Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Final Blog From Italy

All these deaths are really saddening.  [Two missionaries from our area have unexpectedly passed away this month] I'm so sorry for their families.  It's hard to be happy when others are mourning.

9:23??  Whoa, I wasn't expecting that.  Lots of travel ahead, I guess.  And I have a room!!?  Wow, I wasn't expecting that either!  Ha!  Cool!  I had a dream last night that after appreciating the carpet, I literally flew to my bed and cried happily into my pillow.  Somehow I think it'll be even better in real life... even if I can't fly.

I'm excited too.  I'm so excited.  But... it's hard to leave Italy.  And this perfect school of learning. But I'll talk about that more in a minute.

Whew.  This is weird.

Well, here I am.  The last PDay.  The last time sitting in a nasty, creepy internet point and writing too fast for 90 minutes to a sliver of the people I love.  Yesterday was a great "last full work day".  We taught 2 lessons and found a new investigator, which is pretty awesome for an opening companionship in a city like this.  I'm proud.  And happy.

Yeah, you read that right, I'm happy.  I'm really happy.  But it's a... sad kind of happy.  Hmm.

There are so many things I look forward to in the next week.  Tomorrow I wake up early and head to Milano Centrale.  There I'll take a little train to the Mission Office where we'll get situated, interviewed, and then... I dunno, whatever missionaries do when they finish.  I've never gotten this far.

Then we'll eat and sleep and get on a plane and fly home.  Ha!  Just thinking about that makes me shiver and giggle.  It's weird.

I wrote a poem, and I think that's how I'm going to finish this final blog.  Well, maybe I'll say some closing remarks after the poem, but... anyway, here it is:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fixer Upper

Oh, man.  I don't know what to say when it gets down to the wire.  This is my second to last email.  Sorry if the lack of missionary-y stuff makes it anticlimactic.  Believe me, it's boring on my end, too.

Last night I could barely sleep.  There's just so much coming.

I feel a lot of love.  I feel the love of God for me, for all of you, and for this whole big wonderful mess we're in.  I feel love from my friends and family, and I feel tons of love for them.  It's great, it's all great.

I'm going to miss Italy so much.  We went up to Città Alta and got a great view from behind the Fortress.  Wow.  Hopefully I get to the opportunity to send some pictures home soon.  Maybe later today.  We wanted to go to a cool island in the middle of a lake, but it's raining.  Uffa.

I'm freezing cold.  I should have brought my new coat that I bought last PDay.  I love it, dark grey peacoat, super skinny and European.  I'll wear it home.  In nine days.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Love Light

Sorry, here's a really short one.  I'm in a terrible position squished super close to the keyboard and I can barely type.  Ugh.

I saw Mattia Modugno on Sunday!  His girlfriend (fiancee!) lives here in Bergamo so he came to visit for the New Year.  He's like the bread around the sandwich of my mission.  He's also my Italian brother and we love each other a lot.  It was so great to see him.  I think I'll see him again today.

It was Anziano Hillyard's birthday yesterday, so we took some cool things (funicolare) up above Città Alta to a super nice restaurant with the greatest view of the valley.  Oh, it was phenomenal, and the plate I ordered was so good.  I'm going to miss that... I'm probably going to miss everything.

Two more emails after this.  I'll fill these two last weeks with light.  I have come to love light and understanding more than anything, especially when it comes to other people.  We fill each other with light through love.  Beautiful, isn't it?  I almost wish I could write a song.

Anziano Burton

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Italian Snow

This week was better than last.  Christmas was nice -- even if it never really felt like Christmas, but I'm glad I got to Skype my family -- and then on Saturday it SNOWED!  One of the only things I wanted to see and hadn't yet was Italian snow.  It was beautiful.  We walked through centro and took the funicolare to Città Alta.  I was in heaven: huge, slow snowflakes falling among the ancient buildings and brave evergreens, while adults dared to finally smile and children shrieked and danced in the streets.  I'll admit I did a bit of skipping and giggling as well.  Okay, a lot, actually.  It was a dream come true, okay?

Thanks for your faith in and prayers for the work here.  When I saw Anziano Horrocks in Milano during transfers, he told me to find a man that he found a year ago while serving in this same branch.  We did find him in the Area Book and were able to meet him yesterday.  He's a worried young father with great morals and lots of respect.  I'm excited to help him find a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Truly Magical Moment

Buon Natale!

I got an onslaught of other envelopes from a bunch of people out of the blue, so I'll be busy responding to all of you kind folk over the next few weeks.  Thanks for the Christmas love and well wishes!  They are returned wholeheartedly, e per lo più in italiano.

We caroled several times this week.  I might pop up on YouTube somewhere: I stood up on a little stone column in centro and sang O Holy Night at the top of my lungs.  Passerbys took videos and the whole piazza got silent to listen.  A truly magical moment for me.

But now we're all sick, ha!  All four of us in the apartment have caught a little cold.  We finally taught our first lesson as a companionship this week, and I think the work will pick up a bit after the holidays.  That's a nice thought.  For now we're trying to rest and get our voices back so that we can talk to our families tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sing Up in Città Alta

I had tons of emails today and I'm technically out of time already.  But I'll write as fast as I can and answer some of these questions.

First of all, thanks to everyone for the kind words based on last week's email.  I got lots of compliments, encouragement, and love.  I appreciate it more than you all realize, so thank you.

Here are my mom's words:  So, tell all! The good, the better, and the best. Living quarters, companion in three adjectives, ward level, dinner menu, favorite line to say to strangers, areas you will be most effective here, just pour on the details.

Going to Milano for transfers was super fun.  I got to see Anziano Kessler!  I freaked out as I walked up to him.  He saw my smile and laughed, "Okay, just don't start crying!"  And we hugged like father and son.  He's headed to Ancona!  I hope he says Hi to Paolo for me.

This city is gorgeous, especially Città Alta, which is in MY area!  Yeah, of the 12 ways that Bergamo is divided, I happened to get the most gorgeous part of the city.  It's old and... just super cool.  Look it up.

The guys I live with here are amazing!  Everyone's so different, so fun, and I think we're all gonna get along really well here.  So that's nice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

Here's the last email I'll be sending from Reggio Emilia.  On Saturday we got transfer calls, and I was surprised to learn that our companionship is being closed.  Both Anziano Smith and I are going to different cities while Anziani Stoll and Vaclaw will take over all of our work and serve with only the sisters here in Reggio.

I'm going to be really honest in this email, so those of your with weak emotional constitutions may want to click over to YouTube and watch cute cat videos instead.

I can't believe this is happening.  My first emotions were all just sad.  A few times I've felt angry, but only at myself.  If we had found more, taught more, and baptized more, would the companionship have stayed open?  I don't know.

I've made dear, dear friends over the last six months here in Reggio.  And I only have six weeks left.  I thought surely that I would stay here to finish the mission.  Instead, I'm being flung from Roberto, Marco, Godfrey, Festus, Emanuele, Sebastian, Vescovo, the English class students... Sorella Quinton... Anziano Stoll......

And all right before Christmastime.