, changed and picked up her bags, and then got stuck in traffic. Driving is insane. I thought it was bad in Rome? At least Romans have a sense of "lanes"! Everything is acceptable, .... so thats why we went through a red light to get to the train station JUST IN TIME for us to run to the platform and stick her bags on. The doors were closing so the sorelle booked it off and it shut on me and the doors locked- I secretly was rejoicing inside because that meant Id have a few hours with Sorella Miller, but then I realized it prob wasnt the best thing if I got stuck on a train, so the sorella that were on the platform started freaking out and the conductor came off the train and motioned for me to walk through a few carriages to a door that he opened and let me off. We went to the bus station and picked up Sorella Jones and Sorella Riffaldi. It is raining outside and my umbrella broke. We drove to a market to buy fruit, and only when we got out did I realize that my skirt had been half outside the car- its brown and soaked. Today has started out well.

Im having Sorella Miller withdrawals. These past two weeks have just been too good to be true. We have had the most incredible week- as strange as this sounds for me being a missonary for a year, these past two weeks I have felt more of the potential I have. Ill try to explain: The power and authority of a missionary is so underestimated. I have felt more guided by the Spirit in lessons this week (more particularly with Angela and Beatrice) then I ever have before. SM feels the same way. We really worked so well together. During lessons when I didnt have anything to say, SM (Sorella Miller will now be reffered to as SM). would say something that was perfect for that exact moment. And then, Id say something and SM eyes would get wide and she said the same thing about me. TOO cool.

This week.

Francesca is a 31 italian woman who s Miller found doing park one day in August. She had a dream that Jesus told her that she had to do everything that we tell her to do, and she does. Thats why she got baptized two weeks ago, and Mistretta sees about one baptism a year, but theyve all gone inactive or moved away. The last person who was baptized and is still active iS Antonio, who was baptized 22 years ago. He used to bring the sisters food twice a day, but thats come to a stop, thanks to the efforts of SM.

All the members were against her being baptized. She is not crazy but everyone thinks shes messed up just because she has an eating disorder. When the sorelle met her, she and her husband were on the verge of a separation. Today, her divorce is getting finalized. She lives with a member family, the Purparis. Nino Purpari is 60 and his wife is American; she went to the U.S. for vacation a couple of years ago and never came back. Nino took Francesca under his wing and offered her a place to live- she sees him as a father, but he proposed to her....so thats caused a little bit of drama. She sleeps in a little hut next to his house, and twice we have gone to teach her and we end up waking her up after pounding on the door for 10 minutes. How do people sleep in till 11:00?!?! That kills me. Such a waste of time. Anyways. We pound on her door till she opens up, and the only thing in her hut is her giant bed, so we sit on her bed and we teach her. Yesterday we went to go see her and teach her about temples- we need to teach her the difference between personal and public prayers. Her prayers are, no joke, at least 15 minutes long. I timed yesterdays prayer- 23 minutes long. At one point my neck couldnt do it anymore, so I straightened up and looked over at SM and she was completely flat on the bed- smart woman. Shes learned from experience. From now on, when we go in there to teach, Im going to get really comfy before asking her to pray. Shes so sweet. She used to be super catholic and she often forgets that we only pray to Heavenly Father; she gives the voi form, as if praying to all 3 of the Godhead. Little by little we will get there.

When I first arrive, SM told me something I thought was hilarous but ridiculous: we keep track of her menstrual cycle. Not only here, but 3 others. I wondered why......

and now I get it. Francesca has been super moody all week and in a bickery mood, and we didnt take it personally because the calendars right :) The calendar is faithful and accurate- yesterday she was in a good mood :) We just need to follow the calendar to know when it would be best to see less of her.

So Francesca is our recent convert. Then, there is Angela. SM found her as well. Up till when I arrived, shes had 4 baptismal dates. This past week has been crazy but amazing. We fasted and prayed with as to when she should be baptized, and she chose the 14th. For the past 5 days, we have been seeing her every morning and every evening. Each time we saw her, shed changed her mind and wanted more time to get prepared for baptism. Each time we left, she was excited about her baptism. Sunday morning, I woke up in the middle of the night to find SM awake and reading her scriptures with the cell phone light. When we got up, she told me that shed woken up with the strongest impression that she had to pray. She was going to pray in bed bc it was cold, but again, she felt pushed to get on her knees. As soon as she started praying, she felt she had to open her scriptures and read the first passage. She did and it was a highlighted verse so she thought "thats too easy" and turned a few pages but then felt prompted to return to that one verse, and she did. Alma 29:5. We read it and discussed it and it fit Angela perfectly, or so we thought.

we called to wake her up to come to church, and she said that she wasnt feeling well and wouldnt be coming. SM and I hurried over (15 before Antonio was to pick us up) and she opened the door in her pajamas and looked sad. We sat down and told her the experience SM had had and we read the verse and applied it to her- that she knows she has to go to chuch and shes being held accountable for her actions because she has the knowledge of good and evil. After about 20 min of talking, she still said no. SM and I felt the Spirit guiding us in that lesson. I knew it wasnt me when I said "Angela, we are taking you to church". She sat and stared at me for a second, and then got up and went into her bedroom and got dressed and we quickly got her breakfast started. She was the most darling thing- the second she decided to go to church, she got a huge smile on her face and I just wanted to hug her and cry for good of an example she was to me in that moment. She scarfed down breakfast and we went to church. There were 8 of us. Rumor has it that we are getting an electric keyboard soon. Everyone is so excited. President Portera has asked me to help him relearn how to sight read- I told him Id be happy to as our weekly service we render, but he probably should consider having his daughter learn to play. pres Portera practically does every calling in the church, he doesnt need to be the pianist too.

On Sunday evening we went to go see Angela, and we talked with her why she doesnt feel 100% ready for baptism. She said that shes waiting for another confermation. Anglea has had TONS of experiences and miracles to confirm that baptism is the right thing, but this is where the members come in. They tell our investigators that they have to be not only 100% sure, but they have to recieve a witness like they did. Antonio and Francesca dreamed about baptism- Francesca described to the sisters the location, the font, and clothes, the program, everything of the baptism and shed never seen it before! We have tried to help her understand that most people gain their testimonies little by little, like Alma 32.

SM and I, all week, have felt strongly about her having to be pushed to be baptized on Tuesday for several different reason which I wont go into detail here. But, we went sunday night with the purpose of helping her realize the confirmations shes recieved. Towards the end of our lesson, I remembered that SM had told me that Angela had refused to take down her Padre Pio images. (If you dont know the story of Padre Pio- hes a saint how claims to have taken 1\3 of the worlds sins because Jesus Christs Atonement wasnt enough- doesnt that make your stomach turn?) and so, (again, feeling more that the Spirit was guiding us in all our words) we told Angela that she had to take them down. She struggled and we read Mosiah 13 and then she closed her eyes for what felt like an eternity, and then opened them and nodded. We went around her house and took down her images, and there was one that was nailed in pretty tight. SM and I looked at eachother in alarm, fearing that shed take it as a sign that it wasnt meant to be, and that shed change her mind, but I hurried and grabbed my gerber (thanks again Tommy!) and she climbed onto a wobbly chair and after a few minutes, the pliers got the nail out.

The next morning, we took her a picture of Christ being baptized by John- we hung it up and then she told us that when shed pulled the last nail out of the wall and wed walked out with Padre Pio stuff, shed felt the biggest sense of liberation. A knot in her stomach untied and she felt so happy that she couldnt sleep till midnight. We helped her see that 1) you didnt want to go to church because you felt bad, but then once you decided to go, you felt really happy and 2) you didnt want to take down padre pio but you felt great afterwards that following Gods commandments bring only blessings.

We rushed around, calling members to invite them to the baptism and none of them were helping. Antonio, who would bend over backwards for any Sorella, said he couldnt help us because he had a backache. It seemed like everyone was working against us. We finally called Vito Purpari, the father of....8 kids? who all have moved out of the house bc the youngest, Beatrice, is someone whos really hard to get along with.(Beatrice just turned 18 and she has 2 kids and her boyfriend is our most progressing investigator, Pasquale. He cant get baptized for another year and a half because he used to be under house arrest, but now he just cant leave Mistretta till next year. That was another incredible experience this week when it hit me really what I am capable of doing with the power and authority Ive been given when I was set apart as a missionary- SM and I really called her to repentance. It had the potential the most tense lesson Ive ever been in, but we felt the Spririt strongly in giving us the right words to say to her. Beatrice is a delicate person to talk and interact with, and although shes really mad at us now, we dont regret what we said. We sat with the family and taught about eternal families, and then invited her to church. She came up with excuses that we came up with a solution to each one, and then she finally was honest in sayng that she wouldnt come bc she has something against the member and the branch president. We said that we dont go to church for the members- ALOT of people would be inactive if that were the case, but we go to church because we love the Lord and its what Hes asked us to do. It ended with us telling her "You and Pasquale have expressed the desire to get married and be sealed in the Temple. That takes action. Pasquale is trying to quit smoking- he does everything we ask him to do because he knows its what it takes to bless his family. Beatrice, you say we shouldnt worry about you, but we do. YOURE the one keeping your family from being eternal. you need to repent." To sum it up, she did not like what we were saying, but at least she held her peace. It was her mom who interrupted and told us ease off and that shed come around when she wanted to.

This is the biggest frustration of Mistretta. The members say they want to help with missionary work, but theyre our biggest obstacles! Everyone in mistretta knows who we are and who all the members are, and so many have come sooo close to baptism but then they bring up "you say you try to live the commandments, but like at the Purpari family" and everyone just concentrates on the bad examples they see. How sad! And how restricting! How different things would be if we all realized how infinite and necessary the Atonement is.

Ok. I think I got sidetracked. So we were trying to get Angelas baptism programmed, but no one was helping, so we went over to her house and asked her if shed be ok with just getting baptized in the ocean that evening. Her countenance had changed in the hour we were gone. She said she needed to feel more ready. I guess it was all the work, worry, and effort on our part for Angela that just got to us. We stood in her kitchen and tears ran down our cheeks. We asked her flat out "What is blocking you?" and she said that it was nothing, she just needed to be sure.

We were so confused. We had felt to strongly that it was tuesday or never. We have seen too many people procrastinate their baptism and they digress sssooo rapidly.

We went back that night before returning home, and again we read the Alma verse that Heavenly Father gave SM, and .... she said she did have a block. Immediately, the law of chasitity came to mind, and I said "The law of chastity?" and she nodded.

In most any other situation, Id groan inside, but it was a relief to hear it. weird, eh? It was so good to know that there WAS something blocking her, bc SM and I were getting super confused as to why she wasnt feeling ready. We discussed the gravity of the sitation- shed lied to us, shes had two bap interviews and lied to the Elders, (when you lie to missionaries you lie to God because we are here in His place) and now, we know how to teach her to her needs. Shes accepted to live it but she doesnt really want to take the steps to reach that goal. Oh well. Little by little. At least we know what her needs are.

So there was no baptism yesterday, but I trust she will be soon. I just dont envy her. Mistretta is SOOO cold. The ocean might be warmer then the river. Bo.

We went yesterday morning to say goodbye, and smelled coffee the moment we walked in. She looked at us and said "I cant hide it from you, I just was drinking it today because I feel nervosa" and I took her mug and poured it down the sink.

Really, Im doing alot of things Id feel hesitant to do, but like I said, I really have felt the Holy Ghost guide me more in these past two weeks then Ive ever felt before. Reading the scriptures, about Alma and the other missioaries, is so fun because I can relate so well to them!.

We did go over to Pres Portera and tell him "we need the members to trust us! They say they do but their actions and words dont reflect it" and he apologized bc he too had tried stopping Francescas baptism. He had called up Angela and toldl her that she could wait to be baptized.

its never cool to have members telling our investigators something contrary to what we feel. it makes them think that we dont recieve inspiration or revelation for them.

Va bono.

Sorella Jones and I are driving back to Mistretta, and then we will come back on Monday and I will pick up Sorella Riffaldi, who will be my Christmas companion :) Then, on the 26, we will drive back here and I will pick up Sorella Carla Squarcia :)

Have to go. Buona settimana!

Sorella Urban

Thursday, December 9, 2010


ps can you send this to tommy i dont know which is his email right now
1) Mom, I havent seen Dima yet. I think I will if he didnt get transferred the day I was. Tomorrow we are spending all day driving to Catania for Zone Conference, and then coming back.

I have SOOOOO much to say but so little time.
The trip here was awesome. The train BOARDED the ship and we went outside and stood up at the top and ferried across to Sicily. Sorella Riffaldi, Foote, Hansen, Miller EVERYONE was there waiting and it was SOOO great. We sorelle loaded my bags into our car (!) and we walked down a few streets to a gelato shop and had gelato while we talked. Sorella Riffaldi lost an earring so we started looking for it on the sidewalk and it turned out to be a good finding activity-people stopped and helped us look! We found it :)

Then we parted ways and Slla Miller and I started out trip home........ 3 hours drive and I couldnt see out the window because it was too dark. BUT. Tomorrow we will be making the same drive and we are leaving at 6 in the morning to be there by 9, so Ill get to see it all.

We live in an apt building, - our door opens and theres stairs that go straight up. We have institute at home, english class, and seminary and church activitites- its more like a church building and our home is one of the rooms. we just always keep the door shut and the members know its off limits. the house is cold. our room is warm. We open the door just to go out to the kitchen. Sorella Miller loves eating fruit and she is going home next week so we are eating healthy.
Guess what? Theres too much to say about Mistretta that I dont even know where to start. Its A.W.E.S.O.M.E.
Thursday morning, we woke up and went running. Slla Miller is a hard core biker- we live on the outskirts of town (basically EVERYTHING is the outskirts, theres nnothing to make a town out of!) and.... I just wanted to stop and soak it all in. Let me try to paint a picture for you of where I live. Take Beauty and the Beast Village. Or the movies of like Lord and the Rings where they scan over the geography- imagine New Zealand. dark green mountain after dark green mountain with lots of green green green, out in the middle of nowhere, and then the dark crystal blue ocean. This is my home.

I am living in heaven.

I felt like I was running in ...yeah, New Zealand is the best description I can think of. I wish I had pics ready to send! And the sun comes up at the end of our run and its just incredible. Mistretta is what I consider heaven. Its just snowed once but its ok. Its really not too bad. I just need to start wearing hiking boots instead of my shoes (which are quickly getting broken in).

How do I describe Mistretta? Its a little village on the slope of the peak of one of the many mountains. The streets are all small little alleys that I dont know how Im going to find my way around here without slla miller. Theres one main street and a labyrinth that branches off of it. everyone knows eachother. my first day, sorella miller took me around to meet the members. I met everyone in 24 hours. The car stays parked till we have to leave Mistretta. Thats the cool thing- everything is so close. We do walk alot, and its all either steep uphill or steep downhill. Its amazing to me how no ones on crutches or suffering a sprained ankle- I have yet to see someone in high heels here. I think its impossible.

Church is in santo stefano, a city 30 min away. to get there we have to take this long road thats a bridge\ramp and it goes over the coast, so we just look out the window and are almost over the water. its incredible. church is a rented building, and we were in 12 this Sunday. It reminded me so much of being back in Almaty! The branch president, Fllo Portera, is incredible. He has to leave church early to get back to work on time, so there were a few testimonies and then we ended. They have a keyboard (like the small 2 octaves one) that I played and they were going off on how incredible it is that an angel has been sent who plays the piano. They are the most humble people! I taught primary (fratello porteras daughter) and sorella miller taught young womens (another one of his daughters).
It was such a good sunday. Coming from Rome, where no one would have noticed if Id been there 10 years and disappeared, to here, where EVERYONE prays and mentions the sorella missionaries in their prayers and talks. Its so neat. They love us.

Why is Mistretta known as the city where sorella gain 20-30 lbs just in Mistretta? Because thats what everyone does here. They live to eat. They work just enough to eat. Their lives revolve around meals. Slla Miller has been really good at paving the path for me and trying to teach the members that they cant expect us to eat as much as they want us to- we leave EVERY door we walk into with some food. Its shocking. I dont know how they do it. But they are so generous. Slla Millers the first missionary to lose weight in Mistretta. It takes real self control, and shes my hope. Antonio, a member of 22 years, used to drop things off for the sorelle to eat EVERY MORNING and EVERY EVENING. Im glad slla Millers changes some things. But Antonio is so great! Antonio Bartalotta I believe. He has facebook and would be ecstatic if you Lenora found him. He chats with missioaries parents every day thru google translate.

So im writing so late and so grammatically incorrect because we are on the run. slla miller has been in all of sicilia except for the 3rd point, Trapani, so we called pres and got permission to go so thats where we have been all day. we left this morning at 6:45 and we drove thru palermo and walked around trapani (there really wasnt much to see, most of our walking was looking for our car) and we drove to erice- incredible. A much cooler Pompeii, and people still live there! its a mini mini city ontop of a hill and we walked down a back train and entered a half destroyed castle- then as we were looking at postcards, we realized that the castle in the pic wasnt destroyed. it must have collapsed not too long ago- oops. we could have been hurt....

we got stuck in traffic and now we just have 30 min to head back home and teach english class (at home, yes...its weird! all the members have a key to our house!) and then we are going to see angela. angela has a bap date for next saturday but she isnt excited about baptism- when people ask her what shes doing with us, she replies "oh nothing, im not changing anything. theyre just friends". so we are focusing on helping her not be embarassed about the gospel.

real quick- the biggest differences that have shocked me? Sicilians are NOT italians! They are such different people! 1) I know whats its like to be a greenie and not understand what people say. holy smokes, siciliano is sooooo weird. Im picking it up a little bit, but its weird that they struggle when speakign italian with us. Its like in armenia when people were embarassed to speak in russian with us bc we knew it better (or so they thought).
2) they are so bold! theyll tell you exactly what they think of you, and whats on their mind.
3) there arent foreigners here. Ive seen ONE romanian. so strange. I thought Id finally be teaching italians. I dont think Sicilians can be considered italians! I love it!

Mistretta hasnt seen a baptism for several years. the general attitude has been "in mistretta, you strengthen the members and then you get transferred out and baptize". Im so grateful for sorella miller and that she has the same goals and vision as I do. Shes GREAT. iF it were anything but Christmas time, shed extend her mission so we could serve longer together. I love her.
Shes been here for 6 months, and she says that its the hardest place shes ever been, but the most gratifying. I already can understand that.
Francesca got baptized last saturday. Ok. Before I can really talk about the individuals, I have to say....that.... the people in Mistretta just arent very normal. Im not sure if its just the village life that does it, but I have yet to figure it out. Francesca was very disliked by the members up till her baptism, bc they call her sick. Shes not, shes just anorexic and shes getting help. She went out with us sunday night do introduce us to her friends. she tells them shes a missionary. when a friend tried kissing her cheek, she stuck her hand out in his face and said "no, i cant kiss guys. im a missionary".
(ahhhh theres so much to say but no time!)
we are teaching pasquale- hes 40, living with his 17 year old girlfriend.... and their two kids. hes not baptized because he is under house arrest and cant leave mistretta for a year and a half. He is incredible.
theres nino- almost blind. about 60 years old. is in love with francesca and is upset she wont marry him. hes a retired chef and ....I love him.
Angela. With a bap date. That cant see us in the morning because shes too busy. we found out its because she sleeps alot.
Daniele. 24, went on a mission for 2 months and came home. He used to be really into drugs and now hes not entirely there. Its really sad, but he is great too. So friendly.
There are so many more. But we have to go. I love being here. I laugh to think that I thought for a moment "Ooh, Mistretta- its a prize for my past few transfers, I get to relax a little!" If anything, this is the late place to relax. so much potential here. so much work to do.
next pday should be wed but im not sure when im picking up my new comp or taking s miller to the airport.
Love you!

mail is
149 Corso Umberto 1

slla miller said mail is really good here. yay!!! you can even send packages here without any problem!!! but i dont want packages.
ok, love you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

little town, in a quiet village :)

Well, Mistretta, Sicily it is. "Hello President!!!" (The saturdays we recieve transfer calls are always the longest. He had called me in the morning and I thought it was because he already knew where he was sending me, but it was just to ask about some other sorelle..... and then he finally called us at 20:00 and S. Askew and I stopped in our tracks (we were on our way home, walking in the rain) and I stuck him on speaker phone for SA)
"Hello Sorella Urban....etc. etc. You are going to Mistretta, Sicilia to be with Sorella Miller. When she dies in two weeks (Catania and Roma are still on different transfer schedules) you will be getting a new companion but I dont know who it will be yet."
I squeal and thank him and then he goes on to tell me that it is the city where every Sorella requests to go- its a beautiful little city near Mt. Etna, and its said to come from the Beauty and the Beast movie. Ahh. Im excited.
Itll only be Sorella Miller and I in that area- we have a car!!! (everyones been telling me "Youre going to gain alot of weight not walking!") and apparently we work alot in other cities as well. We are an hour from Palermo, and I think there are 4 Anziani there. I thought Sicilia would be warm, but Mistretta has snow! So I guess itll be a white Christmas for me after all :) I am so excited. Mistretta has a population of 5,000. Fidene, our neighborhood here in Rome, has more than 11,000. Ill get to know all the old people and know every city dweller by name! Itll be Sipicciano all over again, but smaller!
Sorella Pickett, my MTC companion, is going to come up here and be with Sorella Askew!

Ive finally started wearing the new shoes Dad brought me- breaking in shoes is not my favorite thing, so its a good thing Im going to have a car soon :)
I leave bright and early tomorrow morning. Ive managed to get all my belongings into one suitcase- its not that I have too many clothes, its all the books I dont want to leave behind. Im going to make the trip by train with 2 Anziani and 5 greenies; they arrived about an hour ago and we got to meet them on our way out of the church. It seems like yesterday that I was in their place. Itll be fun having a 10 hr train ride with them and getting to exchange stories and insights. The train pulls in ONTO the ferry where we get off and ferry across to Sicily for 30 min. Ill definitely take pictures. I wonder if I can see Africa from there? :)

Elder Causse is coming next week, so every missionary in Sicilia will be in Catania next Wed for zone conference- Ill get to see Slla Riffaldi and Foote and Anz Larsen from the MTC! Oh, Pres also told me that theres a very good chance Ill get to serve with S Riffaldi again! I feel guilty. I should let others have the wonderful experience of serving with her.

Well. I guess I should stop talking about transfersand talk about some of the things that have happened this week.

Fumi, the Nigerian woman I met on the bus a couple of weeks ago, had a baptismal date and everything was going great....till she called on Sunday and told us she couldnt see us anymore. It felt like Laurent all over again. I could hear her sister in the background making comments against the church, and Fumi was giving excuse after excuse of why she would no longer be able to meet with us. I asked her to stop and think for a moment, and Fumi said that she feels really good meeting with us, but she couldnt....in the end, we got her to agree to talk with us face to face. Our appt was for this afternoon- she didnt come. I seriously underestimate the adversary.

Daniela, the 35 y.o. Italian young woman we met doing house, invited us to come over for breakfast on Tu morning (yesterday). We hurried over and found a bag hanging from her door "To Daniela, From Urban" and took it to mean that it was to me, so I opened it and found ... 2 bags of coffee and a package of pasta, with a note apologizing that she had something come up.
We walked away shocked at how considerate that was of her. Not because she left a gift, but because she even thought to let us know that it was cancelled. Shed lost our number, so that was the only thing she could think of doing. We went back home and I wrote her a letter, and then we slipped it under her door and started ringing door bells, and then Daniela returned! She will be meeting with le sorelle soon. Im so happy. Shes so nice.

Dad, something that you could get me is a copy of General Conference. We still havent recieved them and arent sure if Germany will ever get around to sending them. We have a feeling that we will get them by the time April conference rolls around. Im just yearning to read and hear those talks over again

We saw Nelson yesterday so that I could say goodbye to him. Nelson is my Roman Laurent. I love him. Guess what he brought me? 2 huge mens sweaters and a glittery tshirt that might fit Lillo. I love it! Last month he gave me a mens undershirt that was too big for him- hes bigger than I am, and this undershirt was, no joke, triple XL. He makes me laugh. I wish I could take the sweaters with me, but I have to see what fits in my bag. One of the sweaters Id like to give Andrew, but maybe theres an Anziano who needs it more.

After teaching him about temples, we headed to over to Yolandas. Shed recieved her months wages and gone over to a bank to have the money wired home to Equador. When the account was set up and she pulled out the money, she found that her wallet had been stolen.
700 euro. Her entire months wages gone.
I can see why its a rule that we cant financially help others. My heart goes out to her. I cannot imagine how hard that would be to go through.
And guess what she did as we said the closing prayer and got up to leave? She went to her room and returned with a silver necklace and pendant, and put them into my hand. Thats when I lost it. Yolanda had just lost all her money. She didnt know what she was going to do or how she was going to make it. She could easily pawn that necklace and get something out of it, but she gave it to me. I could only stand there and cry and she cried.
ahh, just writing this is making me cry. It has been incredible serving here in Rome. Last night as I was laying in bed, I thought of all the things that have happened to me here in Rome. First meeting Sorella Riffaldi, walking into the house, meeting Yolanda, meeting Nelson at Beths house, his baptism, Sandra, Gina, ALL these people who have taught me from their incredible faith and example.
I cannot imagine my life without these people a part of it. Im overwhelmed with gratitude for my Heavenly Father who loves me enough to let me be a part of this. To have these people in my life. Its too incredible. Im torn about leaving Rome, but I know that there are many more people out there that Ill learn to love and just have yet to meet.

We spent this morning waiting for a bus that never arrived, so we walked to the mall.......I am looking for things to layer with, and bought some snacks for the trip tomorrow. We went to the church and Fumi didnt come, so we waited around to meet the MTC arrivals. Two new sorelle, and one of them has CRAZY blond hair. Its great. I hope shes the one to go down south- can you imagine being her companion? Finding would be so easy.- just walking down the street and people would stop us to talk!!!

For Thanksgiving we had a scrumptious meal- Before heading up for lunch, we bought bleach and sprayed down moldy parts of the house. Sorella Askew has a raw throat and Ive been lightheaded all week. Thus, she sleeps in the hall on a mattress and Ive been sleeping on the kitchen couch.

On Friday, we went up to Bochignano (a hill city) with all the senior couples and we put on a thanksgiving feast for the english students. It was really fun. I made mashed potatoes, and I have to say so myself...they were delicious. And I made cheesecake. Also delicious.
We talked about Christlike attributes this week in DDM. I think I should concentrate on humility.
Times up. Sorella Askews ready to go. Im not. But thats my life.
haha. WELL. Arrivederci Roma! Next pday will be Tuesday, so please write me on time! AND, seeing that Ill be getting letters every 6 weeks or so,...(I guess I could send my house address, but I feel that its more risky of losing mail that way,...we shall see. Ill check out the mail box and then let you know next week if it passes inspection :) ) maybe you could inform others to write me via email instead of letters :)
p.s. another thing I could use? Taco seasoning! The Urban legend of Mexican Chef salad is spreading across the face of Italia!

Monday, November 29, 2010

short and bittersweet

1. We met Fumi last Tuesday on a bus- we met with her on Wed, Thu, Mon, and tomorrow :) She is AWESOME! She is getting baptized on Dec 21!!! Id write a lot more but dont have time!
She is very very Nigerian- shell back up whatever I say in prayers we offer- its pretty funny. When we first met with her she said "God answers my prayers. I prayed to have a baby girl. I prayed to have a daughter. I didnt care if I got married. I didnt want a boyfriend, just a daughter. And God answered my prayers! I havent seen the man again. But I dont care. I wanted a daughter and my prayer was answered!"
Sorella Askew later said "Uh...God did NOT answer your prayers by having you go out and getting pregnant out of wedlock- that was all YOUR doing!"
It was pretty funny.

2. I am making cheesecake for our missionary meal tomorrow at the Crawfords. I am so happy that Thanksgiving is just an hour long!!
The Crawfords offered us dinner a few nights ago for helping them carry their naval base groceries up to their apt. We whipped together some chicken fajitas. While putting away their groceries, I almost had to sit down in shock. Food like that exists out there? All ready in colorful packages? For those of you in the U.S.- appreciate it.

3. Our house is SOOO moldy that the one bottle of spray we were given was just enough for 1\3 of our bedroom. I think itd be cheaper just to move into a different apartment!

4. We keep getting phonecalls from a private number. We answered the first few times and can hear only breathing on the other end. Creepy. SA and I have been dreaming of a man who watches us from the window-doors we have in our bedroom. Non va bene.

5. Transfer calls come this Saturday.

6. Stake Conference was on Sunday and Yolanda came with us! Lots of good talks. I wish I could share more :S

7. Louisa, a new convert AND a less active, met with us and towards the end of our lesson:
S. Askew "So will you read each night before going to bed? (yes) What time? At 22:00?"
Lousia nods her head vigourously
Me, sarcastically "Uh....I think the question is What time do you go to bed? Watch how you go to bed at 21:30!
Louisa says "No, I go to bed at 21:00!"

Really...........? It was funny.

8. We spent the day at the catacombs and we walked up the dome to the top of St. Peters. Sorella Askew is hoping to leave Rome 2 as well, so she has some things on her list she wants to see before that happens. I doubt President will blow us both out, but it could happen.

9. Have a happy thanksgiving!

10. I know this email is disappointing- Im disappointed with it. I wish I could write all about Fumi BUT 4 families in Prima Porta are seeing us tonight. YAY!!!

Sorella Urban

Saturday, November 20, 2010

itll take a day ...or two....to remove it

Ha. My subject is in honor of Lenora- of all the times we repeated that phrase. It comes from the movie "Mouse Hunt" and the reason I included it is to tell Lenora that the man who said it has a TWIN woman who we always see when we go to Prima Porta on Fridays. Its crazy! Should I ask for her picture?!

One evening as we were waiting at a platform, I sat down next to an old woman and said "buona sera" to which she didnt reply....
A few minutes later, I glanced over at her hand and spotted a mosquito happily sucking away. She was nodding off in sleep and for a minute I didnt know what to do- I didnt want to wake her because Id already recieved the impression that she wasnt the most friendly of people... I told Sorella Askew who hates mosquitoes even more than I do (I know, hard to believe) and she told me that I had to do something. SO. I leaned forward and blew on her hand- nothing. The mosquito was probably wondering what a nice breeze there was.
I blew again. Nothing. I saw the mosquito swelling right before my eyes and I felt utterly helpless. I felt people staring at me but I couldnt stand watching a mosquito leave victorious. I took out my hymnbook and used the edge of it to brush off the mosquito, which woke up the woman and the mosquito flew past her arm and my first reaction was to finish it off, which I did. I reached over and smacked her arm; at this point, she was really awake. Good news is that I killed the mosquito and had her blood all over my hand. The other good news is that she thought I was an angel for having saved her from a mosquito bite, and kept thanking me over and over again for having caught it in time before it gave her a bite (little did she know that I watched it for a good 3 minutes before I whacked it).

On Friday night, while we were waiting outside of a largy crocery store for the arrival of member Richard Duran to join us in teaching the part member Cruz family, a car pulled up beside us and down came the window. The driver leaned out the window and said
"Youre Sorelle, right?"
Its obvious- you can see it from your appearance and the way your faces shine.
(here we look at eachother and blush and thank him) and then
Are you proselyting now?
uh....no, not now. We are waiting for a member.
Oh ok.
So, where are you from?
Roma Labaro
Yes, I mean, Roma 1 or...?
No, Roma Labaro.
(knowing that there was no ward by that name...I began to suspect that...)
What religion are you?
(the look on his face!) Turns out that he was a Jehovahs witness, and he thought we were Jdub sorelle! We pulled off our tags and had him read what it said and introduced ourselves. It was pretty funny. Right before driving off he repeated that we still had a clean appearance and thanked us for the good we are doing. Che carino ;)

Anz Mack, our district leader, had a birthday this past week. Because we were assigned treat bucket for our district meeting on Monday, I made brownies and because we couldnt find candles, we bougth this mini birthday cake firecraker\sparklers. Little did we know that they were not very mini.
The best part was having Sorella Kelly present AND all the senior couples- thankfully, only one was lit and it went on for a good minute. Everyone was laughing at how illegal and against church rules it was- and that the Marcuccis had just returned from purchasing fire extinguishers for all the missionary apartments. They jokingly told us that we Sorella are now on watch ;( We didnt mean to engulf his birthday brownies with a funnel of fire!

Last Pday we went to a church that was decorated, made, entirely of human bones. The chandeliers, the light fixtures, the art work and door framers were made of small bones in different patterns, etc. For anyone whod have the chance of coming to Rome- Id definitely suggest this museum over the Sistine Chapel. Isnt that something terrible? Its just alot more interesting!

I was wondering if anyone could tell me who set me apart. I think it was one of the Stake Presidents counselors. AND- to anyone who was present, if you remember anything that was said in the setting apart, would you please let me know? I dont remember a single thing ;(

We are going to fast with Yolanda this Saturday for her to have the courage to start living the law of chastity and to break up with her compagnio. PLUS, shes calling her Signora to cancel work on Sunday so that she can go with us to Stake Conference! :)

After email we are going to Piazza Sempione to meet with a Nigerian woman I met on the bus yesterday- she has the same facial expressions as Laurent (Firenze)! She and her 4 y.o. daughter, Abigail, are here by themselves, and the good thing is that she has every evening free to meet with us when we can.

We finally recieved a referall from a young member couple and we went to find this woman last night- shes the store owner of a shop FULL of materials of different religions. We went to her back office and she shared her beliefs (basically one or two things from EVERY religion- there are SOOO many out there!) and we talked about the Restoration and she is coming to church next week.

We are still trying to find families to teach- we know there are families who are searching and in need of the truth. Its wonderful that Christmas is around the corner and there is a different feeling in the air, and itll be easier bearing testimony of Christ to all these Catholics :)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. The Crawfords are having us over and Ill be making cheesecake :) There is so much to be grateful for. This week Im especially grateful for the patience Heavenly Father has for me, especially when I am so shortsighted.

Have a great week,

Sorella Urban
p.s. Sorella Askews predicted that Im going to be transferred to Cagliari (Sardegna), serve with Sorella Tutt for a transfer, and then train Sorella Diehl. Vediamo!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

week number who knows (stolen from SA)

In the half hour Ive been here at the net cafe, 5 people have called and disrupted me, with the phone being on silent. growl.

Alots happened this week!
Wednesday: The plumber came and fixed our toilet. He left and with him, a bottle of SAskews face cleanser. We arent sure if he took it, because it doesnt make sense, and it is possible that things just disapparate. Maybe the mold we have around the house helps dissolve things. Oh, thats a funny story. The Marcucci (senior missionaries) came to check the safety of the house, to fix our light, etc, and I wish Id recorded their expressions when they saw how much mold we have in the house. It didnt help with Sorella Askew moving our beds away from the wall and revealing the black sections of wall- they said theyll get to it pronto, but....we are still waiting. I wonder how much the mold has to do with our cycle of not getting over our colds....?

I had the ...opportunity... to eat an entire fish for lunch. Yum. We went to the Tempesta family (an extremely odd couple in appearance but SOOO fun to be with- Brenda is 30, from Peru, (so shes short) and Livio is Italian and 45, and extremely tall)
We taught them the Plan of Happiness and somehow, which tends to happen a little too often, the discussion went off topic and before we knew it, Brenda was talking about dreams that she has. She has the capacity to see the future; her dreams come true, etc. Even her husband was nodding off, fighting sleep, and she went on and on and with each dream shed add "ok, this is the last one!" and off shed go again. I wish I could record all the stories we hear. They are so interesting and... so random. When we did make it out of their house, sleepy and full of fish, Sorella Askew and I had to lay on our beds for a minute to recover from what wed just gone through.
Gina said she spent three hours reading the Book of Mormon. YAY!

Friday: Zone Conferene. We spent all day in the church and it was really nice because I didnt have to translate and so this time I was able to pay attention and I got alot out of it. I took some notes that Ill share at the end. We also had President interviews and he told me that I will be transferred and theres nothing I can say that will change his mind ;)

Saturday: that night, at 20:30, we had half an hour before we could return home, and since we were next to the Fidene station, we decided to do finding on the train. We hurried to the station to find it completely empty, ....so .... we crossed over and were walking to the other platform when a man stopped us and told us that he had met missionaries a few months before and we talked about our beliefs and exchanged contact info. Thats what we got for being obedient and staying out till 21:00!

Domenica: After church, we went to Bens house. He is a member for 8 years and his wife isnt, and always is too busy to meet with us, so we went to trap her at home. They come from the Philippines and Ive decided that they are the most interesting people Ive ever met. Really, Sorella Askew and I went through a list of the people we know that come from the Philippines, and they are each unique. I adore them.
Anways, we sat down to eat and the table was set for 2- After lots of insisting, we got them to eat with us. One of the most awkward things is to eat and be watched. The lesson on the Restoration turned to her smoking addiction and how "at least twenty missionaries have taught me and nothings helped". Well. This time, its different ;)
VERYYY long story short (it was 4 hours to be exact) it boiled down to that she lacks the desire to stop smoking. We were very open and honest with her as she was with us, and she knows that she is the one keeping her family from being eternal at this point. Shes the only one who smokes, and they have 3 sons. "Teresa, if you had to choose between cigarettes or your family...?" Her reply, without hesitation, was "Cigarettes". And this was in front of Ben!
I had to control myself because I wanted to cry and then bang her head against the plate of rice. How sad! How selfish.
That experience has really made me reflect on my own life- with something else Pres Kelly shared in conference. What is keeping me out of celestial kingdom? Or, what is keeping me from enjoying the blessings that I could be if I were just willing to change or give up something that I do?
My respect for Ben skyrocketed. I can only imagine how hard it would be to love and serve someone whos like that. Their examples have taught me alot- how important it is to do our part.
Teresa gave us cake and we asked what the jellyish cream on the bottom of the cake was, and she doesnt speak english very well so we were guessing "plum? cream?" and she said, "No, egg!".
Egg? raw egg?
She sent the entire cake home with us (she disappeared into the kitchen for a minute and Ben begged us to take it, otherwise hed have to eat it, so we took it out of our love for him, definitely not because we were greedy). I think Teresa thinks missionaries starve or something. We resisted and argued, but we still managed to walk out of their house with 4 bags of food. I consider it a tender mercy that Sorella Askew eats just about everything. How wonderful to have a companion whos also a garbage disposal. Im not saying the food wasnt good, anzi, it was delicious, just too much. (Mamma, she sent us home with a kilo of castagne!)

The morning started early, at 1;30 am when Sorella Askews voice woke me up, "Sorellaaaa!". I turned on the light to see what was the matter- shed heard a mosquito. So, for the next half hour, we hunted around for a mosquito and never found him. Shes lucky she wasnt here in June and July when it was completely normal to have a dozen mosquitoes hovering around our ankles. When we got up at 6;30, she found a blood streak on the bed so she must have gotten him at some point in her wild flailing.
It rained. And rained again, and then some more after that.
We did some house (knocking on doors, ringing doorbells) and ... Im really going to miss these days. Standing in a puddle, leaning over to press my ear againt the mic, and struggling to hear the voice on the other end over the rain beating down on my umbrella.

Tuesday; we did some more house in the rain, and we were let in by an old couple. The Nonna asked us to wait for a moment and she disappeared, and when she returned, she had a hand full of coins to give us. "No, we dont want anything, we just want to share something with you!".......soon led us into the kitchen where we had to repeat, possible 47 times, that we didnt want a cup of coffee..... she didnt listen and got it all prepared and then acted shocked when we told her that we would do without the coffee. ay ay ay.

Across their house, we were let into another apt and this time, it was Daniela, a 35 y.o. Italian woman. She was getting ready for work but she let us into her kitchen and we talked about the restoration and she talked about alot of problems, and then we said a prayer and invited her to church and she said shell come, and the great thing is that we really believe she will come! I have a calendar where, every night when I write in my journal, I record "the miracle of the day" and Daniela was yesterdays miracle. What did I write on the calendar?: "Someone younger than ancient let us into their house".

We went to Yolandas last night to teach her, and she lives with another Equadorian family, and we introduced ourselves and then we were trying to hint to Yolanda to head towards her room where we could teach her the law of chastity, but the 19 young man asked us to stay so that he could hear the message. I love how we plan for each lesson, and the lessons never go as planned. We taught him about the Restoration- he doesnt believe in God because he has seen nothing to prove Him.

The Anziani were wonderful enough to come by and meet him, so we had another "joint" discussion and...it went really well. 19 y.o. Byron. He could go on a mission!

Very quickly, some things Ive been thinking about this week. Im just going to write it from out of my journal;
"....Teresa, it you had to choose between your family, Ben, and cigarettes..." before we could finish she crossed her arms decisively and said "cigarettes. I felt my heart break into two at her behavior. Ben was sitting right beside her. I told her to take a minute and really think about it before responding, but she kept shaking her head and saying "No, no. I love my family very much, but I need cigarettes. I cant stop smoking". I cant see how she could really say that if she really understood what the question meant.
It makes me realize how very important the commandments are- they really do come from a loving Heavenly Father who just wants the best for us, and has given us guidelines for our liberty and happiness.
From Pres Kelly:
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God? In what sense is a person like a temple? how would I need to change to be more worthy to be called a temple of God? A temple becomes one when it is dedicated. It is not the house of the Lord until it is given unto Him. A temple is beautiful. Looking at it lifts and edifies. It is spotless and dignified. A temple is calm and still. Pease and quietness right within. A temple is a place of worthiness- no unclean thing can enter within. Engraved deeply into the wall of the temple are the words, "Holiness to the Lord". A temple is a house of service. Its whole purpose is to provide those things that are essential for the happiness of Gods children. A temple is built by sacrifice, and by diligent and patient labor. A temple is, above all, a house for God the Father, his Son, and the Holy Ghost. THe house of the Lord is a sacred place, worthy of their presence.
Am I dedicated to the Lord? Does my appeareance lift and edify? Am I peaceful and calm within? Is my mind and heart open only to worthy thoughts and feelings? Is "Holiness to the Lord" engraved upon my soul? Am I engaged in vital service to Gods children? Do I lift my eyes toward heaven? Am I willing to build myself by sacrifice, toil, and patience? Does the Spirit of God dwell in me? Am I becoming a temple of the Most High God?"

This is something Pres Kelly wrote when hed just returned home from his mission, and his Dad had just died.

Its really helping me reflect on where Im at in life and what I need to be doing.

SOOO many other experience and stories Id love to share! Oh well. Buona settimana!

Sorella Urban

Friday, November 5, 2010

I LOVE letters. and Yolanda

Why did I choose that as my theme? Because I LOVE letters. um um um. They make me happy when skies are gray......(I should learn the song sometime). Thank you for all the emails- its funny how some weeks all the emails are short and this week they are all super long and juicy. I cant wait to print them all out and soak them all in on the bus to the mercato or at some other point.
Its good having a companion who eats just about everything. I miss cooking, so now its a good balance- I cook, and she eats whatever it is. Even experiments. This morning I made sausages and hashbrowns for breakfast, and it made me think of Marmota (mamma) and wishing I could make her some hashbrowns.

What a week its been! Yolanda is wonderful. Shes the contact from the Anziani that we have been meeting with about weekly since August. The day after we met her she came with us to a baptism; a few weeks ago, we taught her about keeping the sabbath day holy and she called her boss and cancelled work for that coming sunday and came to church with us. Yesterday, we got a member to come with us to our appt with her and it went great. We taught the law of tithing and Yolanda and Brenda clicked and chattered off in Spanish and it really makes a difference working with the members.We used M&Ms to teach the principle of tithing (giving her 10, asking for one back, and then pouring them out into her hands that they spill all over). Really, its just a matter of time before shes baptized. She wants to be baptized but, like with alot of people, they want to be more sure and more knowledgeable of the gospel before they take that step. She works for a Lazio soccer player who is moving in a couple of weeks, which will leave her without a job on Sundays (an answer to OUR prayers but definitely not to hers) and we are all praying that she will find a way to make ends meet without working on Sundays. She is such an incredible example of faith. Im not sure if I would do what she does, or accept our invites as readily as she does. The Spirit is what makes the difference. If I were her I definitely wouldnt put my trust in two young missionaries who promise me that things will work out if I would just not go to work this sunday, etc, but we know the Spirit has carried our words to her heart, just as is promised. How wonderful it is that we, that I, dont have to depend on my abilities to help someone accept the Gospel. I am just an instrument, but the Spirit is really the only thing that brings about conversion, accompanied by faith and action.

Last Pday, we met with Jane, our bus friend who moved to Italy to just go to church. She recognized a difference in us and she kept commenting on how she felt really good with us, and we pointed out that it was the Spirit and it was hers to be had with baptism and following Gods commandments- she happily accepted a Book of Mormon. She lives really far away which is the only thing keeping us from seeing her everyday, but we might see her today- yay!

Oh OH OH. So. Theres this family. the Zuccheroso family- Mamma Z. was baptized a few years ago, and then her daughter, Gloria was in March with Sorella Riffaldi. When I got here, we met with her at least 2 a week .......then she turned 18 and disappeared with school starting back up, etc. WELL. Glorias 18 and has an older brother who isnt completely all there; we have tried meeting with him but Mamma and Gloria discourage us, saying that its not the right time. Anyways, the reason Im writing all this is because Gloria, Mamma, and brother are EXACTLY ALIKE. When I say, exactly, I mean exactly. Sense of humor. laugh, giggle, snort, LOOKS (yes, ones male, but they still look really similar) and just about everything else. Whenever we call, the Papa answers the phone and he sounds exactly like the rest of them so it was Sorella Riffaldis and my goal to meet him.

A few weeks ago, we had a plate of leftover cake and we thought of how we could pass by before turning in for the night, and so we called the Zuccherosos and the Papa answered and said that no one was home, and just as he was about the click and end the convo, I said "We have a plate of cake and we want to bring it by" and he paused and thought, and Im sure his stomach growled, and then he consented to having us stop by.
Sorella Askew and I were SOO excited at finally getting the chance to meet him. We race-walked to their apartment and we buzzed and he clicked it open and we hopped onto the elevator to go up to the 8th floor....and then, I realized that I had to record this historic moment for Sorella Riffaldi seeing that she wasnt there, and so I took out my camera and starteda video and kept my hand down at my side, hoping my aim was good enough to record the Papa. The door opened and I nearly died with eagerness, and then......Fabbio opened up. I started at him in shock for a second, and then I asked if Papa was home and he said he wasnt. Fabbio (the brother) has been the one to answer the phone the whole time, and we thought it was the father! I cant describe how my heart sorrowed within me as the realization hit. 5 months of wanting to meet this Papa Zuccheroso and I had to accept the bleak fact that I may not ever get to meet him- I handed over the cake (this time a little grudgingly, haha) and then.......said goodnight and left. Back in the elevator I watched the video, thinking to myself "at least I got a video of Fabbio so I can tell stories about them back at home" but as I watched the 2 minute video, to my horror, I realized that my aim was TERRIBLE and for 2 whole minutes of video, I recorded his stomach and his lower 2 double chins. Wail!

I hope you understand a little of how painful that was BUT one of the many tender mercies I recieve was fulfilling my goal - we randomly passed by last week (random visits arent peoples favorite, I dont know why we keep doing them) and guess who opened the door?!?!?!?!?!!? Papa Zuccheroso!!! But we had to verify with mamma Z. because he doesnt look, talk, or act like the rest of them! How does that work?! He actually seems normal, and that he really, very possibly, could be a police officer as the rest of the family claims him to be. WOW.

One of my english students, Patrizia, is an immigrant from up North somewhere (Poland? Is Poland North of Italy?) and she isnt very normal, but she is super talkative. (shes the one who told me, infront of the class and Sorella Riffaldi, that she didnt like S. Riffaldi and didnt care to even learn her name). When she comes to class, the lesson ends up being just her talking about her health problems. For the sake of the rest of the students, Im releives when she doesnt come to class, but when its just us 2, its good talking to her and realizing how differently minds work. About a month ago, she fell while she was walking down the stairs from English class, and she sat down and seemed fine when her son came to pick her up.
Gina, the wonderful, young Romanian woman we teach before english classes (who, by the way, is reading the book of mormon and praying and just needs to decide to come to church!) went to Patrizias house one day to clean for her and Patrizia told her to stay away from us because we are soul-robbers. Gina told us this last week, and just laughed about it. Ah! It is a little funny, but how said! Patrizia took her falling down the stairs as a sign that she needs to stay away from us. She thinks it sucks away her integrity and virtue to come to English class when she has no interest in joining the church, and that we set some sort of curse on people who dont get baptized. :( Thats Patrizia. The one who I recorded reciting a poem she wrote for me because she loved me, (or she used to!) ...I wish I could call Patrizia and just talk to her. I miss her.

La famiglia Duran is a member family who lives right down our hill- mamma Duran is inactive and has been for a really long time because she works on Sundays. We go to their house for dinner about once a week, and a few days ago, I made Mexican Chef Salad for them and they loved it. So much in fact, that they insisted on keeping the leftover tacos (a whole box) and thousand island ;) haha. I love them. My list for people I need to have Lenora meet next summer is growing, but theyre first on my Roma 2 list. We told Mamma Duran that we want to start seeing just her and she agreed to it and so we will start seeing her regularly on Saturdays- they need to be ready for when the Temple is done in a couple of years. She easily could get work off on Sundays or swap shifts with someone, she just lacks the courage or the desire to do so, and we are going to crank up our efforts in helping them prepare to recieve the blessings in the Temple.
We have continued to do door-to-door in the Fidene area (near our house) and we have a few return appts with some families. They probably dont know it, but we are planning on returning. When they use "Nows not a good time" I think they mean to say theyre not interested, but we can play dumb Americans who just take it to mean, "Ok, when is good for us to come by?" They sound flustered for a minute and then tell us to come back another evening, and thats when we ask "What time?" hehe.
While doing house the other night, we met a man in the stairwell that is athiest and has seen Elders before, but after talking for a minute, he told us to come by and meet his family because "Sorelle missionaries are better" -Those were his words, not ours!
So that is where we are going tonight, to go find Mario and his little Italian family ;)
In my planner of things I wanted to include I wrote "...ram...". Im not sure what that means and I just wrote it last night! OH! Its "rain". My handwriting is seriously getting worse by the transfer. Rain...what to write about the rain?
Other than its raining alot and Ive only broken 2 umbrellas (its the wind thats too strong!) and.......its a wonderful thing to come home and be wet and chilled and to shake off our wet layers and huddle around the space heater for a minute and then start putting on all our dry layers while we talk about the day and laugh. I love it. Im really going to miss it. Jeri wrote me that shed give anything to relive even the worst day of her mission. Ah- I know what she means and Im still a missionary. Its true that dogs are a missionarys worst nightmare (prob not the worst, but close). We ring doorbells and the microphone will come on and theyll ask who it is and we cant talk over the yapping and barking. The flashlight comes most in handy walking down the fidene street at night - someone could fertilize a ranch with the amount of dog droppings\ piles we play hopscotch avoiding.
WIth it being the month of Thanksgiving, Im trying even more to be more aware of how blessed I am for the life Ive lived so far, for my family, friends, experiences, people Im meeting everyday and learning from, etc. So many things to be grateful for! Even annoying dogs- it makes me appreciate silence all the more.

Grazie for your prayers, love, support, smiles, rain you send this way, etc.
Oh, some of you asked what I did for Halloween. We spent it waiting for a bus that ended up coming so late that by the time we found the members apartment, we had to turn around and head back to make it home in time. We did see a few trick or treaters, though.

Buona settimana!

Sorella Urban

wise tip: always keep an umbrella handy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the end of october?

Its the end of October. Lenoras leggings have become a part of my body. This keyboard is super weird, and there is Turkish music thats making my brain go all fuzzy. Turks may have good doner (kebab) but they definitely could use some help in the music department. The mosquitoes have become daddy-long legs. Sorella Askews reaction with a mosquito; If we are on a train or a bus, she will start blowing at it, squealing, and moving around. OR she will point to it and say "do you see it? DO YOU SEE IT?!" and..... all I can say is that its a really effective way in catching peoples attention. She cant kill them, so I sometimes drag myself off the chair and try to kill it- the sooner its gone the better for my sake, although I think everyone else gets pretty amused at watching S Askew dance around.
If we are at home, and Sorella Askew sees a window slightly open, shell wail and quickly bang it shut. THEN, when she sees anything in motion, shell call my attention to it and follow it with her beady eye until either I kill it, or till it disappears since I didnt get up to kill it.
Yesterdays theme was taking spiders out- Sorella Askew spots them as she lays in bed and then announces that theres a spider, which really translates to "Sorella Urban, youre needed in here to take this out!" so Ill go in with the mop and brush it off the ceiling and take it outside while she squeals and hops around, "I cant watch, I cant watch! SORELLA,...youre over my bed! Dont drop it!"
Dad- the tshirts you sent....are awesome. One question- is there a message youre sending me in giving me gigantic sizes? You always have, but seeing that its a touchy subject now, I was just wondering ;) Ah. The advantages are having extra blubber for the cold winter, and 2) not having to eat breakfast. Take last night for example. We went to a member family (the mother is inactive because she works) and we ate a Bolivian dish- beef, hot dog, tomatoes, and french fries all mixed together in a bowl with drippings. Add mayo and ketchup on top and - dinner! The amounts is what gets us. Plus, who eats such a heavy dinner that late right before going to bed?! EVERYONE DOES! Its crazy. Sorella Askew and I moaned and groaned up till when we got into bed. It was Maites birthday so we had birthday cake ontop of that. I wish it were just a matter of telling people "No thanks, Im full" but its just not that simple. I hear stories and people tell us of missionaries theyre upset with because they "didnt like what I fed them because they wouldnt eat a second helping". ah?

Va be. As long as I still fit into my two skirts, I really cant complain. Oh, thats other news I wanted to share- Sorella Askew hadnt noticed until I pointed out to her that I just wear two different skirts. She had noticed that I wear alot of gray, but she didnt realize that the gray is the same skirt. ha ;) So that made me happy. If my companion doesnt notice that I only have 2 skirts, then others wont notice, right?

On a train to Prima Porta, Sorella Askew started talking to a young woman from Seychelles (an Island off of India) and Jane said that she moved to Italy to.....drumroll please.... go to church.
Who moves to a country to go to church?
Apparently, Jane does.
SO. We are meeting with her at the church after doing email this morning.

(Theres an Indian man behind me in a telephone booth and ....its making me think of Tommy imitating our dentist in Kazakhstan. ah!)

The Turkish music got killed thanks to another Italian man who couldnt take it either.

The worm cheese has taken care of itself. It is still outside, and one morning while I was getting ready I thought, "how is it there are so many birds in our yard?" I peeked out and the worm cheese had made a giant bird feeder. Sorella Askew saw something scamper away so its not just feeding the birds. Im glad we can help feed the environment ;)

How is it that my emails are mostly about everything except the work?! I dont want you thinking that its because its lacking. No no. Yolanda is as wonderful as she ever has been- we meet with her on Saturdays and she agreed to meet with us yesterday for "just a little bit" and we made it in and out in 20 minutes. WOO HOO! We really want believe to see that having us over doesnt mean losing the entire day. We can do short lessons, as they should be, so that they dont feel exhausted and annoyed by the time we walk out. We invited her to be baptized and she choose the 23rd of Nov to pray about, and yesterday she told us that shed prayed and feels good about it but doesnt want a date because she wants to be sure of this step. We are so happy that she recognizes the importance and significance of baptism. Im so excited to continue working with her and watching her take the steps of faith and recieving personal revelation.

On Sunday night, we were able to watch the ground breaking video. It was so neat to sit among all the members and sit in awe as we looked at images of the Temple and listend to the Prophet. Pres Monson delayed his Sunday flight because he wanted to come to church, (he would have come to Roma 2!!!) but his doctor advised him not to so he stayed at the hotel and rested and then took off. I have to say, it was really tempting to peek at the ceremony. We were doing house in the Fidene area (where our apartment is) and if wed walked up to the top floor and looked out, Im pretty sure wed have been able to see the group gathered on the grounds. How wonderful it is to be in this area, within walking distance of the temple! Sorella Askew and I feel really strongly that there are people, an Italian family, waiting for the gospel in Fidene. We have been doing alot of house, and we have been invited in just once so far. They were an old couple who had us sit in their kitchen as they argued about the Catholic religion, while we taught about the Restoration in between their comments............Im not sure if we are going back.

We are working more and more with the members and its great to see that many of them are excited and willing to help us in teaching our investigators and them giving us referrals. YAY! I wish Id been better at helping the missionaries in Kaz and Armenia. Members really make the difference in missionary work.

Va bene. I think we.... are headed home because the plumber man is coming at some point to replace the tank AND hopefully he will look at our light fixture, which we cant figure out how it unscrews to replace the light bulb. We have an ancient ladder, but neither of us has the guts to go up to the top step :) Our house may be falling apart, but its still lovely and wonderful to have. Oh! Yesterday, as we were walking home, it started to rain again and so I whipped out our rainbow umbrella and for a stretch we started running to catch a bus, and suddenly it became alot harder to run, and I looked up and the umbrella had broken and was working more as a parachute. It was hilarious. I can only imagine what we must look like to others.

oK...off to go get Jane to come to the one and only church!

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Urban

Friday, October 22, 2010

ive had 40 pdays and still havent found enough time to write letters

What a day! The Assistants and district leaders invited us to join them for a pday of sight seeing, so we left the apartment in the wee hours of the morning (at 8, but thats still early for a missionary!) and we went to St. Peters and waited in the piazza till the Pope came out in his little popsmobile and drove around the crowd and then spoke to us. What did he say? No clue. The second he came out and we got a picture of him, we headed out. Anz Hansen was the only one who could see him over the crowd; he is 6 "8, so we all handed him our cameras and he was in charge of snapping the pictures.

Then, we went around the corner to the Sistine Chapel. Last time I went was with Amber and Lenora a few years ago, so I was hoping that it wouldnt be as bad as I had remembered it, but it was. Its just such a long tour! So while the other missionaries were oohing and aahing at the pics and statues, I amused myself with looking at people and eavesdropping into conversations. Let me tell you- you can hear alot of interesting things like that! When we finally walked out of there, I felt less guilty because everyone else was exhausted. Yay for me. But I still may be the only one who lacks appreciation for art and history.

I saw the Acersons tonight!!! They flew in for the week to attend the ground-breaking of the Temple on Saturday. It was so good to see them, but they looked so....Americanized! Pres. Acerson was wearing flip flops- scandalous!

An embarassing moment of the week: we were at a members house (a single woman from the Philippines, the one who introduced us to Nelson) and we asked her what she was in need to hearing, and she said that she had lots of problems, so the first thing we did was ask her if she was paying her tithing. Its incredible how connected problems are with tithing- Ive seen time and time again, members who struggle and then it comes out that theyre not paying tithing. I think its in 3 Nephi 24...? that talks about tithing. Pay your tithing! The promise is true.
Where was I going iwth this? Oh! Well, for some reason we were talking about Beth being nosy (we have a good relationship with her) and I said something like her being an impicciona cicciona.... and Beth gripped her love handles and said I was right. Ah! I realized what Id said and wanted to die. Back in Kazakhstan, we had a neighbor who would come into the house and go through our fridge, so we got into the habit of calling her that (impicciona means nosy and cicciona means chubby) and it slipped out of my mouth from old habit. ahghhhaghahghag.

We took a trip down south! Sorella Askews permesso di soggiorno (which allows her to stay legally) was ready so we hopped onto a train on Monday afternoon and returned late last night (Tuesday). It was a quick trip and to the point- we arrived late on Mon night and had just enough time to make it to the Sorelles apartment. On Tuesday morning we went to the questura and it was ........closed till 3! What?! Id called BEFOREHAND to avoid this happening and theyd assured me that itd be open. While I was on the phone with the Elders, Sorella Askew went up the guards and sweetly apologized and asked them if anything could be done because our train was at 2. Ha. I guess Sorelle missionaries are charming to some (or at least Sorella Askew is) because they let us in and gave her the permesso! I cant believe how quickly it got done. And I waited in the questura up in Florence of 6 hours!. Im not complaining though. It really was a miracle that we didnt have to stay another day and spend today on a train.
We spent a few hours trudging throught the torrential rain in Toronto. It was wonderful to see the ocean- itd be a cute city to serve in, but ...Im guessing they eat lots of seafood.
On our way back, the ticket checker pointed out that our return ticket (which an office couple had bought with the church credit card the day before) was dated wrong and so it was invalid. Once again, I think charm kicked in and they told us we were good till Naples, but then we had to get off and buy an extension. So that is what we did- it was tempting to stay in Naples for an hour and go get the famous pizza everyone dies over, but we were wet and tired so we just hopped back onto the train and came home. It was a fun trip, but being home is best. I never thought Id see the south- its so neat! and SOOO different from Rome.

This morning in the metro station I got caught between some flapping doors and my watch broke ;( Id finally started to wear it again and poof. E morto. Thats why we have cell phones, right? They provide everything. Except an umbrella ;)

Oh! So I have this Gerber, a handy man tool that I carry everywhere with me, and today while we were going to go see the Pope, I realized that we would have to pass security. SOOO, me being as clever as I am, we walked down the tourist shops and ducked into one where a Chinese woman worked, and I explained that we wanted to see the Pope but I had a tool gadget that wasnt allowed. You should have seen her face. She looked like I was asking her to hide stolen items. PLUS, being an immigrant, I can understand how she was leary about the whole thing. Two American girls coming in and handing her a knife and asking her to babysit it. Ha, even as I write it it sounds too good. BUT, with the aid of the missionary tags, she said she could trust us to return and get it (implying that it probably was stolen) and we, of course, did. She was happy to see us ;)

We have hot water again! Our toilet still doesnt work, but that is what buckets are for ;)
Lenora, thank you for your coat. Im still slightly tramautized from how cold I was in Florence, so I wear it in and out of the apt, even when its not that cold. Its just comforting to know its something I have for when it does get cold :) Thank you.

Pres. Monson is arriving on Friday and it sounds like things are pretty busy at the temple site, getting it all prepared for the 500 people wholl be there on Saturday. 500? Why cant missionaries from the zone go? Itd just be 12 added souls. Well, even if we cant go, Im happy that we get to watch the whole thing on Sunday and get to see a picture of what the Temple will look like. Its so incredible. Sorella Askew and I feel very strongly that small little experience this week have pointed us to feel that Fidene (the zone we live in) is where we need to do our finding work. We have had alot more success knocking doors that either of us are used to. Success as in, people actually let us in to the door to hear what we are all about. We even got some return appts for this week! Sorella Askew and I are praying to find, teach, and baptize an Italian family this transfer :) I know that with the construction of the Temple, the mission, especially the Rome zone, is going to be seeing even more miracles. Ah! What an incredible thing to have a Temple being built here!!!!!

It has been a lot easier than I thought to have Sorella Riffaldi leave. I miss her, and Im grateful for all the experiences we shared. I know she is continuing to bless the lives of many, many people. She is serving in the same district with Anziano Larsen. THAT makes me jealous.

Well. There really is so much more to say. I wish I had time to share all the experiences I am having! I guess the thing thats stuck out to me these past few weeks working with the members is the importance of paying tithing. I am trying to faithfully record all this done so that one day, if I ever (heaven forbid) find myself questioning, Ill remember back to Beth and her incredible step of faith in choosing to put her trust in Heavenly Father.

Have a wonderful week. Thank you for all the letters and prayers coming my way- I appreciate them very much, even if Im not very faithful in responding.

Sorella Urban