Monday, June 26, 2017

I Never Know What to Expect

Dear Family and Friends,

To say that a few things happened this week would be an understatement. It seems like every week unfolds into an adventure that we never planned or really could have expected, but in the end is better than anything we had planned in the first place. I guess that's a good sign that Lord is with us as we are laboring here in Ragusa. He puts an idea here, a bidone there; a person here, a chance to speak there and pretty soon, you have an experience that only Anziano Mars and I could have experienced. 

For example, this week we lost our car! That is, we had to give it to a senior couple (who were super nice and took us all out to pranzo) who need it more than us, which in the end is a blessing. We can talk to people on the street more and I no longer have to worry about driving in Italy. But the heat decided to arrive right when we lost the car as well. Or rather, the heat probably is a lot more obvious now since we are outside a lot more now. We are fortunate to actually be in Ragusa since the giant hill gives us more altitude and wind. But we still drink un sacco di acqua!

I also never expected training to be like this. In the sense that you are helping someone start being a missionary from scratch. It's a lot harder than I expected but even more rewarding, just like when I was being trained. I've seen really how much I have grown from being a "greenie", and now I just have to inspire that same change in Anziano Mars. Which isn't too difficult considering Anziano Mars is already great. Totally different than all the rest of my companions and one of the most unique people that I have met. He's just so attentive, detailed, and knowledgable about the most randomest things. I pray that I can just be a good enough trainer that he can be set for the rest of his mission. 

But now I will go to experiences. Last Sunday, Giuseppe, a student from English Group, randomly came to church so we had a lesson with him this week. He had lots of questions and so we did our best to explain the Restoration in the context of his concerns. Mostly, he wants to know the truth but feels it's too hard to read the whole of Book of Mormon. And he thought church was a little boring but still we have lots of hope in Giuseppe. During our lesson in the park, the carabinieri or police also interrupted us and asked for our documents. I never expected anything like that to happen and fortunately we did have our documents. Giuseppe said they probably stopped us just because we looked strange or possibly someone called the police thinking we were "dangerous". 

As for the rest, we taught lessons to Sebastiano who finally came to church again, the new convert Simone, and other members. I have actually been able to feel the Spirit a lot stronger as we have begun teaching together with Anziano Mars, the Restoration to these great members. We accomplished more finding with English Group posters, door to door and gessos and it feels good to walk around the city a lot again. We also had amazing pranzos with Sorella Puglisi and the Dimartino family and turns out I really like cherries. Anziano Mars reminds me everyday how I take for granted this amazing food that Ì have been eating for a year. And probably the craziest thing we did this week was set up for the musical. The theater group has been working hard and so have we so finally we have seen some good progress considering that it is this Thursday. On Sunday, we came and took apart the chapel in order to make room for the stage so there was a lot of chaos. But in the end it looks nice, I've never seen anything done by a ward this big and in decent order. We are excited to perform (okay, more I am excited to perform since Anziano Mars isn't too fond of acting :)) and we hope we have an awesome turnout of people to come to church. 

On a more spiritual note, I feel calm. There have been some days I look back at the end of the day and just feel peace. Peace that all will work out. The stress with investigators, with training, with trying to understand people, with trying to find people has actually disappeared. I know this peace comes only from God and so I know we are still doing the right thing. I feel all could go wrong and yes that wouldn't be something I would like, but I feel confident enough to say that I can do anything with the Lord so why worry about what is ahead. Yes I may fall and slip, and yes I may still get frustrated, but I love the feeling at the end of the day where I can say to God, I did my part and thank you for your amazing help and forgiveness. I hope I can cherish and remember every moment because this mission has changed my life. I understand more, I sacrifice more, I am willing to give it my all even if no one else listens. And I just love Italy so much!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, June 19, 2017

I'm Getting Old

Dear Family and Friends,

Holy cow, what a week! So many things happened and it had felt like a roller coaster ride beginning last Monday when we received the calls for our transfers.

News: I'm a father! I must now be getting old in the mission even though I don't feel it. They called saying my new companion would be a brand new missionary straight from the MTC which is quite a big deal. No pressure. Up until the day of transfers, I was stressed with thoughts. What's he going to be like? How am I going to train him? Am I good enough? What will we do in Ragusa? etc. etc. I was definitely anxious but luckily Anziano Albright assured me all would be well and reminding of what's the worst thing that could happen.

Before Anziano Albright left that Thursday to be in a trio in Agrigento, we made appointments to see Sorella Ferraro and eat delicious food, we finally finally finally taught the Restoration to a great potential that we hope to follow up on soon (we made our goal!), and did normal things like teaching investigators and helping with English Course and Theater Course. He's a great humble and obedient missionary that certainly deserves the applause that Vince from English Course gave him the Tuesday before he left. Hopefully, I will see him again.

On Thursday, after getting Anziano Albright onto his bus, I drove the car to Catania train station ALL BY MYSELF! That's how the transfer situation worked out I guess (desperate times call for desperate measures). Nothing bad happened and I made it safely to the zone leaders on the other side. And there was waited for the greenies to come. There was another missionary trainer too at the station so when the train arrived, it was at first awkward to figure out who was training who (because we had no idea, they were the only people that knew) but I finally got Anziano Mars.

First off, he has a sweet name! And the rest: He's a great missionary that comes from Ohio, ready to serve and already has a good understanding of the language. He's organized, super smart, and see's the world in a whole different light than me (which leads to him blowing my mind with random questions or profound thoughts). Right now he's still a little riserved but I imagine so was I as a greenie so I have hope we are going to get along well and make a great companionship together.

So the rest of the week became crash course in training, figuring our permessos, how to teach lessons, how to plan, driving all over Ragusa and other cities. But we are seeing some progress and miracles so that means we are doing the right things. We had a gesso at the Marina where there were lots of people (that's an Italian summer for you) so that was cool. We were asking people how we can have a more united family, and one kid answered, "Take away their phones".

Sadly, this was also our last week going to Gela because the branch is getting moved into the area of Agrigento and will no longer be it's own branch. These members that I have met our amazing and it was sad for them but they are looking forward with faith and having new opportunities in the new branch. One of the member's son in law asked why there aren't mormon churchs in every place. Una buona domanda but I remember Anziano Mars's testimony on how everything is in the Lord's timing, so never doubt that all will work out!

After church in Gela though, we decided to pass by the house of the one of members and deliver her the Liahonas she had ordered since she hadn't been able to come to church since they had arrived. We drove up the small roads to the small town of Niscemi in pouring rain. It was little dangerous at some points but we made it safely. Francesca really appreciated the visit and we were able to give her sick mother a blessing which was also another really powerful moment.

All in all, training is lot more different that I thought it would be. I don't know what to do half the time but in the end, it is like when Nephi followed the Spirit, not knowing beforehand what to do. Oh yah, I also turned 20! That kinda just flew past but don't worry, we celebrated with arancini and plan to do something today. All that I can say is that life is good, it is a really blessing we have to live, bless others, and serve them. That's really what has changed the most this week. Like a switch, once I received that call, my mind is focused on how do I help this son of God become the missionary he is meant to be. I imagine that is what happens in fatherhood as well, and I imagine that is how God thinks about each and everyone of us every single moment of the day.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Tender Mercy a Day Keeps Satan Away

Dear Family and Friends,

Oh how the time has gone by. By the end of this next week, I will have already finished 2 transfers(~3 months) here in Ragusa. Oh, and I turn 20 (or as Italians say, I will have 20 years)! One lesson you learn on the mission is just how precious your time is because it can easily disappear. While some days might drag on, we are always doing the Lord's work so I try to never wish the time to go away because sooner or later it will go away!

As always, I have a lot of thoughts. I guess knocking doors and looking for people to talk to also gives me a lot of time to ponder life and my purpose here. But wait, what even happened this week?

Well Anziano Albright and I wanted to start the week off to a great start so literally the first thing we did after P-day was door to door. We wanted to finally finish the area our ward mission leader challenged us at the beginning of this transfer and we were only missing a few palazzos, including the ward mission leader's (Fratello Lo Monaco). Like normal, there was fun, disappointment, people not understanding who we were, a little yelling by one lady, and someone at the end basically saying, "Do you think anyone will really let you in at this hour?". I guess it was 8 o'clock but we had a work to do. No one let us in sadly, but as we walked away, we saw the Lo Monaco family walking back to their home. We greeted them and like the amazing Italian family they are, they invited us in for gelato to make up for the struggle. That definitely cheered me up haha.

In other news, we had a lesson with Sebastiano one day and in the hopes of fellowshipping him with other members, we all had a pranzo appt. with Sorella Puglisi. IT WAS SOO GOOD! She made homemade ravioli and although all italian foods are really good, ravioli is like gold, especially with fresh ricotta from Ragusa. And I ate one of the best peaches of my life and so of course I docuemented it with a photo. Seriously, I am so thankful for the amazing sacrifice of these members who do so much for a meal with the missionaries. We don't eat often with the members, but as Anziano Albright says, "One meal is basically 5 meal appts at the same time."

For example, yesterday after church, we went to the Guastella's house. In my opinion, Carmelo Guastella is one of the best cooks in at least Ragusa. He and his family surprised us with risotto alla frutta del mare, which is basically smorgasbord of seafood(shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels,) with risotto. I've heard legends about this stuff being hit or miss and this time it was really good. So that proceeded to me eating two plates (I asked for "un pocotino" for seconds to which Carmelo gave me a full plate which is pretty typical. That would suffice for a normal meal but then we had roast chicken, roasted potatoes, and salad for the 2nd plate! And to top it off, a giant piece of watermelon that was really good! I made them a tiramisù as a gift for their hospitality but at the end we barely could touch it being stuffed to the brim.

Okay I am going to try and not mention food for the rest of this email. To summarize the week, we taught less active members, another lesson with Sebastiano, received bidones, taught Simone, a recent convert, bought a brioche for the sacrament at Gela because there was no bread, and attended theater course for Beauty and the Beast. We now have parts in the musical which is something I didn't think would happen on the mission but it's pretty fun! Also another crazy experience was with Falcone. Background: He's this religion and philosophy teacher that has studied all the religions for a long time. He has known about our church since the late 60's and has realized it is the "best" church but believes in universalism, that there can't be only one true church, a common belief for some italians. Comunque, he's been coming to church for a while so in the hope of trying to fellowship him we agreed to go to his religious library. Turns out in campagnia he uses his parent's old house as a library that he wants to make open to the public which contains A TON of books on religion, philosophy, etc. It was really cool to see and get to know his life better and even answer some of his questions about our religion. Only in Italy.

For the weekend, it was all finding. We tried changing it up a lot, going to the Marina, Ibla, Via Roma. We tried different methods, English Course, Book of Mormon, etc. But in the end, it was really hard. I remember saying to Anziano Albright that the next place for finding would be better everytime we moved on. But in the end, we realized that it only seemed better, and that every place we went to was just as hard as the last. Friday was especially long, difficult, and hot. I remember being pretty disappointed at the end that night. After passing an end of school concert to start off summer for the ragazzi(that could be the reason why it was a little unsuccessful), I remember feeling pretty disappointed and even a little discouraged. As we were about to get into our car, Anziano Albright and I heard a loud "Anziani!" and then saw Simone drive by with his friends. Immediately, we started to laugh (because we love Simone so much and he's an amazing person that always does that when he sees us) and the discouragement disappeared.

It made me think of Alma 26, when the sons of Mosiah were depressed and thought of turning back and how the Lord sent an angel to comfort and encourage them to continue in this great work. That day, I saw how Simone was a tender mercy, an "angel" if you will. Tender mercies like that occur daily in the mission, but for me it takes a really careful eye to see it. Like sharing a nutella pizza with Anziano Albright after a hard day of finding. Like when Vince, one of the best people at our English Course, says a prayer in English, thanking God for the "Mormon missionaries" even though he says he's atheist. Like when you finally are able to make a lasgna that tastes like it was made by a true Sicilian after planning for our one investigator and calling people in the Area Book. I know God is blessing me everyday and teaching me so many lessons. Sometimes, it is hard to keep track of all the things I have learned these past two transfers. But the biggest thing of all, is gratitude for the tender mercies of God, which tends to be the amazing people I work with, eat with, and just randomly meet on the street every day. I love this mission with all my heart and hope to continue to find the tender mercy of the day, each day until my time is up as a representative of Jesus Christ.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

P.S. Sorry I couldn't think of a good title and this is the only thing coming into my head right now.

Monday, June 5, 2017

It's Not Easy

Dear Family and Friends,

After the great fun and spiritual experiences we had last week, I feel like Anziano Albright and I came back to the ground or as Elder Holland puts it, returning to the "regular vicissitudes of life". But thankfully, we were prepared for this and I can honestly bear testimony that we are trying our best over here, even though sometimes it may result the way we would like it too.

In short, I guess I should say what happened this week since I can't think of a creative cute way to describe our daily happenings. I remember the day after P-day we had plans to go see several families but then they all got bidoned(canceled) and so that morning, we decided to go put up English course posters because you always need more people to come to English course. Also there was the time where we tried to make cookies in order to teach less active families, but no one answered so we ate the cookies intead. Since we are trying to find more people to teach, finding is the name of the game here in Ragusa. We have started doing more area book finding, which is basically like calling old investigators and potentials from a while back. Most of the times it can be awkward. I remember calling one person asking, "Do you remember us?", which he didn't maybe because the missionaries had seen him once FIVE YEARS AGO! Most of the times, it is funny and maybe we will start to see some fruits.

On the funnier side of things, we visited some great member families sharing with them the message of The Family: A Proclamation. One time we went to the Micozzi's, where sadly the husband is sick and unable to come to church, but he's 85 and still alive so that's good. With the Criscione's, we try to encourage the husband to investigate the church since he's a non-member, but he usually wants to get back to watching tv instead of listening to us. Luckily, he and his wife liked the message still and gave us some cookies. Fact: Every spiritual thought apparently must be followed by some kind of snack or dolce, at least for Italians.

Sebastiano was making good progress but now he seems a little stuck, in that I don't know how devoted he is to searching for this answer, this answer that the Book of Mormon is true. He's an amazing friend, always taking us places for P-days and being really funny, but sometimes I just wonder, what is it that he really needs in order to make those steps toward Christ. I remember one lesson in particular this week where he opened up a lot about his problems in his life currently to which we felt confident to to tell him to ask God for help in these things and how this answer about the Book of Mormon would not only help him for eternity, but help him right now. We fasted for him, not just for an answer, but so that he could have peace about whatever happens in the future for him. Sorry if that was confusing.

The trick for me in doing missionary work really is finding the joy in small things. Anziano Albright and I did door to door this week several times and one time we even got kicked out of a palazzo again! That's how you can tell when you are getting close, when Satan bites back. Also, the mission president and his wife, President and Sorella Pickerd, visited Ragusa this week. It also turned out to be the same day as the Day of the Republic, the italian holiday of when they became united as a nation. So as with every holiday, everything was closed. Luckily, we still managed to find a nice place to eat delicious sicilian food (I tried gnocchi with rabbit ragù) and had a great time talking and visiting the church and the apartments. They loved the Ragusa church building, it is certainly one of a kind!

Advice time: I receieved this recently from President Pickerd. Count your blessings! Something I am really striving to work on. But I can start with being thankful for Anziano Albright, my district, these wonderful members, the haircut I got this week, being able to see the ward practice the musiscal, the Beauty and the Beast, our English Course throwing us a pizza party, and playing my violin as part of our gesso this week which was really fun. Counting blessings always makes me feel better.

I think I have hit the point where most things just seem like a normal part of life now, as if I have always lived in Italy, as if I always have worn a white shirt and tie, as if I was born being a missionary with an imaginary family and friends that I email every week. Maybe it's because I've been out here almost a year even though I still like to think I'm still that "greenie" that I used to be. Luckily, even without family, friends, my dog, the comforts of life in America and home, I never would trade my time on this mission for anything else.

As Hillary Clinton, a recent convert here and refugee from Africa said to us last night in his words, "It's not easy what you do. To teach people what is right and wrong. To volunteer your time. It's not easy." I agree wholeheartedly. It is not easy, but it's worth it!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I Can't Believe That Happened

Dear Family and Friends,

There are a lot of things that happened this week. And I mean a lot so buckle up, sit back, and enjoy the ride that is the Mission of Rome Italy.

Okay so in the beginning it was a pretty tranquillo week. We did normal things like district meeting, helping with home teaching appointments, teaching a less active member, teaching English course, helping with theater course, etc. etc. I think the fun really started to begin on Thursday. First, we started the day with putting up English Course posters so more people can attend the service that we do. We walk around for a long time and it turned out pretty successful. Nearing the end of our giro, we notice a large group of ragazzi being lead by one man (most likely a school field trip). The man leading the group immediately recognizes us, calls out to us as "Mormoni", and pretty soon we are surrounded by him and the group of ragazzi. This guy then proceeds to explain to the entire class of students "who we are" and a very water downed story of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Before we could testify of the truth, the man rounded up the class and they were gone. We were shocked.

Yes, persecution is very real in the mission. Nothing like stoning or crucifixion but there will always be someone who accuses us of being Jehovah's Witnesses, complaining that we only bother people, and ragazzi trying to take us in giro ("mess around with us"). While doing door to door this week, we were even kicked out of a palazzo which usually never happens.

But onto more lighter things, that very pranzo, we decided to experiment and make a new pasta. We tried to make squid ink pasta! Basically, it's like spaghetti but mixed into the tomato sauce is the ink from squids. I've heard good things about it here and so we took the risk. But we should have guessed what it should have tasted like based on the disgusting smell and appearance. It was soooooo gross! We probably didn't make it right but I'm going to wait for an Italian to make it for me because it was soo bad when we tried.

Side story: On Saturday, we knew there was going to be a big celebration for San Giorgio, the saint of Ragusa/Ibla, so we went down to pass out lots of biglietinni and talk to lots of people. It went pretty well but as we were leaving, we passed one church that was surrounded by a big crowd of people. Almost immediately, a band begins to play and men come out carrying this large statue of San Giorgio and another one that looks like the Ark of the Covenant. It was very surreal, people yelling and cheering for the saint, and there were even fireworks! Although catholic traditions are strange, they sure know how to throw a party.

But on the more serious note, we have really begun to see Sebastiano, our only investigator, make progress. He said to us in a lesson that he believes he has receieved an answer that the Book of Mormon is true and really wants to be baptized. We are doing everything we can now to prepare him and improve his relationship with the ward so that he has a great support system and doesn't go inactive. It's amazing how far he really has come.

And to top it all off, the entire stake of Sicily gathered this Sunday at Catania for Stake Conference. It was amazing to see so many members like thos from Siracusa and also to see so many fellow missionaries like Anziano Moscon again. We also just had an amazing Zone Conference and I feel I have learned a lot and have greater hope for the future here in Ragusa.  It's so much fun finding with other missionaries, we all become so couragious and it just turns into something more easy. In fact, yesterday we were doing a gesso and I had just finished talking to a person. Soon after, while waiting to talk to someone else, I feel something land on my glasses and suit coat. Turns out, I got pooped on by a pidgeon! So terrible, unexpected, and funny at the same time. Good thing I wear glasses though!

After how crazy this week has been, I honestly just want to say how grateful I am for every experience I have had in this mission. There are so many tiny moments that I want to just cherish forever. These experiences, like seeing old members and friends from Siracusa remember me at stake conference this week, feeling the Spirit during our Zone Conference, reuniting with fellow missionaries, playing ultimate frisbee in the dying heat, and eating the best fragola granita I have ever tasted...these experiences have brought me such great feelings of love and happiness, more than before the mission. I have been blessed with such a great mission president, zone, district, city and companion. I know God has a specific and special plan for me, he puts special people into my life to bless me, and even the hard things he plans for me because he knows who I need to become at the end of this all. As always, I am grateful for all of your support and the love you send to me while I am away.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hay Pasta, Tomatoes, and Thoughts

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was certainly a week of firsts. We have yet to still find that one person here in Ragusa who wants to hear our message but we definitely tried our best and had a lot of adventures along the way. Anziano Albright sure makes the journey a lot more fun. Like for example, we were waiting at the questura for Anziano Albright's fingerprinting appt so he can be legal in Italy but it always takes forever (imagine DMV but in Italy). He made the two hour wait so much more fun with his jokes and blunt humor. My favorite quote this week is when he said in response to me saying how there are three steps we working to accomplish: finding, teaching, and baptism. He replied, "If we can get to the 2nd step, I'll cry a river of tears so we can have the baptism". I can't imagine how much harder missionary work would be without a companion to always be there to laugh, talk with, and back you up whenever you need it.

Let's go to the funny things first. Of course most of these involve food, but after all it is Italy. I wouldn't be truly Italian if I didn't mention food in this email. Anziano Albright and I wanted to try making a pesto lasagna, basically just like a normal lasagna except the ragu is replaced with pesto and besciamella. We decided to use the really good pesto from that Sicilian lady a while back along with good prosciutto. It looked perfect especially when we took it out of the oven. Except that upon eating it, Anziano Albright exclaimed that it was more like eating hay pasta! Apparently, we added way too much pesto and we were supposed to mix it with a lot more besciamella. Sadly, we used up all that good pesto but considering the only way I know how to cook now is by trial and error, it definitely wasn't as bad as it could have been.

One thing we did cook right was homemade tomato sauce! We visited Sorella Ferraro this week which as always was tawesome. She brings up so many questions about the purpose of this life and why she's here and we did our best to answer her questions with the Book of Mormon. Her life would be more blessed if she could just have the church closer to her or a more patient husband so that she could go to church and not have to worry about making pranzo late on Sundays. Like seriously when we went, her husband during the prayer for pranzo couldn't wait and started eating in the middle of it! It was so funny! But I can understand, she makes really good food! At the end, we said goodbye and passed by a box of fresh tomatoes from campagnia that her husband received from work. She immediately saw us looking at the box and proceeded to put 15 tomatoes in a bag for us to take home before we could deny them. Sicilians are just about the sweetest people you will ever meet sometimes.

But anyway, we decided to make our own red sauce with these bad boys (after asking plenty of Italians how you make tomatoe sauce to which most of them said, you don't, you buy it). So the night before we go to buy this special machine which basically just grinds the boiled tomatoes to pulp which then can be cooked into a sauce. We hesitant during the whole process fearing something would go wrong but in the end it tasted sooooo good! Just little too sweet from too much sugar but still much better than the grocery store sauce.

As for other firsts, we went all the way out to Rosolini (about 45 min away) this week to teach a former investigator named Giovanni Crepez. We have been trying for a month to help him come here so he can see the church but in the end we decided to go out one time to him and figure out his situation. He is quite an interesting guy and has been through a lot in his life. Ultimately, he realized that every church was missing something for him to which we explained how that was the fulness of the gospel, which enables us to have peace in this life and eternal life in the next. It went well and in the end we determined it would actually be closer for him to go to Siracusa so hopefully he can continue his progress with the anziani there.

After a week of helping members with their home teaching visits, helping Sebastiano progress, searching desperately for people interested in our message, ringing door bells, directing church in Gela for one member again, driving back and forth, and ultimately living the life as a missionary, I realized I was tired. Like really tired. I'm not going to lie, this work is difficult, really hard, and sometimes frustrating. I honestly think this is the hardest I have worked for something yet. And at the end of the week, when you look back and see what resulted from all that hard labor, one may think it was wasted. But like my grandfather told me, when you are pushed to the point of utter exhaustion, that's when you know you gave it your all for the Savior. Yes, I am still weak and there are lots of things I need to work, especially if we are going to be blessed in finding the children of God. But I know that the greatest happiness that can ever be felt is that total sacrifice for the Lord, even if nothing seems to have resulted. I am working everyday towards that goal, to feel that joy in total exhaustion for Christ, for God and His Church. I want to be his missionary, his son and hope that I can be a part of his daily miracles here in Ragusa.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, May 15, 2017

Miscellaneous Events

Dear Family and Friends,

I love being a missionary! I'm sorry but there is nothing that compares to the joy and happiness that one feels being called by God to preach his word, even in a small city like Ragusa where it seems like no one wants to hear it. This week was simultaneously tiring, amazing, hot, frustrating, fun, and miraculous all at the same time. Sadly, I feel like I will never be able to fully describe the life as a missionary, but you will just have to work with me and imagine what it's like.

First off, this week we did a scambio with the Zone Leaders in Catania. First, they came down to join us for our district meeting, give us an exciting addestramento, and take us back up to Catania for the day. I was with Anziano Bertoldo for the day and so we dedicated the time to talking with everyone in our sights as we walked around the city. It was fun and afterwards, we got to teach a new convert over Skype since he lives far away so that was definitely a first. And of course, Anziano Albright and I stopped for a delicious strawberry and vanilla gelato with brioches before we headed home from our great scambio (Honestly, I don't know who thought of mixing sweet bread with ice cream but it tastes good).

One highlight of the week was our visits with Sorella Puglisi. Some of the coolest stories I have heard come from the members like Sorella Puglisi. Especially because Sorella Puglisi doesn't stop talking ever! We always come to share a spiritual thought but it is such a struggle to focus on the topic when Sorella Puglisi brings up her complaints about the Italian government, her phone bills, the musical practices, and also as she recounts to us occasionally her life story (which in her words, is a modern day romanza). The other time we saw her that week was to just drop off some bags of clothes from another member but the supposedly 5 minute drop off, turned into an hour long conversation about how her birth saved her dad from getting killed in WWII (pretty cool story actually). Italians love to talk but Sorella Puglisi especially does because her husband sadly passed away about 8 months ago. We even gave her a blessing of comfort because she feels alone in this moment of her life with so many problems. And always in return for our listening for so long, she rewards us with gelato.

Our lessons with Sebastiano keep getting better and better. He is more focused especially on finding his answer by reading the Book of Mormon so I believe the Spirit is really taking an active role in his conversion. He came to church and finally has realized that even with all the different commandments like the law of chastity, his doubts all point to one question: is this the true church of Jesus Christ or just another imitation in his words? We are praying that he recieves his answer and will be prepared for the 10th of June.

Hilarious Finding Moments: Finding takes up a good chunk of time so thankfully these moments make every situation unique. But the biggest thing I have noticed is that a lot of people make assumptions about knowing our religion without even us saying anything. Either we are Amish or Jehovah's Witnesses, or just not normal Christians. Like when we were doing casa a casa and this lady answers the door. After our introduction, she explains, "Sorry but I believe in God.", to which our response is so do we! Then she says, "Well I also believe in Jesus Christ" to which I say, great we do too...which leads to an awkward shutting the door. Another experience was yesterday night, we went out to do finding and there were tons of people on the street! Most of them were old and looked like they were waiting for Catholic Mass so we thought, perfect time to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly, everybody was a little too busy waiting for their mother's day parade of the Madonna. There are so many funny and different traditions here in Italy!

Overall, this week like most was a struggle but I am learning how to deal with the struggle and turn it into joy. To not worry, to suffer these things now for Christ like he did so that I might please him. This week we also had church in Gela where it was just Anziano Albright and I and only  one other member of the branch! That could easily be discouraging but as I presided the meeting, I remembered in my testimony how Christ is always with us, even if it is just two or three of us gathered. We have a testimony of the truth still and that's what matters.

Ti voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, May 8, 2017

I'm a Dad!....Technically

Dear Family and Friends,

How are all of you? I am doing just fine, having the time of my life here in Ragusa! Oh yah, transfers have come and gone and I am still here in Ragusa AND I am still with Anziano Albright. Totally unexpected but super cool. We are excited to work hard together and make it a great probably last transfer for him here in Ragusa. Also, I have technically become a father in the mission because Sorella Torres is training a new sister missionary, Sorella Tenney, and according to tradition, the district leader of the city is the "father". Mission traditions are pretty strange but I guess that's what happens when you are by yourself in a small Italian city with the only 3 other people that speak English.

Also, thanks to travel situations, transfer day was crazy! First off, we dropped Sorella Demann off at the train station to go to Napoli early in the morning which left Sorella Torres without a companion for like the whole day. Luckily we have an amazing new convert who was able to stay with her for the whole day until her greenie arrived. Anziano Young in Siracusa was also without a companion for the day and by the afternoon didn't have anyone to be with, so we took charge and roadtripped to Siracusa. By far, a fun miracle to see Siracusa again. And luckily, it worked out because then Sorella Tenney missed her connection to Ragusa (since the train down from Rome is always late) and so they sent her down to Siracusa. In the end, I finally got to eat another pizzolo, and we finally arrived home at 10 at night. I definitely wasn't expecting any of that to happen (especially the two "apostate" TJ trios we did).

For me, I learned a lot of lessons this week. First off, I still need to work on my Italian. We were doing a gesso in Ibla about the purpose of life and how we can find that in the Book of Mormon. I was chosen to draw and write the question this time since none of us our artists (even though I still think I have the worst handwriting). People passed by and no one seemed really interested in our message which is quite normal to expect. I stopped this one couple who were reading the question and I asked what they thought. They proceed to explain in english that it was wrong. I think, what's wrong with understanding the purpose of life? And then Sorella Torres looks at what I wrote and points out that I wrote "scopa" rather than "scopo". A one letter difference that means "what is the BROOM of life?" I couldn't believe it. Luckily, it was pretty funny in the moment. No wonder people think missionaries are weird sometimes.

As for our work, our lessons with Sebastiano are going better and he is planning on getting baptized the 10th of June. He was finally able to come to church this Sunday since his back was feeling better. In fact, a lot of people came like Giuseppe Guastella, a less active we have been working with, and a lot of others. The chapel was full, especially with tourist eason beginning. In fact, that was probably the sweetest moment. A missionary who served here 37 years ago came to church and asked if the Chines family was still. Turns out she was one of the missionaries that taught them. The ex-missionary didn't know if the Chines family would recognize her since after all it was 37 years ago. Upon Sorella Chines seeing the ex-missionary, Sorella Chines yells out her name and runs into a hug and then begins to cry. It was quite amazing to see the happy reunion and how that missionary helped 3 generations overall join the church.

Probably the biggest lesson for me though was about gratitude. Thoughts of leaving, staying, new companions, new cities, one of my former companions "dying", members, missionary work and especially my "father" becoming one of the new assistents to the president, have all given me a lot to ponder about. Reading through my journal and remembering my "mission" really struck me this week. I've seen a lot of improvement and as I look back, I really only seen the good, the fun, the joy. But even more importantly, I've seen how I get so stressed, frustrated, about things that really weren't important. For example, I remember my transfers with Anziano Moscon in Siracusa having some of the hardest experiences I have ever experienced. I felt lost and most of all, I felt that maybe I failed Anziano Moscon and didn't how enough love to him. Fortunately, now he is one of my greatest friends I have made, just like all my other companions, and I realize how much I really love and miss his humor and uniqueness, and really how great those transfers were.

Sorry if that makes no sense. In the end, I realized I am really bad at being grateful for things in the moment. I should've been more grateful and appreciative of the amazing members of Siracusa, with Anziano Moscon, with every day that has passed already as a missionary. I am just so happy I have the chance to try again with Anziano Albright and especially for the members of Ragusa. It's so hard to change but I know if I don't express my love for these people immediately, if I don't work my hardest every single day, then I only deprive myself of the maximum amount of the joy I can feel at the end of my mission.

I am grateful to be here, to serve with all my heart in Ragusa, to have an amazing companion, to have an amazing district, members who cook the best food I have eaten and cause me to make the same mistake of asking for seconds, and I am starting to be grateful even for those hard days where you end up asking only non-Italians about the Book of Mormon by accident, where people hang up the citofono after they hear Jesus Christ, and replace the stress with joy. This is a joyful work, our message only brings happiness to others, and I don't want to miss out on any opportunity to bring that joy to someone else, even if that ends up just being myself.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, May 1, 2017

Do's and Don'ts: Italian Food Edition

Dear Family and Friends,

Okay, I may like talking about food a little too much. But trust me on this week because the food certainly defined this week. As well as the amazing members of this ward, the people we meet on the street, my great stalwart companion, Anziano Albright, and of course our everpresent defense of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

April 25th is a holiday apparently for Italy because of the Liberation during WWII so the ward on Sunday decided to plan an activity for the holiday in two days. The problem was that we showed up and no one was there! Literally no one for a while. Soon some came but really in the end, it was The Magrograssi family, Sorella Rollo and her Sri Lankan housemaids she invited. So since we needed more food, we quickly went home, whipped up a kilo of pasta con sugo rosso( with a splash of besciamella), mozzarella, and salsiccia in under an hour. Yes, it was good, one of my favorite pastas. Sorella Rollo, the old Sicilian lady, kept complimenting me saying she couldn't believe the anziani had made this. Checked that off the mission milestone list.

Also, on the more funnier side of things, we were invited to eat with Stefano Dimartino (a returned missionary) but his mom had to go to parucchiere(hair stylist). So he started making a normal pasta...okay not normal but a red sauce with tuna pasta, but at the end we realized it wasn't enough sauce. So he says in english with his italian accent (he served in manchester), "okay elders, never do what I am about to do", and he proceeds to add ketchup to the sauce! It was hilarious and nothing changed but if anyone in Italy knew, he would probably get arrested for something like that. :)

This week we also got to meet Sorella Ferraro who is a member that lives outside of Ragusa in a city called Vittoria. She is a great member with a strong testimony but her husband doesn't let her go to church that often since it makes her late to cook pranzo. That seems very small but considering she has made some of the best of the best food ever and that her husband is a very traditional, eat at 1 o'clock, type of Sicilian, I can understand her more. She kept stuffing us with this sicilianas stuffed with ricotta that were amazing, I had at least ten. But we come to lift spirits and invite people unto Christ, not just eat food. So we helped answer her questions and encouraged to have patience in the trials she was facing. The key factor is always obedience, if we aren't obedient, we have no guarantee of blessing. It was quite a spiritual visit.

Other Milestone: As diligent missionaries, Anziano Albright and I decided to try doing door to door again for an hour one day. We find a nice looking palazzo and decide to ring the bells. The hard thing about italy is you have to get through 3 doors: outside gate, door to get in the building, and the actual door. So we ring all the bells of the first building, manage to get inside the gate in the middle of ringing, but no one even lets us in the apartment. We continue on to the next building (since there were two) and continue to ring without success until about the 6th bell. A lady answers, says she sadly isn't interested but appreciates the effort and offers to at least give us a coffee. I thought about it but I figured it would be difficult to explain we don't drink coffee and there could be more people to find. So I said no thank you and rang another bell...which actually turned out to be the same bell! She said "Dai, amore. Venite!" (Basically, c'mon love, come inside) and so we did. Nothing major turned out but she expressed her love that we were good Christian young men doing the right thing, just explaining what you believe. We accepted her fruit juice and sadly weren't able to transition to the gospel. But she gave us two jars of her homemade pesto and told us come back whenever you need to!! That's pretty miraculous! Only in Sicily!

The rest of the week continued like this: meeting with Sorella Puglisi, giving a less active member a blessing of health, teaching Sebastiano, going home teaching with an amazing new convert Simone, made my first ragu pasta al forno(super good!), teaching English Group, giving Sebastiano a blessing for his back, doing a gesso where we finally got someone's phone number, planning a youth activity that in the end, didn't go as planned, and Simone announcing in his talk on Sunday that he wants to serve a mission! It really was quite the eventful week. What also isn't seen is the number of times we called people, and especially the number of people we stop to ask if they have ever heard of the Book of Mormon.

For me, this week was about feeling the Spirit. It's pretty easy to tell if you are doing the right thing if you know God is telling you to do it. But for me, recognizing the Holy Ghost has always been a more difficult thing to accomplish than said. But really this week, it became clear. Sometimes God says, "Just do what's right because I trust you. I'll tell you what to do if it is really important". For me, it's this way. My favorite feeling is when after acting on something or I read something that finally clicked in the Book of Mormon, the Spirit just flowed in my heart, with the same thought in mind. "I love you. Don't worry about that, just go and do". I love food (like ricotta, kiwi, lasagna, gelato, etc.), but what I really love is knowing I am doing the Lord's work. We have transfer calls tonight so anything can happen. I am ready to just go and do, to finally find that one person we have been searching for this whole time in Ragusa. But of course, with patience and trust in the Lord. I love you all and send my prayers of support.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, April 24, 2017

Little Miracles and Weird Situations

Dear Family and Friends,

What a cool week! Zone conference, BAPTISM, Gela, and lots of lot of finding! Hopefully, I can explain how awesome everything was!

Okay first we had Zone Conference. We have it in Catania so everyone from Ragusa to Reggio Calabria drives there for two days where we do interviews, and the mission president, his wife, and the assistents to the president lead addestramentos on how we can improve the work, the stories of the baptisms that happened last transfer, lunch, and more discussions. It's so much fun and really helpful for us on how to improve our work. I loved especially seeing my old missionary friends from Siracusa like Anziano Moscon, Sorella Ferre and Tacchi, and their updates about the work in Siracusa. I just love them so much! And Giuseppe from Siracusa also got baptized so that was super awesome to hear about! It also happened to be the last time I would see Anziano Berger (remember him from Pozzuoli?) since he goes home this transfer! Time has passed by so fast!

Anziano Albright took all that great excitment from Zone Conference and put it into practice. The assistents invited us to hand out a Book of Mormon that day after zone conference so we planned to. Only problem was after English Group, there was only 20 minutes left before we had to be home! We ran outside and did a giro around our apartment looking for anyone to talk to. First person: not interested, next person: not interested but we bought a 2.5 liter bottle of grape Fanta from her Romanian market(they don't sell it in Italian stores). I then see one guy on his phone in front of a pizzeria and think, "oh, I don't want to bother this guy" but then I realize he's only person   left to talk to. So we asked if he had ever heard of the Book of Mormon, explained how it answers the questions to our soul, and he (Angelo) asked if he could read it! Unbelievable!

Our goal for the week was to find people in places we have never been in Ragusa. This involved a ton of walking back and forth, up and down hills, and stopping anyone and everyone that was in our vicinity. Little miracles happened like a store owner asking when did church start on Sunday possibly being interested, and many weird situations were encountered. (Examples: while doing door to door, we found a live turtle in front of an apartment door/man turns around on street as we walk towards him/old lady talks to us for 20 minutes and then says she isn't interested, etc.) For Anziano Albright and I, it was a mix of excitement, discouragement, and even fun all at the same time. One things for sure: we worked our hardest to spead our message of the Book of Mormon to everyone, even if nothing comes from it.

For church yesterday, since the branch president was out of town, I got to preside and direct the meetings in Gela in his place. Normally, this would only be a little nervewracking considering the usual turnout besides the branch president's family is 3-4 old ladies. But it also just so happened to be  when a member of the stake high council also came. He called me early Sunday morning asking what the theme for the meeting was when I didn't even know who was giving talks, let alone the topic. In the end, it was pretty fun. I got a little tongue tied in teaching Sunday School in Italian and I put the wrong numbers up for the hymns we were singing, but other than that it was fun.

Oh, and there was a baptism! The fun part was that the font first didn't have hot water and once that got fixed, we were running out of time to fill it so Anziano Albright and I grabbed buckets and filled them up in the sink and began dumping them into the font. Quite entertaining. And Nuria, the person getting baptized, was so happy for this moment and the sister missionaries, Sorella Torres and Demann, only found her in a park a month ago. Nuria is definitely inspiring especially to all the members that support her. She is fan of my chocolami (I made it for her baptism) and especially loves all the crazy Italian children of the ward so I am guessing that she will be helping out in the primary any time soon. I also got to play my violin for the baptismal ceremony.

While every week is not quite this exciting, every day certainly has its memories. I was reading back through my journal of all the crazy little things that happened and how fast the time has flown. And also how much has changed with people cities, and especially myself! This mission in Italy is definitely changing myself for the better and hopefully I am changing the people I meet too. I have loved my time so far and can't wait for what lies in store and I never want it to end. It certainly is the hardest thing I will ever do, but after the amazing people I have met and taught, the fun moment and the diverse cultures I have experienced, and the quiet peaceful moment of joy I have felt coming closer to my Savior, there is nothing else that compares to a mission. As always, thank you for your support! Ciao for now!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mundane but Miraculous

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm sorry if these emails all sound the same. I do my best to make my days interesting and to me they really are amazing! But I am sure to the outside world, some of the things we do might seem a little mundane.

Take for example on Tuesday, we had to drive all the way to Catania to pick up Easter biglietinni for the Easter video(which is great by the way) and then return immediately back. We made the trip fun with singing, practicing Italian, and getting a brioches with gelato for only €1,50,! And it was good! We also took an extra trip to Gela in order to hand over the keys to the missionary apartment and take a few things since they are probably selling the apartment for now. It's amazing how many things past missionaries will leave behind. We call it the "death closet" for when missionaries die but they was a whole lot more than just a closet full of stuff in this apartment.

Btw, those Easter biglietinni were totally worth it! We decided to go finding Saturday night and do the first gesso since it is finally warming up at least a little bit. So we went and for the first time in forever there were a ton of people on main street. And Anziano Albright when on a missionary power streak! We all passed out a lot together but it was hard for anyone to say no to Anziano Albright's slightly broken italian( posso lasciarti questo biglietinno). It was quite the miracle for us and we hope some real more miracles come from it.

For Easter, Italians do things a little differently. There is no easter egg hunt or easter bunny, but there are giant chocolate eggs. If you know kinder eggs, imagine those but giant! We found one that was bigger than Anziano Albright! It was so worth it to buy it. There is a surprise inside so the concept is at least the same. Also, kids take a week off school like Spring Break but for Easter and nothing is open on Sunday or Monday. Sunday is obvious but on Monday they have Pasquetta where everyone goes to the beach.

But other than those trips, the rest of the week was normal. Or at least normal for missionaries. We taught Sebastiano, our only investigator at this point, and he continues to progress. In every lesson, he shows a greater commitment to follow Christ and understands the Book of Mormon better. It's piano piano that wins the race and for Sebastiano we are going slow to make sure he's truly ready to make a commitment like baptism.

Everything else is great. Don't have time to talk but I am feeling the Spirit really strongly every night when I pray so I know I am doing the will of God even if the results can't clearly be seen!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Italian Streets and Tender Mercies

Dear Family and Friends,

Today so far has been an awesome day! Our friend/investigator, Sebastiano, drove us far out into campagnia (the country) where we saw one of his family's old houses all the way at the very bottom of Sicily, in Pozzallo. Typically, the more wealthy Italian families have old houses in campagnia that they either use during the summer time for vacation or they just don't bother to take care of it or sell it. It was such a crazy drive on windy roads through rolling hills, going the typical Italian speed (when it said 30 kmh, Sebastiano said that means 80!) It also doesn't help that the road is sometimes really narrow and sometimes the lanes aren't marked. The house was super cool and big, the pasta was great, and the cannoli were even better. I don't think there was anything that could have replaced a day like that.


In general, that's what seems to be the theme of my mission. Every day is unique, even when not a lot happens. One day we were in Catania on a scambio and were trying to do finding at the universities. We were talking to a couple students when all of a sudden a whole class comes running out of a classroom into the hall. Turns out it was a "smoke break" even though there was a no smoking sign. I asked someone next to me who explained, "Va bene. The window is open" :\ Boh! We also went to one university that was ancient and seemed like a medieval castle. Nothing really resulted from it but we found this bookshelf where you could place books you want other people to take and read. We may or may not have put a Book of Mormon on the shelf ;)

Then other days it may seem just like ordinary street finding. But I always try to remind myself, yes you are finding but you are also finding IN ITALY! It doesn't really surprise anymore when we find ourselves trying to introduce ourselves as missionaries to others in the sight of duomos, cathedrals, and ancient statues. As of yet, no one has expressed true and meaningful interest in our message of the restored gospel but Anziano Albright and I have hope for this next week especially since it's almost Pasqua (Easter)! By the way, Anziano Albright are doing great together as companions and his Italian is coming along a lot better. Our new hobby is singing along to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and other songs we can listen to as we drive long distance to Gela and/or Catania almost every week. We also are continuing the cooking tradition and we finally got to make the ultimate Italian dish, lasagna! And for our first one, it wasn't that bad. Note: Keep in oven longer so it isn't liquidy, but not too long where it burns.

But overall, God has given us some really tender mercies. First off, the member here are amazing! Every one of them has a great love for the church and are always grateful for the missionaries. We met with some members this week and the Spirit was there in each of the lessons. We decided to show everyone again the message of Thomas S. Monson to read the Book of Mormon and through it, strengthen our testimony of Christ. There was one lesson where Sorella Campo held back tears as she expressed how she hadn't had the opportunity to watch conference yet and felt this really was God's will for all of us. It's really a great gift to feel the power of the Spirit in these lessons. Even Sebastiano, who has been meeting the missionaries for a long time, showed a lot of change this week with trying to read the Book of Mormon every day.

But really, the greatest tender mercy is just that, mercy! As a missionary, I have come to realize how much I owe God and how much I need to depend on him. He gives us his mercy, the opportunity to change and be better every time we fail because he loves us! It's easy for me to get down with difficult circumstances, with trials, and with self-doubt but God knows I have greater potential than that! I am striving to become like Jesus and place my all my focus on the work here in Ragusa and finding all the children of God who are ready, rather than on my weakness. I just know they are here somewhere!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price