Well it's been an interesting week. Christmas is the best and the worst on the mission. The worst because it is hard to see people and teach. The best because you're already feeling the Spirit so much and then you add Christmas on top and it is just WONDERFUL. Really it was a really beautiful week and a Christmas that I will always remember.
Last week for pday we had a picnic in the Villa Borghese and then went to ride bikes. It was SUPER fun. A lot of the GANS and our investigator Chiara came. And when I say we rented bikes I mean we rented those four man ones that are like little cars. It was AWESOME! (even if Sorella Defranchi's driving scares me a bit haha) It was just nice to be out in nature and be with friends. After pday we got a huge group of GANS and missionaries together and caroled in Piazza del Popolo. It went really well. We were able to talk to a lot of people! I talked to the most adorable lady from Northern Italy, Irene. She was so happy to see us! She thought that what we were doing was so beautiful and she was so excited to go home and watch "He is the Gift." At the end she was so happy that she even asked me if she could give me the two kisses (people don't normally do that with strangers). It was a really neat, happy, Christmasy experience. We were also able to give Chiara her Christmas present! A study journal for when she reads the scriptures. She LOVED it!
The next morning we had DDM. It was very Christmas oriented. And for whatever reason there was a particularly strong spirit. We were all able to get blessings and it was just a really uplifting experience. Then we went home for lunch and language study. After I went with Sorella Vickers to pick up a member to do some casa in casa with them. After Sorella Defranchi and I went to do some finding in the bus. I met a really cool girl named Giusy. She happily told me about all of the happenings in Rome for Christmas. Such as a series of nativities made out of trash. Apparently they are so beautiful that even the pope went to see them. Who knew? And in the end she was super curious about the church. Awesome.
On Wednesday morning (Christmas Eve) the senior couples hosted a Christmas breakfast. It was really nice and there was a cute little Christmas program with very interesting renditions of the Christmas classics. Afterwards it was my turn to stay with Sorella Reber (the one with the broken foot). We sat in the mission office and made snowflakes. It was fun and it was nice to talk with her. Despite all of this trial she has a very uplifting and positive spirit. Then came our Christmas eve night. We roamed around Rome. We saw the colosseo with a Christmas tree. We saw the pantheon. We saw a ton. We even ran into an investigator. Oh, and there was a Christmas string quartet all dressed in santa suits. It was REALLY fun and natalizio (adjective for Christmas). We ended the evening out with dinner at a cute little restaurant. Then we came home, made cinnamon roll dough, and read Luke 2 around the tree.
CHRISTMAS! We got to sleep an extra hour (we are really spoiled here...). Then we woke up and opened presents. I loved the package from home (which Sorella Defranchi had secretly delivered to our house)! And then we headed upstairs. We are SUPER lucky. We have the senior sisters as neighbors and they invited our whole district over for breakfast. We all brought Christmas foods that are special in our family. Then we had a "secret" santa exchange. It wasn't so secret. I gave some really awesome dinosaur slippers and received a cackling Befana (the Italian Christmas witch). Then we played werewolf for a few hours. And the we went home and just relaxed. After we went to skype. And it was really wonderful. It's so nice to see my family. Then we played games in the church. 'Twas a good Christmas.
Friday. The day after Christmas is a holiday here in Italy, San Stefano. So we got to watch our two movies. Frozen and Emperor's New Groove. It was my first time for Frozen (obviously). I have to say that it is great, but Tangled is still better. Then we headed into the city again. We went to La Basilica di San Pietro. It was packed, but so beautiful all decorated for Christmas. Then we went to dinner with the Duran family. They are really wonderful. WE had a fun dinner and afterwards an amazing lesson. We talked about Christmas and it was so cool to hear everyone bear testimony.
Saturday morning we were supposed to see Marina, but when we got to the church she cancelled. Then we had a lesson with Antonella (a ward missionary). We are focusing on helping ehr learn to study and use Preach My Gospel. We had a great lesson on Chapter 5 about the Book of Mormon. Antonella has a very strong testimony and it was beautiful to hear ho wimportant the Book of Mormon is to her. Then we headed home for lunch. After lunch we headed to visit Kathlene, the new convert that we work with. We got to teach her at her house for the first time. She totally opened up to us. And right when we were about to start the lesson her mom walked in, then her sister. So we were able to teach all of them. We watched "He is the Gift" and then talked about Christ and how He is central to our purpose as missionaries. They ALL participated and the Spirit was SOOOOOOOOO strong. At the end their friend Rosa walked in. Turns out that she is an investigator from many years ago and she was so excited to see us. It was awesome! And they want us to come over again next week. YES! On the way home we met the sweetest girls, Giorgia and Seline. They are about 16 and the type that would usually totally ignore us. But we invited them to English course and just got talking. We talked all about the mission and what we do and why and they were super touched. They even sent us a text message saying how special it was! I am so excited to start working with them!
Sunday we had church. There we SOOOOOOO many people there and a TON of Americans. It was odd, but awesome. All of the talks were great. After we headed home for lunch and then did weekly planning. Exciting stuff!
I am super excited for this week. I am excited to get back to work and have the feste be over. Although we still have New Years... I just feel excitement in the air and am ready to just kill it these next few weeks.
The gospel is true, I promise.
Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom