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Sorella Urban is not longer in Italy...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In connection with Roma 2

Yes, it is true Grandpa, I am in Rome. :)

Sorella Riffaldi and I make a great companionship. We really balance eachother out well- once again, I am new to the area, to the work, to the people, but she has been very patient with repeating the same facts over and over and over again. I still havent met half the people we are working with, but I have taught more Italians this past week than I have in my past 2 transfers combined. PLUS I am struggling to remember all the different places the stranieri come from- Africa is not just Africa, but Sierra Leone, Eithiopia, Eritrea, etc, ...and South America is made up of too many countries! Its great fun. Especially trying to recognize the food thats placed before us.
(Well.........I hope my letter is interesting to read, seeing that I have lots of eyes reading over my shoulder. Maybe I should switch to Italian and talk about privacy and respect?)

Coming down from Florence, I travelled with a few Elders that were dying (their missions were ending that day) and it was interesting hearing their experiences and just seeing how they behaved. One Elder had this glaze over his eyes, like in a stupor that it had come to an end. Its been a blessing having companions that have been at the end- it puts time into perspective for me; its given me a sense of urgency.

Now, Im working alongside another verdina (greenie) and although we only have 3 transfers between us and may not be the most experienced, its good this way. Sorella Riffaldi doesnt have any mindsets yet, and I hope I can help it stay like that. Rather than be skeptical when I suggest inviting a certain someone to be baptized, she likes the idea and we work towards accomplishing it. Like I wrote President the other day, I expect this to be an amazing transfer full of miracles.
I was wrong in thinking that wed be able to teach more appts in Rome bc investigators wouldnt have much distance between them- sometimes we travel for 2 hours to get somewhere.
On Thursday and Friday I teach 2 different English classes, and one is in a city far far away, at a refugee camp. I do miss Firenze, and the best that I can do is to keep Laurent in my prayers and to put my trust in Heavenly Father and the missionaries to contine the work I left............Its hard to leave a city!
Its been a little weird being so close to family. On Sunday at church, several came up to me and asked me if I was "la figlia di Emma" and so now I am now known as Emmas daughter, not Slla Urban. I also saw Lynette again, one of Moms ex companions, and she showed me a pic of when she and Mom met up the day before, which was neat. Later today, we are going to downtown Rome, and Im going to take Slla Riffaldi to the pasticceria where we would always go with Lenora and Carla. Maybe, in passing, we could stop to see Zio :) Last night we were up near Terni, too! (Terni is where Moms branch is).............and when there are transfers, we all meet at Termini and different Elders intoduced themselves to me and added "I know your mom and Nonna!". Its fun, and continues to amaze me that I didnt stay up North. I am in the same district as Anz Herrick, who is Anz Andersons (MTC) cousin, so since I cant serve with my Anzi, I get to serve with extended family. I am happy :)

I really dont have much to say about the work- I am still trying to sort out in my mind the different people and their stories..........I know itll take me awhile, but I hope it doesnt take as long as it did in Firenze :)

Our apartment is amazing. Amazing. Every time I walk in I still ooh and aaah. Its white. Its clean. Its on the first floor near a train station (Fidene... close to Fara Sabina, where Carla and I got lost one night), and the neatest thing is that we sleep with blankets! Firenze was intolerable hot and stuffy, and our apt is so cool and fresh. I have a nice kitchen to bake in, and we even have a small yard! If it were earlier in the year, Id plant some herbs and maybe a tomato plant or two.... I havent even seen a cockroach!

My new thing this week is to eat carrots without peeling them. I dont know why I peeled them before! Just a wash and voila, good to go! I suggest trying it out sometime.

When I was packing up for the transfer, I was debating whether to take some macaroni and cheese that mom had sent me, and I decided to because maybe Slla R hadnt ever tried it, so I took it and while I was unpacking, she showed an extreme case of curiousity towards it, and she asked me to make it for lunch the next day. I did, and in my defense, I warned her that it was nothing like pasta, and that it was something that is joked about how missionaries in the U.S. live off of mac and cheese, etc. She describes the meal as a form of torture. It was really funny watching her, and we got some pics. She doesnt understand how mac and cheese stays in business, and shes amazed that the work to make mac and cheese is more than the work to make a good but simple plate of pasta.
She begged me to make banana bread bc shes heard good things about it, so I did and at least she was happy with that. I am coming up with a list of things she has to try (Mom, Slla Riffaldi has basically finished off the PB you sent. DONT send anymore- for her healths sake). Would anyone have a recipe for a cheese cake? An investigator wants it and slla riffaldi does too........

So much to write but I dont know what! I laugh remembering the types of letters written by some of my friends when they were missionaries, and I dont think my letters come close to how theirs were. I apologize- my thoughts are scattered and will be for a couple more weeks, but know that I am well and happy. I adore Slla Riffaldi and hope that we will get the chance to serve more than just one transfer together. Maybe even if its somewhere down the line, like on the Island or in Sicily :) Rome 2 meets in the same building as where the Mission Office is, so while we were there the other day, I got Slla Burt, who works in the office, to change my releasal date to July 1st. Slla Riffaldi and I will be there at the Villa to welcome the new mission president and his wife, and Ill get that date pushed to August :)

I love being here! I love being a missionary! Sometimes when the alarm goes off, I wonder how Ill be able to get through the day and teach effectively in all the appts that we have, but the second I get on my knees and start reflecting on all the things I am blessed with, I am reminded of how much help I am entitled to, and that wiith the power and authority given with my calling, I really can find the strength to go on. Thank you for your examples and support- often appts are cancelled on us or we get yelled at, but Slla Riffaldi and I dont let it get to us. We know why we are here and what we are doing. That is one thing I love about her- we try to see the adventure and the positive in everything. The other day, ALL of our appointments fell through, so we started going thru the area book and called us some former investigators. One woman answered and before giving her the chance to hang up on me after having introduced myself, I said "I just made some American desert and I cant eat it all myself. Can we come over and drop some off?" and she agreed to it!!!!!!!
The meeting with her went well, and then on our way home, we decided to pass to see if we could find a family near our house. Neither of us had ever been and we werent sure what the address was, and as we were searching among the names on the citofoni (the little buzzers outside of the apartments), there was a man who smiled at us and he turned out to be the Dad of who we were looking for! We ended up having dinner with them and sharing a message, and we are going to go back this week. Miracle after miracle. So wonderful to see what the Lord is willing to bless us with as long as we put forth the effort. In Florence, it was an amazing week if we taught 10 lessons. Slla Riffaldi has been able to teach 20 lessons one week (which is part of the standards of excellence) and we are going to hit it. We are going to do everything that we can to do it, even if it means not having much of a pday. We are so excited for all the work that is ahead of us. We are even helping some quit smoking- I have so much admiration for them. It is not easy, but it can be done, and I am learning and drawing strength from the self discipline and faith that they show by making the steps to make necessary changes in their lives.

And now, I will draw this to an end. There is an argument brewing here, so we are headed out :)

Vi voglio bene e buona settimana a tutti!

Sorella Urban

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

transfer 3......Heavenly Father DOES have a sense of humor

Maybe writing this email will send me back into shock, but I will do my best at keeping it from making my palms sweat and my legs shake.
Yesterday, while we were at an appt with Lyuda, the Russian woman who did indeed send us off with another bottle of Kvas (Russian rootbeer), our phone kept vibrating with incoming calls. When we stepped out, we had 7 missed calls - from the Mission President, the Zone leaders, and the District Leaders. Sorella Nelson called Pres Acerson back, and her face fell progressively till their were tears in her eyes, and then she thanked him and passed me the phone. I knew from her reaction that we were being split up, so Im holding back tears as President greets me and asks "So, youre liking Florence, arent you? Thats great- now youre heading to Rome 2 to train Sorella Riffaldi and youll be senior companion. Ciao".

Thats that. Have a nice week,
Sorella Urban.

ba. Kidding. Not really. What a shocker. Im not going to the Milan Mission, and he had even hinted at it so many times! Im sorry that I wont be seeing my Anziani, or that I wont be serving where everyone in the familys served......... At least Sara is the other black sheep :) I am going to Rome 2, where the Mission Office is and the new Mission President and his wife will be, the assistants, Sorella Riffaldi, and now ......me. WOW. Sorella Riffaldi is from up North, and she went to the Madrid MTC for 3 weeks.

I can see this as an answer to my prayers- she doesnt speak a lick of English so this will be awesome to speak Italian 24/7, I know my way around Rome a little, and itll be neat being the ones working with the Mission President and the office the closest. Im not really sure what the Lord has in mind for me, but how good it is to rest assured that he knows better than I do, and that all these experiences will be for my good, as hard or incredible as they may seem. There are so many Sorelle who are much more qualified than I am and have been out so much longer than I have, but this is what He needs right now, and Im happy to do it (with a little bit of freaking out calmly behind the scene). We came home to start packing after Lyudas, and for a good half hour, we sat on the floor and mumbled incoherently to ourselves till we could function somewhat. Me....training?! Ay ay ay.
Sorella Nelson will be getting Sorella Naslund, the one I was in the MTC with for a few weeks (from Sweden)...and they will be moving into the Elders apartment because their companionship is being closed. Anz Nielsen is going home, and Anz Coombs is headed to Siena....so thats leaving Slla Nelson to be district leader :)

Im GOING TO ROME. AHHH! It really still hasnt sunk in. I was SO sure that I was going to Milan! (That I would remain in Florence for at least another 3 months and then make my way up, but now.... I might get to serve on the Island, and even in Sicily or Malta!)

You know you hear those stories of people finding "their person" as a missionary? I feel like the person I came to Firenze for was Laurent. During district conference last Sunday, we were watching a broadcast live from SLC, and he kept shifting and huffing. It was like watching a suspense/horror movie- not knowing what was about to happen or what the actions means. At the conclusion of the talks, I turned to him and said "Can you be at church tonight at 5:30?" He said "Why, for my baptism? I see youve made up my mind for me, Ok, Ill be there" And he WAS!!! We raced back to Florence and got the font going and called some people to invite them to the baptism. It was beautiful. Several companionships of missionaries came with invesitagtors, and Slla Nelson and I both gave brief talks and then Anz Nielsen baptized Laurent. Now, he just needs to be confirmed, which he said has to wait a few weeks till he can get his family to come see it. Agh! I wont be able to rest happily in my grave till Laurent completes his baptism by being confirmed! Its wonderful reading the scriptures and being able to relate so well to the experiences of Alma and of the sons of Mosiah; how great the joy is of bringing but one soul to Christ, but how much even greater to bring more souls, etc. Its so true. Theres so much to get done, so many people who are waiting to hear the message of the gospel. So Laurent is no longer an eternal investigator = )
I am going to miss Slla Nelson- I have enjoyed my transfer with her immensely and thats probably why we are being split- Ive become to comfortable. There are many areas where I could stretch myself more and work harder, and Im grateful that He is giving me this chance to prove myself and to help me reach my potential. I know its going to be hard. I know I dont have much experience and I still ask reduntant questions about the techniqalities (sp?!) of how to keep an area book, etc, BUT itll all be good. If anything, President will just be a few feet away to ask whatever my heart desires!

Itll help thinking of Sorella Riffaldi as mom on her mission, and Im playing the part of one of her American companions. I trust that this will be a great experience for us both, and there is much to learn from eachother.

I do have more to say about the week, but this is where its going to end. I appreciate all your prayers (turn them up a notch!) and hope you all know that I love my Savior and know fuori dubbio that He lives and HE knows whats going on, and the thing to do is to trust Him. It makes things a whole lot easier when we let Him take charge of things.

(Seeing the whole of Rome will be in my Zone, Ill get to go to Ottaviano and help Slla Riffaldi discover the delights of cornetti ripieni with white nutella!...and maybe...we might pass at Cornelia to see Zio! Haha...just kidding ...... :) Mom- dont camp out at Termini around noon tomorrow :)

Sorella Urban

OH, THE BEST PART!!! Presidente De Feo will be my stake president- AGHHHHAH!! Maybe I can offer to take his briefcase again?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

transfer 3 around the corner!

Why is it so hard to come up with things to write in my weekly email? Maybe its because too much happens that it seems impossible to even make a dent or put into words all the things that have happened this week.

I guess I should start off with the one and only thing that I want most right now- Laurent to get wet. Alot of you have asked how his baptism went- it went nowhere. We went to his house every day to read the scriptures with him, and he had the biggest grin on his face every one of our appointments with him. On Saturday morning, as we were rushing about, getting ready for the busy day ahead of us (going to the church and filling the font and making his program) the District Leaders called us and asked if we had seen the text from Laurent. We hung up on them and read it, and it said that his mom apparently hadnt understood his intentions with the Mormon church and that she was against it, and he ended it with saying he was confused. I immediately called him and he sounded the opposite of the bubbling man he had been all week. I told him we were headed over and to pray in the meantime.

We went over, and I asked the DLs to come and give him a blessing. (He has never accepted a blessing becuase he feels that he isnt in "communion" with the Father, but he accepted the idea because he really felt lost.) On our way over, I honestly felt sick. I kept trying to surpress my fears- I had the faith that things would work out and that Heavenly Father was mindful of his situation, but I lacked the faith that Laurent would make the right choice. ;(. It takes a little more than an hour to get to his house, and we sat in silence for the first part of it, and then the phone rang. It was Katheryn, the wonderful Peruvian young woman who we meet with every Sunday and who has a baptismal date for the 3rd of July. She said "Ive been meaning to call you for a while, but Im just getting around to it now. Im sorry, but I cant meet with you anymore". She didnt really clarify why she couldnt meet with us, and I guess I was too numb with shock to question. She mentioned something about her schedule just being too hectic.....
The worst thing about it is that it sounded like she was smiling on the other end. That is not the Katheryn I know. Katheryn would not have been happy to no longer be able to meet with us. She said shed get in touch when she could see us if that day ever came, and then hung up. I guess Sorella Nelson guessed from my expression, because she moved to sit next to me and hugged me while I cried for a few minutes into her shoulder. I dont know why Katheryn cant meet with us. Ive tried calling her several times, and she has always been good at returning calls, but she hasnt returned one since that phonecall. We are determined to keep in touch with her even though we cant meet with her in person anymore.

Somehow I managed to compose myself the entire time we were at Laurents- we went over and sat in a park while his kids played, and we talked............then we went over to his house and he recieved a blessing and he decided he couldnt be baptized without his moms consent. We were all disappointed and sad, but Anziano Neilsen said something in the blessing that helped me focus. He prayed that we would always remember to accept the Lords timing. Im not very good at it, and its something I am determined to get better at, as hard as it is. We left Laurents house with slightly heavy hearts, making a list of all the people we had to call to cancel the baptism, and as we were walking towards the station, a vendor woman called out to us "Mormons! I used to be one!" and so we stopped at her table, hoping to help her out, but she dominated the conversation and told us how shed been baptized in 2002 and suddenly she lost her intelligence, ringing started in her ears, and the back of her neck started hurting. "You have aliens in your church, or you are all aliens. Leave me alone" was the moral of her story. Not the best thing for all of us hear in our present condition, but it really made me reflect on the knowledge that I have been blessed with. I really wouldnt be a very happy person if I thought that I was possessed by an alien :S

Sorella Nelson came home and laid on our beds and made painful phonecalls ...... and we just needed to get it all out so we cried and fell asleep while reading the scriptures together for language study.
For the past couple of weeks, I dont know whats been causing it, but I have had swollen ankles and achy knees. Every night Ive been going to bed with packs of frozen peas, and when I woke up from that nap, I stood up and walked to the kitchen and it hit me that I wasnt in pain. I looked down and my ankles were still the wrong size, but the pain was gone! We left the house and I didnt have to take the elevator- Im still not back to normal, but Ive definitely been healed. I know Heavenly Father was especially mindful of us on Saturday, and to relieve some of my "burden" he took away some of my pain. I havent had to use icepacks since that nap on Saturday. It really is incredible how mindful He is of each of us, and the small miracles and tender mercies that he plugs into our day to help us get through.

The moment we got Laurents text, we started a fast for him and for his moms heart to be touched, and guess what? Laurent came to church on Sunday, and he pulled me aside after sacrament meeting and I could just tell he was in pain. He said he felt like he had taken a step backward, and that he should have taken our advice and not put off baptism. The entire sacrament meeting hed been thinking to himself "Right now I could have had my confirmation" and it tore his heart. He was really upset with himself but resolved to not put off speaking to his mom. The way he said it "Theres nothing in this church that she can be against. Nothing. Its not like Mormons murder eachother, right? Who knows- I dont know whats behind that door down there (points to the kitchen)... maybe 10 people go in and only 8 people come out, but I highly doubt that happens in this Church with all the things youve been teaching me"...
SO. He hadnt planned on talking to his mom over the phone, but he went home and called her up on Monday, and he basically blurted out all his thoughts and how he felt about getting baptized, etc, and she said "Youre right. I dont know what they stand for, so I dont have anything against them. You have my consent". Laurent was stupified it was as easy as that, but thats what the Lord does when we show that we trust that He will work things out!

Laurent is against setting a baptismal date, so we are just waiting for him to randomly call us up and give us the signal to fill the font. My selfish side wants it to happen in the next 6 days- who knows if Ill be able to serve in Florence for another transfer. I would love it, though. There is so much work to do, and I am so attached to the people here. We are also working more with the Duarte family, from Brazil. Really long story short, Sorella Nelson and I are focusing on their family because they so desperatey need it. We would like to be working with 5 less active families like most companionships aim to do, but their family really is taking the time and effort of 5 combined. Their family and the things that go on in that family has helped me always keep fresh in my mind how grateful I am for my own family and that I never was abused or harmed in any form.

A funny moment that could have turned awkward: yesterday we were teaching Laurent and Vittorine, his wife, and we were reading 1 N 12 together, and he asked me to expound on something... I was explaining who Nefi was (Nephi)? and how the Nephites came from him and the Lamanites from Laman and Lemuel, and how they turned their hearts against God and therefore were cursed with dark skin to set them apart ...etc, AND while I was getting to that part, it hit me that I was talking to uh...black people,...and Slla Nelson later told me that shed been silently freaking out bc she thought Id say something and itd all go bad, but thankfully I thought things out in such a way that I said "They WERE doing the wrong things and got dark skin, BUT now as long as we all do the right thing, we are all happy" and quickly moved the conversation onto something else. Phew, close call!

With it being so hot inside and so beautiful out, we have moved nightly planning to our balcony, and we sit on a wood chest that slowly gets more and more cracked.......oops.....but while we were congratulating eachother for the wonderful idea of watching the sunset and being in such a beautiful setting, Slla Nelson suddenly loses her voice and opens and shuts her mouth without sound, so I turned to see what was causing her brain damage, and there is an apt building across from ours, and there was a stark naked (except for speedos, but thats basically nothing anyways) on the balcony. As I was about to burst out laughing, another naked man (again, with speedos) joined him. As if that werent enough, they commenced to scratch themselves ... like monkeys... and fold laundry. (Once I saw a Gorilla in the Denver Zoo fold laundry too!) BUT the best part was that, behind them, in walked a Mom figure and a sister!!! Wow. What a close knit family. That is what we want our families to become, but not THAT close.

Another funny moment that happened this week. Wait, it wasnt funny. It was one of those moments that is followed closely by the thought "I will never speak to a Church leader again" but unfortunately, that thought never sticks long enough to save me from a next embarassing moment.
This past Sunday, an unfamiliar face was sitting on the stand, and I didnt catch who he was when they introduced him, but Slla Nelson whispered to me that he was from the 70. During the testimonies, I watched him and came to the conclusion that he spoke Italian, because he would laugh at the right moments, etc, and no one was translating for him. So, I thought he probably served in the Padova Mission decades ago.

As I was walking to Relief Society, I passed him (of course, unknowingly, otherwise I would have taken the long way around) and he stopped me and said in Italian "Sorella Urban, you speak very well" and I replied "So do you" and I was about to ask where he had served, when a member closeby burst out laughing at what I had just said, and he came up close to my face (which wasnt very hard, seeing that he is short and squat) and said "Sorella, it is generally expected for people to speak their native tongue well". AGH. I think I just gripped my face and ran off. Or I may have stayed around long enough for him to then laugh, (remember, this is still in my face) and for me to mumble that I had no idea who he was......I was trying to remember what the RM says when he tells the General Authority that there are just so many in the 70 nowadays that they should stick them on the fold out paper like they do for swimsuit magazines.......but I think he took pity on my quickly enough and let me go (after finding out that the member who had burst out laughin was his daughter, Simona, who I make a fool of myself infront of EVERY week. Yay.)

Another member approached me and told me that she had been in the Terni branch last week and had seen me and wondered why I was no longer a missionary AND had a husband. I guess Lenora did confuse alot of people :)

Well, in less than a week, Ill find out where Ill be next. Sorella Nelson and I have flat out told President that it would be a good idea to keep us together :)

Oh! While we were talking near the Duomo last week, someone stopped us and told us he was what is called a "junk mormon". I say "someone" because he is a man, but..... I think is confused with his orientation. Slla Nelson just said "I dont think hes confused. I think hes made a decision" ...bahha. I didnt know how to politely put it that hes gay, but there you have it. So, he gave us his number becuase he got a phonecall and had to leave, but he wants to meet up with us. Slla Nelson later was thinking outloud "So, if Douglas calls us and we meet up with him, would we have to take another member with us, or does he qualify as female?"

ay ay ay. This is the life. I would consider Saturday as my first hard day in the mission field, but its helped me learn and grow from what we experienced that day. Heavenly Father IS mindful of each of us, and His promise of not giving us more than we can bear is true. I love what I am doing, and I am grateful for the trust that He has in me to help carry out His work. Im getting out of it so much more than I am putting in.

Buona settimana,

Sorella Urban

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Miracle of May 29th


Its nothing new, but this week has flown by. We found out this morning that today is a holiday- so every Pday activity we had planned went down the drain, soooo I think we will head back to our apartment and maybe write a letter or two....? Or play with the persistent pigeon couple who are, once again, attempting to build a nest ONTOP of the water heater thats outside. Yesterday, the hot water never arrived while I was waiting to take a shower, so Slla Maera and I went out to investigate the water container (we think there might be a flame thats supposed to be on in the contraption) and so we pried open the metal cover and to her scream and my delight, there was an old nest in it! I think pigeons will always amaze me.

This week, I picked up my permesso di soggiorno, which always me to stay in Italy, which is a good thing :) I started the process and finished it in one months time- a record. AND the best part about it is that they didnt use the worst picture of me. (I have to say this: the entire time weve been here in the net cafe, Slla Nelson has been leaning in and making comments about someone smelling like a man in here, and then something about smelling a dirty diaper, etc, and THEN it hit her that it may be her because she didnt put deodorant on this morning! (she discovered an underarm rash yesterday morning, and has boycotted deo. Im not so sure how I feel about this- especially with the hot weather now. I might just have to get up in the middle of the night and tiptoe over to her bed and hunt out her armpits in the dark. Id laugh if, when we got up, I saw streaks of white stuff across her forehead. Id better not miss.

Well, now that Ive revealed her darkest secret and added her moms email to my recipient list, Ill get on with the week.

(Mom- are you working on my citizenship? Is there anything that I can do on my end?)

Besides the miracle of May 29th, which will be spoken of later bc desert comes after dinner, theres been lots of other small ones. Amber sent me a really long, thick letter that had no postage, and I recieved it! Ive heard delightful stories from other missionaries how they color a square in the corner where the stamp should go, and their mail gets sent to the right place. AND that you can send just about anything as long as it fits in the mouth opening of the post box; I sent mom something in a long cardboard tube, squished it in there, licked on a few stamps, and heard from Mom that it arrived- the miracle of Italian mail. Its one of those small, insignificant things that makes me happy.

Alright, Im going to tell you about the miracle of May 29th, because that date will now forever be a miracle day in my mind. As you all know, Laurents baptismal date was that day, but he ended up cancelling his baptism after his interview because he wanted some more time. Of course, I was disappointed, but its important to keep in mind that everyone has their free agency, and I can rest knowing that Im ok as long as I did my responsibility, which is lay it out for them and let them decide whether to accept it or not. Thats the hardest part the work- watching people reject it and so desperately wanting them to realize whats at stake. Seeing a couple decide to get a divorce and knowing that they could be so much happier if they just made room for Christ in their lives. Its hard, and its so sad to witness, but seeing others accept the Gospel and accepting the Atonement makes it worth all the disappointment and rejections. Laurent came to church this past Sunday, and, pulling me aside, he told me he had prayed the night before, with sincerity, and that he felt one after another of his burdens being lifted off his shoulders. He had an Enos experience- he spent quite some time on his knees, and he experienced the healing power of the Atonement. The way he described it was beautiful. He has always been a proud man, and now he recognizes that he really is nothing and that everything he has is traced back to Heavenly Father. He thew up his hands and said that he was ready for baptism, and wondered if we could just fill up the font right then and there :)

We are planning on having his baptism this Saturday, the 5th of June, because weve been praying to have a baptism that day. I am continually amazed at how detailed Heavenly Father is in everything He does. All this time, we have been praying and working towards having his baptism May 29th- and it turns out that although he wasnt baptized that day, that is the day that he accepted baptism and Jesus Crhist as his Savior. What a miracle. He wants a short and simple baptism, no refreshments, no nothing. Not even the ward to know, because "its something between me and Heavenly Father".SO. Maybe he will let me take a picture or two to send home :) I am so happy.
Laurent said that something Andrew had told him had helped him reach the point to get on his knees and pray with sincerity. Something to the effect of Laurent having kids of his own, and how, as a Father, he expects his children to obey him. Just like that, Laurent has that same relationship with his Father in Heaven, and He expects Laurent to be obbedient. Its as simple as that, and Andrew said in a few sentences what we have been teaching him since August. Thank you Andrew. Laurent also wanted me to thank you Mom, for being an example. Once, I told him that you had asked me to salutarlo, and that really touched him. One of his concerns is how young we are as missionaries, and who are we to teach him how to live his life when we havent experience half the things he has; he thought back to you, Mom, and he somehow related himself to you in the fact that you are older and yet, you live the Gospel, and thats helped him. So Grazie to you, too.

Last Sunday, we taught Katie, a 15 y.o. Chinese girl and her mom, Margaret, who is from Canada who moved to China after graduation from BYU, married a Chinese, and has lived in China since. Margaret intimidates me for various reasons (1 is that she is very opinionated and 2 is that she is very knowledgeable) so I usually ask simple questions to avoid possible arguments or difference of opinion. Sorella Nelson is also very blunt so they were talking and then, at some point, it got around back to China and how I used to live in Kaz, and Margaret paused and stared at me, and said "No wonder you talk like an expat". I asked her what that meant, and she said "The way you speak makes you sound intelligent." Her complimenting me almost blew me over, and somehow, her having said that makes her more human in my eyes, so she is less intimidating.... now that Ive seen that there are some warm, fuzzy feelings underneath all her armor.

Lenora, youll be happy to hear that it seems like the gap between my two front teeth seems to be getting wider. AGH. Maybe its my imagination that its getting worse, but its definitely there. Couldnt my teeth stay straight and if something had to go wrong, couldnt my feet shrink or something? :) I have a favor to ask of you- could you send me your black Jansport backpack? Im noticing visible differences now that Ive been carrying a bag on one shoulder, and a backpack would really help. Also, I dont mean to leave out apostrophes- this computer just doesnt have them. (Im saying this more for Grandmas peace of mind)

So Tommy and Dera are in Italy. Its cool having most of the family in one country now. Maybe I just wont return back to the U.S. afterwards- Ill just bounce back and forth from up North to down South and annoy you all. Which takes me to another point: Just a few more weeks of being in the Rome Mission!
Last night, as the 4 of us sisters were crowded into the kitchen preparing different things to eat, I brought up how lucky we were that we are surrounded by so much good food, and half my MTC branch is in Brazil eating beans and rice for every meal. (Per carita, I love beans and rice, but not for EVERY meal). I am so blessed in so many ways. Teaching families who are on the verge of breaking apart, couples divorcing, single adults who have no hope for a better future - all these experiences are so humbling and I am learning so much from them. In any other setting, I would feel out of place giving advice to married couples on how to save their marriage, etc, but the Gospel heals everyone in any situation. If Christ is at the center of everything we do, think, etc, then we can never go astray. Isnt that the best news? Its so comforting to know that!

Im so happy to be here. I am trying at being a little better every day, and to develop those things that will help me appreciate and utilize the Gospel to its fullest. There is always something to work on, something to be better at, and Im so grateful that He doesnt expect it to happen overnight. Just a little change at a time is what He wants to see- and He makes it all worth it.

Vi voglio bene,

Sorella Urban