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Sorella Urban is not longer in Italy...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

leaning tower of pisa

Yup. Thats where we decided to go today for our Pday outing- to the leaning tower of Pisa. Somehow we were able to worm our way into Presidents heart and he gave us permission, and on we went. Its SOOO much smaller than I imagined it to be.....and then we went around and looked at ridiculous postcards and then took the hour train ride back and now we are here...emailing about our week...but I cant really think of anything to write.

I sort of want Tommy to fwd me his mission emails- what did he write in his? I feel a little guilty that this is the one connection I have with the outside world and that this is your window into my life, and I fail at painting a proper pic of it, every week.

Things here have warmed up- Florence is the hottest and coldest city in the mission; we spent just a few hours under the sun as we were admiring the tower, and its incredible how draining it is to be out in the sun! I know we will get used to it over time since we havent been exposed to this much at once.

Laurent has cancelled his baptismal date. He came to church on sunday for his baptismal interview and he decided he didnt like the idea of being tied down by a date, and there are still things he wants to sort out. Last Wednesday, Lenora and Andrew were in town and we got to meet up with them and spend most of Wed morning and night with them- it wasnt what I was expecting; I thought it would be slightly strange to be around Lenora, as a missionary, in Florence, but it was actually stranger to see her in the MTC. We all had "dinner" with Laurent, and I am so happy that they got a chance to meet someone I am working with. Laurent is such a good person. I just wish I could bring the font to him. We have the feeling that he will just randomly call us up one day and tell us he is ready, and thats what he later said he would do, so we are continuing to see him every few days, and just praying that we can help him have spiritual experiences to help him along in the conversion process.

Victor, a man who lives with a family that we are working with, has been working with the Elders and he cancelled HIS baptismal date for June 5th, so we joined forces and we are working on teaching the family as a whole, even though its almost impossible to find them all home at the same time. Its true that there is opposition in all things- I find that the better things are going, the more obstacles we face and the more the adversary works against us. The key is just to work even harder :)

Sorella Nelson had her first Russian meal with me at Lyudas on Thursday- Lyuda brought out the Kvas (gross gross GROSS russian soda) and she poured us cups and as Slla Nelson reached for hers, I gripped her leg from under the table, to warn her, and she started giggling and I, who was in the middle of teaching about Joseph Smith, started giggling and we just fed off eachother and Lyuda joined in and ....Im not sure why she laughed, but we were laughing bc of how awful the Kvas was and how funny it was that we had to drink cup after cup of it, but Lyuda joined in and we all had a really random good laugh during the second lesson, and then we stopped laughing and resumed teaching. The strangest and most random thing. (side note: Slla Nelson managed to drink it without coughing and spluttering). What we DID get out of that visit was a can of sardines under oil from Ukraine. We placed it on our desk and looked lovingly at it every day till Mon finally arrived, and then we stowed it away in my bag and whisked it off to DDM- a meeting with the District Leaders, the 2 Anziani who work in Florence 2 with us. Slla Nelson, who was in charge of treat bucket, pulled out the can, a loaf of bread and butter, and we instructed them to butter a slice of bread. I started taking pictures because they had the most curious expression on their faces, and then we had Anz Coombs open up the can and Anz Neilsen gave a gasp and plugged his nose. It was a pretty bonding experience- I never thought I would ever be capable of eating a mini fish whole, mini bones and all, not to mention TAIL, but we all ate up and had a good fishy snack, THEN we pulled out the real treat, apple crisp, and washed down the remaining fishy taste.

The mission office called me this morning to let me know that my permesso di soggiorno is ready for pickup. Slla Nelson still doesnt have hers and she is almost ready to go home- I really am being blessed with little miracles every day. Oh. Lenora brought me lots of clothes and I am bewildered even at myself to confess that I actually prefer Jody dresses! They are light and I dont have to wear layers, and I think Ill mainly wear them during the hot summer months, much to the disappointment of the other sisters. (They dont think its fashionable or cute, and I have to agree with them, BUT.)

One of the miracles of this week was that we not only taught a record number of 10 LESSONS! but that half of them, 5 of them, were with members present!!!

I am seeing more and more of Dad in me with each day. The other day, I pulled out a map of Firenze that we count on, and I started patching it up with pieces of tape in hopes to make it last a little longer. I ended up laminating the entire thing with tape, and then I thought of Dad and his collection of laminated maps. I am half tempted to send him our map once I get transferred out of Firenze, so that he can add it to his collection :)

I consider myself so lucky to be here. All the other missionaries have no idea when they will be able to ever return and visit the people they have helped, and I know that I can see them basically whenever I make it to Italy, which hopefully wont be too many years inbetween. I am making lots and lots of friends here and establishing relationships that will last into the life after. I have the best companion. We actually get along too well. Maybe I shouldnt say the following, but I will to demonstrate how its like: we end each nightly planning session with a prayer, and both of us looked at eachother and rather than kneeling onto the freezing marble floor (which is by the way, h-a-r-d. Marble is incredibly hard!) we both, as if having discussed it, climbed up onto our wood desks. During president interviews yesterday, Pres Acerson asked Slla Nelson by what she meant when she said that we are having a lot of fun together. She put it something like "well, most wouldnt laugh if they were soaking wet and freezing and then someone just called to cancel the appt they were headed to, right? we do. We just take every situation and circumstance and laught about it."

And its true. Its such a blessing to be serving with someone who has a postive attitude. Getting along with your companion makes all the difference. Communication is so so very imporant, and as we find ourselves being asked for counsel and advise to save marriages, etc., the only thing we can really stress to them is how important the Gospel is. If Christ is at the center, theres no going wrong. That doesnt mean there wont be problems, but no problem will be unresolvable. (am I making sense?)

Thats that. Buona settimana, and I hope we all look for opportunities to serve others- we really have no idea what our neighbor is going through. Who knows, they might just be praying for someone to smile at them or reach out a helping hand.

Sorella Urban

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is it sinful to be having this much fun?

Before I forget, Dad- the camera charger works! Sorella Nelson took it upon herself to figure it all out and it charged all night and I have a lovely, functioning camera that took uh.... 2 pics today. Ill work on taking more pics :)

Lenora and Andrew are in town! While we were teaching English last night, Lenora called and was lost, so I gave directions to whoever lent them the phone, and they managed to find me on a street corner. We dragged over the 2 suitcases they brought for me over to our apartment thats close to the church, and then we took off in a hurry to take L and A back to their hotel and make it back to our house before too late.

Seeing that today is our preparation day, we went this morning to their hotel and mapped out their plans for the day, and we started out by taking them to Ponte Vecchio and then to Santa Croce Church. Sorella Nelson and I were a little flustered because they jokingly asked us why we were so hesitant about getting around (I asked directions every block) ........ we thought theyd understand that we arent here in Firenze as tourists! Getting around to the sites is just as new to us as it is to them; we talk to people all day, not admire statues!

It started to pour just as their first tour started; we left them and went back to our apt to change and grab an umbrella and now we are here at the net cafe for a moment more before we are headed to go meet up with Lenora and Andrew at the Statue of David, where we will head over to meet Laurent. He is taking us to the cooking school restaurant where he is studying at, and there, over dinner, we will teach him the law of chastity :) I am so excited for Lenora to meet Laurent- He and his family are the ones I would try to come see everytime I make it back to Italy.

This week has been amazing like all the others. On Sunday, as I was preparing for church, I was thinking about Katheryn. We thought that we couldnt set a baptismal date for her because she needs to come to church at least 3 times, and her works doesnt permit it. Then the thought came into my mind that we need to show our faith, and THEN the Lord steps in and performs miracles. So, we taught her the planned lesson and then we whipped out a calendar and invited her to be baptized. She seemed a little taken aback, but she had a huge smile on her face at the same time. She is getting her documents on June 7th (which will allow her to find a new job) AND she has to find a sponsor to help her find a job, so we gave her 3 weeks from June 7th to allow her to come to church 3 times, and so her baptismal date is July 3rd and shell be confirmed on July 4th. It WILL take a miracle for it to work, but Ether 12:6 :)

On Tuesday night, we got a phonecall informing us that I had to be in Rome on Thursday for "3 month conference" (really, my 1 1/2 month conference) so I packed up and took off for Rome with Sorella Naslund. Im guessing they had me come early because by the time my 3 month mark rolls around, the Missions will have changed. I spent all day Thursday and most of Friday at the Mission Presidents home there in Rome, and it was really fun passing all the familiar stops on the train. "And this is where Mom and I come to shop.........and THIS is where we get off to go here, and here...." So strange at the same time :) Termini brought back memories of Amber and I running to make trains, and Carla and I :) Ah. I have had the best life so far.
Over one of the meals, President made a comment about me remaining in Florence over July, and winked.....so Im taking that as my final closure to my fate of being bumped up into the North Mission. Yay :) He came for Zone Conference a few days ago, and his last talk was about attitute and how we should accept whatever we are asked to do. He was lovingly reprimanding us- apparently, there have been pleas to not be sent to Milan.
I am excited for whatever comes my way, be it Rome, be it Milan. There is so much work to do wherever I go. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has allowed me to be a part of this great work and to witness the change in peoples lives when they accept Christ as their Savior.

I love and appreciate Sorella Nelson. Its true that every companion is very different, and Ive only had 2! We are helping eachother be better missionaries.
The past 24 hours have been so humbling. When Lenora arrived with 2 suitcases, and while I was unpacking and putting stuff away, it just hit me how much Im being looked after. I arrived with nothing but the clothes on my back, and now I have more clothes than most of the Sorelle. I almost would ask Lenora to take back the stuff- I really find myself overwhelmed with more than 2 options for outfits! Last night as I was trying to fall asleep, I was thinking of all the things that have happened to make this all work out. How detailed Heavenly Fathers plan is for each of us- HE knew that Lenora would be coming to Italy, and that it would be possible for her to bring stuff for me. If I had gone to Milan, she wouldnt have made it up to there. My passport was returned to me, which allowed me to remain in the country. Ah! How wonderful it all is! And although I would almost feel more comfortable going back to the way it was, I am grateful for all the things people pitched in to send and provide for me. I was like a child on Chritmas morning- I even have body splash! How did I go from wondering if I could get my hands on a toothbrush, to having this much stuff! Its great but Im also fearing of becoming prideful. The past month and a half have been incredible, even in pink puffed-sleeves jody dresses. I will almost miss the dress :)

on Saturday, we went to Arezzo to teach a part member family. It was raining and we got lost at one point, so Sorella Nelsons hanging onto my arm and we huddle into a doorway to call the family and ask directions. The mother instructs us to stay where we were and that Wilman, the father, would come get us. I dont know WHY that would give us the idea that he was coming in his car, but it did, so we scrutinized each car that came our way .... but no Wilman......... about 15 minutes later, (still huddled under the umbrella) Sorella Nelson pointed out a man on a bike and said something about him being Wilman. We got a good laugh and then..... .... Wilman pulled up, on his BIKE. Before I could even get a greeting out, I burst out laughing and Sorella Nelson didnt help. He was so funny to look at - on his bike, in the rain, trying to hold a lopsided umbrella over his head. It was just funny, especially since we were set on him arriving in his car. We ended up being next to his house, so he just rode his bike and beckoned for us to follow. So much fun. Sorella Nelson even got a picture. AND THEN, we went to the station later that night, and a man was talking on his phone, BUT he was using his LEFT arm to hold it to his RIGHT ear, but his arm wasnt across his chest and over, it was raised up over his head and down. The strangest and most uncomfortable position. It was picture worthy too.

I added in my weekly letter to the President the sentence thats in the subject box. It really is a joy to work with Sorella Nelson, even though I feel like strangling her at times because we usually laugh at inappropriate times, like when Anziano Reschke accidentally buzzed his hair in the front (a LARGE chunk was bald) and he gave a training to us all. How are you supposed to keep a straight face and take someone seriously who is half bald? I tried to block the image of a mother rat attacking his head to build a nest out of my mind, but it wasnt easy with Sorella Nelson buried into my shoulder, snickering. Sorella Nelson dies the transfer after this one, so I am hoping that I will get to keep her till she does go.

I love being a missionary. I hope I dont say it too annoyingly often, but I can never say it enough. The days are weeks and the weeks are days, but time is sadly ticking by and I dont want it to. Does anyone have any connection to someone who would allow me to extend my mission for another 13 years, and then we can discuss my options? :)

Sorella Urban

Friday, May 14, 2010


No, I will not talk about mosquitoes, seeing thats basically what I always talk about, and I only have a split second before we need to run off to an appt with Laurent (!)

I love Sorella Nelson and hope we spend her last two transers together.

Tomorrow, I am going to Rome for conference and ........ thats about all thats going on.

We are working towards 2 more baptisms. The work goes on and it is such a blessing to be a part of it.

I love you all and hope that you are all happy and safe

Sorella Urban

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Transfer 2

Buon Giorno!!!!!

So. Yesterday night President Acerson FINALLY decided to call us and let us know what our fate was- Sorella Hughes guessed right- my new companion will be Sorella Nelson, from Seattle, WA too. She is serving in Sardegna now and will catch a boat tonight to Rome and will arrive in Florence tomorrow evening. So I am excited for the many adventures that lay ahead :) She dies in 2 transfers, so my guess is that we will be together for 2 transfers, and she will die in the Milan Mission. Tommy, I am happy to hear how excited you are, but its not 100% that I will be in the Milan Mission :) Its just about 99.9% sure.

I asked President, and he said that I can call whichever day, as long as it doesnt interfere with other things, so I am thinking that since you wont be home all day on Sunday Mom, that I will either try calling Sat or Monday, and keep trying until you pick up..... Dad, I am not sure when youll be in the office, so I think I will try the same thing, and if its not a good time to talk, (I have an hour) then we can work something out for when I can call back.

This week has improved with the mosquitoes- I have spent a few nights in the kitchen, bent over the kitchen table with a pillow and trying to get some sleep that way, but the Sorella lent us some mosquito repellent thing that has worked wonders and I have moved out of the kitchen. Sorella Hughes has been living in a cloud the past week, and hasnt been sleeping well. She leaves tomorrow morning, and last night she packed and got her things together and it was just strange for all of us. I almost feel like I am at the end of my mission- its been good seeing her go throught this though, because its making me want to work everyday like it is my last, because time does go by quickly and before I know it, itll be my turn to pack my bags. I am trying to make every moment count.

Today, cinqo di mayo (I forgot how to spell or say it!) marks the day MARGARITA IS GETTING BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I made carrot cake, banana bread, and zucchini bread to take tonight- this is such a special day for us all. In a few hours, we are going to Laurents home to see his whole family. Last week, he invited us to where he is taking a cooking course, and today he will cook for us and we will provide an American dessert. He is making so much progress, despite how hard it is for him to accept the Atonement. How wonderful it is that we can be forgiven of our sins, and that we dont have to carry that burden on our shoulders because He has done it for us. It is painful to see him not fully realize how to utilize the Atonement, and to continually suffer for his past wrongs. I hope I can always take full advantage of what He has done for me; I am realizing more than ever now how good it is to have memory. He forgets our sins when we repent, but He allows us to remember them so that we can learn from them, not to carry the guilt.

The work goes on. There is so much to do, and we are slowly chipping away at all the potential there is. I am so grateful for His continual guidance and blessings.
Have a wonderful week. Remember His Sacrifice and make it intimately personal.
Joshua 1:9 and Mark 5:36 :)

Sorella Urban