Friday, May 27, 2016

2016-05-25 First Baptism

This week was one of those weird weeks where we worked really hard and
everything fell through. So we did what we could to feel like we were
accomplishing our purpose even if tons of our appointments cancelled.
My trainer, Sorella Harris, is finishing her mission next week
(😥😥😥) so we are kind of getting her ready to leave but also were
keeping super busy and she's not tiring out on me at all.

The biggest news this week is that we had a baptism. A baptism!! It
was Elena's baptism!! She's been being taught for three years, about
since her son and his wife were baptized. Their story is crazy enough
as it is (he was atheist, started believing in God after studying
space science, after they had been investigating the church for a
while they decided to be baptized and the missionaries set up
baptismal interviews for them that week before they even told them
because they knew they were finally gonna get baptized), but Elena's
is a whole other story. Two full sisters missions have been done
teaching this lady, a LOT of sisters have come and gone...and Sorella
Harris and I were lucky enough to be the ones to see the fruit.
The baptism was beautiful, the family was really stressed when they
showed up at the church and just really hurrying and it was a big day
so we were all like "whoa ah!" But people started showing up and it
was so great because Elena's been going to church for so long that the
ward really knows her and are friends with her and love and care about
her. When Fratello Mazzolari started the meeting, he started off by
saying: this day is for you Elena, we are all here to celebrate you.
And at that point until the service was over she proprio just cried,
she was like a fountain. I had the privilege of sitting right next to
her during the service before and after she was baptized and she was
just a steady flow of Spirit-filled tears. When she came up from below
the water she started to cough because she's older and had just been
dunked but then she was embraced by her son in the sweetest hug I've
ever seen in my life. Sorry I didn't take a picture, it was too
special to try to ruin by whipping out my iPad and rushing to get the
shot. But I'll never forget that moment.
It was interesting because I'd only met with Elena about 7-8 times
before that, so I was here when she decided to get baptized, but I
didn't see her whole 3 years of progress obviously. It's interesting
because she always seemed ready to be baptized in my opinion. But we
had a scambio yesterday and my STL actually served here for her first
city like i am, but she served here a year ago. Obviously she wanted
to go visit Elena so we did that and it was really nice. After we met
with her though, my STL told me how much of a difference there was in
her. She said when she taught her, it was up and down like one lesson
she's ready to be baptized and the next lesson she'd be like "I had a
doubt I can't be baptized." Whereas Sorella Harris and I both saw how
sure Elena was to be baptized and then my STL got to see it, too. She
said she's so tranquil now, really sure, and is more peaceful. I was
glad to get her perspective because I only saw a small part of her
life changing into this tranquil, sure, peaceful person. But I know
that even though I only did a small part, Elena's life really is
changed for the good because when she came up from that water she was
clean and had promised help from the Lord and I think that's really
really a blessing.

Anyways, we also had a less-active who can't read very well FINALLY
find the faith and desire to read the ONE verse we left her! She said
she read it every day! I was beaming! As a missionary, and in life I
think, there's nothing that hurts worse than seeing people you love
develop bad habits. And there's nothing more rewarding than seeing
those same people make changes for good in their life! Our last lesson
we sort of were disappointed with her, not because we don't love her,
but because we DO. We're like, Helen, you can't expect God to help you
with the problems you're having if you're not willing to read just ONE
VERSE this week. But after ssevverall lessons on this, we finally were
able to find what we needed to say to help her realize that this is
important and she found the faith she needed and now hopefully we can
help her continue to read.

I seriously love the people out here so much, it's not even hard.
Maybe in my next city or something haha but not right now.

We also had a good second lesson with Lucy where we really found out
what her problems are. In a few words, she believes in God, knows He
loves her, but has never really seen that love with all the
difficulties she's faced. And, in my mind, I think she's probably
searching for that love since she's very much alone right now. I asked
her to consider that maybe this gospel is the answer to her prayer
that she's been looking for and then she said that she would read the
Book of Mormon we gave her.

I don't preach to anyone because I want to baptize tons of people or
look like a good missionary or increase numbers in the church. I
preach to people because the gospel improves my life and I want to
improve other people's lives because I love them.

Anyways, we had other appointments and stuff but we also spent a lunch
hour at HyperCoop which is like the Walmart of Italy, it was amazing.
You all think little markets are cute and fun and better, no. Not when
you've been living without good makeup remover for months because your
little market does not carry it and never will carry it, so you either
live without it or you live without it because you don't have freaking
time to shop or the knowledge of which store is hiding the things you
need. So that was really fun, idk if my mom can post videos but
Sorella Harris took a video of the pasta aisle here that was pretty
hilarious cuz it's an eternity long. We don't just have more pasta
here, we also have tons of shapes you guys don't have in America. The
Italy/pasta stereotype is so true.

And we went to another castle for p-day. Went with a member, she's the
best. The castle has a little village attached to it that we didn't
have time to see but we saw its gardens which it's famous for.
B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. Si chiama Veneria Reale. Also I learned after 1.5+
months that the thing that I thought was a sink/urinal in my bathroom
is actually a bidet that I'm scared to use. Like, how do you use it?
Also bidets get their own nasty towels for drying your hands after or
your bum idk which? All I know is that at this point there's a small
chance I've accidentally dried my hands on a bidet towel at somebody's
house and that's not an idea I want to entertain any longer.

At district meeting, we have two missionaries who are going home next
week (including my trainerr) so our district leader asked them both to
tell a funny and a spiritual story. Anziano Blazzard's story involved
a typical 'someone going to the bathroom on the street' situation and
Sorella Harris's included getting trapped in an awkward beauty party
where her and her comp were the only ones and obviously didn't have
any money to buy anything. So quote for the week from our district
"Missions are full of awkward beauty parties and people relieving
themselves on the street."

Amen to that.

This week will be crazy. We don't even have time to eat because we
have so many appointments, but it's okay because we know they'll feed
us haha. But Sorella Harris is leaving so we're going to see a lot of
people and then she's gonna LEAVE ME and I'm gonna have to TEACH THIS
CITY TO SOMEBODY ELSE. AH. 10 weeks seemed so long 9 weeks ago but now
we're running out of time to eat a whole pizza together and watch The
Testaments at night together and eat gelato every day, time really
flies on the mission (says the girl who has 14 months left).

So next week I'll have a new companion! I hope we get along! Either
way you just do your best and trust that the lord is happy with you
even if it seems really hard. We can do hard things. And life rolls
on. Love you all at home and think of you every day.


Jill's Comfort Fashion

Elena's Baptism, Men

Elena's Baptism, Women

Jill, Elena, Sis Harris

Alessio (her son), and Elena

Butcher's Market

Italian Footwear

Jill checking out shoes

I would post videos, but I cannot figure out how to move them from her photo sharing to a place where I can access them for this blog.  Maybe I will figure that out before Jill comes home.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

2016-05-18 Senior Week

This week was great! I finished up my senior week (means I had to call
everyone and set up appointments and fill 7 days with things to do it
was scary) and then handed the phone back to Harris after Sunday's
last appointment, it was such a relief haha. I don't envy all she does
as a trainer. I have a newfound respect.

Anyways, we got spoiled to breakfast by the son and daughter-in-law of
Elena (the lady who's getting baptized this week!) and we've been
upping our member work because it's hard to find people willing to
talk to us just on the street or bus.

BUT it does happen and this week we also set up an appointment with a
lady we found on the bus named Lucy a couple weeks ago. She's Peruvian
and is already living the standards of our church. When she told me
it's hard to find friends out here because Peruvians love to drink
when they get together and she doesn't drink I just couldn't hold it
in anymore and I was like "Lucy you know you'd love our church!" So
she just handed me over her number even thought she just told me she
doesn't really like church, it was awesome haha. She seemed doubtful
about some things during our first lesson this week but she wanted to
see us again so yeah, we'll see 🙃

We also had Elena's last appointment before her baptism, it was pretty
sweet. We talked about the sacrament and then just like, asked her
what her baptism means to her and let her talk about how the gospel
has affected her life. Her husband, they were so in love, he's passed
away. She believes her husband has been a big part of her experience
she had when she felt really strongly that after 3 years she finally
wants to get baptized. Then she fed us dolce afterwards like always,
we love her to death.

Also we had another unbelievably good lesson with Xiao. She has a lot
of questions about Jesus Christ and we honestly figured that we can't
just teach about Jesus Christ without missing a TON of stuff, so we
gave her a Chinese bible and Chinese Book of Mormon, kind of like
"read this!" She was all like "wow this is a very good gift wow thank
you so much" and we were like "haha nah" and she told us that this
book can help you in your life, that it's filled with wisdom, and you
could read it over and over again and always find new things. Xiao are
you secretly a hardcore Christian already and this is just some
elaborate trick?? She literally says stuff that we have never even
suggested but is totally true, she's the best. One of our bishop
counsellors told us the next day at ward council "I knew she would be
baptized as soon as she walked in to church her first day" and me and
Harris just looked at each other like "okay" haha but seriously, she's
an old soul. She totally gets it. She's prayed on her own since last
time we saw her too. She took a lesson on tithing during church in
stride! We love her so much!

Also we made pizza with the ward and brought one of our investigators
with us (she's one of the many who just isn't baptized yet because
she's not legal so she can't get married to the man who she lives and
has children with, it's frustrating). It was so much fun, I doubt I've
laughed harder than I did that night and also now I know how to make
pizza dough.

More members fed us, we're trying really hard to meet Leslie's parents
so her mom isn't so against Mormons, and we had a cool experience on
the bus where this guy started talking to us after a few minutes and
apparently he's totally has been to our church before and has a Book
of Mormon but then went back to Nigeria and hasn't been able to find
our church since. So we got his number right there to give to the
anziani and he was like "yeah give me your address I'll come to church
this Sunday." So cool!

It's not all satisfying and miracles out here though, for example one
of our long-time simps we are worried her daughter can't hear. The
ward has talked about it in ward council but nothing has been done
yet. The daughter makes animal noises, she never speaks. If she gets
much older and hasn't learned how to speak yet, even if she gets a
hearing aid she may never learn how to speak perfectly. We also had a
new convert who had us worried because apparently doctors from Nigeria
told her her father needs surgery on his appendix or he'll die and
this girl can't pay, she can't even pay for her own rent yet (he's
fine for now). And we had to do a drop lesson with a lady from Nigeria
who just talks and talks and absolutely refuses to accept anything we
teach or invite her to do and it was really hard. Anyways, the point
is that NOBODY in the MTC or before the mission tells you that you
might be trying to help a less-active member, only to find out they
can't read, so they can't read the Book of Mormon, and you're having
to decide what on EARTH you can do to help them. Like, do we teach her
to read? What do we do? So you have to make a lot of decisions out
here that nobody teaches you how to make. But we're doing it. And we
do see miracles. Missions are crazy but they teach you so much and
people finding more happiness in their lives because Jesus Christ is a
really touching thing to see.

Bought from the happiest old guy in a little shop on way home

Jill's apartment, opened up with nice weather

People from ward having fun making pizza dough

Caught in a downpour

BOM for investigator Xiao

La Reggia di Veneria

Sis Harris, CJ, and Jill

Italian Mac and Cheese so rich it almost made Jill sick

Monday, May 16, 2016

2016-05-11 Italian Observations

Okay, observations about Italian culture because I know youre all gonna ask:
All the older women 60+ dress hecka classy. ALWAYS in slacks or a
skirt with nylons and church shoes. The men dress up too.
Younger generation dress like normal teenagers, but with different (newer) style
Nobody lives in a house. I've been in one house since I've come here,
and that was 6 weeks ago. EVERYONE lives in an apartment. Even if
there's tons of free space, Italians will build apartments instead of
houses. Seeing an apartment in the middle of a field? It's more common
than rare, you guys. It's so weird.
Every apartment has a balcony and many of them have plants growing on them
The cars are way smaller here
People stop their cars in the legit middle of the street, turn on
their hazards, and then walk into the store for ten minutes
All of the storefronts are big glass windows with a display and a
price displayed for everything, and most streets are lined with
stores, apartments above them, so basically window shopping happens
every second of the day
There are huge super stores here, they're just not as common. More
common is supermarkets that sell almost only food and are about as big
as the food section in Walmart, and even more common are little
bakeries and butchers and stuff
Italians do sound like they're arguing almost always, even though
they're not usually
It's very green here
Guys here stare a LOT more than American guys
The pizza and gelato are really good
People here definitely speak with their hands
They do actually say "mama Mia"
Hardly anybody goes to the gym, but it's very rare to see actually obese people
They do eat a lot of pasta here
They make huge meals for you and if you don't eat all of it they could
get offended but they don't let you dish yourself up so sometimes you
eat so much you think you're going to puke or cry
Torino is really old and really beautiful but also pretty dirty. For
example, there's graffiti EVERYWHERE, and everything looks it's age

We had a crazy good week this week! We had a lesson at the end of our
last p-day with a woman who contacted US, said she knew the church 38
years ago, and basically wants to join our church because of a series
of events that had happened recently (it involves the help from
members!) Not only does this mean we have a new investigator, but she
also told us that the next time we have an appointment, she has two
friends who she wants to bring! If this all goes through, we'll have 3
new investigators soon which is INSANE.

We didn't get to have a lesson with Leslie last week :( we should be
seeing her this week. BUT she came to church AND she brought a friend!
Which is also way cool! The only problem is her friend is Muslim which
is totally fine and great, but we're not allowed to teach Muslims if
they EVER plan on going back to their home country because they could
actually be killed. So we're trying to protect their lives. It's
pretty crazy, the stuff people will do over religion.  Anyways, Leslie
probs won't be baptized soon because her mom still but she knows what
she needs to do and we'll help her get there, the more experiences
with the Spirit that she has.

Also we FINALLY met with a less-active member we've been trying to see
for like, a month. She asked us to help her carry her groceries though
so I don't think she just wanted to hear our message. Anyways, she
said she's still been reading the Book of Mormon but she hasn't been
to church because she's been trying to find work/panhandling if I
understood correctly. Pretty much everyone here is in a desperate
situation, it's hard to watch.

Also one of my favorite couples, joy and Edward from Nigeria, are
stressing us out. Because joy totally gets it. We watched the
restoration video and she just totally gets it, and for the last
several lessons we've had some sort of disagreement with Edward
because he doesn't get it. This week it was that Joseph smith had to
translate the Book of Mormon through the bible because everything has
to go through the bible since only that is the word of God. Stuff like
this has been going on for weeks, it's really hard to feel the Spirit.
He hasn't been able to read the Book of Mormon consistently because he
needs large print to read and it's taking forever to order it because
you can only get those from America in English. Anyways, as we were
leaving joy walked us to her door and she said "don't worry, when I
get documents and I am baptized then I will go to church with you
people." Just her saying that made us realize that SHE knows that WE
ALL know that joy gets it and Edward doesn't. I really feel like he
needs to read the Book of Mormon. The office sent us some sort of
cryptic message with our order about the big print book. Okay. I will
email them this week to figure that out.

Also I got to FaceTime my family! This had more meaning and made me
happier than I can put into words so I'll just say I love love love my
family and I miss them so much. But since missionaries bless their
families back home, I'm sure they will dominate in the triathlon
they're doing together in a few weeks. I miss them but I'm grateful
for the love and support and emails they send me, they are seriously
the best.

Monday we had a zone conference and my trainer gave a dying testimony,
it was really good, and it's always fun to see other missionaries. It
reminds you that you and your companion are not just adrift in a sea
of strangers, but that there's other people out there doing the same
thing as you, and a lot of them.

Yesterday we tried to contact a referral who lived a million miles
away but she wasn't there. So we rang the rest of the apartments on
her citofono (I have no idea what the word is in English) and I
accidentally rang the same one twice, it was so embarrassing, I had to
tell the nice old guy that I messed up and goodnight. We also met with
a member yesterday morning and her mom, who is an Italian member
pioneer. They told us a lot of fun stuff about catholic beliefs like
how Mary was born without sin like Jesus Christ and stuff like that,
we love learning more about the stuff these people believe. When we
invited the daughter (who is about 50) to text an invite to everyone
in her phone (a challenge our president has asked us to give) she was
totally willing and had a fire in her eyes. Usually people are kind of
okay with it but I think the spirit was really talking to her and she
really understood that someone could really come to Christ if she
actually invited everyone in her life to do so. President is having us
really focus on member missionary work because other stuff really
isn't as effective out here.

Today we're going to the Villa Della Regina for p-day, I will send
pics. Also this week is my senior week which means I've been having to
set up appointments with everyone which is horrifying and scary. But I
called a lady I talked to on the bus a couple weeks ago and she was
all like "look, look" and I was like *omg she's gonna kill me* and she
was like "I'm very busy with work and I only have two hours free
during the day" and I was like "oh okay yeah we understand" and she
was like "so let's try to set up a time on Friday around 2-4pm" and I
was like "omg is this happening." It was pretty cool. Anyways, until
next week! Ciao!

In Centro

Side street on Via Roma with all the Guccis and Louis Vuittons


Italy's best shot at Cheetos

Mmm, Cheetos

Zone with Pres and wife, and Senior Couple

Beautiful street in a paesino

Beautiful street, more so in real life