Wednesday, September 25, 2013

09.25.13 {week 9}


Here we are again at another P-day!  Can you believe it??  Cuz I sure can.  ;)  I'm still waiting for time to magically start passing faster.  Don't worry.  One of these days I'll write you and say, "What??  Didn't I just have P-day yesterday??"  It'll happen.  Someday.  :)

Random things I've learned these past few weeks:  People just look at us weird all the time.  ALL THE TIME.  We get on the metro and people just look at us like we're crazy.  Sometimes that makes it easier to talk to people though.  Because they look at you, make eye contact for a split second, and then you've got 'em!  "Have you ever seen missionaries like us before?"  Ha!  Gotcha.  So I think most of you know that Elder Holland's granddaughter is in my mission?  One of the sisters I room with was with her in the MTC and they became good friends.  So, we were talking about how cool/crazy that would be to have him as your grandpa.  And then she told us that his grandkids call him PAPA JEFF.  What??  How cool is that. I love it.  So I've learned that I have no ability to memorize names of people or street names whatsoever BUT if you lead me through a maze of winding streets and ask me to find my way back home, I can totally do it.  Luckily, Sorella Palumbo can do the names and I can do the directions.  Because if we didn't have each other I would just.....never know anyone's names.  And she would be lost.  ;)

Funny story:  On Saturday night, we were heading home from a baptism at the church.  It was the four of us waiting at the Metro stop and we had a choice.  We could either take the train that was coming right away that goes to Gessate and then have to walk 15 minutes home, OR we could wait for the Cologno Nord train that drops us off right by our house, but we had no idea when it would come.  And it was already late, and we really didn't want to call the zone leaders, so this was a predicament.  So Sorella Bucco says, "Ah man, if only we had a Liahona right now."  And I, being the Girl Scout that I never was, said, "Hey, I have a Liahona!"  And pulled the church magazine out of my bag.  So she looked through the titles of the talks and there was one by Pres. Uchtdorf about your journey home.  So we had Sorella Palumbo look through the talk and find an answer for us.  (We were doing this all as a joke, mind you.)  BUT THEN, Sorella Palumbo found a part of his talk that said that he took the train as far as he could go and then walked the rest of the way!  So we had our answer!  We took the Gessate train.  We laughed about it for quite a while.  We are dorks.  Also, all I really wanted to do was have two of us take the Gessate train, and have the other two take the Cologno Nord train and see who got home first!  Let's make a competition out of it!  But, alas, we followed the words of Pres. Uchtdorf instead.  The End.

To answer your many questions:  Luckily, we had a zone training one of my first days here, so the zone leaders were able to bring any mail/packages that had come to the mission office and that's when I got the package from all of you!  I didn't know that it was from all of you (Wendy, Amy, Bep, Dad, and Mom), but now I do, so thank you!!  Yes, I got all of those things in one package - peanut butter, Jolly Ranchers (those have made me very popular), and the CHOCOLATE FROG.  Best package ever!  Because it was done through Amazon UK I didn't have to pay anything.  So that was nice.  And they're always stressing not to send packages unless it's through Amazon UK, because then we have to pay a ton of money.  So, that's a good reminder.  I'm honestly not sure about padded envelopes.  ...That's a good question.  Did you find anything out about sending packages within Italy?  As for the weather, it was rainy for a bit, and you can feel a nip in the air.  We can definitely feel fall coming!  It's kind of like Salt Lake though.  It's cold in the morning, so we go out with jackets on and then by the middle of the afternoon we are DYING of heat.  But it's all good!  I've gotten a few more mosquito bites, but nothing nearly as bad as my first weekend here.  Only a few here and there.  They were probably just welcoming me to Italy or something.  We live only a few minutes away from a Metro stop, so that's nice and makes it so that we don't have to walk TOO much.  But we still walk a ton.  Especially when the place we're going isn't near any Metro stop and we can't figure out the bus system.  Haha, this happens way too often.  Also, we end up running places a lot.  Running to catch the Metro, running to catch the bus, running to get to an appointment/meeting on time, running to get home on time so that we don't have to call the zone leaders.  Lots of running.  I usually end up playing the piano in Relief Society.  I get really lost at the beginning of the meeting, so I just wait until people start looking at me with waiting eyes and then I realize that it's time for the opening hymn and that they've asked me to play.  And then I just hope that it's a song I've actually heard before.  Sometimes it's not and I'm pretty sure I end up playing them way too fast/slow, but that's okay!  I don't think they mind too much.  I think they're just grateful to have a sister who can play the piano.  There's actually a brother in the ward who is a great pianist, so he plays for all of the other stuff.  So that's nice.  Sorella Palumbo and I sang a duet at a baptism on Sunday.  We got a lot of nice compliments after that.  (At least I'm pretty sure they were nice.  They looked happy as they were talking to us after.  I said "Grazie" a lot, so I really hope they were saying nice things.)  Our mission rule is that you can only eat at members houses for dinner if there is an investigator present.  So we've only had one dinner at a member's house.  And we don't get time for dinner.  So you either have dinner with an investigator at a member's house or you just eat a snack when you get home at 9.  The big meal here is during lunch, anyway.  So it's no big deal.  It's really nice living in four because we all just make lunch for each other.  Usually we just switch off making the meals in companionships.  The food that we cook isn't too exciting - just a lot of pasta because it's fast, cheap, and easy.  And cereal.  ;)  Oh my goodness, they have the yummiest cereal here.  There's granola,  chocolate, and hazelnut in it.... I eat it for dessert sometimes.  P-day is really the only day we go out for lunch.  The last two weeks we went to the same place and got these really yummy things - kind of like calzones, but I can't remember what they're actually called.  And then today we got these awesome Kebabs.  YUM.  Also, we usually get gelato on P-days.  Oh, gelato.  So good.

Now, to the most important thing!  Missionary work!  We've seen a lot of less actives this week and found a few new investigators, BUT the one that sticks out is this lady the previous sisters had actually found doing strada one day.  So we found her in the area book, Sorella Palumbo called her, and she was happy to meet with us!  So we met her at the church on Monday night and, I tell you what, she's gonna get baptized someday.  She is INCREDIBLE.  She was Catholic for most of her life, but is looking for something different.  She was just so open to the message that we gave her of the Restoration.  At one point Sorella Palumbo asked her if she thought it was possible for there to be another book of scripture and she responded, "Of course!  Why not?"  We NEVER get that answer.  She is incredible.  We're meeting with her again next week and I am SO excited.  I really do love this work so much.  I have already seen the changes it can make in the lives of these people.  We are SO LUCKY to have this gospel in our lives!  Don't take it for granted!  All is well here in Milano.  And most importantly, the church is true.  :) AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

09.18.13 {week 8}

Mamma mia, where to start?

Well, let's start off with this: Thank you so much for all the emails and love and just...everything!  Spencer and Amy, I got your emails and I'll try to write you back after this.  Even if it's just a couple of sentences.  :)  Also, A PACKAGE! The peanut butter has made my day every day this past week.  Long day?  Peanut butter!  Constantly rejected?  Peanut butter!  73 mosquito bites?  Peanut butter!  (Don't worry, Mom, I'm fine!  :)  They're almost all gone anyway.  And I've learned to actually wear mosquito spray, so that's good.)  Seriously though, you're all incredible.

Random thoughts about Italy: It smells like smoke everywhere.  Not the good kind of camping smoke, but the cigarette kind.  I'll probably just smell like a cigarette by the time I return back to the states.  Old men really do ride bikes on cobblestone roads, while whistling.  The first time that happened I pretty much freaked out because I thought I was in a movie.  Guys, it's real.  Milk tastes kind of weird.  And it comes in very small, unrefrigerated containers.  Anyone who knows me well knows I like my milk, so this has been a small adjustment.  Also, remember regular, salted butter??  Those were the days.  We live in a somewhat ghetto part of Milan, and there are Jehovah's Witnesses EVERYWHERE.  I think they have a church where we live, in Cologno, or something because whenever we do strada (street contacting) near our house, people either think we're Jehovah's Witnesses or the people we're talking to ARE Jehovah's Witnesses.  So that's fun.  The landlord of our apartment lives above us.  We haven't met them yet, BUT one of them plays the piano incredibly.  I think Heavenly Father placed their piano right above my room on purpose.  Sometimes, in the morning, or at night while we're planning, we'll hear them start to play the most beautiful music.  Ugh, I love it.  I wrote them a thank you note and stuck it in their mailbox.  Next time, it'll be a pass-along card.  ;)  Sometimes, on the metro, people will get on with a musical instrument and just start to play.  Of course, they want money and we're not allowed to give them any.  But it's still cool.  Very Italian.

To answer some questions:  No, I'm not on a bike.  YET.  (And I am thanking my lucky stars for that.)  We just take the metro or the bus everywhere.  And our two feet.  Our ward is huge.  One of the two biggest wards in all of Italy.  There are actually about 700 members of our ward, with about 150 active.  So we try to work with less-actives a lot.  We actually do this thing on Sunday afternoons where members meet us at the church and we do splits with them to go find people that are on our ward list.  It's awesome because it really helps us to work with the members.  I still don't know what they're saying most of the time, but I've become really good at smiling and nodding.  I honestly have no idea what my street address is...  Hopefully I can figure that out this week and get it to you next week?  I asked Sorella Palumbo about sending packages within Italy and she said customs is still an issue, but I don't know if that's real.  You might need to do some extra research on that...  Sounds like everything is still pretty crazy at Grandma's house but, hey, progress is being made!  That's awesome!

Other than that, I'm doing well.  This week was better than the last, and for that I am incredibly grateful.  The language is...coming.  Slowly, but surely. I'm starting to understand people more.  So that's nice.  We had a new missionary training yesterday that got me all pumped to be a better missionary.  And I got to see Sorella Carter!  So that was fun.  We're pretty busy around here - either teaching a less-active or talking to members or trying to find real investigators to teach.  Finding is hard, but I know it's important.  Something one of the Assistants to the President said yesterday at the training really stuck out to me.  He said, "The Lord depends on you every single hour."  I'm so used to depending on the Lord for everything, but now is the time for the Lord to depend on me to find His children who are ready for this message of happiness.  So I'm working on getting out of my comfort zone, learning the language, and just being an overall better missionary.

Thanks again for your love and support.  I miss and love you all!  Give the nieces and nephews extra love and hugs from me!  :) AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

The church where The Last Supper is.  We had to go get tickets to see it today, so that we can see it one of these next couple of weeks.  Pretty sweet, huh?

GELATO.  This was biscotti and nutella gelato.  Oh my goodness. The best. 

It rains a lot here.  And this is the proof.  :)


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

09.11.13 {week 7}


Mamma mia, I have so much to say and only 20 minutes to say it on this really awful keyboard that has issues with the n key.  Anyway, as you've heard, I'm in Milano!  My trainer is Sorella Palumbo and she's from Sicilia, but she speaks perfect English.  We got here last Wednesday and they took us right away to the Duomo to try to speak to people.  It was...interesting.  Haha.  But, wow, the Duomo is awesome.  You get off at this Metro stop, you walk up the stairs and BAM there it is.  They wouldn't let us take our cameras that day and I was worried that I would never get a picture of the Duomo!  But here I am.  :)  That night we stayed at a hotel near the mission home.  On Thursday we met our trainers.  We walked into the room and there were, obviously, only two sisters there.  I automatically knew which one was mine because I was so afraid I would get a native.  And there she was.  Haha.  But she's great.  She's definitely European, but she's 24 and actually studied English in school.  So it's not as bad as you might think.  We live with two other sisters - Sorella Carlock and Sorella Bucco.  They're awesome.

So, basically, this is really difficult.  I'm not gonna lie.  I may or may not have cried myself to sleep my first night here.  :)  But that was the worst it's been so far.  Each day has it's ups and downs.  And we've already seen miracles.  The Lord really is a part of this work.  He doesn't send us here to work alone.  I'm convinced there are angels around us constantly.  My trainer is actually new to the area, so that makes this a bit more difficult.  That's also difficult because usually one member of the companionship stays, so they know the investigators and the investigators know them.  But that wasn't the case this time.  So we're both still trying to figure out who people are and how to get to places and all of that fun stuff.  I think it's called pink-washing?  I had my first REAL lesson on Friday and it went really well (until two days later when the lady called and said she was worried about leaving the church that she feels loyal stuff).  We met this brother (18) and sister (16) on Saturday night - they were actually walking around giving people cards about THEIR church.  But we started talking to them (and by "we" I basically mean Sorella Palumbo) and they just kind of wanted to know more.  But we found out that the sister was getting baptized into their church the next day!!  We met with the brother on Monday for the first lesson and found out that she didn't end up getting baptized on Sunday!  Coincidence?  I think not.

The language is HARD.  Everyone just talks all the time and I have no idea what they're saying, but whatever it is they're very passionate about it.  And actually, I can get the gist of what people are saying pretty well.  It just takes me a while to translate in my head.  Man oh man, I just need to keep reminding myself that I've only been here for six days.  I shouldn't be fluent yet, so I can't keep getting frustrated with myself.  I'm trying really hard, and I hope that's enough for now.

Today has been great.  We went to the Duomo and walked around there for a bit.  We got a yummy lunch and then GELATO.  (Of course.)  I'll try to send pictures.  Anyway, I don't have much time left, but I love you all and miss you more than words can express.  But I'm so grateful for this gospel.  And I'm so excited to just share it with everyone!  AMORE!

Sorella Gunnerson

Sorella Palumbo and me!  ALSO Parker Lovett is training again so I got to see him my first day here!!  (Make sure Bep sees this one and shows it to Dan and Wiki.)

My street and my apartment!  We have the bottom floor.