I guess I cant make Sorella Olsen write the weeks adventures all the time....
Pday has been fun so far :) We spent the morning teaching English to some women, and then we went to the hospital to talk to some parents who are organizing a class where we will teach 9 year olds some English. We are hoping that this turns into a great opportunity to have the kids fall in love with us and that will be the golden ticket into their homes, teach them the gospel, and have them baptized and sealed in the Temple. Sounds like a good plan, eh?
Sonia had her birthday this past week, and she and her dad, Nino, invited us for a birthday lunch. We ate. And ate. And included in all that labor, was baby pig. The piece on my plate had HAIR. I cut around it but I felt like I was chewing on a mans chin. I wouldnt have survived it if there hadnt been bread on the table. The unfortunate thing is that I filled myself up to much with bread to get that meat down, that I started to feel really sick and we had to hurry home and I threw up. It reminded me of when Dad ate the slab of pig fat in Armenia and laid sick in bed for a few hours and groaned :)
Vito Purprai gave us a sculpture of a horse made out of cheese. We were going to eat it for a special occasion, but last nights absence of dinner qualified for a special occasion so we ate it.
We are teaching the man we buy fruit from, Vincenzo. We taught him the restoration last Friday- we stood around his fruit truck and talked. He said he would read and pray about the Book of Mormon, along with his assitant friend, Ignazo. We stopped by this morning to remind them of our next appt, and we asked them how the reading was going and if theyd prayed. He told us, "I have a problem. I cant read", so we asked Ignazo if he could read outloud to Vincenzo. He said, "I cant read outloud. I get confused". So, we have Vincenzo who cant read and Ignazo who cant read outloud. Teaching them will be interesting :) They DID say that on Sunday, theyd been selling fruit and a group of Jehovahs witnesses came up to them and started talking to them and asked if theyd be able to read and pray with them. Vincenzo pulled out the Book of Mormon and said, "Thats ok with me as long as then we can read some of this book and pray my way (the way we taught him to pray)". They turned around and walked away. Vincenzo is awesome! He said "I know the Book of Mormon is true, because you wouldnt lie to me, would you?" Its very touching how willing he is to believe us, but we told him that he doesnt have to take our word for it, and we dont want him to take our word for it, but that he can pray to know the truth for himself. We are also relieved that he is interested in the message and not just the messengers. We jokingly decided that we wouldnt wear makeup to the first appt to see if hed agree to set up a follow up appt.
Francesca is still in the mental hospital and has to stay here for an undetermined stay becuase they are changing her meds. She suffers imbalances since her childhood, so we went on Sunday night to go visit her with a member, Maria, and Francesca SCREAMED when she saw us walking up to her and she jumped up from the cafeteria table and jumped on me. I couldnt unwrap myself for a full ten minutes, and the only reason she let go of me was because there was Maria and Sorella Olsen to hug. Their entanglment lasted 10 minutes, too. Francesca is going to convert the whole phsych ward. She is such a good missionary and friend to everyone there. She called us this morning and asked if we would bring lots and lots of books of mormon the next time we came :)
Guess what? Sorella Olsens next door neighbor with Hans Howell (sp?), the guy I went on my first date with from EFY with Lenora and Alejandro!
We went to the questura to do Sorella Olsens permesso di soggiorno which allows her to be here legally. The man who helped us looked her over carefully as he was filling in her information, and then he stood up and pulled her to stand underneath the light and he said she had green eyes. We both looked at eachother and then back at him and told him she has blue eyes. He insisted that they were green and took her back under the light, and acted like we didnt know what we were talking about. A few mins later, he was still bothered by the fact that we didnt agree with his professional diagnosis, so he put her under a different light and, voila! her eyes were blue and still are blue.
Vito Purpari told us that someone once commented that he looks like Richard G. Scott. Since the moment he told us that, we cant NOT marvel at how much he looks like Elder Scott. We feel like we are in his presence everytime we are with Vito. PLUS, he showed us a picture of him when he was younger and he looked so much like Elvis Presley!
We are trying to help him feel encouraged and uplifted. He has a very tough situation at home and we have made it a point to stop there a couple of times a week to read the scriptures together around the table. Usually, its just the three of us, but sometimes his wife will stay in the same room. Its so sad to see how miserable and unhappy they are for no good reason. I mean, they do have reason to be sad, but not reason to remain sad. Thats why the Gospel is so important. Because it teaches us principles that if we just applied, we can face every problem and trial better prepared because we know exactly who we can turn to for help and guidance.
We are eating lots of bananas and apples. I had no idea that banana bread is SO easy to make!
Giuseppina Oddo, aka Pina, the woman with the baptismal date who cancelled it the day after and said that we couldnt talk about religious things in her house bc her husband was against it and we didnt believe this was really the excuse and this is seriously a run on sentence and I aplogozie profusely,
WELL- we went to her house and miraculously, in the presence of her husband, sang, prayed, and taught about the plan of salvation, sang, and then prayed again---without the husband ever getting mad or throwing us out of the house. We are trying to figure out what Pinas underlying problem is, because her husband is just an excuse to cover something up.
We decided that if Angela was going to be in church on sunday, we had to see her saturday night. We went to her parents house where she is staying, and we read the scriptures with her and she said that shed be ready for church when Antonio passed by to pick her up.
Sunday morning, she didnt answer to our 8:00 squillo (we wake her up on sundays). We jumped into the car and drove down to Reitano and knocked on the door. Presently, Angela answered and her hair was wet and it looked like she was getting ready for church! Not. She said "Oggi, non scendo". Today, Im not coming down. Preach my gospel tells us to be devastated when someone doesnt keep a commitment. It was very easy to be devastated. We started talking and she invited us into the living room where we sat down. We spent nearly an hour speaking with her. She admitted that we were right in everything we said. Im just going to sum up what happened in a conversation so I can avoid saying "we said, she said":
"Angela, why arent you coming to church?"
" I had a really bad night because I have diarrhea"
Theres a really nice bathroom at church.
No, I cant come. I dont want to see someone who comes to Relief Society.
Angela, why do we go to church?
For God. To feel good.
Exactly. If we went to church for others, I dont think anyone would go to church. But we go to church because Heavenly Father knows we need it, and we take the sacrament. (we listed off some of her blessings, like being a mom, and then asked her if she was grateful and she said she was and thanks God every day for her children)
Angela, you show God you are grateful for your blessings and that you love him by obeying him and going to church!
I know. I swear that I will come next week.
Nothing will change Angela. THat sister will still be there next week. It will just get harder for you to come next week if you dont come today. This is a test of your faith. Heavenly Father is testing you right now to see if you will do what he has asked you to do, or if you will give Satan retta.
(she said "I know" to everything we said) We then explained that "I know" needs to be followed by action, otherwise it is worthless.
We promised her that the second we would leave the house, shed regret her decision.
Well. She progressively looked more and more upset. We were already late to church so we told Angela that we had to leave with a prayer. She wanted me to say it but I refused to and said that she had to pray and tell Heavenly Father why she wasnt coming to church. (I guess Im getting good at taking people on guilt trips- agh!) We kneeled down and she didnt want to say it. We stayed on our knees for a good 15 minutes and remained silent while she started to sniffle and avoid our stare. If Ive ever seen someone getting beat up by the Spirit and by their guilty conscience, it was Angela right then. We were getting to be really late to church so we said "We are ready. Pray" and bowed our heads and she finally prayed. She really struggled through it.
We left and went to church, and I had the strangest sense of satisfaction to see how upset she was. I knew she was really turning things over in her head.
That night, we went with Pres. Portera (the branch president) to see her. She told President what had happened, "The Sisters told me Id regret it, and I sure did. Ive never felt so bad in my life. I was debating whether to go or not to go. Sorella Urban told me I had to pray and that I couldnt avoid God. I didnt want to but they made me and I knew that Heavenly Father was disappointed in my choice. I felt like nothing more than dirt for a long time after theyd left. Ive promised myself that I never want to miss church again beacuse I know its what we need to do on Sundays.
Very good, Angela :) She said "I took a step forward from that experience, and I dont want to tell you what Ive decided to do, because Im too excited." We asked, "Baptism?" and she laughed and said it wasnt that yet, but that she does still want to be baptized because she knows that this is the only true church with Gods authority on the earth.
We are happy for Angela and that it was a good experience for us all. It fortified my testimony on the importance of being obedient. DC 130:20-21 reads, "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated- And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to taht law upon which it is predicated".
Its so true! I know that I cannot expect Heavenly Father to bless me with what I stand in need of if I do not put myself in position to recieve those blessings.
For Valentines Day, we are planning a branch FHE and we will talk about the love of God. We are also going to heart attack everyones doors the night before. Ive never done it before and I know that everyone will love it because its something different. Turido, Angelas dad, has leukemia and doesnt even know becuase they dont want him to know about it. He was a very stern and strict father, and the first time I met him, I believed all the stories Angela told about her childhood. But, over the past month, his heart has been softened and he even cooked sunday lunch for us once, and when we go see Angela he always asks if we can stay for dinner. We had to turn him down once and he was so upset. I love Turido! He loves teaching us Siciliano.
Renzo stopped coming to institute and english class so we called him to see what was up and he said that he was done with the church and didnt want anything more to do with anyone. We have been praying for him and he came to institute yesterday and to english class, and asked if we had any banana bread to give him :) Renzos back!!! We are so happy, esp because he is who we think needs to be prepared to be the next branch president.
Liria ........ is still on a "mormon break" and we are the only ones she lets into her house. Pride is so damaging. The interesting thing is that it is just us who it hurts when we take offense. We are the ones who lose when we hold grudges or anger towards someone.
Va bono. Our heater doesnt work anymore but 1) Im used to it, ormai and 2) Sorella Olsen is quickly getting used to it. Thank goodness for Lenoras BYU hoodie!
We also feel ancient. Every missionary supposedly falls apart towards the end of their mission. I still have a while left so Im getting a little worried, it cant be happening to me right now! But whats Sorella Olsens excuse? The downhills of Mistretta, thats what. I have calluses on the tips of 8 toes. The tips! We fear that our shoes will split at the front :) Its pretty funny. When we go running in the morning, we take turns moaning and groaning with every stride. I think the peanut butter mom sent is whats keeping us together.
The Elders of Palermo want to go to find the Francesca family next Pday, so maybe we will write in the evening again.......
Thanks for your letters, prayers, love, and support. I am so happy to be here in Sicilia. I am daily reminded of how blessed I am. Today, for example, I am grateful that I can read and write. I take so many things for granted. ay ay ay.