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

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