Wednesday, December 25, 2013

12.25.13 {week 22}


Okay, so I am in the process of sending all of you a little gift.  And when I say little, I mean little.  They're Christmas themed, but I haven't been able to get them sent out yet.  Hopefully I'll be able to drop them in a mailbox this afternoon.  So just be on the lookout for those in a couple of weeks and Merry Christmas!

This has been one of the best Christmases of my life.  Yeah, I'm shocked to be typing those words right now, too.  ;)  And I don't even know how to explain it.  Christmas is so different as a missionary, as most of you know.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything.  We've caroled a TON (and talked to/hopefully brought the Spirit to a ton of people) down at the Duomo.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love this city.  I love this ward.  And I'm so glad I'm here for Christmas.  

Last night, the six of us headed to our incredible Ward Missionary Leader's house.  He does so much for our ward and especially for us as missionaries.  He's awesome.  So he had Sorella Russell and me over for lunch with his family and then the six of us surprised him with a little treat and a "Buon Natale!"  After that we headed to a ward member's house - Milca and Kevin.  They were so nice to have us (and Giulia) over for Christmas Eve dinner.  It was the closest I could get to home with the closest I could get to a family.  It was perfect.  Then we got home late, received our first "Merry Christmas!" phone call from the Anziani a little after midnight (they headed down to the Duomo to go to midnight mass - and we totally would have if Cologno Monzese wasn't so far away from the center of Milano.  Darn it all.), and headed to bed.  We got to sleep in for a half an hour this morning and then I made Christmas crepes!  Now we're here at Giulia's house doing emails (cuz she's the BEST), we're about to have lunch with her family, and then the three of us are heading to a movie theater down by the Duomo to see "Frozen."  I don't know if I mentioned this before, but we're all allowed to watch one Disney movie on Christmas day.  So we're going all out and heading to the movie theater.  I'm pretty excited.  :)  Then we'll come back here and I'll get to see your lovely faces.  How strange!

Random things about this week: I've had roasted chestnuts multiple times and they are SO good.  And every time I ate them, I just couldn't help but sing.  It's been really rainy this week.  Well sometimes rainy and sometimes just...misty.  It's so weird.  Like, an umbrella does nothing because the air is just cold and wet.  It's definitely interesting.  Anziano Sexton has been writing a Christmas poem every day leading up to Christmas, so every time we get together with the Anziani he reads us his most recent poem.  They're GOOD.  I'll have to send you some once I get a copy.  And the one he wrote on December 8th is even birthday themed!  I can't believe I almost forgot!  We saw "La Traviata" last week and it was incredible.  I love this place.  I love these people.  I love Christmas!

I know that Christ lives and that this is His work upon the earth.  I'm so grateful to be a part of it.  I know that our Father in Heaven loves us more than we can imagine.  And that it's because of this immense love that He sent His Son to die for us.  We are so lucky to have such a loving Father and such a giving Big Brother.  I love you all and hope that your Christmas season has been wonderful.  But, most importantly, I hope that you've been able to focus on Christ this Christmas.  :)  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

La Traviata!  La Scala!

Our District Christmas picture!  Also, Christmas Eve at Milca's and Kevin's house.  :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12.18.13 {week 21}

It's comin' on Christmas, they're cuttin' down trees...

One week until Christmas!  Can you believe it?  It basically already feels like January here.  Until you go to the center of Milan and there are lights everywhere and it's beautiful and Christmas-y.  Ugh I love it!  I love Italy, guys.  You should all come here someday.  It's the best.  As far as Italy and Christmas go...Italians are not the biggest Christmas fans.  It's pretty interesting actually.  For being so obsessed with Mary, you'd think they'd be all over it, but it's just another holiday here.  It's definitely a bigger deal in America, I've come to find out.  But it's still a beautiful time of year and you can feel the Christmas spirit.  Our ward is doing a Christmas program this Friday night, so that should be fun.  I love this ward and I never, ever, EVER want to leave Cimiano.  Sometimes I forget and I think that I'll just be here for the rest of my mission.  And then I remember that I'm probably leaving after this transfer and it makes me so sad.  But, such is mission life, I suppose.  We'll see what happens.  You never know!

This week was super weird.  We did, in fact, end up moving apartments this week.  So we spent Friday and Saturday and a good chunk of Monday packing and moving and cleaning.  It was CRAZY.  But now I live in an Ikea catalog, so that's pretty exciting.  Also, we're right next door to this church that has bells!  So we get to hear bells in the morning while we're studying.  Sometimes the songs don't make any sense and I think a child has gotten a hold of them, but it's fun nonetheless.  And we live on the cutest little Italian street.  There are Jehovah's Witnesses EVERYWHERE, but that's okay.  We just smile and wave and they think we're one of them!  

Last Thursday was a pretty exciting day though.  We ended up getting three new investigators that day and setting a baptismal date for December 26!  His name is B., he's the father of a lady in our ward, and he's in his 80's.  He is the most adorable old man.  Basically the Italian grandfather I never had.  So he decided he wanted to be baptized and we were stoked.  So we were like, "Okay, how about the 28th?"  And he was like, "Actually, how about the 26th?"  And everything was perfect.  And then his daughter called us on Saturday and said it was cancelled because he talked to his son who is contro and now he has all of these doubts and he doesn't want to be baptized anymore.  He refused to come to church on Sunday and he won't meet with us this week.  We are heartbroken.  Seriously heartbroken.  So that's that.  Hopefully we'll be able to see him soon and just see how he's feeling and what's going on.  That ended on a somewhat depressing note.  Sorry about that.  We were handed buckets and buckets full of referrals this week, so we're working on sorting through those and seeing which of these people are ready to change their lives and come closer to Christ!  Speriamo.  We've been doing a lot of caroling this week down at the Duomo.  The six of us in our district go, and then whichever GANS are available.  And then a couple of us walk around handing pass-along cards and talking to whomever stops to listen to those of us who are caroling.  It's pretty awesome.  I NEVER WANT TO LEAVE THIS CITY.  I love it.

Anyway, I've got to cut this a little short because we're going to the opera tonight!  (I know, Mitch already told me I'm spoiled.  I know.  ;)) We got a little group together to wait in line today and now, in an hour we'll be sitting in La Scala watching "La Traviata."  :)  And a week from now, we'll be skyping!  How strange.  We'll be spending most of Christmas day at Giulia's house and then basically trying to see any members that will have us.  We feel a little unwanted, but that's okay.  ;)  I'm sure it will be a beautiful day.  I hope you all have a wonderful week leading up to Christmas.  Being on the mission at this time has really reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas.  The fact that our eldest brother, Jesus Christ, was born for us.  That he lived for us, died for us, and lives for us again.  I'm so thankful for this knowledge.  I love you all!  Buon Natale!  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

Our new home!

Our cute little street and piazza!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12.11.13 {week 20}

Family and Friends!

What a week!  Thank you so much for all of the birthday wishes!  My week has officially been made.  :)  Also, thank you so much for the December letters!  I got them at zone conference on Monday, so I got to open 9 of them all at once.  It was basically like Christmas.  Actually, I opened the first one when I was on the metro heading home from the conference and that was a mistake because the first one was from Jill and totally made me cry.  ;)  So there I was, crying on the metro.  Haha talk about embarrassing...  I don't think Sorella Russell knew quite what to do.  But thank you thank you thank you.  It makes waking up every morning a little bit easier knowing that I get to open a letter from someone I love.

This week was full of birthday festivities!  Man, I am one spoiled missionary.  This ward goes all out for birthdays.  Basically we showed up for Serata Familiare on Thursday night and Fratello Guerrero and Giovanna said they needed to talk to Sorella Russell alone for a minute...  I hate to say it, but I'm not very good at being surprised.  I'm pretty observant.  (I'm pretty sure it comes with being the youngest child.  ;))  So I basically knew what was going on but played along, of course.  So we watched a biography about President Hinckley and then they took me in to this dark room and then the lights turned on, there was a loud pop of confetti and everyone was wishing me "Tanti Auguri!" and singing.  It was awesome.  They even had pizza and a cake!  It sounds like you have all become friends with Giulia, so you've seen the pictures.  It was the best!  I love this ward.  Then on Sunday morning, for my actual birthday, I was greeted at church with a present and card from Giulia.  She's the best.  I adore her.  And then everyone started noticing that it was my birthday, so I got a couple of other random gifts - some perfume from Sorella Acevedo and a seashell from M. (the sister of N.).  It was so sweet of everyone.  And THEN in Sacrament Meeting, Fratello Guerrero announced that it was my birthday in front of the whole ward and asked me to go up and bear my testimony.  So then everyone knew and we got invited to lunch at a member's house (whose father we're teaching right now) and it was amazing!  (Minus the fish patties - we were a little ill for the rest of the night.)  The next day we had the Christmas Conference (which was more conference than Christmas, but that's okay) and Sorella Harward surprised me with a homemade cake and the two zones that were there sang to me.  That Sorella Harward - I love her.  (She and I also sang "O Holy Night" for the conference!  So much fun!)  That night we went to Sorella Acevedo's house for FHE and she also made me a cake!  So, don't worry about whether or not I got enough cake for my birthday.  I think we have enough leftover cake to last us...the week.  ;)  So between all of the birthday festivities here and all of the birthday wishes from overseas, it was an unforgettable birthday!

A couple of miracles to mention:  A couple of weeks ago, during the ricerca, we ended up talking to the brother-in-law of this meno-attiva we were looking for.  She wasn't home, and he wouldn't give us her number, but gave us his instead and said to come back another time.  So we were finally able to make it there this last Friday and her brother-in-law, who we had actually set up the appointment with, wasn't there, but she was!  She's 18 and was super open to letting us come in and talk to her.  The part that broke our heart was that she said she hadn't seen missionaries since 2005.  We were shocked.  And so sad.  This ward is so big and there are so many meno-attivi members that a lot of them get lost.  It's awful.  So we were glad we got to see her and we're going to try to get her more involved in YSA stuff and get her coming back to church.  One of our goals for this transfer is actually to split the member list up more efficiently between the missionaries, so that every single member is accounted for.  It'll take some time, but will end up being worth it.  Another random miracle came about only because I was stupid and accidentally got off at the wrong metro stop WITHOUT my companion.  Okay, don't freak out, this is what happened:  The windows of the metro were covered in graffiti.  You literally could not see out of the windows.  So I knew we had two stops left until we had to get off and I just...lost track.  We were talking with Sorelle Harward and McPeek and I thought we had gone two stops, but we had really only gone one.  So I say goodbye real quick and just jump off the train.  Right as I jump off I realize what I've done and I turn around just in time to see the doors close.  Yeah.  Luckily, Sorella Russell and I had made a plan for this exact instance.  The plan was that whoever ended up staying ON the train just gets off at the next stop and waits for the other person to get on the next train and meet up.  Unfortunately, Sorella Russell forgot the plan.  Haha, so I took the next train, got off at the next stop and she was nowhere to be found.  Turns out, she had thought the plan was the opposite.  So she had gone back to find me and it was just a big mess.  She had the phone at the time, so I just...didn't know what to do.  So I wait for a while and then I realize I should be intently staring at every single window of every new train to see if I see her.  I didn't end up seeing her, but I DID end up seeing two of our Anziani!  So the train stops and I try to get to them before the train pulls away again.  But it starts pulling away and by some sort of magic, Anziano Parker just happens to look up and catch my eye RIGHT as it's pulling away.  So I'm standing there on the platform, he's in the moving train and all I can do is make the sign of a phone and mouth the word "CALL."  So they called my companion, told her where I was and we met up again and neither of us died.  :)  Miracle, I tell you.  Ah, the adventures of being a missionary.

To answer Mom's questions:  We still haven't moved.  We moved a bunch of big things yesterday, like desks and chairs and our washing machine.  We thought we were moving everything else tomorrow, so we spent all morning packing, only to find out that we probably won't be moving for another two weeks.  We were...less than thrilled.  So we'll probably just be living between the two apartments for the next two weeks.  Sigh.  Oh well!    Unfortunately, M. fell off the face of the earth.  We're not happy about this.  And we have every intention of fixing it.  I'll keep you updated.  How am I doing?  Well enough.  :)  Monday was hard because we talked about the rules for Christmas and everything.  I don't know, I guess that was when I realized how different it will be.  But it will still be awesome!  Just a different kind of awesome.  A more missionary, Christ-like kind of awesome.  :)  But seriously, I'm doing well.  The transfer has started off a little slow, but things are picking up and I'm getting more used to sharing the responsibility.  I like it, actually.  That whole "greenie" thing was not my favorite.  I really like being pushed with the language.  It forces me to learn it quickly and to always be on my toes!  So, all is well!  I'm proud to report that the church is growing, even here in Italy.  :)  I'm doing my best to be a miniscule part in this work.  I love it.  I am thankful every second of every day to be able to serve a mission and serve my Lord.  Even in the hard moments.  :)  I love you all and I'm so thankful for your love and support.  'Til next week!  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

The Milano Est Zone!  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

12.04.13 {week 19}


Happy Thanksgiving last week!  I hope Thanksgiving was fabulous for all of you.  From your various emails, it sounds like it was a fun (albeit tiring) weekend!  Just as it should be!  Of course I'm sad I couldn't be there, but it's all good!  Thanksgiving was just a normal day here in Milano.  It was really weird, actually, because we basically forgot all day.  And then it was, like, ten at night and we remembered and basically just wished each other a happy Thanksgiving and that was that!  Ah, the life of a missionary.  ;)

So this week has been crazy.  I got a new companion on Thursday (Thanksgiving...).  Her name is Sorella Russell and she's from Layton, Utah.  She's 20.  She's two transfers ahead of me and only slightly ahead of me in the language, so we're learning really quickly.  Our first lesson ended up having a lot of awkward pauses, but we're learning how to actually make conversation with people (for both of us, our previous companions always did that...).  Also, I never made any Italian phone calls in the last three months, but this last week has definitely made up for the lack.  It's so hard not being able to see people's mouths!  But it's actually been easier than I thought it would be.  It's hard to see my own progress with the language since I'm so caught up in my own brain and I'm really good at comparing myself to other missionaries, but sometimes I catch a glimpse, and I realize that I have come a LONG way.  Yesterday morning we had a new, golden referral that we went on an adventure to visit.  We got to the right city but then we just couldn't find the street.  So I started asking people on the street and then they would give directions and we would both basically just nod and smile and then they would walk away and we would look at each other with the exact same confused faces and start busting up laughing.  But we finally found it and we learned some useful vocab in the process!  (Also, M., the golden referral, is now a golden investigator with a baptismal date!)

Another random thing, we were living in four again this week!  It was the best!  Poor Sorella Harward and Sorella McPeek didn't have power in their apartment for a week, so they got to come hang out with us!  Mamma mia, no words can express how much I love the two of them.  They are just incredible people and missionaries.  It was probably TOO much fun, and now they're gone and life is just normal!  ;)  We also did some more caroling this week at the Duomo!  The Anziani in my district are super into it.  It's pretty hilarious actually.  They're always calling us up asking us to go caroling with them.  It's a pretty effective finding method actually.  We just have one of us not singing and waiting until people come up and listen to us, then they give them a Christmas pass-along card and start chatting with them.  I love it.  We did it this last Sunday night and it made my week!  Some of the YSA from our ward showed up and did it with us.  It was the best.  Oh how I love this ward.  I'm going to miss it when I leave (which will hopefully be never.)  I'll have to send some pictures in another email.

We'll be moving into a new apartment this week!  I'll actually miss my little, moldy house.  I liked it!  But now we're in this fancy, brand-new apartment with hardwood floors.  I'll be sure to send pictures next week when (if) we've actually moved in.

So basically it's been an exhausting week.  Although I'm not technically senior comp, since I know the area, and since we're pretty equal with the language, we're both basically co-senior comps.  I'm just glad I wasn't thrown in to training or something.  But it's been a good, busy week!  We've seen lots of less-actives and investigators (some more progressing than others), and we're looking forward to learning and growing a TON this transfer.  We might need some extra prayers!  ;)  My faith in Jesus Christ grows every week as new experiences are thrown at me.  I know that only with His help can I be the missionary I need to be.  So I'm working on it!  :)  Thanks for your love and support, as always.  Oh, and for the birthday messages!  Thank you!!!!  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

Random pictures from Sorella P's last night here. 
Giulia and Milca!

N's  family. 

Our district. 

Sorella Russell and me at the Duomo!  Christmas tree!

Giulia and me!  LOVE HER. 

The caroling group!! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

11.27.13 {week 18}


Holy smokes, so much to write about!  First things first:  the opera!  Yes, I have officially seen an opera at La Scala and it was AMAZING.  Just amazing. Our seats were awful, but I suppose that's to be expected from 13 euro tickets.  So we just ended up standing in the back.  But it was seriously incredible.  I recommend it.  ;)

Second, we finally heard about transfers late last night and my dear trainer is leaving me!  Sorella P has been called to be a Sister Training Leader in Rimini.  So I am staying here in Milano and getting a new companion!  Her name is Sorella Russell and all we know about her is that she will be starting her fifth transfer.  I'm freaking out slightly because, although I won't be the senior companion, I know the people and the area, so a lot of the pressure falls on me.  So it will be an interesting week!  I'm scared but excited also.  I know that this will give me the opportunity to stretch and grow even more - especially with the language.

This week has been a busy one (I seriously don't know where the time goes).  On Sunday night, the six of us in our district (and ward) decided we were going to go caroling.  So we went to the castle, a couple of metro stops away from the Duomo and we found a spot and just stood there and started singing Christmas songs from the hymnbook.  And then people would stop sometimes and we'd talk to them and give them pass-along cards.  It was fun but SO COLD.  It is so cold here.  Obviously because it's more humid.  But I seriously need to invest in some fleece-lined tights or something.  And a face mask.  Also, gloves would probably be a good idea.  Gosh, you'd think I've never lived in the cold before!  It's just a different kind of cold.  So I'm trying to get used to it.

We taught a lot of lessons this week!  We don't have any solid investigators at the moment, but we're working on it!  It feels like every time we start teaching someone who could be solid, something ends up happening that makes it hard for them to meet with us.  So we try to be really good about daily contacting and trying to get them to at least read a little something in the Book of Mormon each day.  And then we say a lot of prayers.  ;)  What else did we do this week?  Oh!  I made some zucchini cake!  Thanks to Clark's recipe!  I actually have some in a bag with me right now because I'm taking it to Serata Familiare right after this.  AND I experimented with apple instead of zucchini with one of the batches and, not to brag or anything, but it was really good!  And yes, the bishop and I ended up singing at the ward activity on Friday night.  It went well!  I had no idea our bishop could sing like that!  I think everyone was blown away.

Well, that's about all I have time for, but thanks for all the emails this week! I'm still convinced that I have the best support system around.  Try not to have TOO much fun without me for Thanksgiving.  ;)  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

11.19.12 {week 17}


So.  Family.  Let me explain why you're getting a random email at 6 in the morning on a Tuesday.  I'M GOING TO AN OPERA AT LA SCALA TONIGHT.  Okay, so it's not for sure for sure 100% for sure, but we're freakin' out.  So basically, last p-day Sorelle McPeek and Harward visited from Monza again and Sorella Harward just knew there was some way for this to happen.  So we made a last ditch effort and went to the ticket office again and the guy was like, "Yeah, whenever there's a performance, they save 140 tickets and then the afternoon of that day you come stand in a line and try to get your name on a list and blah blah italian words blah..."  SO.  The four of us got special permission from President to be the guinea pigs for this.  So we switched our P-day, because tonight is the last night of Aida, and here we are!  So we just came from getting our names on a list (number 74!) and then Sorella P needs to go to the dentist and then we'll go back at 4:30 and they'll call out the names and we'll hopefully get tickets and then at 7:30 we will (hopefully) be IN LA SCALA WATCHING AN OPERA.  We're pretty stoked.  :)  I'll definitely have pictures next week.  Ah, I love Italy!

But!  More important than any of this....N. IS OFFICIALLY A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH!  :)  Okay, I really need to cool it with the caps lock.  I'm just really excited about everything, I guess.  The baptism was perfect!  And we didn't even have to boil pots and pots of water because the water heater magically works now!  Thank goodness!  N. and her family showed up at the church, like, an hour before the baptism - she was so excited.  And then the time came and she got in the water and I have never seen a happier face than hers when she came up out of the water.  Just beaming.  :)  Ahhhh it was perfect.  Then Sorella P and I sang (apparently this is what we do now - we're singing at another baptism this Saturday).  And then on Sunday she was confirmed!  She is seriously incredible.  And then she came to the ricerca again on Sunday and brought her little sister, M., who is ten years old and is also incredible.  This family, man, I tell you what.  So we've decided M. is next...  She just doesn't know that yet.  And neither does her father.  Haha we're working on it.  I'll send pictures from the baptism in another email.

Oh, funny story.  After we sang at the baptism on Saturday, this really, REALLY intense Italian man in our ward, Fratello C., came up to me and said, "Do you have relatives from Italy?"  All intense-like.  (Italians always talk like this - intense-like.)  So I laughed, said no, and he said, "An uncle?  An aunt?  A grandparent?"  Again no.  "Because only people with Italian in their blood can sing like that!"  He's hilarious.  Also, the bishop came up to me randomly on Sunday and asked if I would sing "The Prayer" with him this Friday night at a ward activity.  Haha that should be interesting...  (Spencer, have you been talking to my bishop?  ;))  Anyway, it was a great week and the next one will also be amazing!  Two of the anziani in our ward have a baptism this Saturday, so that should be awesome.  AND we get to go to a special training this Saturday in Lampugnano.  Then next Monday/Tuesday ish we'll find out about transfers!  WHAT?  I know, right?  Crazy.  I love my life.  :)  I hope you all have a wonderful week!  Have the missionaries over for dinner or something!  ;)  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

Sorella Palumbo and me on an empty metro.  This NEVER happens, so we had to take a picture!

N'S BAPTISM!!!!  :)

N. and her family!

I've basically adopted these three girls as my Italian nieces.  I adore them.  We had FHE with them last night and I seriously cannot get enough of them.  And every time we leave their house, little A. (the curly-headed one) says, "Dopo venite?  Dopo venite? - "You're coming after?"  And then I was spinning her around and she kept saying, "Ancora!  Ancora!"  "Again!  Again!"  UGH.  I can't leave them!  They're so cute!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

11.13.13 {week 16}


So I'm just going to start off with the news that I've been bursting at the seams with since Monday night...  N is getting baptized on Saturday!!  Mamma mia, I don't even have words to express how excited I am.  So here's what happened:  Obviously last week things were a little unsettled.  She wanted to get baptized but there was this minor issue with her dad.  And then she came to church on Sunday and sang with the Young Women in Sacrament Meeting and all of this stuff and we had a lesson with her afterward.  In the lesson she told us that her mom was thinking it would be nice if her uncle baptized her in Ecuador sometime in the not-so-near future.  (Her mom was baptized when she was really young, but moved to Italy and lost contact with the church - the rest of her family in Ecuador is very much active.  She has a brother serving a mission right now and everything.)  Anyway, we heard that and we were super stressed.  Because, let me tell you, this girl is ready to be baptized.  So we had another lesson with her on Monday and her mom was there, so we were able to kind of talk about the whole situation.  Her mom said that she had been talking to N's grandpa (her dad) and that he had said that she shouldn't wait to be baptized - that she should be baptized as soon as possible!  Thank goodness for this grandfather.  He knows what's up.  So she said that the three of them would sit down that night and figure out what was going to happen.  Fast forward 6 hours.... Sorella Palumbo and I are sitting at our desks planning for Tuesday and we get a text from N - "My dad said yes!  We did it!"  Yeah.  I started crying.  SO.  Now we just have baptism on the brain and we have so much to do in order to prepare for the baptism, but we're just so excited.  :)  Basically we'll be at the church all morning on Saturday boiling pots of water for the font.  The water heater at the church does not work so well...  And we're hoping that her dad will come and feel the Spirit and be the next one in that font.  And her 9-year-old sister.  This family will be sealed in the temple someday.  I just know it.  So that's that.

Other than that, this week was good!  A man came to our house last week and tore out some tiles in the bathroom and redid all this stuff.  We've been leaving windows open a lot more, which helps with the mold.  (Don't worry, Mom!)  Also, the conference with Anziano Texeira was amazing and I got to see so many people that I love!  Also, I don't think I mentioned this before, but Sorella P and I sang at the conference!  A few weeks ago, Pres. and Sorella Dibb were at a baptism that we sang at and afterward Sorella Dibb asked if we would sing at the conference.  So we did!  It was fun.  We (as a district) are trying to plan a Thanksgiving dinner for the ward.  We'll see how that goes...  Anyway, other than that, we're just livin' the dream.  ;)  Oh!  Mom!  At the conference they brought me your postcard, the CD, the candy, and the card!  Thank you SO SO SO much!  They made my week!  I'm hoping to get the makeup at our zone training this Monday.  We'll see.  Anyway, thanks again, as usual for everything.  Pretty sure I have the most supportive family and friends in the WORLD.  Until next week!  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

SORELLA CARTER AND ME!  Together at last!

Sorella Condie, Sorella Palumbo, and me.  
(In mission terms, Sorella Condie is my sister because Sorella P trained her also.) 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

11.06.13 {week 15}

Ciao ciao!

WOW.  Okay, where did the week go?  Seriously, this week wins the "Fastest Week of the Mission So Far" Award.  My mind is drawing a blank as to what I actually did this week though...

First of all, yes, our house is still moldy.  Not as bad as it was, but it's still there.  They're looking for a new house for us, but we wouldn't be moving until the end of January, so I probably won't even still be here at that point.  But on Friday and Saturday some man is going to come into our house and tear out/rebuild our bathroom wall.  Which means that we have to basically stay home all day on Friday and Saturday.  So that should be interesting.  Hopefully we won't go crazy.  Also, tomorrow we have a zone conference with Anziano Texeira of the seventy.  We're pretty stoked about that.  So the next week should be an interesting one.

Yesterday was pretty crazy.  We woke up at five in order to be out of the house at six in order to fulfill a "commandment" (as the office elders called it) from President Dibb.  So here's the thing: we live, like, 30 minutes away from La Scala.  When will I ever be able to say that in my life?  Never.  SO about a week ago, Sorella Palumbo and I decided we were going to take this matter into our own hands and try to see an opera at La Scala.  So we called President.  He thought it was a great idea and said that he was actually wanting all of the missionaries to do something like that at least once while on their missions.  So we found out that in December they're doing "La Traviata."  AND we found out that they do a special one night, under-30 thing where the tickets are only 10 euro and it's earlier in the night AND it just so happened to be on a Wednesday.  Basically, it was meant to be.  But in order to get tickets to this thing, we would have to go stand in line at 7 in the morning (by orders of the President) to put our names on a list.  So there we were, yesterday morning, standing in the Duomo piazza for literally 3 hours, hoping to get our names on this list.  We were finally getting toward the front of the line when they said, "Welp, sorry, we're done taking names."  So the 16 of us missionaries just sulked away really sad.  (But then Sorella Palumbo and I quickly got some incredible hot chocolate at this gelato place and we were happy again.)  And then we tried to do it online at noon yesterday, but still to no avail.  There aren't any other showings on Wednesdays and there aren't any that are before 8 pm, so it's kind of a bummer.  Maybe someday I'll make it to an opera at La Scala.  We'll see.

We've been seeing people like crazy, trying to find reasons to fill up that font.  We're still praying that everything works out for N. to be baptized in a week and a half.  She is the most prepared 13-year-old I've ever met.  She is just smart and knows that this is true.  She is seriously incredible.  The only hiccup is her dad.  He's Catholic and has actually technically given the permission for her to be baptized but he kind of wants her to wait a few months to see if she still feels the same way.  She doesn't want to wait at all, but doesn't want to disobey her dad and all of these things.  It's a hard situation.  But we're praying for his heart to be softened so that she can feel fully supported by him.  She is incredible.  We do a less-active member search thing every other Sunday with members from the ward.  Usually only a couple of members show up and we go on splits and everything.  This Sunday, N. came.  Yeah.  I'm telling you, she is incredible.  Please pray for her.

Anyway, other than that, things are just great!  Italian is sounding less and less foreign to me every day, although speaking it naturally is still a chore.  (But then I have to remind myself that I've only been in this country for two months.)  It's coming.  I've started listening to Christmas music, much to Sorella Palumbo's dismay.  ;)  She secretly loves it.  And whenever I choose the song we sing for companionship study, it's a Christmas song.  She rolls her eyes, but she was totally singing a Christmas song in the shower this morning, so I know where her heart truly lies.  ;)  We have the April 2008 General Conference on DVD at our house, so sometimes I watch it specifically looking for mom in the choir.  Whenever I see her, it makes my day.  We've attempted making brownies from scratch a couple of times, but our oven is weird and the top keeps burning.  Also, we might just be bad cooks...  If anyone wants to send me a yummy brownie recipe I would not complain!  We spent our P-day today with a couple of sisters from Monza.  One of them is in her first transfer and hadn't seen the Duomo, so we went there and did the usual stop inside, looked at the dead people, went to Luini's for panzerotti, went across the street for gelato, walked down the street to La Scala and dreamt of going inside, and THEN we did something we've never done!  We went to a castle!  It was pretty neat.  We also went to the museum inside.  Good times.  And now here we are doing emails and, alas, P-day is almost over!  But it's all good.  Oh and tonight we'll have two sisters staying at our house in order to be able to be at the conference tomorrow.  Slumber party!  Anyway, all is well!  Thanks for all of your love and support, as usual.  :)  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson


Sunday, November 3, 2013

10.30.13 {week 14}

Well, hello everyone!

It seems like last P-Day was only a couple of days ago!  This week was a busy, but good, one.  To be honest, last Wednesday was pretty rough for me, so I'm sorry if the email seemed down.  But this week was full of lessons and brownies and good times.  
We've been seeing tons of people and trying to help people understand why they should want eternal life.  ;)  Some lessons are harder than others.  And some people understand better than others.  The girl I talked about a few weeks ago that we had set a baptismal date with decided she doesn't want to get baptized until next August because it's near her birthday and it's also the month when she was baptized into the Catholic church years ago.  ...Yeah.  That's a hard one.  We tried to explain that God really doesn't care when she was baptized into the Catholic church, but...there's only so much you can do.  So we're working on that.  But there's also a thirteen year old girl who is incredible and SO ready to be baptized.  Her baptismal date is in about three weeks, so we're excited for that.  And we set another one this week with another lady.  Yay for baptisms!  The trick is getting from the baptismal date to the actual baptism, but we have faith that it will happen!

Something strange happened this week.  I know that The Book of Mormon is true and that the people really existed and that the events actually happened, but one morning this week during personal study I just had so much sympathy for Moroni.  The end of The Book of Mormon is kind of sad.  He's just all alone and if he goes to the Lamanites he'll be killed because he believes in Christ.  And all of his people are gone and he has no friends.  He's just all alone.  I seriously got strangely emotional about it.  And we don't know what happened to him!  We know what happened to everyone else because it's recorded in the book, but he hides the plates...and then what?  Man, I have so much respect for him.  I love The Book of Mormon so much.  Every time I read it, I feel so much peace and comfort.  I regret all those days in the past when I didn't read it.  If you're not reading it every day, DO IT.  :)  I promise that you will gain more strength and happiness in every facet of your life if you do.

Funny story that happened last night:  Every Tuesday night we have English classes at the church and this week it was our turn to teach the advanced English class.  This basically means that for an hour we just converse in English with these people.  So we had four people there (only one of whom was a member) and we decided we would play this game - two truths and a lie.  So we did and it was fun, but at the end we needed to connect it to some sort of gospel principle and share a scripture or something.  (Because, hi, we're missionaries.  That's what we do.)  I thought we were just going to talk about how we shouldn't lie or something, but Sorella Palumbo pulls out her scriptures and starts reading about secret combinations and about how someday all of these awful secrets will be told.  I wasn't quite sure what to do and then all of a sudden she says, "Like, you know, someday we'll know who killed who..."  In the moment it was just very awkward and I think they were a little afraid so I said, "The moral of the story is, we shouldn't lie UNLESS it's Tuesday night at English class and we're playing two truths and a lie."  And then the tension eased.  But on the way home, Sorella Palumbo brought up how weird it was that she had said that and how it made sense in her mind, but to them it probably sounded so weird.  We were cracking up about it.  Good ol' Sorella Palumbo.  Never a dull moment.

Anyway, the language is coming along.  Very slowly.  But I have faith that it will get better.  And I'm doing my best to act on that faith.  I love this city and this country.  But most of all, I love this gospel!  I feel so lucky to have it in my life every day!  And I'm so thankful for all of you!  Happy Halloween tomorrow!  (I can't believe it's Halloween!  They don't really celebrate it here. They're not really big celebrators here...)  And Happy Birthday to Caleb this week!!  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

10.23.13 {week 13}

Ciao Family!

It was so good to hear from so many of you this week!  Thank you so much for all of the emails and support (as always).  It really does make such a difference.  :)

In all honesty, this week has been pretty hard.  It's definitely different living in a house of two instead of a house of four.  And we've also taken on a much bigger load, which is AWESOME.  But hard.  ;)  We had two lessons this week with investigators (one we were meeting with for the first time and one we've met with a couple of times before) who literally just quoted Alma 32 and didn't even know it.  They both started talking about how faith is like a seed that needs to be nourished and then it will grow and all this stuff.  So we opened up to Alma 32 and we were basically just like, "Hey, meet this guy."  And then the one we were meeting with for the first time said, "Yeah, I just don't understand why there's only one God but so many churches..."  And we were like, "Hey, meet this guy named Joseph Smith."  It was awesome.  And such a testament to me that there really are people who are prepared to hear this gospel.

So I don't know if you've heard, but it's humid here in Milano.  How humid, you ask?  Well, the other day I needed an envelope.  But when I went to my stack of envelopes I realized that they were all sealed shut.  Yep.  THAT humid.  Mamma mia.  Also, the mold problem has worsened, so they're going to start looking for a new apartment for us.  Basically in our free time, we just get out bleach and kill mold (and probably some brain cells...).  It's fun stuff.  ;)

Anyway, that's it for this week.  Hopefully I'll have more exciting news next week for you all.  :)  Thanks again for everything!  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

My first district in the field.  :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10.16.13 {week 12}

Greetings from Milano!

How is everyone doing?  Sounds like autumn is treating you well.  I'm only a little bit jealous.  ;)  So, we found out about transfers on Monday night and (drumroll please) I'm staying here!  I was not surprised about that at all.  I basically knew that Sorella Palumbo and I would stay.  BUT we found out that both Sorella Carlock and Sorella Bucco are leaving.  I'm seriously so heartbroken about this.  Not only that, but their companionship is being closed, so Sorella Palumbo and I are taking over ALL of their investigators, less-actives, everything...  It should be interesting.  There's a ton of work to do, but I'm excited about it.  But they're leaving!  I'm so sad!  I should really start getting used to this.  I was telling Sorella Palumbo on Monday night how sad I am - "They make me leave my family.  Then they send me to the MTC where I get a new family and I adore all of them.  And then they separate us.  And then they put me with these sorelle who I fall in love with and then they take them away!"  She first asked me who "they" was referring to and then I realized that it's Heavenly Father and I should really stop being so bitter.  ;)  At least I've met so many people who are incredible and make it so hard to be separated from them!  Better to be sad that these two sorelle are leaving because I adore them rather than be happy they're leaving because I don't like them or something.  So.  That's the big news from this transfer.  I'm really sad.  It's going to be a huge adjustment.  Living in four was awesome.  But I know it's all for the best!  And I know these sorelle are going where they're supposed to be going and I know we're staying here for a reason.  It'll be great!

It was a weird week.  It involved a surprise trip to the dentist (for Sorella Palumbo, not me), a long morning/afternoon at the Questura to get my Permesso, and long days.  But that's okay.  We're still working with our investigators and less-actives and just gearing up to double our load for the next six weeks!  Nothing too exciting to report.  :)

BUT this morning was exciting!  We went to see the Cenacolo (Leonardo DaVinci's "Last Supper").  That was pretty awesome.  We had to get the tickets, like, a week ago.  And then they only let you stay in the room for, like, ten minutes.  But it was huge and awesome to see.  We even took some scriptures in there and read about the actual last supper while looking at The Last Supper.  It was pretty great.  After that, we went shopping for boots (and I finally got some!  Success!).  Then we had gelato and then a good old-fashioned American lunch at Burger King!  (Yes, in that order.  Don't judge.)  Man, I've missed burgers...  So it was an eventful morning!  I love Italy, guys.

 OH I FORGOT. I have a funny story!  So on Monday morning we were doing a deep cleaning of our house and I was going through some pictures and getting ready to put some new ones in my album, so I had the one of me with Mom and Dad in front of the Provo temple sitting on my desk.  And Sorella Carlock comes in my room and starts FREAKING OUT.  She goes, "THAT'S YOUR DAD?  THAT IS NOT YOUR DAD.  IS THAT YOUR DAD? NO WAY."  I SWEAR she had seen a picture of you guys before but I guess she hadn't.  Anyway, it turns out she was in Dad's last Isaiah class at LDSBC and she seriously adored the class.  She was freaking out for the next half hour about how awesome Dad is, how awesome the class was, how funny he was, about how she gave her book from the class to her Mom because she learned so many things and yeah.  Anyway, make sure Dad reads this.  She said he probably wouldn't recognize/remember her but she was seriously so excited.  It made my day!  Dad is awesome. 

Anyway, I think that's about it for this week.  OH AND WE HAVE HEAT IN OUR HOUSE.  Best day ever.  Now our house is nice and toasty and we don't have to do planning and studying in hats and gloves.  :)  Also, I've decided I'm going to be a Tiramisu-making machine when I come home.  Because everyone makes it here and it's incredible.  Basically my new favorite thing.  So get excited for that.  ;)  I love you all!  Send me updates about your lives.  Please and thank you.  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

A sign on the street near the church where The Last Supper is.  I guess it means there's a work of Leonardo DaVinci nearby?  Kind of funny.

The church of the Cenacolo.

outside the church.  my sisters!

Inside the church.  I really like to take pictures of pretty ceilings.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

10.09.13 {week 11}

Ciao Everyone!

First of all, I can't believe Grandma is gone!  (as in moved) I got surprisingly emotional about it while reading everyone's letters about it today.  Sweet Grandma.  That must have been hard for her.  But I'm glad she's somewhere where there are lots of people to love and take care of her!

Second, Andrew has been blessed!  It sounds like the baby blessing went wonderfully.  I'm so glad to hear it.  Just wish it could have been put off for about...16 months.  ;)  Thanks for the pictures, Mom!  Also, SNOW!  And colorful mountains!  I'm a little bit bitter about the fact that I missed fall in Salt Lake last year AND this year AND next year.  But I'm sure it will make it that much better for two years from now.  Oh man, I love autumn.  Speaking of the weather, it is COLD here.  We go to sleep cold and we wake up cold and we walk around cold and it's just cold.  Didja get that?  COLD.  Part of the problem is that it's a wet cold, so it's just...worse.  Also, the heat in our house isn't on yet.  Nor is the heat in the church.  My towel never dries throughout the day.  I hang it up after I shower and then at night when I wash my face it's still wet and cold.  This is a problem.  So, like I said, we're just always cold.  We do our best to fix that though.  Sunday afternoon found the four of us in the kitchen around the table with our language study materials, taking turns holding the blow dryer and rotating it around the room.  It actually worked pretty well after we closed the kitchen door so that no heat could escape.  And then when we realized how desperate we had become we started laughing pretty hard.  I seriously love these sisters I live with.  Transfers are next week (yep, my first transfer is almost over) and I really hope that no one leaves.  But I'm sure whatever happens is supposed to happen.  I doubt Sorella Palumbo and I will be leaving, but you never know.  Also, before we get off the subject of our house, it's so humid that we have a mold problem on my wall.  Yep, just on the half of the wall where my desk is.  We clean it and it comes back, like, two days later.  They might have to open up the wall and see what's going on.  (Sound familiar, Bep and James?)  What an adventure.

General Conference was THE BEST.  Holy cow, I loved it.  We still haven't seen the Sunday afternoon session.  We'll probably just have to wait until they're in the Ensign.  I suppose I could get on and print them off  Anyway, the other three sessions that we got to watch were just incredible.  They blew me away.  And there were so many moments that were meant just for me and other moments that were meant just for our investigators.  It was PERFECT.  Two of my favorite talks?  Elder Uchtdorf on Saturday - "Doubt your doubt before you doubt your faith."  YES.  So many people don't understand this!  And also Elder Scott's on...Saturday? Sunday?  Can't remember.  But about keeping covenants.  Also, so many talks about missionary work!  (coughmembermissionariescough)  Seriously though, so many perfect moments.  I love this gospel so much.  And, yes, we got to watch it in English.  There were a ton of missionaries who came to our chapel to watch it, so the room was pretty full.  (Also, there are actually 8 missionaries just in our ward, which is pretty unheard of.)  Anyway, it was wonderful.  I love conference.  I cannot wait to get the Ensign with all of the talks and read them over and over again.  Also, the past two days I have just been so happy.  I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of this whole "being a missionary" thing.  And I'm starting to really love it.  I still don't understand everyone.  And I'm still far from speaking fluently.  But I can definitely see progress in my comprehension.  It's really nice.  And I can see a huge boost in my happiness when I'm giving my all to the missionary work.  It's hard.  Ha!  That is the understatement of the century.  But I already know that it is so worth it.  :)  I literally see miracles every day.  There have been multiple times already that we've met people but haven't been able to get their number or they haven't been responding to our calls/texts or something and then we just randomly run into them on the street or on the metro!  I don't believe in coincidences.  The Lord is so involved in missionary work because it is His work.  Man oh man, I love it.  And I'm in ITALY.  Sometimes I forget.  But then I remember and I want to skip down the cobblestone streets!  I love this country!

Anyway, all is well here in Milano!  I love you all!  I pray for you multiple times a day and constantly thank Heavenly Father for you and your support.  :)  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson


Remember how I said it's really cold?  This is me this morning as I was waiting for everyone else to get ready to go do fun p-day stuff.  SO COLD.
Also, Sorella Palumbo and me this afternoon making the trek up to the top of the Duomo!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

10.02.13 {week 10}

Ciao, Family!

How is everything in America?  Man, sometimes I miss that place.  What does that even mean?  I have no idea.  There's someone smoking outside of this internet place.  Like, right by the door and it's giving me a headache and making me write weird stuff.  Okay, moving on.

Hey, Bethany had her baby!  How exciting!  Little Andrew Edward is adorable. I can't wait to meet him when he's just a little over a year old!  Okay, that seems like forever away.  But I'm sure the time will just fly!

I don't have a ton of exciting news from this week.  I had to go to the police station this last week to work on getting my permesso, so that I can be legal and everything, and they had to take my fingerprints.  It was so exciting!  I kind of felt like a criminal, but I'm not.  Don't worry.  We also went to this lady's house this last week who is...kinda crazy.  She legitimately thinks we can resurrect her husband for her.  She became a member about 30 years ago, but has been inactive for about 20 and the one part that she remembers really well about the Book of Mormon is...the three Nephites.  So she just doesn't understand why we can't all just be like the three Nephites and never die.  Oh, she also said that she met Jesus once and that his new name is Roberto.  It was an interesting hour and a half, to say the least.  We might just keep going back and visiting her just so she has people to talk to.  We're going to count it as service.  She's a nice old lady, but a little confused.  Good times.

So, something exciting that happened this week:  We set a baptismal date!  I was pretty excited about it.  She's about my age and her sister is a member of the church.  We're meeting with her tonight to give her a baptismal calendar and everything so that she can really start preparing herself.  :)  Cross your fingers!

Also, General Conference this weekend!  Mamma mia, words cannot express how excited I am for General Conference!  Prophet!  Apostles!  Spiritual enlightenment!  English!  I am SO excited.  :)  I've never been more excited for General Conference in my life.  Anyway, all is well here.  I had my first real Italian pizza today for lunch.  It kind of changed my life, it was so good.  I'll send pictures.  :)  Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well!  Enjoy Conference!  I know I will!  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

Sometimes Sorella Carlock and I look the exact same on accident.  (This was taken last P-Day.)  I just love her!

PIZZA!  (I realize that most of my pictures are of food.  I'm really sorry about that, but those are literally the only pictures I've taken these last two weeks.  I blame Mitch.)

The Kebab we had last week and the gelato we had today!!