Sunday, August 30, 2009

La chiesa di Gesù Cristo degli santi dei ultimi giorni

I went to the city this morning with a name an address and a phone number. And thanks to the good siense people, I found the church! I was walking up a hill when I asked a man across the street “conosce bene la città?” or “do you know the city well?” He said he did and so I asked him “dov’è la via don minzoni?” he said “questa strada è don minzoni!” “this is don minzoni!” “oh! ho trovato!” “I found it!” (I should have said “l’ho trovato” but its all buona) I told him I was looking for number 55 and he said it would be that way. I thanked him and went on my way. After walking almost all the way down the street and realizing that the numbers had only changed from 32 to 37, I thought that the church or apartment or whatever it was where gli santi dei ultimi giorni met was elsewhere. I decided to turn the corner and check in the small buildings that were behind the main apartments on the street. Lo and behold there was the sign: La chiesa di Gesù Cristo degli santi dei ultimi giorni!! I was so happy my eyes teared up. I heard the piano and knew I was in the right place.

For the first time since arrival in Siena I felt really at home. Rita’s house is good, but the church was incredible. I LOVE THE CHURCH!!!

Walking inside I found two american elders who asked me about what was happening in the states. I told them about cash for clunkers which they didn’t think was too great an idea. We talked some more about using the internet where it was il più economico etc. there is also a companionship of Italian elders, one of whom is the branch president. All of the people were super nice. About 50% of them speak English. There were about 13-15 people there today. We have the meetings in order from R.S. to Sunday school to sacrament meeting. (note: r.s. is called la società di succoro—the society of succor). In combined SS/ sacerdozio (priesthood) the branch president, anziano ranieri, gave a fabulous lesson about the constant nature of our Padre Celeste. (It was so funny to learn how similar the members of the Church really are. Anz. Ranieri kept saying “diciamo” which means “let’s say.” So for example, he said something like, “we are all playing a big game of football, diciamo. The spectators are the world and the coach is Christ, diciamo.”) And the analogies were so analogous with analogies we would use here. He also taught that when we have a testimony, we know and feel the Spirit.

The Sunday school teacher was a cute short bald man. He had me read a passage from the family proclamation that had the most difficult words to pronounce in the whole world. When you have never seen or heard the word, “reciprocamente” and you have to read it on the spot in a room full of Italians it can be a bit embarrassing, but they all said I did well. Then sacrament meeting was great. It was so weird: there was only one tray of water and one tray of bread. But the sacrament prayer in Italian is gorgeous. In sacrament, one of the speakers was an ex-professor from BYU who knew one of my teachers. His talk was awesome. He spoke about his experiences with converting to the church and deciding to serve a mission. Then the other Italian elder spoke. He spoke very quickly and kind of scattered. The main thing I got from his talk was that God heres “ogni parola, ogni volta”—every word, every time.

After church we all stood around talking and I decided to go explore the city a bit more. I found piazza del campo. It was breathtaking. I also walked through another basilica. It was constructed in the 1220s. It was also incredible. I felt a bit of the spirit there and felt sorry that people who believe in and love Christ so much don’t know the full truth.

Now I am sitting on a bench in a park trying to stay awake because for some reason I just could not sleep last night. I had a dream that Darrell told me he was addicted to alcohol and that woke me up at 2:30 after I went to sleep lightly at 11:30. I thought that finishing The Corpse Bride would put me to sleep, but it didn’t. So I watched the Sandlot. All of it. Then I started listening to music but still couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about Darrell. At 5 am I texted his uncle. It would have been the perfect time for him to call me. it was 7 pm there. I don’t know why he hasn’t called yet but he is one of the people that I haven’t spoken to since I’ve been here that I really want to talk with.

Some nice old guy named Antonio just came up and started talking to me while he smoked his nasty cigarette. But I have to say: I am SO proud that I can speak Italian. I love my life even when I miss my family and friends. All the dreams that I’ve ever had (except becoming valedictorian) have come true. I am in Italy, and though I am by myself, I don’t feel alone. People like Antonio are everywhere, and after such an wonderful church service this morning I have the feeling that no matter where I go in the world I have a constant family in the gospel and companionship with the Holy Ghost.

today i acted: as translator for some british boys after i ran into my friend from church. they wanted to go to mcdonalds. che peccato.
today i have never hated more: the fact that i have to pay ,50 euro per bathroom visit
today i am torn: between loving the sabbath and wanting to spend all my money on all the cute stuff here
today i gave: my email address to four strangers from canada.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

my life as harry potter

well siena is gorgeous. like hogwarts. i left las vegas at noonish on thursday and finally got to my casa at 7 on friday here in italy. omg it was such a crazy trip. on the first flight to toronto, i sat next to an interior designer! she was so awesome. we talked almost the whole way and i got to pick her brain about being a deisgner. the next flight to rome was long and tried to sleep the whole way. i did rather well at that. when i got to rome that's when the fun began. i waited for my luggage then had to figure out how to take the train to siena. my bags both weighed fifty pounds and i had to lug them around each time i got on and off a new train. also when i got off the train i found out that my glasses were broken. snapped right in half... i could sure use some MIGHTY PUTTY!!! or hermione granger to "oculous repairo" them back to normal. so ill either patch them up with some tape or something or have a headache for four months.

so i paid 37 euro to take the train to siena (luckily the language is going ok for me.) i took one into the main part of rome. this station was dirty and gross and full of creepy people and i had to wait there for 2 hours. it wasnt exactly platform 9 3/4. i got on the train just in time. then i got off and got on another. this one was nicer. i sat in a little room with five other people. by this time i was super tired. the other people were nice though. we talked about what i was doing and stuff. you know the lady who brings the trolley by on harry potter? well the italian version is a greasy fat guy ring a bell and yelling "PANINI!!" as he zooms past. i almost said "we'll take the lot!" until i remembered i have no money. after i got off this train, i had to wait an hour in a tiny little GORGEOUS town called chiusi. i sat and talked to a taxi driver who was very nice.

then i got on the train as soon as it got there and loaded all my bags and stuff onto the train. i slept most of the way, and luckily there was a family from australia that i told to wake me up when we got to siena. i got off the train and there was this cute little old lady. i guess i stood out with my huge bags and crazy blond hair. she welcomed me and helped me take my bags to the car. her house is big and old. her name is rita. today she sent me on a bus into the city, so here i am in siena. i dont know how im going to get back to strada pian del lago, but my hour on the comp is almost up. i miss having people with me, but this is a good chance to learn to be comfortable being alone. but i know im not ever really alone and i have been praying like crazy to feel the presence of the Holy Ghost. its going to take some adjusting, but i know this is a good thing for me. thank you everyone for your support. i love you all!

today i wish: i had a side kick
today i am increasingly glad: that i went to alaska this summer
today i wait in anticipation for: my roommate
today has been: a hard day to be yellow

Monday, August 17, 2009

alaskan reflections

Ketchikan most definitely changed my life. Looking back to those few weeks in April when I was toying with the idea of spending the summer in Washington, it couldn’t be clearer that I needed to be in Alaska. The people I met, the parts of my self that I discovered, the friendships that were started or strengthen all make so clear that Someone was watching out for me in telling me to move to Alaska. But above everything, I have realized even more the truth of the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had three really cool missionary moments while I was in Ketchikan that I want to record. The first and second happened at work. The first was a converstion with a Catholic woman. (Going to BYU is a great missionary tool in and of itself. When you tell people that you attend BYU some automatically know that you are a member of the Church. People who know that are often curious, and I am more than happy to talk.) Basically our conversation started off with just talking about BYU, how I can be taught evolution and creation and I can start a class with a prayer, stuff like that. Then she asked me about abortion and our views on it. Then she started talking to me about invitrofertalization. She brought up an interesting point. If we feel like its wrong to kill a child because it was supposed to be born and has the right to live, is it ok for a woman who can’t conceive to change that? What if she isn’t supposed to conceive? I was caught off guard but took advantage of the fact that we were talking religiously to bare testimony of personal revelation. I told her a little bit about the adoption services of the Church and then explained that each couple is able to know the will of God through personal revelation. When I spoke with her I felt a burning inside that (if it didn’t touch her with the truth) told me that what I was saying was true. The second experience happened with a young married couple. This one was simpler. The husband asked me what we believe. I tried to think of the defining characteristics of our religion. Prophets stood out to me at that time, so I told him that we believe in a living prophet and that the true religion of Christ that He organized during His time on earth was taken away, but has been restored through a prophet. His wife remarked that that was quite a different religion. I just kind of laughed and told her that we do believe in Christ and the resurrection and all that stuff. ☺
The third one was the best. My last day off of work was a rainy day. I had a lot to get done and didn’t want to take the city bus like I was so used to. I was coming back from the airport after officially deciding that I was going to ship my native American paddle home (that’s another story). I called a cab and here’s where it gets really good. I almost took a different driver, but the first cab, the driver seemed really rude, so I got in the other cab. A few minutes down the road, she told me she knew where she had seen me before—at the Mormon church! She asked me what the best advice for being a member was. I explained that our church is more of a lifestyle than just a religion and that the thing that helps me to live it is knowing that the regulations set up by the church are for our protection and because God loves us. Then I told her about the Book of Mormon and how I find it easier to read than some of the Bible. I gave her a pass along card and told her to get a Book of Mormon from the internet. I hope she was able to find it.
Alaska was the best choice I ever made in my life.

Today I still don’t know why: people carry pockets full of spare change