After only 6 weeks with Sister Madsen, I was transferred to Collegno with "Sore'" Rebecca Fitches from Colorado. She liked to say Sore' instead of Sorella, which I believe is some of the dialect she'd picked up from her time in Bergamo.
This was a completely crazy, totally unexpected transfer considering that I had only been in Italy for 4 months and Sister Fitches had only been there 2 and 1/2. I'd actually known her for 3 weeks at the MTC since she was a part of the group just 6 weeks after me. We were being called to reopen a companionship in Collegno, a paesino (suburb) of Torino (In English it's Turin, but I can't avoid calling it Torino). That's not a job they usually give to 2 relatively new sisters. So we definitely had our work cut out for us. We had no contacts to begin with and no other sister missionary there to give us any information on the members or the area.
It was pretty terrifying and intimidating to begin with, but somehow we made it work. It definitely helped me get my tracting skills and my Italian into really good shape since I no longer had a senior companion to take over for me when I would get stuck. So even though the first 3 months in Collegno were the most difficult of my mission, I know they helped me learn and grow a lot.
These close-up pictures I keep posting of me with my companions are actually a Milan mission tradition. You met your new companion, usually at a train station, and then you went into the photo booth to take a picture.
On Thanksgiving, we all got together as a zone and had a big Thanksgiving lunch. It was a lot of fun! We pigged out and had a blast.
It was really fun to just hang out in the Stake Center and celebrate an American holiday. I'm glad we didn't have to miss out on it.
After stuffing ourselves with turkey, we went outside and went mud sliding. I said "no" at first and then caved into the peer pressure of my district. It was fun but we got soaked! We had to go to the Torino sisters' apartment to get a change of clothes, but we were still stuck with wet shoes.
I probably wouldn't have done it if it'd just been my district. But when I saw that the Torino sisters were doing it too, I decided to go along with it.
I'd actually never done it before, so you can see from these pics that I didn't exactly know how to do it right. I never got the best slide from it. I'd run, slow down, and sort of jump instead of sliding.
My district will NEVER let me live down this bellyflop.
We were probably the most apostate district in existence (though in my defense, I didn't know that half the things we did were against the rules), but we had a lot of fun. It was cool to finally have a normal district that I could hang out with. My district in Milan was the assistants and the coordinators who were always busy and had maybe one day a week to do actual proselyting work. So I never really saw them. Sorella Silva kept saying to me "wait till you're in a real district."
We made up a type of family in the mission. Your first companion was your mamma or your babbo, and then the district leader in your first city, or the first senior missionary sister you served with, was the other parent. So for me Sorella Silva was my mamma and Anziano Mellor (the district leader my first transfer) was my Babbo. When you arrive in the field you're "born," and when you finish the mission you "die." So basically my mamma had "died" 7 weeks earlier and my Babbo had just died the previous transfer. I was a mission orphan! What's funny is that the elders often didn't get a Mama for a long time because they had served only in little cities that didn't have sister missionaries (some never even got a mama at all). Coming to Collegno actually made me the mamma of all 4 of the Elders in my district. I enjoyed teasing them about it. I was a mamma of 4 Elders with 4 different babbos, one of whom died before I was born!
You might notice in this picture that I'm wearing a tie. Our zone leaders had given our district Elders a hard time about not wearing a tie on p-day, so our Elders also got ties for us sisters to wear. They said we were just trying to adhere to the rule that "missionaries must wear a tie on p-day."
While we were in downtown Torino one day, Sister Fitches bought a medium cotton candy. It was enormous! When the vendor saw how surprised we were, he told us to come back for a large meter length cotton candy. So we did! Even though I personally don't like cotton candy, I had to see it.
One p-day we played Risk as a District. I got slaughtered, but it was still fun!
Another p-day we went bowling as a district. They actually don't allow you to use your own socks in Italian bowling alleys. Instead they give you disposable socks made of pantyhose. We loved seeing the Elders put on nylons.
In downtown Torino they were counting down days, minutes, and seconds to the next 2006 Olympics with this enormous clock in the middle of piazza castello.
I loved pandoro! It's a delicious Italian cake in a bag. You toss in a pack of powdered sugar, shake it up, and enjoy. It was my favorite treat. While Sister Fitches was in Milano for her 100 days, she bought me a mini pandoro with a toy inside. I loved it!
Christmas in Collegno was fun! This pic was taken at the ward Christmas party, where I also saw an American guy I knew from the University of Utah vocal department. He was there for a temporary job.
One night we went caroling/tracting in downtown Torino. This was a popular street that was almost like an outdoor mall.
They built a "Santa's Workshop" in Rivoli, the suburb where our church was, and it was fun to go visit there.
This is me opening presents on Christmas day. My companion bought me a Harry Potter t-shirt for Christmas. It had the beginning of the Hogwarts theme song in Italian on the back of it. They sold it at a Blockbuster video nearby. I still have it, though it's pretty worn out and has a few holes in it.
I thought this Christmas decoration was absolutely hilarious. In downtown Torino, there's a statue of various Greek gods. During Christmastime, they put up a nativity set in the middle of it. It's like the Greek gods are looking down on the Christ child with vengeance! Bit of a strange place to put a nativity set.
This is the Vicedomini family. They lived around the corner from the church and had us over for Christmas and Easter. We got to call our families and watch "It's a Beautiful Life" at their house.
We bought some fish one Saturday and named them after our Elders. 3 of them died immediately. Only Ace (named after Anziano Cardon. We took Ace from the word card) was still alive by the 3rd day. We don't know how they died. Two died together and then the other kicked the bucket the next day. We later found out that Ace was a fighter fish, but the woman at the pet store had said they should all be able to live together just fine.
We held a fish funeral for our 3 dead fish. We flushed them down the toilet and lit three candles on top of it.
We also found out that we weren't supposed to have fish. So we ended up giving them to the Bruno family that lived down the street. They had a big aquarium and lots of fish. When we put Ace in, her turtles immediately started chasing him. When we came back several weeks later he was still alive, but half his original size! He must have slimmed down from being chased so much.
We did a lot of sports contacting playing bocce. It's a game like bowling except you throw a lot softer and try to roll your ball as close to the one red ball as possible. We always played with a bunch of little Italian men. Watch the movie "Return to Me" and you can see what I'm talking about. After the game they'd ask who we were, and we'd end up getting into discussions with them. The problem was that they'd all seen this movie about the Amish where the film translators referred to the Amish as "mormoni." So I got asked all the time if we still didn't believe in electricity and had long black hats and beards.