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!