Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A good week and the Artichoke Festival

My companion and I are working well together and I am sure great things will happen this transfer!
She already knows pretty much every member of the branch and has the drive to make things happen.
Right now I am wearing a skirt I bought at the market last week. It has two layers and the outside layer has a kind of lacy woven pattern and it catches on everything I walk by. Its driving me crazy! I also just finished eating some pizza. Italians put some interesting things on pizza like broccoli, potatoes, zucchini, chicken salad (yes, like with mayo and shredded lettuce), hot dogs and lots of other random things I cant think of right now. Anyways...
I am thinking a lot about the members of the branch right now. We work with the members a fair amount because they really are key to baptizing and retaining new converts. If I have changed in only one way from my mission, it will be that I will never ever be able to look at my role as a ward member in the same way. I recognize how important it is for a ward/branch to be like a family, to really support and sustain its members with all their love. Outside of the family (and there are many people without a stable family), the ward is truly the place where people should feel absolute love and acceptance and support and nourishment for whatever their needs are. The organization of the Church of Jesus Christ is the inspired way in which Heavenly Father provides for his children. My mission has completely changed the way that I look at less active members and visiting teaching and missionary work and fellowshipping.
Anyways, we had correlation last night with our ward mission leader and for the first time, he really opened up and expressed a lot of his own frustrations with the branch and their apathy towards less active members. Every week we as missionaries request specific help from the members for less actives (people to call them, invite them, pick them up, and home teachers assigned) and the branch has been slow to respond to our requests. The members here really are incredible people and I love them all, but they dont view their role towards fellowshipping in the same way that we do, haha. We as missionaries who work with these people understand how absolutely critical it is for the members to be very very involved. We have really been working on involving the members much more (helping them be friends with investigators, involving them in our english class, and planning activities for the members to help them do missionary work), and some people have commented on it and how some changes are occurring, even if it is hard to see. There is still a lot of work to do, but thats good because I love challenges! We are making ourselves known as well, making announcements in Relief Society and Priesthood every Sunday, visiting with members and encouraging them to reach out to our investigators and to do more. They cant run away from us!

Ladispoli is famous for artichokes and this weekend was the annual artichoke festival! Its called the sagra dei carciofi and thousands and thousands of people come from Rome for this. For three days the town center of Ladispoli was filled with booths selling all sorts of stuff and concerts and parades and fireworks. My favorite part was on Sunday, they displayed giant sculptures made out of artichokes. It was incredible!!!! I will have to send pictures soon. The festival made it difficult to do missionary work because the entire town of Ladispoli was outside at the festival for three days, but we used the time to do some pubblicity for english course. We walk around carrying a big sign that says "free english course" and pass out fliers to anyone who is interested. Good way to get attention!

We restarted english course and have a bunch of new students. English course is always golden for finding contacts and investigators. I teach intermediate and a member teaches a basic class. Last night we had some miracles. I explained a little about the Book of Mormon at the end for our "spiritual thought" and two people stayed after and wanted to know more! We taught them both the whole first lesson and all about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and answered their questions for a whole hour! It was thrilling, just exhilirating. At the end, they both wanted to learn more so we got their phone numbers and will contact them for an appointment. Cristian and Stefano.
A lot of time the mission is work, its a lot of hard work day after day and I am learning a lot but sometimes it is tedious. And then sometimes we get a moment like this, with people who sincerely are interested, and it is just wonderful. They are hard to find in Italy sometimes but they do exist and I know that Heavenly Father sends them to us when the time is right. I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this work and for the Restoration and how glorious it really is.

Sad news. I had some basil plants I bought and have tenderly been taking care of now for months. I put them outside on the balcony because it is finally warm enough and a bird came and destroyed them. Boo. Haha, I will just have to start over!

Love you all!

Sorella Askew!

P.S. We are going to set a baptismal date this week. For sure.

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