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. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 9 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Another very hot week in Southern Sicily.  I've been battling the weight-loss with large amounts of gelato and nutella with some success in slowing the loss.  The other food here is pretty good too.  I have tried proscuitto crudo (raw ham), rice with octopuses, shrimp,  and clams, some arancini (fried rice cones with stuff inside) and also some crepes.  

We have been working hard scheduling lessons, contacting people on the street and from referrals, and teaching.  Sometimes the lessons fall through at the last minute, but our spirits are still high. The two Africans we have been teaching in Ibla are making good progress and have baptismal dates in a couple weeks.  I also taught an Italian investigator for the first time this week with the ward mission leader (trainer was gone with another member giving a blessing to a sister in the ward.)  I managed alright in teaching the restoration in Italian and the investigator seemed to understand pretty well.  We will continue to teach him though his job schedule doesn't allow him to attend church (hopefully that will change in a few months.)

English course has been a lot of fun and there are many potentials there who we are trying to meet with also.

On Saturday we tried to visit a contact in Modica but he didn't show so we kind of took a bus out there for nothing.  We got some gelato and headed back.  When we got back, the sisters called us because their investigator was acting a little strange and they wanted us to check it out.  As soon as we walked into the apartment it was obvious that she needed to go to a psych ward.  We called around for like an hour for some help and a few doctors and police showed up after a while.  They took her to a hospital and last I heard she is doing a lot better.  It was an interesting experience for sure.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 8 - Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

It has been another hot week in Ragusa, Sicily.  I have been doing a lot of walking (in the shade if I can manage it) and riding the bus as well.  We have traveled out of Ragusa to Modica, Ibla, and Marina di Ragusa for some lessons with investigators or potentials.  There are a crazy amount of churches in each of those cities.  Most people we teach are Africans from various countries who can speak a little English.  They live in camps (monasteries) until they can get their paperwork to live here.  One of our investigators will have a baptismal interview this week.  We might get another baptismal date later this week.  We have had a lot of investigators and less actives at church also so we are pretty happy about that.  Our investigators that we have met with are always very humble and willing to study and pray.  I hope we will be able to meet with the rest of the investigators this week. 

English course is a great way to find people and I enjoy being the teacher of English rather than the student of Italian for a few hours each week.  There are old and young people, singles and families. We get to share a spiritual thought at the end of the lesson so I hope some of our students will grow an interest in the church from that.

I haven't eaten that much pasta yet but I've had gelato like everyday.  We usually have two or three pranzo appointments with people each week and the food has been pretty good.  The problem is they won't let me stop eating when I'm full.  Despite all of this, I've lost 12 pounds since I've got here. I think it's due to all the walking up hills and sweating I do everyday.

All of the appliances are working again, including the air conditioner, so life is pretty good.  I understand half of what is going on most of the time depending on the age of the speaker.