Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Arabic, Bakeries, and P90X

Hello All!

Well this week has been very busy.

FIFTY APPOINTMENTS. We set a goal in our apartment (4 missionaries: 2 companionships) to have 50 teaching appointments and member visits last week.  In spite of a Zone Conference eating up half of Monday, and Anderson staying in sick on Sunday, we hit 20 appointments, and the other guys hit 27! So we were super stoked about how the week turned out. The extra bonus, was that we got to visit a handful of church members from the congregation, having potitive interactions with them. It was a good week.

I made fudge cake for district meeting. We went to the district meeting, and it turns out somebody else made mousse. So we had fudge cake, topped with mousse. Healthy? No. Delicious? Very.

GETTING PUMPED. Also, we started doing P90X (Tony Horton's workout series) as an apartment. I remember you used to do that in the mornings at home. But I'm getting a taste of it now, too. It's a much better workout than the running-in-place and jumping jacks I used to do.

LEARNING ARABIC. We learned a couple of phrases in Arabic from Mahdi a few weeks back, and we have used them a handful of times. Marhabaan ("hello"). Kayf halik ("how are you")? Al ham dulule.  It gets positive reactions from Arabic and Northern African people we run into.

Also, it makes me understand the Italians who are like, "America! How are you?" Even knowing a few words in another language, you want to use them.

ITALIAN STRENGTHS. Mom you asked "what does Italy do better than the U.S.?"  Italy does fresh food better: they have lots of fruit and vegetable markets, bakeries that have food from that morning, and you can grow your own spices to have fresh spices.

Also, they're better than us at recycling.

Love, Anziano Whitesell

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Trains, (gas) Tanks and Automobiles

Hello, Parents--

This past week was, as are all weeks, unusual. We had an exchange with the APs (Assistants to the Mission President) where nothing went according to plan.

We get on our train to Milan, and 20 minutes in they tell us somebody died on the tracks a couple of stops ahead. (?!!?!) So we wait for an hour for something. Not sure what. So we wait for an hour and change, the train gets going again...BACK to Torino, to be re-routed through Alessandria to Milan. We get in 3 hours later than expected.

CAR HICCUPS. Then during the scambio (exchanges where you go teach with a different companion), since the APs have a car, the other guys go to fill up the tank. Five minutes later the engine light goes on, and they realize that THEY PUT IN DIESEL FUEL (??!?!), so they're stuck.

TOW TRUCKS. Meanwhile, I'm stuck with the other AP with their phone at a metro station. We call the Mission Office to get a tow-truck, but it's the office missionaries' P-Day, their day off, so they had left their phone at the office. (Nobody to answer it!)

We called several ex-office-missionaries, who could get onto the Internet and call a tow truck, and then we took the public transportation home, 3 hours later, and the other guys having been stuck on the side of the highway for 4 hours, the police notice them there, and help them with the tow truck and getting back to the office. We get back home at around 10 that night. Bleh.

ZONE CONFERENCE. Other than that, we had a good "Singles' Awareness Day" on Sunday. (Thanks for the letter, mom...cries softly to self.)  And then we had our Zone Conference on Monday. We ran it. It went smoothly. Truths were taught. The Spirit was felt. Good times were had.

Basically, for the parts that were "us," my companion did most of the talking, then I'd give my instruction, calm everything down, and hand it back to him. He's much more outgoing, I'm much more calm. We work well together.

Love, Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Music, Scarves and Brownies

Torino is fun! I'm noticing some trunkiness (thinking about home), but non troppo (not too much).

I'll tell you about Fast and Testimony Sacrament Meeting.

(Background) The first Sunday of the month, we as a congregation fast for 2 meals, and donate the money that would have covered those 2 meals to the poor. During that Sacrament Meeting at church, the members of the congregation have the chance to walk up and "bear testimony:" express to the rest of us their belief in Jesus Christ or other gospel principles. This whole concept of Fast and Testimony meeting sometimes seems a little vague to people new to the church.

Christmas 2015

Simone, 16-yr-old member
MUSIC IN CHURCH. We start (after taking the bread and water of the Sacrament) with a Nigerian lady being confirmed into the congregation--she was baptized the day before. Then she bears her testimony, and finishes by singing homemade hymns (think God's gonna trouble the wa-a-a-a-ters) and says if anyone has work, she is willing to do it. I don't think the missionaries who taught her explained what "testimony" is to her.

Then, a man who hasn't been to church in awhile gets up and says, in a passive-aggressive way, that if someone doesn't come to church, others ought to call them and visit, and see what's wrong. Still no testimonies.

Then a member gets up and puts the microphone to his phone and plays a recording for 5 minutes...think Christian rapper to no music. Lots of "Jesus Saves" and all that. Meanwhile, since the Bishop is out, the first counselor is visibly agitated, considering whether to ask people to step down, or intervene, or whatever. No action is performed. Worst fast-and-testimony meeting ever. So bad it was funny. Oh, the shenanigans...

OUTGOING PERSONALITY. My current companion is my favorite person ever, just awesome. He's a really outgoing, talkative guy, so as Vinicio said, you guys have such different personalities, they just complement each other. But he's rubbing off on my faster than other people have. I'm seeing me much more joking, talkative, less reserved than before. Maybe Elder Rushforth from ever-so-long-ago in Boston was right: I'll get out of my shell here. I mean, my volume is still way low, but I open up more.

WARM NECK FOR WINTER. I have 3 lovely scarves now. I had one last year, a nice warm red one, but I left it on a train. So I got a silvery gray one this winter, and then asked a friend to pick up a couple from Firenze (I left in the fall. I wasn't thinking about scarves). And since we just had consiglio (council meeting) where we're all together, she got them to me. So now I have a purple/white plaid one, and a luxurious green one. My jacket, unfortunately, is pretty American (even if purchased here, it's just a rain jacket, not at all classy), but I'll get a good Italian coat before I go. Ah, European style.

Also: I found a recipe for brownies that is divine. They don't have Betty Crocker here, so we have to go with scratch. But how good scratch can be!

Love, Anziano Whitesell

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Different Companion and Cake


Anzianos Cortes, Huessner, Thomas, Whitesell
STAYING IN TORINO. This week has been a little hectic. We got transfer calls this past Saturday, and Anziano Cortes is going away to Mantova. I'm staying as Zone Leader in Torino, and receiving an Anziano Anderson, in his last transfer. It will be good, but as always there's not enough time to fit in all the goodbyes before Cortes goes away.

TOLERABLE TEMPS. We've had pretty warm weather here recently, just needing one jacket and thermals, not needing extra sweaters or anything. So no complaints there.

Today we spent a couple of hours at Vinicio's house; Michela, the lady who takes care of the house, cooked a good meal for us: polenta and sauce, and a cake.

GROUP PHOTOS. Here are some pictures of people we work with.

District. Sisters Gregg & Smith, Elders Huessner on top, me,
Guertler, Thomas, Diego, Cortes

We have to be several places at once today: filling the font for the sisters' baptism, picking up people at the station, babysitting the font as it fills, and a couple of appointments. So I'll just send pics today, K?

Love, Anziano Whitesell