Wednesday, July 31, 2013

07.31.13 {week 1}

Ciao guys!

Well, it's official.  I'm writing you my first email as a missionary!  This week has been...crazy.  So overwhelming.  And hard.  I don't even know where to start.  Well, we're stationed on the main campus, which is nice.  We never see people from the other campus, so I'm glad we're here - getting the classic MTC experience.

My district is made up of five anziani (elders) and four sorelle (sisters).  I'm the oldest (shocker, I know).  Actually, I don't think I've met anyone older than me yet.  Just call me grandma.  The five anziani in our district are all 18, except for one who's 19.  They're so funny.  One of them we call Anziano YouTube because he's one of those famous cousins, you know.  Another one we call Anziano Franco because he looks exactly like James Franco's little brother (you know, the guy in "Now You See Me").  And then sometimes we call our district leader Dobby because we're pretty sure he hoards our mail.  The three sorelle in my district are AWESOME.  They're seriously my new best friends.  Sorella S is 19, from Georgia and her companion is Sorella M, 20, from Happy Valley.  My companion is Sorella C, 21, from Orem.  She's amazing.  We basically just bonded over Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Les Mis our first day here.  It was awesome.

Our zone is comprised of Italian and Romanian missionaries.  There are about 40 of us heading to Italy on September 3.  More than half are going to Milan, but Sorella C and I are the ONLY sorelle going to Milan.  The six other sorelle in our zone are heading to Rome.  So that's pretty cool.  Our teachers are Sorella F and Fratello C.  They are incredible.  They only speak Italian to us, so that's definitely been an adjustment.  But they're awesome, I love them, and Fratello C looks like Aladdin.  Our schedule is pretty boring.  We basically just sleep, eat, sit, learn, speak Tarzan Italian, and try not to go crazy.  The MTC is a strange place.  It's just a little bubble.  We went to Salt Lake yesterday to meet with the Italian Consulate about our visas and it was kind of nice to get out of the bubble for a few hours and to be reminded that there's actually still a life out there.  AND they let us eat at Jimmy John's afterward (where they just happened to be playing regular-people music).  It was fun.  And it was so cool to be out in public for the first time as missionaries - wearing our badges!  My nametag is one of my new favorite things.  I seriously love putting it back on every morning when I get dressed.  Haha, I feel like I'm becoming such a weirdo.  My sense of humor is all messed up, too.  I laugh at the smallest/stupidest/silliest things.  All.  The.  Time.  I'm already a weirdo missionary, so watch out for when I return in 18 months minus one week. 
I've also become a food hoarder.  So that's a fun fact.  Whenever I get food that isn't from the cafeteria, I just save it.  For example:  Mom, remember that candy bar you gave me the first day?  Still haven't eaten it.  I don't know why!  I just feel like I need to hold on to any extra food I have just in case I get really famished one day.  Haha.

As far as the language goes, we've already taught three lessons in Italian.  Not well, mind you.  But we did it.  We have an investigator here named C.  (She's not really an investigator, she's just acting, but we pray for her and everything as if she really were one.  IN FACT, she's the girl I knew from BYU that I had been emailing before I came asking her questions about her mission since she just got back from Milan.  So that was kind of awkward right at first, since I wasn't really allowed to pretend like I knew her...  But she's awesome.)  So yes, my Italian is progressing.  It's pretty bad.  But I can get through gospel-related conversations okay.  I can pray in Italian and bear my testimony in Italian.  And piece together sentences poorly.  It really is incredible, though, how much we've already learned and progressed.  We did have a really funny moment the second day we were here.  We were in class and Fratello C said the words "board display", but they literally only speak Italian to us.  So he said two words in English and we all looked around at each other trying to figure out what he was saying in Italian.  Then we realized he was speaking English.  So now we just quote that line from "The Best Two Years" all the time - "He's speakin' English, Elder."

Everyone kept saying "Make it to Sunday."  Unfortunately, Monday ended up being my worst day so far.  So my advice to missionaries will be "Make it to P-Day."  Monday was just rough.  And when our companionship met with our teacher, Sorella F and asked us to give her a five minute lesson in Italian without using notes, I kind of just broke down and started to cry.  It's the only time I've cried besides the first night though, so I'm pretty proud of myself for that.  The four of us sisters just cry all the time, so it's nice that we can be understanding of each other.  Anyway, it was embarrassing.  But Sorella F reminded me that this is obviously not easy and that Heavenly Father understands that.  And she reminded me not to put too much pressure on myself when it comes to the language.  Our teachers keep telling us to not worry so much about the language and just to focus on the Spirit while we're teaching, which is SO much easier said than done, especially for an English snob like me.  I JUST WANT TO CONJUGATE VERBS CORRECTLY, DANG IT.  :)  But it's all good.  Yesterday was much better and I'm honestly feeling great!  Even when things are hard and I'm exhausted, I'm still so happy to be here.  I know this is where I'm supposed to be.

We've been looking forward to P-Day all week and singing songs about wearing pants.  Basically any song with the word "dance", we've been changing to "pants."  Like, "Everybody pants now!"  And "Nothing left for me to do but PANTS!  All these bad times I'm goin' through, just PANTS!"  And "Just Pants!  Gonna be okay.  Doo-doo.  Doo-doo.  Just pants, spin that record, babe..."  You get the gist.  We're weird.  It's okay.  I know.

I've received a couple of DearElders this week, but I'm always happy to get more!  It's super easy and I get it the same day you send it (unless my DL is being Dobby ;)).  And I received a package from M.  THANK YOU, M!!!  You seriously have no idea how important packages/letters are until you are here experiencing this whole thing.  I feel so bad for not writing people more while they were on their missions.  I just get so happy anytime I hear from someone.  So even if it's just a random thought or a stupid joke (my expectations have really been lowered in the sense of humor area, so no joke is unacceptable...) or...just anything, write me!!

We had our Tuesday Devotional last night and it was awesome.  H. Bryan Richards (Former Seventy) spoke to us.  At the end, he showed us this clip of Elder Holland speaking and it was so powerful.  Did you guys ever see that meme on Facebook that had a picture of Elder Holland and said, "Before Satan goes to sleep every night, he checks under his bed for Elder Holland"?  Because YES.  Haha.  Elder Holland is incredible.  The clip was Elder Holland talking about why more people don't just flock to the font.  Why isn't it easier?  Why do people ever reject this message?  And then he said, "Missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. ...Salvation was NEVER easy.  Missionary work is supposed to require something of the soul."  And then he said something like - "When you are being rejected, you are standing with the best person who ever lived.  Stand tall."

Just so you guys know, this whole thing is super hard.  Sometimes I ask myself what in the world I'm doing here.  But I KNOW that this is where I'm supposed to be!  And it's so exciting to be a part of this work right now.  I feel so lucky to have been called to this work.  Another thing he said in the devotional last night was that we're not being sent on missions right now to hold the line - we've been asked to charge!  I love it!  So I'm here just chargin' away.  ;)  Or at least doing my best to.  I love this work!  I love all of you and think of you often.  :)  Ciao!

Sorella Gunnerson

P.S. I'm still trying to figure out this whole computer thing and I only have an hour of computer time each P-Day, so I'm probably not sending pictures today.  But next week for sure!
P.P.S. Thanks for all the personal emails!  I don't have time to email everyone back but I plan on writing everyone back by hand (ooh, fancy!), so be looking for those.  :) 

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