Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 9, 2014 - Homecoming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some well traveled shoes!
She's home! Seemed fitting to wrap this up with pictures of her last day in Rome and her first evening home in Texas! Thanks to those who followed Megan over these last 18 months and helped her or prayed for her or sent well wishes to her. She loved all the notes and support that she got. Her homecoming talk at Church is this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. You can text her for details since she now has a shiny new phone (with the same old phone number!). Here is how her time in Rome wrapped up and how her homecoming went!


Dinner at the Mission Home

Departing missionaries

Home (minus luggage!!!)
Excuse my shaky hand--shaking with excitement!

Countdown over!

Chicken fried steak at Babe's
Yes, she cleaned her plate!

Megan, Matthew, Jeremy (cousin), and Jared

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014 - 77 weeks down and one to go!

My dear friends and family,

November birthdays at Zone Conference
1) Thank you for reading these letters for the past year and a half. I really do appreciate all support, love, prayers, and the general care and attention paid to the little and big things I shared with you. Thank you all so much.

2) This is my last letter to you all. Sunday night I will take an overnight bus to Rome then Monday I won't really have email time, and then Tuesday I'

Departing Testimony

3) This mission was nothing like what I thought it was going to be, and it was nothing I could have really prepared for in a certain sense. I mean that there was nothing I could have done in the months leading up to my mission that would have prepared me for it, but rather the only real preparation to be done for a mission is living the gospel every day of your life and listening to the Spirit of God that tells you to do good, and then trying to do good and become the best you can be, in every way. And then when you get to the mission, it turns out that it is just a continuation of that life style, just with some very different activities. But you are still trying to be your best and to live the gospel without shame, like the apostles of old, and to hold on to every good thing and to fight off temptation. And it is still not easy! But it is not our work that we are doing. It is the Lord's work, and we are here for the ride. He does not need us to do His work in order for Him to accomplish His great and eternal purposes. But, WE need to do His work in order for us to accomplish OUR eternal purposes, to become like Him and to be ready to meet Him. We need to serve missions so much more than He needs us to serve missions. It is about so much more than being obedient to a law, to only giving handshakes to men, or to being home at 9. It is about turning your heart to God in a way that is so irreversible that you want to do all you can to obey anything He tells you, because you know how happy you will BOTH be if you can do it. Of COURSE missions are hard. You are rooting out a natural man or woman that has been inside of you for so long, and trying to help others do it too, others that may be so far ahead of or behind you in their spiritual progression or in their relationship with God. But you have to keep trying, and when you fail, you have to try again. The only time you really fail is when you stop trying, when you give up completely and feel that you can never do it, that you will never be good enough. But God has never been concerned with the amount that we give Him, He is only concerned that it is our all. He asks our WHOLE heart, no matter how big or small we feel it is. I guess I just learned and am learning a lot about His love and mercy, and what it really means that He is my Father. I am just so grateful I came. I am SO grateful that I came, and stayed. I am grateful for my changing heart, for the love that I feel, for the passion for the word of God, I'm grateful for my desire to work and to learn, for the relationships I have established, for the lives that changed, and for the time that we are given. I am just so grateful. 
Malta/Catania Zone Conference - November 28, 2014

4) I am excited to see all of you. I will be home in a week, and that is just so weird. I will say that it has not really hit me yet, and it feels like just another transfer. I guess that is probably normal. People keep asking me how I feel. I feel GREAT! I am so excited!!! I won't get sad till I get on the plane, and then I will probably cry a ton, but until then, I am just really excited. 

5) I love you all. I really can't say that enough. I just love you guys so much. 

6) See ya next week!

Sorella Patterson

Training at Zone Conference

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014 - Thanksgiving Week and 2 weeks left!

Cara friends and Family,

I wish I could tell you the minimal part of my week, but I cannot. I know I only have a couple of these things left, so I will try to make them good and/or include pictures. Probs just pictures. 

Now that's a room with a view!
So, my birthday went pretty well. No one here really remembered, again, so it was low-key, but I did get a really good arancino, which are just the best food down here. It is a cheese ball inside a ball of rice with some meat sauce, deep-fried in a delicious batter. Yeah, we get one like every other day. A Sicilian specialty. Today I even bought a magnet of an arancino... for after the mission... for me. I love them. Anyways, that night we had a missionary correlation meeting with the Elders and some members, but they still didn't remember (the elders). So, Sorella Pinkston "sercretly" told them and when we still hadn't heard anything when we got home, I figured they really just didn't remember/care. Bummer, because they are like the only family I have out here. Then, rather late (won't say how late), our citofono (doorbell thing) rings and Sorella Pinkston got it. 30 seconds later the Anziani were at our door with a card, whisper-singing happy birthday in Italian. They gave me the card then ran down the stairs and left. It was a sweet matrimonial card... that originally said "today you get married" but they crossed out today and wrote "in three weeks". Hahaha. It had a sweet little bracelet they had gotten me too. So, they totally forgot, but they redeemed themselves with the marriage card. 

So, I heard that I have a place to live when I get to BYU. Mom, you said that the washer and dryer are not selling points for me, but you don't know what it is like to not have a washer for 18 months. I'll just say I am VERY pleased. The place honestly sounds great, can't wait!

Okay, sweet experience. Saturday night, my comp was feeling sick so we came home a little earlier. I sat down, not really knowing what to do, and was just kinda flipping through the ward list (28 pages) when I had a feeling to start calling people. I decided on calling all the less active sisters, ALL of them. So, I started. I had done about 30 or so I think, most of which were inactive numbers, or people that pretended it was the wrong number, and some possibly real wrong numbers, when I looked at one and said out loud "This one will be inactive!" I said that because it had the area code of a house number, but too many numbers to be a house number, and everytime that occured, it was inactive. My companion watched as I dialed it anyways and we were both suprised when it started ringing. She started laughing, and I almost did too, until some one actually answered!! I could not believe it. We talked for a bit, she asking me if I was a new misisonary and whatnot, and then after a bit, she said that she had been kinda thinking about coming to church the following day, and that we would see each other there....  WHAT. Too awesome. So then Sunday rolls around and I am waiting in the foyer forever for her, but nothing. I knew I wouldn't recognize her, but she had told me that she would introduce herself to me (I have a tag, I mean it's a little easier for her). But nothing. I go into sacrament, and listen as our second counselor gets released (who by the way walks around now as though a HUGE physical weight has been lifted off his shoulders, poor guy. He even came up to the missionaries that day, a new event, and invited them over for Christmas. I mean he is a happy guy now). Anyway, then in gospel principles, the teacher tells us all to scoot to the front and middle, because there weren't that many of us. I motioned to the lady next to me to sit in the seat right next to me, smiling, and she smiled back and said okay and came over. Then she said, " I'm Annamaria"... The same lady!!!!!!! She had come!!!!!! So awesome!!!!! Miracles in every situation, when you do the best with what you have. So happy. 
This week is Thanksgiving, which we will be doing with a BUNCH of AMericans out near the naval base. There will be 3 turkeys, a fried turkey, a ham,and tons of other things. I am SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, that is all for this week. Love you all. Have a great week!!!

Sorella Patterson

Laban and his roommate got baptized in Rome on Saturday.
This was in memory of Sorella Patterson.
Picture from Alessandra.

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014 - Birthday week!

Dear All,

This week will just be a photo collage, how's that? Alright, here we have the flood, the best food ever (arancini), and the train ride down here. It was about 10 hours I think. And part of it was on a boat since we came to the island. It was a LONG trip, if I hadn't mentioned it yet... and I will have to do it again pretty soon... unless they fly Elder Fossa and I up, which could happen... we'll see.
10 hour train trip

Common crazy things seen in Sicily
Okay, adding on to my big email, 

This week we went to Siracusa for an exchange and it was awesome. I went running with my temporary comp in the morning for the first time in... a while... and almost coughed up a lung. She is a cheerleader at UVU, and fresh out here so still in good shape, and man... I've got some work to do when I get home.... but whatevs I am going to keep eating this incredible food until the day I leave, which by the way, will be Saturday the 6th of December, when I go to Rome for a couple of nights until the day I really leave. Also, LABAN gets baptized this Saturday up in Rome 5!!!!! I am SO happy for him!!!!! He and his roommate are getting baptized on the same day. How awesome. I am so happy for them. 

A delicious American (Mexican) lunch
for our Italian district leader
Well, we taught a lesson to a bus driver on our way home one night, we went bowling and I kicked tail, and we had an American dinner with a family from the base. This is one of the weirdest transfers, but I am loving it. I am having all these crazy or cool or crazy cool experiences almost daily in which I can see clearly how my entire mission prepared me for that conversation or lesson or experience. It is really aweosme and an awesome wrap-up. I am loving this. And this place is seriously just nuts. I will say that after this transfer, I am REALLY proud and grateful to be an AMERICAN. I LOVE Italy. But I am American. 

The awesome church building in Siracusa.
That city is seriously beautiful.
The prettiest one I have seen in Italy I think.

I love you all so much!!! Have a great week!!
Sorella Patterson

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014 - Hail! Oh, and 4 Weeks left!

Dear friends and fam,

This week was straight up crazy. I don't think I can send pictures today, but here's what went down. Wednesday, there was a freak hurricane thing that brought golf ball size hail, the one day the elders let us use their car to go see a less active in the hospital.The streets tuned into rivers, literally, and it was breaking up the pavement of the road. Cars around us were beginning to smoke because water was getting in the engine I guess. We said a prayer and turned the car around, headed to a member that lived out in that city. But on our way there, the water was getting too high to drive in (I was driving because my comp hasn't taken the test) and the wind and hail were getting crazy, so we decided to ditch the car and find shelter. We parked on the first hill we saw, and ran into a little hunting goods store (convenient if this was to be the End, eh?). While there, I chatted with a woman working, asking if this was normal. She said no, they'd never seen anything like it! The power then went out, taking our cell phone service with it... Haha, it was crazy and awesome. When we thought it was letting up enough to go back to the car, that's when the hail got bigger... So we determined to stay and figure out why we were there. That's when this woman's husband came to get her (in a nice big truck, seemed american to me it was so big). She offered us a ride to our car, but I couldn't say yes for some reason. Then they drove away before I could say anything about who we were. But, by some miracle, they came back and offered to have us come with them to their house and wait out the storm, with pranzo. DEAL. I couldn't say NO to that one! So we climbed in and went home with some strangers, to find this AMAzing family of 5 that I know we never would have found without some freak flash flood and golf ball size hail. I just love the way the Lord works sometimes!!! è proprio pazzesco!!

Comunque, it was a great week. That storm pretty much lasted from Wed to Saturday, and then I got sick. But I will be better tomorrow I think. Man, I get sick a lot lately. I am kinda tired of that. But it's okay, it could be worse. 

We got to go visit a family on the American base this week. It was the weirdest thing. It is literally a tiny piece of America in the middle of a crazy backwards Italian island. They all have minivans and trucks and yards and garages and flags. It is just the weirdest thing ever. 

Anyway, things are going well. I am getting REAL excited to come home, but I know I will miss this more than I can even imagine. But that is okay. It has been a good long ride, and is still going. The thing is, I don't feel like I am ending my mission. I just feel like I am getting transferred really far away and that my work will just change, not end. I don't want to ever not be a missionary, ya know? This is the best thing to do, and I guess I will just have to always do my best in what ever circumstances I get into. That's the plan anyway. 

I love you all. I hate these cockroaches. I love the warm November, and I am sad I will not see President Eyring and the Pope mix it up in a few weeks. That will be such an awesome event! 

Love y'all, have a great week!

Sorella Patterson

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014 - Oceanfront Property

Hello Friends and Family!!!

Okay this is going to be super short, but...

Catania is the best. I can see the ocean from my apartment. It is one of the two homes in Italy of the Mafia... my comp is the BEST..... the ward is struggling REAL BAD.... and I got called as STL again, but President forgot to tell me, so I found out from another missionary.... on our way to the AMERICAN NAVEL BASE where we spend two hours every Sunday in church with AMERICANS singing in ENGLISH and listening to ENGLISH. It is the most awkward uncomfortable thing EVER. But I love it. This place is seriously crazy. And I have so much to say, but no time, so next week will be better. We are pretty much forgetting about investigators and focusing on member probs and the 650 less and inactives in the Catania ward (not the American one). It is going to be great.... :) I love my life and my mission and I am so excited for this last transfer. I love all of you, have a great week!!!

Sorella Patterson

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014 - Headed to the Islands!


Laban and his roommate Omede
The Lord has spoken and I am going to the Island again! This time, Sicily!!! I could not be more excited for this last transfer. I will be with Sorella Pinkston too, who if you remember, is like my bff in this crazy country. I am just so happy. Honestly, I cannot believe how blessed I am. I don't feel even the tiniest that I have earned such trust and such a blessing. It is literally the dream last trasnfer. I cannot even begin to express how I felt when President told me that. He is just the best. Man, life is good. 

Sacrament Meeting in the hotel
Church for the last 4.5 months. it's been good :)
Laban is going to get baptized either one or two weeks after I leave, I am so happy for him!!! And his roommate will be baptized in December. It is just incredible. The Lord is really blessing this place and I know He will keep doing it. I am sad to say good-bye to people but not super sad to go. I know that there is so much waiting for me, and I am just excited. Rome 5 has in many ways been my "refiner's fire" and I bet there is another around the corner, but that is okay, I think this one made me a little stronger ;) we'll see... ;) 

Mom, I am down for that Christmas volunteer thing, it sounds fun! And for the flight, that is perfect, thank you!!! And I will totally come to seminary, I can't wait!!

You could pretty much ask me anything right now and I would do it. I am just feeling REAL grateful, and in debt to my Maker. Seriously though. Life is just good. I am going to Sicily. 6 weeks. Good food. A real ward. An already best friend so we don't have to awkwardly get to know each other. I cannot even wait. I will miss Sorella Decker and all this work we did and the car, oh I will miss that car, but the warm island is sounding reeeeeeeeeal good right now.Have I told you it is cold here? It is cold here. Can't wait. 

I love you all. I hope that you are all well. I hope you are all still studying the words from general conference. I reread "Approaching the throne of God with Confidence" or something like that this morning. I think it is one of my favorites. I have plans to put it into practice to improve myself. I hope I never stop looking for ways to improve. I owe a lot of that to you all for your good examples to me. Love you all tons,

Sorella Patterson

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014 - Guess What?

Hello All!!
Not much to say other than I can't belive that next week I start my last transfer of my mission... weird. I am just trying not to think about it any differently than another transfer, and to just keep applying the wealth of knowledge that you get after 16 months. It is going :)

Guess what? Laban told us he REALLY wants to get baptized. And he decided on November 1. I am SO proud of him. It has not been easy, and is about to get harder, but then comes his baptism day and I know it will all be worth it. And now he feels it too. I can't even believe how far he has come, and how much I have grown by knowing him. Man, the fruits of my labors may not seem like much to anyone, but to him and to his future family and children, it makes an eternity of difference. And you know what? I might get transfered in a week and miss his baptism, as is typical for my mission, but that is okay, because I did my very best for him and I have no regrets, and he and I are forever changed because of what happened here :) Sorry for getting so cheesy lately, I don't know what is going on, but I don't know how else to express myself anymore. I guess I have always been a pretty cheesy person, and now I don't care who knows? It's probs that. 

Okay, another guess what? RUSS came to church in Rome 5 yesterday!!! WHAT!!! He is a friend of mine from England, we met in Texas years ago and have been in contact ever since, and he has been following my blog thing and then came to Rome for vacay and found me in church!!! Haha, it was the best surprise ever, and I got to translate Sacrament meeting for an investigator of the Anziani and a good friend of mine. just the coolest thing ever. 

Zone Conference was awesome.

My memory card is officially broken. The pictures are still all there, but I can't access them on the computer. Sorry, folks. No more picutres. I'll try something... Well probably not. Oh well. I still love you all though!

Have a great week and live the gospel out loud!

Sorella Patterson

Zone Conference October 2014

Rome East Zone - October 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 13, 2014 - 8 weeks to go!

Hello All!!!

So sorry, but I think that my memory card has a virus or something, so no pics from the Sistine Chapel. Well, you can't take pictures of the ceiling anyway, but still, no pics of me and Viazzo. Mi dispiace! But, it was SUPER fun. I can't believe we finally went. We got in for a sweet discount, I think because of our tags... I don't know if they knew who we are, but whatever, I'll take it. ;)

This week was a really good one, not because we did anything special, but I am just feeling really good these days, like at peace with being at the end, you know? It is weird. Not to get morbid or anything, but I think it will be a sweet passing... okay just kidding, leaving Italy is going to be the worst things ever, and I am not ready, but at the same time, I know it has to come and it is okay. I still have two months and one more transfer, so who knows, maybe I'll see Sicily finally or finally go find Debbie's family. Either one is okay with me. I am learning so much right now about missionary service and I can't believe they ever let me come out as unprepared as I was. This really is the MTC for life. So weird. But I am grateful for it all, even the really rough patches, because at the end of those tunnels I learned the most. Now, looking back, I am starting to see why certain things were oh so necessary and why life is so dadgum hard sometimes, and it just makes sense. I know that these things were probably just sneakily preparing me for worse things in the future, so I should probably hold all this for my wise older years, but I am just feeling really grateful for this chance and for how good God has been to me. I know He has my back, so whatever else is next, bring it on. But with mercy... please.

In other news, our new roomates are some really nasty roaches that are popping up. But, the hot water finally works in our kitchen sink, for the first time since I got here in June. Washing dishes just got that much more exciting!! What else.... uh... Yeah, I think that is it. 

Laban is working on deciding on a baptismal date. Keep him in your prayers! 

Haircut time
This week is Zone Conference... look for pics. I painted my nails for the first time here, so watch out America!

Alright, basta. Love you all. Remember, it is all about HOW you serve, not WHERE you serve. Keep smiling, have a great week!

Sorella Patterson

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014 - Finally going to the Sistine Chapel today!

Aloha friends and fam!!!

Thanks to Allessandra for sharing these pictures on Facebook!
This week was pretty lame. We were at home for quite a bit of time since I was sick and then Sister Decker got it, then mine came back with a vengeance and now they are both pretty much gone. Man, it was fun. 

WITH SORELLA VIAZZO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   
It was worth waiting my whole mission and not going because I get to go with my awesome comp Sorella Decker and my best friend of the last 16 months, Sorella Viazzo, and her greenie :) So, me and my MTC companion and our greenies. That is pretty cool, cute even ;) It will be a great day. I am so happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Okay, also this week Laban came to confernece, just one session, but I think he was pretty excited and he seemed to like it as well. He is just doing so well and I just love him! I will have to go to Africa some day and see the countries that produce such incredible people. Seriously. They are amazing. I love Italians, I do. I just also love Africans. a Lot. I kinda just love people... ? 

I am finally getting a haircut next monday... it is about time. 

We are really just excited. After conference, we are both super pumped to GET OUT and just work. We are gonna have a great week. I haven't felt this good in a while. I am just so thankful, for everything. Life is always good, even when it is not, life is good. 

 I love you all. Find a reason to laugh out loud today!

Sorella Patterson

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 29, 2014 - Need to Rest

Hello all!!! No time, but things are good, 
I am happy, and Gesi CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Take that Satan!!! She has a lot of questions for us tomorrow, but that is okay. And now I go to sleep, because I am sick AGAIN and the mission nurse said I HAVE to rest. I called her the second day, she gave some advice, said call in two days if it is not gone. I called in two days, and now I am bed stricken for pday. So, maybe I will write some of you letters...? But if I am being honest, I will probably read some awesome book on the history of the church. I am getting really into that right now. It makes me SO proud to be a Mormon. I love this, really. Okay, getting delirious... well not really, but my head just hurts a lot and I get naustious a lot too. I also forget how to spell, or that could be the fault of Italian. Whatever. I am gonna go. But really, all is well here and life is great, and I am SO THANKFUL to my Heavenly Father for what He does for me!!!

Sorella Patterson

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014 - Last full day of summer

Ciao tutti!!!! 

This morning we had an awesome lesson with Gesi, an incredible woman from Nigeria who is the most incredible example of strength and bravery and I just wish you all could meet her. She really is special. An older member came with us and at the end we were all crying and she invited Gesi over for pranzo next week, for anytime she wants to talk, for Christmas, basically she told her she was adopting her! Then, Gesi told us she had actually been praying for a mother figure, because she is just so alone here in Italy. I can't imagine coming here by yourself with no support system and then facing SO MANY tirals, molto brutte, and having to do it all alone. She is just incredible. PLEASE pray for her, visto che your prayers are working for everyone else. Thank you for your help with these people, you have no idea the lives you are all changing, including mine! I can't believe how blessed I am. I can't believe the mercy of God in letting me be a part of this and help His precious children. But I can't find them all by myself, we just can't as missionaries. Member finding is imperative. You HAVE to help the missionaries. You HAVE to. I know everyone wants to, everyone wants to tell someone about the gospel, so pray for opportunities to do it. Don't EVER be scared of any opportunity that comes your way, because it is coming from God with a promise that He will tell you what to say and do. You can do it now! 

Also, get ready for conference!!! I can't tell you how psyched I am!! In fact, I can honestly say that I have NEVER been this excited for General Conference. I literally cannot wait. It causes my physical and emotional pain knowing it is not here yet. If you get to watch it live, don't you dare miss a single session!! If you have to watch it after, make sure you have the same spirit of humility and worship and you are ready for anything they tell you. Listen to the twelve. They will always lead us to safety. I love you all and am praying for you. I hope you all have an awesome week and that you are all happy and well. 

Con amore,

Sorella Patterson

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014 - Didn't make it to the Sistine Chapel!

Hey everyone!!
Celebrating Sorella Decker's birthday

Tomorrow, so many of my best mission friends are going back home to America!! I can hardly believe it. This thing goes by so fast and I just can't handle it! I am so not ready for this to be over. But, it is not, so no worries. Also, Sorella Viazzo just got transfered to Ostia which is in the Rome Zones so we will totally do a pday insieme and maybe go see the sistine chapel finally, since I still haven't seen it..... Yeah, we didn't get to see it yet, haha. Maybe I never will. That's okay, because Amède came to Church!!! I could hardly believe it!!! All of your prayers paid off and he came and seemed to have a good experience. He and Laban were both there which was pretty stressful, but awesome. Definitely worth the stress if it helps them prepare for their baptismal dates and helps them feel the spirit to get their answer. Our work is giong pretty well right now. We have a lot to be grateful for, and we can see the Lord blessing this area. I am grateful to all of you who are praying for Amède and Laban. It has helped them more than you can know. Opposition is hitting ALL of our investigators REALLY HARD right now. It is horrible, proprio horrible. I won't describe it, and it is different for each one, but it is really hard. I wish I could protect them from the world, you know? And from doubts and fear, and just from Satan in general. I have been having cool experiences though and I KNOW that no matter what, God is more powerful. The thing about darkness and light is that no matter how much darkness you have, one tiny little flame is enough to chase the darkness away. Darkness can NEVER overpower light, it just is not possible. In the end of it all, I already know who will win. I just want as many people to be on the winning team, cioè Christ's team, as possible.

I love each of you. Thank you for reading my emails, it makes me feel good, and that I am serving more people (assuming these emails ever help people ;) ). But really, thank you. Thank you for the emails I get back too, that is really nice. I love y'all,

Sorella Patterson

No, we didn't make it to the Sistine Chapel. It was the Vatican, but just the big church in front, the Basilica. I know, I know, I need to go and I REALLY want to. Next time I go to the Vatican will be for real!
Me, Alessandra, Sorella Decker