Oh. How does my list get longer by the week?
When we were at the Magnanti's last week for our fish-blend dinner, I forgot to add that I also had one of my most awkward moments. Fratello Magnanti's non member brother was there, Mauro. He has some mental problems but he is completely able to function like any other. Well, as we were getting ready to set the table, he got my attention and beckoned me with his finger to come to him. I, being the untrusting sort that I am, asked him "why?". He said "Just come here" and started walking towards me and since I wasn't sure what he had in mind, I walked backwards as he kept coming closer. Then, I was pinned at a wall and he kept saying "stop! just stand still!" and I started making my little squeal noises and I shot out from behind the couch and ran over to Sorella Magnanti. She turned around and asked me what was going on and I squealed, "I don't know! Mauro's chasing me" and she asked him what he wanted and he came up to me and I literally felt frozen to the ground...and my breathing stopped....and I saw Sorella Hicks gaping at me from out of the corner of my eye..............(I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I was afraid he would do something inappropriate, like kissing me) and sorella Magnanti told me to stand still and Mauro got up close and raised his hand towards my face and.......stroked my hair. He just wanted to touch my hair! I was relieved, but it was still super weird to have a grown man petting my head, so I tried to laugh it off and I squirrel-scampered away from him into the kitchen. aghhhhhhhh. I could have shot myself for being so awkward! That entire evening he kept bringing up that I was scared of him and I shouldn't be- he even wanted to sit next to me to prove me that he was harmless. Poor Mauro. I hope he understood that I didn't find him scary, just the situation. ahhhh. I love awkward moments.
We went to the questura early on Thursday morning, waited for an hour, and then when it was our turn, found out that only Catholics who are coming for the Vatican are registered at that questura. So, Sorella Hicks has an appt for July. Although nothing came out of it, it was really fun being out and about in the city when we usually are just waking up.
I have sooo much to say about Odile! We see her several times a week so the following is a summary of experiences of this week in general: We were ending a lesson and she asked if we could accompany her to a friends house. We walked there and it turned out to be a 91 y.o. woman for whom she worked last year. Odile asked us if we could pray with her. So, after talking around her bed for a few minutes, we prayed and as we were walking out, Odile stopped us and asked if we could do another favor for her- unbraid her hair. She has shoulder length hair that is braided at the roots. I asked her to expound and she volunteered to show us what she meant. She got out a pair of scissors and said, "there's a knot at the root that you need to cut.......here, like this............wait, can you do it?" So, I took the scissors and while I was trying to cut the knot, I cut off some hair so I withdrew my hands and I started giggling as I looked horrified at the several chopped strands in my hand. "Odile, I'm sorry!" as I continued to giggle. She looked at me like, "what are you sorry about?" and took the scissors out of my hand and cut off her whole braid. Sorella Hicks and I gasped.
Apparently, they're just hair extensions, and in all reality, she's practically bald. (If you want to know what happened to that braid- I asked if I could keep it and we took it home, split it in two strands, and we've taped it into our respective journals. Sick, right?)
When we went back the next day for another lesson, she had gone ahead without us and cut off all her braids. I'm a little bummed that I didn't get to experience unbraiding an African's head....but at least I got a good scrabook item!
Initially, we were planning on meeting in the church because we want to watch the movie "The Restoration" together, but she piped up that she has a laptop and her roommates would be out, so we went to her house. BAD IDEA!
We entered and sat down at the edge of the kitchen as she prepared her laptop, and when it came time to put it in, I opened the case and it was empty! I've been carrying around an empty DVD for weeks, OR the adversary had it disapparate. I was stunned and horrified. Odile said she had to leave the house at noon..........so Sorella Hicks and I, determined to not let the adversary win again this time, sprinted home and back to Odile's. We had 45 minutes till noon. The movie is 20 min so were confident that we could continue with our lesson plan. Well! I will just tell you what Odile did in the 10 minutes of the film we watched. First, she wanted to make her bed before the movie, and then she was cooking polenta and meat for lunch, and kept saying, "start the movie, I'll eat and watch at the same time!" but we repeated "Odile, this movie is so special that we want you to watch it without other distractions, so we will wait until you finish eating to watch it." She ate. We started the movie. She ate some more. She washed the dishes. She transferred beans which were soaking in a pot to boiling on the stove. She chopped onions and put chicken on the stove to start grilling. She got out water and offered us some. She opened some granola bars and gave them to us. The chicken frying was making so much noise that I paused it (for the millionth time) and asked her "Odile, can you hear it? I can't!" She insisted that she could hear it ...but looked on the control panel for the volume button (I was sitting against the stove and I just wanted to turn around and blow the flame out) and she took so long that the chicken cooked and sizzled less, so we continued on with the movie. THEN. Right when I rehit the play button, she stopped and asked, "Can I just wash my mouth so that we can be more peaceful?" and she stood up and went and brushed her teeth.
I am learning patience.
It would have all been worth it had we watched the movie through, but her roommate came home (of course, while Joseph is in the sacred grove) and ordered us out of the kitchen because she needed to cook. We reset our appointment for this afternoon IN CHURCH.
Patrizia and Guido didn't come to church because she wasn't feeling well. She's never feeling well. I've sometimes wondered, "If you never feel well, then wouldn't you get used to it and think that the way you are feeling is "well"?" Boh. It hasn't happened to Patrizia yet. It was ward conference and the stake president, Massimo De Feo (the one who interviewed me to send me off on my mission and I made a brutta figura! (bad impression) ) gave a beautiful talk on becoming strong in our trials.
We went to Patrizia's on Monday to go over the stop smoking program because she is still smoking, and while we were talking, she asked us about tithing and we taught the principle and Guido got so mad at the idea of us having to pay a tenth of our earnings that he stood up, pointed his finger at Patrizia, "If you pay this, you can forget about me coming to church with you. I'm never going to give you a ride or come with you again" and stormed out of the room and sat in the kitchen the rest of the time we were there.
We know his heart will be softened and he didn't mean what he said...but he needs Patrizia to be a good example. She just needs to show her faith, put her trust in Him, and put Him to the test in the promise He has made about tithing. She kept saying that she doesn't have enough money to pay tithing, she has bills to pay and so on. We kept telling her, "Look, that's why you need to pay tithing! Put Him to the test" and we shared our own experiences with tithing, and she still ended with "I'll pay an offering, but I just can't allow myself to pay tithing right now". My heart ripped out. She so desperately needs the blessings of paying an honest tithing that I wanted to say, "well. We are not leaving this house till you put a tenth into this envelope, because we know that you need to do this for YOU." But it doesn't work like that. I desperately hope she does soon. How narrow our vision is sometimes.
Yesterday, we had a specialized training with Elder and Sister Texiera present from the Area Presidency (?) and they gave us alot of constructive advice on how we can and need to improve our efforts. Even in the small things, like putting our study desks to face eachother. That's what we did this morning...so we will be able to play footsy and have alot more distractions now....like when Sorella Hicks makes faces while reading the Old Testament and I wander off in my pondering over how our neighbors downstairs can complain about us being loud while they are out on the balcony screaming at eachother. I do ponder on alot of other things, though.
Anyways, conference was really good. We were given two minutes each...I cried in silence for the first minute and then squeaked out my testimony and sat back down. I didn't imagine it to play out like that but I didn't go over the time limit :)
On our way home, Patrizia called us and asked if we could come over. Sorella Hicks had a few new blisters, so we were going home to change her shoes, but she was ok with stopped at Patrizias first so we went and walked a good piece with Sorella Hicks courageously ignoring the pain, and then guess what? As we rounded the corner to her apartment, she and Guido passed us in their car and I yelled, "Patrizia!" to get her attention and she saw us and yelled "Ciao" and kept driving. We were stumped. We waited for 5 minutes, thinking that they would at least stop or turn around to let us know that they had a change in plans........but no one came back. Sorella Hicks limped and I walked back to the train station and we went home. Ugh. If Sorella Hicks hadn't been in pain than it wouldn't have bothered me, but Patrizia knew that we were coming over and she hadn't even bothered informing us that she was leaving. They didn't even answer their phones. Later on, she called and said that she had gone to the doctor.
I am trying to develop charity.
Saturday was WHAT A DAY!
It is incredible the highs and lows one experiences. On Saturday morning, we had an appt with Maria Huarcaya, whom we found in the area book. It was our first meeting- she stopped taking lessons 5 years ago because she couldn't be baptized because she was living with her boyfriend and waiting on her divorce papers. We set a baptismal date with her for August 27th! She is getting married on August 12th, so it should all work out swell.
Then, we wanted to cross off "eat at a cute cafe" from S. Hick's bucket list, and seeing that we had some time before our train left from Termini, we scouted out the area and Sorella Hicks chose a spot to have lunch. Now, Im going to copy what I wrote about the experience in Sorella Hicks journal: (I wrote it from Sorella Hick's point of view)
"Cute cafe day today............So, we were standing and looking towards a cafe that I spotted, and we decided to check the meno (Sorella Urban's suggestion- boy, she is so smart!). Well, even before we got to look at the menu, the waiter-man greeted us and then ushered us to a table and pulled out a chair for me. "What a nice young man" I thought to myself. He started speaking with my companion, and since she is rude and never translates anything for me, I got bored and turned my attention to the menu. I didn't understand half the things on the menu. I looked up at Sorella Urban and she should have looked progressively flustered because that is how she was feeling inside. Alessandro, the waiter who I initially had thought was nice, turned out to be a creep., because he basically flat out told us that "Yes, I'm interested in meeting with you again....but for a date". Sick. The worst thing was that he was so persistent. Didn't he ever learn how the employee-client relationship thing goes? Couldn't he have thought to himself, "Oh, maybe I should let them enjoy their lunch and maybe after I can try to see if there is some interest on their part". No.
He at least gave us three minutes to blessed peace because we faked engaging in a serious conversation about Odile. I think nothing was said about her. it was just Sorella Urban ranting on about how annoying the guy way...till she realized that he spoke some english. Of course, being Sorella Urban, she didn't stop grumbling about him in english. In fact, she called the Anziani of Rome 2 to share our woes (actually, I called to pass him as a referral to them). We will see if he's really interested- he has an appointment with them tomorrow. (We called after the scheduled appt and the Elders said that they had called and he said "Look, I am not interested". ) I ordered a plate of penne with beef on the bone. It almost made Sorella Urban gag. I say "almost" because she was so concentrated on her own food- a salad which would have been better had it had lentils in it.
When we finished, (I left half my plate because I know what self-control is unlike Sorella Urban who basically licked her plate) we said goodbye to Alessandro and he planted a big, wet Alessandro-germed kiss on my hand and said, while looking at Sorella Urban, "Now that is how we do it here". Sorella Urban acted disgusted. I know she's just jealous".
Yup. That was Alessandro. He acted interested in knowing more about the church ;(. I told him to not take my rejection personally, and that he should really go through with this appointment with the Elders. When we walked away, I reminded Sorella Hicks that she needs to get a picture of a guy friend printed off and use it to ward people off. People tend to back off when they see a picture- and some want it for proof.
WELL. After this unenjoyable lunch, we got on a train to meet a new investigator an hour outside of Rome, (Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope lives during the summer) and there were two young men sitting in the seats opposite us. The younger one spoke up and in english said, "I want to ask you a question. Can I have one euro?". I said "No, but what do you want an euro for?" back in Italian and he told us that he needed it to buy cigarettes.We got to talking and he came and sat down beside me. His name is Aldo and he is 16. His mom had him when she was 14 and she is a drug addict and so is he. I told him about Heavenly Father and he stood up and said "I know God lives because this world couldn't come out of anything. But don't tell me that he loves me. Has your mom ever done this to you? and he pretended to grab me by the throat and hold a knife to it- and "Has your moms boyfriends ever done this?" and pretended to beat me. (Poor Sorella Hicks had no idea what was going on and only saw this homeless guy stand over me and pretend to beat me....!)
We talked the entire hour. When we stepped off the train and watched them walk off, I felt so useless. I wish I could have taken him in and changed his life around. He said he used to have hope, he used to believe that notwithstanding his circumstances at home, he could make something of himself. Now, he doesn't have that hope and lives in the moment. He pulled on a 50 euro bill and said, "I've sweat all week to earn this. Do you know where I am supposed to be right now? At work. I guess I just fired myself. But I don't care. Look at this 50 euro. In a few hours, it's going to be gone. I am going to go get some drugs and have fun. I don't care."
They didn't come to church on Sunday....... I hope that he reads the pamphlets we gave him, and that one day, something we said will be remembered and he will get a shimmer of hope from it.
Right before stepping into our apartment that night, we hurried over to see how Luciano and Alina were doing. We stepped into the house and the absence of the spirit was almost tangible. Davide had been crying and when we asked him what was going on, he said "Things are bad. My dad drank a beer". Davide is five years old. He shouldn't be seeing stuff like that. Alina came out of the bedroom and reprinmanded him for letting his dad drink. What?! We told Davide, "You have nothing to do with it. Your dad does what he wants to" and he just kept his head down and cried. We knelt down with him and he prayed, and we started singing "Bella Sion" (beautiful zion?) and he joined in at the very end. It is astounding how quickly hymns can invite the spirit. Soon, he was smiling and I pulled out my flashlight (for some reason we were sitting in the dark) and we started making shapes on the wall. Davide is now the proud owner of your flashlight, Dad :)
We also met with another woman from the area book, Daniella. She reminds me SO much of Becky Spalding!
agh. Time's up! Which is a good thing because my neighbor is listening to turkish music. (Tommy!)
If anyone finds out when I am giving my homecoming talk (the 10th?) would you let others know, like the Radmalls and Drennans, so they can make the necessary plans to miss their sunday meetings?
And the Piepers!
Va bene. Vi voglio bene!
p.s. We just recieved the conference issue of the Liahona. There's a picture of Kaitlyn P! I read "Hope" by Steven Snow. (There's an C. Scott Grow- say it outloud!) -its really good. Read it! (yes, that's my spiritual thought)
p.p.s. Sorella Hicks talked to a guy on the bus and we met with him the next day- he really just wanted to meet with us to go out for a coffee and to tell us that we were wrong in believing in two Gods. What adventures.