(Quick background: the Dowlings are our exceptional friends from church. I was her counselor when she was the Relief Society president a few years back, and her son was serving in the same mission David got called to, Milan Italy. Our sons overlapped in Italy exactly one day: David arrived in Milan Wednesday, and Anziano Blake Dowling finished his mission Thursday. His parents went to get him, and tour Italy.)
We had a great Sacrament Meeting Sunday! Anziano Dowling spoke, since they returned from Italy last week. He spoke very highly of Anziano Anderson (David's trainer), so that made us happy. He spoke about patience as an attribute of Christ that is difficult to attain, but you can improve a little at a time.
FORESHADOWING. He also said that 3 weeks before David got there, he was serving in Udine, as was Anziano Anderson. They knew that at the upcoming August transfer, Anziano Dowling would be going home, and one other missionary (of the 4 in the apartment) would be transferred to another area. Anziano Dowling told Anziano Anderson, "There is a missionary coming to this mission, from my home ward building. I think he's coming here, and I think you are going to train him." And that's what happened. Of all the possible areas to be sent his first assignment, David went to Udine (where Blake Dowling finished his mission) and is being trained by Anziano Anderson. This adds to my testimony that the Lord has a plan, and reasons for people to be in different places at different times. I think Udine is exactly where the Lord wants David right now. Maybe we'll never know all the good that happens because of that. But he knows David personally, and every person he'll come in contact with while he's there.
Anziano Anderson told me that story too! About how Anziano Dowling called that I would be trained in Udine. It was pretty cool.
Journal entry highlights:
Woke up at 5:50 today to go to the New Missionary Training Conference in Bologna. I slept most of the ride. At the church building, Anziano Harding was there already (another Elder from my zone in the MTC), so that was a pleasant surprise.
NEW MISSIONARY TRAINING. Basically we went over some information about the apartments, about money, about housekeeping, then we had lunch. Did you know in Italy they make smaller pizzas, but each person gets a pizza? It's a lot of food, but I'm getting used to eating large quantities because I don't know exactly when my next meal will be. ("Orphan Mentality," I call it. Fortunately, it's just food. I feel very loved and taken-care-of, and trusting. Anyway.)
Then President Dibb talked to us about how missionary work is progressing in Italy and how each of us has an important part to play. Recently there was a conference for Mission Presidents in Europe, at which several General Authorities were present, and 2 apostles.
MIRACLE: at the train station, when buying tickets, I didn't think I could buy tickets home. The tickets from Milan to Bologna were expensive, and we hadn't been reimbursed yet. My transaction register showed I had about 10 euros left on my card, and while I had enough cash to pay for the other half, it only accepted one or the other. So somehow, the transaction still went through. I don't know where the money came from, but it worked. So that was very nice.
LOSING MY COMPANION. Also, this week was the first time I lost my companion. We were biking, and I crossed a crosswalk, apparently too close to pedestrians. The police on motorcycles pulled me aside and told me to be careful. Which didn't take long, but Anziano Anderson was out of sight by then. So I went to a place I knew (Parco Moretti, it's called), and asked a lady if I could use her phone. He picked up and biked over to where I was. So it turned out ok, but it's strange how weird it feels to be without a companion, after 8 weeks of always being around 1 or 2 specific people.
We have appointments every day or so, sometimes more, sometimes less.
FOOD. Food is interesting. They don't have things like peanut butter and graham crackers, though they still have normal baking stuff (flour, sugar, pasta, etc.). At our district meeting, the senior couple brought a box of food left over from the American base a few miles away. So we took some Betty Crocker frosting, which doesn't exist in Italy. Those who had been out for awhile really enjoyed it. No need to send anything really, I can find what I need. It's just creature comforts that I find I'm missing. Also I figured out that when I said I was eating well last week, that wasn't really true. So I made a meal plan and will be having actual meals -- yogurt, eggs-and-sausage, fruit; pasta for lunch or ham-eggs-cheese pitas, that sort of stuff. Things are looking up, food-wise.
Love you lots!