Wednesday, September 24, 2014

09.24.14 {week 61}

Hey, hey! 
Well, another week come and gone!  It's been another quicky.  (I don't know if I'll have any slow weeks from here on out...)  Today is my 14 month mark!  Weird.  I realized about a week ago that I was still telling people that I had six months left when they asked me.  But, nope.  Now I'm at four.  Where has the time gone?  I'm realizing more and more that I'm getting closer to the end because every time I tell someone I have 4 months left, they get this worried look on their face.  And then they usually say something like, "Wow, that's really no time at all..."  And then I'm like, "Nah, I've got all the time in the world!"  And then their face just gets covered in...pity.  It's okay.  I really do still have a TON of time left.  I mean, I'm no Taylor Orton or anything.  ;)
I HAVE A NEW BABY, GUYS.  Her name is Sorella D'Ambrosio.  And, no, she's not Italian.  Her dad is Italian, but she was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona.  She is just....the biggest ball of energy I have ever met.  We just...laugh all the time, basically.  And not just those wimpy little laughs, but big throw-your-head-back-and-bust-up-laughing laughs.  It's been a great week.  Unfortunately her dad, although he's fluent in Italian, like never spoke Italian to her, so that's what she's having the hardest time with right now (um, hi, I understand...) but she's doing great.  I do feel kind of bad that she has to be so busy with scambios for her first couple of transfers.  I mean, that's not normal for a new missionary.  She'll be doing one a week, pretty much, for the entire transfer.  She's a champ!  Anyway, between last Thursday, when she arrived here in Alessandria, and now we've basically just been going around so that she can meet everyone.  It's been a packed week!  (Except for Sunday night when she was ill.  But it's all good now!)  And we've got another packed week ahead.  Tomorrow is our scambio.  Friday we'll be doing service to help decorate for a wedding that will be at the church on Saturday.  Saturday - WEDDING!  Sunday will be...normal.  Monday we'll go to Milano again for New Missionary Training.  Tuesday will be normal and then before we know it, I'll be writing you all again!  And then we'll have mission consiglio and General Conference and all sorts of good stuff!  I can't wait for these next couple of weeks.  :) 
Update on G. and S.:  They're doing great!  They've really been integrated into the ward well, which is such a huge relief.  That's one of the hardest parts about progressing investigators and new converts - just getting them friends and fellowshipped.  I remember the first couple of times they came to church, S. wanted to leave before the third hour (Primary), and now she loves it.  They actually stayed at church for, like, an hour after church on Sunday.  Haha we had to pretty much kick them out so that we could go home and eat lunch.  So that is really, really nice.  We had another miracle this week because we were able to see two of my favorite investigators that basically dropped off the face of the earth for the past two and a half weeks - C. and F.  We went to see them on Monday and I was basically just like, "So, hey, do you want to still learn about Jesus?"  (More tactfully though, of course...)  And they do want to keep learning and trying.  They're going to start reading the scriptures and praying again because they said they really did see/feel a difference in their lives when they were doing these things.  The next step is getting them to church.  That's a toughie sometimes, but we can do it!  Anyway, we're just seeing miracles everywhere we turn and it really does help me realize how much the Lord's hand is in our lives.  He is mindful of every single person.  And I know that when we pray for people to be put in our path, He really will put people who are ready in our path, and then all we have to do is open our mouths!  It's easy, if you think about it!  I remember I used to be so afraid to pray to have a missionary experience when I was a regular member, because I knew that if I prayed for it, it would actually happen.  It can seem somewhat scary or intimidating, but don't worry.  Heavenly Father wants you to help his children.  He won't let you fail.  So that is my invite for you this week - pray for a missionary experience and then when it comes your way, do something about it!  Will you do it?  :)  Good.  You will be blessed and you'll start to understand why I'm just so...happy to be a missionary.  It's the most incredible job ever.  I'll be following up next week, so don't forget!  ;) 
I love you all tons and I'm so grateful for the support system I have at home.  Even when I get zero emails from my siblings, I know you all still love me.  ;)  Really though, y'all are great.  I hope you all have an amazing week.  Look for miracles!  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson
Sorella Roth and me on her last full proselyting day.  Celebrating the fact that we didn't get trunky by eating a Tronky!  Ha, get it?

Me, Sorella D'Ambrosio, Sorella Natividad, Sorella Jackman - I basically just took this picture for Sorella Palumbo because it has one of her daughters, two granddaughters, and a great-granddaughter!  Just look at her family tree grow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

09.17.14 {week 60}

Hey Family!

How's it going?  Life in Alessandria, Italia is incredible.  With two baptisms on Saturday, how could it not be?  I'll talk more about that later.  The first thing I need to write about is transfers.  Okay, so as you all know I'm an STL here in Alessandria.  So transfer calls as an STL aren't all that crazy because you know you'll be getting another really experienced missionary and that it will all just be easy, breezy, beautiful (Covergirl?).  Well...I got a phone call from President on Saturday morning and one of the first things he said to me was, "Sorella Gunnerson, are you sitting down?"  "Yes."  Cue panic attack.  "I need you to do something that's never been done in this mission before."  Yeah, I was a litle worried.  So he says, "With so many sisters going home this transfer (the biggest group of sisters that this mission has ever seen come in all at once - 17) I need you to do double duty."  Basically he went on to tell me that not only will I still be STL this transfer, but I will also be training.  ....I'll just let that sink in for a minute....  Before...tomorrow...STLs in this mission always served with other STLs.  That way, when you went on scambios it all just made sense.  Now, not only will I not be with another STL, I'll be with a little greenie!  My second baby!  I'm stoked.  It's gonna be CRAZY.  And I still have no idea how it's all going to work, but it'll be fun.  He told me that me and two other sisters will be doing this to kind of test it out and see how it works.  So, tomorrow, we're heading to Milano bright and early so that I can go pick up my new baby!  Let's hope she's not crazy!  (...Really though...)

The baptism on Saturday was AMAZING.  Okay, so our ward had this Open House set up for Saturday that we've been planning for a while.  And we had the baptism planned to start a half hour after the Open House ended.  The Open House ended up being....well I don't know if "disaster" would be the right word...  Haha, no, it wasn't a disaster.  It's just that basically no one showed up.  Like, literally, only ward members.  I think one 13-year-old boy in our ward brought two of his friends.  But that was it.  BUT the success of this Open House is that there were tons of members who stayed afterwards for the baptism.  (SIDE NOTE: You all should go to convert baptisms.  Please.  It makes such a difference.  END SIDE NOTE)  So our little sisters got baptized and it was beautiful!  S. (the younger one) just started cracking up when G. was baptized because there was a big splash and she's nine years old (fun fact - she's literally a day younger than Nora).  But they got baptized and afterwards they both bore their testimonies and it was beautiful.  Seriously, G.'s testimony was so powerful.  I was shocked.  That girl is going to serve a mission someday.  Actually, when she was confirmed the next day, in church, the prayer said that she would help her family and the people of Italy come to know of the truth.  Sorella Roth and I both looked at each other afterwards with wide eyes and Sorella Roth said, "She's gonna serve a mission in Italy."  Oh my goodness, I would cry out of sheer happiness.  I love those girls SO much.

Anyway, other than that, this week has been full of a lot of goodbyes for Sorella Roth.  We'll head to Milano tomorrow morning, separate, and she'll hang out in Milano for the day, spend the night in a hotel that night with all the other sisters, and then her Mom, sister, and aunt are coming here to pick her up.  So, Mom, just FYI, her homecoming will be October 12 at that church by the Jiffy Lube on Foothill.  She's not sure of the time yet, though.  Either 11 or 3.  I'll let you know.  And, yeah, she and I just had a good laugh about an hour ago when I logged onto my email account and found out that she and Jason dated.  I was in shock, so I just turned to her and I was like, "YOU DATED MY COUSIN."  Small world, man.  Small world.

Well I think that's about it for this week.  I'll send pictures in another email.  AMORE.  (And wish me luck!)  :)

Sorella Gunnerson

G. and S.  got baptized!

 Saturday was also the birthday of one of my favorite people in the entire world - a member here named A.  So we went that morning and heart-attacked her door.  The quality is awful because we both forgot our cameras and had to take the pictures on the phone.  And then I took a picture of the phone screen.  Va beh.  It was fun!  We also left her some of my Italy-famous brownies.  (Did y'all know that I've become somewhat well-known for my brownie making skills here?  Well now you know.)

THE DISTRICT.  :)  Love these people.  (The senior couple is the Molinaris!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

09.10.14 {week 59}

Hey Family!

First things first, it's P-day here in the Italy Milan Mission and that means that today I am in Genova!  The Molinaris are a missionary couple in Alessandria and they invited Sorella Roth and me to come to Genova with them today to do some sight-seeing.  It was actually really convenient because we were going to take a train to Genova tonight anyway for a scambio...  So here we are!  I took TONS of pictures, but only sent a few...  Y'all will have to wait for my homecoming slideshow to see them all!  Anyway, we went to this little town called Nervi, right near Genova.  That's where most of the pictures came from.  It was beautiful!  We walked along the coast for a while and then went to one of the Nervi museums - it was a modern art museum and it was really cool!  And now we're here in the ghetto part of Genova doing some email before we have to split up for our scambio.  I'll be here in Genova with Sorella Mantz while Sorella Roth goes to Alessandria with Sorella Ball (her MTC comp) for their very last scambio of the mission!  Yep, Sorella Roth will be leaving me in seven days time.  Crazy.

We have had a week of miracles up in Alessandria!  First miracle:  G. AND S. ARE GETTING BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!  We are so so SO excited. This family was found about a week before I came here to Alessandria, so I've been able to see their entire progression and it is seriously incredible.  A., their dad, was baptized this last Saturday (he was being taught by the Anziani because we literally couldn't teach him and his wife, E., together.  It just...wasn't pretty) and now the girls are so ready to be baptized.  I've seriously seen a change for the better in them.  They are so excited as well.  I feel like Heavenly Father has placed so many little girls in my path during my mission and I'm more than willing to step up and be their big sister (in two senses of the word).  Both G. and S. have talked about how they want to be sister missionaries like us when they grow up.  Nothing would make me happier.  I love these girls and this family to death.  Their mom, E., is also incredible.  She's trying to overcome  smoking, which is why she isn't baptized yet.  But she has a strong testimony and is ALMOST totally done with the cigarettes.  I've almost cried a couple of times at lessons with them this week as she has told us that she's only been smoking 4-6 cigarettes a day.  Compared to the 40 she was smoking when I got here, I'd say that's pretty good.  They love the song "Sono un figlio di Dio" and ask us to sing it every time we have a lesson with them (which is every day...).  And when E. gets the urge to smoke a cigarette, she hums that song and she is able to resist.  I gave her one of my MoTab CDs the other day.  Hopefully that will help too.  That's actually the second one I've given away here...I might come home empty handed.  But that's okay.  ;)

I feel like there were SO many more miracles this week and just no time to write about them.  Also, this week is just a blur in my mind, so I can't remember anything that happened.  Oh!  There was a Europe Area Sisters Conference last night.  Anziano Ballard and Bednar spoke.  It was AMAZING.  I wish I had more time to write about it, but I really don't.  Also, we showed up soaking wet at the church, after having ridden there in the HUGE rainstorm on our bikes.  It was awesome.  Alright, that's all I have time for.  Love you lots!  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson

my girls!

them with their dad after his baptism.

sometimes rain happens.

a day in Genova.

 a day in genova part 2

a day in genova part 3

 a day in london?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

09.03.14 {week 58}

Dear Family,

This week was just jam-packed (just wrote ham-packed by accident and then laughed pretty hard about it...) with wonderful things.

We started last week off with a scambio on Thursday with the Torino sisters.  I was with good ol' Sorella Lawrence here in Alessandria.  It was a ton of fun and it was really cool to be able to serve with her again and see all the ways she's improved in the last transfer and a half.  We had a great time.  And then on Thursday night, she and I headed to Torino where we met up with our comps and spent the night there.  Bright and early the next morning, Sorella Roth and I headed to Milano for mission consiglio.  It was so wonderful (as usual) and we learned a ton and I know there are just a million and one things I need to improve in my missionary work.  And I've got about five months to do it!  Woohoo!
Saturday was a really cool day because I learned about real intent.  You know, in Moroni 10:3-5 it talks about how we need to pray with "real intent."  I never really understood what this phrase meant and then when I got on the mission I started to understand it.  It means that we pray with the intent that we will act on whatever answer we receive, or that we will act in order to receive an answer...and then act on that answer.  (I guess there's lots of action involved...)  Anyway, Saturday I had a really great testimony-builder of real intent.  On Saturday morning we had planned to go to Acqui Terme (a paesino, like, 30 minutes away in train) and we decided we were going to get two lessons on the train.  One on the way there and one on the way back.  This is nothing new - we talk a lot in our mission about train lessons and bus lessons and basically just being "forever finders."  It's never been my forte, but we do it quite often and I've grown to like train finding more and more.  I've learned that it doesn't have to be awkward.  You sit down by someone.  You start talking about normal stuff.  The weather.  Work.  School.  And then eventually it comes up that you're here in Italy serving a mission and then you start preaching!  Haha sort of.  Anyway, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  But the beautiful thing about train finding is that when it doesn't work you can just pretend you're getting off at the next stop, but instead go to a different car and talk to someone else.  ANYWAY we had decided during nightly planning that we were going to get these lessons and all morning I prayed really hard that it was actually going to happen.  I was praying with real intent, I tell you what.  I wanted to meet these people who were ready to hear about the gospel.  So we went.  We walked past some people in the first car, sat down by some Asians a few cars down.  They weren't really understanding anything we were saying (in Italian OR in English), so we decided to be "socially awkward for Jesus" (our theme for this transfer) and go back to some of these people we had passed before.  When we were walking past them, there had been this lady who I had noticed smiling at us.  So we went back and talked to her and had a lovely conversation about what we believe.  It was awesome.  And then on the way home, I had a feeling we should talk to this Fillipino (I can't remember how that's spelled in that right?) lady and she was awesome, too.  Anyway, it was just a really cool experience, because real intent is so....real (for lack of a better word).
Sunday was incredible because we had SEVEN investigators come to church.  It was a MIRACLE.  We've seen some huge progress in these people.  I love this job.  Monday we spent inside all day because Sorella Roth wasn't feeling well and then Tuesday was our zone conference!  It was awesome.  It was seriously just such a great week.  Gotta run.  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson


Probably only M. will understand this one...

Sometimes my comp has to wear a helmet around the house.

  The zone.