Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Christmas meals and presents (Anz. Kessler bought me The Little Mermaid!  He knows me so well!), new years' haircuts and silly pictures.  The mission is so much fun.
Thanks for reminding me of how many people love me and of my siblings' good choices.  I'm very, very happy to hear it.

It was so good to see my family on Christmas!  I always get that feeling afterward--not just with Skype, but also with these emails--that I forgot to say something important, or that I said something silly that didn't need to be said.  I think we all get that way.  The weird part is that there's nothing we can do about it.  I'm reminded sharply of that as 2014 rolls in.  There's no way to turn back the clock and try again, or try it a little different.  We've done what we've done.  Now it's just forward, and making today better than yesterday.  I don't know if that makes as much sense as it does in the little philosophical nook of my head.

Christmas and New Years were both very fun here in Italy.  For Christmas we ate at the Cicciò family's and strengthened our friendship with them, eating fish (seriously, just a big cooked fish on each of our plates.  So good!), playing games, watching "A Goofy Movie" (as was picked by Anziano Kessler and approved by President), Skyping our families, and singing a lot of Christmas songs together.  New Years was... really loud.  They don't have a ball drop in Rome or anything--people aren't partying around their TVs with all their families and friends like I'm used to.  Instead they're out in the streets, setting off BOMBS all over the place!  Not really, but that's what it sounded like.  I could have sworn people were shooting off shotguns into the sky.  Fireworks and cheering were abundant, and I welcomed in the New Year on my balcony by shouting "Quattordici!" as loud as I could.  Good moment, if quick.  Then we went to bed and prepared to wake up six hours later.

Over the last few weeks, missionary work has been a bit weird.  Our excitement about the holidays, the occasional waves of homesickness, and the Italian's traditions make it hard for us to do much productively.  We did visit a lot of member families and have wonderful evenings with them, though.  Lots of food, music, laughter, and confusion (on Anziano Kessler's part).  It's hard for both of us that he doesn't understand Italian yet.  I think back to the beginning of my mission and how frustrated I was that I couldn't participate in conversation, or even understand what everyone was talking about!  Anziano Kessler has a great desire to learn and is improving really quickly, but I still feel bad when his big personality doesn't get the chance to come across, just because of language barriers.  The members already love him, but they would LOVE him if they could get to know him.

I guess that's just part of the mission: patience.  Learning a language takes time.  There's really nothing else we can do but wait, keep listening, keep trying and struggling and stuttering, and eventually it all clicks and we move on to improving, as I'm trying to do.  One step at a time, as I used to say at the beginning of my mission.

I think that's a lot like how Heavenly Father sees things.  He's sort of like our trainer, so to speak.  He knows us really well, and He knows what we can become, and sometimes it must be hard for him to watch us struggle as we grow.  But He knows that things will work out, that one day--if we keep trying--we'll reach our potential, and then we'll start helping other people do the same.  That part is exciting for me, so I can only imagine how happy it makes our God.

I'm so proud of my family, I love my American and Italian friends (and Australian, and so on), and I couldn't be happier with the circumstances I'm in here at the crown of 2014.  This'll be my full year in Italy.  I'll do my best to make it a good one.

Anziano Burton

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