Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rome-- Week 12

First: answers to questions. Italy doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. However, today, Wednesday, any missionary in our zone is invited to an American member’s house for playing football, and I think a barbecue? Anyway, I’m going to that, so that should be fun. Then tomorrow I’ll talk to our English class about it.

I don’t know about my release date. As far as I know it should still be the 24th, but he could easily change things. He hasn’t officially changed anything, but it was an idea.

No I haven’t gotten your package yet. We have zone conference next Tuesday. And then we have interviews the following week. If I don’t get it by then, I don’t think I’ll get it by Christmas just because I won’t have much contact with the office. We’ll see though. And it seems post usually travels quickly, so we’ll see.

Was the person from Cagliari a member? You’re tearing at my suspense strings. (No that’s not an Italian phrase, I’m just making up my own language here).

Okay, so about my week. Last week I think I ended off at being a little upset with Marco Antonio. This week could easily be called a Marco Antonio week because I had reasonable contact with him every day. My relationship with him has gone up and down and all around this week. At this point in time he is dead convinced that I’m going to marry his brother for which I will explain in time.

So, last Wednesday I was frustrated with Marco Antonio. Thursday I broke loose and told him that it was hard for me to pay attention to him, our Ward mission leader, and our mission leaders. I didn’t expect him to respond, “Brava!” No, I was telling him off, don’t tell me I was doing a good job. He explained that when I’m older and get married, I’m going to have many people try to tell me how to raise my kids…my mother, my mother-in-law, the neighbors, etc. It will be my responsibility to listen to their advice and then draw a line. And then it’s time to seek personal revelation on how to raise my own kids. I couldn’t really be upset with him after that.

Transfers! Last week when we got the transfer calls we became aware that two people in our district would be dying halfway through the transfer. We thought this was president’s way of minimizing the number of elders in Rome 1 down to two. In all of Europe there are getting fewer and fewer missionaries, so we have to reduce everywhere. Eventually there will be only one companionship for every ward or branch. However, this was not what happened. Along with the four missionaries we were expecting, president blew in another companionship. So right now, we have 6 elders in our ward and then us two sisters. 8 missionaries in one ward. And there’s six of them in their apartment. You can imagine that it gets entertaining.

So, of these six missionaries, four of them are new to the district. If you include the sisters in Ladispoli who are in our district but not our ward, then we have five new missionaries which is half our district.

First item of business: Saturday we had a Talent Show. Welcome to Rome 1, we have a Talent Show in two days, what do we want to do? The missionaries who had planned the talent show both were transferred. But it’s technically a missionary activity which put us in charge. Well, I was a bit stressed for a few days, but the talent show actually turned out well. Marco Antonio gave us the idea to do a dwarf skit and then the elders did a “Day in the Life of a Missionary Skit.” For the dwarf skit we were working right alongside with Marco Antonio (hence why he was a major part of the week). And he filmed it. So, I’m going to give him yours and dad’s email addresses so that he can email the skit we did. So if you get a random email in Spanish, don’t throw it away.

Other less than important fact, so of the four new elders, three of them never served with sisters before (or so they first claimed). That made me their mom. When the two elders leave in a couple of weeks, that will make me the mother of all the elders in our district (because the other elder in our district already became my child when we came here to Rome 1 together). However, one of the elders apparently served a week in Rome a while back, so after the fact, he told me I wasn’t his real mother. He claims me as a step/half mother.

DDM, since most of the district was new, we did a "get to know each other" section. One of the elders said he had a dream and knows the name of my future husband. He asked if I wanted to know. At the time I was a little reluctant, but yesterday I decided to approach him and ask him. He explained that my new last name would be Ross. Well, I don’t know any guys with the last name of Ross, and honestly I don’t give a care about missionary dreams. I’m not going to go searching for Ross, I promise.

However, I thought it would be funny to tell Marco Antonio so that he would understand that I wasn’t meant to marry his brother. Unfortunately he knows how to attack me back. At first he looked dumbfounded and then he proclaimed that the translation of Liatas in a part of Spain was Rossas or something. He said that he could show me on his genealogy that it’s true. Well, I haven’t had time to check up on that. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was making it up, but apparently he emailed his brother immediately and is now more convinced then ever that we are going to be related.

Yesterday in the morning we did service for Marco Antonio. Then in the afternoon we did service with the elders for an older couple. Service was fine. I most just swept. Some elders picked fruit and some chopped up some wood. Then afterward Sister Denti wanted to repay us by giving us some hot chocolate. She’s old, mind you. When she was putting in the cocoa I could see that something wasn’t right. One elder declared there were worms in there. Even if there weren’t actual worms, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some form of living creature there. What could we do? She’s old! Don’t worry though, we’re missionaries. I offered the prayer on the refreshment and prayed for our health. I tried not to drink the strange black lumps, but unfortunately I did drink some of the dregs. She then gave us vinegar that I guess originated from grapes. I guess I’m a little confused about wine vinegar. Some people said it was vinegar made from wine, but the Europeans all said that it wasn’t alcoholic at all. Anything you know on the subject would be welcome.

And I should probably talk a little about actual missionary work, but my time is running short. Yes, Rodica is still getting baptized this Saturday. She is awesome. She has a strong testimony. And she offered the opening prayer at the talent show. She is inviting all her family and friends and the work will continue.

Thank you for teaching me correct principles. I love you a lot. Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rome-- Week 11

Yesterday we found out about transfers. I’m staying with my companion in Rome. I’m happy. I wanted to be here for Christmas and I also wanted to be here for Rodica’s baptism. And there’s another investigator, Paola, and I feel like I need to be here when she gets back. I don’t feel like I’ve ever felt so needed in a place. That should make me feel happy, but instead it makes me feel pressure. But I’m happy. The one reason why I wanted to leave Rome was resolved Sunday afternoon when we ate at a member’s house. It’s so good resolving problems. It’s so good when you can eliminate the awkwardness in a relationship. I know I’m being very vague. I don’t really know what to write about this week.

Monday night we had FHE with the bishop and our investigators. The bishop’s son pulled out this game board for the Plan of Salvation. All of the players ended in the Celestial Kingdom except for me. I ended up in the Telestial Kingdom. Welp, there you go. I just thought that was so funny.

Oh, Friday was interesting. Like I said, I was in two threesomes this week. Thursday and Friday was Three month conference for a sister in our district. So Sister MacKinnon came to be with us. Friday we were supposed to meet in Termini so that Sister MacKinnon could pick up her companion. Termini is a central station in Rome where the metros, trains, and buses all meet. We were running a little late because we first had to wait for a bus to get to the metro because we had a lunch appointment kind of on the outskirts of Rome.

We got to the metro just a little behind. However, when we were on the metro, an announcement came on that there was an accident between the stops Termini and the one after. So, we all hoped the metro would still go to Termini. We waited on the metro without it moving for a good ten minutes. Then the doors closed and we continued to move. Urrah! The next stop the announcement said we all had to get off. Welcome to mass confusion. We all got off the metro, but no one was stopping people from coming into the metro station. Some people started talking and saying there was one metro that would still go to Termini. The bells rang for the metro doors to close and a bunch of people all scrambled to get back on the metro. (You know, one person and then fifty plus followers). The doors closed and then opened and a big man told them all to get off. Once everyone was off and the doors closed again, the lights on the metro train turned off and it just sat there.

We just got kicked off the metro, but we have to get to Termini because Sorella MacKinnon has to pick up her companion. We are now something like an hour late. What do we do? Take a bus! Yeah smart, and that’s what every one else is going to do. So yeah, mass confusion on the metro has just been diverted to mass confusion on the streets! We decided not to take a bus from that place but to walk to see if the other metro line was still running. However, for some reason we didn’t end up checking out the other line, and we ended up getting on a bus anyway, a bus headed for Termini.

And of course, that bus was crowded. The bus urged it’s way to Termini, but there came a point when it stopped. It looked like we were at a light. We were practically there at Termini, but we weren’t at the stop. Buses were lined up in every direction. Chaos with the buses to maximum degree. After about ten minutes of staying still in an unmoving line, our bus driver opened the doors and released the masses onto the streets about the same time as other buses were doing the same. Well, we were only about two hours late to pick up Sorella Ritter. The zone leaders, who were doing an exchange with another companion of a three-monther arrived after we did, so I don’t feel bad.

Sorella MacKinnon goes home today, that’s why we’re currently in three with Sister Ritter. President told Sorella Ritter that he’s going to change how they handle dying missionaries in the future. Instead of going home Wednesday they’ll go home Friday. That’s just FYI.

We had stake conference. That was good. We can only go to the Saturday session if we have investigators. Ours didn’t show up, but we thought they were going to. It was good because I was able to talk to some members and then have a miracle on our way out. On our way to the bus stop, we saw two women. They looked suspicious. So we talked to them. They asked who we were. Then one of them saw Sorella Tramacchi’s nametag and said, “Sorella Tramacchi! I’m Mina.” Mina was a referral from the other sisters. We have never seen her, but we’ve talked with her on the phone trying to set up an appointment. It hasn’t worked out yet, but at least we saw her.

Welp, don’t worry about me. We’ll make this a good week. Next week I’ll be happier. (But can you kind of see what I was saying about wasting time with the story of the metro? That was two hours of lost time. I should have been talking to people on the buses, but with the mass confusion, I didn’t. So I need to repent and be better. And I will).

I love you a lot. Thank you so much for all you do for me. Pray for me. Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry

P.S. Oh, other random fact. After Stake Conference, this girl came up to me and said, "Hey I know YOU!" I stared blankly. "Russian class?" I nodded my head. Anyone suggesting Russian class had to be right because I doubt anyone else here in Italy took a Russian class. Her name is Narina. I remembered her name, but I didn't really know her that well. Anyway, she lived in Kazakhstan for 10 years, that's why she studied Russian. Her mom's Italian, and that's why she was in Italy. And she just got her call to Rome Italy. She enters the MTC in January, but she already speaks Italian so it's possible that she could enter the field for my last transfer. Welp, we'll see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rome-- Week 10

Last week I think I gave somewhat of a depressing email. (I don’t remember exactly what I wrote). Honestly, last Wednesday I wasn’t feeling very well physically. And (big surprise) I am right now getting over being sick. That’s a long discussion on its own that I will probably leave for the end. However, despite that, this week has been one of the best weeks of my mission. And what do you know, it’s starts with last Wednesday.

Da da ta da! Rodica has a baptismal date! We finished explaining what we had planned. The member we had brought with us looked at me as if to say, “Are you ready to ask her?” And of course I was too nervous to do anything. Sorella Tramacchi took the floor and asked Rodica if she had prayed about a baptismal date. Rodica didn’t know what to say. So I took over and asked her directly if she would be baptized November 28th. And she said yes!

And she’s on fire! She talked to the bishop that night. Then on Sunday she arranged to talk to the bishop again and planned the whole baptismal service! Okay, I’ve never done this before, but I thought usually investigators did that with missionaries. Nope, if we go too slow, she’ll just go straight to the top to get it done.

Back-up summary in case I never explained who Rodica and Firuta are. Rodica and Firuta are both from Romania. They knew each other there, and then they found each other here. They have a tight friendship. Firuta knew a member of the church, Fratello Montesano. She knew him to be a good man. (And at the time at least, I think she was interested in him and he in her). Rodica in the recent past had distanced herself from church and the bible. She was talking to Firuta one day and Firuta told her, “Well, I have this friend, and he has this church.” From there they arranged to come to church with Fratello Montesano one day and then eat lunch with him afterwards. He invited the elders, who told him to invite us instead because we’re sisters, and the investigators are women. So we went and have been teaching Rodica and Firuta every Sunday afternoon and Wednesday before the ward FHE.

Firuta wants to take her time. Rodica was nearly converted in our first lesson. Firuta keeps saying she likes coming to church. She likes meeting with us, but she wants to read more before she commits to anything. Everyone has their time, her time will come. However, she wants us to meet her kids. She’s already invited her kids to Rodica’s baptism. She’s progressing too, just a little slower.

And she made me really happy on Sunday. She’s been going through a rough time. When she saw me on Sunday, she said she had a dream of me. I told her, “Dai! Andiamo avanti.” “Come on! Let’s move forward.” She said that she felt really close to me that night. They are both so great!

That’s not the only miracle. I think I mentioned last week having a lesson with Paola. Well we had another lesson with her. We taught her the Plan of Salvation. For the Atonement we use a pass along card that has a picture of the Savior. Imagine her surprise and our surprise when she reached into her wallet and pulled out an identical pass along card. She had received it from two elders four months ago. This was before she even lived in the building she lives in now, thus before she knew us or even Marco Antonio. And yet she kept that pass along card in her wallet. Miracles!

And at the very end of the lesson, SHE PRAYED! She said she would only pray if she could do so in Russian. Well, I obviously didn’t reject. And she gave an awesome prayer, closing in the name of Jesus Christ. And (big surprise) I didn’t understand all of it. But what I understood was golden. She left for Palermo Monday. She’ll be in Palermo for a month. (Which means there’s a slight possibility that I could get transferred before seeing her again). So, Monday morning we made an effort to see her. She had written us a note in Russian. She speaks Italian, but she can’t write in it. Knowing that I read Cyrillic, she wrote it to the both of us and told me I needed to translate for Sorella Tramacchi. The letter she wrote was Golden! She thanked Heavenly Father for knowing us, and she thanked us for giving her a “true book”. She wants to know Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father better. And I firmly believe she will turn to the Book of Mormon when she’s in Palermo for comfort. (She’s not excited to go to Palermo. The people she’ll be staying with have marriage problems it sounds like).

The miracles don’t stop there. We were doing house Saturday night. And we got in and met Magda. After we talked to Magda, we continued to do house and met Bruno. Bruno was actually leaving, so we didn’t go in his house, but he seemed interested to learn more. I’m not sure if Magda will go anywhere, but it just always feels good to know someone let you into their house. They allowed you to bring the spirit inside.

So I already told you I was sick. Both Sorella Tramacchi and I have the same thing. We were told to go to bed early Sunday night. Then we were told to stay home all day Monday. Then yesterday we were told that we could go out if we were feeling better. Well, I don’t think I’m completely cured, but I’m well enough to work. So we went out last night and decided to do house in the same area we worked on Saturday. (Hey we already got results twice, why not go for a third time?) And, you guessed it. We got in again. This time it was a couple, Giulia and Gabrielle. Apparently they let us in because they heard wrong, and they thought we were nuns. The wife didn’t seem very open, but Gabrielle seemed like he wanted to know what was different about us. We did our best, but I’m not sure how much he was touched. It’s interesting because he said that we had pure spirits, he could tell from our eyes. And yet even though people can tell such things, they can still be skeptical. I hope he stays true to his word and one day they come to our church.

Keep smiling:)
Love, Aubry

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Rome-- Week 9

No baptismal dates yet. Hopefully next week there’ll be more to say.

I don’t really know what else to say. We got into two houses from doing house. Neither of them seem promising. Well, one actually let us talk about religion, the other just kept talking about what’s going on in the world.

Friday night we went to Ladispoli to help out the Ladispoli branch with an Open house. It had a good turnout. I had to stay in a room and prepare to teach people the whole time, so I never really got to talk to anyone. The Ladispoli sisters said that most of their investigators came. (Ah, what would it be like to have more than one investigator progressing at a time).

No, I’m not complaining. There’s a lady in our building, Paola, who became an investigator last week. We met with her and Marco Antonio in the church. (See, Marco Antonio himself is making progress). I wrote a note to her in Russian, and my companion in Italian, and we included out photo in a Book of Mormon in Russian. I know that wasn’t a sentence, but you know what I’m saying. Anyway, Paola is orthodox (like most people in Italy are Catholic…as in she was raised Orthodox and it’s hard to change). However, she was excited to read the Book of Mormon and was reading it when we called her on Friday, the day after the appointment. Yay.

I don’t really have much else to say. Marco Antonio wants to go tracting with us. I think (more like know) that it’s because he misses the church. I don’t know why he doesn’t come to church, but his soul longs for spiritual things. He loves sharing the gospel with people, but then he moans that he’s not a good example for others. So why doesn’t he just come back? Well, we’ll start small. Goal one: get him to start reading the scriptures again.

Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry