Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Italy, Week 9 - Chestnuts Roasting in an Open Centro

Hello! Happy New Year!!!! I hope everyone had a FABULOUS Christmas!! This Christmas was sooooo much fun! So first of all, Christmas Eve was super fun! We went to a member's house for lunch and it was yummy yummy! Then we visited a couple people and everyone is just so happy during the Christmas season so it was just so great :) That night Sorella Yost and I slept under the "Christmas tree" and in the morning we had pancakes and green smoothies and Starbucks hot chocolate and it was sooo great. And then we opened our little presents :) We got gypsie pants! WOO! Then we passed by a woman we teach while she was at work (she's a bedante, which is basically a nanny for old people) and the woman she works for is sooooo cute and sooo sweet! She asked us to come back for New Year!! Then we stopped at a part-member family's house for lunch and it was sooo good. They're from El Salvador and it was super simple and super delicious. Then we brought more cookies to another family and sang to them and then we went to member's home for dinner and I got to Skype my wonderful family and it was sooo fabulous. Best 40 minutes ever.  The next day we had lunch with another member family and I ate raw salmon on bread (by choice!) and duck innards. Mmmm...... They really didn't taste like anything but yeah... They wouldn't tell us what it was until after we had eaten it. Then we taught our progressing investigator and gave him a fake practice interview and he did sooo well! He already knows who he wants to baptize him and give talks and such. GAH! HE'S SO BRAVO! Anywho. Then we went to a part-member family's house for dinner and it was sooo yummy! And this family is soo awesome. It's a husband, wife and 15 year old daughter and only the husband is a member. They're all soo sweet and the husband has such a great testimony. We're hoping to get the daughter to come to some youth activities and make some friends with the youth in the ward, we think they'd get along super well!
The week then went on pretty much normally. We got through a lot of meal appointments and they were all super yummy and I got super chubby. (still am. It's fine.) 
Sunday we had lunch at a member's and for the spiritual thought we were going to do 2 Nephi 25:26 and talk about how although Christmas is over, the true Spirit and meaning of Christmas (The gift of Christ) is still here throughout the year. And Sorella Yost had me start it, but I wasn't sure how to. So I paused, trying to figure out the words, and said "Allora........ Natale....non è qua... più. .......é vero?" (Okay.... Christmas is not here any more. It's true?) A few seconds of silence... and then EVERYONE BURST INTO LAUGHTER. It was really embarrassing. But we're super tight with this family so it's fine. Then they gave us this thing of hazelnut chocolate spread that's better than Nutella. I said it. That means it's for real. Apparently Nutella is only 25% hazelnut while this stuff is 45% hazelnut. So yeah. It's real good. And it was super nice of them to give it to us!!
Anywho, the rest of the week has been pretty normal. OH! IT SNOWED!!!! OUR FIRST SNOWFALL OF OUR BELOVED BUSTO!!!! It only snowed for a few hours and it didn't really stick, but STILL!!! It was soo exciting. :) Hopefully it snows more :) Everything's been going super well! We have to be in by 5 tonight because it's too dangerous to be out and about on New Year's Eve here in Italy, so I get to catch up on my journaling! WOOO!!! Finally. Oh, and we got roasted chestnuts! Sorry, I just saw the title and was like "oh yeahhhh. I should probably explain that." So yeah. We got roasted chestnuts in centro. It was cool. They're kinda weird. But we did it! And now we can say we've had roasted chestnuts, That's all that matters :) So yeah!
We went to Como today! I'll probably send pictures next week because I have a lot this week... But yeah, It's been super crazy and hectic but soooo fun. It'll be kinda weird getting back into the swing of things now that the holiday hurrah is coming to an end. But it'll be nice, people will hopefully be a bit more free! 
Anywho, thank you all for your prayers and support! I love you all so much! You're in my prayers and I think of ya'll always! Have the happiest of New Years! Remember who you are and Who you stand for!! I love you!!!
Love, Sorella Hawks :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Italy, Week 8 - Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!!! I don't have time, we only have half a P-day today and we have a lunch appointment in an hour and we still have to do our grocery shopping! Ah! I just wanted to say that things are going great! Some days are hard we we don't get a single lesson while other days are great and we teach three unplanned lessons before lunch. Woo! Our investigator didn't get called into work, which is such a miracle! Thank you everyone for your many prayers! They helped so much! His family is going away for a week (the week of his baptism) but he'll be with his family and away from temptation, which is a blessing. And this way we only have to push his baptism back a week. HE'S SO BRAVO! He quoted a scripture in our lesson last night!!!! WHAT?! And he's super excited about his baptism. We asked him if he wanted to push it back two weeks because we would have to meet with him pretty often if it was only pushed back one week, but he was totally cool with that and just doesn't want to wait any longer. Need I remind you he's only 17? What? Right? I know. Cray. He's super bravo. This Christmas is the BEST! I'm so grateful for this time that I have to celebrate Christmas as a missionary. I've come to understand the true meaning of Christmas more and more as a missionary. God didn't just give His Son, He gave us the opportunity to come back to Him and live in eternal happiness. To be with our families and with Him for all eternity. And He gave us our free Agency, even though He knew He would lose some of His children to the temptations of the world. God just loves us sooo much. It's so incredible. And I'm grateful for this time to try to give back, even just a little, by serving Him and His children here and trying to help bring as many as I can back to Him. I love this season and the feeling of joy and giving that comes with it. 
I love you all sooo much and thank you all for your support and love! Merry Merry Merry Christmas!!! Vi voglio TANTISSSSSSSIMO BENE!!! Buon Natale!!!

Love, Sorella Hawks :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Italy, Week 7 - Miracles and Green Smoothies

We had a miracle Sunday this week and it was all because of Sciopero!!! (Strike) Who would have thought that any good would have come from all of our trains being canceled? Also, since we're going to be fed 2 times almost every day the week of Christmas, we're eating green smoothies any time we're home pretty much. It's spinache and lots of fruit, so it's our saving grace. I'm super excited for this week though! Italian food for dayyyyyssssss. So fabulous.Anywho, let's see what happened this week.... So our investigator who is preparing to be baptized is so BRAVO!!!!! We taught the Word of Wisdom Friday and Tithing, Fasting and Obedience Tuesday and he accepted all of them! He said when we works and is earning money he will pay his tithing after he's baptized. HE'S SO BRAVO! So yeah, things are going really great with him! The only thing is he might have to work on the day we set for his baptism and that means he would be gone two weeks, so we would miss two weeks of lessons and have to push his date back, which makes both of us nervous, just because that's never a really great thing. Anywho, so we're praying a lot that he doesn't have to work....
Sunday: MIRACLE DAY!! We taught the three daughters of a woman  in our ward who all just joined her here after being separated for a while. They're not members, but they're really open to the messages we teach and they seem to like us! They don't speak Italian, but they understand it pretty well. We just get pretty creative with how we teach, it's really fun! Then we had an appointment in another city, but there was a strike for the trains, so we were a little nervous on our way to the train station. When we got there, ALL of the trains were canceled... And any time a new one came up, boop, it would be canceled too. After a while we went into a corner and said a prayer that we would be able to get a train and get to the city to teach the family of our investigator with the bap date. We went back to where we were standing before and there was this woman who was standing by us before and had kept looking at us. When we came back, she started talking to Sorella Yost. It turned out she was trying to get on the same train that we were trying to get on, so we were all hoping for the same thing. She invited us to sit with her and then she said we should say a prayer. She said it! How cool! So Sorella Yost said a prayer and we looked up at the board and the only train that hadn't been cancelled got canceled. GAH! When we talked about it later, both Sorella Yost and I started praying in our hearts for a miracle. After a while, we looked back at the board and a train that had been canceled earlier was no longer canceled and was instead marked as 15 minutes late!! Okay, yeah, that's a huge miracle. It was AMAZING. And the woman said it was because of our prayer! We talked a little about prayer and our relationship with God. We got to sit with her on the train and her umbrella was broken and she was trying to fix it. All of a sudden Sorella Yost offered to give the woman her umbrella. At first the woman didn't want to take it because she felt bad and asked how she would get it back because we live pretty far from each other. Then, bam, we got her number and said that we'll be in contact with each other so we can meet up and she can give it back. When we were about to leave we said Merry Christmas and she said "No , no, we'll see each other again before Christmas." She's so awesome!!! So yeah, Sciopero miracles. Then we went to our investigator's house and we were just going to teach him and his sister, but his parents decided to stay for the lesson and we taught the Plan of Salvation! It went soooooo well! The dad asked a couple hard questions, but we covered them pretty well, I think. And the mom seemed to be touched by the lesson ( I mean, what mother wouldn't be touched by the knowledge that she could be with her kids and husband for all of eternity. That's pretty amazing) So yeah, strikes are annoying, but God works miracles through them!!
So yeah, the rest of the week we mainly did Christmas finding. We made little pass-along cards with the website to the "He is the Gift" video and we pass them out to people. It's been going really well! People are more open to accepting it and most of them are really nice to us!
Yesterday when we  were walking down the street, this little old man saw us and just had this huge smile on his face when he saw us and started telling us how beautiful we are and asked where we're from. Normally it's just creepy guys that say "bellisime" as we walk by and stare at us which is gross and creepy but whatever. But he was just like this cute little old grandpa and was saying it in a grandpa-like complimenting way. It was kind of random but pretty funny.
Also, random funny stories that I forgot to write in past letters. A few weeks ago we had a man on the train wish "male children upon us" as we left the train after talking to him. 
Another time, we walked out of our house and it was raining, so we were geared up in our rain stuff. We walked past this old man and said hello to him and he stared at us for about 3 seconds and started laughing... Didn't say anything, didn't do anything, just laughed and kept walking... It wasn't like mean  laughter, but he was definitely laughing at us. Let's just say we were a little self-conscious the rest of the day haha. It was super random, but I guess we do look kind of funny wearing big rain boots and skirts. Oh well! It's the missionary life and I love it. Plus I'd rather look funny than have wet feet and be uncomfortable all day...
Anywho, that's about all for this week. It was a good week! I made it through my first transfer in the field and I'm officially in my second! We have a fresh new greenie in my district now, so it's really fun! There's three of us now in our district, so it's pretty fun :) ( I totally just repeated myself. I'm sorry..)
Today we're going to the third biggest market in Europe woo! I'm pretty excited. A little nervous, I hope we don't get lost... 
Anywho, I'm so grateful to be out here serving the Lord. It's so cool seeing how much God loves His children. He has given us so much to be able to make it through this life and return to Him. Although he can't physically be with us, He has given us a means of communicating with Him through prayer, the scriptures, a modern day prophet, and sooo much more. He didn't put us on this earth to be miserable and suffer. Yes, we have trials and we suffer at times, but it's so we learn and grow and come closer to Him. He loves us so much and wants us so much to come back to Him. And He's given us so much so that we can, inculding His own Beloved Son. I love teaching this to people and I'm so grateful for the Christmas season when more people are open to hearing about it. I hope this next week will be wonderful and everyone can enjoy the true Spirit of giving and feel God's love. 
I love you all!!! Thank you for  EVERYTHING! You're the BEST!!! Vi voglio un MONDO di bene!!!! 
Love, Sorella Hawks :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Italy, Week 6 - Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory

Okay, so last Wednesday we went to Como which is BEAUTIFUL. But, it was really foggy and rainy, so we couldn't see the alps.Monday-Tuesday I got to go to Lugano (Switzerland) for a Scambio and it was GORGEOUS. HOLY COW. I can't even. But yeah, it was gorgeous. I told Sorella Yost that we're going back. A lot. Pictures will most definitely be attached.Okay, let's see, first things first, WE SET A BAPTISMAL DATE WITH ONE OF OUR INVESTIGATORS!! He's sooo awesome and we're so excited for him. We also gave a Book of Mormon to another one of our investigators and she seemed really excited and I'm confident she'll start reading it. We have the greatest investigators.
So let's go through the week now that I let that out. Last Wednesday in Como we mainly just did some shopping, which was really fun! We went to this store called Tiger which is like a classy "The Christmas Tree Shop" (is that what it's called?) and I got a mustache pillow. Like, one of those squishy little ones. It's fantastic.
I made Chicken noodle soup the other day and it was fabulous. Like, it didn't taste super amazing, but it was so nice to have home made chicken noodle soup to warm the belly and the soul. I was really excited when I made it. My companion just stepped back and let me have my moment. She's so great. 
Saturday night we were fed half a pizza and a fourth of a cake each... That was something else... We were really full. It was a good thing we had a 15 minute walk to the train station after... 
Saturday afternoon a ward member from Sicily fed us and it was AMAZING. I don't enough know exactly what it was, but it was soooo good. We were really full after that too.... When we get fed here, we get fed a lot. Like, a lot. It's pretty fabulous. 
Monday we had a Zone Training which was so fun! Since it's Christmas time we sang Christmas carols at the end and it was so great! It got me sooo excited for Christmas. It feels like it's forever away. But I'm so excited, this is the best time to do the work, people are so much more open to talking about Christ and sharing their feelings. After the meeting Sorella Yost and I split to do a Scambio and I went up to Lugano and she stayed here in the great city of Busto. My temporary companion for the scambio was from Sicily, so I got to speak only Italian for 24 hours, which was really hard, but it was so cool! It shows me how much I know and how much I need to study.... But she was really patient and sooo sweet! I love her so much! We had such a great time! And I couldn't get over how pretty Lugano is. I still can't. Gosh. So pretty.
Then we switched back, Sorella Yost and I got Burger King (I'm sorry! I know I'm in Italy and should stay away from anything American, but it was close, we were hungry and it was fast! Please forgive me.) Then we ran home, ran to the Questura, I got my permesso for a whole year! Woot woot! Then we ran to the church, taught a lesson, taught English, then had our first ward council since we've been here which means it was my first ward council ever! It was really cool, but really hard to understand everything.... My head was hurting by the end, especially since I had just come back from speaking only in Italian for 24 hours. Language headaches--they're a real thing.
Anywho, today we just stayed in Busto and did some shopping which was fun! Gosh, I love Busto. I love our ward, everyone we teach and see. I'm so lucky! 
Anywho, sorry, it was a really fun week, but not too many crazy/funny stories this week. But gosh, I am so lucky to be a full-time missionary for the Lord. The blessings just flow in from all sides. I couldn't ask for a better way to be spending these 18 months of my life right now. 
I love you all so much! Oh! Also, since I love you all so much, you should watch the video on this site: IT IS SO GOOD!!!!! It gets you in the Christmas spirit so well by reminding us the true meaning of Christmas. It reminds us of the love our Father in Heaven has for us. that love was so great that he was willing to send down His Beloved Son for us, so that we might return to live with Him, if we just do the things He asks of us. I invite you all to share this video with someone you love and who needs a little extra Spirit of Christmas in their lives right now. It's so beautiful.
But yes, thank you so much for everything you all do for me, thank you for your love and support! I love you all so much! Vi voglio tantissimo bene!!!!!
Sorella Hawks :)

More Photos

Danielle's New Family

Hot Chocolate

A Mosaic

Eating Piadina

Makeshift Christmas Tree



View of the Alps
Busto church
Como 2
Como 3
Lugano 1
Lugano 2

Sorella Curtis, Nilson, Hawks and Yost

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Italy, Week 5 - Miracles Abounding

We had such an amazing week this week and the greatest miracle that we've seen while we've been here!So first of all, yes, we went to Ravenna last Wednesday and it was cray. But it was AMAZING. Ravenna is soooooo gorgeous, it's actually just like what you picture when you imagine Italy. I got to see a couple world famous mosaics which was amazing! I also rode a bike past Dante's tomb! I didn't get a picture because we were in a hurry, but hopefully someday I'll be able to go back! I also got a Piadina there which is soooooo good. And the best gelato I've had while I've been here. And I've had some pretty dang good gelato. It was so awesome! Plus, I got to meet my Mission Sister (the other Greenie my trainer trained before me) It was so fun!
Thursday we went to a Funeral. I think I mentioned this last week how we were asked to sing at a viewing on Tuesday but we couldn't make it, so we were asked instead to sing at the funeral on Thursday. We went to the funeral, but it was a Catholic funeral, so we never had the chance to sing. It was such an interesting experience. It was really sad since they don't know the plan God has for each of us and the priest kept saying that we don't know where she'll go or what's going to happen. At the end her son was crying "Momma Momma" as he carried her casket out. It was so heartbreaking. It made me want to just tell them about the Plan of Salvation right then and there. It breaks my heart to know that people don't have the hope that we have for those who pass away. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that God has a plan for each of us and we know that we can live with Him again and live with our families for eternity. It brings so much happiness in my life. It was a good reminder of why I'm really out here; To bring that hope and help families come together to be able to be together for eternity.
That night to celebrate Thanksgiving we got hot chocolate! Hot chocolate in Italy is not like American hot chocolate though... But it was still really good!
Friday we had a lunch appointment with a family in our ward and we got on the train to go to their city, but it passed right by it and went straight to Milano.... So the one week we didn't have to go to Milano for a meeting or something, we ended up there anyway. I don't think there's been a single week that we didn't end up in Milano at one point or another since we've been in Busto... I think it might be a sign... But we finally made it there and she had made fresh pesto pasta. oh. My. Gosh. I love pesto so much. It was sooooo good. So good. And she made Tiramisu (obviously no alcohol or coffee, no worries) and it was sooooo good too! So many yummy things.
Saturday we were invited to a member family's house for lunch that morning and when we got there it was a birthday party for the dad! It was so fun! We got to meet his two sisters and we had a really fun time. We also got to plan with our new WML and he is so cool! We have so many exciting plans coming up for the next two months! I'm so excited!! GAH!
Sunday: MIRACLE DAY! A young man (Danielle's Dad - I'm calling him Michael for privacy) who we've been teaching came to church AGAIN! And this time he got all dressed up in a white sweater vest and everything! He said he tried to get his sister to come, but it was her birthday, so we asked if we could bring over some brownies and wish her a happy birthday later that night. First of all, we weren't sure if we had enough ingredients, so when we were making the brownies, we used a little bit of cocoa powder, and the leftover hot chocolate from Thursday and Italian hot chocolate mix which is more like pudding.... Let's just say the brownies came out very unique... They weren't bad, but they were more like solid pudding bars.... It was really weird. But Michael's family liked them! Which is all that matters. But yes, I spoiled it, WE MET THIS AWESOME YOUNG MAN'S FAMILY! They all came and joined us and we got to know them and taught them and it was amazing! The parents don't seem super interested for themselves, but they're really interested for their kids! They even told their daughter that she should come to church and she said she would!!!!!!! Oh my gosh, this family is soooo stellar. I'm so excited. 
I had my first Kinder Egg Surprise on Monday which was exciting! I got a dolphin that squirts water. I like it but my comp doesn't...
Last night Giovanni came to the young Men's activity! HE'S SO BRAVO. 
But yeah, we had a busy week, but nothing too crazy. Sorry if this was long or kind of boring... I'll try to have more exciting stuff for next week! But I have a ton of pictures for this week!!! :D 
I love you all, thank you for everything! You're all the best!!!! I hope all is well and everyone is healthy and happy. Remember that families can be together forever and we can be eternally happy with our Father in Heaven after this life! But we don't need to wait until then to find that happiness. God loves us! He wants the best for us and He gives us so much to find that happiness! We just have to look for it. 
Have a great week! Vi voglio un MONDO di bene!!! 
Sorella Hawks :)