Monday, December 22, 2008

Italy--Week 6

You asked if I have been able to see some of their cultural things. Not really. Yes, I live among the people. I have been fed by real Italians. I have ridden on their buses. Thats about the extent of it. I think we can go in churches on P-day, but my companion isnt really interested in going places on P-day, and P-day goes by oh so fast as it is. Alexandra wants to take us to a beautiful place near a monastery. We havent set a date for that and I think it will happen after Christmas because there just isnt time.

Christmas: I will be calling from the Eubank's house. I'm a little confused because I thought they said that they had a New York number...but at another time they said they had a Utah number. I don't know what their number is, but it should be American. That's how we're getting it free long distance without a calling card. Yes, that's right. Thank you American military. The plan is set for me to call at 4pm my time which is 8am your time. However, there are some flaws to that plan. This plan requires that my companion has finished calling her dad by 4pm...which I am a little weary to believe. That means she starts at 3 (or 3:15) but we have lunch scheduled with another family and we are never on time! So, the plan is that I call you at 8, I hope it happens. There was also talk about me switching with an elder because they might have another appointment for dinner, but today he said that wouldn't happen. Just keep it in mind though, because people always change their minds at the last minute. That would mean I'd call at 5 instead, which would be 9am. Well, I'll be calling in the morning, we know that. Plan on 8, and then be flexible.

Okay, big news: We got transfer calls on Monday. Well, you already know that I'm staying, because if I weren't then that would mean I'd have no idea what my plan for Christmas is. (Transfers take place tomorrow). Here's the prelude. There are two elders that came in at the same time, have been here for four transfers, and really did not want to leave. Our ZL (Anziano Wilson) wants to die here and our DL (Anziano Biondi) wants to stick around because he really wants to baptize one of his investigators (Mateo). Anziono Biondi's phone rings while he is giving the training in DDM. He answers. Presdient asks his a few questions about Mateo. I hear the president say something like, “There's no change among you elders”. I'm happy because I naively believe that means no one is changing, but then a few seconds later Anziano Wilson. Oh, I realize, he tells each companionship individually. Well, Anziano Wilson receives the news that he's staying and president asks if the sisters are there. Sorella Kenney takes the phone. Anziano Melis whispers “threesome” and my heart clenches. Then Sorella Kenney turns to Anziano Wilson and says “your daughter's coming.” Yes, I'm going to be in a threesome. The story is not over. The President told Sorella Kenney that Sorella Favero was coming. A while back Sorella Kenney forced me into writing President to ask for a threesome. I didn't really think it would happen.

After our meeting, Sorella Barbiere from Prato calls. Sorella Kenney was in the bathroom, so I assumed I was obligated to answer it. However, I didn't understand what she was saying, so I told her Sorella Kenney would call her back. Anziano Melis (the other ZL) made a big deal about how other sisters aren't supposed to be calling without permission from President. Oops, I already said Sorella Kenney would call her back. Well, she does and the conversation leaves everyone baffled. From what I gathered, the conversation went something like this:

S K: We're getting a threesome!
S B: I know!
S K: How do you know? Did my companion tell you?
S B: (I actually have no idea what goes here)
S K: We're getting Favero.
S B: Favero? No, me sister. Me.

But Sorella Kenney didn't pick up on what that was supposed to mean. Well, we ate lunch together, and someone else called. Anziano Melis was right there, so Sorella Kenney told the other person that she couldnt talk. After lunch, she called back her previous companion who told her that she had heard that we were getting Sorella Barbiere. So Sorella Kenney made another illegal phone call to a sister in Rome who confirmed that our third companion is to be Sorella Barbiere. President gave us the wrong name!

The difference between Sister Favero and Sister Barbiere is the difference between getting another American companion and getting an Italian companion! This transfer is going to be difficilissimo, but I am going to learn Italian. I think this is exactly what I need, but that doesn't mean I'm not nervous.

Another thing to consider. Sorella Kenney keeps pointing out that because of how transfers fall, Sorella Kenney had the choice to end after this transfer or go one more. On Friday when we were talking about transfers, I got a feeling that because she stayed another transfer she was going to get what she wanted. I knew she wanted a threesome, but I also knew she wanted to go to Prato. I assumed that she would get a crazy call to Prato, but instead she got a threesome and an Italian companion (something else she wanted).

I don't know if I've told you, but her mother doesn't have cancer right now. The last time she was tested, the doctor said it was gone for now, but it would come back. But this meant she did not have to go through kemo this month, which means she'll have a Christmas. I think her story is exactly like the story Sariah told on the tape to me.

And I have to go soon. Last thing I want to say is that I got the letter from Bryce yesterday. It was dated for Nove 16. It was sent before Raeann's package and I got it after. What that says to me is that letters have a tendency to sit in Rome whereas packages are given to people as soon as possible. (The couple in Pisa went to Rome this weekend, so as they drove by they stopped to give us mail.) So, letters should come straight to my address unless you think Im going to get transferred. Also, I sent you a package through the Eubanks (it had to have their name to through military mail) I sent it home because I didnt have Grandma's address. So, my guess is that it will be waiting for you when you come back.

I am alive and well and all is good. Keep smiling:)

Love,
Sorella Aubry Bjarnason

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Italy--Week 4

Okay, so to fill you in on how my week has been. First, I want to recap from last week (stuff I forgot to tell you). Not last Saturday, but the Saturday before was a day of firsts for me. In the morning, it was the first time that I have ever broken a banana in half. (I know, the things we learn on missions, right?) In the MTC the elders did a lot of breaking bananas in half at breakfast, but I was always too chicken to try in front of people, so in the privacy of my kitchen I tried and succeeded.

It was also the first time for me to try calamari (I have no idea how to spell it). We were checking up on a contact and she wanted us to come to her work. We thought we would have a chance to teach her, but we never did. And we havent seen her since because she never has time for us to teach her. I think she just wants us to come to her restaurant so that she can have business. Sadness, but we didnt expect it and I really had no idea what was going on until we were already sitting down and she was cooking seafood for us.

It was also the first time that I had to tell a man that I couldnt do the double cheek kiss. From what I understand, here in Italy the double cheek kiss is counted as we count a hand shake. It kind of shocked me the first time a girl did it to me. And even being here for four weeks I still feel awkward about when to do it. I think Im supposed to greet every woman with it, but usually I just give a handshake to people I dont know. Then with people I know better I just end up hugging instead. Oh well, Ill get used to it eventually I guess.

Mateo has chosen a baptism date. December 13! But hes not my investigator, so Im not going to go into too much more detail.

Alexandria! My oh my theres so much to say. Starting from last Friday I have seen her everyday, and starting from today I dont think Ill see her again until next Tuesday.

Friday: we had planned to teach her a first lesson. However, something happened and we never got around to it. That was not good. She really needs the first lesson more than anything else. Weve been trying to put one together, but something always happens. Saturday she came to the baptism in Pisa. Excellent! She felt the spirit, I know she did. She said she felt strange, but it was a good feeling. On the train, Sorella Kenney told her about a job that a man in our ward might have for her. She casually said, "You should come to church. He will be there at church." Well, Alexandria did come to church and she said she felt the same as at the baptism.

Then, casually, Mateo invited her to come to dinner Monday night. I was talking to Alexandria at the time and didnt realize that it was something the elders were doing with Mateo. Well, she said she might be able to do it. We planned on watching the Restoration. However, then the Elders said that Mateo couldnt go. So, not wanting to make Alexandria come to the church, we asked if we could buy pizza and go to her house. She mentioned a movie, and Alexandria asked, "What kind of a movie?" very suspiciously. She had to ask her sister if it was okay. So, in an attempt to not be sneaky, Sorella Kenney decided we could watch the Testaments instead because it was more like a movie. After that night it became very clear that we need to teach them the Restoration. There will be other opportunities, I am sure. We are inviting her to feel the spirit over and over, but what she needs now is to understand why our church is different.

Okay, so Monday night: well, before Monday night I had mentioned that I needed to go shopping for a coat. She asked if she could come with me. I said yes, but we could only do it on P-day and Sorella Kenney began thinking about how we could ask to switch some hours so that Alexandria could go with us. Well, on Monday, Alexandria offered me one of her coats that she hasnt worn for a year. Her mom then came in with two skirts to give to me. Then she came in with shoes that I had to turn down because they werent mission appropriate. They are wonderful! And they need the gospel. Anyway, so dont worry about me, everyone else does. Im always going around in short sleeves and everyone always asks me if Im warm. And of course, my companion translates. Anyway, so Alexandria asked that since I no longer needed to go skirt shopping if we could go on a trip to a monastery together instead. And we agreed. Now Sorella Kenney is concocting a new plot. If we make it into a teaching opportunity, then we dont have to go on Wednesday. Then we would have the excuse that we need to share with them a spiritual thought and that will be how we will get the Restoration lesson in.

Up until this point, Sorella Kenney has said we have to share a spiritual thought in order to help Alexandria with English. Well, on Monday Alexandria asked if we could be friends without her being a member of our church. Of course we answered yes. Then she said that she didnt want to change her religion. Im pretty sure disappointment was written all over my face despite the fact that I tried not to let it show. Her family needs the gospel and I dont want her to be closed to it. Shes felt the spirit, but she doesnt want to be pushed. I feel, however, as though the door is a little more open with her sister. Most of the things weve done with Alexandria, weve done just with Alexandria. However, Monday night we had dinner, dessert and a movie with her sister. Her sister is awesome. Anyway, she made the comment, "I dont know which church is true. I believe in God." I know what youre thinking, that was the perfect opportunity to introduce Joseph Smith. Sorella Kenney tried, but something happened and the conversation got dropped for something else. Man, slowly but surely. Were still friends and thats not going to change.

Side note: we got home late Monday night because we stayed too long at Alexandrias house. While walking home, we were walking so quickly that I accidentally fell in the mud. However my companion was talking on the phone and I noticed that she didnt even stop walking. I got the impression that she didnt notice, so I didnt feel like telling her. I figured she might notice when we got inside and saw the mud stains on my dress. However, when we got inside, there were none. I think angels cleaned it while I was walking. So now you know my secret. I fell in the mud. I know thats random.

Okay other news. We havent had too many member appointments...I mean...enough to get by. Well, Thursday we spent Thanksgiving with the Eubanks, the American family. We did have investigators there too, but not all of the elders had them so I dont think that was relevant. We were celebrating Thanksgiving. They cooked turkey and everyone brought something to the point where we had tons of food. WE are being taken care of.

So on Sunday was my first time having two eating appointments in one day. We meant to have lunch at the Eubanks, but due to circumstances we ended up going straight from the Eubanks to the Mitchels. I know what you are thinking. Mitchel doesnt sound Italian either. Brother Mitchel is American but his wife is Italian. Strangely enough, it was Brother Mitchel who decided that we sisters could eat more than we say. I remember saying in the beginning that I wasnt that hungry (we just came from eating). I thought that would be good enough. However, I forgot that in Italy, you eat in courses. We had spaghetti first and I filled. Then they brought out more food. I asked for only one piece of meat, so Brother Mitchel gave me two. Thanks.

Brother Mitchel is the type of person who likes to tease, and the fact that Im more quiet doesnt hinder him. At one point he could tell that I was a little self conscious about how little I speak. So he said, "Youre a good missionary. Its okay that youre quiet." He paused. "All women should be quiet." That, of course, got a reaction from his wife and Sister Kenney...which of course, was his intention.

I am getting worse at Italian, I just thought Id let you know.

Sorella Bjarnason
(aka Aubry)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Italy--Week 3

Ive been thinking about what I want for Christmas. Jello and brownie mixes are what I came up with.

There is an American base here and a family in our ward, the Eubanks, who works on it. Sister Eubanks recently asked if I wanted anything, so I put in an order for root beer. And I got it. So I have root beer. Brownie mixes are kind of big and bulky, but I was thinking that it would be ever so easy to cook with them. Sister Acerson usually gives all the new missionaries a cook book, but she couldnt find them when she was supposed to give them to us. So I have no idea whats in them. I know you cant make chocolate chip cookies the same over here simply because the ingredients are different over here. No I havent tried. My companion does all the cooking and Im okay with that. Shes a little worried about me for when she "dies", but Im really not worried. I might eat a lot of sandwiches, but hey, those are quicker anyway.

Last Thursday, my pretended P-day, as I think I already mentioned, we had a baptism. After the woman was baptized, one of the onlookers declared she wanted to be baptized. She was just so full of energy. After the Branch President spoke she wanted to bear her testimony. She asked Anziano Biondi to baptize her. We are all (except for me) pretty sure that he is getting transferred at the end of this transfer. We told her that, and she said fine, she wanted to get baptized before he left. We set a date. It was decided somehow that we, the Sorelle, would teach her. She was very busy, so we set up an appointment for right after church.

However, the devil has a way of putting people through loops. He got a hold of her and come Sunday she was scared. I, of course, did not understand this at the time. All I saw was my companion talking to her all through Relief Society, all through Sunday School, and into Sacrament Meeting. Before Sacrament Meeting was over, she was saying goodbye. And yes, I felt a little bitter because I know I dont speak very well, but I was looking forward to the opportunity to teaching something that Ive actually studied...the lessons! Well, apparently she told Sorella Kenney that she was going to ask her priest. So she did. Big surprise: he told her not to get baptized. Well, thats the story of Paula. I hope it doesnt end there, but thats where it ends for now.

Alexandria...I mentioned her in my last email. I did not end up meeting with her last Friday. She came to English class yesterday and so I tried to set up another appointment. We may or may not meet this Friday. Then on Saturday theres a baptism in Pisa. She may or may not be able to go. I sure hope she can go because since the baptism is in Pisa, I wont be able to go unless we have an investigator.

Yesterday in English class we talked about root beer. We brought some of my root beer for people to try. Do you know that a lot of Italians dont like root beer? I think thats crazy! Someone said its because to them it tastes like medicine. Alexandria liked it. Shes from Romania though. She said she liked it better than other beer. I remember saying that that was because it wasnt beer. Obviously she didnt understand because my companion had to later explain that it didnt have alcohol and that we dont drink alcohol. Slowly but surely we are going to teach her.

I dont remember if I ever mentioned Virginia last week. I LOVE Virginia. Shes been an investigator for quite a while I understand, but she is so sweet. Shes always telling me shes glad Im here. She really brightens my day sometimes. And yes, most of my conversations with her are in English.

Yesterday I met this lady that is truly crazy, Im pretty sure. I guess she tracks down all the missionaries, shows them pictures of other missionaries with their testimonies, promises a video to remember Italy by, and says that if we ever want to come to Italy after the mission we can stay at her house. She then gives out her address like celebrities give out signatures. Im still not really sure what to think about that. Anziano Biondi told me it was a good thing that I dont understand half the things she says.

Irony of the day: We want bus 9. We get to the bus stop, and nice lady tells us that bus 9 passed...well...okay so I have really no idea what she said. A few minutes later, the bus shows up, but my companion says she doesnt have any of her documents with her, nor her buon amento (I have no idea how thats spelled) which is basically the ticket to ride on the bus. So we pass up the perfectly good bus and go home to get the documents. We came back to the station. We check the times. She declares that it would be better to walk then to wait...we could at least walk to the next bus stop. So we turn around and she fiddles with some stuff, I dont know with what. We walk away from the stop and see bus 9 passing us by. Yeah, if we had only waited a little longer we could have taken the bus. Instead we ended up taking a different bus which doesnt take us directly here to internet and Im not sure that its really faster than walking the entire way.

Well, I dont have much else to say. Maybe Ill go through some old emails to see if theres anything else I can answer or need to address. Or maybe I wont. My tab is already at one euro and 65 cents.

Keep smiling!!

Love, Aubry