Apparently, you already know where I am, so not so much surprise, but I'm in the beautiful coastal city of Genova. It is absolutely amazing here. My area, since there are 2 sets of Anziani and 1 set of Sorelle in our Ward, yes, Ward (Genova 2), is right on the beach. It is breath-taking.
My companion is Anziano Salmon from Ammon, ID. He's been out for about 10 months or so and this is his third area, and first time in Genova, so we were opening a new companionship in our city. Fun.
It is super hot and humid here in Italy, I'm very slightly dying right now, but then I remember that I'm dying IN ITALY and it gets a lot better. We live in an apartment with another set of Anziani, and guess who lives there with me? That's right! Anziano Erickson!! I know, crazy right? Guess we are stuck together for another few transfers or so. haha. Our apartment is literally located in the best possible place ever! Thank you so much Fratello Jeter for finding this place!!!! It is 30 seconds from the chapel and about a minute and a half from the train station. Oh yeah, and there are 2 shopping markets within a minute of our apartment. The only downside is the fact that it is on the 7th floor, so its pretty hot up there. Our windows are never closed, except for when a big storm comes through, like last week and slams all of our windows and doors shut. We constantly have fans on, because otherwise we would die.
So the plane ride over was really long. We were on the flight from Chicago to London for ever!!! The plane was literally a house, it was huge. (It was a 777 Dad!). On that flight, I met this really nice couple from OK, Marcus and Shannon. We got talking about who the missionaries were and why we were out here and they were very nice. After our "dinner", they leaned over to me and asked me a question about the church. This sparked a great gospel discussion and I got to clear up a lot of their questions about the church. After basically giving the first lesson, I gave them a Book of Mormon and challenged them to read it. They gladly accepted it and Marcus held on to it for the rest of the flight. I really hope they read it, because I know it will bring them so much happiness. Our group going to Milano placed 10 Book of Mormons that flight, and a few on the flight before that and during time in the airport in Chicago. It was awesome.
Now when we got to Italy, there were a few missionaries who didn't get their bags, one of them being Anziano Erickson. So we waited with them at the church in Milano for about an hour or so, because they found one of his bags, but then we decided to find our way to Genova. Anziano Treadway, Anziano Erickson's companion, was the only one in our group who had been to Genova before, and he had only been there for 2 weeks, so we were all essentially lost. haha. But we left Milano, got on a train and headed for Genova. It was super hot on the train because the car we were in had a broken AC unit, so we moved cars because the ride was 2 hours long. On the train, we talked to an older Italian woman who was frankly, very rude to us, and kept interrupting us, but we tried anyway. We got to Genova and had to switch trains, so we looked for it, and eventually found it. Once we got off, we went and found what we thought was our apartment, but when the key wouldn't work, we realized that we were off by one building. We went up this tiny tiny elevator that reeked of smoke and fish to the 7th floor (its technically the 6th floor, but in Italy ground level is 0) where we found our apartment. But then we couldn't figure out how to unlock the door. By this point we had been carrying our bags up and down stairs all day and running around with them in the scorching heat. We were so sweaty and hot and sticky and tired and frustrated, that we couldn't help but laugh. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the handle of one of my bags broke while we were in Milano, so that was even more fun! Eventually we got inside and unpacked, then the other Anziani showed up and we went to bed.
Because both Anziano Salmon and I are new to this area, we spent the first few days trying to find investigators, members, and non members, and when this didn't work, which it often didn't, we would go do finding work, which is really hard because literally no one has stopped to listen to us. I'm really good at saying hello to people, but that's usually as far as I get before they tell me that they aren't interested and they walk away. We do have one investigator and a couple potentials, but the work is slow right now and really hard, but we keep pushing on. I have to be honest, the first few days were really really hard, and I don't ever think I've felt like giving up before as much as I did the first day or so. But, everyday, I just try and push myself to stay focused, to rely on the Lord and just open my mouth as the scriptures say. I know that I will be blessed for my trials if I remain diligent, which I plan on doing.
As for the language, I speak it great. I've gotten a lot of compliments on my ability to speak, but as for understanding.......niete. Since our city is pretty much 50% from Ecuador, I can almost understand most of what the Spanish natives are saying. I completely understand other missionaries, but give me a native Italian, and I'm so lost. Its really frustrating, but it could be worse, I could be in the South. Their accents are so strong and hard to understand. We met a man from Bari the other day, and he might as well have been speaking Russian, because I had no clue what he was saying to me. I know I won't magically understand what everyone is saying overnight (unless I pull a Jeter, which would be nice), so I just try and understand more and more every time I speak to someone. Its coming slowly, but I know it will come. Just like I promised Dad, I will study my language everyday, and I have been.
Like I said before, its been really hard. I never thought it would be this hard. I'm so tired when I get home and I'm tired when I wake up, but oh well. There's no use complaining, that won't do anything except make the work harder. So I always try and be as positive as possible. For example, this other day we had 3 appointments set up. The first 2 fell through and we went about 45 minutes early to make sure we could find the house of our 3rd appointment, but we literally couldn't find it. It did not exist. We searched for an hour, while trying to contact people on the street on the way, but as much as we looked, it was nowhere to be found and when we called him, our investigator didn't answer. So we decided to go try and visit 2 members who lived near by. We had made a list of ever member that lived in our area, but it was using an old ward list, so we had no idea what we would find. Funny side story, after spending a few days making that list, we found one already made in our apartment this morning when we were cleaning it....yay!! Anyway, back to the story, we used a map and went where we thought we were suppose to go, but we couldn't find the street anywhere. We eventually took this sketchy mountain path that took us across this awesome foot bridge and we found the street. We then followed this street all the way to the top of this huge hill. We were so tired and exhausted, and then we found out that there was a bus that went up there. So we went to the first house and the person told us that they weren't interested in being a member anymore and refused to let us in. We then went to the second house, and no one was home. So we had a great adventure for pretty much nothing, but we did get some great pictures of the city. Man this place is incredible. Even though that day was really hard, we didn't let all of the bad things happening to us bring us down, we always stayed positive. and then we got gelato so everything was better then. haha
I love it hear in Genova, and I love hearing from you all. I'm so happy the USA won the Gold Cup, that is so awesome!!!!! I can't believe the Dodgers are still in first (they probably aren't anymore), and and I'm really jealous you all get to go camping this week. Tell everyone that I love them and that Jude is still the cutest thing ever. I love you all so much, and I can feel you all praying for me. Thank you for this. I know I wouldn't have the strength that I have without you all. I love you all so much and can't wait to hear back from you.
I want to share a quick spiritual thought before I end this letter. We had our new missionary training yesterday (it was really good to see about 10 or so of the missionaries from my group), and we watched this video about the Atonement and its importance to missionary work, and I would say, life in general. Whenever we get rejected, spat upon, attacked, degraded, or anything, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with Christ, because he walked a long path alone, so we don't have to. He is always with us, and he will be there to always bear us up. I know that I get all of my strength and drive to continue from the Savior, and I know that he is hear with me, helping me along the way. And he is with all of you.
I love you all so much and I can't wait to hear from you all again. Sorry, I forgot to bring my card reader to the internet point today, so I don't have pictures today, but next week I will have a lot. Yes, I did get a picture in front of the map in the MTC Mom. Also, I had to buy a shoulder bag, because they are now required by the first presidency, so I used some money today. You need to check my account for how much is there, because I can't check it here.
Vi voglio tantissimo bene!!!!!