Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Italians Love Holidays, and I Love Them!

This is my wonderful figlia.
Look how cute she is.
So, I am basically obsessed with Italia. I can't even express how much I love this place. Last week we had three holidays, and there is a holiday tomorrow. I love that the Italian people just love life, they love to celebrate, love an excuse to spend the day with friends and family. It is just about the best attitude in the world.

Friday was festa della liberazione [Liberation Day - commemorating the end of WWII]. What did we do? We went to an activity most of the day. We went up to this beautiful park near Biella; seriously, it was gorgeous, I hope you all get to go someday. Sorella Jones and I drove up with Eliana. I needed that drive with her. I think we talked about everything we possibly could have talked about. She also planned my life. Apparently after I go home and finish my last year of school I'm coming back to Italy, studying in a conservatory during the week, and living with her and Manuel on the weekends. I could handle that. 

Surprise! Fernando brought his daughter to the activity. ELVIRA! Elvira is a member from my first ward in Milano. I haven't seen her in months. We went to Biella, and we stopped to pick up someone; I didn't know who. Then I glanced in the mirror and saw Elvira. Literally, it might have been the best surprise ever. Also wonderful, I actually know how to talk to her now. Elvira is without a doubt one of my favorite members. She came to so many lessons with us and is just about the best member missionary ever. I love her! We spent the day talking about music, the Atonement, missionary work, school, basically every subject in the world. I just adore her so much.

Best part of the day? We were leaving the park, but we had to take two of Eliana's friends to a different entrance. So we were going around some beautiful little small town roads when we got stuck . . . behind a group of cows. Yes, we literally were just following a herd of cows for 15 minutes. I wish I had taken a picture. 

We went to see the Martorana's . . . again. I am obsessed with this family . . . the whole lot of them. I just want good for them . . . so much good. So, we knew Paolo was going to be at work when we went, so we wrote a scripture and a little note for him to leave at his house. What else did we leave him . . . a comic strip with him as a superhero delivering us pizza. We've learned that if my headache is really bad, and I focus on something, like drawing, it helps. So I'm making Paolo a comic book. Shh. Don't tell him. Anyway, we gave him this comic strip. Sunday, he was probably the happiest I'd ever seen him. People, he was SMILING! It was a good day. So, Monday night I drew, probably, the greatest thing in the world – the five of us as superheroes. Oh I wish I had taken a picture before I gave it to Paolo at correlation. I was having a hard day, the headache was bad, and I was super close to tears/in tears. What does Paolo do? He tells me someday we'll figure out my super power; then when I ask him if he's found his, he points to the picture and says, "I have tights." This is why he's one of my favorite people. 

Miracle of the week, one of our young women is becoming the best missionary. I don't even know how to explain how happy I am for her. I can see her life changing as she focuses more on the Savior. It's amazing.

Also, all of you need to get excited. Manuel's favorite game is Bang! It's a card came about the old Wild West. He's obsessed with it, really. We played it a few weeks ago and in English class. Point is, I'm quickly becoming obsessed. So today I bought it. This is why you must get excited. I have no doubt I will force all of you to play it when I come home. Love you!

Sorella Ervin

Most beautiful country in the world!


This is Mayyer! She's rad.

I love these streets.

It was raining so hard this day . . . but we couldn't even tell.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


O figlia mia.
This week has been so incredibly amazing. I don't have tons of time because I sent a lot of pictures; I'm sorry you won't get a lot of stories. 

We set a baptismal date with Patience's mom! I am literally the happiest I've ever been on my mission. I just start thinking about it, and I cry. But it's a good thing. The lesson where we set the date was by far the most powerful I've ever been in. It's only because the love of Patience for her mom is overwhelming. It was a moment when I truly remembered why I am here. President Dibb says, “We are in the business of completing families.” That is why I'm here. To help other people be with their families for eternity. In the grand scheme of things, we're all a family. I want our family to be complete in the eternities. I want to see every single person I have ever met with our Father in Heaven. I want you there because I love you. Patience's love and her testimony to her mother truly reminded me what I'm doing here, what we are all doing here. We're here to help our family make it home.

Easter was incredible. We always have the most fun with Tina and Ralf. I love them! Monday here is a holiday also . . . I mean, not for missionaries . . . but still. We went to Biella to see Patience and her mom. On the way back to the station we were going to do a little strada. I think I saw one other person in the 40 minutes it took us to get there. So the three of us just talked about everything. Patience has given me a new life plan. Go home, find a husband who has at least five brothers with families. It is important that all of them want to live in Italy. Then we all move back to Italy . . . to Biella. Then Biella will have a branch again. That's my Patience for you.

I love you all so much. Thank you for your support, prayers, letters, and everything. I couldn't be here if it wasn't for you. Vi Voglio Bene!

Sorella Ervin

There have been these posters up all month about not eating lamb for Easter.
What did I eat for Easter? Lamb. . . . Worst. Vegetarian. Ever.
I was looking through Tina's music and found this!
Just my favorite opera ever. I love Italians.
This is Ralf, our very large German. How big is he? Well . . . 
This is his shoe . . . 
It takes two of my fists to make one of his.
Look at his smile of anticipation.
This, my friends, is delicious food.
Just a normal day in perfect Biella.
You all know how much I love Patience.
There was literally no one except us in the streets.
That's what happens when it rains.
The Duomo in Biella. Oh my beautiful.
Hello, Italy.
Back when there was a branch in Biella, this is where they met.
Cutest building ever.
Can you find Patience?
I see a poster for this all the time. Always makes me  think of my mamma.
Our pizza boy! Okay, it's Paolo. But really, how many ward mission leaders
deliver pizza to their missionaries. Only the best.
This is Paolo's happy face . . . may be why I thought he hated
me for a good five months.
Look at this beautiful pizza Paolo made. Ben' fatto Paolo, ben' fatto.
Can't forget the spiritual thought.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Miracoli a Biella!

This is my Valeria!
So there is this perfect town outside of Vercelli. It's actually bigger than Vercelli. There used to be a branch there, but they closed it down when they made Vercelli a ward. Practically no work has been done in Biella for a few years because it's too far away for people to travel to church. There are about 100 less actives and only a couple active members.

Well, Biella miracles started last week. Our super-great active member preparing for her mission moved to Biella with her non-member mom. We started teaching her mom last week, and we've had two beautiful lessons with her. She's reading the Book of Mormon, and they are both coming to church on Sunday. Miracle.

Monday Sorella Egbert and I were on a scambio. We were heading out to Biella, and while we were on a train a man sits down next to us and asks, “What does one have to do to join your community?” Well . . . that doesn't ever happen. We taught him about the Restoration of the Gospel, prayed with him, gave him a Book of Mormon, and told him the anziani could meet with him. Is he coming to church this weekend? YES. Also, he's really excited about GANS [Young Single Adults], and Institute. Miracle.

A few days ago, our anziani met this young woman on a bus. Turns out she lives in Biella and saw us there last week, but she didn't have time to talk to us. She lived with a member family for a year in Salt Lake. She knows everything about the church. She's rad. I haven't met her in person, but when I called her yesterday, she asked if we could come out to teach her family as well as visit her. Never say no to that my friends. Miracle.

While we were walking around in Biella, we were talking to this man. He thought that the church was back in Biella. See, people notice missionaries in these towns. He was excited to tell his son about the church and gave us his number. Well, the church isn't in Biella yet . . . but we're working on it. Miracle.

There are more miracles and I really wish I had time to tell you them all. Suffice it to say that I want a branch in Biella again. This town is so ready. Everyone there is nice and willing to talk to us. We're going to try and start a GANS activity there once a month, because there are at least four people who can come . . . and us. So pray for Biella ok? Thanks.

I love you all. I'm so excited for Pasqua [Easter]. I was asked to prepare a talk for this Sunday, and I'm really thankful for the added chance to think about the Savior more. He's my favorite miracle.

Sorella Ervin

This is Sorella Pini. She's legit.

We pass this almost everyday. I love Italy.

Why is our street so awesome? Because we're worth it.

I love Italy around voting time.

We're obsessed with Zombies . . . okay, Manuel is obsessed with Zombies. Sorella Jones told him I'm a zombie, and his answer, "It is so much better to be her friend if she's a zombie." So anyway . . .

My little girl as a Zombie.

I'm a zombie. Thank goodness Manuel thinks it's better to try a warm bodies approach
instead of just killing me. Thank you, Manuel . . . thank you.

Manuel is a zombie!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Weak Things of the World

So this week I was feeling really inadequate. It made me remember a couple of weeks ago when I was talking to an English Class student, and I just said, “HO STRESS.” Well he wanted to know how I could possibly be stressed. He pointed out that I'm not working, don't have a family to provide for, and don't have to worry about how I'm going to find my next meal. All in all, he thinks I had absolutely nothing to be stressed about. Really? I don't know how many times someone tells me, “You're literally holding the salvation of souls in your hands.” Right, no pressure. 

It's not like I'm stressed all the time, but, once in a while, it's really easy to remember how imperfect, inadequate, and unlearned I am. In these moments how can I not think, why me? Why would God trust such a person with the salvation of these precious souls? These people mean everything to Him; you would think He would send someone a little stronger. I don't know . . . maybe someone who isn't, well . . . me. 

This morning I read something that turned everything around. It's not like I haven't read it before, but with the last few days of feeling like I could do nothing right, it was exactly what I needed. 

Sometimes you're just walking along a little
side street on your way to church, and you
realize you're in Italy.
The feeling never gets old.
“Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thresh the nations by the power of my Spirit;

“Keep all the commandments and covenants by which ye are bound; and I will cause the heavens to shake for your good, and Satan shall tremble and Zion shall rejoice upon the hills and flourish;

“Fear not, little flock, the kingdom is yours until I come. Behold, I come quickly. Even so. Amen” Doctrine and Covenants 35:13, 24, and 27.

Well, I'm weak, I'm unlearned, and as a missionary I have definitely been despised. So guess what, I'm exactly where I need to be. I asked myself, why does God want the weak when He has an army of strong members in His army? Why does He call those of us who are young? I don't think it's because God needs weak people, rather, He needs his weak people to become strong. I think He calls the young people of the Church to this specific work because we are those who can best benefit from doing this exact work.

Maybe I'm wrong; like I said, I'm unlearned. However, I know that my mission has blessed my own life way more than it has blessed anyone else.  So yes, I'm weak, sometimes I cry . . . okay, often. But I'm trying my best and that's really all God wants. 

I show this picture to about a thousand people everyday, and I ask them all the same question. “What do you think when you look at this picture?” The answer is usually the same: “Sono un agnello, ma Gesù mi ama.” [I am a lamb, Jesus loves me.] It's true. We are a little flock, little lambs who depend on our Shepherd for everything. In the end, all that matters is that He loves us. This picture gives me strength everyday. 

Vi vogliamo un mondo di bene! Fear not little flock.

Sorella Ervin