Hello Family and Friends,
God answers prayers. I tell Italians that every day, but it is true. There are so many things I prayed for in the MTC specifically. I prayed for charity and love for these people and I felt it from them immediately, in a way that I have never felt it for them before. I prayed that I would be prepared and qualified. Almost every insecurity I had before about being a missionary is gone now (although there are new ones to work on now too!). Sometimes I am surprised that I can talk to so many people in a language that I am struggling to learn. And yet in many ways, it is easy, surprisingly so. I just simply do it, and I know its a direct answer to my prayers from before. Also, I prayed that I would be able to "hit the ground running" and I absolutely have been placed in a situation where I can, although much differently than what I expected! That is usually how it goes! I have found that it helps a lot to write down the questions or desires that we have and pray for, so that when we finally receive our answer (and sometimes it takes a long time because God wants us to grow and become better for it) we can recognize it and be grateful for it.
August in Italy is holiday season, known as "feragosto". Every day the people ask us "andate al mare?" or "are you going to the beach?" and then they are shocked and amazed when we tell them no, because that is what everyone here does! Sunday was the main holiday day and we had two member meal appointments. Now I have heard lots of stories of Italian food and how much they feed you, but I never really believe it or at least it never really sunk in. But oh my goodness it is true! Meals here are a 2 or 3 hour event with usually around 6 to 8 courses!! We start off with a giant bowl of pasta, enough to definitely be a meal alone, and then for the next 2 hours, they keep bringing out more courses. Usually the salad comes next, then often things like stuffed eggplant, sausage, beef, chicken, potatoes, shrimp, rolls with cheese and ham, fruit, and gelato. It is AMAZING! And hilarious!!! I definitely think that was one of the reasons I was called to Italy, because I can handle the amounts of food just like an elder can! Sunday specifically was quite an adventure, as we had the two meal appointments. We had a few hours in between but were definitely not hungry for the second one. And yet managed to eat just as much food! I dont think I have ever eaten so much in one day, phew! One of my favorite things was something called burrata, which was a ball of mozzerella cheese with cream. The ball of mozzerella cheese was twice the size of a tennis ball and we ate it (each one of us had their own ball) with a roll and ham. And this was just one of the 7 courses of the meal! Can you even imagine?? Delicious!
We do a lot of street contacting here and I love it. I carry around this little notebook and write down Italian words I dont know and the names of the people we meet. Right next to our apartment is a long sidewalk with lots of benches. Lots of old Italian men sit on those benches almost all day long and we've gotten to be friends. At night when we return home, there is a group of friends/family that sit on the benches and I've made friends with the little girls, they are absolutely adorable, especially Marita, and they teach me new Italian words and write them down in my notebook for me. Funny story, we were talking to a sort of older man and I started to ask him if he would pray about something. He cut me off and said, "I pray. I pray every day to meet a beautiful woman like you!" and then he pats me on the cheeks. Haha, these Italian men are ridiculous! Most of them are hilarious and just harmless.
We meet a lot of Romanians here and they are some of my favorite people. Lots of them immigrate here to work as badantes (people who take care of old people and there are lots of old people in Italy) or to beg. What a humble people they are for the most part, just working to send money back home to their families.
Also, the mission made an announcement that all mail including packages should go to our appartment now instead of the mission home. It is probably because the mission is so spread out. Its tough though because it takes about two weeks to get mail and we never know when we will be transferred and have a new address. If it is around transfer time and you arent sure, you can probably still send it to the mission home and it would be okay.
This is getting a little easier, I might be catching on to how to be a missionary! Wohoo, there is hope for me!