1. our international district. anziano birberg (sweden) anz wolzl (austria) anz curzola (italy) anz baer (california) me (taylorsville) slla mitsvotai (manti) slla wiltbank (arizona)
we are still living. though we had more close calls than normal. let's flash back to since we last heard from each other ... wednesday night ... we were still on our high of rome and just loving life. the anziani came to our house to give us the car since we had an appointment with a referral. she hadn't answered our calls all day but we went with faith. and lots of it since we just decided to head over to her house without a practice run of the stick. yike! all went well. and then i got prideful ... until we had to exit the freeway, on a hill, with a stop sign, and i had no idea how i was ever going to get us out of that situation. after about 20 minutes of telling the cars to pass, a few hundred pep talks by my companions/the little angels full of patience and faith in their very incapable companion, and the most dire prayers ever said, we succeeded. we overcame our mountain (<<< literally!). then we got lost. then it was dark. then the gps went crazy. then we had a little gas and less money to get gas. ooooo boy. god is good. that is all i have to say. HOWEVER with lots of prayers and practice and more pep talks by my patient angels, i can drive a stick shift! woo! ha you guys should see me. i am a mess. like so out of control worried every time i get behind the wheel. but then we pray and heavenly father calms our worries. or at least mine ... my companions are probably SOOOO scared still haha! but it is all good. don't worry. i worry enough for all of us combined so i've got it covered.
2. us with our only english course student, giada. she is a member, in fact she is in the restoration pamphlet so she is famous.
saturday we decided to get out of our city and go do some finding in the surrounding cities. it was the first time i saw sorella wiltbank get a tiny bit discouraged. she is so happy and positive and excited all of the time, but "no" after "no" after "no" gets a little old. but THEN we prayed and planned and cheered each other up and the next door opened to our favor. we met a man named giancarlo and he gave us a bunch of referrals. SEE!! heavenly father hears and answers prayers!
sunday was a precious precious day. we went to church (i told you how we meet in an hotel right? ha it makes me giggle every time i think about it for some reason ... italy isn't utah) and set everything up. we were waiting for the members to show up when a familiar face came walking my way. it was UGO! fyi: back in the day there was this italian man in our stake and he was awesome and my family loved him and they made us love italy and then they moved to rome and so did i ... and his name is ugo and he came to my branch this week! it was so fun! his kids are so old and they have 5 of them. they weren't there but i learned about them while looking at his tie, which was a bunch of pictures of his kids. haha! italian style at its best. it was pretty cool how it all worked out because he, a high priest leader in the rome stake, was scheduled to speak in the rome 2 ward that day but the stake president called him last minute and told him that he was needed in the rome 5 branch instead. so he came to our branch to speak in sacrament meeting. it was SUCH a good talk! i don't know if i forgot how great he is or if he just sounds better in the tongue of angels (aka the italian language) but man ... this guy is good! he spoke about the hope of god's light. i wish i could just have a copy of his whole talk. it was the perfect mix of spiritual, motivational, educational, and funny. he started out however saying how he admired and loved lots of people in the crowd. he talked about our branch president and the things he loved about him. he talked about another member or two in the branch and one of the anziani that just got transferred out of his ward and into our branch. then he said told how 8 years ago he was privileged to live in the valley park stake where he became "molto amico" with the wightman family. and he said all these great things about my city and my stake and my dad and my family. and i could've cried my eyes out but i was too busy smiling and being proud to be from taylorsville and the wightman family and now a missionary surrounded by the greatest people in the world. we also had correlation that night with our branch mission leader who is an mtc teacher so he is by default the most motivational and inspiring person ever. perfect!! monday we went to district meeting in terni again. did i tell you that getting there is like riding the teacups at disneyland ... and NOT in a good way. windiest roads of your life. but we discovered les mis and wicked and disney music IN ITALIAN on one of the anzianos ipods and i was in HEAVEN! heaven i say. that evening we met with a man that sorella wiltbank stopped on the street a while back. he is GOLD! greenie power. his name is stefano and he is great!
wiltbank, me, ugo!
but probably our favorite day of the week was yesterday. in the morning we tried to implement some new fun and creative finding ideas into our normal routine. one of the ideas that we got from our mission leader was to take copies of the book of mormon to the library as a donation then explain it to the librarian. so we did and it was awesome and we want to go check to see if anyone has checked it out yet. we wrote our testimonies inside and marked our favorite scriptures and wrote our number. cool! then that evening we met with maggED. still gold. still progressing beautifully. he is dying to know about families because that is all he wants from life, a family centered on christ. and we couldn't be happier with such great desires! while we were waiting for a bus we started talking to a lady who was giving us the stink eye. i love talking to people like that because i like to watch them change from thinking who are these weirdos to "whoa i love them". we started talking about her family and she was bragging about her really awesome daughter. then she asked why we were in italy. all i said was "we are missionaries for the church of jesus christ" and WHAM she got theeeee biggest goosebumps ever. she was like "whoa" and we were like "whoa" and it was awesome. then we went to the branch president (presidente criscione)s house. they are the perfect italian mormon couple and i want to be them when i grow up. he and his wife are both returned missionaries. they both served in england, different missions. he works for some kind of film studio, in fact the one that is doing the new bible videos for the church. they have the cutest kids and the nicest house and they just GET missionary work. they fed us curry chicken and rice and they spoke english to wiltbank and showed her all this camera gear and she was on cloud nine as a photographer. they told us that we are always welcome to come to their house (to use the bathroom, to eat, to cry, to get some comfort, to talk, to relax) and they just made us feel at home. not everyone has that gift. my mom does. but not everyone. and i want that. a welcoming home filled with a love focused on the savior. nothing better.
3. this is my man-i-am-about-to-explode-with-love-and-gratitude face after we got home from presidente crisciones house and our neighbors were waiting outside our door so they could give us some cheese they bought for us that day at the store. LOVE!!!
wellllll we gotta get outta hurr. but know that i love you. i am head over heels in love with my mission. like it is out of control. i am still going through this sentimental streak. like the other day we heard the song "there will be miracles if you believe" in italian the other day and i started crying like a wee child because it reminded me of the time the valentine sang that from the pulpit after his baptism, and it reminded me of all the times i have seen miracles on my mission, both in myself and in others. and it reminded me that i have really truly been blessed by the gift of believing. i love my mission. i can't say it enough. complete with the sweat (which is getting worse and worse in these days might i add) the tears, the homesickness, the trials, the saying goodbyes to family and friends both in and out of the mission, the times when you have to say goodbye for now to the worlds greatest mission president and his equally as lovely wife, the times you feel like you will never learn something, the feelings of insecurity and inadequacy ... it is worth every low because the highs are SOOO good! this is the lord's work!! and the shining rays of happiness are proof of that.