About the Blogger. Photography. Film Reviews. Contact Me.

Sep 28, 2010

Shalom - Week 6

So they actually transferred me and I am now going to be opening the Middle East to Mormon missionaries...First country, ironically enough...Lebanon. I'm so stoked.

K, joke. Are you still breathing mom?

Let's see...It's been quite the week as usual, I've had all kinds of adventures.

I am now the coordinating sister for the Italians. Today is the last day of my reign as the only Sorella in the MTC, though soon I will actually have some other sorelle to reign over so I suppose that is good. I am pretty pumped actually. There are 9 Italian speakers in the MTC right now and 23 coming tomorrow. YAY!! It'll be a party again.

We've been learning the Italian national anthem. I'm pretty sure the Italians do everything right. It's so catchy and the last part goes, "we're ready to die! We're ready to die! YES!" basically. I love ITALIAN!!! It's so beautiful and makes so much sense sometimes. I felt like I was kind of struggling, but I got up on Sunday and bore what might have been a beautiful testimony in Italian and yesterday at the TRC we taught a real Italian from Milano and Fr. Skanchy told me that he said, "Sorella Laws e' brava a Italiano. More than a lot of girls I know" YES!! I really cherished that comment because it's been hard for me a little bit. I just want to be able to speak it all the time with people who understand, which is hard sometimes because the Elders think I hijack the lessons and I probably do at times because I just LOVE speaking it and I love speaking it quickly.

For service we usually clean building 4M which has a floor of sisters a floor of elders and...buh, buh, buhhhh the QUARATINE floor. I'll tell you what...I do not want to be quarantined at the MTC. There were nose and finger prints on the window and a sign that said, "No one but security or medical personal may open this door. Do not open the door to talk to people in the hallway." You are literally cut off from the entire world and people with masks bring you boxes of food. Luckily no one is there right now. Fr. Sk. taught during the swine flu epidem. and said that half his class was quarantined and he taught them via Skype. Ha!!

We got to teach both our teachers as themselves on Saturday. Fr. Sk. had to give a talk on Sunday and he mentioned all of us. We are SO inspiring sometimes. Really. It was an intense experience. Have I mentioned I love teaching? Every problem someone has can be related to a principle of the gospel. Mostly the Atonement. My Elders probably think I'm insane because I started crying last night as I talked about the powerful gift of agency that we have. We get to choose between good and evil! Without the Fall of Adam and Eve we wouldn't have that!! And the fact that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that he's willing to watch some of his children make a bad decision that hurts them and Him and maybe other people around them if it means that they have the opportunity to learn and grow and just having that choice is SO important. And that our Savior Jesus Christ died for us so that the mistakes we make will be remembered NO MORE. They're completely gone when we repent and we can start fresh every time we need to. YES! I love it all.

Mum, your cookies were a HUGE hit all the elders and Fr. Sk. LOVED them. And so do I of course. Grazie Mille for the love!!

Oh, I am surprised I have yet to mention that sisters can now wear whatever-the-heck they want as long as our knees are covered. I feel ridiculous for being like, "No, I don't think I can wear polka dots" because guess what? I can wear anything. But its okay, I'd rather look more professional than less.

Oh, our room is very exciting at night because Sis. Micheal jumps out of bed and yells things. Once she thought I was hurt, "IS SORELLA OKAY" and once she thought she was stuck in a box. Meanwhile I have full on conversations with myself in Italian and sing hymns in my sleep. We have a reputation now and some sisters said they want to sleep in our room for one night to experience the fun. I guess I can't even go 8 hours without entertaining someone.

Oh and I should mention that we had a competition shooting wadded up paper into the trash can and I totally WON. Take that, Anziani. (I promise this activity was not goofing off and was sponsored by our teacher).

Okay, all the love in the world to you from me in the Provo MTC.

Sorella Laws

(FYI – Sorella Laws will be leaving for Italy on Oct 20th so use the MTC address for letters until a few days before that. After Oct 20th use the Rome, Italy address.)

Sep 26, 2010

Sep 21, 2010

Day 35 - Week 5

I am in the laundromat typing this and panicking because THE TIME IS COUNTING DOWN!!!! I LIKE USING CAPS FOR INCREASED EFFECT.

Task one: I am not sure my emails/letter make sense anymore. 1. the countdown is STRESSFUL. 2. I don't speak English anymore. Yesterday we had companionship inventory for like 2.5 hours (anyone of you who have had comp inventory in their life will know how hilarious this is that it went for so long) and basically there were soooo many misgrammar moments. ex. Me: "You was what?" etc. etc. Also, I think we went through about a dozen sports analogies throughout our inventory of each other thanks to Anz. K. All I know is that I am the star running back of the football team and Anz. B is the center of our basketball team and I need to put more weights on in my workout. Oh, and the Savior Jesus Christ is our weights coach. It was more than successful, I'll say.

Okay, I've learned one very important lesson this week: Do not talk about how much you know about surviving a Zombie attack in the MTC cafeteria? Why, you may ask? (for the reason is not obvious I am sure) because it just so happens it causes 19-year-old elders to "fall in love with you" Yep. They were sitting right next to us. And yes they were painfully obvious that they were talking about me. Later Andrew Frederickson comes up to me and goes, "Watch out, some Elders in my zone fell instantly in love with you and might be trying to hunt you down." Oh, good. But I learned my lesson. Sometimes I'm just too appealing for my own good. I mean, if I were them I'd want a wife with zombie defense skills too.

So I was miffed about it, because I can't HELP that I talk animatedly about unimportant (and also very important) things in the lunchroom or that I am the only person wearing a red cardigan in a sea of white shirts and ties. But it is my thing to deal with. And my elders reminded me that they love that I get excited about stuff and start talking loudly about how important it is that we're here and such.

Sis. Corbin got her visa and found out that she was leaving in 4 days. That was sad because I love her so much. The quote of the week is: "We are legit enough to be here...I'm just stoked on life because it's a great adventure and I'm ready to play ball."

And then there was Sis. Michael who goes, "The night is always darkest before the dawn...That's from Dark Knight, but I think it's doctrinal." I love my Portuguese sisters, I feel like they understand me the best of anyone.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the "good kid" in the district that gets the least attention from our parents (teachers) because I'm not struggling with anything. The language is coming great. I am increasingly confidence in why I am here and what I am doing and life is just so grand. So the Elders get pulled aside for pep talks and I just sort of chill and try to continue to be better at studying and planning. Because, even though the Elders think so, I am not perfect. Which I guess is good and Sor. Swensen told me she's so glad to have me in her class/district.

Elders continue to all be in love with girls from home. I was going SO good and then a fireside speaker got up and said how HIS wife waited and to not give up. I was like, "thanks for NOTHING, speaker!"

I'm trying to play nice with the other kids at recess but we have an official playground rivalry on our hands. The OTHER hermanas don't let us play 4 square with them. They had the 4 square ball and were STRETCHING around it. And we were like, 1. you do not need to stretch for 4 square (though we do get WAY intense) 2. Um, you do not need the ball to stretch with. So we want to fight them usually but we're trying real hard to be Christlike.

I love Italians so much already. The other day I went to get ice cream and the server saw my tag and goes, "are you going to Italy!?! I'm from Napoli!" and I said, "SI!!!" And it was a happy moment in time.

I also met an Elder going to Indonesia and I freaked out and said, "WAIT. You need to tell Sister Rhondeau I said hi. Sister Rhondeau. She's from Salt Lake. She's in Indonesia. Tell her I say hi. Wait, did I mention I have a friend in Indonesia?? She's great. Like THE best. Tell her I say hi." So we made a joke of it, but it is AMAZING how much I love people just because they are somehow almost connected to people I love. Like everyone going to any mission I have known someone else to go to I'm like, "THAT IS THE BEST MISSION EVER YOU ARE SO LUCKY!!!" And they're like, "Um, okay, crazy sorella." Except not because everyone calls me Hermana and thinks that I speak really bad Spanish because that's what Italian sounds like to them.

I love all of you. I really do. And I can really and literally feel the prayers coming from those who love me and those who love the missionaries. Thank you.

Yesterday in the TRC was our first part in Italian. It was fantastic. We taught the ex-president of the Rome Mission and even though he was acting like a stubborn Italian I could feel the great love he has for us "pathetic trying to speak Italian" missionaries. And he said he can't wait to get back to Italy. I love teaching people. I love it so much.

And the Italian is going great. Anz. B told me that Christ was on the earth 2 years ago instead of 200 and Anz. H told us that Joseph Smith was a strawberry. Hopefully we get some of these things sorted out before we get to Italy.

We also taught Frat. Auna who was playing a person he knew named Nicholas. He broke down and told us how his dad died when he was 9 and that his mum has dated abusive people since and that he cannot handle it. And we all cried together and told him that his Heavenly Father loves him and that we don't know why bad things have to happen but they are always for our good in some way. And he said thanks and that he felt peace when we were around.

My testimony that the work I'm doing is good grows every day. I have seen it change lives even as I teach "fake" investigators and other missionaries. There are so many people who don't understand that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them and NEVER forsakes them. He NEVER withdraws from us. Even in our toughest trials he is there. But just like a good, loving father here on earth he knows that sometimes he has to let us figure things out for ourselves, but that DOES NOT MEAN that he is not there. He is ALWAYS there. I promise you that. And I promise you (each and every one of you) that our Savior Jesus Christ has felt every pain that we have felt and he knows how to succor (run to) us in our need. I'm NOT making this stuff up. There would not be 50,000 missionaries in the field doing this if it wasn't something worthwhile and if it wasn't something people needed.

But we have to ask. The most precious thing we have on this earth is agency. And as such we have to ask for the things we want, they won't just be given to us.

Please write me. I'm not shallow, but the Elders get way more love than I do...Not that I'm comparing.

Con tutto l'amore nel mio cuore,

Sorella Laws

Sep 14, 2010

Days 28 - Chapter 4

I'm starting to realize how the world was created in 6 days. SO MUCH happens in a week. Where do I even begin? AND ONLY 29 MINUTES.

Class continues to be enjoyable. Frat. Sk. continues to teach us all kinds of threats in Italian and the other day told me to go to my corner, which leads me to wonder if he has been conversing with Tom (my 187 teacher) but it's so good. I love the time we have with our teachers. And I can tell how much they absolutely love us.

The average missionary at the MTC has one companion throughout their stay here. Right now, I have ten. I guess they feel like they can trust me with lots of people. OR they know no one person could handle a Sorella Laws.

It goes like this, I sleep in the same room at the Portuguese speaking sisters. I LOVE THEM. They are in my branch and their classroom is in my hall, but other than that we are on completely different schedules. I love them. I always make faces at them when I walk by their classroom and I think their teacher probably thinks I am insane, but it never gets old. Sunday we got to study together, but mostly I'm the vagabond who comes in around 10pm and leaves at 6:30am pausing now and again to share an inspirational story. They love me. They really wanted me to move in when I found out I was going to be homeless and I worked it with the scheduling people so that I could.

Meanwhile, all my stuff is still in the other room because I'll be moving back in a week when more Italian sisters are coming! So it's like a private dressing room and way random. I love it though because they won't see me all day and then I'll burst through the door and tell them how I met someone who served in Rome and knows the sister of my old bishopric member who he told me to go teach and blah blah blah. And I said, "My life is rather serendipitously lately" and then Sister Michael goes, "It's because it's not your own" and all the sudden I realize that I am in a place where everyone is phenomenal. The next day I walk through the door and say, "You are all the greatest...We are the Lord's greatest." and they laugh, but we all know it's true.

Then there are the hermanas. I have them for prep-day and gym time. I love them too. Two of them are going to WA and one to AZ all Spanish speaking. I love to tell them crazy stories about my past and share quotes from Elder Holland with them. They love me. I am trying to convince them that the Lord also sends his greatest to the United States, because some people around here don't have the best attitude about that, but I know it's true. We Americans need good missionaries because we're stubborn.

And then of course I have the four elders in my district as companions. I am spreading my influence far and wide and I feel like everyone here knows me in some way or another. I keep running into sisters who were in my freshman ward, or I ran into one of the Hennrick's. Or people just know me because I yell loudly in Italian-- Sister Wynder, who I have a picture with on the card I am sending you came up to me and goes, "Are you one of the Italian sisters?" "Yes" "I heard you yelling boun giorno the other day and I thought, I am going to be friends with her someday." And now we are. Maybe I already told you that story, oh well. And then I met an Australian who comes and goes, "Are you going to Italy? You have the greatest outfits...Last week you were wearing a blue skirt with a red cardy and a black shirt." "Yep, that's me...The Elders said I looked like a Primary Program."

And then I manage to see everyone I know from the real world too. On the way to the clinic I saw Ukiah on his bike and we were both really surprised to see each other. Then I ran into Jacob Kunzler because he teachers here. I saw another girl from freshman year running by. I think sometimes the Elders are dumbfounded by how I manage to know absolutely everyone. And those I don't know I soon will.

The other day we went out and decided to practice teaching. So I made a beeline for two sisters and sat down and taught them--it was supposed to be short but they had lots of questions, because they were new and I had so much to share. I look over and see all the Elders and Frat. Skanchy watching me, but I felt like I really needed to continue talking with them so I did. About how they will survive the MTC and that the language will come and all of that. At the end one of them asked if she could hug me (and you all know how I feel about hugs these days) and so of course I was pleased and I could tell the Elders were like, "What?" But it was SO invigorating. I love teaching and loving and serving!!! It is addicting. So I came back and Anz. Healey goes, "You were supposed to teach, not make friends!" and I ignored him and went off about how wonderful it is to do both--teach and make friends--which is really what we're doing and I went on and on and was so pumped and Fr. Sk. goes, "You've caught the missionary fire."

And I have.

We were doing companionship inventory last night and talking about strengths Anz. Knutson goes, "you're just on fire." And I said, "Thanks. It's good and I highly recommend it."
Sorella Swensen told us a little bit about the Italians she got to know while she was on a mission and let me tell you...I am going to the right place. She told us how in one city old men would just sit outside on benches all day. They'd be there when they went out and still be there when they came home. And she was friends with all of them and knew all their live stories. YAY! And she said in Southern Italy she got to teach lots of African people who are just the most loving people in the world. And then she told us that when you compliment an Italian they'll say, "Eh...lo so." (I know it). Which is so fantastic. They are definitely my people. So today in the laundry room an Elder told me he liked my red mocs and my sweatshirt "..and you're jacket." and I said, "I know. I look good right?" Don't worry, I prefaced by saying that I am going to Italy and that's how they do it there...

So to sum up, when I get back I will wave my hands like crazy and be more expressive about my self confidence (so nothing is changing really)

We've started to do more forcing ourselves to speak Italian and it is so brilliant. Because you start to learn what words are most important to people. Example: We all know how to say "I want" Anz. Healey is good at saying "Now!" and we can all say "I need to go to the bathroom" flawlessly. Sometimes when we're supposed to be speaking Italian we well go, "Come se dice 'that's dumb?" and argue with each other in English, but preceding it all with "how do you say" in Italian. Other times I will say, "Mi dispiace" I'm sorry and Anz. healey will go, "Mi dispiace, LEI!" Which translates to "I'm sorry, YOU!" Which, of course, does not make sense. But is some sort of insult??? We know how to say some things about the gospel in Italian too--don't worry. Also, whenever we speak Italian the volume automatically goes up at least double.

In our room we have a candy "sill" because our window sill has tons of treats on it. Which is way nice and keeps people generally happy, especially Fr. Sk. who complains we are making him fat.

Along with being popular I am also the most clumsy in the MTC. I ran into a door. A huge heavy one--rather it ran into me because I was walking and someone opened it. That hurt. And ironically it is the only door in the MTC that actually opens out instead of in. Then I was trying to balance a million things and dropped a cup on my foot...Fun stuff.

I love teaching! I love that I get to have teaching experiences all the time. We did an activity where everyone in the district sat at the front one at a time and we taught them. It was SO good. We asked them what they were dealing with and shared thoughts. After mine Sor. Swensen made everyone say why they needed me and Anz. Knuston (who ALWAYS has a sports analogy) said, "You're are star running back...You just have that surprise element. You keep the adversary on its toes."

They are SO precious! And all the sisters are jealous that I have four boys who walk me home every night and said goodnight in Italian.

I am, and always have been, the luckiest thing in the world.


Sorella Laws
KELSO: I madly wanted to write you today, I still will if I can find time, but I met someone who knows you and is going to Cali, I recognized her accent straightaway and asked where in Aussie she was from. More on that later.

LINDS: Love you too! Your letter was so inspirational and lovely. Again, I will find time one of these weeks to respond, but I'm sending buckets of love your way.

Sep 11, 2010

Random notes from Sorella Laws

I love Candy Smith and wish I had time to write her back this week. Happy 1st week of school to everyone else.

I have a feeling that these 18 months are going to be some of the mot important monents in my life. I am starting to realize the bigness of all this. The gospel is true and everyone needs it.

Every once in a while when I'm, say my prayers I say, "and help me not die" not because I think I'm going to or anything, but because sometimes I think I might die from the food or from crossing my legs all the time. Okay the food's not all bad. But all I eat are salads and dessert when it's chocolate (not often).

I'm making friends! I got really good at making friends in the bathroom last night. TWO! One of them has a great-grandfather Laws and I told her to bust out her pedigree chart but I think she thought I was joking (I wasn't).

Mom, Dad, everyone, sending me on a mission was the best choice ever (I know it was mostly my choice but-) I've learned SO MUCH. About studying , loving, teaching, speaking, being flexible, ironing, working, listening, etc., etc. Just in three weeks. Elder Holland said, "This work is God's greatest gift to a 19-year-old or 21-year-old". And he's right. This is it. I have no regrets. And I somehow manage to look cute everyday and I feel like I'm deceiving everyone because this is not how I normally dress. Although you should see one outfit I put together. The Anziani told me I looked like a Primary lesson. (I will be sure to post that picture when it comes)

Turns out exercise is the best when you're trapped inside all day.

Now that the other Sorella is gone I'm sort of a vagabond, I'll let you know how that goes as I float from companionship to companionship. I belong to no one! (but the Lord)

I miss you all, but it's a good kind of miss, not a distracting kind.

Love to hear from you.

Sorella Laws

Sep 7, 2010

Day 21 - Love, Tears, and Goodbyes

Ciao carissima famiglia (and friends)!!

How much do I love you all? I cannot even begin to explain. I thought I was good at loving before, but the more I study our Savior the more I realize what real love is. He sacrificed everything he had and suffered for our sins. For us and for people he knew wouldn't accept Him and he still did it. Not only that, but he continues to plead for us with the Father so that we can return to live with Him despite our imperfections?

Do I sound like a missionary? Good. Because that's all I want to be right now.

Though I am suuuuper bummed because they are making a New Testament movie and I totally could have put my Syrian blood to good use, but alas, I am here. It's funny because the only websites we can get to are email and lds.org and mormon.org but I find ways to get distracted by those too.

Okay, here we go. What a week.

I forgot to mention that last week I got to teach "investigators" in Italian with Sor. Mullen. And guess what! I told them the great-gramps story about tithing and how it blessed his life. IN ITALIAN. I rock! And, I want dad to know that that story has already come in handy. Hooray!

TRC this week (no idea what TRC stands for, but we go and teach people) was great. We got two guys who spoke crazy fast Italian and were joking around with us the whole time. Really fun. I was kind of in a funk when we got out, even though it went really well and Anz. Barnes, Anz. Knutson and I are on fire teaching together. But Fratello Skanchy looks at all of us and goes, "do we all need a hug??" and go to embrace everyone and I sort of glare and walk off to Sor. Mullen who was luckily near-by to hug her. Because, as we know, hugging Elders even though they're the only ones I ever see, is not allowed. And then I was sad and felt un-loved but I remembered the scripture in 2 Nephi something something that says, "I am encircled about in the arms of his love forever." (ish) and I was like, well, at least I've got a Savior who is always hugging me...metaphorically. So I decided to stop being mopey about it. And then Anz. Parker came up and shook my hand and I got semi-emotional and was like, "Thank you for shaking my hand!" And he was like, "Um, do I not usually shake your hand?" And then I had to explain that I was feeling a lack of physical connection and he took my hand in both his hands and gave me one of those good, ol'fashion Joseph Smith-like handshakes and goes, "I don't know if I can shake your hand with two hands, but I am." Turns out sometimes it's little things that really matter. And this was one of them.

Another hilarious exercise was when we pretended to be investigators for each other. We had to approach people at bus stops/at the park. Well, Anz. Barnes was hard on me and I approached him with everything I had, "How do you feel about your family..How would you feel if you lost one" and He goes, "Well, there's always more children to be had. More wives to find...I mean she cooks for me, but there's always McDonalds." At which point I stared at him, opened-mouthed. Then the tables turned though, and I pretended to be a teenage girl and was like, "Hi! Yes, I love church we have a rock band at church that my boyfriend plays in, oh my gosh you would TOTALLY be friends! Yeah, I know about prophets, like that movies Prince of Egypt. Oh man the music in that is so MMM! Good!" and on and on and on and everyone else was finished and watching and laughing and Anz. Barnes's face was like, "Oh boy..." But he did really well actually.

Speaking of love...Sorella Swensen always leaves us love notes after she teaches us. Frat. Sk. does not. We sometimes tease us that he doesn't love us as much (which he obviously does, because we can never get him to leave when his shift is over) and so he spends time trying to think of ways to make it up to us. But then he continues to threaten us in Italian all the time. It's okay though, because the other day he told me I needed to figure out how to get places because when I'm in Italy and I get a companion who doesn't know the city blah-blah so I went off in Italian (with some English) about how it's not MY fault all the buildings there look the same and it's an awkward labyrinth like thing where you usually can't see the outside world. And that was kind of fun. By the way, I already talk like a crazy Italian--with my ENTIRE body and hands flying everywhere. Watch out for when I get back.

Speaking of Sorella Swensen, she forced us all to express our feelings in Italian yesterday. And it was amazing. We all made each other cry. There is something about being hindered...Having to resort to the simplest of statements to express yourself that make everything you say SO powerful. She always makes us cry...In a good way. I had a progress review and I went in with no intention of talking about anything...Because I didn't feel like anything was bothering me and she got me to spill every thought and feeling in my soul. It was powerful. She's good at what she does. She makes all the Anziani cry too. We love her to death. And we love her love notes.

The Anziani are continuing to take care of me and love me and refill my water glass. Which is good. It's sort of special being a Sister here, people don't take you for granted because you're so small in number. We got an awesome pep talk from the branch president about how great and special we are. He made me cry too.

Um, I'm a bit sad because I had to send Sor. Mullen on her way today. I walked her downstairs with her luggage at 4:30am to meet her Anziani. And we embraced wonderfully and I felt like a mother because I am SO happy to send her off to Milan to teach our lovely Italian people. We decided that it is good we aren't going to the same missions, divide and conquer and what-not.

The MTC is a bit less boisterous without the influence of 9 extra Italian speakers, our numbers have been cut in half. Don't worry though, I sent them off well by forcing everyone to attend a Italian Family Home Evening that I planned. We sang a hymn that is only in the Italian hymn book and then we all went around and shared our gratitude for one another/gave advice/bore testimony of this gospel and the importance of the work we are doing. Some of the Anziani even brought treats. Then we sang God Be With You Til We Meet Again which made Sor. Mullen cry like crazy. It was SO good. So good to stand together crammed in a classroom and sing our hearts out in Italian and look up every once and a while and realize that even though we'd only been together a few weeks and even though I don't know most of their first names or where they lived before this, we know that we love each other and we love the Italian people and that...Well, that's about all we need. Then all the Anziani shook me warmly by the hand and off they went. I have to tell you all...Italy is in good hands. And everyone thanked me for forcing them to attend my FHE. Ha!

I love it here. Sometimes I don't. When everyone else was getting ready to leave I wanted to go too. But Frat. Skanchy (who was actually talking to someone else) said, "Maybe you're not here to learn Italian and maybe you're not here to learn the scriptures, maybe you're here to help bring others unto Christ." and that sort of changed my perspective on everything. There are people everywhere with needs, not just in Italy.

I love you. I love you. I pray for you (and I pray a lot these days, so that's saying something). Use dearelder.com it's free!!

Con tutto l'amore nel mio cuore,

Sorella Laws