On Sunday we met with Michele again for lunch. He made the best pasta I've ever eaten and some delicious chicken with potatoes. While talking to him I realized that I was understanding him a lot better than I did when we last saw him during my first week here. It was satisfying to see how far I've come with the language in such a short amount of time. One thing that I've learned about Italians is that that say exactly what they are thinking. We walked in and he starting making fun of how I was wearing a dark suit in the spring and wearing a spring tie (I was wearing a pink tie that I bought in Bellagio last week). He then proceeded to stuff us full of delicious food. Apparently he likes me because I eat a lot and eat really fast. He also thinks that my mouth is beautiful. Sometimes that Italian honesty is really awkward. Lucky for us though, he gave us his leftover sauce from the meal in a jar so we used that for lunch yesterday.
I've been eating better lately than I was when I first got here. It was quite the adjustment going from eating 3 meals a day with snacks to essentially eating one big meal. I wasn't used to taking all of my food for the day in at once so I felt hungry for a large portion of the day because I wouldn't be able to eat a large lunch. Now I have adjusted to eating an ungodly amount of pasta in the middle of the day to hold me over until I can have a small bit of food at night before I go to bed. I know in my previous emails I made it sound like I was starving or something but I was probably just being dramatic. I should be grateful that I am in an area where the members and investigators feed us fairly often and where there is enough food for us. I should also be grateful that the missionary work here is keeping us busy enough that we don't have a ton of time to eat lots of meals. Also our flat is fantastic so we have that going for us. The sorelle swung by to pick up the key to the church one day and they actually got mad because our place is so awesome. I will send a picture of the front of the house later. Now that spring has sprung there is an arch of purple flowers over the gate leading to it and there are a couple of little lizards that we have claimed as pets living in a rock in front of our house plus I think we might have the only place in the mission that has a backyard. There is also an extra room in our house since there used to be 2 coppie that we use for working out and drying our clothes (I'll talk about that later in the email). But enough of me bragging about my crib.
Today we went to see "The Last Supper" and it was pretty cool. They only gave us a few minutes to see it but it was just weird being in the same room as a painting that is as famous as it is and has been reproduced so much. We then went into a Catholic Church nearby and it was odd to see that you have to pay and light a candle to pray. While the inside was beautiful and very quiet, I didn't feel the Spirit and the peace that can be found in the temple. Ultimately it felt empty. It felt more like I was in an old palace or a museum rather than a house of God. Anyways, I'm glad that we are sticking around Milano this P-day instead of traveling to another city. We get to take as much time as we want to see some cool stuff here and don't have the tight, stressful schedule that we have had in previous weeks. I also think we just need to relax some because we have had a tough week so far and have a lot to do for the rest of it as well but you will read about that later.
I think now that the newness of my surroundings is starting to wear off I can start to tell all of you some of the strange things I have discovered about Italy. First of all, the toilets here are awful. Instead of having a quick, powerful flush to get everything down the drain you turn a knob and this waterfall sort of thing happens. It takes forever to get the toilet paper to go down because there is no pressure. I get that they might be trying to save water or something but in reality you stand at the toilet for a straight minute waiting for everything to go down. I do like that you can find great ingredients for really cheap here though. I have no trouble keeping my spesa (grocery shopping) for the week around €20. I don't think this will be true of most of Italy but at least in Milano there are Africans, Indians, and Arabs selling super cheap fake watches and glasses. That last part and a multitude of other things about Milano remind me of New York. If you took away the Italian advertisements there are some times when I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the 2 cities. There are tourist shops everywhere, people selling crappy knockoffs of name brand accessories, busy people in a hurry to get somewhere, and people begging on the streets. That last one makes me super sad because if I was home and it was my own money I wouldn't hesitate to give them a bit of money but now that I have this name tag on I'm not allowed to. It is for a good reason that we aren't allowed to give people money as we don't want them to give future missionaries any problems because of our generosity and also we are dealing with the Lord's money and it has been set aside to sustain his missionaries. It is still hard to turn them down. Anyways, I will talk about some other Italyisms next week.
This week we are trying to get 21 lessons or more because Presidente Dibb challenged us to do it. We want to do even better than that so we are trying to get 30 lessons. To put this in perspective, our mission averages 9 lessons per week per companionship. On Monday we had 9 lessons scheduled and we ran around all day trying to meet with them but we would get to the place we agreed to meet and they wouldn't show up even if we had called just a few minutes before and they said they were coming. In total over the past few days we were stood up 15 times and we felt like we had wasted a lot of time waiting. However, were able to find 5 people in the park who would hear a short lesson from us and some gave us contact information so that was good. All in all we were sore and worn out from all of the fast walking and standing, plus it was the first really warm I've felt here so that added to our discomfort. I feel proud of those 2 days, however, even though we got way less done than we should have given the effort we exerted. I know that I could show what I did on Monday to the Lord and I could be proud of it because I worked my butt off. About halfway through Tuesday I was thinking that I was tired and that I had done all I could but then I remembered a video that Presidente Dibb showed us in new missionary training last week which basically taught me that as a representative of Jesus Christ, that when I feel like I have been asked to do too much, that my burden is too heavy or that my the task I've been assigned is too hard that I should remember all the Christ has done for me and everyone because He suffered far greater than I have. He took upon himself everybody's burdens. He asked in the Garden of Gethsemane whether there was an easier way but He went through the Atonement despite His fears. As I work past the point I think I can go because He needs me too, that is when I am closest to Him. I'll let you know next week how this goal goes. I'm prepared for the most exhausting week of my life thus far. However, I also know that my energies will be put to good use as I will be using them to invite others closer to Christ.
Ci vediamo nella prossima settimana!
Excerps of an additional email sent to Mom and Jacob on 4/13/16 . Edited and included here
So as you might have read in my big email, I've had a tough week so far. I would like to go into some detail about what I have learned from it though. We had a very rough day on Monday and we thought on Tuesday "ok we need to make up for the lessons we didn't get yesterday" and then we got an even more difficult day. After yet another appointment fell through Anziano Hansen had the wisdom to suggest that we say a companionship prayer to find out what we need to do. It absolutely did not help with the work. However, we did learn something. As we walked through the park we came to the realization that while we might have been working hard and doing all the right things, we weren't doing it for the right reasons. It became a pride issue because we wanted to show President Dibb how great we were and we wanted the recognition that might come from being the youngest companionship in the mission but still managing to get 30 lessons in a week. The work had become more about collecting lessons than about helping others to come unto Christ. The Lord knew that we can do better than to think that way so he decided to humble us and I'm glad that He did. It's almost like He said to us "while you are doing my work, you are becoming disciples of my Son. These are my children. Love them like We do." Now, to avoid doing things for the wrong reasons we have decided to not even refer to lessons but to instead refer to the people that we are going to teach. We were counting lessons throughout the day but now we will focus instead on how we are going to help the people we teach. Since we made this attitude change everything feels different and it has actually felt like we are consecrating this week to the Lord. Our first lesson today actually cut directly into our relaxation time but we had a good attitude about it because we knew this was the only time we could visit with him and help him. The man's name is L... and he has been having a big problem with the Word of Wisdom and especially the part about smoking. This is made even worse by his doctor because he has actually prescribed cigarettes for him because of some of L...'s mental health issues. However, he is working closer to baptism and is down to only 2 cigarettes a day from 20 a day. Today was different though because his dad has died. Because we had refocused on loving the people we teach we were able to know what to say to him and had, as a consequence, one of the sweetest lessons I've had thus far on the mission. I think his faith has been strengthened enough by the Spirit now to be able to completely stop smoking. I am also sharing this with Jacob because I feel like as a future missionary he n