Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rome-- Week 21

I haven’t heard a lot about Haiti. I told someone that I have an aunt and uncle in that region, and they said that all the nonnatives were able to get off. However, if that man in Modesto hasn’t been seen, maybe that’s not true. That’s sad that Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Mike are surrounded by people who are personally affected by it.

A lot of people have talked about motives of why God would inflict Haiti, a poorer country. A couple of reasons people suggested were: 1) that these innocent people wouldn’t have to suffer any more and can go be in peace, or 2) that this will give a reason to the richer countries to help out--stop thinking about ourselves and look after our brethren. In the end, we can't blame Heavenly Father for when things go badly. We can only look for the blessings and see how in His infinite wisdom He has made it possible for more people to return to Him.

As far as packages go, I asked the office couple why some people end up having to pay. She said it’s completely random. They never know when to expect. It seems like every few they decide to charge a fee. Don’t worry, they didn’t charge for your package. Thank you for everything. I’m still munching through the sweets. My companion doesn’t like Hershey’s, so I’ve engaged that battle alone. It’s all good.

Okay, this week I’ve got two good stories to tell. We’ll start with Damiani. Ever heard of it? It’s a jewelry store. Last P-Day Sorella Tramacchi wanted to go hunting for something to remind her of Rome. Someone suggested Damiani. Well, so we went up and down Via del Corso (that’s a street) and around that area looking for good jewelry stores. Sorella Tramacchi wasn’t finding what she was looking for.

Then we found Damiani. So, we stopped, obviously, because it was a place recommended to us. Well, there were two windows where you could admire the jewelry, and then there was the door to enter the shop. It was locked. You had to ring the doorbell. Okay, that’s fine, right? So she rang and a doorman answered. What are we doing here? He let us in and we had to walk maybe ten steps down a hall to where a lady was standing behind a table. There was another lady standing in over to the side. I didn’t look at her out of fear, but according to Sorella Tramacchi, she was staring daggers at us. The lady behind the table just looked confused at what two girls like us were doing there.

So Sorella Tramacchi explained that she was looking for something to remind her of Rome. Damiani isn’t a Romano store, it actually comes from Milano. But it’s Italian so maybe we can find something. The lady hands Sorella Tramacchi the catalog. Now I’m looking at the catalog as Sorella Tramacchi flips the pages, but I get the impression that Sorella Tramacchi is talking more than looking. Finally the lady asks, "Maybe I can help you if I knew what price range." Sorella Tramacchi says 200 and I am stunned by this large sum of money. The lady shakes her head. They have nothing for such a small amount. She then suggested Bliss, a different jewelry store that has more stuff in that price range.

Ouch. In that store they had nothing for less than 200 euros. We go to Bliss. The first price tag I see says 545 euros. This is the cheaper store, mind you. It was a good experience for both of us. Afterward, Sorella Tramacchi lost her desire to buy jewelry. What kind of people would spend thousands of dollars on something so small and meaningless? I mean, I’m willing to pay maybe 5 euro. I think it is kind of pushing it. I’m just cheap though.

The other story of the week happened last night. Okay, so on a scheda (information card) that we have, it says that Sister Smith is a little upset with missionaries because they didn’t baptize her friend. So that’s all I knew. She’s always been friendly to me, but we’ve never really worked with her. I’ve been casually saying for a while that we should work with them, but I haven’t done anything.

Well, Monday, my companion said that she wanted to call Sister Smith anyway for something that had happened in church, maybe she could ask for an appointment with them also. So she did. On the phone, Sorella Smith seemed a little hesitant, but that was probably because we were asking Monday for an appointment Tuesday night.

Right before we go, we run into Marco Antonio, who always likes to ask us where we are going. We tell him and he refers to the fact that there are old wounds with her. If we feel inspired to ask about them, we can, but we should tread the water carefully. Well, I hadn’t planned on asking about the past. I just wanted to talk about the future. But now I’m a little scared at what this appointment will turn into. Does she really have something this big against the missionaries?

We get there right as her husband is leaving, but I didn’t recognize him because he doesn’t usually come to church. He said, "Should I leave it open for you?" We were both like, No, that’s fine, kind of thing. He pushed the buzzer for Sorella Smith and then turned to us. "Sisters! I am Fratello Smith." Okay. Then he had to leave and we went inside to their apartment.

So we go in. We talk a bit with Sorella Smith. I half feel like she’s giving the lesson because we’re talking about Jesus Christ and recognizing him in our lives. However, no, we can’t leave without giving the spiritual thought that WE prepared. So I get out my Preach My Gospel. We start reading some parts together and then we find out just what kind of powerhouse Sorella Smith really is.

Sister Smith did a lot with the missionaries. She talked to everyone around her. She would feel inspired to miss her bus so that she could talk to the people around her. She had people at her house all the time for FHE. However, none of the people she referred ever got baptized. She actually didn’t blame the missionaries, she blamed the ward members. She was trying to do a lot, but the members weren’t trying to get to know these investigators. So, Sister Smith got depressed and stopped trying. She’s been thinking about getting back into it, but it’s only been a thought. Without actively pursuing the whisperings of the spirit, she stopped getting them, and thus hasn’t felt inspired to talk to people.

She started crying and said I will kneel, and pray, and fast to be able to start again. She said she did not feel like her mission was over. We told her that we had a Peruvian family as contacts. She offered her house and her time to anything that we need, from this day forward.

It was such an amazing experience. She said she knew she needed to start doing missionary work again, but she didn’t want to. When we asked for the appointment, she wanted to say no. But she didn’t. In fact, she had been turning the elders down, always with the excuse that her husband works at night and thus they can’t come without a man in the house. She said the Lord sent the sisters. It was such a neat experience for me.

And I got to get going. Keep smiling:)

Love, Aubry

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rome-- Weeks 17-20--OOPS 2--Got behind again!!

December 29, 2009

I am so sorry that I forgot to tell you that our P-day was changed. Anzi, it hurts me more than you. I got a couple of emails that I think were written before our phone call Christmas, and then I got an email from Sariah saying Becky had her baby…but without details!!! When, at what time, how big is he, do I get pictures, is Becky all right, did you go to be with her, how is everyone doing? Okay, I’ll be patient and wait until next week.

Okay, so you are probably wondering why P-day was changed. Thursday is the day that transfers fell on. However, it is a little ridiculous to try and move everyone New Year’s Eve when transportation is going to be crazy. So President switched transfers to tomorrow and today, Tuesday, is our P-Day. And hey, I’m staying in Rome with my companion. (This will be our third transfer together). All the missionaries in Rome 1 stayed the same. The only difference in our district is one of the sisters in Ladispoli got transferred. Guess who’s coming to take her place. Sister Gadd!!!! Do you remember that name? She was one of my companions in Livorno! I’m really excited!!

Okay, the biggest news I can think about since Christmas is that I got sick yesterday. I woke up and wanted to throw up. So I did. Hmm, maybe that’s not the biggest news, that’s just the news closest in my mind…maybe because my stomach still hurts? Anyway, both me and my companion were sick yesterday, taking turns throwing up and stuff. There came a point in time when I just wanted to be through with it, so I asked the elders for a blessing. We were going to go to the church to get the blessings, but Sorella Tramacchi started throwing up as soon as we left our building. So we asked Marco Antonio if we could go to his house. It was perfect timing because Monica was there and I don’t think she’s usually there at 6. And she had a friend who was a nurse with her.

The blessing was really neat too. I was blessed that I would heal quickly and that I would be stronger because of this. I haven’t thrown up since the blessing. There came a point in time when I thought I would. (Sorry that you have a daughter who’s a little graphic). Do you remember the part at the end of Newsies when Jack sees the guy who wants to take him to the refuge. He starts to run and Old Man Denton tells him he doesn’t have to worry any more. He doesn’t have to run anymore, it will all be okay. That’s kind of how I felt. It was over. There was still pain, but I didn’t have to be afraid of throwing up anymore.

And you don’t have to worry about me. As we were leaving today to do email and groceries, Marco Antonio offered to buy our groceries for us. Of course we refused because I can, but we have people looking after us. We’ll be all right.

Cool story, in church on Sunday there was this couple. He’s Italian and she’s Russian. They speak English together, but she doesn’t speak English very well. He’s a member and he wants his girlfriend (they are not married) to take the discussions. She speaks to me in Russian because it’s more comfortable for her. The guy’s name is Bruno. He looked at me and said I could be his daughter. He told me to call him dad. Daddy Bruno. We were supposed to have an appointment with them and a member family last night, but we were sick, so the elders went to the appointment. I hope it went well. Anyway, SHE’S RUSSIAN!!! I really hope the elders don’t try to steal her and that I get to teach her. Okay, I have to brush up on my Russian. Here it goes.

The elders made me translate in church. Then afterward they said, “And that was a hard one too.” Not having a lot of experience translating, I didn’t notice that it was harder than normal. I just noticed that I missed a lot and just tried to do my best. In case you’re wondering, hard to translate consists of talking quickly and people who insert Spanish words when they forget Italian.

Okay, my address:

Via Peveragno 3/15
00166 Roma
Italia

Sorry I made a mistake before. At least I’ve been getting your mail:) Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry

January 7, 2010

Okay, I'm sorry this is short. I am hoping beyond hope that I will be able to come back and do email later. Here's the story. Yesterday was Befana. Firuta had the day off and wanted us for lunch. The elders wanted to play soccer in the morning, and we didn't have time for everything. We got permission from President to do email and shopping today. However, today has been crazy too.

I went to go renew my permesso di sogiorno, the document I need to be legal here. When we were done, Marco Antonio called to say there was someone right next to him who wanted to see me. It was Sister Jones!!! My MTC teacher is here in Italy!!! She taught both me and my companion. Anyway, so we rushed home to meet with her and now she said she wants to take us to lunch. We planned to meet at 1:30. It's about 1:15 right now, so I have to hurry with email. We don't have her number so I can't postpone her. Hopefully I'll be able to come back and finish email.

Oh life is crazy. So my release date has changed huh. That's cool. March 26. And I am so excited about Devin!!! Yay for Devin.

I love you very much. Keep smiling:)

Love you tons and loads and toads and tons. No I don't love you toads, you read that wrong.

Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry

January 7, 2010--Part 2

Okay, so we came back to do internet. I have one story to tell you from the week. Monday was Sorella Tramacchi's birthday. I am so awkward with surprises. I don't really know how to do them very well. So, at one point, I awkwardly asked if it were okay to just tell her that we would surprise her Monday night, but I won't tell her how. She said that was fine.

Then the elders decided to do lunch for her after DDM on Monday. Okay, that's great, but we need to plan for Monday night. However, I can't tell her that because then she'll know we aren't surprising her Monday night, and thus will turn her attention to the other parts of the day...such as DDM.

All day Sunday I was panicking because we didn't have any plans for Monday. I couldn't tell her that though. At church I had a couple of people in mind who I could ask. However, some didn't come to church. Some blatantly told us that Monday wouldn't work for them. I was left to scratch my head with nothing!

Okay, it's fine to do finding work every once in a while, but at night it's a killer. What kind of a companion would I be if I forced my companion to go from door to door on her birthday?!!!

So I prayed. I specifically prayed that someone would call us for an appointment because I didn't know who to ask. Plus, I'm always with my companion, so it's not like I can just call at any time. I had to be strategic. You know what, I felt peaceful. I didn't know what would happen, but I felt like all would be okay.

Sunday night we had zone singing. I felt an urgency I've never felt before about the importance to go and talk to people. That was a blessing for me, but has little to do with the story. Except, that it was weird to feel the urgency to talk to people, but not to call people.

Towards the end, while we were singing our last song, our district leader got a phone call. He walked away, and then walked back. "Sister Bjarnason, Marco Antonio wants to talk to you." He handed me the phone. "Hello," I said, forgetting he doesn't speak English. "BJ?" "Si." "BJ, potete venire per cena domani sera?" "Can you come to dinner tomorrow night?"

Moral of the story, Marco Antonio was the answer to my prayer. Sorella Tramacchi didn't end up that surprised during DDM, but she had a good birthday. That's all I care about. We ended up doing chalk with the elders also.

Other news: I am so grateful for Sorella Jones! I love her so much. She took us out to eat. Hopefully I'll be legal soon. Well, actually I still am legal, I just have to do some stuff to stay legal.

Time flies and I should get going. I love you so much. Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry

January 13, 2010

I have to give a talk in church this week. I’m nervous. This is the second talk they’ve assigned to me in this ward, but there are three new elders. I don’t know if they just think I have the most to learn about missionary work or what.

Sunday we found out that a member that we thought we were working with, gave her friend (that we were working with) to the elders. So…that was kind of a downer. It’s the same work, I can’t just not hope that they succeed. It just hurts because it makes me feel like this member doesn’t have faith in us.

We spent a lot of time talking to Marco Antonio about this. What he said was true, but he didn’t say anything that we didn’t already know. It’s Satan that tells us that we aren’t good at doing anything. Sometimes people don’t realize what missionaries are. They see us as kids without seeing our authority. Unfortunately it also seems that a lot of people see the elders as missionaries and the sisters as something else. Marco Antonio’s advice: there’s a lot of doors to knock on.

Before Christmas, we found ourselves doing house near the Vatican. We were ringing the cittofono and I started getting really nervous because people kept mentioning the doorman. Then, eventually, the doorman came out. He asked us what we were doing. We told him. He looked at us perplexed. “But everyone here is Catholic,” he said. Well, we got to talking to him and making friends. I didn’t really think he was that interested in our message, but we ended the conversation with him saying, “Feel free to come back any time.” Then at the end of last week, as were planning, I started thinking a lot about him. He’s probably not interested, but I felt like we needed to go back. We could invite him to play soccer or something.

Yesterday we finally were able to go back. And, to my surprise, instead of him in his booth there was a woman. “Hi, we’re looking for Geronimo.” “I’m his wife,” she replied. “Who are you?” And thus we began speaking with her. “We’re missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Have you ever heard of us?” “No.” “We’re also known as Mormons.” “Oh, you’re Mormons? Yes. But, what does Mormon mean, I’ve heard it before but I always thought it was a dreary name.” So we described the Book of Mormon.

Then somehow we got talking about the Madonna. Thinking I would clear some stuff up and bring the spirit, I pulled out the Book of Mormon to read about Nephi’s vision of Mary. Instead, that brought the topic back to the Book of Mormon and opened the door for us to offer it to her. She is amazing! Geronimo came home with the kids during the conversation and took over the doorman job and she took us to her home and offered us aranciata and some cake. And she said she wants to come to church some time. Hurrah!

This morning I played soccer with the elders in our district and some missionaries from Rome 3. It’s raining. Yeah, we’re a bit hard core. Some of my leg muscles don’t feel so good at the moment. Don’t worry, this happened last week too, and I am just fine.

Oh, other news, I got your package the same day Sorella Tramacchi got her package. In it there was a present from her family to me. Guess what they gave me! A boomerang! I have a boomerang! One day we’ll have to see if it works.

Hey, and I got to see Sorella Jones again. She arranged to have lunch with this family in our ward. Yesterday morning the family called us to ask us to come to lunch too. Yesiree! That was fun. Tomorrow is Zone Conference. Life is going well.

I am so excited for baby Rader Devin Blaire. Know that there is a Romanian lady here in Italy who likes the name Devin. Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry

January 19, 2010

Okay, it seems there was a lot to respond to. I told you that I got my package. Well, about the stocking…since it was after Christmas, there’s not much to do with it. I think we’re going to leave it in the apartment for the sisters next year. Birthday present…I don’t know. Honestly right now I’m winding down. I don’t really see a need for anything here. However, I don’t want to say not to send anything because I’m selfish and love surprises. I know Marco Antonio loves American Candy. So if you send me a bunch of American stuff, I can share with people and pretend to be cool. Of course, my current companion is not a fan of Hersheys.

As far as where to send it, I’m just going to say to send it directly to the apartment. There’s a possibility that I could get transferred…but let me tell you the facts. 1. It would be a death transfer which only happens on special occasions. 2. Everyone (it seems) gets transferred to Rome to die. Thus it makes less sense to death transfer me away from Rome. 3.There’s an adequate balance between members that like me and members that don’t so I think there’s really no need to send me away. I sometimes wonder why I haven’t got transferred with Marco Antonio always trying to hook me up with his brother. I figure if president hasn’t transferred me at fault of Marco Antonio yet, he probably won’t. Thus 4. if I do get transferred, I’ll probably stay in Rome anyway and thus the timing of when I get my package would be exactly the same as if you sent it to the office. However, if you send it to Marco Antonio and I’m still here, I get it the day that it makes it’s way to Italy. And if you send it soon enough, it won’t even matter if I get transferred because the transfer just began. It has four weeks to get to me…(more or less…maybe only three).

Flight plans…so you got them. That’s crazy. It’s even crazier that I could get home Friday night if I leave Friday morning. No, you aren’t excited at all. You just wanted me to have all Saturday to prepare my talk. I understand. Did I tell you that I gave a talk on Sunday? Welp, I don’t have to worry too much. I was first, short, and sweet. My favorite new convert was a little longer and full of power, crying, and the spirit. And then the third speaker talked about the importance of the family. It was a good meeting.

As far as sending a package home…I’ll think about it. I think in the end I will probably still use both suitcases. I’m attached to them. I want everyone in the airport to see their brokenness and know that they were in the process of serving someone who was serving the Lord. And suitcases break.

Okay, time is short, I should probably say something about the week. Welp, nothing happened this week. The end.

Okay, Thursday we had zone Conference. It was a really good conference. I feel like I can be a missionary again. Yesterday we visited Matilda and Geronimo again. They’re awesome!!

Yesterday we also did service for Marco Antonio. We gave the spiritual thought, and I’m afraid I was a little harsh and broke some boxes. Later I was talking to Monica and she said it was good that we keep pushing. So, I only feel half bad. And he knows that we love him…so it’s all good.

Paola is amazing! She said yes to baptism when she’s ready. She’s not ready yet, but she’s willing to get ready.

I have to go. I love you a lot. Keep smiling:)

Love,
Aubry