Buon Anno Tutti!

Midnight Mass
The new year always makes me super excited. I love thinking about all the amazing things that I've seen in the last year and looking forward to all the amazing things that are yet to come. This year has definitely been the best year of my life, yet I'm sure the coming year will be even better.

It's true what they say, Christmas on the mission is the best christmas you could possibly have. Christmas Eve was incredible. First we made the anziani sweet stuffed animals, but we forgot to take pictures (next week, don't you worry). Then we went to midnight mass at a sweet church behind our house. My comp thinks it looks like Hogwarts. Of course everytime we walk by it we yell, "Dieci punti per Gryffindor. I know, we're the greatest. Mass was super brilliant. There were nuns singing all night long, and the spirit was really strong. It was beautiful to be with a group of people we didn't know, celebrating the savior's birth. 

The sweet Machado family. I love them!
Christmas was a little crazy. After opening our presents, we ran to the station to meet the anziani for a few minutes to give them their gifts. They also brought us Aladdin. Thank you President Dibb for letting us watch a Disney movie. After we watched the movie and ate way too much chocolate, we rode our bikes to Sorella Frezzato's house. We ate the first course of lunch with her, but we started late, so we ended up having to go before we could finish. They packed us food to eat on the way. We rushed back to the station to catch a train, and we barely made it. On the train we talked to a really nice guy and shared a Christmas message with him. I love Christmas miracles.

The Machado family made us fondue!
At the Machado's we ate a second Christmas lunch. Wasn't expecting that. They were so sweet and welcoming. They were just so happy we came to their house for Christmas. They made us fondue and we probably had the best time ever. Right before we skyped our families, they gave us each a packet of tissues. Obviously I used a ton of them. Skyping home was wonderful, but it was really weird to speak in English for that long. When I was introducing Michelle to my family, I kept doing it in Italian and she would whisper, "inglese." Whoops.

The day after Christmas is a pretty big holiday in Italy, too. We went to the Urelli family's house for lunch and were able to spend some time with them. Sorella Urelli showed us all of her mission pictures; there were tons of them! It doesn't matter what happens on my mission, my favorite part has always been the members - their conversion stories, their examples, their fellowship of others. They're incredible, and I feel so blessed to know them.

Right before Skyping our families, the Macados gave
us another Christmas present. haha
Saturday we went out to see Romeo and Jane. They're awesome. They made us a bomb lunch, and then Romeo played the accordian for us. We talked about having a family mission plan. Jane only speaks English so she's having a hard time because she really wants to share the gospel, but doesn't quite know how. Her desire shines through though, and she tries as hard as she can. 

Sunday night we went to GANS (meeting for Young Single Adults, age 18-30). At first only Victor and Manuel were there. They creamed us at Ping Pong. I think I might actually be getting worse. Oh well. A little while later Matteo showed up, and after dinner we played this sweet game called CooCoo. Remind me to teach you how to play when I get home. Let's hope I can remember. 

We're teaching a super sweet teenage girl named who's amazing. We had a lesson with her Monday, and we went through the baptismal interview questions with her. Gianella really wants to get baptized, and one of the reasons is because she wants to go to the temple. How sweet is that? We're hoping she gets baptized next week; it all depends on whether she gets permission from her mom. This girl has a solid testimony, and we're super excited for her.

Last night we had a rockin' New Year's party at the church. It was so great! Victor brought his mom, which was wonderful because we love her. I also got to talk a lot with Eliana. She's definitely one of my favorite people in the world. We talked about everything. I love our members, I just keep finding more things I love about them.

This week was really special because we had the opportunity to get to know more of our members. It was probably one of the best weeks of my mission. Never underestimate the good you can do for the missionaries of the church. Your love for them helps them so much. Your examples and your fellowshipping of their investigators will push them to be better missionaries, better members, and it will without a doubt strengthen their testimonies.

Vi Voglio Bene! Buon anno e tanti auguri!
Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin

Christmas morning at a missionary apartment.

Christmas morning studies!

Waiting at the station Christmas morning
so we could give the anziani their presents.

Disney morning!