I guess I really have been called to the Rome Mission, seeing that I will have served more than half of my mission in Rome! To Sorella Sarah Hughes, my wonderful trainer: I am going to Rome 3!!! :) (she served there for 6 months, if I remember right). Rome 3 is known as the Sorella's Napoli(Naples), because it's the "ghetto" part of town. Yay!
Seeing that I have an appointment for my documents on Friday morning, I will not be leaving tonight but Friday night- taking a bus from Catania that evening and arriving in Rome on Saturday at some point. I think I will stop eating and drinking from tomorrow morning till when I get in Rome....do they have bathrooms on those buses?! Or maybe they'll do like what we experienced in Uzbekistan and they'll pull over and the men will use the left side of the bus and the women, the right. It will be a little uncomfortable being by myself (besides the Spirit, of course :) )
Rome 3 has been closed for the past transfer because it was broken into. The Sorelle returned home later than usual one night and they found their apartment a little messy but not much was taken- goes to show that whoever came was not there for material things but maybe expecting them to be home, which is really creepy. Becuase the Sorella are loved so much, Pres. Kelly is having the Anziani swap apartments with us. Oh, and my companion will be Sorella Hashey! She left the MTC the day I got there....so the two oldest Sorelle in the mission will be companions! It will be an awesome adventure being blown into the city (arriving into the city without recieving training from someone who's been there) and the Rome 3 Anziani will be A. Larcher, he is sort of new and from Germany, and A. Acerson, the son of my former Pres. Acerson :) We are both returning back to Utah on July 1st, and this is Sorella Hashey's last transfer.
Sorella Tutt, who's in Ladispoli right now, will be coming down to take my place. I am sad about leaving Mistretta and all of these amazing people.
Last preparation day we spent in Paterno'. Mom, did Mauro Trombetta ever call you? On our way to the comune, we stopped to take some pictures infront of a field of flowers and on old man stopped and walked over to us and offered to take our picture. He was so nice! He ended with "Oh, if I were younger, I'd court you longer!"
He pointed the way to the comune and when we arrived, another angel offered his assistance and took us to the right sportello (booth?) and they typed in different versions of names but nothing came up around the right year (it would have been easier if I had had some more info! It was embarassing when he asked basic dates, like Nonno's birth date, and I didn't know! Che figura.) Mauro Trombetta did come up and they gave us his address and the man told us to go back to our car and wait for him- he pulled up in his car and we followed him up to Mauro's apartment! There are the nicest people in Paterno'.
I really didn't know who this Mauro was; Mom had just said that she'd met him when she was down here,...so we rang and a man came out onto the balcony and called down to us and I introduced myself and asked if he knew an Emma Panebianco and he shook his head and was about to reenter his house when I said "Roma" and he turned around and looked at me again and then said, "Did you say Emma?!" He got the biggest smile on his face and waved us up.
It would have been less awkward if I'd known the story beforehand, but he told us that he'd met Mom more than 25 years ago when she was here doing genealogy work. He spoke with such admiration and respect of you, Mom. I was pretty puffed up with pride :) He and his wife, and 20 y.o. daughter, Chiara, had us stay for a lentil-soup-and-fried-egg-lunch and he shared with us some of his memories of Mom. We were short on time and when he walked us back to the car, we gave him a Book of Mormon and he gave us his word that we would read it gladly because he believes that it is our beliefs that made us into the "wonderful women" that we are and that Mom is. Yes, that's quite right :)
April Fools Day was uneventful, besides the fact that Sorella Olsen took forever in turning off the alarm at 6:19 and I started calling out "Sorella, ....Sorella....! SORELLA!" and for a split second I though, "Oh no, my companion is dead" but she jumped up and turned it off. What a scare!
No one played jokes on us.........................and after I had said my prayer and was getting into bed, I took a drink from my bedside water bottle and then ran to the bathroom and spit it out. Sorella Olsen had put salt in it. ah ah.
On Saturday morning during programming, I mentioned to S. Olsen that my face felt hot and funny. Later, we went to the Portera's for the Young Women broadcast and everyone welcomed me with a "What's wrong with your face?!"
I don't know what happened, but my face burned for a day and a half and then it turned all crusty and dry........so now I am peeling my face and my eyelids are swollen when I wake up. I was supposed to take alot of pictures these last few days.................. People have offered suggestions, "It's the sun!" but since when has the sun turned me into a shriveled raisin? We've not been in the sun!
We decorated notebooks with the 2 young women (our Englsih class girls couldn't make it at the last minute) and we watched a talk and a half because the signal wasn't working. We watched the Sat and Sun morning sessions of General Conference at the Portera's home with some of the members. We snacked on raisins we had brought, and the next morning, Antonio said "Sorella, the raisins you gave me yesterday had an explosive effect and I spent all morning in the bathroom!" Our response was "Well, you always tell us you're constipated by nature, so now you know what you can remedy it with". :) Oh, Antonio.
I had goosebumps the entire time P. Monson was talking about the Rome Temple. When he said that 85% of members live within a 200 km radius of a Temple, the members threw back their heads and sorella Portera said, "Magari!" (if only\I wish!) When the number of full time missionaries was announced, Antonio and Liria sobbed. Bless their heart. Antonio brought us pizza for breakfast again. Sorella Olsen asked me today if anyone has ever told him that the max of physical contact he can have with us is a handshake. I assured her that he has been told several times. His "handshake" just includes kissing our hands and patting our cheeks. If it were coming from anyone but Antonio, I'd reprove (?) him.
The mothers for the English class are upset about transfers "Who do we need to call to tell them you need to stay another month?" and they had the children present us each with a rose and a pair of pearl earrings. That day, we had discussed whether we should continue teaching the childrens course or whether we should stop. We decided to pray and figure it out that day whether it was a good use of our time or not, because we have been hoping to be invited into their families homes but nothing was coming out of it.........and Heavenly Father heard our prayers and for the first time, one of the mothers came up and asked us "When are you coming over?" (we are going tonight!) and while we were walking around the city, we spotted another one of the mom's on a balcony and we walked towards her and she invited us in and we had a really good talk with her at her kitchen table. We recieved our answer. We need to continue with the course, it just needed some patience. Now, the mom's trust us and we are starting to weasle our way into the homes. I am sure going to miss the little 8 year olds.
We FINALLY asked around and found a car wash. A moment in the history of the car-being-at-Mistretta. I think in the year it has been with the Sorella, this was the first time it's been washed. We promised ourselves to never park under the tree again (black berry things fall and stain the entire car) and we returned to the car the next day to find that a bird had had an antonio-raisin-experience all over the windshield and hood.
When we read scriptures with our investigators and members, we always say, "Let's read from this verse to this verse- one each" and we will start and read one each and then the person will start and read not just one verse but two, and then another couple, till the end of the chapter. It happens with everyone. Sorella Olsen pointed it out to me, "What do they not understand about uno a testa?" Bo. Maybe it's a Sicilian thing. Sometimes it gets a little hard for everyone else to stay focused because most everyone has bad eyesight and will strain and move the book around under the light to see the printing better and a few verses will take a good chunk of time.
This Saturday, we decided to do our language study at the castle fortress on the tip of Mistretta, and Sorella Olsen perched herself on a rock and started singing hymns. She wasn't singing that loud. A minute later, the phone rang and it was Daniele (the 24 y.o. member with a flirting problem). He asked if we were, by chance, at the castle. Knowing him too well, I said "Maybe" and he said that he was out on the balcony reading his scriptures when he heard someone singing hymns. We looked over the brick wall towards the city and we spotted Daniele on one of the house tops, waving his arms. How on earth he managed to hear her is a mystery. But it was really amusing that Sorella Olsen's voice was carrying over Mistretta.
We have found our favorite apple vendor. 4 kilos for 5 euro. We have bought 41.9 pounds of apples the past 5 days. We joked that we will prove that it is possible to gain weight off of apples. We also eat lentils for every lunch and dinner. They are delicious and even better with chick peas.
The white handbook says not to write General Authorities. Seeing that Elder Robert F. Orton is no longer on the Liahona fold out, is there any way of getting his address? I would enjoy writing him.
Angela is reading the Book of Mormon like crazy! We went to see her the other night and confronted her about the cup of coffee we'd seen on the kitchen counter. She knows she needs to stop drinking coffee because she can't expect Heavenly Father to bless her with what she is in need of if she doesn't show sacrifice and effort on her part.
Francesca showed up at English class and acted like nothing has happened. We went to find her the next day and we talked a little bit about Conference because we didn't know how much we could ask her about the situation. We don't want her to disappear off the planet again. Angela continues to be a supportive friend and good example to her.
We don't know what we can do more for Maria Purpari. She calls us her "Sorelline" and we feel like she doesn't take us seriously anymore. She likes our visits because we make her feel good and for our company, but she isn't acting. It's really sad and hard to drop someone, but we know that with her, at least she has the constant contact with her brothers who are members.
Salvatore Naro might get operated on this weekend, so now they have no excuse for not being able to make it to church every sunday from here on out! They are such good people. I've adopted them as my Sicilian parents.
It is hard leaving these people who have lives that are so broken and sad. I wish I could have done something more for them. I can only imagine what Heavenly Father feels when he sees us suffering but rejecting His outstretched hand of help and healing.
I am excited for Sorella Olsen to move on to her second companion and for her to be more the "senior" companion now because she will be training the city.
I am going to miss her and all of the experiences we have shared that have brought us very close. I packed my suitcase and had extra room so she is sending me with her sheets to take back home to her parents. I thanked her for the new bedding :)
I have 12 weeks left to serve the Lord full-time. I am so so so sooo excited to return to Rome and continue His work there. I am also looking forward to reading the conference talks. We are so blessed to have a living Prophet. We always ask people, "Would you want to hear what Moses had to say if he were on the earth?" That sure gets peoples attention :)