Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Easter week in Italy! I'll explain a little bit about the traditions of Italy and then tell you about what we did.
In Italy, they dont have the tradition of the Easter bunny and they dont decorate eggs and have Easter egg hunts like we do. They do however have their own traditions.
First of all, for a few weeks leading up to Easter, they sell a special type of sweet bread in all the stores that is only available at this time of year. And its always in the shape of a dove or a lamb, haha. They call it colomba (that means dove in Italian). We bought one and have been munching on it for the last week! Also, they sell these giant chocolate eggs that range anywhere from the size of a newborn baby (yes, that was the only thing I could think to compare it to!) to the size of a two year old. They are big!!! Anyways, these chocolate eggs are made out of chocolate that is actually really really good and inside there is a surprise! Everyone buys these eggs and gives them away as gifts or they buy a couple of different ones for their kids to open up on Easter. Once they break open the egg, they break up the chocolate into pieces and share it. Yum! We also bought one of these :)
Also, at least in this part of Italy, they eat "Easter pizza" on the morning of Easter. It is another type of sweet bread that they eat with salami, cheese and hard boiled egg. And then they eat a really big late lunch, often lamb.
We had an appointment for Easter but they cancelled on us the day before. I decided to take charge and make an announcement in Relief Society that we didnt have any plans for Easter so we welcomed any invites!! Haha, my companion refused to do it, but I figured I could use my Americaness and the fact that this would be my only Easter in Italy as an excuse. It worked!! We had lunch with the Marchetti family and ate pasta (you have to eat pasta with every meal if you are Italian, even on Easter), and stuffed rabbit (delicious!), and chocolate egg. Afterwards, we gave away pass-along cards with pictures of resurrected Jesus at the tomb to people on the streets. I expected that everyone goes to church on Easter in Italy because they are all Catholic, but I was surprised to find out that most people don't!
Also, here the Easter festivities continue on to Monday, "Pasquetta", its called. Its the "Monday of the angel". My Italian companion isnt sure which angel though, haha.
Anyways, Easter was great! We shared lots of spiritual thoughts with people about the Resurrection and the blessings we receive from it. At this time of year, I am particularly grateful that like the Book of Mormon says, Christ "breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory". How wonderful to know that death is not the end and our hope for future joy overcomes any temporary sorrow or disappointment. I know this is true.
Other highlights of this week...
We were finally able to see Tiziana and Barbara, two of my favorite investigators who have been very busy in the last few weeks! Both of them are so open and accepting. It will take time to help them understand these things and to help them change and clear up false traditions. Barbara however is honestly searching to know which is the right path for her, but she has a hard time because as soon as we leave, she gets caught up in every day life and forgets everything we talked to her about. She tells us she needs someone to be there to push her along (dont we all need this support when we are making big changes?) but its hard because we live so far away. We decided together that at least we can call her everyday. Her daughter Noemi is adorable. A lot of times I am particularly motivated or moved by children. When I see how innocent and sweet they are, and I think of the things that they will probably face in their life, I feel a lot of desire to help their parents gain a testimony of the gospel so that the children can be raised in the church. I know what a huge difference that would make in their lives, to have the support of knowing the right way to live, especially when surrounded by a lot of punk Italian teenagers who make a lot of poor decisions starting at a very young age. And especially when I see Barbara or Tiziana's children, I am motivated to help them even more.
Tiziana is also very open and bright, the major obstacle for her is that her two children are both involved in Catholic church programs. She recognizes that this is good but requires a lot of change and sacrifice and it will take time for her to be able to make these changes. To leave behind the traditions of all your family, friends, country, and culture takes a huge commitment and determination!
I've also started a kick of leaving "homework" for our investigators. Specific scriptures that they have to look up and questions that they need to answer. I am convinced it will help!
Life is good! Serving with Sorella Giordano is great! I love Ladispoli! Today we are doing exchanges and I am headed back to Rome 2 with Sorella LaCates.
One thing I learned. My natural tendency to compare (bad) can be used for great good because I can see the strengths of others and use it as inspiration to how I can change and be a better person! Everytime I might compare and feel bad, instead I can remember that I am a child of God with great worth and I too have the opportunity to become whoever I want to become and other people are inspiring examples of what I want to be! Yay!
Also, finding joy in every moment is good too. I am working on that, haha. Gratitude and joy and humility and love. The usuals!