Heeheehee! Oh, Mom, you make me laugh! I love you so much.
I went to Bologna on Monday for our weekly District Meeting, and there I was BOMBARDED by a sack of mail and packages! Wow, what a birthday surprise! They had built up at the office and then sent them along my way with my Zone Leaders who live in Bologna! Unfortunately I don't think I received all 20 cards that you sent: 18 clever birthday and two packages, one with chocolate and one with American deoderant.
Because you numbered the card on the back (you guys are so awesome!!), I know that I've received 1-18. So maybe I still have some birthday mail waiting for me at the office! I have no idea when I'll get it, but it'll bring back tons of birthday happiness and memories when I do, and I'm sure that will be very welcomed.
I turned 20 years old at 10:03 today. I was born in Las Vegas at 1:03 in the morning, so taking the time change into consideration, I sat down at this very computer as a nineteen year old, and now I'm twenty. I'll never be a teenager again. Needless to say, I'm feeling very sentimental and philosophical. My journal is full to the brim with museful meanderings as of late. I find writing in my journal to be very centering, and I love to go back and see how I've changed or what I experienced. I often learn from myself, so to speak. Keep a daily journal! It's a fun, rewarding practice.
Today I'm going to Bologna again, this time to eat at a nice restaurant and maybe do some birthday shopping. Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! I got so many letters and emails and my heart feels full to bursting. I was so nervous to turn twenty, but so far it's been one of the happiest days of my mission! Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of my fratelli, parenti, e amici.
It's weird... I can understand Italian now without even trying. Also, President Dibb initiated a new rule earlier this week: we must speak only in Italian outside the apartment, both to respect the Italians around us and to learn the language faster. What a sensible, inspired concept! I've grown more in the language over the last six days then I had through all of August. It's so exciting, I love Italian.
Mom, I'm reading Talmage's "Jesus the Christ", which is a literally amazing book, and I recently read about the signification of "salt" and why Jesus calls us the salt of the earth. So you sending this added insight is a miracle! I love when stuff like that happens. Another example: Anziano Marin and I got the letters you sent to our apartment (thank you!), and I almost started crying when I found the purple piece of paper on which you had printed Elder Holland's "Don't you quit" story. I had written about that story in my journal not two days earlier.
Maybe I'm not seeing the miracles that my friends on missions see: baptisms and amazing spiritual lessons and exciting finding moments. But I am growing in Ferrara, and every day I see God's hand--or, perhaps, His smile--reminding me that I am loved, divinely and on earth.
So are you. No matter who you are reading this, you are also loved by God and by all the truly charitable people in this beautiful world. It sounds cheesy and corny, but I know that it's true. I love you! Thank you for reading, and now matter how long you've known me--be it twenty years or twenty minutes--I'm grateful for your friendship.