We are in Paterno'!
Our exchanges in Siracusa have been cancelled because the Sorelle don't have the time to do them (even though we would be the ones traveling the longest distance....) So no Siracusa, which bummed us but President gave us permission to travel today because its a "good family cause". From what I've seen, the city is bigger than I imagined it to be. We are going to the comune in an hour because it closes early, and we are planning on hunting down some Panebianco parenti :) I will let you know how it goes next week.
Last Friday, we walked up the huge hill of Mistretta for our appointment with Vincenzo and Ignazio, two men we have been teaching for the past few months. They ride around in a fruit truck and the more we teach them, the better discounts they give us. Vincenzo can't read and Ignazio doesn't want to read the Book of Mormon to him outloud becuase he says he gets confused. (?!)
We read them a few paragraphs of the family proclamation and then we invited them to pray to find out for themselves if they can be with their wives and children for eternity. Ignazio was too self-conscious to say the prayer, and so we turned to Vincenzo and asked him. We went throught the steps but he kept saying he didn't know how to pray, so I helped him through a prayer and then we said amen and bought some fruit (at a very good price! :) )
We set up a return appointment and then each of us started munching on an apple as we walked back down the huge hill. Suddenly, we heard a mans voice from heaven saying "Caro Padre Celeste" (dear Heavenly Father) and I was confused for a split second and then we turned around and saw them in their truck- Ignazio was laughing and Vincenzo had the microphone at his mouth; there was a line of cars behind them because they drive really slowly. Vincenzo then continued to pray over the microphone as they waved and passed us.
It was one of the funniest moments of my mission. Vincenzo praying for all of Mistretta to hear. When I managed to stop laughing, I almost wanted to start crying because little things like this is what I am really going to miss. Being a missonary is wonderful. Obviously Vincenzo now gets the pattern of prayer :)
When we were creating our transfer vision (things we want to see happen by the end of the transfer), one of the things we desired was to see Rita and Salvatore Naro in church. They were baptized 2 years ago and were active for about 6 months. They haven't been to church since. Since I have been here, they have not been able to come because Salvatore has some health issues; he is uncomfortable dressed in a suit. One of the reasons they haven't come is because they feel a sense of abandonment on the members part. We see them about once a week because they live in Sant Agata. Out of the blue, President Portera called us on Friday morning that they were in Mistretta for Rita to have same-day surgery to remove something benign.
We changed our program and headed straight to the hospital- it was incredible to see how the members took them under their wing. We stopped in to see them 4 times that day- we brought them lunch and dinner, and every time we stopped in, a member was there visiting with them. Rita said what we've been waiting to hear, "If the man with the tractor doesn't come to our farm on Sunday, we will definitely be in church".
We went to see them on Saturday, and they still didn't know if the tractor man would come or not, but then they decided that the tractor man could show up without them, they'd come to church. It was so neat to see them take those steps to change their plans to put the Lord first in their lives.
On Sunday, there were 7 of us- the Naros picked up Isabella Purpari on their way to church. She hasn't been to church for a good 2 years. It was so good to see them there. We were few, but the Spirit was present and we all supported eachother with our presence. It hit me that it was the last Sunday of the transfer, because of Conference this weekend. The Naros came to church this transfer. I am continually amazed at the miracles Heavenly Father allows me to be a part of and to grow from. I have learned so much from these people. I am so proud of them and for everything they do to help eachother. Sorella Olsen and I have talks in church on the importance of strengthening our testimony daily. We split points to cover and I talked about the importance of daily scripture study and service. (before going to see Isabella for an appt, I was reading and came across a scripture that I felt I needed to share with her. It's Jacob 2:8; I shared it with Isabella and she flipped to it and had it highlighted. It fits her perfectly and I am grateful for the guidance of the Spirit in helping us find and learn things that would help the people we interact with.
It is hard knowing that this is most likely my last week in Mistretta. I've even grown to love the rambunctious 8 year olds. Transfer calls come on Saturday- Sorella Olsen thinks I'm going to Ragusa. I would love to remain in Sicilia, but Ladispoli would be neat too :) Jk. I would be happy even going to Puglia where the air smells like dead fish.
I have enjoyed sharing with the members that I am part Siciliana- they really get a kick out of having a missionary among them who's "one of them".
Yesterday started with a good laugh. When we go running, I take our house key off the key ring and run with it in my hand, and then when we get back to the apartment, I stick it on my desk and join it to the keyring right before personal study. I was drying my hair when the electricity went out, so we went outside, around the house to the basement, and flipped the switch back on. When I pulled out the keys is when I realized that it was 2 floors above us, sitting on my desk. I started laughing and told Sorella Olsen- she was dressed but in slipper, and my hair was all liony because it was half blow-dried and I was half dressed with my coat over. Our options were to either go to Pres Portera's house and get the spare key, or to climb. We put our brains together and found a ladder (6 ft) in the basement, and S. Olsen used it as a footstool and then somehow climbed the rest of the way to the second floor and pulled herself throught the bathroom window. We only had two women hanging out their windows watching us, calling out suggestions.
Since Sorella Olsen is in the process of writing her family about my cold heart, I feel I need to put in a word of defense.
We passed by Nino's one night to remind him of an evening that we are going out to do missionary work together, and he invited (invitations are more "you better or else") us to join them for dinner. He cut us each a big peice of homemade pizza and while I, who suffers from eating at night and not being able to sleep well, diligently chewed away and finished my pizza, S. Olsen cut off her crust, ate it, and then snuck the rest of the pizza onto the plate beside her. Injustice! I may have brought their attention to the fact, but they didn't stuff it down her throat like I was hoping.
So, I am completely justified in what I did yesterday at Maria Purpari's. She made us pasta al forno (you throw pasta with sauce and anything else you want into the oven to bake) and she served us up a heaping bowl of it. While she had her back turned, I quickly scraped some of mine onto S. Olsen's plate. She protested and called it to Maria's attention, but I got it off my plate and that's what matters. After the meal, S. Olsen told me she had had bad thoughts about me all during lunch. I think we are even now.
I am so excited for General Conference. There are four young women who come to English class, and we invited them to watch the Young Womens session with us and they want to come! So are the Naros and Isabella.... and the other night, we bumped into Luca Purpari (Isabellas brother) who is inactive and we just walked a block with him and parted and appartently that was enough for him to want to come back to church. He called P. Portera to let him know that he is reactivating himself and will be watching general conference with all of us this sunday. Good for him!
I received a package from Grandma Spalding and when I opened it up, I felt like I'd just had a shopping spree at Macey's. What colorful candy! I shared some with our English students and they are hooked on reeses.
I recieved an appointment to renew my permesso di soggiorno on the day it expired (phew!) and it is for next friday, which means that I will not be transferred when everyone else is. We might be in a threesome for a couple of days (unless I get to stay!).
The drive this morning was incredible, and blinding. What I don't understand is why I hadn't heard anything about Sicilia until I came here. It is heaven on earth. We stopped by the side of the road to press some poppies (I'm not sure if that is spelled correctly and I apologize if it's not) and hope to make bookmarks out of them.
We will be calling home in about a month- if Pres. Kelly does like P. Acerson did, then I will be able to call both Mom and Dad separately.
Angela is doing incredibly well. She is hooked on the Book of Mormon and reading it a wonderful pace. We did catch her drinking some coffee with her sister, and when confronted she said that she knows she shouldn't. In speaking with her we can see that she understands exactly what is expected of her, and she is taking the right steps. She expressed the desire to serve a mission at the Swiss Temple in the next year or two. I recieved a package of letters from Sorella Miller for the members here, and they all loved hearing from her. I hope I can keep in touch with them as much as I would like to. It is important to stay in touch and share our testimony with those who we have been blessed by having in our lives.
I never feel ready to leave a city when the time comes for it. Mistretta, as is Firenze and Roma 2, will always be a special place. I am thankful for the people I have met here, for their examples, and for the things I have taken from them. I'm also grateful for having served with Sorelle Miller, Riffaldi again, Jones, Squarcia, and Sorella Olsen. I have had more companions here than in my entire mission :) They are wonderful Sorelle and I have learned much from their examples. I am so thankful to be a missionary and to have the blessing of the peace the gospel brings. I am excited that it is warming up and that summer is coming, even though it means less layers and more shaving :)