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Thursday, March 24, 2011

1 year mark in Italy! 100 days left......

Today marks a year from the day that I arrived and got all my stuff stolen :)

We spent all morning with the two girls we teach English to- Maria Grazia and Tiziana. We went to Tiziana's house and learned how to make arancini- fried rice balls stuffed with meat, ham, mozzarella, cheese, etc. I am so glad I know how to make them now! They are super unhealthy but I am really excited to make them at home to show off my Sicilian skills. I managed to get out of there having only eaten two. Sorella Olsen ate 5. Poor soul.
While they were in the deep fryer, we went out and had a little tour of Mistretta. We went to the only museum and looked at tools and pictures of how shepherds lived and how ricotta and provola cheese is made. We also stopped into Adorazione prepetua, a small church where the ostia (sacrament) is believed to be the actual flesh of Christ, and people take turns sitting near the ostia every hour of every day. It smelled strange in there, probably because there's someone always there. Mistretta is a beautiful city. Apart from the uneven stone streets, I could live here. I don't know how Sorella Miller served 6 months here without a knee or ankle replacement. I consider it a blessing that I only have two weeks left here (oi, that's so sad!) just for the sake of my joints.
On Thursday we had a dinner to celebrate the anniversary of Relief Society. Only three women showed up: Liria, Sonia Purpari, and Angela. I'm proud of how well our pasta turned out! Liria brought a ginormous bowl of rice alla seafood, and we asked her how she'd made it and she put her finger to her mouth and whispered that it was a secret, but "It's so good, isn't it?"
She was really proud of her cooking, and it was fun to keep complimenting it and seeing how much it pleased her. Sorella Olsen and I even had seconds (remember, I very much dislike seafood), and because everyone else had things come up at the last minute, we were left with our huge pot of pasta, Liria's gigantic bowl of rice, and Angela's one kilo of fresh bread. It was a strange meal, but we all had a good laugh because Angela didn't want to eat the rice but she ate it to not offend Liria, and Liria was crooning over how good it was and how good of a cook she is, and she kept reaching over and petting Angela's face. (Something I love about Sicilians is that they are very proud of their abilities, and if it was coming from anyone but them, it'd come across as being very egoistic and prideful. When we say things like, "We are here to help others" the usual response is "Oh, Sorella, you have no idea how much I do for others", etc.) During the dinner, Daniele Purpari kept calling and I kept hanging up on him till the thought crossed my mind that maybe it was something urgent. I called him back and he said, "ohh....well.....I was just wondering if there were any leftover brownies". Not now, Daniele!
The next day, we went to Liria's house and we were talking about how good the rice was and Liria got that huge grin on her face again, and then her mom said, "Wasn't the rice that Liria made good? She bought it already made at the store and brought it home to add to the rice". It took all my selfcontrol to keep from laughing. I couldn't look at Liria's face for a full minute.
We have not seen Francesca for two weeks. She made a mistake and Pres. Portera told her what she needed to do to repent, and she didn't want to accept it, so she has refused any visits or phonecalls from the members. We spent a few evenings at her door knocking and trying to get her to let us in, but then it was decided that we best not try anything more for now. She has decided she wants to be excommunicated; we are confused how things could change from night to day with her. The only person she is in contact with is Angela, and Angela has told us that she found a job caring for an elderly man, but she got fired on her first day at work because she fainted from the exertion of changing him. She has put on weight, but she definitely is not strong enough for that kind of job. Carla sent me a letter a few weeks ago to give her, but she won't accept anything from us. All we can do is pray for her.
Sunday morning rolled around and Angela didn't respond to our 8:00 am wakeup call, so we quickly left the house and went to knock on her door. She has one of the loudest dogs in Mistretta. If Sorella Olsen had a giant mouse trap.........
After fracturing our knuckles on her front door, she finally opened up. We had woken her up and we told her that she had 10 minutes to be ready for church. As she dressed we made her breakfast. I was in the kitchen warming up her milk, frantically trying to remember how Sorella Miller had made her breakfast last time.... I started spooning in the sugar into the milk and asked Angela how much sugar she puts in. She replied "one". Oops. I had just put in my 3rd heaping spoon. I mixed extra well to dissolve it :)
As I was bustling around the kitchen, I passed the door and caught a glance of Angela on the toilet with the door wide open! She saw me and I jerked around and went straigth to Sorella Olsen and squeezed her arm as I wheezed to her what I had just seen; we started giggling and then Angela walked in holding a pair of gigantic underwear and sat down at the kitchen table. I thought to myself "That can't possibly be underwear that she is not yet wearing; she's just going to fold it and put away" and then she bent over and struggled getting her legs into the underwear holes because it kept getting stuck on her heels (yes, she was fully dressed, except for her underwear, apparently :)! ) so I bent down and helped her thread her legs through. Once again, I used all my self control to keep myself from laughing because the words came to mind "You do everything to help an investigator come to church"- yes, including helping them with their underclothing! I hope that means she wasn't disturbed at the fact that I'd seen her in the bathroom.
At church, we have started doing sacrament meeting the first hour because the Portera's (the branch president, his wife, and three daughters) used to leave halfway through to make it back to Mistretta for President's work, and the members complained that all the commotion was very distracting. It's nice having sacrament meeting first, but there's only one speaker and the whole meeting lasts 30 minutes, so we find ourselves with alot of time for primary. Poor Lucrezia :) With young women's finishing early because the Portera's leave, we decided to join in with the Relief Society. Liria was giving a lesson on charity out of the gospel principles manual. (Liria and Antonio are two of the most sensitive people I have ever met. Sorella Olsen and I trade off playing the piano and leading for sacrament meeting, and when I lead, I usually just stare, amazed,at Liria because she usually starts crying when the first note is hit. Bless her heart.) So, Liria was telling the story of the Good Samaritan and she had to stop every 5 seconds to sob and regain composure, and I had my head bowed so that I wouldn't put myself at risk of laughing. Sonia had the same idea but a giggle escaped and Liria misinterpreted it and scolded her for not loving to read the scriptures. It had nothing to do with it, and Sonia tried explaining but Liria wouldn't hear it. She continued talking about charity and loving your enemies as she shot dark glances at Sonia the rest of the lesson. Maria Battista's cell phone rang and we all waited to reassume once peace was restored, but rather than quickly turning it off or silencing it, she answered it and had an unhurried conversation with her sister-in-law before hanging up and allowing us to continue. I love the members here! Some things they do still take me by surprise.
After church, we hurried home to change into our sweats and then went to Angela's house and cleaned for a few hours. She said she couldn't come to church because she had to clean, so we had this deal that we would all go to church together and then help her clean. She is in Reitano all week working, and so she is forced to come up over the weekend to clean up after her slob, I mean, son, Calogero. He is 19 and isn't capable of neanche doing the dishes. Argh. I probably should change the subject because her son is a touchy subject. He's the one who tried getting into our house when it was really late and Sorella Olsen was already asleep, and then lied about it. All I'll say is- parents, teach your kids to work. Kids, stop lamenting.
President Kelly doesn't want us to make two round trips to Catania for Sorella exchanges, so I've decided that Sorella Olsen and I are going to Siracusa (Syracuse) for a day, doing splits with the sisters there, and then coming back. Our absence will make the members appreciate us even more :)
We want to do Paterno next preparation day, because I'll probably be packing my bags the wednesday after. Where in Sicilia will Sorella Urban go? Bo. Maybe Ladispoli with Sorella Askew!
I've complimented Vito on his hiking boots.........and one morning he rang at the door and gave us each a pair of hiking boots he'd bought for us. Meee. (something everyone says here, rather than saying "wow", etc, you say "meeeeee" and drag out the "e" for as long as you want). It's short for mizzica, like managgia (doppio g?) We really don't want to accept them because the money could be used for so many other necessities, but he won't accept mine back. Sorella Olsen used the excuse of them being too small, so he returned them and got a bigger size, and then she said she doesn't have enough space in her luggage, so he grudgingly took them back. I have one suitcase...what am I going to do with my pair of hiking boots? Maybe I'll wear them on my flight back. It wouldn't look too strange, right?
We have the kids english course in a little bit so I need to wrap this up. Does anyone have ideas as to what we can teach a group of 8 year olds?! Something that would keep them attentive...like a song, that doesn't have more than 20 different words....? We are stumped. I never thought I'd resort to it, but last week we taught the Barney "I love you, you love me" song.
We did house-to-house for the first time together and Sorella Olsen had some pretty funny experiences getting the door shut on us.
I am so excited for General Conference!!!!!!!! We are going to the Portera's house to watch it because they have a BYU channel. For FHE, we went to the Portera's and talked about reverence. We almost don't want to bring investigators to church because the girls are so noisy and rowdy. We took it from the angle, "We need your help doing missionary work" and I had to be more honest than I wanted to be, but in the end, Pres. Portera established the rule that they 1) can't bring food to church and 2) they can't walk around during sacrament meeting. Just these two steps will help tremendously in inviting the Spirit.
I've saved this for last because I'm still not sure how much into detail I can go about it; we are being watched by the police. I won't put any names for the time being, but one of our investigators, who lives with a member family, returned to his old ways and landed himself in jail again. We heard through the grapevine that the police are asking about us and what we do here, because they know we have alot of contact with that family. We've been warned that our phones are probably tapped and we are being watched, so we are limiting our contact with them till things cool off a bit.
Va bene. Thank you to all of you who write letters. We found Christmas behind our door yesterday; Lenora, thanks for the pictures! I got another postal notice so I can pick it up tomorrow :) I apologize for the end to hand written letters. We just haven't found the time to stay in and write. Maybe next transfer?

And, in closing, I just wanted to share something I read in personal study this morning. I finished the Book of Mormon and decided to read the Pearl of Great Price. In Moses 1:13 and the following verses, I really liked "Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God........calling upon God, he recieved strength...........For lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days..."

I really like how Moses knew how he was and what that meant to him. He understood the power and potential he had being a son of God. Let us try to remember and act with the confidence and comfort that knowledge brings- knowing that we are sons and daughters of God. We have in us the potential of doing great things and becoming like Him. Moses recieved strength calling upon God, and we not only have access, but He has asked us to communicate with Him through humble and sincere prayer, so that He can help us through our daily troubles and triumphs.

Sorella Urban

Italy's 150th anniversary

Sorella Olsen's brother is going to Russia, Moscow West!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If it hasn't changed, then that means he's probably going to serve in Almaty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We have spent some time guessing as to where he would be sent. Oh, and we didn't do email yesterday so that we could find out today, rather than get ulcers from wondering.
This morning we went running in t-shirts! It is summer here. It is beautiful. We turned off the heat. Life is so good.

Saturday night was the windiest night of my life. We couldn't sleep because all the windows and doors were banging. We went to church and everyone else looked as sleep deprived as we did- :)
Scirocco has arrived (the African wind) and I'm ok with giving up some sleep for some warmth. Yesterday, for our preparation day activity, we met up with the Anziani of Palermo 1 (Anz. Roe and McDaniel) and we went up to Gratteri to show them the house of Vincendo di Francesca, and to the cemetery. We found his grave by peering through the grate of the "Di Francesca Famiglia" grave house, but.........it said he died in 2006 or something. No one has to know though. We can triumphantly say that we have been to Vincenzo's grave. Just, not the Vincenzo.

Last week, we decided to do our weekly shopping at a store outside Mistretta that we had never been to. Sorella Olsen does not like driving up hill and after some groaning and hysteria, we reached the parking lot and parked. We walked into Brico Bell, took one look around, stepped back out and burst out laughing. It was a hardware store. Where was all the food? Bo. We might return to look at microwave prices- Sorella Kelly gave us her blessing in looking for one. What a luxury that would be!

Lucrezia is our one primary kid- Sorella Olsen had the inspirational thought of talking about the importance of not repeating vain repetitions in our prayers. I enthusiastically agreed that it'd make for a great lesson because Lucrezia says the same prayer, using the same words, all the time.
Sorella Olsen did a great job teaching the lesson and we asked Lucrezia lots of questions and she seemed to understand the concept of what we were trying to get her to understand. Then, we asked her to say the closing prayer. I could not help but giggle all through it because it was the exact same prayer she always says! After 50 minutes of trying to get her to change her wording..................... :)
She started coming to the 8 y.o. english class we teach in the elementary school basement, and we asked her to say the closing prayer at the end of yesterday's lesson. She asked "The usual one?"
"No Lucrezia, say something about english class. Ask Heavenly Father for help that you and your friends will be able to remember what was taught today."
She said the usual prayer but added that phrase in. I want a daughter like Lucrezia.

Every morning we go running past the cemetery out into the countryside, and we pass one farm with a few dogs in a cage that always bark the entire time we are running. We hop a fence near them that continues down towards the river, and then we turn around, hop back over the fence, pass the ferocious dogs, pass the cemetery, and run back home. Well. Last week, we were on our way back and we were about to climb back over the cow fence when we saw that a dog had escaped and was sharpening its teeth in preparation for our ankles arrival. We knelt down and said a prayer, and when we stood up, the dog was gone. Nowhere to be seen. His evil friends were still barking in the cage, but he was nowhere to be seen. Heavenly Father even cares for our ankles.
I used to like dogs, and I might think of having one in the distant future, but I completely understand why dogs are a missionary's worst enemy.

On Monday morning, we went to do some service- cleaning up a house that Beatrice and Pasquale want to move into when they get married this summer. (Pasquale is our investigator who can't get baptized because he is under Mistretta arrest, and Beatrice Purpari has 2 little girls with him and is inactive). We showed up in our sweats (so strange to be out in public in something other than a skirt!) and ...... they warned us that the woman who lived there did not throw away anything, but we didn't fully understand till we started going through the attic and filling up trash bags. She did not throw away anything. Mom, Nonna doesn't have any hold-onto-junk disease. This woman saved the wrappers of food she ate! I found half a dozen dead lizards and really wanted to send one to Lenora, but didn't. We also found some spiders on steroids that Sorella Olsen squealed over as she attacked with a stick of wood. I am proud of her- she hates spiders- but she kept at it. We spent an hour filling up the trash bags, and then pulled up the car and loaded it up and followed Vito to the dump. He is such a crazy driver! And he chose the narrowest streets. mamma mia.

While we were running this morning, discussing Stareishin Olsen's destination, an older, larger man on a scooter passed us and gave us a funny look- a minute later he headed back in our direction and said "run faster, run faster!" and honked as he zoomed past.

We have been really happy with Maria Grazia and Tiziana (the 31 y.o. women who we teach English to) because they keep the commitments we leave them and they are so nice and sincere. In our last appt we were doing some follow-up and asked them how their prayers were going (we gave them prayer rocks to remind them to pray kneeling every morning and night) and they said, "Good, good! I say Padre Nostro and ......"
What? Padre Nostro? No...............................
It's funny how we thought we had made it very clear to them that we wanted them to pray the way we taught them to pray, but apparently we weren't clear enough. We cleared it up and they agreed to pray the way we pray every morning and night. haha. We walked out of there really glad that we'd discovered this now and not later down the road. How can you find out the truth about principles of the gospel if you say a written prayer?

We met Isabella Purpari, Beatrices sister. She is 22 and moved out of the house more than 6 years ago because of the situation at home. It amazes us how we can feel so much love and concern for someone we barely met. We walked to the beach and sat down and talked about her life. She wants to return to church but is finding it hard to figure people for some things in the past. We are very grateful she is so open with us and wanting to make changes in her life. She has changed her mind about the Sisters. She hadn't wanted to meet with us because she didn't want to be pushed to go to church, but she said she's glad now that we are meeting with her :) On our way home, we stopped and did weekly shopping and ate half a kilo of prunes on our way home. I won't go into detail, but we are never doing that again!

Tonight, we are having a dinner at our house for the Relief Society anniversary. I wish Grandma were here to help! We are the ones putting it together because no one else takes the initaitive to do branch activities. Out of all the Italians who could make pasta, WE are providing the pasta. Pray that Sorella Olsen will be able to recall something she learned during her cooking internship in Siena!

Today is the 150 anniversary of Italia being united! It's really neat seeing all the flags from the balconies. Everyone has stuck out Sicilian flags as well; Sicilians are such proud people.

Mom, I gave Maria Purpari the letter you wrote her. We've been waiting for the right moment and it was the right moment last week- she confuses us because she will say things like "Ive been waiting 30 years for an answer" and then "I know the Catholic Church is right for me because I feel satisfied when I go to mass"..... ai ai . We don't know what we can do for her.

Francesca is going through a really tough time right now and doesn't want to see any of the members. Angela is the only one she will let into the house. I heard that Laurent, my miracle man in Florence, was offended and doesn't want anything to do with the church.
These are the things that make a mission tough. Seeing people make decisions without keeping in mind eternal perspective and how that will affect them and their families in the eternal sense.

We do not know much of what is going on in Japan, but we heard that all the missionaries are safe. What an incredible miracle. Presidente Portera spoke on Sunday about how we should not fear, but we should prepare. 2 Timothy 1:7 reads "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind".
I know that is why we need the Gospel in our lives. That is why we need a living Propeht, the scriptures, the commandments. So that we can have peace of mind in all the things we affront (face?) in life.
I am grateful for the peace and healing the Gospel brings.

Sorella Urban

Friday, March 11, 2011

Taormina preparation day

A few days ago, we were walking from an appointment to another, and we looked ahead of us and saw 8 adorable piglets roaming around on one side of the grassy hill. I whipped out my camera and started videoing "Lenora...we found you in Mistretta! Ooohh, look how cute they are!" and then as I turn to my left, "Ooh! Hi mamma! .....Wait, arent mammas jealous of their babies?" and the second I said this, the huge pig lowered her head, gave a grunt, and pawed the ground- Sorella Olsen made a strange noise and took off in the opposite direction. I think I didn't even have time for my life to flash before my eyes. I was just wondering what we could protect ourselves with- running around a car? Pigs are dangerous! Maybe it was sorella Olsens terrified reaction, but the monster changed her mind about charging us and just returned to her piglets. I am so glad I have it on video. I will use it to blackmail Sorella Olsen one day.

We have heat! It got to the point where we couldn't stand it any longer and we took action ourselves to getting it fixed. We were so grateful for a tecnico to come that we shared some brownies with him. We can now program without hiding our faces underneath a blanket. It snowed yesterday morning as we were headed out to Catania for Zone Conference. When is spring coming? At Zone Conference, we went over the rules of the mission because the merging of the Catania and Rome missions has brought some confusion. We are now no longer able to recieve emails from anyone but family, and we can't write anyone but family- I'm sorry that this will take more effort for some of you (Amber!) but you'll be blessed for it and I really appreciate your sacrifices and efforts in helping me be obedient.
I am being transferred at the beginning of April, so I will get to serve my last 2 in a new city. I do not want to leave Mistretta but I am excited for the chance to meet, learn from, and help new people. I will be able to leave with a peaceful heart knowing that Sorella Olsen will continue to do much good here as she is doing.

Mom, next week we would like to go to PaternĂ² for preparation day- if you are able to, could you send me info of Nonnos birth, parents or relatives, so that we can go to the comune and look someone up and possibly go find them?

We held a ward fast for missionary work- we asked all of the memebers to pray and write down names of their friends and family. Then, we had a break-the-fast at our house after church. We laughed that we managed to get all of them to come, but most of them arrived with store-bought pastries. We are getting them involved in missionary work, but got them all to shop on the sabbath! We might have an idea as to what to teach next sunday................ :)
It was a really good branch activity. We set up the table and when everyone walked in, the first thing they asked was "Where's the tablecloth?!" We told them we didn't have any, and we thought of doing buffet style. They wouldn't have it. They put towels underneath their plates and all sat around the table. Rather than going around the table and dishing up, they all sat down and each person passed their plate and they ate in rounds. It was the strangest and most laborious meal I've ever been a part of. I am proud to be 25% Siciliana. I am also very proud to be American- I'm getting the best of both worlds. I have to agree with the Americans on their eating habits though- my patriotism for America has finally started to bloom. Americans are really smart and use good reason in doing most things.

Neither of us have recieved mail for a few weeks. We feel like the missionaries in the Best 2 Years- we are thinking about going to the post office and just demanding to be given someone's mail, just any mail. Now that we can't recieve emails outside of family, either the letters will stop completely, or they will pick up. We are hoping for the latter :) BUT I am very aware that once a missionary hits a year mark in the mission, they are almost "dead" so the mentality is "oh, it's no use writing, they'll be back soon anyways". Don't let this way of thinking affect yours. Remember, I'm keeping a careful record of who deserves my full and undivided attention when I get back.
I am completely joking about the mail part. As long as you are safe and happy, so am I. Write Sorella Olsen, though.

We went to Taormina this morning- it is such a beautiful drive. Sorella Olsen and I can't get over how lucky we are to serve here. It is heaven on earth. We could see mainland Italy, the tip of the boot, and we went to a Greek amphitheater and took alot of pictures with the sorella from Siracusa, Sorelle Jones and Salyer. Yesterday, Pres. Kelly gave us permission to take one day of the transfer to dedicate to sight seeing- to take trips that are long distance. We definitely want to go to Siracusa and PaternĂ², and Mt. Etna might have to wait for a later life because there is still alot of snow on it.

Angela and Francesca are doing so well. Angela has finally made scripture study a daily habit and, much to my surprise, loves the Isaiah chapters. We see her every few days, and it is one of the best parts of the week. Our last appt, she got excited over something and hugged and kissed us both, but while she was kissing Sorella Olsen, something or someone went wrong and they basically kissed on the lips. It was the funniest thing. I told Sorella Olsen to get used to it- it happens. I am convinced that's why we can't side-kiss men. Too many would "accidentally" miss. Ew.

Well. Time is up because a bunch of rowdy 8 year olds are waiting for us to teach them the song "I like to eat apples and bananas".

Buona settimana!

I realize I didn't end this letter on the best note. Um........ In Alma 29:1, Alma describes the wish of his heart. He was always so powerful in calling people to repentance because he had it happen to him- he gained his testimony through an angel calling him to repentance. I realize how important it is to figure out the strong points in our testimonies and develop a stronger testimony on principles we don't have much of a testimony of. We've been invited to do so as missionaries, and I think it can apply to us all.

Sorella Urban

Palermo Pday

What a week full of experiences! Where do I start?

While we were at Giuseppina Oddos house weeks ago, Sorella Olsen had commented on one of her house decorations and Giuseppina gave it to her. It was a glass orb with flowers inside, and Pina said she didn't really want to keep it because one day it will break and the water inside would stink up the house.

We had it on our desk for a couple of weeks and then we finally decided to just throw it away. We usually put the trash in the car and then stop at the dumpster on our way out of Mistretta. While I was swinging the trash bag into the bin, the bag dropped and the orb broke and splashed water all over Sorella Olsens legs. The smelliest water. We wailed and groaned as we drove to Palermo because it smelled so bad. It was sooo funny.

We drove to Palermo for DDM this past Monday, and since we had always seen parking space infront of the church, we asked the Elders if we could pick them up and they show us the way to the church. We did so but when we got to church, we circled the block a few times and couldn't find anything. The Anziani got out and we took off again to look for something. A minute later, they called us and said "Hurry back, we found a spot!" So we came back around and as I crossed the busy intersection, I couldn't see any spot for the car but the Anziani kept beckoning us forward...so we went forward...and blocked both lanes of traffic..."You need to parallel park!". Thanks Anziani, that came a little late. So somehow I managed to double park and we waited for a woman to come outside the pharmacy to take her spot. We waited and waited, and then she finally came out and while she was backing out into the street, she hit a car and that car hit a car which hit another car. I wish I had taken a picture. It was one of the most stressful and funny moments I have had yet. The four Anziani on the curb were all gaping. I guess in Palermo it's a normal thing to hit cars, because no one got out to assess the damage or anything. We finally parked, cheered, (a fruit vendor helped us and then joined in the moment of triumph) and we had DDM. I think that's the last time we are driving all the way to the church.

On our way out of Palermo, we stopped to buy some fruit and Sorella Olsen almost lost her skirt. She must have forgotten to zip it after using the restroom :)

As for losing skirts at fruit stands: yesterday morning we were buying some fruit and all of a sudden I felt my skirt walking away and I jerked around and there was a kid with his hand wrapped around the hem of my skirt and he was trying to walk away with it! His Dad was standing next to him and not looking nearly as alarmed as I was feeling. I literally had to fight the kid off of my skirt! What was the Dad thinking?! What was he not thinking? I turned to see Sorella Olsens reaction and she had missed the whole thing! Too bad she was the only one- everyone else was staring at me and giggling. Sorella Olsen and I are wearing leggings under our skirt from now on.

Sorella Olsen has been having strange dreams about me and Lenora. One was of me smoking and then drinking egg yolk through the cigaretta as a delicious finale. She dreamed that Lenora and Andrew got sealed at the Temple...why does she have good dreams about L and not about me?

On Friday, we were invited to Francesca's for dinner. She doesn't really know how to cook but she managed well. Because she doesn't have a stove, she and Pietro (her husband that is almost an ex) came over and dropped off the lasagna for us to put in the oven. Pietro gave us a kilo of ricotta, so we made a lot of cannoli this week and delivered them to all the members and contacts :) They said they'd be back in 30 min. An hour passed. We sat in the kitchen and stared at the lasagna and were sooo tempted to just go ahead and have the dinner party without them. They finally showed up and all of us went together to Francesca's. Daniele came, too. (Daniele is a Purpari, he's the 24 y.o. who is a little messed up from drugs but now he's on the right path) ...Daniele doesn't like Francesca, he actually goes through terrible phases of being flirty with us. He is in one of those phases right now and it really tries my patience because it's remarkably easy to be annoyed with someone. BUT I try to keep in mind how much he has been through and it makes looking at him more bearable. Anyways, where was I? Oh, so Francesca is going through a divorce with Pietro, even though he is still obviously very much in love with her and she says that he is not and that she has forgiven him for some mistakes he has made in the past, etc. She has a crush on Daniele and that dinner was her talking and flirting with him the entire hour infront of her ex husband. We felt terrible for Pietro. We had been meaning to speak with Francesca concerning the matter for a long time, so we went to see her a few days later and talked about it. It is so sad and it breaks my heart. Pietro did make dumb mistakes but he has repented and wants to be a better person, and he would give everything to Francesca if she needed it, and she doesn't recognize how much sacrifice he puts in to caring for her! We told her a story of Sorella Olsen's friend who didn't appreciate her boyfriend until he was gone, and then she regretted what she had had but lost. It makes me think of they many wonderful people who are at my side that I don't appreciate as much as I should. I'm learning alot from Francesca- we want to help her have direction in life, but she is set on not doing anything until God tells her what she needs to do and to "show" her who she has to marry. He doesn't work like that, Francesca! He will never deprive us of our free agency. Ay.
Well, we ate a huge dinner that Friday night and then, while Sorella Olsen was saying the closing prayer;
"Thank you for Francesca, Daniele, and Peitro.........." and Pietro said "and you too!" so she added, "and for us" and then she said "Thank you that Francesca found a house" and Francesca, really loudly, said "GRAZIE PADRE!!" Sorella Olsen remained quiet and then started let out a stifled snort\laugh, regained her composure, and managed to finish the prayer.
It's something that takes a little getting used to, having people chime into a prayer you're saying.

She offered us something she'd been eating for dinner and I, wisely, declined, but Sorella Olsen asked "What is it?" and got as a response "Eat it and then I'll tell you" which is immediately a red flag, but Sorella Olsen took a bite and I inspected it closely and said "Liver?" to which she nodded. Sorella Olsen said it tasted ok till I said that. Sorry!
But who eats something with that kind of response "Eat it and then I'll tell you"?!
Sorella Olsen has learned her lesson :)

It snowed a little bit here in Mistretta, so the city shut down and we had church at our house. Maria Purpari came to church, and even though he was really late, so did Pasquale! He is under Mistretta arrest, so that was the first time he'd been to church. Vito Purpari gave the talk, and the entire time I was trying really hard to focus on what he was saying but it was really hard to follow....
and then later that afternoon we went back to Maria's house and she said she enjoyed church, "but what in the world was Vito trying to say?!"
We started laughing because we were wondering if it was just us that thought his talk had had no point to it. Cute Vito.
Maria Purpari has been our miracle of the week. Ever since her son got stuck up north and the church helped him return to Mistretta, she has been very humble and open towards us. We have been planning to do a "frank lesson" with her for a very long time, but each time we went it seemed like the wrong timing, etc. but then we finally recognized that it was the adversary who didn't want her to have this lesson, so we headed over to her house even though we were on a time crunch, prayed on her doorstep for His help, and then we went in and Sorella Olsen sang, we said a prayer, and the first thing that came out of her mouth was "I hope one day to feel ready and worthy enough to join your church." It was such a huge help to us that she was the one to bring up the subject of baptism, and it led right into a great discussion with her. She didn't want to set a baptismal date, but she is praying, reading, and keeping the commitments we leave with her. We feel like she will be baptized this month. She's known the missionaries for years and had a baptismal date in 1966- it's time.

Sorella Olsen recieved a package from home with socks in it for us. Neither of us wanted to choose and after some loving arguing as to which socks I wanted, Sorella Olsen stuck them behind her back and had me choose a hand.
My right or your right?
Greaaattt. Um, my right.

She showed me the socks she had in her left hand and then said "Oh, darn it!" because she did have a preference even though she said she didn't! These are the types of arguments we deal with together :)

Back to Giuseppina Oddo- she is the one we found in the area book and she had had a bap date with the Anziani a few years ago, and then the set a bap date with us the first appt we had together but then called it all off, saying her husband didn't want us to come over and talk about religion.
Well, we have been getting mixed messages from her and we don't believe that the husband is the problem, so we went over and chatted a minute and then we asked when we could come back and she mouthed something about her husband being upset, so we asked her if we could speak directly to him to clear things up. He was staring out the window and only responding "I'm not here!" so we turned back to Giuseppina and told her that until we heard a definite "No, you can't come" come out of his mouth, we would still be coming over. We started sharing our testimonies as to how the gospel has blessed our family and how we know that it can only benefit theirs; she started crying and he walked out, and then out came the real underlying problem. They've always struggled financially and have always recieved help, but they're not willing to put in the effort to improve their situation. Pres. Portera gave us some food to take to them and we did, and Giuseppina's main concern was if we had been seen coming in. She really worries about what the neighbors might say about them. As much as we can understand that it might be a little embarassing on one's part to have to recieve help from others, we are sorry that she is so preoccupied with what others think that it really is a stumbling block. Her oldest kids could do odds and ends to earn money and help the family, but they don't want to and neither does Giusppina want to have to get a job that seems menial. :(. It is sad.

We also taught the plan of Salvation to the Scarito family, and the mom wasn't very excited about getting the chance to spend eternity with her family.
It is hard to see the narrow mindedness of some of the people here. We are so lucky to have the gospel in our lives, for the perspective that it gives us, and for the hope that we have in being able to be forgiven and enjoying the gift of eternity with our loved ones.

I'm sorry this is such a scattered email.
We are going to spend Pday in Palermo today. The Anziani thought they would be funny and played a prank on us last week, so we are going to brain storm on our way over there and see if we can get them back. We know where they live now. eheh.
oh! I forgot to add that when Maria Purpari returned home after church, she found her ex husband on her roof, ready to break the glass because he hadnt seen her around, thought that she had falled down the stairs, and was dead. haha! She has a pretty decent ex husband for checking up on her!
Next Tuesday we are going to Catania for zone conference. My Sorella Riffaldi is in Sardegna now so I won't get to see her.
Va bono. Have a wonferful week, and appreciate those around you! And don't be too prideful!
(How's that for my spiritual thought?)
p.s. Our english classes for the elementary students is slowly improving. Sorella Olsen and I still want to have kids of our own, so that's a plus.

Sorella Urban