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!
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!