Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm training!

After Sister Fitches was transferred to Milan, I became a trainer. My greenie was Sister Rachael Nyland from Waterloo, Iowa.

Sister Nyland was about 4 feet 10 inches, is very thin, has fiery red hair, and was a lot of fun. She had also worked at the Nauvoo temple before her mission and had lots of stories to tell me about it. Her personality was very different from my other companions. She was always willing to do whatever I asked and spoke fairly well for being so new. We had a lot of good times together.

This pic on the left shows us together in Milan where I had to go to pick her up. It's the classic picture we take holding the Italian Book of Mormon with our trainers/trainees. The one of me with my trainee is in this post. All of the new missionaries and their trainers met in the exact same chapel where I'd served for 4 months. It was bizarre to be back! It felt like I'd never left. We had a meeting with President Henderson who told us how great we were and how we had to show a good example to our new companions. Then we ate lunch and took the train back to Torino, and then another one to Collegno. I felt really good and did a discussion with a guy on the Subway and then an awesome one with 6 people on the train. It was so full we had to stand the whole time. And it was so loud that I was practically shouting the discussion, but it was still a really cool experience. We were in a compartment with other people and all of them were listening very attentively, one girl in particular. She ended up getting off at the Vercelli stop with the missionaries of Vercelli, and they got her phone number. My companion was watching me in awe as I gave the discussion, which really boosted my confidence since I'd still felt pretty insecure about becoming a trainer.

When we got back to Collegno it was snowing like crazy. The 15 minute walk we usually had to take to get to our apartment took us a good 45 minutes while we lugged her suitcases in the snow. I left the house at 6:30 am and didn't get back until 10:10pm.

Sorella Nyland came to me at the end of February, so our area just kept getting prettier and prettier as Spring came around. Here we are with Cinzia Lusso, the Collegno branch Relief Society President. You can see the Rivoli Castle in the background. I hated the museum of modern art inside of it (particularly the dead horse hanging in the middle of the grand ballroom), but otherwise it's a pretty castle.

I went to see the opera "The Marriage of Figaro" with Sorella Nyland during our first week together. I am thrilled to say it was absolutely fantastic!!! We bought the cheapest tickets and they were still amazing seats. They were just off the center and maybe the 5th row back. And the performance was incredible. I loved it, in spite of not getting home until 1:00am and still having to get up early the next day. I loved being able to see an opera just in Italian. Fortunately they had Italian supertitles. There was still a lot of vocabulary I didn't understand, but I got most of it. It was so cool to truly understand what they were saying instead of just trusting in someone's translation. Below is a picture of the opera hall near piazza castello.

We'd had an awful experience my previous transfer seeing "Orpheus in the Underworld" at the same theater. I'd been in that opera as a Sophomore in college and had loved it, so I brought my whole district to see it with me. But by the 2nd act there was full on nudity and onstage groping so we ended up leaving early since it was inappropriate for missionaries. I was relieved that the theater didn't do the same thing with "Marriage of Figaro." The sexual behavior had not been in the script or in our production of the show, so I'd had no idea it was coming and felt really awful about telling my whole district they'd love the opera. Thank goodness it was a much better experience for Sister Nyland!

Above is a pic of the Torino train station. We ended up there a lot since Pinerolo was a part of our branch, but you couldn't take a train from Collegno to get there. We actually had to go out of our district to take a train to see people in our own district!

I loved going into Torino in the Spring! When I told people in Milan that I was being transferred to Torino, everybody said "oh but Torino is so ugly!" I don't know what they were talking about. I love Torino!

Every week we'd look for something new to see. I really enjoyed touring the inside of the old royal palace. Every aspect was bedecked with gold and jewels.

One Sunday we met a great family at the park and went to the nearby Collegno Chocolate festival with them. We asked to stop by them sometime and then we went to see them that Saturday. They're not very religious but were curious about the church and listened to what we had to say. And they liked us enough to invite us back the next Saturday for the dad's birthday.

Going to the party was one of the funnest evenings I had in the mission. We played with the kids and they asked me to play and sing at the piano. I'd brought the primary songbook and Antonella, the mom, really liked that there was a whole book of songs written to help children learn about Christ. They'd also invited two friends over who were great and we just laughed and talked the whole time. They told me "If there's one thing you don't lack it's a sense of humor". When they asked what Latter Day Saints meant, we did a beautiful 1st discussion with them and gave them a Book of Mormon with our dedicate and picture in it.

One of my favorite people from my time in Collegno was Elena Franco and her little girl “Gaia.” We got her referral from the office. She knew the sisters in Rome while she lived there and was grateful for the peace that they'd brought to her in such a stressful period. She speaks English perfectly, and since returning from Italy she's come to visit me in Utah.

I remember one particular night that she made us dinner while we corrected the homework of her English students, and then we went to Nicoletta's house (a church member who lives very close to her). Nicoletta's 16 year old son was there and Gaia fell immediately in love with him. She kept telling us to look at him and couldn't keep her eyes off him. We laughed about it for weeks. Later that week we went by again and her mom (who lives next door) paid for us all to go out to eat at the mall. It was good stuff and we had a lot of fun. Her little daughter (Gaia) wore the three of us out. She was adorable, but quite the handful. I really don't know how Elena does it all.

We decided to make Elena a "heart attack" and went to leave the surprise on her door before she got back from vacation. It turned out, though, that she was back a day earlier than we'd expected and she caught us in the act. Fortunately she loved it and invited us in.

On the same week that we met Elena Franco, we also met a man named Franco while tracting. That had started off as a really crappy day since we'd had four things planned and then all of them canceled. I'd been feeling like a slacker that week and decided to actually do house tracting. I always felt good after doing it (though doing it was rarely pleasant) since it was my way of showing God that I was willing to be his servant at whatever cost. House tracting in Italy was awful since there are intercoms on every building, and very few people will let you in simply from talking to you through a box. I only got let in to a grand total of 6 doors by house tracting. But one door we did get let into was an old man named Franco who kept saying he wasn't interested in the church but offered us a drink and wanted to talk to us since we were American. I told him he had to let me tell him the message before he decided if he was interested or not. We started into a discussion, and he kept interrupting me saying he wasn't interested until I said (as kindly as I could) "that's enough! let me finish first." He just laughed and told me to go on. Then when I got to the explanation of the Book of Mormon he said "Brava! You've convinced me. I'll read it." He insisted on giving me 10 Euro for it (I turned it in to my branch in Collegno to put into the Book of Mormon fund) and said to give him 2 months to start reading it before we talked about it again. I said that was too much and he compromised at 1 month. 2 days later, however, I received a phone call from him saying that the book was beautiful and that he wanted to talk to us about it soon. He'd read about 100 pages that very night.

In the long run, though, Franco ended up talking to his priest about the LDS church, and, of course, the priest dissuaded him from continuing to take discussions with us. But he remained our friend, and it was still really awesome to see the effect that reading the Book of Mormon could have on an almost 70 year old man who thought he wasn't interested in learning about another religion.

One week we spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday getting lost in several parts of Torino looking for this one lady who we'd found from an old referral. We never found her, but she ended up inviting us for lunch at her house on Sunday. Apparently the address we'd been looking for was her business, not her home. We went over to her house and she made really good food for us. But the rest of the family just kept saying it was underdone. I told her it was good and she said, “but they're all telling me it's not.” So I replied,” yeah, but they're insane.” She loved it! She laughed her head off and called them insane for the rest of the visit. She told me later that after what I'd said she knew she could be herself with me and that she could tell I always acted like myself and never pretended to be someone I'm not.

On a different visit to their house, a member of the ward gave us a ride out since it was on their way back home from church. We still had to catch a train back, though, and since it was raining REALLY hard I asked if I could borrow an umbrella when we left. Elizabetta told me not to worry about it, that the rain would be over by the time I left, and that we'd be fine. The rain was over by the time we left, but our train took us right back into it! Apparently it was moving west and we moved west along with it. We walked home in pouring rain and got soaked to the bone. Thank goodness I had that warm sweater on.

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