Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Ciao, tutti! Unfortunately I don't have that wonderful of a letter to write this first week in Italy. Remember when Elder Roundy's companion was sick? Well guess what... I'M the sick companion. I've been down with a virus since day 2. I felt awful, my head was heavy and dizzy, I still cough up nastiness all the time, and I've been running a fever for the last week. We haven't done much missionary work, unfortunately. I feel really bad for my companion, but he just laughs at me and tells me he'd rather me survive my first week than die trying to run faster than I have strength. But I'll tell you as much as has happened... which, now that I think about it, is still quite a lot.
I'm sitting in an "Internet Point", which is just a little room with computers, where you pay to use the internet. It's not crazy expensive, but it's the only way that all of us can have our 90 minutes (which is the new time limit!). There are four of us living in our apartment here in--well, I'll get to that in a second. Geez, this Italian keyboard is really hard to use.
So here's how my last week went: We flew from SLC to Chicago to London and then to Milan. I should have slept on the flight from Chigaco to London, but I turned into a missionary instead and taught, like, four rows of people about the Book of Mormon. It was a pretty nifty experience, I'll tell you more about it when I get home. It was a HUGE plane and when we landed the British and Scottish flight attendants asked if a little group of us wanted to see first class and meet the pilots while the flight was unboarding. So we did. It was amazingly high tech and fancy up there, and the pilots were very nice--and British. I can't tell you how cool it was to be in London. The Heathrow airport is super nice and "posh" and everything was so different. The weather was awful all over Europe or something, because from the moment the sun came up while we were flying over Ireland, we couldn't see a thing thanks to the fog. I was so mad. But I sang every Irish song I know, and that made me feel a little better. Then the flight to Milan was really short and I slept through most of it, but woke up just in time to watch us dip below the cloud level and gaze upon the beauty of the Italian countryside. OH MY GOODNESS. I nearly died then and there. But I didn't, and that's the important part. Hopefully I can keep up not-dying for a while yet.
Everything here is OLD. Like, even the "new" stuff just... feels old. The very air is old. I can't explain it. There's a ton of grafitti and everyone smokes, but it's relatively clean nonetheless. The weather has been cold and rainy (and, at one point, snowing SNOWBALLS from the sky) but it's starting to warm up. In Milan, after we landed and gathered our luggage, we were greeted by missionaries who were leaving the next day and they took us on a bus to the church building in Milan. There we split into two groups--elders and sisters--and while one received some instruction in the church, the other went to the DUOMO and PROSELYTED. And then we switched. I was way too scared to proselyte, really. I can't understand half of what these wonderful people say. They're so Italian! It's almost hilarious! Everyone is expressive and stylish, and there are more old people than I've ever seen in my life. The Duomo was absolutely breathtaking and I could have stayed there all day. It was a dream come true to be there in person. We got to go inside for a few minutes, too. I hope to go back someday on my own time. Right now I'm on the Lord's.
Okay, then we all went back to the church and had interviews with President Wolfgramm, who is THE BEST. He carries a great sense of authority and just eminates love for us and for the Italian people. His wife is a crackup, too. I've already heard the funniest stories about her from my companion and roommates. But I'm getting there. Sorry for the long letter. Oh, right, Wednesdays are now P-Days, just to make that clear.
We had an amazing dinner at an amazing, legitimate Italian restaurant where we had pizza and lasagna and... gaaaah, it was so good. But it was presented in American style, salad first and whatnot, so I have yet to enjoy my first full Italian meal. Then we went to a hotel and slept like rocks, and then we had breakfast there which was incredible (did I mention I gained 10 pounds at the MTC? I ate a big breakfast. Since then I haven't eaten much, as you can imagine), and then we went back to the church to learn our trainers and assignments. The process was really cool--they had the trainers sit on one half of the room and the greenies on the other half, and no one knew who they were being paired with, and then the trainer would stand up, tell a little about their city, and be handed a packet with their trainee's name on it. There were, like, 30 of us, or something like that, and I was among the first to be assigned.
My trainer's name is Anziano Burr (haha, Burr and Burton). He's from Fern (or Ferrin, maybe?), Utah, and is a SINGER/SONGWRITER! He's been out for nearly a year, speaks excellent Italian, and we are serving together in... (Mom, get Nathan Henry on the phone)...
That's right, my first area is Padova, 3.5 hour train ride from Milan, no time at all from VENICE itself. Can you believe it!? If I wasn't sick, we'd probably have gone to Venice today. I'll be here with Anziano Burr for at least 6 weeks (one transfer), and I could not be happier.
We live here in Padova in a little apartment on the third floor of a green building not far from the church (which has its own building). And guess what? The first thing we did when I got here was have a baptism. An African woman named Florence was baptized. It was a beautiful thing. Don't let anyone tell you Italy is not a baptizing mission. The field is white here, already to harvest. In the two hours I was able to proselyte in Centro (central Padova: every city has a center called Centro) we got the phone number of a man named André and talked to an Italian couple pushing a stroller. Oh, it was amazing. I wish so badly I could speak the language already. I'm not nearly as close as I thought I was. Elder Calhoun was right: this ain't the language they taught me at the MTC.
Luckily, the other copia (couple, aka companionship) in our apartment are the capi di zona (zone leaders), Anziano Treadway from California and Anziano Modugno from right here in Italy! He speaks English well, but he's Italian through and through. I already love all three of these elders, and I'm so grateful for their patience with me, especially poor Anziano Burr who's stuck indoors with me all day.
Here are just a few things that surprised me here: the driving is CRAZY. We had to ride bikes to Centro, and I thought I was gonna die. There's no speed limit, the streets are tiny, everyone's darting this way and that... but everyone seems to know what they're doing, and they're all pretty nice about it. Like, they don't mind stopping for bikes and walkers, probably because there are a ton of both. And the cars are all tiny and cute. And the time is measured by 24 hours here (so, like, it's 14.14 right now) and decimals and commas are switched in numbers (1,00 euro is like 1.00 dollar, but 1.000.000 is a million) and there are old church bells ringing all over the place all the time and EVERYONE wears super fitted clothing and... gah, I love it all. I can't wait to enjoy it more when this virus goes away.
Okay, this letter is already way too long. Hopefully I get better in the next few days and have some more exciting things to share with you next week! Thanks so much for your prayers and support, especially now while I'm healing. Oh, and one more thing: the mail system here is pretty crazy. Don't send packages. Seriously, just don't. If you're feeling generous, put some extra money in my Gesa account, but packages are highly discouraged here. Also, it'll take me a really long time to get any letters, so for those of you who are writing me that way, be prepared to take "snail mail" to the next level.
I love you all and hope all is well! Arrivederci.