Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pictures of Fog and Wearing Layers

David answers Mom's questions in his email this week...

What inspirational messages have you read recently?
I liked the March 2013 Ensign about Resilience.  And the Eyring talk about the Priesthood Man.  And Anziano Mata'u recommended I listen to Uchtdorf's Forget-Me-Not talk, and that was really good.

CONVERSATION STARTERS? When we meet people on the street, we might say:
"We have a message that the family can be together forever," or "God has always called prophets.  What would it mean to you if there was a prophet today?" or "Happy New Year! If I can ask, what are some of your goals for this year?  We have a message about how we can grow spiritually by coming to Christ."

FOG.  So I sent you some pictures of fog,

and of the Christmas tree in Bologna,
and since I sent everything, there are a few pictures of my reimbursements (travel costs are reimbursable so we don't run out of money for taking the train to district meetings, etc.)

Also there's a picture of a cool fountain of Milan, decked out for Christmas.
 The people are: in the first one, me, then Anziano Andersen (my missionary dad/trainer), and Anziano O'Riordan (Andersen's trainer, my grand-dad),
David, Anziano O'Riordan, Anziano Andersen
at transfers.

The other person picture is my district from the MTC.  It was nice to see them.

(Now answering his Dad's email...)
I'm glad you enjoyed visiting Grammie D and Poppa Dave.  It'll be cool to see them once I get back.

This past week we had 10 people in church, although I'm sure part of that was because people were away for vacations.

LIVING CONDITIONS.  It's not America here, but it's definitely not a 3rd-world country.  It was explained to me that 2nd-world means that they have a stable economy, but they can't provide for all their needs without imports/exports.  Something like that makes sense.

We don't have a dryer.  But most other things we either have or I've forgotten about, and thus clearly don't really need.

SLOW AREA: NOT MUCH INTEREST.  Here in Ferrara, I have to work on Persevering instead of Enduring.  Since the branch is so small and the work is so slow, I go through a roller coaster of attitudes/emotions...
A) This is depressing. Why don't they close this area?
B) They're not going to close the area.  I guess I'm going to have to resign myself to a miserable next 2.5 transfers
C) That wouldn't be any fun. I'm going to have to find a way to get excited about "finding" (people who are interested in talking about gospel principles).  I owe it to the Lord.  I could have ended up anywhere else in the world, but I'm so lucky to be here!
D) Yeah! Let's go talk to people!  We're going to do great today!
E) Wow, people are really not interested here.  I've never seen that gesture before (just kidding). Repeat.

So I read the Ensign conference talks and scriptures and try to stay motivated. And life goes on.

WINTERY WEATHER. It's pretty cold here, though.  I never had to deal with it much before since I could just go inside when I was tired or wanted to be warm.  Now, it's snowing gently and I need the sweater, fleece, jacket, scarf, gloves, and a second layer of pants.  Not much fog this past week, but a bit of snow after Christmas.

I sent more pictures via dropbox, and a talk by W. Cleon Skousen (BYU lecturer) I thought Teresa would like. Just the last 6 minutes, it's a fun story.

Love, Anziano Whitesell

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Best Christmas Gift Ever

(This entry is from Mom/Kari.)

David called us via the computer (Skype) on Christmas Day!
Grammie D, Poppa Dave, Frank
We were in Florida visiting Frank's parents, so Grammie D and Poppa Dave also got to see him and talk to him.
David in Italy, the rest of us in Florida

He was in the home of one of the members in their branch (very small congregation), in the kitchen.  We talked about his companion a little, his zone (multiple closeby areas, grouped in the mission), and the work he's doing in the area of Ferrara.
Teresa & Kara in the living room: T is holding her iPod so David can talk to his friend Chase in Massachusetts

There were about 10 members at church last Sunday, so it is small to say the least!  (Some were on vacation for the holidays, but even with the ones who were gone, it is small.)  He gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting the first week he was there.

It was so good to see and hear him!  We all asked him questions, about the work he's doing, and also about his living conditions.

They do not have a dryer, so they hang out clothes after they wash them.  He eats a quick meal of pasta and sauce pretty often.  With so few members, they mostly cook dinners for themselves.  He just got his hair cut, so it's pretty short right now.
Chase, on Teresa's iPod in Massachusetts

We talked for almost 2 hours (!!?! probably too long...)

Chase is David's friend in Massachusetts, who was taking care of our pets while we were in Florida.  Teresa connected with him on the iPod, and he got to talk to David too!

He looks and sounds good.  It must be discouraging to be in such a small area with so few people interested in talking about the gospel.  But he seems to be doing pretty well.  Plugging along.

Anyway it made my whole MONTH, I think!  Best Christmas Gift EVER. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Speaking in Sacrament Meeting

Ciao family!

When I first got here, I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting!  It was in the appointment calendar.  The Elder I replaced WAS going to speak in church, and his name was crossed out and "Anziano Whitesell" was written in instead.  Kind of like "Welcome to Ferrara! You will prepare a talk."

It's cool, though, being able to teach in Italian.

I will be calling Thursday (Christmas Day) on Skype at about 4 p.m. this time, so I think that's 10:00 a.m. your time.  Morning call: I look forward to it!

Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Companion, Fast Cars and Yippy Dogs

Hello, family--

CHRISTMAS CALL.  I don't yet know Skype arrangements for Christmas Day.  In Udine it was all set up, we would have been at Sister Sykes' house.  Here, I don't know if we're going anywhere for Christmas, and neither does my companion.  So I'll email you next week when I know, and I'll email an approximate time for skyping/calling.  We might just be here for an internet point, though I'm hoping for a member.  So I don't know, sorry!

Here are answers to your questions:
1) We can Skype at Christmas, if we have a place to do so.  Still working on it.

GOALS. 2) District goal so far: just get along with each other!  I've only been to one district meeting so far, so I'm still getting to know things here.

3) I do have a few goals written down somewhere, like "Be more charitable towards others, be more calm, smile more."

NEW COMPANION. 4) My new companion is Anziano Mata'u. He's Samoan, from Orem, Utah.

5) As far as our apartment set-up: we're in 2 here. (That's how it's phrased in Italian: Siamo in due.)

Dad, that's cool that you were Branch President during your mission in Spain, for a bit.
I'm expecting Bettina to get baptized within a couple of months.

SPEEDY CARS.  The city with the Ferraris is Modena, not in our zone unfortunately! But I believe there is a Lamborghini factory in Bologna, which is where we have our district meetings.

I never realized that you got light-headed about blood, but then again I've never given blood at the same time as you.

YIPPY-DOGS. Let's hope there will be no dog-biting here.  Most of the dogs are stupid yippy-dogs anyway.
 We had 18 people in Sacrament Meeting (including us), and apparently that's the most Anziano Mata'u has seen.

I forgot the microSD adapter this time, so I'll send pictures next time.

Love you,
Anziano Whitesell

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Transfer Time, Family History and Counting Blessings


(Side note from Mom: David went around and took a lot of photos this time, most likely after he found out he'd be transferred this time.  I'll include a handful.)
Zone Conference Dec 2014

This Internet place has decent connection, so I'm uploading a bunch of stuff to Dropbox.  I hope you were able to listen to the Skousen talk, or part of it.

Tuniutti family
TRANSFER TIME.  I am being transferred to a city called Ferrara.  I'll send the address when I have one.  It's been a good run in Udine; I could have happily done 4 transfers there.  Also Anziano Minor is going to Vercelli.  Anziani Fabiano and Kendrick are staying in Udine and training.  There are 12 new sisters and 15 new elders this transfer, and 5 of them are getting trained in the Venezia zone.

I've heard Ferrara is pretty small -- a branch of 15 members, and every door knocked several times by the missionaries.  So that'll be different in a lot of ways.  But also warmer, which will be a nice change.

COUNTING BLESSINGS.  I'm grateful for Ann Sykes, the new convert in our area.  She's been a great friend this past few months and I'll miss her.  She's in picture 629.
Ann: a good friend to the missionaries!
 Other people in pictures: me with peanut butter cookies, 627,
Cookie Time! Peanut Butter
my district in 619
, sorella Mendoza (from the Dominican Republic) in 616
Sorella Mendoza
, the Tuniutti family (members of the church) in 612, Ivan (an eternal investigator) in 609.

(Another side note: Mom asked David what "spiritual gift" he might have, to help him do the work of the Lord...)  Spiritual gift -- I'm always upbeat.  I'm not always positive or happy, but I don't stay down/depressed when things get messed up.  I don't smile a lot, but I'm never depressed or particularly sad.

See if you can call the Church News and get Nana's name in the Centenarian section.  I saw those in the Church News you gave me, and thought that would be neat.

FAMILY HISTORY. There is a focus on family history here as missionaries, too.  We may not have genealogy centers as convenient as they are in America, but we still use genealogy as a method of teaching to find interested people.

SMALL WORLD. I ran into another missionary yesterday, who is finishing her first transfer in Milano.  We didn't recognize each other, but she's from the Newbury Park 2nd Ward, and was in the 3rd ward for awhile.  Do you know the Snow family?  Kim Snow.  I was able to remember enough names to convince her that I wasn't joking, but it has been awhile.  It was a neat connection.

I'm still working with the recipe book you sent me at the MTC, and some other recipes.  Or if I'm tired I'll just do tortellini and pesto.  Just boil, cook, drain, eat.

Love, Anziano Whitesell

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Turkey, Venice and Early Christmas Gifts

Hello, All--

Pictures are on again!  I stuck the microSD in the adapter for the camera, and it can take and upload pictures, just not movies.  So we're still good.

MILESTONE BIRTHDAYS.  (David's great-grandmother will be 104 in a few days.  He comments...) Nana's birthday is a pretty cool event.  I'm never sure what to tell people: "I have a great-grandmother who is X years old"-- I can't remember what her age is.  So I'll tell them 104 as of next week!

(Side Note: we mentioned we had Pie Night before Thanksgiving, but sloppy winter weather kept about 1/2 the people home.)   Pie Night still sounds good, even though there were fewer people.  You just get to know those few people better.  That happens on the mission too.  You talk with people, see how different their lives were as they grew up, and have bonding experiences.  One phrase I heard this week that I liked was: "There are no friends, only family."

THANKSGIVING DAY. For Thanksgiving I had polenta (an Italian dish that...well, just google it) and turkey and some cake.  We got a bunch of Thanksgiving food from the American army base here, but we gave it to the Italian and he didn't know what to do with it.  So we didn't get to eat the cranberry sauce or the green bean casserole, but it was still a pretty good meal.

We went to Venice again today (well, Anziano Fabiano's first time).  We planned on going to a glass factory, but since it was his first Venice trip we went to Piazzo San Marco (the one everybody recognizes as "Venice") and didn't have time for the factory.  But I made sure to pick up my souvenirs this time, not being sure if I'll have another chance.

CHRISTMAS GIFTS.  We had a December Zone training, ostensibly the Christmas Conference.  Our "gifts" were a) New Bedding, including a 'duvet,' which is a comforter, as I learned, a 'duvet cover' for the duvet, and a 'pillow cover' that is supposed to go over my pillow, inside my actual pillow case.  It was all very convusing, and clearly I haven't spent enough time in Bed, Bath & Beyond to know what those things are supposed to do.  But at least they were warm once I got them on.  b) we got this drawing of the Presidents of the Church, which is a nice drawing. c) from the Zone Leaders, for an activity we did this past month, we got a can of A&W Root Beer (and there was much rejoicing) and a peanut butter jar.

(Side note from Mom: David's all-time favorite soda is A&W Root Beer...that was probably the highlight of his whole week, ha :) )

I guess I can't go to Venice again, because I'm running out of new picture material.  Oh, it was overcast today, but not raining.  So that's all right.

I got the Christmas package all right, and also a letter.  I wasn't sure what to open, but I ate some American candy (much rejoicing), and felt peanut butter, some office supplies, and styrofoam.  Thanks!

(Side note from Mom: he said he needed pens and post-it notes, which I wrapped. He obviously did not open the small gifts but just guessed what they were by touch?  I did NOT, by the way, wrap up styrofoam for one of his gifts! That was a 'block" of 8 post-it note pads.)

Anziano Fabiano, Whitesell
Anything else you send is not likely to reach me by Christmas, and I don't know if I'm getting transferred, so don't send anything to the apartment anymore.

Thanks, Dad, for the misison stories.  It gives me some perspective even though we're not supposed to compare missions.

Anziano Fabiano is going to Milano next week to get his Permeso (after a year here...they really messed that up), so I'm going to Milan, Italy for my P-Day next week.  Cool!

Love, Anziano Whitesell

P.S.  Also, those watches are from the Rolex store in Venice.  16,000 Euro for a watch?!?  ($19,675 USD) No thank you.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Being Grateful & Teaching Lessons

Hi, Dad!

I'm doing great here in Udine.

INVESTIGATOR.  We have, as you've heard, one main investigator named Bettina, and we're working with the new convert Sister Sykes who referred her to us.  Bettina passed her baptismal interview, and we're looking forward to (in all likelihood) the baptism on Sunday!  It's wonderful because she started out being referred to us for a priesthood blessing to get her past some difficulties she had in the past.  At that point we explained part of the Restoration and the Priesthood, and she took more lessons from there.  Wonderful!

Other than her, we're pretty dry.  The ward mission leader is pushing for us to work with "less-actives" (inactive, pretty much -- they are baptized members who don't come to church).  Just to encourage them, and see if they need any help we can offer.  So we see one young man every other week, and have just made contact with two other inactive people who we hope to see within a week.

I didn't realize there were so many families that don't come to church (right...because they don't come to church).  And then we have a few people who we haven't seen for a very long time, that we try to visit but they are always "busy."

LESSONS. But at least we have some lessons going on fairly often, although we have had some 3-lesson weeks fairly recently.  I don't know much different than this, but Anziano Fabiano came from Genova, where they had several new convert families who loved them, a decent number of investigators, and pretty much every hour full.  Here, there's a lot more "finding" work going on.

THANKSGIVING DINNER.  One Italian family has a tradition of having the anziani over for Thanksgiving each year.  So we'll have turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and some other stuff.  Much of that food came from the American base.  Otherwise, we would have never seen the pie mix, the Martinelli's, the cranberry sauce, or the fried onions.  I don't think he has any idea what to do with those, so we'll probably take them back and make green bean casserole.  That's a pretty American thing.  But I am looking forward to that.

Problem: the SD card for the camera has been corrupted.  I don't quite know what to do with it -- I can still see the pictures on the camera, and it still takes more pictures.  I just can't get to them from the computer.  Probably something to do with the terribly-protected Internet point we use for emailing. So I'll look for another SD card and then send this one, so that you can fight with it and maybe get the pictures off of it.

Worst case scenario: when I get back I can hook up the camera to the TV and at least click through the pictures; they just won't get to the blog. :/

1. Winter coats, including gloves and rainproof fabric
2. Meal invitations :D
3. P-Day ("Preparation Day," when missionaries do their laundry and buy groceries, etc.)
4. Everyday miracles
5. Book of Mormon, Jesus the Christ, Ensign (church magazines or materials)

Love, Anziano Whitesell

P.S. I get songs off of email by downloading them onto the microSD card.  Which only works sometimes, so we'll see.  I'll probably make due with what I have so far, and Skousen.  TK might have mentioned I'm listening to BYU lectures from a man named W. Cleon Skousen, who talks about the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  He is an excellent teacher, and I wish I could have taken his classes.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Life in the Slow Lane and Giving a Talk


(Side Note: David surprised us with an email a day early--actually it threw off his mom, who always sends an email HIM on Tuesday.  This time I opened the email account and already had a note from him--meaning, of course, that he did not get a note from ME that week. :(  )

EARLY PDAY. So I forgot to mention that in addition to having a tour by Elder Fingerle, it's on Wednesday.  And travel makes it take all day, so we're taking our P-Day today.  Hence the Tuesday letter.

We went tracting near a shopping center, Terminal Nord, which has a nice covered 1/3 kilometer walk with all the shops off of it.  Its nice for finding work on Friday-Saturday afternoon-evenings, especially if it's raining.

GO BACK! Anyway, in talking to people, I got my first "Go back to your country!"  It was an older guy, who called it out at us after waving us away.  No harm done, it was at least funnier (even though he meant it) than "No me interesa" or "Sono credente...en modo mio."  Or better yet, if we tell someone we're from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they say, "I'm not part of that church," and walk away.  Oh, really?  Well, I guess I didn't mean to talk to you then.  But we also have interesting conversations with people who are fairly nice.  So, it's not all bad.

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE. I don't remember if any families back home were Italian, but one thing you figure out is that the Italian pace of life is pretty slow.  For the older generation, they're used to taking their time about everything.  For example, biking.  When we go biking as missionaries, we are trying to get somewhere.  When you're stuck behind someone who's biking just a bit faster than I walk, it's annoying.  Also when they interrupt the conversation for a 5-minute phone call.

But a nice thing about Italian culture is that they're friendly.  Not necessarily everyone here in Udine, but they are willing to talk for awhile.  Once you break the ice or get them to like you, they will talk for the whole afternoon.  So we have a few "friends" who we run into occasionally, older people who will stop and talk to us if we run into them.

SWEATER UPDATE. 'Package update:' the distribution company says that the package with sweaters in it was sent back to wherever it came from.  This confused me because it didn't come from America and I don't know if it had a return address.  But maybe you could call/email the company you bought it from and they could try to send it again, preferably to the mission home.  Sorry and thank you.

Lots of Love,
Anziano Whitesell

P.S. Oh, and also I gave a talk last Sunday, on the Plan of Salvation.  I didn't memorize it, or even prepare a talk.  Not in the sense of "I prepared it during the Sacrament," but I just looked up a few scriptures that went nicely and gave the talk from my knowledge of the Plan of Salvation.  It went really well, even in Italian.  I could use a bit of work on public speaking, but it went well nonetheless.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Water, Hope, and the View from the Apartment


(Side note: Mom sent David a "Cool Italy Story" we had heard in a church meeting here.  It's on this blog, in the previous post.)

To answer your questions first: yes, I did receive the story about President Uchtdorf and the Italian government.  It's neat to hear about some of the travel and meetings that the First Presidency and the Twelve do to keep things running with the everyday business of the church.

READING. A favorite scripture I've read this week...none in particular come to mind.  In the Book of Mormon, I'm reading through 2nd Nephi right now, with all the Isaiah chapters (pretty dense reading), so that may be why.

(Another Side Note: In our church, we refer to some church leaders as "Elder," just as we refer to most men missionaries [just not in Italy] as "Elder."  The ones David mentions here are church leaders assigned to different areas of the world, and those giving the talks he references are from the 12 Apostles.  We have a First Presidency [our prophet and his 2 counselors], plus 12 Apostles at the head of our church: patterned after the church organization of Christ when he was on the earth.)

We have a "mission tour" by one of the 70s, Elder Fingerle, coming up on the 19th, so we're supposed to read Matthew in preparation for this presentation, as well as 3 talks: "Seek Learning by Faith" (Elder Bednar), "Roots and Branches," (Elder Cook), and "To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood," (Elder Bednar).  They're very powerful messages about using new technology to bring forward the Lord's work, and increasing our capacity to learn through the Spirit.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE.  Highlight of the past week was every time we used our rain jackets.  From the last time I wrote you, I haven't seen the sun until this morning, and now it's raining again.  Thank goodness we decided to get warm rain jackets when we did, 'cause sweaters wouldn't have been much help.  Apparently all across Italy there's not-so-great weather, and there are floods in Genova.  But we've remained fairly dry, even on bikes and walking places. So yay for that.

GOOD EXPERIENCES. Some uplifting tales from the mission, but not sugar-coated: not everything turns out perfect.

Awhile back we were knocking on doors (ringing doorbells) and were let into the house.  Now this doesn't happen very often, and Anziano Fabiano (my current companion who has been out almost a year) tells me it's maybe happened ONCE to him.  We taught the Father and the son there a nice lesson about the Plan of Salvation (God's plan of happiness for His children -- us -- to be able to return to Him after this life).  Then we came back a few days later and taught the entire family.

Those kinds of experiences give us a lot of hope when they happen.  When we taught them the second time, the mother wasn't very interested, which led to the father being less willing to meet with us or come to church.  We've met with them twice since then, over the period of a month-and-a-half, which is not very productive for them or for us.  But these things happen, and at least we left a good impression when we first met with them.

MEMBER MISSIONARIES. One new convert in our area (someone who's been baptized within the past year) is a very outgoing lady, and has many opportunities to talk about the gospel and the missionaries.  One of her friends was having difficulties in her life, so she came to Ann's and we talked to her and gave her a priesthood blessing.  That lady has since met with us once a week for the past five weeks or so, and is preparing to be baptized on the 23rd or the 30th.  No guarantees, but I'm looking forward to the next few weeks.

I hope this message finds you healthy and happy, and ready to face the falling leaves :D
leaves outside my apartment...won't ever match our yard in New England!!

I'm going to send a 4-part panorama that you can photoshop to make sense.  It's the view from my window as it stopped raining.

view from my apartment, Udine

Also, in the previous message, my companion, Anziano Fabiano, is the one awake.  Anziano Kendrick is closest, and Anziano Minor has the backpack.
Staying awake...or not :)

Another thing, could you email to find out where Cameron Cozzens and Braxton Allred are serving missions? I'd like to hear from them, see how they're doing.  It's really cool to email other missionaries and hear from them and about how the experience is different in other places.

Love you!
Anziano Whitesell

Cool Italy Story

Vocabulary words: in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a "ward" is a congregation.  A group of "wards" is a "stake."  Church leaders are sometimes referred to as "Elder," just as missionaries are referred to as "Elder." (It has nothing to do with age...just how you are serving.)

Here is a cool story we (David's family) heard at Stake Conference (Boston Stake) in October, from Elder Gordon H. Smith.  Elder Smith used to be a U.S. Senator for Oregon.

He says that a few years ago, President Uchtdorf calls him and says that the church does not have the status of being an officially recognized church in Italy.  The members are allowed to meet and worship, but by not being recognized as an official religion, 30,000 Latter-day Saints in Italy are not getting the benefits of other organized religions (like marriages and baptisms being recognized by the government, etc.).  President Uchtdorf says to Elder Smith, "What can we do about this?"

Elder Smith says, "Let me make a few phone calls, and see if we can talk to somebody."

So he calls the Italian government and gets an appointment with the Italian equivalent of our cabinet member for the Department of the Interior.  Elder Smith calls President Uchtdorf and says, "I'm meeting with the (Minister of the Interior) in Rome on this date."  President Uchtdorf says, "I'll meet you there."

They go to the Italian government offices, and are led into a big room with a long table.  After they are seated, in walks the Minister of the Interior.  She has an assistant minister with her and he is a professor who teaches religion.

They exchange polite greetings with these two Italians who speak perfect English.  President Uchtdorf explains the above situation, and says how it would help these citizens of their country if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recognized as an official religion.

The Minister turns to the professor and asks, "What should we do to help them?"

He says, "You know, two summer ago I was in Western United States, and I visited your headquarters in Salt Lake City.  We took a tour of Temple Square, and the tour guides were two lovely young ladies from our own country.  They were so kind, and thorough, and answered our questions.  They were really impressive examples of what a woman from Italy should be.  If your church develops our young people in Italy to be of that caliber, then I am wholeheartedly behind you."

Then the professor says, "One of the places we saw and learned about in Salt Lake City was your temple.  It was just beautiful!  If we make yours an official religion, can you build one of those here?"

President Uchtdorf smiles and says, "We'll start tomorrow."

With the typical challenges of large government and politics, it took 1 1/2 more years, but the church did receive official recognition with the Italian government and the members in Italy now receive all of the rights and privileges which that recognition affords.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New Companion, Fleece and My Birthday

Hi, Mom!  Hi, Dad!

A bit of a slow week this week. I'm still figuring out being sort-of-senior-companion.  I know the area better, even if Anziano Fabiano has been in Italy longer.

WEEKLY ACTIVITY. So we spent a lot of time doing "finding" work: going door-to-door, talking to tons of people, that sort of thing.

Anziano Andersen was definitely a good trainer.  In fact, he "went Zone Leader" for this transfer (as "Zone Leader, Anziano Andersen will help multiple missionaries), over in Muggi by Milano.

I've now been with Anziano Fabiano for a week.  He's very upbeat, and it's his first time being "Senior Companion" (the companion who has been on his mission longest, of the two).  He's in his 8th transfer (one transfer is 6 weeks).  I'm sure we have a lot to teach each other.

HAIR CUTS.  I don't think I'll need to go to the barber shop; actually I haven't seen barber shops.  I've seen a lot of salons though.  Anziano Kendrick has an electric razor that I was unaware of (it was Anziano Gibbons' that wasn't working well), so I can use that the next time I get a haircut.
"before" photo...more haircut pics in previous post!

We have talked to investigators, though apparently meeting with investigators to say goodbye to the old companion works better than meeting with them to say hello to the new companion.  This is why we were going out and talking to people on the street, and working with members for referrals.

(Side note: Mom asked David which Christlike attribute he was working be a better missionary, and even a better Christian, for that matter, we work on trying to be more like Jesus Christ.)  I have worked on several Christlike attributes, but the one that I'm going for now is humility.  I need to accept that I can learn from other people (more or less my age), so for that I need to be more humble.

NOVEMBER 1ST BIRTHDAY. And birthdays...well it was kind of a lame birthday. I'm not big on drawing attention to myself, or maybe I was just trying to have the birthday go by without anyone noticing.  For whatever reason, I didn't tell hardly anyone, so my apartment-mates didn't find out until they saw me opening letters the evening of my actual birthday.

(Which, by the way, the birthday cards were awesome!  Thank everyone for sending cards! The photo does not include all of them...)
some of my birthday cards :)

At that point, we had already started fasting (One time a month, we "fast" -- go without food for two meals.  We believe that fasting, when combined with prayer, can help us grow spiritually, and help us feel closer to Christ.).

At any rate, it was too late by then to bake a cake!  I'll live it up better next year.  I got your package, though.  Thank you so much for music I recognize!  (Side note: "approved music" for the missionaries includes religious music, and music that invites the Spirit of the Lord -- makes it easier to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost.)  I didn't recognize all of it, but there is some good music in there.  I really like "Step by Step" from the Living Scriptures movies, and the Hilary Weeks was good.

WINTER WEAR.  Also, I picked up a good waterproof coat with a fleece liner, and some gloves.  Now I'm set for winter.

Until next week!

Love, Anziano Whitesell

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Transfers, Hedgehogs and Snail Mail

Hi Mom! And Dad!

To answer your questions first, Mom... (about any miracles I have seen): I have seen miracles of the sort where it's not super-obvious, but nice things happened to make the work move forward.  Since Anziano Andersen is leaving, he arranged lessons with a few investigators (vocab: investigators are people who are taking lessons from the missionaries, and are interested in the church) who we haven't seen for awhile to say goodbye to them.  So in a sense, I can re-activate them with my new companion.  That's definitely a plus.

TRANSFERS. Apartment-mates (before this week's transfer) are Anziano Gibbons and Anziano Kendrick.  Of course, my companion has been Anziano Andersen for the first 3 months of my mission.  Gibbons and Andersen are leaving: Gibbons to Padova and Andersen to Muggio, by Milan.  I get a new companion named Anziano Fabiano (American).

The ones leaving have been packing for awhile now.  Anziano Andersen tells me he's always surprised at how much stuff he picks up in each area.  Fortunately for the suitcases, some things started to get holes in them, so he threw them away and had some extra space.  I hope to be pleasantly surprised when I leave that I still have plenty of space for all of my things.

In the picture, the senior couple, the Keefers, are on the sides.  Then Anziano Kendrick above Andersen, Johnson above Gibbons, me above Andersen, and Sorella Kras above Curtis.  The people leaving our district are sitting down.

HEDGEHOGS. This is a hedgehog I found hiding in the grass.  It hid a bit better before I could get a decent picture, but it was just sitting there.

SNAIL MAIL. Letters have started to arrive for my birthday, which is nice.  There are some from all over the U.S.; I'll lay them out and take a picture before I open them.

A note about mail: while it's nice to receive letters at the apartment, when I get transferred on the six-week schedule or if I get "space-transferred" -- moved without prior notice in the middle of a transfer -- letters will get lost.  So if you could tell people to send them to the mission office, that would be wonderful.  And if you send packages, please also send them to the mission office.  It's much more convenient.  I'm willing to wait a couple of weeks for letters and packages with them being sent to the office first.

Anziano David Whitesell
Missione Italiana di Milano
Via Antonio Gramsci 13/2
20090 Opera (MI)

Other news: it's been about 3 months since I got a haircut.  And I was starting to have to comb it (actually HAVE to, not just it's-convenient-so-I-should-but-I-never-get-around-to-it). So I cut it.  Here's before...
...and after.
The razor wasn't working well, so this was done with scissors that worked about 70% of the time, in the mirror.  I think it turned otu fairly well for those restrictions.

I made coffee cake, which was pretty good.  I know it sounds like I'm here on a Baking Study-Abroad, but I get real work done too.  I just like making treats! :D

PUZZLE PIECES. And another thing...we have some lessons that we do with visual aids, "object lessons." There are some puzzle patterns I could use in a journal back home.  In the cupboard under the mirror, pretty close to the right side, are some journals.  In a big red spiral notebook, if you flip through a bit of it, there are patterns for a sort of puzzle.  Could you take a picture and send it to me?  The dimensions aren't important, just the shape.  Thanks!

EMERGENCY SUPPLIES. One last thing: I know I haven't asked for anything, which is probably driving you crazy, but I really don't need more "stuff."  So if you must send something, peanut butter and frosting are pretty cool.  American candy (you could even wait until after Halloween and send the cheap after-Halloween candy), and office supplies.  Yes, really: they don't have Sharpies, colored or otherwise, Post-It Notes...also maybe a few pens and notebooks and scotch tape.  Small things like that.  If you already sent a package, don't worry about it.

Also, right after the last message, about the storm, it got super-cold for the next few days, and after dark it's cold.  Fortunately, I have sweaters and a trench coat.  I'm going to buy myself some gloves, though.  Real Italian gloves!  Cool!

Thanks for listening to me ramble a bit.

Love, Anziano Whitesell

P.S.  In that hypothetical box, could you put a few Ensigns (a monthly church magazine with inspirational messages), older or more recent?  They make for great reading material, along with Jesus the Christ.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Flooding, Knives, and Cave Bears

Hi Mom! Hi Dad!

Cool that the volleyball games went well. I'm glad to hear that Teresa got a good finish to the season.
(answering questions first):

UDINE WEATHER. It's not too cold.  We get lower temperatures in the mornings and evenings, like during the fall in Massachusetts, but nothing too bad.  Anziano Anderson, being from Arizona, says it's pretty cold but it's not all that bad.

Here are some leaf pictures. They haven't changed yet, but there was a HUGE storm last night that took down a few trees and left some orange leaves on the ground.
Anziano Gibbons, apartment-mate unlocking bikes
 Also a picture of Anziano Gibbons (in my apartment) unlocking the bikes.

Fun stuff: in Trieste, which is a coastal city, there were recent storms and flooding (nothing like in Genoa though).  It completely flooded the substreet for pedestrians under the road near the bus station.  I'm not sure if I mentioned that, but here's a picture.
Take the pedestrian substreet...or NOT?!

I haven't eaten any homemade pasta.  There's lots of pasta at the store, many types, but I haven't made or eaten it from scratch.

BAPTISMS in OUR AREA.  I don't know about any baptisms in the next few weeks. We had one a week or two ago, nothing upcoming.

A highlight at baptisms is when we can get investigators there and then they can feel the Spirit at baptism. Also food.

WEEKLY GOALS.  Each week, I pick something to work on from the Christlike Attributes section of Preach My Gospel.  And for studies, I'm re-reading the Book of Mormon, and reading Jesus the Christ, and highlighting and underlining and bookmarking pages that have good insight. My old seminary scriptures are getting a lot more use now!


APARTMENT COOKING. Oh, and we actually have a mixer at the apartment. I had to buy a cake pan, and will have to buy a pie tin, and muffin tin, but I can pick up all of that here. I bet some apartments have blenders and some don't.

So I made cinnamon rolls this week, and they came out smallish.  But still good, so everyone was happy.
David gains popularity among his apartment-mates

MISTAKEN IDENTITY. A lot of people say I look English. They see Anziano Anderson, who is "proprio Americano" ("their American"), and then they see me and I've been called English 6-7 times, Irish once and Mexican once. (Side note: David does, actually, have English and Irish roots...Mexi
can? not so much...)
knife ad translation: "The Best Knives in the Tour"

KNIVES. Today we went to Moniago, a city which is known for its knives.  It has some pretty cool knife shops. Unfortunately, we ended up there after 12:30. And everything in Italy shuts down from 12-3 as everyone takes their lunch and afternoon nap before heading back to work.  So that was silly, and I didn't end up getting anything.  How very disappointing.  Still, it was a nice day and I'm in Italy, so it can't be all that bad.

CAVES. Last week we went to caves in Trieste, the "Grotta Gigante" which has the biggest main chamber in the world open to the public.  This is part of a staircase in it.  Is it going up or down??  (It's taken from the top looking down.)  But it was pretty cool; it's the sort of activity we do as a family.  Also we listened to the tour guide in Italian and I still picked up the most part of it.  Which was a nice feeling.

Cave photos are all pretty similar, so I'll spare you most of them.

Also a picture of my friend the Cave Bear.  Or what's left of him,
Cave Bear

Endless Stair
I'll leave you with a picture of the Endless Stair.  It's not very clear, so maybe you'd be better off Googling it.

Love you!
Anziano Whitesell