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Jan 31, 2012

...i'm back.

Listening to: Crossfire - Brandon Flowers i might be listening to it over and over again
Typing to you from: Salem, OR it's oh, so pretty and full of memories that make me happy.
Multi-tasking: Looking at Courtney + Tom's wedding pictures and weeping

Hi, world, don't know if I have ever formally introduced myself... My name is Lauren Laws. To some people that's Lawsy, to some people that's Ren, and just about everything in between, you can choose your suffix.

I just completed one of the most amazing experiences of my life as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (ever heard of it? well, that's why we have missionaries, though thanks to Mitt I think just about everyone has heard of the Church now.)

I missed a few things while I was gone, but this was probably the cutest one...I'm an aunt!

And then there is this sad part of your mission where they tell you take the tags off...never to be put on again. Because you are done and that's that.

It's the sort of thing that is hard to describe to anyone who has never been there. This adjustment period. Imagine having a very, very structured, disciplined life, with lots of rules and lots of things to do that are all selfless and rewarding and nothing to do with your own life or wants or desires. In general living a life that as my mission president put it was, "not natural", but living in such a way that we could be focused on one thing and one thing only, helping others come unto Christ. Missionary life is hard to explain, but it was oh so rewarding.

Then you're back in the world and a lot of things that used to matter don't seem to matter anymore and it's like you can see things a lot clearer, the important things, but then I get confused by simple things, like white eggs or seeing three different Taco Bells on the way home, or trying to remember how Americans greet each other (which I am not sure I knew before I left). I don't know anything about the election and my brother's voice is octaves lower than when I left. And I am congratulating people who got married over a year ago and it's sort of like being Han Solo coming out of the wall...But, really not at all, because no one gave me a light saber. I don't even have a phone yet...which is a bummer because I want to catch up with people not over IM and internet means.

But it's good to be back. My bed is so comfy and Sonic drinks are so good. It was such a wonderful experience, but just like any experience, you are only given as long as you are given. I am ready for the next chapter. Who is with me?

What movies from the last eighteen months do I need to see?

Now listening to: For Reasons Unknown over and over and over.
Multitasking: Looking at JMag's wedding pictures and weeping.

Jan 29, 2012

The last days

What can I say?

Thursday morning the assistants to president Kelly came and picked me and Sorella Camp up. As we drove away I did a dramatic recounting of some memories from the area..

"aw, there is the park where we taught Stefano...there is the gelateria where we taught Stefano..,there is the post office where S.lla Stebar had to pay a fine..." etc. etc.

Then we were at the train station where I saw nearly everyone I've served with which was pretty special...and heartbreaking. Talking to Anz. Holland my "son" was probably the saddest part after saying goodbye to S.lla Camp.

Then we went to the mission home. President gave me some good advice for the future.

Okay,I am boring myself, more on this later...is 8am too early for curry?
Didn't think so.

Jan 26, 2012

Do you believe it!!!

 I have less days than some of these Anziani have years in the mission.
But I feel like Rome has been extra good to me as a going away present.
 It. has. been. amazing.
 We haven't taught as many lessons as we would have liked, but the ones we have taught have been AMAZING. Oh my word there are some amazing people here that I just adore.
Where do I begin? We got ahold of Teresa again, had an amazing lesson the
re. Antonia is amazing. Everyone is amazing. Ha.
 I don't even know what to tell you.

I will tell you that I am going to miss:

Teaching about the Plan of Salvation whilst sitting on Roman aqueducts.
Try and imagine this.
Sitting on old ruins,
the sun on our faces--even though its January-- teaching someone almost our own age and she just goes,
"I feel inside me that all of this is true and I just want to get closer and closer to these things."
I was nearly in tears.
That just happened about five hours ago.
Not bad for the last real lesson.
Tonight we just have the family night in church.

Earlier we walked into a store and Micheal Buble's I wanna go home song was playing and Slla Stebar just started laughing. Irony is everywhere these days.

Last Sunday lunch=Panzarotti party
at Maria Teresa's with Uncle Stefano
and the Brothers D'Apuzzo and Grrrreta,
aka our little family. It was so fun/funny. Even with Stefano hovering over my shoulder trying to tell me
what to do..not helpful.

Pictures with all the members on Sunday (I'll show you when I get home). I didnt even cry in my last testimony. Brigette's dramatic "I hate you for leaving and I'll never forget you!"
Fllo Perego's parting words,
"Okay, if some guy at BYU comes up and says he had a dream that you are supposed to be his wife...Don't believe him!
 It doesn't work that way."
This AWESOME girl visiting from London came and brought her mostly boyfriend who lives in the area of the church and he is going to start meeting with the Anziani! She was just so cool.

Ward activities involving trying to eat pizza and play ping pong at the same time and
 playing with American children. The Italians kept harassing me to eat and I was like,
"Can't you see I am busy here?"
Only Fllo D'Elia had the right solution
of bringing it to me.

Our Naptan Cage Fighting Dog Groomer who is fluent in English as a Second Language, and his son who loves singing and dancing and bought me a bell with an owl on the top as a going away gift.
Singing on Sunday outside some stores
and Vincenzo (ward mission leader) waving a white handkerchief at me as we sang God Be With You Til We Meet Again.

It's amazing. I'm horribly devasted, but at the same time. SO excited. Because, like you said mom, every transfer has brought new possibilities and things I couldn't have even imagined. And, well, all of you are involved in this next transfer and that's excited.

Plus, one of the members, who is usually kind of a tool actually said something that really struck me. He was like, No, why are you sad? You have been a good missionary. And I was like, yeah, but that's why I want to keep going, I love it. And he was just like, No. "Il Signore ha detto basta." Which is to say, no, the Lord said, that's enough. You're done. And it's true...I am done. Well, not yet, but tomorrow morning I go to the office/mission home and thus ends the days of the Sorella Laws reign in Rome.

And, I guess that's okay. That it's been enough. and I've got so many plans for the future. Everything has a time limit of some sort. Even life itself.

So in short, I maybe unexplicably bipolar the first few weeks back.
But it's not because I don't love you loads.

Con amore,
Sorella Laws

Iz, thank you for the most amazing package ever all my companions were jealous. ;)
Greta's response to the robot socks, "Che cariiiiiiino sono!!"

Jan 23, 2012

2nd to last amazing missionary email you will be receiving

(Small disclaimer. This should have been loaded last week but technical difficulties prevented that from occurring.
  Stayed tune for THE last amazing email you will be receiving hopefully coming on Wed.)

 Well, another great week.

We are very excited about some new investigators because they are incredible! One is Valentina who the Ostia Sorelle were teaching but she actually lives close to our church and even closer to a member! Okay, here is the exciting, God is incredible part of the story, that morning we were brainstorming how we could help Francesca (daughter of members) because she doesn't really seem to fit in at church, well, we then go meet the Ostia sorelle so they can pass this investigator who low-and-behold has all the same interests as Francesca! Perfect, right? Yep. And she lives right by them and they gave her a ride home from church on Sunday!

Then there is Antonia who we just hit it off right off the bat she is wonderful. She lived in the same complex as missionaries 5 years ago and she approached us on the trenino, well she is just great because she wants to "frequentare" the church, relay come and be a part of it and she got excited when we told her about all the activities we do. We are really excited about her.

There is this constant ache in my heart these days, on Sunday we were singing hymns outside of some stores and people passing loved it (it was a really great activity) we starting Each Life that Touches Ours For Good and I was like, oh, man, because I wanted to cry a little but then I jokingly changed where it says, "him" to her and then Fausto started changing all the pronouns and we sang God Be With You Til We Meet Again and he goes, "this one is for Slla Laws" on the last strofa.
 Oh man, so sad. Remember how hard it was leaving each city? Well, this tops them all.
 Not to mention that I just love this ward so much and have from the beginning and might be making secret plans to come live here for a year or two.
And the other night we did FHE with Maria Teresa and Greta
(who as you can see did my hair so beautifully) and oh man, I just love both of them. and I love everyone here, but that happens anywhere I go.

Last Zone Conference I gave a perfect "dying testimony" it was funny, inspirational, and just enough dramatic pauses for tears. There wasn't a dry eye in the audience. We also had the opportunity to sing the song we arranged for Stefano's baptism of the Baptism Song and Come Thou Fount. So, special, sentimental times.

Sunday was just so beautiful because everyone is officially back from vacations and everyone is all pumped for the new year to really be good and do amazing things and our beautiful new investigator came and less actives came and Tiziana came for the first time since I've been here and finally has time to meet with us again and I had never met her but i felt like I had because of how Slla Camp talked about her.

Then we went to the Vitale Manor for lunch with Stefano and his mom, she is so sweet!
 And his house looks like a museum,
I know my friend Whitney would die if she saw it, we spent so much time trying to make houses look
 like that with props and things
when a perfect one existed in Italy all along.

Then we perfectly ran into Fausto and Daniele and Luca on the way to singing so we all showed up together (well, not Daniele he went to some GANs thing to flirt with girls).

And we have some very hilarious videos from this week that I will show you soon! Including us singing a "gospel" version of Called To Serve--its not Gladys, but we tried.

Singing presented some great opportunities to talk to people including this lady that was absolutely blown away by my testimony of the Book of Mormon,
"so it's really helped you?"
Yes! The Book of Mormon changes lives, by the way.

Now we are off to blow with Slla Kelly and the Anziani. Yay!


Jan 11, 2012

Time Flies

Okay, since I've written last
it has been another exciting week,

all starting with our Prepday adventure to

Okay, that actually just happened by chance
because we were hungry.

 But it was momentous nonetheless when we realized where we were.

Then we went, like we planned to the prison of st. paul and peter.
Well, I was imagining we would go down into some tavern like place and walk around and see some old cells.
Boy was I wrong!! It was so much more,
like the glowing walls that talked to us, 
 I dont know how to explain it, we were all like,
 what just happened?
 And an audio visual enhanced tour of the cells with videos
and a voice recording that made us feel like we were on
 the Haunted Mansion ride.

 SO hilarious.

We got to see Kevin again! Last night he met us at the Carrefour again and was like, "so what's the deal with your church" so we told him!

Also I have to say my Arab roots continue to shine through
we were teaching Achmed

and I told him and he was like, "I thought so! I was just thinking that to myself." and the other day we got off the trenino and a group of Afghanis got off with us and one just walks up and asks, "where are you from?" ha, it makes me feel like I've got real culture to me.

We got to celebrate Befana because Stefano
came and gave us giant stockings

( they were crammed full of candy, it was ridiculous)
the holiday makes no sense,

 but the family we visited with on Sunday
they got scooters for the Befana,
so sounds worth celebrating to me.

Stefano came to church and asks, "Is it okay to wear jeans to church?" and all three of us at once are like, "I mean, you can, but don't" and he goes, "I'm wearing jeans right now."
He came to church in a pinstrip denim suit! I was like, "who are you??" and his vintage Valentino 70s tie. I insisted we take a picture. About his tie I was like, "what is that?" and he goes, "it's a tie." Oh, Uncle Stefano...

So we call it dying around here when a missionary is about to go home and Slla Camp is watching for me to go through the five steps, I'm not sure which I am on now, but as soon as I get depressed I will be close to acceptance. And this one punk RM member came up on Sunday and made this sniffing noise and I was like, "um, yes?" and he goes, "you stink like death." oh mission jokes. If I wasnt a missionary I would've punched him.

Slla Camp DID punch Stefano when she thought he was ordering a cappucino, that was funny. "I don't know, reflexes I guess..."

I'm trying really hard to focus but it's hard to not feel a little bit of limbo-ness these days, my days are numbered and it actually does feel like dying.
 There is this desire to sort of wrap everything up even though the fantastic thing about missionary work is that there is no ending point in the work. You just keep going and then leave and let someone else take over.

We met this guy on the metro coming back from visiting a member at the hospital and he was looking at me so I started talking to him, next thing I know he is telling us all about his troubles at home, how his wife is cheating on him and said he started looking at me because of my coat and asked if it was some designer and I was like, ha, no, chinese store. Anyway, he was saying how he just feels empty and we told him we know how to help with that and taught him the first lesson in the basement of termini station.

He also kept telling me I was beautiful, not so much in a hitting on way (okay, at least not completley in that way), just in this matter-of-fact way that makes me think, what am I going to do when strangers aren't calling me beautiful and acquaintances calling me talented all the time?
I am so vain, ha.

Our magical lunch in the countryside
with the American-Italian family that just moved in.
They are so fun!
Oh man he made us laugh so much
and they took us home in the misison van that they had borrowed
and they just made having five kids
under the age of nine look so easy. ha.

We made fresh squeezed orange juice with fresh picked oranges...
it was kind of sour, needed some sugar.

Have I mentioned I adore children?
I have no idea what happened to me.
They are just so precious.
Also I totally look like a mom in my clothes
that I found when we cleaned out our death closet.
Slla Camp kept referring to me as Mamma Laws
with all the kids around me, oh dear.

So I sent a bunch of pictures and
all the stories are kind of mixed up
 but I hope it makes sense.
 Life is good...

I was sick with stomach things and Stefano
 brought me a fruit basket...
with oranges and nuts.
 Christmas never ends here!
 Slla Camp was on the phone with him
  and in my head I thought,
 don't tell him I am sick! But it was too late.


I was only a little sick, don't worry about it,
I think I just ate too many oranges
 in a small concentrated amount of time,
I am just holding on for a little bit more
and then I'll be healthy again for the rest of my life :)

Enjoy the pictures!!
 You can make up some stories of your own from them.

There is nothing quite like being in Rome,
we are coming back from the hospital,

 "Wait, where are we exactly--oh,
there's the Colosseum,

 there is a metro stop by there."
k, loooooooooooooooooooove you,
 loads and loads and buckets
and enough to fill

all the Catholic churches here.

Sorella Laws

one more thing,

Fllo Perego pointed out to us that the Rome Temple
is the first temple to be built in New Testament lands.
Thats cool to think about.

And a few more pictures:

So Slla Stebar and I love each other of course
 but then the Anziani had to go and mock us.

And then there was the dog
that looked like Laika.

And a drawing Slla Stebar did of me as a gangsta.