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Thursday, March 24, 2011

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

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