Things are great, always doing great in Sicily. I just have to say again how much I love this place. Rome is my home and my mission, but Sicily is magical! Sometimes I stop and think about how great it is to be a missionary in Catania right now. We stop people on the street and they stop to talk, we smile and wave and people respond and are so openly friendly. We knock on doors and sometimes people really do let us sing to them and invite us to come back! We have much more success here in contacting people than we did in Rome; Sicilians have such a warm, accepting culture. Now, it is still a lot of work finding people who are sincerely interested and desire to act, because most of the people we talk to are not very interested, even if they do invite us back. But finding work is so much more fun here! It's an adventure! So yup, just like every week we are talking to people around us, giving away tons of passalong cards and pamphlets, knocking doors and singing hymns, helping people to feel the Spirit and desire to act on that feeling. Mamma mia, it is a great life!
Also, great news. Angelo is stinkin' awesome! Every time we meet with him, he grows on me more and more. He is for sure going to be baptized. He is incredibly brilliant, I think he already knows as much about our doctrine as we do. We were talking with him in the church last night before Institute (yeah, he started going to institute! wohoo!) and asking him about the different pictures hanging up in the church, quizzing him to see if he knew what the story was. He did, almost perfectly! There was a picture of the restoration of the priesthood (which he knew and described to us). Trying to trick him, I asked Angelo who the other person was besides Joseph Smith. He struggled a little with the pronunciation but managed to spit out "Oliver Cowdery". WHAT?? Where did he learn that? I can't remember if I already shared this, but Sorella Buma had a theory that Angelo was one of the three nephites, coming here to test our gospel knowledge and help us grow. But, he is actually tall and skinny and light skinned with a dark beard, so we are trying to decide if maybe he is John the Beloved instead.
He came to church on Sunday for the first time and the members were amazing with him, totally welcomed him and invited him to all sorts of other church activities. We finally discovered his age, he is 30, so he still can go to all the Young Adult activities in the ward. Wohoo. The members think he is great and love that he studies Sociology at the University. We were just a little bit worried about sending him to priesthood because sometimes in Sicily, fights break out between the members and they start yelling and making a scene during priesthood/relief society. BUT, we trusted in the Lord and sent him off with the anziani and everything turned out okay! We taught him the Word of Wisdom after church and he already knew about it, accepted it, and lived it (rare for Italy where EVERYONE smokes). They also made some kind of announcement in church about stake conference in a month and Angelo asked us if he needed to tell someone if we wanted to go. Yeah!
Just think, we found him on a bus just a few weeks ago, talked to him for just a minute and invited him to general conference. He called to tell us he couldn't make it and we set up an appointment and now he is practically a member! Miracles happen!
Random other stories from the week....
On Sunday night Sorella LeCates and I were at home planning for the next day. The Anziani called us a few times and we didn't answer because we were in the middle of planning. Finally when we finished, I picked up the phone and Anziano Hill says "drop everything you are doing and go outside to find a good view of Mt. Etna. It's erupting and lava is spewing out the top and it is a once in a lifetime experience". AH!" We ran to the top floor of our building and found a window that looks out over the sea instead of at Etna. Then we ran outside and for 30 minutes ran up the hill trying to catch a glimpse of Etna but to no avail! I swear we live in the only place in Catania where you can't see Etna! Discouraged we finally went back home. There was no hope. The anziani from another city in Sicily call us as well "have you seen Etna?? Go look, its erupting!" Garg, we couldn't see it! Finally, we decided to try the top story window one more time, bringing with us a chair from our apartment. We climbed out through the window and onto the roof and behold, there was Etna with lava running down the side of the mountain!!
Today we drove across Sicily with the anziani to Agrigento, where there are some beautiful 600 bc Greek temples. Nice!
We ate lunch this week with a member, Fratello Giardina. He gave us each a huge heaping bowl of spaghetti to start off. Now, in America, this bowl of spaghetti would have been more than enough for lunch. But, we are in Sicily and Sorella LeCates and I knew that more was coming. Sorella LeCates was prepared and brought napkins and plastic bags to hide under the table, haha. Next, Fratello Giardina gave us each a giant plate with 5 chicken breasts drenched in oil and covered in salad. 5 chicken breasts each!!! We really physically couldn't do it and resorted to stuffing pieces of meat in the bag under the table when they weren't looking. To finish it off, each of us got a heaping bunch of grapes. Yum!
Lia, a new convert we work with, makes us laugh. This week we were saying the closing prayer and the phone rang. Sorella LeCates paused for a moment to see what Lia would do. She answered the phone, talked for 10 minutes (!!), and we finished the prayer when she got off.
How much my mission has refined my desires. They are still so far from perfect but much much more righteous than when I started. How grateful I am!
I had before my mission, and it has only been strengthened, a testimony of God's perfect plan for us. Yes, we have weaknesses, yes we have problems, yes there are struggles and pain and suffering and unhappiness. But I know that it is always for our long term happiness. I know that if we turn to him and ask him to guide us and seek to do his will, our life will unfold and become so much more than we could do on our own. And much more importantly, we are creating something that will continue to progress through all of eternity. It's a perfect plan!
ONE WEEK LEFT!!! AHH!!!