Friday, May 31, 2013

Feeling at Home in Capoterra

Does Anyone Speak English Around Here?
Thursday nights, I run the advanced English-speaking course where we just do conversation.  I love it!
Missionaries in Sardegna
I love teaching and I get to talk to people in English for an hour!  This last week we talked travel.  Since some of the students will be going out of town, this is what was naturally on their minds.  I think I've been effective because a few weeks back I substituted and the students ended up asking the usual teacher (one of the elders) if I could teach more, so he gave me Thursdays.  Already, I've become good friends with a student named Claudia, who is unfortunately moving away, but is planning on keeping in contact with me.

Gelato Makes Just About Anything Better
Saturday was my most interesting day this last week.  It started off a little rough - we were attempting to visit some ex-investigators, saw a man painting a hallway, and asked if we could lend a hand.  He then yelled at us for 15 minutes about how we were irresponsible for asking to help, because what if we got hurt, and then he would have to pay, and the state would sue etc, etc, etc.  He made my companion cry!  So we finally left and cheered ourselves with some gelato.
The dynamic trio: Sorella Cojan, Sorella Nef (me), and Sorella O'Connor
Mistaken Identity
After that, we continued doing casa and were let in by a girl named Roberta who didn't seem to understand that we were not Catholic missionaries.  It took several ways of telling her who we were and explaining the Restoration of the Gospel until she finally understood that we were LDS missionaries.  Seems that Sardegnians believe there are two religions - Catholicism and Jehovah's Witnesses, who are called TJs (Testimoni di Jehovah).  We keep getting mistaken for one or the other.  It's actually kind of funny.  So, we've got our work cut out for us in making a name for ourselves.

Don't Be a Buzz-Kill
The initial challenge is getting people to listen and not think you are some sort of salesman or one
fishing for donations or something.  I believe the best way to break down barriers is  service, but 99
times out of 100, people won't even answer the doorbell because through the peephole they see who
you are.  Or, as is more common in Cagliari, they reject you via citofono (the buzzer panel on apartment complexes where you must buzz someone for entrance into the gated community.  They only hear your voice and, usually, if you are not friend or family, they hang up.  Very hard to do casa this way, because no one wants to bother.  They don't see it as worth their time).  I am trying to figure out a way to approach this.  It's a challenge.  Most of our free time is spent in looking for less-actives this way, but we are not making much headway on that frontier either.

Speaking of service:  The other day, sweet Sorella Pistida asked us to help clean her house in preparation for a big family party/gathering to celebrate her granddaughter's Catholic baptism.  Sorella Pistida is a tiny older Italian woman who can't reach anything, so she kept asking for my help, calling me the "ladder" because of my height.  Four of her friends ended up stopping by, so we were able to teach a little while we served.

The Field is White in Capoterra
We met up with the elders (who had a car this week!) to head to a town called Capoterra about half an hour outside Cagliari.  Cute, cute, cute little town.  Picturesque - right by the mountains.  This area looks a LOT like the Saratoga/Los Gatos Hills area.  Some of the streets look like Santana Row.  I feel so much at home, I keep forgetting I'm not in California.  I am constantly starting conversations in English, not even thinking.  It looks so much like the Bay Area.
Town of Capoterra, suburb of Cagliari
We met a man on the street named Giuseppe.  My companion started to talk to him because we were waiting for the anziani (elders) and he was watching us from across the street in a pizzeria.  Turns out he is curious about religions and started asking a bunch of questions - the right kinds of questions.  It was brilliant.  "Do you worship saints?"  When we said no, and explained, he agreed with us and said, "Yeah, it doesn't make sense to pray to someone other than God.  What can they do for me?"  We had a great conversation and ended our visit by giving him a copy of the Book of Mormon and inviting him to Church.  He said he would come the first week in June.  We then had a prayer in the street.  When we started walking away, he came and asked more questions.  He is so curious.  Curiosity is good. Curiosity leads to questions.  Questions lead to answers - and we've got those answers!  I am excited to see what happens with Giuseppe.
Capoterra field

We then met a beautiful woman from Algeria who is living as a housekeeper in Capoterra.  She speaks French and Arabic very well, and Italian pretty well.  The elders had met her before and said they would bring us back (since my companion speaks French, plus we had copies of the Book of Mormon in French and Arabic in our apartment).  When we showed up, she wanted both copies and was so excited we came.  Her name was Souad.  Very cool lady.  She also said she wants to come to the English course - yes!

To finish our day of proselyting, we were doing some casa and met a sweet lady name Marisa.
She was probably in her 70s.  She was a devout Catholic, and said she didn't want to change, but as we visited, her testimony of God and Jesus came through very, very strong.  She talked about God's love for us and how that was the most important thing in the world.  I love faithful people!  I agreed with her.  After sharing our testimony of God and Jesus Christ, we left her with a pamphlet on the Restoration.  It just made me think about what great people there are in the world who are doing the best they can with the truth they have.  What's sad is that she thinks that that's all there is - but there is more!  Though she has the light of Christ with her, there is so much more light and joy she could have in her life - it isn't limited!  It's times like this where I can see that "the field is white and ready to harvest."

Our Saturday ended with kebab at Fratello Vicedomini's panetteria - always a favorite.  He makes bread, pizza, and kebab - and it is all amazing.
Fratelle Vicedomini Baking a Large Pizza
Sorellas Cojan, O'Connor, and Nef
Battle Plan: Portion Control
Sunday we ate lunch with the graduating seminary kids because we were told they wanted us to share our testimonies with them.  There was, of course, some very delicious food.  The problem with Italian meals: they trick you in the worst way.  As an American with little experience in Italy, I've been duped.  I see pasta and bread on the table (and LOTS of it), and I take generous portions.  I take some seconds because it is great pasta, and why not, there's plenty for everyone.  Then I am full and happy.  Then they bring out meat and potatoes.  Uh oh, I think, I can't eat any more.  But they are insistent and talk about how much work went into making it themselves and how its their specialty etc, etc.  So, being the nice person I am, I take a little, and then realize these potatoes are the best I've ever had in my whole life and that's why he said it was his specialty and I take a tiny bit more.  Now I am fuller, but doing okay (maybe a bit sleepy), promising myself this counts as lunch and dinner and that's that for the day.  Then they bring out fruit.  Fruit is healthy, why not?  And then they bring out CAKE and my life is OVER.  The end.

Italians have courses - and it's like this at every member's house.  Doesn't matter that they weren't expecting you.  Doesn't matter they have next to nothing in their fridge or cupboards.  They will miraculously make mounds of spaghetti with some olive oil, force generous portions of that into you, and THEN bring out chicken nuggets, and bread, and salad, and olives to eat (true story).  They can't put everything on the table at once so you can form a battle plan to control your portions.  No.  Italians do not believe in portions.  If you are not filled-out, you are a twig and must be fed until you are round.  So, I've learned: never trust what's on the table, pace yourself, have a battle plan, and it's okay, out of politeness, to occasionally throw up the white flag and surrender.

Buon Appetito!
Sorella Ashley Nef

No comments:

Post a Comment