It's good to hear about your Christmas. Our holiday season has been pretty good too.
CHRISTIANITY BASICS. I'll start off with a neat story that took place over one week's time. After P-day last Wednesday, we were on the bus and a man asked what kind of missionaries we were, in English. We answered, talked for a little bit, and invited him to meet with us Thursday morning. His name was Mahdi, from Tunisia. We met with him the next morning, and had an excellent lesson.
He was Muslim, but had studied a bit in depth about Islam and didn't like the history of violence and some other things, and so he was studying Christianity. He came to our New Year's party at church, and met with us almost every day this week. Unfortunately he's going to France today, for an undetermined amount of time. So now we'll send him to some French missionaries, but it was neat to teach him as much as we did.
Another person we're working with is Vinicio. He's about 65, and blind. But he's super nice to the missionaries, and loves having us over. He has a huge rack of CDs, with Braille titles taped on. We read the Book of Mormon with him. He's Catholic and doesn't want to change, but enjoys our presence.
HIDDEN TALENTS. Vinicio has nicknames for the missionaries, or he calls them by their first names. He calls me "The Voice" because I speak in a low volume. Also the first time I went over he had me sing "The Star-Spangled Banner," and I did my country proud, so he thinks I can sing (...) Hence the Sinatra nickname. (History note from Mom: Frank Sinatra was born in New Jersey to Italian immigrants. His first album was called "The Voice of Frank Sinatra.")
HOLIDAY...SORT OF. New Year's was weird, because it was a holiday for everybody except us. We had a New Year's Eve party at the church that started at 8:30. We could only show up and introduce a few investigators to congregation members, then we headed home.
I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE SAYING. On the way home from an exchange, we were standing next to the doors of the train, across from two girls. We were planning (in English) a couple of lessons, and I hear one of the girls ask the other in Italian what was written on my tag. So I turned and answered her :P She was all embarrassed, but we had a good gospel conversation with them. I thought it was hilarious.
Tuesday was a long day, though. We taught 5 lessons, one of which was with a fairly obstinate individual. It made for a long day. But we have borrowed a chess set for the time being, and have started playing some chess in the apartment. We're all beginners, so it's fairly even.
PACKAGES. I got the package with wrapped food. I got the banner signed by the ward. I got several letters from the Relief Society. I'm looking forward to meeting the Pazolli family. Do they still speak Italian? And I got Kara's sweater.
I know there was a package that showed up in Firenze, but they couldn't sign for me, so I don't know where it went. And one that arrived in Como but the Anziani couldn't sign for me there either. The Christmas card, they said, is probably among their letters they haven't gotten to yet. So it sounds like half the stuff has gotten to me.
Vinicio asked for a postcard of Massachusetts. Can you send me one the next time you write?
Thanks! Love, Anziano Whitesell