Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Week of Many Miracles

This week, I'm going to do something a little bit different than usual. I could go through and give you a play by play of my week, but instead I'm just going to write a list of all the miracles we saw this week. Sorella Strong and I were talking about them, and I am overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of them all. Some of these might not seem like miracles to you; just remember that I have my own definition of a miracle – it’s anytime something happens which reminds me of God's love for me and the other people in the world. 

Fratello and Sorella Aguilera were on the way to a lesson with us and were telling us how just that day they had been thinking of ways they could help us with the work. Sorella Aguilera said a prayer and asked for an opportunity to help us. Five minutes later, we called and invited her to a lesson.

We found a family who had been taught by the missionaries in 2006. After the first lesson, which was beautiful, we found out they had been taught by four different sets of missionaries. They're still in contact with the first missionaries who taught them.

We were given certain families to visit by our branch president. Some are active some are not. He asked us to visit an active couple. When we went over, their less active son was there with them. He hasn't met with missionaries before.

We had three couples from Salt Lake in church with us
on Sunday. It was a beautiful surprise.
We had three couples from Salt Lake City in church on Sunday. They're biking around Riccone and the surrounding area. 
We got mom hugs from all three of the women.
One of the women asked us to help her with her family history and email her about it.
She found a family with her last name and went to visit them. They aren't related, but she gave them to us as a referral.
They told us they could feel the spirit very strongly in our meeting. Also, that they could feel of the members love for us and for this work.

I had the opportunity to sing in Sacrament Meeting. The other three sorelle [missionaries] gave talks.
When I was finished, Sorella Adriana [a member] started yelling Brava! Bella Voce! (Ok, this was a little awkward . . . but really sweet.)
Members came up to me crying and told me thank you.
When I called one member to see if we could come visit her, she said of course! Then she proceeded to tell me that our branch needs someone with a special spirit and I'm the missionary she's been waiting for. She wants us to start teaching her husband again.
Fratello Bazan asked me to sing in church again next week . . . I thought that was a bit too soon so we compromised and I'm singing at a seminary activity in a couple of weeks instead.
We got to talk to the two priests in the ward. They told me we make them excited to serve missions and they're so grateful for us being in their branch.

We found a Y [BYU] sweatshirt in H&M . . . in Italy.
We found this at H&M the p-day before the game. We
were hoping it was a sign BYU was going to win.
When we had American tourists at church
on Sunday, they gave us the bad news.

We taught a lesson in the park to a beautiful woman named Teresa. She's very open and friendly. I love friendly people.

One of our members told us where their favorite gelato shop is. It's all-natural and probably the best Gelato you could ever eat.

We've run into the Draghi family twice this week. At one point, they said they really want us over for dinner, but know we can't come without an investigator. Fratello Draghi wants to invite his parents over for dinner. He also said he's been praying for someone to introduce to us. 

During district meeting we were able to read a talk given at the new mission president training in England a few weeks ago.
The talk helped us with some things we've been struggling with.
Every time Sorella Brown read it was in a British accent.
It was probably one of the best District Meetings I've ever had because the talk really brought the Spirit and brought our district closer together.

We've been trying to contact a less-active family for a while now. They finally answered and they want us to come over.

We've been teaching Agi and he hasn't necessarily been understanding or paying attention. We brought a member. Suddenly Agi started asking questions that show his interest. He actually cares.

We finally have two bikes and we don't have to walk around Rimini anymore.

Our district leader Anziano Ramey gave us some of the best advice.

Emilio brought us food last night . . . just because he loves us.

Ilaria was really excited to come to a lesson with us this week and wants us to call her anytime we have a lesson in the morning.

I called a man who met with the missionaries a few years ago. He said, "Oh you're Mormon, you have a big family." "Actually, no." "No, your church is a big family that teaches the truth, when can we meet?"

We had a lesson in a house by the beach. So we were able to see the beautiful sea.
Please do not think we're disobedient and went to the beach.
We were teaching a lesson to someone who lives right
 across from the beach. Luckily summer is over so no
one was there so we could take a few pictures of
the most beautiful beach in the world.

There were many more miracles and I wish I could share them all. But I do have just one more. 

God loves me, and I'm absolutely certain he loves you too.

Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Ah, our angels."

The arena in Verona! How I wish I could have gone
to an opera here. It's beautiful.

So my dear companion had to go back to Verona on Thursday for her permesso. I'm not complaining. We were a little worried we'd have to stay the night and then we were going to miss Zone Training, but we made it back. Lucky us. While we were killing time before taking the train back to Rimini, we did get to do a little sight seeing. Basically we just saw Juliet's house, but it was quite fantastic. Also, the arena in Verona is probably one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Someday, I will see an opera there, and it will be a life changing moment. True Story.

We did see a pretty cool miracle this week. We stopped by the house of Pollina, a woman whom the missionaries taught in 2009. At first she didn't remember the missionaries, but then she did. She started to remember the feelings she felt when they were there, mostly an overwhelming feeling of love. As we taught her and her daughter, Julienne, about the restoration, I felt such a spirit of peace encircle us. At the end of the lesson, they both agreed to be baptized. It was a reminder to me that sometimes on the mission we're planting seeds. Maybe the people I teach won't get baptized right now. Maybe there will be people who don't even want to listen to the message. But, if I'm doing my job and I have the spirit with me, in a month, a year, or even ten years from now, when they meet missionaries again, they will remember the love they felt when we talked. 

I think that's my reason for being a missionary. I think that's why God wanted me to serve. Too many people go through this life feeling unloved and unappreciated. They need to know their Father in Heaven loves them and that there are people in this world who love them as well, even if they've never met, because we're family. During English course last night, we were teaching one student who is fairly advanced. His name is Michele, and we just had a conversation class with him. He started asking us why we were serving, why this is important. I said it's important to me that people like him know they're not alone. He shared with us that growing up he felt like the black sheep. He felt comfortable enough to share his innermost thoughts with us. Then he said sorry, because we shouldn't be his therapists. But it's okay. I'm not a therapist. I don't know how to help these people. But Christ, He's the ultimate healer. The reason He can heal us so fully is because of the Atonement. The reason for the Atonement is love.

This week I've been reminded, that all it really comes down to is love. Yes, my purpose is to invite people to come unto Christ, but why? . . . because Christ loves them, because God loves them, and because they want us to return home. I received a blessing recently. In this blessing, I was reminded that there are people in Rimini who are hurting, who are alone. I was called here, in this time, so I could love them. 

Thank you for your love and support. I know one of the reasons I'm able to be here right now is because of your love. Without it, I could not hope to share love with the people I meet. Every time we see Fratello Scarpulla, he says, "Ah, our angels." You are all my angels. Truly.

I love you. 
Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin

Juliet's balcony!

A beautiful pizza in centro Verona.
We were waiting for a train in Bologna, and
we witnessed this beautiful sunset.
Anziani from left to right: Jefferies, Ramey, Quinton, Dowling, Herrin,
Warnick, Lovett, Miller, Kekoolani, Mustafaraj, Valentine, Anderson, and Anderson.
Sorelle from left to right: Bennett, Burkman, Alley, Jameson, Ervin, Brown,
Strong, and Jefferies.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

There's a sister missionary in Rimini, and she's praying for you

Ciao la mia famiglia e i miei amici! I hope life for you all is wonderful. I'm having just about the greatest time I've ever had. Don't get me wrong, I'm working harder than I've probably worked my whole mission, but I love every single moment.

Just one of my favorite sorelle! It was such a blessing
to spend all day with my dear Sreolla Bennet.
Last Thursday was transfer day. We had to be in Bologna at 9:30, which means we had to catch a train at 7:45 in the morning. It wasn't too bad though. We travelled with Anziani Simcox and Valentine from Pesaro. Anziano Simcox is getting transferred to Milano! He'll be serving in a trio in Milano Cimiano. There are so many trios in the mission right now, we just don't have enough places for all the missionaries we have. Anyway, he's going to love it. Sorelle Burkman and Alley just dropped me off in Bologna and then caught a train back to Rimini. The anziani and I met up with Sorelle Montagnoli, Bennet, and Brown from Forli and then we went to put Sorella Montagnoli and Anziano Simcox on a train. I'm going to miss those two so much! One of the Bologna zone leaders was getting transferred as well, so Sorelle Brown and Bennet, Anziani Valentine and Thompson, and I basically stayed at the station all day. I'm not going to lie; spending the day with Sorella Bennet basically made my life. I miss this girl so much. The two new Sorelle got in at about 3:15. Sorella Strong is my new companion, and let me tell you, this girl is amazing. I can already tell we're going to have so much fun this transfer. Sorella Jameson is going to the trio in Forli. I'm excited for them. I don't know her super well, but I do know she's absolutely incredible. 
Apparently bees really love my new companion. It only
took us about 10 minutes to get a normal picture.

When Sorella Strong and I arrived home we found out some pretty unexpected news. We're in a new district! We're now in a district with Ravenna and Forli. This is super exciting because we will get to see the Jefferies every week. Also, my dear sisters in Forli are in our district. I'm so excited. I'm a little sad because I love the Anziani we have in Pesaro and Ancona, but I'm growing to love change more and more. 

Sorella Strong and I have been doing a lot of tracting. That's pretty much the majority of what we're doing right now. Like I said last week, we're starting off with zero investigators. But, we've already found a new investigator. We were walking down a little side street in centro, and he was walking toward us. I wasn't really planning on trying to talk to him, but as we passed I just said Buona Sera. He turned around to talk with us, and we ended up having a 45-minute lesson right there on the street. He's a really sweet old man with a very strong knowledge of the Bible. He knows his stuff. I feel like I learn this everyday: don't pick and choose whom to talk to; just talk to everyone - you never know what will happen.

My dear sweet Sorella Strong. Photo bombing this picture
are Anziani Valentine and Thompson
When all you do is tract, you end up meeting a lot of different people. They might not all be interested, but so far they've all been really nice. We were walking around this lake, and we see a man fishing. Sorella Strong asks me if we should go talk to him. Well, we're missionaries, so of course I said "andiamo." As we're walking up to him, I'm thinking of what I want to share with him. I was trying to figure out what I thought he'd need. Sorella Strong beat me to it with, "What kind of fish are these?" A little bit of a strange opening, but we walked away with his number. New way to find someone?

We were walking home from English course last night, and the bridge we usually cross was closed. I don't know another way to get home . . . so being the upstanding citizens we are, we thought we'd sneak across. One of the workers saw us walking towards them. He came over and whispered to just go over the bridge and when we were on the other side, try not to be seen by the other workers. He said if we were, to tell them we didn't see anyone on that side. He then put his finger to his lips and said "shh." I love Italians. On the other side we quickly got off the bridge and took a side street. There were three cute elderly people sitting in front of a house watching the workers. The man told us that they only let us through because we're beautiful girls, but if he had let us through, he would have made sure to let everyone know. We talked to the three of them for a little bit and they invited us to come back. We're going to take them some zucchini bread after church on Sunday. 

This transfer is already becoming on of my favorites. Sorella Strong is a spiritual giant with a large heart. I already consider her to be one of my best friends; we truly are sisters. Everyday I realize we're more similar then we thought previously. Everyday we learn new things about the gospel together. Everyday we have more fun than the day before. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to work with her. We're going to learn a lot from each other; we're going to see miracles; we're going to teach lessons; and we're going to have the best time along the way.

I love you all. Please remember, if you're having a hard day, there's a sister missionary all the way in Rimini, and she's praying for you.

Vi voglio bene per sempre
Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin