Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Voice of the Prophet

Baptism of Aurora Puddu
First baptism of my mission!  Little Aurora Puddu - isn't she adorable!  Her parents are the ones with the wicked sense of humor.  Cute family who runs a Bed and Breakfast in Quartu - love them and they LOVE missionaries!  Sorella Caramia and Sorella Marquis taught Aurora at the parents' request.  I think it is kind of cool to have the missionaries teach 8 year old kids - makes them more serious about it.

The Stake Presidency Speaks in Cagliari
This was a week of miracles for sure, culminating in the visit from the new Rome West Stake
Piero Sonaglia, Alessandro Dini Ciacci, Giuseppe Viglietta
Presidency on Saturday and Sunday.  In their visit, the Stake Presidency talked about the difference between a District and a Stake.
        A District is under the Mission.
        A Stake is under the Area Authorities.
A District enjoys the blessings of being in a mission without really having a lot expected of the members.  In a Stake, however, the ante is upped as members are expected to play a large part in building the kingdom of God.  It's a blessing, a privilege, and huge responsibility.  They also talked about the importance of loving and serving people - less actives in particular, as they discussed missionary work and showed a video clip from the Hastening of the Work Broadcast.  The Family was another focus.  The need for families to stay together, work together, and strengthen one another.  It was a great visit.  You could feel the love they had for everyone here.  They have not yet called a Bishop for the ward.  Apparently, they have 90 days to set up the ward, so they are going to take a little time getting to know the members, conduct interviews, and assess the situation with the Spirit.

The Voice of the Prophet
Let me tell you a little about the President.  Allessandro Dini Ciacci always had a deep and abiding faith in God.  Growing up, he was an altar boy in the Catholic church and loved attending Catholic school, where he said he "learned great principles and met great people.  But when the Mormon missionaries came, I started wondering about a lot of things."  He accepted a copy of the Book of
Allessandro, Rebecca, Filippo, and Sara Dini Ciacci
photo: The Salt Lake Tribune
Mormon from the missionaries, saying he'd read it
"in order to refute it."  I think you can guess what happened.  He was baptized a few months later, and ended up serving a mission in Athens, Greece, where he met his future wife, Sara Squarcia (a 3rd generation Mormon, whose mother also served a mission!).  President Dini Ciacci and his wife have been married 6 years and have 2 gorgeous children.  He can't wait for the Rome Temple to be completed. "When the Temple comes," he said, "it will be our weekly date night."
     Fun Fact:  President Allessandro Dini Ciacci is the voice in Italy for President Thomas Monson.  He is his official translator, which means that whenever President Monson speaks, the people of Italy hear President Dini Ciacci.  So, you can imagine the surprise from the members when he came to speak and they heard his voice!  Their eyes lit up with delight and they grinned and smiled through the talk.  So, the President of the Rome West Stake is The Voice of the prophet.  Pretty cool.

Calling All Sisters: Operation Rescue
Since our goal has been to seek for less-actives, we've enlisted the help of the Relief Society by assigning each
sister a few less-active sisters to visit and befriend.  Everyone - with only a couple exceptions - has been on board to find these sisters and bring them back.  Already a couple of sisters have approached us, talking about the miracles they have seen: bumping in to them on the street by accident, managing to get a hold of them and have a good conversation.  We will continue to follow up and see what we can do to help reach out, encourage, and assist.

Service and the Boomerang Effect
One sister we visited to give the assignment was Sorella Marrocu.  Her husband is an ex-branch president who is completely inactive and has had no desire to return to Church.  Her daughter is semi-active.  Sorella Marrocu is completely active, and even though she is having a hard time knowing what to do for her family, she readily accepted the assignment to Find and Rescue others.  What faith!
Saturday, the Stake Presidency wanted to visit a family while they were here, so we suggested they pass by the Marrocu home.  The visit must have gone well, because the entire Marrocu family was present in Church on Sunday and mingled well with everyone.  That's the beauty of giving love and service - it returns to you 10x over.  I have a feeling this isn't the end of the story for Sorella Marrocu.

"Welcome Back" Miracle Sunday
Sunday itself was a day of miracles.  Besides the Marrocu family, there were two other less-actives (we'd been working with) who came to Church, and also Ylenia Perra, a former member, showed up and asked for Sorella Rost and I to join her for Pronzo after Church.

From Squashed Hope to Pie for Breakfast
This brings me to the tasty news.
We were coming home on the bus one day, and noticed a man on the side of the street selling some garlic and things from the back of his truck.  And to what did our wondering eyes appear, but a series of beautiful, very rustic looking pumpkins.  PUMPKINS!  Of course, you might be thinking, 'It's Autumn.  Obviously there are pumpkins.'

Italy doesn't do pumpkin.  You couldn't find Libby's here if your life depended on it.  My Fall taste buds kicked in about a month ago and I have been craving soups and pumpkin delectables and cinnamon EVERYTHING.  But to no avail.  Eurospin, Super Pan, even Auchan - no stores would help me.  I had basically given up all hope for Fall foods.  It was not to be.  Italy doesn't do pumpkin.

OR SO I THOUGHT.  Sorella Rost, being the chef-in-training, said she knew how to puree a whole pumpkin so we could make delicious things from it.  So, when we saw the pumpkins, we jumped off the bus and ran over. The vendor, Gianni, was very nice.  He said he would probably have pumpkins for the next 4 months.  We happily took our prize and headed home for pronzo, during which we peeled and boiled and mashed the pumpkin, mixed in a little cream, and then used it to make 2 pumpkin pies and some cookies.  DELISH.  One pie we ate that day.  The cookies lasted a day and a half.  We baked the other pie 2 days ago, and I had a piece yesterday and then today for breakfast.  YUM.  Happy camper over here.

Casa Marzu, or As We Say, Maggot Cheese
Casa Marzu, or Maggot Cheese
Ah, Casa Marzu.  It's the infamous Sardegnan rotten cheese.  A delicacy that also goes by the oh-so elegant name of Maggot Cheese.  How is this made, you ask?  Sheep's milk is allowed to decompose with the aid of cheese flies who deposit larvae (maggots) in the cheese.  They digest the cheese, breaking it down and making it very soft.  Blugh!  The cheese has been outlawed, though I have been told that most cheese purveyors probably have a wheel behind the counter.  Not something for the squeamish or faint of heart, but I wasn't about to chicken out when offered it at a member's house.  So, drumroll please...I ate some!  Yep. Tastes like gorgonzola, but stronger, slightly spicy and bitter.  The trick is to avoid the maggots. =[

You Have the Right to Remain Silent
Cagliari Carcere (Prison)
Another thing to strike off my bucket list - we tried proselyting at a prison.  Sorella Rost had gotten a referral back in Taranto for a woman at the Cagliari Carcere.
     "What does Carcere mean?" she asked me when she arrived.
     "It means Prison," I said.
     "Oh, do you think she works in the prison?" she asked.
     "I guess we will find out!"
So we sallied on over and knocked on the giant metal doors.  We were buzzed in and a man in uniform and holstered gun asked us what we wanted.  "Does this lady work here?" we asked, showing him the name.  He looked at the name, looked at us, shook his head and said, "No. No women work here."  Then he peered a little closer at our name tags and said, "This is a jail."  
     "Yes, thank you.  We are aware," I said.  GEE, I THINK THE TIP-OFF MAY HAVE BEEN THE METAL DOORS, BARBED WIRE, GUARDS WITH GUNS, BARS, CELLS, and GUARD TOWER!!!  "We'll just see ourselves out, thank you."

(Imagine it said with a deep, resonating, echo-y voice and you'll get the full effect).
This coming weekend, we have four days of power and inspiration we're calling WEEKEND OF POWER. 
     Saturday and Sunday:  General Conference
     Monday:  Interviews with the Mission President
     Tuesday:  Zone Conference
BOOM!  It's going to be great, and we are already WAY excited.

What Did You Say? Foibles in Italian
My companion makes the best mistakes with the Italian language!  Here are my faves this week:
     She wanted to say:     "That will be the test!"
     She ended up saying: "Quella sara la testa!"  "That will be the head!"

     She wanted to say:     "The thing I heard about Sardegna is that it is full of sheep."
     She ended up saying: "La cosa che ho sentito di Sardegna e che e piena di pecatori!"
     "The thing I heard about Sardegna is that it is full of sinners!" (Luckily this was said to a member)

     She wanted to say:     "These cutlets need to defrost."
     She ended up saying: "Questi cotoletti devono scoregiare."   "These cutlets need to fart."
Gotta love her!  It's just a good thing she's not the voice of the prophet.

Quella Sara la Testa! (That will be the head!),
Sorella Ashley Nef

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