Monday, April 29, 2013

Last Week in the MTC

So, it's my last P-day in the MTC. My heart is full of love, excitement, and joy. Yet, at the same time, I feel my heart breaking. I would never have guessed it would be so difficult to leave this place and the wonderful people I am surrounded by. My dear sweet companion, Sorella Baer, is the best companion I could have been given. I know without a doubt, we were meant to spend this time together. I have learned so much from her, and I am so grateful for everything she has taught me. Besides my dear companion, I will be leaving my district, our adopted district, my wonderful teachers, and many other people who have impacted my life. Many of those I love will be coming with me to Milano, although we will not often be together. However, there are many of those I love who will serve in Roma, Romania, Russia, the Ukraine, and many other missions throughout the world. Words cannot express the way I feel towards these wonderful people, especially my district. It's hard for me to believe that only a few weeks ago, I didn't know this group of people, who I am now as close to as my own family. We realized yesterday that we have spent 16 hours together everyday and we have prayed together over 150 times. I suppose I could not help but love these wonderful people, because I was really given no other choice. Also, as far as prayers go, we also realized, as a companionship, we have prayed together at least 500 times. OH MY GOODNESS! I don't even know how this is possible, but I do know these prayers are part of a major reason I love my companion. I am so grateful for the power that the Spirit of the Lord is able to bring to a companionship.
I love and respect all of my teachers. I'm so grateful for the time they take to teach us and how they always follow the Spirit. The joy they share with us is so incredible. I know without them I wouldn't be nearly as prepared as I am. Just as it is inspired who our companions and district are, our teachers are also those who are best for us. I wish I could truly express my gratitude for them. I am so grateful for the love they show us, because this is hard. I have never done something this difficult in my entire life. I could not do this without them - all of them. Each one has different incredible qualities, and I'm so grateful for them.

So this is dear Fratello Dean. He's not our teacher, but he
eats lunch with us all the time and always makes us speak
in Italian when we're around him. He might be the happiest
man I've ever met. This was the last day we saw him
because he's in Italy right now. Also, he guessed my first
area will be Genova. Only a few more days until we find
out if he's right!
Last night, we taught our final lesson to dear Salvatore (Fratello Weller). Confession: Sunday we realized it was his baptismal day, but we weren't sure if he remembered. So to start off the lesson, I asked him how he felt about his baptism. Furbo! (Sly) What happened next was unexpected. He described the feelings he had before, during, and after baptism. I STARTED CRYING. Of course, his sweet testimony touched my soul, and I am so grateful for the simple, yet profound way he shared his feelings. I explained to Salvatore that it would be our last lesson, because next week we'll be transferred to other cities. I then shared my love of the Savior. I know life is hard. But I also know that when you accept the Savior into your life and follow His example, life truly does become easier. The Lord will always offer you help when you are in need of it most. Our last lesson was only around ten minutes, but I have never been in a lesson in which I felt God's love for my investigator, for my companion, and for me so strongly. I know the Lord loves us and wants nothing more then for us to be happy.
It's official. We have our travel plans!

As today is P-day, we were able to attend the temple. I realized it was the last time I will be able to go to the temple for seventeen months. I can't express how much it breaks my heart to know I will not be able to even see a temple for that amount of time. However, the next time I do attend the temple, it will be at the end of my mission, in Rome. I don't think I'll ever understand exactly how much the people of Italy appreciate the fact they will soon have a temple, but I do know how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to attend the Provo Temple for the last five weeks. Every single Thursday, we meet the sweetest woman in the temple, and today we talked to her for one final time. She's in a wheelchair, and she's totally dependent on those around her. But she never gives up, and she's always happy. Today she told us that even when we are sad, there is no reason we cannot make ourselves be happy at the same time. What is the point in dwelling in misery? Remember, more then one feeling can abide at a time, just don't ever let it go over to your sadness. She loves people, and it is evident in the way she talks to us and expresses herself. She has taught me a lot in the last few weeks, and I'm so grateful we were able to speak to her today. 
Me and Sister Greenall

I'm sure by now you're all aware of how clumsy I am. But in case you're not, let me tell you a little story. I was sleeping and my roommates were awake talking about something spiritual. I don't know what it was. I was asleep; remember? Anyway, as my companion tells the story, she watched me slowly roll towards the edge of the bed. At one point, my foot flipped around the side of the ladder, and she jokingly thought if I had moved with any more strength I would fall out. Well . . . a few minutes later, I flip out of bed and torpedo down to the ground. (Thank goodness for that first night we decided I'd sleep on the bottom bunk.) So basically one of my sides is bruised, but it's no big deal. Except for the general hilarity that ensued - all of us laughing and crying. All night you would randomly hear one of us laughing about it. Don't worry, thanks to my dear district, pretty much everyone here knows about it. If one of us starts laughing randomly, there is a 99% chance it's about that moment.
Miracles of the week:

BYU Men's Chorus gave a devotional this week. I love music!

Fratello Pesci taught a lesson this week, and we talked about the opera Turandot. I love that I was able to discuss opera, even if only for a while. I get more and more grateful that God is sending me to Italy.

On Friday we received our travel plans. We have to leave at 4 in the morning on Tuesday. We fly to Chicago, Frankfurt, and finally Milano! I cannot believe in a few short days I will be in Italy!

Fratello Dean guessed I would serve in Genova first. We'll know if he was right soon!

The next time I'll write, I'll be in beautiful Italia. Vi Voglio Bene!

So we have this Valentine someone
sent my companion . . .
and when you lose a bet, this happens.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Just another week at the MTC - absolutely fantastic!

Ciao Tutti!

Me and Sister Holloway
This week in the MTC has been absolutely fantastic! I cannot believe I will be leaving for Italy in less than two weeks. My heart hurts because there are so many wonderful people I will not be able to see for a couple of years, although I'm very grateful so many of the wonderful people I have met are serving with me in Milano! Si!

We had some amazing lessons this week, all without any more than Il Libro di Mormon. So that's exciting. For one of our lessons we even taught something completely different than we had been planning with vocabulary we've never heard of, let alone used. The gift of tongues is real my friends!

We had another lesson with Frat Pesci (fish). Really, the only reason I'm letting you know is because dear Sorella Bollwinkel made her very first joke in Italian. There is another teacher named Frat Cena (dinner). Winky saw them talking and said, "Cena mangia Pesci per Cena." So maybe not funny, but give her a break - we've only been speaking Italian for four weeks.

This is for realz the most gangsta Pace can be.
Sisters Bollwinkel, Holloway, and Pace
Sunday was FANTASTIC, as always. We had this amazing sister speak to us in Relief Society. Her name is Mary Ellen Edmunds [author], and she's served about a thousand missions. Ok, maybe I exaggerate slightly, but really, she's incredible. Best quote from this wonderful sister, "Don't touch the elders, but remember the one's you'd like to touch and look really good for your reunion." Yeah, that happened.

We give a TRC lesson once a week, where we teach to members who speak our language, as themselves. Usually they're recently returned missionaries who go to BYU. This week I shared a personal experience in Italian, in conversational past tense, WITHOUT NOTES. I cannot even handle how grateful I am to the wonderful Lord, for all the help He gives me everyday. I know, this would not be possible without the MTC and without the help from the Lord.

Me and Sister Baer
So, let me tell you this story. My companion, Sorella Baer is eating a popsicle. She realizes that her lips are stuck to it and instead of pouring water on it, she rips it off. We look over at her, and she had blood all over her face. Also, strips of skin are frozen onto the popsicle. Did we laugh? Of course. But don't worry; we got her cleaned up. I love my comp!

Elder Richard G. Scott gave a fireside [talk] at the MTC this week. It was the most intense spiritual moment I've felt since being here. He spoke on the importance of prayer and how much of a gift it is to us. What I realized is that I love prayer; I always have. However, there are people who don't understand the Lord loves them and don't realize they are able to talk to Him on a personal level. This is why I am serving a mission. Love. The only thing worth giving up everything I know and moving to the other side of the world. People deserve to know God is our Father and He loves us. I can't imagine not having this knowledge, and I'm so grateful to be able to share this knowledge with the people I will meet in the coming months.

We were hosts this Wednesday! Gotta love new missionaries!
This week we were hosts to the new missionaries. Basically, we picked them up at the drop-off point, took a few pictures for them, and then led them to where they would pick up their nametags. We then took them and their luggage to their residence halls, picked up their books, and took them to their classrooms. These sisters are amazing. Also, I saw Sister Jamie Greenall. It was wonderful to see her beautiful face! All of these young sisters have made such a wonderful decision and I know they will love the MTC. It's such a fantastic place, and you are reminded everyday how much God loves and is mindful of you. I know it is no accident I am paired with my beautiful Sorella Baer or our fantastic district and zone. It's such a blessing to be surrounded by people I love so very much.

Sister Bollwinkel & Sister Holloway: no explanation needed.
My heart is so full at the many tender mercies the Lord has bestowed on me. I know I am meant to be in Milan Italy for the next 17 months. I have so much love for the wonderful Italians already, and I know that love will only continue to grow. Hopefully the language isn't too much of a barrier, but when I get discouraged, I realize I started speaking Italian four weeks ago and can already carry on not only a basic conversation, but also a lesson full of specific and difficult vocab. The Lord puts so much trust in His young missionaries, and I assure you, I do not take that trust for granted. I know it is only through his help that I will be of any use, but I also know, I will take all the help I can get.

Vi Voglio Bene!
Sisters Bollwinkel and Pace

Me and Sister McGinnis: So Sister McGinnis shipped out this week. She's officially in the Ukraine.

Me and Sister Holloway

Me and Sister Holloway, again

Elders Lemmo, Van Dyke, and Axson

Sister Bollwinkel: check out this great elder in the background. Made our day . . . maybe our week.

Me and Sister Baer . . . and the mysterious elder.

This is Fratello Jeter. He subs for for us once in a while. This moment possibly made him my favorite person ever. Too far? Oh, well.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Buon Tempo

My sisters looking beautiful as always.
Hello my wonderful family and friends! Ciao!

This week was quite...interesting. Last p-day [preparation day-a day to do laundry, clean, etc.] after I sent the email, we had dinner and then a late class. So part way through class, I smack my head on a bookshelf. You are all laughing because this is not at all surprising. Let me just tell you after this happened my entire district was laughing for at least ten minutes. It gets better. Have you ever hit your head so hard that you threw up? I can officially knock that one off my bucket list. (Don't worry I made it to the bathroom.) Well, so at this point everyone thinks I have a concussion, because my entire head is bright red; no big deal, right? My comp [companion] finally makes me go out into the hallway while she calls the front desk to see if we can get me ice. Our dear Fratello Pesci walks over and wants to know what I'm doing hanging out in the hall. He then proceeds to go all doctor and figure out if my pupils are dilating. Five minutes later, he expresses he has no idea what he's doing because he's never had medical training. Well thanks, Pesci. Don't worry though. After 20 lbs. of ice and enough painkillers to knock out an elephant, I'm definitely back to normal. Which admittedly isn't saying very much.

Frat Weller left this note on our board for us. It means I
want well for you, but it is the strongest feeling you can
say without using "amore." Basically, Frat Wells is just
the sweetest.
We had a great sub this week. Fratello Jeter spent the last hour of class talking to us about the temple in Rome. I can't express how excited I am for the wonderful people of Italy. Did you all know, that not only will there be a Christus [recreation of the original Christus statue] in the visitors center, they will also have the twelve apostles. These will all be made from the same stone Michelangelo used. I'M FREAKING OUT! This is such a big deal. These beautiful Italians could not be more excited and proud to finally have a temple in Italy, and it's so close to being done. Next year they will be able to attend the temple with their family, and I feel so blessed that I will be in Italy at the time of the dedication.

Conference, of course, was fantastic! I loved every second. Also, on Saturday night the sisters were able to watch the General Young Women Meeting. If you haven't watched it or read the talks, DO IT! President U [Dieter F. Uchtdorf] is the bomb diggity. For reals, I love that man. I didn't think anything could possibly make conference weekend better than simply watching conference. I WAS WRONG! Sunday night we had an inspirational devotional. Can you guess who came? VOCAL POINT [BYU's 
premiere 9-man a cappella ensemble]!! I don't think I had realized quite how much I missed being able to listen and enjoy music, especially spiritual. I feel so blessed that I was able to be here at that time. After the devotional, we watched Legacy [a film about the beginning of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - which Ellen watched every Friday when she was 4-5 years old]. I have never cried so much in a single day, but they were good tears, promise.

So the lovely sister next to me in this picture is Sister Buonanotte
from Sicily. We love her so much, especially when she helps
us with our Italian. The sister next to her is her companion,
Sister Receveour. They are serving in the France Lyon mission.
I know you all love awkward moments as much as I do, so I have a lesson full of them for you. We were going to teach Peters (Frat Carrington) a lesson and I knocked on the door. Just so you know "come in" sounds and awful lot like "chi e" which definitely means "who is it?". So yes, I just opened the door; only when I saw his surprised face, did I realize there was no way he would ever say come in, in English. Great start, right? Also, I told him all the Apostles were killed after the restoration, instead of the resurrection. Undoubtedly the best mix up, however, did not come from me, but from my beautiful companion. While asking him to kneel, she asked him to pray on his "gnocci" (pasta) instead of his "ginnoccia" (knees). Great times teaching in Italian. Later that day, we taught a great lesson to a member who served in Italy. At the end he asked us if he could show us something in the scriptures. The scripture I read tells us we mustn’t be discouraged. If you change one letter in the Italian word for discouraged with an “a”, it definitely means to fart. Don't worry; I said it right. He just thought we'd like to know he spent six months telling the Italian people not to fart. What a great guy.

We taught another lesson to Salvatore this week. He's the one who agreed to be baptized in his first lesson. This time we taught about the plan of salvation. Again, we barely used notes. It's the greatest feeling to be able to have a conversation in Italian and actually understand what's going on. I know I would not have been able to do so without the Lord's guidance by the Spirit. The Church is most definitely true!

If you don't know who Glen Rudd is, you should definitely rectify that. Also, he spoke at our devotional this week. I feel so grateful to be here at the MTC, where we have access to such incredible speakers. Every single one teaches me something I know I definitely need.

This is the lovely decoration adorning
our door.
I am astounded by the amazing people with whom I am serving. My wonderful Italian district makes life so much better, and we've adopted a district of three Romanian elders who have definitely just become a part of our family. I love all of these people so much, and their testimonies continue to astound me, each and everyday. Many of them are on the very younger side, but they have the testimonies of people many years their senior. Also fun fact, if my dear Shea Stapley is reading this, Freddie Lemmo is definitely in my district. Oh Shea, how I wish you could be here with us!

I love you all and the letters and packages I have received lift my spirits every single day. I cannot say I wish I was with you, but I can definitely say I miss your wonderful faces and spirits. Ciao! 

P.S. We made it through the halfway point! I'll be in Italy in less than three weeks. Excitement is abounding . . . also fear . . . but mostly excitement. We know we fly on April 30th!