Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Craziest Week and THE BEST NEWS!

I honestly don't know where to begin. SO much has happened this week. 

First of all, I'm happy crying because I just got an email from Marie Rita and SHE IS GETTING BAPTIZED ON SUNDAY! I am SO happy. I can't believe it. 

Kaitlin with Maria Rita in Cagliari

When Sorella Nef came to stay with us she said that Maria Rita still needed to take some time to think about it (which is what happened when I was there), so I was pretty bummed about it... and then I got on my email today and she had written me saying that she is getting baptized THIS WEEKEND! 

 I'm sad neither Sorella Nef nor I will be there but I am SO grateful for the sisters in Cagliari who have been helping her to make the decision. My heart is going to burst. so happy. 

In other less exciting news, we have had such a busy week.  Because Sorella Foster is new in the country, we had the pleasure of figuring out her whole permesso approval process.  Well.. knowing me and my sense of direction, you can probably begin to guess what happened... 

SO.  We get the directions to get to the questura, where we do her fingerprints, and we leave with plenty of time to spare.. wanting to get there early and have room for mistakes to be made.  

Mistake Number One:  
We get on the bus and I realize that we are taking it in the WRONG direction.
SO we had to get off the stop and go to the other side of the street and wait 20 MORE minutes to catch the bus going the other way.  We are waiting at this bus stop and I'm getting antsy... 

SO this homeless guy with no teeth comes up and starts trying to talk to us in English and he starts repeating 


all while dancing in the street and I'm watching the cars trying to swerve out of his way. 

SO now my patience has all gone out the window because I'm afraid we are going to be late because this bus isn't coming... BUT it does come and we finally get to the next stop where we need to get the next bus.. BUT by the time it comes there are only 10 minutes before her appointment starts.

SO I'm anxious, and the bus comes, and it's FULL of people... 

SO we squeeze ourselves on and it starts slugging down the street and I'm thinking, "We could walk faster then this."  

Mistake Number Two:  
This is a bad thought to have because we get to the first stop and I think, "Oh I'm pretty sure this is it, and if it's not we can definitely walk to the next one.

SO we do get off and I see that it's the right street, so I'm thinking we can run from here.  But then I notice on the sign that there are 8 stops on this street. We need the LAST one and we got off at the FIRST one. 

SO we turn to get back on the bus and it's already gone.  

SO Sorella Foster and I think, "Okay, let's try and walk and see how far it is."  By this time, we are already five minutes late and we are walking fast down this tiny dirt road and cars are honking at us because there is no sidewalk and it's super dangerous.  By this point I just want to cry because I'm thinking we will never get there and Sorella Foster is going to get deported and it's all my fault. 

SO about two bus stops later, I am thinking there is no way we will get there at this rate and it would be better to stop and wait for a bus because if we don't stop a bus could pass us.  

Magic Rome Bus
BUT I'm realizing that no buses have passed at all and we are already about a half hour late.  Then over the hill we see a bus coming and I'm thinking "This is it... This is where we are going to be saved by the bus!"  (Which I had already thought three other times at the three other bus stops where I thought all hope had been lost, and it didn't come, so we kept going.)  

BUT this is going to be the bus that saves us... until I see the big "DEPOSITO" sign on the front, which means it won't stop for us... 

BUT I'm too stubborn and anxious. 

SO I decide I'm going to try and wave it down anyway. 

SO I tell Sorella Foster to make the saddest face she can, and I start waving at this bus driving to stop and HE DOES!  He says "Can't you see the sign says it's 'deposito'?" and I just start begging "I know, but we just have to go to the end of the street.  Please just take us to the end of the street." and HE LETS US ON!  

I start explaining that we have to get to the questura and he says, "But it's 3:00, and it closes at 3:00."  I said "Well we are going to try anyway."  

He shakes his head and laughs at me but keeps going, and I see him deny all the other people at the other stops as we go straight to the bus station at the end of the road.  (There were no other busses passing because there had been an accident and no one could get through.) 

Let Us In!
SO he tells us how to get to the questura and Sorella Foster and I start RUNNING there.  We get there about five minutes after 3:00 (and 35 min late for our appointment) and I BEG the military guys to let us in... and they DO!  

It was the biggest miracle... we made it. we made it. Then we passed out in the chairs for two hours, waiting for our turn, because we were the last people on the list. 

BUT even an bigger blessing was that because we were the last ones on the list, we were able to talk with everyone else who was waiting there.  We invited this CUTE Russian girl that looks like LC (Lauren Conrad) to come to English Course after the questura and she did!  

Turns out she lives in our neighborhood by the church, so we rode all the way back to the church together.  She stayed for English course and we got to share with her the message of the Restoration and why we are here.  It was really cool.  miracles miracles. 

Second Chances
Other Miracles:  I met a man from GENOVA who said that he met with the missionaries there in the 70's, and it made me think of Paige serving there NOW.  Small World.  What are the chances? 

We met this lady named Giuseppina in the park the second or third week of last transfer and we taught her the Restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon.  She gave us her number and we were super excited about her.. but every time we called it said the number was wrong (which happens a lot).  So we were way bummed because she seemed so excited.  

Anyway, this week she showed up to English Course!  I was SO excited to see her.  We figured out that we had written down her number wrong!  (Don't let greenies take down numbers.)  Anyway, we got her right number and talked about seeing her this next week. 

Then Saturday she CALLS US and asks when church is because she wants to come. THIS NEVER HAPPENS. NEVER.  We were bouncing up and down. MIRACLES. 

Miracle Day
About that day (the questura/english course day) Sorella Foster said: "Today was such a miracle day. It sucked, but it was a miracle day." ... Also out of nowhere she said, "I find it hard to look people in the face when they don't have teeth." me too, sorella.

Another Miracle:  We got Giorgia to commit to a baptismal date!  It was the best lesson--probably one of the most inspired lessons on my mission.  We are hoping she'll be ready by the 24th of November. that's the goal.  

She is one of those people who KNOWS it's true.  She reads the scriptures and feels the spirit so strongly and has had so many witnesses.  It's just about getting her to take that step forward and giving up some of the things holding her back from having all of the blessings that the gospel has to give.  So it was a huge miracle to get her to accept a date. 

Thursday we had CAPI CONFERENCE which was so good.  All the Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders from the mission came up for a big training meeting with President, and it was such a good conference.  Honestly, it was just what I needed.  I got to see a couple friends from the MTC and we had a big sleepover at the villa and we got to eat Cafe Rio (kind of) for dinner.  

Put in our Path
Also, as we were traveling to the villa from the station, I met this CUTE couple on the subway and started telling them who we were (it's hard to miss 15 elders in white shirts and ties and 5 sisters in long skirts) and they said they MIGHT be interested. 

I know it's just a "might," but it was one of those encounters where afterwards you know you were supposed to meet them.  

Also they live by the temple, so I explained to them why the temple is so important and how families can be together forever.  It just feels so good to share that testimony.  It feels so good just to tell people.  I don't know how to explain it.  

Even when people don't accept our message or want to see us again or anything.. it just feels good to tell them what Heavenly Father wants them to know and to give them a chance to accept those truths. 

We encountered so many miracle people this week: a less-active who called us out of the blue who wants to come back to church (baptized at 15 and is now 40), the niece of one of our members accepted the invitation for the sisters to come to her house for the first time in years of her uncle trying to convince her, and other families we meet on the street who you just know Heavenly Father has put in your path. 

Keep Out of our Path
We are pretty sure this is blood running down the gutter in the street.

And now about the people I'm pretty sure Heavenly Father DID NOT put in our path:

One day Sorella Foster and I were doing finding in the park and she gave an English Course card to a man from Bangladesh.. and he was super creepy.  He started following us and we were eventually able to ditch him by getting on the subway.  

BUT he showed up with two friends to English Course.  The same night two Romanian prostitutes also came... so we had to make a deal with the elders that we would take the prostitutes if they would take the guys from Bangladesh.  

Afterwards, Anziano Teichert (grandson of Minerva Tiechert.. cool huh Mom?) comes up to us and says "Those guys are dumb as rocks.. not husband material."  Sorella Foster explains how they followed us after she gave them the English Course card and he just responds "....your fault".  which is true.  

Blessed are the Dumb and Naive
We are dumb and naive sometimes and need lots of extra protection because I just think everyone wants to know more about Jesus Christ, when in fact they do not.  

Take the other night for example. We were coming home from a dinner appointment with a member and we were on the bus going towards home.  I see this guy driving alongside the bus and he is waving at us.. so I wave back thinking maybe it's someone from EC or something.  

We get to the bus stop and start walking home when the same car pulls over and the guy rolls down the window and says, "So you made it back all right."  I'm trying to think of where I know him from because he doesn't seem familiar. So I just nod and he says "sei bellissima" and then I realize I definitely don't know him.  

He asks for my number and I say that I can't go out with him because he is creepy and old and balding .... oh, and "I'm a missionary.... but you can  come to church if you like."  I give him a card with directions, forgetting that our number is also written on the card... dumb dumb dumb.  Then he asks if he can call me after my mission, and I just say "Buona Serra" and walk away...  

But all yesterday we got creepy calls from a private number and when we picked up no one said anything..  Our bishop said next time he calls to give him the phone or if the number shows up on the display to give it to him.  Somehow it makes us feel safer.  But don't worry Mom... no "Taken" stuff here.  We are all good.  Bishop's got our back. 

I had to translate for two hours of church yesterday. yuck. 

I'm out of time. But I love you guys and I LOVE being a missionary.. and don't remind me that I'm half-way done this week because I'm kind of freaking out inside.  It's going so fast.  Every day is seriously an adventure.  I love it so much here in Rome.  I can't believe how blessed I am. 

With love from Rome,
Sorella O'Connor

Peruvian Food

At the Vatican

The last of the gelato until Spring (most shops close for Winter)

(Email Sent - October 28, 2013)

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Bonus Post:  Here is a letter we received in the mail:

I feel I must write an addition to my email home yesterday.  We had a great p-day in Villa Borghese overlooking one of the most BEAUTIFUL cities in the world... and all I could think about is how I complained the whole time in my email.

So I'm adding an extra note of gratitude to make up for my sour email to tell you that even though we don't have 80 lesson a week, & we don't have Ipad minis, & I can't Skype my family into my lessons like other missionaries... there are still hundreds of reasons why I'd rather serve in Rome, Italy than ANY other place in the world:

1.  The language:  I LOVE the Italian language & I love speaking to people on the bus.  Even if they don't have interest in the gospel, I love talking to people about their lives, their families, the city, learning new words, etc... I love learning new phrases and things that we don't say in English.

2.  The people:  are so nice.  People are willing to stop & listen even if they have no interest & aren't willing to change.  Everyone is willing to help me with directions when I'm lost or help me figure out what a word means.

3.  The culture:  the food, the art, the love Italians have for families, how everyone is willing to give up their seat on the bus to the old lady who gets on, how MUCH they love food and love talking about food, their obsession with jazz music.

4.  I pazzi:  which means "the crazy people."  We meet a LOT of crazy people.  Some that yell at us because we refuse to give them money & others that let you in their house to show you all the fotos they have of Padre Pio.

5.  The members:  are incredible.  They all have made great sacrifices to become members and to follow Jesus Christ & many of them are the only members in their families.  I love hearing their conversion stories and the things they felt as they changed their lives.  They have a huge focus on missionary work and genealogy and they do their best to support us in our work.

6.  public transportation:  We don't really use it in America, but I love taking buses and metros and meeting people that way.  I think I would still refuse a car if President offered us one just because it's a great way to find people.

I don't have much time to write more.  But there is much more.  There are many sacrifices and trials on the mission, but they are so small compared to the joy you fell and the ways you grow.  My trials here on the mission are much less than thousands of other missionaries... serving today and in the past.  

I'm so grateful for the support I have and all the many ways I have been blessed here.  That's why I wanted to write this addition.... just because I felt so guilty for the small things I complained about. 

Because really the mission isn't hard, we just make it hard on ourselves when we continually focus on our needs and wants and the things that discomfort us.  But when we realize all the ways we have been blessed, we are able to focus on blessing others.  (So feel free to delete all my complaining in my last email because I feel so bad about it.)  I'm realizing now that my blessings FAR outweigh my small trials.  

I only have one hour every week to write home about my experiences, so I feel bad when I only write about the hard things when there are so many great things about this mission.  I've learned more about the Savior and his gospel in these 8 months, than all the 22 years of my life.  

I love the quote by M. Russell Ballard:
"The essence of our ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to invite all people everywhere to 'Come Unto Christ' so that He can work miracles in their lives in whatever way He chooses.  For some, that miracle will mean a significant change of life and lifestyle.  For others it will simply mean new purpose and understanding in lives that are already rich with faith.  But for all, it will mean peace and joy and happiness beyond all measure as the Master touches hearts and souls with His love."

That is the message that I strive to send home every week.  That's what my mission and my purpose is.  That is why they say, "Every Member a Missionary."  Because as we truly come unto Christ, we grow in love for Him and our desire will be to share that joy with everyone.   I'm grateful for the trials and the moments that remind me of that purpose so that I can use the atonement to change and grow.

Thank you again for your constant support and for your constant example growing up.  I'm grateful for the chance to help others have this joy in their lives and their families.  Hope all is well on your side of the world!

un abbraccio molto forte,

Sorella O'Connor

"Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.  Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give his life a ransom for many."

(Mailed - October 10, 2013)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Double Coverage

Old News
I realized that I definitely forgot to tell you last week that Sorella Foster and I are staying together for another transfer. no surprise there.  We are excited about it because we are just figuring out the city and getting to know our investigators.  It would have been rough to get moved so soon after getting acquainted. 

New News
What IS new news is President finally figured out which missionaries are assigned to which ward.  We have had 10 missionaries between the two wards, and no one knew which one they would go to.  The wards were starting to freak out because obvi if they have referrals they don't want to give it to one elder if he goes to the other ward (and they really want to give all their referrals to the sisters anyways).  

So they were really just fighting over who gets the sisters. 

Make Room
It was so funny because yesterday was the first day the new wards officially had two separate meetings, and we still didn't know where we were assigned.  So we basically just had to choose one to attend.

Since the first ward was full, we went to the other one and then the bishops asked, 


We explained,  "No, it's just that this one was full so we went to the other one."  

Then the bishop of the first ward offered, "Sisters, I will get you more chairs if you want more chairs.

So it's nice to feel loved. 

Double Coverage
But, anyway, President finally decided that we get to go to BOTH wards... which is great because we don't lose any of our investigators, but also super hectic because we have to report to two bishops, two RS presidents, two mission leaders, etc... 

Lots of work here in Rome.  No time to eat or sleep. really though.. we had to skip lunch twice this week. 

Grand Central Station - Rome
It was a SUPER busy week because of transfers.  Almost everyone comes to our area to switch or pick up new companions or something.  So we had to babysit different sisters all week, taking them where they need to be and feeding them.  

So we have no money for food left (guess that means it's pasta all week till the new transfer comes)... it's only 50 cents... I'm going to die of over pasta.  I never thought I'd say that. 

But it was really fun getting to meet new sisters.  So really a lot of this week has just been traveling and trying to fit in some appointments and meetings with President and other assignments.

... at least the ones I can think of right now:
Last pday I saw the Mosè, which is one of my DREAMS, and it was beautiful.

The Mosè (Moses) by Michelangelo 
at the basilica of San Pietro in San Vincoli

Not a Noodle
That night we went to a serrata familiare (FHE) with one of the ward members and we ate pig skin.  It was funny because all the missionaries who came with us are younger than me in the mission and don't speak as much Italian.   
(the first time Kaitlin had pig skin - back in Cagliari)

So I was the only one who understood what it was, and I got to watch their faces as they tried to figure it out.  Then I got to watch their faces as I told them what it was.  I just pretended it was a noodle. 

Mission Talk
An elder from Napoli came up to the city and made me feel like an idiot because he said they heard the story about when we got lost in Rome that first night and the assistants had to come pick us up.  So now the whole mission (as he says) talks about the stupid sisters in Rome that have to call the assistants to rescue them...

Sleep Talk
Sorella Foster says I've been stress sleep talking in Italian.  The other night I said, 
"Fratello, I've called him every day and he won't answer my calls!" in Italian.  

I think I may need medical attention.

Gypsy Camp
We discovered a gypsy camp.  We felt impressed to go a certain park the other day, so we went to it and we talked to everyone there.  We still had time more time to work, so we prayed about it and felt we needed to go back. 

So we did, and we found three new people to talk to... and one of them said she wants her daughter to come to our English Course. 

Anyway, we also found out about a train that takes us to the metro MUCH faster then the bus, which also passes behind this same park.   From the perspective of the train, we realized that there is a large ditch that goes behind the park and that there are HUNDREDS of gypsy tents and things. super sketch.

On Duty
Even with all this traveling and babysitting, we were still able to do quite a bit of work.  One morning we were taking the missionaries to the station, and we were able to give away a Book of Mormon and then invite another man to come to church (who had been listening to our conversation).  

It was a great reminder that we are always on duty and we never know where we will find someone who might be searching for the gospel.

Weird... in a good way
Sorella Foster continues to make me laugh.  The other day we were sitting on the train and she told me she thought of a new game called "Zombie Tag."  sounds legit.  She reminds me of Scott sometimes. 

She also managed to compare the Lamanites and the Nephites to certain episodes of Scooby Doo. 

Favorite quotes of the week: 

 "When he gives you that stupid look, it's because he is looking at me behind you."

 "I just like adding flowers to things; it makes it classy.  It's like a photo-op with a big flower barrette." and 

"You are weird.. but like in a good way.. not in the 'I don't want to talk to you' kind-of-way."  (which she said when we were in bed trying to fall asleep.. out of the blue)

Thanks for the talk and the baptism pictures.  I may have cried a little. (I've never "happy-cried" so much in my life as on my mission.)   

Kaitlin on her Baptism Day

Also thanks to Brother Palmer for the sweet letter he sent with his mission experiences.. it touched my heart.  

Everyday Devotion 
It's been a busy but a great week.  Even though by the end we were super exhausted, it reminded me how happy I am to be here.  I love serving here in Rome.  

I find so much joy in knowing that all day, every day is devoted to the Lord's work.. even if it's small things like making lunch for 6 starving sisters, or staying up late to open the door for them after a 10 hour train ride, or listening to my companion talk about her MTC friends, or sharing my testimony with a man outside of our house as we wait for the elders to come pick us up in the car, or giving away a Book of Mormon, or having an FHE with ward members.  

Inside Out
I think about my life before and how absent the fullness of the gospel was from my life.  I had a testimony and I believed it to be true and I lived the principles, but there is something about actually living FOR the gospel.  

It changes you from the inside out.  

I'm so grateful for this time to serve.. in small and in significant ways.

With love from Rome,
Sorella O'Connor

"Weaknesses become strengths, challenges becomes opportunities, trials become triumphs, and adversity becomes adventure in the service of the Lord." - M. Russell Ballard

p.s. Doing a photo shoot for the bishop's family next pday. so excited.

(Email Sent - October 21, 2013)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monday "Preparation Days!"

Like, who thought of this?  No one writes me on Monday and since I just wrote you guys like 2 days ago, I don't really know what to say.  

Just Stay Home
We had a really bad number week this week because all of our investigators were busy or couldn't see us or whatever so we just stayed home all week... just kidding... We didn't do that, haha.  

I decided that I never write about the funny things that happen to us-- and let me tell you we have a lot of weird things happen-- So I started writing those down in my planner too because I knew I would forget them otherwise. 

Different Ideas of Fun
Last pday was so good. I picked this piazza that I wanted to visit and then we just wandered around the streets of Italy.  I felt kind of bad for Sorella Foster, though, because we have different ideas of fun:  

I want to look in all the weird old shops that have things like busts of dead popes and buy expensive gelato because they have flavors like "rosemary lemon" and "sicilian almond" and "white beach and some other herb I forgot the name of."   

She wants to go to the shops that have bobble heads and mini coliseums and buy the regular chocolate-flavored gelato. But we work it out. I'm very self-sacrificing. ha. 

Pdays in Rome are the best.  I love the city. 

Sorella Foster tells me she has a special talent for matching people with their "doppelganger."

Apparently mine is "the overly attached girlfriend" girl from those memes.

overly attached girlfriend

overly attached missionary?

"One Simply Does Not 'Break Up' with the Missionaries"

We also found Edna from the Incredibles... literally the same haircut/glasses/way of speaking... 

also another less-active who sounds JUST like Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. 

We also went to see this member, Sorella Iakaniani.. (pronounced yak-en-ya-knee) and her kids this week.  Their family is the best.  Her kids names are "Wolfgang" and "Demeter," she has a cool tattoo and her house is full of dragon statues and things.  They are converts of two years.  

She brought one of her friends to General Conference and English Course and gave her a Book of Mormon.. so we went over to encourage her to ask her friend to meet with us. 

Circus Entertainers
It was such a funny appointment because the kids were putting on a circus show for us:   literally jumping through hoops and things.   

Also they were coloring pictures of animals and adding them to their "gallery" because they sell their "paintings."  I'm proud to say that I'm the new owner of Demeter's cow drawing for only 1 euro.  

Later she apologized that her son was so wild and explained that he has ADHD.   I told her that I'm used to it because my brother has it too, so we started talking about the natural remedies that she has been using  (more omega 3s in case you are wondering, Mom) and it totally made me feel at home. 

 She kept apologizing, but I loved it. 

Blowing a Fuse
Also our apartment is SUPER cold in the mornings, so we found these floor heaters.   The other day, Sorella Foster turned them ALL on in the study room so it would be a heat box for us once I got out of the shower--great example of serving your companion.  

The only problem is that they blew the fuse while I was IN the shower with a full head of soapy hair.  

The power also cut off the water heater so the water immediately turned arctic cold... and Sorella Foster didn't know how to turn the fuse on (something I'm glad that I learned growing up with three sisters all trying to do their hair at once).  

But it meant that I had to get out and help her with soap still all in my hair.. and the fuse box is OUT of our apartment in the hallway.  So imagine me in my robe trying to find our fuse in the hall... 
forse (perhaps) TMI, but I thought it was funny. 

Eat Your Vegetables
So I've been trying to make Sorella Foster eat healthier foods with me--which isn't her favorite thing.  (I'm just trying to balance out the fact that the members feed us so much food--that we don't dare refuse or we will never get referrals.)  

So one day I decide to be nice and make gnocchi for Sorella Foster because she has never had it and I make her eat "bird food" with me (as she calls it).  I've made her eat a lot of things this transfer that she has never had:  like tomatoes, peaches, peppers, plums, oranges, etc.  

That's right, my companion has never had an orange.   Okay, maybe she has had an orange, but that's about it for fruit and veggies.  Also she refuses to eat strawberries.  (I'm working on it..) 

Second Helpings
So, like I said, I make gnocchi for lunch and we stuff ourselves and only THEN do I remember that we have a member appointment that night.  So we get there and they are like "Hey sisters, do you like gnocchi?" and we just groan a little and shake our heads "yes."  

#sistermissionaryproblems #ratherhavethistrialthentoeatdogmeatsomewhereelse..  

Bearing Testimony
But it was a great appointment. The family was baptized about two years ago.  The missionaries started working with the daughter when she was 15.  She got baptized and then the whole family followed.  We asked them when it was that they received their testimonies that the church is true.  

It was really sweet because they all had very personal and diverse experiences with the Spirit confirming the truth to them.  The youngest son, who is Scott's age, told his story last and it was touching because his parents said they had never heard his testimony before.  

That's one of the best things about serving in Italy: all the members are converts and they all have such special experiences and stories.  The Lord truly is a god of miracles and I know that his hand is in this work. 

Yesterday was the Primary program. cutest thing ever. I always loved it in our home ward, but it's even cuter with Italian kids.  That "no holding babies" rule is definitely the hardest one for me. 

Sharing Testimony
We also had a great lesson with Georgia this week.  We taught the first lesson again and put a huge emphasis on prayer.  She is really afraid of change in her life, but she has shared so many experiences with us about the Lord confirming that this is right for her. 

There is nothing better then sharing my testimony with our investigators.  There are so many things out of our control as missionaries.  We can't make these choices for our investigators;  They have to do it all themselves.  

But we are here to encourage them, to strengthen them, and to give them the spiritual witness that will bring them to act on the faith they are gaining.  I love being able to do that through my personal experiences and through my testimony of the scriptures. 

Finding Happiness
I often think about how blessed I have been in my life.  Sometimes I wonder why I was so blessed to have this guidance in my life while others have to do so much searching for it.  

I don't know the answer to that,  but I do know that it is through these changes and through TRULY following the Gospel of Jesus Christ and centering our lives on Him that we are able to find true happiness. 

This morning I read Mosiah 2:4

and it really comforted me to know that so many blessings come through obedience.  There really is no other way to find a perfect and complete happiness:  it is only through Jesus Christ that we can have that foundation. The Church is true.  It's all true. 

Anyway... That's really all I have to say for today. and lots of pictures.. if this place loads them fast enough.  Thanks for all the updates, Mom. and thanks for the letters.  I got Carla's letter today and it made me teary-eyed.  It really is such a strength to hear from loved ones back home.  

To all my friends that I never wrote:  Sorry
And to my friends that don't write me:  You know better 

Also shout out to Sister Batchkoff from the Hidden Springs Ward because she has sent me the most letters on my mission!  You are the best Sister B!  

(That does not include my own mother who is kind enough to send all my friends' mission blog updates that I love.) 

Ciao Ciao!  Off to see Rome

With Love,
Sorella O'Connor 

(Email Sent - October 14, 2013)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Loving the Rain in Rome

It has been raining ALL week and Sorella Foster and I love it.  Except for the fact that we both got colds this week.  

I happen to over exaggerate much more than she does though.  I didn't even know that she was sick, and I'm walking down the street muttering "I'm going to die" and that's just me.  We are feeling much better, except that I still can't hear out of my right ear just yet.  This too shall pass.  

But sickness aside, we had a really great week of miracles.  I realized last week that I've been stressing myself out WAY too much about not being perfect and still not knowing everything yet about the members, the ward, the city, the investigators, etc. piano piano.  As I've slowed down to count the things we ARE doing right, we have seen many miracles as we have been seeking to do the Lord's work. 

Wednesday Sorella Foster and I rented segways in Villa Borghese for her birthday pday.  It was honestly one of the funnest things I've done in Italy. 

Can I Please Kiss You?
Okay so I forgot to mention this last week, but one morning our appointment canceled and so we had to figure out where we could do some finding instead.  As Sister Foster said the prayer, I felt impressed to go to a certain park that we had never been to before.  We talked to just about everyone in the park and on the way out we started talking to this lady about English Course and how we are missionaries.  

She says, "You are American!  Can I please kiss you?

and I'm like, "Yeah sure, why not?"   

Then she says, "Please can you come to my house and meet with me and my daughter?!

and we are like,  "Umm yeah, we can't right now because we have an appointment but we can meet another day."  

Awkward Lesson
So we exchange numbers and she called US Wednesday night to meet them Thursday afternoon.  So I  thought,  "Wow, miracle!  This is who we came to find."   Turned out to be one of the most awkward appointments ever, hah.   

Basically the mom wanted us to come over to make friends with her daughter so she would come to our FREE English course and then she wouldn't have to pay her English teacher.  She kept trying to feed us Italian Twinkies, that I hate, so I made Sorella Foster put them in her purse. 

Sister Wives
We also went to see the Ukranian girlfriend of a less-active member who we want to start meeting with because she has been reading the Book of Mormon.  Well one thing led to another, and she convinced us to let her do our hair.  Sorella Foster and I came out looking like "sister wives" with strange braids in ever which way. 

Yes I took pictures.  No I will not send them to you. 

Mean Mother
On the way home that night, I turned to Sister Foster and I said, "Go talk to that girl at the bus stop."

  (I'm a mean mother... I say things like, "If you don't talk to them, they will NEVER hear about the gospel." which works because she is really shy but has a big conscious like I do.)  

So we start talking to her and she said, "Yeah, I know who you are.  Is Bishop Celestini still the bishop?"   

We were so surprised because a lot of people don't know who we are and still think Mormons are the same as Amish people out here.   Turns out she is a less-active member that was baptized by my MTC teacher!  We exchanged numbers and she said we could start meeting with her. 

Best Lesson
On Friday we had the BEST lesson on my mission.  We have these really great investigators named Angelo and Graziella who were found by my trainer Sorella Cojan a year ago. We went in to teach the Plan of Salvation because she had a lot of questions about life after death.  

The last time I was there we were just with the Graziella, and she asked some questions about justice and mercy that went along with an article in the last Liahona (that I just happened to have in my purse).  So I left it with her to read.  

This time I asked if she had a chance to read the article and she pulled out the magazine and said, "Yeah, but I have some questions... What is a deacon?"  

She had read the WHOLE magazine and she had some questions about the priesthood.   We explained that to her and she was so excited about the idea of priesthood power and how it works.  Then we taught them about the Plan of Salvation and the Spirit was really strong.  

The husband opened up to us about some experiences that he has had with the Holy Ghost and some legit dreams he had after he met the sisters the first time a year ago.  They are SO prepared and so ready.  

Sorella Foster and I had been practicing the baptismal invite, and I really wanted her to do her first one with them, but she was so nervous.  So we were sitting there and I'm nodding at her to extend the baptismal commitment.   She is shaking her head "no" and I'm shaking my head "yes", and I'm not budging.  

It must have looked so strange BUT she did it! and they said they are going to pray about it! for the 24th of November.  

THEN he asked if there were any scriptures in the Book of Mormon he could read about BAPTISM.  I said "YES, in fact there ARE."  So we left them with a chapter to read and the wife just kept talking about the peace she feels when we are there.  I was literally dancing home. 

Saturday was Sorella Foster's BIRTHDAY, so we got to see Conference for her birthday--which is the best birthday present.  It was a good day. 

General Conference
Conference was SO good. so so so good.  I tried to pick my three favorite talks and it was really hard.

 BUT I loved Elder Dube.  Seriously so cute. and so powerful.  

Also I loved Elder Bednar talk on Tithing, but mostly for the part about the blessings that we receive from obedience:  it's not always something huge like a new job or a bonus, but it's the strength to work harder or the faith to get through something.  Most of the time the blessings are easy to overlook but eternally significant to our growth.  

Then of course President Monson was great to hear.  You can just feel so much love when he talks.   It continually confirms to me that he is a prophet of the Lord and a representative of Jesus Christ on the earth today.  How grateful I am for that knowledge. 

Great Potential
We have a great new potential.  I saw this girl with bright purple hair and thought, "I HAVE to talk to her!"  She is really cool.  She and her boyfriend want to meet with us, and she said she is coming to English Course tonight. 

Sunday I hit 8 months in the mission, which is so weird. so weird.  But we had ANOTHER big miracle.  We have this really cute 18-year-old investigator named Flavia who had a baptismal date for the week Sorella Caramia and Sorella Omer left (the sisters before us).   It's been REALLY hard for us to meet with her because she lives far away and she just changed schools. 

 I have really wanted to meet with her and see where she is at, so I called to see if she was coming to Conference.  She said she would come, so we were HOPING that we would be able to have a lesson with her in between the sessions.  

That morning we said a prayer after our studies and I asked Heavenly Father that we would be able to have a lesson with Flavia that day.  Two seconds after we said "amen" the phone rang and it was Flavia!  She and one of the member girls were just hanging at the church during priesthood session, and they wanted to know if we could go for a lesson!  & it was such a good lesson.  

She is so ready.  We just need to help her know she is ready.  

Then in between the afternoon and evening sessions, we had an English Course student show up early to see the conference (we invited everyone to come).  We were able to have another lesson with her with the members there.  So we were so busy Sorella Foster and I didn't even think about lunch... ooops. 

Yesterday I got really really really sick in the morning.  I had to call Sorella Waddoups, and she told me that we had to stay inside at least for the morning and then see how I was after lunch.  I was bummed because I felt bad staying inside during proselyting time, but we had a lot to catch up on at home so it was okay.  We learned about the power of prayer for Sorella Foster's 12-week training.  Then after lunch, I said "Basta!  We are going out," and so we did.  

But ALL of our options fell through... literally all of them.  

Best Service
So we passed by this 85-year-old member, who is the cutest, because we always ask if we can help her around her house since she can't walk.. at all..  And she is seriously a hoarder (like worse then they show on tv) so it's hard for her to get around her house.  

She always says, "The best service you can do for me is find people to teach.  I really want to give you referrals but everyone I know is dead, so maybe you could knock the doors at my building?"  

So we did all 15 stories and we have 2 people that said to come back.. then on the way home we gave away 2 copies of the Book of Mormon and had a random street lesson with this lady at our bus stop by our house. doing work. 

Okay, so I'm out of time.  BUT I just want to say how much I love being a missionary.  I was kind of a downer last week, because I has having a really rough time.  I'm so grateful for the ways that the Lord works with us as missionaries and how closely I can see his hand in my life.  

The mission is the most emotionally challenging thing I've ever done, but it has brought growth and testimony in my life that I didn't know was possible.  

I know that the Savior lives.  I know He truly does love us.  

As we come to recognize and see that love that He has for us, the easier it is for us to follow Him with faith.  As we exercise that faith, He draws ever nearer to us and we can feel more profoundly that love. 

I know that this is His gospel.  I know it.  And I'm so grateful that as a missionary I have the best and sometimes strangest opportunities to share that testimony. 

With Love from Italy,
Sorella O'Connor

P.S. I almost forgot--They are changing my pday to Monday.. so you'll hear from me soon. 

(Email Sent - October 9, 2013)