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Sorella Urban is not longer in Italy...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

;) sono cosi contenta!

I have a couple of questions before I start;

1) Does anyone else think I am the most blessed person alive?

2) Its almost too good to be true, but I know its true- life can always be this great, not just as a missionary!

3....... Why isnt Miranda writing me?

About transfers.......Sorella Riffaldi and I are staying together!!! The assistants told us- apparently, we were divided and reput together a million times, but finally it is final. We are staying together ;) I didnt realize the signifcance of it until I saw the tranfer board at the Mission Office yesterday- just in Rome 3, a sister thats been out for just 2 transfers is being joined by another sister that has been out for just a little longer than I have; she doesnt speak Italian very well, and neither does the greenie.....?!?!? We were shocked to see the companionships that this transfer will bring- we almost feel like its sinful for us to stay together, seeing the need for us to be divided.

We went to the mission home yesterday to pick up Sorella Tinoco- she just arrived from the MTC in Madrid and the rest of the group from the Provo MTC arrives tonight- and President pulled us aside and told us he hopes he never has to struggle again like he did over our compaionship. He had me assigned to train someone arriving tonight, and then at the last moment, he prayed again and stuck us back together. Ah! Wow. This means that there are definitely reasons why we are remaining together, and its added wood to our burning fire- we have so much to do!!!!!!!
(So this means Ill be in Rome 2 for not only the next transfer but the next one after that too, so keep the letters coming ;)... at least till Halloween ;)

Guess what happened Sunday night as we were sitting at our kitchen table planning for the coming week? This transfer, we have been working from the area book to pick up investigators who have lost interest, and we managed to contact and meet with maria, a wonderful 20 yo. who had been meeting missionaries for 5 years and even had a baptismal date last year. A really long story short, she quit investigating the church bc in order to be baptized, she had to live an honest life, and she lives a double life. She lives with her boyfriend at his families house, and her parents have no clue. They think shes attending University, when she actually watches and cares for Robertos mom (her bf). Her life is so double that she even has two phones- one to use as the "maria" her parents think she is, and the other as "Maria" Roberto knows. CRAZY.
Well, we met with them on Thursday, and they said they only had 15 min before they had to run off. We asked them if there was something specific they wanted to know, and Maria asked if we could talk about temple marriages, and he asked us if we could tell him what about our church set us apart from the others. Slla Riffladi offered an opening prayer, and as we were just about to start, he asked if he could interrupt us for a moment. He said "Theres something about you two thats different- you emanate a really good and positive feeling! What is it?" Ah!!! WE LOVE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS!!!! Its a really good intro to who the Spirito Santo is ;)
Ill just say that those 15 min were great, and while we were programming on Sunday night, Slla Riffaldi decided to call her to set up an appt- Maria answered " Ciao Sorelle! I was just thinking about you yesterday, and I want to be baptized........."
She had already told her parents and they arent against it, and she knows that she needs to be honest and tell her parents what shes been up to the past 2 years. Its scary and she is nervous, but she knows its the right thing and shes wanting to do it.
PLUS she wants to get married to Roberto in church and then get sealed in the Temple. How wonderful!!!!!! So. We were SOOO blown over with this news We have been praying to have 4 baptisms this transfer, and we have made it to 3, but I know Heavenly Father hears our prayers and provides if we put our efforts in harmony with His will.

We called up the Anziani and told them we had something to celebrate, and turned out that they did too, so they came to our door (they live 10 min up the street) and we ate muffins and brownies (Mom, Amber, and Lennie, thanks for the treats you send. All I ask is that you strap me to a treadmill when I get back bc I owe the extra pounds to you three) One thing Im learning as a missionary is that being creative can be fun but also not always have good results. I didnt have frosting, so I made something with ricotta, green food coloring, and to make it sweet, I added honey. Dont try it. But, the Anziani ate them. So, if you have Elders around, you can experiment. Otherwise, makedo without the frosting.

Sorella Nelson, my favorite blond companion, is headed home tomorrow. I think a little piece of my heart is leaving too, just knowing that she will not be in the same country as me. BUT, I have her promise that I will help organize her boat wedding, so I know that at some point, she will have to contact me ;) OH, and we also promised eachother to spend the rest of our lives together................so I guess that means including husbands...? or maybe just cats.

Last night, (seeing that we had Slla Tinoco with us and we wanted her to have a really good first missionary experience) we went to Carolina and Alessandras house (the ones we invited to baptism last month and they got freaked out and were too busy to see us for an entire month).......and I made mexican chef salad burritos. I know Im straying off the Urban path of tradition, but I suggest that we try it out sometime as a united Urban clan, and maybe we could adopt it.

Slla Riffaldi and I were at a park last week waiting for an appt, and we were staying into this huge lake that has tons of turltes and HUGE fish, and all of a sudden, something brown and big was surfacing. We had just enough time to gasp when it headed back down into the water. I cant describe it. It was part seal, snail, and turtle. We turned to eachother and asked "DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!?!" We had. And we have no proof. We have discovered a living, extinct dinosaur in the waters of Villa Ada. Im not sure if we are breaking a law by not reporting it.

Last Pday, we jumped on trampolines ;) It was only for 15 min, but boy, did we make some great videos!

The only sad thing about the week is the discovery that a few of our investigators (PROGRESSING investigators) dont live in our zone!!!!!!!! WHAT?! We have to give them to the Rome 1 zone.........sniffle. I dont want to give Nelson away. He is the sweetest Philippino man. I will call him to just ask how his day is going and to remind him to pray\read, and he will giggle (I know men dont "giggle" but Nelson does) and its like a song to my heart, so Ill start giggling, and then HE will giggle and that makes me laugh even harder, and it just goes on and on and he will ask me why Im laughing, and all I can tell him is that God loves him. Ha. Its hard to keep myself from saying that its actually me that loves him, but Im sure God does too, and as a Sorella, I guess its more appropriate to plug God in instead.

Unfortunately, Piedro, the miracle man from Piazza Sempione, hasnt been seen or heard since that miracle day.........

The Sommerfeldts are a senior couple who are returning home this week- they took us out for gelato to meet the girl who works at the gelateria. We managed to exchange numbers, AND get a tour of how gelato is made. Ive decided where I want to spend the rest of my life - in the gelato churner with the pistachio flavor.

Well. If thats where I want to be, I guess I have to end here and get going ;)
Grazie sempre for your prayers and support. I know, especially with having Slla Riffaldi as a companion (she is very accident prone) that there are angels watching over us ;) Im so grateful for the choice we have to look for the silver lining in every cloud- its a conscious, individual choice to be happy and see the bright and good side.

Buona settimana,

Sorella Urban

Thursday, July 22, 2010



This weeks been....hot. But, as I cheerfully remind Sorella Riffaldi as she wipes her forehead for the millionth time, its just going to get hotter in August!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes and packages- I really am way too spoiled. I recieved Moms packages a few days before the 16th, and then Lenoras and Ambers arrived on our birthday, and the candy was soon unwrapped and the pictures passed around. One of the miracles of the month is that Lenora wrote me a HAND-WRITTEN LETTER. Ive only read it maybe a couple dozen times, and Im still awed :) At this rate, she doesnt even have to worry about writing me a second letter, seeing that it wont have to be mailed! Grazie Lenora- I know it was a big sacrifice for you. Its all the more appreciated. As for the 200 otter pops that you bought of the wrong flavor, you can send them our way too.

For the 16th, we had lots of appts scheduled but most of them fell through........so Ill always remember it as the day it took us
2 1\2 hours to go to the Kruz family, when it usually takes just an hour. I love buses

Actually....you couldnt. Last week, we were teaching Gloria, a recent convert, about obedience and appartenly, she still hasnt been able to give up tea. So, we decided that we would all sacrifice something that would be hard for us. Gloria has given up tea for a month (we are hoping itll be longer than that), I have given up refined sugar, and Slla Riffaldi has to get up on time, at 6:30 am. Sorella Riffaldi has been enjoying my sugar fast bc it means all the more for her :)

The baptisms this week went so swell and Ill send a pic ...forse.

The news of this week is that the assitants and our district leaders are telling us that although President said that he thought that he would keep us together for next transfer since we work so well together, he has thought things over and rather than having one strong point, he thinks he will split us up to make two. Sorella Riffaldi would leave and Ill stay here in Roma 2. They also asked if I know of any rule in the handbook that says Zone Leaders have to be priesthood holders. They sure have a sense of humor.
Because we arent sure if this is our last week together or not, we are going to do something Slla Riffaldi has been wanting to do for pday- jump on a tramploline. We discovered an amazing park with turltes and fish, and they also have trampolines. So, I find myself today, in gouchos and tennis shoes, wishing that I were in a skirt. I do NOT like being dressed like this, especially with a tag! I think Ill somehow manage bc itll make Slla Riffaldi happy to go, and then when we return home I can change back into a skirt and breath a sigh of relief.

I got a letter from Laurent yesterday! He is preparing to recieve the Priesthood :) (imagine a million beaming, smiley faces)

Slla Riffladi has requested lots of mexican food this possibly "last" week together, so in exchange, she made us pasta carbonara yesterday for lunch. Id have to say that I would have cooked the eggs before and after adding it to the pasta- runny eggs has never been my favorite. (you cook bacon, add eggs, and then drain some pasta- add the egg mix to the pasta and supposedly the heat of the pasta cooks the egg. NOT TRUE. well, maybe slightly, but I dont recommend it. Unless, of course, you dont mind eating pasta through a straw).

I did see Carla, Zio, Sara ...and a few other family members at Camilas baptism :)

Since I have to go, I just wanted to recommend reading the talk by Pres Uchtdorf on Patience in the last conference.
Im sorry I didnt get to write a fraction of what I wanted to share- time really flies!

Buona settimana-
Sorella Urban

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What a week!!!!!

What an incredible week!!! I guess Ill start from when I last wrote:
On Wed, I made us Mexican chef salad, but we made burritos out of it and it was super good. I didnt make it as good as Dad does, but they were pretty good :) I am sorry that I am getting Slla Riffaldi hooked on American food, because she is going to be stuck once the mission is over and she has to return to pasta.
Thursday, the assistants had a baptism of Luciano and Marina, an Italian couple who are being evicted from their house at the end of the month, their car doesnt work, and they are both unemployed. They live in what could be called a shack. Theyve been coming to church for less than a month, and they were baptized on Thursday night and theyve been paying tithing since they heard about the commandment. What amazing faith. The Anziani and the Bishop were freeaking out bc they couldnt find any clothes that would be big enough to fit Luciano, but it all worked out beautifully when we wrapped him in a sheet :) They had to put chairs in the water, where he sat, and all he had to do was lean back till his stomach was completely under, and it worked! The moment Marina came out of the water she practically shouted "E cosi bello!!!" Its so beautiful! Everyone laughed. What a great spirit that was there that night.

The Bishop told us that Emiliano (a man who met the church a week ago- he looked up mormons online and then came to church and had to leave his house at 5:00 am to make it on time...etc) has decided to be baptized on the 24th!!!!!!!! Since Sandra was scheduled for that day, he asked us to bump it. We were a little nervous bc Sandra thought that the 24 was too early, so thinking about asking her to be baptized earlier got us a little nervous, but we talked to her and she said she had been thinking about it too, so we are having Sandras baptism this Saturday night!

Most of the day Thursday was Zone Conference, and the most amazing thing happened. I was blessed with the gift of tongues- From 10 to 4:00 pm I was translating all the trainings, and Ive never been able to keep up with the speaker, like in Relief Society. Usually, I listen and then translate and then catch onto the next sentence, but this time, I was able to translate without hesitating and it was a constant flow. Its not like I used words that I didnt know, but how easy and the fluency of it just amazed me. Heavenly Father knew Slla Riffaldi was in need of hearing all the great things we heard that day, and He helped me. The Zone Leaders, Anz Cardiff (Mom, the one that sings) and Anz Reyez spoke about families, that we are here to do two things 1) help people change and 2) seal families. They asked us to visualize a family that were waiting for us, and then a beautiful family of 5 sons walked in and they all shared their testimonies with us. Everyone was crying- I think I have permanent goosebumps. Slla Riffaldi and I have so much work to do, there is always room for imrpovement, there is always more that we can sacrifice to do the work better.

On Sat, we went to teach a Bolivian (?) family, Laura, the mother, is baptized, and she has a 9 year old and a 13 year old daughter. We taught about faith, repentance, baptisma, and enduring, and then we invited them to be baptized. Camilla, the 9 year old, stood up and asked if she could be baptized the next day! We all laughed and I love how excited she is- they go to Rome 1 even though they are in our boundaries, bc they have friends in that ward, so she is going to be baptized there this Sunday after sacrament meeting. We have permission to go for it; they have promised us that they wont start till we get there. Caroline, the 13 yo, doesnt want to, so we have some more work to do with her. Im sorry they arent getting baptized together, but I know Camillas enthusiasm is contagious and its just a matter of time. Carlos, the husband, is always at work but we managed to meet him while we were there. We hope that with the baptisms in the family, he will be able to find time to meet with us. He used to forbid Laura to pray, but now Laura told us that he has seen the good that the gospel brings, and now they pray together before going to bed. So amazing.

THEN, we have another baptism on Monday!!! We found out last night- Sharon, a girl from the Philippines. Her sister is a member, Peachy, and she is the one that is an instrumental tool in teaching Deacon (Vincent, the one who was 2 months from becoming a priest and then he cancelled it and is now taking the lessons and talking with Peachy about having an eternal marriage!). And we have a baptism on the 24th. So incredible.

The best part of the week is coming up:
Yesterday, we had an appt at 11:00 with Maddalena. She is a contact that the Elders passed onto us. She barely speaks any Italian, she is from South America. She hasnt shown up to appts 4 times in a row, and then the 5th time, we caught a glimpse of her and she started walking away bc she was late for work. We had to CHASE her down to set an appt with her for the coming week. That next week, we taught her part of the restoration. I say "part" bc she got a phonecall 10 mins into the lesson and stayed on the phone for 15 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!! The best part was that when she did get off the phone, she stood up and said she had to go! Ay ay ay..
Well. We met up with her yesterday in the park at Piazza Sempione, right next to the church and the mission home. Ok, the first miracle was that she was punctual. We sat down on a bench and started talking about how her week went, etc, and just as we said the opening prayer and were starting to talk about the plan of salvation (Maddalena was sitting at one end of the bench, Slla Riffaldi beside her, and then me), Slla Riffaldi and I were trying to teach in Spanish, and I looked off to one side bc I was trying to rack my brain for a word, when I saw a man staring intently at me. He was sitting on a bench about 10 mtrs away, and I dont know what happened; I dont even remember thinking about whether I should talk to him or not, bc I was in the middle of talking, but before I realized what was happening, Id raised my arm and waved him over. Slla Riffaldi turned and stared at me and asked what I was doing, and she tells me that I stood up and said "keep going with the lesson, Im going to talk to him" but I dont even remember saying that or walking over to him. But somehow, I found myself standing infront of him and he asked me what religion I was with, and I told him and I introduced myself and shook his hand and took a seat beside him.
He said he was Piedro, from El Salvador. He shared with me briefly that hes been in Italy for a few years and that he has a daughter here, and that he just got fired from his job as a gardener. Then, he told me that he knew that the Book of Mormon goes hand in hand with the Bible and that its the word of God, and that it was translated by a chosen prophet, Joseph Smith. If my jaw wasnt dragging, then it should have been. I dont think we even talked about how he knew this- Im not even sure what contact he has had with the church, but I taught him about the Restoration and then, seeing that Slla Riffaldi was deep in conversation with Maddalena still, I proceeded to teach him the plan of Salvation with primary images that I laid out on the ground. We talked for an hour and a half- it felt like less than 60 seconds. In the first few mins of talking to him, he said that hed come to the park to pray, to beg God to send some peace to his heart. He had been sitting there, praying and crying, when he looked over and saw us on the bench. He had to blink and look twice, becuase my "face had a light on it" and he pointed to the yellow of a painting on the pamphlet and said that it was like that color. I asked him if hed ever felt the Spirit, and he said that he doesnt think so, but that when he looked over, he felt something tell him to go talk to us. He fought the idea because he thought it would be inappropriate or taken wrong for a man to approach some women, so he just sat there, fighting the persistent voice telling him to get up and walk over to us.
I told him that when Id seen him, I didnt even have time to think- the Spirit had pushed me to go talk to him. I bore testimony that I knew that the fact that we had met this way was an answer to his prayers. I asked him if hed been sitting there if he hadnt lost his job. He said no, and thats when I told him that theres a reason why he is unemployed right now- Heavenly Father knew he needed to find the truth at this point in his life, and he made it so that he would find himself in a park, questioning about life and searching for some peace.
Piedro kept whispering "amen" as I spoke; I asked if he prayed and he said that he would like me to pray becuase he knows that God listens to my prayers. I told him that Heavenly Father is just as willing to listen to my prayers as he is his, and I helped him say a prayer and then I said one, and then he said one again, this time without my help.
Tears were streaming down the both of our faces as we prayed and shared our testimonies with eachother. Because he didnt have other impegni (appts?), I asked him if itd be alright for him to come to church with us to get a copy of the Book of Mormon in Spanish. He eagerly nodded and we walked over to where Slla Riffaldi and Maddalena were- Piedro introduced himself to Maddalena and told her a little bit about his life and what had just happened, and Slla Riffaldi started crying too. It was just beautiful hearing him share his experience of finding us, how hed felt the need to talk to us and how our faces seemed to shine as if lit.
We walked to church together and got him the book, and we showed him where we take the sacrament and the baptismal font. He is coming to find us at the park on Friday morning bc we have an appt with Maddalena that morning, and hes coming to the baptism of Sandra and to church on Sunday. When he left, Slla Riffaldi and I felt exhausted- what an incredible spiritual experience! We want to invite him to be baptized the next time we see him.
I know that its not just by chance that I am the one who spotted him. Piedro speaks English better than he does Italian, and I was able to respond to some of his questions that maybe Slla Riffaldi wouldnt have been able to. While I was speaking with Piedro, Slla Riffaldi shared with me that she had talked the entire time in Spanish- neither of us speak Spanish, but we get by.......and Slla Riffladi told me that shed used words that she doesnt even know. The moment the lesson was over and Slla Riffaldi was introduced to Piedro, she struggled to speak Spanish with him. The gift of tongues is real.

Jumping back in time-
On Thursday night on our way back home from the baptism, we were walking home from the end of the busline towards home (about a 20 min walk straight downhill; its fun walking TO the bus, straight uphill) and we bumped into Gloria, a recent convert. She was talking to a friend of hers, Mario. We asked Gloria if shed be at church on Sunday, and then we invited Mario to come too, so we exchanged numbers. On Sun morning, we called Gloria and she was still asleep in bed, but when we called Mario, he had just left the house and was on his way to meet up with us at the bus. He brought a friend, Pietro- they are both from Romania. Pietro is 26 and is here by himself and Mario is 19 and is here with his family- he wants us to meet them! Well, we rode the bus together and then the Elders took them to Priesthoood. When gospel principles was about to start, our cell started ringing and I saw that it was Mario calling- I answered, wondering if he was lost in the building or something, but he said that Pietro had left his cell and wallet on the bus and that they were headed back to find the bus we rode to ask the driver and track down his stuff. AH. We felt so bad. They even apologized for having left church!
During the lesson, I prayed "Heavenly Father, I know that I should pray "Thy will be done" but right now, Id really like it if they could find his walled and phone. If they dont find it, Im afraid theyll take this bad luck as a sign that going to the Mormon church isnt the thing they should be doing. Im asking for a miracle". I know I was probably out of my mind- a public bus, in Rome, .......a cell and wallet. Who would NOT take them?
Guess what? Mario called us about 10 min later that theyd found the bus, and that a passenger had turned the stuff into the driver, and the driver gave Pietro his phone and wallet back. NOTHING was missing from the wallet.
I know Heavenly Father listens to prayers. Even when we give Him advice :)

The other evening we had time for an appt, so we met with him and Pietro at the bus station, and they showed us a park that we thought was a run down area. Its a beautiful park with a pond that has turtles!!!!!!!! I thought Id died and gone to heaven. After I could get over the shock of discovering this amazing little world so close to home, (Slla Riffaldi and I are imagining scripture study near the bond, watching the sunset..........) we found a table and started talking about who Mormons are and we believe. Gloria shows up out of nowhere! We hadnt even invited her bc we thought she would be too much of a distraction, but having her turned out to not be that bad. Plus, we had a lesson in the presence of a member, which is our focus this week! While we were about to start talking about the First Vision, 3 young men from Bangladesh who know Mario came up and joined us at the table. One of them seemed the type to Bible bash; I summarized what we were talking about and he made a few comments that were meant to intimidate us, but Slla Riffaldi and I just bore our testimonies about the reality of a loving Father in Heaven and that he DOES have a son, Jesus Christ, who atoned for all our sins. I dont know much about Hinduism, but they told me that they only believe in a God, but now in Christ. Im so proud of Slla Riffaldi and how bold we are as a companionship- we did it in such a way that wasnt offensive, and we felt the Spirit in our presence, and they shut their mouths and sat and listened. I dont know how much we planted, bc they had to leave a little while later, but I think we left them with a good impression. Pietro asked us "If someone wanted to be baptized next week, what would they have to do?" We smiled and said that we had to make sure that we taught them all the lessons and there was stuff that had to be taught before that could happen, etc, and Pietro liked that we make sure that someone has a testimony before they are baptized. They live super closeby (they actually live next to the Elders, but we have their blessing to keep teaching Mario and Pietro bc we found them, we should enjoy the fruits of our success) :) So in that one lesson, we had a lesson in the presence of a member, we got a number (Pietros) and we have 2 new investigators!!

Tonight, we have an appt with Ive, a contact the Elders gave us. She is from the Dominican Republic :) Slla Riffaldi made a comment that basically sums up who we are working with "....they are either foreigners or crazy"........ :) Its true, but one day, we will see some success with Italians. The only Italians that seemed interested are the bus drivers...... this morning, after doing our spesa with our granny handcarts, we had to walk in the opposite direction of home for a few minutes bc one certain bus driver is intent on getting our house address. Viscido..........(creepy).

Its fun getting all sweaty and nasty- its all part of the experience. Sometimes, when we are lucky enough to pass by the house for lunch on our way to another appt, we peel off our wet clothes and change. Im sure that August will be even hotter, but Slla Riffaldi thinks that the heat is messing with my brain. She thinks that it cant get hotter. ha. Shes in for a surprise.

Well, thats what Sorella Urban and Sorella Riffaldi are up to....which includes visiting an old woman (I take that back, we thought she was 80 but she told us she is 58!!!!!!!!!) who gets upset with us whenever Slla Riffaldi tells her what I made her, like mexican chef salad, bc she wants us to bring her food too. Uh...its usually the member feeding the missionary, but ok :)

I love you all and thank you for your prayers and support. Its unbelievable that we were at Marvine last year- how has everything thats happened since then fit in just a 12 month period?! I read from Gramps journal that Dad is planning a trip towards the end of next July "bc he promised Nerina one last trip". One last trip? For who? Since when do things have to come to an end?! Well then, Ill just hike up by myself if no one else wants to continue on the tradition. Im eating pasta with sardines, I guess I could manage off of aluminum fish for a week on my own. (Oh, to honor Marvine, I made Slla Riffaldi an aluminum foil dinner) :)

Buona settimana!

Sorella Urban

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Miracle of the watermelon (and Laurent)

Sorella Nelson wrote that Laurent postponed his confirmation for 2 weeks because he wanted to wait till he felt worthy (youve just been baptized, how much cleaner can you get?!) but he finally took the step and did it. He is now an all-the-way-in member. I cant describe what a sense of relief and happiness it is knowing that its complete. Now, theres nowhere to go but forward, and I trust that is exactly what he will do. She also wrote that Lyuda, our Russian investigator who gave us Kvas (nasty Russian drink) has accepted to go to church!!!!!!!!!! And that their goal this transfer is to work towards Claudias baptism. It almost sounds too incredible, but with faith, prayers, and fasting, theres no limit to what Heavenly Father can accomplish through those who are obedient.

This past week has been incredible. We really didnt feel like we accomplished much; many appts were cancelled last minute and things just seemed to fall through left and right, but when we counted up for our weekly report to the Mission President, we were astounded. Although we didnt have any investigators in church (and we had planned on 7!) we did have an unexpected baptism and confirmation, Sandra set a baptismal date for July 24th!!! (she had wanted brother to baptize her in Peru this summer, but then thought of postponing it till she returned, and we asked why she couldnt do it before she left for Peru "bc youll need the companionship of the Holy Ghost while youre gone for the summer" and we proposed the 24th, in honor of Lenora and Andrews first anniversary :) ) We taught 17 lessons this week- I think Ive never taught more than 11. Its been a super week, and we are hoping to break 20 before the end of the transfer. We also have been incredibly blessed with finding new investigators!

Something we are working on is going through the Area Book and recontacting investigators who had been dropped or some reason or another, and we met with one lady from the book, Katerina, yesterday. We had gone to find her a few weeks ago but ended up in a gypsy camp, but yesterday we managed to meet in a park NEXT to the camp, not in the middle of it, and taught her about the Plan of Happiness. She had recieved all the lessons 5 years ago, and even had a baptismal date, and when we asked her why shed stopped seeing the missionaries, she said that they had dropped her (uh...I really dont see missionaries dropping someone, ESP someone with a baptismal date) BUT we will give her the benefit of the doubt and say..........that she stopped picking up phone calls (like the area book informs us). She fears e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. She spoke for the first 20 minutes about her health (in short, its astounding how people open up to us like a book) and gave us all the details of how menopause is killing her. HAHA. How...interesting. She lamented about the heat, and then when we heard thunder and made a comment of how nice itd be to have some rain to cool us down, she froze and said she was afraid of rain bc that too would kill her. Shes afraid of being in the house and afraid of leaving it- it made me think of how liberating and relieving the Gospel is. We focused on the Atonement, and now Christ suffered every single temptation, pain, mosquito bite, etc, of us all, so that we might not suffer. Why be afraid or scared, or hold onto the burden of your past? I find myself guilty of worrying about something that I really have no control over, like worrying about each investigator- what if they forget to pray? or especially when they have a bap date, the adversary turns his efforts up a few notches- what if they take bad luck as a sign that they shouldnt be baptized? I have some work to do myself. I need to make sure that I do all that I can and then turn it over to the Lord, trusting him to take care of it, and He will, in his own way and own timing.
Poor Katerina fears death. Im actually excited for chapter two, even though Id like to stay here a little longer to have a family and pester some people a few more years ... :)

Oh! About the subject line: We were blessed for working from the area book- we went to find an inactive family, and one of the daughters works at a grocery market up the hill from us. She told us to come find her and to buy watermelon there (we let it slip our addiction to watermelon) and so we went and she picked out a couple for us, weighed them, and when we were paying for them, we realized shed given us the employee discount- we paid less than 5 euro for 24 kilos of watermelon! So thats the miracle of the watermelon. We happily toted them home; all the old women here have handcart things with wheels to make shopping easier, and we have two of them- makes watermelon shopping easire, even if they make us fit the nun profile even better.

While at the Villa on Monday for interviews with President Kelly, I bumped into Davide Bressan! Apparently he is working with the church, moving things up from Catania. Ive also been asked to send Mom e Nonna saluti da Nonna Salsiccia (I laughed when she told me her name, salsiccia? It means sausage, and the funny thing is........she looks like one! In the best sense, of course)
Where was I? Oh yes, interviews. Pres Kelly had me go first and long story short, he asked if there was anything he should know before making next transfer decisions. In my mind flashed the images of Slla Riffaldi dumping a bucket of water on me, of us having mosquito-massacres and runnning around the house cheering, eating a whole watermelon between the two of us for lunch, (if walls could talk, ay ay ay. I am so glad Im not a fly on our wall, and i am so glad that flies dont gossip) and soooo many other things, but I just laughed and said "Nooooooooooo" and he said that he could tell we were not only companions, but we were friends, and that we work really well together, and asked if Id be ok staying another transfer. Would I be ok staying in Rome with slla R? Of course!!! Im not sure why Pres Acerson and Kelly tell me future plans, esp abt tranfers, but its nice being in the loop :)
So, as he said, unless he feels otherwise, we can expect to be together next transfer here, so that would mean we will be together until at least the middle of September. Yay.

This week, Ive really prayed and read up on developing charity for others, and its humorous how when you pray for something, Heavenly Father provides opportunities to test it. I think Im failing..... Yesterday, THREE men, one in the morning, afternoon, and evening, tried our patience and charity. Of all days, we were dressed very homely and had our hair tied back and hardly and makeup, and yet, 3 different times, we had to walk away from a situation. Sorella Kelly has told us that the mission rules for Sisters have changed- we can wear sandals and shorter skirts, but we both know that the men here dont need any encouragement. If anything, we are going to add material to our skirts. Mamma mia. Charity is something I know I will always have to work to develop.

July 4th- we taught 5 lessons!!!!!!!! At church, the members were giving me ?? well wishes? like "auguri!" and I was wondering to what they were referring to, and then I realized it was July 4th, so we celebrated by teaching 5. It was so great returning home after spending the whole day out and just feeling that the day was spent out doing good.

The Assistants are baptizing an Italian older couple tomorrow night!!

Louisa, a young Phillipino woman, is coming to talk to us here so I will send this off. She was "suicide days" as she calls them, and we are hoping to ...... help.

How grateful I am to be serving with such a wonderful companion. DC 17:3-5 and a quote I read this morning "Never does one man stand alone in carrying the burden of such a message and warning to the world.......thus leaving their hearers without excuse in the day of judgment should the testimony be rejected." And Ether 12:4. Read and be happy :)

As Pres Acerson always said,

Sempre avanti, non mai indietro!

Sorella Urban

Friday, July 2, 2010

On the edge of a new Presidency

How is it that every week when email time comes around, I find myself in this stupor? I promise myself that Ill go through my journal and write down experiences that I want to share, but I never have time to get around to it, and you have to suffer the consequences by reading a not-so-well-thought-through email.

This week has been wonderful. Although we have had a ot of people cancel appointments on us and everyone leaving for the beach, we continue to see the Lords hand in guiding us daily.

Last week, we sat ourselves down and discussed what we want our "Transfer Vision" to be, and we have made a goal of having 4 baptisms this transfer, and to have 2 baptismal dates. We still have not been able to reach the goal of having 20 lessons per week, but we continue to set it as our weekly goal. We are teaching a 15 y.o. girl, Carolina, and we decided to invite her to be baptized at our next appt, which was Friday. Her mom sometimes sits in during the lesson, and when the time came to ask her if she would be baptized, the thought came to mind to invite the mother too, even though she barely knows anyting about us. So we did, and they both agreed to pray about it- we called them the day after, and they both had prayed and felt tranquill and slept peacefully, but they said that they arent ready. I am happy that they didnt jump at the idea of baptism- it means there is work to do, and we are going to press forward till that no becomes a yes.

Francesca is a young woman whose husband is an active member, and she had cancelled a baptismal date because she felt pressured into it, and she decided to get baptized tomorrow night before the Acersons leave!!!

This morning we spent at the Villa (where the Mission President lives) collecting leaves and going through what is known as the "death closet". Its a room in the attic full of clothes that departing missionaries have left behind, and by the things we sorted today, the clothes date back a few hundred years, no joke. What could have been a very fun and distracting experience (2 sisters in a room full of ugly clothes and a camera is not a good combo) turned out to just be a few hours of hurried sorting.......ending in a phonecall to the Assistants, informing them that they had about 500 kilos of clothes to take from the 3rd floor to the van and drop off somewhere. President and Sorella Acerson left us in the house to go pick up the new President, the Kellys. The missionaries in Rome 2 are meeting at the Villa at 5:00 to sing them the Mission Hymn. That meants that Slla Riffaldi and I should probably change out of our tennis shoes and shorts........(we feel a little out of place looking so sweaty and gross with our tags on, and people who regularly see us give us a startled look when we salute them and they cant place us bc they dont recognize us out of our skirts).

Tomorrow, Florence will be in the Milan Mission, and Catania will be in mine :) I am so happy that I got the chance to serve there- what a gorgeous place Tuscany is! If I moved here, it would be there. (Part of that would be to check up on Laurent every now and then)

Drowney (the lizard in preservation) is going to be buried today, jar and all. We have decided hes o nasty to look at it, and gives us quite a start when we walk out into our garden and see his body framed against the sunset. On Monday night, Slla Riffaldi went out to collect laundry, and she called me out and pointed to the floor and asked what a gray ball in the corner was and I picked
it up and it was a baby bird that must have fallen out of its nest, (or failed at flying, but we will give him the benefit of the doubt). Night was coming so we put him in a padded box and put him in the bathroom. We turned on a portable heater and made the bathroom an incubator in hopes of saving him. I wasnt very motherly in prying his mouth open, but we got him to drink and eat some mashed beans, and I am happy to say that after a few nightly visits to feed him, we found him alert and chirping in the morning. We put him outside and he started calling out and his mom arrived, and little by little, he twittered away into the next garden. Slla Riffaldi named him Fallen (do you see the pattern....a drowned lizard named Drowney...?)

Yesterday was a festa and we found ourselves waiting for a bus for more than 40 minutes. We would have walked but we didnt know the way, so we sat and waited.........and then we decided to pray and ask for His help in getting us to our next appt (we had 5 scheduled and we were set on making it to all of them!). After waiting for a few minutes, we decided to walk and find the streets where there was a bus stop. We had just walked to the next street when we stopped to ask someone where the next stop was when the bus we needed came around the corner. We ran and made it- and were rewarded by a possible new investigator and a lunch of shrimp and pumpkin. Sorella Riffaldi, knowing my love for seafood (I even had to rip the legs off the shrimp and then crack them open!) even shelled a few for me and stuck them on my plate. I think she was hoping I would protest or kick her from under the table, but I was able to refrain myself (or maybe the table was so low that I couldnt really have full use of my legs) and happily crunch away on the shrimp without gagging once.
This experience is one of many simple ways that prove to me that Heavenly Father hears our prayers. We were hoping for a bus to come but we took action to get there on our own two feet, and thats when we were blessed. Faith leads us to action, and often times we dont recieve a witness "until after the trial of our faith".

Yesterday, we met with an ex-investigator, which means that the missionaries had been in contact with her at some point in the last few years but had never been able to make progress with her. It was our second appt with a woman from Ethiopia; her name is Senait. She hadnt been in the city but had made the journey so that she didnt have to cancel on us- what an awesome investigator!
We taught the Resoration and watched the Joseph Smith movie (the 20 min one) and she asked us several questions that tie into the Plan of Salvation, so we are headed back there next week, and she said that she would definitely pray to know for herself if the message that we share is true. Si!!!

In finding another ex-investigator with whom we managed to set up an appt, Katerina, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, at the edge of a gypsy camp. While we were calling Katerina to verify her address (we still dont know if she is a gypsy, bc we found her address but its part of the camp.....) some kids started grouping up and walking towards us..........so we headed out quite quickly. It reminded me alot of Kazkhstan and the people at the bazaars who send their kids after tourists :S (Katerina ended up not even being home--- I am making a list of goals I want to implement once theyre applicable, and one of them is to ALWAYS BE ON TIME or to call and cancel an appt if I cant make it. Its astounding how simple of a thing it is and its really not that painful, but it happens one too many times. It would really save time and effort if we recieved warning about cancelled appts, ......but I am not complaining :) At least we had appts in the first place, right?

(Tommy, Andrea Rocrea (sp?) says ciao- I think he said he served in Milano at the same time you did).
I have a favor to ask of you recipients :) Can someone send me a pumpkin pie recipe, like one that is from scratch (like down-to-the-pumpkin scratch)? Lenora- do you or Tommy know what happened to my camera card from the green camera that broke in Spain? I hope someone has it bc it has pics from Italy and the Madrid Temple trip.

When I came down to Rome for my 1 1-2 month conference, there was a man who was studying to be a priest, and he asked us to call him Deacon. He joined us for lunch and for testimony meeting- he grew up in the U.S. but is from the Philippines, and has been studying to be a priest for the past 4 years, and he is 2 months away from finishing. Guess what? He cancelled his become-a-priest date! (Im not sure how it all works, but he cancelled it!!!) and the Anziani are teaching him!!! 4 years of studying and then a brief experience with the Holy Ghost and thats what it does to you! Amazing. Just amazing.

I need to wrap up. (From having nothing to say, I sure can blabber a lot). I love you all and thank you for your prayers and support. Its almost eyebrow-raising how much Ive been blessed with by having amazing companions- there is much to learn and grow from each one of them. I am so grateful for the Gospel. Hearing small remarks that people say that they probably dont even think twice about really make all the difference, like a woman in gospel principles sharing a short testimony of how happy she has been since the Elders have been teaching her, and that she wants to be baptized into the church bc she feels so good now. Ahhhh.

P.s. On this happy note, I wanted to add that on the way to one of our appts, we passed a discoteca (how do you say this in English?! a dance room?) and we glimpsed a sign that said it was an Evangelist church! We could see arms waving around and heard alot of singing and drums, and we imagined what it would be like to have church like that. Wow. It made me think of the time when some Evangelists came and knocked on our door when we had first moved to the U.S., and Lenora stood outside while they prayed for her salvation (eheheh!). The lady who we were checking up on is a referral from SLC that the Slle have been leaving notes for in her mailbox but she has never called us.... we knocked and heard someone come up to the door but even speaking through the door, there was no response. We left a note in her key hole and walked the block and then snuck upstairs to see if she had removed it but it was still there. Somtimes we feel like secret agents .......

Vi saluto!

Sorella Urban