Let me tell you all something, Italian Christmas is the best way to do Christmas. It is a three day feast and I couldn’t be happier. I’m going to give you all a run down of the beauty and struggle of being a missionary in Italy during the Christmas season!
So this week, most if not all people were just running around like crazy trying to get everything prepared for Christmas. I honestly am not in the best position to say whether it was more hectic or not compared to America, but nonetheless it was quite entertaining to watch people. We spent most of our time serving people and trying to spread Christmas light and love with everyone we met.
Monday night we went out to dinner with Mariella, Silvio, and Erika before they took off for Scotland. It was such a good night with them talking and helping Mariella to feel good before she left for a big trip and keep her committed to growing in her testimony. Also, it being Anziano Andersen’s last week in the mission, we ate at people’s houses every single day (like usual). It was delicious. Tuesday at the D’Amuri’s, Wednesday at the D’Apuzzo’s, Thursday at Bishop’s, and then Friday at Ettore’s pizzeria.
Saturday was Christmas Eve so the day before I made a massive batch of chocolate chip cookies and then on Saturday we went around with the Sorella to a bunch of people that Bishop had recommended we go see. These were struggling families, widows, and other people that needed some love. It was such a fulfilling time even though it was stressful trying to find all of these addresses, some of which were outdated. It helped remind me of what Christmas is for. To serve others. We delivered cookies for 6 hours.
Then we headed out to the Delle Foglie’s house to do a couple of Skype calls. We planned on watching It’s a Wonderful Life but we ran out of time, so we headed out to Ketty’s house! Ketty is the daughter-in-law of Chiara and Carlo Mazzolari and she is SO cool. They had so much food!!!! The entire table was full of food, there was not an open space on the entire table. Afterwards we played a Sicilian form of bingo and had a great time.
Christmas morning Anziano Anderson systemized the last of his luggage and we headed off to church. During church I was translating and one of the young men Davide had a very good time trying to distract me. It was so hard trying to focus! After church we rushed to the Impollonia house. The wife, Monica, was so accommodating to us. I am so grateful for her. She is one of my favorites here. She prepared an entire Italian Pranzo for us to eat in 35 minutes. I can not begin to describe to you how impossible that is especially on Christmas but she did it! We rushed out of there to get Anziano Andersen to the train station we flew on our way. Literally. But we got him there and on the train okay even with some security officers asking for our identification and personal information on the train platform.
The hours following I was on a member exchange with brother Caporale who is Monica’s father. We came back to the house and I got to continue eating more food. Then eventually the Statte Anziani finished their Pranzo appointment and came to be with me. We headed over to pick up the Sorelle and then we all headed to the Mazzolari’s house where we did a few more calls and ate more food and played some form of Italian charades. It was super fun. I was kinda worried I would have no idea to act out these things in Italian, but Sorella Ensign and I were pretty in sync and so it worked out and all of us had a good time.
During this very special time of year I have learned a few important things that helped me to feel a special spirit this time around:
Always focus outside of yourself especially in the moments you feel weakest or most vulnerable. It may be hard but it empowers you to rise above your trials. Remember the growth that you have made and focus on the blessings you have received. Be grateful for you have and also for what others have. Love others. Really love them. And lastly follow the guidance of the Prophet. The Prophet and the Apostles will always lead us to know what it is that we should do.
I love you all! Talk to you next year.