Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Sicily, it is a dream!

Where to start....?

First of all, I have this terrible feeling that I may have lost all my pictures from the last 5 transfers of my mission, ugh.... The memory card that they are on isn't working in any camera or on the computer. It can't read the pictures and it just tells me that I need to reformat the card. I tried to get the internet point person to burn it on to a CD but he said I have to reformat the card and lose the pictures. That gives me a horrible nauseous feeling inside, could I possibly have lost my pictures? I am going to try to not think about it right now....

Alright! On my last P-day in Rome, other than packing and organizing the area book and updating records, Sorella Dall and I visited Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the biggest churches in Rome. BUT, we didn't go just because it is a big, famous church. Do you remember Veronica? The investigator we had in Ostia who is our age and who restores old churches? Right now she is working on Santa Maria Maggiore, and we went to visit her! It may have been the coolest thing ever. We walk into this church and there are probably literally hundreds of tourists inside. The church is gigantic, with several smaller chapels on the side as you walk down the nave towards the main altar. One of the side chapels was blocked off with a big white tarp. As we approached it, there were several people looking through a little hole in the tarp and taking pictures. As we peeked in the hole, you could see this huge chapel covered with scaffolding where a few people were working on restoring the old frescos on the wall. THAT is where Veronica works. We called her and she came out from behind the tarp and let us through the locked entrance for a minute to talk to her. Can you imagine how special we felt with all the tourists looking on? I love Rome!!

On Thursday morning we went to the main train station in Rome for me to catch a train to Sicily with several other missionaries. Angela came with us to say goodbye and I was able to see Sorella Tutt for a few minutes too! The train took us all the way from Rome to Catania, no need to switch trains at all. So how did we get across the sea to the island of Sicily? They took apart the different cars of the train and stuck it on a ferry to cross the water. How cool! The ferry ride is only about 30 minutes and we are able to leave the train and walk around the ferry boat. It was gorgeous!! The sun was setting over the island of Sicily, the city of Messina, and the temperature was perfect. I fell in love immediately with Sicily, its beautiful mountains and hills and ocean.

We arrived in Catania about 9:30 and the elders gave us a ride to our apartment.
Everything is wonderful! My companions are Sorella LeCates from Highland and Sorella Buma from Sandy, and they are both great. Sorella Buma knows the city very well and Sorella LeCates just arrived from Bari. They are both great missionaries and we get along great. There are also two elders serving in Catania and just one ward, and the elders have a car and give us a ride sometimes!

Let me tell you a little bit about Sicily now!

Everything I have heard about it is true. There is a huge difference between the people in Sicily and the people in Rome! I loved Rome but Sicilians are so warm and easy to talk to! Doing "finding" and talking to people around us has become one of the easiest things. There is no more need to work really hard to break past someone's shell or worry about them feeling awkward or being rude to you. Nope, all I have to do is ask them how they are doing or if they are from Catania, and they will start talking. It's incredible and so easy! I LOVE IT! There are of course a lot of similarities, but it is almost like all the Italian traits or stereotypes are magnified 10 times in Sicily. People in Rome are Italian, yes, but people in Sicily are really really really Italian.
I had a stubbornness contest on the bus with someone that made me laugh the other day. I started talking to a guy and he was seated and I was still standing and he kept telling me to sit down next to him so we could talk more easily. I kept telling him no because I wasn't sure if I wanted to talk to him the entire bus ride or talk to someone else. He asked me again and I told him no again and he stuck out the pass along card I had given him and said "fine, you can take this back, I dont want to talk to you". Haha. I took the card and said "fine" and we stood there for a minute in silence (I wasn't going to give in!!). I started talking to him again and he slowly opened up. After a few minutes I asked him if he would like the pass along card back, and he said yes. I never did sit down :)

Catania is nothing like Rome but its fairly big! We live about a 20 minute walk away from the church (a real church building, wow!) and we spend most of our time waiting for or riding on buses. There is no metro or train like in Ostia/Rome and the buses here are waaaaaay less reliable than Rome. We honestly have no idea when they will arrive, they could come one right after the other or there could be over an hour wait between buses. I am very lost in the this city! I know the buses can be really frustrating for planning appointments, but I love sitting at the stops and on the buses and talking to people. If we get stuck far away with no buses, we can always call the elders to come pick us up!

The ward in Catania is big and full of drama, so different than Ostia! The missionaries here have been having a problem with the ward leaders- they have been telling several of our investigators that they aren't allowed to come to church anymore, for ridiculous reasons. What?! Also, the bishopric has come up with a "ward mission program" this month with a long list of restrictions for the missionaries. According to this written up program, we are not allowed to talk to people on the streets or buses because who knows who we might be talking to (um, welcome to a mission!). Before we teach someone, we must ask for their documents and they must have a job. If they don't have a job, or if they live in a certain part of the city, we aren't allowed to teach them (!!). They are some of the most ridiculous rules, but I am not too bothered because I feel fine to simply ignore most of them. But I know how important it is for the missionaries to have a good relationship with the ward leaders and it does create a big problem with they actually forbid investigators from coming to church. I think we will be able to work something out, I am not too worried! What an adventure!

Our apartment is huge, 4 rooms and a balcony with the best view of the ocean. We live right above a bakery and our apartment always smells like fresh bread, it is a huge temptation. It is strange being so far away from Rome, my home for over a year. I feel like my mission has made a circle, I have returned to the old Catania mission territory. I started in Taranto with a Catania missionary trainer and then spent a year in Rome and have finally returned back south. My trainer Sorella Stevenson served here and it is so fascinating to go back through the old investigator records and see these people I have heard about from her and Sorella Pickett. It just feels like being in Taranto again and it is surreal.

The food is wonderful. They eat gelato with brioche, a sweet bread. It is literally a gelato sandwich and it is heavenly.

I dont understand their dialect, Siciliano. It is a whole different language. Some of the old people only speak in dialect. Ahh!!

We have two baptisms coming up, a cute 11 year old girl and a woman name Lidia! Lidia prayed to know if this was the right path and had a dream about an angel presenting to her white plates and telling her that what was written on them was true. When she woke up, she felt like she had started a new life and all her past mistakes were wiped clean.

There is a US military base in Catania and they have a branch with a few American families that meets in the same building. So we attend church for 6 hours on Sunday, it is so long! It is also so strange to see the vast differences between Italians and Americans, wow, I will miss Italy so much. Cool to be missionaries for an American branch though!

I love this place and am excited to be here!!

Love you all!
Sorella Askew

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last transfer...

And the news is in! Where will Sorella Askew be serving her last transfer......??




The beautiful Sicilian city of Catania!!! A city in southern Sicily on the coast, at the base of the largest active volcano in Europe, Mt. Etna. Booyah!
I am just a little bit kind of sort of excited. YAY! SICILY!!! Wohooooo.
I leave tomorrow morning on a 10 hour train ride and arrive tomorrow night.
And who is my new companion? Well, it is actually a little tricky, I will have two companions! Sorella Buma who has been in Catania for 4 transfers and both Sorella LeCates and I are joining her. Sorella Buma will stick around with us for a few weeks, show us the city and the work, and then she will leave in the middle of the transfer and come up to Ladispoli. So, I will have two companions for the first two weeks and then just Sorella LeCates for the last few weeks. It will be so much fun! I already know Sorella LeCates, she started her mission in Rome and we did lots of Pdays together. She is from Alpine, UT and is a cute girl. Guess who is taking my spot with my darling Sorella Dall? Sorella Tutt!! She and I are following each other around, we have had pretty much all of the same companions in our mission and served in a lot of the same cities.
Oh how exciting transfer time is! Especially in Italy, where the mission is so big you can fly on an airplane from one city to the next! And I am finally going to Sicily! I have heard so much about this magical place from my other companions, I have heard about the amazing food (both quality and quantity), the beautiful country, the new language (they all speak Siciliano!! What??), and most of all the warm, generous, and quirky people. What an adventure it will be! Strange thing too, 98% of the population of Catania is Italian! What a change that will be from Rome and all the foreigners I have taught here. Ahh!

So, more than one year after arriving in Rome, 9 transfers later, I am leaving, headed back down south to finish my mission.

Oh what to say now? Rome will always have a very very special place in my heart. Its my home. I dont remember what it is like to be anywhere else, I am so accustumed to the people, the food, the metro system, the ruins, the churches, the permeating influence of the Vatican (I am sure that will still be in Catania, no worries!). I love it here. I love this city and this people.

And I especially loved Ostia. There is no better place than Ostia for contacting, talking to hundreds and hundreds of people each week from all around the world. Some of the most incredible experiences ever have I heard from the mouths of these members. They are a chosen people, they are firm and steadfast and when they talk of the gospel they are filled with the Spirit of God. I have learned more from these members and investigators than I have ever learned from anyone. They are a living example of how the restored gospel can make you into the extraordinary person that the Lord wants you to be.
Angela and Adriano, what treasures! They are both elect people; Angela with her absolute desire to follow the Lord no matter what the sacrifice and the great joy in her life that has come because of it. Adriano because of his brilliance and humility and kindness; so full of goodness and kindness!
What a privilege it was to know them and help them along their spiritual journey!

I am trying to think specifically of things I have learned in the last few transfers. Most of what I have learned I have already shared. I have learned to have the faith to get back up again every time I fall down. I learned of how extremely important fervent and specific prayers are. I have learned of having a vision and looking forward to the fruits of our labors. Sometimes we lose sight of the vision, of what its all about, and we have to remind ourselves. I have learned how infinite the Atonement is, how thoroughly it covers all of our weaknesses no matter what they are or how serious we perceive them to be, if we have faith and continue to repent and submit ourselves to His will. I learned to find much more joy in missionary work. Catholic priests, fig trees, rain, singing, lessons with Adriano, Miscia the next door neighbor cat, bruschetta, finding the one person who is searching in a crowd of people distracted by the world, baptisms, speaking Italian - all of these bring me joy! I learned discipline and overcoming the natural man. That takes a lot of work but its possible and its right. I have learned about listening to the Spirit and remembering and trusting in experiences from the past. I have started to figure out how to love God with all my heart, mind, mind, and strength and to work for Him and His glory. For some people like Angela, that comes naturally and easily. For some of us, it takes many years of discipline and good habits to come to know and love our Savior. I've come to an obvious but true conclusion that we reap the rewards according to how much work we put into it. Duh! If I expect great things, I must put in great effort. No laziness!!

I think I will finish here. I love you all, thanks for all your support. I know that this is the true restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that through it we can achieve all our dreams and become who we want to become. I know we must learn to trust Him enough to submit our will to Him.

Sorella Askew

Wednesday, September 14, 2011



So on Sunday, Sorella Dall and I were walking around Hotel Satellite (where we have church), waiting for church to start. We stepped out from one of the hallways into the lobby of the hotel and there was a very familiar face looking back up at me! I wasn't sure if I was seeing things right and I stopped and looked at Sorella Dall and then back at this familiar face, which was still staring at me. It was real! It was my Uncle Charlie!!! I guess he had a few extra hours in Rome for a business trip and decided to come find me at the Hotel.
Wow, I was shocked to see him there, it was quite the surprise. He stuck around for the first two hours of church and I loved being able to show him the members and investigators and especially introducing him to my two favorite people, Angela and Adriano! What a joy!!

Other than that, lots of random things this week. We crashed a Filipino party on Sunday, where our Filipino friend Linda kept trying to get us to sing karaoke and dance. I ate so much food that I literally had to sit down on the side of the street when we left and wait for the nausea to pass. Mamma mia!

Luca is still sort of progressing. He reads when we push him to read and is still waiting on his "conversion" experience, where God will give him a new heart and take him out of a pit of mediocrity. We have tried so much to help him understand and feel the Spirit, but he has no trust in the way that a person feels, saying that we all have wicked hearts and the only thing you can trust is the Bible. We have decided that the best thing to do will be to let him be for a little bit, see him less often but pray really hard for him.
I've reflected a lot about conversion as we have worked with Luca. I have always learned that our conversion is a process, but its never been such a personal, meaningful truth as it is to me now. How quickly I become frustrated with how slow the process seems! How easily discouraged I have been in the past when I see all the things that I lack and how much more progress I still need! But thanks to the restored gospel, I have something that Luca doesn't. I understand more about my responsibility to act, the role of faith, and the fact that we don't receive this "new heart" and are filled with righteous desire immediately. IT TAKES TIME! And hard work. And how grateful I am for that! To change my heart and desires and grow more love for God and others has taken tremendous effort on my part. And how much I have learned of patience and faith and maybe above all else, diligence. God doesn't change all our desires in an instance, leaving us with our bad habits that will quickly cause us to stumble and fall. Nope, rather he lets us work to develop these divine attributes along the way; so that as our desire to do righteous things grows, so also does our capacity. How much more prepared will I now be to be a wife and a mother and a friend and a ward member because of this! Of course it is so hard to see this eternal perspective in the moment when we are struggling and wondering why we cant have this converted heart all in one instance :)

I talked to a woman on the train this week and had a list of the "questions of the soul"; things like "what is the purpose of life?" and "where do I come from?" and what happens after we die. I asked her if she had ever wondered any of these things. She told me, of course sometimes she wonders. But there are two problems. One is that these questions without answers "disturb" the soul, the other is that there are too many distractions in the world and when you are distracted, you don't think about these things. That was a wise woman. I am so convinced that that is one of the great tools of Satan. Distraction. I look around at the people on the trains and the streets and I am overwhelmed with how distracted they are. Oh if only we convince them all to take a little more time to slow down and reflect on the things that really matter!! Something we all need to do in our own lives!

Love you all!!

Sorella Askew

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Singing successes


Not much new to report, we are still doing a lot of finding and we are finding new investigators but then quickly sorting through them as well (we hear a lot of "I'm too busy" or "I'll call you" or "I have absolutely no intention of ever joining your church" excuses, haha). That's okay, we are working through it and inviting lots of people to read the Book of Mormon and pray along the way!

One new thing we started doing this week was singing hymns to people when we are doing house. It was an idea that came to me during zone conference, a spiritual impression. I remember that President Kelly was talking about knocking on doors to find people, he wasn't even encouraging us to do it, he was just talking about it as a side note, but I felt this tingling sensation and this idea that I thought we should do some more house in trying to find people! Later on in the same conference, the idea came to me to sing to people at their doors and help them feel the Spirit. So we decided to try it!

On Friday night we had a lot of extra time so we chose a street in Ostia and off we went to do some casa. They would open the door, we would ask if we could sing a short song for them! Most people still say no, some people listen to our sing and smile and thank us. One of the first few doors, an Italian woman answered. She said, "no thanks, I am Catholic" and we countered, "that's okay, we just want to sing to you!" She hesitated and then invited us in to sing to her, her 20-something year old daughter, and the Spanish girlfriend of her son. The three sat on the couch and we stood and sang one verse of Sono un Figlio di Dio (I am a Child of God). When we finished, we looked up to see all three with tears running down their faces!
They invited us to sit down and asked us a lot of questions about who we were and what we were doing here. They explained to us how the woman's son (and the other girls' brother or boyfriend) was in prison right now and how they were going through a really rough time and how we were sent to them at just the right moment. We shared a little bit about how we are all children of our Heavenly Father and how he loves us and has a plan for us and our happiness. They invited us to come back and share more and we set up an appointment. It was a very touching moment and a testimony to me how God prompts us to do things so that we may be more able to more fully serve his children.

Other random moments:

Yesterday Rome public transport went on strike from 9 am to 5 pm. We live in a neighborhood, far from everything else and if we get stuck in our neighborhood with no way to take a bus or a metro out, we were left doing casa or street finding all day long! So we decided to go to Ostia in the morning before the strike started and spend the whole day there. After eating lunch, we walked to the library to study Italian for an hour and found that it was closed for the strike as well! With no better options, we camped out in front of the library on the steps and studied the language. It turned out to be a great finding activity! Every one who walked up, we would inform them that the library was closed and then when they stood there, not knowing quite what to do next, we would strike up a conversation. Two phone numbers taken from that, yes!

We are helping Adriano prepare to get the priesthood. He is taking his time because he ran across a few verses in the Doctrine and Covenants that have him worried. One of them is D&C 84:42
42 And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.
Adriano read this to us and he said "I don't want God to warn his angel army about me if I don't fulfill my priesthood duties!" Haha, he is a little nervous now, but we are working through it :)

There is a place called Circo Massimo in the center of Rome by the Colosseum. It is an ancient chariot race track and now it is just a huge empty field you can walk around in. Luca is working in a different city outside of Rome now so if we want to meet with him after work, he takes the train into Termini, the central station in the middle of Rome and we have to get creative about where to meet up with him. Last week, we decided to meet in Circo Massimo. So the three of us plopped down in the middle of this ancient chariot race track and read from the Book of Mormon. I love Rome.

Spiritual thought for the week:
I have been thinking about the grace of Jesus Christ and how we are "saved". We have so many commandments we need to keep. Sure, it might be relatively easy for us to never drink coffee or wine, or to go to church every Sunday. But to honestly love God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength? To direct our thoughts to the Savior and pray always? To be fully converted until Christ, being born again as a new creature? We know that these too are requirements for the celestial kingdom. But it all just seems so impossible sometimes!!! I am not always filled with love, not all my thoughts are heavenly, I am not always filled with great desire to serve God and glorify Him. That is a lot to be continually working on. But that's just the point! Yes, we know that these things are required, but as long as we are working on it Christ's grace makes up the rest! Even if we simply have the desire to change our desires, that is enough if it is sincere, and we can be made perfect in Christ. We can't look at all our weaknesses (which God gave us coming into this life) and think to ourselves, "I'm not filled with love like the scriptures command me. I fail. I am not a true disciple." Instead, we see where we are at and we have the faith and hope that one day, thanks to Christ's perfect and infinite Atonement, we can have that perfect love, and He will help us get there. Discouragement is a tool of Satan to keep us faithless and much below our true potential. But we choose to believe in and follow Christ when He tells us that it is all possible thanks to Him.