The first two Emails from Sorella Nerina Urban in the MTC..
Salve tutti miei cari!
This week has flown by- how thankful I am that it was just the first week that felt so hectic. I had to SCHEDULE bathroom breaks. I wondered how missionaries managed to survive 9-12 weeks of it, but this second week has shown me that things DO slow down and I actually have time to breathe. I think it's just bc I've adjusted to the life routine of the MTC.
The highlight of the week: last night, in class, Brother Bulloch (one of my 2 teachers) came in and had the other Italian district join with us, and he announced that he had just recieved word that the Catania Mission is dissolving and will be absorbed by the Rome Mission. MEANING that Rome will lose Florence and Tuscany to Milan ( :( !!!)... and Rome will get all of Catania and Sicily- WOW! Huge mission boundaries- and there's the possibility of missionaries being reassigned according to need/number ratio- so maybe I will end up getting the chance to not only serve in Rome, but Milan and continue the family legacy! Ü We shall see. I really had mixed emotions- but I know that Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing, and everything is working this way because the work is moving forward.
I finally figured out that Sorella Naslund is serving in Rome, not Milan, so I am not the only Sorella going to Rome, but she is leaving a week from today with Sorella Lloyd (milan) and Anziano Snedaker (Rome).
I wrote that I was staying for 9 weeks- and the day after, Sorella Jones (who served in Ladispoli and loves the Squarcias), the boss of the Italian teachers, met with me and asked how I'd feel if I were to leave any day, given with what Pres Acerson felt the needs were. I felt fine with it, but she heard back from him and he said that if I were to go now, that I'd be in a 3some, which isn't the most ideal, so that I should go ahead and spend the entire 9 weeks here and enjoy the experience. And I am. I love my district. Although there are times when I feel like I'm with 4 primary kids, I am learning alot from their example and from their growing faith. It is the best feeling to kneel down in prayer with them and hear them make sentences- it was just yesterday that Anziano Gammel asked how to say 'no' in Italian. It's interesting that you can go a whole 2 weeks of learning a language without ever getting down the most basic words ;) I loved it.
I have so much I want to share but am constrained by time. So I'll try to cover the highlights- Next Tuesday, the other Italian district is leaving for Italy except for Sorella Pickett, who is leaving 10 of Feb for Catania (and she'll end up serving in the Rome Mission when the presidents change this coming summer). So, there's the chance I'll get to serve with her! I love the Sisters I am with, although Sorella Nasbund and Pickett are alot more laidback on arriving to class/appts on time than Sorella Lloyd and I are. BUT, we all balance eachother out well.
Last night, to celebrate the boundary changes (I was actually sad about losing Florence and Tuscany) we toddled over to the vending machines in our dorms and got icecream- in honor of Lenora, I got a TWIX one. We got a picture......speaking of pics, I didn't get to print any off last pday, so after this, we'll go over and do them and they should be ready on Friday, so next Tue I hope to send them off.
Sundays are my favorite- I spoke my 1st sunday and gave a prayer last Sunday, which is unheard of. More than half the missionaries don't even get a chance to peep during their time in the MTC bc there are SO many missionaries waiting for their visas to enter Brazil. Some have been here for 15 weeks. The sisters have made a pact to not shave their legs until their visas arrive- and uh.....yeah. A little nasty, but really funny. They look like Tommy legs (scusa, bello mio) and during P.E., they seem to run a little faster than usual so that Elders can't zero in on their legs and gasp with disgust.
We also take Temple walks on Sundays, actually, none of the sisters want to take the time to, so I go with the Elders, and we sit on a bench behind the temple and tell wonderful stories, ....and Anziano Deursch loves the walks because he catches up on eating snow.
I find it extremely disturbing that I am the only one who actually enjoys the food- what is wrong with it?! I don't know, and I just have to accept the fact that I may never find out. I guess that all of the missionaries grew up in McOmber families- where food is the center of life... that's the only reason I can come up with. MTC food is a leap of an upgrade from sandwiches (mom, I LOVED being raised on sandwiches), but this food it good. And I don't know why there are rumors about the food giving you gas- or maybe I've just been blessed in the whole 'food and gas' realm of things. I've also stayed healthy, while most of the italian district is suffering from colds and aches. hehehe.
Funny how I bought a diaper bag out of desperation, and was slightly embarassed. I am proud to announce that my diaper bag is now my pride and my job, not to mention the envy of the entire district. It's like Amber's car- I have everything in it, including my Gerber, which I strongly suggested to the Elders to write home and ask family to send them one. (I got a few strange looks, until I clarified that Gerber is not only baby food, but a handy tool).
What else? Shoots. Just a few minutes left.
I want to wrap things up with how much I am learning here, and how grateful I am to be here. I am gaining such a deeper understanding of EVERYTHING, especially of the restoration and the plan of salvation, since those are the lessons we've focused on so far. I love the TRC, and the RC, where we call people up and do real missionary work. I just can't wait to get out into the world and do the TRC in a real setting, talking to real people, and helping them with real situations and concerns. The devotionals are wonderful, and I am in the choir- the spirit is so strong and so present, all the time. It's been like being in the temple for 2 weeks, just a little noisier.
Before I forget, I want to thank you all for your letters. The pacakges are amazing. It's great going in for dinner and being passed some dear elders, and getting a pink slip to go pick up a package. Lenora, thanks for sending me the stuff. I'm going to send home a box with some clothes I dont think i'll use, and I'll write a real letter later today with some other questions and things I'd like for you to send if you can.
I love you all. I do feel your support and your prayers- it warms my heart that I can kneel down at night and thank Heavenly Father for my family and friends. Not every missionary has the support that I do, and I'm so thankful for it.
The church is true. God's plan of happiness has so much more to it than I could have imagined. He is all knowing, and even uses my weaknesses and down falls to bless the lives of others. I wish I could expound, but no time. Courage and faith!
Again, thanks for everything. dearelder.com is super- use it more! :)
I'm excited for new missionaries to arrive in 2 weeks- I'll get a bottom bunk so that I can stop waking up in the morning chilled bc I'm beneath the vent :) Pray for my district- that we can all be blessed with the gift of tongues. They are putting forth their best effort, and sometimes get unncessarily discouraged at what they feel is slow progress.
Vi voglio tanto tanto bene.
Ha settimana prossima!
Well, here's my first sign of life from the MTC! Today is my preparation day, I have 25 minutes left to write ... so here goes!
First, thank you for the letters and mail- I love them and am starting up a nice little stack on my nightstand. Mail really is one of the highlights of mission life, although the strange thing is.... I think I would be able to do really well without.
I will start with the basics: Once I was dropped off, (thank you Lenora, Amber, Mark and Andrew!) a host missionary, Sister Lee, took me up to my room and to the bookstore to grab my bag of books. I now understand what they meant by 15 lbs of material- I think it's more like 30. It's incredible! After some orientation, I met me district. I am the only Sister with 4 Elders. Elders Gammel, Anderson, Stoker, and Deursch. I was a little hesitant from the start because they seemed like kids, but within 24 hours, I began to notice a change in them and now I can't imagine being with a different district. They are such wonderful young men. I do wish I had a companion solely because I am becoming so attached to my district, that I will find it a little strange that I will be serving with a Sister at some point, not Elders Ü
The more advanced district that's been here for 7 weeks has 1 sister that is going to Catania, Sorella Pickett, and she is 'my companion'. We both have 'solo' stickers on our tags, and we meet up at the end of the day to go back to our dorms. She is competely byherself, but during class she sometimes joins in the with 3 other missionaries going to Italy- Sorella Lloyd (CA), Sorella Nasbund, from Stockholm, and Anziano Snedaker. The sister are going to Milan in a few weeks, and Snedaker is going to Rome. So of the 9 missionaries, one is going to Rome besides me, but my district never has class with them.
This is a little surprising still even to me, but I have decided, as of yesterday, to remain all 9 weeks. I have 2 teachers, Fratella Bulloch and Fratella Auna (Hawaiian with the greatest accent, and he served in Roma) and they met with the Mission Presidency and discussed me and gave me the choice. I really am happy with my choice of staying- I know that it's going to be long and sometimes it will feel a little monotonous sitting in class all day, but I did it because I love my district so much and the experience here at the MTC is not (how do you say? um...not able to be replicated). I am looking forward very much to Tuesday night devotionals!!! wow, it's today! haha, I just realized that!
Now a little about my district- Anziano Gammel is from Seattle, and he is short and pudgy and wonderful. I find the hardest thing to obey here is not hugging. I could give him hugs all day, and he almost gave me a hug the other night and we all burst out laughing when all the missionaries started going 'uh oh!'. He's a very huggy person as well. He is 21. His companion is Anz Anderson, and he is just as amazing. He is from Texas, and I get along with both of them extremely well. Anziano Stoker has been chosen to be our District Leader, and my first impression was that he has the furthest to come, but he is a good leader, despite the fact that he chews on pen lids ALL day ... most times, my motherly instincts kick in, and I point to the trashcan and he groans, rolls his eyes, and spits it out. I will not have my Elders taking bad habits to Italia ;) I refer to them as MY Elders....bc I feel like a mother to them. It's the first time they are out of the house, and they ask me so many questions about everything, and it's nice to be around for them. His comp is Anz Deursch, who is very self conscious about how short he is.... but the other day in the cafeteria, we spotted an Elder even shorter, and we all cheered and congratulated Deursch. He is now very happy ;)
They don't get along nearly as well, but they are both trying hard and putting in the effort, and I admire them alot.
My day starts at 6:15, shower, dress, breakfast in the cafeteria where I meet up with my district,....class....class.......more class. Lunch is at 11:30,....class...........dinner at 4:30............and class till 9:15. With some fun things sprinkled in, like TRC. Yesterday was our first time at the TRC, and for the first 15 min we had to speak ONLY in Italian, so I and anziani gammel and anderson walked into a room and met Fabio, and I kept my mouth shut almost the entire time bc they turn to me and count on me to speak, but THEY need the practice so it was just super awkward as they nervously laughed and ummed alot of words. They are doing so well though- I can't imagine having to learn a new lang at the rate they are. When our teachers arent with us, which is most of the time, I teach them vocab and we read scriptures to help with prounounciation, and they can now bear their testimonies and pray in Italian. It's like watching my chicks grow :) (is it sinful to refer to Elders like that?)
On Sunday, we knew that one of us would be chosen to give a 5 min talk in Italian, so sat night we spent writing down a few phrases about the book of mormon. Come sunday, and the branch pres stood up and said 'we will now hear from Sorella Urban' and everyone looked sorry for me but I stood up and told the story about moms conversion and bore my testimony about the book of mormon, and I didnt notice, but afterwards, my district told me that all the missionaries had their jaws brushing the ground bc they knew I came in on Wed, and they thought I spoke as well as I did after just 4 days. haha! Great! My Elders tell me I am quite popular in the cafeteria- I pass the food lines and whispers start up about how it IS possible to learn a language REALLY fast with the help of the spirit. I don't mind- it gives missionaries inspiration and hope, but I find it very funny that they have no idea I spoke Italian prior to entering.
MOm, I did bump into the Armenians- He left yesterday, and Jennifer is in the room beside me. They gave me some choc (needless to say, the Elders gobbled up) and a thing of mens perfume (needless to say, Elder Stoker has fun spraying it in the room and flooding us out, choking and gasping).
We are going to the temple soon, after we shower. We went on sunday and took a few pics, and I will drop my film off later today, get them developed, and send some out next week.
Will someone please send this email on to those I didn't get? Like fallon, tyrell, brett.... family, grandma,...tommy...yeah. Everyone.
The sisters I'm with are great- they do talk more than I'd like about music and the outside world, but I am learning from them what I don't wnat to do when I have my own companion. I will send this email off now bc I have 2 minutes and I dont want it to delete. Please use dearelder.com - it is great! my Dl delivers the letters everyday, and it's free, so try it out! It's great hearing from you all. I am so very happy I'm here. Gym time is wonderful too :) I am praying to do my very best, and to be 100% obedient. Even if it means writing letters ONLY on Tuesdays :)
I love you all so much. Being a missionary is the best thing I've done so far- I have to send this now :(. Ciao a tutti. Till next week :)