The members here have stolen my heart. One woman, Kornelia was born in Hungary but has lived in Italy for a long time. She served her mission at Temple Square, so her English is UNREAL. She's young, like 35, has the darlingest (yup, totes a word) family and is literally my soul sister. She has us over for lunch weekly, and we just enjoy each other's company. She told me that as soon as she saw me she thought I was familiar, but as our friendship has strengthened, she realized that we were absolutely friends in the Pre-Existence. Goodness, this woman. She's taught me so much about motherhood, service, using our talents, COOKING, missionary work-- Mom, Dad, we're visiting her after my mission. DONE.
But, really, these members, both in the American and Italian branch are too good to us. We have an appointment tonight with a dear non-member friend of ours, she's about 25 and cute, and she is teaching us how to make tiramisu! We love to teach her, and let me tell you, she teaches me TONS, like Italian for example. God bless the patience of these people for teaching me and helping me with this language!
Speaking about this language, let's chat about that for a while. It's coming, I can communicate. But there's this strange thing called 'everyone thinks I'm from crazy places'. The Italians hear my Italian and think I'm from the U.K. I get, "Vieni da Londra, giusto?" all the time. (which means, you're from London, right?) And the Americans think I'm from the South, WHEN I'M SPEAKING ENGLISH. Seriously, the Americans in our branch and all of the missionaries when they first meet me think I'm from the South. I've gotten Texas, Alabama, Florida. The works. I swear, I didn't develop some southern accent. But no one can believe I'm from Utah. Oh, what the mission does to you.
Alas, this dearly beloved week of ours. Our missionary concert? Awesome. We had lots of people come, the Spirit was so strong, and Sorella Baer (me!) played the uke and sang a solo. Yup, Mom, indeed. First time EVER. I did this Jamican-esque version of "We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet", it was swell. The audience was groovin' along with me:)
Missionary work here is BLOSSOMING. We've been up to our knees with lessons. But per troppo, dear Sorella Beauty has been so sick this past week, so we've been staying in, getting her healed up. We have been able to reactivate some people, we have lots of new and potential investigators, and our dear investigator Kelum, a sweet man from Sri Lanka, will be baptized 22 June! We're stoked! I love sitting next to Sorella Beutler and hearing her testify, she calls down the Spirit so powerfully and delivers everything with such love.
We love our dear Vicenza and the people here. And got new bikes yesterday, so that should help us get around! (But really, we just rode them for the first time, getting here, and mercy, you would've thought I'd never ridden a bike before!) With the helmet, broken tailbone, balancing my bag on my back, being a rusty bike rider, 180 degree weather with 300% humidity, and Italian drivers-- it was a golden experience. Beuts and I were DYING we were laughing so hard.
The absolute highlight of my week was hearing from Elder Nelson on Sunday. All of us in the Venice stake met at the Sheraton in Padova. As we entered the room, and saw all of the dear faithful Italians, I was overcome. And then as we stood to welcome our sweet Apostle, I felt like my cheeks were on fire, as the Spirit bore such strong witness to me that this truly was an apostle of the Lord. They announced to us that after calculating the statistics, the odds of having an apostle come to your stake is once every 27 years. How fortunate we are! The sweet Italians, clung to his every word. He taught us of things we should be teaching our children because the future of this church rests on them. He said the sweetest thing, "Fathers, read from the scriptures to your children daily, so that they may memorize your voice and associate it with holy things. They already know the voice of Mom. Let them hear from you." As I pondered on this, I reflected on how beautifully blessed I've been to have the voice of my dad memorized as he gives us blessings, prays and reads the scriptures. Dad-- I honor and cherish you for being such a man of God and a father of goodness. At the end of the meeting, unbelievably so, we ALL had the opportunity to meet Elder Nelson. I shook his hand and told him that we pray for him. He said, "Sorella Baer, we pray for you." What a remarkable experience, the first time in my life, I was able to meet an apostle. I'll never forget that special night in Padova, where I met Elder Nelson.
My dear family. My heart is full of love. My spirit, fed. I pray that we remain optimistic and joyful. For our message is one of delight, let's express that in our every action. How blessed we are. How great is our calling.
Con tutto della mia amore,Sorella Baer
p.s. I love you