Saturday, June 30, 2012

Be nice

Oh my dear family.

Where do I even begin?

First answers to questions.

Transfers aren't until a week from Thursday and I won't know where I'm going until the Monday before. As far as where I might go I have no idea. Actually I have a couple, but transfers are nearly impossible to predict so I just try not to have any expectations. Anyways I'll still be in the office for another week and a half.

Anz. Angel is my replacement and he got here last week. He is a long time friend of one of Mary's good friends from BYU. It's kind of crazy training him in the office because the office is so different so he already has kind of a crazy transition going on, but on top of that I have a ton of stuff to teach him. I feel bad because sometimes I feel like he's getting overwhelmed, but there's really just a lot to teach him. I never realized how much stuff I knew and did around the office without even thinking about it. Luckily I've put a lot of time into organizing stuff and making my job more efficient so things will be easier for him.

Oh I don't know what you want to hear. The most exciting thing I did this week was organize the storage box more. I really do love organizing things.

I'm glad everyone had such a good week at Lake Powell on my houseboat. I hope you took good care of it.

I heard mention of a trip next May. It's funny because just this week I started thinking about what I might do when I get home. I was thinking about doing spring semester, but I really have no idea what might be going on.

Oh my crazy family have a good week. Have lots of summer fun.

Mom if the Garffs really do have plenty of room could you send them with old spice deodorant and a tube of tooth paste?

I really shouldn't be helping to coordinate things like this. I feel bad coordinating pass bys so I'm just going to act surprised to see them.

Have a good week. Do crazy summer things.

Love Ben

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Crazy Week

What a crazy week.

Let me begin with a list.

1. I got hit with my usual mystery mix of a cold and allergies. I'm not really sure which it is, but it does fill my head with mucus, make it hard to breathe and leave me sneezy, coughy and wheezy.

2.

3. My other toe, not the last ingrown toenail, erupted into a red, angry, swollen, puss-oozing state.

4. After my last toe experience I got toe surgery right away, and now I'm back to wearing flip-flops.

5. My stomach was feeling pretty bad. Anziano Niccoli reassured me that IBS is not contagious so I'm pretty sure that I just have a bug in my stomach.

9. Italy got hot. It was not hot and then it was hot. One day summer kicked in and it got blistering hot. It's a good thing it's nice and humid though, otherwise I wouldn't get to sweat as much.

10. Anz. Niccoli and I took the liberty of carrying our mattresses around the corner out of our oven of an apartment and into the air conditioned office. We spent the hottest nights in the office. Don't tell anyone though because it's our little secret.

11. Yesterday President called me into his office and told me that my time in the office has come to an end. Next Tuesday my replacement will come in and I'll finish out the transfer training him to be the next Captain Cool.

We've had a lot of excitement. I loved Dad's analogy of the boat in the wind to keeping steady in life. It reminds me of a lesson I learned from President Wolfgramm. He takes a gyroscope and gets it spinning. Everyone who watches is amazed at how it can balance on a string and on the tip of your finger. He explains how in big airplanes and enormous ships there are gyroscopes inside that keep it steady even through waves and turbulence. But, as the wheel slows the gyroscope begins to tip and finally fall on it's side. "Each of us," he explains "has a wheel of faith inside of us and praying, reading the scriptures, going to church, etc. keep our wheel spinning." When the wheel is going we can do anything.

I'm so grateful for Dad. My last weeks Father's Day wishes were weak sauce. Dad is the best. He is the one who has taught me to build rock piles and pound nails. He makes me want to learn everything. He makes me want to be huge, but without drinking dirt. He has taught me that not eating cookies and chocolate is not an essential to dieting. In many hard moments I've kept going and not given up because I've known that Dad would expect better of me. He is the best. I feel good when I feel like I'm becoming my dad. I miss my Dad.

I hope you all have fun at Lake Powell. Try to keep my half of the houseboat clean.

I loved the video. I'm so glad that I have a great family. Have a good week. Love you guys.

Love Ben

Saturday, June 16, 2012

dear sweet family

Oh dear Family...

You make me feel so goofy and crazy that I don't know if I'll be able to write anything but jokes in my email now.

Yesterday we did a lot of extra driving because of a scambio. We burned through some extra gas and before long the gas light was on. As we drove to our next appointment we discussed the matter. We didn't have a lot of time and we didn't have any cash. Getting cash from a bancomat would take more time. I thought of all the times I drove plenty of miles or kilometers with the gas light on and I voted that we just go for it. So we did.

Don't worry-we got to all our appointments just fine. But, as we were heading back I felt the car lurch. The engine sputtered, we rolled into a roundabout and the car gave one last little push and the motor died. It was 10:00 pm and we were out of gas. Anz. Niccoli jumped out to push while I steered and showered him with encouragement and compliments like "faster!"

Earlier that day, shortly after deciding against getting gas, I had prayed that we wouldn't actually run out of gas because really we were just trying to get work done and do what was right with a little bit of extra risk. We did run out of gas, but my prayers were answered. We drove through a lot of country roads where the only thing around is bunches of corn, wheat and the occasional lady of the night (but we never ask them for help.) We ran out of gas though right as we pulled into the little town of Melegnano after having crossed kilometers and kilometers of farmland. After 100 meters of pushing we found a bancomat (ATM) and then after just another half kilometer there was a gas station. If we had run out of gas any earlier we would have found ourselves in the dark lonely country, any later and we would have been on the highway which is just as desolate of gas stations but more full of speeding cars.

We learned our lesson, I probably will be a little more wary of the gas light, at least as a missionary, but in learning the lesson God didn't let us fall too hard.

We've been working really hard and just about everyone in the little town of Vaiano Cremasco knows us after this week. There are three member families that live there and we've gotten a good bunch of investigators there in the last little while. We've been there almost every day this week and people are starting to recognize us. Yesterday we had a lesson with a little old lady and right when we got in she started waving her hands and pounding the table and asking "Who are you? Where do you come from? What do you want?" She had lots of question because she has seen us going to her rowdy neighbors for the last week or two and wanted to know what a pair of boys in white shirts and ties were doing going to one of the wildest siciliano houses in the neighborhood. She mostly just laughed at us because she liked to laugh a lot, but at the end we made a new friend in Magdalena.

My half vegetarian life is going pretty well. Monday night we made up our own recipe for peach salsa (the peaches were my idea) and made a giant bowl. We made some tortillas to go with it the next day and the day ofter that we made a giant pot of beans to go with it. Then after three days with no meat while I was on scambio I got a pizza with prosciutto on it.

We're working really hard trying to be excellent in both of our lives meaning in the office and out in Lodi and all the little towns in the area. I've never worked so hard, never been so tired, but also never had as much fun.

I loved all the blog posts I got this week. Mom of course, the Linkouses and of course the beautiful Israeli Princess. I love hearing what you guys have to write. Happy Father's Day, Dad. You're the best. It really is a shame that we don't get to call on Father's day too. I don't know if Italians celebrate Father's Day, but if they do I didn't hear anything about it.

Speaking of Dads this week I was doing orders for the mission which means I spend a couple days running around in our little stock room boxing up all the supplies that missionaries order. I always like to listen to General Conference talks while I do it and this time around it seemed like every speaker talked about families and families and families again. I couldn't believe it. I love my family.

Have a good week with lots of fun and happiness.

Love Ben

Saturday, June 9, 2012

late night potato burritos

Guess where I went today Dad- H&M?

Even though I already knew what it was I really appreciated your description of it. I won't repeat it here, but just know that we all liked your description. I think I found your not pink shirt and I now know for myself that it is not pink even though it looks like it from more than three feet away.

I decided it was time to get some new pants. Long days on bikes has taken a toll on the crotch of more than one pair of pants. On top of that I haven't been thrown out of any airplanes lately so I don't think I need the extra wide parachute pants all the time. This would be a good time to give some advice for missionaries shopping for clothes. When the Mr. Mac salesman hears that you're going to Italy on a mission don't let him sell you clothes for a man 20 pounds heavier than you. I still remember when I started wearing my suit jacket last fall. Another missionary saw me with my jacket for the first time and said "Wow, have you lost weight?" No. I just came on my mission prepared to gain 50 pounds. I didn't go to H&M in the end, but went to the much cooler Zara.

Summer seems to be in full swing around the world. It has gotten really hot around here and I'm sweating like crazy. I think you guys should start trying to enjoy all your fun summer activities with a shirt and tie on.

Office life has been super busy. The Internet breaking this week didn't help. We ended up fixing it enough so that one person at a time could be plugged into the router. The four of us in the office had to keep asking each other for turns to send emails. We've had a lot going on lately and I've been working really hard. I really don't stop working from 7:00 am until 11:00 at night. We're on summer schedule now so everything is shifted back an hour.

Anz. Niccoli is really cool and I really like serving with him. We have a lot of fun together and I really enjoy working with him.

I'm doing well. I'm happy and time seems to be rushing by. I feel like I've been in a blur of work and trying to get everything done while also teaching 20 lessons because there's a lot of pressure to be an example and teach 20 lessons. Because of that the week just rushed by and I feel like it was just yesterday that I was emailing.

One day we were so busy that we kept putting off eating lunch until it was time to go. We came back at 10:00 and made ourselves a feast of potato burritos. Maybe not the best idea, but it was kind of fun to do some late night cooking.

Well have a great week everyone. Good luck on all your summer projects.

Love, Ben

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I am an eat-meat-sparing-er, thank you.

I feel like I have so many comments from the emails and pictures today that I'd better just do them in bullet form before I forget.

-Thanks for registering me to vote mom. I know it sounds funny, and I really don't worry that much about political stuff lately, but I saw an envelope full of voting stuff come for another missionary and I thought it was a great idea. Then I kept hearing more and more stuff and I don't want to miss out on voting for a Mormon.

- Congrats on your graduation, Stefan! Oh I love my brother, even if he is a little shy. Say hello to Elizabeth for me. In fact maybe you could say ciao- that might be a little more cultural for your new girlfriend Stefan.

-Nice pink shirt Dad- very Italian.

Well I just can't believe how wonderful and beautiful you all are. Seeing Stefan's graduation pictures right after mine had a strange effect. Just don't forget about me, OK?

I'm really impressed with the summer goal setting plan. It sounds like in a few months there will be a new piano player and a new Arabic speaker in the house. What is everyone else doing? You should get Preach My Gospel and look at chapter 8. Not only will you be a more effective goal setter and plan maker, but you'll hit the mission field way ahead of the crowd. I've decided that my future New Year's resolutions are going to be way beefier. No more goals to stop picking my nose or or survive 365 days- I'm going to learn German or learn to play the guitar. In fact last week I had a big realization on what I want to do for a job. I realized that all of my interests boil down to one common thing. I really just like to learn. I've been driving myself crazy by wanting to do so many different things and I realized that I just need to get a job where someone will pay me to constantly learn new things. Now that I've found the idea of the job I just need to figure out where and how this would work. Those are just details though.

Anz. Niccoli is the best. He's from Provo, but his name is Nico Pietro Niccoli. His family wishes they were Italian the way we wish we were German. I tried to be a GEM and be a vegetarian along with him but I only lasted a week. I've now moved to the system of only eating meat when other people give it to me. I still don't buy meat or cook it- which is saving me money- but whenever people prepare meat and give it to me I eat it. It's a good balance because I really missed it and I really think I could feel the lack of protein and iron. I'm just not a vegetarian and that's all there is too it. Maybe I could invent a new category of "eat meat sparing-ers." I totally agree that we normally eat too much meat and I've loved having my eyes opened to eating lots and lots of fruits and vegetables. I have to watch out though. Anz. Niccoli is very protective of little baby animals and will fight fiercely for the rights of chickens everywhere. Just kidding. He's a purely medical case of vegetarianism.

This week has been absolutely crazy with 10 arriving missionaries and 12 departing ones. We ran around like crazy and then after a few days came back to lots of office work and missionary work. We might not get 20 lessons this week. I got a little surprise in transfers that I wasn't expecting. I'm the district leader now and I really like it. I love the people in our district, but they just make me laugh and shake my head sometimes. This will be a fun new adventure. It will be crazy too to add just a little bit more to our already crazy schedule. That's alright though. I would rather have too much work to do than not enough.

Yesterday I went to do my first baptismal interview. It was a guy named Gianni who I taught when I was in Milano 3. He's really ready to be baptised and has just been waiting to get married. He had a super cool story where the office Sorelle before me were visiting a less active woman. She was living with Gianni and he was not interested. They told us about when they went to visit and he would make fun of them while he cooked in the kitchen. The Sorelle prayed for a miracle. Gianni's heart changed and now goes to church along with his wife, Octavia.

Anyway, they got married last week and the baptism is today. We did the interview and it went really smoothly. He stayed to talk to the Assistants for a minute. As soon as we left the building the thought came so clearly to me that I had forgotten to ask about the Word of Wisdom. I debated it in my head for a second and then in the end decided that even though it might me embarrassing to go back in front of the APs, and even though I was sure Gianni didn't have any problems I decided to go back just to make sure. I went and asked him and he said "No you didn't ask me and I thought it was a little weird. No coffee, no tea, no alcohol, no tobacco, no drugs?"

"Oh good. Perfect Gianni. Will you live this commandment?"

"Yes."

Well I messed up my first interview, but I learned a good lesson about integrity and listening to the Spirit.

I love you all very much. Please don't forget about me.

Have a good week.

Love Ben