When I bore my dying testimony at my final zone conference, I shared the story of how Elder Eyring's testimony had touched me during my first week at the MTC. He'd talked about knowing you'd been a successful missionary simply by the way you feel, not based on number of discussions given or baptisms seen. He'd said that if you have a great love for the people you've taught and if you desire to serve them with all of your heart, then you will know you've been a successful missionary. During my testimony I expressed that my most important objective in my mission had been to learn how to love the Italian people and culture. I then read out my list of 50 things I love about Italy. I'd started writing it early in my mission with only a few things, and then took it up again towards the end.
50 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT ITALY
1) The people are so nice once you talk to them
2) There's at least one castle for every city
3) They know their own history
4) The food!!! MMMM!!!!!
5) One way to say the word "the" just isn't colorful enough
6) The members are fantastic
7) They go biking
8) They take walks
9) They call me Bella!
10) They give very specific, detailed instructions even if they're completely wrong.
11) They say whatever's on their minds
12) They insist on feeding you
13) They have adorable children with cute little accents.
14) A lot of them like opera and classical music, and if they don't they at least appreciate it.
15) They are always hospitable and willing to help and lend a hand.
16) They're short but full of fire.
17) The panetterias, pasticerias, gelaterias, pizzarias, eccetterias.
18) They cook so well, but when they serve it to you, they always say there's something wrong with it.
19) The little old ladies that ask you to walk them across the street.
20) They give long, impassioned speeches about the most miniscule things.
21) They give 2 baci to everyone
22) The beautiful fountains everywhere
23) The palaces
24) The art!
25) Even the things that hold up their bikes are works of art
26) They go into the mountains for the weekend.
27) They always bring an umbrella for just in case...
28) It's not life without 6 weeks paid vacation.
29) Their term of endearment is "ciccia"
30) They tell me that they want a "sack" of good for me.
31) They always send you home with food.
32) Little kids say "cara mia"
34) They put hot dogs and fries on pizza and call it American
35) Everyone goes home for lunch
36) They can make up their own words by adding ino, issi, one, uccio, accio, etc.
37) They're very affectionate and get easily attached.
40) The Beautiful Duomes in every city
41) They love to help me with the language
42) I can scrape up the sauce on my plate with bread and no one thinks the less of me
43) There's at least one random holiday every other week.
44) They're open minded
45) The beautiful, long, legato sounds in their language. Example: Allora
46) They eat fruit and vegetables willingly
47) Dinner's not dinner without a loaf of bread
48) Everything is fresh
49) They have street markets everyday in spite of the snow and rain
50) I've had a year and a half to love them, to teach them, and to learn from them