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