Tuesday, January 28, 2014

View From the Top

hi.  Sorry, I'm probably not going to write much this week because it's so cold that my fingers hurt. just warning you. pray for nicer weather. PRAY FOR SUN.  

Making progress on our beautiful temple

This week we discovered that we just don't seem to have as much faith in the cold and the rain, but we try to stay positive...

It's Happening
Mostly because Carol is getting baptized this week!.  It's really, really happening and it's happening this week.  She is so cute and so excited and she already picked out the whole program.  One of the anzianis' investigators is going to SING at her baptism. It's cute that we are all friends.  

It's just a big love fest in Roma 2:  love for the members, love for our investigators, love for our district.. just lots of love. 

Fun story from last Monday:  We did a walking tour of Rome.. 

we were walking by Il Vittoriano, which is this huge, white building that I never could figure out what it was built for.  

They have a little free museum underneath, and we stop to look at it--because it's free and nothing here is free.  

This Italian man waves us over and we chat and offer him English course and he says,  
"You do something for me, I do something for you.. follow me."  

Then he turns to this lady and says "Watch the door.  I'll be back.  I'll explain later."  

So we follow this man into an elevator and we are a little sketched out, but not too bad.  He takes us outside to another elevator with a bunch of other Italians and tells them to "Take them up" and they all say "Yes, boss."  

They take us up this elevator to the VERY TOP of this building that overlooks ALL of Rome and you really can see EVERYTHING.  

So now we offer English course to everyone because it gets us access to cool places and free stuff (like perfume samples). 

Original Form
We got a new investigator this week named Simon.  We taught him the Restoration and it was probably the coolest Restoration lesson we have ever done.  At the end, he just looked at the pamphlet and whispered, 

"Restoration.. do you know what that means? It means brought back to the original form without modification

and we are like "Yes, that's exactly what this is."   So we are hoping it continues to go well.

Carol had her interview this week and she passed! and she made us chocolate chip cookies.  

We also had an FHE with a newlywed couple and I found out that the wife is YOUNGER than me.  

That made me feel really old and startled to remember that people my age are married.  I'm afraid I will be an awkward RM when I get back, so I'll need lots of help with that.

Rob in Italy

Luca is doing well.  Even though we don't teach him anymore, we still get to see him a lot because he comes to English course.  This week he brought his guitar and we all went out to lunch together: all 8 anziani and Luca and us.

Luca - our Star

Public Speaking
Sunday I gave a talk in church.  Somehow I made it into a year of my mission without having to give one.  But it was good and I made the missionary moms cry. 

(Side note: we have all the Rome leadership in our ward.. most of the stake presidency, the mission president, and even an area seventy.. so it's way nerve racking to speak to THEM about missionary work in Italian.)  

I based my remarks off of two of my favorite talks from conference, Elder Ballard and Linda K. Burton, and also a really old talk by Spencer W.  Kimball,  "When the World will be Converted."  (Read it HERE)

After church we half begged an American family to have us for lunch with Carol because our afternoon appointment was cancelled, and it was the best.  

Bread of Life
They had fixed a crock pot meal.  yay!!. and 2 loaves of homemade bread. It's like they already knew we would be coming over... or just inspired like the bread story by President Monson in the RS broadcast.  ("We Never Walk Alone")

On that particular morning of the bread delivery, Sherrie had been prompted to make two loaves of bread instead of the one she had planned to make. She said she felt impressed to take the second loaf with her in her car that day, although she didn’t know why. After lunch at a friend’s home, her one-year-old daughter began to cry and needed to be taken home for a nap. Sherrie hesitated when the unmistakable feeling came to her that she needed to deliver that extra loaf of bread to Nicole’s sister Tiffany, who lived 30 minutes away on the other side of town and whom she barely knew. She tried to rationalize away the thought, wanting to get her very tired daughter home and feeling sheepish about delivering a loaf of bread to people who were almost strangers. However, the impression to go to Tiffany’s home was strong, so she heeded the prompting.
When she arrived, Tiffany’s husband answered the door. Sherrie reminded him that she was Nicole’s friend whom he’d met briefly at Thanksgiving, handed him the loaf of bread, and left.
And so it happened that the Lord sent a virtual stranger across town to deliver not just the desired homemade bread but also a clear message of love to Tiffany. What happened to her cannot be explained in any other way. She had an urgent need to feel that she wasn’t alone—that God was aware of her and had not abandoned her. That bread—the very thing she wanted—was delivered to her by someone she barely knew, someone who had no knowledge of her need but who listened to the prompting of the Spirit and followed that prompting. It became an obvious sign to Tiffany that her Heavenly Father was aware of her needs and loved her enough to send help. He had responded to her cries for relief.

So it was a good week.  We have been SUPER tired, because it's cold and there is no sun and it rains a lot.  

Sorella Steurer made us go buy vitamins because she said we looked dead (also probably because we have been SO busy) but she takes care of us. 

Carol's baptism is on Saturday and the Americans sisters said they are bringing dolci for a little party afterwards.  (They don't do after-baptism refreshments here.. so we are trying to get that on track.) 

With Love from Rome,
Sorella O'Connor 

(Email Sent - January 27, 2014)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stuff to Do

Not much to say this week. Sorry mom.  It was basically a week full of meetings and conferences and lots of good things for missionaries but not lots to write home about.  Also I think in all of your letters to me this week you talked about me leaving Rome and it's like the transfer just started this week! 


At least that's what I tell myself when it feels like I don't. BUT I DO.  So I'm training myself to not think about it. 

The Forum

But really it was a good week.  Monday we went to the Coloseo (the Colosseum) and Il Foro Romano (the Roman Forum) because Sorella Wiltbank hadn't seen the inside and it was really a perfect day and I took my FILM camera so I hope the photos turn out good. 

Third Companion
Then we had an FHE with Carol and the Salerno family which was fun, and we taught the Law of Tithing.  I keep getting scared that Carol is going to not agree with something, but every time we teach her she teaches ME something. 

Like about tithing she said, "It makes sense.  Why would I take the little extra money that I have when I could give it to the Lord and he would do so much more with it?".. 

Everyone thinks that she is our third companion and we have to explain that she isn't even a member.. yet.  

But she will be NEXT WEEK!  We are so excited for her baptism on the 1st and I sometimes dream about it. And we are already making plans for me to visit her in Brazil.. don't be mad.. I HAVE TO GO.

Tuesday we had ZONE CONFERENCE.. which I love.  I always get sad giving addestramentos because I study for DAYS and I feel like I have so much to say and I only get to share 10 minutes worth.   

I learned a lot from Zone Conference and it taught me a lot about the things that I need to do to improve my work and how I can continue to push myself in these last 7 months of my mission.. or at least these next 5 weeks in Rome.  

Biggest Miracle
We also met with Luca and we taught the Plan of Salvation and we invited him to be baptized!  We have been teaching him with the anziani because, sadly, we have to pass him off to them (because he is a single 17-year-old guy).  

But Sorella Wiltbank and I love him so much and we have seen him change SO much since he started meeting with us.  He is probably one of the biggest miracles on my mission so far...We committed him to read the Book of Mormon and he is thinking about baptism, so we are so happy with the progress he is making.

Biggest Blessing
We got a new washer!  Sorella Wiltbank was laughing at me because she would just catch me in the bathroom, staring at the new washer because its beautiful and it makes our clothes CLEAN. it's been so long.  
new washer

gross shower

Also we tried to make Mexican food but we had to use parmesan cheese.. so yeah you can imagine how that turned out.

Then Thursday we had Capi conference, which is my favorite thing because all my favorite people come to Rome.  We got to stay at the villa Thursday night and then have a meeting with all the STLs and Zone leaders at the church. It really helped me to establish new goals for this transfer and see how I can better help the girls that I do scambis with.

TGFB - "Thank Goodness for Bangladeshians"

ALSO, I ALMOST GOT ROBBED. By a pregnant Gypsie. on the metro.  

As I was putting my phone back in my bag, I CAUGHT HER HAND IN MY PURSE.  

Normally I'm really good about keeping my bag in front of me, and I've never had a problem.  But we were traveling and I had my little suitcase and lots of things that I was dealing with, so I wasn't watching my bag as closely.  

Luckily this little Bangladeshian man warned me who it was right after I caught her,  so she got off at the next stop.  Then all the Italians were like, "YEAH, I SAW HER TOO"

 and the Bangladeshian said, "WELL THEN WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY ANYTHING?"  

This Italian girl said, "Yeah, I got robbed the other day and NO ONE said anything to me."  

So today I'm thankful for Bangladeshians..

Reading Ahead
In other news.. we met again with Luca on Friday and he says, "Yeah, so I had a question about something I was reading in the Book of Mormon... in Chapter 5." 


and then he turns to 2 Nefi Chapter 5 and I'm trying to correct him because obviously he is confused because there are 2 books of Nefi right next to each other and there is no way he read THAT much..

and he is like, "No it's in this chapter... "  

Turns out he was in the right place.  He read 77 pages since we had met on Tuesday. MIRACLE.  

Seriously he is the best.  I'm so sad we had to pass him to the anziani.  But it's okay because every time he prays, he thanks Heavenly Father for the sisters and he even ASKED to pray in the last lesson. AND he came to church.  

AND since we have to pass our male single investigators, it means that we get the elders single girl investigators.  And they get a lot because all the girls think that Anziano Kasper is cute, which is funny because he is deathly afraid of girls.  

Like a Melody
But they found a girl this week names Shadi... pronounced "Shawty"... so now all my high school rap songs get stuck in my head when we talk about teaching her.  

"Shawty's like a melody in my head."

To top the week off, we went to pranzo with the Celestini family yesterday because we are teaching a little boy at their house.  They had a family from Scotland there because their son is serving in Scotland and this family was in Rome to visit.  So we got to translate during lunch for this little old Scottish couple.  

Sorella Celestini speaks English because she served in England, but it was SUPER hard to understand with the accent.  It was funny because we could understand both sides, but they couldn't really understand each other.  

So we were talking to the Italians at the table and they were like, "HOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND ANYTHING THEY ARE SAYING?" because to them it's like German. Funny.

Good week. Lots of new motivation and next week we get to prepare all the BAPTISMS happening soon. 

Sending lots of prayers and love your way. Thanks for everything.

With love from Rome,

Sorella O'Connor 

(Email Sent - January 20, 2014)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Transfers and Real Missionary Work

Transfer week is always crazy here in Rome 2.  Every time they tell us they don't need our help with transfers, but we know that really means that they do.  This time it was a scambio with the 3 Italian greenies that came in early from the Spain MTC.  

Real Work
President asked us to show them what REAL missionary work is like.. So of course I planned a three-hour afternoon of finding in the park and on public transportation.  Sorella Wiltbank took one of the sisters and I took the two others to my favorite park and there was NO ONE THERE. Literally no one. Like 3 people who were all running. 

I was like, okay, let's go do finding somewhere else...  They really wanted to go knocking doors, which in Italy means standing outside ringing doorbells and having people reject you over a speaker. So I said, "Okay, why not?"  But we get to the first apartment building and the doorwoman kicks us out.  "OKAY, let's go do something ELSE"... 

Hide the Fear
So we tried street finding and these poor greenies have never stopped a person in their lives.  I remember having that same fear in my eyes.. and Italians smell fear.  So that didn't go over well.  

We just kept trying different things until lunch time, and I was disappointed because I had all these big plans for them.  I thought we were going to find great new investigators and the new missionaries were going to get to teach people and none of that really happened. 

I was sad thinking President was going to ask them how it went and they would tell him that they just got rejected a lot... 

but then I thought.. "Well, he did ask us to show them what REAL missionary work is like."  

At least they got what he wanted:  a lot of rejection and getting kicked out and things like that--a real day of missionary work.  

Singing with the new sorelle at the Villa

I loved it because it just showed me personally how much I have grown.  And they were cute and told me I spoke good Italian and they were really sad when we left.  It was also fun because President asked us to stay at the Villa with them and we got to take a GOOD shower instead of our terrible, moldy sit-down shower. Yeah, I won't get into details. 

Tanti Auguri a Te
Also it was SORELLA WILTBANK'S BIRTHDAY.  So we threw her a little surprise party after DDM and we had cake and sang and things. It was fun. I felt bad that we couldn't do anything else special because we had the scambio that day with the greenies, but at least we got dinner and a nice night at the Villa instead. 

Transfers always make me sad because even if WE don't get transferred, our favorite elders do.  But luckily, we still have a good group here in Rome.  Carol was sad because Anziano Prieto got transferred and we thought for sure he would stay because its his last transfer.  They are both from Brazil and I like when they speak in Portuguese. 

Anziano Kasper and Luca

Things are going really great with Luca, the boy we met on the bus the other week. He gets along really well with the anziani, so we are going to have them start teaching him.

We also got to see Giorgia this week and SHE CAME TO CHURCH.  I'm really hoping she will pull through for her baptismal date on Feb 1st.  She has a two-month break from work, so it's been nice because she can come to church and we can see her more often. 

It's just been a crazy long week here in Rome 2. I'm really happy to be staying at least until the middle of Feb.  We are having three baptisms on our part and two more on the anziani's part in the next couple of weeks. 

 Teaching English Course with the anziani

Significant Obedience
I've been doing a lot of studying because we have Zone conference next week, and I have to do an addestramento on obedience.  It's been a really good topic for me.  Just from reading the scriptures and conference talks I've really seen how obedience is just how we show our love and our faith for the Lord.  

Just like Elder Bednar said, the blessings of obedience are usually subtle but significant.  The blessings that come from obedience are added strength, peace, love, endurance, and the ability to change our own circumstances instead of waiting for the Lord to change them for us.  

We did a special fast yesterday for our investigators, and it was really hard because we fasted all day until 7:00, and as a missionary THAT IS HARD.  But I saw that added strength and that added peace and just an added spirit. Subtle but significant blessings.  

And on top of that Carol got answers to her prayers, and that was the best reward.  Fasting for others is so much more meaningful and much more rewarding. 

This mission thing isn't so bad. 

With Love from Rome,
Sorella O'Connor

(Email Sent - January 13, 2014)

Ciao Ciao Roma?

Piazza del Popolo

I've been nervous ALL week about transfer calls.  I love Roma 2 so much and I didn't want to leave.. at all. I just felt like I had one more transfer in me... mostly because we have 3 baptisms coming this next transfer.  

The Office
But the hard thing about serving here is that because we serve with the office missionaries, they know EVERYTHING but can't tell us ANYTHING.  So they just give mean hints.  

They basically told me that I was leaving but they wouldn't tell me where.. so I was pretty upset because all week I was thinking about how much I love our investigators and the members here and how much I didn't want to go... 

But it was really good for me because it really prepared me and reminded me that the "I'll go where you want me to go" thing applies every transfer.. not just when you get your call.  We convinced Anz Prieto to call us at 6:30 first thing when we get up on transfer call day so we could find out.  So he passes the phone to me and starts by saying, 

"Sorella O'Connor, President is really happy with all the work that you've been doing here in Rome 2, and he just knows that he needs that kind of work in other cities in the mission... just not this transfer because you are staying here in Rome 2.

So of course I started yelling at him "YOU MEAN I'VE BEEN CRYING ALL NIGHT FOR NOTHING?!" and he timidly says "I thought you would be happy".. sorry anz.. 

I'll Stay Where You Want Me to Stay
but I am happy... so so happy. Now I know this will probably be my last transfer here and its given me such motivation to work REALLY REALLY hard. FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD. That's our motto this transfer. It's going to be so good.

This week was really crazy though.

What are You Doing New Year's Eve?
Decorations at the Vatican

NEW YEAR'S IS REALLY CRAZY HERE. Fireworks are not illegal.. at least if they are no one cares.. and they set them off ALL week. & they either sound like giant bombs or gun shots. So we were jumpy all New Year's Eve.  

Also because I THOUGHT President established a come home early time for safety but then I realized that he didn't.  I didn't want to be lazy, so I made us stay out till nine which probably wasn't the safest thing... especially after we saw people dropping fireworks out of there apartment windows 10 feet away from us.  (We might have exaggerated and said that people were throwing them AT us... but everyone likes a good story) 

New Year's day was boring because we just cleaned ALL day and got ALL the gross mold out of our apartment.  I took pictures, but I'm not showing Mom because she might make me come home.  

Also our upstairs neighbors broke a tube in their bathroom so our ceiling was dripping water until they admitted that it was their fault and fixed it... gross. but now its clean and shiny and free of mold for at least a week. 

Worst Lesson
Okay so I don't know if you remember that man we met on the street who stopped and listened to our message and took a Book of Mormon all because he said that he wanted to talk to us because we smiled and said good morning to him?  It was like a month or so ago.  Anyway, we finally set up a return appointment and it was THE WORST.  We invited the anziani because we wanted to pass him over and it was the worst lesson ever.

 He was really upset that we didn't have anything "new" to say about religion. He was like "You mean you just teach the SAME gospel that Jesus Christ taught and all the prophets in the bible taught?

"Yes. Exactly."  

Apparently he was hoping for some new found philosophy on to build his life on.  It is sad to see that people will accept the works of philosophers and musicians and politicians and all sorts of things before they will accept the pure, simple, faith building principles of Jesus Christ. 

Best Lesson
But that's okay because we had THE BEST lesson later in the week.  Remember that OTHER guy we met on the bus last week?  Who said he wasn't interested and then called us?  Well we met him as well this week and he texted us to see if he could BRING A FRIEND! So we said "no."  Just kidding we said "yes."  

But we asked him why he decided to call us back and meet with us. He said "You guys just looked so happy, and I wanted to know if it was possible for me to find that same happiness.

Thereby confirming every YW lesson I ever had in my life that said that people can see your light and your happiness and we can offer that to others.  

So we had a beautiful lesson about how God is our loving heavenly father and promised him that if he followed the commitments that we left him, that he could find that same happiness.  

This is Why
I left that lesson just thinking "This is it. THIS is why I'm here..."  

It's easy to get discouraged... I think I let it happen way too often.. but there really ARE those people that are just looking for a greater happiness and there ARE people who are willing to change and accept. 

Planting AND Harvesting
Before the mission (and a lot during) I had SO many people talk to me about "planting seeds," that Rome is SUCH a hard mission and that there are SO many Catholics and that people won't change and that I would just be planting seeds.  

And all that is true, but it's also not true.  Yes we are planting a lot of seeds that won't be harvested until many years later, but we are also doing so much harvesting now.  

We had a tourist give his testimony in sacrament meeting yesterday and he told all the members (with a translator of course) that 4 years ago his branch in South Dakota had 20 active members and that next Sunday, they would be splitting their ward into 2 wards. He started to cry and promised them that with their faith and work and the temple they would start to see miracles soon and that one day THEY would be able to split their ward... 

The sister in front of me turned around and said, "We've already done that twice in the past year," suggesting ... "Let's get settled a little bit first." 

Miracles are NOW
Yes, we are preparing for ones in the future, but God is preparing miracles for us now. I feel so blessed to be a part of it here in Rome 2. 

Also Carol came home this week and we got to see her and again it just made me so grateful to stay another transfer and to hopefully see her baptized.  She has grown so much and she bore her testimony to us and it was just the sweetest feeling. 

Celebrating with Carol, the anziani and the Steurers

We had a lunch at the Steurer's house on Sunday for the missionaries leaving and he asked us to go around and say one truth:  one thing that we know to be true.  Something that, no matter what, no one could convince us that it wasn't true.  

What I Know For Sure
It was hard because there are SO many things that I know to be true and so many things that I have learned these last 11 months.  But above all, I've learned so much about God's love and patience.  I've been so humbled during this time and nothing brings out your weaknesses more than missionary work.  But God offers his atonement to all.  He offers his love to us all. No matter what. And every time that we recognize our weaknesses and turn to him, he makes us stronger. every time. 

No one could ever convince me that there isn't a God, and that he doesn't love us.  And no one could ever convince me that the atonement isn't real, and that we don't need it every day.  Because it is real and we do need it every day..and as we turn to him and give him everything he makes our weaknesses strong. 

Bacci Bacci

With love from ROME! (still)

Sorella O'Connor

(Email Sent - January 7, 2014)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

One Christmas in Rome

So there it is.. my one and only Christmas in the mission. I'm kind of sad that I only get one now. This year was so much fun.

Monday for pday we got to go to a Christmas market in Piazza Navona, and I bought a little nativity set.  

That night we went to a family home evening with the Canzachi family, who is one of my favorite families.. Fratello Canzachi makes me laugh.. One thing about Italians is that they all seem to have a million cell phones. 

We've Got Your Number
Anziano Prieto asked Fratello Canzachi to tell him which numbers listed in the phone were actually his because there were so many.. turns out they were all his. One cell phone for at home, one he just keeps in the car so he doesn't forget, one for at work, etc., etc... so we had to change the names in the phone to "Fratello Canzachi's car phone, work phone, home phone," etc., etc. 

Here We Go a Caroling
Tuesday we went caroling again in the morning at Piazza Spagna and Piazza del Popolo and it was a really good time. This time we had ALL the missionaries from the Rome zone come which made it a lot louder and then we could step out as missionaries to stop and talk to the people who were listening. 

I felt impressed to stop this one family as they were walking away. Turns out they are from Greece and the dad just moved to Salt Lake City! When he found out we were Mormons he was like, "You've got to be kidding me! I live in Salt Lake and half the people in my company are Mormons."

You just can't get away from us, can you? 

Fish Fry
For Christmas Eve we went to a member's house for cena. The Christmas Eve tradition in Italy is fish... lots and lots of fish... Just the day before Sorella Wiltbank and I were talking about pickiness -- what we would eat and what we couldn't eat.  

Sorella Wiltbank said, "I can eat ANYTHING but fish."  So imagine our dismay when we showed up early to help prepare dinner with the family and Sorella Wiltbank is given on the job of spearing caviar (fish eggs) and spreading the salmon puree (like Mom used to do to veggies to hide it in things--like cake) on toast.  

Anziano Kasper got the worst of it though: battering up baby octopus and frying it in the pan... BABY OCTOPUS.  Not even just the legs or anything but the whole thing.. you just pop it in your mouth like popcorn.  

So Sorella Wiltbank is having a small mental breakdown because everything is fish: seafood salad, fried octopus, fish bread. The only things that don't look fishy are the fried mushrooms, fried cheese, and a fruit salad.  So we decided to fill up the plate with safe-looking things like oranges and fried cheese.

Then Sorella Wiltbank turns to me and says, "Sorella.. there is fish juice on the oranges."  

I'm just having flashbacks to when Mom and Paige used to make fun of me saying that I would go to China on my mission and have to eat weird seafood. You probably don't believe me, but I tried everything... even fish eggs, even fried octopus and even fried mushrooms.  

Okay, so I skipped on the seafood salad (which I don't really consider a salad because there is no lettuce involved, but who am I to argue?) 

Going to the Dogs
Sorella Wiltbank went into the bathroom to say a prayer and oh my, the Lord does answer prayers.  As we were sitting at the table the family's dog came and just stuck his head in her lap... yeah.  She fed her WHOLE dinner to the dog piece-by-piece.  So we are trying to keep from laughing, but it's impossible... she is feeding her fish food to the dog.  

So this sorella just turns and is like, "What are you guys laughing about?"  We have to think of SOMETHING to say, so Sorella Wiltbank says, "La sorella ha detto qualcosa buffa.... reguardo le mie scarpe." which means "The sister said something funny... about my shoes?" and she bought it.  

But even though we felt sick that night and several days after, it was still the best dinner appointment ever just because it was so much fun being together and laughing together.  We love this family.

we got to sleep in and open our packages together in the morning.  We were SO tired because our noisy Asian neighbors woke us up at 2 am when they were opening presents and SCREAMING for several hours... 

but we got to sleep an extra hour so, va bene.  Then we had pranzo with the Celestini family and it was SO GOOD.  

When we got there, Sorella Celestini's mom was making homemade lasagna and there was just this huge VAT of red sauce. So we ate lunch with their whole family which was really fun. They have 5 boys and one little daughter who is the youngest.  Their oldest son is on a mission in Scotland, so they really spoiled us.  

Afterwards, they asked us to share our most spiritual moments from our missions.  It was really beautiful for all of us missionaries to talk about the moments that are so special to us.  It was the strongest I've felt the Spirit in a while and of course we all cried.. anziani included. 

Three-way Call

Then we went to the church to skype and that was cool but also weird.  Sorry I was weird and stressed out because it wasn't working and I was on a time limit, but it was still cool to see everyone. 

OMG Farryn is pregnant and Scott's voice is too deep and thanks for the Christmas present reveal -- I've been thinking about it all week.  

Mary and Son

It's weird that we only have one skype and one general conference left.  Sorry I said I don't want to come home, haha.  I'm just having a slight mental breakdown because its all going SO fast. 

Three-day Holiday
The day after Christmas we had pranzo at the church with the anziani and we got to watch our two Christmas movies together! Despicable Me 2 (thanks Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE GOT IT!!) and Monsters Inc University.  

Sorella Wiltbank skyped her family and then we had another dinner appointment with the Fiorillo family.. all such good families. They are such a cute, young couple and we just talked about her conversion story and his reactivation story.  We got to share a really beautiful message about Jesus Christ. 

I'm so grateful for the incredible families here in Rome. They really made Christmas a home away from home this year.

Friday we got to see Giorgia and we committed her to quit smoking! So send some extra prayers her way.. She REALLY wants to get baptized, so we are working on some commandments to get her ready to be baptized the same day as her little brother (who is working with the anziani).  We love this family and getting to visit them. 

Still Time for a Miracle
Saturday was our miracle nothing day.  We got a bidone in the morning (someone who didn't show up to an appointment) and then the whole afternoon we had finding planned because everyone is gone for the holidays.  

But it just felt like we were doing a bunch of nothing because the buses weren't coming by and when they did come, there was no one on them to talk to.  So there was about 20 minutes left in the day and we were thinking about going home because there was NO ONE around.  

We saw this bus pass by and I thought, "I can't remember where this bus ends. Let's just take it because I know it doesn't go too far."  

So we got on the bus and we were the only ones on it.  I started joking with Sorella Wiltbank about how in Cagliari there were times I felt like Heavenly Father would send me weird places to get me out of the way.  

As we were talking about it, the bus arrived at the last stop and the bus driver got out for his break. I asked him a question about this strange noise we heard (it sounded like guns, but it was just fireworks). 

We got to talking and Sorella Wiltbank and I started teaching him.  The Spirit was super strong and we could just see that he was feeling it too.  His face started to light up.

While we were talking a young guy got on the bus, but he was listening to music. So we finished talking to the bus driver and got his info and then he had to get back to work. He started the bus and I sat next to the guy wearing headphones.  

Plan of Happiness
I handed him a pamphlet because I could tell he was kind of listening.. so then he started asking us how we came to have such strong faith in Jesus Christ.  We talked about the Book of Mormon and tried to leave one with him.  He didn't take it, but when we got off we saw him reading the Plan of Salvation pamphlet as he passed by on the bus.  

So we were freaking out so happy for the new phone number we got from the bus driver and the other guy we met.  The next morning we got a text from this guy at 2:00 am saying that he was interested in knowing more!!!!!  He got our number from the pamphlet and did some research online and now we have an appointment with him!

We have had SO many miracles this week. It's been so great to work with Sorella Wiltbank because we work well together.  When we teach together, it goes so smoothly. We have seen so many new potentials and gotten ahold of lots of ex-simps.  We just feel so blessed.  We are PRAYING to stay together a whole transfer here in Rome just because we really work well together and we are finding so many people to teach. 

We have another new investigator this week named Carlos.  He is a referral from the members and he is 9 years old.  He told his mom that he doesn't want to play soccer on Sunday because he wants to go to church.  The Lord is so good to us.  I love it here in Rome.  I could stay until the end of my mission and be okay with it. 


With love from Rome,

(Email Sent December 30, 2013)