Friday, September 19, 2014

Transfer Day, Scriptures, and Dogs

(Note from Kari: Every 6 weeks, one of the missionaries in the companionship "may" get transferred, or moved to a different area.  They find out about a move just a few days before the transfer, which is every 6th Thursday.  Tomorrow is "transfer day," so I asked David if he was staying in the same area, Udine.)

Hi, Mom!

TRANSFER DAY. Yes, I'm staying in Udine.  99% of the time, missionaries stay in the first area for at least two transfers, because they're getting trained.  I'll probably be in Udine for six months (four transfers), because President Dibb prefers to keep missionaries in an area for four transfers, and leapfrog missionaries halfway -- so there's usually an experienced missionary in an area.

None of the anziani in my apartment are leaving this transfer, but we expect two of them to go next transfer.

No, I have not gotten the sweaters yet.  If you sent them to the mission office, I won't get them for a couple of weeks, until the next zone conference.
Double-Decker bus view
The pictures are of me on a double-decker bus while it's raining.  The other is a picture of my district for this past transfer.  Everyone wants pictures, so we just put our cameras on a table and hit the 10-second button.  So that's everyone, but they're off-centered.  Next transfer, two of them (the Pordenone Elders) are leaving and not being replaced.  And one of the sisters is going home and being replaced.
Udine Zone

HOME NEWS RESPONSE.  Cool that Kara is running for Class President, and nice that people are asking about me at the block party.  I guess that means that we've lived in Massachusetts for 7 years now. (Note from Mom: we are IN our 7th year, if you want to get technical. We just hit the 6-year mark in August.)  Wow. Most people in Italy live in the same city their whole lives, so they have us beat, but that seems like a long time.
Udine church

Here are pictures of a church rising up rising up over the surrounding area.  In the smaller cities, further out in the country, there are those towers that look out over everything, and can be seen from miles away.

To answer your questions:

SCRIPTURES. I have been reading 3 Nephi, and all of that is important, with Jesus coming to the Americas.  I try to underline important phrases and verses by different topics, but the whole Sermon on the Mount section is very powerful, so I stopped because I didn't feel like underlining the entire chapter.

CHURCH MEMBERS. We eat with members of the church occasionally.  One family switches off sets of Elders each Saturday lunch, so we ate with them on Saturday and asked about their family mission plan.  Another family lives nearby, and we have dinner there once every 1-2 weeks.

For Brother Rotar: The man who made "Fufu" for us is from Ghana.

I have not given a talk in Sacrament Meeting, still just giving prayers in Gospel Essentials class.  The Italian is coming along pretty well.  I can talk with people understandably, if sometimes slowly, and I understand most of what they say to me, or at least the idea behind it, even in non-religious contexts.

DAYTIME ACTIVITIES. We don't knock doors during the day.  We usually do that from 1730-2000 or for part of that time, once people are home from work.  Otherwise we walk around the park, the "Centro" city area, or along the river, or call people.  So when we have lessons, it's a nice break from walking.

Udine apartment bedroom
DOGS.  Dogs don't chase us, but they bark.  At this point, I absolutely despise yippy dogs.  They bark at us while we're trying to ring people's doorbells.  And I can't do anything about it.  The worst is one dog that barks at us every time we try to open the garage area to park our bikes.  Every night.  It's annoying.

These last few pictures are of my bedroom, and desk, and shelf, since you asked.
Udine shelf

Udine desks

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sweaters, Internet, Asking Questions

SWEATERS. Background for the first part:

1. Last June: Buy D 2 sweaters for him to take to Italy.
2. August: D arrives in Italy, no sweaters.
3. D emails home: "Getting cooler, I left my sweaters home. Can you send my sweaters?"
4. Mom turns D's room and garage upside-down, no luck (and no sweaters).
5. Mom orders 2 more sweaters on European Amazon to avoid customs charges.
6. Sweaters are on their way.

It's been a pretty good week this week.  I haven't yet received the sweaters, but the transport time was 1-2 weeks, so I'm not concerned about that.  I don't know when the next package delivery will be, but it hasn't been cold for awhile.

**Note the inflections: can you just see/hear him saying the following...** Chuckling now...** :)

Also. Um. These things happen, but I found the original sweaters tucked away in a corner of the suitcase. Thought you should know.  Sorry about that.  I won't be cold during the time it takes for the other sweaters to get here.  And it's better than Dad's trenchcoat following him around the mission.  (When Frank was on his mission in Spain, his mom sent his trenchcoat to him but he kept being transferred -- moved to a new area -- before it finally got to him...AFTER winter was pretty much over...)

INTERNET TIME. My number of emails is usually between 11-17.  I respond with a parent email, 2 sister emails, and then communicate either every week or every 2-3 weeks with about 8 people.  Fortunately, I have a bit over 90 minutes, every week at the Internet Cafe. It costs about 1.5 euros for that 90 minutes, which is an interesting system: very convenient.
From Devil's Bridge, Cividale del Friuli

SEMINARY. ("Early-morning seminary" is a before-school scripture study class for the high school students.  Teachers come from our congregation, and Frank and I were asked to help teach this school year.)  I'm glad to hear that seminary is looking to be good this year.  Knowing you, it's probably best that you only have one day a week to teach the seminary kids, otherwise seminary would have the workload of an extra class for them. :/

MIRACLE. The miracle for this week was that we got into a house as we were going door-to-door.  A man and his son were home, and we taught them the Plan of Salvation.  Imagine you're sitting at home reading and someone rings the doorbell.  You see two well-dressed young men at the door.  "Hello, we have a message that the family can be together forever, even after this life.  Can we come in and explain in a bit more detail?"  Most people say No.  99% of people say No.  I've rung a lot of doorbells--not really doorbells.  Think of apartments with columns of buttons with names, and a microphone if they pick up the phone.  Anyway, it was cool for that to happen.

Here is a photo of my Venezia (Venice) zone, at the Zone Conference we had on Monday.
My Venezia Zone
Here is a picture of the other zone, Bologna.
Bologna Zone (not mine)

ASKING QUESTIONS. We learned about more effective teaching, through asking inspired questions.  And making people think to come up with an answer, in a way that builds a testimony.  We did a roleplay of teaching a lesson, and looked at the good and bad of the roleplay.  And we were told to always ask for referrals when we visit members, and follow up on member missionary effort.  President Dibb said, "The tradition for at least the past 10 years has been: the missionaries come over, are fed, share a warm-fuzzy message, and leave.  Now we are encouraged to get the members to work a bit more.  Maybe you've seen that from the missionaries you've had over.

Here is a photo taken (like the one earlier in the blog) from Devil's Bridge in Cividale del Friuli.  It's about 70 feet up, and has a magnificent view.
From Devil's Bridge, Cividale del Friuli

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cooking, Fonts, Sweets


COOLER WEATHER. The weather has been rainy, off and on.  I heard that the rainiest place in Europe is actually really close to Udine.  I have used the trenchcoat several times, I don't know if I mentioned that.  My companion (Anziano Anderson: he's been here for over a year) has been in warm areas during winter, so he hasn't broken out his winter jackets yet, if he has any.  I saw him wearing a sweater the other day, though, so it's getting colder, some days.
Venice archway

COOKING ADVENTURES.  I cooked stroganoff this week, but when I got to the supermarket, they didn't have sour cream.  Or cream of mushroom soup.  So I ended up cooking rice, and then cooking the ground beef, onions, and bell peppers together for a topping.  It was pretty good for a hacked-together-meal.  This week I'll be cooking pork chops with topping.  Oh, I found out that there is a substitute for sour cream and for cream of mushroom soup, but I didn't know them at the time so it didn't help me.  I had bought a package of what I thought was cream initially, to try to make sour cream, but it turned out to be just whole milk.  So I drank it!  No harm done :)

Venice Street w/dome building
CHURCH ATTENDANCE. Anziano Anderson said that when he first got here, the members of the church weren't very impressed with past missionaries' progress, and were pretty cold to the missionaries.  But he and others (like Anziano Dowling) have done good work.  Now we have investigators at church every week, a decent number of visits & meals with church members, and referrals from members (when a member gives us a name of a friend/relative who wants to know more about the gospel of Jesus Christ). So the church members in the area are excited about missionary work now, which makes it a nice place to start.

We have about 50 people in church normally, now that Farragosto is finished. (Farragosto is a vacation for most of August...rumor has it that all of the locals go to the beach, and come back again in September.)  50 just about fills up our chapel.  We could probably fit 70-80 would be tight.  The normal setup seats about 60.

Baptismal font and chair
BAPTISMS. (Side note from Mom: in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we baptize by immersion. Children get baptized at 8 years old. There is not always a baptismal font available to use for baptisms.)  These pictures are of the font at our church.  We had an 8-year-old baptism last Sunday, and they pulled this out and filled it with water.  Maybe Dad recognizes it from his mission in Spain.  The other Anziani (missionaries) in Udine actually have a baptism this Sunday-- a convert baptism, so that's really cool.  The chair is so they could climb out of the font.

SWEETS. This was the decoration on the cake at the baptism.  They brought a LOT of food.  I think there were two of those long folding tables at the church, with all sorts of food on top.  I brought 48 chocolate chip cookies (they don't have chocolate chips, so I used broken-up dark chocolate candy bar, and they all disappeared.  We make cookies/brownies fairly often here, which is nice (sometimes we just eat the cookie dough).  I hear that most areas don't cook very many desserts.  Thus, I like my apartment :)
cake decoration at baptism

Also, every soda here is Aranciata.  Orange soda.  Orange Fanta.  I will never drink it again when I get back state-side.  Too much.

Venice alleyway
LANGUAGE. (Side: David studied Spanish all throughout high school. Now he's learning Italian.) There was an Anziano (missionary) in our zone who had studied Italian during high school, but he still stayed in the MTC to train, for 6 weeks.  There are several people in the branch--small congregation--who speak Spanish.  I can't do it anymore, there is too much Italian in the way.  We have copies of the Book of Mormon in the apartment, in other languages: Tagalog, Chinese, Albanian, Twi, etc., including Spanish.  I can understand the Spanish Book of Mormon almost word-for-word.  I can understand Spanish when people speak it.  But I can't personally conjugate hardly anything.

So when I get back I'm going to study Spanish hard, and get that back up to speed.  People say once I'm more used to Italian, I'll be able to differentiate better in my head which is which.  But for the time being, the only Spanish I know is when I accidentally use it when I don't know an Italian word.

Love you!  Ciao,
Anziano Whitesell