Buon Anno! (letter dated January 1, 2014)

Ciao cara famiglia,
Sorry I haven’t emailed for a couple of weeks.  Christmas fell on P-day so I didn’t really have time to email.  But it has been a great couple of weeks, filled with sweet missionary work experiences.
Last night for New Years Eve we had to be inside all night, which I can see why! New Years Eve  (Capodianno) is a HUGE deal here, especially in Florence.  Centro was booming with tourists and crazy people and concerts and fireworks went off literally all night long.  We have had some great and beautiful miracles though, so let me tell you about them.
For Christmas, I ate pranzo in the Tuscany countryside. Literally.  It was abosolutely breathtakingly magical.  It was a delicious lunch and I have never eaten so much in my entire life. And I just loved skyping. I wish we could have had more time, but it seriously was just what I needed to push me forward.
Monday night – Peruvian food -SPICY potatoes, yum, yum, yum.
Tuesday night – more Peruvian food
Wednesday – HUGE Italian Christmas lunch that lasted for hours. This meal  consisted of raw salmon with lemon, lots and lots of pasta, lots of meat, lots of pandoro and panetonne, and tisana, yum. so. much. food.
Thursday (a day for San Stefano, or what they call Natolino) – 2 big Italian meals. One of which, I ate rabbit.  It was really saltly, and surprisingly good.  But I don’t really like eating rabbit, it used to be a cute little bunny, and I just can’t do that 🙂
Let’s just say we ate so so much, my stomach stretched in ways I didn’t know it could.
Last week, the week of Christmas, was beautiful. We found five new investigators, with the help of our members, our own finding efforts to talk with as many people as possible, and the help of missionaries that came before us. We found a family!  A beautiful family from Peru that the sisters taught before but that lost interest because they were super busy.  We know that this is their time, because Firenze just saw some beautiful baptisms a month ago of a Peruvian family, and these members can help one another.
Sunday, we were trying to pass by as many members as possible and do finding along the way.  And, miracle… we got into someone’s house!! I have never been let in from knocking doors before, but when we offered to sing with them that softened their hearts a little 🙂 We were able to sing for them and pray with them, and talk about Christ.  As soon as they heard about Joseph Smith they got a little weary, but they realized that we are Christian too and it opened up their hearts a lot.  We were just giddy with excitement, and it gave us the energy to endure to the end.
We also were able to set a baptismal date with one of our investigators! YAY! We are trying to rely on the Spirit and on Heavenly Father to know how to help her get there and endure to the end.
The work is going well in Firenze! I am losing trust in mankind slowly though, since our zone leader’s car got broken into last night, tons of packages and mail and important things were stolen. I hate going on buses because some of these men are just… ugh… not the nicest to the blonde american girls.
I love this work, and I truly do love being a missionary every day. I can honestly say I forget what it’s like to be a normal person… yeah 🙂
  I love my companion, she is wonderful and we work really well together.  I like living in 2 as well, it’s really nice 🙂 The Savior loves us so much, and he is just waiting to bless us as we live our covenants and turn to Him every day.
I love you all, and what will you give to Christ for this new year? It’s a great time to start over, but not make too many goals, because then you’ll just feel bad about yourself 🙂
I know, know, know this gospel is true with all of my whole heart. Con tutto del mio cuore. The Savior truly is there.  Joseph Smith is a prophet.  The Book of Mormon is the word of God.
Vi voglio bene e buon anno,
Sorella Strong
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