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.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

There's So Much to Love

Thanksgiving went fine over here in Italy.  They don't even really know what it is, so we tossed stuff about gratitude into lots of lessons and English Class.  That was a lot of fun, getting our students to think about and express in another language what they are grateful for.  Even in difficult circumstances, there's so much to love.

Love has been more and more important to me.  I think I really learned about love in November of 2014.  I'll be grateful forever to Heavenly Father for the lovable people He put in my path.  Those feelings were missing.

Now it's suddenly December, and you can tell in our apartment.  We're singing Christmas songs like nobody's business.  Anziano Vaclaw, the new guy in the apartment, is a really good singer and an excellent harmonizer.  He and I are like songbirds, singing about sleighbells and winter wonderlands as one of us hangs up laundry and the other makes a sandwich, ha!