Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Give and Take
Goodness, so little time! I'm going to apologize right now for all the people who write me personally that I'm not replying to yet. An hour and a half is not enough, so I'll probably stick to making the blogs as all-inclusive as I can. Thanks and love to all who write me!
Got a bunch of letters. Will reply and send them sometime this week.
I've got a ton of stuff to write, so sorry if I miss any questions. Send them again if I do! I hate being rushed... andiamo.
Can someone send me Sister Hall's email address? That'd be great. It was so fun to see her lead the Church in General Conference! I was aching to be back in the Men's Chorus while they sang... but then I remembered I'm a missionary in Italy, so, y'know, give and take. I got to watch Conference in a town called Mestre, in English, with a bunch of other missionaries and some English-speaking African members who live here. We all crammed into the genealogy room and watched it on a computer. Didn't get to see the final session due to the time difference, unfortunately. Can't wait for the Ensign! Mestre is a land-bound extension of Venice, which I'll talk about soon. The church there used to be a villa (mansion) some hundreds of years ago. So cool!!
Now that conference is over, we don't "have" to wear jackets anymore. I was pretty bummed out about it. I love wearing a suit jacket. Most missionaries are pretty relieved, though. I guess it gets ridiculously hot here with the humidity, and the mosquitoes (zanzare) are awful. Great. I can't wait.
But even on the precipice of sunburns and blood loss, I can't help but smile all the time. I'm in Italy! There are so many things to love here. I love the people and how Italian they are. There's really no other way to describe it. So full of life and passion for everything. It's just for me! I wouldn't mind living here a bit, I don't think, as far as the people go. We're flat-out rejected on the streets 99% of the time, but well over 75% of those rejections are very kind, which is uplifting. Some of them are... less kind. But they're memorable, and afterwards hilarious.
Half of the people in Italy are over 80 years old. That's what it seems like, anyway. The rest is comprised of gorgeous women, adorable children, and really good cooks. Of course I'm teasing, but I'm honestly amazed at how many old people there are. And they don't just sit around in their houses... they're out walking around in the streets, taking slow steps down the sidewalk, looking at the blooming trees and talking with their lifelong friends. It's so charming and comfortable. I love it here.
I'm starting to experience the difficulty of a mission. Everyone tells you how hard a mission is, but I honestly didn't expect this. I thought I was totally prepared, and in a lot of ways I am. Thanks to my mom, I'm well-versed as far as the doctrine I'm teaching, but the emotional stress and feeling of inadequacy is what gets to me. Rejection after rejection is taxing and, frankly, frustrating. But I can't be grumpy, because who wants to listen to a grumpy American blondie who looks 16 and waves a free book in your face? So my anger kinda boils into discouragement, which chases away the Spirit, and it's all downhill from there.
BUT, there's a way to stop the downfall. Know what it's called? ATTITUDE. And how do I maintain a good attitude? By remembering how blessed I am: the message I carry, the place where I'm serving, my family and friends, my talents and opportunities, the love of my God and sacrifice of my Savior... an endless list of blessings turn that frown upside down.
And then there are the miracles. I can't describe it. I see miracles every single day. It's especially powerful when I pray in faith for something specific, and then miraculously witness it the next day. Or sooner! President Monson is right: "When we deal in generalities, we shall never succeed; when we deal in specifics, we shall rarely have a failure." I invite you to try something this week: seek for a miracle. You are allowed to actually expect miracles when you apply correct principles. It's promised by God himself. SO, if you need a miracle, 1) ask for it and 2) live righteously, and I promise you from experience that you will see a real, veritable miracle from the hand of God. It's amazing and so faith-building. I cannot doubt my God.
There's a particular miracle I'll share with you next week when I plan my writing-time better. Remind me to tell you about the college students! It's amazing!
There are these creepy/cute little geckos here that scurry over the sidewalks and climb up walls and stuff. So cool. Just one more example of how different this place is to what I'm used to.
Okay... I have ten more minutes to tell you about VENICE. I have a ton of pictures to send, and I'll try really hard to get those to you next time. I don't have the means yet, but I promise I'm taking tons.
Venice is hard to describe in words--impossible, really. The only thing I can say is to keep your expectations high, because it will surpass every one of them. Walking through those narrow streets and feeling, as well as seeing, the age of every building, soaking in the colors and the SMELLS... even the occasional whiff of the canals' stench is worth the memory, but I'm talking about the good smells. The bakeries you suddenly walk past and can't help but gasp at the flood of senses that wash over your every thought. It's truly magical. I don't know how else to describe it.
I'll tell you more about my first experience in Venice when I get to send those pictures. It'll be way easier that way. For now, just know that it was honestly a dream come true. I didn't understand that phrase until I was leaning over a tiny bridge and gazing at the ancient edifici of the City on Water. What a privilege to live here, to serve here, and to buy awesome ties here from an adorable little old lady who's bent in half and has lived in Venice her entire life. Gaaaaah. Life is beautiful.
Also got to teach English a few times at the Church. Teaching is so fun! And English is sooooo hard. And Italian? Well... I'm not fluent yet, let's just say that.
I really do love you all, and because of that, I want you to know how much I love our Savior. I believe in Jesus Christ with all my heart, and I know He restored the fullness of his lifechanging and simple gospel through Joseph Smith. Read the Book of Mormon. Everyone who reads these words, please read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true. Not only will it lead you to a knowledge of great spiritual things, but it's also a super cool true story with amazing examples! Nephi is the man! I can't wait to meet him.
Arrivederci. Scegliere il giusto!