Thursday, July 11, 2013

Benvenuto President and Sister Waddoups!

New Rome, Italy Mission President
Michael G. Waddoups and Anna Kay Waddoups
Our new Mission President and his wife arrived Thursday, July 4th in Cagliari.  Michael G. Waddoups is former President of the Utah State Senate.  I'm proud to say that he's an Idaho boy, just like my dad (Anna, his wife, is from Wyoming), and he learned to speak Italian from serving as a missionary in Italy.
After receiving an Associates degree in Accounting from Rick's College, Idaho, he attended BYU in
Provo, Utah where he earned his BS in Business Management.  When he and his wife were interviewed about their new calling, they stated that
it would be difficult leaving family, especially a granddaughter with Leukemia (pray for them, will you?), but they are ready and willing to serve the Lord - especially with the recent age-change and massive influx of missionaries entering the field.  "They may have decreased the age," said Sister Waddoups, "but the spirituality and intellect of these young people has increased significantly.  They are prepared."  And it's very apparent to me that the President and his wife are prepared.  When they arrived in Cagliari on Thursday, they attended one of our free concerts at the Church, then Friday we had Zone Conference.  It was really great!  President Waddoups is very humble (I love him!) and he has some terrific ideas.  He told us of his interview with President Eyring for his calling as mission president and how much of an incredible experience it was.
My District with President and Sister Waddoups
Hey, We Know That Face!
My favorite story was about them traveling through Italy about a year ago (if I remember right).  They
were here for some sort of public relations conference (with regard to his position in the Utah Senate) that was taking place in northern Italy.  After the conference, they decided to tour around a little with some friends.  When they were in Rome, their friend (who had some connections) scheduled an appointment with the Pope (former one), but the Pope ended up canceling all appointments that day, which really upset their friend.  Instead, they went to the Colosseum.  As they were looking around and enjoying the history, they saw a familiar face walking towards them.  "Hey, we know that face," said President Waddoups to his wife.  Turns out it was Elder Jeffrey Holland, who was vacationing with his wife for their anniversary.  So they missed meeting the Pope, and instead encountered an Apostle.  I think that's more than a fair trade off.  :)

If You Build it They Will Come
One of the more inspiring ideas from conference was about the Rome Temple.  President was telling us that the Lord does not just put temples in countries with only 25,000 members, half of whom do not even have recommends.
Rome Temple Rendering
Rome Temple construction site
He said we have about 18 months until the temple is dedicated - which means we have 6 months to get people at a point where they can be temple ready by the time of the dedication.  But he said that a lot of our work will not be just in baptisms.  Working with and preparing the less actives for temple worthiness will be vital.  Looks like I have my work really cut out for me.

Gnocchetti, Sardegnan Pasta Dish
The Sauce is Buonissimo!
The Lunch for Zone Conference was a potluck where every companionship brought something.  We were assigned to bring a main dish, so we made Sard pasta!  The pasta itself is called  gnocchetti - a traditional sard pasta (like long shells) with red sauce that has basil and onions and some awesome Italian sausage we got from the market.  It turned out soooo good.  Everyone loved it.  We felt really pleased with ourselves when Presidente Caravagna (the Branch President of Oristano) told us the sugo (sauce) was buonissimo!  SUCCESS!

Dessert has a Curfew?
American Apple Pie a la Nef and O'Connor
So, for the 4th of July, we made apple pies for the students in English Course (which took us practically all day to do it: a labor of love).  They were good, though I don't think Italians are accustomed to dessert at night, which makes no sense to me.  Several of them actually said they couldn't eat it at that time of day.  What?  It was barely 7pm!  You're kidding me, right?  We, at home can eat dessert ANY time.  Though, maybe they are a tad wiser than we.  I learned that out of all Europeans, Italians have the longest life-span.  And, out of all Italians, Sardegnans have the longest life-span.  Could the longevity of Sardegnan life-span have something to do with the curfew on desserts?  Please say it ain't so!  Since it was the 4th of July, we sang our National Anthem for the class and it surprised us when everyone joined in and sang with us.  Why Italians know the American National Anthem, I just don't know.  Another fun fact:  Most instructors of English in Italy are actually British or British trained.  So usually, if an Italian speaks English, they speak it with a British accent, which is way cool!

2 Important Things in Missionary Work: Repentance and Brownies
Monday was District Meeting, which is always a riot when the Oristano elders are around.  Last District Meeting, they told us about their brownie scheme, inspired by District President Angius.  President Angius says, "There are two important things in missionary work: repentance and brownies."  He was baptized because of some brownies missionaries made him with a pass along card baked inside.  He still has the card, 30 years later.  Well, turns out it works, because the Oristano elders have 9 new investigators!  They have just been making brownie batch after brownie batch, and putting them on their nice plates to give to people.  "Always leave the plate," they say, "a guaranteed return appointment!"  The remainder of our day was spent on scambio (exchanges) with the Sassari sisters here in Cagliari.  It was tough because we couldn't get a hold of anyone for appointments, and the afternoon was just straight finding with no success.  I think we need to make brownies.

Maria Rita and Giuseppina
We had a lesson with Maria Rita and Giuseppina again in the park (initial meeting in post "The Stuff of Legend").  We invited the Relief Society president to attend as well.  She bore her testimony a couple of times, once about her conversion, and then again about the influence of the Atonement in her life.  Maria Rita and Giuseppina really felt the Spirit - they even talked about the feelings of peace they felt.  We explained that what they were feeling was the presence of the Holy Ghost bearing testimony of truth.  We went on to teach the Plan of Salvation, which especially interested them because of a poignant experience they had when Giuseppina's mother passed away.  Just before her passing, her mother talked about seeing a light and lots of people, and then she called out "Mamma!" before finally closing her eyes.  They asked a lot of questions about whether we would meet them again, if they could see us, etc.  We explained everything, and they seemed comforted and pleased.  It's exciting to see how much their testimonies are growing.

Mostra in the Piazza
That evening we had our mostra in the Piazza Yenne again (where we set up a table with signs and fliers and pamphlets).  Beginnings were rough.  A crazy man came and yelled at us for a few minutes before he finally left, but this only set me on fire.  I really went at it, giving out several copies of the
Book of Mormon.  Sorella O and I had set a goal to contact 50 people; we doubled that!

It Feels Just Like Family
Sunday Maria Rita and Giuseppina came to Church!  We were worried when they didn't show up for Gospel Principles (the first meeting of the block), but it turns out they had parked the car waaaaay down the street, and ended up walking all the way back.  Somehow, they didn't realize there was parking at the Church.  Luckily they made it to sacrament meeting.  It was a very nice testimony meeting, and Maria Rita said afterwards, "Everyone feels just like family here." (Yes!).  After Church, the Relief Society sisters came up and introduced themselves (thank you, branch members!).  Maria Rita and Giuseppina made friends fast with the sisters, laughing it up and everything.  We didn't have to do anything!  Maria Rita and Giuseppina even said that they would come again next week.  Score!  They are leaving town, but will be back in time for a lesson again on Saturday.  What a relief that everything is going well.  Don't even have to do much (as it should be) - the Spirit is preparing them.

My hope is that we will be able to find and help prepare others, not just to meet the goals of our new mission President (which are GREAT goals), but to unite families and bless lives, so that everyone will be able to say, as Maria Rita, "Everyone feels just like family here!" (because we are).

Che Buonissimo,
Sorella Ashley Nef

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