Ciao mia cara famiglia! It's about dang time that I'm able to talk to y'all! Mercy alive, have I got wondrous things to share!
First and foremost, we made it safely to beautiful Vicenza-- la mia prima città! My, I've never had such anxiety as we awaited the news as to who was our trainer and where we'd be headed! Once we landed in Milano, we were greeted by President and Sister Wolfgramm with such warmth and love-- it felt like I was coming home.
Off to a Milano chapel we headed, where we proceeded to stay awake for the following 10 hours. We're talking running on like no sleep for 3 days straight, people. GOODNESS. But alas, I'm grateful because jet lag was minimalized. Comunique, after training for all of us new missionaries, we sorelle headed to the d'Uomo! Yes, folks, the very one indeed. And the reason behind such a visit? To marvel or take pictures? Well, somewhat. But mostly, to PROSELYTE! WOO-HOO! My dear collega, Sorella Ervin and I placed our very first Book of Mormon, to a sweet man named Saide. He couldn't belive that we'd only been in Italy for a couple of hours. I knew then how much I enjoyed bearing testimony in this beautiful language-- a language which I know I was called to speak for a reason; my Italian's not perfect, but it's becoming natural to the point where I STRUGGLE WITH ENGLISH, writing, speaking, you name it. (For this short intermission--I apologize for the typos, we've got crazy keyboard syndrome and funky brain syndrome up in here.)
E poi, giorno due. After sleeping in a BEAUTIFUL hotel after our first night, we headed back to the chapel to FINALLY find out where we were headed! Goodness, our anxiety was off the charts. In our group, there were 31 of us: 17 sorelle and 14 anziani. The biggest group yet to ever come to Milano at one time! #theworkishastening
The AP's start calling out cities and names. Taking their time, however, my pulse just kept on accelerating until one beautifully statuesque training sorella stands up. Her name is Sorella Beutler and she said, ''I'm headed to Vicenza. Where I've never been before. So I don't know anything about it... but I'm going with... oh no, I'm going to mess up this name... Sorella Baer!!!'' WAHOOTIE! I leapt out of my plastic chair and gave her a good ole Baer hug. President then proceeded to tell us that we were headed to the beautiful city of Vicenza! That we would be pink-washing the place! (replacing the elders) Vicenza hasn't had sorelle missionarie in 26 years! Did we feel stoked? you betcha. a bit overwhelmed? certo.
Upon arrival in Vicenza, we were picked up by the lovely Arbogasts, a senior couple here in Vicenza that are the world's loveliest couple! Mama, have no fear. Sorella Arbogast HOOKS US UP. We're talking homemade meals, Klondike Bars, the WORKS. They're our dear grandparents here and Sorella Beuts and I ADORE them. Off to our little, yet charming apartment we headed! We came to find out that in Vicenza there's a military base! Here's to both Sisters Baer on a military base! Which means that we have two branches, two groups of members and investigators, 6 hours of church a Sunday, and lots and lots of love:) We instantly knew how much work there was to be done in Vicenza, but oh, how we ate it up! Sorella Beuts and I looked at each other and knew just how much there was to be done and just how excited and blessed we were to do so.
AND NOW-- a short intermission about the loveliness of Sorella Beutler-- my dear folks, I don't know how I landed myself one of the female three nephites as a trainer, but I did (don't fret, I know the three nephites are men, we're good). She's a literal angel. Driven, responsible, kind, loving, generous, patient, affirming. Her favorite word is: beautiful. She literally drops it once every 4.3 seconds. I LOVE it. (I call her 'my lil beaut', it kills me;) She looks at life and missionary work with such optimism and focus-- I couldn't ask for more. I feel so fortunate to have the perfect example with me at all times. We both love Vicenza and the people, the food and the architecture, the city and the branches, food (in general) and Sign Language. Yes folks, she signs. I sign. The church is true.
AND WE'RE BACK-- the first couple days were a bit overwhelming as we had LOTS of housekeeping items to take care of. From grocery shopping to apartment prepping, let's just say that by Sunday, we were more than anxious to get going. Our dear beloved Sunday, 6 hours of church was absolutely INCREDIBLE. Yes, my brain was chuggin slowly after hearing Italian straight for the first 3 hours, but how we loved it. Immediately upon entering the Relief Society room, those dear Italian sisters embraced us, kissed us, and kept telling us how excited they were, that the branch hasn't sisters in a longggg time, and that they were just longing for sister missionaries. Sorella Beuts and I bore our testimonies in Sacrament Meeting and Relief Society, and I've developed a strong testimony of the gift of tongues. I can feel our generous Father in Heaven filling my mouth with words. I'm able to say what I need to, simply, mind you. But we're getting there;)
After the first branch, the dear Arbogasts made us lunch for the hour in between the two branches, and then we had the military branch, which is basically more like a ward. 160 members, 50 children, you know, enormous. They're all American and speak English. So the transition between speaking with the members is un po dificile. And by un po, I mean MOLTO. But the American branch is so dear to us. They made us feel so needed. We were handed numbers, addresses, and referrals. That branch is incredible. They truly believe in the power of missionary work, and we feel that we will be very used, which we WANT DESPERATELY. We tried to express this in every way possible. That Sorella Beutler and I both feel very lucky and blessed to be here in Vicenza, and also that we're here to work, to help, to be a vehicle for the love of our Savior.
And in closing, I just want to bear simple testimony that the Lord knows us. To be honest, my first couple nights here in Vicenza, I prayed and pleaded with the Lord to know my purpose here in Vicenza. To know that this is where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I was incredibly overwhelmed by what was expected of us, both new in this city, me, a new missionary, in a totally foreign land and language. But I gladly testify and bear firm witness, that the Lord qualifies us. That when He calls us, He also qualifies us. I feel that more and more each day. There's nothing I want to do more than declare of the joy and love and peace we can receive from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a testimony that only by Him, and through Him can we receive these blessings. His Atonement is for all. His grace is sufficient for all.
Nel nome di Gesù Cristo, amen.
Be good to each other now, ya hear?! I love y'all and am so grateful for the love and support I've been blessed with.
Tutto il mio amore,
p.s. I love you.