Wednesday, December 31, 2014

12.31.14 {week 75}

Happy New Years Eve!

I'm so sorry, but this email will probably be super short, seeing as I have zero more time to write.  And, hey, I got to see you guys last week!  That was awesome!  I guess I'll just start from there.  After skyping I headed into the other room and started watching Tangled.  :)  IT WAS THE BEST.  I was watching the first half all by myself because that's when Sorella Gregg skyped.  I literally was, like, giddy as I was watching it.  Laughing outloud, singing along, trying to relax...  (I may or may not have forgotten how to do that.  I'm sure it'll come back to me quickly though, don't worry.  ;))  Then we finished it together that night after going to eat MORE FOOD with another part-member family.  The food is so good, but there is just so much of it.  I'm pretty sure my stomach has grown three sizes this Christmas.  On Friday it was back to work as usual!  I headed down to Montevarchi to do a scambio.  It was great!  Learned a lot.  Taught a lot.  Laughed a lot.  Good times.  Then Sorella Gregg and I tried to drive back in time for her to make it to an interview with President Dibb.  Unfortunately, we tried and failed.  We had a good 20 minutes of cushion time, but then we got stuck on the freeway for THREE HOURS.  Wanna know how far we got in those three hours?  SIX KILOMETERS.  Man, it was crazy.  Luckily, the Dibbs were understanding and she'll do her interview this Friday.  Then Sunday was normal.  Monday we did another scambio and I went to Siena.  Oh my goodness, Siena is beautiful.  (SIDE NOTE: While in Montevarchi we had a few lessons in this town called Arezzo - where that movie ("La Vita è bella") was filmed!)  Then we got back last night and now I'm here writing you!  We have to stay inside tonight starting at 5 pm because New Years gets kind of crazy in Italy.  So that should be fun!  And we might be heading to Firenze for part of P-day today.  (How great is that?  I MIGHT be going to Firenze today.  That's just an option for me all the time.  What is my life?)  Then a normal day tomorrow.  Consiglio in Milano on Friday and then Zone training on Monday and then it'll practically be P-day again!  Sorry this email is so short.  Happy New Year!  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

12.24.14 {week 74}

Buon Natale, Famiglia!

Wow, can't believe it's Christmas Eve already.  This week just flew by and now here we are!  And I'll be seeing you guys tomorrow!  Woohoo!  Okay, so let's rewind to where we left off.

Last Wednesday, after emailing, we took a train to FLORENCE, ITALY.  It was literally a 15 minute train ride.  We are SO close.  And can I just tell you?  I AM IN LOVE.  Florence really is just as amazing as everyone says it is.  It was so beautiful.  We got there and walked around lost for a little bit until we found the David.  We walked in and there were all of these huge paintings in the room and then you turn a corner and you're in this long corridor and there he is.  At the end of the corridor.  In all his glory.  Haha it was awesome.  And, can I just tell you guys?  It is amazing.  Like, sometimes I see pieces of art that are pretty famous and I'm like, "Hmm it's alright.  It must be cool from, like, a smarter person's point of view."  The David was totally not like that at all.  It is just massive and beautiful.  So detailed.  So REAL.  To sum it was incredible.  There.  Then we headed over to the Florence Duomo.  We went inside and got to see the preseppe that they have in there.  The Florence Duomo is MASSIVE.  I want to go back sometime and go up to the top.  Maybe next P-day!  :)  Then we headed over to Ponte Vecchio.  Mamma mia, it is beautiful.  You know, it's the famous bridge that you always see paintings of.  So we got a good view of it from the next bridge over and then we walked down it and got to see all the shops.  It's mostly just covered in REALLY expensive jewelry shops.  And then the day was basically over and I was in love.  The end.

Well we saw some pretty great miracles this week!  First:  I parallel parked perfectly TWICE.  I didn't even know it was a talent I had.  And I should probably knock on some wood really quick.  ...  Done.  Second:  I'm finally getting used to the Tuscan accent.  I had always heard about the Tuscan accent up there in Piemonte, but I didn't believe it could actually be real.  It is.  Basically down here, they just substitute all of their "C" sounds with "H"s.  So instead of saying "queste cose qui" ("these things here") it sounds like "hweste hose hui."  EVERYONE does it and it's actually really funny to listen to.  My favorite one?  "Hoha Hola."  (Coca Cola)  Third:  We had an incredible lesson with this member's friend on Thursday.  Her name is F.  This member, Sorella F, asked us to come over last Monday night just to talk with her a little bit about her missionary work.  Umm yes please.  So we went over there and she and her husband already had a list written down of friends/acquaintances they wanted to share the gospel with and then they basically just wanted our help in brainstorming how to best share the gospel with the different people.  They even got their 12-year-old daughter involved - talking about one of her friends.  I was BLOWN AWAY.  I've never seen a family so...willing and ready to do missionary work.  I was seriously just ecstatic.  Anyway, we went over again on Thursday to share a little Christmas message with this friend, F.  She is just pretty confused and trying to figure out what is truth and what is not.  She was actually Buddhist for a long time and doesn't know what to believe.  So we had shared "Egli è il dono" and then read some scriptures.  And it was a really spiritual experience.  She shared her feelings about everything and we (and especially this member) bore testimony about the birth and life of Christ.  Then we felt really impressed to talk about personal revelation and how you can read and pray to know the truth.  We gave her a Libro di Mormon and she was really touched.  She's excited to meet with us again and continue learning more.  This whole experience was just really great.  Especially so close to Christmas and everything - meeting someone who is so ready to learn more.  But more than that, I was just so taken aback by this member - her desire to share the gospel and then her willingness to ACT.  It really made me reflect on the member I want to be when I go home.

Other than that this week has been full of Christmas fun!  We've been doing LOTS of caroling.  (I totally talked the Anziani into it and now they're addicted.)  And for the last two nights, some of the members even got involved!  It's been a lot of fun.  This week we don't have a full P-day since President wants us in as many homes as possible.  So we have a lunch appointment today with members and then a few more tonight.  THEN IT'S CHRISTMAS!!  We bought ourselves stockings this morning.  Haha we're classy like that.  I just wanted to leave you with this little talk that I printed off about a month ago, that I've re-read all season long.  It's really short, so give it a read: 

"Keep your faith.  Look for the good in your situation.  Do something kind for someone.  Seek Christ devoid of wrapping and tinsel.  You will find that despite external circumstances, Christmas - like the kingdom of God - is 'within you.'"

Also, my classic Christmas message that I've been sharing with everyone this Christmas season:  Alma 7:10-13.  Let's remember the reason Christ came to this earth.  The holiday will mean a lot more if we do.  :)  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

12.17.14 {week 73}


Well, here I am in the lovely city of Prato!  Where to begin?  I guess where I left off.

On Wednesday night, Sorella D'Ambrosio and I went to visit with a few more people before we left.  First stop was the L. Family.  Then we went to see the C. Family.  Man, that was a really hard goodbye.  I love that family SO much.  They are seriously so special to me and I just didn't want to have to leave them.  Little S. said the closing prayer and asked Heavenly Father to make the trains not work the next morning.  Haha.  I miss those girls so much already.  Then we were able to go be with my dear, dear friend A.  I just love her so much.  But at least I'll be heading home relatively soon and there's skype and stuff.  (Meno male!)  That night we stayed up wayyyy too late trying to finish getting everything done - packing, organizing, writing information.  Just everything.  And then we got up the next morning and got on our way.  

Luckily two of our Anziani also had to head to Milano on Thursday morning and they offered to help us get our bags there.  Oh my goodness, I literally have no idea what we would have done without their help.  Haha it would have taken us HOURS.  This is why sisters just should not be white-washed.  We both have too much stuff!  I'll send pictures in a few minutes of the journey.  We were a sight to behold.  We got to Milano and quickly headed to Milano Cimiano.  We got to the parking lot and I got the first look at my NEEEW CARRRR!  And then we watched as they tried to stuff all six of our suitcases into it.  It was pretty funny.  Then I went with Anziano Harmer to the gas station so that he could show me how it's done here in Italia.  (I still wasn't allowed to drive yet because I still needed to be trained.)  Anyway, we headed back to the church and I was finally trained.  Then I headed out to the car and had to move the car so that the Dibbs could get there car out.  YEAH.  I had to back into a parking spot in front of the APs, Anziano Harmer, and President Dibb.  I think I might have been freaking out a little bit.  But they were all just laughing and I'm pretty sure they got lots of pictures.  Then President Dibb gave me a lot of pointers about how to get out to the freeway, how to turn on the lights, and all that good stuff.  I'm so glad that day is over!  Haha.  The Cimiano church is also where all the new trainers and trainees go to be placed together on their first day.  So we were there while all of that was happening and therefore I got to meet my granddaughter!  I don't think I mentioned this last week, but Sorella Tokarski is training this transfer!  So I got a picture with them, we ate lunch, and then we headed on our way!  Driving in Italy is basically the same as driving anywhere else, except for the lanes are miniscule, the parking spots are miniscule and there are a million one-way streets.  So Sorella D'Ambrosio and I drove a good three hours to Bologna.  And then we just cried a lot when I dropped her off and picked up my new comp.  I miss her a ton.

Anyway, ever since Thursday night, we've just been here in Prato (and Pistoia) trying to meet with people and get to know the city.  They have two baptismal dates set, but I still haven't met either one of them yet...  Anyway, the work has been a little slow.  I think Sorella Gregg is just trying to find her bearings as the companion who knows the people and the city the most.  And I'm just trying to learn as quickly as possible!  Oh, funny story.  On Saturday night we had a ward Christmas party.  SOMEHOW I got roped into being MARY for the Nativity skit.  Hahahaha it was awful.  And I was reminded of how horrible of an actress I am.  Anyway, I feel like I have so much more to talk about, but no time!  We're heading to Florence in a few minutes!  Hopefully I'll be seeing the David today!  :)  Anyway, love you all lots.    AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12.10.14 {week 72}


Wow, it has been a CRAZY five days, guys.  Okay, so Saturday we both woke up so ready to get transfer news.  Our bet was that I was leaving and Sorella D'Ambrosio was staying.  Well, President knows how to surprise us!  Sorella D'Ambrosio was really nervous that she was going to leave and I was going to stay, so when we got the call from President he talked to me first and said that I'm headed to Prato!  (Don't worry - I didn't know where it was either...)  He quickly explained that it is 15 minutes from Firenze and it's the old apartment of a senior couple who just headed home and apparently there's a nice parking lot and stuff.  (Have y'all heard?  I'm getting a car tomorrow!)  So I mouth to Sorella D that I'm leaving and she gets this look of relief on her face.  So then I pass the phone to her and he started talking and ... I knew something we weren't expecting was happening because of her face.  Well we're being white washed!  Sorella D is heading over to Bologna to open a companionship!  She is going to be with a sister two transfers ahead of her and they are going to be AMAZING.  So tomorrow, we'll head to Milano, we'll have an hour long training for the car.  And then I'll drive her over to Bologna.  (Seriously, some extra prayers tomorrow would be greatly appreciated...)  In Bologna will be our new comps!  So I'll drop Sorella D off, pick up Sorella Gregg (my new comp!  She came in D'Ambrosio's group, so I'll be bottle breaking her) and we'll head down to Prato.  President said that the drive from Milano to Bologna is easy.  The drive from Bologna to Prato is a little more difficult.  I think he said something about around 25 tunnels???  And lots of hills.  Anyway, it will be interesting.  Haha.  I have a feeling the first impression my new companion has of me is going to be ... psycho driver lady.  Sorella D, on the other hand, can't wait for the drive tomorrow.  :)  I will be over the sisters of Pisa, Firenze, Siena, and Montevarchi.

We had our last day at church on Sunday and I sat by my dear friend, A., and we both just bawled as Sorella D got up to bear her testimony.  Leaving Alessandria is really hard for me.  I can't say that I'm shocked - I was 95% sure I was heading to a new city, but this little city is just so special to me.  I really have made lifelong friends here.  I'm sure Prato will be great.

My birthday started being celebrated at lunch on Sunday!  Ever since C. found out about my birthday a couple of weeks ago, she's been reminding us of this lunch appointment.  So we went and she had a couple of adorable, hand-made gifts at our places.  Then a lovely lunch and a cake after!  With candles!  I think there's a video somewhere of them singing to me.  You guys will watch it someday.  Anyway, it was just really sweet.

On Monday morning I accidentally woke up early and then couldn't get back to sleep because I was so excited that it was my birthday.  #fiveyearsoldontheinside  Mostly I was just itching to open that awesome package that my sisters sent me that I had been saving.  And it was TOTALLY worth the wait.  So awesome.  I also opened a card from Mom and Dad (THANK YOU!) and then there was something else new there.  A letter from Tokarski!  And a gift from my two daughters (Tokarski and D'Ambrosio) that they bought MONTHS ago when they were on a scambio together.  Ha!  I love these girls so much.  It was really touching.  Then Sorella D made birthday crepes, but we couldn't eat them.  (The nutella jar shattered on the ground a few days ago...  Sorella D tried to salvage the nutella but......there was still glass.  As we found out that morning.  Hahaha.)  Then I started getting phone calls and texts from missionaries and members and investigators and EVERYONE.  It was awesome.  (And also due to my dear little Sorella D who apparently sneakily texted everyone to remind them and then erased the texts - all while I was in the shower.)  After studies we had a district meeting and the Anziani brought me cake!  So I got to blow out more candles.  After that we searched for and found sushi.  SO YUMMY.  I forgot how good it is.  And there were lots of Asians there, so you KNOW it was good.  (SIDE NOTE: Apparently Prato is full of Asians!  Literally three different people have told me that.)  After that we went to have a last lesson with our dear investigators C. and F.  We all just cried a lot.  And then we visited Sorella Borromeo one last time and also C. (the Sunday woman).  Then we headed to centro to carol with the Anziani!  After that we all went to a birthday party that the Fillipini threw for me.  (In my defense...I thought we were going over for an FHE with that family.  Haha and then ALL the Fillipini were there and there was a cake with my name on it and it was amazing!  I LOVE ALESSANDRIA.  Have I mentioned that yet?)  And then we went home that night, attempted to pack and slept.

It was an amazing day.

Tuesday was full of more goodbyes and tonight will be the same.  It's kind of the worst.  But I guess I should just be thankful that I know so many wonderful people who making saying goodbye so hard.  Anyway, thanks for all the nice birthday messages!  I'm one spoiled girl.  I'll talk to you guys next week - from Tuscany!  :)  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson

Saturday started off like this - I'm going to Prato!

Me and S.

Us and random members.  :)

Birthday lunch after church on Sunday - with C. and L.!

Sorella B. came to lunch too!

C. gave us presents.  :)

Cake #1  (Yeah, I was a little spoiled...)

Me with N., O., and kiddos!

Woke up birthday morning to crepes!  (They came to be known as "death crepes" after finding glass inside them......long story..........)

I also woke up to an incredible package from my lovely sisters!!  Here I am with the banner.  Also, just ask Sorella D'Ambrosio - I was, like, screaming and jumping around when I found the April 18th present.  :)  SO EXCITED.

I would like you all to meet my son, E.  I love this boy SO MUCH and we have a special bond because we look exactly like each other and he looks nothing like his parents.  We're best friends.

Last night with GANS.  :(

Cake #3 (at the birthday party all of the Filippini threw for me!)

#selfie (after caroling the night of my b-day)

Birthday lunch!  Sushi!

C., F., and A.!  Love them.

Me and D'Ambrosio in Acqui Terme - by la bollente!

Me and E.

Me with D. and little S.

Us and F. (her 10 year old daughter was taking the picture haha)

Us and A. and D. at the pizzeria!

Cake #2 (after district meeting)

District Picture - last District Meeting of the transfer


Friday, December 5, 2014

12.05.14 {week 71}

Hello Family!

I hope you all had a wonderful Giorno del Ringraziamento!  People don't really know what that is here, but I'm sure it was awesome in America.  We celebrated the day after by making the most incredible garlic mashed potatoes I've ever tasted.  (Or they might have just been so good because I literally haven't had mashed potatoes in a year and a half...)  And we made lots of turkey/gratitude hands with people.  It was fun.  :)

This week has been CRAZY.  And I have to apologize that I totally ditched you guys yesterday.  Our P-Day was supposed to be Thursday but then there were scambio complications and we had to switch it to today.  Between Monday morning and Thursday night, we did three scambi.  Haha, it was seriously crazy.  It wasn't supposed to work out like that, but with lots of flooding down in Genova and just the busy-ness of this transfer, that's how it worked!  It was so much fun though and I just love all these sisters that I get to hang out with and be companions with for a day!  I always learn so much and want to be a better missionary because of them.  On Monday I had a scambio here in Alessandria with Sorella McPeek.  She and I go way back to my second and third transfers in Milano.  She's a transfer behind me and was trained by my lovely friend, Sorella Harward.  So we would hang out on P-Days all the time.  It was so fun to do missionary work with her!  On Tuesday I was here in Alessandria with Sorella Stott - she was trained by another dear friend from my Milano days - Sorella Carlock!  Holy smokes, this girl is an incredible missionary.  I learned so much from her - especially about the importance of being obedient and respecting the rules - even if/when we don't understand them. And then on Wednesday morning we had a zone training here in Alessandria.  It was also kind of our Christmas conference.  For the last hour, they had an Italian dessert for us and we got to hear a couple of musical numbers and then sing some Christmas carols together.  It was really nice.  And then we ran to catch a train to San Remo!  We blitzed that city with the sisters from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon and then we finally were able to come back to Alessandria and be normal and together again.  I love my dear Sorella D'Ambrosio!  

But, guess what happens tomorrow??  Transfer calls!  There are a lot of possibilities for this transfer, so we really have NO CLUE as to what is going to happen.  We're pretty sure I'll either be training again or finishing training another sister whose trainer is going home next week.  Who knows?  But I'll be sure to give you the big news next Wednesday!  Thanks for all the love and support and especially the lovely birthday messages.  AMORE.

Sorella Gunnerson

Luck is on our side and we've acquired some PUMPKIN (also real baking powder and baking soda, crisco, american flour, and a bag of real, live chocolate chips.....the things you take for granted in the states....).  Guys, this is a big deal.  We spent part of our P-day making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  We are happy campers at our house today.

Scambio on Monday with Sorella McPeek!


Scambio on Tuesday with Sorella Stott!

In beautiful San Remo!

This is what I call a gelato sandwich.  :)

Making arancini while in San Remo on a blitz.  SO YUMMY.  Get excited to eat them.

Me and Sorella D with the San Remo apartment view.  Not bad, eh?

Blitz in San Remo with Sorelle Hibo and Hogan!  :)

Our view on the train ride home from San Remo.

Our dinner on the train ride home from San Remo.