Monday, September 26, 2016

Life In Italy

Dear Family and Friends,

I realized this week that maybe I can better explain what life is like here in Italy on a mission so that when I continue to write, you all can better understand the context of what I am saying.

Everyday we wake up at 6:30 a.m. which sometimes is really hard, especially now because it is a lot darker.  Then we use the morning to exercise and prepare for the day. We also study our scriptures and prepare for the lessons we have together as a companionship. 
Then at 10, we leave our apartment and set out to wherever we need to go. We live near both the metro stations and the central bus station so that makes transportation a lot easier for us, which is good because getting to people's houses on time is probably what we struggle with the most. If you miss one bus or one train, sometimes it takes a while for another one to come so I am learning to be a lot more punctual.  Those of you who really know me, know I could have really improved in this area before the mission.

The weather is a lot nicer now and it rains probably once or twice a week, especially last week! There was nearly a river of water in the streets when we left church!
Italians have the custom to do a break from work and end school at pranzo or lunch. Lunch usually starts at one so like when we go to a meal appointmet, it will start at one, but actually later since the food takes a while to cook. And they really like to feed you a lot at these meals. First is always pasta, which if you think can't get much different than spaghetti, is totally wrong. There are tons of combinations for pasta. After that is a meat course (like chicken or beef) with vegetables, followed by fruit which is always fresh and delicious in Italy (the peaches and melon are amazing!). And of course it ends with a dolce, some kind of sweet like brownies, a fruit tart, and one of my companion's favorite thing to eat, chocolate salami (not meat, just chocolate). My favorite dessert has to be gelato though!  Food is like art in Italy. The food is always so good, I don't what makes Italy special like that.

Because of all this food, it's hard to get back to work after, which is why most Italians take a nap after, but we aren't that lucky. We set off and get most of our work done in the afternoon and evening and usually arrive home at 9. There's a pizzeria right next to our apartment so Anziano Draghi and I sometimes like to finish the day with a good napolitano pizza.

This week I really saw the blessings of the Lord in our work, even among some of the discouraging things. Vera's husband, Elvis, returned home and we were able to finally meet him. It turns out he was baptized in Greece in 1992!  And also doesn't remember anything about the church, so we are going to teach both of them at square  one again. We wanted to meet again during the week but Vera kindly denied a lesson saying she was too tired, even though we spent an hour traveling to her house and it takes an hour back as well. Also one of our investigators dropped us over the phone saying she didn't need us to get close to God. Luckily with Anziano Draghi, even disappointments like that never get us down.

We challenged Raffaele to baptism and he accepted so that made our week.  We were able to go to Ischia, one of the islands near Pozzuoli, (which is super beautiful!) to see a less active member of the church who was so happy to see us that he asked if we could call the Branch President so he could have the opportunity to take the sacrament right then. This man, Raffaele Mazzarella, is super spiritual, was a branch president 4 times in Rome, knows Anziano Draghi's family, and recently moved on the island to be with his daughter. The trouble is it takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to go from the island to church. He wasn't able to come this week like a lot of our investigators and less active members (except for Vincenzo!), but i am praying for the next time, that everyone can come.

The best part of the week was Sunday. Our Zone Leaders wanted everyone to have 2 new investigators with a baptismal date by the end of the week and we had only 1 by the afternoon. So we decided to go with the other Elders on the Lungomare and just teach people on the street. I had prayed to find an Italian family and I had faith. We found a lot of good potential people and it was a really great night but we didn't reach our goal by the end. But the other Elders actually found an Italian family who listened and accepted a baptismal invite!

I know our prayers are answered!  While the odds right now seem impossible for a baptism at the end of this transfer, I believe and hope that it can happen. I know that we are challenged every day with trials and tests, and our job is to give our best effort, to listen and obey, and God will help us finish the work. I really do love Italy, especially when I meet members who describe how joyful it was when they received the gospel from the missionaries or when they received an answer that this was true. It shows to me that there are people out there waiting for the gospel, and it is my work to find them as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ. Thank you for all your love and prayers, and I hope you all have a great week!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price


Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 5?: Why We Need A Phone

Dear Family and Friends,

How's life on the other side of the world? That always blows my mind when I write emails, that the world is so big that all you guys are asleep just as my day begins. Anyway, I hope that your week was great because mine was awesome as well!

For starters, we got a phone!! Yay, finally! And it's a good thing because we kinda got lost in Napoli Central the day before. Here's the story. We needed to be in Napoli on Wednesday night because on Thursday we were going to Rome.  But since we don't have a phone we wanted to meet someone at the metro station. So we waited for the Elders in our house and they never came. So we went to Napoli, and no one was there. So we tried calling on a pay phone that could only text (weird italian thing) and also tried searching for the other Elders house because Elder Draghi "knew where it was." So after searching a while, we concluded we were lost and had no way of finding them. Then Anziano Draghi decided the only place we really know here is Pellone's Pizzeria and so luckily by 10 we were able to call the other Elders, get pizza and be rescued. It was a little scary at night but all is well and now we don't have to worry because we have a phone that works!!

On Thursday, we had Mission Conference which is basically where the Anziani and Sorelle from the entire mission (except Sicily) gathered to receive training and hear from President Pickerd and the main speaker, President Kearon who is the President of the Europe Area. He is soo awesome! He literally beams with happiness and gratitude for missionaries since he was converted by the missionaries when he was 26. He had great advice for how to reach our goal of baptism for our investigators that hopefully, I can take to heart.

And from then on the work was wonderful!  While we had no investigators come into church, we were able to help bring Vincenzo, a member who hasn't been to church in 10 years, to sacrament meeting, along with another member, Sister De Bennardo, and the La Magna family, who is awesome!  We also were able to help members a lot, like giving blessings of health to the Warner family, and helping Fratello Kennedy pack boxes that he is sending to his wife and family of 7 kids in Ghana because the work in Italy is a lot better. The people here are amazing and I love to learn their stories.

Honestly, the hardest thing about this work is the language. I have been trying really hard to speak and communicate to people in Italian and especially understand them but it's really difficult. This next upcoming week I think I will be praying the most to improve in this area of my life. And I would challenge all of you to do the same. Find something that you could improve on and set goals to make it happen.

I know that God blesses us when we work hard and ask for it. I know that God loves us and answers our prayers. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and through him, we can feel peace. I know that God speaks through a living prophet today. I hope to continue to progress and do my best! I love you all and wish you the best!

Ti vogliamo bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, September 12, 2016

It's a Miracle!

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your constant support! I love your emails and appreciate your prayers for me and the work here in Pozzuoli. Looking back at this week I really believe my prayers have been answered and I thank God for all his blessings.

Don't get me wrong, this week was hard. We tried to meet with our investigators like James and Rafaelle but they either didn't respond or weren't home when we showed up. It was also our first week of English  Course. This is where we offer a free course to learn English and if they want to learn more about the gospel afterwards, then we can talk to them. It's great to find investigators so we did everything we could to spread the word, passing out cards, putting up posters, talking to everyone. We were expecting something like at least 15 people or so. We got 7 people which is great but we thought we were going to have way more people. Luckily we are going to keep trying and the students we have are awesome!

But this week we received a miracle. We received a referral online of a new convert named Elvis who had moved here recently. The problem is that he lives all the way in Castel Volturno which for us is an hour bus ride away. Without a phone, we were hesitant at first to go all the way there, but we thought this week that it would be a good idea to go. We got on the M1B, (known to the missionaries as the Ride of Your Life), crammed full of people and set off. We got off and then we met Vera.

Vera is Elvis' wife and like Elvis moved here from Nigeria about 15 years ago. She is this amazing woman who has one son named Fabian and watches 3 other kids for a friend, Kevin, Anointing, and Marvelous. These kids are crazy but they are a great family. We found out that Elvis is out of town for the week and also as were talking, we found out that Vera isn't a member of the church and doesn't even know anything about the church really. We taught her a lesson and she liked it a lot. The only problem is that she lives pretty far from the church and doesn't have a car. We explained how to take the bus but she would also have to take her 4 children on the bus. Later in the week, she promised she would come.

And so Sunday came. It was a little different since it was Stake Conference but we wanted her to come anyway. And while we were setting up Stake Conference, we decided to call her to see if she was here, and she was! We ran outside to greet her because the church is kind of hard to find, and it was amazing to see her and her kids all there in their Sunday best. I was really happy.

Miracles like this are always possible! The Lord knows us and watches over us! I am writing this on the way back from Mount Vesuvius, which by the way has a bellisimo view of Naples. The city is so huge from the top and yet I know that God loves each and everyone of us no matter what.  Really this mission is teaching me how to have faith.  How faith is a real and true belief in something. How I need to have faith in the work and that miracles will happen, because they only can happen if you believe. I love working here and being a missionary even when it is hard, even when the work may be discouraging.  I challenge you all to look at your life and the trials you may be having, and be happy! Remember the blessings God has given and remember the blessings that will come.  I know all this is true, that God is our Heavenly Father, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and Thomas S. Monson leads the true church today.  Ciao from Pozzuoli!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, September 5, 2016

Tender Mercies

Dear Family and Friends,

Right now I am writing this on the Lungo Mare, a sidewalk running along side the Pozzuoli coast. It's the perfect day. Cool and cloudy, feeling the great sea breeze while we play frisbee. As I think on this past week, I really can testify that the Lord knows each and everyone one of us, and loves us.

First off, it rained this week!!  Normally this would have been awesome since it is still very hot during the day (luckily we have 3 fans now at home).  But it began to rain, basically pour in some places, right as we were trying to catch the bus to see James. It was insane.  We were soaked even with my umbrella when we arrived only to find that the bus had already left. Then the rain stopped after 10 minutes and only made it more humid! But the great part of that day was that we met Ritta Botte and her family. She is a newer convert from 3 years ago and is very strong in her testimony. She wants her son Alleasandro to get baptized and serve mission so we are going to help him the best we can. It was also cool to see that her kids went to FSY (EFY in Italy).

Second, we moved the church!  Finally, the church is finished being renovated so we helped move some stuff in the Napoli church building to the one in Pozzuoli. This was definitely cool because we finally got to see our church building after hearing how beautiful the view is. It really is absolutely gorgeous. It makes Sunday even more special!  You take the sacrament and can look out the windows and see the ocean and the islands in the distance. And we also finally got to see who really is in our ward and make appointments for the week.

Our District is super awesome and dedicated to the work. To get all the members involved in the work, we are hosting an church open house/barbecue. I might even get to play a violin duet with one of the members which would be awesome. We want everyone to bring a dish and invite a friend.

And this week we got a senior couple in our area. The Hydes are amazing and just served a mission in Milan. We now have 9 missionaries serving in one area. This is crazy! To really welcome them to missionary service here in Pozzuoli, we did a Gesso on the Lungo Mare, talking to people about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I decided to play my violin near the end to help bring the Spirit to the event which I hope it did.

But the coolest things were the spiritual experiences.

This week the sister missionaries passed us an investigator, Raffaele, who is an MMA fighter and has won the Eurocup in that field so that's very cool. In our second lesson we gave a church tour which he liked a lot and we hope we can meet with him and see if he really wants to progress. But because we had this unexpected church tour we missed the bus to go to James again and had no phone to see if he would still be there if we were late. So after debating about what to do, we decided to pray at the bus stop. And we both felt we needed to go tonight to see James. And so we did and he was there!  We finally got to really teach the Restoration of the Gospel and in the middle of the lesson, a friend of his named Queen decided to sit and in her words, "hear the word of God."  We taught about the First Vision and explained how we can receive our own answers through prayer and reading the Book of Mormon. It was great! We even challenged her to baptism too and she said yes! The hard part is that it is difficult for them to be able to come to church. But this is what I am praying for the most this week! Our mission president has challenged the mission to get one baptism per companionship per transfer and I am exercising faith in this.

After one really hard day, searching for less actives and only finding 1 of the 4 we planned to find (who we are meeting this week), lots of walking, and listening to Jehovah Witness tell us why our church was wrong, I was frustrated.  As we were a block away from home, there was someone walking next to us who I thought I should talk to. So I invited him to come to English Course. He said no thanks and moved on. And instead of feeling worse, I felt better. Because in that small moment I felt my Heavenly Father communicate to me through the Holy Ghost that this is what I am called to do. To just do my best and invite. Even when the days are bad and it seems nothing is well, to remember to just do your best!

This week I felt the tender mercies of the Lord. I heard recently that even our trials can be tender mercies from the Lord because tender mercies are blessings specifically designed to help us in our circumstances. I love my time here in Italy and while right now two years seems forever away, I can already tell the time will fly by and all the blessings and trials I feel will mix into one joyous memory.

It's very cliché but I can't help but repeat this: That missionary work is hard, but it is also probably one of the best things we can do as children of God. And it is also super fun!  I'll probably never ever experience the things I do now again in my life. I love sharing the gospel because it makes me happy! And I want others to be happy too! I know God watches over all of us and wants to bless us. I love you and hope the best for you. Feel free to keep me updated!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price