Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Game of Find and Seek

I don't have too much to report this week.  We have had no real set appointments, so we have set about the task of doing lots of finding.  Sorella O was in Rome Wednesday and Thursday last week for leadership training, so the Sassari sorelle (Sorella Ruppe and Sorella Kippen) came down to join me in Cagliari.  Because their trainer just went home, Ruppe - who arrived in Italy when I did - is now the senior companion and she is now training Kippen.  They kept saying they didn't know how to find people to teach (a minor dilemma in missionary work), so I pulled out the 'ol training skills on how to do finding - not that I'm an expert, mind you, but I do have a little experience under my belt.  Don't know that I did a great job - we found some sweet ladies at the park who talked with us for a while, but I forgot to ask to say a prayer with them, so it didn't actually count as a lesson.

WARNING:  Suspiciously Happy Sorelle Delivering Good News House to House
Sorella O returned and on Friday she and I headed to Capoterra because we got another referral.  This makes 5 now.  Capoterra is a suburb of Cagliari, about 30 minutes away by car.  Cute
cute town that reminds me of home - I mentioned it before.  Anyway, this referral lives RIGHT on the beach front.  We walked around her house and were standing by a gate that leads directly to the beach - the water was probably only 15 feet away.  She wasn't at home, so we decided to do as Preach My Gospel directs and do some casa in her neighborhood, because sometimes referrals are to bring you to a place to find someone else.  We did so with first.  Beautiful community, but that day it was a little odd.  I think we made the residents a bit uncomfortable.  First, they'd peep out the window to see who was ringing the bell, they'd ask who let us in and if we actually knew someone who lived there, then they'd watch as we walked away to see if we were, in fact, leaving.  After that happened several times, Sorella O and I decided to leave so that no one would call the carabinieri (police) on us.  As exciting as being arrested would be, we don't think our new mission president would be very pleased to bail out a couple of sister missionaries on an island - especially the day after Sorella O returned from a leadership conference.

I Wonder as I Wander
"Ah, might as well walk to Capoterra," we said, to meet up with the anziani (elders) who had given us a ride.  Good idea!  Little did we know that Capoterra was about an hour away walking.  So we wandered in the middle of this wilderness between towns wondering why none of the streets we were passing were on our little map of Capoterra.  The anziani were in a lesson, so they couldn't answer their phone.  There was literally no one on the streets because we were walking on something we weren't even sure was a street - there wasn't a sidewalk - and we were surrounded by empty fields with rocks... and it was very hot.
Capoterra fields
Eventually, (about 30 minutes or so of walking) we reached a little bar (bars in Italy are not like bars in America.  They are more like cafes or small restaurants, but more common) where Sorella O and I stopped for water.  Ended up meeting a man named Giorgio in the parking lot, who gave us his information and said he would like to meet with the elders.  He even had a prayer with us!  We continued walking up the road and ran into a community where we knew a less active lived.  We tried her - no success - and then decided to do a little casa.  No success - lots of barking dogs - until we rang the doorbell of one last house.

Crazy Cat Lady? I Don't Think So
A dog started barking and a lady, about 30 years old, came out to feed her cats.  "What do you want?" she asked us in Italian.  I bore testimony about our message, and talked about how the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ is God reaching out to us so that we can have greater happiness and peace.  "We could all use a little more happiness," she said as she started putting cat food into about 6 different bowls by her gate.  Sorella O asked how many cats she has.  22 cats.  22 CATS AND A DOG!  Sorella O and I looked at each other like, "Yes. We got a crazy cat lady!"

Only she didn't seem crazy.  Since she appreciated the interest we were showing, we asked a few more questions to get to know her and learned that her name is Stefania.  Eventually we got back around to talking about the gospel, and she told us that she didn't have time to meet with people, but we could come back in winter.  She took a copy of the Book of Mormon and said she wanted to read it.  We concluded our visit by saying a prayer.  The visit and message touched her so much that by the end of the prayer, she was in tears and said goodbye with a hug and the baci on our cheeks (yes, Italians really do the kiss-per-cheek thing.  You go left cheek then right cheek), so we could tell she really liked us.  We are planning to go back at the end of August to check up on her.  Adorable.

Other than that, we have just been trying to find new and/or less-active people every day without success every day.  Our numbers were terrible last week.  But we are working hard, and that's what counts.

Random Observations
•  I am the tannest I have ever been in my life, and people still say I am the whitest thing they have ever seen.

•  I passed by some German tourists the other day and wondered why it was so weird to walk by them,  and then afterwards realized it was because they were taller than me (I am 5'10").  I am getting too used to being the tallest person on the island (except for Elder Walker).
Mmmm. Gelato!

•  Germans love Sardegna. It's their Hawaii.

•  I have tried just about every flavor of gelato.  Delicious.  When I tell Italians how wonderful gelato is, they shrug and say that it's just ice cream.  "No," I say, "you don't understand!"  Ricotta is one of my favorite flavors.  Cinnamon gelato is really good and reminds me of Christmas.

•  We listen to classical music every day.  I'm loving Italian Opera.

•  Italians love to wear Ray Bans.

•  Found out that Cagliari is the only place in the mission with palm trees and flamingos.

•  Flamingos fly past our apartment in the morning and at night.  It makes me laugh - their lankiness makes them look like pink flying snakes.

•  I often forget I am on a tropical island, and then the humidity gets to the point that I can't breathe anymore, and then I remember.

•  For my mission, I was told to bring current family photos and my multi-generation Italian pedigree chart with pictures.  Many Italians have said that my mom looks like a Latin/Italian actress named Veronica Castro.

•  I like stargazing at night.  From my balcony I can pick out the Big Dipper and Scorpio.  Beautiful.

•  The Rome Temple has Sard granite on the outside.  Sards are very proud of this, but Sards are proud of pretty much anything.
Sardegnan Granite Quarry
Sardegnan Granite

Find and Seek
The art of finding people to teach sometimes requires that you throw all rigid schedules out the window, have eyes, heart, and mind open, and follow where the Lord takes you, because rarely do you find what you initially set out to seek.  People aren't home, they aren't available, they aren't ready.  They've changed their mind, their address, their priorities.  A lot of times, what you find is just the opportunity to do more seeking.  It's a game of Find and Seek.  And that's okay, because real success isn't always found at the journey's end.  No.  Most often, the greater success is found in the journey; in the randomness of the day, the lovely surroundings, in the variety of people you meet, the casual interactions, the sweet connections, and unassuming ways to make another's day better.  That's the real treasure.

At the end of some days, we may not have located who was on our agenda, we may not even have large numbers, but what we have instead is a day filled with a variety of ways and circumstances we have shared a hopeful message and helped others to find a glimpse of Christ.  And that's a game we hope a lot more will join us in.

Vedremo Cosa Succedera Domani  (We'll see what tomorrow brings!)
Sorella Ashley Nef

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