Friday, January 2, 2015

Crawling to Conference. 10-3-14

Cara Famiglia,
Well it has been a LONG week. So I guess I should just start writing :)

Monday night we had a lesson with Susy and a member named Marianna. Susy was EXHAUSTED because of some health problems that her son is having so she couldn't concentrate well. We talked a little bit about the purpose of our life here on earth and then left her to rest.

Tuesday morning was rough. Not going to lie. We got dropped. Again. But this time it was buy Sorella Pepe. Yeah, the less active that we go to see every week. She had been preparing to go to the temple so she asked if we could teach her more about tithing. So last week we did. And it actually went well. Or so I thought. Well when we called to set up another appointment she just let us have it. She told me that no sister missionary should think to talk of such things (tithing) and that we were horrible people and that we had ruined her life. Yep. That was probably one of the harder moments of my mission. She was the person who was really progressing here in Bari. She was changing and now it's kind of all up in smoke. I don't know why we are facing so much rejection lately, but it is certainly forcing me to rely more on the Lord and for that I am grateful. However, one really wonderful thing did happen on Tuesday morning. We got a new investigator! Her name is Blessing and she is from Nigeria, but she is married to an Italian. And she is an industrial chemist. SO cool! She was so interested as we talked about the gospel, was touched by us giving her a Book of Mormon, and set up her own return appointment. I am so excited to get to know her better. In the afternoon we had an AMAZING lesson with Maria Grazia. And her mom was there. And her mom speaks french. And Sorella DeFranchi was super brave and invited her to let us share a message. And the mom accepted!!! YES! And then she told us that Maria Grazia didn't need help with English, but that we should stay and talk about the gospel anyways. So we taught Maria Grazia about the first vision. She was touched and she accepted the invite to watch conference and pray about Joseph Smith. She even wrote it down on a note to remind herself. Then in the prayer at the end she asked God to give her an answer. There is something so powerful about the sincerity of a twelve year old. And I can't wait to teach her family. We ended the night with English course and a final farewell to Luca, the missionary who just left.

Wednesday morning we  had DDM. Pretty uneventful. Of course we continued the district tradition and got panini after. After language study and some twelve weeks training we commenced the long walk to Japigia (a little side city) to see Francesca Leo. The lesson got a lot of nowhere. We tried to teach her using 2 Nephi 31, but she is just not there yet. We really need to work on helping her feel the Spirit. But it's HARD. That night we also made what were are call crepe cake. Lots of crepes with chocolate ganache between them. Yum. Having a French companion is nice.

Thursday morning we went to see Susy and the appointment actually went really well. Her kids were all at school so the house was peaceful and she was attentive. We taught the Plan of Salvation (finally!) and she had some really good questions. She committed to come to conference and to read 2 Nefi 31. Afterwards we brought some food to Antonella because her and her daughters are sick. In the afternoon we went to see Maria. We saw her a couple of weeks ago and I didn't think much of it because she is rather elderly and she didn't seem particularly interested. But this time it went really well. Her daughter and grandkids were over and they want us to come visit them! We were able to teach Maria about the Book of Mormon, the book that her brother is always reading. She was particularly touched and will be reading. Woohoo! We ended the night with English course.

Friday morning we did some planning. I say some because at noon we had to go pick up my permesso di soggiorno. And I got it! It only took five minutes. This second time was so much EASIER. No flights back. No extra appointments. It was a breeze. In the afternoon we went to see Valentina, a fourteen year old convert of about two years, and her family. Her mom is a less active and her dad is not a member. The lesson actually went really well. We just all clicked really well. And they agreed to read the scriptures as a family. Then we met the anziani to do gesso. But there were no people out. So we ended up doing street contacting. It went decently well.

Then came Saturday. We did casa (house to house finding) on Saturday morning because Sorella DeFranchi wanted to try it. I just haven't seen much success with it on my mission, but it was nice to mix it up. Then came GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!! I have become such a conference NERD.  I feel like I arrive at conference crawling because I am so tired, but that I leave running. On Saturday we watched the Womens's meeting and the Saturday morning session. All so good.

Sunday was more conference. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVEEEEE conference. Can you tell? We watched the priesthood session in the morning. I agree with Dad, Presidente Uchtdorg's talk was fantastic. Then we had pranzo altogether as missionaries. (There were 8 of us) And then we watched the Saturday afternoon session. It was definitely my favorite. SO good. I especially enjoyed Jorg Klebingat's talk. It broke my boxes, but was definitely what I needed to here. After a brief stretching break we watched the Sunday morning session. I am excited to get to the afternoon session some time in the future. I am always amazed by the inspiration that comes from conference. Answers left and right. 

I hope you all have a great week and that we can all keep the conference spirit alive.

The gospel is true, I promise!

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

1) Going crazy at conference

2) Me with some cute grafiti we found this week.

The camel has one hump. 10-13-14

Cara Famiglia,
Fear not, this week has been much better. Strange, but much better.

Monday we spent Pday with the sisters from Foggia and it was SOOOOOOO fun. I love Sorella Price and Sorella Webster. It's kind of a soul mate roll on the floor laughing sort of thing. We went to Poilignano a Mare with the intent to explore the caves on the beach now that it is winter and there is no one there. But the rain had other plains. However, it didn't stop us from going down to the beach and taking lots of pictures with our umbrellas. This photo shoot of course included my umbrella getting caught in the wind and me being blown over and falling into a puddle. Anyone surprised, no? After pday we had a lesson with Angelo and Marinella. They are members who need some sostegno right now. The lesson went really well and we talked about general conference. After we headed to the Bari Libertà church for interviews with President Waddoups. Mine went SO well. It's cool to see how much more the interviews mean to me now. It was just what I needed. We have a wonderful mission president.

Tuesday was zone conference!!! I LOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEE zone conference. It went really well. I almost got roped into participating in the musical number, but I think the whole zone is greatful that I averted that danger. The trainings were all really great. We talked a lot about teaching and did a lot of role plays to practice. For the last half of the day the GANS (YSA) and the youth joined us. It was really cool to have them there. And to teach with them. We had the coolest experience. Sorella DeFranchi and I were paired with Gabriela (a nonmember who is dating a member). We ended up teaching her about the love of God and it was AMAZING. There was just one of those moments where I looked her in the eyes and saw that something changed. At the end she asked me to write down the scriptures we had shared. She is amazing. After conference we ended the night with English course. After we talked to an 18 year old boy named Gianni. He wants to know more and took a restoration pamphlet. 

Wednesday morning we had a lesson with Susy and it went really well. She told us about how bummed she was to have missed general conference. She was waiting all ready to come when it started POURING rain and she was going to have to walk. So we showed her President Uchtdorf's talk from conference and she loved it. And she got it. And she bookmarked the website and is super excited to watch mormon messages. YES! Please keep her in your prayers. I really want her to be able to come to church. Then we had a lesson with Maria. And she invited us to stay for pranzo. AND she actually read the Book of Mormon. I definitely wasn't expecting that, but am so happy. She is adorable! And agreed to keep reading. Then we came home to do language study and the twelve week program. Then we had ward council. Which took FOREVER. But we got a ton done. I am super excited about some plans we have for the ward. IT's about to be amazing in the Poggio Francom, as the other missionaries call this ward. 

Thursday morning we had a cancelled lesson :( But then the sorelle from Foggia came to do an exchange. Once again I just LOVE them. I was with Sorella Webster and we had a blast and did some work. In the afternoon we went to see Maria Pia. She is a member who is ALWAYS sad. SO we go to keep her company and cheer her up. We shared a Liahona article about gratitude and she was really touched. It was a good experience for me to remember how important it is to be grateful. Than we had english course and it went insanely well! After we had so many people who wanted to talk to us about the gospel. I talked with Gianni and he actually read the opuscolo about the restoration and wants to meet to talk with us. YES! Sorella Webster ended up teaching the entire first lesson to three new students and they want to know more. Hallelujah! Then we came home and spent our personal time dressing up as mulan like geishas. Yep. Missionaries are weird.

Wednesday morning Sorella Websters and I went around taking English course posters to stores. I love doing it because it makes people so happy and we have so many great conversations on the spot. English course is really such a blessing for us. The we bid farewell to the Foggia sisters. In the evening we went to visit Valentina's family. It went super well. WE talked about the importance of prayer and Valentina bore a super strong testimony. I really hope we can work together to reactivate her mom. She is amazing. After the LONG walk home we started weekly planning. But we didn't get very far.

Saturday morning we had a blitz in Poggio Franco so we did a little bit of finding. But Sorella DeFranchi and I had to stop early to go to Triggiano to visit the Iacovelli family. The mom is relief society president, but the rest of the family is not active. We have been trying to visit them the WHOLE time that I have been in Bari and finally ci siamo riuscite! They are SO cute. We were really able to bond with the daughters and my lovely french companion taught them to make crepes. Yum! We had a really great lesson about scripture study and you could tell that the daughters were really touched. In the evening we prepared an activity that we are presenting to the ward tomorrow. We are going make a giant chain of missionary work. Every time a member has a missionary experience they will write it on a strip of paper and we will staple it into a paper chain. I hope it goes well!

Sunday in church was pretty good. We presented the chain idea and the primary kids were ESPECIALLY excited. A British family came to church and it turns out that they have been serving their mission in Leavenworth so we had a good talk about the lovely state of Washington, even if they were on the WRONG side of the mountains. I spent the rest of the meetings translating for them. The best part is that Sahondra and Violetta came. YES! Sorella DeFranchi's french is working miracles with them. For pranzo we went to the DeSantis family's house. It was great. But there was just one con. It was in a different city. SO we were stuck there until they were able to take us home :/ What you going to do? Then Sorella DeFranchi wasn't feeling well. So I let her rest while I planned the upcoming Halloween party. I never knew I would plan so many acitivities on my mission! We ended the night with gesso. It felt so good. I love talking to people. And I love when they are genuinely kind and interested.

And now it's pday! Yay.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

The gospel is true, I promise!

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

1) Geishas...
2) Can you tell she is my daughter?

3) Praying for pogg at zone conference

One cloaked man, lots of huts, and a baptism. 10-20-14

Cara Famiglia,
Another eventful week. Is that any surprise in the mission? I think not.

Well on Monday for Pday we went shopping altogether. It was fun and relaxing. And here I have to tell a brief story. About a week ago Sorella DeFranchi and I saw a man dressed in a full length cloak and a flat brimmed black hat. We think he was some sort of pastor (not a Catholic priest) because as he walked by he said "Pentitevi e impariate del vangelo" (repent and learn of the gospel). Well on Monday night on the way to our appointment we saw him again and my dear companion literally chased after him to try to get a picture. Just as she got close enough he turned the corner. Bummer. After Sorella DeFranchi and I had a private english lesson with a woman named Stefania. She is SUPER cute. Afterwards we gave a spiritual thought and she even agreed to say the closing prayer. She really is special. Hopefully this will help warm her up to the gospel.

Tuesday morning we did a scambio with the other sorelle. I took Sorella Chandler to the questura to do her permesso because I knew how to do it and Sorella DeFranchi went with Sorella Robinson to teach Susy. Our time at the questura was fairly simple and painless, but I am glad that I took her. The lesson with Susy went AMAZINGLY. She has a baptismal date!!!!!!! For November 7th. I think we will probably have to push it back, but it's a start. WOOHOO! It is so exciting to watch her change! At lunch we all got blessings from the anziani. Mine was amazing and just what I needed to hear. I am so grateful for the priesthood power in my life. After lunch and studies we had another lesson with Stefania. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and she seemed curious. We'll see! then we had English course. It went pretty well. Nothing exciting to report.

Wednesday morning we had DDM. It was typical. Nothing much to say. After we came home for lunch. After we went to a bread making relief society activity in the church AND Susy came!!! She was so excited about learning to make bread. It was ADORABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!! And she was so shy around the members, but they did such a great job at welcoming her. I was super impressed. I hope that this will help increase her desire to come to church. Then I went to ward council on a member split while Sorella DeFranchi went to practice singing for the baptism that was to come. Ward council went REALLY well. It was cool to see how ready they are to help us. The members here are actually preparing their friends to meet with us! INCREDIBLE!

Thursday morning we went out to Rutigliano with the Hansens to see Izzy. It was SUPER cool. Last time we challenged her to read the Book of Mormon everyday. She told us that she really wanted to, but that she didn't know if she had time. I told her about Mario (from Catania) and how he used to leave the Book fo Mormon open at his work and read everytime he passed by. She agreed to try it and she ended up reading the first four chapters of Mosiah! Woohoo! She had a lot of questions so we spent quite a bit of time answering them, Then we started to teach the gospel, but we were interrupted by a man that she knew who wanted to argue.... And then she had to go home... Oh well! After lunch we went to see Maria Grazia. She is doing well. It wasn't a super eventful lesson, but she is great as always. Then we ended the night with English course. After a bunch of students stayed to ask us about our religion. It was really cool!

Friday morning we attempted to start planning, but with very limited success because we ended up having a lesson with Blessing. It went super well. She said an amazing prayer and then we taught the Restoration. She said it was an amazing manifestation of God's love. I am so excited to keep teaching her! Then we went to have lunch with the Santoro family. It was super fun. I love them. They're one of those families that you can just joke around with, but that totally has an amasing grasp on the gospel. In the evening we went to the church to finish preparing for the baptism and then we had a GANS (YSA) geneology activity. It was a huge success. Quite a few nonmembers and less actives came. I was able to spend a lot of time with one less active, Angela. I think it was a big help for her.

Saturday we went to do a blitz in Bitonto and I got to do my first real member split. I was with Sorella Scarola. She was so awesome! She took me to meet a lot of her friends and we actually did talk with them about the gospel. I was super impressed. That night we had a baptism in Poggio!!! Piero got baptized. It was SO cool. So many nonmembers came! And his family came! The Spirit was so strong and he was so happy. Sorella DeFranchi and Anziano Kennedy sang a duet and it was amazing. And the talks were good. And the mormon messages were touching. And Piero's testimony was just beautiful. It was absolutely wonderful.

Sunday was a pretty good day in church. But Susy didn't come :( but it was good. After church we went to pranzo with the Ramunni family. They are AMAZING. She is primary president, he has some sort of muscular disorder, they have one insanely smart daught, and one autistic daughter. But despite it all they are so HAPPY. I was amazed by how much love there was. After them we headed to see Sahondra and Violetta in Torre a Mare. Sahondra's boyfriend show us how to make cheese and then we had a nice lesson on the Book of Mormon. They both agreed to commit to reading again.

Today we went to a city called Alberobello. It has a ton of little stone huts that were built 300-500 years ago. It was super cool. People still live in them! I wasn't expecting that. I thought it would just be a little toursit village. Invece no! It was definitely cool.

Well here's to another great week and to transfer calls!

The gospel is true, I promise!

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

1) Cheese with Sahondra and Violetta
2) Split with Sorella Scarola

3) Us with Izzy

Bidone. 10-27-14

Cara Famiglia,
In Italian there is a word, "bidone." It literally means trash can. But as missionaries we use it to refer to when appointments get cancelled. And I think it pretty much sums up a lot of the week.

Ok, the week was actually good. But we did get a lot of bidoni.

Well Monday night we did weekly planning. It went super well. It felt so good to plan everything out and it got us both super pumped for the week!

Tuesday morning we had a lesson with Maria. She is adorable. However, she hasn't been reading :( But she did agree to come to church. And then we went to try to contact a referral that the anziani of Bari Libertà gave us. And well the address turned out to be a mortuary. HAHAHAHA It was pretty hilarious. And the anziani were pretty horrified. We now have her correct address and will be seeking her out this week. After lunch we had an appointment with a member that we are trying to help sustain. We talked about Jorg Klebingat's talk from conference and it went really well. She was really open and sincere. I really like that family. Then we headed to English course. And we had a great spiritual thought on the Atonement. Our students were REALLY touched. I love seeing how much potential. Now we just have to work on harnessing it.

Wednesday morning we had DDM. It went really well. We had a nice addestramento about Christlike attributes. It's interesting to see how much I have changed from the beginning of the mission. I have such different things to work on now. After DDM we did transfer predictions and everyone guessed that I was leaving and training somewhere else. In the afternoon we went to see Lidia, Maria Teresa, and Giovanni. We haven't seen them since July so that was a miracle. The lesson went SO well. We taught the restoration and Lidia basically bore her testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. It was cool. And they made us focaccia and were so worried that we had to take the bus in the rain. It was super cute. The bus came late and so we had to BOOK it to church for correlation with the bishop. It all went pretty well. The work is going well in Poggio.

Thursday morning we were supposed to have a lesson with Susy, but she gave us a bidone. And then our back up plan couldn't see us. So we tried to go to the church to print out fliers for the upcoming Halloween party, but we don't have keys so we had to wait for the anziani and then they weren't able to let us in. Chaos. Then we finally went to see Sorella Pepe. I don't think she has totally forgiven me for the tithing lesson, but she let us come over and that is progress. Although she wouldn't really look me in the eyes. After lunch Sorella DeFranchi wasn't feeling very well so I let her sleep and did some area book. I actually talked to quite a few people who wanted to see us. It was cool. Then we had English course. And because it was cold and rainy almost no one came so we taught everyone together and it was REALLY fun. We were talking about the postal system and so we had all of the students write an Anziano a letter in english to cheer him up. It was HILARIOUS. 

Friday morning the Foggia sisters arrived to do a scambio. Gosh. I love them. So fun. In the morning we did a blitz in libertà. I was with Sorella Webster and we had a blast. Then after lunch we got another bidone. And once again our back up plan couldn't see us. But we randomly decided to see Susy. And she said yes!!! We brought her a batpismal calendar and she thought it was adorable and we had a great lesson on prayer and scripture study. She's been reading the Book of Mormon everyday. YES!!!!!! I was so happy. And we got to talk more with her husband and that was awesome! And she was so excited to come to church for the primary program on Sunday.

Saturday we did planning and got transfer calls. More on that next week. In the evening we had an appointment with the senior couple, the Hansens, and a less active GANS, Angela. It went well and they really bonded. But holy headache, So much translating for me. Because they don't speak the best Italian and she is really hard to understand. WE had a great lesson on the Restoration and she was super touched.

Holy yesterday was stressful. I found out at the beginning of church that Susy fought with her husband and that she wasn't going to be able to come to church. Here is hoping that it was just for this week. And then the Halloween plans kind of exploded because most of the auxillaries don't want to help out. So I have some serious planning to do this week. For pranzo we went with a really sweet older couple. It was wonderful and relaxing. Then we ended the night with a giant appointment with the Santoro family and their part member cousins. WE teach the less actives and the anziani teach the nonmembers so we were all there. There was a really great spirit. I love the people here!

Well we're having a pretty chill pday so nothing to report there.

Here's to a great week!

The gospel is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!

Sorella Katie Francom

Nose Blowing Harmony. 11-3-14

Cara Famiglia,
Sorry I am writing a day late. We had zone conference yesterday and thus pday today.

Well peeps I am officially in my second to last transfer. Penultimate. What? And I am officially staying in Bari with Sorella DeFranchi. Guys, this is seriously freaky. The end. It hits me more and more every day how close it is. And I never want it to come. I love this mission. I don't want to be anywhere else. I just have so much more to do and become!!! But hey, two and a half months is still a substantial chunk of time, right?

Ok, I keep getting asked about my dearest French companion. Well she is half American and thus speaks English perfectly, with an American accent. However, her Italian has a super heavy and adorable French accent.

It's been another odd week. To be honest I think that was one of the odder transfers of my mission. I am just learning to be okay with Plan Z.

On Monday night we did weekly planning. We really need to work on fitting it in during the week...

On Tuesday morning we had two cancelled appointments... So we ended up going to get flu shots and then going to contact two referalls. No luck. The in the afternoon we were supposed to have a lesson with the Verdillo family, but the mom had to work so we ended up just walking Valentina and her little brother to church. We had a nice thought as we walked about how God can sostenerci (sustain us?). I am always so amazed by Valentina. She is 15 and the only active member in her family, but she is SO strong. Then we went to English course. It was fun as usual. We got to talk about fruit and vegetables this time. After we stayed a little to help the young women make decorations for the Halloween party.

Wednesday morning we had the most AMAZING DDM. Anziano Roman is the only one leaving from our district and so he gave an addestramento. He talked about real intent and it was AWESOME. It was really  just what I need to hear. I love getting to be inspired by the missionaries around me. Then came the weird part of DDM. Anziano Romano threw his back out and well Sorella Robinson is a massage therapist. So he called Sorella Waddoups to get permission to receive a massage. And he got permission. And we all watched. Definitely one of the odder moments of my mission.Then we all went to get sandwiches. After lunch we had a lesson with Sorella Pepe. She loves me again! HALLELUJAH! We talked about faith and she really enjoyed Alma's analogy about seeds. 'Twas cute. Then we headed to Torre a Mare to see Sahondra and Violetta. We had a REALLY good lesson about eternal families. They were so touched. It was really tender. And it turns out that they were practically royalty in Madagascar. Cool, right?

Thursday morning we had a lesson with Susy. To be honest it didn't go that well. We tried to teach her about eternal families and the temple. But something was just off. Not sure why. I hope that those truths will touch her none the less. Then came a CRAZY miracle. So when I first got to Bari we were told about this young investigator who was almost baptized, Samanta. We tried and tried to contact her, but nothing. And then in a transition between phones we lost her number. And so she was lost. I never even met her. It's so cool to see how Heavenly Father places the right people in our path at the right time. Then on the bus home from Susy's house a random girl started talking with Sorella DeFranchi. And it was SAMANTA! Woohoo! We were able to exchange numbers and she wants to see us again. YES! After lunch we did some emergency halloween party planning and then had English course. And it POURED rain as we walked. And see as my boots are broken I was in normal slip on shoes and my feet got soaked. But hey, I am a Washingtonian and of course have webbed feet. English course went well. I really love our students.

Friday morning we started weekly planning. Well at least we started. Then we had to head to the church to meet up with the GANS to set up the Halloween Party. It was a stressful mess, but we ended up pulling off a pretty great party. And there were more nonmembers than members so that was really great. As missionaries we put on a little program. The missionaries from Bari Libertà were frozen characters and we of Poggio Franco were Disney villains and tried to destroy the show. I was Mother Gothel from Tangled. Twas quite fun. All in all the night was a success.

Saturday morning we cleaned up the church and the headed to lunch with the Verdillo family. November 1st is a holiday in Italy so the nonmember dad was so excited to have us over. They went all out on an ALL seafood mood. And guess what? I loved it. Especially the octopus. It's safe to say that I am a changed woman. After we had a really great lesson on scripture study. Even the dad was attentive and involved. Valentina shared and AMAZING testimony. I love seeing that family change. The Lord is really working on them. Then we came home and finished planning. Hey, at least we finished it during the right week.

Church was SOOOOOOOOOOOO good on Sunday. So good. Although none of our investigators came to church we had some really cool things happen. The first is that a man named Francesco wandered into the church. He was an english course student in Pescara (up by Rome) 15 years ago. On Sunday he was walking down the street, saw the church, recognized the name, and thus decided to come. He stayed for all three meeting and seemed to really enjoy it. And then we had a knockout fast and testimony meeting. So good. So many testimonies touched me. I was particularly touched by Anziano Kennedy's. He shared the lyrics of a Josh Groban song. Something about "don't give up, it's just the weight of the world" and how Christ is there to help lift that weight. It was really beautiful and what I needed. We are not alone in this life. So we should let Him help us. After lunch we had a lesson with Angelo and Marinella. We talked about charity and service and they both really liked it. They are so cute. The we had interviews with President Waddoups. I am continually amazed by what and inspired man he is. I am proud to be missionary in his mission.

Yesterday was zone conference. It was really good. And really tender... I don't know how to explain it. I love being a missionary. After we had a lesson with Maria Grazia. I love that girl! We were able to give her a personal progress program and she was so excited to get started.

And well today is pday.

Guys, I just love being a missionary. Sure it's hard. But it is so worth it. We have the coolest experiences and get to see the Atonement work firsthand in peoples' lives.

The gospel is true, I promise. 

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

1) Zone Conference
2) Constructing a haunted house
3) Watching a massage...

Straripare 11-10-14

Cara Famiglia,
Well I sadly do not have a lot of time to write today. We went to Matera and we missed the train.... SO I am currently in Matera with very little time to write. SORRY!

I'll try to go through some highlights of the week.

Tuesday after English course we were FINALLY able to do a church tour with Luigi. We have been trying to do one since the beginning of September e finalmente ci siamo riuscite (you're gonna have to google that one). 

On Wednesday the sisters from Crotone came to see us So I got to a scambio and go see Sorella Pepe. And she likes me again! She even gave me a hand knit sweater!! YAY!

Another highlight was our lesson with Susy. Unfortunately she does not have a bap date any longer. She just isn't coming to church. But we were able to reteach the restoration and this time it really seemed to hit home. She was able to recount the story of Joseph Smith and she agreed to pray specifically to know if he really had the first vision. I am hoping that this will be the testimony builder that she needs. Also, Bishop gave us the names of some members to take to a lesson with her and I think that his choices were really inspired. I really want to see her progress more. She is amazing! She has so much faith amongst so many atheists.

Hmm... what to say in so little time? We had stake conference this weekend. It was AMAZING! All about hastening the work. And I got to see my old companion ex-sorella Fuller. SO that was cool. And then we had pranzo with the Armenise family on Sunday. They had nonmembers and less actives so that was super cool. I really love the people here. 

I have to say this whole ending thing is weird. Everyday gets odder and odder and everyday I want to hold on to the mission tighter and tighter. I love being a missionary. I love serving the Lord. I love serving the Italians. Definitely the best thing I have done with my life.

I promise to write a better letter next week!

The gospel is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

P.S. An old man told me that I am very intelligent, but that I need to be careful not to straripare (overflow). What?!? 

Crepes and Taboo. 11-17-14

Cara Famiglia,
Well as stated in the email last week we had an awesome Pday in Matera. Yes, we went again. Staying in one city longer than else means doing the same pdays over and over again. But it's ok. Matera is gorgeous. Unfortunately my camera was broken so there will be no pictures :( This time was particularly fun because we went with some of the GANS (YSA) and two investigators. It was WAY fun. That night we had a planning meeting for an upcoming activity we are doing with the ward, an MTC for members. I have to say that I love activities, but I hate the time it takes to plan them. Life problems...

On Tuesday morning we had a DDM and it actually went pretty well. President Waddoups challenged us to all pray for each other instead of praying for ourselves so we had a DDM that helped boost up our selflessness. We all wrote nice notes to each other. Cheesy, right? But I do love the missionaries that I serve with. In the afternoon we had a lesson with Sorella Pepe. I am SOOO happy to be on her good side again. No we can actually work on helping her progress again. After her we headed to English course. Then we had a pizza night with the Santoro family, Piero (the Anziani's new convert), and Daniela (his girlfriend). It was AWESOME. Daniela and Piero are HILARIOUS. I really hope we can start to teach Daniela. She comes to all of the activities and has come to church a few times. The anziani are challenging Piero to ask her to take the lessons this week! Woohoo!

Wednesday was a day of meetings. Meetings and I have such a love hate relationship. However, ward council that night was pretty awesome and pretty hilarious in a way that only an Italian ward council could be. Something you should know about Italians is that talking loudly and aggressively is not yelling, just friendly banter and persuasion. I love it. So ward council was a lot of loud, but also a lot progress. We talked about some really meaningful things and our ward is becoming increasingly involved in missionary work. I love it.

Thursday morning was a morning of finding. YES! Ogni tanto I just really need a day out talking to people on the street. We were able to contact a few referrals and then we did some finding in the park. My companion is a boss and has fallen in love with using geneology to do finding. We ended up meeting this really cool man in the park who is evangelical, but super interesting in coming to do geneology with us. Random fact: the Puglia Italia stake is the 11th satke in the world for doing family history. Cool, right? In the afternoon we went to an appointment with Maria Grazia and when we rang the citofono (intercom doorbell thing) the babysitter answered and said she wasn't there. Hmm. Then we had English course to end the night.

Friday morning we had weekly planning! Woot. It felt so good to do it ALL at the right time and to just be prepared for the coming week. I can't remember the last time we were able to do that. Thus I am super excited to carry out our plans for this week! In the afternoon we went to Casamassima for a lesson with Lidia and Giovanni. It was AMAZING! We read 3 Nefi 11 with them and the loved it. Lidia's face was just glowing. And we were able to talk about the Atonement and how much the Savior loves us. It was beautiful. BEAUTIFUL. And we found out that Lidia has actually been keeping her commitments to read the Libro di Mormon. YES! Then we had a cancelled appointment so we ended up going to the GANS activity. There were a TON of nonmembers there and it was really cool to get to know them better and introduce/reinforce their relationships with members. Also, I just have to say that playing Taboo in Italian is VERY hard.

Saturday morning we had a district blitz here in Bari Poggio Franco. I was with Sorella Chandler for the morning and it was pretty much her first time doing finding so it was fun to get to show her how I like to do it. We talked to a TON of people. And we pretty much got shut down everytime. But it was still a pretty good morning. I never thought I would actually enjoy finding. Dang, I've changed. In the evening we went to the Santoro family's house to make crepes (I love having a French companion) with some investigators and one of the young women we are working with. The Santoros do so much for missionary work. Love them. They also have the cutest nephew, Domenico, who is literally in love with my companion (no worries, he's 4). The Armenise family was also there. Oh. my. gosh. I love them. Every once in a while you just meet families that you fit in with. They are definitely one of them for me. Sarcasm flying everywhere. 

Yesterday was a really amazing Sunday. Church went SUPER well. We were able to give out mission calls to all of the members to invite them to the MTC activity. It was really cool to see the excitement, especially from the primary kids. Then we went to Sunday School with the GANS and the lesson was AMAZING. The anziani's investigator, Mario, was there. He's atheist and has really been struggling to know if God exists. He is more active than any of the members. He just needs a testimony. And he said the closing prayer in sunday school. And he said that he finally understood what God wants for him and that he hopes to have the ability to do it. Amazing. Amazing. I really hope this means something has changed. Then came Sacrament meeting. AND Violetta came!!!! YES! I got to sit by her and I am just amazed by her. She is such a humble woman and has so much faith. I felt honored to be able to share a hymnbook and sing with her. I know it's cheesy, but things like that just get to me on the mission. And there was an awesome talk. The lady who gave it started by reading the title. In English something like "How to nourish our spirits as we nourish our bodies." She made a joke about how she is not skinny and thus obviously eats. But she pointed out that just because she eats it doesn't mean that she nourishes her body. To nourish herself she actually needs to take in the vitamins and proteins that will give her strength. She talked about how it is the same with our spirits. We can't just read the scriptures. We actually have to gather nutriment from them. It was really cool. For pranzo we went to Sorella Ceddia's house. Her inactive daughter was there and were able to have a rather long spiritual lesson/discussion with her. It went well. Then we had a lesson with Marinella Lagatolla and had the most amazing discussion of the Atonement that I think I have had on the mission. Then we ended the night with gesso. It went SUPER well. We talked to so many people. I even met a group of girls who are friends with a member. One of them even had a Book of Mormon. Time to do follow up with the member... I love being a missionary.

So here's to a great week! 

The gospel is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

1) Sorella Robinson and I dressed up as each other.

All Roads Lead to Rome. 11/24/14

Cara Famiglia,
Well it has officially been the CRAZIEST, most emotionally draining week of my mission. 

I'm in Rome. More on that later.

Last Monday we had a super chill pday. We went shopping and just hung out with the anziani. Gotta love those kids. I am lucky to serve with the people that I have served with. After Pday we had a family home evening with Sorella Mongelli and her mom. Their husbands are at the temple and they asked us to come share a thought with them. And well they live pretty far away. And we got pretty lost. It was exciting. But we did eventually make it. And we had the most amazing lesson. We talked about the "Hope of God's Light" by President Uchtdorf. The Spirit was so very strong. I felt prompted to share an experience that I had with that talk in Cagliari. And they were super touched. It was just a beautiful night. I love the people of Bari.

Then came Tuesday morning......................... We were sitting in a the church with the Hansens and the Anziani putting the finishing touches on our MTC activity. And then... A call from President. "Sorella Francom this is your transfer call. You are going to Rome 6 and Sorella DeFranchi is coming with you." WHAT?!?!?!?! I thought he was joking. We are only three weeks into the transfer after all. But nope. A sister had been waiting for her visa to go serve in Portugal and she finally got it. SO that left a sorella alone in Rome. And well Sorella DeFranchi and I were called to be her companions. So we are now in a tripanionship with Sorella Vasilachi. And well I'd be lying if I said I was ok with it. I felt like my world fell apart. It reminds me of when Matt got transferred after only one transfer. I think I understand now. It's amazing how your life can just totally change overnight. Well after the shocking news it took a little bit of time to put ourselves back together. But then we finished getting ready for the activity. Then we went to an impromptu goodbye lunch with Santoro family. And well I haven't really cried much the whole mission and with them the flood gates just opened. I love that family. We got to spend the rest of the evening with them because Sorella Santoro took us to a lesson with Violetta and Sahondra. The lesson went SUPER well. We taught the gospel and it was really tender. Then we said goodbye to them. We're leaving and Violetta is going to Madagascar. We all teared up a bit. But luckily I know that one day we will all see each other again. Be it in this life or the next. On the ride home Sorella Santoro gave us a motivational speech about dreaming. She told us to always dream. "Sognate, sempre sognate."

Well all of our plans for the rest of the week went out the window so the rest is kind of all over the place, and all over Italy.

On Wednesday morning we had DDM. Gosh, I have loved this district. I got to give a parting addestramento. It was nice. After we all went to get sandwiches for the last time. The sandwich men were quite sad and sang us songs to bid us farewell. Then in the evening we finally had our MTC activity. I am happy to say that it actually went pretty well. A decent amount of people came and it gave us a chance to say some goodbyes.

Thursday morning was CRAZY! We were supposed to have time to pack... But we didn't. We ended up visiting a member in the hospital and we got SUPER lost in the hospital complex. By the time we found him it was lunch time... But he was doing well and it was nice to salute him. Then we met up with Gianni and Gabriela for lunch. It was so sad. But I did get to eat my last piece of focaccia. And it was nice to spend time with them. In the afternoon we dropped by Maria's house to salute her. Her brother was there and he has lived in Paris for 45 years so Sorella DeFranchi was able to talk with him. It was so sad to say goodbye. And as we left Maria's brother told me the "s word" in French and said that it meant good luck. Sorella Defranchi said that it does not... Then went to say goodbye to Mariagrazia. We had a really great spiritual thought. I just love her. Then we had English course. So hard to say goodbye. They were so sad. And then we exchanged photos with the Anziani. And then we went to grab panzerotti with the GANS. Gosh, I hate goobyes.

Friday morning we packed and then went to say goodbye to Susy. I love her. It was really hard to leave her. Then at 12:30 we head to the station. And the whole district and several members came to see us off. Sorella Santoro even made us sack lunches. And then I said goodbye to everyone. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hardest goodbyes of the mission. I don't know why. I loved the people in Cagliari just as much. But man, this was hard. I am going to miss the english course students, investigators, members, and missionaries of Bari. And then the train left. And I was zooming through the Italian countryside. At 5 we got to Rome. And no one was there to pick us up. Luckily, they eventually showed up and we were whisked away to  English course. Corso was fun. We have a really great class with lots of potential. Also, our new companion, Sorella Vasilachi, is great. She is from Moldova. So we are a very international trio.

Saturday morning we planned. There is a fair amount of work to do here in Roma 6 and I am excited to meet everyone. In the afternoon we went to a baptism. It was for the missionaries of Rome 5. It was really cool. And I got to meet Sorella Margheriti. She served in both Caglari and Catania after me, but we have never really met. So it was really cool to talk to her and get updates on my cities. She is awesome. Then we went to a relief society activity and two english course students came. It went pretty well. And it was fun to meet people. 

Sunday was cool. There are two wards in the building so that was cool. Our ward is so multicultural that I don't know what language to speak to people. So many people from Peru and the Phillipines, and just a few Italians. Everyone is awesome. And happy. And the wards functions as well as a ward back home. It's strange. After church we had a lesson with a new convert, Kathlene. It went really well. Then we went home for lunch. Then we came back to the church for a baptism. So many baptisms up in Rome. It's AWESOME!

And today we are going to the pantheon. With Sorella Jackson, my MTC companion. We haven't seen each other since day 1. I am excited to see her and to go to the places I went to on my study abroad. 

That's all for now. Life is crazy. Never take tomorrow for granted.

The gospel is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

1) Sahondra and Violetta

2) Fun santa hats

Panda, Mucca, and Pteradactyl. 12/1/14

Cara Famiglia,
Well I have to say that I have done a complete 180 this week. From being really sad to leave Bari I am now absolutely loving Rome. How could you not? Rome is the eternal city after all. And there is so much missionary work. We have found so many new people AND we are SO busy.

Monday was a really great day. For pday we went to the Pantheon and I got to see SO many missionaries that I haven't seen since the beginning. I love being in Rome. It is so beautiful and there are so many cool things to see. And I get to go to places that I went to on my study abroad. I took everyone to one of my favorite gelaterie from two years ago and it was just a walk down memory lane. In the evening we had two lessons so we had to do a split with a member (I love how much we have to do). I stayed with Sorella Vasilachi and taught Gabriela. She is from Romania and is going through a really rough time. We taught her about the Atonement and she accepted the invite to continue meeting with us. And the she stayed for the FHE activity. The activity was really awesome. The GANS all get together with the senior couples every monday. There are a lot of youth here.

Tuesday morning we did another member split and this time I was with Alessandra, a 20 year old who is putting in her papers to go on a mission. I got to take her to do finding. IT was actually really fun. I have never done finding with a member and it was fun to see how much she relied on me, but also how brave and creative she was. She actually asked a lady on the metro, "Posso regalarti un libro." (Can I give you a book?) She said no, but I was just so impressed with Alessandra's courage. The Finding went pretty well. We met some really cool people and a couple who even wanted to see us again. The coolest experience was with a woman named Lumi. She is from Romania. At first she said that she would never change, but we just got talking and by the end we said a prayer together and got her number. It was awesome. We ended up getting home SUPER late for lunch, but it was worth it. In the evening we went to meet our investigator Graziella with the bishop. We had an awesome lesson about the gospel. She was touched and is praying about baptism, but doesn't feel ready yet. Then we took her to a special course that a member of the ward is doing.

Wednesday was another great day, despite the fact that three of our lessons cancelled. In the morning we went to see Louisa. She is Peru and has recently been reactivated. She is AWESOME and might even want to seve a mission. We had a really awesome lesson about doing missionary work. She is super disposta to help us out! Then our next lesson cancelled so we were actually able to eat lunch and do language study. After that we headed to a farther part of the ward and met the Lesano family, also less active. They are from the Phillipines and we spoke a very interesting mix of English and Italian. I was so moved by how humble and ready to listen they were. We talked about keeping the Sabbath day holy and they commited to come to church. YAY! Then we headed to church for what we thought were two lesson. They didn't show up... Then we taught English course. It went really well. Our class is so FUN. Then we had ward council and I was blown away by how functioning this ward is. They were so bravi and so on top of things. I also really like our ward mission leader, Fratello Rigby, he is American and works at the embassy here.

Thursday morning we had DDM. Not much to say there. But then we met up with the other district that meets in our church and had Thanksgiving lunch. It was impressively good. And it was really fun to be with everyone. Then we had a cancelled appointment. Then we had another lesson with Gabriela. We taught her the Restoration and it went really well. She has a lot of questions about other things, but she was touched at the end and stayed after to pray by herself. It was cool. Then we had an "addestramento" (training) with one of the ward missionaries, Sheyla. She is 20 and wants to go on a mission. We were able to give her her own Preach My Gospel and she was so touched.

Friday morning was planning. Woot. In the afternoon we had a training with Antonella, another ward missionary. Then we had alesson with Gabriela. WE taught the plan of salvation. It went well, but I think it was a little bit too rushed. After we taught corso. Once again, great. Then we had a lesson with a student named Rosadina. She is adorable and she totally opened up to us. She has a lot of questions about Joseph Smith, but she really wants to know. I know that if she asks she will know. SO I am excited to see how things go.

Saturday morning was spent travelling. We had a lunch appointment with a family who live far, FAR away. But it was so worth it. They are the famiglia Cruz and they are from Peru. I just LOVE them. It was one of those things where I just felt like I could be myself right off the bat. They are fun and sarcastic. And we had a fantastic lesson about the gospel. And the dad who is not a member actually participated and accepted the commitment to read. I am so excited to work with them. In the evening after our LONG return voyage we went to the church for a quick meeting with the anziani and our ward mission leader and then an ward activity. It was a photography contest based on the creation and the  gospel. It was really cool. I was very impressed by the photos. And a lot of nonmembers came! YAY!

Sunday was great. All of the church meetings were great. This ward is adorable. And Gabriela came!! And I think she liked it. And the Lesano family came. After we had the most amazing lesson with with a new convert named Kathlene. She is ADORABLE. We talked about missionary work. And she just opened up to us about her life and how the church is changing her relationship with her family. She has such a desire to be united with them and she so badly wants to share the gospel. It was really enlighting and touching. I love how much people teach me. And then we had a dinner with some of the senior sister missionaries. It was really cool. They are really great examples. 

Today is of course pday. We are going to the Vatican and St. Peter's. No big deal.

Gotta love Roma.

The gospel is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

1) With Kathlene

2) Pantheon

Wet Feet 12-8-14

Cara Famiglia,
It's been a good, but very rainy, week in Roma. SO I've had some wet feet. But luckily I am from Washington and we're used to that.

Well last pday we attempted to go to the Vatican Museums, but we got there too late. But we still went to La Basilica di San Pietro. St. Peter's. I think that church is just STUNNING. I love Michelangelo's pietà. It make me emotional every time. Once again it was just fan to be back in places that I went to two years ago. Pday is like a walk down memory lane. Love it. In the evening we had a lesson with Gabriela. We taught her the gospel and challenged her to be baptized on December 19th and she ACCEPTED!!! YAY! The spirit in the lesson was fortissimo and I just love getting to watch her progress from the very beginning. Then we had FHE with the GANS. It was really nice. Gabriela was there and I felt like I really got to the GANS a lot better. I am starting to feel a lot more in place here.

Tuesday morning we had DDM. Nothing much to say. After we got lunch as a district. Then I got to go on another member split. This time I was with a new convert (of one month) named Sorour. She is SO amazing. She has the most touching conversion story. It's something I'll have to tell you about when I get home because it's too personal and long to explain over email. We actually went to visit some members who are trying to learn English. It ended up being really fun. And we are working on sharing a message with all of the members and helping them invite their friends to church the 21st of December. A lot like we did in Bari back in September. I just loved being  with Sorour. She's amazing. And we had a ton of travel time so I got to hear her whole story.

Wednesday morning we went to see Louisa again. We taught her the restoration and it was just amazing! She was super touched. There was just a really tender spirit. I am so happy that she is active again! After the super cool story of the week began. So I don't know if you can tell, but Sorella Defranchi's last name is Italian. SO she has Italian family. And when we got transfered to Rome her family sent her addresses of these people. And one of them, Louisella, lives REALLY close to us. And she was a very good friend of Sorella Defranchi's grandmother. SO we went to track her down and surprise her on Wednesday. But she wasn't home. But we were able to call her and set up an appointment for Friday. More on that later. After lunch we went to see the Tuminello family. 'Twas interesting. But they agreed to invite a friend on the 21st. Then we had another lesson with Gabriela. This time we focused on scripture study and committed her to read the Book of Mormon. Then we had english course.

Thursday we did planning. Then we went to go see the Duran family. But they forgot about the appointment and weren't there. SO we went to see Graziella. We had a really great lesson on scripture study. It was really cool because when we walked in she was reading the gospel principles manual. I love that she actually cares and want to know more. Then we had a bus FIASCO as we tried to get all the way across town to correlation. But hey, it was worth it. Our ward mission leader, Fratello Rigby, is American and works at the embassy. He is SUPER helpful and very engaged in our work. And he brings us American treats, like Goldfish.

Friday morning we went to go see Louisella. It was AMAZING. She is a fantastically beautiful and kind woman. I think she's in her sixties. And she was SO happy to meet Sorella Defranchi. SO happy. It was a beautiful morning. We got to share the family proclamation with her. And she shared with us a sincere desire to learn more about our church. She said that when Sorella Defranchi's grandparents joined the church she saw a huge difference in their marriage. I am so EXCITED to get to know her better. And I am so, SO happy for Sorella Defranchi. God really puts us exactly where we need to be. In the afternoon we went to see Sorella Spinelli. She is super kind and I really enjoyed getting to know her. Then we did another split and Sorella Defranchi and I taught Michela, a student from English course. She's been reading the Book of Mormon on her own. But she has had such a hard time understanding it. We were able to explain the story a bit and she is excited to keep reading. Then came English course. It was fun as always. I really like our students here. Then I had a really amazing experience. We were just standing around talking to students after and I saw this lady in the hallway. I felt that I should go talk to her. So I did. She had travelled THREE hours to get to the church and just wanted to ask about English course, but I had the prompting that I should talk to her about the gospel. I didn't. And she walked away. But then about ten minutes later she peaked her head around the corner. And this time I talked to her. I ended up teaching the Restoration and she asked for a Book of Mormon. Her name is Anita. Unfortunately she lives in another ward, but at least I will be able to put her in contact with the missionaries there. And I am so grateful that Heavenly Father gave me a second chance.

Saturday morning we got transfer calls. One the sisters we live with is going down to Bari Poggiofranco and I am so excited for her. And well Sorella Defranchi and I will be staying together in Roma 6. And so is Sorella Vasilachi. But she will be opening a new companionship and training. So we will have six sisters in one apartment. AHHHH! But they are going to try to find a new one for four of us. Then we went to stop by a couple of people. And one of them was Marco. He is 29 and super cool. The kind of person that you would think wouldn't give us the time of day, but he did. And we taught him the Restoration. And he loved it. And in his prayer at the end he thanked God for our message that had open the window to new spiritual horizons. Way cool. In the evening we went to see Graziella again and the visited the Perticaroli family. We shared the message that we've been sharing with all of the members and it went really well. Then we helped them make music folders for the ward choir as we listened to Christmas music. Christmas is here!!

Church went really well on Sunday. The Waddoups came to our ward and it was really great to see them. Gabriella came too. I love how much she is putting into learning about the gospel. After church we had ward choir and then had a lesson with Kathlene. In the evening we were supposed to have a lesson with Gabriella. But she never showed up, and we waited forever. But it's ok.

Today we are going ice skating with the GANS for pday. Should be fun! 

Well I guess this is the start of my last transfer. And here's to making it the LONGEST and best one yet!

The gospel is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

1) Me with St. Pete's 

2) The three of us with pizza.

Reunions, Verdini, and One Death Testimony 12-16-14

Cara Famiglia,
Sorry that I am writing a day late!!! Yesterday was zone conference. More on that later....

Well last Monday we had a super fun pday and went ice skating with the GANS. Our new investigator Chiara came too! It was super fun to just hang out with everyone AND I didn't even fall once!! Yes! Monday night we had a lesson with Gabriella. We were able to clarify her desires about getting baptized and teach her the ten commandments. After we had FHE with all of the GANS. Chiara came to that too and it was a blast. I really like the young people here in Rome. They come from all over the world, but they're all such great friends!

Tuesday morning we had DDM. It was of the odder DDMs that I have been to. The greenies from Italy arrived and sat in with us, President Waddoups walked in, and the housing director for the mission gave us a little lecture, AND everyone who was being transfered had to say their goodbyes. But hey, it was nice. After lunch we went to go see Dora. She is a referral from her mom who is a member in another ward. She is 19, but she already has her own apartment, goes to college, and is very independent. That's not really normal in Italy. But she is SO cool. And she really wants to know more. We were able to focus in on the Libro di Mormon and she was super excited to read it and learn more. It's cool because she is half south american and studies anthropology so she was excited in that way, but also in a spiritual sense. After that we booked it the church for antoher lesson with Gabriella. Then we went to Graziella's house and accompanied her to the church for a special course that our ward is doing. Busy day.

Wednesday we got to do exchanges with the Italian verdine (greenies) as they waited for the American ones to arrive. I went to the Villa (the mission home) for the first time since my first day. It was WEIRD! But cool. So I was on a scambio with Sorella Rossi. She is from Genova. And speaks some of the fastest Italian that I have ever heard. And she was awesome. We had a good morning of finding and met some really cool people. One of whom ran by with an afro and said "I'm George Bush." 'Twas odd. I took her for lunch, did a little more finding and then headed back to the villa. That even we taught English course. It went SUPER well. One of our students volunteered to say the prayer and then came up to us and told us that she would be coming to church on Sunday. Exciting, right?

Thursday morning we did weekly planning. Woot! It was kind of odd because now that we are in 4 sisters we only have half of the work, but I am excited to build it back up. Here's to doing lots of finding! That even we did some finding on the metro. Then we had a lesson with Chiara. She is from China, but she was born and raised in Italy. She's almost 21 and probably one of the coolest people that I have met on my mission. We kind of just spent time getting to know her over a pizza and the talked about the Book of Mormon. She is amazing! I just feel the Spirit so strongly when she is around.

Well Friday morning there was sciopero.................................................... STRIKE. So the buses weren't running regularly and the metro was totally shut down. Yep. Think about that in a GINORMOUS city. But hey, I experience claustrophobia for the first time in my life. We were on a bus that was so packed that the only reason I could stay standing as we drove was all of the other bodies pushing me around. Yep. So we didn't ended up getting to where were supposed to so we did finding. But I did have a really cool experience. As we were walking home I felt that I should stop this random lady.  So I started talking about English course. And she started making odd comments that made it seem like she knew the missionaries. Like "you guys are used to walking." And well eventually I asked if she knews us. And well, she was a member. And she's been inactive for 13 years. But I think I convinced her to come to the Christmas party. In the afternoon we attempted to go to a relief society activity, but they weren't there. Then we had a lesson with Chiara. We brought Jomar, a recent convert and talked about the gospel. It went really well. I was especially touched by Jomar's story. We then challenged Chiara to be baptized on January 10th. She was so scared that she was trembling, but she accepted. We talked about how this is somethig we will work towards together, but that the choice will always be hers. I love that she takes it so seriously and that she really gets it. Then we ended the night with English course. This time we taught the class with the bambini. It was really fun. And we taught the song about the wheels on the bus.

Saturday morning we went to the Villa Borghese to meet with a contact that Sorella Defranchi met when she was doing finding with a verdina. He works renting bikes there. It was cool to get to walk through the park to see him because it was a gloriously sunny and warm day and it did me well to be in nature. But seeing him was rather sad. He was talmente triste that he couldn't even speak. I mean he literally said almost nothing. It was so SO sad. I don't know what happened to make him that way, but I hope that he will let us help. In the afternoon we tried to go see Luisella, but we got so lost that by the time we figured out where she was she had alreay left. So we went home and went through the area book. Because we are both new to the area and have started a new companionship we are working on calling all of the old investigators and there are actually quite a few that want to see us. It's cool.

Sunday morning was church as usual. It was good, but not unusual. Then we had choir practice. Then we had a lesson wth Kathlene. She is just adorable. We talked about families and invited her to bring her family to the activity. I think she is opening up to the idea. I am hoping that we can teach them! By the time we got home it was three so we shoved lunch down our throats and ran out the door. We actually went to see Luisella this time. And we were able to explain to her and a friend where the Book of Mormon comes from. She was really curious so we will see how this goes. Then we headed to church to watch the Christmas devotional, but no one who knew how to work the technology showed up.

Yesterday. Oh man. Well it was my last zone conference. Duh duh duh. It was sad, guys. However, one really cool thing is that a LOT of my friends have been transfered up to Rome so we were all able to see each other. For example, I saw Sorella Henson. We just ran to each other. I've missed that girl. And well I gave my departing testimony. It was weird because I still have so much time left. But I think it would have been weird anyways. Gosh. The mission has flown. But it was really neat to be able to share some of my experiences and to realize how much the Lord really has blessed me in this last year and a half. After I had an interview with president. It was just really nice to talk to him. He's a good man. Then I went to FHE with Sorella Vasilachi and a less active. 

Today we are going to the Modern Art Museum and then doing a little bit of Christmas shopping. Woot woot.

The gospel is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom

Roman Holiday. 12-23-14

Cara Famiglia,
Well it's been an interesting week. Christmas is the best and the worst on the mission. The worst because it is hard to see people and teach. The best because you're already feeling the Spirit so much and then you add Christmas on top and it is just WONDERFUL. Really it was a really beautiful week and a Christmas that I will always remember.

Last week for pday we had a picnic in the Villa Borghese and then went to ride bikes. It was SUPER fun. A lot of the GANS and our investigator Chiara came. And when I say we rented bikes I mean we rented those four man ones that are like little cars. It was AWESOME! (even if Sorella Defranchi's driving scares me a bit haha) It was just nice to be out in nature and be with friends. After pday we got a huge group of GANS and missionaries together and caroled in Piazza del Popolo. It went really well. We were able to talk to a lot of people! I talked to the most adorable lady from Northern Italy, Irene. She was so happy to see us! She thought that what we were doing was so beautiful and she was so excited to go home and watch "He is the Gift." At the end she was so happy that she even asked me if she could give me the two kisses (people don't normally do that with strangers). It was a really neat, happy, Christmasy experience. We were also able to give Chiara her Christmas present! A study journal for when she reads the scriptures. She LOVED it!

The next morning we had DDM. It was very Christmas oriented. And for whatever reason there was a particularly strong spirit. We were all able to get blessings and it was just a really uplifting experience. Then we went home for lunch and language study. After I went with Sorella Vickers to pick up a member to do some casa in casa with them. After Sorella Defranchi and I went to do some finding in the bus. I met a really cool girl named Giusy. She happily told me about all of the happenings in Rome for Christmas. Such as a series of nativities made out of trash. Apparently they are so beautiful that even the pope went to see them. Who knew? And in the end she was super curious about the church. Awesome.

On Wednesday morning (Christmas Eve) the senior couples hosted a Christmas breakfast. It was really nice and there was a cute little Christmas program with very interesting renditions of the Christmas classics. Afterwards it was my turn to stay with Sorella Reber (the one with the broken foot). We sat in the mission office and made snowflakes. It was fun and it was nice to talk with her. Despite all of this trial she has a very uplifting and positive spirit. Then came our Christmas eve night. We roamed around Rome. We saw the colosseo with a Christmas tree. We saw the pantheon. We saw a ton. We even ran into an investigator. Oh, and there was a Christmas string quartet all dressed in santa suits. It was REALLY fun and natalizio (adjective for Christmas). We ended the evening out with dinner at a cute little restaurant. Then we came home, made cinnamon roll dough, and read Luke 2 around the tree. 

CHRISTMAS! We got to sleep an extra hour (we are really spoiled here...). Then we woke up and opened presents. I loved the package from home (which Sorella Defranchi had secretly delivered to our house)! And then we headed upstairs. We are SUPER lucky. We have the senior sisters as neighbors and they invited our whole district over for breakfast. We all brought Christmas foods that are special in our family. Then we had a "secret" santa exchange. It wasn't so secret. I gave some really awesome dinosaur slippers and received a cackling Befana (the Italian Christmas witch). Then we played werewolf for a few hours. And the we went home and just relaxed. After we went to skype. And it was really wonderful. It's so nice to see my family. Then we played games in the church. 'Twas a good Christmas.

Friday. The day after Christmas is a holiday here in Italy, San Stefano. So we got to watch our two movies. Frozen and Emperor's New Groove. It was my first time for Frozen (obviously). I have to say that it is great, but Tangled is still better. Then we headed into the city again. We went to La Basilica di San Pietro. It was packed, but so beautiful all decorated for Christmas. Then we went to dinner with the Duran family. They are really wonderful. WE had a fun dinner and afterwards an amazing lesson. We talked about Christmas and it was so cool to hear everyone bear testimony.

Saturday morning we were supposed to see Marina, but when we got to the church she cancelled. Then we had a lesson with Antonella (a ward missionary). We are focusing on helping ehr learn to study and use Preach My Gospel. We had a great lesson on Chapter 5 about the Book of Mormon. Antonella has a very strong testimony and it was beautiful to hear ho wimportant the Book of Mormon is to her. Then we headed home for lunch. After lunch we headed to visit Kathlene, the new convert that we work with. We got to teach her at her house for the first time. She totally opened up to us. And right when we were about to start the lesson her mom walked in, then her sister. So we were able to teach all of them. We watched "He is the Gift" and then talked about Christ and how He is central to our purpose as missionaries. They ALL participated and the Spirit was SOOOOOOOOO strong. At the end their friend Rosa walked in. Turns out that she is an investigator from many years ago and she was so excited to see us. It was awesome! And they want us to come over again next week. YES! On the way home we met the sweetest girls, Giorgia and Seline. They are about 16 and the type that would usually totally ignore us. But we invited them to English course and just got talking. We talked all about the mission and what we do and why and they were super touched. They even sent us a text message saying how special it was! I am so excited to start working with them!

Sunday we had church. There we SOOOOOOO many people there and a TON of Americans. It was odd, but awesome. All of the talks were great. After we headed home for lunch and then did weekly planning. Exciting stuff!

I am super excited for this week. I am excited to get back to work and have the feste be over. Although we still have New Years... I just feel excitement in the air and am ready to just kill it these next few weeks.

The gospel is true, I promise.

Vi voglio bene!
Sorella Katie Francom