Wednesday, September 24, 2008

i <3 lucca

i <3>
i spent all day on saturday sept. 20th in a little tuscan city named lucca. absolute heaven. first we sifted through endless amounts of antiques at a market that filled half the city--i wish i had some way to transport things home without cutting my head off to pay for it. i fell in love with an old black iron bed...wonderful. i was able to grab an amazing antique necklace that satisfied my antique shopping needs. afterwards we stopped at a little cafe for some delicious gnocchi and a rest from the walking. we then made our way back to a super sweet bike shop we had passed and spent the next hour blissfully riding our bikes on the ancient city wall that surrounds lucca. words cannot describe how incredible that hour was. the breeze was the perfect temperature and smells of italian cooking and fall leaves filled the air. it was an experience that seemed too good to be true- yet was very much happening. italy surpasses all my expectations again and again. the feelings that i have here are so undescribable and all the 'amazing, wonderful, delightful' etc. words i have to use to describe them seem monotonous and lose their meaning from the repitition, but they are the only words that i know to use in order to touch on the thoughts i am having. the train transportation stories of how we got to and from lucca will have to wait for another post because i am losing my internet connection in 2 minutes...but i will work on describing them at home and post soon. ciao!

Friday, September 19, 2008

more rain...

today brings piles of more rain- the forecast is 2 inches for today! so i am spending the day at the school and should hopefully complete the many assignments i have to do by tuesday. siena feels like 'home' now and it is so nice. when i walk down the streets i feel like i have a slight ownership of the city and love to see familiar shops and faces when i am journeying around. our group of 24 has grown close and they all feel like sisters. we even have a mom in the group! her name is erin and she has taken the role of 'mother' to us all, counting us constantly when we are in groups traveling to various destinations and planning our family home evening nights. tonight i am planning to go to the church building to help enter in names to the geneology data base. apparently our little branch has over 600,000 italian names on paper documents that need to be typed into the computer, needless to say they need some extra help! i think it is a great activity for today, seeing as how doing anything outside in this weather wouldn't be very enjoyable! sorry this entry doesn't bring much excitement-life here is going on wonderfully :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

taddei family update

Life in the Taddei home is coming along quite nicely. We translated the notes last week that Fiorella left for us and learned that she would like us to close the window when we leave and also lock the door with our keys please. All of which Giuseppe (pronounce gee-oo-sep-ee for those that are curious) had already hand motioned and explained to us in Italian. They must be important enough for them to stress about them that much so that’s ok for a note, I can respect that. The Swiss student arrived late on Sunday leaving Monday as our first meeting opportunity. She is wonderful! She is 30 years old taking a 3 week holiday from her job at a Swiss bank to improve her Italian speaking skills. Don't worry that she also speaks Swiss German, Turkish, French, and English fluently and her level of Italian is already better than mine will ever be. We have also learned a great deal of info from her about our family…Giuseppe and Fiorella own a furniture restoration and frame making shop. Fiorella is the bookkeeper/manager of the shop and Giuseppe is the "hands" of the business. Their daughter, Federica, who Autumn described her the other day as having the presence of a 7-11 worker, is the janitor of the shop. Coincidence? I don't believe so. She also apparently has a few other places that she cleans during the day when her family's shop is busy accommodating customers.
Dinner's have been pretty interesting the past couple nights with Autumn and I slipping into the shadows as N (the Swiss girl whose name I cannot remember or pronounce in the first place) carries on lovely conversation in Italian with F and G. We do occasionally get asked to eat more or get to slip a few words of english in to N, but other than that are quite invisible to the heart of conversation. It is somewhat nice however to be able to look to N if we are asked a more complicated question so she can translate for us. I think I will have her ask about us doing laundry in the sink while I have her around. For the meantime the sun is out and the rain is gone, so tomorrow while I have the day off from class I think I will attempt to get some laundry done. Overall everything is going well in the Taddei household and life is continuing to fly by as normal.


I spent the day in the wonderful city of Florence yesterday, or as the Italian's call it- Firenze. I was a little confused for a couple days when I kept seeing signs around Siena that point in the direction of "Firenze" and then people would talk about how close Florence was a few sentences later. I later realized that they are the same- thank goodness- before I embarrassed myself by asking someone else. Allora, (this is my new favorite italian word…it means well, so, now, etc. they usually use it as a jump-start to whatever they are going to say)Firenze was such a wonderful experience. Peter took 12 of us girls, all of whom are in the watercolor class together, on a day trip to see some art work in the Uffizi Museum. We spent the day looking at paintings that use broken tertiary's for their color scheme. The best way for me to explain this is that they usually have grey undertones and if you were to look at a painting that contains lots of them you wouldn't be able to point to specific colors and say the name of it. For example you wouldn't look at it and be able to say periwinkle, apple green, cerulean, etc. I found one that I felt a connection to and spent a good 25 minutes observing, analyzing, and writing about it. It was a picture of the Madonna and Child with two angels, which is pretty common subject matter for the art we look at, but it was unlike any that I have seen before. The colors used and the places that catch your eye were beautiful and I really enjoyed looking at it, thank you Peter for pushing us to expand our taste in art and spend time actually looking and seeing the art around us.
I thought that Florence itself might possibly just burst at the seams with the amount of skooters, tourists, cars, statues, paintings, and locals that it contained but it seemed to stay connected, at least for the time that we were there. The weather was absolutely beautiful with a nice cool breeze to keep us from sweating to death and a stark blue sky with perfect white clouds to contrast. As we walked into the piazza that takes you into the baptistery and the duomo I literally had my breath taken away. The duomo in Florence is hands down the most magnificent church I have seen in all of Europe. The stone used is all shades of green, pink, and white and its massiveness is non-comprehendible. We went inside and it was surprisingly plain in comparison to other cathedral's we have been inside of. The marble floor had intricate designs to match the outside of the church and the dome artwork was incredible. It was nice to be able to appreciate the beauty that they had inside without being so overwhelmed with options that they all mix together into one huge intricate artwork.
I also had the opportunity to see the David…the actual one. This is funny because there is a piazza near the Uffizi that is filled with marble statues, half real and half replicas. Well, there is always a massive congregation of tourists standing around the statue of "david" taking pictures…I am not sure if they know that the statue they are taking pictures of is by no means the actual one or if they are aware and just too cheap to pay to see the real one. For those that really don't know that it isn't real I find it quite hilarious. Do they really think that the real David would just be put into a huge public square to be exposed to weather, people, pigeons and who knows what else? Hmm. I think not. But the actual statue is quite, shall we say, massive? As I walked around a corner in the gallery my attention was on all the other half finished carvings they have that are quite interesting (it was very wondrous to see how they take a huge cube of marble and catch a vision of a person inside and make it reality…) and all of the sudden I looked up and in front of me and bam! there is the David! Holy cow. After all the many school years of learning about it in art classes you think they would have mentioned that he is about 4 times actual life size. Even as just a side note somewhere…nevertheless he was striking. Although not perfect, I enjoyed him very much. His imperfections (like the size of his right hand in proportion to his body) make him even better. I was having this topic of discussion with one of the other girls in our group when two old (like 75+ years) walk up from behind us and are admiring the statue like us and the other 200 people around. At one point in their similar conversation about the hand one of them quiets the tone of her voice, always a sign of an awkward comment in this type of setting, and whispers into the ear of her friend "although, he does have a rather small p _ _ _ _!" Probably the funniest museum moment I have yet experienced. Priceless.
By the end of the day I felt like I had run a marathon from all the walking and brain pushing I had been exposed to and the bus ride home was a nice refresher. It would have been prime if not for the massive potholes in the road that we hit, oh about every 25.3 seconds that was always accompanied by a slamming, banging overhead luggage rack- without fail. The Tuscan countryside was so wonderful. The sun was setting casting a glorious shade of orange over all the scenery of rolling hills and Tuscan trees and fields creating scenes that seem only to exist in movies and photo-shopped snap shots on overpriced postcards.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


It has rained for the last 2 days more than I have ever seen in my life. It's quite spectacular--when you don't have to walk in it. Yesterday I spent the morning catching up on a little sleep and working on my 196- 1 cm squares that I have to fill in for watercolor class. I had to be to class at 3 so I planned for enough time to shower, get ready and leave the apartment around 2:30. My plan worked out wonderfully and I was feeling quite accomplished for the day. The second I stepped out onto the street the drizzle began. By the time I reached the city wall it was pouring. I had my leather flip flops on and a little ways into the city I gave up trying to work with them and surrendered to walking barefoot up the slippery cobblestone streets. By this point I could tell that unless by some miracle the rain stopped- I would be completely drenched and dripping by the time I reached Danti Aligheiri. I was right. After only walking for about 7-8 minutes, normal people began to duck into shops, doorways, and covered alley's to get away from the down pour- I, however, had to continue my trek in order to make it to class on time. The thought came to mind that they probably don't run the school like they do at Wimbledon--"Oh! Rain delay! Class will resume when the rain stops in order to give the students some reprieve…". No. That is not how things work in the real world- but apparently I was the only one inside of the city walls that had anywhere pressing to be because when I reached the Piazza del Campo I was the ONLY person in the whole square that trudged across the slippery wet slope to the other side…every other body in the square was taking shelter under large table umbrellas or was inside a warm, dry restaurant. I began to wonder if I was the only student making the trek or if they were following suit and pausing their journey for more suitable conditions. I arrived at the school just as the church bells were ringing 3 o'clock. Perfect timing! I walked into class and realized that a few other girls looked mildly wet but a good number of them were completely dry, due to the fact that they had an earlier class and had all stayed at the school to wait for humanities. I sat down in my chair and tried my hardest to disregard the puddle that was forming at my feet as the water dripped off my jeans and onto the ancient wooden floorboards. By the end of the hour and a half class period my clothes were more damp than soaking wet and I had accumulated a nice pond in the surrounding space at my feet. By this point the rain had ceased and the girls were ready to take a walk about the town, seeing as how the school was closing at 5 instead of 6 and in order to get us all out of the building they turned off the WiFi signal so there was nothing for us to do. We left and hung around the city a bit and made plans to all meet at the Campo at 10 for a birthday gelato celebration since Peter gave us the gift of a later curfew. The weather continued to stay decent with threatening clouds but no sign of water. Autumn decided to go out for dinner with two other girls who's families kicked them out for the night so it was just going to be me and the Tadei family! Joy. As I lay on my bed awaiting the moment for Fiorella to call us down for dinner sleep overcame me unexpectedly. Some unknown time later a knock at the door brought me back to consciousness and I grabbed the note from "lyman" stating she wouldn't be at dinner and followed Fiorella down to the dinner table. Dinner proved to be quite a silent evening for me as I sat and listened to their conversation partly because I can't speak italian and partly because I was still waiting for the cloud to clear that was still covering my mind. We had a very short discussion in italian about me not drinking the alcohol for religious reasons and the fact that yes, I am a mormon. And yes- everyone in my group is a mormon as well. This seemed to satisfy some of the curiosity. I hurried upstairs after dinner to change my jeans and grab my purse then I was out the door and racing to get to the campo because I was already 5 minutes late and I still had at least 15 minutes walking time before I arrived. I got there just as Lynzie was starting to panic and shortly after I arrived the rest of the group trickled in. Then the rain began. We took a few pictures of us in the small cove we found to take shelter in and decided to make a mad dash across the piazza to grab some gelato at the place on the corner. The gelato was a refreshing treat despite the cold weather and we all lingered in the streets a little bit longer. We discussed how it totally is a conspiracy theory that the one night we could stay out until anywhere between 12 and 1 it rains and is cold. I know Peter had something to do with it! We all split off in our pairs and headed home about 11:15, very much so disappointed to say the least. But we all were trying to be optimistic that Saturday would bring better weather. Wrong. Although it is beautiful the entire morning for the last 6 ish hours has been nothing but pouring pouring rain. The plan was to meet back at the Campo today at 1…but that is not something that I was in the mood to do. I have tried to be patient and will head out when the rain slows down. I feel as though 3 "showers" yesterday is quite sufficient and a fourth, fifth, or sixth today is not necessary. If this gets posted today you will know that it eventually stopped and I was able to hike up to the internet café and post. If not I will continue to work on the mountains of homework I still have despite my efforts to turn it into a mini hill and will just add this entry to my birthday post tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I love Siena. I spent some time alone today in the Piazza on Via dei Pispini doing some sketching. I feel so blessed to be able to sit in a little square in Italy with just me and my thoughts. I get to take a step out of the monotony of my normal life and be placed in a situation where pretty much everything I do is a new experience. My brain feels like it is pushing against my skull trying to expand to a suitable size to fit all these new experiences and information--but it’s a good push. This is something that many people dream of experiencing, and here I am. I love walking through the streets and seeing the little shops filled with Italian leather, fresh fruit, bread, cheese, shoes, etc. They are all so amazing and the overall feeling here in the city is overwhelmingly wonderful. The cobblestone sidewalk gives your feet a constant balance check that corresponds with the surroundings on your brain. On the walk home you can see the beautiful Tuscan country side peaking through the trees. The weather is amazing at night when it cools down a bit and there is a slight breeze. I love the fall and love life in Siena. It is definitely an adjustment being away from home and away from the conveniences I am used to having at my fingertips. For example I take it for granted that I can pretty much connect to the internet whenever I want--here things work a little differently and things are much more difficult. Its good to be in a situation that helps me to realize just how lucky I am to live in a country like the U.S.

peter peter peter

So second day of classes today. Wow. I am totally convinced that INTRO to art and drawing might be the death of me. On top of the other homework he just piled it on…and also said that he is a tough grader. Grrreat. Everything is on a scale of 1-10 and he said a 10 is wonderful and magnificent and a perfect work of art. Ya right! I have no hope. Well maybe I glimmer that I might pull out some 7-9's but that’s for sure as good as its gonna get. Haha I think he gave all of us a good scare--hopefully we can all pull through and survive. But the watercolor class started today and I was very pleased that I ended up with all the colors I needed for a complete set except for one--which I traded one of my extra colors for so that felt good to get that all sorted out. I really think I am going to love the watercolor class! We started making a color wheel today and a color chart which was exciting just to be able to get better acquainted with the colors and how they mix. Overall today was a great day in Siena and it feels good to start to get to know the city more. I was able to walk all the way home and back to the school alone without a map with no problems. I am even starting to learn some of the places that are cheaper or sell better things with is pretty exciting. I found a very lovely fruit store that sells delectable peaches for 1.80 euro/kg which is way better than the other places I have seen. I am totally in love with Siena. This is the most wonderful opportunity. I am also starting to really like Fiorella and Giuseppe more as well--we found out today (after playing pictionary and lots of repetition) that a student from Germany will be joining us on Sunday. Hopefully she speaks english because if she doesn't we would have 3 completely different languages being spoken in the same house with no one able to understand the other. That could cause some problems! Dinner tonight was really good and actually tasted similar to things I am used to eating at home. We started off with a rice and zucchini casserole type dish and then had cooked fish in an egg batter and potatoes that tasted like french fries. Very yummy. We gave our family their gifts tonight and I am happy to announce that it went over very well! They really liked the pictures of Utah in the book that I gave them and I was even able to show them where my house is in one of the pictures! So fun. Overall we get along pretty well with them and I am starting to feel more settled here which is good.


Upon arriving home we stowed our few groceries in the fridge (both my items labeled with "sibley" because we still haven't figured out a way to explain to them that my first name is in fact karli and autumn is her first name. On the counter was a bag of vegetables that looked like they could be for dinner…I might have to exercise some great self control on this meal. I guess we will see when that time comes around.

Fiorella has developed a habit of yelling strange things. Like this afternoon for example- she arrived home at 7:00 pm and began shouting something that sounded similar to the english word "people". However, Autumn and I were not quite clear if that is for us, the cat's name, or something else totally unrelated. We decided to stay quite and guessed that if she needs us she would come knock right? We also came home to find notes- scribbled in italian- left on our bedroom window sill and on top of the dresser. We assume that the one on the sill was due to the fact that we forgot to shut the window today, and we also discovered that they have this shade device that can be lowered over the window as well. I'll take that as lesson #1 when living with the Tadei family. Note #2 might possibly have something to do with the door? But I really have no idea considering the handwriting is barely legible, let alone understandable. We will have to take them with us to school tomorrow and have them translated.

Right now I am experiencing quite a funny moment I feel must be documented. Giuseppe is hollering up the stairs for us…"lyman!" haha oh boy. Apparently they had been calling for us for a couple minutes--they could just walk up the stairs and get us…but no. I guess they just call us until we come. Oh and tonight at dinner we found out that the dog's name is Pipo--hence the yelling when Fiorella gets home. They absolutely love that thing.

Dinner tonight consisted of a very spicy (or as Autumn referred to it at dinner tonight "picante??") spaghetti for the first course and the second was another fun mystery veggie! It was called finocchi and pretty much tasted like an onion. I tried to stomach it by putting it on top of my bread with some fresh mozzarella cheese--it worked pretty well and I was able to eat enough to satisfy Fiorella. After dinner she brought out some fruit and I had yet a very delicious white peach…so so good. I'm really loving the fresh fruit here in italy. I feel like I am being spoiled and I don't know what I will do when I get back home! During dinner they tried to communicate something about eating on a future date but neither of us was able to figure out what it all meant. Hopefully its nothing that’s super important. Well now that I have showered and rinsed the day off I am ready for bed. Class starts at 8:30 in the a.m.! Peter will be the death of me I swear. Class was originally at 8 but luckily the school doesn't open until 8:30 so he was forced to push it back, thank goodness. Ciao!


Today began our first day of school. It started out with grabbing breakfast then Autumn and I were off on our trek. My fuel was the most delicious nectarine I have ever had in my life. Our journey lasted 25 minutes, every step of the way uphill. I am definitely going to develop some great legs after this program. First we had a "discussion" with Luca- the director of the Society of Danti Aligheiri- and then bam! our first italian lesson. Our teachers name is Enzo and happens to be a bit on the smaller side for a man but quite attractive and stylish. He has a pretty good sense of humor and got a kick out of our group listing "kinder bueno bars" as an italian food item we know. I am so grateful that I have taken a language class before and was able to grasp the concept of conjugating verbs and such. I feel like I barely retained anything we talked about today but hopefully the "mushy brain" feeling I have developed as of late will dissipate a little with time. I think part of the problem is that I have been out of school for the last 4 months, living in a foreign country, living with strangers I don't understand, traveling from place to place the last 2 weeks, etc. etc. What a journey this has been thus far. After class we were given a tour of tour of the building and then one of the instructors showed us around town. We came to a very delicious gelataria where it is less expensive and more generous portions. What a find! A big group of us went to the super market and picked up some essentials then headed to the piazza del campo where we finished some last minute sketching. As Autumn and I were headed out of the piazza we saw what looked like two american guys. Autumn being the bold and outgoing girl that she is confronted them and asked if the were from the states- they were! Hooray! They were both very attractive guys here for study as well, from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Oh goodness! We had quite a long discussion with Blake and John about life here in Siena and the funny experiences of living with a non-english speaking host family. Hopefully there will be more run-ins with the boys in the future.

autumn's 21st birthday celebration

Fiorella cooked us a nice Sunday meal tonight. It started out with some sort of broth and tiny noodle pieces that we added parmesan cheese to and was surprisingly good. The second course consisted of the typical bread and tomatoes as well as some left over spicy carrots. In addition there was a quite delicious stuffed zucchini item. The meat inside was of mysterious origins but overall it had a good taste to it, which I even took a second one to show Fiorella that I was pleased with it. I am really striving to keep an open mind when it comes to the food I am given. During dinner Autumn attempted to tell them it was her 21st birthday today and was successful! After we finished our meal they celebrated by bringing out some austrian chocolate they had in a drawer in the living room- so so good! And the daughter, who both of us felt like she didn't quite like us all the much- found some number candles and lit them for Autumn to blow out! It was really a nice gesture and made us feel more welcome. Communication is difficult with them speaking to us in fast italian hoping that we pick up something- which for the most part doesn't happen. We sometimes resort to writing to make it easier, for example when I was explaining that my birthday was next Sunday…it took a while but they ended up understanding which was nice. They often have us repeat things for them in english like tonight Giuseppe wanted to know how to say all the days of the week in english as compared to when he listed them in Italian. He is pretty excited for the day when we will speak italian haha it really is amazing how much you can pick up from body language and guessing the topic of certain words. It will be nice to start to pick up at least some of the basics. After dinner- which I was so stuffed from I could've died- we decided to head back up the street just inside town to the internet café. It felt good to get outside with the breeze and walk off some of the discomfort. We made it back before they all headed to bed which was nice so we weren't a disturbance. Before bed Autumn and I had a lovely photo session in our room trying to capture our living conditions. Our room really is quite nice and I know I will be totally fine here for the next 2 1/2 months. What an experience we are living! I feel myself trying to take it all in and it is somewhat of a challenge. Its hard to believe I am actually here in Siena and living and going to school here. Hopefully it will all sink in soon.

day due (2)

So the morning started off with Giuseppe showing us downstairs for breakfast at 9 am. We sat at the kitchen table that was set for the two of us- cause apparently the rest of the house was already up, ready, and gone for the day- and complete with postum type mix (wheat based coffee tasting nastiness), pre-made mini toast pieces, jam, hot water, and some sort of small cookie type cracker and biscotti. I have to say that I find it quite funny to eat such small pieces of already toasted packaged bread. They are a little smaller than a playing card so I feel like I am eating something from alice and wonderland or something. However, they taste quite nice with jam on top. While eating I did a survey of their kitchen. It is pretty modest but a decent size. They have a tall fridge, microwave, small sink, and pretty small oven. Typical European kitchen I feel. HOWEVER- this next appliance I found was the best of all. To any of my readers that watch Seinfeld- you will get why I find it to be so funny. I can't help but think of Kramer and Elaine on this one. They have a meat grinder. Yes, that’s right, a meat grinder! Haha oh boy. Apparently we will be having quite a lot of freshly prepared meats. After breakfast we headed back upstairs and got ready for church and started our journey to meet the group in the Piazza Gamsci. We didn't quite make it there but we did end up seeing the group come down the street we were on so we ended up being completely fine. It took us a little longer than planned to get there so next time we will just have to leave a little earlier. Church was wonderful as I already mentioned and afterwards we followed Peter and his family to the other side of the inner city to the school and his apartment. Once we got there the whole group kind of had a 'well- what do we do now' look on their faces. Priceless. We decided we weren't quite ready to part, because pretty much once we separate we are done for the day. Unless of course later down the road we will feel comfortable calling each other on the house phones or making more of a scheduled plan to meet up places. We ventured throughout the streets and needless to say I am totally in love with Siena. It is super medieval and so so beautiful. I absolutely love it and know that pretty soon it will feel like 'home'. The piazza's are so gorgeous and the streets are all narrow with fun little shops everywhere. The shopping here is the best I have seen yet. I am so excited to look around more. There are apartments that are basically above all the shops that some of the girls in our group live in. The main part of Siena is surrounded by a big city wall with archways to the outside, newer parts of the city. Our apartment is located about 10 minutes walk from one of the archways leading into the main city center the piazzo del campo which is about another 8-10 minute walk from our entrance. The school is a total of about 30 minutes walk from our apartment to the school due to the fact that it is on the opposite side of the inner city. It is a nice walk that I am sure I will gain the benefit of having killer calves when I get home. Outside around our neighborhood is lovely tuscan countryside that we can see if we walk out behind the buildings on our street. There are patches of just green valleys with gardens and houses off in the distance. It is really green here with tons of trees of all different shapes and sizes- many of which I haven't seen back home before. We made it back to our apartment about 4 o'clock after grabbing some lunch at a pizzaria with everyone just around the main piazza del campo. I took a nice refreshing Sunday nap and we were called down to dinner about 8 ish. Now this is quite a hilarious situation. They call us by our last names! So funny. We don't know how to explain to them that "sibley" and "lyman" are not our first names. We attempted that at dinner the first night but that only caused confusion. Maybe when we can speak better italian we can correct them- however that could result in some awkwardness that might not be worth it.

church in siena

We attended our first Sunday in our new branch in Siena today--what a wonderful experience. They have two sets of missionaries that are assigned for the area and they all speak english. What a great moment it was to hear english when we first arrived! Church was conducted by the Branch President named Anziano (Elder) Welch who is the most senior missionary for the area I believe. We all sang the hymns in italian which is sometimes a struggle with pronunciation of words but overall the same spirit comes with singing despite the language barrier. It was fast Sunday today and so obviously that means an open testimony meeting. Anziano Welch started out with his; that was really touching even though he spoke in italian the whole time. After him another elder got up and said his first in italian and then in english for us which was nice to be able to understand him. Following him there was a local italian man that got up and bore his testimony in both italian and broken english which was so nice--sometimes hard to understand but still such a strong spirit with it that it didn't really matter. A mom in the branch shared hers about trying to be a better member and stay true to her testimony of the gospel despite her desires to sometimes just do the things she wants to do not what she knows she should be doing. She talked about how welcoming the youth in the area were to her daughter and how much that meant to her. She obviously has such a strong desire to follow the truths of the gospel and I know that she will continue to make the right decisions. I feel like our presence in the ward will help her to be able to have such a large group of girls that all have such strong testimonies and for her to see that there are people our age in the church that live the standards. A couple of the girls from our group even got up and bore their testimonies today which was so special. Even though the might not have been able to understand fully the spirit that was there today was undeniable. It is such a testimony builder for me to be able to see that no matter where you are in the world the church is the same--the gospel is true and wonderful. It blesses so many lives. I know that this is the true gospel and I am so grateful for how it has blessed my life. The spirit I felt today at church was wonderful. On Friday there is a relief society activity that should be fun--I think it is a service project and I am pretty sure most of us will be going. I hope that I can be a good example to the members in the branch and help strengthen their testimonies. Oh and they also have a genealogy center there at the chapel that they really need help inputting over 600,000 names from paper into the database so I will probably have a couple opportunities to serve in that way which I am looking forward to.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

english, please?

I arrived in Siena tonight. What an experience!
The bus pulled into the bus station and we all awaited the moment that we would finally meet the people we would be spending the next 2 1/2 months with. It felt like we were being picked off for teams like 3rd grade again as one by one the families arrived and the names of the girls paired with them were called out loud. The suspense grew as more and more girls left with their hosts. Then ours arrived. Gioseppe (the father) is an older man In his 50's and came to pick us up alone in his green station wagon. Luckily our we as well as our luggage were both able to fit inside. We said our "ciao's" and that was pretty much the extent of our understandable conversation. The silence that filled the car on the way to the apartment was unlike any I had ever experienced before. It literally was almost unbearable as I sat there in the front seat knowing I would be unable to get to know this man, even a little, before we arrived to his home, due to the fact that I know NO italian and he knows NO english. This definitely presents a problem. Well maybe his daughter and his wife speak a little, right? Wrong. Not one word. Gioseppe continued to try and explain things to us in Italian but it was almost impossible to understand even the topic of what he was trying to get across. The only tool that came in handy were hand motions. Thank goodness those are pretty self explanitory. The apartment they have here in Siena is a good sized one with a nice bedroom here with two twins and a decent amount of storage space for our clothes and belongings. Luckily there is a private toilette and sink in our room that will help us be more private and give us a place to store some of our things. Gioseppe showed us to our room and motioned something to do with food and closed the door and left us to put our things away--at least we assumed that’s what we were supposed to do. Downstairs there was plenty of clinking and clanking of dishes in addition to loud and vigorous Italian being spoken. After getting almost settled we were informed that dinner was ready. This would be my first interaction with Fiorella (the mom). She had her hair rolled in curlers, pearl dangly earrings, a house dress, and red crock look-a-likes on. She came across very nice and friendly and showed us some places in our room that were ours to use- such as wall closet space for dresses and coats- then she took us downstairs to dinner. Dinner proved to be a somewhat awkward experience as well…they tried to give Autumn lessons on how to properly swirl her spaghetti pesto onto her fork. I luckily had that down and it wasn't until the second course that I had any problems. It consisted of quite spicy cooked carrots- to be eaten alone with a fork I discovered, some mystery meats that were some sort of salami types, lettuce- with no dressing other than oil?, cucumbers, and some mystery vegetable that I have never before seen in my life. The carrots were quite nice but I had some difficulty with the rest. I tried to force myself to deal with the plain lettuce and resorted to combining the bread, meat, and mystery veggie together as to not cause my gag reflexes to respond to it. It was a little green tear drop shape that could possibly belong in the squash family and was soft on the outside and filled with sweet brown gooey seeds on the inside. I think it might be a fig? However- I have never seen nor tasted one so I have no idea. Overall dinner was tasty, I enjoyed to pesto very much. We got a map out and they were able to get the point across of where we were to meet our group for church in the morning which is about a 20 minute walk away from here. We helped carry some dishes in and had a small discussion on coffee and tea in the morning where we had to describe as best we could that we don’t drink them. They showed us what I am assuming is a type of postum that they have which we said would be ok. Breakfast could be an interesting experience. I am so overwhelmed with the language barrier I don’t know how to even describe accurately how all this is playing out. I totally have sympathy for missionaries who go to foreign countries to serve- what an obstacle! I can only hope that with our 5 hours a week of Italian lessons and total immersion into the language here at home that we will pick up basics soon and start to transition into some normalcy in communication. For now we will just do our best to try and pick out words here and there in italian when we are talked to and deal with the awkwardness. It feels good though to be all moved in and unpacked which is nice. After the long 10 1/2 hour bus ride we went through today plus stopping in Paestum to see the old greek ruins my shower felt very refreshing to say the least. Tomorrow morning starts at 9 am with breakfast, leaving for the Piazza Gamchi (?) at 10 and sacrament meeting at 10:50. Hopefully we make it through this experience one day at a time until things start to flow easier.

Friday, September 5, 2008

sea glass

i love the beach. i spent the day in amalfi--a little coast town off the meditteranean. it is glorious. i have a nice little collection of sea glass! it is so so so wonderful here...i really must return someday. we walked up and down the main street and even got to see a wedding at a church there in town! i love it. we head off to siena tomorrow to meet our host families and start classes on monday. i am so nervous! its all such a new experience and all so new at one time that it is very overwhelming to think about. but i am sure that it will all be great and i am mostly just looking forward to not having to live out of my suit case. and to do laundry...i am really excited about washing my clothes. i know mom- hard to believe- but true. i want to do laundry! haha anyway i am off to bed for one last night in paradise before our 8-9 hour bus ride tomorrow! i'll post as soon as i am able.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


minori--its my new most favorite place in the whole world. its on the amalfi coast here in italy and it is so picturesque and beautiful. however- in order to get into town we had to spend 2 hours on a tour bus climbing up and over mountains on a super skinny, steap, winding road that really only fits one car-let alone bus- on it at a time. i thought we would die. thank goodness for our amazing italian bus driver who doesn't even break a sweat when he is taking a complete 180 degree turn on a huge bus filled with 24 nervous girls, while just about slipping off a huge 20,000 foot cliff. amazing. anyway, we spent the last two days looking at old ruins preserved from the explosion of mount vesuvius in 79 A.D. in Hurculaneum and Pompei. they are so incredible. it is so crazy to see the frescos on the walls and the incredible, intricate, mosaics all over the floors and the pillars. things were left just exactly as they were so long ago...the faces on the moldings of the bodies in Pompei still had the shocked and tortured expressions on them. then today when we got back into town in Minori we went to the beach! i am in heaven. total paradise. the water is so clear and so salty that when you lay back you float! i love it. i spent lots of time just sifting through the black sand for sea it. tomorrow we have the whole day to just stay here and relax with no bus rides of schedules--we are all so pumped to have a day to ourselves. we are planning on taking a trip to amalfi- a really touristy town just 10 minutes and 4 euros away on boat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


roma roma roma.
when in rome right?

well pretty much words fail to describe things here in rome. absolutely amazing. the first day i was here it started off with church. all of it was spoken in italian and it was definately an experience for sure. i've never been in a place so foreign where the people surrounding have a hard time understanding me. it puts things in perspective a little bit...after church we walked through the city and went to see st. peters cathedral. by far one of the most incredible things i have ever seen. the size of it cannot be captured by a picture or a description. we walked up 570 steps, which still has my calfs burning, to the top of the inside of the dome. being able to see the artwork on the inside of the dome was amazing. how people have the talent to do things that are so massive but yet still perfectly in proportion is beyond my comprehension. we then traveled outside of the dome on a viewing deck at the very top of the cathedral and were able to have the most amazing view of the whole city. the old structure that was used to plan cities is so impressive. there are two 'arms' that extend down from the catherdal that have a long road that leads into the the piazza in front of the cathedral. in the piazza are two bigger fountains on either side of a tall column.
a side note about rome- they have fountains and water coming up from the ground all over. it is unbelievable. apparently they found under water aquafirs (?) and so they built tons of fountains for display as well as tons of drinking fountains that all continuosly flow. the water is clean and refreshing--i don't know how we would survive without it. it is one of my most favorite things about rome.
i saw the cistine--sorry spelling is rough cause its all in italian here so nothing looks right in english--chapel. the cistine chapel! it is much much larger than i imagined. i didn't realize there was more than the god touching adam's finger scene...that is one square of hundreds. i don't have any way to describe how incredible it was. the colors are rich and the figures are larger than human size. how it is all in proportions is unknown to me. the feeling when you look at something that you have heard of your whole life but never thought you would actually see is quite the experience. my mind is so overwhelmed with all the things i have seen i can't quite express how i feel about them all and its frustrating. the days blur into what seems like months. i am still trying to process all the paintings, sculptures, and buildings i have seen and the hands that have made them. we looked at a banini statue today of the capture of percephine--the white marble figures looked real to say the least. the grip that pluto had on her was so lifelike and the stuggle and emotion shown in their stone bodies was undeniable. pluto had veins and muscles and so much power and authority while percephine was radiating such pained emotions. the struggle that played out from the tears on her face and the struggle she was putting up with as well as an overrall resignation to the inevitable was so moving. never before have i thought it possible to be so touched by something made from stone. every angle of the statue provided the eye with more movement and emotion to take in. banini's attention to fine detail makes the textures rich and so life-like.

i walked in the colloseum today. walked where ancient romans walked and watched people die for plesure. its hard to think of a time where that could be possible but then i can't help but think of the entertainment we have today. video games and movies that are filled with violence- yes it is 'pretend' but still fills our minds. its unfortunate that the colluseum wasn't better preserved, much of the white marble that was used to build it was harvested for other things around the city. it is still such an amzing structure that is absolutely mind blowing how something of that size could have been constructed and used so functionally.

as you may have noticed--size is a major theme of rome. everything we see here is on such a massive scale it is hard to describe. pictures can't capture the magnificence of everything we come upon. the only way to start to comprehend is to see it in person...something i feel very blessed to have the opportunity to do. this is such an amazing life experience. even just the seemingly insignificant things that go on here are meaningful. the friendships being made are all so unique--i love it. all being away from home in such a strange place pushes you to form close, intimate relationships with those around you. i already feel so connected to the amazing girls i have speant the last 3 days with.


london town

unfortunately i don't have a whole lot of time to write this because i am sitting on my balcony in rome picking up some random internet connection with a low battery on my laptop. however--i wanted to get a few things down before we head to naples...

first i will start with some adventures from london--



everything was absolutely beautiful.

lynzie and i stayed in a hostel in the "royal burrough of kensington and chelsea". hyde park was just steps outside of our door...we spent our days walking our feet off and sight seeing to the point i thought my head was literally going to explode. we ventured out to the tate modern museum where i was able to see the most magnificent monet i have ever seen. it was so breath taking. i stepped on the london eye- which is a massive beyond massive farris wheel inspired wheel with big enclosed pods instead of seat baskets- and i was blown away with the size of wonderful london town. the buildings of parliment, westminster abbey, big ben, buckingham palace, the list goes on and on. the age of the buildings in incredible and nothing in provo can even come close. it is so hard to comprehend the amount of people that have been there before you and walked on the same cobblestone sidewalks and layed on the same spot of grass.

while in london lynz and i enjoyed the most divine waffle with melted chocolate and ice cream. so so wonderful. especially after walking for the last 4 days straight. buckingham palace was magnifecent and it was so fun the think they have a queen and a royal family- imagine marrying into that! we also spent many countless hours in museum after museum looking at things that i don't even have time to describe. but all wonderful.
oh london.