Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Perspective, Fond Memories and Sushi

Hello!  Me again.

My new companion is Anziano Robinson.  He's a nice, outgoing, super-energetic person.

CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE.  Anziano Robinson came here not having heard anything negative about Ferrara (some may say it's kind of slow and discouraging, with not many people who want to talk about religion).  The mission president told him, "Ferrara is what you make of it."

So he's putting to good use all of his experience and new ideas and trying to revamp the work here.  And it's worked nicely for me -- I can see a difference in the way I work.  I feel better about our tracting (looking for people who are interested in the gospel message), and it's much more enjoyable.

Last transfer (6 week block), in retrospect, was much less enjoyable because it's easy but not productive to bemoan one's circumstances (it being slow and/or a little boring sometimes).  He is in his 7th transfer, and I'm in my 5th.  Admittedly, with our personalities and interests, we probably wouldn't be friends outside the mission.  But I'm really glad he's my companion now.  He is digging me (and helping me dig myself) out of the "slow-work depression" that I got last transfer.  These are good things :)

RUSSIAN BOOK OF MORMON.  This week we were walking around, and a Russian woman walked up to us and asked about the Christ video (Finding Faith in Christ).  So we went this morning and gave her a copy of that, and the Book of Mormon in Russian.

SUSHI.  In Bologna two weeks ago for P-Day (Preparation-Day: laundry, errands, etc. Day), being in Italy, we got sushi!  I hadn't been to a sushi place before, and it was really good.  Not Italian, but good.

NEW ENGLAND SNOWSTORMS.  So, the media is still drumming up business by claiming the snowstorms are getting bigger and bigger?  No surprise there.  But you've been in Massachusetts for awhile now.  Surely you can handle yourselves :P

I haven't had any snow here, except a couple of weeks ago when it sprinkled a bit.  But it was gone within 24 hours.  Don't hurt yourself shoveling.  Maybe use the Steneris snowblower when it's available?

REMINISCING.  I don't think the Ponds (the family who lived in our house before us) realized what a blessing it would be for us to live in that house.  Yes, there are downsides, but it's been mostly positive.

You said they chose us (they got two offers on the house at the same time, and they let us buy it) mainly because we had kids in our family, and they liked the idea of having another family (us) in their neighborhood.  I'm very grateful for that, as I think about the good experiences we had in that neighborhood and the good people there.  Did you host Santa this year?  I don't believe I asked, even though it was a month ago.

Have a great week!
Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Persevering, Candy Stash and Juggling


Bologna Zone
NEW COMPANION. If you recall, my companion Anziano Mata'u finishes his mission tomorrow.  We made guesses on how people would shift around for this next "transfer" (6-week block).  It turns out my new companion, Anziano Robinson, is going into his 7th transfer, so 2 above me (I am now going into my 5th transfer). The one thing I've heard about Anziano Robinson is "he's really Christlike." That is quite a compliment.

We'll be out here on our own, still going over to Bologna for District Meeting each week.

The work here is still pretty slow.  We walk and talk and walk and talk and talk and walk, and ogni tanto troviamo qualcuno che vuole ascoltarci. ("until we find someone who wants to listen").

So we have "potentials" (people who MIGHT be interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ) to call and hope they pick up the phone, and we have 2 less-actives that we work with regularly.  So the work goes on.

KEEPING FAITH STRONG.  Some of the inspirational talks I read in the Ensign (church magazine) talk about the seemingly small things you can do to keep your own faith strong.  Studying the scriptures, going to church each week, going to the temple, and continuing Family Home Evening can help you remember and sustain your beliefs.  ("Family Home Evening" is simply gathering with your family each week, spending time together and discussing or learning gospel principles.)
Ferrara District

From Anziano Mata'u I've learned about how to Persevere, rather than Endure.  Those 2 verbs bring to mind some very different images...persevering seems to be more active, like you are moving ahead with goals and trying.  Maybe enduring seems more like you are just "getting through" what is happening to you.

Collected Candy Stash
JUGGLING CLUB PAYS OFF.  One thing I was thankful for: We were walking through the park because it was a nice-ish day outside.  There were two college kids there, who were juggling with rings and clubs.  So we went over and talked to them, and I showed one of them how to work with clubs, and I did all right with the rings, and I learned a bit of poi.
 And we talked to them about what we do as missionaries and left them with pamphlets (about the Restoration of the Gospel).  But that was a lot of fun.

Anziano Mata'u
CANDY STASH. I also just took an inventory of the candy/food I've accumulated so far.  It was just sitting in the suitcase, and I got some from Anziano Mata'u's mother.  We ate about half of it this past week, so there's not quite that much right now.

Also...I present Anziano Mata'u.

Ciao!  Love, Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Focus Time, Good Examples, Italian Treats


STUDY GOALS.  I need to have more focused personal studies (that's one of my goals this week) so I'll be more effective.  Because if we don't have any lessons planned, "personal study" turns into "Read the Book of Mormon for a bit, then read the Liahona (church magazine) for a bit."  So I'm looking at activities from Preach My Gospel, and taking some notes/doing topical studies of Book of Mormon and Bible topics.  These include faith, repentance, and prayer, just as examples.

I'm trying to study/take notes in a format that could easily become a lesson for Family Home Evening.  (Family Home Evening is one night a week where the family can discuss & learn about a gospel principle and spend time together.)

I have used the scripture from 1 Kings 19 as an example of the Holy Spirit before.  Also from 3 Nephi 11 where there is a voice after the destruction that "pierced them" and they had to listen several times to hear it.

I got a letter from home in the mailbox...I believe it took 4-5 days from the postmark to get here.

BOLOGNA. We go to Bologna every week for District Meeting.  I've walked around it a bit on 'exchanges,' (we have a different companion for a day) where I've ended up in Bologna.  Actually, we're going there today and seeing if they have good Saldi sales on scarves or ties.

ANZIANO MATA'U.  I'm learning charity from my companion.  He's very friendly, even when people "shut us down" (refuse to talk to us).  He only has a week left, but he's doing well with not looking forward to it too much, or preoccupying himself about it.

I did pack those silk pants.  And I know other missionaries use Under Armor to keep warm.  So far I'm doing pretty good, and it's a warmish spell right now, so it's not particularly unpleasant.

DISCOVERING ITALIAN TREATS.  Your idea of going to different bakeries was a good one.  I think you meant bread, but we went to a couple of cafes with window displays and ordered little pastries from there.  They were really good.

Have a good week!

Love, Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas Packages, Motivation and Ice Cream

Hello Mother and Father--

CHRISTMAS GIFTS. I finally got some packages and Christmas cards!  The packages were postmarked December 2, but we only had our zone meeting this past Monday.  Thank you for the Christmas scripture chase!  That was funny.  I guessed most of them, except the teddy bear soap (thought it would be hand sanitizer), and one or two others.

I also mentioned sending Twizzlers or licorice would be nice instead.  I know: "Eeewww, black licorice, you're weird," but I like it.
 No need to rush, though, since I just barely received a package.

WARDROBE UPGRADE. There's a nation-wide sale in Italy called Saldi (Italian for sale) during January-February, and a smaller one in August where everything gets knocked down 50% or more, so I think I'll get a few ties and at some point an Italian suit during those times.  I'm going to come back so classy...
MISSIONARY GOALS.  My most important priority as a missionary is to "Invite others to come unto Christ."  That's the first part of the missionary purpose.  So whether that's helping other missionaries be better, baptizing people into the church, or explaining the gospel message to others, I can be an example of Christ and share his gospel.

GRATITUDE.  I'm thankful for ice cream.  The gelato in Italy is famous (i.e. Italian ice), so as missionaries we go get ice cream every so often.  Some people get it every other day, some people get it occasionally (me).  It's thick, sugary goodness.

MY MOTIVATION.  I spend a lot of time with the Ensign/Liahona (church magazine) reading conference talks and uplifting stories.  It helps me keep in mind that missionary work isn't just for missionaries.  Some of President Uchtdorf's talks are really good. (Well, all of them are good, but some stand out to me more than others.)  I was reading Forget-Me-Not and Hope of God's Light, and they're really uplifting.  Then President Eyring had one talk about Priesthood role models that I really liked.

I'm also trying to work more on having the Holy Ghost with me as I teach.  I know he's there when I teach, but I have trouble identifying him as I tract.  So there's a section in Preach My Gospel about the Spirit of the Lord that I'm reading and applying, and I'm studying the scriptures that accompany it.

I had heard from Sister Shearer that Tessa was back; that's great that you can see missionaries coming and going from the home ward (congregation).  I sort of forget about people after they've gone, until they come back.  Obviously it's different if it's your family, but it's still nice to see a before-and-after of other members of the ward.

COMPANION EXCHANGE. I did a companion exchange Monday-Tuesday (I do them every week, since my companion is District Leader). In an "exchange," my companion--the District Leader--goes with another missionary to train and help him some, and that day I work with the other missionary of that pair.  The Elder I was with was psyched to get some work done, as his companion was one of those less-enthusiastic missionaries.  I don't know quite what I'd do if my companion didn't get up until 8 in the morning, or if he didn't have any motivation.  We'll see.  It could happen.

We're still going-going-going.  My companion is dying (don't worry: it just means he's going home!) this transfer.  His countdown is at 15 or so days left, so he's trying not to think too hard about it.  He's really motivated and doesn't want to leave, which is nice -- I don't have to struggle to get him to work.

Love, Anziano Whitesell