Monday, March 27, 2017

Even Farther Down South

Dear Family and Friends,

Transfers have come and gone like always in the missionary world and right now I think I am one of the luckiest Anziani in the world!  I'm in Ragusa!  This is a whole lot less exciting if you don't know anything about Italy.  Ragusa is only an hour away from Siracusa, even closer to the bottom of Sicily. The city itself sits on this mountain (large hill compared to American mountains) and a lot of the streets are slanted so walking is mostly uphill or downhill, never really flat.  While I am not close to the ocean, the cooler air and higher altitude will be nicer when summer comes.

The great things about this transfer are that I am still in Sicily (for me, it's the best place in the mission!), and I am even still in the same zone as Siracusa!  I also have the opportunity to follow-up train Anziano Albright who is this amazing missionary that actually was a convert to the church just two years ago!  We even have a car here because part of our duty here in Ragusa is to also help the branch in Gela close by on Sundays since there aren't any missionaries there now. After going to church in Ragusa and eating pranzo with one of the member families, we drive to Gela, and then prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament for this branch of 6 dedicated members since the only priesthood holder is the branch president. It was a very cool and humbling experience and I can't wait to continue to serve them. The last missionary there played the piano for them so I might need to practice some hymns so we don't have to listen to a recording all the time. I have only heard good things about Ragusa aside from the fact that the work is difficult as it is for all of Italy :)

The change from Siracusa to Ragusa was difficult. Saying goodbye to all those amazing members was really hard. Honestly, the amount of love and charity that the members in Siracusa show and in general that the Italian people show is shocking! For example, my violin was stolen from inside of the church by someone. We don't really know what could have happened and honestly I was a little disappointed even though I knew an event like this could happen. On Monday, after transfer calls, Fratello D'auria and Ciccio, counselors to the bishop, give us a ride home from our appointments that night. Fratello Ciccio explains how they found my violin damaged somewhere in the church and wanted me to take a look at it. So we got out of the car and the violin case they hand me isn't mine. They hand me a note which says something along the lines of "Thank you for blessing our ward with your musical talents. It would be sad if you couldn't continue to spread your talent for the violin everywhere else you go.", signed by members from the ward. They had all pitched in a little and bought a well used, slightly small, beautiful violin just for me. I was speechless and honestly, still can't explain it. But they did it just for me.

Oh how I will miss them all so dearly as well as the investigators and friends I had made from Siracusa. I know they are in great hands with Anziano Moscon and his new companion. But I hope one day I can really see them again and maybe show my love for them again. They have changed my life and have given me greater love for all the people of Italy, which is why I think I already love Ragusa so much! I know this kind of love only comes about because of the Savior and his great and redeeming sacrifice for all of us. He did what none of us could ever do as a gift, as a remembrance of his love for each and everyone of us. I am forever grateful for his love. I truly desire to show that love to the people of Ragusa and hopefully change someone else's life just like mine was changed. Thank you for your love and support. Hopefully, you can also strive to change someone else's life through the power of our Redeemer too.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Church in Gela


Dear Family and Friends,

Today's the day! It's a lot harder writing an email when you still don't know if you are leaving or not. My guess is that I am, considering I am the oldest in the district and I also I can just feel it is time. This week wasn't too different than the past couple which gave me the chance to think of all that has changed these past 4 1/2 months...okay maybe not a whole lot has changed but a whole lot sincerely has happened during my time here in Siracusa.

But first a little overview of the week. Teaching Giuseppe is very interesting. I always want to make sure he understands what we are teaching him very clearly (because having someone this excited for baptism is just plain shocking!)  We help him read the Book of Mormon as well since he has a very humble background but honestly he seems so prepared for entering into the waters of baptism. There also have been some fun days of creative finding. One time we went up to nearly everyone (one couple replied that "we don't have enough time to repent") in a park and finally we talked to this one guy named John who actually was interested but also decided to roll up a cigarette while he talked to us.

Speaking of smoking, we also have begun to teach someone who wants
to quit smoking. Anziano Moscon and I have never done something like this before but we are putting our trust in the Lord and also the program they give us as missionaries to help others. Among other things, it was a fun week with Anziano Moscon!

The hardest thing to say goodbye to would be the food here in Siracusa. Just kidding, while I have definitely eaten a wide array of some of my now favorite foods here (arancini, ricotta, pasta alforno, pesto siciliano, etc.), the people here are just absolutely amazing! I really can't compare it to anything other than being adopted by a large Italian family. They pretty much assume the missionaries are helpless by themselves so families like the Corso's, Zombra's, Amaldi's, Ciccio's, and Conforto's love to treat the missionaries like their children in a way. Italians are just special in showing their love through food, humor, and hand gestures.

One thing I have improved on while here is how to be more ready on the spot. This usually happens a lot in the mission with spiritual thoughts, giving talks in sacrament, and in finding. This week we were having a pranzo at the Stake President's house (since he lives in our ward) with some other members (the lasagna was super good!) and he asked me if I could play the violin for a musical activity. Of course I wanted to assuming there would be time to practice and it would be mostly church music. It turned out to be in 5 days and he wanted me to play 3 classical pieces (apparently, President Nudo is a little obessed with classical and film music like me). The activity was super fun though and it went well without any stress. They set up this section where people guessed what the title of the music piece. Sadly, they didn't let me play because they thought I would get all the answers.

Also, teaching has become a whole lot easier for me as a missionary. Of course, it takes a lot of study and preparation and there are still days where it is harder to explain myself in italian, but for me, I have realized it is all about listening to the person and asking questions. Maybe it' s just easier with Italians since if you ask them a question, you usually spend 10 minutes listening to their lengthy response ;)

One member, Fratello Conforto, said something (actually in pretty good English) that really sums it up my experience. He said he can tell that I really ove it here becaue he can see a light in my eyes, in my smile as I talk with members and be a missionary. I hope that's true becaue I want everyone to know the great love I have for them because God and Christ love us that much more!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Monday, March 6, 2017

Homecoming, American Sodas, and Personal Growth

Dear Family and Friends,

What even happened this week? Basically it was a whirlwind from the beginning. Let's say taking an overnight bus was more fun than I thought but no real sleep was accomplished as we moved through the rolling hills of Calabria all the way up to Napoli early the next morning. Being back in Napoli brought back so many wonderful memories. The pizza, the crazy drivers, the fear of getting your stuff stolen (I'm kidding, nothing happened haha). Comunque, Anziano Moscon and I got to spend part of the day in Pozzuoli doing finding their with Anziano Pyper and Morrill (who's from my MTC group!) on the same Lungomare I did finding on only 4 months earlier. Crazy to think how much things have changed.

Then, after amucando ("eating" in Siciliano) one of the best pizzas ever in front of my favorite Duomo, we headed to the questura for my permesso. That will probably be one of the only times I have shoved myself in between so many people in order to get in line and get the permesso in time. Sadly, that was a moment where we couldn't be super Christlike and let people go ahead of us since everyone is fighting for the attention of  the one Italian who guards the door, holding their fates in this country in his hands. Fortunately, I got through and after some arguing, I am officially legal. We celebrated in Pozzuoli that night with all the members at their Carnevale Party (Pozzuoli is still same good old Pozzuoli) and Anziano Moscon and I shared an extremly large Pellone's pizza. That'll be a day I remember forever.

Ironically, the train on the way home was an hour late to the station. But we made good use of the time by buying American soda (I've actually started to like Dr. Pepper strangely) from an African store and playing on a piano in Napoli Central Station. It was awesome! But it was definitely time to come home to Siracusa. We made a good effort to catch up on all the days we missed and the days flew by. Roberto Vinci, one of our investigators, made us an killer homemade pizza for one of our lessons and we were also able to help the sister of Roy, a member in Catania, move in (The small italian staircases definitely make moving furniture more difficult) and it was so fun! Roy was playing some 80's music (my classic jam) and I may have listened a little bit while moving the heavy furniture. ;)

We also have been doing a lot more finding for our English Courses and improving how we approach people. Most people still turn us down but at least we can present ourselves and explain who we are now. We are going to find someone amazing any minute now, I can feel it! And even if we don't, I feel a whole let better knowing that I gave it my all and really gave everyone a chance to hear this message.

There's nothing much else to say. I hope nothing too crazy happens because I would like to just focus on the work here in Siracusa. I'm feeling great though, with a lot more faith and inner peace than before. I'm confident my Heavenly Father knows me and wants to me to grow and I should really be grateful for every experience I have here in Siracusa. I'm so grateful for Anziano Moscon too as my companion, we have spent the last couple weeks just laughing at all the craziness that has happened and all of our attempts to do our best. I really should talk more about Anziano Moscon because he's just an awesome kid, but I feel that you also just have to meet him since I can't describe him. The district is great since Sorella Ferre and Tacchi are also the best sister missionaries in the mission (sorry but it's true). I'm happy and I know it's because of this church, because of Christ and everything he has done for me! I really feel I am beginning to understand just bit more of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Hurrah, Hurrah for Israel! Here's to another great week!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

Unforgettable Experiences

Dear Family and Friends,

There are just some experiences that can't be repeated anywhere except on the mission. This week was definitely one for the books and I hope I can remember it forever (which reminds me, I need to write in my journal).  No we didn't find a miracle family, no our problems didn't magically disappear, and certainly everything did not go according to plan. But I felt the Lord's love and guidance for me this week and am continuing to discover my purpose here in Siracusa.

Speaking of being in Siracusa, we were barely there this week! With our scambio with the Zone Leaders on Wednesday and Thursday, and then with Zone Conference in Catania again from Sunday to Monday, I have really grown to appreciate the peace and beauty of Siracusa and my opportunity to serve here. It might be easier to illustrate how unique this week really was by just going through it.

Tuesday: We had our first meeting as a district together where we really evaluated ourselves and the work and also made some great goals to help the ward and improve ourselves. Then we visited some members like Bronzo and the Zombra Family. We usually have the opportunity to help Sorella Zombra read the Book of Mormon because she has a difficulty reading, but this time she also wanted me to teach her how to make a tiramisu. They are such a great family and she made us this african rice with chicken after English Course. Soooo good!

Wednesday: We begin our scambio in Catania after our bus ride by going to the Lungomare to do finding. First thing we do is talk to these guys playing basketball except they turn out to be from England and invite us to play for 10 minutes. So of course, we accept to get them a little more interested. But we have uneven teams so they call over an African selling beads on the side of the road to come and join. Yes, it was a pick up basketball game with 5 English guys and an African.

Thursday: We saw quite a few tiny miracles on the scambio which really built my faith and gave us the motivation to try harder in our own city. It was also the beginning of Carnevale. I'm sure you know more about this from the crazy traditions in Brazil but basically in Italy, it's another Halloween (with lots of confetti!). So the ward threw a huge party where people dressed up, played games, ate food of course (Anziano Moscon and I made chocolate chip cookies), and they even brought their friends. It was the best!

The Rest: We had lunch with a Portuguese member family and thankfully they invited the American member in our ward who served a mission in Brazil so she was essentially our translator.  Our ward is pretty diverse for being on the bottom of Sicily. Also we began teaching a new investigator whose name is Roberto. He works at a pizzeria, is related to some members, and loves to talk to us in English (he worked in America for a while). Also, Anziano Moscon suggested we employ new finding techniques so we decided to make a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies and initiate conversations with people through our cookies. Yes it totally sounds weird but we are trying to do everything we can to show our love for the people of Siracusa.

My favorite part was being surrounded by all my fellow sorelle and anziani in Zone Conference and to also see President and Sorella Pickerd. They are just amazing and Anziano Moscon and I got super pumped up for the work we still have yet to accomplish in Siracusa from our great conference.  Plus the cannoli were really good!

As I said, no things weren't perfect but in my opinion, my attitude changed a bit. I feel more grateful to serve and realize how the time I do have to serve is little. So go fight the good fight with a smile on your face and get those around you to wonder, "Why are you so happy?"   Why should I be sad or discouraged at my mistakes or the circumstances, when our message of the gospel, is one of hope, change, and pure joy!  I am by far not perfect and there are still things that I could be discouraged about.

For example, today we were supposed to catch a train all the way to Napoli for my permesso this morning.  We played Zone Calcio in the morning at 8 and got changed and ready to go by 11.  We had thirty minutes to get to the station and we were conflicted whether we should walk or take a metro.  We took the metro but it got in too late. We ran our hardest but the train was gone before we got to the station!  Yes I was discouraged with myself still, but I got over it faster, put that smile on my face, and made amends with my mistake with the Lord and the mission office.  Fortunately, we have the chance tonight to take an overnight bus all the way to Napoli and still make it in time to get my permesso thanks to the help of the office couples. Like I said, unforgettable experiences.

Let us never forget why we chose to make commitments, goals, or even place our hope in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer of the World.  I hope to never forget it on my mission and really have recommitted to put forth my absolute best to help at least one other person find that same unforgettable hope and love for our Savior and commit to follow Him, just like I have.

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price