Well folks, this week has been absolutely crazy, especially since it marks 9 months of mission life! You know what that means? Yep you guessed it- 9 months without American food, Netflix, and my dogs 💔 oh, and also it means ITS MY HALFWAY MARK🎉 Oh the things I've learned & the ways I've changed. But I think my most favorite thing is all the new "loves" I've gained during these 9 months! And lucky for us, this week has been full of 'em! So let's take a look, shall we?💕🇮🇹Thursday: Love of the PeopleShocker that this love would be listed as the first, haha! But really, Thursday was one of the happiest days of my mission! Whale, it didn't quite start out like that. I woke wanting nothing more than to sleep for another couple hours (thanks to the previous night's adventure of sitting outside for 5 hours waiting for culture class to end lol)😂 So we did all our studies and got some stuff ready for our lessons that weekend & the made English class surveys we wanted for that night. After lunch, we decided to go out & pass by an ex-investigator named Caterina.Now let me preface this by saying I had absolutely zero desire to go pass by this woman, for a number of reasons. I still felt pretty crappy, & was honestly just feeling discouraged by our area. Plus, each time we'd tried to visit this woman before, no one had answered. But missionary life means you put your crap aside & just go for it, so we grabbed our stuff & headed out. We finally got there, prayed, & rang the citofono. Nothing. I was ready to head back, but Sorella Richards rang it again. A mans voice answered asking who we were. We did the typical "yo we're missionaries can we chat with you about Jesus" spiel and before you know it, we were buzzed in😳 after flights & flights of stairs, we made it to the seventh floor, found her door, & knocked.The door opened, & I was greeted by a familiar face. Max Aramu! The shocked look on my face must have been positively hilarious because he started laughing like crazy. Then from behind him came my absolute favorite person in all of Italia: Camilla Aramu. (For those of you just joining us now, the Aramu family is a family in Collegno who I got wayyyy close with! Their little daughter Camilla is 4 1/2 & is so smart & sassy & claims my last name is too difficult so she calls me "Sorella Elsa". Aaaand now I think we're all caught up!) I didn't know what to do or say, & I think my dear companion was rather confused lol! Camilla ran & hugged me & I was just seriously the happiest missionary on the whole planet!Apparently, this woman Caterina is Max's mother (so Camilla's grandmother) & it was her birthday so they took a train to Savona to surprise visit her! Then, they heard us on the citofono, & since they knew I was serving in Savona, decided to surprise me! Apparently Camilla was having a hard time being quiet & hiding because she kept yelling that "her Sorella with the curly hair was coming!" I got to talk with Max & Perla for a while & play with Camilla! We also talked with Caterina, who said we could stop by sometime and teach her!Friday: Love of LearningWe started the day off with studies as always. Wow I'm so grateful for the time we get on the mission to learn so much about the gospel & how to teach it to others! We then had institute- Silvanna is an outstanding teacher & I learn so much from her!That afternoon, we had an appointment with Francesca, but she ended up cancelling on us. Honestly I've been struggling with her a bit recently, because she's so rude to us😂 When she called to cancel on us, I was very unimpressed with how she was acting & my normal sassy self wanted to make it known. So I did. Buuuuuut in a much nicer way than normal because you know what else the mission teaches you? Patience. Every dang day. Especially in freaking Europe. But it's great😂❤️That evening we had a branch activity... sort of... the Anziani we're going to do soccer with the men and we were gonna do yoga with the women... buuuuut 3 women and 0 men came... soooo the Anziani joined us for yoga😂😂😂😂😂 oh whale, we tried.Saturday: Love of Italian FoodSaturday was studies followed by seminary, which was great as usual. But the highlight was spending the afternoon/evening with Maria Carnemola (recent convert) & her daughter Aurora (investigator). We first made dough, & then had our lesson while we waited for it to rise. Aaaaand then Maria taught us how to make pizza 😍😍😍😍 lol only took me half my mission to learn😉 honestly though, so much love for the food here- the simplicity, the freshness (idk if that's an actual word or if I just sound like a white rapper rn... sorry) Bottom line, Italian food is absolutely amazing, and I doubt I'm gonna be returning to Pizza Hut or Olive Garden anytime soon🍝🍕🍅🧀🍇Sunday: Love of Serving the LordLol, y'all knew this one was coming😉 Although, Sunday morning was far from a missionary dream. In fact, it bordered more on the edge of a nightmare. Our branch president had us missionaries give talks, & then we also were in charge of the youth for the last two hours of church🙃 Sorella Richards and I had planned a special Christmas themed lesson for them- just a ton of awesome stuff centered on Jesus Christ. Well... we had the youth's attention for about 4.5 seconds & then they were on their phones, making comments, & goofing off. Honestly, quite the bummer. But hey, when we have opportunities to serve, it's not usually under our desired circumstances. But when we continue loving & serving & doing as God directs to the best of our abilities, all is well.We had lunch, & then decided to serve the Anziani. They needed to change apartments, but the distance is quite far so we helped them move all their stuff! Although at the time we offered, we didn't realize their new apartment was a train ride away, and located at the top of a hill😅 You could say we're still a bit sore from this endeavor because lugging suitcases around for 2 hours is killer, especially at an incline...🗻That evening, we had an awesome lesson with Constanza! She's started reading The Book of Mormon & honestly there is such a spirit in her home! Lessons with her are more difficult than I've ever had before because she has so many deep, complicated questions! But it's also so fulfilling getting to teach her, & noticing how the spirit helps us to know what to say & how to say it in Italian!❤️ It's especially rewarding to see it occurring not just for myself, but for my greenie as well!Monday: Love of the People pt. 2We headed out on a train Monday afternoon to go do scambio in Milano! I was with the amazing Sorella Castro, who's originally from Columbia but spent 7 years living in Italy. Cool stuff- she actually lived in our mission in the Piemonte region (home to Torino and my precious Collegno) so we knew a lot of the same people and had been to a lot of the same places! We talked a toooon on the way too and from appointments- all in Italian of course- & I seriously just adore her! I'd love to be companions with her at some point! My favorite family we visited is from Venezuela. I loved joking around with the daughter who is my age, and then listening to the mother talk about the various trials they've faced. I'm seriously constantly inspired by these people I meet whose lives are so unlike mine. It's truly becoming my most favorite thing💕We headed back to the apartment, but Sorella Williams and Sorella Richards weren't back yet, and they had the keys. So Sorella Castro & I went & found a bench surrounded by trees and lights & sat & talked for a while. I didn't realize it was possible for me to have full on heart-to-hearts with someone in Italian, & yet two hours later we were still going strong😂❤️ buuuuuut it was so freaking cold and it was late, so we headed back wondering where on earth the other sorelle were!Turns out, they had gotten home an hour ago.Meanwhile we had "turned into gelato", in Sorella Castro's words😂 vabbè, it was a much needed moment. But be warned kids: when you choose not to go to bed on time as a missionary, ye are cursed with a curse. It was most definitely the worst night's sleep ever! And apparently Sorella Castro and I were sleep talking to each other in Italian so that was super odd😂😂Tuesday: Love of the CultureTuesday morning we finished scambio with one of the weirdest experiences ever. You see, we had a funeral to go to... but, like, no one knew who he was... so it was literally us missionaries there, a few cousins, and the bishop... I kid you not, the funeral only lasted 15 minutes. It was so sad & kinda awkward & a tad funny...Then we had scambio review before leaving. I loved being with Sorella Castro- she told me my Italian was good which meant a TON coming from her, & I learned so so so much from her! Then Sorella Richards & I took a train back home through the fog. Oh yeah, did I mention it's foggy as heck?! See, the weather itself isn't that much colder than a Utah winter, but the humidity is killing me 🌫❄️oh whale, at least it looks cool!They also closed down all the streets in centro to do a huge market! I kid you not, the biggest and most beautiful market I'd ever seen! A great ending to a great day!Ok, maybe the funeral wasn't the best example, but I really do adore the Italian culture. So many things I once found weird I now find endearing. I love taking trains across the country and walking though crowded stations and metros. I love how Italians will tell you their whole life story after knowing you for about 3 minutes. I love the foggy winters and the scorching summers. I love how everyone goes on walks with their dogs and their kids. I love their love of food... and the Madonna😂 I honestly just love Italy🇮🇹Wednesday: Love of AdventureToday started out as a relatively normal p day. We awoke, did the normal things one does on a blissful Pday morn, and then headed out to obtain groceries. A short while later, bags in hand, we bid farewell to our fellow shoppers and prepared to walk home. We neared the doorway of the apartment complex. It was around this time that my dearest greenie groaned, "oh nooooooo". She turned to face me, slowly... "So... I left the keys... in the kitchen..."*cue horror music and women screaming*Not this. Anything but this. You see, we easily got someone to buzz us into the building. But the door to our individual apartment locks automatically- there was no hope to be found. With great haste, I called Fratello Pelle, the only person with spare keys besides the office in Milano. He responded saying he was at work until around 1, and then it'd take him at least an hour to get to us. Now, keep in mind dear readers, that all this was going down at like 10:30. & Sorella Richards had culture class round 2 at 2pm... & we had a train to catch around 6... & about a million other things to do! Near tears, we sat & prayed & basically had no clue what to do.And then, we were awesome.
You see, we realized that inside the apartment lobby, there was a window. We opened the window, & saw that there were various pipes & ledges all leading up to our kitchen balcony... And so, that's the story of how we climbed like Spider-Man and broke into our own apartment. Sure, a door had to be kicked in, and yeah, it's a bit sketch to realize just how easy it'd be for someone to break in... but I like to focus on how we basically turned into ninjas to avoid a rather terrible predicament👯Oh yes, the mission definitely teaches you to improvise and enjoy the ride and essentially to, as my dear Sorella McHardy once put it, "Have faith in God and then fly by the seat of your pants"😂😂😂Conclusion time, because this has been yet another way-too-long email #sorry Basically, these past 9 moths have been the best of my whole life. I've learned more than ever before, and my love for people in general has grown as I've served among these beautiful Italian people. I know that choosing to serve a mission has most definitely been the best decision ever, and that this is truly Christ's church. And I'm absolutely stoked to see what these next 9 months will bring!!🇮🇹❤️🇮🇹❤️🇮🇹❤️🇮🇹xoxoxoxoxoSorella Kaylee Smedley
1-3 Camilla Aramu!!! 4&5 Yoga night :)
6-8 Pizza with Maria 9-11 Scambio in Milano 12&13 Italian Christmas