I know when a lot of people get their mission call they jump to google images to look up what exactly the new place they're going to will be like. I've been in on conversations that go something like, "Wait, where's Indonesia?" or "I don't actually know anything about Brazil." And we're all left with what we've seen in pictures, movies, and our own imaginations about what certain countries/states are like.
But I opened my call, with my bowl of curry next to me and my parents on two separate phones and said, "Oh, Italy Rome Mission? Well I've been there."
Like the ungrateful child I am.
But when I take a moment, as I'm falling asleep (which happens at all hours of the day these days), I can see the cobblestone roads, I can feel them under my feet even, usually without sidewalks, and smell the cigarette smoke. I can remember the taste of goat cheese and sun-dried tomato sandwiches or Asiago cheese on Foccacia and the Mars Bars gelato that changed life. And those stupid Lion bars that weren't even all that good, but so addicting for some reason. Eating pizza by the slice regularly. Men with huge D&G belt buckets, women in knee high leather boots...Always. The people trying to sell counterfeit purses to tourists. That beautiful boy who worked in the music store. The contrada flags in Siena. Living in an 800 year old house. And figs! Oh my word I love figs. How EVERYONE has umbrellas when it rains, in all colors and every store has a place to stow them when you walk in. Eating yogurt with the Italian version of honey-nut cheerios. The park that overlooked the gorgeous tuscan countryside. The hole-in-the-wall (literally) gelato place outside the Vatican. Pears, cheese, and honey for dessert. Good fruit. Winged lions everywhere in Venice. Their love of horrible pop music like, "I Kissed a Girl". The metro system in Rome. The Trevi Fountain.
And I remember singing There is Sunshine in my Soul and other hymns outside Piazza del Campo. Or how the members yelled and bawled as we were watching General Conference and they announced the building of a temple in Rome. Doing genealogy work while fratello rotelli bribed us with chocolates. Focusing SO hard at church on what they were saying to try and understand and quickly picking up on the words for "faith" and "heaven". The sweet members. The talk at the district meeting "bracio a bracio" arm in arm we will make it through this life. Together.
The passion of the Italians. How they can love and hate and yell for all kinds of reasons in a matter of minutes. And they love feeding people.
And I get to go back.
To really live there.
And to teach people about the thing that has brought me the greatest happiness in my life.
I am the luckiest.