Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Last Week

Sister Missionary shoes at their finest.
Well, here it is . . . my very last email home. It's all so surreal. I can't even begin to explain how I'm feeling right now . . . so lets just talk about the week instead shall we. 

Friday we did a good amount of biking. We rode about 25 kilometers. It wasn't too bad. Everything was beautiful, and we were able to see a few members. We were a little early for an appointment, so we stopped to get gelato. I know, so surprising. Suddenly the biggest bee I've ever seen landed on Sorella Curtis' hand, and before we could do anything it stung her. Well, that was Sorella Curtis' very first bee sting. Auguri! She was a champ, I'm so proud. 

Saturday we thought we'd try biking to Dardago and Budoia. So, it's not really that far from Pordenone; it took us about an hour to get there, maybe a little less. BUT, then we were there, and let me tell you we forgot one important detail. These two towns are at the base of a mountain . . .  correction, above the base. So it was just a little bit steep. And by a little bit, I intend it was ridiculous. The people we were visiting thought we had taken a bus, and when they found out we rode, they were like, is that even possible? The next family thought we had left our bikes at the bottom of the mountain and walked up. So, apparently only serious mountain bikers bike in this town. We are now respected so much more. We are also still in pain. We rode a bunch more because we had to go out to another little town. So we're thinking in two days we rode about 60 kilometers. I'll miss the bikes. 

Just our little bike trip.
We had this super sweet activity with the Italian ward. It was an Oscars night. Whoa! Amazing. The amount of work they put into it was super impressive. Best activity I've ever been to. I will be stealing it. 

Sunday was brutal. They made me bear my testimony in sacrament meeting. I cried . . . a lot. You all know how much I cry so . . . lets just say it was about 50x the usual amount. It's okay though, because I'm fine, really. And the ward knows I love them so . . . worth it. We also had a sweet family home evening Monday. Mostly it was just great because we got to share with the members how much we love them. Also, our anziani are pretty rad. Shh! Don't tell them I said that. 

Yesterday was tough. There were two missionaries who came home from the Rome mission. One of their families invited us to come when they were released so we could meet them. I literally saw missionaries walk away with the stake president and come back as normal people. WHAT? Is that even a thing? It was really great to talk with Sorella Fossa though. She's adorable. Also, I needed to see how happy the families were to have the missionaries home. I think the Fossa's wanted to remind me it's a good thing to go home and see your family, even if you're sad about it. 

So, I am sad. Heartbroken. But digging my feet in the ground and refusing to go isn't going to do any good. I've been thinking a lot about why it's so hard to go home. When you're a missionary, you see things other people don't get to see. I'm just not quite ready to let that go yet. But the beautiful thing is that you get to take with you all you've learned and all the relationships you have made. Add that to the wonderful family that's waiting for you at home, and I think what you've found is better than anything you could have ever imagined. I love my mission. I love this country. I love these people. But most importantly of all, I love the Lord. I feel blessed to have served him.

I love you all. Don't think that because I'm sad to leave it means I'm not excited to see you, because I am. SO EXCITED. Thank you for everything . . . all of your support and all of your love. You helped me be who I am now. I couldn't have done this without you. See you soon!

We're pretty much the coolest people in the world. You're welcome.

Last district meeting.

After the district meeting we found this dead bird outside the church. Sad.

Anziano Dean. I don't know what he's doing . . . or what I'm doing. We're awkward people.

Valentina! Just the cutest thing you've ever seen.
Miriam! I lover her SO much.

Zia Lietta!

Me, Cynthia, Rubin, Nobel, and Sorella Curtis.



Anziano Tymczuk! Canada . . .

I don't know what's happening, but it seems like a normal moment in our lives.

Gotta love the Anziani.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

There Is Nothing So Whole as a Broken Heart

Just the coolest mask you ever did see,
straight from Venezia [Venice].
This week has truly been full of many emotions. As we've worked this week, we've seen so many miracles. I realize more each and every day how much I love my mission. We were visiting a member of our ward this week whose husband has been inactive for over 40 years. He is usually content to visit with us, but leaves as soon as we start to share a spiritual thought or lesson. This week, however, as he got up to leave we invited him to stay, as always. For the first time in years he decided to stay! As we were leaving, he thanked us for always coming and told us how much he appreciates it. I adore this man. He and his wife love opera, and we were all singing together. Can there be anything better than this lesson? 

Saturday we rode our bikes literally forever. We were up in the mountains searching out members to give brownies to. We found every single one. God truly blessed us because we were without maps and had never been there before, but we found them. Many miracles happened this day, but two truly stand out to me. First, we were riding our bikes down a little tiny country rode, and a car was behind us. After a few minutes they passed us, slowly, and then stopped ahead of us and got out of the car. I've been a missionary long enough to know that this means you are either about to have a miracle or you are going to have to ride your bikes very quickly as you call the Anziani to come help you. Meno male [thank God] it was a miracle. This man asked if we were the Mormons, and then said he had been looking for us. He had been doing family history, and when he went to the city for information, they told him to find us because, "The Mormons take the best care of this work in the world." How cool is that? He was so excited to find us, and of course we were thrilled. 

Later in the evening we were visiting our ward mission leader for the military ward and his family. He wasn't home when we first got there, but his wife let us in, and we had a really good visit. As we were getting ready to leave, he pulled up on his motorcycle. He came into the house, and we were able to share a message with them. The next day during fast and testimony meeting he gave the most beautiful testimony. That evening he had been planning to go to the commissary, but something told him to go home instead. He fought it, because he was in the mood for some good food, but he felt like he just needed to go home. As he pulled up he saw our two bikes in front of his house and then, as he put it, "looked into my front window to watch two servants of the Lord teaching my family in my home." His eyes filled with tears as he told the story. I felt at that moment a great love for my calling, that I am able to help others feel this spirit.  

My three beautiful companions. Please ignore my
tearstained face.
Well, Monday rolled around, as did my very last zone conference. I felt so blessed to have with me many missionaries I have served with throughout my mission . . . three of my companions - Sorella Strong, Sorella Russell, and Sorella Curtis - Anziano Johnson and Sorella Bennett from my MTC group, and Anziano Heaton from my very first district, not to mention my zone and district now, AND President and Sorella Dibb. What a very bittersweet day this was. We were spiritually fed and inspired. At the end of this conference, Sorella Bennet gave her dying testimony and then it was my turn. WOW, I cannot tell you how beautiful this moment was for me. My heart was breaking, and yet I felt the most beautiful outpouring of love for these missionaries and this country. As I was allowed to reflect and share on the most important lessons of my mission, I truly realized how much I have learned. At the same time, I realized I really do have to go home. I felt so blessed for this experience.

Last night we were able to go to a Europe area conference for women. Elder Ballard and Elder Bednar both spoke to us via satellite, and I was definitely in need of things they shared with us. One of the speakers talked about broken hearts, and she shared with us a Jewish Proverb. There is nothing so whole as a broken heart. I know exactly what this means and how it feels. My heart is breaking inside of me, because I have to go forward with my life. As excited as I am, this means that I must say goodbye to the mission that has meant so much to me these last 18 months. After Monday, I know that its time, even if I would like to stay another 18 months, now's the time to go. I feel so blessed for what I've learned here and so blessed that I have one more week to learn even more. But I am excited to come home, to see you, my family and friends. I truly have missed you. I love you all so much, and I'll talk to you next week!

Sorella Ellen Rose Ervin

My beautiful zone.

Me, Sorella Curtis, and Sorella Bennett

Reading letters on the way home from conference.
Me and Sorella Curtis.

I'm sure going to miss riding along fields of beauty.

Remember him? Little Anziano Heaton from my first district.

Sweet Sorella Bennett

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


This week was stellar. Really, it was just a major miracle week for me. Even if things didn't work out the way we had planned, everything just kind of fit. For example, Thursday all of our lessons cancelled. Every. Single. Lesson. So we made brownies to take to members. We also did a ridiculous amount of biking. I think I'm still tired. Anyway, we had extra brownies so we wrapped them up, took them to the church, and put them on the cars/bikes of all the members and missionaries. Yes, we are the most loved missionaries here. We try not to boast. 

Friday we went out to visit a member. Fun fact, she got the times of the return bus wrong so we waited in the middle of nowhere for a few hours. It's hard to do missionary work amongst the cows. BUT, this member is amazing. I adore her. When we sat down she asked if we wanted lunch. I will never turn down free food, mostly because then I don't have to cook. She was real glad we said yes, because she had already made the food. Italians are my favorite. 

We then had a sweet lesson with a new investigator. Chiara is rad. I know I over use this word, but sometimes it's the only one that fits. She has had a hard life, but she's ready for things to change. At one point of the lesson she said, "I sure hope you're the miracle I've been searching for." I can tell you, I will miss being able to say what I then said. "As a representative of Jesus Christ, I can tell you that we are not the miracle, but the message we bring is." It was an amazing and spiritual experience for me and Sorella Curtis. We've been able to see Chiara a couple of times now and have an appointment for tomorrow. She is really searching, and it's beautiful. 

Yesterday we went to do service for a group that helps people with Down Syndrome—coolest experience of my mission. Companies send things to this group to finish because it gives them something to do. So we went to help them. We spend an hour and a half putting little rubber bands over these metal screw-like things. I don't know what they were for, but it was really fun to talk to the people there. People just want to be loved. It doesn't matter how you show it; they'll appreciate it. 

Do you want to know a secret? Venezia [Venice] is the coolest place in the world. True story. We went today for p-day and I will be eternally grateful we did. I love that I get to be a tourist in Italy, but I get to speak Italian at the same time. I think you start to understand things in different ways. You also have amazing experiences with the people. As beautiful as Venezia is, talking with the people who live and work there is definitely the best part. We were looking at an art stand, and the man came up to talk to us and started speaking English as I was telling Sorella Curtis what I liked . . . in Italian. He was caught off guard that we spoke Italian, and he asked me if I was Italian. When I said no, he told me my accent was perfect. Yes, I know, he was flattering me so I would spend more money, but I appreciated it anyway. We talked for a very long time, about why we're here, about why he once went to America to study art, and about why we love Italy. Then he asked us if we'd ever been to Rome. He was surprised when we said no and started talking about how much better it is than Venezia. A couple near us started laughing, and the wife said they were from near Rome and how they feel the same way, but reverse. We had been talking to all three of them for a while when the artist turned to the husband and said, "Did you know they're from America?" The husband was astounded I wasn't an Italian. Again, flattery that was much appreciated. As we said goodbye and walked away, I realized that this is why I will miss this country. As much as I love the art, the music, the architecture, what I really love is the people. We also walked into a little glass shop where I watched the man as he made a little glass elephant. Coolest thing I've ever seen. 

Today was a huge miracle for me, just to remember why I love this country. I love you all too. I hope you are passing through the best week of your lives!

Love Sorella Ervin

Loving Venezia.

The moment I realized gelato doesn't exist in America.

Picnic in the park.

Well, apparently I still stress bake. That's ok though, because
our members like banana bread and . . . 

. . . we like pizza.

My companion hides when there are bugs in the house.

The first view of Venezia from the train.

Venezia [Venice]

You cannot tell but this Gondolier looks exactly like
what's his face from White Collar. I wish I could remember
his name! Mission fail.