Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2016-03-30 First Week in Italy!

(Note: These are edited versions of a couple of Jill's emails.  She is responding to many of my questions in the first, and describing Italy in the second)

Haha pi day! I love it! I guess we don't have that here cuz they do dates differently so I won't try to describe it to anyone, also because I don't know the word for pie in Italian. Right now I'm sitting with my comp and an older Italian lady named Angela and we're talking about names. Both of my names are about as un-Italian as they could possibly be. The letter J doesn't exist in Italian except in foreign words. And also it's too short to have a bounce. But Angela says it's beautiful so I have all of Italy's approval. She just told us she didn't want to name her daughter after her mother in law so she lied to her and said she saw a vision of the Madonna who told her she needs to be named what she wanted hahaha. Anyways, As for my last name everyone wants to say the D, more than in america, so one week in I've developed an introduction that includes: "no di dice la D e il nome e tedesco, ma io vengo da America" haha (don't say the d and the name is German but I'm from America). 

I'm not responding to everything but thank you for writing it!!!
Tell us about where you are serving. Are you right in Turin? 
-yes, Torino :) 
Did you listen to the women's conference?  It was actually not too bad. 
-no, didn't know that happened lol. Mission hasn't changed that about me
How is your companion? 
-she's fro, Idaho. We talk fairly often but it's almost always get to know you stuff, it's not like we joke around with each other. I've come to accept that maybe all my comps will be like that so I'll need to have my sense of humor revived when I come home, or take advantage of being with the anziani
Do you have investigators? 
-Yes. Lots are still investigators because they're immigrants who are unmarried and getting documents takes FOREVER in Italy and it's EXPENSIVE so they're kind of in limbo, it's....yeah. But we have a girl about our age who's about to get baptized and an old Italian lady who we've been teaching for 3 years and somehow haven't given up on yet haha. Because she goes to church every week and keeps commitments I guess. She's scared of tithing. She was my first lesson in the field ever, she's great. We teach very few Italians. Probably 3/4 are immigrants from Peru or Nigeria, no idea why they come to the land of 25% unemployment. But a lot of our time is meeting with less actives and recent converts.
And how are you doing with the language? 
-really good. Writing on s train and starting to feel sick. My language is better than most people's sorry I'm bragging but it is what is. People are always surprised I'm only here for a week. I had to bear my testimony in one of our two wards this week and people said it was really good. But still, people talk fast and over-pronunciate so what they're saying is hard to hear cuz it sounds really complicated and it's hard to catch what they're saying. They're either nice or roll their eyes when I say "mi scuzi, il mio italiano non e molto benne" one or the other.
It may sound completely different that what you learned in the MTC, but you will get it soon enough.  How will you hear GC? 
-in our apartment because we are the lucky few, if only, who have wifi in our apartment.
With it being 7 hours behind your schedule, it will be in the mid to late evening for you if you listened live.
Okay I plan on telling you much more on Mother's Day but this will do for now!! I have lots lots more to say but I'm gonna puke! Ciao!

Second.  Just keeping it real with her language :)
Ciao from Italy,

Italy is beautiful. It's just like the pictures, it's almost not real.
We just took a long train ride for about 5 hours total and it can't be
real. With cities on the hillside and castles up top all over,
everything is so picturesque f*** I just deleted a crapton of stuff I
wrote and now it won't come back I effing hate iPads. Whatever it's
beautiful here and the gelato is fine. I've eaten a lot of really good
things in my life. Moms brownies are really good. Anything is really
good if it's fresh and sweet and fattening.

So far I'd say the defining feature of Italy is a result of there not
being driers in anyone's house so what Italian cities really look like
is a bunch of beautiful old apartments with the families laundry
drying in the breeze on the railing outside (because EVERYONE has a
balcony. Even if you're homeless, balcony). I've attached some
pictures :) it's the view from one of three sides of our balcony. The
first one you can see one of the many daily street markets in Torino,
this one just happens to be on the street right below us. Also it
extends far past what the picture shows.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Updated Contact Information

Jill will be leaving SLC on Monday morning, getting to Milan Tuesday morning, flying through Atlanta and Charles De Gaulle before arriving in Milan.  She will get there around 2:00 am Tuesday morning SLC time.

Her P-day will be Wednesdays now, so if you want to send emails, try sending by Tuesday (Milan is 7 hours ahead of SLC).

Her email is the same:

Her mission address is:

Italy Milan Mission
Via Antonio Gramsci 13/2
20090 Opera MI

Thursday, March 17, 2016

2016-03-17 Last Week in MTC, and What I Have Learned

So unless Denver walks into our room tomorrow and we actually allow him to speak, we will be leaving on Monday at 3:30am to Milan!  We'll get there on Tuesday morning and then I have p-day on Wednesdays from then on. 

I want to do something to really show you what it's like being a missionary.  This list took me 1:15 hours to write and it's only a fraction, maybe 1/3 of what i've actually learned.  these are just notes i took from my notebook (my small plates hah).  I also learned how to speak a whole new language, or, you know part of it.  I learned a lot about companionships that I didn't put in here.  I learned so much I don't even know everything I've learned.  But I know that missionaries will often say vague, meaningless things like "my mission taught me so much."  This list is to give those of you who haven't gone an idea of what exactly that means.  And keep in mind that this is after only 6-7 weeks.  And it's not even complete.  This is probably why people don't describe what it means that "I learned so much on my mission."

There's context behind all of these things but this list would be a whole novel if I wrote that, too.  So here's your taste of the MTC.  I marked most of the things that just came into my head without anyone saying it as "INSPiration."
  1. when we think about ourselves during lessons and what we need to say, that's fear, not faith
  2. what it really means to have faith (i.e. to know that He actually lived, that He actually descended beneath all, that he actually is our older Brother, that He actually paid the price for our sin, that He actually overcame death)
  3. d+c 102:9 missionaries are called the "Saviors of the world" and that's a really big deal and huge calling
  4. "that which we persist in doing becomes easier, not because the nature of the thing itself has changed, but our power to do so has increased"
  5. the relationship i have with my comp is more important than our relationship with our investigators.  we have to be good with each other first before we can help others
  6. don't strive to work harder/faster than you have means, BUT, be diligent
  7. i have been called to leave my nets which is work, school, friends, be a fisher of men
  8. INSP: if God gave us night and day then He gave it to us as a means to hold ourselves accountable in terms of our goals so that's kind of cool
  9. from Elder Bednar, the Character of Christ is that He turns out when we would turn in.  In other words, He NEVER committed a selfish act
  10. fratello sloan broke my boxes when he told me and the class that, when we come upon a trial, it can be one of three things.  1) a problem, something that's an issue that you really hate and would really rather avoid.  2) a sfida, a challenge, something that's difficult but you're gonna take it on headfirst or, 3) an opportunity.  so every time i say "i can't speak Italian" (or fill in the blank there), you're saying you have a problem.  even if you're joking, that's what you're saying.  let your trials be opportunities.
  11. In terms of the mission, Edward Dube's wife said "it is not about yourself.  It is about me, the Lord." and in terms of serving Him, "will you, just for a season?"  it really isn't that long or too big of a sacrifice for those who choose to do this.  I also learned this lesson from the sons of Mosiah.  When Alma the Younger reunites with them, he glories in their missionary work and their diligence.  that scripture said that he sons of Mosiah served a mission for FOURTEEN years.  and i'm serving for 18 months.  i do not want to serve a mission for my whole life but it's so clear that they had not just faith but knowledge.  i can serve my Savior for 18 months (and now almost just 16)
  12. we can ask our investigators what they understand because then they unknowingly bear testimony -sister rushton
  13. worthiness=obedience.  if you follow the commandments, it is impossible by default to be unworthy of blessings etc
  14. "I am a child of God, sent here to teach other children of God to come closer to Christ, who is our Brother, and that makes this a family thing." -sister sargeant
  15. you don't know everything but you know enough (i really needed that, i still need that)
  16. since Moroni had records and records to choose from, everything he picked for the BOM has a purpose.  Basically, the BOM is a well-written piece of art book and every verse has significance
  17. FAITH IS acting after a confirmation of the Spirit.  i don't think that Nefi just was like, "okay whatever you say, anyone, i'll obey."  He just is so spiritual that he has the Spirit with him, so that when he receives a message from God he knows right away that he needs to do it because he gets that confirmation.  we should never do anything just because someone tells us to, even the Prophet.  because we have a promise that if it's true we can recieve a witness.  but after we have that confirmation, we have to actually DO something about it, and when we act, that's faith.  like going on a mission.  i'm not going because the age was lowered.  i'm going because i received an answer to my prayer and i had the faith to act on it.  every day it's a struggle to do that over and over again but the Lord has higher ways than we do
  18. Anziano Palombo's first name is "tractor-crane"
  19. SOME THINGS ABOUT LESSONS:  prepare, pray, ask questions, don't just read notes, have a conversation, focus less on he language, don't teach more than 2-3 principles, understanding the restauration is essential, never hurts to bear a testimony, have to invite to act (see above, faith), and people don't all know how to pray lol
  20. He died to make us holy let us live to make men free
  21. "I'm down" = ci sto
  22. "what the heck" = che cavolo (literally what the cabbage but apparently cabbage is close to another, worse word)
  23. He died to make us holy, let us live to make men free
  24. on baptism, from Brother Heaton: "it's a wonderful thing! it's a wonderful thing! it's a wonderful thing!"
  25. "heavenly Father doesn't just sit and hold his breath and hope for someone to be converted, he's been working deep-level with these people to help them become more like Him"
  26. "Heavenly Father is orchestrating a lot of things to convert people and missionaries just play a part"
  27. "you can never to back to anything you were before." me: what no "I mean, this is the church of eternal progression" -Elder Holland (still working with that idea.  i want to be different but the same, ya feel?)
  28. "if this was your church/work/kingdom, you could do whatever you want!  But it's not.  YOU SIGNED OFF when you accepted this call.  And then, theoretically, you don't do it your way."
  29. the whole armor of God is defensive EXCEPT for the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God!  So all that we have are words, all we have our words, all we have is testimony and scriptures
  30. the prayer of Paul's heart was to have utterance given unto him.  words are powerful
  31. one of the ways to measure success in your mission is by how many people you spoke to
  32. the next thing short of taking his live that Satan could do to stop the restauration was binding Joseph's tongue so he couldnt speak
  33. INSP: since serving others naturally increases your love for them, and when you serve others you serve God, then religious or not, serving others increases your love for God
  34. sometimes we feel the Spirit more strongly from an MTC director than we do from a member of the 12.  position doesn't equal spirit or conversion power
  35. if the Savior came down and asked me to teach Him like he asked John to baptize Him, i wouldn't wan to be unprepared
  36. divine or not, inspired or not, you can learn from every comp/area/situation/job/state/country you're in.  always so quit trying to find the meaning and just start trying to be better
  37. "at the end of your mission there will be an accounting.  and i hope you feel proud of how you spent your time" -sis preston
  38. i never knew i could be so filled with the Spirit
  39. when you street contact, just grab their hand and start shaking it and keep shaking it until you've introduced yourself and your message so they can't leave lol
  40. "we don't God to weep because we didn't do all we could to share His gospel"
  41. INSP: the way i can spread sunshine, be myself, and teach people who won't be baptized is to teach to their needs and love them.  because maybe they won't be converted but i'll have given them a part of something that could help them, like the Atonement, or that God love them
  42. Samuel Smith was the first missionary from our church
  43. Lucy Brimhall and Amanda Knight were mother and daughter and were the first women missionaries!
  44. "When you are on the Lord's errand, you are ENTITLED to His help" -Pres Monson
  45. INSP: I don't have to ask questions to find people's needs.  if i really pay attention, people will give away what's really up or what they really do/don't need
  46. INSP:  it hit me while i was here how freaking weird it is that i'm here because i never planned to do this and one day during a devotional i just started to laugh because i pictured myself 4-5 years ago looking at future me, sitting in an MTC devotional, and that person in the MTC would look VERY foreign to old me
  47. "we are agents, not objects, Brothers and Sisters.  Will you please treat your companion like an agent." -Stephen B allen
  48. "you can either pay for your own sin of you can let Him pay for them
  49. "He DIED for your sins, He REALLY wants you to use the steps of repentance
  50. Another reason I love Alma the Younger and Sons of Mosiah!  even when they were preaching against the church, they weren't doing it because they were evil, they really believed they were right!  So even when they were wrong they lived their lives trying to convince others of the truth.  after they were converted by the Spirit they changed what they taught, but their desire to preach the truth hadn't changed
  51. "you get to personalize this, preach MY gospel" -Elder Bednar
  52. Power comes from you by being righteous, authority was given to you when you were set apart
  53. "salvation is not easy because it was not a cheap price.  If He had to do so much, why shouldn't I have to?"
  54. SO COOL: READ EPH 1:13-14 then BD: EARNEST.  the Spirit is literally a taste of heaven. seriously read those scriptures
  55. we do not teach with the Spirit like the Spirit is a tool, we teach WITH the Spirit as though He is our companion, together.  INSP:  so if you're literally teaching with the Spirit, He literally needs time to speak.  we can't just yammer on and convert anyone because all they're being converted to is our words, they're not able to have their hearts changed.  if you simps can't recognize the spirit, then you are their uide, not the Spirit
  56. What kind of missionary I want to be
  57. "you're still (always) God's investigator" -Holland
  58. INSP: i want to love the people so much that i'd be willing to die for their sins.  that is the goal (not to die, but to have that love), because that is what Christ did
  59. MTC is a crash-course for finding your weaknesses
  60. "just get up and calm down and then watch God fill in the gaps" -marcia nielsen
  61. "do your very best then go home to your apartment and know He is there with you
  62. Fear is not Christlike
  63. bury your weapons of rebellion
  64. Doctrine of Proximity:  you have to be out and doing stuff in order to get the opportunities to recieve revelation or fulfill your purpose
  65. "my life will still be there when i get back, but it'll be better" -sister rushton
  66. for simps, be interested in their life.  Not just "ciao! how are you?  okay cool, so today...." (sounds obvious but it's hard when you're trying to make conversation in not your native language)
  67. "the simps will tell us which lesson they need to hear" -Holland
  68. "the natural man seeks wisdom in the dark" -pres trost
  69. INSP: the reason i continue to live the gospel despite my doubts is because the gospel saved me once from sin, so now i have that connection i can't turn my back on.  I cannot deny that experience.  I need to give people the reason, for them, to live the gospel.  I need to find that part of the Atonement that they need that will save them, not so they'll go to church every week, but so they can have peace in their life and a reason to seek further inspiration
  70. INSP: actually repenting is not a happy thing, it's something we have to feel Godly sorrow when using in order for us to really understand and have a desire to be better.  the results are happy! the fruit of repentance is totally worth it
  71. baptism is a witness to God and members that they have repented and will follow His commandments, it's not just for washing away sins
  72. i may struggle with my testimony in eternal families, but i know i felt the Spirit when my family was sealed and I can't doubt that, nor would i want to
  73. The Lord helps those who help themselves
  74. Jesus Christ taught His gospel, that He got from God.  He took that gospel and made it His.  He internalized it, and made it His.  I've been called to Italy because someone needs the gospel according to Jill.
  75. Cichone - buddy/chubby
  76. more about the manner in which Jesus taught
  77. that there's a heck of a lot more to being Christlike than just being nice to people.  He was an amazing teacher too.  Think about that, that being able to pull of a really good lesson is Christlike
  78. What does it mean to be called by a Prophet of God?  puts some pressure on us to be obedient and be good examples
  79. because i've learned so much from the same principles over and over again, i realize that the gospel has so much depth that maybe it's not infinite but there's plenty to learn in this lifetime up until the week we die.
  80. "Mission president, why am I here?"  "I don't know, you tell me" love that
  81. "you reap what you sow - if you have disbelief in your investigators, they will have disbelief as well"
  82. some people have to give up EVERYTHING for the gospel, like their families.  do i have the faith to allow that to happen?
  83. without goals, we'll end our lives having accomplished only a portion of our full potential -someone
  84. a missionary's call isn't necessarily to plant seeds, it's to reap where seeds have already been planted
  85. if He's preparing people for the gospel, we need to be in tune with the Spirit because He knows where they're at (physically) and we don't
  86. INSP:  I'm making finding needs into a game of solve-the-puzzle.  this is what jill does.  Jill is actually good at this. just listen and they'll say their problems!
  87. I learned about what the worth of souls is in the eyes of God
  88. I learned about Christ's doctrine and how to live it
  89. My faith has deepened
  90. I learned how to serve people better
  91. INSP: I learned how to find out what matters to me (it's by identifying what me regrets were)
  92. Figured out goals for first two transfers
  93. Proverbs 25:28 "he that hath no rule over his own spiit is like a city that is broken down and without walls."  I learned in what way I am a city that's broken down and without walls and wrote them down
  94. There's nothing else on His agenda than to help us.  Nothing.
  95. I have a right to pray for protection!  For my family!  For the gift of tongues!  For help!  It's my right and I earned it and God wants to bless me and He wants to bless all of us
  96. You're entitled to any gift if you're going to use it to bless the children of men
  97. "Why does God love you so much?  Because you're willing to put your life on the line for Him!  That's why!  Why does the Lord love you?  Because you're willing to be shepherds" -Stephen B Allen
  98. "There are angels here this night to help you.  Some of them are your ancestors."
  99. "God loves you and He's proud of you and you can do this!"
  100. I want to be strong in words like Nefi!
  101. I used to be a good leader but I'm really too afraid to be bold now and that's holding me back from standing up for my principles, being better myself, and helping others be better
  102. this mission needs to be a happy thing even when it's hard because you never know when people are looking at you.
  103. disciple = "one who learns" aka a student.  disciplined also comes from the same root word
  104. where should we stand if we want to qualify to tell others to come unto Christ?  You can't just tell people, "oh yeah, it's a great message.  I'm not gonna live it, but it'll really bless your life.  go."  as brother Donahoo said, "that's like pushing a wet noodle.  it doesn't work."
  105. you have to be firm before you can endure.  our testimonies need to be like granite because if we are sandstone, the world will wear away at our testimonies.  converts need to have that strength, too, before we can tell them, "okay good luck with your new life.  endure!"
  106. TRUE=TRUE,  FALSE=FALSE, but TRUE+TRUE+TRUE+FALSE=FALSE.  when we identify the falses in our lives, we need to change them into "trues" if we really want to have a strong testimony
  107. If agency is our most precious gift, then to give it to God is a REALLY big deal!  To say, "not my will but Thine be done" is a really big deal.
  108. i know less and i know more
Imma be honest, I'm really nervous for all the change that Italy will be for my life.  I almost want to just quit and go home so I can go back to the U and take some classes and come home at night and watch Netflix.  Like, I'm exhausted right now.  Who wants to feel that way for 18 whole months?  I'll tell you what, my appreciation for the Savior and His sacrifice has grown so much.  And every time I've taught "investigators" who are actually strong members themselves and told them that God loves them, it's been a spiritual experience.  One time I was pretending to be an investigator and some sisters showed me a video of Christ and I just started to bawl in class.  Missions are hard because you don't have to do them, it's a choice, you have crazy high expectations put on you by yourself and by others, but I know that if I just get up every day in Italy and really be happy that I'm spreading around the love and word of God, I think this could be the most rewarding thing I'll ever do in my life.  It's already blessed me so abundantly and I know this gospel will do the same for someone in Italy.  In the name of Gesu Cristo, amen.

Milan District at Provo Temple

Sister Missionaries for Milan District

Sunday, March 13, 2016

2016-03-10 And Add in One More Week at the MTC

we're actually not going this week. we were going to leave on the 15th, originally.  then it was the 8th.  then it was the 14th again.  as of last friday, it's the 21ST.  the romans are still leaving on the 14th - and also they get to be called Romans how cool is that - but because of someone's visa or something, we have to wait an extra week.  we have it confirmed that that's OFFICIAL finally but, it means i'll be in the MTC for another two weeks almost and 7 weeks in total.  that's almost 2 months and almost 1/9 of my mission.  that was hard to stomach but then we realized we get to welcome the new italian missionaries which we wouldn't be able to do normally and we can repasse our language.  i'll let you and mom know next week what our flight plans are.  

so this is kind of weak spiritual experience cuz others of you have probably heard it but it really impacted me, so.  i do ward choir with my whole branch!  at first i was like: lame!  cuz literally 1/4 of the MTC does it so it didn't feel special but what makes it fun is the director, he's an institute teacher and i think he works with motab, i'm not really sure, but every practice twice a week is a spiritual story, or two, and tbh they're some of the most spiritual messages i've had here.  anyways, he was telling us about his daugher who's on a mission and she said it's hard to share the gospel!  and he was like, yeah it is hard! it's awkward and what if they say know.  but then he started to think about it more and i wish i had a recording cuz the way he siad it was perfect but he was like, "why is sharing the gospel hard?  what you have is more precious than gold.  if you were leprechauning around, handing out gold, would you be knocking on people's doors then getting like, 'oh no, sorry, i just have this gold and sorry, idk like, do you want it?'  why would you be embarrassed to offer that? what you have is more precious than gold."

lots of other stuff has happened this week like when this devotional speaker said this, or when i realized this about my testimony, or when i received this revelation, or when this person helped me or when i helped this person, or when this scripture stuck out to me, but that's just one.  i love being at the mtc but can't wait to get to Italy (we saw pictures from our teacher yestserday - mama mia)

Jill and other Sorella's


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

2016-03-03 Well, Let's Add That Week Back In

we got news again that our departure date has changed back to the original, so I'm leaving on the 14th.  So not in like 4 days but in like 11 days.  the girls were all dramatic about that all over again and i was like augh it's not the 18 year old elders who are immature it's the sisters!! chill out!  but lovingly.  i've just had a couple sisters tell me it's really distracting when all anyone talks about is how bad they want our travel plans and frankly if you're thinking about that then you're not thinking about the ways you can be progressing in the situation at hand.  our purpose is always to bring others to Christ and if you're thinking about travel plans only then you can't think about others.  but they did calm down.  it's kind of an emotional thing i guess.  i know i was bummed but i tried to let it roll over me.  

Italian is going well, my teacher says my report is that i'm above average but that doesn't mean much when about 50% of my Italian is still "ummmm" and i conjugate every other word incorrectly.  This is my impression of Italian though:  you don't sound like mario or luigi when you talk.  it actually sounds a lot like spanish unless you really slow it down but just like any language, if you speak it well you don't speak it slowly.  so it's nice but it's not like, breathtaking.  also, they like to conjugate things.  this is cool once you get the hang of it, probably, but for english speakers it feels like you're not using enough words, and you have to memorize a TON of endings.  
for example: to eat - mangiare
i eat - mangio
i would eat - mangerei
so that's three words right there in english that can be one word in italian.  and if your base verb is already long, and you're using the "we" form of the word, words can get reallyyy long.  anyways, just fun facts about Italian.  I'm glad we're not leaving early (we just got the news that we're going back to our original dates because of something to do with visas not letting us go early) because now we can get the language down better, even though i really wanted to peace out of here.  

a cool spiritual thing i learned today is that, if you've been a missionary then it's been drilled into your head that you have to teach by the Spirit, the Spirit teaches not you, etc etc.  but what i learned today about this basic doctrine is that the Spirit needs to literally be there in your lessons.  My teacher, Fratello Sloan, said that He is one of your companions.  You don't teach with the Spirit as if it's your tool, you teach with the Spirit as if he's teaching alongside you.  so Sister Poletz and i have been getting better at not just talking and talking and talking but taking some time after scriptures and testimony to just sit and let the Spirit talk.  This could sound like a strange concept but imagine being on a hike that's really really beautiful up in the mountains and it's early spring so there's not really anyone there but the birds twittering and the sun and the silence.  if some loud group of teenagers comes walking down the other way, shouting and laughing and stomping down the mountain, it ruins the whole feeling you had.  you can get it back, but the point is that as missionaries we should be more like the birds and less like noisy teenagers.  i just made that analogy up, does it make any sense?  You have to give the Spirit some time to speak.

eyebrows are coming in fierce and the Spirit is with us strong.  ci vediamo (we'll see each other, literally "of us we see."  two words for our four again, see haha?)

Sis Poletz trying American Delicacies

Sis Poletz's Assessment

Anziano Palombo  Teaching Sis Poletz how to be American

A Real Italian Missionary.  Jill wanted to show his expressive hands.