Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Transfers, Email and the 10 Commandments


(Side Note from Mom: David was in his first area, Udine, for 4.5 months, or three 6-week transfer periods. Now he's been in Ferrara for the last 6 months, or four 6-week transfer periods.  Tomorrow begins his 8th transfer period.)

My areas, in order: Florence is #3
NEW ASSIGNMENT.  Well the news this week is very good: I'm going to Firenze (Florence, Italy) and I will be District Leader, with a new companion named Elder Kormyl, who is going into his 3rd transfer.  I am so excited!  The district will be just the six missionaries in Firenze (4 anziani, 2 sorelle).  My zone includes Pistoia, Prato, and Montevarchi.

From what I've heard, Firenze is famous for:
1) Medieval Architecture,
2) They have a store well-known among missionaries where you can get cheap, cool ties, and
3) Good Leather Stuff: shoes, bags.

And, I heard that the apartment I'll be in is basically a penthouse: part of the top floor, with a balcony that goes around most of the building.  I'll see that when I get there.

WRAPPING UP. So this week has been packing, checking up on investigators, saying goodbye to a couple of church members, and yesterday we went to a restaurant called America Graffiti, which I think I've mentioned before.  It was still good :D

It's not a long train ride away, but it does require packing.  My suitcases are at the point I'd describe as "Lightly Full."  There is still space to put more stuff without throwing away old stuff: the best way for a suitcase to be.

iPAD ACTIVITY.  As far as the iPads, we have used them mainly to do "set-up" stuff: registering them, managing settings, testing this and that, downloading approved apps.  I can receive email on them if we're in a wifi area (like the church), but not respond until Wednesdays.  But to respond, I'm going to need a keyboard.  It's so much faster than touchscreen. (Side note: new keyboards at the apple store are 60 Euros.  Maybe you could find a cheaper one on and send it?)

BIBLE STORY.  You asked what was an inspirational scripture story that I read this week...Well, the Israelites got away from the Egyptians.  And Moses got the 10 Commandments. (I think there's a movie about that.  In Italian it's "Exodus: Dei e Re")  The student manual makes it easier to understand the significance and symbolism of Passover, the importance of the 10 Commandments, and the symbolism of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle, etc.

After 6 months in Ferrara, I'm ready to leave.  I got a call from an Elder (another missionary) who wanted to check up on Ferrara because he's going home.  BTW my trainer, Anziano Andersen, is going home, too.  Anyway this other Elder called from Udine (my 1st area).  He said, "You're like my inspiration.  I don't know how you managed to survive 3 transfers in Udine and 4 in Ferrara.  When I was finished with 4 in Ferrara, I was SO ready to go!"

So maybe once I've finished my mission I'll see these transfers as the difficult, tough ones.  But I've still been able to work hard, be discouraged, see some change in the areas, and learn how to be a better missionary.  So I'm content.

Have a great week!
Love, Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bike Repairs, Small Talk, and Traveling Pants

Well, I'm glad to hear that sports are going well for my sisters, and that you still have a job, Dad.  All good things!

BIKES. We have had some bike problems these last few weeks; nothing deadly, but it's inconvenient when you have to walk the bikes home from the hour and a half away.  It certainly didn't feel that far when I biked it!  Fortunately, these holes have appeared in the evening, or on the way back from things.  We end up walking the bikes home in the evening, patching the inner tube, and letting it sit until the next morning. (They don't have a good word in Italian for 'patch.' Toppa means patch, but it doesn't quite sound right to Italians.)  We can deal with those small problems without much change in the daily routine.

The bikes are pretty old and worn out, though, from a mix of age and lack of maintenance.  In our little garage, there are two working bikes and two scrap bikes, several tires, and lots of inner tubes.  Many pieces from those bikes have been switched, in the hopes of making the newer bikes work better.  Did you know how to change the "derailer?" Me, neither.  My companion did, fortunately.

THE IPADS ARRIVE. We received the iPads a few days ago.  We can't use them for much yet, but we have them.  We can look at them, turn them around, turn them on and off.  And since I didn't use a tablet before, I had no idea how bothersome the on-screen keyboard is.  Definitely not typing using that! (Sidenote: I hear the Apple keyboards are really expensive, so I think it's reasonable to just buy a normal keyboard and a connector cable to hook it up to the iPad.  Accessories are from personal funds.)

But other than that, once things are up and running, I think it will help with missionary work.  During lessons, we can use pictures from the Gospel Art book on the iPad, or show Mormon Messages, or Conference Talks.  Stuff like that.

TRAVELING PANTS STORY. And, funny story, we were in Bologna a bit ago for a P-day, and the companionship from Vicenza was doing an exchange (switch companions for a 24-hour period) the previous day.  One of the elders left his pants in Bologna, and somehow those ended up with me.  I think the idea was that it was cheaper to mail from Ferrara to Vicenza or something.  Anyway, I stood in line for 20 minutes at the post office and figured out the form you have to fill out to mail things, and sent it off.  They said it should arrive in 3 days, so I hope they arrive shortly.  Seeing as he's going home in a week or so...

Transfer calls are this Saturday, so I'll find out what's happening for the next transfer at that time.  I think I'm on my way out, but I've thought that the last couple of transfers, too.  You never can tell with these things.

Questions you asked, Mom:
1) IMPROVEMENTS I'VE SEEN IN MYSELF.  Maybe I'm better at small talk.  One would hope :D  I have a better work ethic.  I am more planned-out, have a better desire to improve myself, and think more in the long-term.  Maybe improvements will be more apparent when I get back.  I still feel like "me!"

2) GREAT SPEAKERS I'VE HEARD AND WHAT MAKES THEM GREAT.  Hmmm.  We have a lot of recordings of speakers from various conferences, classes, and forums.  Brother Skousen is a good speaker, because he's animated, he tells stories, he changes tone of voice, and he presents interesting information.  We have another speaker, a lecturer about Joseph Smith, who presents really cool a dry voice.  So I'm listening for what he says, but sometimes it's difficult because it's not very engaging.

3) P-DAY OUTINGS.  For the last P-day we went to the Santuario Della Madonna di San Luca.  Actually, that was two P-days ago.  Last time we just wandered Bologna, window-shopped, and saw Jeff.  I think he sent you a picture.
 Today we're going to the Escher exhibit again.  I tried to get reservations for the Ducati factory, but they have a big group for all of today, and we're not supposed to leave our proselyting zone the last P-day of the transfer (next Wednesday).  So I guess I won't see the Ducati factory.

Have a wonderful week!

Love, Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Skype, iPads, and the Food Pyramid

**Note: David got to skype home on Mother's Day!   It was such a nice visit.  A couple of technical difficulties, but we figured it out.  We could see him on skype, but he would talk and his voice would fade out after about 7 seconds.  So we called him on the phone to hear his voice, and saw him on the computer on skype!  We also facetime'd Grandma Kay so she could be in on the conversation.  It was awesome.  Here is last Wednesday's email.

Hello, long time no see: about 3 days now --

MOTHER'S DAY SKYPE.  Well, I'm glad we could have a Mother's Day call, even if the connection was less than optimal.  It was an enjoyable afternoon.

 And on the bright side, all of you were awake and lively; my companion called HIS family at around 6 a.m. Arizona time, so he says his family was pretty tired, and not as responsive as he would have liked.  It's all right: for the next time around, I'll use facetime on the iPads that we're getting this Monday.

iPADS TEST GROUP.  What? Yes, we are receiving iPads this upcoming Monday at a Zone Training (that time when mail and stuff comes in from the mission office), as well as some instruction on how we will be expected to use them.  Keeping in mind we're still a "test group" and Europe has pretty strict laws on data privacy, we won't have full use of the iPads in the early stages of this program.  But we will have the physical tablets. One more thing to keep track of! :)

As senior companion, I figure out all of the encounters: lessons, activities, visits, etc.  I know there are a lot of ways to go about being a senior comp, but mine so far involves kind of micromanaging.  So since I'm used to this area, I guess I've just kept control of everything, but I also take all the stress of making sure everything fits into place.  It comes and goes, but with me trying to organize everything, sometimes I envy Anziano Davis, just sitting and thinking.  There must be a better way to do things, but I don't feel comfortable delegating yet.

GOOD HEALTH.  I didn't realize my health was such a concern (both of you mentioned it in your emails).  I feel good, and I was raised by goodly parents who taught me the Food Pyramid.  I probably get more second-hand smoke than is healthy, but I have daily activity on bikes and on foot, and I get lots of sun.  So I'm doing well.

I like the D. Todd Christofferson quote.  I could spend more time studying and less time reading.  I've read so many Ensigns in my down time, I really don't get much out of them anymore.  So clearly I should change the way I read the scriptures and Missionary Library, and put down the magazines for a bit, other than for language study.  To practice, I translate from English to Italian, and then compare to the printed Italian copy.

BALANCING TIME.  You sound busy in your church callings.  I know from hearing church members here (and at home too, I suppose, though I never figured it out) that it's hard, sometimes, to make time for everything.  The family, and the job, and the church calling, and the service projects, etc.
 But I also know that Heavenly Father supports those He calls.  You're great!  Oh, and Dad, I was thinking about the company split: is your position still stable?  I was wondering about that.

Concerning dorms at BYU: the guys across the hall had a "lofted bed" ... by which I mean they stacked their beds to make a bunk bed, and took it down whenever the room got checked.  Or else they would be told to TAKE it down, since it was dangerous.  So I haven't seen any "legal" loft beds.  But I'm sure they exist.

PROGRESS.  I had a companion exchange last week with Elder Thomas, now in his 3rd transfer.  The way it's worked out so far, with me staying in Ferrara, each of the 3 times he has been on exchange in Ferrara, it's been with me.  He only goes to other ciites rarely, just Zone trainings and the mission conference.  So he enjoys getting out and seeing Ferrara.  Hopefully I've been able to give him a good impression of the city -- planning activities for the exchange and such.  I've seen him progress some, from a wide-eyed greenie (brand-new missionary), to a slightly-less-wide-eyed, NOT-greenie!

He's fun.  He's still working on the language. I am really grateful for the "gift of tongues" in my language progression, seeing how long it takes some people to learn the language, and seeing how confident I feel in the language.  Of course I am not perfect, but I am very comfortable.

Have a wonderful week!
Love, Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Nun on a Bicycle


I am looking forward to the Mother's Day Skype.  We will actually be doing it with the same member of the church who hosted us for the Christmas Day Skype.  If 9a.m.-11a.m. or therabouts works for you guys, I'll skype around then.  It works out, being around 3 my time.  So I'll call at 9a.m. your time.  It'll be about an hour-long call, since my companion also has to call around that time.

I'll just leave a short note this time, since we're talking shortly.

FUN STORY.  We were walking around town, and a random guy stops us and says, "You guys taught me 2-3 months ago." Now, I was here 2-3 months ago, and I've never taught this man.  But he said it wasn't the Jehovah's Witnesses, so either he was taught in another city, or he's crazy.  In any case, we got his contact info since he was interested in keeping up lessons.  So we'll teach him this week.

DIFFERENCES NOTED. I'm looking at the differences between "miracles," "tender mercies," and "chance encounters."  One thing I don't do, as a person or as a missionary, is seeing every little nice thing in life as a miracle.  So I studied a bit and found:

Miracle = when God changes some physical law to accommodate His purposes, when needed (or rather, imposes His will/a higher law that we don't understand).
Tender Mercy = a blessing of comfort we receive from the Lord, an acknowledgement that He knows we are here.
Chance Encounter = something memorable we stumble across.  So I sometimes discount Tender Mercies as Chance Encounters, and it gets confusing when you also throw in People God Has Prepared And Put In My Path.

So, Guy from last week who we stopped and he invited us in: Prepared Person/Tender Mercy...God knew we would be there.
Random Guy who called us over and asked to be taught: Prepared Person

BIKE REFLECTORS. A nice Chance Encounter was: as we were biking home through Centro, a couple of people stopped us and put reflectors on our bikes.  They were some college students doing a bike safety activity.  So now my tires have reflectors.

And a funny Chance Encounter was seeing, as we walked down the street, a nun...on a bicycle...carrying a bunch of plastic-wrapped roses.  Hmmm...don't see that every day.

I'll talk to you in a few days!

Love, Anziano Whitesell