Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 41 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Famiglia e Amici,

MTC District Fellows Reunited
Well, it's almost the end of another transfer here in the Italy Rome Mission. We'll receive the calls Saturday to see if we stay or move on.  This transfer really flew for me and time in general is flying by.  Anyways, on Monday we left on the bus for Palermo in the early afternoon and then from there we loaded up in Mistretta's car to go to Bagheria for a blitz.  We ended up talking to quite a few people thanks to the chalk written prompt, "Are you happy?"  Then we slept at the apartment there before heading back over to Palermo the next morning for DDM with the senior couple that's serving in Mistretta.  They had come to Bagheria to do apartment checks.

Panini Bomba
At DDM we talked about developing our talents in the mission and then we had some over-sized sandwiches from Panini Bomba again.  I think the senior sister in the senior couple really didn't appreciate our choice for lunch, but that's just what happens when it's a district of 8 guys.  Afterwards we enjoyed the scenic trip home passing by the storm-tossed sea, craggy mountains, and green rolling hills dotted with little cottages and ancient ruins.

We then taught some English before the branch Carnivale party.  It was pretty awesome. Big speaker blaring American music and 80s classics (One guy really enjoyed the 80s music and would sing along knowing half the words).  My favorite part of the night was when I saw a short 80 year old man dancing to some dubstep music.  I was dying.  The next day we had a few lessons and talked to quite a few people per strada.  We also had some good success out of the Area Book and made some appointments for the next week.

On Thursday, we had a lesson in the morning and then later cleaned the bathroom of the black mold.  It's a big problem here in Italy.  Then we had English course before the quorum activity with the guys in the branch.  We taught a lesson about the restoration of the gospel and how they could share it with their friends.  Then we played Foosball and I was again entertained exceedingly when the same short 80 year old man stepped up to play a round.  Afterwards we had some Italian sausage and lettuce panini.  The next day we planned in the morning and later the District Leader, Anz. Teichert, and his companion arrived from Mistretta to do an exchange.  We each did a lesson and then regrouped from some burgers at the usual place.  Then we talked to a lot of people on the street.

The next morning they left and we cleaned the church as we listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir 24 hour free music stream without commercials. Then we went to a birthday party for a daughter of one of our investigators and I ate like 8 pieces from 3 different kinds of cake.  Then we had some pizza.  The next day we went to church and afterwards ate some lunch with a member family.  We had something called frascatole which was like a cus cus broccoli soup and then ragu pasta for the first course.  Then we had loaded peppers with ham and mozzarella and some chicken patties.  Then we ate some fruit and cake.  We then had to rush over to an investigators house for a lesson (which went really well) and had some more cake (pineapple upside down cake).  Afterwards we had to sprint across the city (it took almost an hour) to give the sacrament again to the lady from last week.  She was very gracious that we had come in the rain and was happy to have some company.  We then went home and went to bed without eating anything for dinner.  I also didn't eat this morning because I still was full from the weekend.

It also has been raining for over a month every day besides maybe 2 or 3 of the days.  It's a little different from the weather back home.  Alla prossima

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week 40 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Famiglia e Amici,

This week in Trapani on Monday night we had a family home evening with a member family.  We challenged them with a little puzzle and then related it to a gospel principle.  The puzzle was to draw 3 lines from blocks A to A, B to B, and C to C without intersecting the lines.  The 2 A blocks were bigger and touching the top and bottom of the card.  One B was touching the edge and the other was opposite it almost touching the edge of the other side.  The first C block was touching the edge and below the B block that was almost touching the edge.  The other C block was opposite the first C block and was not touching the edge and was below the the B block that was touching the edge of the card.  The solution is to draw two parallel lines from B to B and C to C first and then to draw a long line from A to A going around the other blocks and lines.  The lesson that we drew from this puzzle was that in life there are big goals such as marriage, a family, a job, education, and most importantly, eternal exaltation.  These are represented by the larger A blocks.  But, we know that to reach these goals we have to work our way step by step by accomplishing smaller goals, represented by the smaller B and C blocks.  They liked the message but it took them a while to solve the puzzle and we also gave some hints.

The next day we we had some lessons and ate some hamburgers before English course.  At one of the lessons with some African members, we finished and began to pray. When I opened my eyes a new African guy was sitting with our group acting like he had been there the entire time.  He kept saying afterwards, "great preaching" and "you're welcome" (I don't why many Africans tell you that you are welcome but they just do).  I guess I am happy he showed up.

The next day, we had to take a bus to Palermo for interviews with the mission president and zone conference.  We got there at pranzo so we headed to this Chinese buffet that my buddy serving in Palermo, Anziano Holbrook, was raving about.  We met up with some other missionaries and I think we ended up being a group of 8 or 10 when we began to eat.  Surprisingly, it was pretty good because everyone here always talks trash on Chinese food.  I was happy because it had been almost 9 months since I have eaten Chinese food and it is my favorite food followed closely by Mexican.

Then we had our interviews and headed to the street to talk with the people.  I noticed that hardly anybody was stopping to talk with me but people were gladly stopping for and actually coming up to the sister missionaries to talk with them.  One old lady called me tesoro (treasure) as she was denying my efforts to talk about the plan of salvation so I can't complain too much.  We crashed at Palermo 2nd's sweet house (literally nicer than any apartment I've seen in the mission) and the next morning headed to Palermo 1 church on Via Catania for zone conference.  It was a good conference filled with uplifting messages and ways to improve the missionary work but they bought the cardboard pizza again.  It's such a shame that that was the pizza they bought when I've eaten nothing but delicious pizza here in Sicily.  I asked if it was about the money and they said, "No".

The next day we planned in the morning and had a few lessons in the evening time.  The following day we had a few lessons and took a giant survey from the church on Preach My Gospel. It reminded me of the Army.  Yesterday, we went to church and it was branch conference so the stake president (a region of churches and in this case the entire island of Sicily) was there.  He gave some great lessons and afterwards we ate with some members for lunch.  We had lasagna, some meat stuff with cheese and spinach, salad, fruit cocktail, and some ricotta cannoli.  It was amazing as usual and then we took the sacrament to this older lady who broke her femur a few months ago.  Tonight we are heading to Bagheria for another district blitz and tomorrow we will be in Palermo for District meeting.  Alla prossima.

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 39 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy

It has been raining all week again here in Sicily.  I am on my third umbrella too.  I was looking at last week's email and I am pretty embarrassed that I wrote through instead of threw and there instead of their.  Funny thing is I have been writing more than I ever have before in my life with these emails.  So, where I left off last week was Monday night in Ragusa.  We finished emailing and went to get my favorite pizza in Ragusa.  It's called the Siciliana and has ricotta and eggplant.  Sounds gross but it's amazing.

The next day we took a bus pretty early in the morning.  My awesome friends in Ragusa gave me a ride to the station and got me some breakfast too.  It would be nice to return at the end of my mission for a few more transfers.  The bus ride was 4 hours but beautiful, full of rolling hills and farms, mountains, old ruins, and the sea. Sorry, I didn't have my camera so you'll have to imagine or google it.  It's just that after a while it gets old.  We got to Palermo for the end of district meeting and then had some delicious panini bomba (tons of mystery meat).  Then we took the bus back to Trapani and I can't remember what we did that night.  The next day we helped this woman with preparing for an interview in English and had a few lessons later.

The next day we got some haircuts and had some other lessons later including a meal appointment which was delicious.  It was pasta in a red sauce, sausage, vegetables, and some other stuff.  The next morning we planned for the next week and then had a lesson with this awesome but doesn't talk very much which makes it awkward family.  The next day we had a few cancelled appointments and then a few lessons at the end of the day.  Yesterday, Sunday, we went to church and then had a nice meal with some members.  We ate homemade arancini (fried rice balls with meat and stuff inside) and some sausage and fruit and nutella crepes.  I ate way too much as usual but it wasn't overly uncomfortable to sit afterwards so not too bad.  Then we went to a house for another lesson but nobody was home, boh.

I am having a hard time remembering some funny stories, but yesterday at church something pretty funny happened.  So, I gave my phone to one of our African members, Joseph, to read a scripture.  Afterwards, he wanted me to take it back so he said, "Anziano, collect your phone."  Their English is pretty awesome sometimes.  That's all for now.

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 38 - All over Western Sicily

It was a little crazy this week.  Monday seems like a long time ago.  I think we just did some grocery shopping, ate, napped (well I napped), and then talked with some people on the streets.  On Tuesday, we did the normal trip to Palermo for District Meeting.  When we got on the bus to head to the church in the ghetto side of Palermo, this old man got on after us.  He mumbled something in Siciliano which I responded politely to with a "Come?"  Being a typical Sicilian old man on public trans he impatiently screamed at me what he had asked before sending spit everywhere and angrily waving his cane at me.  After the meeting we ate at Old Wild West for Anz. Teichert's b-day.  I think it's funny that our idea of a special treat in Italy is American burgers and fries.  It was pretty good and there were free peanuts which you could throw on the ground... well it would be special but apparently you can throw anything you want on the ground here in Italy (there is trash everywhere). Later we were waiting at the bus station for a bus to Trapani.  A man in robes (Muslim) came up to us asking where the buses going to Catania were.  I hopped up and showed him.  He was very grateful for the help and he told us about how everyone in the world should be respectful and kind to each other.  It was a nice moment that showed me that some stereotypes just aren't true for the most part.  Then we had English course later that day.

On Wednesday we met this guy who is some politician for the province of Trapani. He wanted help in English for a job he was going to have in the future.  He bought us some pastries and pop so it was pretty cool.  Later we had a lesson.  The next day we had a lesson in the morning and during pranzo I received a call from the office that my permesso di soggiorno (permission to stay in the country for an extended amount of time) was ready to pick up in Ragusa.  Then we met with our ward mission leader and planned the trip to Ragusa as far as bus times and sleeping arrangements.  The next morning I called the Questura in Ragusa (place to pick up permesso) for an appointment.  Surprisingly I got one since before they were always difficult with me.  So on Saturday we were about to walk to the bus station to go to Palermo when it started to rain (no surprise there, it rained everyday last week).  It was a bummer since we had to walk 40 minutes to the bus stop. So we prayed for it to stop.  It didn't whatsoever (and continued to rain the rest of the day the entire journey).  So we got some umbrellas and walked to a city bus stop where we got on a bus that took us to the other bus stop.  There we met a woman who asked us who we were and wanted to know more.  She also said she'd come to church.  So maybe it was meant to rain after all.  Sometimes we don't understand why things happen but someone does.

So then we went to Palermo and were waiting in a diner for our bus to Ragusa when a bunch of Africans I recognized from my time in Ragusa came in.  They immediately recognized me and when I said a few of their names in greeting they got super happy.  They were going to Ragusa too so we all rode together.  The next day we went to my old ward and then had pranzo with some members.  Then we met up with some of my old investigators and went to Marina di Ragusa.  We walked the beach and then went to their 2nd home to eat some pizza.  They have 5 kids so it was fun and really crazy.  Then today we went to a members home for pranzo before my permesso appointment at 3:30.  We had a good time and I received my permesso with a little difficulty after having to work past the fact I didn't have original receipts because some guy threw them away on accident.  Tomorrow we head back to Trapani with a little lunch break in Palermo. That's all for now.  Have a great week errbody.

Anz. Blazzard