Sunday, December 22, 2013

Catania, Sicily Week 10

Cara Famiglia,
I heard from Matthew. He wrote me a separate letter. I think he is doing quite well and he says that his letters are short because he doesn't like to write like I do. I am so proud of the Seahawks! Thanks for the constant updates! It's fun to have some normal news to think about. Tell Noah I said happy birthday!!! I can't believe he is 16! I haven't had the chance to send him anything, but I thought about him! You guys get to leave to the cabin so soon. I am SO jealous! You will have so much fun. Do some serious sledding for me. Also, Dad, I am anxiously awaiting those pictures.

And as always... It's question answering time!!

About the packages. I got all of the ones from Amazon, as long as there were only two. I also got the one from Grandma. THANK YOU! I wasn't sure what they were so I opened them.... Well now I know what I am getting for Christmas... OOPS! I have not gotten the letter package yet, but they are bringing down packages this week so hopefully I will get it. 

Ok, skype. The current plan is to do skype around 7 in the evening our time on Christmas. I think that would make it 10 in the morning for you guys. We permission to make phone calls to arrange skyping so I might call Sunday or Monday night to let you know more details. But hopefully all will be well for Christmas and I won't need to call.

WE HAVE SO MANY INVITES FOR CHRISTMAS! Appointments are never, ever, EVER lacking in Catania. Ok, that is an exaggeration, but for Christmas it is true. All of the Sunday through Tuesday (Christmas Eve) we have dinner appointments with American families. On Christmas we are planning to have breakfast together as a district. Then we will have pranzo with the Rochira family. Then we will top the day off with SKYPE! The day after is a big holiday in Italy too. I am not sure what are plans are, but I am guessing we will catch up on movie watching because we get to watch TWO movies for Christmas. Oh, we also get to sleep in an hour on Christmas! I cannot wait!

Ok, it has been a jammed packed week. And a crazy week, but that is not new. 

On Tuesday we had zone conference! I LOVE zone conference. It is always perfectly timed for when you need it the most. Also, thank you for the mail. I got SO much. Pretty sure it was more than I have gotten my whole mission. The conference was all about unity and loving each other. Basically, it was perfect for Christmas. President and Sorella Waddoups did an addestramento on teaching with simplicity. So we acted out the nativity for it. I was angel. Are we surprised? HAHAHA Yes, yes we are. I am just glad I wasn't Mary. It's a little awkward to have your Joseph be a fellow missionary. 

After zone conference I started my first scambio of THIS week. SO many scambi! It was with Sorella Hainey from Siracusa. We had a blast. That night we tried to drop by an investigator's house with no success. Then we taught English Course. I just love our students. They are so fun! The next morning Sorella Hainey and I went to see Mario's mother in law who is a less active member. She still has a really strong testimony, but doesn't like to come to church. However, she wants to start taking the missionary lessons again. So let's hope we can get her motivated to change. After we had a lesson with Monia, Mario's wife. We talked about the Atonement with her. sorella Hainey clicked so well with her. It was such a blessing. Then we had pranzo with Mario. We kind of had a DTR with them. We have decided to work on strengthening the family so that they will stay strong after the baptism. So we have decided to wait before making another date. It was really hard for me. But it is more important to help him progress.

I sent Sorella Hainey home on Wednesday afternoon. Then Sorella Fuller and I met the other missionaries at a rest home where we went caroling! It was so fun. The elderly people loved it. They were singing and crying. Caroling is not common in Italy so the nurses were all really curious about what we were doing. We were able to tell them about us and give them  Books of Mormon. A few of them want to see us again. Huzzah!

On Thursday after a little bit of ricerca all of the sisters had a pranzo appointment with Marika and Eva. We taught what we're calling a "how do you know" lesson. They are reading the Book of Mormon, but they don't seem to get the point of why they have us over. Sounds like time for a gospel lesson! We have to help them see that the gospel really requires a change. Not just church attendance. We gave them study notebooks and they seemed to really like them.

On Friday we did planning and had another scambio. But before the scambio I got another transfer call. Remember how we just had transfers like two weeks ago? Yeah... Well we knew I was getting a new companion because Sorella Fuller is going home, but we didn't know it would affect the whole mission. Pretty much everywhere in the mission is being affected. For example, Anziano Cremonesi is being transfered from here to Napoli. But the best part is who my new companion is.... I am getting an Italian! Sorella Fossa. I am excited to get to work with her and hopefully improve my Italian! Anyways... This scambio I was with Sorella Anderson. This is my thrid scambio with her and I just love her. Her energy was really the pick me up I needed. We went to see Jenny and her husband for FHE. We went with the Anziani and committed them to start a no smoking program. They want to and I know they can do it!

On Saturday morning we ended the scambio with a rather ineffective Christmas caroling mostra. Only two people asked to see who we were... Bummer! Oh well, it was fun. We'll just have to plan it better next time. That night we went to the Sigonella Christmas party. It was great! It really helped me to feel the Christmas Spirit. They all borught nonmember friends, spouses, and less actives. It was great to have really casual contact there. I hope the friendships we made there will pay off. AND they gave all of the missionaries stockings stuffed with American goodies. Can you say eight very happy missionaries?

Yesterday, being Sunday, was also fantastic. I know that pday is supposed to be the relaxing day of the week, but for me it is always Sunday. We had double church in Catania and Sigonella. Then a dinner appointment at Sigonella where I ate cheddar cheese for the first time on my mission.

I am excited for all of the change happening this week. You're never comfrotable on the mission and if you are everything changes soon thereafter. I am learning to love it.

The church is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorell Katie Francom

Catania, Sicily Week 9

Cara Famiglia,
You now have two missionaries! What?! I am so proud of Matthew and I loved seeing the pictures. I am sorry to hear that the Seahawks lost... Especially to the 49ers... Oh well! It sounds like Eli is a super busy kid these days. You'll have to send me pictures of him as Snoopy. I can't believe Noah is turning 16!! Whoa! He is not old enough to drive! Tell him to take care of Pedro for me. 

Ok question answering time.... CHRISTMAS! It's coming and we get to see each other! I am planning to skype. Ummmmm as for a time... I am not sure yet. I would assume probably late Christmas Eve night or early  Christmas morning. Any preferences? I will let you know the exact details next week. Va bene?

Mom asked about my new companion, Sorella Fuller. Yes, I still think she's great. She is incredibly experienced and knowledgeable. I kind of feel like the footman in Cinderella who carries around the glass slipper. I just bring her around and am like "BEHOLD!" But it's good, not only have become a highly capable GPS, but I am learning so much from her example. It's weird that we only have another week together. I find out who my next companion will be on Saturday! Whoa!

So I forgot my planner and this week is kind of foggy, but I shall do my best to reconstruct it!

On Tuesday it rained A LOT! My shoes were soaked... Oh the life of a missionary. That morning we had a lesson with Teresa. The woman who we challenged to be baptized. We brought a member and she was really, REALLY not happy about that. SO that did not start the lesson out on the right foot. Let's just say that she doesn't want to be baptized. I am kind of bummed, but I know that we did our best and the rest was up to her free agency. That night we saw a less active who lives literally right down the hill from the church, but doesn't come because she doesn't want to walk that far and there is an Evangelical church just a little bit closer. However, Sorella Fuller and her really hit it off so we will be back. We ended the night with English course. They LOVE Sorella Fuller. I am so glad. And we may or may not now be doing yoga poses at the end of corso...

Wednesday was one of those busy office type days. We had DDM in the morning. It was the first of the transfer so we got to make lots of goals and plans. There are two goals that I feel the need to tell you about. The first is that as a district we are going to do 20,000 push ups by Christmas. This means that yours truly is trying to do around 30 push ups a day. (For the sake of honesty I started with only 10) I am pretty sure that I am going to be super buff by our skype call. The second is the 21 day promise. I will attach a copy. It is in Italian so you will have to use google translate, but you should do it. Basically you write a list of names and pray for them for 21 days. The promise is that at the end of the 21 days someone will be ready for the missiomary lessons. I am doing it for myself and I thought that it would be cool for you guys to do it too! There are scriptures to read every day to help you stay focused. We are already seeing so many miracles with it and I promise that you will too! We finished the day by going to type up the 21 day promise and going to Correlation. We have a new ward mission leader, Fratello Bruno, and he is a beast. I really think he will help to propel us forward. 

On Thursday I did scambio #1 of the week. I was with Sorella Clyde. Our morning appointment cancelled so we did finding in centro. It was kind of nerve wracking to do finding as two rather unexperienced missionaries. We didn't have a whole lot os success, but we did get a whole lot more comfortable and that is more than half of the battle. We visited Jenny, a less active and the sister in law of Mario, with the Anziani in the afternoon. It went really well. Jenny invited us back to teach her husband AND she wants to quick smoking! Her son is really hyperactive and he may or may not have stabbed Anziano Hatch in the eye, but I'd say it was a successful visit. We ended the night with English course. 

Friday was a jammed packed day and it was GREAT! In the morning Sorella Fuller and I did planning in a cocoon of blankets because it is so COLD in our appartment. Italians don't really believe in central heating... Then we had pranzo with a member. WE challenged her to do the 21 day promise and the very next day she had a referral for the missionaries in California. Miracles happen, peeps! Then we finally had a lesson with Marica after her long vacation in Palermo. We brought a member and her mom, Eva, even stayed for the lesson. It went really well. Then we literally ran/spy walked down to piazza duomo to meet the anziani and go to a lesson with one of their investigators. We were supposed to make a friendship with the mom and daughter, but the only showed up for the very last part of the lesson. Oh well! At least we met them and got their number. We ended the night with Arancini at our favorite bar, Savia. (Don't worry bars do not have the same meaning in Italy).

Saturday was scambio #2. I was with Sorella Bair for what feels like the million time, but it was so wonderful. I am pretty sure her and I would burn down the city if we were companions. We have a little too much fun. The morning started off quite sad. We had a funeral in the church. It was really beautiful to hear the family's testimony of the plan of salvation. They were sad, but you could tell that they had so much hope for the future. I am so glad that the gospel gives us such hope. Then Sorella Bair, two anziani, and I headed out for a road trip to Ragusa. There is just something about being in the car, driving for a long time, and listening to music that just feels so normal and rejuvenating. We went to Ragusa for the church dedication there. We made it a little late because of the funeral, but we made it in time for pranzo. We spent the afternoon and evening giving tours and getting to know the members. One member introduced himself to me as "Nessuno" which means no one in Italian... That was fun. Overall I loved Ragusa. I think I'd like to open it for sisters... Who knows!

On Sunday we had church as always. Marica's mom, Eva, came and she LOVED it. A new convert also brought his girlfriend and we were able to talk to her. After church we went to pranzo with a member family and started the 21 day promise with them. They loved it too! I love seeing the members' excitement. Then we went to the hospital to visit the mom of the missionary who is out from our ward. She was happy to see us and some members showed up while we were there. It was cool to bring her the Spirit. Then we had a rather long and windy bus ride home.

The gospel is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Catania, Sicily Week 8

Cara Famiglia,
Holy cow! It's sounds like life is going a million miles back home! I am so glad that Matthew's farewell talk went well and that everyone was able to hear it. You'll have to let me know how things go for Thanksgiving. I assume that you guys are going to spend it with Holly's family. I cannot WAIT to hear about Mark's 40th birthday. I am sure it will be hilarious!
Ok, question answering time. Christmas ideas... I was thinking it would be really great to get some family recipes so if great grandma and grandpa wanted to send me that I'd be down. Or anything Christmasy really. I don't know. I feel like I have a million ideas for it and then as soon as I sit down to write I can't remember! But really I will just be happy to hear from home!
So about Thanksgiving! We will have the pleasure of going to the Godfrey family's house for dinner. They are members that work on base, but they attend the Catania ward. They're the same ones that sent you that photo of la conferenza generale. I am SO excited. This will be my second Thanksgiving in a row outside of America so I am happy that I will at least get a Thanksgiving dinner.
Dad asked about a spiritual lesson I have learned in Sicily. I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned is in Ether 12:27. It says that when we come unto God he will show us our weaknesses. It's funny that the closer I get to Him the more imperfect I feel. It's as if more and more of my weakness or being whittled away and underneath them are more. But it's been beautiful to see the progression. Each day I get a little bit better and each day that change is thanks to my Heavenly Father, who in the same verse promises to make those weaknesses strengths. We may be imperfect and weak, but our Heavenly Father happily works with us and uses us as His instruments until we are made strong. Life really is a beautiful progression!
Ok, so Mario.... Well this has been a rough week with him. After postponing his baptism for a more convenient day we have had to cancel it. It has been absolutely heartbreaking. I never knew before what it could be like to care so much for another person. Mario is just going through a lot in his life right now. A sick grandpa and a crazy work schedule has him WAY stressed out. So he just can't find space for this now. He still wants to be baptized, but it will probably be in a few weeks. It's SO hard. I know that the gospel will help him with his problems and I just want it to work out NOW. But patience is a virtue and I am just glad that these experiences have not broken his faith.
We saw Lucia again this week. She is making progress and read the Introduction! Woohoo! And she wants to share the gospel with her friends. We also saw Teresa, our other old woman. She started reading the Book of Mormon and is in 1 Nephi 2. She LOVES it. Now we just need to get here to understand that our religion is not an add on to the Catholic church. I think she is starting to get that because she came to church yesterday! It was the primary program and she thought it was just about the cutest thing ever. She also tried to convince vescovo that he should have them do it for money and give the proceeds to starving children in Africa. Allora... What ya gonna do?
On Friday Siracusa sorelle came up and did a scambio with us. I was with Sorella Clyde, our beloved greenie here in Catania. So yeah... The two greenies went traipsing around the city together. It was fun! We went to Sigonella and we had the coolest miracle. We went to visit a sister who just needs so me support and then we went to visit her visiting teaching companion. While we were at the companions house a woman came over to use the oven. She said "Oh! Sister missionaries! I grew up Mormon." It wasn't planned at all! But we got to meet a less active who is here, pregnant, and alone while waiting for her husband to arrive. Sounds like a golden reactivation opportunity to me! I am excited to follow up on that.
On Friday night we commenced the end of transfer traditions. Like always, we had pizza with the Mirabella family. It is SO fun. They have a wood oven in their garage and they just whip out pizza after pizza. Incredibile! Then that night we did kinder egg predictions. I got the same toy that I got last time, but this time it had elephants, the animal of Catania, on it. So of course we predicted that I would stay...

Then on Saturday morning we got transfer calls! I am staying!!! I am getting Sorella Fuller. She is literally the oldest sister in the mission so I will have the lovely chance to kill her next transfer. It's kind of humbling to be put with someone with so much experience, but I am looking forward to meeting her and learning from the best... Sorella Vincent is going to Rome 5. It's in the mountains north of Rome. She will be serving with..... SORELLA JACKSON, my MTC companion. My two favorite people in the mission will be together! I am really, REALLY going to miss Sorella Vincent. It will be weird walking the streets without her.
Life is good. Etna did erupt, but we are ok!
And now some business on my end. I made the cinnamon rolls! They were great. So I wanted to check to see if you are getting the postcards that I've been sending. Also I sent home a Christmas present. SO just watch out for it. And let me know if you have questions about how to use it.
The church is true, I promise.
Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom