Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rome-- Week 8

I’m in a good mood right now and that makes me happy. I like being happy. I especially like being happy when I write home because I know then that I won’t drag down my family. This week has been a rather trying one, but right now I feel at peace. There might be a few people in our ward who aren’t at peace, but I will worry about them after they’ve cooled down a bit.

Wednesday Miracle: Normally people take the number of missionaries and say they’ll call us and never do. That’s why receiving phone numbers are so important. A week ago Sunday, at Zone Singing, I started talking to a guy. Monica came over (because I called her over because she speaks Spanish) and convinced him to give me his number. So the miracle: I didn’t call him. He called me! Well, okay, so it’s a miracle and a curse. I think he’s one of those guys that the elders need to teach. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s golden. I think he’s been prepared for the gospel, but he needs to be taught by elders. So he called Wednesday and I, not knowing what to say, invited him to FHE. There he talked pretty much the entire time with an elder. However, the elders didn’t do anything with him! He didn’t come to church, but I called him Monday to invite him to FHE again. Hopefully he’ll come tonight and hopefully the ELDERS will be able to set up an appointment with him.

Thursday was Zone Conference. It was good. I didn’t really prepare for it much, so I didn’t get out of it what I should have. I need to do better. But it was a good conference. There’s not much to talk about Friday or Saturday.

Locked out of the Apartment Round Two: Oh Beautiful Sunday. Okay, backup, you don’t remember who Marco Antonio is. Marco Antonio is the doorman person for our building. He and his wife are from Peru. He served a mission in Peru. After his mission he met his wife and brought her to the gospel. Then he convinced her to go to Italy with him. Now she is a strong member of the church and he has gone inactive. Monica, his wife, is in the primary presidency. So she gave the sisters (us) keys to the primary closet in the church. Last Thursday Marco Antonio had surgery so he was bedridden for a few days. Monica said that she may or may not come to church depending on how her husband feels. So- we get to Sunday. (Dun dun dun).

Relief Society: Marlene, a young girl of about 9ish comes in and asks for the key to the primary class. We give it to her. After Relief Society we ask her for the keys and she gives them back to us. Right before Sacrament Meeting, Ana, someone I don’t know very well, asks us for the keys again. So we gave them to her. We have the primary key attached to our apartment keys because all our keys are connected. Maybe we should have taken the small primary key off the key chain, but we didn’t. Usually people are responsible. You’d think if Marlene could be responsible, this adult could be too. Well, we track Ana down after church, and she says she gave the keys to Monica. We had to stop by our apartment before an appointment in the church anyway, so we go home and track down Monica. Monica doesn’t have our keys. However, because she’s the wife of Marco Antonio she has spare keys to our apartment. So we go home, get our stuff, and go back to the church to try and figure out what happened to our keys.

Oh, backup, Monica had told us that she thought Marlene might have the keys. So we go back to Marlene and we ask her. “I gave them to you,” she says. Yes, that’s true, but did you ever touch the keys again? No. So where are our keys? That was when I lost my head and started wandering around the church like a madwoman, meanwhile our investigators watched me with pity. Marlene’s mother gets involved because she doesn’t like the fact that people are accusing her daughter and she doesn’t want responsibility (as in a good way. As in if Marlene’s at fault she wants to find the keys but at that point no one knew who was at fault). So she says she wants to talk to Monica. She goes and gets Monica who comes back to church and finds the keys in a cupboard that people are supposed to put things in if the cupboard is locked. So, no worries, we have our keys.

Then we had an amazing appointment with Rodica and Firuta. I really hope next week Rodica will have a baptismal date. We’re going to meet with her tonight, but I don’t think we’ll have time because we have FHE right after the lesson, and I don’t want to rush things.

From there we’ll skip to Tuesday when I had an appointment with Diana who is a recent convert and a Christlike person and just makes me happy. And it’s about time that I get off the computer, so I love you. Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rome-- Week 7

We still only really have two investigators, but it is possible that they live out of our zone. But do not fear, we've done a ton of house and talked to a bunch of people. We will get new investigators shortly, preferably before we find out for sure that we have to give up the ones we have. As for the ones we have, Rodica said in our last meeting that she has made her decision. This is the path that Heavenly Father wants her to take. It was so amazing to be in that lesson. She was crying and I was close to tears. She is so amazing and has such a great desire to do what's right.

On a less spiritual note, I have to talk about Saturday. Saturday morning we had a blood drive. Pretty much all the missionaries in Rome were supposed to be there way early to donate. The Sisters from Ladispoli spent the night in our apartment because it would be impossible for them to get to the church that early otherwise (they rely on trains and if trains don't run...). My companion is Australian. One of the sisters from Ladispoli is from Canada. And I'm American (as well as the other sister). We got three nations represented and all three nations say to eat before you donate blood. The Ladispoli sisters wanted to make breakfast for us, but it turned out badly. I die without breakfast so I ate on my own. Then my companion tried to be efficient and bring breakfast with her. When we got there, the guy asked who was donating blood. He saw Sorella Tramacchi eating and said, “Not you.” I guess in Italy, you can't eat before you give blood. I thought about trying anyway, but my conscience got to me, so I confessed and they wouldn't let me donate either. Since neither of us were donating, it made sense for us to turn around and go home. This was at our church building, so of all the missionaries, we lived the closest anyway.

We get to the gate and I nudge for my companion to get out the keys. “You have the keys,” I said. “No I don't. You have the keys.” Rewind to earlier that morning. I grabbed the phone. Because I grabbed the phone I said, “Can you get the keys?” Sorella Ritter, from Ladispoli saw the keys and announced, “These keys?” “Yes those keys.” But Sorella Ritter wasn't from our apartment. I assumed my comp would grab them and she assumed I'd grab them and neither of us actually did. This was about 8 in the morning and we're locked out.

First person we call: Marco Antonio. He doesn't answer. Next person, elders. They should have another set of keys for us. But they don't. They tell us to call Marco Antonio. Already dun that. Call the office. So we did. There are two couples in the office. We called one. They told us to call the other who then told us to call the first. We go back to church where our fearless district leader is and he confirms that he doesn't have keys for us. So we return and call Marco Antonio again and this time he answers. Apparently on Saturdays he starts work at nine and he was away from his phone when it rang. We usually leave the apartment at 10 so I feel like I'm justified in not knowing his schedule. Anyway, he gave us keys and we were able to get in.

That was probably not the best start of the day, but I think I made up for it at night. You remember how I brought two watches to Italy? Both bands are broken. So I've been watch less for a while now and it's been somewhat difficult always relying on my companion. Well, at night on our way home, Sorella Tramacchi asked if she could buy something really quick. Yeah, we should wait for P-day, but I rationalized it in ways enough to make it okay. So about this watch I bought. It's pretty much the cheapest thing that exists, and that's why I wanted it. I pulled out my personal money which consisted of 2.50 euro. I asked the guy how much it cost. 5 euro. I only have 2.50. He shook his head in pain and held out his hand to accept the money. Yay for cheap watches. And this one flashes “Hello” at me.

My favorite quotes of the week.
“Ogni eletta ha un prezzo...Vi invito a pagare il prezzo.” Marco Antonio
“Every elect person has a price. I invite you to pay that price.” As in if we want to find the elect we have to work hard.

“Salvate qualche anima.” Nicola (a random old guy we met while doing house)
“Save some soul.” As in he was telling us to continue on and find people to save. I feel badly for not talking more with him, but he was old and I didn't really understand what he was saying. He was talking about Karl Marx and I wasn't sure if he even liked religion in the beginning. But then he ended the conversation with this sentence.

Well, the work moves forward. I'm going to have more miracles to share with you next week.

Love,
Aubry

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rome-- Week 6

(Editor's note: Don't forget to read the previous blog because I was really late putting it in (like last night!!)!! We should be up-to-date now!! I'm early on this one. Probably the fastest I'll every transfer letter to blog!! Haven't even been to school yet!!)

Well, this week I’ve had ups and downs, back flips and front flips, crashes and burns, falling head first and a screaming volcano of red hot lava only to be saved by a wild man swinging on a vine who brought us (my companion and I because we are never separated) nicely and calmly in the middle of wildly ferocious and dancing cannibals. Okay, not true, but the ups and downs sure is!

I love my companion. I love Sorella Tramacchi. Can I say that again? I love my companion.

Friday we had a first appointment with a woman named Roccio. She was amazing! She really wanted to know what made our church different. When she said she would read and pray I knew she was telling the truth. Technically we should have counted her as an investigator, however I hate counting people as investigators and then never seeing them again. I told this to Sorella Tramacchi and she feels the same way. At the end of the week we decided we could wait to count her when we have the next appointment.

Meanwhile, a Brother in our ward brought two women to church. He offered them as a referral to the elders, but the elders told him it would be better for us to teach them. So after church we went home with him and his two friends and we taught a first. Well, at least we tried to teach a first and in the end we taught all the principles of the first. Of course, the topic of conversation went from temples to the spirit world to the ten tribes and beyond. (I love members). In the end, one of the women asked if she could pray. (I like that a lot better than when they refuse when you ask them to pray). She said a perfect prayer and she thanked Heavenly Father that her friend had led her to the truth. We are supposed to see them tonight at FHE. I hope it all works out. They are amazing.

Back to Roccio: our follow-up appointment was set for Monday night. When she didn’t show up I called her. She had lost our number or something so couldn’t call us. She said she was too busy to meet with us (and it sounded like this wasn’t a temporary thing but a permanent thing) but she would read the Book of Mormon. Talk about a heart ache! She was so amazing!

So we went out to do a pass back and then do some finding on the metro. As we were entering the metro, I got a whiff of a good restaurant and decided I was hungry. Okay, right before we go home, we can come back here and grab something to eat and take it home. As we were getting on the metro, the elders were getting off. I thought that was strange because that certain metro wasn’t anyway near their house and it was only one stop away from where they had just been. I felt sick from not having our appointment so I refused to talk to them. So we rode the metro a bit and didn’t have success and finally went back up to grab our nightly food. The guy in the kebab shop was really nice and friendly trying to say our names. “Sorella Berchischtein” “Exactly!” I reply. He’s still nice and friendly and then a few seconds later he says “And also you have some brothers here.” He points to the corner where we see our district leader trying to hide his head. Welp, I found out what the elders were doing getting off at that stop. I just thought that was funny. He felt so embarrassed that we had caught them eating dinner.

Yesterday we did a whole day of finding. I think I drove my companion insane. Sorry. Next time we have no appointments, I’ll try not to suggest doing metro and house the whole day.

Yesterday we woke up and it was winter. Needless to say I’m cold right now.

Oh and the two investigators that we now have might be in another zone. Maybe not though, I don’t know. They live near one tray stop that we take to get to a member in our ward. However, Sorella Tramacchi served in Ladispoli and said that the stop after is a stop in that zone. So, I don’t know. We really truly could be investigatorless.

Yesterday I met a man on the train who is awesome and I am positively sure that I can turn him into an investigator, but he lives in the Ladispoli zone too. I wonder if we can get permission to teach these people anyway because the Ladispoli sisters have too much to handle as it is and we don’t. All their investigators live outside of Ladispoli so I’d feel guilty giving them more who live outside of the city. Welp, it’s not really my decision.

Oh, and Marco Antonio wants me to marry his brother. You told me not to fall in love with Italians, so it’s okay right? (Marco Antonio is from Peru and his brother still lives there) I’m kidding. And Marco Antonio is kidding too…but that doesn’t stop him from telling everyone in our building that I’m going to be his “cognata” which means sister-in-law.

Welp, now that I’ve scared you half to death, talk to you next week. I love you. Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rome-- Week 5

This week has definitely been interesting. It has definitely been interesting.

This transfer hasn’t been the most successful for me. Week six isn’t finished yet, but out of the five other weeks, only one week WASN’T a week of zeros. I talked to President in interviews about that. He asked how the work was going and I told him it was hard to say when you keep getting zeros. He told me numbers don’t gauge everything that we do. It’s true. But everything we do in missionary work is to aim for the key indicators. We may not report on all of the key indicators, but it’s hard to see success when everything you report is zero.

I had a lot of hope for General Conference. At some point or another we had five different people confirm that they would come to a session of General Conference. I was excited for the opportunity to watch General Conference in Italian. None of the people who promised came. I ended up watching the first part of the Sunday morning session in Italian hoping someone would come late. When no one did, we moved to English at the interlude hymn. It’s okay though. Before the session started, one of our zone leaders saw me pacing the foyer. “They will come, sister,” he said. “They will come. And if they don’t, then there was some place they needed to be instead. It’s something we may not understand in this life but we will understand one day.” And in fact, the person I cared most about did not come because she was mailing a package to her kids in Moldavia on the other side of town. She tried to come, but she missed the bus and didn’t come until late.

And I want to tell the story of another person who said she would come. I think it was earlier this year that her son tried to commit suicide, but it went badly and he ended up in the hospital with a burnt out stomach. She has been praying and paying a lot for him to get better. A few weeks ago her son died. She stopped coming to church. Last Monday we went to her house to give her a letter from a former missionary. At first she would not let us in, but when we asked if she could open the gate so we could put it in her mailbox, she decided she’d come down. The meeting was sad and depressing. She had stopped reading the scriptures, she had stopped praying, and she didn’t want us or anyone else to visit her. She just wanted to stay inside and cry for her son that she would never see again. She lost her faith in the church and would not listen when we told her she would see him again.

When we were planning on what to do Sunday morning, (We would watch a replay of Saturday afternoon on Sunday afternoon), Sorella Swenson suggested going to this lady’s house and giving her banana bread. At first I rejected the idea. She doesn’t want to see us. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I felt peace. I decided we could go. And we went, and she came down immediately. She had dyed her hair which means she’s taking care of herself. She didn’t cry in front of us this time. We told her about General Conference and she said she would come for us. There was something different about us, and she would come back for us. Well, she didn’t actually come to General Conference, but the door seems more open now.

I Choose My Companions:

Hum, it’s probably time to tell you about transfers. We got transfer calls last night. Don’t worry, I’m staying, but I’m getting a new companion. Her name is Sorella Tramacchi and she’s from Australia. Strange, not really a fact: I kind of feel like sometimes I choose my companions. Sorella Kenney: at transfer circles I felt like she was supposed to be my companion. When Sorella Barbiere became my companion I didn’t know anyone, so she was a surprise. Sorella Gadd: I knew Sorella Gadd in the MTC. I always felt like we were put together because she was the first person I went to when we went to District Conference in Florence. She was my comforter. Sorella Mandalà: She was the opposite. I decided I could be with anyone but her. Of course, I didn’t realize that I needed her. Sorella Hansen: ever since the MTC I thought she was cool and wanted to be with her. Sorella Swenson: this one surprised me, but it was a pleasant surprise. Sorella Tramacchi: Recently I’ve been telling her I’m going to visit her in Australia. I thought that was strange because I felt like I wasn’t even her companion. I couldn’t make promises like that. Now we will be companions, so, I’m justified! Sorella Swenson isn’t going too far though, she’s going to Rome 2. We’ll still see each other every other week when we sing as a zone. Yay!

When I first came in the mission, Sorella Kenney told me some stereotypes. One of those stereotypes was that people who got sent to Rome 1 were fun people. Or, at least it was considered the fun ward. I thought for sure I’d never go there. But I’m here. I think now I might know why. Last night one of the recent converts told me I was too serious. I think she’s going to try to turn me into a fun person. Welp, we’ll see if she has any success. She said that when she first met me she thought that for a second she thought she was in the wrong church because I was as serious as a Catholic nun. Then she was even more surprised to see my name tag. At least she can joke about that with me.

Going back to General Conference, I got to talk to the guy who helps translate into Italian. He’s in our ward. Anyway, I guess he translates with one group of people, then he chooses who he wants to help him read during the actual session. So they do get a manuscript of what will be said before conference so that they can translate. Random Gossip, apparently President Packer didn’t include the end of his talk in his manuscript, so he had to translate on the spot (well whoever was reading it, anyway, I don’t know all who read. I know Anziano DeRuvo, one of our assistants, also read for conference this time). Also random fact, this member who is in our ward, knew only 40 minutes before everyone else about the temple announcement for Rome. He said it was the longest 40 minutes of his life. Fun stuff.

Race To Find:

Yesterday morning, our district leader asked if we wanted to do some finding in the morning. Sure. It was a little suspicious when he did not tell us what type of finding. We met up at our designated location. What were we doing? A race he said. We would meet at Piazza Del Popolo at 12:30 and whichever companionship had the most phone numbers would win. Then he and his companion took off. The other companionship (jokingly) said, “So, do you have chalk?” Of course we didn’t. They eventually went to the Metro, and we decided we would try going to a park. Well, we talked to quite a few people, we even gave a type of first. However, numbers we did not get. We met back at 12:30 empty handed. The other elders were there. Their success: they got one number and an address…but it was for America. Then the district leader companionship showed up revealing that they also did not receive any phone numbers. I share this story not to sound depressing. At the time I felt really bad about myself as a missionary. However the activity helped put in mind that even without outward success, we can still put in 100 % effort. It’s like what President told me during interviews (which was quoting Preach My Gospel): We can’t get discouraged. Discouragement will lead to a lack of faith. We just need to keep moving forward. And you know what, it has been prophesied that the church here in Italy will grow. We just need to keep hoping and keep having faith. And I need to work on my faith some more.

I love you. I love you so much. Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rome-- Week 4

I am so excited by the fun stuff you’re doing. Square dancing, ham radio, seeing Becky. Yay! Sorry about the IEPs. Having people cancel and try to ditch sounds like our investigators. They don’t answer their phones so we can’t get appointments, and we can’t invite them to activities. Last night we were planning for two people who weren’t even investigators yet. Hopefully they will be by Sunday because I think they’ll both come to Conference. Yay! That may mean that I’ll have to watch conference in Italian. Ci sto. I’m okay with that.

You mentioned the dentist. Small little miracle. So, occasionally I’ll notice that a tooth would start hurting. Fear would well up inside me. I can’t go to the dentist for another couple of months. Well, I mean, I could, but it would be a hassle and I wouldn’t want to do that unless it was an emergency. My imagination soared into thinking that I’d get home with Italian teeth (aka all rotten and corroding and missing). I think I even had a dream that my teeth were falling out. Well, one thing that I’ve noticed lately is that when I floss, the pain goes away. Never happened before the mission, but apparently flossing is saving my day. So, there you go. My invite from this paragraph: floss.

Last week Becky asked to know some stuff about Rome. Last week I felt a little rushed, and I don’t remember what I said. So if this is a repeat, I’m sorry.

Rome has a metro. There are two lines. Well, at least I’m only aware of two lines. There’s a couple of mysterious metro stops on the map that we’re not really sure where they come from. Anyway, in Rome 1 we only use half of line A. That’s good because line B is more ghetto. No one actually knows where our boundaries are, but when I saw a map that divided the ward boundaries, Rome 1 was the smallest. But it’s the best, so I’m not going to complain.

Okay, in Livorno, there were something like 10 buses. In Cagliari the buses went from numbers 1 to 20 and then there were a few lettered bus (QS, M etc…). Here in Rome there’s like a thousand buses. I’m kind of exaggerating, and I’m kind of not. I’ve seen buses numbered as low as 46 and as high as 985. You do the math. And then there are also lettered buses, too…I think.

In Piazza del Popolo, where we do chalk, there are a ton of Indian people with roses. Their goal: sell the roses. Their tactic: nonchalantly give women a rose. Then follow them a bit. After a while approach the man walking with the woman and ask for money. Then the woman will try to give back the rose to which they will refuse and ask for money instead. I usually see women just giving the rose back in the end so I wonder how successful this tactic really is. There was one time that will forever remain in my memory. There was a younger woman who refused the rose a couple of times. But the vender insisted that she take it. (If they can, they will put the rose in your hand, so you have to be quick). Finally she took it and took off. She and her boy sped walked through the piazza. When the vender finally caught up to her, he didn’t give her much trouble. He just took the rose and went away.

Yesterday on the bus, I decided to use the “Where’s a good pizza” ploy to start a conversation. The response I got: there aren’t any good pizzas here. You have to go to Napoli. That made me smile. The conversation didn’t get far, but I secretly hope that his wife sees his flyer for General Conference and decides she wants to hear a prophet’s voice. Hey, if they’re prepared, it could happen.

Our investigators have seemed to drop off the planet. Good news though! There’s a referral from Salt Lake who seems promising. How did she find out about the gospel? She read Twilight! Then, when she was on vacation in America (visiting friends) she went by herself to Salt Lake City. And now she wants us to teach her everything we can until she goes to Canada in like two weeks. She could possibly be our only appointment for the next two weeks, but I think she could progress. She is so cool! And she’s doing a report on us…so yeah.

Saturday we had a stake activity Baila Conmigo. That was cool. It was a church activity, and we had contacts there! We got to see a lot of cultural dancing, mostly from South America. The missionary couples in the office represented America and did the swing. President Acerson wasn’t there, though, because he was in Cagliari. Oh, so I found out for sure. Walter is baptized! And his cousin is baptized too! And Walter bore his testimony in district conference. (We had interviews with President Monday, so I asked him the Cagliari news).

You are all amazing. Good luck this week. Keep smiling:) I love you.

Love,
Aubry