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

Still Adjusting

Dear Family and Friends,

What a week! The last time I think I felt this lost in where I was going or what I was doing, was back in my greenie days in good old Pozzuoli. I guess you never really get used to the feeling of changing everything you knew before and having to learn a whole new city, new missionaries, and a different ward. Luckily, Anziano Albright is showing me the ropes really well while I help him work on his Italian a little bit. Since he's only in his third transfer, he just hasn't practiced as much yet with Italian even though he is off to an amazing start with obedience, dedication, and being an great friend. (Btw, Anziano Albright is from Las Vegas, loves to rock climb and complete rubiks cubes super fast, and joined the church only 2 years ago due to great influence of his friends,) It's a great trade off and I think good things are going to happen still!

Boh, I don't know what else to write! Nothing really happened this week that was super noteworthy, just good old fashioned missionary work. No really, we even seriously tried going door to door at some points in the week with some success. I felt like the missionaries of the past going to each door (or instead sometimes through the citofono of the apartment building) with the typical replies, "No, siamo della chiesa cattolica," "No, non mi interesse." One lady just opened the door, saw our smiles, and shut the door without a word. Well there is a reason we don't really do door to door anymore in Italy.

But for the first time in my mission, we were invited into the house. We even shared our whole message of the Restoration. It wasn't super promising but it strengthened my faith that there are people ready here, ready to truly hear the message we bring. Even in good old Ragusa.

The ward is amazing and really dedicated to helping us in our work so that is really quite a blessing. I love teaching our English Group and the posters we have put up around the town I think are really working well. Since Ragusa doesn't allow you to put up posters on the poles, we have to go into stores and ask if we can put it up in their windows. Usually everyone is super nice and lets us do it. And even one day this week, we went down to Ibla (old city of Ragusa) to find the university there and spread the work about our free English group. The walk down was good but the walk all the way back up...BRUTAL! The hill definitely will still take some getting used too.

All in all, being in Ragusa and working here is still a work in progress. But I know great things can happen still! I miss Siracusa with all my heart but I know this is the place the Lord wants me to be. By the way, general conference was best this weekend and highly recommend everyone to commit to applying the principles we learned because it will be make us happier in our lives!

 Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Price

(Btw, I also finally won in bowling today! Yes!)