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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Duct Tape, Service and Egg Nog

(Note from Mom: I started out correcting all of this, but it seemed more authentic -- to truly feel his frustration, ha -- to include all the mistakes from the sub-par keyboard he had to use this week.  The following is exactly as he sent it.)


Okay, to start off I want to say that this key board is REALYI bad, and it's actually not worth the time it takes to go back and correct everything.

i'm actUaLly emailing before doing much else today, just because the train timeS fit anD work out such thaT I can do grocery shopping and internet before going to TRIESTE; which has a set of cAves nearby; or castles; which we may visit if we have timE:

(Now he's answering his mom's 5 questions for this week...)

("Do Italians use duct tape?")  i'm surE italians use duct tape, their 'HoME DEPOT' is called 'SELF' and i know they have brooms and cleaning supplies, that sort of thing there. I USEd duct tape that Another aNZIANO had in the apartment.

("Have you gotten lost?")  I HAVEN't gotten lost...well, maybe i havE. not in the actual city area, but when we go out further than normal, or to areas that aNZIAnO aNDERSon hasn't been to before, we sometimes get lost. for example, that picture of the moon through the tower was taken in this tiny 'town' area with maybe twenty houses in it; that started to look pretty sketchy after dark: creepy. fortunately, we could still make it back home on time.

("Have you blessed the sacrament in church?")  I HaVe NOT BLessed the sacrament while i've been here. THEY HAVE enough Aaronic aged young men to pass the sacrament and bless it. Even witH only aBout fifty regularly_attending cHurch members.

("What are you doing for service?")  Service each week is going to a mentally/physically handicapped place and pLaying gamEs witH the older people thEre; we swiTch off with the other companionshiP each week for thAt; And we give blEssings to thE members if they need them or don't havE a PRIesthood holder around.

("Who gives your lessons at your weekly district meeting, and what have you learned lately?")  EACH WEEK the person giving the lesson during district meeting is different, this week it was actually each of us giving a short talk in italian on several CHRISTLIke attributEs; i talked about diligence. tHERE WAS A WOnDERFUL talk by one of the senior couples about studying: she's
actually also a seminary teacher for the american ward in PORDENONE. sHe TALKED about learning through study and faith; not just reading: and the quote that anziano kEEFer gave (the other senior missionary) was frOm josePh sMITH. IT SAID:

"Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is a virtue: uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."


i am sorry, bt uwith the truly awful computer i can't even send pictuRes. tHEY SHOULD REALLY GET anti-virus protectiOn. I COULD download yours (pictures) BUT Can't send back.


2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 quart milk (or less, for thicker 'nog)
1 cup whipped cream
a dash nutmeg
BLEND tHe first fouR inGredienTs; then add milk to the desired thicknEss: Then stir in whiPped crEam until it Stops dissolving and scoop out any whiPped cream bits: Then dump in the nutmeg: viola!

So that's me being happy for the upcoming ChristmaS seasOn:

love you!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Conference, Recycling, Banks & Bells


(Side Note: every 6 months, October & April, there is a Worldwide Church General Conference held in Salt Lake City. There are five 2-hour sessions over the course of 2 days, filled with inspirational talks and counsel from church leaders, including our prophet and church president, Thomas S. Monson, pictured below.  It is broadcast via satellite, Internet, cable television, and youtube.  43 languages are interpreted in the Conference Center and broadcast via satellite.)

GENERAL CONFERENCE. Yes, I listened to General Conference in Italian.  We were going to listen in English, but we wanted to sit with our investigators -- people learning about the church -- and so we all watched it streamed in Italian.  It's interesting how they do streaming.  Since the talks are already written, the audio starts up in English, then fades out when the Italian translator is talking.  So we heard the hymns in English, and for the rest you can hear the first word of most sentences in English, then the rest is Italian.  I got a lot out of it anyway, but English would have been nice.

Actually, since we invited a few people to the Women's Conference, Anziano Anderson and I ended up listening to a few talks from the Relief Society Broadcast.  I heard 3 Relief Society talks and 4 Priesthood talks, so I got a bit of everything.  I did, however, miss both afternoon sessions which is disappointing because Elder Bednar and Elder Holland gave talks that I missed.

My favorite 2 were those by Chi Hong Wong (the 70 who spoke in Chinese), and Uchdorf on Saturday morning.  Elder Wong's because it was a nice talk about service, and it was a sign that the church is growing steadily, since it's not all white people anymore.  And Uchdorf taught an excellent Book of Mormon lesson; it was very similar to the way we teach the Book of Mormon to investigators.

SCRIPTURE STUDY. In the scriptures, I finished the Book of Mormon, so I'm working my way through Jesus the Christ.  It's good material, if somewhat dense.  But it all makes sense, and it's amazing that Elder Talmage did such an in-depth research on the Gospels.  If you have a way to tie together New Testament study and JTC besides just cross-referencing JTC, I'd be happy to hear it.  I'll probably be about 30% done by this time next week.

RECYCLING DESKTOP ORGANIZERS. Here are pictures of my zone this transfer, and also the box I cut to the size of my scriptures to make a carry case.  Master Crumble, incidentally, is pretty much the same as the granola mix you made for awhile, just without pineapple chunks.  It makes for good cereal.

STELLAR TEACHER. I've definitely learned the most from Anziano Anderson thus far in my mission.  He speaks the language pretty well, so I pick up on that.  And how to do other missionary work, just basic talking-to-people, scheduling appointments, etc. Greenie stuff (side note: a "greenie" is a new missionary).

There is a young man here (19 I think) who is going on his mission to Barcelona, reporting Monday.  It's neat to see other people getting ready for their missions, and nice to see that the ward is strong, in that 2nd-generation members are going on missions.

BANKS AND BELLS. There are some things about Italia that you wouldn't think about or know about without being here, that I've picked up on, though I'm sure there are more...

1. There are banks on most street corners, so that makes a TON of them.

2. Each church has bells, so each hour, we get serenaded by any and all churches in the area.  The problem is, they go on for about 5 minutes each hour.  So if we're teaching someone at 8 p.m., we take a 5-minute pause and smile at each other until the bells die down :)

I love you and hope you're able to review the conference talks often!

Anziano Whitesell

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Venezia, Flu, Angel of the Week

(note from Mom: I asked him if he needed us to send anything...)

NEED ANYTHING? No, not really...I have everything I need and I travel light.  I'll pick up stuff here and there when other missionaries leave behind things (I think I'm going to get a pair of shoes and a tie from Anziano Andersen, as he doesn't want to buy another suitcase), especially since I have an entire half-suitcase empty.  I'll just pick up things here in Italia as I need them.

UPLIFTING MESSAGES. We can download church magazine articles when we have Internet, so we can do it at the church and it gets stored on the phone.  We also ended up with the church magazines Liahona and Ensign, but I'm not sure who gave us those.  We can watch Mormon Messages when we have Internet.  My recommendation is to watch Hope of God's Light; it's super-cool.

Favorite scripture...Ether 15:31 is probably not a good one...
Venizia in the rain
Mormon 9: 19-20 is pretty good.  Just to keep in mind that people don't see miracles because they're not looking for them.

VENEZIA. We went to Venezia (Venice) again, so here are myself and Anziano Andersen in a plaza.  A very nice plaza.
in the plaza, Venice

 The other picture is of a tower, in this little town we ended up in after dark.  The town was creepy after dark, but I saw the moon through the tower, so that was cool.
moon through the tower
artwork in the ceiling

Venice canal in the drizzle

some people come prepared with umbrellas

Venezia has buildings on an enormous scale.  Just standing there, you feel small.  It was raining this time unfortunately, but I always carry an umbrella here, so that's all right.  There were still people who came out of the woodwork offering to sell umbrellas and ponchos to tourists, so there was plenty of cheap raingear to go around.

This is a tower with a golden something on top.  Maybe someday it will be an Angel Moroni.  That would be really cool: a Venice, Italy temple.
golden statue on top

We got on a wrong train back from Venice, so ended up in a small town waiting for the right one.  As it turned out, we walked for a bit looking for food or an Internet point, but we found a gym-like building where some older ladies were playing Bocci-Ball.  The more you know...they play it here.  It looked rather slow, like a mix of Ski-ball and Shuffleboard.  But they were having fun, so that's what's important.


FLU. A story from two weeks ago: after writing one week, I got sick: basic flu -- coughing for 2-3 days, runny nose for 2-3 days, generally tired.  But it passed really quickly, didn't interfere with any work or anything.  Just thought I'd mention it, so you'd know that I won't get sick for the rest of the winter.  Glad that's out of the way.

MEETINGS. I can listen to General Conference, and in English.  Our broadcasts are also on Saturday and Sunday, but starting at 4 p.m. (I think) and carrying on through Sunday evening.  They get broadcast at the church.

At district meeting (weekly meeting in Pordenone with us and a few other anziani and sorelle), we sang hymn #286 in English, which I had never heard before, but was very nice.  So there are probably lots of "hidden treasure" hymns in the book.

We go to Missionary "Correlation" meeting with the Ward Mission Leader each Sunday and keep him up-to-date on the people we're visiting.  I have been to one Ward Council meeting, since that's all they've had during the time I've been here.  It's maybe the second one they've had since Anziano Andersen has been here.

More on the incoming is in Italy, I just have to pick it up from the package office because we weren't home when they came by.  The other I think is also in town but I'm not positive.  It has been back and forth cool and hot, and did not rain much this week.

That is super-cool that you got to see a shark up close!  I'd love to go scuba-diving again when I get back.

ANGEL OF THE WEEK (note from Mom: last letter I sent a story about God working through "angels," usually kind people around us....)  I usually do some of my grocery shopping on the way to district meeting, since there's a bigger grocery store in Pordenone.  So on the way back from District Meeting, the plastic bag ripped, pretty close to home.  As I pulled over and ran back to it, a nice man helped me pick up the food and gave me a better bag to carry it in.  He was Italian but had lived in Canada for a year, so he spoke English too.  It was very kind and I really appreciated it.

Miss you, but I'm having fun here and doing good work!

Love, Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Local Customs & Missionary Music


Thanks for the snail mail. The Forever Global stamps are cool, so those are fun to look at, in addition to the letter itself.

LOCAL PEOPLE. We interact with locals during park and street contacting, and a lot of them recognize us from biking around with white shirts and helmets (since nobody here wears helmets).  So they have some vague knowledge that we exist, or maybe we've talked to them before.  Sometimes that happens.

"Yes I know who you are."

"Oh really? Have you talked with missionaries like us before?"

"Yes. Still  not interested."

Otherwise, they think we're Jehovah's Witnesses.  The J-W's are pretty strong here in Italy; we see several pairs here a week.  And since they dress in white shirts and slacks trying to look like us...the Catholics don't like them, so when Catholic people come out and see us and say things to us, we sometimes say, "No, non siamo testimone di Jehovah."
Anziano Andersen by cathedral

cathedral near Centro by the park


parade downtown

The pictures are of a cathedral right in the Centro part of the city, by the park where we tract.  So we see that every day, pretty much.  And the other one is of the actual Centro area -- there's a plaza with statues and a museum, and it was decked out for some historical show or celebration.

LOCAL CUSTOMS. The Friulani (people from Udine, pretty much) have their own dialect, but they all speak Italian as well.  They are heavy drinkers, so while I've thankfully avoided dealing with too many drunk people, there is almost always some party going on in Centro (Centro being the actual downtown part of Udine, or of any town). One time there was a "Party in White" that we didn't know about, so everyone was dressed in white and we had to go elsewhere because people thought we were going to the party.  The people here also like their holidays -- they have holidays for a bunch of saints and random ones here and there, so Centro is quesstionable at night -- we don't know if people will be having an event when we get there in the evening.

IN THE TOWN. This was a re-enactment in Centro one day.  The next day (Stake Conference) we had to cross 2 sections of a marathon on our way to church because the streets were closed to cars for an Udine half-marathon they were having that day.  Also, Stake Conference was broadcast from Pordenone (40 minutes by train), but the connection was really bad so we stopped watching and had Sacrament Meeting.

WEATHER. There was a storm coming one evening as we were heading back to the house.  It was at night, though; we've had a pretty sunny week.
Outside apartments, cool clouds

SWEATER SAGA. One of the sweaters has shown up.  Anziano Andersen said to give it 4-6 weeks, since this isn't America.  So the other should show up within 2-3 weeks.

I have not pulled out the flying disc, unfortunately.  It looks nice in my closet :(

MEALS. I made mac and cheese and sausage last week; I wanted an easy meal.  The week before, I made rice-egg-chicken stirfry.  This week I'm making chicken spaghetti.  I actually made banana bread this week.  Last night, in fact.  As I went to get my camera, this happened to it...
this was whole, just a minute ago...
Just Kidding, but we went through it really fast!

MUSIC. I think the group we listen to is "The Newsboys." They're a Christian-rock band.  Otherwise, Italian EFY songs, and some different versions of hymns.  The other anziani have heard too many hymns already, so we don't listen to them in the apartment.  Maybe later I'll hear them.  I can actually put some music on a MicroSD card and put it in the phone (our phone connects to the speakers), so if you sent some Enya, John Tesh, Joseph-Amazing-Dreamcoat, Yanni, or some Christmas Music (Oh Jesus, Born on this Day or that type of music), I could play that.

Notable moments...we were let into another house, and talked to the people for awhile.  And we set up some appointments with some street contacts.  So that's always a nice feeling.

The best part of the day is when we have appointments.  The only routine, really, is breakfast in the morning, lunch in the middle, dinner-snack in the evening.  The rest changes a lot.

Love, Anziano Whitesell