Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Sorella Olsen and Ostia!
I love Ostia!! It is a great city outside of Rome on the coast, bigger than Ladispoli. Our area covers part of Rome and down south about two hours on train to Latina. Our apartment is in between Rome and Ostia, in a suburb called Centro Giano. We live right next to the Tiber River and we go running sometimes in the morning along a trail right next to the Tiber (sweet!). The apartment is beautiful, two stories and in a really quiet part of town. Pretty soon we are going to make brownies for all our neighbors to get to know them :) The elders lived in the apartment before us and they had only been there for a few months but they are still missing lots of supplies! Sheets, towels, cups, all sorts of things we had to buy our first few days in Ostia. Its a great place to live though, just a 10-15 min walk to the train that takes us either to Rome or to Ostia.
I love Ostia and I love Sorella Olsen!!! Sorella Olsen is from Alpine Utah (yes, she knows Katrina Lewis) and plays volleyball and is 6 ft tall and studies languages at BYU. She had taken years of Italian at BYU before the mission and did a study abroad in Siena so even though she is only in her 4th transfer, she speaks better than me!! She is an extremely nice person and an incredible missionary. I have never seen a missionary that talks to everyone around her like she does, its amazing!! Its exactly the companion I've prayed for, someone who loves to do finding work all the time and she makes it so easy! She is such an example to me and we already have lots of good contacts and potentials (how does she get so many numbers from people?? wow!).
Ostia is also great, although we havent worked much in Ostia since we have been here! A lot of the members live outside of Ostia, so we are often traveling into Rome and talking to people on the buses or metros in Rome rather than Ostia. It kind of feels like serving in Rome 2 again! But I really hope we will get to work in the city of Ostia as well because I really like it. Its kind of like a mix between Rome and Ladispoli, bigger and busier than Ladispoli, but also quieter and nicer than Rome. The ward here is a small ward and they just got a new bishop on Sunday who we have heard is really motivated into missionary work. One of my favorite parts about the ward is that they have specific goals they are working towards. I like goals a lot and it makes it a lot easier for me to feel love for and know how to serve the ward I am called to serve in when I can work specifically for the same things that the members want. Right now our Ostia ward meets in a hotel every Sunday because we dont have a church and the members in this ward really want a church. The stake presidency is looking around for a spot to build a church but the activity in the ward will have to increase from about 50 members every Sunday to 70 members before they can. So, whether it is through reactivation or baptisms, we have adopted this ward goal as our own and I love having something concrete that we can work towards.
So Sorella Olsen and I were dropped off at our apartment on Thursday morning and after we dragged our suitcases in and had a snack, we looked at each other and said, "well, what do we do now?" Both of us are brand new to the area and we are opening up the city to sisters, so any people we have to work with are women that the elders have given us. Luckily I have heard a little bit about the area from the elders and some of the people we would be working with.
After a few hours of sorting through the area book and trying to get to know the work a little bit, we went to Ostia for the first time with the elders (before there was just one set of elders in the city, now it is us and the elders) for a family home evening for several members. The elders told us that it was in a kind of bad part of town and that we wouldn't be working there very much, but as soon as we got there, I fell in love with it. Yes, the people there are poorer but it really isn't that bad of an area, and the people are so much more humble and friendly. Several members of the church in Ostia live there, including a few new converts and several of them come from really bad drug filled backgrounds. They are already some of my favorite members though. We walked into the room with the FHE and there is a big guy with lots of tattoos who gives us a huge welcome and introduces himself as "Carmelo the investigator". We sang the opening song and Carmelo had this booming voice that we all had to yell the hymn out to match him. He was an incredible singer though and sang with all his heart, with all of his emotions written on his face. Wow. Afterwards we find out that he isnt an investigator, he was just joking (haha), and he pulled out his cellphone and listed off about 10 numbers of ex investigators and his friends that we needed to call. He would find a friend in his cellphone directory and call them up and ask them if they wanted to meet the sister missionaries. I have never seen anything like it, it was incredible!
On Friday we met the Ostia elders in a park and they told us all about the investigators and people we are working with. That night we met our first investigator, Veronica. I'll describe her quickly because she is great.
Veronica: Italian, 23 years old, she is dating a member of the church who is currently in Idaho going to BYU-I but she is meeting with the missionaries and is reading the Book of Mormon and comes to church every week. She is solid, she almost for sure will be baptized sometime. The coolest part is what she does for a job. At 23 years old, she has a job as a restorer of old churches. So she works in the really old churchs in Rome and restores frescos and other paintings and parts of the building. Right now she is working on Santa Maria Maggiore, a huge famous church in Rome. How incredible is that?!! Its amazing! We had a great lesson with her and another member who is 20 (who also brought a friend to church on Sunday who is also reading the book of Mormon, ahh!) and she wants to take things slow but is doing great.
There is so much more to talk about, so many people but I am running out of time. One more quick story, last night Sorella Olsen and I set a baptismal date!!! Her name is Laura, she is the friend of a member and she is very angry with the world (especially Italian men) but very open to the gospel. We just have to help her understand that she can look past all the bad experiences she has had and find joy and the positive. She is someone who is really searching for peace and to change her life around, so she is perfect!!! Our baptismal date goal is June 25 (John, that is your birthday!!)))!!
There is so much more to say but I have to finish up.
To summarize, the ward is thrilled to have sisters in it and we are getting lots of referrals from people, I have never seen such involvement in missionary work from the ward! We have talked to so many people and we have seen so many miracles this first week. Wow, this will be an incredible transfer.
I read this morning about the apostles in the New Testament and how they were amazed when Jesus walked on water because they considered not the previous miracles he did and their hearts were hardened. How often are we like this. How often am I like this!! Like always, I am working on remember the blessings and the miracles that God has already given me so that I will be more humble and open to the miracles he gives me now.