Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Forza Palermo!

Look how beautiful she looks!
Baptism of Maria Rita
Guess What?  Maria Rita was Baptized November 3rd!  My heart is full.  I am so happy for the blessings that will come into her life.  What a great example she will be to her family and to the Cagliari Ward family, who already loves her so much.  Prior to the baptism, Maria Rita had sent me an email, letting me know of her decision to finally enter the waters.
I was so excited.  Wish I could have been there to celebrate her day with her.

Blessings and love to you, Maria Rita
and Giuseppina!
Giuseppina and Maria Rita with the Cagliari Missionaries (I'm there in spirit)

Syrup Goes...Where?
Anziano Di Caro
Last P-Day was a casual day: I made pumpkin pie (DELICIOUS), we met up with our District and watched 17 Miracles while eating the pie and Bruschetta, made by Anziano Di Caro.  It was so much fun.  That evening, we had a dinner appointment with the American Couple living in Palermo - the Alders.  They are the ones who moved into our palazzo (building).  Such fun!  It was great to have a meal with members IN ENGLISH.  Anziano Di Caro (from Milan, Italy), felt a little stress with the evening.  For meals, Italians are used to a hostess plating the food for you, so he didn't really know what to do when food was passed around the table American style.  For instance, we had to instruct him on how to eat pancakes and eggs (yes, we had breakfast for dinner!), "Put syrup on the pancakes, but not the eggs."

District Meeting:  Bingeing with Purpose?
Speaking of Anziano Di Caro, he is our brilliant Capo Distretto (District Leader), and for District Meeting he decided that as an act of unity we 8 missionaries were going to guzzle down 9 liters of ice water from a bucket with giant bendy straws.  The point being: the 6 (1.5 liter) bottles of water, each represented an aspect of our work (investigators, less-actives, Relief Society, Quorum etc.).  And we missionaries were going to down it all.  So we did - in under 5 minutes. The most painful and hilarious 5 minutes of my life.  Things that really shouldn't be funny become way too funny when you are a missionary (especially when grouped with a bunch of people you REALLY enjoy). About half-way through guzzle-down when Anziano Hurlburt (from South Carolina) pointed out that this was an absurd task (thank you Captain Obvious), we lost it.  After regaining control of our laughter, we continued drinking as much as we could as fast as we could, and Hurlburt jumped in again with, "You know, this would be a lot easier with the help of the members."  Again, shouldn't be that funny, but it was that funny.  Water was the only thing we were drinking - I swear!  We're simply a ridiculous group who loves each other.  For the next few hours we were shivering and making frequent trips to the bathroom.  But then came Pizza, so it was all good.

The Elders moved into their new apartment putting them only about 100 meters from the Church!  The downside: they have 5 flights of stairs with no elevator.  Yes!

"Casa Isn't Very Effective, Is It?"
We did splits with a couple of members in the ward (our companionship splits up and each of us goes with a member, doubling our activity).  The members wanted to visit meno-attivi (less-actives), but after calling every member on the less-active list, we still didn't have anyone who was willing to schedule.  So we asked the members what they wanted to do and they said, "Casa."  Joy!  So we hit the streets doing casa for an hour and a half or so.  Not much happened other than the heavens started to drop the whole Mediterranean Sea on us.  My coat is still drying a half-week later.  "Casa isn't very effective, is it?" said the members on the way back.  Ding!  We have a winner!

Large Family - Small World
Sorella Claire Bradford, one of the sisters here with me in Palermo, lived in Singapore for a time. When I told her my uncle lives in Singapore and, quite possibly, they could have known one another, she said, "Wait.  Paul Nef is your uncle?"  Turns out, he was her Bishop when her family first moved to the far east. Their family's, apparently, were friends.  Hey, uncle Paul, isn't this something?  The very accomplished Bradford family now lives in Germany.  I swear, wherever we go, there is always someone who knows someone from my dad's family: a Nef from Rupert Idaho.  What a great connection to make half-way around the world!
Palermo Sorelle: Me, Wiltbank, Robinson, and Bradford
Zone Conference:  No Comments from the Palermo Peanut Gallery
Friday's Zone Conference was my best Zone Conference ever.  What made it so great is our tight-knit District.  We were hosting conference here in our city, so half of Sicily's missionaries gathered in Palermo. Our District sat together, which became especially entertaining when we'd make comments and laugh at inside jokes (which are many), while everyone else wondered what was going on.

Don't Get Your Knickers in a Twist
For instance, Sorella Bradford was assigned to give a training session on how to use pamphlets, and she asked Anziano Di Caro to act as an investigator.
Unbeknown to the rest of the Zone, Di Caro has a British book of slang that he has been studying, but it has been teaching him some very interesting words that are never ever used by Americans.  Words like, Razzmatazz (which I only know as a flavor at Jamba Juice), and Hoity Toity.  We dared him to use these words during the role play thing, thinking he wouldn't take us up on it.  Except he DID! We all died laughing.  What a hoot!
Translate: "Please friend, give me some money for the phone"
A good time was had by all at Zone Conference: food was great (from Ganci's near our house - best sandwich I have ever had), the talks and training sessions were brilliant, and we sisters sang an interlude number, Anima Mia (Be Still My Soul). Last verse was a capella and sounded very pretty.

After Conference, we had a lesson with the Anziani and President, which went well.  Then everyone, Zone and President, topped the day off with gelato. I'd have pictures, but I've lost my camera cord :( .

Lost in Translation
I think the President has me slightly confused for another sister, because he said he was very impressed with how I taught, saying, "Your Italian has greatly improved from the last time I saw you.  I am very happy for you because I heard you had been struggling with the language."
     Perplexed, I told him "Thank you."
But I realized afterward that he must have me confused for someone else.  I mean, I am not perfect at Italian, and I am doing what I can to always improve, but I have never struggled with the language. Languages are one of those things that come fairly easy to me and studying French and Italian at BYU made me pretty fluent for my mission.  In fact, there are two things that inevitably come up when I speak with Italians.
     1.  They love pointing out how tall I am "Altissima!"
     2.  They comment on how good my Italian is (which makes me feel great).
Can't say I blame the President.  I mean, I've been stuck on islands since arriving in Italy, and he has 193 missionaries to keep track of, plus members and leaders, governments and policies, and so on and so forth.  It's a super tough job that carries an enormous amount of responsibility.  With a calling that demands every bit of ones wit and wisdom, who has time to keep tabs on a missionary's language skills?

Stake Conference in The City of Enna
photo: mauro61
Saturday and Sunday was Stake Conference. Sicily has only one stake.  To make Conference attendance convenient for all members, they hold it in the central-most point.  In Sicily, that means traveling to the very center of the island to the city of Enna, also known as Belvedere (panoramic viewpoint), or, Ombelico (navel) of Sicily.  Enna was recently opened for the first time to missionaries (aka - there are no members there and the missionaries are starting from Ground 0). Stake Conference talks were great.  Especially moving were the words and testimony of Stake President Nudo.  He has such a love for the members and for this land.  He is convinced that we can help Sicily grow to include 2 stakes.  President Waddoups backs him 100%.  In fact, the tone of the conference was a sort of Call to Arms, "the Time is Now" for members working shoulder-to-shoulder with missionaries to help enact this spiritual revolution that must take place.  Very motivating.  Let's go take Palermo!  CHARGE!
Here we are again: Robinson, Bradford, me, Wiltbank
photo: sorellawiltbank.blogspot.com
Angst of Transfer Calls
This week is transfer calls.  I'm anxious because I do not want any of my District to go.  I love these missionaries!  We work together so well, it would be a shame for things to change when we are finally gaining momentum in the work.

Palermo is Ready to Blossom
President sent me quick response to my email from last week saying, "I'm convinced that Palermo is ready to blossom.  You will be part of it."  I believe it!  The Lord has great things in store for Sicily's capital and I am so happy to be here and involved.

A District of Multipliers
After Zone Conference, the President's Assistants seemed genuinely surprised at the camaraderie of our District.  As my Brit slang-loving District Leader would say, they were gobsmacked by the Palermo bond and commented that we were the most united District in the most united Zone of the mission right now. Why, thank you Assistants.  I certainly feel that way.  And what a great feeling it is!
photo: sorellawiltbank.blogspot.com
I'll let you in on a secret.  The key to our unity isn't mere chance, a roll of the dice, or dumb luck. The secret to Palermo District's closeness is the same prescription that the Apostle Paul used for the church in Corinth:  Love.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind;
charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemingly, seeketh not her own,
is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. 
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity (which is love) never faileth.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Multipliers vs Diminishers
The secret to unity begins with a personal quest to act with loving forgiveness, selfless compassion, and noble strength.  This is a love that takes us beyond ourselves.  It's a recipe for not only living a Christ-like life, but these are some of the qualities of what my mom's friend, Liz Wiseman, calls "Multipliers" (from her best-selling book by the same title).  Multipliers are those who build and uplift, inspire talent, and multiply productivity from those around them.  I try to be a multiplier.  I'm in a District of Multipliers.

Counter to Multipliers lay the Diminishers - those who tear down, self-absorb, stifle, and neglect.  They are the ones who spend their days looking for the negative, seeing only the wrongs, focusing on the blemishes. They diminish people and productivity.  How exhausting!  Life is so much sweeter, so much more fruitful and fulfilling when we all learn to multiply what is good and worthwhile in the world, the work, and with each other.

I love my Palermo District.  We don't want to be known for what divides us.  Instead, we want to be known for what unites us - our common Father, His singular Plan, our One and Only Savior, and His Gospel that gives us a recipe to guide us back Home.  What of Palermo blossoming and Sicily growing into two stakes? With this group of multipliers, the work can't help but...well, multiply.

Sorella Ashley Nef

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