Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Last Week

I don't even know what really happened this week.. I feel like I was writing to you all yesterday.. the days pass like minutes. 

In a nut shell:

Pday Picnic
Monday I saw Carol!!! She is going to the temple this week so it was my last pday to spend with her.. We all went to Villa Borghese for a picnic and I just held onto her the whole time.   I'm thinking of kidnapping her and bringing her to Utah.

picnic at the Villa Borghese

giant bug bites

Then we went to EATALY because Sorella Price has never been and we just walked down the aisles in amazement... she gets me. 

Mission Mom
Tuesday.. ddm. Sorella Steurer held me in her arms and told me everything was going to be okay.  She is my mission mom.  
Sister Steurer at the cemetery for American Soldiers (from their blog)

Anziano Di Caro came to DDM to do a zone leader addestramento.. so we just sat next to each other and made fun of each other the whole time and disrupted the spirit.. #ooops 

Then we taught Claudio the Restoration.. again... and he told us how he is tweeting at 50 year old actresses in California telling them he wants to marry them. We also got to teach Valentina!!  She is my favorite. 

Wednesday we got really lost on the bus.  We met with Eva.  I only do finding in English in Rome because Italians either want to practice their English or else the metro is full of tourists coming back from the beach. 

Scambio Vickers
WE DID A SCAMBIO with Rome 3 which means I got to be with SORELLA VICKERS in Rome 3... I love being with Sorella Vickers.. 

Also because she is so beautiful, guys offer to buy us free stuff and she says "no" but I say "yes"... so we got free juice.  

We had a meal appointment where I ate pizza with flowers and hairy anchovies on top. We (accidentally) stayed up too late talking about Siracusa and telling old funny jokes. It was the best. 

Thursday me and Vickers went out finding and I had a throw down (a non-contentious throw down) with this Catholic priest guy... where he ended up agreeing with all of the points of the Restoration until I told him we had to leave and he had to think of an argument really fast.. so we gave him a Book of Mormon and wrote his name in it (so he had to take it) and told him to read and pray about it. 

"We don't need other churches"

Lo Spirito
We also met this sweet lady from Romania whom we invited to English course and then Sorella Vickers handed her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and she said as soon as she touched it she got the shivers... LO SPIRITO SANTO.  So it was a good day.  

Then we went back to Ostia and did English course and taught Claudio and Valentina again.  Anziano Zemp taught "slang" in English course and then started calling all the girls "babe"... sometimes elders just don't know. 

FRIDAY we planned all morning for the baptism. did finding. got two no show appointments.. did more finding.. and practiced the song for the baptism. 

teaching sumo wrestlers

Saturday we did finding.. because we had more no show appointments (which is really frustrating because we COULD plan appointments but you can't just call minute of and say, "HEY ARE YOU FREE NOW?!") 

book of the less actives

Don't Make Us Beg
So then I called Giuliano and BEGGED him to meet with us because he canceled twice that week.  We had a beautiful lesson with him about faith and we read Mathew 14 together about enduring in faith. It was really inspired.  Then he bought us zeppole. 

Sunday we announced Valentina's baptism for Aug 2nd!!! WAHOOO! 

I feel so lucky to see a baptism my last Saturday of my mission.. even though I know I did NOTHING for her.. She came into the lessons already with a desire to be baptized and a testimony of the Book of Mormon.. and THAT'S why the prophet tells us to do MEMBER missionary work. So get on it guys.   But she is really incredible.  

Feel the Spirit...please
Also we had a cute English course student come to church.  Her name is Jasmin and so we were all on our toes because the first time someone comes to church you have to pray for 3 hours straight that the members don't say anything weird... 

Well sometimes you wonder if God hears those prayers because the first hour they talked about "follow up" from Elder Ballard's talk mixed with why we shouldn't call ourselves "Mormon" because people will think we have more than one wife and we don't.  

The second hour was the Word of Wisdom and the teacher made a reference to Muslims and how they have their law of health too etc. etc. etc... and the third hour was missionary work and some complex story from the war chapters in the Book of Mormon.  But hey.. she said she wants to come back.. 

So the Lord does answer the prayers that say "Heavenly Father, at least if they are saying weird things LET HER FEEL THE SPIRIT"... 

Then we went to the African camp but the person we went to visit wasn't home so we helped these two little boys at the camp to become friends again because they were fighting. 

Then went to a member's house and she took us down the street to her husband's panino truck on the beach and we sat at the table talking to the people who were drinking beer and working there and we watched the sunset and ate watermelon and it was beautiful. 

Last week.. so weird. I still don't believe it. I'll get on next week because my comp still has to do email. 

I love you all and I'm excited to see you! 

With love from Rome,

Sorella O'Connor

(Email Sent - July 28, 2014)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Love for June Paige

I cant wait told hold baby JP <3 she is so beautiful. 

I don't even know what to say anymore in my letters. 

We did missionary work. It was great. I love it. 

English Course:
Claudio, our investigator; Michele, whom we taught the Word of Wisdom and he told us he hears voices; Mr. Meloni who is Sard and we talk to each other in Sard.

Home on the Range
I am a range of emotions all the time. I see Americans on the metro and I think they are loud and weird. And then I remember I'm going to America really soon. 

We are working really hard. Giuliano didn't get baptized this week.... sad. But we are working on another baptismal date soon.. We are working on getting Valentina ready for August 2nd. 

We have a really sweet new investigator named Eva.. She is 16 and her mom is an inactive member. We love her and she loves the gospel and wants to get baptized as soon as she gets permission. 

Monday we went to Rome to see Carol!!  

And then we had an FHE with the youth (aka our investigators and their friends) 

Roma 2
Tuesday we have our DDMs, which I love because we get to go to the Rome 2 church/the office for DDM and I get to see all my friends.  This week I saw Vescovo Teodosi and Fratello Canzachi.. two of my favorite members... I talked to Sorella Nef about being able to do a scambi in Rome 2 before I leave... so I'm praying for that... 

Not Forgotten
It's fun to see Rome members because sometimes they forget that I left... two of them that I have seen started to talk to me about referrals and fixing our apartment and I had to remind them both that I'm not in Rome 2 anymore. I love that.  

Also we have the funniest/strangest district... and an Italian DL so I got to give the training this week in Italian and we do everything in Italian... which I love because I love speaking Italian. 

Running into the assistants at a beach party in Ostia after curfew...

THEN our simp. Giuliano took us to get ice cream/talk about his baptism at this fancy restaurant right on the beach... perks. 

Wed. we had a lesson with Eva and her sisters/cousins... It was so sweet. I love teaching the younger girls because they all have this sensitivity to the spirit and the desire to be baptized.. 

Member Missionaries
Teaching them reminded me of when Farryn started taking the discussions at our house and made me happy to think that I could be helping one of them follow the path she chose to follow. 

Then this week to see the pictures of her with her brand new baby girl and happy eternal family... I was just really happy. It just reinforced how LITTLE we do as missionaries and how MUCH the Lord does in guiding our individual paths as we choose to follow him. 

Perfect Night
That night we went to dinner at the stake president's house to talk to them about missionary work. It was such a perfect night.. He told us their story of how he went inactive at 16 and then when he was in his early 30s, living with his girlfriend they had one son and she was pregnant with their second.  

She (the girlfriend) went over to a friend's house (who were members) while the missionaries were there.. She came home and told him and they decided that he would go back to church and she would start talking the discussions... 

He had never even told her that he was a member.. and now he is the stake president... it was a really beautiful opportunity to talk about the importance of member missionary work and eat really good Italian foods... baked eggplant and red peppers. 

Friday we taught the Law of Chastity.. 

Saturday a Ukranian member invited us over and then gave us facials because she said we needed it... 

so we talked to her about member missionary work while letting our masks dry and eating panetone. 

We did finding. We met with Claudio, one of our investigators, and he bought us pizza at a Chinese restaurant... (the sad things about Rome... pizza should be made by Italians)

Zepole the size of your head

Sunday we met again with Eva and the girls and did more finding... met a family from New Mexico here for a karate tournament. 

At church I got told off by a 4-year-old little girl. Like I have never had my feelings hurt so badly by anyone on the street... but this 4-year-old.. man. 

and that's about it. 

goooood week. It's going so fast. We also went to the African camp, but I didn't get a cool dress like Paige. 

I like Ostia. It's a cool place. 

trees in the middle of the road

you are never too far from the mafia

plants on the balconies

So without further ado...

With love from Ostia,

Sorella O'Connor 

(Email Sent - July 21, 2014)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Another Nail in the Coffin

Editor:  No pictures this week because Kaitlin's new camera fell apart. :(  and her companion's camera doesn't work either.  She is using her film camera for now.  

But in three weeks we can see her pretty face in person, so that's seems like a fair tradeoff. 

 Here's the email:


I feel like I'm ending my mission a lot like I started it... lost, awkward, and by the beach...

 I still get lost in the city a lot and it's hard making relationships with people when they know you leave in three weeks... but other than that things are going well in Ostia.  It's really pretty here and we have some great work going.  

We have a BAPTISM this week for a man named Giuliano.. at least we hope that it happens (PRAY FOR HIM)... He met the sisters about a year ago and he has finally made the choice to get baptized... we are frantically trying to get everything ready, choose talks, find clothes, get his interview, meet with him, and all that jazz in a week. We found out yesterday that we can go through with the baptism for next Sunday so last night Sorella Price and I were trying to get a musical number in.. 

She pulled out "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" - the one that Zoe and Brock and I did in Lanai Ward.

Big City Finding
It's been a hectic week. I'm getting back into the hang of big city finding again.  Finding is so different everywhere you go.  I love that in Rome you meet so many different people from all over the world.

We decided this week that when we had extra time we wanted to do finding for the elders because they don't have any progressing investigators right now, but it didn't go well because that means we targeted single men.... which I forgot is a bad idea.... but we got a lot of free food out of it... jk we turned them down, Mom.  

To All the Nations
But I did meet a cute family from Southern California, and a lady from Tuscany who gave me her business card and said I could stay with her if I want to visit Tuscany, and a cute Polish family, and a man who spray paints metro trains at night for fun, and other cool people that aren't interested in the gospel... yet.

Departing Testimony
I got to go to zone conference this week.. President let me come to the Rome EAST conference because I had missed Rome West by a week and otherwise I wouldn't get to do my departing testimony... It was fun because a lot of my friends are in the Rome East so I got to see Sorella Rossell, Sorella Mikesell, Sorella Bradford, Sorella Foster, and some anziani friends too. 

 It was a good conference, but hard because giving that last testimony at zone conference feels just like another nail in the coffin and in my interview with President he told me to fill up the agendas for the missionaries after me.  

I didn't plan what I wanted to say ahead of time so I ended up just crying and not being able to make any clear, coherent sentences in Italian. but that's okay.  The greenies all talked about how hard the mission is and how they know that God will help them do hard things and I just remembered when that was me... and now I want to go back to the beginning with all this time to still do so much.. but I just have to remember to be grateful for all the time I have had and STILL have to work hard and see miracles.

Speaking of miracles.. we have seen so many here in Ostia.  I think Heavenly Father still feels sorry for moving me so he is blessing us a lot.. Like planning everything for Giuliano this week.  

Also we have this incredible investigator named Valentina.. she is 21 and a dancer.  She found the church through a friend in Terni who gave her a Book of Mormon.. She said she was having a hard time and opened the book and it landed in Alma 32 and answered all these questions she didn't even know she had. 

She is super strong and is so open to everything. She accepted a baptismal date for August 2nd!  - the Saturday before I leave... so we are hoping and praying that everything will go well.  She is really excited about it and all the members love her and WE love her.  

Rain, Rain... Come again
The only thing that was holding her up was that she has to come to church 3 times before baptism... and her summer job makes her work Sundays.  She has come twice but we have been praying together that she would be able to get work off to come to church on Sundays... 

Well this Sunday we had a HUGE rainstorm right before church... and during Relief Society Valentina walked in!!!!  She said that they cancelled work because of the rain!  She works at a kids summer camp and they told her she could leave so she headed straight to church! MIRACLE.

Sweet Sicilian
We also got TWO new investigators this week... we have been working with this sweet Sicilian grandma in helping her come back to church.. she has 12 kids and most of them are no longer active. 

Well one of her kids moved back in with her after a divorce and her children have been coming to church and want to get baptized and asked if we could teach them. So we are really excited about working with them too.

I got to hold a really chubby baby.. another miracle.. Literally I had no choice because he JUMPED from his grandmother's arms and If I didn't catch him he would have fallen!  So I got to hold him.

To All Nations
I got to go to the African refugee camp twice this week. I love the African camps.

I met an orthodox Egyptian who lives in Italy with his Polish wife and owns a flower shop and I offered him a Book of Mormon and he did NOT take it.  He looked at me and the book like it was sent from the devil himself..  I still don't get it.. it says RIGHT on the front cover 


If you love Jesus and the Bible, why WOULDN'T you want to read another book of holy scripture that teaches of him and confirms the testimony written in the Bible? His loss.
So.. that's my week.  Today we are going to Rome to see CAROL :)  I asked one of the Young Single Adults if he knew her and his response was "Oh yes,,, she does not go unnoticed."  All the boys want her.  Sorry if that's embarrassing, Carolina mia... but it's true.

With Love from ROME,
Sorella O'Connor 

(Email Sent - July 14, 2014)

Monday, July 7, 2014

All Roads Lead Back

You know it's a bad sign when you get an unexpected call from President. At least that's what I told him when he called me and then he said, "Can't I do anything right?

We joked and I breathed a sigh of relief because he said there would be no changes.. yet. 

Then later that night at 10:30 I get another call from President where he tells me I'm getting transferred four weeks before the end of my mission! 

Yeah I was too. 

I started bawling on the phone and poor President, who had never heard me cry, just says 
"Are you happy? or sad? or shocked?" 

Thursday morning they told me I had to leave that NIGHT and I cried again.  Sorella Pace made me call back and tell them it was IMPOSSIBLE because it literally is impossible to get all my things packed and find a way to Catania that NIGHT and a lot of other things... so they let me stay until Saturday morning. 

Goodbye to Anna Maria

Goodbye to the English Course students

I cried for two days straight... but now that I'm in Ostia I feel a lot better about it. 

I love my new companion Sorella Price, from Springville Utah.. We did scambio in Ragusa together and she is really great.. Also I'm in Ostia, which is the beach city of Rome, so I'm still by the beach... 

My Purpose
But it was really hard for me to leave Sicilia. I know I was there for only 3 months and it was REALLY hard for me at the beginning, but I put SO much into that city and last week was SUCH a good week and we were seeing so many miracles and starting to see progression and then I got the call to leave.

So now I only have 4 weeks to fall in love with Ostia and find my purpose here and fulfill it. 

A sorella in Taranto fell off a castle and broke her foot and had to go home... so President prayed about it and felt that Sorella Bair (from Ostia) needed her place and that I needed to take the spot in Ostia..  

He told me to pray about it and get confirmation that it was the Lord's will.. but all the Lord told me was, 

"I'm really sorry, I know you love it here.. but it's the only logical thing because you are in three"... 

So at least I know that Lord feels a little sorry for me. 

So that's the news. I got the package you sent me, Mom, my last day with the peanut butter and other random things I still haven't figured out.. but anything else you sent I told Sorella Pace to bring it up to Rome when she comes up to "die" with me. 

It's been a crazyyy week. 

Stay Forever
We met Enza and Emanuele on Monday night and they fell in LOVE with Sorella Pace.. 

They asked us if we would like to stay in Italy or go back to America and Sorella Pace said she wanted to stay which somehow turned into them telling her they have a room reserved for her and she is just going to stay with them forever... 

and then when she told them she HAD to go back to finish school they were crushed. 

It was really funny because we were TRYING to teach the lesson but it kept going off topic because Enza would be like, 

"Wait.. where will you work?" or "Do you know how to cook?" At least they love her because I was worried about me AND Williams leaving with all of our new investigators.. 

Hard to Say
Some of them took it REALLY hard.. like Adriana. 

We just held each other and cried.. but because I got to stay an extra day we were able to do some pass off lessons to the other sisters. Adriana is doing really well.. and I think she will be able to be baptized as soon as she finds a job that doesn't make her work on Sunday. 

Wednesday was one of the best days of my mission (until we got the call).. we have been working a lot with the youth in Siracusa, helping them get prepared for missions and things. 

Davide (left) and the other ragazzi

One of my favorite youths, Davide, just turned 19.  They invited us over Wed. because it was his birthday.. it ended up being just his family and the missionaries invited hah.  

I got to share my feelings about my mission and how it has blessed my life.  It was a great opportunity to bear my testimony and also dance with his 75 year old mother who is the funniest Sicilian lady.


our version of "stars and stripes"

We had a ward party on Friday for the 4th of July so at least I got to say goodbye to some of the members.. but at the party my camera broke so I hardly have any pictures with the Siracusa members.. but I'm trying not to complain because at least I got to say goodbye.  It was really hard. Hard on them too.. we all cried. 

Naomi and Eveline

Alessandra and Mary

English Course students at the party

The Zombra girls


Sorella Reali  

Nicoli taking down all of our little decorations

A little Like America
But Ostia is treating me well. It reminds me a lot of Southern California actually.. like the beach here looks more like Newport Beach and we have a smart phone and all the lessons I've taught here have been in English... so our theory is that God is trying to lessen my culture shock by sending me to Rome for the last few weeks. 

We are contacting all of Sorella Pace's old investigators because she served here. The ward was all really nice to me and very welcoming. I'm trying to not tell anyone I'll only be here for 4 weeks though. 

It's weird being back in Rome. I never thought I would make it back here.. Like being on the metro and seeing public buses again.  It's a different world.  But I'm happy and I'm working HARD.  

Sorella Price and I want to give it our all this transfer. So I'm not crying about Sicilia anymore and I'm really happy to be here. 

So that's it with me. 

Vi Voglio Bene Bene 
With love from ROME,

Sorella O'Connor
(Email Sent - July 7, 2014)

Countdown:  T - 4 Weeks

Monday, June 30, 2014

Trio Trio Trio

If you guys keep saying "last weeks" I'm seriously going to stop reading your emails. 

I got all the letters you sent me Mommmm :) Thanks. I played my America CD the whole time Sorella Williams was packing because she is from Canada and she said she hates all national anthems. She got mad when I used to sing the national anthem down the empty streets at night. haha. 

People keep writing me and I think they think I'm trunky or something.. NOT trunky. It just makes me laugh because it still hasn't actually hit me that I'll leave one day. It feels like I'll be a missionary forever in Siracusa,' so when people say things like "dying" and "5 weeks" it doesn't really phase me. 

It was a little weird writing all the days in my next planner though. I'm just not really thinking about it. Also, update for you Mom, my back is much better.. so thanks for the advice. 

This week was a lot of goodbyes and organizing things because we are putting two companionships into one. 

Current Events:

-We got a pamphlet about exorcisms in our mailbox from one of the local churches, haha.  We decided to add that to our list of finding tools in PMG.

-Two italian opera singers/simps sang goodbye to Sorella Vickers in our chapel and I cried. 

-Italy is out of the World Cup and we are all sad about it. 

-I got hugged by an African man at the train stop in Catania and all the anziani saw and they won't let me live it down. 

-One of my favorite members made us a lasagna and then drove us all the way to Catania to drop off Sorella Vickers AND downloaded all of the "Frozen" songs for us in Italian.

"Okay, Ciao"

-So Sorella Vickers had to stay an extra day to pick up her permesso (and when we went, it WASN'T even finished) so she needed to fly alone back up to Rome.. We went to the airport to drop her OFF and pick Sorella Kippen up. 

We checked her in and got her to security and everything and then we went back to Siracusa for the ward party.. We got to the ward party and I got a call from the office elders..

"Pronto!" - me
"Where is Sorella Vickers?"-OE (OE-office elders)
"Ummm... on the plane?"-me
"No. She isn't."-OE
"What do you mean she isn't on the plane?!"-me
"The airport just called us. They said she checked in but never made it to the counter... 
Why didn't you make sure she made it to her gate?!"-OE
"We took her to the security and we can't go past that, anziano."-me
"You didn't WAIT to make sure she made it THROUGH?"-OE

So then Pace and I are freaking out because our first thought it that she is beautiful and that she got STOLEN.. and the Office Elders think she has tried to run away and Giuseppe is calling every number that exists for the Catania airport and we can't breathe... 

About an hour later they found out that her gate had changed and she had gone to the one written on the ticket because it was going to the same place at the same time. So that was the scariest part of the week... 

Colors of Brazil
-Then we had a great ward party and all our contacts and almost all of our investigators came. We did a photo scavenger hunt and it was a lot of fun.. It was 'I Colori di Brasile' or 'The Colors of Brazil'. 

-Sunday we had 5 investigators in church! I think that's the most I've had my whole mission! Enza and Emmanuelle came! even though I called them ALL Saturday and couldn't get ahold of them.. they came on their OWN! 

So did Anna Maria.. I haven't been able to get her in church for two transfers! Then Isabella came who is one of my favorite investigators from the other sorelle and Naomi, another one of my favorites. 

Divine Combine
It was so divine to put us together, I just kept feeling like I had a connection with their investigators and even Pace said that Isabella told her (before the combining) that she felt like we had known each other forever.. and Pace felt the same way about our investigators and now we get to work all together. 

We seriously have SO much work.. it's such a contrast from when I first got here. We built up a ton of work on our own, and now with ours mixed with the other sorelle we are just trying to fit everything in. It's going to be such a great transfer. 

So when Kippen came down (she had taken my place in Rome 2) I was asking her about all the members and everyone and she says to me "Oh yeah, Marco got baptized my last day there."... 

MARCO!  Marco is Luca's best friend... and LUCA got to baptize him. It was the best news ever. 

The first time we had an appointment with Luca he asked if he could bring his friend... I remember the first lesson with Luca and Marco, and now they are BOTH baptized and LUCA got to baptize him. I get emotional every time I think about it. 

Luca's Baptism

Marco's Baptism

The Lord has blessed me so much on my mission. I remember vividly the first time I met Luca on the 336 bus, we had been talking to the bus driver and we were almost to our house.. I realized that Luca was the only other person on the bus and he had been listening to our conversation with the bus driver and we decided to give him a pamphlet just in case he was interested... he said no.. and we got off... 

And from that small, simple encounter, he and his best friend are now baptized. 

Small and Simple
It's really the smallest, simplest things that lead the the salvation of many (Alma 37:6). 

 Alma 37:6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

It just reminds me of how little we do as missionaries.. We play the smallest part in the great work, and with the efforts of MANY and great effort on the Lord's part we can see so many blessings and so many miracles. 

Vi viglio tanto tanto bene.

A Presto.

With love from Siracusa,

Sorella O'Connor 

(Email Sent - June 30, 2014)

This guy says he looks like Dad

random fire in the neighborhood

Countdown: T-5 Weeks