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.