Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Funny Stories

I'm just going to warn you all right now . . . this email will not be spiritual one ounce. That's what transfer week does to you. There is so much stress! But lots of funny stories; so get ready.

Thursday afternoon we went to visit a family in the ward. We were there awhile, shared a thought, and talked about literally everything. It was so much fun. I love them; they're some of the funniest, loving people I've ever met. But, then we tried to leave. We all get up to go to the door, we say goodbye, and then the mom invites us for dinner. We politely declined, because we had to get going, and then the dad asked if we had another appointment . . . no. So he walked out of the room and shut the door . . . they kidnapped us for dinner. It's okay; it was delicious, and we still love them . . . I think I love them even more now actually. 

So G.E.M. Monday comes around. We were a little stressed about transfer calls. Like usual, every time the phone rang I freaked out a little. We were cleaning the house, and our bathroom sink doesn't drain, so I thought I'd try to clean it. We look down it, but we can't really see anything . . . so we grab a flashlight. It wasn't bright enough. We could tell it was a little clogged, but we still couldn't see. So I found my other flashlight. We look down, and we think it looks like something is stuck down there. Sorella Russell held the flashlight, and I fashioned a fishing pole with a hanger. I finally get this object attached to the hanger, and I slowly pulled it up. All in all it took about 20 minutes. So we think we know what this object is . . . but we're bewildered, so we think we've got to be wrong. But no . . . we were right. IT WAS A FORK! There was a fork stuck in the pipe of our sink . . . our BATHROOM sink. Of course it was covered in hair and other disgusting grossness. I don't know how it got there, I don't know why it was left there, but now it's gone. So that was fun. 

We didn't get a call Monday . . . so we were starting to feel a little less stressed. We knew neither of us were training or doing anything crazy. Peace at last . . . but not really because we still didn't know what was going on. 

Monday night we went over to Alessandro's house to do a family home evening with him, his dad, his brother, and their friend. We were on the way to the house, and then I glanced to my side and caught eyes with this man who looked kind of familiar. I didn't think about it, and we kept walking. Then I glanced behind me, and he was following us. Then I remembered he was a slightly creepy man we met on the bus once. I walk a little faster. We could see Alessandro's house, but it was still kind of far. At one point I looked behind me, and he was reaching out to grab Sorella Russell, but my girl just kept walking. I called Alessandro as we were approaching the door, and he buzzed us in real fast. They were all super worried about us. You know, I was never too worried. You kind of get used to stuff like that on the mission. I'm just glad we got in real fast. 

We played the best game at FHE. You fill a cup with flour and then you turn it over and pull the cup off . . . sandcastles? No. You put a coin on the top and then everyone takes turns drawing a line in the flour. If you make the coin fall, you lose. It’s kind of like Jenga, but not . . . because if you lose you have to stick your face in the flour and grab the coin with your mouth. Best game ever. :D

So we found out about transfers, nothing changed! We get another transfer together, and we're super stoked because we love it here and we love each other. Blessings! We're starting to see some great miracles, and we know we'll see more this transfer.

Oh, I almost forgot. Know where I am? VERCELLI! I had to come pick up my permesso today, so we're here for the day. Super excited to see the Martorana's fra poco [soon]. I love this day.

Vi Voglio Bene!

Sorella Ervin

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Always in the Middle

Look how beautiful my little Gjika is!
Okay, first off this morning we realized today is the 18th . . . which means tomorrow is the 19th . . . which means my release date is in three months and one day. How weird is that? I started hyperventilating a little when we realized . . . but then I got over it. It was just a weird realization, but it doesn't really matter. There is an amazing talk by President Uchtdorf about always being in the middle of your mission. Sometimes new missionaries think they don't know enough to help. Older missionaries feel like they're too tired to do anything. But if we live everyday like we're in the middle, we can continue to just keep working, no matter what else is going on. It's a talk I adore, and I'm so grateful I found it last year. 

Last Thursday we had zone conference in Alessandria. That means I went to Alessandria three times in a week. Expensive. Anyway, the conference was amazing. I think my favorite part was given by the assistants. They talked about how if we really want to help people we need to be conductors of the spirit . . . which means we need to be absolutely pure. We talked about all the little things we can do to be more obedient or strengthen our testimonies. I'm so grateful such a big part of the mission is about being obedient. It's not easy; we can't be perfect, but we can definitely try. The trying is what really matters in the end. 

Obviously I loved seeing all my favorite missionaries, just like normal. I love hearing about things happening in Vercelli. Y’all want some news? Eliana popped! She had her little boy a month early, but I heard he's doing just fine. Will you all pray for them anyway? Thanks. 

Sunday night we went to see Angely and Gabriele. I love them! I just love to watch their relationship. I honestly don't think I've ever seen a mother and a son who have such a great relationship. Sure they argue; they don't always agree, but every time they talk it's a conversation filled with love. It's so beautiful.

Adventure. We get to the train station after our lesson. We're a good 40 minutes early so we sit down to start nightly planning since we were going to be home late. Thirty minutes later . . . our train is cancelled. It was 8:20 at night and the next train wasn't until 10:30. I texted the bishop to ask who would be good to call for a ride. He told us the Cavalli's lived really close to where we were. MIRACLE! Sorella Cavalli is an angel. She came to pick us up and drove us the 30 minutes to our house. It was a hidden miracle that she had to come, because I've really been wanting to get to know her, but she's been travelling so I haven't been able to. She's without a doubt already one of my favorite people on the planet. Also, we ended up getting home at 9:28 . . . so we didn't even get in late enough to call capi. Miracle #2

Monday we had an absolutely amazing district meeting. We all shared our favorite things we've learned in trainings throughout our missions. It was really great because Anziano Christiansen and Anziano Anderson are going home next week. Weird. So we just had a chance to learn a little bit more from them. I love these two elders. Christiansen has been my zone leader for four transfers now. He is one of the best people I know. I have learned so much from him and he really cares and is aware about every missionary in his zone. Also, this is the second time Anziano Anderson has been my district leader. The first time was way back in my third transfer. I feel so blessed to have served with him twice and to have seen how the mission has changed him. The mission really changes us all so much. Best part of the meeting . . . after the prayer, they both stood up and ripped their shirts off. They were wearing their college t-shirts underneath. Don't worry though; they changed before we left the church. 

Yesterday was super great. We went over to the Vicedomini's house to have lunch with them, and then we helped Alessandro move some more of his stuff to his new house. I love this family. They're loud and crazy (in a good way) just like all families should be. I have already learned so much for them, and I look forward to continue serving with them.

Transfer time is already here next week. How did it go so fast? We're pretty sure Sorella Russell is leaving me, but I guess we just have to wait and see. We just like each other too much to get a second transfer together, ahaha. 

Love you all so much!
Sorella Ervin

My beautiful zone!

My little girl!

Oh my goodness, I love missionaries so much!

I love my wonderful district!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Amazing Work and Precious Moments

Best burgers in Italy.
This week was pretty amazing. Do you remember how last week we found the mother of a less-active member and now she's an investigator? Well it happened again! We were doing a pass-by of another less-active member, and her mom let us in. We were able to share a message with her, and she told us to come back the next week. We went back yesterday, and she promised to try and read the Book of Mormon everyday before we go back next week. A while ago President Dibb told us we're in the business of completing families. I just love that. We're here to help families be together forever; there is absolutely no work more beautiful. 

We were also able to see another less-active member and her son. He was preparing for baptism a few months ago, and he still really wants to be baptized. The beautiful thing is that this wonderful woman is so excited for the Rome Temple. Her goal is to be temple worthy by the time it opens. It was so wonderful to talk to a person who is aware of things she needs to change and who actively is trying to change them. There was a beautiful spirit in her home, and I cannot wait to go back.

Stake conference was absolutely amazing. Saturday night we went to Alessandria, and I was able to see some of my favorite people from Vercelli. There weren't lots of people there, but it was so beautiful. I talked to Marcella for a little while and it was wonderful to hear her voice. I also saw my baby girl, Sorella Jones! The conference was also amazing. I'm so grateful I am still serving in this stake. Presidente Bellomo talked about how our lives are all intertwined. We influence the lives of people we've never even met before. A lot of times we don't even realize it. The more we try just to be good people, the better we will be able to help those around us who are struggling. 

My testimony grew so much during the Sunday session of stake conference. I went to conference with very specific questions, and every single question was answered. I didn't even expect for some of them to be answered because of the type of question. I am so grateful for President Uchtdorf. We are so lucky to live in a day where we have the ability to listen to the voices of prophets and apostles. I wish everyone could know what a blessing it is to have them in our lives.

I love you all so much. I'm starting to realize how fast time flies. It seems like everyday is getting shorter. Every single moment we have in this life is extremely precious. It is so important for us to not waste a moment. 

Sorella Ervin

So one day it started raining, but it was still sunny. Then we saw
this creepy cloud covering half of the sky. The weather is so weird.

San Michele. A beautiful church on a tiny little hill
in the middle of nowhere.

Looks of anticipation as they see the fries freshly made.

Who knew Italy had Claire's?

My sweet Melissa at stake conference!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How Many People Have I Made Happy Today?

This week I fell in love with members even more. Each Sunday we choose a few members and take them a plate of banana bread, brownies, or something. We're just trying to get to know them a little better. One day we went to see one of the sorelle in the ward. She's super sweet, and as we arrived she had just started making fritters. We helped her a little and then two of her friends stopped by for a while. We talked with them and then when they left she gave them a huge plate of fritters. A couple minutes later, the vescovo [bishop] stopped by. Before he left she made him take a huge plate as well. Throughout the afternoon she forced us to eat about a thousand. As Vescovo left she turned to us with a huge smile and said, “Sorelle, how many people have we made happy today?” I was so touched by her love for others and her desire to make them happy.

As we were walking away from another family's house after dropping off a treat, Sorella Russell turned to me and asked, “Sorella, how many people have we made happy today?” It's become the question I ask myself at the end of each day. Our role as missionaries is to help others find true joy. We can do that in a variety of ways. There is nothing better then helping someone to be a little happier. I feel so blessed to be a part of this work. It truly is amazing. 

Miracle! We went to visit a less-active member, but she didn't live there anymore. Her mother gave us her new number though, and we have an appointment for later this week. ALSO, we were able to teach her mother, and she's now an investigator. It's amazing how people are prepared at different times. This woman is truly one of the sweetest I've ever met. She called us to tell us she found her Book of Mormon she received years ago. How adorable!

Sunday we went to Grazia's house to have lunch with her family. Alessandro made us cupcakes!

Speaking of wonderful American food, we ate the most amazing burgers today. Literally . . . they were incredible. There is a tiny little burger shop in Torino a member told the other sisters about. I have never been so happy to eat meat. You all know I'm not the biggest fan, but let me tell you it was like being in America. 

I'm really excited for this weekend. We have stake conference. Besides the fact I'm overjoyed because it's transmitted from the states and President Uchtdorf will be speaking, it means that I might be able to see some of my members from Vercelli Saturday night. I'm so excited! 

We were able to spend some time with one of our members and her little girl this week when we went with her to visit a less-active member. We went with her for her work though. It's so cool . . . she sells something called the Magic Cooker. I'm obsessed with it and I want it for my kitchen. It's this amazing cover for all of your pans that changes the way you can cook. Literally you can cook anything on the stove, and it tastes amazing. It makes everything way faster too. She made us tons of food on the stove . . . including pizza. It was really great to have a low-key way to meet some of our less-active members. 

Also, the little girl is just the sweetest. She told her mom she wanted a little sister and when her mom asked what they would call her, she said, Sorella Ervin. Hahaha. Also, her mom called us this morning and she was asking to talk to us. Her mom gave her the phone, and she just smiled and giggled. Later as her mom hung up she just started yelling our names. She has a cute little future missionary tag, and she always asks if we can come home with them. When we told her there wasn't enough space in the car, she said, that's okay, Daddy can walk. I love her.

It's been a truly great week. I'm exhausted, but I think that's how you know it was good. We've really been able to get to know our members more. More than that, we've been able to find little ways to help others find joy. I hope you each get to have that blessing this week. 

Con tutto il mio cuore
[With all my heart]

Sorella Ervin

[PS - Ellen had pictures this week, but didn't have time to download them as she had to leave early to catch a train. Check back next week for more pics.]