Wednesday, April 30, 2014

04.30.14 {week 40}

Is it springtime in Utah?  We've had some rain the past week, which I have LOVED.  Last night I just walked to the bus stop in the rain, senza umbrella, senza coat.  It was wonderful.  It hasn't been too cold.  And we've had some incredible lightning/thunderstorms.  I love it!!
So remember how I talked last week about this V. lady?  Well we have English class every Wednesday night, so we got to see her last week basically right after I wrote my family email and she was just so sad.  She was talking to us afterwards and she just had tears in her eyes.  She kept saying that she knows that this is true because there are so many things in common with our church and her beliefs.  So we talked to her more about the Plan of Salvation, I gave her a pamphlet, and we explained to her that she can still keep learning from us even if we're not technically having lessons (for now).  She just looked so relieved.  It's gonna work out.  Somehow.  I just know it.
Good news! M.H. came to church on Sunday!  She doesn't speak or understand a lick of Italian, so I had to translate for her, but she was just so cute.  And afterwards, quite a few people talked to her!  And some even surprised me and spoke to her in English!  I was just so thankful for those members who noticed that there was someone new and made the effort to make her feel welcome.  I seriously left the church teary-eyed because I was so happy.  I had no idea how important that was until I became a missionary.  It's so important that the investigators feel welcome at church.  So, if you see someone new at church, please welcome them!!!  Anyway, let me just step off of this soap box real quick...
We went to see one of our investigators on Friday -M.  She's from Nigeria and her husband is a member but there's this whole complicated marriage/divorce situation that makes it impossible for her to be baptized right now.  But she comes to church every week and she's funny.  So sassy.  And they have the most adorable little one and a half year old - V.  Anyway, we went to go see her and her husband, R., just so happened to be home and he's just so awesome.  He invited us to stay for lunch!  I'm not gonna lie, I still have ZERO idea what I ate.  It was beans with some sort of chicken?  Maybe fish?  Parts of shrimp?  Sometimes it was soft.  Sometimes it was crunchy.  The whole time it was confusing.  But we know they're having a really hard time financially right now, so we were so touched that they were willing to make us food.  Also, SO SPICY.  Sorella Tokarski and I just HAD to buy gelato afterward - to cleanse the palate.  So after the meal, we shared a message with them and then R. just got really emotional and was like, "We didn't know we were going to have a family lunch like this today.  I am just so delighted."  I just love these people so much.  I go from one city to another thinking there's no way my heart will get any bigger...and then it does!
We had a scambio on Monday and Tuesday.  It was a lot of fun and I learned a ton!  This time I went to Genova with Sorella McCann and her comp (Sorella Ball) came to Torino with Tokarski. Genova is a good two hours away by train (holy cow, most beautiful train ride of all time - I can't even descrive it), so Tokarski and I were supposed to go to Genova and meet up with them on Monday afternoon, and then they were going to head back to Torino and....blah blah blah it's kind of complicated.  Point is, they ended up being in a middle of a lesson when we got there and so they got to the train station late and missed the return train, so we all ended up being together on Monday night.  It was so fun.  It reminded me of those glorious days of my first transfer - living in four.  And I got a haircut from Sorella Ball!  Meno male.  That was much needed.
To answer Mom's many questions:  I've only sung at a couple of baptisms.  At one, one of the Anziani played for me and I just sang I Know that My Redeemer Lives (in Italian, obviously).  And then at another one, Sorella Tokarski played for me and I sang "Come Thou Fount."  Sorella Tokarski is actually an incredible song-writer.  So about a month and a half ago, she and I sang a song she wrote for a zone conference.  She is SO good.  Have I never told you that we don't eat dinner in this mission?  Yeah.  President told us that our first day here.  There's just no time for it.  So we eat a big lunch and then usually a snack after nightly planning.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've been invited to a member's house for dinner.  That is a rarity here.    We haven't heard from Fiona for a couple of weeks.  :(  I think that's it!
Anyway, that's about all I have time for, but thanks for the love and the emails!  And the packages, mom and dad!  You're the best!  AMORE.
Sorella Gunnerson

Easter picture!
Random P-day picture!

 Scambio pic.

Another lovely scambio with the lovely Sorella McCann.
Matching sweatshirts we just HAD to buy.

Half-way day!  (Took a 15 minute nap at lunchtime and woke up to this!  I was super groggy at first and didn't even notice this on the ground until Tokarski told me.  And then she gave me a plate of nutella, bananas, and strawberries.  This girl gets me.) MOM's note - mese means month

Today's gelato picture.  :)

I got the packages!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

04.23.14 {week 39}

The lice is gone!

I don't know if I've ever been so grateful in my life.  Wow.  I can say that I'm a lice expert now, though, so that's nice.  ;)  Seriously though, if I had to go through this entire ordeal with anyone, I'm glad it was with Tokarski.  We have our moments of frustration - sometimes with the lice and sometimes with each other, but by the end of it we're just laughing about it.  So I count her as one of my many blessings, too.

So much happened this week!  And yet...nothing did.  We just walked around Torino basically all day on Monday and it was DEAD.  There was seriously no one around and all of the shops were closed.  Italy just sometimes shuts down for days at a time.  It's awesome.  (Yep, the sarcasm is still here, folks...)  But we were actually able to go out and work which was a miracle in and of itself.

Funny story from this week:  On Friday night we were having dinner with F. (a less-active) and her son and his girlfriend (whom I ADORE and want to be baptized so badly).  She was getting dinner ready and we were just chatting.  She had the doors open to her balcony and this wasp kept coming in.  Tokarski and I were doing our best to not freak out, but there's really only so much you can do.  Finally, it flew up to these big speakers she had on the top of some cabinets and flew into one of the speaker hole things.  And it just refused to come out.  So, naturally, Tokarski and I just had our eyes on it the whole time, waiting for it to come out.  But it was not coming out.  So F. gets this determined look on her face, walks over to the CD player and turns on this really intense Italian music. wasp.  She wasn't going to just give up.  No.  She gets her broom and just starts wacking at the speaker.  I don't think I've laughed that hard in a long time.  We were just watching this Italian woman hit a speaker repeatedly with a broom as this Italian music blared in the background.  Ah, Italia.  I'm gonna miss this place.

Sometimes things just get lost in translation.  The word for "sealed" (as in a temple marriage) is "suggellato."  The word for "frozen" is "surgelato."  It makes for really awkward conversations...  "Yeah, we can go to the temples and be frozen together for eternity."  What a difference an r makes...

We had a really frustrating experience this last week.  We taught the first lesson to this lady, V., who has literally been searching for our church her entire life and has literally never even heard of Mormons before.  And the lesson went incredibly well.  We answered a lot of her questions and she just kept saying, "That's exactly what I believe!"  So we set up a return appointment for the next night.  And the next day she called us and said that her boyfriend (who is a Jehovah's Witness) doesn't want her studying with us anymore and she's really sad, but she doesn't want to fight with him, so she can't see us anymore.  We were so frustrated!  She is so close to getting the truth!  But, she's smart.  She'll figure it out eventually.  I know it.

Anyway, I seriously have zero time left.  Easter was lovely!  We got more chocolate eggs than we could handle!  And I set up a little easter egg hunt for Tokarski in our apartment that night.  (A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do...)  But mostly it was just really nice to be able to remember the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He lives and loves us!  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson

Thursday, April 17, 2014

04.16.14 {week 38}

Well, there's not a whole lot to report for this week, so this will probably be a really short email.  We were able to get in two awesome days of regular missionary work last Thursday and Friday before the lice struck again.  I got up on Saturday morning, went into my bathroom and there was an adult lice crawling on my sink.  Yeah.  So we started the sanitizing again and we're pretty sure we're good now!  (After cleaning the apartment better than it has ever been cleaned EVER, combing through each other's hair constantly - looking for eggs, and taking every piece of cloth and linen to the laundromat and sticking it in a dryer because that's the only way to really kill them...)  Let's just say it's been a really long week.  But, miraculously, through all of this, I still never got lice!  I have no idea how...  We're both pretty dumbfounded, but I'm not complaining!

Other than the lice, we had a great lesson with M. this week and she is just progressing right along.  We had to push back her bap date a little bit because of this crazy week we've had, but she's incredible.  Her testimony is stronger than ever.  She understands the importance of the Book of Mormon more than any other investigator we've had and she just constantly reads it without any sort of coaxing on our part.  She's awesome.

Anyway, those were the main points from our week.  It's crazy how much slower this week went in comparison with the others.  It made me realize how much happier I am when I really am lost in the work of the Lord rather in the work of .... the lice.  ;)  I'm sure this next week will be better.  Thanks, as always, for the love and support.  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

04.09.14 {week 37}

You know, sometimes lice happens.
Yep, lice struck the Gunski household on Monday morning.  Well, we actually don't know when it struck.  Tokarski just found lice in her hair on Monday morning.  So that's been fun!  We were getting ready to go to a zone training and all of a sudden outside of my bathroom I hear a "Sorel, don't freak out okay?"  She had been showering and found a few as she was washing her hair.  So I refused to panic and we called the mission nurse (who was only slightly helpful - telling us what we needed to go buy but telling us that it probably wasn't lice and we should just go on with our normal lives...).  We went to the pharmacy and got the lice stuff.  Went home and put the worst-smelling gel of all time in our hair.  And then some special shampoo.  As she was rinsing her hair out there were just...more bugs.  All the time.  Just more of them.  And different sizes, too, which was a little nerve-racking.  I still wasn't finding any in mine, but we hadn't done an in-depth search yet.  So we basically just cancelled all of our plans for the day and did a million loads of laundry and tried to sanitize our massive apartment.  Sorella Tokarski started having a slight panic attack, worrying that there were eggs in her hair, so I....went on an egg hunt.  (Happy Easter!)  I don't think you want me to divulge the number I found.  It was pretty awful.  She checked me and found nothing.  Thank goodness.  I checked her again on Tuesday morning and there were still lots of eggs and we still had a ton of laundry to do, so we literally didn't leave the house all day.  It was AWFUL.  I knew I would learn things on my mission that would help me be a better mom, but I didn't think that lice knowledge would be one of them...  So, Tokarski has just been using this special shampoo every morning and night, and I've been using a special preventative spray in my hair.  Mamma mia, it has been a LONG two days.
New subject.  General Conference!  Wow, wasn't it amazing??  Definite themes that stuck out: discipleship and covenants.  I just loved it.  LOVED Elder Oaks talk in Priesthood (yeah, we just went and watched it with the guys at the church - hey you never know what could help our investigators!).  I feel like it just clarified so many things in my brain!  Also the one about how we all are living our four minutes in the grand scheme of eternity and we have to make it count.  And then I realized that I'm living the four minutes of my four minutes!  Cuz I'm on a mission!  I got slightly stressed, but decided to channel it into positivity and just become a better missionary.  So that's the plan.  My biggest realization from this conference was probably just that I need to work harder to be a better disciple of Christ.  Wasn't Elder Holland's talk great?  Another one of my favorites.  Whenever we're faced with opposition in regard to our religion, we're standing with so many incredible people who had to face even worse things!
In other news, Tokarski and I have taken it upon ourselves to baptize all 24-year-old Chinese females in Torino.  We're not sure how it happened, but we set two baptisms with the most adorable Chinese girls this week - F. and M.!  F. needs a little bit of time but she's awesome. M. already has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and has been to church a million times and....we're not quite sure why she hasn't been baptized yet.  She just moved here from Vercelli.  But she's awesome too and we're so excited for them both!  AND they both came to conference with us!!!  These past two days threw us off a little bit in their preparation, but we're planning on getting back on track and filling up that font.  Wish us luck.
Anyway, I think that's about it for this week.  I'll send pictures in another email.  AMORE.
Sorella Gunnerson
P.S. Siblings:  Are any of you still alive?  I hope so.  If not...someone really should have told me.  ;)

waiting for another session of conference!  (that's ma hui in the middle!)

1. stinky gel hair!

2. burning lice eggs!

3. sleeping with shower caps on!

my up-to-date picture wall!

p-day with baby j, russell and tokarski!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

04.02.14 {week 36}

Can you believe I've been training for six weeks now?  Life, man.  It's just passing so quickly.  Six weeks means that transfers are here again!  

Obviously Tokarski and I are sticking around.  But my sister, Condie, is leaving us!  Poor thing has been in Torino, LITERALLY, for her entire mission so far - a year.  She was in Torino for 6 months and now has been in Collegno (the exact same district) for 6 months.  And now she's heading to Montevarchi!  A beautiful town 20 minutes away from Florence.  To say I'm a little jealous would be an understatement.  Naw, I love Torino.  And I know I'm here for a reason.  Just give me some rolling, Italian hills already!  ;)  I'm seriously so sad to see Condie go, but guess who's taking her place?  Sorella Russell!  My old comp!  I'm so excited to see her and hang out with her on P-days again!  It'll be like old times.  Can't wait.

This week flew by.  We've seen a couple of new, random investigators.  And we had to say goodbye to basically our only progressing investigator, M.  Her real house is in Calabria but she and her husband had an apartment here in Torino that they needed to sell, and that's why they were here for a few months.  She has such a strong testimony and is so ready to be baptized (her husband, on the other hand, is not so ready for her to be baptized, hence the fact that she's still an investigator, but he's super cool anyway).  So we had our last lesson with her yesterday and she leaves this weekend.  But she's in contact with the sisters down there and I have no doubt she'll be baptized.  Soon.  I hope.  We started seeing this awesome 24-year-old girl from China.  Seriously adorable, with the strongest testimony of the Bible.  We're seeing her again tonight and can't wait to get a Chinese copy of the Book of Mormon in her hands.

In other news, GENERAL CONFERENCE IS THIS WEEKEND.  Words can't even describe how excited I am.  We'll watch the womens conference at 4 on Saturday, then the Saturday morning session at 6.  Then we come back on Sunday.  The men watch Priesthood at 11, then we have the Saturday afternoon session at 2 and the Sunday morning session at 6.  And then...we just don't get to watch the Sunday afternoon session.  I'll be looking forward to the Ensign for sure!  Can't wait.

Random things from this week:  We had our last district meeting as a district and our district leader is actually dying this transfer, so we had a mock funeral AND the four of us sisters did a flash mob.  Yeah.  It was pretty awesome.  I have a video of it, but it's too big to send over email so you're gonna have to wait for that beauty.  I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday (my second one in this ward already!) and then I was quoted in the closing prayer and in the joint Priesthood/Relief Society meeting by the bishop!  So that was cool.  I guess sometimes my Italian actually makes sense.  Thank goodness.  ;)  Also, the bishop all of a sudden started talking about missionary work.  As the four missionaries in our ward, we've been working on making a family mission plan with each active family in the ward.  So Tokarski and I went to the bishop's house last weekend to do it with him and it was great.  Then in this meeting on Sunday he all of a sudden called us up there and had me explain to everyone what a family mission plan was and he got everyone all pumped up about it and was like, "I want everyone in the ward to invite the missionaries over during the month of April to do a family mission plan with your family."  We were SO happy - it was seriously just what we needed.

Today for P-day, the four of us decided we were going to go see Superga (second time for me, first time for the others) but we got there literally 30 seconds late - just in time to see the little trolley making it's way up the hill.  So instead we went to this adorable park/river thing and ate.  (Tokarski and I bought some really yummy bread and brie and pesto - Condie and Jackman were mocking our sophisticated meal the whole time, but they were just jealous.)  Then we headed back to Superga and hung out up there for an hour and a half.  It was beautiful!  I'll try to send pictures.  Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  General Conference!  Yay!  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson

the district.


Our picnic at the river!

Last lesson with M!