ps can you send this to tommy i dont know which is his email right now
1) Mom, I havent seen Dima yet. I think I will if he didnt get transferred the day I was. Tomorrow we are spending all day driving to Catania for Zone Conference, and then coming back.
I have SOOOOO much to say but so little time.
The trip here was awesome. The train BOARDED the ship and we went outside and stood up at the top and ferried across to Sicily. Sorella Riffaldi, Foote, Hansen, Miller EVERYONE was there waiting and it was SOOO great. We sorelle loaded my bags into our car (!) and we walked down a few streets to a gelato shop and had gelato while we talked. Sorella Riffaldi lost an earring so we started looking for it on the sidewalk and it turned out to be a good finding activity-people stopped and helped us look! We found it :)
Then we parted ways and Slla Miller and I started out trip home........ 3 hours drive and I couldnt see out the window because it was too dark. BUT. Tomorrow we will be making the same drive and we are leaving at 6 in the morning to be there by 9, so Ill get to see it all.
We live in an apt building, - our door opens and theres stairs that go straight up. We have institute at home, english class, and seminary and church activitites- its more like a church building and our home is one of the rooms. we just always keep the door shut and the members know its off limits. the house is cold. our room is warm. We open the door just to go out to the kitchen. Sorella Miller loves eating fruit and she is going home next week so we are eating healthy.
Guess what? Theres too much to say about Mistretta that I dont even know where to start. Its A.W.E.S.O.M.E.
Thursday morning, we woke up and went running. Slla Miller is a hard core biker- we live on the outskirts of town (basically EVERYTHING is the outskirts, theres nnothing to make a town out of!) and.... I just wanted to stop and soak it all in. Let me try to paint a picture for you of where I live. Take Beauty and the Beast Village. Or the movies of like Lord and the Rings where they scan over the geography- imagine New Zealand. dark green mountain after dark green mountain with lots of green green green, out in the middle of nowhere, and then the dark crystal blue ocean. This is my home.
I am living in heaven.
I felt like I was running in ...yeah, New Zealand is the best description I can think of. I wish I had pics ready to send! And the sun comes up at the end of our run and its just incredible. Mistretta is what I consider heaven. Its just snowed once but its ok. Its really not too bad. I just need to start wearing hiking boots instead of my shoes (which are quickly getting broken in).
How do I describe Mistretta? Its a little village on the slope of the peak of one of the many mountains. The streets are all small little alleys that I dont know how Im going to find my way around here without slla miller. Theres one main street and a labyrinth that branches off of it. everyone knows eachother. my first day, sorella miller took me around to meet the members. I met everyone in 24 hours. The car stays parked till we have to leave Mistretta. Thats the cool thing- everything is so close. We do walk alot, and its all either steep uphill or steep downhill. Its amazing to me how no ones on crutches or suffering a sprained ankle- I have yet to see someone in high heels here. I think its impossible.
Church is in santo stefano, a city 30 min away. to get there we have to take this long road thats a bridge\ramp and it goes over the coast, so we just look out the window and are almost over the water. its incredible. church is a rented building, and we were in 12 this Sunday. It reminded me so much of being back in Almaty! The branch president, Fllo Portera, is incredible. He has to leave church early to get back to work on time, so there were a few testimonies and then we ended. They have a keyboard (like the small 2 octaves one) that I played and they were going off on how incredible it is that an angel has been sent who plays the piano. They are the most humble people! I taught primary (fratello porteras daughter) and sorella miller taught young womens (another one of his daughters).
It was such a good sunday. Coming from Rome, where no one would have noticed if Id been there 10 years and disappeared, to here, where EVERYONE prays and mentions the sorella missionaries in their prayers and talks. Its so neat. They love us.
Why is Mistretta known as the city where sorella gain 20-30 lbs just in Mistretta? Because thats what everyone does here. They live to eat. They work just enough to eat. Their lives revolve around meals. Slla Miller has been really good at paving the path for me and trying to teach the members that they cant expect us to eat as much as they want us to- we leave EVERY door we walk into with some food. Its shocking. I dont know how they do it. But they are so generous. Slla Millers the first missionary to lose weight in Mistretta. It takes real self control, and shes my hope. Antonio, a member of 22 years, used to drop things off for the sorelle to eat EVERY MORNING and EVERY EVENING. Im glad slla Millers changes some things. But Antonio is so great! Antonio Bartalotta I believe. He has facebook and would be ecstatic if you Lenora found him. He chats with missioaries parents every day thru google translate.
So im writing so late and so grammatically incorrect because we are on the run. slla miller has been in all of sicilia except for the 3rd point, Trapani, so we called pres and got permission to go so thats where we have been all day. we left this morning at 6:45 and we drove thru palermo and walked around trapani (there really wasnt much to see, most of our walking was looking for our car) and we drove to erice- incredible. A much cooler Pompeii, and people still live there! its a mini mini city ontop of a hill and we walked down a back train and entered a half destroyed castle- then as we were looking at postcards, we realized that the castle in the pic wasnt destroyed. it must have collapsed not too long ago- oops. we could have been hurt....
we got stuck in traffic and now we just have 30 min to head back home and teach english class (at home, yes...its weird! all the members have a key to our house!) and then we are going to see angela. angela has a bap date for next saturday but she isnt excited about baptism- when people ask her what shes doing with us, she replies "oh nothing, im not changing anything. theyre just friends". so we are focusing on helping her not be embarassed about the gospel.
real quick- the biggest differences that have shocked me? Sicilians are NOT italians! They are such different people! 1) I know whats its like to be a greenie and not understand what people say. holy smokes, siciliano is sooooo weird. Im picking it up a little bit, but its weird that they struggle when speakign italian with us. Its like in armenia when people were embarassed to speak in russian with us bc we knew it better (or so they thought).
2) they are so bold! theyll tell you exactly what they think of you, and whats on their mind.
3) there arent foreigners here. Ive seen ONE romanian. so strange. I thought Id finally be teaching italians. I dont think Sicilians can be considered italians! I love it!
Mistretta hasnt seen a baptism for several years. the general attitude has been "in mistretta, you strengthen the members and then you get transferred out and baptize". Im so grateful for sorella miller and that she has the same goals and vision as I do. Shes GREAT. iF it were anything but Christmas time, shed extend her mission so we could serve longer together. I love her.
Shes been here for 6 months, and she says that its the hardest place shes ever been, but the most gratifying. I already can understand that.
Francesca got baptized last saturday. Ok. Before I can really talk about the individuals, I have to say....that.... the people in Mistretta just arent very normal. Im not sure if its just the village life that does it, but I have yet to figure it out. Francesca was very disliked by the members up till her baptism, bc they call her sick. Shes not, shes just anorexic and shes getting help. She went out with us sunday night do introduce us to her friends. she tells them shes a missionary. when a friend tried kissing her cheek, she stuck her hand out in his face and said "no, i cant kiss guys. im a missionary".
(ahhhh theres so much to say but no time!)
we are teaching pasquale- hes 40, living with his 17 year old girlfriend.... and their two kids. hes not baptized because he is under house arrest and cant leave mistretta for a year and a half. He is incredible.
theres nino- almost blind. about 60 years old. is in love with francesca and is upset she wont marry him. hes a retired chef and ....I love him.
Angela. With a bap date. That cant see us in the morning because shes too busy. we found out its because she sleeps alot.
Daniele. 24, went on a mission for 2 months and came home. He used to be really into drugs and now hes not entirely there. Its really sad, but he is great too. So friendly.
There are so many more. But we have to go. I love being here. I laugh to think that I thought for a moment "Ooh, Mistretta- its a prize for my past few transfers, I get to relax a little!" If anything, this is the late place to relax. so much potential here. so much work to do.
next pday should be wed but im not sure when im picking up my new comp or taking s miller to the airport.
149 Corso Umberto 1
slla miller said mail is really good here. yay!!! you can even send packages here without any problem!!! but i dont want packages.
ok, love you!