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!