Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Companion, New Week, New Miracles

Well folks, it's official; I'm a MOM! Last Thursday seems like so long ago, but it was such a great day. It was also really sad because I had to say goodbye to my dear Sorella Walch, but I know she's going to have an absolutely incredible time in Modena with Sorella Holloway. I did get to see my sweet Sorella Strong. Oh my goodness, I forgot how much I love her. She's training as well, so we got to go to a short training meeting together before we picked up the babies. At the end of the meeting I found out my trainee is . . . Sorella Jones. She's adorable, and I love her already. 

There are so many wonderful things that happened this week that I don't even have time to tell you half of them. But here are a few of my favorites. 

Monday night we had a family home evening with Tina and Ralf. Tina invited a friend who is super kick trash. I love her already. It was the first time Sorella Jones has given the Restoration lesson in the field, and she did such a good job. I was such a proud mom when she gave the sweetest 1st Vision I think I've ever heard. 

We had a less-active woman call Marcella and tell her she wanted to come to church. She brought her non-member 28-year-old daughter with her. Apparently, the daughter had asked to come to church, and the mom hopes they start coming every single week. They both had an incredible time, and the ward was so welcoming. This ward is truly fantastic.

Sunday night, we went over to see a couple of families in our ward together. They made us tacos. This is the second time I've had tacos in the last 11 months. I can tell you, it might have been my favorite meal on the mission. Okay, so I'm exaggerating slightly, but they were pretty rad.

We had a beautiful lesson with Michela yesterday, and here is what she taught me. I need to stop tearing myself apart when I'm not perfect. The only thing I can do is to try a little harder. That's always possible. Some days, my best will be better than others, but as long as I'm trying my personal best, it's okay. We have weaknesses, we all have trials, but we also have Christ. We all have access to the love of Christ, which means our weaknesses can become strengths and we can get through any trial. We might be perplexed, but we don't ever have to be in despair. 

2 Corinthians 4:8-9
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Vi Voglio Bene. I pray for you all and I truly hope you're doing well. 

Sorella Ervin

Last elevator ride together.

On the train to Milan.

Rimini reunion at transfer circle.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Birthday Surprises and the Best Present . . . a Verdina!

Tina and Ralf!
Grazie, Grazie, Grazie for all of the birthday wishes. I can, without a doubt, say it was my favorite birthday I've ever had. It was also the most stressful birthday I've ever had because it was transfer call day. In the morning, we were cleaning the house and waiting for a call about transfers. I have the best ward in the world, and members were calling all morning to wish me a happy birthday. The problem is that on transfer call day every time the phone rings, my heart stops. Va bene.

Birthday Surprise with the Simoncinis
At about noon, we received another phone call; this time it was Presidente Dibb. We put him on the speakerphone, and he says, "Sorella Ervin I need you to stay in Vercelli." Then he tells me I'm TRAINING. He goes on to talk about how I'll pick up my verdina on Thursday and gives me tons of information. We were just freaking out wanting to know where he's sending Walch. Well, she's opening with Sorella Holloway! He talked about specific things he wanted them to do for about five minutes before he casually slipped in that she'll be opening in Modena. I'm so excited for them; they're going to have so much fun, every single day. 

So that's my birthday present from President Dibb - a verdina. I'm picking her up tomorrow morning, and I'm a little freaked about it, but I know it will be just fine. The members are super excited as well. I think we're all expecting some greenie miracles. 

Birthday dinner
After cleaning, we went to teach Bea, who is still one of my favorite people in the world. We were talking about the Relief Society, and she was so thankful for this group of women. I loved watching her face light up as she talked about how much they've influenced her life. We went to teach Gianella, but she was sick, so we ran to the other side of town to pick something up before we had to catch the train. We ended up with an extra 20 minutes and Sorella Walch said she was going back towards Gianella's house so she could buy some shoes in one of our favorite stores. I was super confused and less then excited, but Walch refused to come to the station with me. I followed her, knowing we were going to miss the train. Don't think my companion's disobedient; she was just trying to surprise me with a visit to the Simoncini's. We were at their house for just a little bit, but they were all so sweet. While we were there Eliana and Manuel called to wish me happy birthday, then they called back about ten minutes later. Emilio and Ilaria had called them and asked them to wish me a happy birthday. Best. Call. Ever. It was so amazing to hear from them, even if I can't personally talk to them right now. 

Fratello Simoncini drove us to the station so we could catch the next train, and then we went to Ralf and Tina's. I love these people. Ralf made us a pasta dish he invented himself and then we had family home evening with them. Ralf always bears the strongest testimony, and it never fails to make me cry. We sang a hymn, and then Ralf walked out of the room. We were talking for a while, and then Ralf came back in and told me he had to show me something. He then shoves me into the black kitchen, and there's a cake with a candle. It was so sweet. They all started singing; I started crying, and we just had a grand time. Let me tell you . . . it was a real cake. You never get real cake in Italy, but it was a real, proprio cake. We had to run to catch the train home, but it was the best little surprise party. 

That's all I have time for this week, although that doesn't even cover the tip of the iceberg. I saw so many miracles this last week. I was also reminded with force how lucky I have been in my life and especially reminded that there are many who have not been so fortunate. I'm so grateful for the gospel and for the healing powers of the Atonement. I honestly don't know how I would live without these things in my life. 

Last random side note, Sorella Walch really wants me to tell you this story, because I've forgotten for the last few weeks. Well, a few weeks ago, I went a little crazy. We have this stamp with our number on it, and I was stamping everything I could get a hold of. Don't ask me why, I have no answer. Comunque, I was on the floor by her bed so I could stamp an ovs bag underneath her bed. She was lying in bed but her feet were off of it. She lifted them up for a minute and shifted. Suddenly she kicked me in the head full force. It was an accident, so she says. Her foot was in so much pain; my head was in even more. I think this might be why we can't stay together anymore; we're dangerous together. 

What's going on with your lives? Tell me a story. 

Vi Voglio Bene!

Sorella Ervin

Andrea, one of our favorite English students.
Two of my favorite people in the world, Be a and Matteo.
All the things Sorella Walch and I bought together . . .
maybe it's good we're getting seperated.

Two of our favorite English Students! Stafano and Andrea!

How cute are the Martoranas?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Me and Sorella Walch
Sorella Walch and I went on an exciting adventure last Saturday. One of our members gave us a referral for someone they wanted us to go visit. Here's the deal; they didn't know where this family lives. So they told us to just go out to their little town and casa the whole place. We were expecting a super small town with a couple of streets, maybe 50 houses, tops. We were wrong. The place was pretty huge. So basically we just walked down the streets looking for the family’s name on a house. We were unsuccessful, but it was such a cute town and a day we'll probably never forget.

While we were looking for this family, we got a call from Anziano Reeve. He told us Manuel had texted him in the middle of the night and wanted him to give a talk. Well, Anziano Reeve asked me to give it for him. I didn't really mind though, I love the opportunity to give talks. 

I didn't have much time to prepare it, but Manuel called me that night and just told me to talk about the things I've learned on the mission. So I made a list, but to talk about everything I've learned would take far too much time. So I narrowed it down to three. I'll be honest here, I was a super nervous for this talk, because I didn't feel prepared, and that's a wee bit scary when giving a talk in Italian. I ended up going up with nothing more than the three points and a couple of scriptures. 

I've never felt so led by the spirit in my life. As I talked about the things I've learned, I realized how lucky I've been to serve in this incredible place, surrounded by these incredible people. I wouldn't trade what I have learned here or the experiences I've had for anything in the world. What have I learned? I'm sure I've let you in on these things before.

Miracles happen everyday. There's not a single day that passes in which we don't witness a miracle. I'm not saying we're always aware or appreciate it, but it's there. As I was speaking, I was struck by how lucky we are to live in a time where the priesthood has been restored to the earth. The power of God is literally here, with us. We live in a time when we can take part in the fullness of the gospel. If that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is.

Happiness is a choice. When we choose to follow the commandments, we choose to be happy, but it's more than that. In our moments of sadness and despair, we have the ability to choose how to react, how to continue. When we choose to move forward and to focus on the good, we choose to be happy. Often when you ask Italians how they are doing, the response is "Andiamo avanti" or "We go forward." There is no point in staying in the same place with sadness in your heart. We keep moving forward, we focus on the good, and we share that good with others.

Missionary work isn't easy. God never said it would be. In fact, He clearly told us it would be difficult. To the sons of Mosiah he said, "Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls." Alma 17:11. So it won't be easy. You will have afflictions, but do it anyway, and you will be an instrument in the hands of God. What happened? Ammon tells us, "And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work. Behold, thousands of them do rejoice, and have been brought into the fold of God." Alma 26:3-4. God fulfills His promises to us, and He did promise us it would be difficult, so it will be. But He also promised us that it would be worth it, so it will be. We will be able to help people in as much as we give our best. This applies to every member, not just the missionaries. We all promised to do this work; we promised to do it when we were baptized. God will help us, but we have to do our part. 

I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to think about what I've learned. There's so much more, but these three things have truly blessed my mission, and I know they will continue to bless my life. 

I love you all, and I hope that you have the best week of your lives.

Con tutto il mio cuore

Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin

P.S. (from Ellen's mom) This coming Monday is Ellen's birthday. If you would like to, you can send her a note at

Pictures from Torrino Zone Training

The sorelle with sweet Nick. He's the best!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Coincidence? No such thing.

Have you ever wanted to learn the accordion? Me neither. But according to Romeo it's my secret desire. It's ok though, because he taught me how to play a little bit. 

We went to visit Jane and Romeo for lunch last week. Jane is probably one of the best cooks I've ever met; she’s also one of the sweetest people in the world. They live in a cute little town about an hour's train ride away from here. We have to switch trains twice to get there, and then we have a 20-minute car ride. Worth it. 

After lunch, we shared a message about happiness. Romeo was just excited we were there so he could teach us to play the accordion and the xylophone. He's a great teacher; we're going to be famous. 

Monday night, I received the best little surprise in the world. Sorella Vardeu called to ask something and then she said, "Someone here wants to talk to you." I waited and heard a voice say, "Pronto." BOLLWINKEL! We didn't get to talk for very long, but it was such a needed little blessing. 

Ok, so remember how we met the woman on the train and then met her the next day. Well, I received an email from Victor. Turns out, a few weeks ago he was talking to one of our English students who was telling him about this woman whose son was in a motorcycle accident. It's the same woman! 

So I was talking to Stefano last night, and he said he'd tell her hello for us. As we were walking out of the class, he said it was such a coincidence. I laughed. He asked me if I believe in coincidences. Of course; they happen. I might wear the same shirt as someone else, and we show up to the same place. Coincidence. But the fact that we met this woman, twice, and then Victor read my blog and knew exactly whom I was talking about, and that this woman works for Stefano's grandmother . . . . you can call it coincidence if you want. You can say Vercelli's just a small town. But I don't buy that.

God's truly in control. He's guiding us in everything we say and do, even if we don't always recognize it. Most of the time, what we choose to attribute to coincidence is the Spirit. How blessed we are that God cares enough about our lives to guide us. Think about that for a minute. Out of all the people in the world, he chooses to give you inspiration and guidance. That peace you felt after you made a difficult decision, when you came to terms with the death of a loved one, when you held your child for the first time, when you went to church, when you read the scriptures, when you prayed . . . it was from him. It would be impossible to do this work without the help of God. That guidance is there for everyone; we just have to choose to follow it. 

I love you. Each week I appreciate you all more and more. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Vi Voglio Bene

Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin

Celebrating Sorella Walch's 9 months!
Just the best surprise we've ever gotten. Thanks, Chris!

Looking like our best selves after a long day.