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Sorella Urban is not longer in Italy...

Monday, November 29, 2010

short and bittersweet

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

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

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

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

5. Transfer calls come this Saturday.

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

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

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

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

9. Have a happy thanksgiving!

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

Sorella Urban

Saturday, November 20, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week,

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

week number who knows (stolen from SA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorella Urban

Friday, November 5, 2010

I LOVE letters. and Yolanda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buona settimana!

Sorella Urban

wise tip: always keep an umbrella handy.