Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week 33 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

I'm writing this email from an internet point in Palermo because tonight we are doing a district blitz in Bagheria.  Earlier we played soccer at a small enclosed field with turf here in Palermo which was pretty fun.  It got pretty competitive haha.  Last Monday was pretty tranquillo.  We emailed and took a long nap before heading to a Family Home Evening at a member's home where we ate some delicious food.  Then on Tuesday we went to Palermo for District Meeting and did the usual meeting and meal at a place called Gancci.  It's basically a place that sells cheap fried food.  I had a fried sandwich filled with gravy, mozzarella, and ham.  I about puked and had to chuck it.  Then we came back to Trapani and had English course. Wednesday morning we had a few appointments and then we began our little holiday.  We ate a good lunch and then napped for a while.  Then we skyped our families.  It was nice seeing them after 7 months.  The next day we woke a little late and headed to a lunch appointment with a super nice family.  We swung by the DVD place to grab How to Train your Dragon 2 and Wreck-it Ralph too.  It was a nice meal of lasagna, chicken, fruit, and a dessert with ricotta and chocolate, super good.  Also, one of the ladies there told me her daughter needed to get engaged.  Then we watched the Dragon Trainer movie which was super funny or maybe I'm just not used to entertainment besides the District 1 and 2 (missionary training videos.)  The next day we watched Wreck-it Ralph which I've seen before but I still enjoyed myself very much.  Then we had a lesson with a family we recently started seeing.  We decided to teach the Restoration again with the DVD and it turned out really well.  The remote didn't have batteries, the dvd player didn't work (we used the xbox), the dog kept biting my sedere, and the phone went off right before the First Vision, but the Spirit was there and they felt it.  Pretty crazy.  The next day we had an appointment in the morning and then some finding in the evening.  We also ate some really good and quite expensive pizza (the prices weren't listed).  The next day we went to church and it rained all 3 hours hard. Then it rained the rest of the day.  After church we had a crazy good meal at a member's parents' house.  We had swordfish pasta, calamari, shrimp that we had to tear the heads and legs off of, fruit, and then fried pastries filled with ricotta and chocolate.  Then we had an appointment and did our weekly planning that we had put off.  Talk to ya next week.

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 32 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Cari Amici e Famiglia,

It was kind of a rainy week on the western coast of Sicily.  My shoes, which boldly declare on the soles to be waterproof, have been found to be exactly the opposite.  They seem to absorb even the tiniest amount of water to be found upon the ground.  I don't step in puddles and within minutes my feet are soaked.  I have resorted to putting plastic bags on my feet before slipping on those shoes.  The strategy lessened the wetness but my feet are pretty chilled after a day of walking.

But besides that little annoyance, it was a good week.  On Monday, we went to eat some lunch at a member's home and I ate my first spaghetti and meatballs in Italy.  Apparently that really isn't that common a dish here. On Tuesday I got another haircut and again they spent way too much time grooming and perfecting my precious blonde (they think it's blonde) hair. They also spiked my hair as if I was a 7 year old boy with gel.  I can hardly explain how I want my hair done in English so in Italian this is the general result so far for me.  We were able to teach a lesson to our investigator Ernest (He might be a long lost member from Ghana but there are no records to prove it on the church record system.)  Then we had English course.  On Wednesday we went to a training in Palermo.  On Thursday we taught a few lessons in the morning and had English course in the evening mixed with some finding on the streets.  On Friday we planned and then went to one of our investigating family's homes for a lesson/meal.  On Saturday, we cleaned the church in the morning and then did some finding and a lesson in the evening.  On Sunday, we headed to church and did a lesson and some finding in the evening.

When I say finding I mean walking on the street trying to stop people to talk about the gospel, show them the He is the Gift video on the phone, or do English course publicity.  It is pretty uncomfortable and you get thick skin after a bit.

I am very excited to see y'all on skype.  A presto!

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 31 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

Things are finally cooling down.  It's still a little hot when the sun's out but besides that pretty cool and windy so I can't complain too much.  We walked a lot this week on the streets and talked with a few people about the gospel and christmas and we had a few lessons with less-actives and investigators.  On Monday we were invited to lunch at one of our investigating family's homes and it was really good.  Bow-tie pasta with a sausage sauce, broccoli mash stuff, seafood rice, and a lot of little dishes.  After lunch we played some games and I introduced the card and spoons game where you pass the cards until someone gets 4 of a kind.  That person then grabs a spoon and everyone has to grab the remaining spoons quickly because there is one spoon less than the number of people.  There was lots of shouting and crying so you know it was a success.  The old men at the party just wanted to know how money could be incorporated into the game haha.  Then we had a really good lesson with a movie presentation of the restoration which was powerful. Afterwards, we headed to a little birthday party for one of the members where we ate some more. On Tuesday, we had the regular schedule of a district meeting and English course.  On Wednesday, we were able to get a good amount of lessons done in the morning and then we had spanish course in the evening time.  Thursday, we taught some in the morning and then visited the same family from Monday before English course.  Friday we planned, and then the lesson fell through with the family we were going to see in the afternoon.  We usually teach English and then a lesson to this family, but the son had to go to remedial school so it looks like I wasn't doing a great job.  She still wants to meet with us so it isn't all too bad.  So, we headed to the streets for a long night of finding. On Saturday, we taught in the morning and then headed to a member's home for lunch before the Christmas party at church.  It was a good success and then we ate a ton of pizza.  On Sunday, it was the usual routine of church and then a meal appointment.  Then we talked to people on the streets.  We shared the video, Egli è il dono (He is the gift.)  This week we head to Palermo on Wednesday for specialized training.  My old companion and trainer, Anz. Stamps, will be there so it will be nice to see him.  Have a great week and happy holidays.

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 30 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

 Sicily is really killing my goal to become thinner. On Monday, we ate some chocolate and cake at an investigator's house and then went to a member appointment and were filled to uncomfortable levels with homemade calzones and pizza. The next day (still full), we headed to district meeting in Palermo and then we all went to a restaurant called Old Wild West for some good American food. The waiter kept trying to speak in English to impress us but we couldn't understand him at all because of the bad pronunciation so he would have to shamefacedly switch back into Italian... it was pretty funny. Then we proceeded to put down some decent burgers and fries with fry sauce.

 The guys from Palermo also hooked me up with a case of Mountain Dew for my bday which is long gone ormai. I'm seriously eating so much that when I wake up to do exercise in the morning I have to stop because I get sick from the pancia piena bouncing up and down. On Thursday, we had an activity with the men of the branch and we ate some salsiccia sandwiches. Also, there was an 80 year old man there that put down as much food as I did (not a particularly small amount). When they asked him if he wanted seconds, he said "Ho tanta fame," and then proceeded to stuff a sausage sandwich into his mouth spilling a ton on the floor. I was dying. Friday, we were invited for pizza.

 On Saturday, we ate a ton of free pasta. And on Sunday, it was the worst. We went to a member's parents' house for pranzo to break the fast. We started with some delicious lasagna of which I had triple portions. Then, the meat was brought out (some thinly sliced chicken fried steak.) I had triple portions again. We finished the meal with some fruit (oranges from the backyard), chocolate, and a hot barley drink (mormon coffee maybe?). At this point, you're probably thinking I am some big pig eating all the food... No, I don't even ask for more food. They just give it to me and sit back with proud looks on their faces. Missionary work this week was pretty good. One investigator may be a long lost member from Ghana who was baptized around 15 years ago. We were able to see one family this last week but the other two cancelled on us. Hopefully we will be able to see them this coming week. The following week we should receive Christmas packages at Specialized Training in Palermo. 

Have a great week! Anziano Blazzard

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 29 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,
Busy Week.  On Monday, we had P-Day and a FHE with some nonmembers present.  We also were fed some delicious pizzas (salmon, parmesan eggplant, and salame.)  Tuesday, we attempted to have lesson in the morning which fell through and then we took a bus to Palermo for our interviews. Interviews went well and then we walked around Palermo for some food.  We made a stop at the missionary famous tie cave where a man recognized us and told us to follow him through a series of rooms deeper and deeper into the building until we walked into a large garage/room full of boxes of ties.  I found two that I liked and paid 8 euro in total.  Pretty cheap. Then we found the shop with the Bomba arancini... really big arancini (fried rice balls with a meat ragu sauce inside.)  Then we met back up at the church with the other missionaries who invited us to go to another Arancini shop.  I still had some hunger, so I agreed and ended up buying a delicious sweet pork one.   Then, we went to the Palermo 1 apartment to sleep (6th floor without an elevator.)  That house was a really terrible choice in apartment.  I tried to sleep on a cheap air mattress and rough and obviously too cheap sheets.  Twas a long light.  Zone Conference the next day was really good.  Lots of good messages.  Then we took a bus back to Trapani and had just enough time to make the long walk home.  We saw one guy on the street and I decided to talk to him since we had been doing lots of role-playing during the conference earlier.  He wasn't really interested but he actually stopped (it's a rare occurrence) and we had a good conversation.  The next day (Thanksgiving!) we tried again to meet with that same investigator from Tuesday and it failed.  Then we were fed some homemade pizza at a member's home before our English course. After it ended, the member's began their karaoke party.  There were lots of nonmember friends and some donuts.  I got up and sang a few songs too.  Basically a bunch of old music that I don't know.  Friday, we planned and then had two good lessons in the evening with some investigating families.  The next day, we were picked up by our Branch President and drove to Enna (or Pergusa) for Stake Conference (all of Sicily) with two other passengers besides my companion.  My companion got the "hump" there and I got it back (my poor sedere.)  It was a great meeting (at some college) and I saw lots of friends from Ragusa and other missionaries from the Catania zone.  We arrived late that night and I ordered some pizza for the birthday.  The next day we arose early at 5 to be picked up at 6 to be taken to the launching point of the branch bus (they call the buses Pullman's strangely enough.)  It was a long trip to Catania for the General Session of Stake Conference at the Sheraton Hotel.  Another great meeting and chance to see all my friends from the other side of the island.  The Stake President is really good here.  This week should be pretty good and transfer calls will be Saturday.  Have a great week errbody.

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 28 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

This week flew by.  On Monday we had a FHE at a member's home.  On Tuesday we had a district meeting and English course.  On Wednesday we met with an investigator in the morning  and than had Spanish course and some street contacting later that night.  On Thursday, I made chocolate chip cookies for English course (I thought it was Thanksgiving), had lunch at a member's home where I ate meatballs for the first time in Italy (they actually aren't that typical of Italian food I suppose), and we saw an investigating family and had English course.  The next day we planned and saw another investigating family and then did some street contacting for a few hours after a lesson fell through.  On Saturday morning we met with a new convert and then spent many hours per strada talking with people.  On Sunday, no investigators showed but later we ate a nice meal at a member's home and had a good lesson with a family.
Some funny stories now.  We saw a giant African man cleaning and singing to song by Rihanna in a high falsetto (Just gonna stand there... yeah that song... hilarious).  He didn't know anything but the chorus but he knew that chorus well.  I have been getting stopped on the street by young teenagers who like to practice their English.  Many times it's just some large groups of girls who mumble out "hello" while passing us and then start laughing really hard.  I really don't know how they know I'm not one of them.  And the worst is what happened Thursday.  I tried so hard to make a special Thanksgiving for the English course students with a Thanksgiving themed lesson and an American treat (chocolate chip cookies... doesn't really relate to Thanksgiving but what do they know).  Then, in the first ten minutes as I was explaining the history of Thanksgiving, one student looked up the date for Thanksgiving on his phone and told me that it was actually in a week. This is why having an obscure timing like the 4th Thursday in November is such a dumb idea.  I told them that I had already made the cookies and that we were celebrating it that day.  We then called the Elder in Bagheria who told me at DDM on Tuesday that Thanksgiving was that day and made him apologize to the class on speakerphone.  At any rate, the class enjoyed themselves and the cookies so it was a success.

This week will be busy.  We head to Palermo Tuesday for zone conference Wednesday and then Saturday and Sunday we have stake conference in Enna and Catania.  It will be a great way to spend my birthday in a cramped bus.  At least it is better than last year when I was in army training in Texas.  I had guard duty of an empty hallway for several hours.

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 27 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

t was a really good week here in Trapani. On Monday, we met with an investigating family and later had a good family home evening and meal with a family. On Tuesday we had an entertaining district meeting with licorice pipes and lots of storytelling as usual over some good fried food after the meeting was over.  We lost track of time and missed our usual bus and had to wait for the next one an hour later.  We got back just in time for English course.  The next day, we were going to take the morning off as a P-day make-up since we worked Monday afternoon but I got into a cleaning mood and cleaned for 5 hours straight.  It feels real good to not live like an animal.  Later we had Spanish course.  The next day we taught some new converts and were invited to a member's home for lunch.  We ate a carbonara (pasta, bacon, and runny eggs).  It sounds weird but it is really good.  Later we did our English course.  On Friday morning we planned, and then went to teach a family a little English and a little about the Gospel.  It was really awkward as the mother led us in, sat us down at the table where her son and her father were, and then just sat down and told us to teach her son some English.  I asked the son what he needed help on.  He didn't know so I started going over the simple greetings.  He struggled hard to understand the phrases "How are you" and "I'm well."  Then at the end we were offered some warm pear juice and we talked a little about the Book of Mormon and such.  Later we went to another investigating family's home and had another carbonara.  The grandparents there were very talkative and kept trying to talk to me in Sicilian.  Saturday, we cleaned the church in the morning and then went to another meal appointment with a member family.  We ate a typical Trapanese pasta and some gnocchi.  Later we taught a new-convert, less-active, and an investigator.  Sunday, we went to church in the morning and an investigator showed up, yeah!  He had a good time and we hope he continues to come. Then, as we were walking out of church, the stadium very nearby erupted in cheering.  Trapani had scored.  We were able to catch most of the game at the member's house we ate lunch at later. Trapani ended up tying Catania 2-2.  Later we went to a less-active's house with a member and had a great lesson with the man and his wife and two daughters.  We managed to snag a return appointment for next week.  It really helps when members help out the work.  That's all for now.

Anziano Blazzard

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Elder Blazzard's Address

If you wish to send Elder Blazzard a letter or postcard or even a package :-) please use the following address"

Anziano Pack Blazzard
c/o Missione Italiana di Roma
Piazza Carnaro, 20
00141 Roma, Italia

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 26 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,
church building
Chapel meeting room

We had a great week in Trapani.  I am very fortunate to be in another area with very nice members.  This past week on Tuesday we took a bus to Palermo for district meeting.  As we were waiting for a city bus to take us to the church, an older man slipped right in front of me on some spilled gelato on the sidewalk.  Thankfully he was okay, but very embarrassed and angry.  He started going off on something in Sicilian until I told him I didn't speak it.  He apologized and started to tell me in Italian that he had just spent over 10 hours in the hospital for something and now he might have to go back again.  Then, on the bus, he began to fight with the ticket checker people about how he didn't have time to buy a ticket because he was in the hospital all day and night.  All of this in Italian/mostly Sicilian and many hand gestures from a small man in a little sweater wearing  a typical sicilian hat.  Entertaining stuff.

pass-along card
from Trapani Apt
District meeting went well.  It is composed of elders from Bagheria, Mistretta, Trapani, and Palermo 2.  They are all pretty cool guys.  The district leader is from Sweden and one of my friends from the MTC and seaman in the Navy, Elder Rasband, is serving in Bagheria.  Later that night, we taught English course.  One of the students was there early and began to show off his piano skills.  Apparently he is one of those people who can just sit down at the piano and play anything they want.  He kept playing random things and looking at me with this proud look on his face. Then, another student came in and sat near him.  The piano star said to him, "Sai suonare il pianoforte....(and then he said without waiting for a response) Io, sììì :)."  (Do you know how to play the piano?- I do.)  Then after English course after everybody had left, I sat down to practice a few hymns. This guy comes bursting through the door saying he didn't know that I could play.  For the next half hour he showed me how it was done on the piano. He eventually stopped when we turned off the lights and began to lock the door on him.  

The next few days were filled with some lessons, haircuts, and English and Spanish course.  On Saturday, there was a baptism of one of the member's kids.  It was the first baptism I had seen in one of those portable set-up fonts but it was still a nice spiritual experience.  Yesterday, we ate at a member's home.  We had homemade lasagna, oil and vinegar salad, beef, a variety of fruits, chestnuts, and then homemade cannolis. I was stuffed.

Alla prossima,

Anziano Blazzard

Also ... it is very hot here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 25 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

Mi piace Trapani molto.  La città è bella e il mio collega parla italiano bene. Anche i membri sono bravissimo.  

This week was kind of sad having to leave Ragusa and the friends I made there.  I spent the last few days visiting with them before taking off on Thursday on a bus to Catania.  In Catania, I found out that I would be traveling on the bus alone
to Palermo so I rode da solo for three hours.  It was really boring and the person behind me had sounds for every function on his phone so sleeping was difficult.  In Palermo, I met up with a zone leader and Anziano Bermudes and we went to the Elder's apartment there.  Their apartment was really cool but they lived on the 6th? floor without an elevator.  The next day we took a bus to Trapani.  When we got to the apartment, I had a freakout because of the filthiness of it so I spent a few hours trying to make it sanitary enough to live in. The worst thing was the tower of pop and water bottles in one corner.  Whyyyyy????

The companion is pretty cool.  He is originally from El Salvador but has lived in Milan for the past 8 years.  He speaks really good Italian so I am getting a lot of practice.

The area has a lot of new converts who don't come to church.  We are trying to help out with that situation but they kind of refuse to meet with us.  The members are really great though.  Yesterday in church I could barely hear myself play the piano because they sang so loudly.  They also organized a great activity for Halloween and invited a bunch of friends.  They really are committed to working hard to make some progress.

I will try to take some pictures of Trapani for next week.

Alla prossima!

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 24 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

So, I received my transfer call on Saturday from one of the assistants and I'm leaving Ragusa and heading west to take my old MTC companion Elder Trejo's spot in Trapani to be with Elder Bermudes (South American maybe who lived in Italy for some time before the mission.)  I hope I can improve my Italian being able to speak all the time with an experienced speaker.  I wanted to do another in Ragusa but I am also excited for what is to come. 

This week went by quickly.  We went down to the camp pretty often to teach our group there from Nigeria, Gambia, Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast.)  On Wednesday we took a bus to Gela and did a little exchange.  I went with Anziano Lazarte and we did a lesson and then walked the streets talking to some people.  The next morning we arose early and caught a bus back to Ragusa at 6 am.  On Friday, we had a member/investigator pranzo (lunch) and we brought another cheesecake that we made.  It went really well and Prisco really enjoyed it.  On Saturday we got the transfer calls and then later we ate some homemade pizza at a member's home.  On Sunday, our new members/investigators came to church as well as the Tidona family which was pretty nice for my last Sunday.  I gave a little departing testimony and then took a bunch of photos with members after the last meeting.  Then, we ate at the Bishop's fathers house with the Bishop's family there as well.  They made some really good breaded pork chops.  Anyways, I will take a lot of pictures in the following week in the new area and tell ya all about it.  Ciao Ciao

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 23 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,
It was a pretty nice week in Ragusa.  For some reason it is really hot again like the summer... I hope it starts cooling down soon.  All my shirts are getting wrecked with the combination of steep hills and blazing hot sun.  But, we managed to get pretty good work done this week.  We met a new investigator, Prisco from Cameroon, on Friday and gave him a Book of Mormon Saturday.  Yesterday, as we were walking to church with him we asked him questions including what was happening in the BoM.  He started telling us about a man Nephi and his father, Lehi, who had a vision and some wicked older brothers Laman and Lemuel and a righteous other brother named Sam.  It is really nice to hear that someone took the time to open the book after we give it to him.  He had a really good time at church and a member even invited him along with us to a pranzo appointment at her house.  It was way cool to see a member help out like that.  So, he really enjoyed church, and we're excited about him.
We also worked with our man Frank this past week.  We have to postpone his baptismal date a few more weeks because we need to make sure he knows certain things, but he is making good progress.  Another man, named Sung, is making good progress and has agreed to come to church next week.  We are working with another family from English Course and are happy to hear that the husband went to church in Malta this past weekend.  They should be back this week.
On Thursday we had an appointment at the 1st counselor's house to talk about activities.  We decided to make a cheese cake to bring it to them.  It was surprisingly not very hard to make and it tasted like real cheese cake.  It only took 20 minutes to make. 
Yesterday, I had to give a talk in church.  I was super nervous because they put me down as the last speaker and I usually end up speaking super fast and finishing way early.  It was about Il potere fortificante dell'Espiazione (the strengthening power of the Atonement) and the resource was Elder Bednar's talk from the General Conference in May.  It went pretty well and I was able to speak for 15 minutes in Italian. 
Basta for now.
Anziano Blazzard

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 22 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

This week flew by. On Monday, we went to a member's (V) house for a family home evening. We talked about what we can do to strengthen the relationship between the missionaries and the members and afterwards, we ate some pasta and Italian style nachos. It consisted of kind-of tortilla chips and melted Kraft-style cheese squares. It was pretty funny. Then, Tuesday morning after helping an African send money back to his family in Africa, I got my hairs cut. The barber spent an abnormal amount of time slicking my cut hair straight back from my forehead and getting everything to lie perfectly in place. It was looking pretty ridiculous so I took a shower at lunch and did it up my own way. Later that day was packed with a hike to Ibla to teach some Africans and then a few hours of teaching English course at the church. The next day, Anziano Durham had to go to the government immigration building, the Questura, to go do some fingerprinting for his permesso di soggiorno. It took all morning so I stood outside talking to a man from Mali and then a man from Albania. It is crazy to see how different my life was in America to theirs. On Thursday we did a district meeting and Friday, a friend hooked me up with some Mountain Dew from Vittoria. The mountain dew was a little off-colored and apparently bottled in Romania but it tasted normal. On Saturday morning, we agreed to help this lady clean the church. It wouldn't have taken so long, but her two little kids kept unplugging my vacuum cleaner and turning it on and off. The little boy was throwing hymn books and pass along cards everywhere and also ate some of the microphone off. He just kept laughing and when I turning the machine back on he grabbed my tie and my top button on my white shirt busted off. I don't remember little kids being so hard to deal with. Hopefully I won't go bald from this episode in my mission. Yesterday, after a good long day of church and fasting, we ate at the home of the ward mission leader (a super funny Sicilian man and a great cook, too.) I ate two very large helpings of pasta al forno (basically lasagna with meat sauce, cheese, ham slices, and hard boiled eggs), two chicken things (chicken and other stuff wrapped in a net and cooked), a bunch of oven roasted, olive oiled, sliced potatoes, melon, and then gelato. And also a bunch of coke, water, and orange soda. It was uncomfortable to sit afterwards with a pancia fitting to burst. The only comfortable position kind-of was lying down. The sisters tapped out on every course - ha ha. The baptism last Saturday didn't happen for a few reasons but it should happen in two weeks if everything goes according to plan. You got to have a little patience sometimes. Basta for now.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 21 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Picture from Italy Rome Mission Blog
Presidente and Sorella Waddoups
Una buona settimana a Ragusa.  I am really enjoying myself here in Sicilia.  The language is continuing to get easier and more comfortable.  This week we traveled to Siracusa for zone conference.  We left on Tuesday in the afternoon and rode a bus along the coast line for 3 hours until we reached the city.  The anziani there were busy with lessons, and they needed us to pick up a few things for English Course later that night at their apartment.  We managed to find their apartment with a few directions from a member and then we broke in by scaling the wall to the second floor.  We slept there and the next morning walked to the church (very strange looking for a Mormon church) for zone conference.  It was pretty good besides being long and afterwards we rode back to Ragusa with the anziani from Catania in their car.  That night after some work we ate some delicious burgers at a place called Carnivorous.  The next day we had an interview for our baptismal candidate, and he passed.  We will proceed with the baptism on the 11th.  A few days later on Saturday, we enjoyed conference from 6 to 8pm at the church.  I really liked President Uchtdorf's talk on increasing our Gospel light.  I have been using that scripture about this light found in the Doctrine and Covenants for a few weeks in lessons and was happy to hear a talk about this concept.  The next day we watched sessions at 11am (priesthood), 2pm (Saturday afternoon), and6pm (Sunday morning.)  I enjoyed Elder Nelson's talk on the organization of leadership and Elder Holland's talk as well.  President Uchtdorf's question, "Is it I?" was very thought-provoking additionally.  Well, there is not much else to say.  Alla prossima!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 20 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Things are pretty good here in Ragusa.  On Monday we took a bus to Catania and then a train to Messina (the city closest to mainland Italy.)  Anziano Durham had an appointment at the Questura there to renew his documents to stay in Italy.  That night we met up with the sister missionaries serving in Messina and ate at a Sri Lankan member's home.  They live with this 90 something year old lady who doesn't understand hardly anything the two members say to her in their accented Italian.  We ate some typical Sri Lankan food and I for the first time in the mission thought I was going to puke there at the table.  It was this spicy heavily seasoned rice with pork/fish/bones/guts? mixture with yellow pasty stuff and weeds.  I ate half of it with a smile on my face before throwing in the towel.  The members were cool with it thankfully. The sisters barely touched it but Durham ate it all.  It was impressive.  He was also sweating profusely the entire time as was I.  Crazy night.  We slept that night in Messina at the old Elder's apartment and then the next morning after the appointment, we left on a bus back to Ragusa with some mattress pads, suits, medicines, games, and other things from the Messina apartment.  The mattress pads were very bulky and awkward to carry but it was definitely worth it.

The rest of the week was spent doing English course and teaching lessons.  Our progressing investigator is doing really well.  He accepted the Book of Mormon and is coming to church.  He is a big talker during the lessons and always tells the greatest stories.  When we were teaching him about being a good citizen as part of the commandments lesson, he told us about his older brother who in his words, is "so cool."  He apparently has a reputation for refusing to fight back in Nigeria and if anyone asks for something of his, he gives it away.  We agreed with him that his brother was a pretty good example of a peace-loving citizen.  It is hard to explain everything in words, you kind of just have to be there to enjoy his stories.

On Friday morning we had a meal appointment with this elderly couple.  It was a really good meal but the elderly husband almost choked to death on his pasta.  He got all red and sauce was dribbling out of his mouth as his wife whacked him on the back a few time. Then he got his throat cleared and while grinning with his toothless smile he garbled, "Tutto a post!" (which means literally, "all at place")

Italian progress has been going really well too.  I don't translate everything into English in my head anymore; now, it just makes sense.  Tomorrow we head to Siracusa on a three-hour bus ride for Zone Conference.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 19 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy - New Companion - Durham

Amici e Famiglia,
Transfers have come and gone here in Sicilia.  We partied it up before Anziano Stamps left to Calabria on Thursday morning.  On Wednesday we took a bus to Catania, and Anziano Durham and I rode a bus back to Ragusa Thursday morning.  He is a really good missionary and likes to eat a lot so I think we will get along the next few months.  Our new district is us, Sorelle Arnold and Taylor (also from Holladay, UT), and Anziani Molnar and Lazarte (Argentinian/Italian).  I am looking forward to working with them.
We met with our golden investigator __ on Friday and Saturday and he has already agreed to baptism.  He came to church again yesterday so it looks like he will be baptized in a few weeks on the 11th of October.  It seems to me that he was prepared for the gospel as he accepted everything so quickly.  He has two other friends who have been out of town this week but we will track them down in the next few days.
We had to cancel English course Thursday but we should be up and running again hopefullytomorrow.  We hope to work with the people who have become interested in our message but it really does take some patience to seize the right moment in approaching them about taking the lessons. 
Today we will head to Messina to spend the night and do some Permesso work for Anziano Durham in the morning.  We have to ride a bus to Catania and then a train to Messina.  It will be a long day of travel. 
We have been doing some good less-active work and many are coming back to church which is awesome to see.  I have started reading the Old Testament having read all the other scriptures and it is a little strange.  Italian is continuing to come and understanding gets better each day.  Basta così.
Anziano Blazzard

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 18 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

Transfers are in.  I am staying as well as Sorella Arnold, Anziano Durham from Messina is coming, Anziano Stamps is going to Cosenza in Calabria (toe of Italy), Sorella Nagliati is going to Pescara as well as Anziano Woolsey (Anzinao Lazarte is coming to replace him in Gela to be with Anziano Molnar), and Sorella Taylor is coming.
I am excited for the work in Ragusa.  As we were walking up from Ibla to go to Lucky's baptism, we learned from him that another three Christians arrived at the camp from Libya (one of them, Frank, told us he'd been there for a year... crazy) and that he told them about us and they were interested in hearing our message.  English course is going well with about 40 students of which some have set up meetings with us to talk about the Gospel. 

Monday night we saw three less-active families in the space of an hour without setting up appointments... we kind of just showed up hoping we'd find some people home since our phone calls were going unanswered.  All the lessons went very well and some showed up at the baptism and at church.
Lucky's baptism went very well on Friday.  Many members showed up to support him and some less-actives and non-members also came.  I played the piano and got the opportunity to baptize Lucky that day, and on Sunday Elder Stamps confirmed him a member of the Church and conferred upon him the Holy Ghost.
We met with the three Christians in Ibla and gave them some English Book of Mormon's and one in Igbo (pronounced Eeboo).  We read Moroni's promise with them in both languages and they were a little astonished to hear the scripture in their native tongue.  They could hardly believe that someone took the time to translate scripture into that language.  Fr came to church (He loved it) on Sunday while the others said they needed time to settle in and get some church clothes (I told them it didn't matter, but they insisted on looking nice in order to worship.)
I invite all of you to pray and read the scriptures often for personal revelation, understanding, and strength.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Week 17 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

Good week here in Southern Sicilia. I finished the Book of Mormon again and have begun to read the Doctrine and Covenants all the way through for the first time. Having that set amount of time each morning to read has been a great blessing in my life. It brings the Spirit to help with the challenges of the day.

This week we said goodbye to our friend ___who is now living in Turin with a friend. We call him often to make sure he is well and to see if the missionaries there have found him (not yet.) His friend William Lucky also passed his baptismal interview so he should be good to go for this Friday. I worked on his baptismal program last night on the computer at the church, and I remember why I hate word processing programs so much.

English course has exploded (30-40 people split into advanced and basic classes) and we are supposed to be meeting around five people who are interested in having a Book of Mormon tomorrow evening before class. We also met a cool guy from a boy's home (who we've been helping by translating his application into English for a program in germany) who said we could come by and hang out with him and the other boys there at the home. I still have been helping a woman from English course with medical terms and her family made it to church again.

We have been having good success with less-actives and we saw a good number of them back at church this weekend which was great. We have been working with a number of potentials and hard-to-reach investigators too and hopefully this week we can set up some teaching lessons with them.

Italian is going well. I get a lot of practice at church translating for _______. I received the usb stick in the mail Friday, thanks. I'm glad to here BYU is doing well... hopefully they will keep it up.

That's all for now.

Anziano Blazzard

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week 16 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

It was a good week in the Italy Rome Mission.  English course is growing and we have a baptism coming up on the 12th of September for a Nigerian man.  I have been teaching this nurse here the English words for medical procedures and terms as well. On Wednesday morning, we took a bus at 7am to Catania to attend Zone Conference.  My companion gave a really good addestramento, and I was able to catch up with a missionary from my MTC district, Elder Holbrook.  He has been serving in Messina, a city in Sicily closest to mainland Italy.  He wasn't able to come to the last zone conference because he was sick from some Almond milk or something.  The conference ended around pranzo time, so we went to Burger King on the coastline of Catania for a quick lunch.  I had the Angry Whopper, and I have to say it wasn't the same (kinda nasty actually.)  There aren't any refills here either. Then we drove back to Ragusa with the Elders from Gela, Woolsey and Molnar (German), for a scambio.  I went with Anziano Woolsey, and we did some finding and Ward Council that evening.  The next morning, we walked down to Via Roma, east of our house and down the hill, to meet with some Eritreans who didn't show up.  Then we drove out to the Campagnia (the countryside around Ragusa) to meet with the Ochipinti family.  We had a good lesson with them and afterwards we had a district pasta meal with the sisters and the other elders in the church.  Yesterday, we called our friends in Ibla so that we could meet with them on Via Roma and walk the rest of the way to the church (Viale Enzo Ferrari).  One of them was sick so they said that they wouldn't be able to make it.  We called back and told him it was very important that he come to church so that we wouldn't have to push his baptism back.  He still didn't want to walk by himself up so he said no.  We almost gave up but I called him again and asked him if he would go if we walked down to the camp (Via Chiaramonte in Ibla) and then up with him.  He agreed and we ended up being very sweaty and late (missed Priesthood).  But, he was in church so we were happy for that.  We had a good English gospel doctrine lesson and Sacrament meeting afterwards.  Following the end of church, we went to the LoMonico's for a member pranzo appt.  You eat really well with members. They always give me the biggest portion starting out and then give me more when I finish. In Italian meals, you eat an appetizer sometimes, then a pasta, then a meat and potato dish, then fruit, and then a sweet (dolce). That night we met up with Samson on Via Roma to say goodbye because he is getting his permission to stay in the country today and heading off to Turin (Torino).  Italian is getting easier everyday.  Ciao Ciao

Anziano Blazzard

pic courtesy of Italy Rome Mission Blog

Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 15 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

It was a good week in Ragusa.  On Monday, the elders from Gela came to do laundry at our apartment because their washer was broken.  On Tuesday, we had district meeting and then Gela went home.  That night I believe we walked the streets talking to people.  The rest of the week was a blur.  The Anziani from Catania came to do a split on Friday and Saturday.  Sunday we walked down to the bottom of Ragusa and back up to church so that we could meet up with and walk with Samson (member) and Lucky (investigator).  Later we ate at the bishop's house with his family.  It was a typical Italian meal with appetizers, pasta, meat, fruit, and then gelato. 
We were able to meet with some of our African members this week who haven't been able to make it to church because of work.  It is crazy and motivating to me how hard-working and faithful these members are.  They work from sunrise into the night getting paid for only a fraction of the hours they had worked.  Then their bosses make them work on Sunday when they are supposed to have it off.  And still, they praise their God and pray that they will be able to come to church and perform the duties of their callings.  I guess there are no worker's rights here.
Today we went to the navy base Sigonella south of Catania.   We went with our friend Salvo and his mother.  Google maps took us on a crazy trip on this seriously warped canal road so it was an interesting trip.  The mother kept saying mamma mia! hahah  Anyways, we got in and out of the base with our American goods without any problems.  On the way back, I saw like twenty African women on the side of the road in heavy make-up.  I didn't know this was legal.  Things can be crazy here in Italy.
The work is going pretty well.  We have one investigator primed for baptism and some very good potentials that we will be able to work with more beginning in September when they can meet with us (In August, everybody is gone on vacation.)  On Sunday, we had like 10 nonmembers in church which is unusual. Basta così for now.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 14 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

This week in Ragusa there was a thing called Ferragosto or something like that where everyone was at the sea. So, on the climax of this holiday, Friday, we stayed inside all day and deep cleaned our apartment.  It is nice to have a clean place to live in again. Anyways, on Monday the elders from Gela came for P-Day and later that night I went with one of them to do some work while my companion went with the other.  My group did a family home evening with a less active member and his son and then some finding.  That night I made my first pesto which turned out pretty well.  The next day we had district meeting and then a pancake party with a member who lives in between Ragusa and Gela in a small town.  I managed to eat a few without complaint though bread isn't really my favorite food.  Then we had English course later that night with a pretty good turnout.  On Wednesday, I think we walked down to Ibla to teach an investigator and then later in the afternoon we walked the streets for several hours talking to people.  
Yesterday on Sunday, we were walking around again when we ran into an African convert and his friends and we talked about their lives before coming to Italy.  They told us about crossing the Sahara, living in war-torn Libya, and crossing the sea in a few days in a big rubber raft with around a hundred people.  It is eye-opening to me to see how crazy and different my American life is from theirs.
Italian is coming along well still.  Yesterday in church I began to understand the discussions in priesthood and some of the jokes being made so that was pretty cool.
Okay, that's all for now.  Ciao

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week 13 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

It has been a little crazy this week with transfers.  We said goodbye to SorellaPancheri and welcomed Sister Arnold to Ragusa.  She is a great missionary from Birmingham, England.  An interesting thing about her is that she went to school in Stratford, which if my memory is correct has something to do with Shakespeare.  Before Sorella Pancheri left, we went to a nearby dam to have a picnic/nature walk thing with some friends and members.  At one point, we were trying to walk around the lake on the shore, and Sorella Nagliati walked into some mud and lost her shoes for a bit.  It was pretty funny so I took a quick picture.  On Saturday we had a little ward social that was supposed to be a "invite your friends thing" but only members showed up.  At any rate, it was still a lot of fun.  I showed some of the Sicilians how to throw and catch a football which was pretty entertaining.  On Sunday, I had to translate for some of our English-speaking members, so I ended up just making up most of the talks with the little phrases I caught here and there.  It's really hard to understand when people talk quickly and quietly.  The streets here in Ragusa are a little empty with everyone heading to the beach, but we still have a few opportunities to talk with people each day.  Well, that's all for now.  Alla Prossima!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Week 12 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Transfer calls were Saturday, and I will be in Ragusa with Elder Stamps as expected for the next transfer (six weeks).  Sister Pancheri will be heading to Taranto and Sister Arnold (from England) will be coming to fill her spot here in Ragusa.  The Anziani in Gela will be staying so the district won't be changing too much.  I am very excited to begin another transfer... time is flying by for me.
So, last Tuesday, after district meeting at the church in Ragusa, we drove back to Gela in their car so that Elder Stamps could interview a baptismal candidate.  While they did that, I went out on the streets with Anziano Molnar (from Germany) to do some finding.  It stinks pretty bad there like dead fish and old garbage.  We talked to a few people, handed out some cards, and played a game of chess with this old man.  He taught us how chess could be compared to life in that every choice has consequences both in the present and in the future.  Interesting guy.  Then we taught English course at the small church in Gela and afterwards a lesson with a Polish woman and her two daughters.  The next morning, we woke early and left Gela at about 6am on a bus back to Ragusa.

Besides doing a lot of street work, we spent some time with our friends because Sister Pancheri is leaving and they wanted to say goodbye.  We had a barbecue where we grilled these giant rolls of sausage and then made sandwiches.  We made some arancini (meat ragu and mozzarella covered in rice and deep-fried) and cake too.  It was really good.  On Sunday we ate with the members after church.  We had some pasta with sausage and other stuff in it and some anguria (watermelon).  Also really good.
My Italian is getting there.  It's getting easier and easier to understand in church and when talking to people on the street.  Well, not much to say but that I will continue to work hard finding and teaching.  Ciao, ciao.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 11 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Things are awesome here in southern Sicilia.  The language is coming nicely.  I can understand the gist of most things and can communicate well but slowly.  My trainer is very good at Italian, so I am learning from the best.  Monday, we arrived at the base and were able to get some American made goods like Mountain Dew, x24 and it's long gone already :( , Spam (also gone,) and deodorant sticks since they only have spray kind.  We had some Subway but it wasn't the same.  Well, I don't know if it was worth the six hours of bus riding but what's done is done.  We met some people while in Catania and got 4 numbers for the missionaries there so it wasn't all a waste.
A few days later we visited the beautiful mountain city of Chiaramonte with a new member and on Thursday we left in the early afternoon for a long bus ride to Siracusa.  We walked around the old city, Ortigia, and saw the Greek Temple Apollos where Paul preached and a bunch of fat old tourists in swimsuits lounging on the rocks along the sea.  We ate some pizza that night with the missionaries there.  Strangely enough, my favorite kind of pizza here is one with eggplant and ricotta cheese on it.  Sounds gross, but it is delicious.  The next day we went to zone conference which was super fun and exciting with all the training we did and then we took the bus back to Ragusa.
Saturday, we cleaned the baptismal font and later we held the baptismal service for Samson Abada, the eighteen year old man from Nigeria.  His member friend Goodluck, shown in the attached picture, kept saying "Good Job!" and "You are now a full member of the true church of Christ" over and over again.  It wasn't exactly true since he wasn't confirmed until the following day, but it was great to see his enthusiasm for his friend.
Ci sentiamo la prossima settimana!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 10 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

I am writing this email from a seedy internet point in Catania.  It is so hot here.  We are here to go to the military base and buy some American goods.  It was an eventful week in Ragusa.  On Monday, we explored some old limestone mining caves from the 1800s.  Things are different here.  The only pop they have is coke, sprite, and fanta.  The streets are cramped, windy, and steep.  Old men are seen wandering around or arguing in Sicilian with each other on the few benches with some shade.  The funniest thing is the hand gestures people use for communication.  It turns out the stereotypical Italian talking with their hands thing is true.  We are for sure having a baptism on Saturday for S.A., an eighteen year old man from Nigeria.  We lost the other baptismal date due to a misunderstanding at church with some members and are working with that investigator to resolve the problem.  English course is going very well and we have had the opportunity to hand out a few Book of Mormons.  Hopefully, we can get a few lessons scheduled with those contacts.  We taught an old Italian man, named G, for the second time about the plan of salvation.  He yelled a lot during the lesson, but that's pretty normal for Italians.  He would argue about something and then agree with it after a few minutes of explaining.  On Saturday, I went to the police station to get my fingerprints.  I had to wait in line for almost 2 hours before I was seen and I still have to go back to finish up the fingerprints on Wednesday morning.  Everyone was shoving and pushing to the front though the man letting people through would call names of those who had appointments anyway.  My companion and I towered over everyone there also.  We ate at the VV's house yesterday.  He kept piling pasta on my plate with a wicked grin on his face.  Later, we met up with our friend, FB, at Bella Napoli, to learn how to make pizza.  That guy cracks me up.  Every time he gives a handshake (clasping hands like one would arm wrestle), he uses as much muscle as possible.