Saturday, May 26, 2012

happy summer!

I can't believe how beautiful the world is this week. Spring/Summer has come to all of us, school is about to end and now both of my favorite women in the world are writing blogs.

Maybe the happiness training has really been working or maybe life has just been really good lately, but life just seems to have a golden glow lately.

I realized from your emails today how little information I give you. I guess I've just forgotten that you really only know what I write you. I'll try to be better and give a few more details. First of all when I was in Siena I walked everywhere on cobblestone roads, which I think is why I got an ingrown toenail. I didn't ride a bike for the first six months of my mission until I got to Padova. Driving a car is really unusual in the mission. Until last transfer it was just us and the assistants who had cars. We don't have mileage limits because having a car is such a rare thing that it's not really well organized. On top of that we have to run strange errands sometimes.

Italian fact: There is a church for just about every saint- Maria, Joseph, Maria, Antonio, Maria, Paul- but not a single one for Jesus.

Last Sunday night I had a dream about a really bumpy car ride. Right after that I woke up to Anz. Niccoli saying "Did you guys feel that?" I then wondered why our building was swaying. There was an earthquake down in Reggio Emilia and we felt it all the way from there. Luckily no missionaries were hurt and no apartments were damaged.

Anz. Anderson is still here and will be until Thursday. Anz. Niccoli is really fun and I'm really excited to be with him. Just like Dad said, changing companions is always so weird because of the mix of emotions. Excitement for something new, a little bit of sadness of leaving behind the good things and saying goodbye and sometimes I even get a little afraid. This time it has been especially weird because my new companion has come while the old one is still here.

How am I doing? This is for you Mom. You told me to take the question seriously. I am doing good. Here are my recent thoughts and feelings. I can relate to your lack of faith blog because lately I haven't been not-faithful, but I just don't feel the burning excitement and assurance that I think would be ideal. This morning I started reading Matthew and I really liked it. I remember you saying that you loved the gospels as comfort scripture more than the BofM. I try not to compare but I think they have really different roles. They're like two different friends and I think that sometimes the gospel might be a more comforting friend while the BofM would be more of the action packed, go getter kind of friend.

I've also been realizing how much I've been changing lately. I feel like since I've gotten to the office I've felt more focused and lost in missionary work. I can't believe how much fun I've been having with missionary work. It's kind of weird for me but I feel like I've changed a lot lately. Along with that though in the last day or two I have also felt like I could give my friends at home and in Jerusalem just a little bit more love and details. Even though I feel very focused lately I don't want to forget about the people I love. I'll try to be better and give more details in letters and stuff like that.

I loved the happiness tip dad. I think that might have to do why life can be so hard for new missionaries. As I've spent more time in the mission I've gotten to know more and more missionaries and it's made things more fun. When I first got here though I didn't know anyone and I had to start my whole social life over again.

Well I hope I put a good amount of detail into this email because time is gone. I hope you all have a great fun filled week.

Love Ben

Saturday, May 19, 2012

my brain can't catch up

Guess what? I have a new companion.

On Tuesday we dropped President's car off after getting it serviced. He told us to come take a seat on the couch and then told us that he was making some changes.

We had been expecting him to bring someone new in the next transfer to be trained by one of us and then one of us would leave at the end. Instead he told us that in two days Anz. Niccoli would come in to take Anz. Anderson's spot.

Right now we're in a threesome and in about two weeks Anz. Anderson will leave.
Anz. Anderson is sad to go and no matter what happens I find that there's always at least a little bit of sadness every time a companion leaves; a part of my life comes to a close and it always makes me think.

We just picked Anz. Niccoli up yesterday. He's from Provo and is just one transfer younger than me. He has some stomach problems and ever since he trained a vegetarian he hasn't been eating meat. I think I'll experiment and try being vegetarian with him. I've always been curious about what it would be like and now I have a chance to try.

I really don't feel like I have too much to say. Right now I feel like I'm still trying to adjust and get used to having a new companion. Anz. Niccoli seems really good, but I hardly know what to think and being in the office in three is a weird situation in which to get to know someone. I really haven't had much time to stop and think about it and I always want to get along with my companions, but sometimes I get nervous about it. Oh I should probably just relax. I've never had problems with companions, why do I worry? Hah.

I'm pretty impressed with the mother's day video. It had a pretty clear theme and a great one line script.

I loved your pictures mom. I noticed my blanket being used as a prop. Whatever you do make sure you're careful with that blanket. I plan on being buried wrapped in that blanket. I liked the pictures though. Who is the happy couple?

I loved the happiness lesson Dad. My brain is already working on all kinds of habits to make and break and how I'm going to change the activation energy to my advantage. I love some good secular learning every once in a while. The other day I jotted down a theoretical list of classes for my first semester back and I think it would make you laugh. There were about six different classes and each of them was one thing I might like to do. Unfortunately engineer was not among them. I have to admit though that I've thought a lot about the six sigma thing. We cleaned out our storage box this week and just by organizing and throwing away useless stuff we totally transformed the box and made it so much better. Who knows? Luckily I don't have to decide today.

Oh yeah. I do drive. It is pretty fun even though we don't drive a Ferrari or even a Fiat. I can't believe you didn't remember that I drive. I'm sure I told you. Oh well. I guess it's just proof that mom really does hide my emails from everyone.

Stefan, now that you're done with your AP tests you should have time to write me great stories. I want to hear more about who you are dating. This is so strange and exciting for me. You need to write me more.

Well have a good week everyone. I miss you and I love you.

Love, Ben

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Skype tomorrow!!

Well I hardly know where to begin. Where to begin talking about my week, not so much. Where to begin talking about you guys is way harder.

This week was fine. I did lots of work in the office yesterday I finally brought a three week long project to an end when a DHL truck came and took away all the extra boxes of Book of Mormons that we wouldn't use in a hundred years and they just took up space in our storage unit anyways. I feel quite accomplished. We do use the BofM, but the trouble is that we stock 80 different languages because Italy just sits in the middle of the Mediterranean sea waiting for all of Africa and Eastern Europe to jump on board. Anyway it causes lots of problems when you have 16 boxes of Bulgarian Book of Mormons.

We decided to whitewash Lodi. A whitewash is when both the missionaries get transferred away at the same time and two new ones come in fresh. We didn't really whitewash Lodi, but that's kind of been our theme this week. We had lots of really good people that haven't been so interested lately. They cancel appointments or don't keep commitments so we decided to just let all of them go and leave them for future missionaries to find. That means that we're starting over on finding lots of new people.

I think that pretty much sums up the events of my week.

Summer has arrived and it is hot. In one day it jumped from being warm to being 90 degrees. Summer is here. The funny thing is that the last time I was in weather this hot I was in Italy. I remember riding buses in Bologna and dripping in sweat.

So tomorrow I'll plan on Skyping at about 7:00 pm which would be 11:00 am for you. Good.
Is anyone else very excited about Skype?

Mom I loved your blogpost/email. I laughed at the part about not worrying about Mary's freak out. It only took five other kids to figure it out I guess. I've noticed something really weird lately. I don't think parenting is easy. I thought it was something that everyone just did and was good at, but lately I've noticed while talking to Sorella Wolfgramm, because she always talks about what great preparation a mission is for life and being a parent, but I've realized that there are lots of conference talks on parenting because it must be hard and if you mess up you mess up someone's life. Maybe because mom and dad made it look so easy I always just thought it was just something you did and there was no worry about doing it right or wrong. That's kind of a joke though because as the oldest I have totally seen mom and dad change as parents.

So Stefan- I can't believe you haven't been writing me about your love life. Who did you go to prom with? You're supposed to tell me about these kinds of things.

Other comments on mom's email:

I like how Xander was kicking the kid and not the ball in the picture.

I can't believe the new library is open. I'm so jealous. We live right next to a library and just the other day I was remembering how Mary and I used to always go to the library.

I loved Dad and Mary in the background of the prom picture.

Who sleeps in which rooms now? Are Hans and Xander in what was originally my room?

Once again- Who did Stefan go to prom with? Is Stefan really a senior? I know that's right, but I don't remember him being a junior so it's hard for me to believe. Where's he going to school and what does he want to do?

This week I ended up talking to the Lynchs, the senior couple in the office, about what I want to do and it got me thinking about what I want to do. Anz. Lynch was a partner in his own California accounting firm. Needless to say he's been very successful. As an accountant he doesn't see any value in studying things like writing or history or photography. The funny thing is that a couple of his kids did just that. The best advice that I got from them is to do something you love. The problem is that I love so many things and I think I could have fun do lots of different things. Working in the office has made me think about doing economics and then doing six sigma stuff. I've just had so much fun organizing things and cleaning stuff out. Who knows.

Does it bother anyone that I don't give a more detailed analysis on my missionary work? I feel like I'll have plenty of stories to tell when I get home, in fact just the other day I was reading my journal and it was pretty exciting, but whenever I email I just feel like talking about you and things we have in common. I guess I just gravitate to the common ground whenever we email. Besides so many of the stories will be better after the fact, after they've been resolved.

One bit of exciting news is that I bought a new journal this week. We had an adventure into Milano to find it. I just got another red moleskin. It will be my third. Just think of all the exciting stories. Anz. Anderson got a Star Wars themed moleskin. I was tempted but in the end I decided it wasn't for me.

Lately I've really started to love Preach My Gospel. It might have been the "triple your earning potential" story but I've started to realize how good it really is in missionary work and for life after the mission.

I'll see you soon. Have a great day until we talk again.

Love Ben

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Eight days!

Dear family-

You are the best.

Really.

Every week I'm just amazed at how happy and fun you are. You weren't always like this before. Why did you all graduate from diapers and teething and screaming right before I left?
I was just showing Anziano Osborn the bee pictures and when I mentioned to him that the hives are right next to the chickens I realized how farm-ish we are. I think a cow should be our next addition. Just think of how complete our little farm would be with fresh milk? I guess goats produce milk, but I don't think mom will ever drink goat milk again.

I really am in shock at how our family is growing up and changing and how much fun you are. Stefan is about to graduate from high school, there are no babies in the family, and you seem so free to do all kinds of cool projects and stuff like that. Gosh.

Well Betty and Luis Miguel got baptized this week. The baptism went well and they were very happy.

I can't believe missionaries showed up to our house this weekend. I have to admit that I only remember missionaries having a presence at church once. They came to priest's quorum and all I remember is that they asked if they could have some of the skittles that the bishop had to give to primary kids on their birthdays.

It's funny how much differently I look at missionaries now and how much more willing I will be to help them out and give them referrals.

It's funny that you should ask what we do on p-day lately. We rarely get a full p-day because we're so busy. Today a family in our branch asked us to come help them move. It was a little bit crushing because this has been such a crazy week and I was looking forward to playing basketball with the AP's and president. It "Ben's Busy Day" all over again. After lots of effort I'm finally pulling myself into a good attitude.

Well what do I have to say?

Mom- you cannot shut down the blog. I love the blog so much and it would be a shame- mostly because I know that I wouldn't get as many pictures and news from home without it. The world needs beautiful pictures and happy stories. Have you ever thought about keeping a journal for all your more open writing?

Oh I almost forgot- Mother's Day is next week!

We're planning when to do our Skyping and we are planning on being available from about 6-8 our time. That would be from about 10-12 am. When do you have church? I'm going to need you to set up a skype account for me because I have no idea what my old one was.

I was noticing that little Mary has some nice moles on her face- I hope you're proud of that Mary. Your hair looks nice and long too.

How am I feeling? I feel a little bit like I've been so focused that I'm starting to get a little tired of being focused. Then again I feel like that most times that I email. I don't have any big complaints. Anz. Anderson is a fine companion. Our work is still going well. Gelato is back in season which is really good news.

I'm excited to hear about the package and I'm glad it was a thick envelope. The mission is actually discouraging packages lately and I forgot to ever say anything about it. The problem is just that customs have gotten so crazy because Italy is trying to pay off some debt. The other problem is that we can't seem to be able to figure out any pattern as to which packages get charged and which don't. All I really want from you are letters and pictures. Oh I love pictures!!! As for music we recently had a change in the music rule- music is now all supposed to be devotional quality music. It's kind of unclear, but that's what it is. I don't really like it, but I kind of understand it.

Speaking of pictures I would love to see some pictures of Israel.

Have a great week everyone. I love you.

Love, Ben