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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Transfer 9

Best news comes first: Sorella Olsen and I are staying together for another transfer! That means that my happiness is set till the 2nd of April. :) I sort of feel guitly spending another transfer with her, like I'm hogging her. Some other Sorella should get to serve with her. Oh well, there time will come. I'm just grateful.

Oh, I guess even better news than that is ...Angela was confirmed! She rang our doorbell on Saturday night to stop by and ask, "Do I have to be at church tomorrow because there is a funeral......?." and then she took one good look at our faces and said, "Nevermind, I'll be in church tomorrow." eheh. Another thing I take for granted are facial expressions. Two people could carry on a whole conversation without saying a word.
Angela seems alot happier when we see her than she has been the past couple of months. She still hasn't told her parents, though.

Something I forgot to mention last week was that we heart attacked members doors the eve of Valentine's Day. It was Sorella Olsen's idea- we cut up lots of hearts and taped them to the door with a handful of candy. It was so much fun- especially doing Liria and Antonios door. We didn't know how we could get to their door without ringing the bell, so we rang and went in to see her for a minute, and then she watched us as we walked out of the apartment building but we didn't shut the door all the way. We heart her turn off the light and we snuck back up the stairs. The door wasn't shut and we could hear her right behind it, frying eggs on the heater, and once we heard her approach the door and look through the peephole- we held our breath and smiled, but she didn't see us. It was fun but I do NOT like the feeling I get in my stomach when there's the risk of being caught.

Scambi went well. Sorella Zeller and I took a bus for a couple of hours to Ragusa, and the next day, we spent most of the day knocking on doors. An old member couple invited us to their house for lunch and as we eat, the couple argued about the wife's weight and how she needed to go on a diet, because, as the husband repeatedly informed us, "She just eats too much. You should see the portions she eats for every meal. At least TWICE the amount I eat. That's why she's fat."
It was not the most inspiring lunch appointment.
On Friday morning, we got soaked from head to two as we walked to the bus station. Did you know that umbrellas don't hold up well under torrential rains?
Sorella Olsen successfully drove in Catania! We were separated for just a little more than a day, but it felt much longer. It was indescribably luxury to return home and sleep in my own bed. Even the frigid air was a nice welcome- in Ragusa, the heater was blowing above my face all night and I actually missed being half frozen.

As of yesterday, though, we have heat! The church had to authorize something, gasolio came and filled up our tank, and we are happy campers. When the truck arrived, we opened our window and took some pictures and had a little celebration as they filled up the tank.
I stupidly turned off the comp as I was trying to send pictures, so now I don't have much time left. Dad, if you get pics from Sorella Olsen, would you fwd them?
For DDM on Monday, we went to Palermo and Sorella Olsen made a layered cake out of crepes, bananas and ricotta cream for A. Roe's 20th bday. It wasn't bad- we want to make a lasagna out of crepes. I have written on my planner to write Alma 37:6-7. Read it and imagine what I would have said about it :) Sorry.

Sorella Urban

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

valentines day :)

Today's Pday finds me wet and frizzy-haired in Catania, surrounded by all the Sorelle here in Sicilia (there's 8 of us) because I finally got around to organizing exchanges- I am headed to Ragusa later today with Sorella Zeller, and her companion, Sorella Ashman, is going back to Mistretta with Sorella Olsen tonight. They knew eachother before the mission, so this will be a fun experience for them. And I discovered how the apostrophe works on this computer, so Grandma can read this without cringing. We will meet back here on Friday and return to our beloved cities. It is strange how unpleasant it was to leave Mistretta. I won't feel quite like me until I am back.

We left early this morning, and right as we were leaving the city, we passed a poor hitchhiker. We commented on how sorry we were that we couldn't offer him a ride, because it was windy, raining, and freezing. We passed and to our suprise and horror, it was Daniele, our 24 y.o. Purpari member who always gives us oranges or flowers (last weeks flowers was a bunch of dandelions that later got old and we didnt get them out of our room on time- our floor was covered with white dandelion seeds for a while :) ) Our hearts broke as we passed, so we called our District Leader and explained the situation (that we would be judged one day for passing and not offering help) and we went back and picked him up and gave him an hour ride to the next city.

Mom, we passed Paterno on the way here and we are going to stop there on our way to next zone conference so that we can look around Nonnos city- do we have any relatives there or someone that we can find?

I have no idea how the other sorella are already done with email but I need to wrap this up. What?!
Ok. So Angela got baptized. I wish I could write it in detail, but ....in short, it was a miracle. And she droze to death, but she got baptized :) And Sunday shell be a member 100%. It was the best Valentines Day surprise.
We will have her "baptismal program" on Sunday because the baptismal ceremony was a little scattered........poor Sorella Olsen sang a song that I hadn't been aware that I would be accompanying and ...I sort of butchered it for her. Oops.
Transfer calls come Saturday and we are still pretty sure we are staying together. Pray for it! I don't want to leave Sorella Olsen! Her stomachs been bothering her a little bit...and I have bubbles on the back of my throat, but only on one side. Mistretta gives us weird diseases!
Danielle said they picked up a rabbit that had just been run over by a car, and that Nino is cooking it now. Um..... Its a good thing I wont be here for his birthday party tomorrow. Auguri Sorella Olsen! evil cackle. eheh.

Buona settimana!!!
oops. Sorella Olsen just told me that her dads family used to cook roadkill. I dont mean to make it seem that its not something normal to do!
im going to fwd some pics that sorella olsen is attaching. enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011


I guess I cant make Sorella Olsen write the weeks adventures all the time....

Pday has been fun so far :) We spent the morning teaching English to some women, and then we went to the hospital to talk to some parents who are organizing a class where we will teach 9 year olds some English. We are hoping that this turns into a great opportunity to have the kids fall in love with us and that will be the golden ticket into their homes, teach them the gospel, and have them baptized and sealed in the Temple. Sounds like a good plan, eh?

Sonia had her birthday this past week, and she and her dad, Nino, invited us for a birthday lunch. We ate. And ate. And included in all that labor, was baby pig. The piece on my plate had HAIR. I cut around it but I felt like I was chewing on a mans chin. I wouldnt have survived it if there hadnt been bread on the table. The unfortunate thing is that I filled myself up to much with bread to get that meat down, that I started to feel really sick and we had to hurry home and I threw up. It reminded me of when Dad ate the slab of pig fat in Armenia and laid sick in bed for a few hours and groaned :)

Vito Purprai gave us a sculpture of a horse made out of cheese. We were going to eat it for a special occasion, but last nights absence of dinner qualified for a special occasion so we ate it.

We are teaching the man we buy fruit from, Vincenzo. We taught him the restoration last Friday- we stood around his fruit truck and talked. He said he would read and pray about the Book of Mormon, along with his assitant friend, Ignazo. We stopped by this morning to remind them of our next appt, and we asked them how the reading was going and if theyd prayed. He told us, "I have a problem. I cant read", so we asked Ignazo if he could read outloud to Vincenzo. He said, "I cant read outloud. I get confused". So, we have Vincenzo who cant read and Ignazo who cant read outloud. Teaching them will be interesting :) They DID say that on Sunday, theyd been selling fruit and a group of Jehovahs witnesses came up to them and started talking to them and asked if theyd be able to read and pray with them. Vincenzo pulled out the Book of Mormon and said, "Thats ok with me as long as then we can read some of this book and pray my way (the way we taught him to pray)". They turned around and walked away. Vincenzo is awesome! He said "I know the Book of Mormon is true, because you wouldnt lie to me, would you?" Its very touching how willing he is to believe us, but we told him that he doesnt have to take our word for it, and we dont want him to take our word for it, but that he can pray to know the truth for himself. We are also relieved that he is interested in the message and not just the messengers. We jokingly decided that we wouldnt wear makeup to the first appt to see if hed agree to set up a follow up appt.

Francesca is still in the mental hospital and has to stay here for an undetermined stay becuase they are changing her meds. She suffers imbalances since her childhood, so we went on Sunday night to go visit her with a member, Maria, and Francesca SCREAMED when she saw us walking up to her and she jumped up from the cafeteria table and jumped on me. I couldnt unwrap myself for a full ten minutes, and the only reason she let go of me was because there was Maria and Sorella Olsen to hug. Their entanglment lasted 10 minutes, too. Francesca is going to convert the whole phsych ward. She is such a good missionary and friend to everyone there. She called us this morning and asked if we would bring lots and lots of books of mormon the next time we came :)

Guess what? Sorella Olsens next door neighbor with Hans Howell (sp?), the guy I went on my first date with from EFY with Lenora and Alejandro!

We went to the questura to do Sorella Olsens permesso di soggiorno which allows her to be here legally. The man who helped us looked her over carefully as he was filling in her information, and then he stood up and pulled her to stand underneath the light and he said she had green eyes. We both looked at eachother and then back at him and told him she has blue eyes. He insisted that they were green and took her back under the light, and acted like we didnt know what we were talking about. A few mins later, he was still bothered by the fact that we didnt agree with his professional diagnosis, so he put her under a different light and, voila! her eyes were blue and still are blue.

Vito Purpari told us that someone once commented that he looks like Richard G. Scott. Since the moment he told us that, we cant NOT marvel at how much he looks like Elder Scott. We feel like we are in his presence everytime we are with Vito. PLUS, he showed us a picture of him when he was younger and he looked so much like Elvis Presley!
We are trying to help him feel encouraged and uplifted. He has a very tough situation at home and we have made it a point to stop there a couple of times a week to read the scriptures together around the table. Usually, its just the three of us, but sometimes his wife will stay in the same room. Its so sad to see how miserable and unhappy they are for no good reason. I mean, they do have reason to be sad, but not reason to remain sad. Thats why the Gospel is so important. Because it teaches us principles that if we just applied, we can face every problem and trial better prepared because we know exactly who we can turn to for help and guidance.

We are eating lots of bananas and apples. I had no idea that banana bread is SO easy to make!

Giuseppina Oddo, aka Pina, the woman with the baptismal date who cancelled it the day after and said that we couldnt talk about religious things in her house bc her husband was against it and we didnt believe this was really the excuse and this is seriously a run on sentence and I aplogozie profusely,
WELL- we went to her house and miraculously, in the presence of her husband, sang, prayed, and taught about the plan of salvation, sang, and then prayed again---without the husband ever getting mad or throwing us out of the house. We are trying to figure out what Pinas underlying problem is, because her husband is just an excuse to cover something up.

We decided that if Angela was going to be in church on sunday, we had to see her saturday night. We went to her parents house where she is staying, and we read the scriptures with her and she said that shed be ready for church when Antonio passed by to pick her up.
Sunday morning, she didnt answer to our 8:00 squillo (we wake her up on sundays). We jumped into the car and drove down to Reitano and knocked on the door. Presently, Angela answered and her hair was wet and it looked like she was getting ready for church! Not. She said "Oggi, non scendo". Today, Im not coming down. Preach my gospel tells us to be devastated when someone doesnt keep a commitment. It was very easy to be devastated. We started talking and she invited us into the living room where we sat down. We spent nearly an hour speaking with her. She admitted that we were right in everything we said. Im just going to sum up what happened in a conversation so I can avoid saying "we said, she said":
"Angela, why arent you coming to church?"
" I had a really bad night because I have diarrhea"
Theres a really nice bathroom at church.
No, I cant come. I dont want to see someone who comes to Relief Society.
Angela, why do we go to church?
For God. To feel good.
Exactly. If we went to church for others, I dont think anyone would go to church. But we go to church because Heavenly Father knows we need it, and we take the sacrament. (we listed off some of her blessings, like being a mom, and then asked her if she was grateful and she said she was and thanks God every day for her children)
Angela, you show God you are grateful for your blessings and that you love him by obeying him and going to church!
I know. I swear that I will come next week.
Nothing will change Angela. THat sister will still be there next week. It will just get harder for you to come next week if you dont come today. This is a test of your faith. Heavenly Father is testing you right now to see if you will do what he has asked you to do, or if you will give Satan retta.
(she said "I know" to everything we said) We then explained that "I know" needs to be followed by action, otherwise it is worthless.

We promised her that the second we would leave the house, shed regret her decision.

Well. She progressively looked more and more upset. We were already late to church so we told Angela that we had to leave with a prayer. She wanted me to say it but I refused to and said that she had to pray and tell Heavenly Father why she wasnt coming to church. (I guess Im getting good at taking people on guilt trips- agh!) We kneeled down and she didnt want to say it. We stayed on our knees for a good 15 minutes and remained silent while she started to sniffle and avoid our stare. If Ive ever seen someone getting beat up by the Spirit and by their guilty conscience, it was Angela right then. We were getting to be really late to church so we said "We are ready. Pray" and bowed our heads and she finally prayed. She really struggled through it.

We left and went to church, and I had the strangest sense of satisfaction to see how upset she was. I knew she was really turning things over in her head.
That night, we went with Pres. Portera (the branch president) to see her. She told President what had happened, "The Sisters told me Id regret it, and I sure did. Ive never felt so bad in my life. I was debating whether to go or not to go. Sorella Urban told me I had to pray and that I couldnt avoid God. I didnt want to but they made me and I knew that Heavenly Father was disappointed in my choice. I felt like nothing more than dirt for a long time after theyd left. Ive promised myself that I never want to miss church again beacuse I know its what we need to do on Sundays.

Very good, Angela :) She said "I took a step forward from that experience, and I dont want to tell you what Ive decided to do, because Im too excited." We asked, "Baptism?" and she laughed and said it wasnt that yet, but that she does still want to be baptized because she knows that this is the only true church with Gods authority on the earth.

We are happy for Angela and that it was a good experience for us all. It fortified my testimony on the importance of being obedient. DC 130:20-21 reads, "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated- And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to taht law upon which it is predicated".

Its so true! I know that I cannot expect Heavenly Father to bless me with what I stand in need of if I do not put myself in position to recieve those blessings.

For Valentines Day, we are planning a branch FHE and we will talk about the love of God. We are also going to heart attack everyones doors the night before. Ive never done it before and I know that everyone will love it because its something different. Turido, Angelas dad, has leukemia and doesnt even know becuase they dont want him to know about it. He was a very stern and strict father, and the first time I met him, I believed all the stories Angela told about her childhood. But, over the past month, his heart has been softened and he even cooked sunday lunch for us once, and when we go see Angela he always asks if we can stay for dinner. We had to turn him down once and he was so upset. I love Turido! He loves teaching us Siciliano.

Renzo stopped coming to institute and english class so we called him to see what was up and he said that he was done with the church and didnt want anything more to do with anyone. We have been praying for him and he came to institute yesterday and to english class, and asked if we had any banana bread to give him :) Renzos back!!! We are so happy, esp because he is who we think needs to be prepared to be the next branch president.

Liria ........ is still on a "mormon break" and we are the only ones she lets into her house. Pride is so damaging. The interesting thing is that it is just us who it hurts when we take offense. We are the ones who lose when we hold grudges or anger towards someone.

Va bono. Our heater doesnt work anymore but 1) Im used to it, ormai and 2) Sorella Olsen is quickly getting used to it. Thank goodness for Lenoras BYU hoodie!
We also feel ancient. Every missionary supposedly falls apart towards the end of their mission. I still have a while left so Im getting a little worried, it cant be happening to me right now! But whats Sorella Olsens excuse? The downhills of Mistretta, thats what. I have calluses on the tips of 8 toes. The tips! We fear that our shoes will split at the front :) Its pretty funny. When we go running in the morning, we take turns moaning and groaning with every stride. I think the peanut butter mom sent is whats keeping us together.

The Elders of Palermo want to go to find the Francesca family next Pday, so maybe we will write in the evening again.......

Thanks for your letters, prayers, love, and support. I am so happy to be here in Sicilia. I am daily reminded of how blessed I am. Today, for example, I am grateful that I can read and write. I take so many things for granted. ay ay ay.

Sorella Urbanana

Monday, February 7, 2011

why can I never think of a good subject line?

The owners of this internet cafe are engrossed in a wrestling match on t.v. 1) we arent supposed to watch t.v. so its a little distracting trying to write and block out the noise and 2) there are half naked men all over the screen. eheh. (this is how Italians laugh).

What a week!
I hit and passed my year mark on the 20th of January. Its been an incredible year. I have grown in both senses of the word :)
I have come to understand at a deeper level how perfect Heavenly Fathers plan is for our salvation and happiness. Ive met so many good people and learned from their failures and triumphs. I am also learning (I was just about to say patience, but then this man stuck his phonecall with his little girl on speaker phone and it is getting on my nerves, so Ill just say that patience is something that Im going to have to constantly work at) that happiness is a choice and not a consequence. The simple, basic things of the gospel are what protects us and our families.
Most of all, I understand better who I am and who Heavenly Father is, and what that means to me personally. I definitely have a better idea as to what I need to work on, what I want in an eternal companion, and what I need to learn and apply to raise a happy family. I know that reading scriptures as a family, having family home evening, and praying together are simple but so important. And, above all, I have come to appreciate and love my family more. I have been so blessed for the life Ive had so far, for having the Gospel, and I have hope in a brighter future.

I want to share a little experience that I really appreciate. On Monday, we were having personal study and the light started to flicker and went out. We had already gone through the hall and the classroom light to replace the lightbulb in our bedroom, so our next option would be taking the kitchen or bathroom light out. We were too engrossed in the our studies that we didnt get up till study was over; the washer machine was running but the fridge wasnt. It was all a little strange so we went outside into the basement and checked the fuse- nothing was wrong with it. We decided to wait a few hours before calling someone to come look at it. We started companionship study with a prayer and while I was praying I thought to myself "Why not?" so I asked Heavenly Father if He would fix the light so that we could avoid bothering Pres. Portera whos already busy as it is. Right after we finished singing a hymn, the light flickered on and stayed on. We both looked up and said "Grazie!" :) It was something trivial that could have been fixed with a small amount of effort, but He knew it was something that would make us happy, and He fixed the light for us. I love how much He watches out for us, and sometimes, we just need to ask for help. It can be something small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but its important to Him because its important to us. It gives me so much comfort and security knowing that we are not alone, and that we are being watched over by someone who loves us, and who is more than willing to help us out.

We return to our appartment usually from 13:30-16:30 to study the language and to have lunch. We ate a big lunch and just as we were getting settled in to study, I thought of calling Nino, who we had an appt to have dinner with that night. His first words were "Where are you?".
He thought we were coming over for lunch....and I didnt feel like telling him that it was actually dinner that we had been invited to, I said "We are on our way!" and I scrambled around and called to Sorella Olsen, "We are going to Ninos for lunch!". We booked it to Ninos while trying to keep our lunch down, ate crepes stuffed with the weed vegetable that everyone seems to feed us, and we had to eat quickly because Sonia, his daughter, wanted to take a nap. We were about to explode.

Angela, our investigator who we now want to set her 8th baptismal date for Feb 14th, has found a job in Reitano, a city (450 inhabitants) 20 min from Mistretta, so since we cant go to her place, we have now started stalking her at her parents place. I had met her parents once before and her father was the one Sorella Jones and I had spent at least 20 minutes kneeling on the floor, encouraging him to pray. Alot has changed in 3 visits. He still wont pray because he is upset with God, that bad things happen to good people. We somehow wormed our way into his heart and he invited us for Sunday lunch. Angela called us to make sure we were coming, because her Dad was so excited about it that hed be crushed if we didnt show up. We assured her we were looking forward to it too, and we even skippe breakfast because we knew what we would be facing.
He made us pasta alla carbonara- he took, no joke, 500 grams of butter and melted it with 500 grams of parmiggiano cheese and a bunch of stripped bacon and fried it all together. Then he added the cooked spaghetti and cracked a couple eggs over it and thankfully he cooked it a little more before serving us. I have to admit, it was really good, but all the grease sort of put a damper to it. I could feel my heart start to pump harder to get blood through my clogging veins. Then we ate some fried meat---
He is adorable. He reminds me of a gnome even though hes not too short. Maybe its his ears that stick out. And he has the brightest blue eyes that get all wide when I hiccup while talking, or Sorella Olsens stomach will growl (her stomach makes noise ALL THE TIME! It has now become our biggest disruption during lessons because we will try to ignore it but then start giggling as it goes on and on and everyone else starts to comment and look around. It is HILARIOUS.)
Anyways, Sorella Urban will stop thinking about how in love she is with the man and get on with the moral of the story.
I love Salvatore. He even gets a kick out of only speaking Sicilian and then testing my comprehension. As sad as I am that Im really never getting and good Italian practice (Firenze, I learned Spanish, in Rome, I learned Tagalog and Romanian) I am pleased that Im not as lost as I once was when the conversation is only in siciliano. Yo saccio picca picca! (I know a little bit)
Little by little, his heart is getting a little softer. We read Mosiah 24 with him last night; I love the Book of Mormon. There is no coincidence as to which stories are in it.

There is the Purpari family- alot can be said about them. Vito, the dad (in his late 50s) has been really down this week because of the situation at home with his kids and wife. We went to the Villa (he is the head gardener here and hopes to be able to work on the Temple grounds in Rome) and he expressed concerns for his family and the desires of his heart. What I would have given to just wrap my arms around him and cry with him. So much pain and suffering in that family. The worst part is that there doesnt need to be- they could be so much happier. We asked them to read the BoM as a family every night, and Vito has been, even when its just him who sits at the table and reads outloud because no one wants to join with him. He said, "We all find ourselves in love with something at some point, and right now, Im in love with the Book of Mormon. Heavenly Father has given me answers in something that Ive read every day this past week. I dont have the strength to go on, but I have found something in reading that has helped me get through the days."

Maria Purpari, Vitos sister, has known the church for a very long time. We decided to start teaching her son, Renzo, a less active, at her house so that we could "kill two birds with one stone" type of thing. We were really excited to find a copy of How Rare a Possession and to watch it with them. Sorella Olsen and I were all worked up at how great the lesson and spirit were going to be, and we got halfway through the movie and then- heard a deep, steady breathing. Maria was fast asleep.
Renzo woke her up and she watched the rest of it, but struggled through it all. Oh well. The great thing is that Renzo, at the end, turned to us and said "Ive never prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true. That is what I need to do tonight."
I took care to not blink in the split second where Mom is in the pharmacy :)

We are going to the town where Vincenzo di Francesca was born to hunt out his living relatives for todays Pday activity. We got permission to take Liria with us- she is Antonios sister (the one who adores sorelle) and we are super happy she can come with us because shes really depressed and stays inside the house taking care of their dying mom. Zone conference got pushed back a week so we will hike Mt. Etna next week if it stops erupting.

(Its harder than I thought to write spiritual experiences when there are men in the background grunting and fighting!)

Oh! Two nights ago, when we had just left Maria and Renzo Purparis house, we were walking past the Mistretta jail and I looked up just in time to see an old woman get hit by a car. We dropped our umbrella and ran to her- within a minute there were quite a few people around us. It was dark and rainy and the poor driver woman couldnt be blamed. They wanted to move her and I advised against it but they wanted to another woman and I lifted her up and carried her to a nearby church and set her on the stairs. The only thing the poor grandma was worried about was her purse. In my mind I was thinking "And youre not worried about your skirt being up around your waist and a 14 y.o. boy carrying your legs?"
haha, just jk. She seemed ok and since there were so many people there, we slipped away and continued on our way to go find a lovely family from the area book, la famiglia Oddo. Mamma Oddo has a testimony about the BoM but wasnt baptized because she didnt want to be different from the rest of her family.
Two of her kids, ages 13 and 17, came to church on sunday :) There is much to do with them!

Ok, times up. So many stories to share still! Oh well. No old woman died this week :)

Sorella Urban
p.s. Lenora, while I was licking an envelope closed yesterday, I got a cut on my lip!

read sorella olsens email because mines terrible!

Now, the question is, where does email time go?!?!

Last Pday, we went to Gratteri and found relatives of Vincenzo Di Francesca! They showed us his house and we took some pictures that hopefully we will be able to send when Sorella Olsen gets her camera cord. Oh dear, I really dont know what to write having such little time left! Im having Sorella Olsen forward me her letter that she is writing home and Im just going to send that to all of you, ok? Im sorry!!

We had zone conference yesterday- it rained all the way there but miraculously we made it on time. Sorella Olsen sang a solo and I accompanied her and she was nervous because shes never sung a solo before, and her nervousness was contagious and I got all nervous and my arms went all funny and I somehow made it through the hymn and my respect and admiration for S.Olsen sky rocketed. She has such a beautiful voice, and the neatest thing is that, to overcome her fear, shes been singing for our investigators and members. They love it and so do I.

A few days ago, we had just left the house and were walking past a woman that we said "Buon giorno, come sta?" and she smiled and revealed...two teeth? and we slowed down and stopped next to her and I asked if she needed help carrying her bag and she waddled over to me, stuck her hands out, and started tickling me while making this weird noise. It took me by surprise and I grabbed her hands and held them and somehow said "have a good day!" and we laughed the entire next block. Thats a first for me. Getting tickled by a toothless woman. (I recorded it as the miracle of the day).

Bythe way, this is something Ive been doing that I really like and want to continue with my own family. I have a calendar, and every night before going to bed, I think about the day and write down something that was really neat or strange, or ...just different. Its so much fun, and its a good way to reflect on how the Lord has showed his love for me that day. I think its something fun that we could all do- a miracle calendar. We saw Liria this week and shes been very depressed and not responding to anyones phonecalls- we are the only ones she lets in. We talked about Heavenly Fathers love for us, and we asked her to tell us some things shes been blessed with, and she said "Nothing. Ive been blessed with nothing".
Her words made my heart ache. How can anyone say that? That is so sad. I know that we need to look up, as Peter did, towards Christ to find the joy and peace that we are all in need of. Only when Peter looked around him and saw the tempest did he begin to sink. All of us are surrounded by the tempests of life, but by keeping our faces toward Jesus Christ, we can and will stay afloat.
I know Heavenly Father blesses us every day. Its sad that we sometimes dont aknowledge or appreciate the little things. I am making it a focus to be more grateful, and to be more positive in everything I do. Happiness really is a choice.

Yesterday, we learned the importance of being actors and not reactors. It goes along perfectly with what S. Olsen and Ive decided to be our months theme-
"Therefore, strengthen your brethern in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings" DC 108:7.
Theres alot more I want to add but no time! Thank goodness S.Olsen uses her email time wisely and I can pinch off of her email!

We decided not to stay to hike Mt. Etna because it was pouring and we would most likely be 100% frozen, so we left at 17:30 and somehow ended up on the road taking us through Messina, so it took us 4.5 hours to get home rather than the usual 3. Maybe it was a blessing because we avoided the curved roads of Nicosia. It was raining so hard in Catania that I was afraid water would pour in if I opened the door. It was really cool, and giving me good driving experience :) BUT, I also recognize how protected we have been. Having the car is such a blessing! Before the car, missionaries would have to stay and get a hotel for the night when theyd go to different cities.

Pres. Kelly said we can expect to be together another transfer. I am so happy. Its been so fun to watch Sorella Olsen bloom. She used to say very little during lessons, and she was just too nice, but now she is learning that we can be very open and blunt with people. Now, when Angela goes way off topic for more than 3 minutes, Sorella Olsen speaks up and gets it back on topic. I dont want to say shes learning to be rude, but... thats sort of how it is. Not rude, but....? Its a good sort of rude. Its a necessary talent here :) And I have an overabundance of the talent, so its a good thing shes picking up on it, otherwise everyone would think that Im just the mean one. hehe. Oh, she said that her parents have found my blog. gag me. I used to want to meet them, but Im not so sure anymore. My writing is so random and scattered! If they do read this: Dear Mamma e Papa Olsen; Dont fear for your daughter. She is in good hands, despite what my emails must make me seem :) p.s. Sorella Olsen always talks about your cooking (in particular, your birthday cakes)- my birthday is July 16th, and I love cake, and I love icecream. hint hint. HAHA, just Jk.
oohh so much to write, so little time!
we went and hunted down angela at her parents house- her dad got visibly mad that we said we couldnt stay for dinner, so we did. To save the rest of the family from his wrath. I love him. We ate sausage with LUMPS, BALLS of white fat. I swallowed mine whole and S. Olsen used alot of bread to get hers down. I love it when we suffer together, it seriously is bonding.
Ok. I really need to peel myself off this computer. Enjoy Sorella Olsens email :)!

Love, Sorella Urban.

Dear, Dear Family,

First of all, Happy Birthday Diana!!!! I hope it's a wonderful day. I love you! It's weird to think that today would have been the day that I entered the MTC...weird. I'm so glad I'm here! I love it!

Yesterday I attended my very first Zone Conference. It was great! I loved getting to see President and Sorella Kelly. They are absolutely amazing. They are just so sweet and kind, I love them! Here's something that might come as a bit of a surprise to you: I sang a solo at Zone Conference. Yes. It was SO scary! I never sing in front of people. Our zone leader called us last week and said he had received "revelation from on high" that the Mistretta sisters were supposed to provide the musical number at zone conference. I thought it would be disrespectful to ask my zone leader to pray again. Sorella Urban and I just laughed, but then we realized that he was serious and that we really had to do it. She said there was no way she could ever sing. I said, "Me neither!" Unfortunately I sing in the car all the time and she knows that I enjoy singing. I said there was no way in the world I could ever sing a solo in front of people, but it seemed that that was our only option. We were trying to think of a song, then I remembered that I have a copy of "I Know that My Savior Loves Me" in Italian. I love that song so much. I figured that if I was singing a song that meant a lot to me, maybe I could do it. So I told Sorella Urban I'd try singing in sacrament meeting on Sunday and if I could do it without totally croaking then we'd be okay. I did it on Sunday, my very first solo. I also sang it in every lesson we taught on Sunday and Monday. Even though I'd gotten comfortable singing it in lessons and with the Mistretta members, I was beyond nervous to sing it in front of all the missionaries. It went okay. I was shaking so bad. So yeah, that was a new experience for me. Then, as soon as I sat down, I had to get back up again and introduce myself and bear my testimony since I'm new. It was a very full five minutes for me. Sorella Urban and I had had to wake up extra early to get there on time because it's a 3 hour drive. It rained the entire day. We were going to stay in Catania for the night and hike Mount Etna today with other missionaries, but since the roads looked like rivers (no exaggeration), we decided that it would be a dumb thing to try. It's in our plans for next transfer! After everything ended at about 5, we decided to just drive home to Mistretta. It was SO rainy! There was so much water in the roads. Luckily Sorella Urban is a fearless driver, she was completely calm.

Okay so last week I said that we were going to find the relatives of Vincenzo di Francesca, I need to tell you the story. We drove to Gratteri, which is even smaller than Mistretta on top of an even higher mountain. It has the most spectacular view I've ever seen! So we brought Liria with us. Liria is about 45, she hasn't been coming to church and she rarely leaves the house. She is always very depressed. Her brother Antonio gave us the idea, and he stayed home with the mamma while we went. She was so excited about our afternoon together. Usually when we got there she's wearing sweats and hasn't really done her hair or anything. She was wearing all sorts of makeup and jewelry, she even had a fur scarf on. She really needed this outing.

We asked at the gas station as we entered Gratteri where the famiglia Di Francesca lives. He said there were several Di Francesca families there, and Liria chimed in "Il Mormone! Vincenzo il Mormone!"...the man was even more confused, so we had to explain to him that Vincenzo had lived there many years ago. He directed us to the nearest Di Francesca's. We had no idea if this was the right family or not. Sorella Urban was nominated to speak into the doorbell when they asked who was there. She said that we were looking for the family of Vincenzo di Francesca. There was some hesitation on the other end, then Sorella Urban said, "Siamo mormoni" ("We are mormons"). The person on the other end just laughed and said she'd be down shortly.

Apparently quite a few people have come ever since the movie was made. Liria started crying as soon as we were in the house and the woman was kind of thrown off by that. She asked us if Vincenzo di Francesca was a saint in our religion, haha. Her mother came down and spoke with us, then she took us to Vincenzo's house which was just around the corner. She showed us the window that he used to always sit by to study and think. He also used to sing all the time, and you could hear him singing through the open window. We didn't get to go inside because the woman we were with doesn't have a key. Her sister-in-law does, and she is a little "particolare" as our new friend put it. We learned what she meant when the sister-in-law came out and yelled at us. She was the oldest, smallest woman I've ever seen!

It was such a neat experience! We met Vincenzo's nephew, and his nephew's wife and daughter. The woman that yelled at us is his niece. The nephew and his family were so nice! They are catholic, unfortunately no one else in Vincenzo's family ever joined the church. They had a copy of the movie, so they sort of knew the story. They said they'd read a little bit about our church online when the movie came out because they were curious. We asked them if they already had a copy of the Book of Mormon and they said no. We were really surprised, but pleased because we had lots of extra copies in our car. We asked if they'd like a copy of the book that Vincenzo had found and that had changed his life. They said they would. Sorella Urban and I ran to the car and wrote a little note with a little explanation and our testimonies on the inside of the front cover, then we gave it to them! We really hope that they will read it. How neat would that be if they read it and were able to find the same answers that he was able to find!

After we returned home from Gratteri, we had an appointment with a family in Mistretta. We dropped sweet Liria off and headed there. I was so glad we had been able to bring her. Our simple little invitation meant so much to her, I didn't realized how much until we saw all of the effort she had put into getting ready. She was wearing blue and pink eye shadow and lots of sparkly jewelry. We all had a lovely time together.Our lesson went well. So well, in fact, that at the end we set a baptismal date with the mom! I was in shock. She had been taught by the missionaries about 4 years ago, but stopped having them come because her family is all catholic and she didn't want to be the only one to change. She told us she knew the church was true and the Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon was true. Sorella Urban and I just looked at each other and then asked her if she'd be baptized. Sorella Urban shared a wonderful scripture about baptism with her and then she let me ask her to set a date for her baptism. We were so happy as we walked home. Less than 24 hours later, however, Giuseppina (the mom) called us and said that she didn't want to get baptized anymore. She said she didn't want to cause problems in her family. She said we can come over and chat, but we're not allowed to sing or pray with her. We tried talking to her to try to figure out what caused this change, but she wouldn't say much. We took some banana bread over later that night. She told us it was her husband that told her she couldn't be baptized, but we're not sure that's really it. Her husband is so nice and he just kind of sits there pleasantly while we're there. He made it very clear at the beginning that he wasn't interested, but he's fine with us being there.That was a bit perplexing. We are praying for her and hope that things will change. We stop by from time to time because we are teaching another family in the same complex.

So I have to tell a quick funny story. When I first met Sorella Urban, she was telling me something about her blog and how her companions' families and other random people always seem to find it and she's kind of embarrassed/worried because she's very open in her emails home. I assured her that my family wouldn't find it because we're not really bloggers. This Thursday I got a letter from mom and from Erin Mecklenburg. I about died laughing when I read about her blog in both of them. We had a good laugh about it and she asked me to read what both had said about it twice. She is wonderful. Really, I couldn't have asked for a better trainer.

Also, I decided that in each email home I will share a scripture from my week of scripture study. Sorella Urban and I have picked this verse as the theme for Mistretta for the next couple weeks. I love this verse, I used to have it taped to my wall at the Glenwood, and it's perfect for Mistretta. It's D&C 108:7. It says:

"Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings"

Mistretta has a big problem with gossip. Italians, bless their hearts, are very honest and blunt. I can't tell you how many times already that I've heard something like, "Oh I know him, he's the tall man with the fat wife", or, "Oh yeah, the short man that looks like a dwarf..." One of the reasons that Liria isn't coming to church is because Nino told Francesca that Liria is crazy and Liria found out. So we are sharing this scripture with people and talking about following the Savior's example and having charity, the pure love of Christ, in our hearts. It's something we all need to work on. I like how this verse talks about not only the way we talk, but also our prayers. When you pray for someone, it helps you to love them more. It helps you to see them the way that our Heavenly Father sees them. So yes, that is my challenge to you, dear family. I am also working on it. So just think about this verse and keep on your minds this week.

I love you all so much. I am seeing more and more every day how blessed I am to have such a loving, supportive, functional family. I love being a missionary. I'm learning a lot. I get frustrated some days, but reading the Book of Mormon always helps. I love the gospel. I love my Savior.

I love you!


Sorella Olsen