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Monday, June 27, 2011

tithing, tumor, and a traumatic toothy grin later...

Last week I wrote that Guido got super upset over the law of tithing and told Patrizia he'd never come to church again. Patrizia called us a few days later and told us that they'd gone to the bank to check their balance. The banker informed them that their car payment this month isn't due because they'd accidentally charged them double the payment last month. Patrizia and Guido walked out marveling at this miracle and knowing that it is the Lord's doing.
We went to their house and asked them to retell us again what happened, and Guido said, "I changed my mind. I'm coming to church. Tithing still doesn't sit well with me but I'm seeing that it really does come from God, and I can't let something small and stupid stop my progression towards Christ". YAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!
He has his sentencing on the 27th and we will all do a fast that things will go well (aka that he won't have to go to prison!). Guido just can't go to prison.

They were in church on Sunday and we walked Patrizia out (actually, we were recording a video of her because she drags her leg behind her (she has a little bump in her leg that she things is a tumor and all of a sudden it's extremily painful, etc) and when she got into the car, Guido accidentally went in reverse, crunched the car behind them (mind you, this is infront of a lot of members who are leaving church) and patrizia yelled "Guido!" and then...the car slowly drove away. We just about died. Especially because we were so lucky to get it on video!!!

We had dinner the other night with the Anziani at our ward mission leaders house, the Vardeu family. I felt like I was sitting with the RM family (the mom who cooks a ton). The lasagna alone had to be lifted by the two men of the family to get it to the table. And that was only first course. It was refreshing being with a family who gets along!

For Fathers day, we woke up early and made french toast that we doorbell-ditched at the Anziani's door. The Bishop called me and asked me if I'd speak during sacrament meeting (only missionaries would say yes to being asked the morning of!) and my topic was compassion, so I geared it toward the needs of the ward- home and visiting teaching. If everyone did their home and visiting teaching, there would be no need for us to do reactivation. It would save the missionaries so much time, and every member would be close knit and active. I want to always be a faithful visiting teacher!

At the training conference we had with Anziano Texiera from the Presidency, he reminded us that "The Lord never prepares someone alone". So, we went to visit Alina, a new convert, and we made it an effort to speak with a man who lives in their kitchen (this house has 3 different families who live in different rooms but share the kitchen and bathroom). His name is Marian, and yesterday we took him a Book of Mormon in Romanian with a dedica (we write on the cover and personalize it to him with our testimonies) and when we asked him if he'd read Alma 32 for homework, he said, "If I'm going to read this, I might as well start from the beginning". Marian is so neat! His family is in Romania and he is here by himself working. He is Luciano's smoking "buddy"... that will change :)
In the other room, lives another Romanian man with his girlfriend, Dana. Alina invited us over to watch the Restoration with them, but Dana had to shower and get ready for work, so we taught Alina instead. When Dana was stepping out the door, we saluted her and ... although she had a dress on, she was standing in the light and .... she was naked! She left for work like that!!!!!!!!!!! Ontop of that, we went to a new convert family last night and she was naked under her dress too! I guess it's the summer heat that makes people go crazy and forget basic ....social skills? (what would it even be called?!)

Because Sorella Hicks isn't feeling up to going sightseeing today, we invited the Burts, the Valentines (office couples) and the Kelly's to join us for dinner tonight. Sorella Kelly said she is excited to see our apartment. AGHHH. Last time we had the Burts over, Elder Burt asked me "Do you get splinters in your rear when you use the toilet?" I asked him what he meant and he said "While you were out, I inspected your bathroom (?!?! I wouldn't inspect YOUR bathroom if you invited me over!) and noticed that there's wood exposed on your toilet seat."
Sister Valentine doesn't like Italian, and seeing that neither does S. Hicks....she's making us all hamburgers. I feel like I'm already half in America- I heard a lawn mower this morning!

Sorella Hicks and I have made the goal this week to not say anything negative. Can I just tell you how hard that is?!?! I am failing miserably, especially when it comes to men. Whenever we want to say something negative, we replace it with "Bless his soul". There are alot of "bless his soul's" being said on my part! Monday was a particularly frustrating day (concerning men) and it was only noon when we were waiting to cross a street when a man turned to us and said "Oooh, look at you beautiful women". Before I knew it I said "Non si dovrebbe comportare cosi (One shouldn't behave like that)" and he looked a little surprised and asked me to repeat so I did, and then he said "Well, then what am I supposed to do when I see beautiful women like you?" I said (with a piercing stare and my arms crossed and my nose flared) "you can smile if you want, but that's it. You shouldn't say anything or do anything else. Nothing. Understood?" Poor guy. He wasn't even that bad and I just took it out on him. Maybe the world would see a difference if every woman would set a man straight every time he did whistle or say something inappropriate.

At zone conference, A. Texiera told us that it was possible to have 21 lessons a week. We set 23 as our goal, and on Sunday, to start our week off right, we fasted that we can reach our weekly goals. We know it's possible- and we decided to not return to our apartment for lunch or language. Just in our first day (monday) we beat the number of lessons taught in ALL of last week. Yesterday we had a pretty good day too, and we are confident that as we continue to push on, we will be able to see 23 goals by Sunday night. I even cancelled sister exchanges because I felt that all of the sister companionships should make this the goal to end the transfer strong.

On Monday, while I was talking to a woman on a bus about the plan of salvation, Sorella Hicks was trying to talk to her neighbor who, after a minute, stood up and went to the very back of the bus. Poor Sorella Hicks! And even when we wait for the trains, I always get the nice people who are willing to swap numbers with me and she is always rejected. It makes me feel super guilty, but...maybe rejection is helping her become stronger? Boh. She takes it really well though, and we just laugh about it.

We got a CD player this week and the only CD we have in the house is the soundtrack of Aladdin :)
Patrizia is still smoking.........................she has an appt to speak with Bishop and we think that that will really help her. We can't think of anything else that we can do that we haven't tried that will help her.
If Guido goes to jail, I'm moving to Italy so that I can go visit him every day and bring him treats. My heart will rip out if he has to go.
Maria Huarcaya is still on track for her baptism at the end of August- she is just so busy at work that we can never teach her!
Luciano joined us for a family prayer last night! I have found that people can't refuse you when you say, "Can we say a prayer for the health and protection of your family and friends?"

Oh! I can't believe I was about to forget to write about Sunday's adventure!!! After district meeting on Monday, after rebuking the man at the crosswalk, we went to go find a mother and daughter who haven't been to church in a month. The mom is 83 and her daughter, Palma, is mentally handicapped and super loving. When we arrived (without an appt), Palma let us in and the mom was in the kitchen eating lunch with her son, Mario (who's 50 and he's the one who never went to school, never has had a job, and stays in his room and listens to American music). Granny (I dont want to keep repeating "the mom") was super nervous and upset over how busy she is, that when her son said something about the pasta being too cooked, she grabbed a knife off the table and held it to his throat and S-C-R-E-A-M-E-D. I was standing right next to them and I didn't do anything because Mario didn't even break his rhythm of eating pasta- I guess it's nothing out of the ordinary for him.

I asked if we could share a short message with them and she picked up screaming (I really mean screaming) about how much she had to do around the house. She grabbed my arm and dragged me into her bedroom, sat down on her bed, pulled off her shoe, and stuck her foot out infront of me. "See that nail? It hurts! I can't do anything anymore. I am old. I am tired! (In my mind I was thinking, please, please don't ask me to touch it) and she breathed again and ordered, "Touch it!". I hesitated and she said, "touch it, I washed!" so I reached out a finger and felt her nail. Good thing S. Hicks was behind me. I think I would have started laughing. I asked her again if we could help her with anything, and if we could simply just say a prayer together. She raised her voice again so I raised my voice so that she could hear me and said (with righteous anger but lovingly) "There is always time for God. If you don't have time for God, repent" and she shut up and followed me into the living room and said "Make it short". So S. Hicks and I kneeled down and I said the prayer and included "Help them make time to let Christ back into their lives" and when we said amen, both Granny and Palma were sobbing. They want to come to church but it's too hard for them to come if someone doesn't give them a ride, so we are working on that.

Next week I want to write about the "30 lessons\talents from the mission" for my final letter. I am so excited that Billy Hashey is getting baptized in 10 days! There is SOOO much to still do. The work is going on wonderfully and I continue to see miracles day after day. I am soooo happy and grateful to be here.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Urban

p.s. Oops. How do I always forget a spiritual thought...who am I?!
DC 130:2 Is a verse I came across in my personal study yesterday, and I really like it.
"And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be couples with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy".

I always knew we would carry on our relationships, but it clicked better with reading this, that the friendships, relationships, and bonds we make with our friends, family, and neighbors will continue and be even more wonderful because we will be in a different state of glory. I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people that I have met and continue to meet. They have made a difference for good in my life, as have all of you. Grazie

mosquitoes are back

Oh. How does my list get longer by the week?

When we were at the Magnanti's last week for our fish-blend dinner, I forgot to add that I also had one of my most awkward moments. Fratello Magnanti's non member brother was there, Mauro. He has some mental problems but he is completely able to function like any other. Well, as we were getting ready to set the table, he got my attention and beckoned me with his finger to come to him. I, being the untrusting sort that I am, asked him "why?". He said "Just come here" and started walking towards me and since I wasn't sure what he had in mind, I walked backwards as he kept coming closer. Then, I was pinned at a wall and he kept saying "stop! just stand still!" and I started making my little squeal noises and I shot out from behind the couch and ran over to Sorella Magnanti. She turned around and asked me what was going on and I squealed, "I don't know! Mauro's chasing me" and she asked him what he wanted and he came up to me and I literally felt frozen to the ground...and my breathing stopped....and I saw Sorella Hicks gaping at me from out of the corner of my eye..............(I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I was afraid he would do something inappropriate, like kissing me) and sorella Magnanti told me to stand still and Mauro got up close and raised his hand towards my face and.......stroked my hair. He just wanted to touch my hair! I was relieved, but it was still super weird to have a grown man petting my head, so I tried to laugh it off and I squirrel-scampered away from him into the kitchen. aghhhhhhhh. I could have shot myself for being so awkward! That entire evening he kept bringing up that I was scared of him and I shouldn't be- he even wanted to sit next to me to prove me that he was harmless. Poor Mauro. I hope he understood that I didn't find him scary, just the situation. ahhhh. I love awkward moments.

We went to the questura early on Thursday morning, waited for an hour, and then when it was our turn, found out that only Catholics who are coming for the Vatican are registered at that questura. So, Sorella Hicks has an appt for July. Although nothing came out of it, it was really fun being out and about in the city when we usually are just waking up.

I have sooo much to say about Odile! We see her several times a week so the following is a summary of experiences of this week in general: We were ending a lesson and she asked if we could accompany her to a friends house. We walked there and it turned out to be a 91 y.o. woman for whom she worked last year. Odile asked us if we could pray with her. So, after talking around her bed for a few minutes, we prayed and as we were walking out, Odile stopped us and asked if we could do another favor for her- unbraid her hair. She has shoulder length hair that is braided at the roots. I asked her to expound and she volunteered to show us what she meant. She got out a pair of scissors and said, "there's a knot at the root that you need to cut.......here, like this............wait, can you do it?" So, I took the scissors and while I was trying to cut the knot, I cut off some hair so I withdrew my hands and I started giggling as I looked horrified at the several chopped strands in my hand. "Odile, I'm sorry!" as I continued to giggle. She looked at me like, "what are you sorry about?" and took the scissors out of my hand and cut off her whole braid. Sorella Hicks and I gasped.
Apparently, they're just hair extensions, and in all reality, she's practically bald. (If you want to know what happened to that braid- I asked if I could keep it and we took it home, split it in two strands, and we've taped it into our respective journals. Sick, right?)

When we went back the next day for another lesson, she had gone ahead without us and cut off all her braids. I'm a little bummed that I didn't get to experience unbraiding an African's head....but at least I got a good scrabook item!
Initially, we were planning on meeting in the church because we want to watch the movie "The Restoration" together, but she piped up that she has a laptop and her roommates would be out, so we went to her house. BAD IDEA!
We entered and sat down at the edge of the kitchen as she prepared her laptop, and when it came time to put it in, I opened the case and it was empty! I've been carrying around an empty DVD for weeks, OR the adversary had it disapparate. I was stunned and horrified. Odile said she had to leave the house at noon..........so Sorella Hicks and I, determined to not let the adversary win again this time, sprinted home and back to Odile's. We had 45 minutes till noon. The movie is 20 min so were confident that we could continue with our lesson plan. Well! I will just tell you what Odile did in the 10 minutes of the film we watched. First, she wanted to make her bed before the movie, and then she was cooking polenta and meat for lunch, and kept saying, "start the movie, I'll eat and watch at the same time!" but we repeated "Odile, this movie is so special that we want you to watch it without other distractions, so we will wait until you finish eating to watch it." She ate. We started the movie. She ate some more. She washed the dishes. She transferred beans which were soaking in a pot to boiling on the stove. She chopped onions and put chicken on the stove to start grilling. She got out water and offered us some. She opened some granola bars and gave them to us. The chicken frying was making so much noise that I paused it (for the millionth time) and asked her "Odile, can you hear it? I can't!" She insisted that she could hear it ...but looked on the control panel for the volume button (I was sitting against the stove and I just wanted to turn around and blow the flame out) and she took so long that the chicken cooked and sizzled less, so we continued on with the movie. THEN. Right when I rehit the play button, she stopped and asked, "Can I just wash my mouth so that we can be more peaceful?" and she stood up and went and brushed her teeth.

I am learning patience.

It would have all been worth it had we watched the movie through, but her roommate came home (of course, while Joseph is in the sacred grove) and ordered us out of the kitchen because she needed to cook. We reset our appointment for this afternoon IN CHURCH.

Patrizia and Guido didn't come to church because she wasn't feeling well. She's never feeling well. I've sometimes wondered, "If you never feel well, then wouldn't you get used to it and think that the way you are feeling is "well"?" Boh. It hasn't happened to Patrizia yet. It was ward conference and the stake president, Massimo De Feo (the one who interviewed me to send me off on my mission and I made a brutta figura! (bad impression) ) gave a beautiful talk on becoming strong in our trials.

We went to Patrizia's on Monday to go over the stop smoking program because she is still smoking, and while we were talking, she asked us about tithing and we taught the principle and Guido got so mad at the idea of us having to pay a tenth of our earnings that he stood up, pointed his finger at Patrizia, "If you pay this, you can forget about me coming to church with you. I'm never going to give you a ride or come with you again" and stormed out of the room and sat in the kitchen the rest of the time we were there.

We know his heart will be softened and he didn't mean what he said...but he needs Patrizia to be a good example. She just needs to show her faith, put her trust in Him, and put Him to the test in the promise He has made about tithing. She kept saying that she doesn't have enough money to pay tithing, she has bills to pay and so on. We kept telling her, "Look, that's why you need to pay tithing! Put Him to the test" and we shared our own experiences with tithing, and she still ended with "I'll pay an offering, but I just can't allow myself to pay tithing right now". My heart ripped out. She so desperately needs the blessings of paying an honest tithing that I wanted to say, "well. We are not leaving this house till you put a tenth into this envelope, because we know that you need to do this for YOU." But it doesn't work like that. I desperately hope she does soon. How narrow our vision is sometimes.

Yesterday, we had a specialized training with Elder and Sister Texiera present from the Area Presidency (?) and they gave us alot of constructive advice on how we can and need to improve our efforts. Even in the small things, like putting our study desks to face eachother. That's what we did this morning...so we will be able to play footsy and have alot more distractions now....like when Sorella Hicks makes faces while reading the Old Testament and I wander off in my pondering over how our neighbors downstairs can complain about us being loud while they are out on the balcony screaming at eachother. I do ponder on alot of other things, though.
Anyways, conference was really good. We were given two minutes each...I cried in silence for the first minute and then squeaked out my testimony and sat back down. I didn't imagine it to play out like that but I didn't go over the time limit :)
On our way home, Patrizia called us and asked if we could come over. Sorella Hicks had a few new blisters, so we were going home to change her shoes, but she was ok with stopped at Patrizias first so we went and walked a good piece with Sorella Hicks courageously ignoring the pain, and then guess what? As we rounded the corner to her apartment, she and Guido passed us in their car and I yelled, "Patrizia!" to get her attention and she saw us and yelled "Ciao" and kept driving. We were stumped. We waited for 5 minutes, thinking that they would at least stop or turn around to let us know that they had a change in plans........but no one came back. Sorella Hicks limped and I walked back to the train station and we went home. Ugh. If Sorella Hicks hadn't been in pain than it wouldn't have bothered me, but Patrizia knew that we were coming over and she hadn't even bothered informing us that she was leaving. They didn't even answer their phones. Later on, she called and said that she had gone to the doctor.

I am trying to develop charity.

Saturday was WHAT A DAY!
It is incredible the highs and lows one experiences. On Saturday morning, we had an appt with Maria Huarcaya, whom we found in the area book. It was our first meeting- she stopped taking lessons 5 years ago because she couldn't be baptized because she was living with her boyfriend and waiting on her divorce papers. We set a baptismal date with her for August 27th! She is getting married on August 12th, so it should all work out swell.

Then, we wanted to cross off "eat at a cute cafe" from S. Hick's bucket list, and seeing that we had some time before our train left from Termini, we scouted out the area and Sorella Hicks chose a spot to have lunch. Now, Im going to copy what I wrote about the experience in Sorella Hicks journal: (I wrote it from Sorella Hick's point of view)
"Cute cafe day today............So, we were standing and looking towards a cafe that I spotted, and we decided to check the meno (Sorella Urban's suggestion- boy, she is so smart!). Well, even before we got to look at the menu, the waiter-man greeted us and then ushered us to a table and pulled out a chair for me. "What a nice young man" I thought to myself. He started speaking with my companion, and since she is rude and never translates anything for me, I got bored and turned my attention to the menu. I didn't understand half the things on the menu. I looked up at Sorella Urban and she should have looked progressively flustered because that is how she was feeling inside. Alessandro, the waiter who I initially had thought was nice, turned out to be a creep., because he basically flat out told us that "Yes, I'm interested in meeting with you again....but for a date". Sick. The worst thing was that he was so persistent. Didn't he ever learn how the employee-client relationship thing goes? Couldn't he have thought to himself, "Oh, maybe I should let them enjoy their lunch and maybe after I can try to see if there is some interest on their part". No.
He at least gave us three minutes to blessed peace because we faked engaging in a serious conversation about Odile. I think nothing was said about her. it was just Sorella Urban ranting on about how annoying the guy way...till she realized that he spoke some english. Of course, being Sorella Urban, she didn't stop grumbling about him in english. In fact, she called the Anziani of Rome 2 to share our woes (actually, I called to pass him as a referral to them). We will see if he's really interested- he has an appointment with them tomorrow. (We called after the scheduled appt and the Elders said that they had called and he said "Look, I am not interested". ) I ordered a plate of penne with beef on the bone. It almost made Sorella Urban gag. I say "almost" because she was so concentrated on her own food- a salad which would have been better had it had lentils in it.
When we finished, (I left half my plate because I know what self-control is unlike Sorella Urban who basically licked her plate) we said goodbye to Alessandro and he planted a big, wet Alessandro-germed kiss on my hand and said, while looking at Sorella Urban, "Now that is how we do it here". Sorella Urban acted disgusted. I know she's just jealous".

Yup. That was Alessandro. He acted interested in knowing more about the church ;(. I told him to not take my rejection personally, and that he should really go through with this appointment with the Elders. When we walked away, I reminded Sorella Hicks that she needs to get a picture of a guy friend printed off and use it to ward people off. People tend to back off when they see a picture- and some want it for proof.

WELL. After this unenjoyable lunch, we got on a train to meet a new investigator an hour outside of Rome, (Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope lives during the summer) and there were two young men sitting in the seats opposite us. The younger one spoke up and in english said, "I want to ask you a question. Can I have one euro?". I said "No, but what do you want an euro for?" back in Italian and he told us that he needed it to buy cigarettes.We got to talking and he came and sat down beside me. His name is Aldo and he is 16. His mom had him when she was 14 and she is a drug addict and so is he. I told him about Heavenly Father and he stood up and said "I know God lives because this world couldn't come out of anything. But don't tell me that he loves me. Has your mom ever done this to you? and he pretended to grab me by the throat and hold a knife to it- and "Has your moms boyfriends ever done this?" and pretended to beat me. (Poor Sorella Hicks had no idea what was going on and only saw this homeless guy stand over me and pretend to beat me....!)

We talked the entire hour. When we stepped off the train and watched them walk off, I felt so useless. I wish I could have taken him in and changed his life around. He said he used to have hope, he used to believe that notwithstanding his circumstances at home, he could make something of himself. Now, he doesn't have that hope and lives in the moment. He pulled on a 50 euro bill and said, "I've sweat all week to earn this. Do you know where I am supposed to be right now? At work. I guess I just fired myself. But I don't care. Look at this 50 euro. In a few hours, it's going to be gone. I am going to go get some drugs and have fun. I don't care."
They didn't come to church on Sunday....... I hope that he reads the pamphlets we gave him, and that one day, something we said will be remembered and he will get a shimmer of hope from it.

Right before stepping into our apartment that night, we hurried over to see how Luciano and Alina were doing. We stepped into the house and the absence of the spirit was almost tangible. Davide had been crying and when we asked him what was going on, he said "Things are bad. My dad drank a beer". Davide is five years old. He shouldn't be seeing stuff like that. Alina came out of the bedroom and reprinmanded him for letting his dad drink. What?! We told Davide, "You have nothing to do with it. Your dad does what he wants to" and he just kept his head down and cried. We knelt down with him and he prayed, and we started singing "Bella Sion" (beautiful zion?) and he joined in at the very end. It is astounding how quickly hymns can invite the spirit. Soon, he was smiling and I pulled out my flashlight (for some reason we were sitting in the dark) and we started making shapes on the wall. Davide is now the proud owner of your flashlight, Dad :)

We also met with another woman from the area book, Daniella. She reminds me SO much of Becky Spalding!
agh. Time's up! Which is a good thing because my neighbor is listening to turkish music. (Tommy!)
If anyone finds out when I am giving my homecoming talk (the 10th?) would you let others know, like the Radmalls and Drennans, so they can make the necessary plans to miss their sunday meetings?
And the Piepers!
Va bene. Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Urban
p.s. We just recieved the conference issue of the Liahona. There's a picture of Kaitlyn P! I read "Hope" by Steven Snow. (There's an C. Scott Grow- say it outloud!) -its really good. Read it! (yes, that's my spiritual thought)

p.p.s. Sorella Hicks talked to a guy on the bus and we met with him the next day- he really just wanted to meet with us to go out for a coffee and to tell us that we were wrong in believing in two Gods. What adventures.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

anchovies, wet beds, and an evil spirit later.........

I thought I didn't like fish? Sorella Hicks can't eat it otherwise she gets outwardly sick (throws-up). We were invited for dinner at a members house. We walked into the kitchen and, asking what was for dinner, she showed us what was in the blender, "Tuna, anchovies, and...." she cracked a few eggs and added them in. We had to pour this blend over roast. I think meal appointments is the only thing that's making me excited about only having a few weeks left. Freedom of choice of what goes into my mouth!!

On Friday morning, we joined up with the Anziani and went to a sisters house to do service. We swept her garage, raked leaves, and took out 3 stumps. Sorella Hicks one'handedly took out 2 of them. She is SO strong- I'm almost scared of being alone in the house with her. It's a good thing she doesn't have a temper. Back to the story: I never thought taking out stumps could be so fun. One by one, we broke two shovels and a pick. I'd been a little critical because I was thinking, "This sister should have the young men do this. We don't have time to do yard work, there are people out there who need us!" and breaking all her tools was an answer to my prayers because I hoped she'd think, "I'll never invite the missionaries over again!" ... On Sunday, she approached us and invited us over to eat at her place this coming week. Inside, I was like "What?!?!? We broke your tools! THREE tools! Didn't you get upset!??! You should ban us from your property! Invite the young men who aren't so destructive!!!" but she said, "It's a good thing those tools broke. They were ancient and I've been meaning to replace them for a long time." Mizzica. We accepted the invite on condition that she invite someone over for it.

While we were out one day it stormed and rained a lot, and when we came home, our beds were half soaked (we still sleep outside on the balcony). We hung up the sheets and........ a few hours later when I was putting my bed back together, I couldn't find my top sheet. It had blown away! The funny thing is that when we were leaving our apt this morning, we found it tucked into the stair railing. What a nice person whoever that was :) It definitely couldn't be the same person who came and rang on our doorbell at 6:35 this morning. A woman asked us what we did in the morning because we are loud. ?! loud? For one, sorella hicks and I don't even wear shoes in the apartment, and 2, at 6:30 in the morning, we are sleepily doing stretches on blankets on the living room floor for 30 minutes. And then, we shower and get ready. It's not like we have weights in the apartment! Needless to say, I was a little peeved, and it would have gone against my Urban nature to not say anything about the situation, so I (very sweetly) asked her, "While we're talking about noise level, you guys make a racket at night!" She scoffed. Ah! I need to show her the videos I have of the noise level at night from what we hear through our apartment! She lives on the floor beneath us with her boyfriend, and they are constantly at eachothers throats. I remember one night with Sorella Hashey that we thought someone needed to alart the police. It can get pretty intense. Comunque. She scoffed and walked away. Is that a sign of a guilty conscience?
I don't mean to make enemies with our neighbors, BUT.

Hmm. It sounds like I'm trying to justify myself. Well, I guess I am. I don't feel guilty about it, though. While I'm on the subject of sin, I'll add that I've been reprimanded by Anziano Larcher because I told Sorella Hicks, infront of him, that sometimes its okay to lie. Now, let me explain myself. I don't usually lie, but sometimes I do for the benefit of the person. (Ha, I can just see you all rolling your eyes and thinking that I'm missing the whole point of honesty, but hear me out!) For example, we went to Patrizia and Guido's house the other day. At church on Sunday, I'd spotted a pack of cigarettes in the bag. We were going with the intent of getting her to confess or confronting her about it. Thankfully, she confessed to it herself before too long, and then she and Guido started having a heated argument about who does what in the housework, etc. and that Guido needs to clean up the shower after he uses it and Patrizia is lame because she found a bump in her leg (a week ago she found a bump in her leg- when she doesn't know we are watching, she walks FINE and then when we approach her, she drags her leg behind her, takes baby steps, and moans. She reminds me so much of Nonna!!!! She claims that the doctor told her she needs to be on bed rest (?!) but, since she loves us so much, she will come to church for us. "No Patrizia, you come to church because you love Heavenly Father" I correct her, but she shakes her head and says, "I come for you Urban". Great. (where was I going with this story?) Oh! So, there they were fighting, and we got them to be quiet and I told them that we wanted them to do something every night before going to bed- to hold hands and pray. (Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for inspiring me!) This is where a righteous lie comes into play; "Patrizia, Guido, my family does this and it helps us feel more love for eachother, especially when we've had a disagreement". Now, that's not sinful, is it? Grandma and Grandpa are family! hehe. Well. As I'm trying to explain what I'm trying to get across, I'm realizing that I'm not explaining myself or my reasoning very well, so.......just forget it. Iìll explain why I think lying is ok during my homecoming talk.

Hmm. Maybe that wouldn't be the best setting or time for that.

Guido is awesome! We always ask him why he's not baptized yet, and he gave us a very impressive and admirable answer. "Accepting baptism means accepting God's commandments and doing my best is keeping them. Right now, I don't feel the strong desire to quit smoking or drinking coffee, so I don't want to make that commitment, expecially because I wouldn't be committed to keeping it." What a good example he is to Patrizia. He is the best non member to have present in lessons! Even though he doesn't want to be baptized, he is an active participant in church, reads the Book of Mormon every day, and is trying to collect from us every pamphlet ever made by the church. I love Guido. I would never have thought that he could make the changes he has in the time I've known him. He used to just be the "crazy brother" who sat in the kitchen and smoked in silence while we taught Patrizia. He has a sentencing at the end of June for something he did last summer while he was mentally sick, and we are really praying that he won't have go to back to jail to serve time.

Where to start about Odile? She is the one from Africa who we meet under her apartment because she has a roommate who doesn't like white people.
Well, last week, we went to teach her and she, like always, took 30 minutes just to come down. But, this time was different. She had the most blood shot eyes we've ever seen, and she was trembling and jumpy. She asked if we could just pray together because she wasn't well. We asked her what was wrong but she wouldn't tell us. We prayed and sat with her for a few minutes while she cried a little and then she asked us to leave so that she could spend some time with God. We offered that the Anziani could give her a blessing, and she said she'd think about it.
The next day, she called us and we met with her and the Anziani in church where they gave her a blessing. They asked her some questions to understand better what she was going through, but all she kept repeating was how she has to get better so that she can be closer to God. After the blessing, the Anziani left and we stayed and sang some hymns and ate cherries while we tried to talk with her and get her to open up because she usually is pretty open with us. We walked her home and then, half an hour later, she sent us a strange text about "maybe it would be better if we never see eachother again" and so I called her back and very-long-phone-conversation short, she explained how she always feels good when she is with us but then feels something negative afterwards. I tried explaining the Holy Ghost and the adversary but she wouldn't let me talk- she concluded that it was me who had an evil spirit and "please Urban, if we meet again, you need to purify yourself so that we can have harmony and sincerity between us". huh?
(maybe that's why I think it's okay to lie!) What is interesting is that Sorella Hicks and Anziano Larcher both have had the impression that her problem has something to do with drugs. Yesterday, we had an appt with her and we were prepared to go in and ask her if she's taking drugs, but she let us into her house and her roommate was there, and Odile was a completely different person. She was cheery and joking around, and she made us hot chocolate, omelet, and a tomato-onion-hot dog salad. We were a little nervous about her random lunch invite; Sorella Hicks was joking about how she was going to poison us. We got to her door and knocked, and a minute later, it creaked open and there was NO ONE behind it. Creepy. I asked if we could enter and there was no reply, so we walked in and we really thought our suspicions were confirmed.

Ah! I need to hurry and write the rest of my bullet points. On Wed night, while we were trying to fall asleep, there was a fire work show at the church next to our house. Sorella Hicks grew up selling fireworks and she said she has never seen or heard such big fireworks. Our balcony was trembling, and the fireworks were exploding right above the Elders apartment. We were laughing because A. Larcher ALWAYS complaing about not sleeping well because the train runs right under their house; the next day, we called them to ask how they'd slept, and he said "Like a baby!". I laughed and said, "No, really, how did you sleep?"
"I said, like a baby!"

Come to find out, the Anziani hadn't heard a thing. We had to show them the video for them to believe us. I cannot believe any human being in Rome was able to sleep through that.

Emiliano, the man who was baptized last year and fell away and then called me last week, came to church! It was SO nice to see him. He bore his testimony and thanked "A Sorella missionary for calling just to see how I was doing and to invite me to return to church."
When I found out I was being transferred here to Rome 3, I immediately thought of Emiliano and wondering if he was active. I know that he is one of the reasons I needed to serve here.

on Monday, we had 3 appointments that were cancelled back to back, but the miracle about it is that we met someone at every cancelled appointment. There's a reason for every change in plans, and it's fun and inspiring to figure out that reason whenever we find ourselves in that situation.

Last night, while we were teaching Alina, her ceiling was having a constant drip right ontop of Sorella Hicks. It was the funniest thing. I tried keeping a straight face while teaching gospel principles and waching Sorella Hicks out of the corner of my eyes as she wiped each drip from off her scriptures, arm, or head.

Agh! I have more to write but no time, so I will just end with this quote I like:

"...and so the Church moves on. It is carried on the shoulders of worthy members living ordinary lives among ordinary families, guided by the Holy Ghost and light of Christ, which is in them." Boyd K. Packer

It's true. It doesn't take a tag to move His work forward. We are all needed to help others find, accept, and enjoy the blessings that we have thanks to the gospel.

Sorella Urban
p.s. my glad these last few weeks is to eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can. They're definitely not as good as ones in Sicily, but far better that I'll be able to find in Provo :(
p.p.s. Address you can write to is

Sorella Urban
Piazza Carnaro, 20
00141 Rome, Italy

speaking of letters....... we are going to the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's today, so I don't think I'll be getting around to writing any today, or next week. There's just too much to do and see :) I hope today will be the last time that I set foot in the Sistine Chapel.

Turkish music does not help me feel the spirit

How many people can say that they find bird poop on their bed? I can. We have been sleeping outside on the balcony for the past week---it is the best! We even have earplugs to use for tonight because tomorrow is the Italian "July 4th" and we're guessing there's going to be alot of fireworks. Our neighbors must think we are crazy sleeping outside. As we fall asleep, we people watch. It is fascinating, and sometimes, disturbing.

We walked a million miles on Monday. No joke. The ghetto train wasn't running (strike) so we walked to patrizia's and back (90 minutes each way) to teach Guido. He now has his own personal copy of the book of mormon and although he doesn't want to be baptized (yet), he has promised us that he will read, pray, and smoke less everyday. He is great!

What can I say about the talent show? Odile (our friend from Togo) arrived on time with a friend, Mine, and .........we sat for an hour and a half before it started. It was so embarassing. They had to leave after 10 minutes because it was so late. The show finished after 22:00- we left at 21:00 to be home on time. The members insisted we stay to perform our skit, but we laid down that we have rules and "maybe next time if we start on time". What a terrible impression for our investigators. Some of them have never been to church, and we promised them that church did start on time. I hope they believe us and aren't permanently scarred from Friday nights experience.

Emiliano Mora is a man who was baptized last fall. His story is miraculous. He met the church over the internet and was baptized 3 weeks later. He went inactive and then returned, and then went inactive again. When I arrived in Rome 3, i inquired after him and was told that he was once again inactive and had threatened to call the police if we tried to go find him at his house. I tried calling him and he didnìt answer. On Thursday, just as we were getting into bed, he called. I knew it was him before he even said anything. He was crying and we talked about the experiences he has had- he knows that he can only be happy being obedient to the commandments. He wanted to let me know that he would be in church on Sunday. It was a 22:35 miracle.

For English class, we made microwaveable (sp?) s'mores. The girls loved it. When we came home, we roasted the rest of the marshmallows over our oven burner and then sat on our mats out on the balcony. I feel like I'm half at Marvine!

Sorella Hicks wanted to eat Chinese, so we went to Termini and stopped some Chinese people to ask them where we could eat. We were directed to a place and it was really interesting- the customers go back into the kitchen and pick out little tin trays of different food. We spent a good 10 minutes trying to identify the food before making our choice. The tins were wrapped in seran ? wrap and I accidentally spilled liquid out of it and an old Chinese woman came up and yelled at me. She took the tin out of my hands and motioned that I shouldn't turn it over- sorry! It made her pretty upset. Wiping it up didn't redeem myself in her eyes.

We nearly got killed last Thursday. We were almost home and were crossing the street (I usually cross anywhere but this time we crossed at the crosswalk) when I heard a truck speeding up and just as I was about to turn to see if he was going to slow down or not, Sorella Hicks grabbed my arm, yelped\screamed\wailed and jumped. I seriously felt my heels touch the tires as the crazy truck driver barreled past us. He leaned out of his window and yelled at us and I turned around and yelled back at him while pointing at the crosswalk. Crazy! We stood there for a second while trying to swallow our hearts, and then just as Sorella Hicks was saying "Well, at least every day's an adventure!" she tripped over an uneven cobblestone and narrowly saved herself from splatting face-first on the street. We were pretty shaken up and giggly the rest of the walk home.

I finally bought stain remover (Angela's dish water left stains all down my one black skirt), soaked it, and washed it. They didn't come out :( But Sorella Hicks had misunderstood me and thought that this was the first time that I was WASHING my skirt since I've been on my mission. Can you imagine? sick. I think my skirt would be a few pounds heavier than it is now.It reminded me of Lenora..........and her only pair of jeans in high school :) Don't worry Lenora, I woudn't think of revealing here that you went our whole sophomore year without washing those jeans.

We made a baptismal "My family can be eternal" ("can" is the key word!) calendar for the Chilut family. Alina is a new convert and LUciano is the one we teach who is very shy and hides the fact that he likes reading the Book of Mormon. We made him a calendar and stuck it on a giant poster with a picture of the Rome Temple, Christ, and glued on a mirror (what else could we do with empty space?). We gathered the family around and asked them to take a look at the calendar, and when Luciano saw that the 25th of June was marked "Luciano's baptism" he literally ran out and closed himself in his bedroom. What did we do? We got up and followed him. He is so confusing. He has had dozens of dreams and visions that he needs to get baptized, and he has said it himself. But there is something that we can't get our finger on.............
He'll even get on his knees when we say the closing prayer, and then he will jump up and lay back down on his bed before the prayer starts. It's like he is half torn about everything he does. It is so strange. But we are praying and trying to figure him out and what we can do that we haven't done yet that will help him.

While we were there, they wanted us to eat some Romanian food. Sausage. Salami. Bacon. Meat. Alot of it.
I even stole a piece off my plate to send Lenora so that she can see just what goes in my mouth. (Heads up- you should be getting a DVD - can you let me know when you get it and if you are able to open it and view the contents? I won't delete anything off my card till I hear from you.p.s. enjoy the fat I sent you.)

Odile always says "No" to our baptismal invites, but she still keeps all our other commitments. We just need to teach her with more simplicity so that she can understand the Restoration and then need there was for it.

We finally were able to meet with Teresa, a woman who had a baptismal date last fall but cancelled it the day of becuase her husband threatened to leave her if she got baptized. She still desperately wants to be baptized but her husband hasn't budged. We are going to do a fast with her this weekend that his heart will be softened. He has even recognized a chance for the good in her- the issue is tradition. They are Catholic and he wants them to both stay catholic.

We've discovered a park near our house that has a turtle pond! We did our district meeting there last week and we forgot to take bread with us to feed them :(

We are going to the Spanish steps and the Trevi Fountain with Anziani Larcher and Schertz. Sorella Hicks needs to buy some skirts and seeing that I have reached, or gone over, my weight limit, I will just be giving my professional fashion suggestions and tips.

Sister exchanges are next week (that is, if I get around to organizing them) and then there's Zone Conference the week after!!
I might ask to be released by Pres. Kelly after all. Sorella Hashey wrote me and suggested that it would mean more to me if he were to do it, and Pres. Ball might like the chance of getting to sleep in on July 4th.

Oh! funny story to end. So, we were on the trenino (the ghetto train) and I was speaking with an African man, and towards the end of our conversation, I asked him:
"Then have you heard of Jospeh Smith?"
Do you know the story of Joseph Smith?
Yes, I know history.
No, do you know the story of Joseph Smith?
Yes, I know history very well.
(I turned to Sorella Hicks and smiled while fighting laughter)
"No, I want to know if you have heard of the man......"
I told you. I went to University in Nigeria. I know history very well.

I should have just started bearing testimony on the Restoration. He had to get off at that stop so I never got to tell him that I had no doubt that he knew history very well, I was just interested in knowing if he knew the story of Jospeh Smith.

Eeks. Time is almost up and I need to write President Kelly still. I love serving with Sorella Hicks! She says "Criky" for mizzica (like, "shoot") and something that sounds like, "dawgonit". haha. I'm learning "south" from her and hopefully she's learning something from me....... she's having a struggle finding food the likes to eat. I wish I had the creativity and the desire to cook for her, but I just don't. If only she liked lentils!

Sorella Urban

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

post we missed.

there was a mistake and I missed a few weeks, so I'm posting now the weeks we missed.
most of them are of May, but there is one of April and one or march.enjoy

Maggio 2011
66.6% Urban companionship
Maybe it's an after-effect of having had Lenora around, but I feel like I shouldn't even bother writing emails because I only have precious little time left and I don't want to use it at the computer.

Having Lenora with us for two days has been quite the adventure. We picked her up on Monday evening and headed straight to Patrizia's. Patrizia was tickled seeing Lenora and "my goodness, why is she alot skinnier than you?". Thanks Patrizia.
She said the closing prayer and it was a, no joke, 6 minute long prayer dedicated to Sorella Hashey- she was talking to her about how much she's going to miss her and how she needs to reply to the letters she'll write. When we said "amen" we added, "Patrizia, that was a beautiful prayer. Remember, we pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ." Oh, Patrizia. She is still smoking what she claims to be one cigaretta a day. We decided to have her baptismal interview tonight and then the Anziani will be the ones to judge whether to go forward with the baptismal plans for this Monday night, or if we need to set it back again to give her more time.

I have had trouble sleeping since Thursday night, so none of us slept much on Monday night and we were all a little sleepy Tuesday but it was a miracle day! We met Ozile, a referral from the Rome 2 Sorelle. We waited at a bus stop for more than an hour in the rain waiting for her, and she finally showed up. She is from ...Tongo? I need a map of Africa. We taught her about prayer and then she said the most animated and full-of-emotion prayer. THEN, on our way back home, we bumped into Mira!! She's the one we met on our second day of being here in Rome 3, the one who came to church with us our first sunday. We haven't been able to meet with her since. She is always working or things come up when we are supposed to meet. It was such a miracle. It does not happen often that you bump into people in Rome, but it did and it was with Mira! We know it was a miracle.

Lenora brought some american candy, like reeses peanut butter cups, and I carry some in my purse and it's perfect because it's so handy to have candy handy. Just today we were called to help accompany a member mom and her little girl home. We were on the bus and it would have been a nightmare had I not had candy with me :) Speaking of nightmares-- 3 year olds are nightmares!

We met a Bible basher. He joined us where we were sitting on a bus and we didn't realize he wanted to bash till towards the end. He asked us to read Hebrews 1. When we got home we did, and ... we were even more confused. We aren't sure what he was trying to get at. But the conversation with him reinforced my testimony of how perfect the gospel is.

We have discovered the best Chinese store and we bought hula hoops!!!! Sorella hashey wanted them so that she will have an excuse for when people will ask "How did you get so out of shape on your mission? What did you do for exercise?" and she'll chirp, "Hula hooping!".

On Sunday, I accompanied a Sorella member to the busstop to pick up some women who were coming to church. I greeted Alina and I was leaning to the left to kiss her, she leaned to the right (my left!) and kissed me full on the lips. I had forgotten that only the people in mistretta kiss opposite sides of how they do it here. I shot back and started laughing and Alina was unfazed and didn't even miss a blink. I can't believe she thought nothing of it. It was sooo funny for me.

I really enjoyed doing scambi last week with Sorella Giordano and enjoyed that we went to have lunch with Zia and Nonna. Nonna's first words were "Sei ingrassata!" I wanted to be like, "Thanks Nonna! you look rounder too!" .................. :(.
Then, on the way our, she shoved a bar of chocolate into my hand. Tsk tsk. Some people's kids.

Tomorrow is Zone Conference and Sorella Hashey will be sharing her dying testimony. We have been brain storming a list of things she needs to eat\do before her time is up. We had a rude awakening when we realized that last week was her last fast sunday in Italy. I only have one more. Agh!!! Time in the mission is the strangest thing. A day feels a week long and a week feels like a day. Or a second.

The Hashey's are arriving next week and we will see them a couple of times, depending on the needs of the investigator, aka Brother Hashey :) We are excited and also wishing we could slow time down, but we also know that we would never feel completely "prepared" for these lessons. We know we will be helped along, and I am excited to report next week how it all went :)!! And if Patrizia was baptized!

Va bono. I love you and thank you all for the uplifting letters you send. Think white thoughts!

Sorella Urban

p.s. Um... the spiritual thought this week is...I have Hebrews 11:6 written in my planner and I can't remember what it says...so read it and hopefully it's a good one!

oops, how did I forget to add that we saw Tommy and Debora?! We met up with them at Termini and sat on a bench while they waited for their train. It was fun to catch up and see for myself that they really are alive and breathing. Alex is so big!

maggio 2011

I hope I get an Oklahoman accent

Eeekk. I'll begin listing the reasons why I have butterflies in my stomach.

1) Sorella Hashey and I have 24 hours left together. I don't want her to leave, but it'll be an awesome reunion when we do see eachother in Florida :) I'll tell you when I'll be seeing her in FL in next weeks email.

2) I have to report to the High Council after being released? Can I just be released and then take a flight out and disappear?

3) The only fun thing about being released is that it will be July 4th :) I want to do sparklers that night!

4) I had lentils for breakfast

5) Patrizia got baptized and her brother, Guido, came. She had to be dunked twice because her skirt was floating (at least she was wearing white underwear!) and when she came out the first time, she was choking and spluttering. I guess no one warned her to plug her nose. haha.I thought "Oh great, if she has a burping and coughing attack, I might just die laughing." But thankfully she didn't and was baptized completely. THEN, to make matters even funnier: We missionaries preformed a musical number (S. Hashey and I agree on this: there's NO WAY we would sing for an audience in America, but in Italy, we're considered to have good voices) and we sang hymns while Patrizia was changing. We were in the middle of a hymn when she entered and charged her way to the pulpit. The Bishop had to jump up and tell her to sit down and bear her testimony when she was invited to do so. She refused to sit down so she just stood up there with her head bowed and her arms crossed, and then when she got up to the pulpit, she shared how excited she was and her love for us "angelotti". It was so neat having Guido there. He has schizophrenia and doesn't like being with people, but he said he really enjoyed his time in church (he stayed all three hours and only had to take 1 cigarette break!) and when we went to go see Patrizia yesterday, he asked if he could join in on the lesson. Guido getting baptized will be next transfers miracle. Patrizia will be confirmed this coming Sunday- she works 2 days out of the month (sells crafts she makes at a bazaar) and sunday is one of those days. She has decided to show her faith and not work this Sunday- we know she will be blessed for it. We're praying that people will buy her stuff on Saturday- she makes the strangest things. I don't want to call them hideous...they're just...particular. She is VERY creative, let's just say that.
She confided to me that she was hoping Sorella Hashey would give her something to remember her by. I told S Hashey and she gave her one of her headbands that has a huge white bow on it. It so fits Patrizia; she told me "Urban, I want something from you too!". Uh.......I didn't want to tell her that I have nothing ugly that she would find darling. What do I do?! Go to a chinese store and pick out something I wouldn't be caught dead wearing?

6) Maria Teresa, a single mother member who lives near us, asked us to come with the Anziani to move a cabinet. We needed to push the cabinet a few inches against a heater. The Anziani pushed and we pulled on "3", and....we were so unexpectedly strong that we moved the cabinet so far that it cracked through part of the heater. We made a nice big hole in it :) (Lenora, she's the lady you met with the terrible Greta). I need to stop thinking about it because I am disturbing the public peace of this internet cafe.

7) Our ward is having a talent show next Friday night. Sorella Hashey graciously volunteered me and my new companion. The sister in charge approached me and asked what I was going to present. I told her "I have no talents that I can present" and she scoffed and said "Im putting you down for something!" so I said, "I can only count letters in a sentence". She wrote that down. AGH. I'm presenting that at the talent show?!

8) Maybe I should add something about transfer calls. 20 new missionaries arrive tomorrow from the MTC, 3 of which are Sorelle. I knew I wasn't going to train. It wasn't possible- I've already trained and there are a dozen sorelle who should be training now. Well. I'm training. I'm picking up my little greenie tomorrow at 12:00 when I drop off Sorella Hashey at Termini station.

9) I think number 8 is the main reason I have butterflies in my stomach.

10) Odile (pronounced Ozila), our African friend we've been meeting with for the last couple of weeks, came to church on Sunday! She was dressed in a colorful traditional African costume and she really enjoyed all of the meetings except for sacrament meeting (it was on sealings and baptisms for the dead). Later that evening, she asked us if we could help her with something. When we met with her at the station, I asked where we were going. "Orte" was the reply. I started to laugh- that's not even in our zone! But after a phonecall for permission, we went to Orte with her to bring back some suitcases from her old apartment. She is so great. She told us flatout "I don't want to be baptized" and we rejoiced because it goes to show that she understands exactly why we are here! She'd also told us that we couldn't teach her at her house because she rooms with someone who doesn't want white people in the house, but she had us meet this roommate and she seems really nice.

11) Alina is a new convert and her husband, Luciano, isn't. The Elders can't get him to respond or interact with them (he just closes himself in the bedroom) and he has been more responsive to us so we go see them a couple times a week. On Sunday, Alina told us at church that Luciano had dreamed that we were in the act of praying for him and when he awoke, he told Alina, "I know I need to be baptized". Miracle! We went over and tried talking to him about his dream (his favorite chapter is 2 Nephi 31 about Christ's baptism; he doesn't like being seen with the Book of Mormon, though. He'll be reading it and then stuff it under a couch cushion when we walk in) and he needs to get over his timidness. We feel like he's going to need some time, but we are positive he will be baptized.

12) Yesterday, at the end of teaching Patrizia, she literally jumped on Sorella Hashey and started attacking her with kisses. By the time I freed S. Hashey from Patrizia's lips, I was sure she was covered in hickeys. She wasn't, but oh my.

13) We have three Muslim girls coming to English course. We usually start and close with a prayer, but they told us that they can't participate. We asked them how they pray and they showed us the 3 positions of a prayer they have to do 5 times a day, and each time, they need to wash themselves and do specific things to prepare themselves. It was really interesting, and I really respect them for standing up for their beliefs. The oldest is 16, and her sisters are 9 and 10. They'd make great members.

14) Mira wouldn't be able to get rid of us even if she wanted to. We were on the trenino yesterday and she was in the carriage infront of us- she tapped the window and we got off and joined her in her carriage. She is always so busy working, but she came to church last sunday! One more Sunday till she qualifies for baptism, and we haven't even taught her the Restoration yet!

15) For our District meeting treat, we brought a can of lentils for each of us. The Anziani thought it was the grossest thing that we eat lentils straight out of the can. They acted like it was torture, but once they took their first bite, they confessed with a surprise "these aren't that bad!". I invite all of you to look for a can of lentils at a grocery store near you (am I sounding like a commercial?). They are amazing.

16) I think those are the main reasons why I feel queasy. I've sure enjoyed this transfer with Sorella Hashey. I know we were meant to be together to teach her Dad. Patrizia could have been baptized with any missionaries, but her Dad needed our particular companionship. I'm really grateful that I am getting a fresh, strong companion who'll be able to hoist me up as we walk from appointment to appointment. Sorella Hashey's body has been breaking down and I've seen it time and time again in "dying" missionaries, so I'm just expecting it will inevitably happen to me. Good thing I'm getting a fresh Sorella :) She won't be so fresh after carrying me around for 6 weeks. eheh.

This has been an incredible and miracle-packed transfer. I am very excited for what miracles await for the next 6 weeks.

Sorella Urban
p.s. Pray that I get Sorella Hicks.... she's from Oklahoma!!

maggio 2011,
transfer call week....and lots of conferences

This week we have had miracle after miracle. Mira called us and asked if she could bring her brother to church. We just hope it's for the right reasons and not to get her little brother married off.

Patrizia passed her baptismal interview and is getting baptized this Sunday right after sacrament meeting. She and Anz Acerson made a deal and she has to stop smoking 2 days prior to her baptism......
When we first met her, she said prayers the right way but slowly they have transformed into dedicas to us. She says some pretty funny things in her prayers that are directed at us. We went to her house yesterday and had her write down the steps of prayer and we think she's got it down :) Prayer is a good thing to master before baptism.

Zone Conference went really well and it was a little disturbing having Sorella Hashey giving her departing testimony. I am sure going to miss her. It's been like a "vacation" serving with her because we are both at nearly the same point in our missions and we can talk about most anything without fearing that the other will get homesick. Ormai, we've been away from home for so long that we could go another 10 years without getting homesick :) Just kidding. It was really fun to see Mom and Lenora at stake conference on Sunday. Lenora is worse than a primary kid. I couldn't focus on what the speakers were saying! It was so neat to sit there and look over all the people and be able to either name them or recognize the majority of them. I feel so at home in the Rome stake. Why can't I give my homecoming talk here? No one will recognize me in the singles ward! (wait, maybe that's a good thing.......)
After conference, we sat in moms car and ate sandwiches and fruit salad. Then, we went to meet up with Sorella Hashey's parents. We have seen them everyday this week. We have been teaching Papa' Hashey and it is going well :) They are leaving for Venice and Florence on Friday, and will be back next Wednesday to pick up Sorella Hashey and return to Florida. We've eaten out more this week than in my entire mission combined. Their apartment is right above the spanish steps- Sorella Hashey and I have gone up and down those steps more than two dozen times. I don't think I'll ever return there as a tourist :)

They reserved a tour at the Vatican, so this morning we went to St. Peter's and watched the Pope as he rode around in his Popemobile. (It's really called that. Rumor has it that he was gifted a Ducati in 2009. Who gives an ancient Pope a ducati?!?! He sold it. haha. Smart Pope.) We did a 3 hour tour of the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, and just about everything else. It was really nice having a tour guide because I actually learned something new. Like the Nile river is 16 meters deep. Don't ask me how I learned that from looking at a Roman statue.

What else? Michelangelo painted a picture of the angel of hell and the visage of the demon is the face of one of the Pope's who criticized his artwork alot. Isn't that hilarious? I think I would have gotten along well with Michelangelo.

Oh, for stake conference, we were going to meet with Patrizia halfway and go to the hotel together. We left our apartment early in the morning and got on a tram, but it kicked all the passengers off a few stops later so we were all forced to wait and take a bus. The bus was PACKED and we called Patrizia to let her know that she needed to wait at the busstop and to get on because we weren't (and couldn't) get off. She freaked out and yelled at Sorella Hashey about waiting at the busstop for more than an hour, etc,etc, and she said she was fed up and going home. She didn't answer our phonecalls for an entire 24 hours. And then she called and admitted that she never even reached the busstop.
The moral of the story? Don't blame people for how public transport goes. mamma mia.

Sorella Hashey, while walking arm-in-arm on our way home one night, said, "You make perfect boyfriend height".
Each, EACH of my companions has told me that. (Except for Sorella Olsen- she was taller). It was funny. And it makes me feel manly.

Mizzica. I wish I had something spiritually awesome to share with you, but speaking of not blaming others, it's Lenora's fault because she distracted me the entire conference!
Oh, and we also started english class last week. 5 people showed up. Haha. We need to advertise it more.

Ok, here's for the spiritual thought: When you have doubts- be patient and remember your spiritual experiences: feed your faith, starve your doubts.


Sorella Urban

aprile 2011

Pasqua weekend

I'm going to Ladispoli today for exchanges! I chose to stay and have Sorella Hashey go to a different zone, but President Kelly asked me to go with Sorella Giordano- she is from the North and is a new missionary. I am really excited about returning to Ladispoli and am hoping we have time to make a quick stop at Zia Cecilia's to say hello to her and Nonna. I'm assuming they won't be coming to stake conference next week, so this will be my chance to say hello and goodbye to them, seeing that I am not sticking around after I finish.

This proved to be an interesting Easter. We assembled candy we'd recieved in packages and put them into baskets, made a zucchini bread cake, and attempted to doorbell-ditch the Anziani at 6:45 am. They live a couple of blocks from us- we tried doing it undercover but we weren't even sure which apt building was theirs. We tried one of the doors and couldn't get it opened, so we called and said "buzz open your door. pretend this conversation never happened" and a door buzzed open but it was to the apartment complex behind us. Good thing we called! We imagined that the Anziani were at the peephole, watching for us to approach their door, so we rode the elevator to different floors and then finally slinked up to the door, pressed a finger against the peephole, left the baskets, and then slipped away. They actually didn't discover them until they were leaving their apartment to come to church. I was very impressed that they didn't try to cheat (even though A. Acerson did confess to having stood outside the door waiting for us).

While we were on the curb waiting for Mira to join us to walk to church together, she texted us that she wouldn't be able to make it. Patrizia couldn't come to church either. But it was good to see that the members hadn't left for the Temple trip yet- we heard uplifting talks and all the members were really excited about going to the Temple. It's really neat because it's not a stake organized activity. Rather, it's just most of Rome 3 who organized this together. They will be returning from the Swiss Temple on Saturday. The Anziani had showed up to help the members load their bags onto the bus- we can't let the members fawn too much over them. We are checking in to when they'll be returning and we want to be there to meet with with plates of freshly baked cookies. eheh. Alina Chilut is from Romania and she was baptized last year. She asked us to check in on her family once in awhile. The Elders have been teaching her brother and husband for the past year, but they aren't making progress. Adrian, her brother, is here for work and his family is still in Romania. He likes to bible bash when we are there, so we've handed him over to the Anziani. Luciano, Alina's husband, is very quiet and doesn't respond to the Anziani but, when we are there, he seems to be more receptive.The Anziani have walked in on him reading the Book of Mormon, and he quickly shuts it and sticks it under something, trying to hide that he was reading it. It's pretty strange and funny. We combined our efforts and made a "Thanksgiving" meal for them, which the Anziani delivered last night. We think that what those men need right now is just our friendship and love. Teaching them with words will come later.

During sacrament meeting, a really old woman with no teeth and her daughter (who we think has a disability) stood up right after the sacrament was passed out and went up to the pulpit to speak with the bishop. He tried to wave her away, trying to signal "we'll talk later!" but she didn't notice and turned around and started blowing us all kisses and waving her arms and yelling "Buona Pasqua!". She reminded me of the times when Dad would have to stand up and try to restore order in our sacrament meetings :) (Remember when Mikhail wore my slippers that had the platforms and there was a bunch of dry #2 he was dragging around while passing the sacrament?) Those were such funny experienes. Well. We didn't have any invites for Pasqua, so guess what we did? We came home, ate lunch and studied Italian for an hour, and then went to go find this adorable, crazy old woman. She has a son who is 50 and stays in his room and listens to american music. They have had to pay more than they were expecting for their light bill, so they only have pasta to get them through the rest of the month. It was inspiration to take them zucchini bread. It was really nice to see how much she loves Heavenly Father. She showed us all of her church materials and whenever she came to a picture of Christ, she would say "You know what? I love you" and kiss him a dozen times. She asked us if we would make sure that her daughter gets accompanied to and from church after she dies, because she can't be by herself. They are good examples of dedication. They leave at 7:00 am to make it to our 9:30 meeting, and they leave sacrament meeting early to make it for the bus.

In Gospel Principles, the lesson was on the Atonement and after the closing prayer, Sharon (from the Philippines) turned to us and asked "Sorella, what does "espiazione"mean?" We felt SOO bad that she had gone the entire lesson without knowing what the word "atonement" meant. It's something I need to work on- remembering to explain the most basic and simple things, because often, it's needed. Sorella Hashey and I were reflecting on this the other day- how being missionaries, we teach the basic things of the doctrine that we forget things we knew, like how the celestial kingdom has three levels. I think I knew that before, but it was an interesting rediscovery!

We have been having interesting run-ins with men on the trains. We've stopped talking with men altogether, which has helped a little. It's a little sad, because there are undoubtedly good men who are looking for the truth and who need the Gospel, but we just pray that the Anziani will bump into those ones, since we're "passing them by". Really, if it weren't for Dad and the good men I've had in my life, and having had personal relationships with, I'd become a nun just so that I wouldn't have to deal with them. I feel like Nonna :S

Last week, we wanted to visit Marcella, the Romanian less-active who lives in an abandoned building. We asked the Anziani to go with us because it was getting later in the day. We waited, and waited, and Marcella didn't show up for our appt. It was very strange because it wasn't like her at all- she hardly receives visits so she makes sure to be there on those rare occasions. While we were waiting, a couple drew near and the man said "Fratello, brother!" He pointed to himself and then to the Anziani and repeated "Fratello!" They're from Romania, and from what we understood, he was baptized a few years ago. It was so neat to come across another member! He and his girlfriend live on the floor above Marcella. He came back down with all of his church materials and we gave them the address to the church but he wasn't able to make it. We hope to teach his girlfriend and get him to return to being active. It was a small miracle. There was a reason why Marcella didn't show up.

The Burts is the senior missionary couple who work in the Rome office. We had them over for Pasquetta dinner (Pasquetta is just as big, if not bigger, a holiday than Pasqua and is always the day after).We made Mexican Chef Salad (I've been prounouncing "chef" wrong all this time!) and their visit makes me really excited to serve more missions in the future as a senior. They do so much for the mission here. There used to be 2 other couples helping them with it all, but now they are the only ones left and it's a miracle how they accomplish everything in a timely manner. I am very grateful for the Burts, and for the senior missionaries who selflishly served missions and set good examples for me. (Thank you Radmalls and Drennans! and Grandma and Grandpa Urban!)

Monday was like being back in Mistretta. We had a lunch appointment with Maribel, a new convert who is amazing in giving the missionaries referrals. She had invited Marcella, and it was so good to see how she has taken one less fortunate under her wing. We had fried meat, tuna with rice, and, no joke, a plate heaping with different types of ham, salamis, and cheese. I've never had so much meat in one sitting. We had to race from their to Patrizia's to meet with another homeless Albanian member we'd met the day before, Almada. We walked to Patrizia's together and had apple pie and salami&cheese panini. We'd been planning on doing a picnic but it was overcast and drizzly. Patrizia is still working on giving up smoking ...her baptism is in less than two weeks. We told her that I am giving up apples and Sorella Hashey is giving up chocolate to help her give up cigarettes. This isn't an easy sacrifice for any of us. I love apples. I don't know what I'll do in the U.S. without my Melinda Golden.......
then we rolled home to host the Burts and eat with them. it's a good thing we're doing Marvine this year- I definitely need the exercise!

Patrizia was very kind and offered Almada to, if she doesn't find other housing, move into her vacant room with her 2 daughters. I am grateful for how united the members and investigators are here. They are from all over the world and could easily have "reason" to not intermingle, but they are very close to eachother and look out for one another.

Patrizia lives with her brother, Guido, who has schizophrenia. He is so nice! Sadly, he is a chain smoker and the house is always cloudy with smoke. To make my head and S. Hashey's throat worse, Patrizia lights....incense (sp?) to improve the smell of the air. Ha! We feel that we lose a few dozen brain cells every time we visit, but it's all for a good cause if she gets baptized, right? :) She has seen a change in herself since she has been meeting with the missionaries. She describes it as having more love for others that she used to not even care about the well-being of people she didn-t know. It's true- the purpose of the gospel is to help us become more like Him. We can't reach that goal on our own. We need eachother. That is why it's so important to keep that in mind- we are His hands; I have been directly blessed as a result of someone being willing to put my needs ahead of theirs. I need to make it a conscious, daily effort to make a difference for good in someone's life.

We are going home to write a few letters and then to the Vatican area to do some souvenir shopping for Sorella Hashey. I am really excited to serve with Sorella Giordano, even if it's just for a day. She met A. Squarcia at the Madrid MTC :)
A special thanks to those of you who still write me letters- we get mail maybe twice a month here, so if it takes a while to reply, that's why. We have Zone Conference on the 5th and Sorella Hashey will be giving her dying testimony. And then it'll my turn at the next conference. Oi oi. In the last transfer, the misisonary gets a "dying packet" that includes a list number to 30 that you need to write down 30 blessings of the mission. I think I'll share that in my last email.

Well. This is a summary of my life this past week. It's great being here. We are still in coats half the time, but the sun is shining today and I can't wait for the adventures of this coming week. I am really excited for Lenora to come join us for a couple of days and then to see Mom next week at Stake Conference. It's going to be a great week!

Grazie per tutto! It's May next week!!!

Sorella Urban

marzo 2011,
Italy's 150th anniversary

Sorella Olsen's brother is going to Russia, Moscow West!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If it hasn't changed, then that means he's probably going to serve in Almaty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We have spent some time guessing as to where he would be sent. Oh, and we didn't do email yesterday so that we could find out today, rather than get ulcers from wondering.
This morning we went running in t-shirts! It is summer here. It is beautiful. We turned off the heat. Life is so good.

Saturday night was the windiest night of my life. We couldn't sleep because all the windows and doors were banging. We went to church and everyone else looked as sleep deprived as we did- :)
Scirocco has arrived (the African wind) and I'm ok with giving up some sleep for some warmth. Yesterday, for our preparation day activity, we met up with the Anziani of Palermo 1 (Anz. Roe and McDaniel) and we went up to Gratteri to show them the house of Vincendo di Francesca, and to the cemetery. We found his grave by peering through the grate of the "Di Francesca Famiglia" grave house, but.........it said he died in 2006 or something. No one has to know though. We can triumphantly say that we have been to Vincenzo's grave. Just, not the Vincenzo.

Last week, we decided to do our weekly shopping at a store outside Mistretta that we had never been to. Sorella Olsen does not like driving up hill and after some groaning and hysteria, we reached the parking lot and parked. We walked into Brico Bell, took one look around, stepped back out and burst out laughing. It was a hardware store. Where was all the food? Bo. We might return to look at microwave prices- Sorella Kelly gave us her blessing in looking for one. What a luxury that would be!

Lucrezia is our one primary kid- Sorella Olsen had the inspirational thought of talking about the importance of not repeating vain repetitions in our prayers. I enthusiastically agreed that it'd make for a great lesson because Lucrezia says the same prayer, using the same words, all the time.
Sorella Olsen did a great job teaching the lesson and we asked Lucrezia lots of questions and she seemed to understand the concept of what we were trying to get her to understand. Then, we asked her to say the closing prayer. I could not help but giggle all through it because it was the exact same prayer she always says! After 50 minutes of trying to get her to change her wording..................... :)
She started coming to the 8 y.o. english class we teach in the elementary school basement, and we asked her to say the closing prayer at the end of yesterday's lesson. She asked "The usual one?"
"No Lucrezia, say something about english class. Ask Heavenly Father for help that you and your friends will be able to remember what was taught today."
She said the usual prayer but added that phrase in. I want a daughter like Lucrezia.

Every morning we go running past the cemetery out into the countryside, and we pass one farm with a few dogs in a cage that always bark the entire time we are running. We hop a fence near them that continues down towards the river, and then we turn around, hop back over the fence, pass the ferocious dogs, pass the cemetery, and run back home. Well. Last week, we were on our way back and we were about to climb back over the cow fence when we saw that a dog had escaped and was sharpening its teeth in preparation for our ankles arrival. We knelt down and said a prayer, and when we stood up, the dog was gone. Nowhere to be seen. His evil friends were still barking in the cage, but he was nowhere to be seen. Heavenly Father even cares for our ankles.
I used to like dogs, and I might think of having one in the distant future, but I completely understand why dogs are a missionary's worst enemy.

On Monday morning, we went to do some service- cleaning up a house that Beatrice and Pasquale want to move into when they get married this summer. (Pasquale is our investigator who can't get baptized because he is under Mistretta arrest, and Beatrice Purpari has 2 little girls with him and is inactive). We showed up in our sweats (so strange to be out in public in something other than a skirt!) and ...... they warned us that the woman who lived there did not throw away anything, but we didn't fully understand till we started going through the attic and filling up trash bags. She did not throw away anything. Mom, Nonna doesn't have any hold-onto-junk disease. This woman saved the wrappers of food she ate! I found half a dozen dead lizards and really wanted to send one to Lenora, but didn't. We also found some spiders on steroids that Sorella Olsen squealed over as she attacked with a stick of wood. I am proud of her- she hates spiders- but she kept at it. We spent an hour filling up the trash bags, and then pulled up the car and loaded it up and followed Vito to the dump. He is such a crazy driver! And he chose the narrowest streets. mamma mia.

While we were running this morning, discussing Stareishin Olsen's destination, an older, larger man on a scooter passed us and gave us a funny look- a minute later he headed back in our direction and said "run faster, run faster!" and honked as he zoomed past.

We have been really happy with Maria Grazia and Tiziana (the 31 y.o. women who we teach English to) because they keep the commitments we leave them and they are so nice and sincere. In our last appt we were doing some follow-up and asked them how their prayers were going (we gave them prayer rocks to remind them to pray kneeling every morning and night) and they said, "Good, good! I say Padre Nostro and ......"
What? Padre Nostro? No...............................
It's funny how we thought we had made it very clear to them that we wanted them to pray the way we taught them to pray, but apparently we weren't clear enough. We cleared it up and they agreed to pray the way we pray every morning and night. haha. We walked out of there really glad that we'd discovered this now and not later down the road. How can you find out the truth about principles of the gospel if you say a written prayer?

We met Isabella Purpari, Beatrices sister. She is 22 and moved out of the house more than 6 years ago because of the situation at home. It amazes us how we can feel so much love and concern for someone we barely met. We walked to the beach and sat down and talked about her life. She wants to return to church but is finding it hard to figure people for some things in the past. We are very grateful she is so open with us and wanting to make changes in her life. She has changed her mind about the Sisters. She hadn't wanted to meet with us because she didn't want to be pushed to go to church, but she said she's glad now that we are meeting with her :) On our way home, we stopped and did weekly shopping and ate half a kilo of prunes on our way home. I won't go into detail, but we are never doing that again!

Tonight, we are having a dinner at our house for the Relief Society anniversary. I wish Grandma were here to help! We are the ones putting it together because no one else takes the initaitive to do branch activities. Out of all the Italians who could make pasta, WE are providing the pasta. Pray that Sorella Olsen will be able to recall something she learned during her cooking internship in Siena!

Today is the 150 anniversary of Italia being united! It's really neat seeing all the flags from the balconies. Everyone has stuck out Sicilian flags as well; Sicilians are such proud people.

Mom, I gave Maria Purpari the letter you wrote her. We've been waiting for the right moment and it was the right moment last week- she confuses us because she will say things like "Ive been waiting 30 years for an answer" and then "I know the Catholic Church is right for me because I feel satisfied when I go to mass"..... ai ai . We don't know what we can do for her.

Francesca is going through a really tough time right now and doesn't want to see any of the members. Angela is the only one she will let into the house. I heard that Laurent, my miracle man in Florence, was offended and doesn't want anything to do with the church.
These are the things that make a mission tough. Seeing people make decisions without keeping in mind eternal perspective and how that will affect them and their families in the eternal sense.

We do not know much of what is going on in Japan, but we heard that all the missionaries are safe. What an incredible miracle. Presidente Portera spoke on Sunday about how we should not fear, but we should prepare. 2 Timothy 1:7 reads "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind".
I know that is why we need the Gospel in our lives. That is why we need a living Propeht, the scriptures, the commandments. So that we can have peace of mind in all the things we affront (face?) in life.
I am grateful for the peace and healing the Gospel brings.

Sorella Urban