¡Hola Alameda! 4-14-2014

Okay first things first, will someone PLEASE do me a huge favor and do a little bit of family history and tell me where the last name Villarini comes from? I am starting to get a little exhausted explaining to people that yes, it sounds extremely Italian, but my dad is from Puerto Rico and I think there’s some kind of story that has to do with an ancestor from Italy but I really have no idea. Haha seriously though, I think I’m just going to start saying yes when people ask me if I’m from Italy. It was actually kind of funny in ward council the other day the Relief Society president said I must know how to make good pasta and asked if I would teach them for their activity next week….I said I don’t know how to make pasta but what I could teach them was how to make pizza! Who knew that working at Papa Murphy’s was going to prepare me to be able to serve on my mission haha. 

 
So yeah, I’ve been introducing myself a lot (well even more than normal) lately because I’m finally in my first new area! Alameda in Ate Vitarte. My new companion is Hermana Mack from Mesa, Arizona. Not gonna lie to y’all…adjustments are hard. Usually they call at the end of the day on Monday but they called when we were at dinner right before our appointment with Jose Luis, and I actually cried when we said goodbye to him. But he just thanked us for being his angels who taught him the gospel and prepared him to get baptized and said that now we needed to go help other people and shared a powerful testimony and I really just wanted to cry more…Hermana Sagastegui and I left a bunch of notes in the room explaining everything for the new elders that came to the area and saying that they better take care of everyone really well! This week I almost felt more homesick for my old area than I did when I actually left home. I want to be a missionary forever….or maybe I’ll just move to Peru when I’m done.
 
But before I keep whining about missing Salamanca, let me tell you a few cool things about my new assignment! Our room is huge and beautiful and has a real bathroom. And my new companion is an absolute sweetheart. Extremely patient and she really cares about every single person. Oh and she’s my first companion who likes to run so I’m excited about that and we’re gonna whip ourselves into shape! It was kind of a slow week until yesterday, but we found a ton of new people who are so amazing and ready to accept the gospel. We got chased by a couple dogs this week too so that was kind of fun… 
 
Dang it out of time again. Until next Monday!
 
Remember who you are, make good choices! (Now where have you all heard those lines before…)
 
Love from Lima,
Manda

So long, Salamanca 4-7-14

Wow, did you all love conference or what? We were lucky enough to be able to go to all four sessions. The condition was bring an investigator or less active or recent convert. I loved so many of the talks I can’t tell you which was my favorite but among them include the classic greats, Bednar and Uchtdorf. And if you didn’t hear Ballard’s talk, go listen to it. Because from now on I expect you all to include in your emails each week what you’ve been learning as you study Preach My Gospel! 

 
It’s super inconvenient to be sick when you’re a missionary, did you guys know that? At the beginning of the transfer I got sick for being disobedient (without realizing…) and eating from a street vendor. Woops. I got quoted Mosiah 17:16…hehe. Well the headache and congestion only lasted about a week but the craziest things have been happening with my voice since then! It just disappears every now and then and I sound possessed. It happened in the middle of lessons a couple times this week and a testimony just isn’t as powerful when you sound like that….but it’s funnier. 
 
I hear this is normal from my other missionary friends, but we are finally seeing a ton of good things happen in this area and everybody has a baptismal date and it’s a for sure thing that I’ll be leaving….they don’t call us til late tonight to tell us where we need to be tomorrow morning but they’re dividing Salamanca. Two more elders are gonna come…that means 6 missionaries in the ward! I’m happy because honestly, Salamanca needs and deserves it. But they’re gonna send the hermanas here to the part of the ward that’s pitucilandia….aka really rich. We spent a lot of the week over there with the elders looking for rooms and pension and to be honest I don’t really wanna go there…so you’ll all laugh next week when that’s where I am. It’s just sad because I feel like I left my family 5 months ago and now I have to do it again….and all these amazing new people we found….it’s like starting a great movie and then having to leave the theater and not getting to see what happens next… (does that remind anyone else (aka Sarah or Emily) of the Hunger Games premier? Hahaha) I guess I just have to remember my motto before I got my mission call…I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go. 
 
Love from Lima (not sure which part yet…haha)
Amanda Jane/Mandy/Hermana Villarini

Raining Referrals 3-31-2014

Oh my gosh this was the best week ever!!!!!!

 
Salamanca is the BEST. The members love sharing the gospel…why was I not like them before my mission?? It literally rained referrals this week…and they are all golden. We are so excited to teach a bunch of really awesome people this week, can’t wait to tell you how it all goes next Monday. This transfer is going to end splendidly and then I’ll get kicked out. I can feel it.

 
Yesterday was an amazing sacrament meeting. Every sacrament meeting should be amazing, but wow you know there are just some that really get to you. For starters, the sacrament hymn we sang was I Stand All Amazed which is a favorite of mine and it’s one of the few I can actually play really well on the piano and Salamanca backed it up with some fervent singing. I love how the hymns bring the Spirit. Jose Luis, who continues to be our pride & joy blessed the sacrament and it was so special. Usually the young men just read it really fast and monotone cause it’s their routine but he said the prayer perfectly and with so much meaning, and I think he was about to cry. Actually he’s always about to cry…haha but it just meant so much to him to be able to use the priesthood and it definitely made a difference for me too. And everybody shared amazing, really powerful testimonies. I love church! Hermana Sagastegui and I were joking the other day about how Sundays used to be a “day of rest” but as missionaries it’s the “day of stress,” hoping people come to church and informes…but yesterday was wonderful.
 
This week I was telling someone how I never thought I wanted to come on a mission and so they asked me “Why did you come then?” And the opportunity to answer that question was a great reminder and boost for me. I said I took a long time to figure it out but when it came down to thinking about how incredibly blessed I am, I wanted to thank my Heavenly Father and serve Him. This gospel is just so amazing and everybody needs it!
 
At the beginning of my mission we were teaching a ton of people but none of them were progressing. And I was upset because I just wanted so see somebody’s heart be softened and see a great change, but I’ve come to realize we can only do so much because people have their agency, and not everybody will feel the way I do about Jesus Christ or about the Book of Mormon. The cool thing is though, that now I can see how many amazing people there are that are already prepared and have just been waiting for the gospel to come into their lives. Yesterday we met a woman at church who has been coming for 5 weeks and we just hadn’t realized that she wasn’t a member (one reason being she comes dressed in church clothes) but I sat by her in Relief Society and figured out she lives in our area and I asked when we could come visit her and she said “Tomorrow, please!” 
 
Also we were randomly (well I just don’t remember why) walking by where the bishop lives one day and decided to stop and visit him. We ended up getting to know him and having a great conversation about how we can serve the ward better and it also turns out his niece who isn’t a member just happens to live with him…he told us we should teach her so now we are and she is the coolest girl! Reminds me of Lizzy because she’s 12, it’s fun because I imagine I’m teaching my little sis. There’s a bunch more of new people this week that we just needed to open our eyes to find. 
 
I’ve told you guys before that I hear random English music all the time but the MOST random song just came on…Ice Ice Baby! Haha I don’t know if anyone remembers but that was one of my songs that I played on repeat for a few days straight once. 
 
So Hermana Sagastegui and I are both pretty sassy, and that makes it really fun to help her study English. She doesn’t have very much left to go home so she already knows a lot, but mostly phrases like “You know what, I don’t care” and other things that a missionary probably shouldn’t say…but this week we learned “awkward.” There’s not an equivalent word in Spanish so one morning I couldn’t really explain it…but a little while later some Jehova’s Witnesses knocked on our door and when they realized we were Mormon missionaries they left pretty quickly….and I said “Hermana, that’s what awkward means!” Later we were saying goodbye to this man that we’d contacted and I went to shake his hand but he tried to kiss me on the cheek (cause that’s normal here) and I had to reject…and he was all “Oh, uh, bueno…” and we left and I said “that’s an even better explanation of awkward.” 
 
People are always asking to see pictures of my family and I never have any with me, but this week I decided to carry my little photo album with me and got to show a few people. Everybody thinks you’re all gorgeous! Specifically they told me you look like a model Mommy Dearest, and that it’s not possible you are the mom of all 5 of us. 
 
Also I just need to tell you all how much I love Hermana Sagastegui. She’s the best and I’m so grateful for her. We are getting work done and having lots of fun.
 
Speaking of fun….hope you’ve all had fun in Cali this week! Ride Tower of Terror as many times as you can for me….and scream super loud. 🙂
 
Be nice, say your prayers, read your scriptures, and go to church on Sunday. Love you all millions.
 
Mandy aka Hermana Villarini