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May 27, 2011

THANK YOU for the birthday package. I love it!!

The pockets are SO sweet, as you can see in the picture they fit all kinds of things in them. And the green skirt I am wearing right now and is just what I need for the summer. Oh man, it is getting hot.

Massimo gave me a stuffed tiger for my birthday. It is huge. Birthdays in the mission...are an interesting thing. ha.
it was a rough day in the morning. I woke up and felt sick but eventually got up anyway. Sorella Kelly called and sang me happy birthday :)

Our member we had going to a bunch of appointments with us bailed so we decided not to go to Loseto but then one of the members had made us lunch and I didnt realize so we ended up bailing on HER which felt even worse and I just kind of wanted to die and we didnt have time to go home for lunch and then we had a lesson that started out chaotic--and somehow I ended up bringing a copy of the Restoration that was only in English and Spanish, why we even have it only in English and Spanish, I have no idea but in the end the lesson turned out REALLY good

and then we had a really great family night with Massimo and the DeSantis family+Raffaele who are AMAZING and it was so great to just sit around the table as a family and talk about the gospel. We read Alma 22 together and talked about all the blessing we have because of the gospel and
what are we going to do to get them.

Then I got home and there was a package sitting outside the door! :)

I almost cried when I saw the curry. and Slla Lecates probably thinks I am crazy.
Wednesday night we had an amazing activity where we had more contacts than members and every left edified and full of donuts. :)
Transfer day was hilarious because we were lugging around 3 of Slla Stebars suitcases and one REALLY HEAVY suitcase from Slla Foote. And just as we had to carry them up this huge staircase (and we will leave out the part about how I accidentally let go of one and it slide down all the stairs, luckily no one was there) this violinist and accordian start playing some campy silent'movie-esqe music and a HUGE crowd of people start coming all around us and the suitcases. Luckily Slla Stebar captured some of it on film because it really was a movie moment.

I miss Slla Foote loads.
Then Slla Hansen and I were together while we waited for our companions to come. We were walking down the street and this guy we see walking around fairly often goes, "Do you want to buy my new CD?" And I was like, "um" and Slla Hansen goes, "we dont have money" and he says, "okay, you can just have it!" haha, so now we have a cd of random guitar music from Rocco.
We are teaching this amazing lady, Nella, she is super humble and wants to know everything. The only problem is that no matter when we go there are always several members of the extended family and/or friends coming and going, speaking in Barese and smoking. She is pretty good about shoving them all outside so that we can do a little lesson, but its always a little chaotic. In some ways it is good because then there is a sharp contrast as soon as we pray and begin to talk about the gospel. We explained the Restoration and she was like, "I hope this is true" we told her it was and that she could pray to know and she grabbed our hands and said, "I will let you know next time what the answer is!" I started to invite her to be baptized but before I could her husband came in and started laughing at Slla Lecates Italian. Foiled again.
I decided this whole transfer I wanted to dedicate to improving my humility. But sometimes I feel like I am getting a little too much help with that one.
With my birthday and all that I got to thinking about where I was a year ago. That huge party where everyone I love that was in the Provo area showed up and Babetta and DJB wrote me a sweet song (which still comes to mind now and again, dont think I have forgotten it ;)). Many of these people I havent seen for a year but I still feel the love and support from them. People all over the world were watching the Lost finale. and then a year ago today...Getting my mission call. That was a significant moment in my life. And now I am here. Yesterday in English Course we posed the question, "Who are you?" and we determined that we are who we are based on the decisions we make.

I would be a different person if I had never filled out those papers and sent them off. With Massimo we talked about how every day we have to decide if we are going to choose one path or another. If we are going to be obedient and loving or lazy and cynical or passionate and energetic. Whatever we want to be, we can be, but it depends on how we use our agency.
I love this city more and more each day. I can honestly say Bari has changed my life. It is interesting showing Slla Lecates around because she has the same, "everyone here is crazy" thoughts that we had when we first got here. But I love them all so much and we are a family and I never want to leave them. President told me I only get one more transfer here, but we will see.
Oh and Sunday the missionary that baptized Slla Magno came with his wife. She walked into Relief Society and I thought, "wow, she looks awfully American" and she was, and I got to translate for her, which was fun. Turns out he just got called to be a 70, Kent Hale..or Hall, I dont know exactly because everyone who introduced him was Italian. He talked about how special this city and the people and the ward were to him, even after 40-some years. And I know it will be the same for me. This city has become sacred ground for me.
Well my love continues to flow from here to you,

Sorella Laws

May 19, 2011

ancora di piu

We have had a busy week and Sorella Foote is sad to go because right now we are working with some AWESOME people. Woohoo!!
And I dont have lots of time to write because she needs to
finish packing and I need to email you all her photos
so that I have them. :)

Oh, and somebody tell Courtney that she need not fear because I did, in fact, get her wedding announcement a week after it was sent and CONGRATULATIONS to the
happy (and might I add BELLISIMO) couple.

Okay lots of pictures this week, I dont really know what order they are in so you will have to guess what goes with what.

There is me with the Valerios an awesome couple.

Us when we ate pizza with English course students and it ended up being the pizzeria of Fratello Santoro and we ate good pizza and they paid for us and it was like we were dating all nine of them (still feels like that, because they took us out again today and we went to Polignano and saw the coast and ate gelato and
talked in English and Italian and took tons of pictures :))

Us at Sorella Magnos with the Costanzos and the Curcis.
We are
one big happy family.

All the people going to see the airplane stunts.

The pretty city of Matera.

Slla Foote with the Juan family, I am not in it obviously, but I love them so much and Ludo got in the picture too.

This is us with Antonia. She doesnt want to see us anymore, unfortunately.

Then us with the crazy awesome family we taught. They are out of control. The boys were smoking and staring at us the whole time. Long story, they invited us over to have panzarotti and somehow we managed to teach them AND get them to all kneel and pray at the end.
I refer to the boys as the Sons of Mosiah.
The daughter Giusi is actually legit and adorable and we are going to make saints out of them all, just wait.

Then us with the Palermos, she is a hilarious old lady and him on the left is always so happy and calls us Sorelline.

The fashionable old ladies of Bari.

That grafiti says, "Dont shead new tears for old pain"

English course brought us together, nothing can tear us apart.
Seriously, somehow we all became best friends
in such a short period of time and it is beautiful.

Us with some of the GANS. Giuseppe Jennifer Angela

Teresa crying because Slla Foote is leaving. This picture is real and not faked. And yes I am horrible because she has no idea I took it.
She also kissed me in the middle of our lesson
because I suggested we say a prayer.

Another picture I am not in, but that little ham on the couch is my favorite person in all of Bari, his name is Andrea. It was his birthday and when we showed up he threw open the door and yelled, "Buon Natale!" which would be, Merry Christmas. Then he was laying on the floor singing Happy Birthday and smiling. I love him!

That bearded man is our good friend Massimo who we have spent lots of wonderful times with.

Us with the statue of a famous Italian singer
Dominico Mondugno.
Flying.Reenacting Titanic with the twins.

Just relaxing.

We look good together,

its too bad they are splitting us up.

Oh, I completely forgot to mention that Slla Foote is going to...LADISPOLI. Thats right, she gets to go to MY city. Lucky thing. And Sorella LeCates, who was in the MTC the same time as me, but only because I had to stay there SO long so we overlapped a week, is coming here. We lived with her and Slla Pickett for a few days when I had Bronchitis and
we had to stay in Rome.

Anyway, we are shipping Footy off tomorrow and
everyone is so sad to see her go.
Especially me.
1. because she is my bestie and
2. because i dont know my way
around Bari without her.

Its going to be a growing experience. ;)
Right now we are juggling a lot of people which is good and exciting but also stressful. I hope I can explain it all to Sorella Lecates.
But, Bari is hard to explain haha.

We also got to teach Francesco the coffee man. We had a powerful first lesson where he really opened up to us about his father dying and Slla Iacovelli was there and she has also had people in her family die. She also explained the Restoration and was amazing and he said he would love to see us again he just doesnt know when because of work. He is so tender. I had written a dedica (like a thing you write in the front of a book--speaking of books Raffaele gave us this sweet [i am assuming, since i havent read it, but i feel safe doing so] book him and Fllo Curcis son wrote about Israele ) and he couldnt read it because he just had eye surgery and I wrote it in red.

And mom you said, "I prayer for you." in your last email, which means you really should be friends with all our English course students. ;)

But really they are great, we had an awesome day together today.

It was so nice because instead of waiting for trains they drove us and we had our own personal tour guide who knew everything about the city and Alessandro took tons of pictures he is going to put on a disk for us.

We listened to General Conference talks for comp study today because Slla Foote had to pack and I think it was Pres. Eyring said,
"The first, the middle, and the last thing to do is pray."
I had no idea the power of prayer until I got out here. There is a reason the mission is set up the way it is, you really learn how to rely on Him.

I am almost 22
(and yes I have been discretely slipping it into every conversation so that someone can throw me a surprise party if they want, haha) and have been on a mission for NINE MONTHS TODAY and
time is as ABBA would say, slipping through my fingers everyday.

But I can tell you I have never been more happy and more terrified about the future. I am seeing all sides of the world.
People with real concerns and real hopes for the future.
People who are stuck in situations through no fault of their own and people who have gotten themselves into trouble because of
a series of decisions put them on a certain path.

Everyday I just look at the pass-along card we have with Christ stepping out of the tomb with his hand outstretched. How do we endure?
We trust in Him and we go on. We take his hand and he leads us.
Though lately I feel more like he is pushing me from behind and together we are trying to figure out how to make me
a little stronger, a little braver,
and a little better each day.

The world is so beautiful and complicated and simple all at once.
It is almost like whoever created it knew EXACTLY what He was doing.

I love you all, can I say that enough?

I really love you.

Sorella Laws

May 11, 2011

Greetings from Bari and surrounding areas

First of all, the package came and I love it. It came on Monday like I predicted. Only glitch was that you need to always say that its worth 5 or 10 dollars because I had to go on an adventure to the post office to go get it. It wasnt a bad adventure though.

I love the outfit (need it too because all my skirts are getting those fuzzy things on it...I think that means I am getting old...1/2 way through, oh and just to point this out before you start counting down, mom, I am actually not coming home in February like you keep mentioning because the transfers are the end of January or early March so I have to decide at some point which one) and thanks for the fruit snacks!!

I love the picture of Caleb and his soccer mates and the picture of Sybil and Zoe from the 80s. Classic. Also, if you send me pictures printed out that I can put in my album thats always great because people love pictures, that goes for everyone. Email pictures are great too though, I love pictures!!

Second first of all, it was great to talk to you/see you on Saturday!!! And you got to meet the famous Fratello Curci. And the look of confusion on your face as he was speaking English was priceless. Now you have a tiny taste of our lives here in Bari..In fact, heres another Fratello Curci highlight from our Corralation meeting last night.

him: which day would be better for you?
after some discussion with Slla Foote
me: Well, I think next Tuesday would be better.
him: What Sorella Laws says is the Law, she is our Moses
me: not exactly.

So aside from the blasphemy he really is an amazing person to work with. A very good heart. Dad, did you get an email from him with a link to all his songs? Did you think it was spam because of the broken English?

Here are some cool stories for the week.

So I sort of told you on the...computer how this lady gave us directions to her house that were kind of vague and without a street name, just a number and the church it was by. But we found her! Her husband said to come back later so we went and found this less active lady (who turns out is the cousin of members we know really well). We get to her door and there is a "Testimoni di Geova don't knock, we are Catholic" and we think. Hm, well, they are Catholic. But we ask for her and her who family is there and then some and she lets us in and we talk to her and her niece for a while and we find out she stopped coming to church when she broke up with her boyfriend who was also a member. And how she is almost never home, but we found her there by chance (but we, of course, dont believe in chance) and then she tells us about this other lady who lives downstairs who used to be a member. So we go downstairs and say hi to her and she's like, "oh, yeah, I am a member of your church" and tells us to come back later. We get home and shes not on the list and asked F. Curci and it turns out she never was a member. Confusing.
Thats on the list of mysteries to solve.

So then we go back and we teach Antonio and Vanna and he is telling us exactly what he thinks about everything, but not in an annoying way and all their children are adorable and well behaved and talented and
we are just in love with all of them.

The other day we were knocking on peoples doors and this guy answers and talks to us and tells us we can come back in 15 minutes when his wife was there, so we did and talk to his wife (who we have seen before but we cant figure out where) and all the sudden he is like, "wait, I'll call the pizzeria and we will get panzarotti!!" and we are like, um, we have another appointment, maybe another time...

So Saturday we are going over there and they called us today to make sure we are still coming. At first we are like, okay, maybe they are kind of crazy and just love us because we are American and we shouldnt make promises to come back. But we showed Nella (the wife) the Plan of Salvation pamphlet and she started reading it right away and admiring the pictures of Jesus and was like, "I really would like to know that there is a life after death" and she definitely feels like a special person.

In the same building was a couple who opened the door and were like, "sure, come back tomorrow afternoon" (which they ended up forgetting) but when we asked their names they said, "Giuseppe and Maria" and their daughter goes, "like the parents of Jesus" So needless to say we have a good feeling about them too.

And another lady, Natasha, who we talked to for an hour on her doorstep and answered lots of her questions. Afterwards she was like, "thank you so much!" but the next time we tried to see her she was on her way out, though she stopped and talked to us for a few minutes.
She has four kids also.

Not only did we find families...we found big families.

I had lots of pictures for this week because we went to some intense airshow with the GANS (giovanni adulti non sposati (giovanni adulti non sposati [young adults that are not married, eloquent, eh?]) where they all flew around and would do a crazy free fall thing pretending like they were crashing and Slla Foote was gasping because sometimes they looked like they were going to crash. But it was in celebration of San. Nicola the patron saint of Bari. It was cool.

And this morning we went to Matera where they have filmed some Italian movies from the New Testament and also Mel Gibson's the Passion because it sort of looks like Israel and it is real pretty and we made friends with 2 Polish girls that speak English and tried to see how fast we could guess what language the tourist groups were speaking and ate overpriced gelato and bought postcards that had been sitting in the sun for maybe years.

Not a bad day.

We missed the train at first so we went to a bookstore downtown and I forgot how much I love bookstores and almost bought Hamlet in Italian, but it really just isnt the same so I bought Harry Potter instead. Which also isnt really the same because apparently they changed McGonagalls name, but we will forgive them.

So look for lots of pictures next week.

Not to make it a competition, but Slla Foote's family has introduced about three different people to the gospel this past month, giving away Book of Mormons and letting the missionaries teach people in their home.
What are you all doing?

Tonight we are going out to pizza with our English Course students because they have been wanting to for weeks and we asked President and he said it was okay as long as it wasnt two men and a secret date and we said no because there are twice as many women as men and they have promised several times to have us back by nine so it should be a good time and
I think they are going to make us eat a lot.

And we are pretending like transfer calls arent coming and we secretly think we are staying together for another six weeks, but we will see...I told president that its not too late to open up Malta to sisters. And I just hope I am not in Sicilia for the summer because I hear its real hot,
but its also hot everywhere.

I love you all, buckets and buckets
un bacio
Sorella Laws

May 7, 2011

Cia from Bari

Well, another beautiful week has come and gone. I should let you know that as I am typing this there is a small child next to me asking me questions over and over.

She is really adorable. I gave her an opuscolo (pamphlet in English?) and she started drawing all over Jesus's face and I was like (in Italian),
"Dont write on the face!" and everyone started laughing.
But then she gave me some potato chips so I really cant complain. Her mom is on a computer on the other side of the room skyping some guy. Kind of sad, because she really is adorable even though shes trying to steal my pens (which is a big deal because good pens are hard to come by around here and I really like the ones I have from the MTC (even though everyone (even the guy on the bus today) makes fun of me because I have one in red, green, and blue...used to have black but they are always getting lost). Ill include a photo of her too.

Yesterday we had zone conference,

thats where most of the photos from this time around are from.

All the people around me are just so lovely.

Sorella Foote and I showed everyone these hand motions we came up with to remember our "Mission Essentials"

Life is full of little miracles and coincidences that mostrare the hand of God in our lives. He is aware. This week we have run into a few people on the street or on the bus that we have been thinking about and praying for. One contact we found on the bus and set up an appointment with her for tomorrow. And we saw Giacomo eating a sandwich (we havent seen him since our first transfer because his wife said no more).

Our English Course students want to take us out to pizza and
I am madly in love with each of them.
Now every time we just talk about beautiful things.
Its like Life Club we had (slash have because thanks to E and Sharlie its still going strong so everyone at BYU who is reading this should go join) back in Siena and at BYU.

So transfers are in a couple weeks (the Thursday before my birthday, whatever day that is) and President told us yesterday that one of us is going, which made me real sad but life here is full of changes and new adventures with all kinds of people so we will see what happens.
Speaking of, I am turning 22, that is a weird thing!
We'll see where this year takes me. :)

My Italian is getting better,
my English is getting worse.
I am learning so much everyday and I never want to leave.

Everything here is just so real. Dealing with real problems everyday. People tell us about illnesses and deaths in their family on the bus. On the way here I talked to some guy (probably hitting on me but I kept it centered on Jesus) about the importance of having faith so that we have the hope to affrontare every day. And he agreed. Faith is a precious gift. Everyone here complains about money and I love to tell them,
"Faith and hope doesnt cost a thing"

Highlights from English Course:
We were talking about dreams we have.
One student was trying to explain his dream and I asked,
"To overthrow the government?"
And he said, "Its a little dream."
Not really all that little though is it?

As far as who we are working with things have changed up a bit. People come and go pretty regularly and its a big juggling match trying to figure out who wants to see us and who doesnt and who needs to see us even if they dont want to and who we need to see but every appointment with them takes three hours so its had to schedule in. ha.
But I love them all.
Thats all it comes down to. We joke often that its like being in relationships because you are so invested and you just get broken up with over and over or you have to move away or you have an amazing conversation for ten minutes on a bus and then never see them again.

I dont know, but its going to be one big party in Heaven.

Yesterday we had a meeting with all the leaders of the church in the ward here and they are amazing. It reminded me of production meetings back at school, everyone sitting around a table, but instead of making a movie we were producing lives, trying to ease burdens (one family has an autistic daughter and needs help because it is veramente a 24/7 job). It was powerful just to be in the presence of people who are unified in the cause of helping one family.

Love you buckets!!!
Sorella Laws

May 1, 2011


Well, Antonia didnt pass her baptismal interview, which was pretty sad. She didnt understand tithing even though we had the bishop with us when we explained. She thought it was a one time payment so that she could get baptized instead of a lifestyle. Sometimes she isnt listening all the way when we teach. But she still really loves all the members so we want to keep teaching her with them especially Vescovo Mongelli and Fllo Curci and help her see all the blessings that come from obedience to the commandments. We are going to see her right after this because we havent been able to see her since her interview last Thursday. We talked to her on the phone and it sounds like she had an awful Easter and got sick, so shes not doing so hot. :(

Then Easter we went to church and everyone kissed us and we ate with the entire DeSantis family, which was really fun because we ate tons and made fun of each other and watched the little kids open chocolate Easter eggs. After that we went to Slla Magnos because she wanted us to meet her nipote who came from Milan. In the end we listened to Fllo Curci sing and play the guitar. He has written a billion songs. And they are actually quite good.

Here in Italy the day after Easter is a holiday too so we had district meeting and then played some soccer with the members. I was awful. Then we had a "picnic" --picnics here are much more complicated than a couple sandwiches and juice boxes. Lasagne was involved...And we watched the movie about an Italian priest who found a Book of Mormon when he was in New York (long, long, long time ago) and it had no cover so he had no idea what it was, but he read the promise at the end about reading and praying and so he did and he knew it was from God. So he started teaching from it during his sermons until he got kicked out. They tried to take it away from him but he wouldnt let them. Then he went to war and they told him he wasnt allowed to talk about it with anyone, because he had been teaching it to his fellow soldiers. Then finally he saw the word Mormon in the dictionary and found out it was related to a university in Provo so he wrote to the president. They said they would have someone come baptize him. He was going to meet them somewhere, but then he couldnt get across the border. So this man waited until he was really old until someone could finally come down and baptize him (the Church wasnt in Italy yet). Afterward a few of the members bore their personal testimonies of the Book of Mormon.

Tuesday we went to visit our American member and she made us tacos! Woo. I mashed beans so we could have refried beans and she made tortillas from scratch and I realized just how spoiled we are in America where everything comes in a can. And I had ice for the first time in 6 months or so.

Yesterday we went to a rehabilitation place because one of the members broke her femur (OUCH!). We were in the car with her daughter who is trying to take care of her entire family and start a new one (shes getting married in July) all at the same time. We shared some tender moments talking about balance in our lives.

Oh and we saw Chilotam again, man, he always manages to get the best of us. He told us we need to "Teach people about God and not that man Joseph Mormon" No, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. He will not buy into the idea of a prophet, because we only need the bible. We asked him if he thought Noah was a prophet and he said "No, a prophet is someone who comes and says you will die tomorrow because you have sinned against God."

Am I mistaken, or is that exactly the story of Noah?
Then he told us we need to stop preaching about Joseph Mormon because he is dead and we are alive so we should preach about God and Jesus and ourselves.

"I was praying in Italian prison once and a man said to me, stop praying, there is no God. And I said to this man, Man, you must believe in God. Then I prayed to God, God, show this man that you exist. Show them you exist by setting me free from here. And then a guard came up to me and said I needed to stop because people were trying to sleep."

He really has a lot of faith.

And we keep learning that maybe teaching simply is harder than it seems.

We have had some awesome English Course lessons, the other day we talked about an old conference talk about the "six destructive d's" doubt, discouragement, disbelief, lack of diligence, disobedience, distraction. Some of them really opened up. Its turning into English class/Therapy sessions. And I love it.

I learn so much from the people here everyday, their examples, their testimonies, their lives.It is interesting to see how trials in our lives lead us closer to God or farther away, but we never remain neutral.
And its always our choice.

I love you all,
Sorella Laws