Monday, May 25, 2015

Week 54 - Bari, Liberta, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

Okay, first off I am being transferred to Rome (Roma 3) and will be taking off probably on Thursday via train. My new companion will be Anziano Palazzo (American).  He is one transfer older than me and I actually met him my first day in the MTC because his flight was delayed.  I have talked with him already many times in the mission.  I have been to the house already because we stayed there a few transfers ago when we went to the Elder Teixeira mission conference.  It is alright but it has one bathroom for 4 elders and the kitchen is a hallway... who thinks that is smart?  I am content with the call.

So that being said after emailing Monday we got the usual pizza and this time it was a pizza with ricotta stuffed crusts and buffalo mozzarella.  Super good.  Then we played football and soccer first in a plaza (piazza Ferrarese) and then on the beach with all the missionaries and some other friends.  It was funny to see how terrified people would get when we threw the football thinking that they would somehow get hit.  Afterwards we had a lesson.  The next day we had transfer predictions based on the toy we received from inside of each of our chocolate eggs.  The eggs were a lie, Stephen!!! A LIE!!!  yeah nobody guessed where I was going.  After the meeting we ate homemade reeses prepared by cuz Anz. Bee.  Then we had several lessons and English course. The next day we had a bunch of lessons.

On Thursday we went to Trani to do a district blitz and it was raining.  I used the whiteboard we were going to use for finding as an umbrella.  We also ate some cornetti given to us by the one member who lives there.  Then we returned to Bari and got some homemade juice given to us which was pretty good (no it wasn't alcoholic).  Then we had a few lessons and English course.  The next morning we did weekly planning and then a few lessons before ward council.  I got a panzerotto afterwards.  The next day we got the transfer calls from the mission president and then did a bunch of lessons.  On Sunday we went to church and afterwards had lunch at the bishop's house.  We ate pasta with red sauce, diverse types of meat, apricots, and gelato.  There was also some coke and fanta which pleased me.  Then we helped move some stuff out of one apartment to another apartment for a new convert.  Unfortunately one of the guys helping cut his hand really deep trying to lift an oven unit.  He had to get 10 stitches.  Goes to show that taking your time instead of rushing through a job is the better way.  Then we had another lesson.

Today we will be playing sports at the park and saying goodbye to some friends.  I probably will get one more pizza too because I have heard the food in Rome is gross.

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 53 - Bari, Liberta, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

So after emailing last week we ate some good pizza before going to the park to celebrate a friend's birthday.  We ate some Italian pastry stuff and drank some soda.  Then we played basketball, football, and soccer.  I also taught some taller than me Lithuanian girls how to throw a football. Later that night we had a lesson.  The next day we went to district meeting and afterwards we went to the same old delicatessen shop to get sandwiches.  The guy that makes the food wanted to have us try a different thing so we ended up eating expensive salads that had cheese and artichokes in it. Good deal.  Then we had a few lessons and English course.  The next day we had a few lessons.  The next day we had a lot of lessons and English course.  The day after that we had weekly planning and then a few lessons before a family history activity.  We lined up according to the year we were born in and man alive there are some ancient people still alive.  Then we started to share favorite stories about or lessons from our parents and ancestors beginning from the eldest to the youngest. Afterwards we enjoyed a lot of gelato.  The next day we had a bunch of lessons and our awesome neighbors gave us some free food at lunch which was a classic dish from the region of potatoes, rice, and mussels.  On Sunday, we went to church and afterwards went to a member's home for pranzo and we had pasta al forno (lasagna type thing), meat, cut strawberries, and an ice cream sandwich.  Afterwards we went to visit a new convert and watched a church film with him and then visited his friend in the hospital who got hit in the head with a rock during a post soccer match fight a month ago and hasn't been doing too well.  We gave a blessing and then talked to some people before going home.  Sorry about the lack of detail this week it has been a lil crazy.  Transfer calls are this weekend too.  Alla prossima.

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 52 - Bari, Liberta, Italy

Amici e Famiglia,

This email is number 52 and on Thursday this week I will complete one year as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It has been one the fastest years of my life though as I lay in bed one year ago after the first day at the MTC I was thinking that life as a missionary would never end. Last week I was thinking and realized that it has almost been two years since I graduated high school and flew to Oklahoma to complete Basic Combat Training.  It doesn't make much sense to my mind to think so much time has passed unless I think of the changes of season I've experienced.  But I am grateful to have chosen to be here and for the things I have learned and the growth I have seen in myself (though not height-wise unfortunately... there's still time).  So this last week went fairly well with the normal ups and downs of missionary life.  Some things go as planned but most things do not.  On Monday, after the trip to Matera we emailed and headed home to shower quickly before doing interviews with the president via the phone and a bit of finding.  I was looking like a cooked lobster too having been burnt by the unforgiving sun during our day trip to Matera.  The next day I went to Bitonto to do a scambio (exchange) with our district capo Anz. Bee. We did some finding and ate some delish panzerotti (fried folded cheese pizza)  before English course.  Afterwards we played a quick game of foosball  with a student.  Instead of gyms they have foosball tables in the churches in Italy.  Gyms are a little cooler.  The next day we took the train back to Bari to do district meeting at our church.  Then we had 5 lessons in the afternoon with investigators and new converts.  The next day we went to the Questura (police station) to grab Elder Toronto's permission to sojourn in the country (permesso di soggiorno or residency permit).  I was happy for him but jealous of him because they gave him 2 years after only a few weeks of processing.  Mine took 7 months and I received a measly year in return for my trouble.  Sicily has got thousands of foreigners landing on her shores needing documentation though.  After that we had a lesson and then English course.  The next morning we planned and then took a bus out to see our friend who had surgery on his big toe.  We talked about temples and left him the magazine (which he read entirely that night either from genuine interest or extreme boredom having to stay inside on a bum foot).  Then we went downtown to see the Saint Nicolas festival (Saint Nick (Santa) is the patron saint of Bari).  I succumbed to temptation and bought some freshly fried panzerotti and some gelato.  The next day we did a blitz again down by the festival where we saw lots of people chanting prayers towards a statue of Saint Nicola while a priest with flowing golden robes poured holy smoke upon it.  Interesting.  Then we went to fill up the baptismal font.  We had a few lessons and then the service began.  It went well but I got a little scared when our friend getting baptized dipped a toe in the water and said it was too hot.  He eventually got in and was baptized without further complaint. Afterwards we enjoyed some cake prepared by an awesome member who also brought a nonmember cousin to the baptism hooah.  The next day at church we confirmed our friend who was baptized a member and conferred upon him the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.  Following church we went to our ward mission leader's home for lunch.  We had a delicious meal of pasta with meat rag├╣, sausage and bite-size chicken on tooth picks, and then fresh diced strawberries with gelato.  Then we reposed a bit before walking down to the internet point to skype our families.  Y'all are looking happy and healthy.  Becca, where were you I wanted to wish you happy birthday.  After a good skype I grabbed a coke cuz I had thirst and we went to meet our friend for a lesson.  While waiting there for a minutes we met another man who was born in Italy, grew up in Canada, and returned back to Italy.  He was pretty cool and had an awesome hippy accent.  After the lesson we talked with some other people and went home.  Today after emailing we will be getting haircuts and playing ball in the park.  Pretty exciting stuff.

Anziano Blazzard

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week 51 - Bari, Liberta, Italy

Famiglia e Amici,

So after emailing y'all last Thursday we played some basketball and volleyball with our district at the church.  We also tossed around the football.  It's funny to see the curious and confused looks of Italians when they see a football.  We then did some needed shopping because we had money again.  Afterwards we had a few lessons and English course.  Both lessons went very well.  The next day we planned and then had a few lessons.  The next day we did a lesson with an investigator before his baptismal interview at the church.  It worked well for us because we had to fill up the font for the baptism later that night.  We also practiced a song for the investigator's baptism the next week.  They man can play the piano super well by ear and he taught us an African gospel song about Jesus.  After he left we did a new convert lesson before the baptism.  Also before the baptism a new investigator that showed up to the baptism was standing near the font and asked me when he could be baptized.  I gave him a couple of options and he accepted right then and there to be baptized in a few weeks.  I was like, what is this, Brazil??

The baptism went very well and the man who was baptized was very happy.  I had the opportunity to play the piano and give a talk.  It was cool to see that at any age someone can change and enter through the gate that leads to Eternal Life.  He was definitely prepared beforehand for the message of the Restoration.  On Sunday we went to church and I got to translate again.  Some people are near impossible to hear or understand. Or sometimes you understand most of the story and you miss the crucial point of it all and you are stuck there not knowing how to finish the thought.  It's a lot of fun.  Afterwards we had a lesson with the miracle man at the baptism the day before.  Following that we went with a deaf member to our lunch appointment with a family in the ward.  He is a funny guy that likes to joke a lot.  It takes a while to realize he is joking.  The meal was amazing as always.  The appetizers including various types of cheeses, breads, and meats as well as spinach pie things.  Then we had a simple but good pasta with red sauce, steak and salad, fruit, and some gelato.  We then went to a new convert's house for a lesson.

Today we went to Matera, a city about a hour and a half away from Bari by train. I heard that they might have filmed the Passion of Christ there.  Anyways we basically hiked down a hill, crossed a creek, and then hiked up the other side to take some sweet photos.  Then we had to run down the hill, cross the river, and run up the hill and through the city to catch our train back to Bari.  It was neat but now I am very sweaty and sun-burnt.  Things are going pretty great though.

Anziano Blazzard