Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 7 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy!

Friends and Family,

A lot has happened since the last letter I wrote a few Wednesdays ago. The Sunday before we left we got to listen to Janice Perry (she wrote all the Children's hymnbook songs.  Then, on Tuesday we left the MTC at about 6:30 and took a train to the airport.  We flew from SLC to Chicago and then from there to London on a huge 777 overnight.  They gave us as many drinks as we wanted as well as two meals.  It was pretty good.  I sat next to a nice man from Scotland and we talk most of the flight.  It turns out he was a doctor coming home from a conference in Chicago and one of the only Christians in his town.  We had a nice chat about religion and he talked about he had already had good experiences with Mormons and had a Book of Mormon back home.  I also told him how he could download the Gospel Library app for free on his Ipad.  We exchanged emails and I will write him later.

When we got to London, we were late and our flight had already boarded and closed the doors. Somehow a few airport employees got us back on the flight and we had to rush through security and run to the terminal and take a bus to the plane which was on the tarmac.  All of the British accents were amazing to listen to.  We ended up departing almost one hour behind schedule.

When we landed in Rome, it was a little frightening.  The airport was dirty, badly lit, crowded with smelly people, and under construction.  It was like a refugee camp.  We had to wait over an hour in a giant line before we could go to baggage claim so that our passports could be absentmindedly glanced at.  Then we had to wait several hours in baggage claim because our bags had all come in on different flights.  Thankfully, I didn't lose anything.  When I and three other missionaries had our baggage, we walked through customs (nobody was there) and were greeted by the assistants and the President and his wife.  The president drove us to the temple for a picture and then to a church in Rome for a baptism.

Later we walked to the villa and stopped on the way to talk to some young people about free English courses offered at the church.  The villa is pretty nice.  It is three stories tall with a basement.  The first floor has a kitchen, two dining rooms, an entrance, and a living room.  The second story had the president's office and quarters.  The third story had the laundry equipment, two bathrooms, and three rooms with a bunch of bunk beds.  The basement was for the sisters.  We had dinner (salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, bread, lasagna, and peanut gelato).  Then we got our assignments.

My companion is Anziano Stamps from Treemonton, Utah.  He is from a family of 10.  He is very good at Italian as he has been out for about a year.  We get along pretty well.  The city I was assigned to is Ragusa, the southernmost area in Sicily.  My address is Via Michelangelo Buonarroti, 201 (97100) Ragusa.  Don't send anything there or to the mission home as it costs too much to ship.

The next morning (at almost 10am) we left the villa and took a bus to Termini (the train station in Rome).  A bunch of missionaries heading south met us there and we all ran to catch the train that was leaving in a few minutes.  We got in the very first car and when all the baggage was on and we were ready to relax, the missionary in charge said we had to move to the very last car instead.  So I ended up getting really sweaty and ticking off a bunch of Italian people as I crashed and banged my way to the last car with two bags on my shoulders and two rolling bags in tow.  When we got to the last car, we sat in a little compartment within the train car kind of life the Hogwarts Express.  When we passed Napoli, the Elders getting on gave us some of the famous pizza to eat.  It was amazing.  We rode all day to the southern tip of Italy, and then we rode onto a ferry which took the train to Sicily.  There we rode to Catania (we got there at 10pm) and were greeted by three cars and our new companions who took us and our baggage to the apartment the missionaries had there. People drive a little differently in Sicily... there aren't any rules about speed or right of way or stopping at stop signs.

The next morning, Anz. Stamps and I took a two hour bus ride to Ragusa, where a friend named Salvo picked us up.  He drove us to a restaurant where we met up with the Sisters, Pancheri and Nagliati (from Idaho and Brazil), and two other women, Francesca and Valentina (a school teacher and dental assistant.)  We had a nice meal there for Sorella Nagliati's birthday.  It consisted of many courses of small finger food items.  I was stuffed.  The drinks were cool, too.  They had huckleberries, pineapple, and other fruits in them.  Then we went to our apartment.  It is really big with two large rooms, a bathroom/laundry, an entryway, and a kitchen. Then we went to another baptism 

The next day was spent working the streets for many hours stopping people and giving out pamphlets and cards.  We got two numbers also!  Later we taught two lessons to some inactive members and caught the last part of a soccer match between Brazil and some other team as we walked by a large square that had a few tvs out.  Yesterday, we went to church.  We had some less active and investigators show up which was nice.  Also, an Egyptian investigator showed up with his buddy who seems very interested in how our religion emphasizes faith and personal relationships with God.  I got his number and was talking to him about teaching him later this week, but I let the sister missionaries have him because the Egyptian investigator was their investigator.

After church, we ate lunch with the members at the church.  I about puked with all the pasta and eggplant I was forced to eat.  The Italian lady who sat next to me was very happy that I ate the largest portion of her food than other other person there.

Life is pretty good right now.  The air conditioner isn't working at the moment in our apartment but hopefully it will get fixed soon.  It is very hot and we walk a lot, but it feels good to be working at last.


Anziano Blazzard

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