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Nov 27, 2011

Dear Beautiful People

Well, like usual life here is nothing short of grand. We'll leave out the boring stuff like how I got sick again and once again another poor companion was stuck inside for a few days, at least she got her fill of church produced movies and I was very good and rested and drank juice and now I am almost completely better. I drank a lot of juice. But then it started making my stomach hurt, maybe something about moderation applies here, haha.

Meanwhile, we have still had our fair share of miracles.

For example, just last night we met up with this guy who called us because he had gotten a passalong card back in JUNE and he just called us up, thinking we were the same Sorelle, well, we aren't, but we hit it off anyway and met him in front of the grocery store by our house and started asking him about what he believes and he told us how he doesn't study much, because he's just not really a studier, never has been, which was great because Slla C and I were talking about that very thing that morning how we just weren't that great at studying, that we like learning, but not the sitting down and studying part.

Well, he told us that he likes going to church because he feels good that he prays in the morning and at night and before AND after he eats. Pretty legit. He doesn't know hardly anything about the bible, not even about Moses (we need a copy of Prince of Eygpt over here!) but we just adore him, there is something special about him. And he has all sorts of amazing face wrinkles when he smiles/laughs. We are already planning (of course) who in the ward we can set him up with and we think we know a good match. This ward is mostly full of boys though.

Sunday we helped with the bambini in primary, because they are preparing for their primary program this sunday! Oh was it hilarious. There is brijeet (french pronounciation) who is the diva of the ward, she steals our nametags and wears bright pink earmuffs that match her tights and she just flounces around, she is like Madeline.

And then there is her brother, francios who is 18 and was conducting the choir, perhaps with the most passion I have ever seen from a primary chorister. He was up in front of five little girls getting every ounce of emotion he could from them. When they were singing I Love to See the Temple he goes, "No, no, no, you have to LOVE the temple. more passion!" and he looks like one of the Jonas Brothers, skinny and wearing a cardigan sweater speaking Italian and French alternatingly and at one point he was even holding a baby while he was doing it. That's a real Renessaince man if I have ever seen one. Teenage girls everywhere, we have found you the perfect man.

We have almost every Disney channel character represented in this ward, everyone is just so beautiful, in these super normal yet also exotic sort of ways, it's sort of overwhelming. We also have a member who looks like just the mom from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Fausto looks exactly like the main guy in North and South (are you reading this Evann...yes, he looks like THAT guy). I guess I just need to make a movie here, that's the only option. I loooooooove this ward. And not just because they're goodlooking but because they've got good hearts too ;)

Then, we have another Romanian who is an old man and a friend of a member who came to church, just because he wanted to. Always a good sign. We got to talking and he thinks that all churches are the same but he agreed to meet with us. He really liked church. Even when people think its the same, they subconciously feel a difference, it's just getting them to realize it that is the hard part. All churches are great, but there is something special because this is the church of God. He is really open to learning and really loves God, we hope to see him this week. He said he doesn't know his schedule so to call when we want to come, but I don't imagine he's doing much. He is also great.

We taught someone else who really wasnt interested. and we went to a baptism at Roma 2.

Also Sunday this other guy came to church who studied 25 years ago and said he never got a testimony but he loves the church so much that he had to come back. We just love him, and he said he would try and find an opera during the day that we could go to. Slla Camp and him are a match made in heaven. Literally. We were kind of mad because Anziani swiped him, but they can teach him and we'll be the fun ones who are friends with him. haha.

Also, sidenote to everyone, I make 22.5 years today so happy half birthday to me! I tried to get the Anziani to celebrate and they said it was stupid, but they did bring us cornetti last night...

mostly because I was sick but I am counting it towards the half celebration, especially because they brought us 5, so 2.5 each. Which we are not sure if it was a ploy to pit us against each other or just a miscalculation. Also, mom, I loved that comment about how food is also the way to girl's hearts, because it's true. Those cornetti really won us over--Our anziani are just the best, you can see by the photo

and the thank you poster we had ready for them when they showed up. Today we are going to the Sistine Chapel (for preparation day, but I am also counting it towards the 1/2 birthday celebration), so there will be better pictures coming, I am still waiting for my battery charger to show up.

Thanksgiving won't be the same without the sweet pataters but it should be interesting with English Course students (including our Muslim friend from Sinagol) and Peruvians and Romanians and the most unAmerican cast I have ever had in my life. I am grateful to know them all and I am grateful to be here serving people that I love. I am grateful that I don't have to know them or having something specific in common with them to love them, that we can all love each other just because we are human and that is enough to link us together. And I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and that he loves us enough to give us a prophet and the scriptures and the Holy Ghost and all these things we have to guide us so that we can be happy. And I am grateful for the commandments, that he loves us enough not to let us just do whatever we want, because he can see the big picture that we can't see. And I am grateful for every day that is filled with joy, because every day IS filled with joy, you just got to look around a bit.

I love you all, so so so so so so much. I am endlessly grateful for every person that has been a part of my life, big or small, because you are the ones who've made me who I am. "I will hold you close with a Thankful...Heart!"

Sorella Laws

p.s. Christmas season has officially begun! go ahead and start sending presents now.

p.p.s. buy me some socks on Friday :) make sure to elbow your way in there. we were thinking of standing outside the IPERCOOP at 4am, but I don't imagine they'll open for us. but seriously, its cold here. but we got our heaters working and they're nice and toasty. still the best apartment i've ever lived in.

Nov 18, 2011

Week 2 in Rome 3

Our life is the best.
Still. Always.
I don't know what else to say.

We had an amazing first lesson with a lady from Colombia who is totally adorable and was very interested to know more about the Book of Mormon, we only got to meet with her briefly in Termini (the main station) though so it wasn't the most spiritual experience, but it was still pretty special. But then we said we'd see her Monday and she didn't pick up her phone. Sad. But we should still be able to see her this week.

I have been a little sick...again, today I've got a sore throat nothing serious. I've been keeping bundled up and it's actually been pretty warm, until yesterday. And I'm loosing lots of hair from my head. Which concerns me, because I am vain, and everyone knows I've got (had) great hair. But it should grow back. If not,
there are lots of places to buy wigs around here.

We advertised English Course like mad this week, and still only the usual 4 showed up, plus an extra member that came for part of it. So Slla Camp and I just talked to this guy who taught himself English before he started coming to the courses, he is way cool. He asked us what we do all day as missionaries and we explain how we get up at 6.30 and some of the workout things we do, haha, and talked about how we teach and find people who want to listen to us and do service things. Jonathon, a member who learned English on his mission in France was there too and was like, "you can listen to Enya!?" ha, our mission president is the best. We hope more people will come though, we have been inviting everyone and put up fliers everywhere.

Fabrizio, the amazing husband of one of our members is, well, we don't even know, it is crazy because he comes to church, loves it, is an amazingly loving husband, probably the best I've seen my whole mission, but he doesn't read and doesn't really pray. She says they take turns praying at dinner, but he isn't very serious about it. So we are thinking maybe he doesn't even really believe in God...it's a mystery, but we are going to crack it.

Yesterday was hilarious because his wife had tried to cook dinner and everything failed, the rice in these shrimp tomato things she made was undercooked and the potatoes were burned and it was nothing short of comical because it was just that bad. So he comes home and says that its fine and goes to taste it and then goes, "no, this is not eatable" but that he still loves her and would remarry her 100 times over (cute, right, Italians...gosh) starts cutting up tomatoes and mozzarella (the fail-proof Italian standby) and she starts frying eggs and the potatoes weren't really that burnt (we only broke a few teeth) and it all turned out okay and we tried to convince her we cook even worse but she wouldn't believe us. Man, we have been fed more here in 2 weeks than I was in all 4.5 months in Ragusa.
I love Romans. :)

Contrast that with Marco, the almost husband of another member, Alma, he...talked at us for almost 2 hours about how our church isn't any better than any other church and that we have rewritten the Bible, etc. etc.and that we "love bomb" (he was speaking english so he really did say love bomb, haha) people into joining our church but that we don't actually love people. I don't get offended all that easily, but when someone I have just met is telling me I don't love people. Well, I told him he was wrong, in a nice way I think, and that I had actually left everything I loved to come here and love people I don't even know and that I do really love them, but then he just wanted to bible bash so we are going to send the Anziani over there instead, because they are better at that kind of stuff. And their little boy, Gabriele spit in my face...twice. Feeling more and more like Paul every day ;) that same night our bus came super late and we got home late and it wasn't the greatest thing ever.

Another investigator, Maria, the next day told us our church doesn't do anything to help people and I am just thinking, do these people know anything about the Welfare Program? I just didn't say much to that. But she was kinda mad because she hired someone who was a member and she wasn't that great and now...she is blaming the whole church? I don't know. As humans we love to generalize, I guess it makes us feel good.

We had a miracle ex-investigator adventure we'll call it, on Sunday, where we looked up this lady who had met with the Sorelle a year ago but then got busy, we called her up and she said that she had more time now and she would love to meet with us so we met her, and her whole family, and all her friends.

We get on a bus, that we are not sure if its right, because she didnt repeat the instructions when I asked so it was all sort of up in the air, then we asked them if it went close to the street, they said, "not really" but okay we are used to walking, as long as it gets close. So some nice lady tells us where to get off and that we need to ask directions at the farmacia, well its Sunday so its closed, but we walk a bit past it and the street is right in front of our faces. Alright. So we get to the house, but there are several names and we don't know which was her's so we call and she doesn't pick up so we are waiting and this African walks up and asks if we are JWs and we say no and he introduces himself as "Jacob the Beloved" so we invite him to church and he says okay and walks away before we can say anything else.

Then these two guys come up and say, "its been forever since you've come to see us!" and we are like "yeah, but we are actually different sorelle" and the first one goes to kiss me and I say, "oh, we cant" and then the second one goes to kiss me and I say, "oh we can't" and he does anyway, full on kiss on the cheek which threw me off because it's been a while since that's happened and Sorella Camp is just watching, equally confused, and they tell us their mom is home so I start following them and Slla Camp is like, "wait, what's happening?" So then we are going up these stairs and I am listening and luckily hear a woman's voice, so they are not leading us away to kill us (unless she's in on it too) but it turns out to be the daughter...dressed in a pink jumpsuit...all different colors of pink, shirt tucked in, everything. She asks how old we think she is, we dont know what to say--she looks about 35 at least, but she tells us she is 22 and introduces us to her boyfriend who is 23 but looks 18. Meanwhile they invite us to sit down and the other two have long since disappeared.

Veronica comes home and invites into the kitchen where there is--just my luck--fried fish...luckily no heads, but everything else is there and chicken. But I did manage to eat it and did manage to read some scriptures while we were eating.

We realized that she had forgotten most of what she had been taught so when we go back on Friday we are going to re-explain the Restoration. But she wants all her kids to come to church with us and her daughter wants us to get her boyfriend to come to church and he was actually really interested because we showed him a copy of the Book of Mormon and he opened it up and started reading and his expression changed, like something out of a church movie, it was like he'd found a long lost friend, it was incredible. So we are bringing them a copy in Romanian this week.

Then on our way out, Veronica (the mom) ran into two of her friends and introduced us to all of them, one was in a car so we didn't talk long, but he was very interested to come to English Course and another was someone who had trained to be a priest for 8 years and was really interested, he was walking the other way but then he went to do whatever he had to do and met us back at the bus stop, we got to talk to him for a bit before the bus came and gave him a Restoration pamphlet. He was really interested to talk, but we didnt get his number before the bus came, luckily we can get it from Veronica. Oh and right before we jumped on the bus he tried to kiss Slla Camp goodbye and she sort of shoved him and ran onto the bus, haha. The rules make our lives fun.

We are trying to be braver about talking to people all the time so on the way back I started talking to people and everyone was Muslim. Which is always interesting because usually we don't teach them because they can get killed if they convert.

Meanwhile why we were eating with Veronica our mystery man called, someone who actually called because we had given him a passalong card, well, he thought we had given it to him because we liked him (we still have no idea who he is) and so I explained we were here to talk to people about Jesus and he said, "I'm already religious" and I said, maybe we could talk a little bit and then he could decide if he wants to learn more. I get off and Veronica is going off about how we can't trust people because Italian men are trouble and I go,
"Oh, actually he is Romanian" ha.

Oh and Sunday was Stake Conference!!! I got to see everyone from Ladispoli and I was convinced no one would remember me but they were like, "wait, didn't you just leave?" and it was soooooooo happy because I love them all and three of the girls are going on missions!! Ukraine, Uruguay and...Temple Square!!! So exciting. And there were some really good talks and it was great and I just love everyone! And they were like, "you can speak Italian" ha. Man, I love those people!
It was the best ever.

Monday we had district meeting and Anz. Larsen made this really good honey bacon pasta, they said mostly they always eat pasta with bacon in it, not a bad way to go. It was delicious, though at one point I made a comment about "too much bacon" that as soon as it came out I knew it wouldn't go over well. It didnt. Also, when we were in the grocery store I dropped a can of honey and that was embarassing because it broke everywhere.

Oh, and I thought I found one of those physical therapy massager things, so I bought it, but it ended up just being a vibrating pillow. We are not sure if we like it or not, but it's baby pink colored, which is fun. .

Oh! And I met our long lost uncle, his name is Ziod and he is from Syria and he sells paintings at the top of the Spanish steps. He is...fantastic. He doesnt look all that middle eastern, more like Paul Newman than anything. But he is soooo cool. I just want to be best friends with him, but he lives outside our zone. I told him I was Syrian and showed him a picture of grandma and he was like, "wow!"

Also, we met some Bristish ladies who are members while waiting for Juri they were like, "Sisters!"
I love being famous.

Love, love, love,

Sorella Laws

Nov 10, 2011

Roma ra-ra-ra-ra Roma

Well, Rome is GREAT!

Seriously, I love it here.
I always think it can't get any better and then it does, or at least comes equal. The Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps and central downtown Rome are all in our zone. And at first I am like, yeah, whatever, old stuff, but there is such an energy here. People everywhere and they are all fantastic and I am so glad I am here at this point in my mission when I've got more confidence and got the language down. The other day I started a conversation with some musician guy by telling him he shouldn't be smoking because it's bad for him and then he is telling me how God exists but doesn't know us and I am telling him he's wrong.

But then there is the slight problem of the people who don't speak Italian. Like the man on the metro who just stared at me and didn't respond. He sort of nodded his head when I asked if he spoke Italian but that was it. Or the Peruvian who I had an entire conversation with him speaking in Spanish me in Italian, turns out that middle school Spanish paid off afterall. But it was still pretty hard to understand. But there is definitely no shortage of people or adventures.

The journey here was long and a bit cramped on the overnight bus, but we swapped stories about
Sicily and africans and contemplated the adventures ahead of us. Then the assistants came and got us and it was 7am so we sat in the office for a bit and then went to see the colosseum while we waited to meet with everyone (pictures are on Slla Stebars camera, maybe someday we will see them again).

Then we went to the main station to wait for everyone to show up.
Happy reunion time. And...I saw Sorella Foote!!
She's gone now, so weird. But her memory lives on, in my heart. That night we went to corralation and I pitched (film flashback) the referral idea we got from Anz. Pedeira so we are going to do that this month and we want to do some awesome activity with the ward something that only Americans could come up with to blow their socks off...we just don't know what yet.

Then it was English Course and apparently the two missioniaries that got transferred usually taught so we were just winging it and I told them busses was spelled with two s's and Anz. Larsen was like, "um, no" but then I ended up saving the day with my mad improv skills and we pulled a lesson out of it all anyway. And when I sat back down Slla Camp leans over and says,
"I am so glad you are here."

We have plans to advertise like crazy, especially around the university because right now we only have three students.

After that we went to the magical cornetti place by the church where they make cornetti by the masses and they are SO good and only 50c. Changing my life.

Sorella Camp and I are having a fantastic time,

we're like Shirley and Laverne, we're like the Professor and Gilligan, we are like Batman and Michael Cane, we are like Simba and Nala.

We have everything important in common, love of musicals,

chocolate, pizza, elbow patches on tweed jackets, singing in the shower, and gelato, desire to work hard and change lives, I only have pictures of us eating...Which we do a fair share of that too.

Rome has everything and pizza on every corner and forget six months to sexy (I dont have that much time anyway) because I am going to enjoy it while I can. And you will all be so excited to see me you will have to love me even if I am fat. We are very unified...except for that time she got off the bus and I didn't. And we had to meet up halfway between the busstops. We were both laughing so hard by ourselves everyone probably thought we were nuts. It was a glorious reunion after 130 seconds apart.

I have to explain one of the photos.

Our second day together we finally saw each other in the morning and I said, um, we match. Because we had perfectly coordinated tan,black,purple. We are just that tight.

And then I know its weird that I am wearing purple, but I have been wearing Slla Pearsons clothes she left so I dont have to iron.

And don't worry about us being in the ghetto,
there are bars on all our windows. And I feel like I am living in the lap of luxury because...I HAVE MY OWN BATHROOM. And unlike Ragusa there is water pressure. And I am in the fabled Roma 3 that I have heard so much about from different missionaries I have served with. It's crazy coming across old records that say Reyes and Cardiff on them or meeting the people Slla Hansen talked about or the young women that swooned over Anz Garcia when he played a song from twilight on the piano.

There is all kinds of history here in Rome. So I am excited about the shower, but then we saw the entryway of the Anz. apartment (the old Slle apt) and it's got paintings framed in gold frames and is super posh and so I got just a little bit jealous.

We have the Anz right down the street

and there is an IPERCOOP and a fruitstand next door. We have got to made here. I dont know what I did to deserve this. And there are parks everywhere and the busses come every 15 minutes (except on Sunday). But it is crazy because we are always on busses-metros-trains but its fun.

We just saw a poster for Twilight and I am glad I'm missing that because the last book was disgusting, I don't want any of those images in my mind.

The ward is amazing, I am already in love with all of them. It helps that half of them are named Fabrizio and the other half are named Jose. It is just such a warm and welcoming ward and even though the building looks a little like a prison it's the inside that counts.

I got to sit in on sunday school with the teenagers because I was translated for a family that was visiting from
Saudi Arabia (but they're American--Dad did you meet a Casey Clements when you were there, they were there then too).

Waiting for the bus I looked down the street and taught, "Cute. A nun walking with a little boy" ...turns out it was one of our members, she was wearing all black and a huge white headband. haha. The whole day I kept mistaking her for a nun.

We had a family night with one of the Fabrizio's who isn't a member, but his wife is. They have the cutest baby and he is the most adorable father I have ever seen, he loves that baby SO much

He comes to church every Sunday, she (wife) gave us the impression that he doesn't want to be pushed. We weren't sure what his situation was but we decided to teach the whole family the Plan of Salvation, he knows he is not going to go to the celestial kingdom if he doesn't get baptized, but he seems to think that he just isn't good enough--which we know is one of Satan's best tricks, convincing us we are not good enough. We found out that he hasn't prayed since he was a kid! We committed them to read and pray as a couple every day for a week and that we would be back next week to see if they did it. He agreed.

Zohra, member, is probably the most amazing person I have ever met. I wish I had taken a picture because she reminds me a little bit of Sybil. She is from Tunisia. And she was talking about how her friend was racist against blacks and she was like, "well I am black too, there is no sorta black." even though she is more or less Italian looking. So does that mean I can be a little bit Black too? I hope so. But she is just fantastic she was teaching us about how children are not private property and you have to let them grow. How God always gives us miracles and we just need to have faith and how she would want to make something for dinner and her mom/daughter/whoever would say, "there's no bread" and she would say, "have faith" and open the fridge and there would be something left in the corner of the fridge, and so she has always had faith that God will provide. She used to be Muslim but she now has an unbreakable testimony of Christ.

And we are doing lots of finding!
Life is great.
I love y
ou all.
It's sunny and we have both seen just about everything
in Rome so we are going to go sit on our roof and write letters.
Doesn't that sound magical
And I am so happy to be in the capital of Italy
teaching people from all over the world.

My. Life. Is. The. Best.

I'm never coming home.

Still love you all though. Muchos.

LOVE, Sorella Laws

p.s. Expect a miracle.

Nov 5, 2011

There's no place like Rome!!!

So ready to hear about this is the most insane transfer day ever??

Well, I am going to Rome.

Roma 3 is the ward I will serve in (the ghettoest part of Rome according to people who have served there, so I am excited to say the least).
It is so crazy to be going back to Rome.
I was going to Rome a year ago!

I am NOT training, but my companion has only been here for one transfer so she is still pretty new. And Sorella Kelly has already invited us to have lunch in the mission home some day ;)

It's crazy to go back to the mission headquarters after being exiled on the island for so long.
What makes this so crazy though?

Sorella Stebar is coming with me!
Not to the same ward, but we are both going to Rome.
Today. On an overnight bus.

And it has been craaaaaaazy trying to get everything organized for the new sorelle coming in, because, turns out we actually have A LOT of working going on here and it is rather inconvenient timing because there really is a lot going on with a lot of people who are really progressing and we are nothing short of heartbroken.

I spent a lot of the mission being heartbroken.
It's always worth it.

And our washing machine did something crazy so all our clothes came out sopping wet and it is raining so they will neeeeever dry and we have to pack themmmm.

Sometimes you can't help but wonder if you are doing any good, not because we don't see miracles every day, but sometimes it feels like these people mean SO much more to us
than they could possibly understand,

but you discover as you are leaving just, how, much.

you have touched lives,

because it's always obvious how much they are touching my life.

But Sunday as I got up in front of this little ward and I bore my testimony to them with my entire heart

and I saw everyone looking back at me teary eyed just like my farewell talk back home

I was filled with even more love for the lovely, lovely members here
They are family. They were my family for 4.5 months,

they took me to the doctor and made fun of my skin disease and gave us rides to remote ends of ragusa

and we there with us as we got stood up over and over and every Sunday they kissed us

and loved us and loved our investigators that we love.

Thats the way to a missionaries heart, love their investigators.

Thank goodness for Facebook.

Last night almost no one showed up for English Course--because everyday here is a holiday AND it was raining, two things working against us-- which was super sad because we wanted to say goodbye to our gang, but Valeria

(the adorable girl in one of the pictures) showed up and is now our best friend because she is so cool and was kept saying, "che tristezza!" how sad! that we were leaving and kissed us like a million times--I never actually thought I would get used to being kissed all the time, but I have. And instead of talking about English we taught her about how the church was restored and she is super great.

Speaking of tristezza, saying goodbye to Corrado was heaartbreaking, he started tearing up, and so did I, and he shook our hands for about five minutes and told us how he would never be the same because of us and how grateful he was. It was beautiful but awful.

In church, fllo Dimartino shook my hand and then goes,

"I am going to hold on so you can't go"
and Ana said,

"and I am going to hold on to your other hand." And you dont know who these people are but they are amazing.

And we havent even said goodbye to Gabriella or Romeo yet.
It. is. so. saaaaaaaaaaaad.

And our ex-member that we have been teaching totally changed our lives with his incredible story, about how he has just been waiting patiently for the leaders to decide that he was ready and how it has been hard for him to not be able to renew his covenants with the sacrament every Sunday because he knows how significant it is and how he wants to make those commitments and covenants with God. And he is super inspiring and legit. and if we had more than 30 seconds I would tell you all about it.

Halloween, didnt happen. Holidays on the mission are the worst. ;) But we got to be with our amazing district.

which does not exist anymore because t
he Anziani are getting blown out too.

We killed this zone and they're shipping us out!

And Raposelli completely decided to change his life! And we got to go into an old man clubhouse in the park when it started raining and we taught them all about the church and the Book of Mormon,
I am going to miss old Sicilian men!!

OKay, I love you all looooooooooooooooooooooooads.
and loads, and loads. Trust in the Lord and do what he asks (even though we have thought about just not getting on the bus tonight, who can stop us! Not the Zone Leaders, they're not even here anymore, haha!)

Okay, enjoy the pictures with the lack of substance to this email.

un bacio,

Sorella Laws

my new address:

Viale Alessandrino 250
Roma 00172

But I am also super close to the office, so that works too.

here are pictures that show how i match the curtains in the church

not just fllo Magrograssi who has the match pants (he is amember of the bishopric, married to our favorite Brasilian woman).

and a picture of me washing dishes at the communita with Andrea one of the boys that lives there.

People Pictures:

they really change your life.

every one of these people has an incredible story,

someday i will tell you about all of them.