Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Oh my dear family and friends! I love you all so much. I look so forward to every Wednesday when I'm able to hear from you and write to you. It's the best! This week, I truly witnessed some incredible miracles. I feel so blessed to be serving in this area, with these truly exceptional people.

We moved English Course and Family Home Evening to Wednesday nights. So basically Wednesday is always full and wonderful. Yay! Last week we had multiple people invite and bring their non-member friends. This is unheard of for us! It was exceptional! For FHE, we taught a short lesson on obedience. We then played Simone Dice. Yes, we played Simon Says, in Italian. Once again, Italians love these games they've never heard of before. I didn't know it could be quite this much fun. Granted, I don't speak Italian, so I never had any idea what was going on. 

We teach mostly new converts and less-actives. Unfortunately we don't have a lot of investigators right now. However, the people we teach are 100% incredible. We recently started teaching an in-active member of 30 years named Maria. Her daughter came to visit about a month ago and brought her to church. A couple of weeks later Maria showed up at church again by herself. After, she asked us if we would come teach her. Of course! Here's the great part, without telling us first, she invited a friend to her second lesson. So we show up and it turns out we're mostly teaching her friend. Maria proceeded to share on of the most beautiful testimonies I have ever heard in my life. (We all want to know where she hid it for those 30 years.) The friend, Mercy, was really interested. Throughout the lesson, she would ask us questions. Every time, I saw in her eyes the moment she realized what the answer was. A moment later when we would answer, you could tell it was what the Spirit had testified to her just before. It was such a beautiful lesson, and I feel so grateful to have been a part of it.

We had another activity at the church Friday night. Truthfully, we weren't expecting more than two people to show up. The Sunday before everyone told us it was too early and they were all too busy. Well, over twenty-people showed. This is a huge deal for us! Two of our investigators came, as did a friend of Elvira. The activity was really wonderful; we took a tour of the church, and in each room the heads of the auxiliaries explained their programs and answered any questions. It was supposed to take around a half-an-hour, but everyone had so much they wanted to say, it ended up lasting an extra hour. We then, as we do at everything in Italy, ate a large amount of wonderful food. I think all of the missionaries in our ward were very grateful the members came out to support us. Several members later told us they had people they wanted to invite to the next activity, so now we're planning that. Yay!

Little miracle - I fixed our air conditioning. We've been living in Milan without air conditioning or fans! It's been like 30°C [86°F]. I don't know what that converts to, but it's too hot! So now we can sleep at night and don't hate coming home. 

I know last week I told you I had the wonderful opportunity to say goodbye to the Wolfgramm's. Here's what I forgot: they're in our ward! Since it was their last Sunday, of course they came to Milano Navigli. I was able to say goodbye to them again - actually about 15 times because Sorella Wolfgramm would hug us, say goodbye, talk to someone else while we translated, and then hug us again. This process lasted the entire three hours. I'm not complaining. I actually had the opportunity to share something that means a lot to me with them. I am very aware of the love the Prophet, Apostles, and General Authorities have for us. So much so, that I believe you can feel this love before you see the person. I have several examples of this throughout my life; let me share a short one. After we sang in the Tabernacle last year and we were walking downstairs to get ready and leave, I felt this overwhelming sensation of love and peace. A couple seconds later, the elevator opened and Elder Ballard walked out. The Wolfgramm's radiate love in the exact same way. Several times on my mission, I have felt this same feeling of love. A few moments later, the Wolfgramm's walked into the room. I love these two beautiful people and am so grateful for them. I saw them again yesterday because we had our district meeting at the same time they were training new missionaries. I feel so blessed to have had them as a part of my mission, and they have forever changed my life.

After church on Sunday, we went to have lunch with the Albello's. They are always so kind to us and feed us so much food! They are from the Philippines, and I always look forward to what they are going to feed us, because it's usually something I've never tried before. After we ate, we shared a short message with the entire family. It was wonderful! Both Fratello and Sorella Albello were involved and shared some beautiful experiences with us. After, Fratello Albello asked me to sing "How Great Thou Art" for them. Sorella Stewart played the piano and I sang. The family took tons of pictures of us; it was very sweet. Then, he asked if he and Sorella Albello could sing "Because I Have Been Given Much" with me. It was so much fun. Frat. A took charge and told us when to sing what and we ended up with a beautiful arrangement. It reminded me how much I love music and sharing music with people. I'm so grateful for that time to revel in the beauty of music. I'm also grateful I'm singing in church next week, so I have a few opportunities this week to practice and prepare. It's the best!

Also on Sunday, we met a really nice man named Jimmy and his friend Vincenzo. We were on the bus and I was holding the Book of Mormon. Jimmy practically leaned out of his seat to see what I had, and then Vincenzo held out his hand and asked for the book. We talked to them for a while and exchanged numbers. Jimmy's coming to church this Sunday, and we're hoping to set up a lesson with them as well. 

I am once again grateful to be surrounded by wonderful anziani. They are truly the best. In fact, they're probably my biggest blessing serving in Milano. We were followed off the bus, again; actually, we were followed from the time we got onto the bus until we got to the church. Thank goodness the assistants were able to meet us at the church. At first, I don't think Anziano Young believed us when we said we were being followed. We sat inside the front doors while they stood outside, and they couldn't see the guy for like 5 minutes. Suddenly Anz. Young looked at me and asked if the guy had a black stripe on his shirt. Yes, yes he did. He had just turned the corner and was looking for us. I'm not quite sure why Anz. Young would think I would make a thing like that up, but at last now he knows this actually happens. Don't worry though. I'm always safe, always protected. We just get lots of opportunities to be reminded how wonderful our anziani are. I'm actually grateful for that.

I love you all! Thanks again for all of your support. It's always appreciated, and you are always prayed for. I promise.

-Sorella Ervin

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vi Voglio Bene

So last Wednesday, I was supposed to go help at the Duomo with the new missionaries. We were going to help them proselyte for the first time in Italy. Unfortunately, this didn't happen. The poor kids, their flight was delayed. I don't know when they were supposed to land originally, but early enough that we would have met them at 4:30. When did they actually land? 10:30. On the upside, when they finally did land, they were in Italy, so that's just about the greatest thing ever.

We're still teaching mostly new converts and less-active members. We started teaching a woman named Maria last week. She's been inactive for over 30 years, but she came to church on a Sunday and asked if we could come teach her. OF COURSE! We took Elvira with us and taught the Restoration. This sweet woman is so ready for the Gospel to be in her life again. Every time we said something, she would agree with us and explain how that concept will help her life. At church on Sunday, she came up and put her arm around me and just stood there for about 10 minutes. This woman is the sweetest!

We taught another lesson to Ramona. The best part of any lesson is when something just suddenly clicks. Especially if it's something the person you're teaching has been struggling with. We were asking Ramona to pray at the end of the lesson, and she really didn't want to. I said the prayer. (Let’s just remember I don't speak Italian, so the prayer was very simple . . . and short.) After we said Amen, I looked up and there were tears streaming from her eyes. She asked me why it was so easy for me to pray and why she was crying. I explained to her, that it's easy because I know not only is God listening, but that he will always answer our prayers. This is what we had been explaining earlier when we were asking her to pray this week about The Book of Mormon. She looked at me and said, "E Vero?" It finally clicked with her, that she can get answers and she can pray, telling the Lord whatever she wants to tell him. It was a truly special moment. 

In Italy, the members often ask you to prepare their children for baptism, so we're teaching a boy named Kevin. He's the coolest! True story. He is so prepared he probably doesn't even need us. As we talked about the restoration, he knew everything! He's so excited and ready. I'm extremely grateful for children and their love for God.

We were teaching Alberto the Gospel of Christ lesson again. At the end I was talking about enduring to the end. I was prompted to say something entirely different than I had planned, and up until my time to say it I was freaking out. I don't know Italian! I don't know how to properly help you realize what this means. Yes, I can say a few things, but I am not fluent, not even close. What I was prompted to say, doesn't even come close to anything I know. I just decided to start talking and see what happened. My friends, the gift of tongues is real! I don't know what I said, I don't know how to say it again, all I know is that I said what I needed to, and that God guided me every step of the way. I feel so blessed for this, because without help from God, I could not be speaking as much as I am. 

We had zone conference yesterday and it was absolutely fantastic. I got to see my dear Sorella Holloway and Sorella Bollwinkel. Thank goodness they haven't been transferred! We had some amazing training and I can't wait to start using some of the things we learned. Most importantly, this week is the last set of zone conferences for President and Sorella Wolfgramm. I had the sweet opportunity to say goodbye to these two wonderful people. As I said goodbye to Sorella Wolfgramm, I truly thought my heart was going to break. We just stood there hugging for a few minutes and I had tears streaming down my cheeks. This sweet woman has taken such good care of me and I will always remember everything she has taught me. She told me some amazing things and gave me some of the greatest complements I've ever received. I then shook President Wolfgramm's hand. As he talked about what he calls my gift for music, Sorella Wolfgramm stopped in the middle of her conversation and turned to us. She put her arm around me and told the President who she believes I am and what kind of a person I am. I don't think that I'm yet the person this sweet woman described, but I hope to be that person some day. I know President and Sorella Wolfgramm are two of the most precious people in the world. They are truly full of charity. I have never felt charity radiating from anyone as much as it radiates from these two. It amazes me how much I love them after only six weeks. I look forward to getting to know President and Sorella Dibb as well. Daily I am reminded how blessed I am to serve in the ward in which the mission home resides.

I know you're probably tired of hearing it, but Vi Voglio Bene. You all are helping to make this the best experience of my life. Thank you for your continued support and love. Don't ever forget, you're appreciated and prayed for daily. I love you all.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One Transfer Down!

I cannot begin to tell you all how I feel right now. I've been in Italy for exactly six weeks. It's so strange, because on the one hand it feels like Sorella Baer, District 33C, and I just got off the plane yesterday and on the other, well, it feels like I've been here forever. I'm starting to realize how truly precious time really is. It moves so quickly, and there's never anything we can do to get it back. 

This week I witnessed a truly incredible miracle. My heart has been so full since Sunday, and I'm so grateful to the Lord. A little over a month ago I met a wonderful woman, named Beatrice, on the bus. She was very interested in the church and had actually met with the missionaries many years ago. She gave us her phone number and asked us to call her Friday at 2 because she wouldn't be working. We saw her again the next day, a Thursday. She reminded us to call her and told us how excited she was to meet with us. Friday came and we called; there was never any answer. We didn't know if we had written the number down wrong or if she had just changed her mind. For a month I have prayed for this woman and daily I have begged the Lord to help one of the many missionaries in our area find her. This Sunday I turned around and saw her sitting next to Anziano Scalese! I started crying right there in Sacrament meeting. Later I was talking to Anziano Scalese, and he told me that he and Anziano Young and felt prompted to stop at a park this last week. They knew there was a person there they needed to find. They found her! They taught her a brief lesson on the restoration, and she set a baptismal date with them. I cannot even express the gratitude in my heart right now. Thank goodness for Anziani who are worthy and prepared to receive and follow inspiration. I'm especially grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who answers our prayers. Things like this wouldn't happen if he wasn't there or if he didn't care. The Church is true!

Another miracle this week might not seem so important to all of you. Believe me, it is. On Thursday I received my permesso! It's my permit to live in Italy. It took me less then two weeks after my appointment at the questura to receive this wonderful little card. Here's the deal. My companion received hers yesterday, but she had to wait seven months. My appointment Thursday lasted less than ten minutes. Also, the man who works at the questura is the coolest ever! Basically we just spent those ten minutes laughing at each other. I am so grateful for this little miracle, because now I don't have to worry about anything. I'm legal! Yay!

We taught 13 lessons last week! This beats our previous record of 9! Hopefully this week we'll be able to make 15. "What are you thinking? 15 lessons." That's our goal from the assistants; we're going to do it!

Fun fact for all of you. I know some of you are more than aware that people are just fascinated with my hair. I don't quite understand, but I'm used to it. From a young age, I've had complete and total strangers walk up to me and just start touching my hair. Do I like it? Not so much, but I'm not too fussed. Well, Friday night we were teaching English course, the class had ended, and we were just sitting around talking waiting for the fireside to start. I was sitting and talking to Anziano Garner, and this sweet woman walks over to us and starts talking. Then she starts to pet me. I am not joking, this happened. She stood next to us and pet my head for at least five minutes, maybe more. I have never had such a hard time not laughing. I thought poor Anziano Garner was going to explode; his face was so red. So the next time you feel bad for yourself for any reason, just remember, it could be worse. You could be confused with a poodle.

Monday was the first day of transfer calls. I have never laughed so hard, so often, at a person who was stressed. Oh my poor companion. The office called us twice for other things, and each time she started shaking; she physically could not answer to phone, so she threw it at me. She literally threw it at me. All day she was freaked out. At night she made me call Anziano Young and see what was going on. He wouldn't tell me; all he did was laugh creepily, so that was awkward. My companion wasn't satisfied, so she wrestled the phone away from me and called him back. It's official; we're staying together for one more transfer! 

We're losing some really incredible missionaries this transfer. Anziano Scalese, Anziano Angel, Anziano Pitt, and Sorella Bunker are all going home. I love these people so much! I don't know how I'm going to handle saying goodbye to them. They have all taught me so much and all shared so much experience with me. I'm very grateful for them and want all the best for them as they return home.

I greatly appreciate you all. I don't think I could be able to do this without all of your support. Thank you so much for all the letters and emails you send. I received a package of stationary from my mom two weeks ago, and I've almost used all of it catching up to your letters. I'm very sorry, but soon your letters will start being on graph paper again, because that's all I can find in Italy. I love you all! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hello again beautiful people!

Two of my favorite Sorelle at Zone Conference!
Hello again beautiful people! This week was without a doubt one of the craziest of my entire life, and I loved every single second of it!

Thursday morning during our study time, two of our lessons called to reschedule. We then spent an hour moving everything around so we could still meet with both of them and all of our other appointments. We ended up having an emergency weekly planning session that morning because we had to have an appointment during planning time. Let me just tell you, I know I should not get joy from seeing my companion stressed out, but I most definitely do. She's hilarious. I can't even handle it! 

OH MY GOODNESS! We had a combined zone-conference on Friday. What does this mean exactly? Well, it means that from 11-5 I was in the company of Sorella Holloway AND Sorella Bollwinkel! Was this my favorite day ever? Yes, yes it was. Let me just set this story up for you. I walk into the church and see Anziano Ostergar, of course I'm excited to see him and go up to shake his hand. Mid-conversation and hand-shake I see Winks. I forget I'm talking to Ostergar and I run to her. She screams. Very loudly. Poor Anziano Heaton almost had a heart attack. Seriously was the best moment ever. We were both crying and hugging; then Sorella Holloway came in and joined us in both. I love these girls with all of my heart! We finally got to tell each other about all of the crazy things that have happened to us. After lunch I sang Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy. Explain to me why the Zone leaders thought the time to have me sing was right after we ate. Oh well, the day was just absolutely phenomenal. We learned so many new and wonderful things. Days like that really make the whole mission easier. Also, we got all of our mail. Yay! Complete with a huge box of starbursts. Really, it's probably the most you can buy at once for personal use. Thank you mother dearest!

Saturday we met with our sweet Onela. She speaks English so yay! However, she couldn't find the church. We had to go search for her in the streets of Milan. Luckily she was only one street over, but it took us a half-an-hour to find the poor girl. I feel for her, I would hate to be lost in Milan and not speak any Italian. Thank goodness I have a fluent companion. Onela agreed to be baptized during the first lesson! Some of these people are truly incredible. I love how they just feel the spirit and then act on it 100%.

Monday was a very weird day because the transportation department was on strike -so no metro, no buses, no way to get anywhere we normally need to go. So, we stayed around our area. We ended up finding like 8 less-active members who live super close to us. Definitely a blessing. 

Yesterday was incredible. Guess what? I can speak Italian! Ok, admittedly I still don't speak it very well, but yesterday in all of our lessons, my companion and I were equal partners. Meaning I talked... a lot! In each lesson people complimented me on how much I've learned and how easy it is to speak to me. I think they're mostly just being nice, but still. We had a great family home evening at a member’s house. The bishopric was there as well as families we are teaching and a potential investigator. It was incredible. I was able to talk to all of them, and during our lesson, I shared how I now view prayer in a much more personal way. I'm away from home and I miss my mom, but every week I can write her a letter. I write everything, because I love her and I want her to be a part of my life, but she's not with me. Also, I am far away from my Father in Heaven, but each day I can talk to Him and tell Him everything. This helps me to be close to Him, even though I can't see Him right now. Let me point out one more time, this was shared in ITALIAN! I can't even believe it happened. The best part of the lesson, though, was how the members really opened up and shared. They taught and bore testimony. I'm so grateful for my incredible ward. They are truly amazing. 

I want you all to know how much I appreciate you. I can feel your prayers supporting me, and I want you to know I pray for you daily. You give me such strength. Thank you for your letters and emails. I love hearing from you all. 

Vi Voglio Bene
-Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin