Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Missionary Jam

Ciao famiglia. 

Another great week in Italia. I feel like I'm finally starting to get used to missionary life here and it's making things go much easier.  

my jam
I can usually tell how well I'm doing by my feelings towards the song "We Are All Enlisted"... Sometimes I love it and sometimes I think it's the worst song ever written...  If I'm singing along then it's a good day haha.

Here are some of the highlights from last week:

a foreign field

Thursday we went to Carbonia which was really fun because we had to take this old train to get there.  I really felt like I was in a movie because the girl next to me was listening to "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay, and as I'm looking out the window of this old train into the Italian country side (rolling green hills with sheep included) I hear the lyrics

 "Missionaries in a foreign field"... So surreal.  

(there's this version from PS22 too)

Also that morning we got a call from a man we had met on the street and he asked if he could meet with us THAT DAY!  We were way excited because we had kind of given up on him and categorized him in the "more interested in seeing us than hearing us" category.. if you know what I mean (which seems to be growing every day).. We met him with the anziani in the church and passed him on to them (It's way easier than having to find a sister in our tiny branch to come with us and it shows that he's really interested in the lessons and not just the sisters) which was really great. 

funny/haha? or funny/strange?
Friday was a really funny/strange day for missionary work... I saw this old man on the bus and he kind of kept moving towards me and looking at our tags so I started to talk to him and he asked me for a pamphlet and then the man next to him heard us talking and asked for one too... 

THEN at the next stop a man stopped us while walking by to give us a referral!  Normally people start running when we try and talk to them (seriously it's happened).  So it was funny to have people throwing themselves at us to do missionary work.  We also had two lessons doing casa in casa which was seriously the best. 

"We are all Enlisted" was definitely my jam that day. 

the gospel can help
Saturday we got a new investigator!!!! (our only one right now) and we had a lesson with him yesterday!  His name is Marco and he's meeting with us to find out how he can better help his family through the gospel...of course we are so excited to be meeting with him.  

He is very sincere and very open so we are hoping it continues to go well.  We brought a sister with us from the ward yesterday and she kind of took over the lesson and talked the whole time (ahh Italians),  so Sorella Cojan and I were struggling to take it back and it was kind of a mess.  

But the cool thing is that since my Italian is so bad, whenever I try to speak everyone stops to listen in order to figure it out.  So it definitely helped to take control back in the lesson and bring it back to the things that he really needed. 

There is definitely a power and authority in teaching as a missionary and it's been incredible to see the ways the Lord uses me and teaches me.  I feel so much closer to the Savior than ever, and I know it's because we are both working so hard to do His will. 

growing pains
Sunday was a hard day for us... no one we wanted to visit was home, and the people with the two lessons we had ended up telling us they weren't interested in having us come back.  A lot of times as a missionary the days seem SO long and you have no desire to ring another doorbell, but those are the days I see the most growth.  

Growth is always beyond the point of comfort.  I learn so much on these hard days and you really do feel the strength of the Lord helping you to do the things that seem to hard in that moment. 

no dates
Monday was our day of creepy men.  We had one guy call Sorella Cojan about English course and ask if he could take us out for a drink after.  We met another creepy man on the bus who asked for a pamphlet just so he could get our number.  

The funniest of these situations was a 16-year-old boy who stopped me in the street and said that he had seen me on the bus (and then some words I couldn't understand) and then asked for our number. 

I remembered him (who can forget a teenage boy with a swastika carved into his arm?) and thought he was talking about the English course information I had been sharing with someone, so I gave him a bigliattini for english course and pointed out our number in case he had questions.  Then he said something else I couldn't understand, so I looked at Sorella Cojan and she started explaining how I can't because I'm a missionary and I'm only here to share the gospel.  

Come to find out he said that he had seen me on the bus and he thought I was really pretty and "voglio uscire con te" or "I want to go out with you... can I have your number?" Misunderstanding it all, I actually gave him my number when he asked if he could call me and if we could do something together.  

Sorella Cojan stepped in and saved me... At least I didn't let anyone "kiss" me this time. So that's improvement, right? 

Tuesday we went to go get all my permesso things done so I can be legal.  It's been a long process, and I'm glad it will be over soon.  The bad part is that we have to leave at 8 to be at the office and we miss study time every time we have to go.  That is the worst, because study time is my favorite time of the day (who have I become?)  

funny and fun
It was also a funny day because we got 10 messages from that creepy guy Stefano (the "miracle" guy I talked about last week) who is definitely missing part of his brain.  He started telling us this story about how he burned this Indian feather spirit and then sent us another text saying the Indian spirit didn't want him to tell us more.. okay cool. I think it's funny but it makes Sorella Cojan mad hah. 

Today we went to Barumini and saw this really cool archeology site (We all know how much I love archeology and old things), so it was a blast for me.

I love being here in Italy.  Everyday I have a moment where I think, "This is actually my life right now."  Italy is seriously the perfect place for me.  

The other day I was making gnochetti and fresh sugo and Sorella Cojan turned on an Italian opera, and I just couldn't help but feel so incredibly happy about where I was and what I was doing.  It's seriously so hard, but I find so much strength and I'm learning so much.  

Scott is definitely right, Heavenly Father asks us to do some hard things, but everything he asks us to do is for our benefit.  Everything he has given us -- commandments, promptings, anything -- is all for our growth and for our benefit; they are all giving us opportunities to come closer to our Savior.  I am so grateful for this chance to grow and to learn and to feel the love of my Savior stronger than ever. 

With love from Cagliari,

Sorella OConnor

(Email Sent: April 17, 2013)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pig Skin and a Baby Lamb

Week Three and I've made it halfway through my first transfer. It seems like I've been here forever and no time at all--at the same time.  

Sorry if I'm all over the place today (when am I not?).  I'm trying to figure out if it's my allergies or some weird plant that I ate earlier today (joking mom... kinda) so here we go.

Thursday we didn't have a lot planned (like all of our investigators have dropped us... my fault? maybe).  So we tried a lot of finding and inviting people to conference.  

receiving comfort

I saw this lady in the park, and I felt like we needed to talk to her.  Her name is Georgina and she was the saddest person I've ever met. She has a ton of regrets and we tried our best to talk with her and offer to help her with anything and of course share the gospel with her, but she wasn't having it.  She was just too sad to think about anything else.  While we were talking to her I had the thought that God wants us to just try -- try our best to help His children receive the comfort of our gospel.. even if He knows they won't accept it.  I was glad to be able to feel His love for her and testify of it. 

English Class

Thursday night I taught our English course by myself for the first time (usually I make Sorella Cojan take the lead).  It was so cute to hear these adults struggle with their English as much as I do with Italian.  At the end of English course, we do a spiritual thought and a prayer and invite people to know more.  It's a great finding tool and I hope that we can find some new investigators out of it.

Friday was FARRYN'S BIRTHDAY!  Happy birthday Farryn.  

I was missing you from Italy.  In celebration, we went over to a member's house for lunch and ate a giant pig. Like giant. Like 17 kilos. Like they had to cut it right down the middle to fit it in the oven. The member is also a baker and made the most AMAZING bread. Heavenly.

Pig Skin (And we're not talking football)

They feed us way too much here. My serving size of meat is about the same Mom would make to serve our whole family. Crazy.  And they want you to eat everything... they made me try the pig skin which still had hair on it. gross gross gross. but hey I did it! 

We were there for a long time, but it ended up being a great member teaching opportunity because their family is going through some really, really hard things right now. It also gave us an opportunity to help with a service project for them this week.  

Also, we invited one of his friends to come to conference and he did!  That night we also had another appointment with the Branch President and his family...which meant more food. The elders laugh at me because I groan when we have two member appointments in a day, ha.  In the end, we returned home with two large grocery bags full of bread and a plate of tiramisu for the two of us.

General Conference

Saturday and Sunday was CONFERENCE!  Never have I loved conference so much.  We invited a ton of people to come and in the end we had about 7 non-members come to conference which was cool. Mostly from our English course, so we can follow up tonight. (Most left early, but I can't really blame them.)  

I got to hear all of the sessions in English which was a great blessing because I got a lot out of this conference. I'm trying to pick a favorite but I can't.. But I mean Sister Dalton was pretty incredible.. Also Elder Bednar gave the best chastity talk I've ever heard....

wrong number

During weekly planning we got this call from a guy who said he remembered the testimony of the missionaries who had taught him in the past and we got SO excited.. miracle right? Wrong. We told the elders and turns out he is missing part of his brain and he is obsessed with the sister missionaries. Ooops. He came to conference (definitely on drugs) and calls us endlessly.  Turns out he has three numbers in our phone and the other two say DON'T ANSWER in the names... Guess they got lazy for the last one haha.

Karaoke Kait

Sunday during the day I met this man on the street and he was telling me all the places he wanted to visit in the United States because of American bands he liked... one thing led to another and I'm using my umbrella as a microphone in the middle of the street and we are singing Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Beatles and Elvis.  

Sorella Cojan and I got on the bus after and I can tell you she was quite concerned with my behavior. Ooops. You've got to preach the gospel in any way that you can, right? 

not so boring...

Also I ran into my first TJ (Jehovah's Witness) and he told me he doesn't want to live with God because he'd get bored... what? Someone obviously doesn't understand the concept of what heaven will be like haha.  He was nice though... just very confused. I've heard there are a lot of really mean ones, so I got lucky.

Monday was a long day because our lessons got canceled and so we had a lot of finding. We ran into this Romanian girl and she said she wanted a BOM in Romanian, so we ran home to get one and when we came back her whole family was there and they were passing it around all sorts of excited!  We have an appointment with them on Sunday, which is exciting because I thought they were just going to ask for money (most of them do) but they seemed genuinely interested. 

feeling the spirit

We also stopped by Sergio, a man we met in the street and talked to about the Book of Mormon.  He owns a car shop and he gave us his card, so we stopped by and taught him a lesson about the restoration. He didn't seemed convinced, but it was a really good teaching opportunity for me.  I got to bear my testimony about gaining a testimony through prayer, and I really felt the spirit. 

A lot of times I wonder if they feel the same spirit that I do when I testify... like with the TJ when I bore my testimony about being children of God or with the grumpy, old man about the power of the Book of Mormon... but I realize that all I can do is try... and in the end if I feel the Spirit, then I am grateful because it grows my testimony of the principles I'm teaching. 

I've learned so much about the gospel and I've felt the love of God so closely here.  It's an indescribable feeling.  Everyday I am spiritually edified and I can feel myself working hand-in-hand with God to lift his children and teach them true principles, whether or not they choose to accept it.  I love the end of the day, when I know that I've done all I can.

Yesterday we did a service project for a member who had to close down one of his bread shops in the city. It was so sad because people kept passing asking if he was reopening and getting all excited because his bread is heaven-sent and we had to tell them it was closed for good. 

naming the Apostles

Afterwards, we did more casa in casa and some grumpy man quizzed us on the 12 apostles and told us we weren't prepared to be missionaries (lets be honest, do you know all their names by heart?)  

We told him it was because our message isn't centered on them; it is centered on Jesus Christ.  

When we started talking about prophets, he asked if we ever talk to the prophet personally.   His daughter turned to him and said, "Papa, you've never talked to the Pope. Let them be..."  which was nice of her haha.  Most people are so nice here and either just say they aren't interested or let us give a lesson.  But sometimes we get those stinkers hah.  


We also visited an elderly sister in the ward in the hospital and she is seriously the sweetest. We shared a spiritual thought and she cried as she bore her testimony of the atonement in her life. It was very touching and reminded me how important this message is to people and how, like her, it can change lives and bring comfort in difficult times. 

There was another couple in the room with her and they were seriously the cutest. We are dreaming about teaching them... like really I would love it haha.  

On the way home we missed the bus and so we had to walk the 30 minutes home.  But it was cool because we ran into a sheepherder who let me hold a newborn baby lamb and name him!  It's Franco in case you were wondering.

Today we went to a nature park with a girl from English course, and she kept making me look at ducks with her binoculars. It's cool because it was fun to see how excited she was about every different kind of bird there was haha.

Things in Cagliari are great! If any of my RM friends want to send me finding ideas PLEASE DO.. I'm down to try anything... what worked for you? I really want to be teaching more and finding less... 

joy in the journey

But you find joy in the journey... every day I find myself in a situation where I think... "How did I get here?"  Like holding a baby lamb in front of a Chinese shop by the freeway or eating hairy pig skin. It's cool. I love it. It's hard, really really hard, but I love it.

Also shout-out to Connor whose birthday is this week!! I'll be singing Les Mis all the way over here in Cagliari for you.

Happy Birthday to Aimee today!!
Out of time again. I love you all. Thanks for the support and Love.
With love from Cagliari,
Sorella OConnor

(Email Sent:  April 10, 2013)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easter in Italy and Kissing in Cagliari

Week two and I'm still alive, halleluja!

This way to the Beach...

I'm loving it here in Cagliari more and more every day. It actually reminds me a lot of the beach house. Everyone keeps telling me how beautiful the beach is and how I just HAVE to go, and I have to keep telling them that I can't!  It's fine though because just knowing that I am close to a beach makes me feel at ease for some reason. Also they eat a lot of oranges here which also reminds me of home...except the oranges here are better. 
Sorry California.

A New View

 We've had a pretty great week with all the festivities going on. After emailing last week, Sorella Cojan took me to the Basione San Remy which has an incredible view of Cagliari. It's seriously so beautiful from up there. It was fun to look down on the city that I walk through so often. 

From the top you can see how beautiful it looks all together with all the colors. Also everyone here has tons of plants on their balconies and entry ways which is one of my favorite things. Cagliari is seriously the best. President and Sister Kelly came yesterday for Zone conference, and they kept telling us how lucky we are to be here and we just kept shaking our heads like, yeah, we know.

Kissing in Cagliari

Thursday was a funny day. Sorella Cojan laughed at me because some old man in the post office kissed my hand when I introduced myself. 

Kiss Count: 1

We also had a lesson with a woman named L. and it was incredible. She asked us to share our testimonies of when we first felt the love of God, and it brought an incredible spirit into our lesson. 

Can I Have Your Number?
That is, until her son M. kept asking Sorella Cojan for her contact information for after her mission. He is pretty persistant, haha. He is a member and is actually very sweet and somewhat mentally challenged.  He reminds me of the huge body guards that you see in movies that don't really talk and seem really scary but turn out to be nice in the end. Does that make sense? Anyways, he asked us out for pizza and we had to tell him AGAIN that we couldn't haha. He and his mom moved back to Sassari this week though so Sorella Cojan can rest easy.

Primary Activity:  always ends in tears

Friday we had this really cool activity with the Primary where they set up a mini MTC. They had all four of the missionaries in the branch come and teach a mini class that all the kids went to. 

My class was on "casa in casa," which is where we knock on doors and ask for appointments (which has yet to work for us, so I dont know why we do it at all)... 

Anyway, we had all the kids practice and it was so cute to watch. We had fun rejecting kids and letting them try again and rejecting them again... is that bad? They'll never want to go on missions now. 

It was a really cool experience though. They got to bear their testimonies to us and it brought me to tears.  They got their little mission calls on Sunday and one of them started to cry because he thought it was real and said he wasn't ready yet hah.

Call Me Grace

Later that night we had a dinner appointment. We were about to miss the bus, so we all started running and I thought to myself, "Wouldn't that be funny if someone felllllllllllll" and I bet you can guess who hit the ground the very next second. 

I rolled a couple times and looked to see a car full of people stopped in the middle of the street staring at me.  Anziano McIntire, who was behind me, was standing there looking down at me and I thought "There is no way we are catching that bus." But we did!

 I got up and started running again. Once I sat down, I realized I had a pea-sized rock lodged into my left palm and Anziano Heder had to pry it out with his pocket knife on a rickety bus. I am quite the spectacle. 

But we made it on time to our dinner appointment!

Kiss Count: 2

Saturday we went around to some potential investigators. We visited this cute family to tell them about General Conference, and the mom kept giving me cookies (they like to feed us here). When we left the dad gave me a "baci" (which is an italian gesture of a kiss on each cheek, that as sister missionaries we are allowed to do with women but not men) so that brought my kiss count to number two in the mission. oops. 


Then we had a baptism that night for a young adult that the elders in another area are teaching, and so we brought an investigator to that. It was really cool to see a baptism of someone so early in my mission. 

Afterwards I went to congratulate him and he surprised me and gave me the "baci" !AGAIN! 

Kiss Count: 3

Sorella Cojan then made me memorize how to say:

 "I'm sorry, I can't kiss you because I'm a missionary" in Italian. 

So embarrassing.

Buona Pasqua

Sunday was PASQUA! No one does Easter like Italy! Seriously so fun. 

We had a lunch appointment with an older lady in our branch. All her kids were there, none of whom are members, so we had a cool teaching opportunity there. 

They feed us SO MUCH here. Like to the point where I can't breath. 

We start with an appetizer of some sort of meat/cheese, then a large pasta dish, then a large piece of some kind of meat, then salad, then fruit, then a desert. every. time. and if you don't eat it all they get offended. We had prosciutto and cheese, then sard pasta (from sardegna, so good) then Lamb, then salad, then Kinder Eggs! Instead of Easter baskets, everyone gets kinder eggs, which are giant chocolate eggs with a prize in the middle.

On Monday we had an all-day cleaning day because the day after easter is another holiday in Italy where everyone rests from all the food they ate and no one goes outside or answers the door or anything. We had a lunch apointment AND a dinner appointment so it was more food and more food and more food. They love food here.
Really Big Pizzas

Tuesday was Zone Conference and today was pday again! A member took us to a cute little museum about Sardegna and it was a ton of fun. It's cool to learn about the history where you are serving.

Emotional Overdrive

Everything on the mission feels amplified to a million. Every human emotion is somehow strengthened here... when you love someone, you love them with every part of you; when you are happy, you are the happiest you've ever been. You are also more exhausted then ever... 

It's definitely hard, but every day I am thankful to be here and to be in Italy. I didn't know that you could love people so deeply

It really is like a family here. The culture is so beautiful and everyone here is so passionate about the Savior and their families. What a blessing it is to bring them further light and knowledge about those two things that are most important to them. I love this work and I love these people!

With love from Cagliari,
Sorella O'Connor

My favorite whale graffiti all over the city

Tiny Elevator
"There are more sheep than people on the island" is the first thing I heard about Cagliari

(Email sent: April 3, 2013)