Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Music, Movie, Magic

THE CALENDAR CONTINUES. Christmas is weird, because everything up to Christmas is a normal workday with anticipation of Christmas.  Then everything after is just a normal workday.  So buildup-buildup-buildup-CHRISTMAS!...back to work.  That was a little disappointing.  (Note from Mom: I feel your pain, David)  But I quickly got back into the routine.

UNEXPECTED BLESSINGS. I went on Scambio (exchange: working with a different companion) Monday to a place called Cuneo.  We had been through about 24 hours, the normal duration, when the other Anziani said they couldn't take the train down because of an appointment.  So we'd have to come up to them.  Or we could wait for the rest of the day, and just come up on P-day.

I initially wanted to come back right away, but upon further consideration, I felt prompted to stay the rest of the day.  So I opted to continue the Scambio until P-day.  During that exchange, I tried to be the best example of finding work, and we did pretty well.  Three people gave us phone numbers, and one asked when we could come visit him.  I like to think that's because I stayed.

CHRISTMAS ACTIVITY TREAT. My exchange companion likes (the card game) Magic, so I played with him.  It was fun; I hadn't played in a little while.  And, he has some gooooood cards :)

For Christmas we watched "Wreck It Ralph," and I had forgotten how good movies are!
We got to the test-drive scene with the girl's car, and "Shut Up and Drive" came on, and we were thinking, "Yeah, good music!"  It was a lot of fun.

Love you!
Anziano Whitesell

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas Skype!

Christmas Day: December 25, 2016

We got to Skype with David on Christmas Day!  And there was much rejoicing.  He is doing well, now 2 weeks into a new area: Torino.  Here is Mom’s summary of a few highlights from the conversation.

ORANGE PEEL TRADITION. They spent Christmas Eve (4 missionaries) with an Italian family from the congregation.  One of their Christmas traditions was to bring out a bag of oranges for dessert.  “Save the peels,” they told the missionaries.  (?!?!? Okay…)  After the oranges were eaten or just peeled, they started the ORANGE PEEL FIGHT!  Yes, that’s a tradition he might bring home with him.

People in Italy call Santa Clause “Babo Natale,” or Father Christmas in English.

COMPANION QUIRKS. David has had quite a few companions.  One of them snored.  David spent those 2 transfers (3 months) wearing ear plugs to bed.
Another one woke him up at night with “Click….click….click.”  He couldn’t figure it out, got out a tiny flashlight and walked around the room…”Click…click…click.”  It took him awhile, but it was his companion, biting his teeth together in his sleep.

HAIR IN ITALY. Popular men’s hairstyles in Italy have turned toward a modified Mohawk…the sides are shaved, then the top is a little longer.  Not SUPER-long, but longer.

Even the missionaries are doing it some.

David cuts his own hair.  He had a frightening mishap in the beginning, since in Italy they measure the razor in millimeters.  #3 razor, U.S., is about 9 millimeters, so when he asked for “#3” they thought he meant 3 millimeters.  It was SOOOO short!  Now he says 9 millimeters when somebody else does it, and if there's a razor in the apartment, he is actually comfortable trimming his own.

MEALTIME HABITS. In Italy they don’t spread butter on bread.  They mix olive oil and kind of balsamic vinaigrette and dip the bread in.  Yum!!

The missionaries eat dinner with church members once every 2 weeks or so.  On a normal day, David eats a decent-sized breakfast, then the main meal is a big late lunch.  They basically work 3p.m. to 10p.m. and have a smaller snack before bed.

Torino is fairly flat.  This is a bus/train area for him, so he has a monthly pass.  No bikes to worry about this time around!  (He’s had a string of bike challenges lately, repair after repair, then a Grand Finale of the bike being stolen, for Pete’s sake!  Taking the bus is probably a small relief.)
It was 46 degrees there (evening) when we talked.

PICTURES OF CHRIST.  Interesting how even different Christian religions have their own images of Bible stories.  We have pictures of John the Baptist standing in the River Jordan with Jesus, because in our church we baptize by immersion and both of them were standing in the river.  David says the pictures he’s seen of Jesus’s baptism have John standing on a rock on the shore of the river, holding a cup.  Jesus is standing near him, and the baptism is pouring a cup of water on him.
It was so good to see David!  That definitely made it a Merry Christmas for us!  :)


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Buses, Kids and Speaking Assignments

REACHING THE BORDER. Well, I'm now in Torino, one of the largest (2nd? 3rd?) cities in the mission.  There are 3 districts in my zone, which covers from Cuneo, Torino, Novara and Vercelli.  It goes out to France, so one day I'll take a picture on the border of France :D

It's been a good, busy week this far.  We take the bus everywhere, so I'm working on talking to people on the bus.  The other guys in the apartment are Anziano Huessner in his 3rd transfer, and Anziano Thomas in his 9th transfer, from my district in Bologna.

IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. We had a conference yesterday, a Zone Training, so P-day got moved to today.  Again, though, as zone leaders we had to do all the preparing, and a 30-minute presentation.  So I got to work on my presenting, and group teaching skills.  I'm presenting to 20-30 people now instead of my district of 6, but it's the same idea.  I've had lots of public speaking opportunities as a missionary, as well as in the church (talks, skits, presentations...).  But I enjoy it.  And having a companion makes it easier.

We will be Skyping on Christmas Day, probably from a member's home, in the evening.  We're finalizing details on Sunday, so I'll let you know next week.  At least we don't have to make it fit around odd church times this year.

INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN. We're working with a 9-year-old boy who has a neat story.  His mom was less active, but when he turned 8, he wanted to be baptized.  So she started coming back, and now he'll be baptized in a few weeks.  So, happy ending.

I'm stoked to Skype in a week!  I got a package yesterday, which was nice.
 I haven't opened it yet, I'll wait for Christmas.  The manila envelope didn't get to me at mission conference, to I expect it to arrive this week and they'll bring it to me at our next mission conference, Jan. 4.

Love you!
Anz. Whitesell

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Video and Leaving So Soon?

SHORT STAY. Well, I have some surprising news today: the last 4 weeks in Como were my only 4 weeks in Como!  I'm doing a "One-and-Done," just one transfer here.  So I'm leaving tomorrow to go be a Zone Leader in Torino. (the number "5" on the map below. "Torino" is the traditional Italian spelling of the city. "Turin" is the westernized name.  This map combined the two, I guess...)
My new companion is Anziano Cortes.  I've heard he's also of South American descent and from New York, so I'm not really changing companions, just areas!  I'm looking forward to Torino, but it was more than a little disappointing to hear that I'm going away after just a month.
Lake Como (David DID take this picture)

We had a "miracle less active pass-by" last week...unexpectedly knocked on the door of a lady who used to come to church!  She is a Peruvian lady, getting ready to leave.  She invited us in anyway and we talked about the Christmas video "A Savior is Born."  She still loves the missionaries, but doesn't feel like coming back to church.

Sunday we talked with members, who I only somewhat knew after 3 other Sundays, and I had to just say, "Well, I'm leaving, I know this is part of the Lord's plan, the Book of Mormon is true!"  It's even weirder to leave so soon, since I've been in every other city I've been in, for 5-6 months.  A couple of members commented that missionaries don't seem to stay as long, since I'm leaving after 1 transfer, the last one got put in to the office after 2 months, and the one before him was here for 1 transfer.

FROM SOUTH TO NORTH.  A man stopped us at the bus stop and asked us if we were the missionaries.  Yes, that's us!  It turns out he took the lessons in Sicily and then moved up here to Como.  So hopefully, the next missionaries can teach him.  There are many Southern Italians who move up here to Northern Italy; we have several in our ward congregation here.

My companion and I are Zone Leaders, and we only do exchanges with District Leaders, but there are 5 district leaders in the zone.  Hence, 5 exchanges.  District leaders are supposed to do exchanges with each elder in their district, but a couple of these districts just have one companionship of elders and one of sisters.  So 2 from my DL and 4 from the other DLs, and that's 6 exchanges in a transfer.
"dedica" book

FRIENDS IN THE NEXT LIFE. Yes, I've run into a bunch of people I'd like to keep in contact with after the mission.  Mostly missionaries, but also some members.  I have a "dedica" (English: "dedication") book
where people can write down a little note when we're about to leave the area for somewhere else, and they usually leave Facebook and email information for after the mission.  But now that I'm getting "old" (further along in the mission), all the missionaries who were my senior companions have gone home.

Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Non-Holidays, Belated Birthdays and Heated Floors

HOLIDAY CELEBRATION OF SORTS.  Thanksgiving was this week!  So of course we American missionaries had to celebrate.  We didn't have a day off, but we went to Roadhouse for lunch, a burger place with burgers half-off on Thursdays.  Convenient, no?  So that was fun.  I got a huge burger.  Eat too much on Thanksgiving, right?  Everyone else ordered two burgers, but I may still have eaten just as much as they did.

(Note of explanation: usually transfers are every 6 weeks.  This time, however, the 6th week falls on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  So to make Christmas more peaceful, this month they are having a 4-week transfer, followed by an 8-week transfer.  As zone leader, David has to push all of his responsibilities into 4 weeks this time.)

Aaaaand, continuing this crazy 4-week transfer, we did another 3 companion exchanges (working with different missionaries, to train) in the last week.  The only day I was with my own companion all day was last Sunday.  We even did 2 in a row, back to back...both were with "greenies" (brand new missionaries), reminding me of the last transfer, when I was training.  (One's Italian was fine, even good considering he'd been out 8 weeks.  The other's was atrocious:( )  And for the 3rd scambio I went up to Switzerland :D

THE SWISS ADVANTAGE.  Everything works differently there.  It's much cleaner, and more organized. Back when Dad thought about moving the family to Switzerland,  (note from Mom: I do not remember this opportunity...) I thought it was a place where everyone spoke French, German, AND Italian.  No, it's divided into the Italian section, the French section, and the German section. People are very polite: I was buying bus tickets, and the machine ate my card.  So when the bus came, we asked the bus driver for help.  He called for assistance, and a guy showed up in 20 minutes to get my card back.  I've never received that level of service in Italy!  The missionaries there also have a very nice apartment.  Heated floors, a small backyard, and plenty of space.  I also saw their bunker -- everyone in Switzerland has a bunker -- two stories down.

At a member's house last Wednesday, we were talking about missionary work, and the son brought up some concerns about going on a mission.  So I pulled up President Hinckley's talk, "Of Missions, Temples, and Stewardship," and read the (appx) "25 Promises of going on a mission."  There was a wonderful spirit in the home as I testified of the truth of those promises, having seen some of them already fulfilled in me.

BIRTHDAY BOX MYSTERY SOLVED. And that package that didn't show up last week apparently simply got overlooked in the office after all.  I should get it in a couple of weeks.  Possibly today, since my district leader is going to pick up some other stuff.  I was talking to the office missionary when I called about something, and he said, "Oh, your mom emailed about that package.  Yeah, we just overlooked it and we'll get it to you when we can."

Transfer news is this Saturday, since it's a shortened 4-week transfer this time.  I don't expect to leave, but I'll let you know what happens.

Love you!  Anziano Whitesell