Friday, June 26, 2009

Pirri, Sardinia (Sardegna)--Week 15

Is it wrong that I am laughing inside that the MTC is still locked up? No, I don’t know anything. No one around me is training so it hasn’t affected me at all.

Hmm, I’m filling a little down because I’m looking over what we’ve done. We’ve had some great appointments, but none that I feel like I need to talk about. We have a few more investigators. There is one man that we met outside of the church. He was pretty awesome. We passed him over to the elders and he didn’t mind at all. That’s always a good thing. I actually have a lot of hope for him. I also think it’s good for him because one of the elders really knows how to relate to people.

We have brought ex-Sorella Mura with us for some lessons. That I think has been the best for me. She is very bold and knows how to be direct with the people. That’s what I need to work on. Of course, it’s also easier for her to teach in Italian since she is Italian, but I know that if we do the things we are supposed to, our weaknesses will not interfere with progression. Some of things we are supposed to do are to study the language, but also to invite members to our appointments.

On Sunday, I told Sorella Mura’s grandpa (Fratello Mura) that he just seemed like a grandpa for me. He smiled and talked about how the gospel brings happiness and peace. Because of that peace he has, he is always smiling and is always happy. I’m pretty sure that’s the type of thing dad says all the time…except dad talks in English.

Well, other news: my favorite quote from Sorella Hansen thus far: “Can we shut the door? There are lizards on our porch.” Of course, at the thought of wildlife within my reach I raced to go see, but alas I did not see them. Then periodically whenever she did laundry she would scream and attest to seeing the lizards. But by the time I’d get there, they would have crawled away. There came one that apparently was bigger than the others which she named Chubbers. Of course, I never saw him. This continued on for a few weeks. My faith in my companion seemed to dwindle as I began to wonder if the lizards were in fact real. (Okay, honestly, I really didn’t have reason not to believe her, I was just sad that the lizards didn’t like me). Finally, this week, the lizards have decided to let me glimpse them. And I now have pictures to prove their existence. So there you have it, there are lizards that visit us every once in a while (aka every time Sorella Hansen does laundry).

I really can’t think of what else to write. Would you be disappointed if I ended there? We taught a Muslim named Golam the first lesson. But, we also found out that he’s Muslim and doesn’t believe in prophets. So he can’t really be an investigator.

I guess last week one of our English class students asked where I was because I was in Sassari on the scambi. I didn’t realize we were friends. I guess we are, and now she has declared herself in our class. She’s a former investigator. So, turning her into a current investigator is my challenge. Okay, I’ll do it. She’s really cute, but really timid. I know how to talk to timid Americans because that’s what I am, but it’s harder to talk to timid Italians. I still need to work on bringing my personality into Italian…which would be easier if my personality wasn’t so wishy-washy in English. But don’t worry. I’m just rambling right now, I am NOT discouraged! There is a way and I will find it!

Have I ever mentioned ANFFAS? We do service by helping work with…I don’t even know what they’re called…mentally handicapped? Their problems range from a variety of degrees. They are all so loving though. There is one girl who I can never figure out what she’s saying. It’s amazing to me that the other handicapped people can all understand her. But she’s really cute and is always joking. It’s amazing to me how much these people joke around. They really are quick witted. Anyway, we do that every Thursday. And they’re fun to be with.

Today we have president’s interviews. They were scheduled for next week, but yesterday he asked if he could do them today. Yes sir. I love interviews. I love President Acerson. I haven’t come up with a list of questions yet because I thought I had more time. To do list…there you go.

Keep smiling:)


Friday, June 19, 2009

Pirri, Sardinia (Sardegna)--Week 14

Editor's Note: We were in Las Vegas last week visiting Raeann, and somehow Aubry's letter got misplaced!! When I got home, I couldn't find it!! So I asked Aubry to resend her letter from her SENT box, and she did!! So this week you get two weeks worth of letters. Be sure to read the previous week, Week 13, also!! --Kate

Welp, this week I am not writing from Cagliari. I am writing from Sassari. Why? Well, Friday our zone leaders called us up and asked if we wanted to do a scambi with the sisters in Sassari. I feel bad for my companion. See, I guess the zone leaders had a training about scambis (exchanges) and when they take place there should still be people working in both cities. So, I got to go to Sassari, but my companion went back to Cagliari. However, She got to come to Sassari to drop me off and now she’s returned to pick me up. It’s a four hour train ride and she took it twice both ways...or at least after we go home she’ll have done it twice both ways.

And here we are in Sassari on our P-day. Hey, we wouldn’t have ever been allowed to come to Sassari on a regular P-day, so it’s kind of a blessing. It’s also a cursing because we get to spend four hours of our P-day on the train. Oh whoopdy doo. We have gotten permission, though, to do our weekly shopping once we return, even though it won’t technically be P-day anymore, because it doesn’t make sense for us to do our shopping here in Sassari and bring it back to Cagliari. Anyway, I really like Sassari! Don’t get me wrong, Cagliari still holds my heart, but Sassari is a nice little city! It’s like the second biggest on Sardegna, but it’s cute. Gully, the church on Sardegna just needs to grow. Have faith, it will happen.

Oh, dad asked if we had any baptismal dates. Nope, not yet, but I think they really are just around the corner. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got some right before I got transferred. Queen still has a testimony. She wants to wait until her husband gets out of prison so that she can get baptized with him.

I got a letter from Alexandra from Livorno. She said she hadn’t seen the sister missionaries in a while. Then when I was talking to my substitute companion on the scambi, she told me that they weren’t working with her anymore. That made me sad. However, the story is not over yet because I am still in contact with her. She felt the spirit. Sorella Kenney called her out on it. I know I can’t force her to become a member, and I wouldn’t ever want to force her, but I still feel that she is a miracle story. Her family is being prepared. At the least, I will not stop being her friend.

I don’t know if I told you last looks like I didn’t. Okay, well we found this wonderful couple doing house! Her name is Rita and his name is Antonio. Rita is so great. She said we stopped by right when she needed us. She recognizes that God has sent us to her, but she doesn’t know if that means our message is true. But, I think because she realizes that we are sent from God, she is more willing to listen to us. She said she talked with the missionaries 15 years ago. They also had come at a time when she felt sad. And the time we came, she wondered if we were the same because we had been an answer to her prayer. She hadn’t asked us if we were Mormon, but she wondered. And when we went back, she recognized the Book of Mormon. Well, while I was in Sassari, the other companionship had lunch with her. They said her daughter came and seemed interested also. This is so great!

I also had a great experience here in Sassari. There was an appointment that we thought would cancel, but it didn’t. Sorella Watson, who I was with, has only been in Sassari for a week. So she hadn’t met this lady either. However, even though we were both completely new, she welcomed us in and listened. We had planned to tell the story of the Restoration. In the appointment Sorella Watson started teaching the Plan of Salvation instead, and I followed. We didn’t get far though, before she asked us for our conversion stories. Even though we didn’t teach much that can go on a scheda, the spirit was so strong. She is practically golden. She realizes that there is something missing from the Catholic church and she is eager to learn more about our church. She said she hadn’t been able to read much from the Book of Mormon, but she had looked up all the references from the back of the Plan of Salvation pamphlet. Who does that? The people prepared to receive the gospel!

Sunday was a bit interesting. There was a “couple” that came to church that I didn’t recognize. So, I decided to sit next to them in Sacrament meeting. Well, they were on vacation... no...not vacation...but kind’s a long story. Anyway, they were from Norway. They guy didn’t speak any Italian, but he spoke English. The girl spoke both English and Italian. Then I asked her about her husband (thank goodness in Italian) and she responded (in Italian) that he wasn’t her husband, just a boy. No, that’s not really important information, I just wanted to share it with you. Anyway, right after Sacrament Meeting, she asked what we were doing for lunch and invited us over. And she had already invited her neighbor, who was not a member but had been friends with the missionaries in the past, to eat lunch with them too. Completely away from home and they were doing missionary work. It was so cool.

Life really is great. I am just so filled with joy right now. We had a great meeting last night about how the scambi was going. I learned a ton. Last week I think I sounded a little down because I was a little unsure about how to boost myself up after Elder Kopischke. He gave a great training, but it was a little strong for me all at once. However, things have just changed. Before I felt like I was a horrible missionary, and that I would never be able to measure up to the expectations he was looking for. Now I see that as an entire mission, we are going to try to put these things into practice. I’m not alone. We’re all in this together.

I also want to donate a few words to my sisters. Last night I was talking to my substitute companion. She has three older sisters so I just feel like we have a lot in common. However, she made the comment that she always felt like she had to measure up to them and one thing she was learning was to do the best she could. Everyone has different levels of strength. It made me think about my sisters. I realized that I never had those feelings. I never felt like I had to do what anyone else was doing. I just always felt like I had support from each one of you. You always wanted me to do my best. I realized that that’s how we need to be as missionaries. We need to recognize that we’re all different and just keep supporting each other. Thank you so much for being so great. Thank you for everything. Keep smiling:)


Pirri, Sardinia (Sardegna)--Week 13

Welp, yesterday we had Zone Conference. Elder Kopischke and his wife talked to us. At the end I felt like I got hit by a spiritual hammer. The conference went until five and then we had English class at 7. We had planned to stay in church the whole day including cleaning up, but members cleaned up so we didn’t have to. When the conference ended, Sorella Hansen turned to me and asked if I wanted to go out and do house. With dazed eyes I simply responded, “Sure.” She was pumped and energized while I was weighed down by the realization that I’ve been doing everything wrong these last seven months.

Have no fear though. Spiritual hammers leave a different type of sting. My prayers, which have always been sincere, have become even more sincere. Heavenly Father is at the helm. The words, “I can’t” have entered my head more in the last 24 hours than in the last month. But then comes the gentle peace from heaven letting me know that I am not alone and that Heavenly Father doesn’t ask anything of us that we can’t do.
I feel like I’m starting over again. I now know a little more of what’s expected of me and I’m going to do it.

Anziano Brewster made a comment that really struck me. There’s a series of videos about a real district in Texas. These videos came out with Preach My Gospel, so I don’t think Becky or Raeann would have seen them. However, Anziano Brewster said, “I just want to ask any one of them if I can do scambi (an exchange) with them so that they can teach me all they know. And then don’t judge me because I’m going to mess up.” It struck me that we aren’t expected to be perfect from the beginning. We are expected to keep doing our best to improve. We need to take what we’ve learned and apply it. When we mess up, we need to just try again.

This morning our District Leader called us to remind us to always act on any thought we get that’s good. At the bus stop I started talking to a man. One of the first things he asked was if I was proselyting. My response was that I was inviting because the message I have makes me happy and I want to share it. I told him a little about Joseph Smith and a little about the Plan of Salvation. Then I felt stupid because two days ago at Zone singing I gave away all my pamphlets and I never restocked. So I did the best with what I had and gave him a Proclamation on the Family.

Time is almost out, so I just want to share one miracle that my companion and I saw last week. We decided we would do house in an area around our next appointment because we had some extra time beforehand. The first person we talked to accepted a pamphlet, so we felt success. Then we got turned down by a couple more people. Then I remember thinking, we didn’t have a lot of time left, but Sorella Hansen asked, “Shall we go on?” and I just nodded my head like “Sure.” (She really is the inspired one, I just tag along usually).

Well, we knocked on the door. A man answered. When we told him who we were, he said, “Let me get my wife.” She let us right in. She said we were an answer to her prayer because all her children are away and she was feeling sad lately. We didn’t have time to share a lesson, but we left with a prayer. She said we could come back whenever we wanted to. So, we called last night and we have an appointment for tonight. They are so amazing.

Okay, I have to go because the clock is ticking and I am three minutes away from dying. I love you loads. Keep smiling:)


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Pictures from Italy

I hope I get these pictures in order!! If not, you'll have to just figure things out!!

1. Sorella Hansen and Sorella Bjarnason waiting for the sun to rise before they climbed Devil's Saddle (Sella del Diavolo).

2. Sorella Bjarnason and Sorella Hansen on their first day of being companions.

3. This is a blood orange. Very good, according to Aubry.

4. Zone Conference--Sorella Hughes, Sorella Mandala, Sorella Bjarnason, Sorella Chevalier (with Anziano Fowles and Anziano Toniutti sneaking into the picture).

5. Sorella Bjarnason and Sorella Mandala and Cagliary.

6. Beautiful city!! (Must be Cagliary!!)

7. Sorella Bjarnason and Sorella Chevalier after the boat ride from mainland Italy. Aubry said, "We are getting ready to take the train. Look at the sign behind us. We were in Olbia which was the fifth stop from the beginning. Now find Cagliari. That's right; that was my train ride. Sorella Chevalier, however, went to Sassari. You can also see the highlights in my hair in this picture."

Pirri, Sardinia (Sardegna)--Week 12

I got your package. Thank you. I decided I wanted to share the Girl Scout cookies with everyone. I decided I could bring them to the baptism we had Saturday. I decided to leave them at the church in the missionary cupboard. Well, when they got everything out for the baptism, they didn’t get out my cookies. I thought they had rejected them; turns out they just forgot about them. Anyway, Sunday I thought about taking them home, but I was too lazy. Turns out one of the elders, Elder Sponseller, said he hoped that I would get transferred so that I would have to leave without getting my cookies. As it turns out, I’m still here in Cagliari and he is heading out. There you have it, do not think evil thoughts about Sorella Bjarnason. I will triumph!

This makes this my first transfer that I do not get a new companion. This is big.

Something else I just learned about the earthquake in L’Aquila: a few days ago I was talking to Sorella Hansen because she was in Rome when it happened. I asked her why the missionaries weren’t helping out in L’Aquila. She said that four hours after the earthquake hit, the church called Italy, basically saying that they were ready to send whatever they needed. Italy turned headquarters down. Italy said it was her problem and she would handle it. Then, from what I understand about the missionaries who were in L’Aquila, they had to stay in the city for one or two days. Everyone just slept outside without tents, without any type of organization. Apparently the elders tried to help out a little, getting people out of rubble etc., but technically they weren’t supposed to and only Italian police were supposed to. Does this not make you sad? I fear for Italy if this is how it will respond to a natural disaster.

I have a request. If you ever have time, do you want to send me the words to Ham’s Blessing from the Ark. That would make me happy. Thanks.

Miracle! Her name is Adelle. I love Adelle. I loved Adelle since I first met her. My appointment with her was my first appointment here in Cagliari. She made me feel like a missionary. Anyway, we saw her this week. Then we invited her to the baptism we had on Saturday. We arranged for the Lloyd couple to come and pick her up. She loved the baptism! Then the Lloyds were able to bring her to church also. She loved church! She is so ready to hear the gospel. The branch president from Sassari happened to be in our area on Sunday. After the meeting he talked with her (because she has a house in the Sassari area). It turns out she has seen the church in Sassari and has always wondered how to get in because it always looked closed. She told us that we have opened the door for her. She is so wonderful. The only problem is that she travels to Sassari quite often (that’s where she lives). We tried to give her number to the Sassari sisters, but the last time Adelle did not have time to see them while she was in Sassari. I think we will continue to teach her here, but now she knows how to get to church in Sassari too! She’s so great!

She lifts my heart so much. She and her daughter always ask us what our first names are. We tell them they have to call us by our last names, but we always tell them anyway. I try to be honest and say my name, but people don’t always understand what I’m saying. Her daughter Patrizia calls me Aprile because she thinks my name is April. However, Adelle said, that my name was more like Apri as in “Apri la porta” “Open the door.” That just warmed my heart.

Did I tell you about the men who gave us water last week? Well, we went back to them giving them water. They were just thrilled to see us. We invited them to the baptism. None of them came, but one came to church! Apparently one of our elders sat by him and he was less than abrupt in saying “I don’t want to know anything.” Still, he came to church!

Oh hey, Scott Lemons is probably coming home right now. Okay, so I have no idea how things are going in Milan, but I just know our missionaries who are going home leave today.

Today is my nine month mark! I can’t believe time flies so quickly! This morning we climbed Devil’s Saddle again and did our studies on top of the mountain. It was so beautiful. Yay for Italy! Next Tuesday we have Zone Conference. Our new Area President, President Kapische (I don’t know how to spell his name) is coming! It should be really good, but we’re all really excited.

Oh and another random thought that you don’t have to consider if you don’t want to but just so you know. Every apartment has a CD Player that comes with the apartment. No there’s no point at all, I’m just saying that if you happened to send CDs I could listen to them. However, there’s also the fact that every missionary here has a bunch of CDs, so I’m not in a terrible great need. However, an elder looked at me in astonishment when I told him I didn’t bring any music with me. He wanted to do a swap, let us hear some of his music for some of ours. But let's face it, I won’t want to bring anything home so this paragraph is just to be overlooked and forget that I said anything.

So I mentioned Golam in my last letter. We saw him yesterday! He went to his work. When he saw us, he just had a huge smile. Okay, so we were wondering if we had a Book of Mormon in his language. It turned out that Sorella Hansen had talked to some people from Bangladesh the day before. She said their language started with B. So I looked and found Bengali. She said it sounded something like that, so I brought a Book of Mormon with us. So when we saw Golam, we asked him what language he spoke. He told us. Then we said, “Oh look, we just happen to have a book in your language!” Okay, it probably wasn’t that cheesy, but it kind of was. Anyway, he took the book and said he’d read it and tell us what he thinks! Yay.

Throughout the conversation, I tried to listen carefully to see if he was Muslim. We’re not supposed to teach Muslims. Well, he mentioned Allah and the Koran, but he said he had a Bible and he also mentioned Jesus Christ. Then at the end he said he believed all religions. Do you think that counts? But I am really excited. He just seems to understand life. He understands that you can’t just read the bible without following it. On the other hand, you also have to work in life. You can’t just be so obsessed with the Bible that you don’t provide for yourself and your family. He’s just great. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks about the Book of Mormon. I don’t know when he’ll have time to read it because it sounds like he is always busy. He sleeps at work because he’s just always there.

We did meet with Queen. She still has a testimony of the church, but she’s not coming to church. Her actions don’t correspond with her words, but she bears strong testimony that the Savior is with her and that this is the true church. She still needs a testimony of Joseph Smith. I don’t think she’s been working on it though. She won’t get it if she puts the church in the background. I love her. I hope she’ll start coming back to church.

That’s really all my big news. There are other people we work with, but nothing really is happening. I’m a bit tired from waking up at 4:30 this morning. Hey, we wanted to climb the mountain early in the morning!

I am so grateful for my family. I love this church. I love the knowledge that God is our Heavenly Father. He loves us. He wants us to be happy. If it was all easy, we wouldn’t know the fullness of joy that we can experience. With overcoming the difficult we grow so much and experience so much joy. Life is great. Keep smiling:)

Oh, sorry, random, did you hear that they quarantined the MTC because of the Swine Flu? Yeah, the set of missionaries that are supposed to come right now won’t come for another two weeks. Crazy!