Last weeks dinner with the office couples and Sorella Kelly was enjoyable and very brief. I was sitting near Sorella Valentine and halfway through the meal I noticed that she was eating strangely..... she was eating with a knife because we hadn't given her a fork!
Sorella Pearson is coming up to take my place and follow-up train Sorella Hicks. I start getting jealous just thinking about it, so I'll leave it at that. Sorella Pearson is a wonderful sorella and I know that Sorella Hicks will have a blast with her. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she will be up to sleeping outside on the balcony. The only disadvantage are the bugs! Sorella Hicks repels them to me! Every morning I wake up with half a dozen spider bites on my face and a 1,000 mosquito bites from my elbows to my fingertips. It looks like I'll have to wear some foundation for my return trip home, otherwise people will think I'm a sickly missionary and that my face disease is contagious :)
A few Saturdays ago we went to a members house in Albano (outside of Rome, where the Pope has his summer house) and we met Giulia, an 11 y.o. friend of the members daughters. She came to church last Sunday and rather than going to Gospel Principles class, we fished her out of young womens and taught her the Resoration in a separate room. She is the most innocent and mature 11 y.o. I've ever met. She expressed confusion as to how she'll know which church to be baptized in, and she agreed to pray to know. We are going back on Saturday to follow up and to teach her.
Last week I wrote that Elder Texiera "implied" a challenge of getting 21 lessons in the week. Sorella Hicks and I decided we would shoot for 23- we left the apartment at 10:00 and returned at 21:00. It was a sweaty and tiring week, but we had 25 lessons and we have the most progressiving investigators we have ever had so far!!!! Missionaries really do lose the vision but He never does. I know I've been working below my privileges and this past week has been incredible. Although I know I could have always done more, I am very grateful that I feel happy about the mission.
We were sitting on the trenino going to Patrizia's, when all of a sudden, a noise like no other rent the air. It took me at least 20 seconds of bewilderment to figure out what it was\where it was coming from. It was a chinese man whose arm was pinned in the train door!! I didn't think anything human could make the noise he was making. Once the doors reopened, he extracted his arm and for the next 5 minutes, he did arm exercises and stretches, testing to see if anything was broken. It was tragic for him, but I was fighting laughter the entire time. I think I found it so funny because it's something that I could see happening to me. (And it's happened to Sorella Hicks and all I could do was laugh and point at her!)
THEN, on the trenino back from Patrizia's, we squeezed on and I realized that we'd walked into the middle of a fight between a Morrocan and a Romanian. Up till that moment I don't think I could identify swear words. That definitely isn't the case anymore! An old woman was telling them to break it up and they were in eachothers faces, challenging the other to "settle it at the next stop". The tension in the train was tangible, and I'm not sure what got into Sorella Hicks (maybe it was the fact that she couldn't understand) but she started laughing so hard that she was wheezing and I was trying to be upset with her so that she'd stop laughing, but I started giggling because the timing was so inappropriate. I pictured them turning on us, making peace between themselves, and beating us up. I don't know how we got off that train alive.
Speaking of the ghetto train, the other day we got off at our stop and 3 Romanian men jumped off at the last second and while we were walking home, they zig-zagged in between cars to make as if they weren't following us (they couldn't have been more obvious) so we passed our apartment and walked to the park to lose them. They kept following us so we decided that we had to talk to people so that they'd lose interest in waiting, and we approached a family on a bench and I tried starting up a conversation with her but the second she saw our tags she told us to leave them alone, and I insisted on talking to them and she tried shooing us off again. Finally, I was like "Look, can we just please talk to you? There are men following us" and the change in her was incredible. She immediately engaged us in conversation and kept a watch on the men, "wait, they are hiding behind some cars" and let us know when the coast was clear. She didn't accept any pamphlet, but who knows? Maybe she'll run into some missionaries a few years from now and listen :)
In the MTC, one of the teachers, Fratello Lisonbee, shared a story with us of a woman he met, Maria, who he felt he had met in the preexistence. After a few rough months, she was baptized and the morning of her confirmation, she came to church and said that she didn't want to be confirmed; her friends had told her some bad stuff about the church and she needed to rethink things. Fratello Lisonbee cried while telling us about Maria and the experiences he had in finding and teaching her, and when I arrived in Rome 3, while I was going through the area book, I found Maria's teaching record. Yesterday, we went to go find her. We walked the entire way in the middle of nowhere to find her place but she wasn't home.I wondered, "How did the Elders get to Maria's?" On our way back, we discovered that the bus that passes infront of our house goes directly to Maria's. It was a sad moment not finding Maria, but a funny moment feeling our sunburned necks and waching the bus go by.
We all fasted for Guido's trial.......and they put it off for next February. How is someone expected to get on with life? Poor Guido. We still haven't figured out what this means for his "baptismal" circumstances, but we are confident that things are working out the way they need to be.
Alina invited us over yesterday at 14:00 to meet her new friends. Turns out that she was stopped by two Jehovah witnesses in the park the other day, and she'd invited them over to her house. Alina was adorable. She had her scriptures all set out and the Restoration DVD ready to play. I tried not to be biased but I felt that I knew how it was going to go, and I was right. They just wanted to prove us wrong, so we told them that the only way they can know is through prayer, and then we said we had to go, "but could we leave with a prayer?". They politely declined and said that they could step out of the house while we prayed. I replied, "it's only a prayer to thank Heavenly Father for our blessings" and they wouldn't agree to it and left. On our way home, Sorella Hicks told me that Jehovah Witnesses aren't allowed to pray with Latter-Day Saints.
On Sunday, we showed up for our appt at Odile's, and she asked if we could help her do some housework. Remember, this is Odile who has a roomates, Jeisha, who hates white people. While I was leaning over the toilet bowl scrubbing it, I heard a door click open and out of the corner of my eye I was Jeisha, with her lion hair framing her face, looking at me with sleepy but peircing eyes. She told me that I didn't have to clean, and I said that I didn't mind. She then ordered me to stop cleaning and, looking at Odile, told her that she should be ashamed for taking advantage of us. She and Odile had an argument for a second and I didn't want to die from being attacked by a toilet scrubber, so I peeled off my gloves and stepped out into the kitchen. Yeekes. Jeisha is scary. I can understand Odile and how she feels in not getting along with a roommate. It's not a pleasant thing to not feel comfortable and peaceful in your own home. Odile is trying to move out this week which is sad because she will be in the Rome 2 zone, but at least she wants to continue meeting with the Sorelle. We are having a picnic with her tonight to wrap up preparation day. She is cooking us food from her county, Togo. I will let you know how that goes :)
Mom, do you know Veglia and Elio Franca? They insist having met us years ago a Roma 1.....
We went to their house for Sunday dinner. They had cavolaccio, the weed plant thing that I ate everyday in Mistretta. Sorella Hicks sure had a hard time getting it done, but as always, thank goodness they always have bread at the table. Bread can get most everything done without gagging. We also had pink pink sausage and a bag full of chocolate. The chocolate was the highlight of the meal if that wasn't obvious. Rome 4 has such good members.
We went to the Bishops house on Monday night- I learned SO much from just listening to Vescovo Ligas. He and his wife have moved their family back and forth between France and Italy, following the promptings of the Spirit, and usually leaving everything behind. The members here in Italy are special. It would hard being a new member, and I admire and respect each and every one of them for the trust they put in the Lord and for their willingness to "go and do". They spoke about "moments in Zion" and how we need to have spiritual experiences to prepare ourselves from having "moments in Zion" to our life of being in Zion. I was spiritually nourished and strengthened listening and learning with them.
eeks. Is this really my last email? I want to include a list I finished this morning that I have to turn in to Pres. Kelly tomorrow at my final interview.
The blessings that I have recieved during my mission (During your mission you have developed talents, characteristics, knowledge and testimony. Please make a list of thirty of these talents.)
1. Attitude is not the result of success; success is the result of attitude
2. Never let someone else define who you are, what you're doing, or where you're going.
3. The only way is the "go and do" in the Lord's way
4. Change is consistent
5. The secret to happiness is to count blessings and recognize the tender mercies and miracles of the Lord
6. I don't know everthing and it's okay. God does know everything- trust Him.
7. Happiness is a choice, not a consequence.
8. My own Christlike attributes are more valuable to me than a 100 Christlike attributes in someone else.
9. Power comes in the doing.
10. Most everything requires team effort. i need to do my best at doing my part.
11. The commandments are 100% for our benefit.
12. The value of time and the importance of using it wisely.
13. The importance of acting and reacting with eternal perspective.
14. There will always be an excuse. I cannot have both the performance habit and the excuse habit.
15. I have learned to recognize and appreciate the perfect organization of the Church.
16. God's plan of salvation is perfect (2 Nefi 31:21)
17. I've come to realize that patience and charity will take me at least a lifetime to develop.
18. The best is yet to be- faith is always pointed toward the future.
19. The influence of a parent. The importance of being a good example and making following Christ a top priority.
20. I feel better prepared to face life. I know what I need to do to get through.
21. You can't always get what you want, but you always get what you need.
22. I've learned that what matters most is what lasts longest.
23. I've gained a much deeper appreciation for my friends and family, especially my parents.
24. I have made hundreds of friends, many of which will be for the eternities.
25. Having companions and learning from those around me, I have developed better communication skills and feel more prepared for marriage.
26. I feel better prepared in recognizing the promptings of the Spirit and the process of recieving personal revelation.
27. We really are the Lord's hands. He will (and does) bless me through others and I must do the same.
28. I've seen myself stretch beyond what I thought I was capable of; I definitely have had an increase in self-confidence.
29. I have been given much, and therefore, much is required.
30. I have an increased love for others.
I am so happy to be me.
Wow. I can't believe I am wrapping up the last email I will write as Sorella Urban. This has been the most incredible time of my life. I know that God lives and that His Son, Jesus Christ, made the way possible through His Atonement. I am so grateful for the guides that He has given us today, the Spriit, the commandment, a living Prophet, the scriptures- we have exactly what we need to make it through this life victoriously and return to Him with our loved ones. His plan for each of us is perfect. I am grateful and humbled for all the things I have been able to learn and experience. I am sad that this particular experience is coming to an end, but as Elder Holland put it, "The best is yet to be". The best really is yet to be. We must always go forward, and that is what I will try my best in doing.
I am excited for the future and for this next chapter in life.
I love you all. Thank you for your prayers, support, letters, encouragement, and good example.
p.s. A reminder that Billy Hashey will be baptized in 3 days and confirmed in 4!!!