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.