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Sorella Urban is not longer in Italy...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

happy mamma

Pointing at me, "Youre Italian and (pointing at S. Olsen) Youre the American one". Thats everyones reaction now. I love it!

Sorella Olsen arrived safely in my arms on Thursday at 17:27 in the train station of Catania. She is blond and 6 feet tall. She studied Italian at BYU and is just perfect for mamma Urban.

We spent the night there with the Sorelle, and then we took off after our morning studies. We listened to primary Cds with kids singing and it was better than I thought itd be. Hearing Sara once in awhile helped me get through :) It is so cool and strange having to quicken my stride to keep up with my companion.

About an hour from home, we stopped by a huge prickly pear plant becuase S. Olsen had never tasted them. I warned her not to touch them and got my gerber out and sliced some off into a bag, and since they didnt look too pokey, she took one off with her bare hands. She spent the rest of the trip with tweezers :(

After picking her up from the station, we went to the church to pick up Sorelle to give them a ride to the station because they needed to make it back to their city, Ragusa, that night. That experience of driving has made me dread returning to the U.S. with a valid driving permit. I have to say, Im a pretty good terrible driver. It doesnt make any sense at all, but I am :) Im like a Roberto driver, just not so crazy. Im afraid my excuse "but, but...I just came from driving in Sicily!" wont be accepted by a Utahn policeman.

On Sunday, we went with the Purparis into campagnia (countryside) and while we were there, we picked some oranges. We picked happily away until we looked down at our bag and realized that we had more than 20 kilos of oranges. We dragged the bag to the car, hefted it in (it almost felt like we were discarding a body) and somehow we got it upstairs into our kitchen. Oranges are amazing. Since we have so many, we took some to some inactives because they are sick with the flu- "Ciao! We just wanted to drop by and see how youre doing and we brought some..." and as I held up the bag of oranges, our eyes fell upon a mound of oranges on their kitchen counter. Oh well. Its the thought that counts, right?

On Friday evening, we stopped by to see if Angela was home. Only her 19 y.o. son, Calogero, was. We said wed stop by later and left. That night, it was about 22:00 and S. Olsen was already almost asleep. The doorbell rang and I thought I heard Francescas and Danieles voice- I thought theyd stopped to salutarci because theyd just pulled in from a trip to Messina. As I neared the door, I got this feeling that I shouldnt open it. I called out to see who it was, even though I was almost positive it was Francesca and Daniele. It was Calogero. We really have never spoken with him before- I asked what he wanted and he just said that he wanted to come in or that I come out. He sounded out of it- I told him that I wasnt opening and to go home.

I camped out at the window to watch if hed pass to go home, but he didnt. He stayed at our door for a goodwhile. It was a little creepy. But Im super grateful for the prompting I had to not open the door. Who knows what could have happened; in the past he has beat Angela up bad enough that she has had to be hospitalized.

We went to go see the mom of some members (Antonio, the one who loves the sorelle and brings us food). We walked into her bedroom and Liria woke her up to tell her that we were there, and she lifted herself up a little and then wiped her hand ALL AROUND her mouth, clearing off all the drool, and then made as if she wanted to kiss us. I thought Id die watching Sorella Olsens face as she neared the bed, bent down and kissed her. I had to do the same, but Im at least used to it. Welcome to the mission, Sorella Olsen. Mamma B even has a pokey beard!

We have two new investigators, Tina and Franco Battista. On our way there, Slla Squarcia and I were talking about how strange it is that everyone claims to have visions of either Christ or angels, and thats how most of the members here have recieved a testimony of the church.

We arrived and had the lesson and we were teaching how they can recieve a testimony for themselves about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and I thought to myself "Maria Battistia is someone I can count on to not stray off topic or say something weird," so I said, "You probably wont have a vision like Joseph Smith had, where he was visited by God and Jesus Christ, but through the Holy Ghost, we can know for ourselves. (to stress this point, I turned to Maria and asked)

Maria, did you see Jesus Christ?

To my horror and incredulity, she responded "Yes!"

You saw Christ?

Yes, not once, but twice. He came to me, and told me that I was doing the right thing.

I saw S. Squarcia in the corner trying to bite her tongue and I somehow managed to keep a straight face. It was tragic. We had just been talking about it and how it seems that everyone has visions here and it just cant be real! And then there goes Maria. No wonder its hard to baptize here- the members tell our investigators that they need to be 100% sure before they are baptized- Angela is still putting off baptism because she thinks that somethings wrong with her because she still hasnt had a vision. oi oi oi.

Somehow, we managed to explain how not everyone, at least I nor Sorella Squarcia have ever been visited by heavenly hosts, but we know the Church is true because of the Spirit. phew!

Maria Purpari has known the church for tons of years and most of her brothers, nephews, and nieces are baptized. She had a bap date in 1966 but has never been able to go through with it because she feels that she would be a traitor to how she was raised and to the catholic church. Anyways, we had picked oranges with her and then some wild plants- she invited us to her house the next day to eat the weeds we had picked.

We arrived, excited to see what awaited. The food was really good- she made an omelet out of (Lenora, remember those plants all over Kazakhstan with the poppy things that we would squish?) this one plant with yellow flowers, and then she served cicoria. Im not sure what cicoria is in english, but it looks like something thats not edible by humans. We both were served big helpings and Sorella Olsen looked like she was struggling to swallow it, so for her last bite I reached over and playfully stole it because it was "oh, so good". She squeezed my leg under the table to thank me.

We are teaching the familgia Scarito. They live here in Mistretta and have 3 kids. Does anyone know of a legal way to knock out a kid?

Besides Luca, they are wonderful :) Mario, the father, said the closing prayer last night. Its so good to see a family together, kneeling, and learning how to pray. Its on of the most rewarding things.

Seeing that we teach Primary and Young Womens, we are getting started on the personal progress program. I wish Id been more involved in it when I was in Young womens. It really is a great program.

We now have heating but we have had to turn it off, maybe because we are used to being half numb.

We go running in campagnia at 6:30 am and came across several puddles of blood, and then in a tree nearby, we spotted a thing with hooves.....?

Va bono. Last week for pday, we drovo to Capo dOrlando and ........... looked around and then at eachother and asked "What were all the great things we heard about this place?" stopped for a minute at the beach to touch the sand, and then drove back.

Today, we are going to stick our faces in all the 24 churches of Mistretta. It will be fun :)

Zone Conference is next Tuesday and we are hoping to stay in Catania and hike Mt. Etna for Pday so I dont know if Ill be writing next wed or not. it all depends on if Mt. Etna erupts again.

Vi voglio bene!

Sorella Urban

p.s. Slla Jenkins died last week and was here last night on a giro with her parents. It was good to meet her but also slightly unpleasant seeing her with her parents and realizing that that day will come for me too, like it or not.

p.s. Angela finally got a job!

p.s.s. we spent all morning doing S. Olsens document stuff- she should be legal now!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

weird things in pockets

Fantastic news- Sorella Squarcia struggled to fit into her jeans this morning. I think she no longer wonders why every missionary gains an average of 10 kilos.

For the past week, we had a wretched smell in the car. Every time we got into the car, we would yelp and roll down the window, even if it meant freezing. We checked under the seats, in the trunk, EVERYWHERE and we couldnt find anything that had crawled in and died. Then, suddenly, the smell vanished. Makes me wonder if we had roadkill stuck to a tire or something. Bo. (Or like the story Lenora shared with me, maybe a cat had been clung to the car for so long that it died and finally one of the potholes we went over shook it off.)

I made TONS of choc chip cookies this past week. The first batch turned out great, and then the dozen batches that followed - the cookies were transparent and flat as a sheet of paper. What? Is? wrong? with? our? oven? Or is it just the baker?
We delivered them in little baggies with the Christmas candy Id recieved- we stopped at the bishops house and no one was home. I noticed a window open, so perched the plate of cookies on the windowsill, and the peeked into the room and saw a shower curtain.
What a nice surprise for them to find cookies in their bathroom.

We recieved the new visiting teaching assignments- out of the 7 companionships, we make up four of those. It continues to amaze me that some have the idea what we are here to just have fun and make memories with the members. No! No! No! Sorelle missionaries have the same call and purpose as Elders do- to find, teach, and baptize! We also walk through puddles, cry after meal appointments, freeze, get doors closed in our faces, etc! But, I am happy we can be of help. I know visiting teaching and home teaching are extremely important. Print this email out and tape it to my forehead if I ever miss a month in the future.

For la Befana (Jan 6th, when a witch delivers candy, like santa clause) we had english class and Francesca told me she was going to bring "modern coal". I thought she was joking when she said shed bring a heater. Francesca showed up with a space heater in her arms- about twice her size. I could just see her walking through Mistretta. Everyone knows she just joined the church. They have good reason to think Mormons are strange :)

Speaking of Francesca: she dreams everything. She told us this past week that she was told in a dream that she is to serve a mission, modify her medication, and that leaving her husband was the right thing to do because she is to marry Daniele Purpari one day. It is astonishing how many people dream responses, dream Christ, dream everything. I almost feel a disagio admitting that Ive never been visited by a heavenly host!

I consider it a tender mercy that Angela doesnt invite us over to eat. Her son just killed two boars (everyone tells us horror stories of how they get chased now and then by these giant, wild pigs. And even the cows are blood thirsty! Our car has dents from when cows have attacked it in the past. I love it!!!) and she had a pan of intestines that she was cleaning out to restuff and fry. ugh.

We went to Nino Purparis house for dinner last night- our appt was at 8:00 which is when English finishes, so we booked it there and enjoyed a quick meal of meatballs, pasta, bread, vanilla pudding, and vegetables (steamed weeds). Nino opened a bottle of what he called "grape juice" but "Sorelle, I think it stayed out a day longer than it should have so Im not going to offer you any because the taste is a little strong." Uh...Nino, wouldnt that be considered wine then?
Ninos been known to give wine to the sisters in the past. Sorella Miller, "Nino, isnt this wine?"
"No Sorelle, I made it yesterday- drink up!"
Sorella Miller did so and "Nino, this doesnt taste like juice. Are you sure?"
Nino lowered his head and said "Sorelle, I didnt even make it myself. my friend brought it to me."

So. We didnt taste his grape juice.

During english class, I have Renzo read outloud and I correct his pronounciation. I was fiddling with my turtle neck and sometimes slipping it over my nose to warm it up, and he stopped and said timidly, "Are you doing that because my breath smells?"
Hes the same one that said he would stop coming to class because he didnt like the fact that Carmello looked at his lips while he read.
I love Renzo.

After class, I offered everyone some american hot chocolate. Antonio commented on how runny it was (Italian hot choc is super dense and can be eaten with a spoon) and guess what? The next morning while we were doing personal study, he rang the doorbell and delivered two cups of "this is Italian hot choc, the way it should be, the way its good". So. I think american hot choc just got snubbed.

Angela was talking and said "13 months of the year I spent there...". No other place would I feel the need to interrupt and clarify how many months are in a year. Im relieved to report that Sicilians are aware that there are just 12 months in a year.

We got a tour of a park here in Mistretta by the member whos in charge of it, Vito Purpari, and he gave us some seeds of this one amazing plant. Id forgotten Id put them in my coat pocket and while I was bearing testimony in a lesson with Angela yesterday, I pulled my hand out of my coat pocked and out fell a poop turd on the table. For a split second I thought "What is poop doing in my pocket?!" and then I realized that it was just a seed thing from Vito. Phew.

We spent ALL day on saturday in the countryside with Eleonora Messina and her family. Shes inactive and lives with her boyfriend and she has 3 kids. We ate ALL day and wanted to do some service for her........ they have alot of cows and we cleaned out their water hole with sticks. It had a bunch of weed and moss in it. It was SO much fun.

We had an amazing lesson with an inactive family, the famiglia Naro. We talked about Alma 32 and how we can gain a testimony on any principle of the gospel.

The church might be moved up to Mistretta. I dont know how I feel about that. Itd be good for everyone here, but I feel like theres so much potential moving the church away. oi io oi.

Its time to wrap up and head out. Tomorrow, we will be going to Catania and picking up my greenie. I mean, verdina. Oops, I meant, new missionary.
Then, I think Carla will fly out Friday morning, and then my new sorella and I will drive back on Friday. Im praying that she can handle adventure.

p.s. We have 2 new investigators- Franco and Tina Battista. Francos sister, Maria, is an amazing member. Yay for new investigators! Tina said she felt really good while we were talking, and we helped her by identifying that it was the Holy Ghost. We promised her that if she did everything we taught her and kept the commitments, that she would find happiness. She said shes willing to try it out.

I think Carla and I are headed to Capo d Orlando or Cefalu to have a picnic on the rocky beach or something. Ill try to figure out how to send pics next week.

Sorella Urban
p.s. Happy Anniversary Mom and DAD!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

not worm cheese, but macedonia

For starters- could someone procure Lias address\email for me so that I can write her? Would she be entering the MTC right about now?

Yes, I am with Sorella Carla Squarcia :) Pres. called us late on Monday night and surprised us with "Youll be picking her up tomorrow morning in Catania" so ...... we did :) I was sorry to see S. Riffaldi go but happy that we got to serve together again. I dont know how I managed but I even know my way around Catania. We picked up Slla Jones from the church, went to the airport and parked in a BUS area (I actually thought I was right outside of the bus area, but appartenly not) because when we walked back out, there was the longest line of cars, honking and blaring, and we looked to see what was causing the mess and I heard someone say something to the effect of "..people parked where the bus is supposed to pull in so it cant pull in" and it was exactly just that. A bus couldnt pull in so had to block traffic as people piled out and unloaded luggage. We were too embarassed to claim one of the cars causing the blockup so we stood off to the side (while I, of course, giggled all the while while S. Jones frantically searched for her camera) till the bus took off, people cooled down, and we got into the car and drove off, quickly ;)

Sorella Squaricas experience so far in Mistretta? Well. We got back to Mistretta at 3:00 and she was hungry, so while she boiled pasta she danced around the kitchen to create some body heat. I didnt think not having heating was that bad because we had a space heater, but that too has decided to take a vacation, so we now fight over who gets to do dishes. Doing dishes means warming up (in the slightest) so its a little strange trying to dirty as many dishes as we can. Making pancakes this morning managed to dirty even all the kitchen surfaces which required some scrubbing...I may have purposely (is that spelled wrong?) dripped on the floor too so that I had to bend down and wipe it!

I took her to meet a few of the members and Francesca, we taught English ......... We teach English every TU and THUR at 7:00 for an hour. I teach advanced, which is usually just Carmello, a non member, and Renzo. Renzo Purpari was an inactive till a month ago, and now we are hoping to help prepare him to be the next branch president. Anyways, he always comes to english class, so when he didnt come twice in a row and didnt come to church that sunday either, we were alarmed and fasted for him. It was all resolved in yesterdays phonecall- he decided to stop coming to English because "when I read, Carmello looks at my mouth. I dont like it." Mi sta antipatico.
I told him he shouldnt NOT learn English because some other man likes looking at his lips while he reads, so he came to English last night and I taught them separately. What funny people here.

Slla Squarcia was terrified to teach English but she did very well- they just went over the months of the year. Afterwards, she said that she now understood why I told her she shoudnt get worked up- I think our English lessons are the most laidback and family-like lessons in the mission.
We ended with a lesson on Mosiah 24 and then once the clock struck 20:00, we ordered everyone out because we had to run to an appt. We literally had to carry their stuff to the door so that they got out and didnt remain to chat inside. We booked it up Mistretta to Nino and Sonias house (father and daughter, whos wife is american but left them almost 3 years ago) and we had a wonderful dinner of soup and sausage and fresh ricotta. Ive added ricotta to my list of "Things Im discovering I dont like". The minestra was amazing though. I could happily live off of potatoes, peas, cabbage and carrots. While we ate fruit salad for dessert, S Squarcia kept glancing at me and I didnt even think twice about it as I happily munched away on pieces of pear and orange -
right before getting into bed last night, she said "Im sorry to say this S Urban, but halfway through dessert, I noticed that it was full of worms. I tried to warn you but you ate so quickly that I couldnt do anything. I managed to set four worms to the side of my bowl while I was eating, but when I got to the end, I could only find one worm left in the juice".

I dont know if Ive ever laughed so much in my life over eating worms. Just the whole concept of helping Slla Squarcia prepare for her mission in a couple of months, her freezing to death here ("Why didnt you tell me it snowed here?! Id have brought more warm clothes!"), and finding worms in her first meal here. Oh well. Mistretta is known for its mystery meat. This time, it just wasnt a mystery.

We found a beer bottle in our kitchen cabinet that we opened and discovered really good pasta sugo inside. Who was it from? Bo.

Antonio is still delivering bananas. Seriously, if he did think I had diarrhea, how long does he think I could have it?!

We are just about doing emails and then we will go back home and write a few letters and I get to read the conference talks!! Dad, THANK YOU. I think I may have slept with the Ensign under my pillow last night. None of the missionaries have recieved that months issue yet so I consider myself super blessed. Thank you everyone for the things you sent me. None of its labeled....except, Andrea, thanks for the pillow case! Its too cute to use :S
Lenora- the tights are AWESOME. Im wearing two pairs and the leggings right now. yay!!
The candy has been opened and enjoyed by our english students and I just dont know how to divy (sp?) up the cookie mixes. I would make them myself and deliver them BUT I know theyd get burned.

For New Years Eve, we bought a bottle of apricot juice because there wasnt any apple, and we had a romantic dinner of pasta. We left out the candles this time bc we were too cold to go hunt for them in the death closet. We set the alarm at 11:55 and when it woke us up, we were too toasy in bed to step out for a toast, so SR just counted down "10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1! Happy New Year!" and turned her head and fell back asleep. That was our celebration.
The next morning, we got up and spent the whole day cleaning. We were fast workers and got most of it done by 15:00 so we were able to read and catch up on things for the rest of the day. Amber asked me if its true that they throw toilets out of windows- only in Naples :)

Is it true juice is supposed to be consumed entro 4 days of opening?
Ive been drinking grape juice a sip at a time when I pass the fridge...since Slla Jones was here. I guess its never been enough to intoxicate me. But Carla poured it down the sink today and it sure wasnt juice anymore!!!

Sorella Urban

p.s. Oops, P.S.. Angela didnt get baptized. Still the law of chastity problem.
And how do I manage to write a whole email without adding something spiritual? Im a terrible missionary.
Read, pray, and go to church!