Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hello again!

Hello everyone and merry Christmas-

I guess Christmas is over but first things first I think I should explain just how great it was to see you on Christmas. I think about you every day but normally it's in a nice happy way that is more like a memory of some people far away. But Christmas eve and Christmas day it was as if a box of anxious had been opened. Once the possibility of talking to you came into view it seemed to take over my view. Anz. Free and I both slept badly the night before and then the morning of Christmas we had a hard time thinking of much else besides our phone calls. I was surprised at how excited and nervous I was to see you. I guess the lesson to be learned is that normally I'm just fine because I've gotten used to not seeing you or talking to you, but as soon as the chance comes to talk to you my brain lets all my anxiety to see you out.

Our Skype session was great and I have to say it was a thoroughly Lehnardt experience the way the camera never held still for too long and everyone spent time running in and out of the screen. It was good to see you.

This week we are now in the funny time between Christmas and New Year's. These are the two days of the year that we kind of have off and they're just a week apart. It's kind of a crazy time of year. It's been weird to feel a little less routine but it's been good. I've taken a new approach to things like chocolate and treats lately. Instead of trying to ration my treats and make them last I just eat them like I feel like doing which is normally pretty fast and then when they're gone they're gone and I just don't think about it. Good luck on your moderation Dad but I'm just going to be a pig and then be healthy when I run out of treats.

We have Sefki's baptism today which is exciting. We've been talking to people about temples more lately and I love how the gospel is always giving us something new to work towards. The temple is such a good goal with blessings that we all want and it's amazing to see how a good objective gives people the power to change. We do the same thing with helping people set a date for baptism. Once people have something they're working towards it becomes so much easier to change. God is smart.

I'm so glad everyone's Christmas was so good. I know that seeing you guys made my Christmas. It's so funny how Christmas for missionaries doesn't seem to really matter except for talking to our families. I really didn't care about getting any presents and we didn't even worry about getting to watch a Disney movie, we had a good meal but the thing that really mattered was our families. I'm amazed at what is really important in life and how easily we forget about it until we lose it. Food and things don't really matter because there are things in life that are so much more important like family and love and happiness and friends and people and chocolate. I have to admit though that I like to talk about things I'm not good at. A missionary came to our apartment for a scambio and ate lots of our Christmas chocolate and some of our American cereal that the Americans on the military base gave to us. I had to fight myself not to be mad at him for being so inconsiderate and eating our goodies. Maybe that's why Jesus said when someone steals your coat give him your cloak also. That way we remind ourselves that it really isn't that important. I didn't give him the rest of our Captain Crunch but I did try to just not care about chocolate so much.

Did I tell you how good it was to talk to you? I know I have but I don't know if I've explained just how good it was to see and talk to each of you. Wow, I love you guys.

Life sounds so good at home with Dad and his friends who are old and falling apart and weddings and families and going skiing on rocks and not filling our college applications and sword fighting in the back yard. Thank you for the video mom and Mary and Mary- I'm homesick to tears. Just kidding. I can handle it. It was totally worth it. I can't believe the funny crazy things you guys do for me.

I hope mom shows everyone this letter. I know how she hides them from you.

Ski fast, don't make turns, eat lots of chocolate, party hard because its almost birthday season and there's a wedding coming. Read the Book of Mormon and pray like you mean it because those are pretty important too.

I love you and have a good week.

Love Ben

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Free!

Dear family- I don't really know what to say. I just spent 10 minutes trying to write a general email to the world but I just don't seem to know what to say this week. Sometimes I just don't know what to say. Anyway for this week I'll just be writing to you. Anz. Free is great. He's from Arizona and he's one transfer older than me. It's kind of weird how easy life is with him.

First things first. Christmas day phone call- or rather Skype. We're going to the Maughans who are the senior couple in Vicenza for Christmas and we'll be Skyping from there. We've been trying to work out when each of us will call but the plan is this. We're going to church in the morning and then we'll be in Vicenza by 3:00. That would still be 7:00 in the morning for you guys and I don't know when you have church. But have no fear, the Maughans set up a Vonage phone before they left so they can call just like they are calling from Utah. I'll give you guys a call Christmas morning and we can set up a time to Skype. Will you email me your Skype account so I can find you?

It doesn't really feel too much like Christmas here. It's cold but it's hard for me to even feel like it's winter without snow. There are lights and decorations up, but as cliche as it is Christmas really doesn't come in packages, boxes or bags. I guess I'm realizing more than ever that Christmas is really about family and Jesus. Lately I've been reading the gospels and I can hardly believe how good they are. I guess I've read them before but I feel like before I must have just been reading the words without really thinking about them. This time something has changed and I've actually been paying attention to everything and I've just been amazed. Jesus Christ really was the Son of God. Cool huh?

Anz. Free is super cool. If I can't spend Christmas with you guys I feel like he's not a bad person to be with. It's been weird how easy he is to get along with and I have to admit that I'm really happy.

As for politics- sorry dad but I haven't heard much. Thanks for your updates though because it's nice to know how the world is going to end. When it comes to Italy I bet that in 20 years the Muslims and the Africans will be running the show and the Italian race will have died out for the most part because they don't get married and have kids. It's sad to say but even the Italians know things aren't going well. I was talking to a member in our ward and she was saying there isn't much future for Italy and I hate to say it but I think she's right.

The health care stuff sounds cool. It's funny how so much of the time in life if we'll slow down, think about things a little bit and make a plan we can do things so much better. We're hoping to do better at that this transfer. We're planning on trying lots of new stuff to do better work instead of just doing hours of mindless work. One of our plans is to build a mostra which is like a street display. Our ward mission leader is really cool and he's going to help us. It will mean taking a little bit of time to prepare but we hope that because of that when we actually are out proselyting we'll be a lot more effective. Do you guys have any ideas? I want your creativity too.

Sometimes High School is just lame. Sorry Stefan. I liked it a lot sometimes but other times it was just frustrating. I did get really lucky though to find cool friends though. But I really am sorry Stefan. Don't worry about trying to be someone else. Just be patient and you'll have fun in college. Don't forget to do cool stuff though. I know you're doing stuff like learning French and reading lots of good books, but don't spend as much time as I did feeling bad for myself some days. Go do something crazy. Go kiss a girl. Have fun.

I have to confess something. I killed Flat Stanley. Who would have known that he wasn't waterproof. I thought he was getting a little dirty from all his adventures so I wanted to give him a bath. I put him in the shower, but by the time I remembered that he was just a paper doll and not a real person it was too late.

Just kidding Mary. Flat Stanley is just fine. I keep forgetting but I promise I'll send him today. By the way your hair is getting long. I think I saw a real pony tail in a picture.

Have a good week everyone. Merry Christmas. Talk to you in a couple days. Woo hoo.

Love Ben

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Auguri

Buon giorno e buon natale.

This week has been good and wet. I've been able to enjoy riding a bike in the rain which has actually become something I really enjoy. As for news I the biggest is transfers. I'm staying in Padova and Anz. Valli is going to Ferrara. My new companion will be Anz. Free. He's my first companion I've met and talked to before becoming companions. He seems great.

Last night our phone got stolen while we were riding on the tram. It's been a real pain to deal with being cut off from the world, but in the end I feel like I've seen lots of little miracles that kept us from falling a lot harder than we could have. I have to say that I've started to enjoy these accidents that happen in life because it seems like it's so much easier to see all the ways God is helping us when we stumble a little. Nothing big happened, but that doesn't matter. I had phone numbers written down in my planner that I normally don't write down and I felt so calm and a whole recovery plan seemed to fall into place so easily. Not only that, but now I have a good story to tell.

We'll be having a baptism the week of Christmas of a man who has known the church for the last 15 years. While we were meeting this week I found out that he is Rom which is more commonly known as gypsy. Gypsy, or gingri is actually a term made up by Hitler for his second least favorite race after the Jews. Rom are a people without a country so instead they roam the world. They have their own language with many dialects and their own flag. They don't believe in war and are natural musicians. In spite of stereotypes not all of them beg on the streets or in trains. The guy we're baptizing works and has a nice house. In fact lots of them are normal working, law abiding people and it's just a few that give them a bad name. The guy, Sefki, likes to talk about it a lot because he's seen so much racism and I think he's trying to show that the stereotypes are wrong.

As for me I'm doing well. Life is moving on and I feel like I'm learning and growing. I'm working hard and feel like I'm doing the best I can for my circumstances. I hope you're all doing well.

Merry Christmas!

Love, Ben

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I love my family

excerpts from Ben's family letter this week:



Dad- First of all I have some very important news. Anz. Duque is a missionary in my district and he's become a great friend. He's from the Phillipines but moved to Rome when he was about 13. He went to cooking school for three years and he always teaches me something good and new to cook. And last night he showed me how to make hot chocolate Italian style. Nice and thick and chocolatey. I think you'll be as excited about that as I am.

I loved the story about Grandpa Fritz. I think that most of life is a struggle to see what's really important. There's a scripture I really like that talks about how the spirit helps us see things as they really are. I'm so glad for people like you and mom and Grandpa Fritz who see things as they really are. Who don't do things just to impress people or because it's important in the moment but not really important. I really liked what you said about being afraid of failing too. You're the best dad.

Mom- Thanks for your story. You and Dad both wrote me really nice emails this week. I loved your blog posts especially the one about what kids want for Christmas. I still want to make you and dad proud and I still love your attention. I really miss you guys. I will fully admit that I'm greedy for your attention. How could I not be? You and Dad are the coolest people I know. I'm really excited for Christmas even though I'll be so far from home. It seems that as the excitement for Christmas builds I somehow feel closer and closer to home. I'm so excited to talk to you guys. There's something I love about you and Mary having so much fun together. Thanks again for the blog posts. Thanks for being my mom. It's the best thing you ever did- at least according to me.

Stefan- I'm good. thanks for asking. Ya know Stefan I think you're the best 17 year old brother I could ask for. I really miss you. You really know how to enjoy life at home. I hope everything is going well and you're enjoying wearing my clothes. Have a good week, eat lots of chocolate and ask Mary on a date.

Hans- giocoso means playful- I think. My science fair projects were lame. I only remember one of them involved goldfish and colors and I ended up keeping bowls of goldfish in my room for a week or two. Does Stefan not drive to school? I can see him doing something like that. Did you know that you look completely different from the little brother I left behind? You look like a man now. Weird. I've been getting fatter so I look different too. To test fear you should take someone down to the gateway and make them go talk to strangers about the gospel. I don't think it's so bad, but it sure does scare some missionaries.

Xander- What is this? No email for two weeks in a row? What am I going to do with you? What's going on? Are you alive? Did you forget about me?

Scrooge- How be ye this fine week my dear mate? It pleases me that you find geometry to be such a fine subject. Would you fancy a nice cup of hot chocolate? My dearest and warmest wishes to you this week good chap. What an excellent brother you are.


Mary- I've been taking Flat Stanley on lots of adventures. This morning we went to Venice again. Anziano Duque, my crazy Philipino friend, caught a pigeon and we took a picture of Flat Stanley riding him. Flat Stanley is having some great adventures here in Italy. When should I send him back?


Have a good week everybody. Love you lots.

Love, Ben