Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Happens in Palermo Stays in Palermo

Poultry Sum to King's Ransom
Palermo Butcher Shop and Deli
We planned to have our Thanksgiving party on Tuesday during English Course.  We invited our Course students to the party, invited them to bring food, and then on Sunday, the Bishopric announced the activity for members to come as well.  No one signed up to bring turkey, so we decided we would take care of it if we found one at a good price.  So, Sorella Wiltbank and Robinson went to our favorite local butcher on Monday evening to see what the pricing would be.  For two turkey halves, the price listed was 10 euros, but for us it would be 6 euros for one half, and 8 euros for the other.  He also said he would clean and debone - free of charge.  Later on that same evening, Sorella Bradford and Robinson went by the butchers to confirm cost, and yes, he repeated the same numbers.  We all agreed and said we'd pick it up the next morning.  So, the next morning, we go by the butcher, he shows us how he cleaned and deboned, saying, "Sei euro e otto euro, si?" (Six and eight euros, yes?).
     "Yes," we say.  He then said he'd bring the pieces to the Church in 20 minutes, since we were headed to a District Meeting, and he said it was too heavy for us to carry (all together it was 11 kili - about 22 pounds or so.  Not too heavy, but chivalry is chivalry).
     Then he puts the items on the scale and says, "Ok, that will be 80 euro."  WHAT?  THAT'S ABOUT 115 BUCKS!!! (I had been left out of the turkey-bartering up until this point, but as far as I'd heard - he never said anything about a per-pound price).  $115.00!!!  For NOT EVEN A FULL TURKEY!!!  Is the bird dipped in 14 carat gold or something?  For that price, it better come with a pair of shoes or a clutch purse.
     While I stood flabbergasted, my companion scrambled for what to say, "Uh, non abbiamo abbastanza soldi adesso.  Forse torniamo" (We don't have enough money right now.  Maybe we'll come back).
     "No, no, you can pay me when I drop this by your Church."  How helpful of him.
So, we walk out and wonder, how do we handle this one?  First, we see if it might be reimbursable, at least in part, since it is a Church activity (we knew it was a stretch), so we called the mission office.  Not a chance.  Then we asked the Anziani and they suggested we nix the whole turkey idea, but you can't have Thanksgiving without a turkey!  So we all agreed to split the bill amongst the 8 of us.  10 euros each (about $14.50).  Thank goodness for big Districts!

Thanksgiving Party:  Drippings with Success
The Golden Bird.  Does it look expensive to you?
So that was the bad new.  The good news is that we had an AMAZING turn out for the party - nearly all the English Course students (about 80), plus many of our members as well.  By some miracle, there was plenty of food for everyone - and the turkey was cooked to perfection (as it should be :|). Everyone was super happy about the party.  I made pumpkin pie, which was a smash hit (or should I say, squash hit? Ha!).  I also made gravy from the turkey drippings, which was also a hit (despite it being described to Italians as a sauce made "from the inner liquids of a turkey." Well put Hurlburt!). Members hung out and made friends with students, including our investigators.  We were all remarkably pleased.  We just know the hand of the Lord was in this party, because there is no way it went this well just from our planning it.  Despite the $115.00 turkey...and no clutch. :|

Giuseppe's Steps
Giuseppe has made HUGE progress this week.  He has been reading the Book of Mormon and really enjoying it. His mother passed away just 4 months ago, which amplifies his eagerness to learn more about the meaning of life and his place in it.  This week, we talked about the Book of Mormon and the importance of reading the scriptures and praying.
We talked about how to Pray:
     1.  Address Heavenly Father - speak to Him like a Father.
     2.  Thank Him for blessings - talk to him about your day.
     3.  Ask questions - ask for what you need.
     4.  Close, "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
He offered a beautiful prayer.  We also asked him if he would be baptized when he came to know if these things are true (a "soft" baptismal invite).  He said YES.  AWESOME.

Giuseppe's Fellowship
Wednesday, we gave him the baptismal goal date of 21 December, and he said he would pray about it. SWEET.  After inviting him to Church -  GUESS WHO CAME TO CHURCH SUNDAY: GIUSEPPE!  And he loved it!  It was testimony meeting and the testimonies were awesome.  It was evident that he was greatly touched by what was shared, but even more so by how he was welcomed.  The members reached out, spoke with, and befriended him.  We were soooo pleased.

Right now, every missionary companionship in our District has at least one person with a baptismal date. SCORE!  FORZA PALERMO!

Rosa Anna and Josie
Rosa Anna and Josie are our only 2 other investigators making progress right now.  They are both slightly older English Course students.  Rosa Anna is a painter - specializing in art restoration.  Josie is originally from Australia, but has lived in Palermo since she was 14.  They really hit it off and became great friends only after becoming investigators to the gospel.  Because of this, they prefer to be taught together.  We usually meet with them before English Course on Tuesday and Thursday.  We have taught them both a couple of lessons (based around the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation), and they are very interested. HOWEVER, this last week we felt prompted to ask them to be baptized.  They said they feel their baptism in the Catholic church is enough.  Ugh.

Once you KNOW,
What are you going to DO about it?
The Golden Question
I guess we will be re-teaching them about the Restoration and how the authority of the Priesthood was lost, and then restored through Joseph Smith.  We are going to show them how it all comes down to the Book of Mormon.  EVERYTHING.  If the Book of Mormon is true, so is Joseph Smith, and the Priesthood, and the Church, and the prophet today, and EVERYTHING.  All one needs to do is to read, ponder, and pray, and the answer will come.  Personally.

Then... Once the answer comes, what are you going to DO about it? That, right there, is the Golden Question.  This is what it all comes down to.  Once you KNOW, what are you going to DO about it?

That Explains the Crystal Chandeliers
We found out this week that the diseased husband of one of our (non-progressing) investigators, Silvana, used to be in the Mafia.  "Tenants who don't pay their rent should be shot or killed," she said, "My husband always knew the right way of dealing with these people.  He had friends and contacts everywhere, and he would never let anyone get away with cheating him!"  Our ward mission leader confirmed our suspicions. That probably explains the crystal chandeliers, velvet curtains, stained glass, Arabian carpets, oil paintings, and mahogany furniture in her apartment.  You probably think I'm joking.  I'm not.

Pie and Potatoes Make it More Thanksgiving-y
Our District with the Alders
Thanksgiving Day itself was an odd day indeed.  Sorella Wiltbank was really sick, so we had to stay inside and give her some time to rest and recoup.  I cleaned up, studied, did some area book, and then made snow flakes to decorate our neighbors' doors.  I must say, the snowflakes turned out pretty cool (no pun intended).  In the evening, we taught English Course, and then the Alders (American family) invited us over for cider.  We brought pie, ice cream and potatoes to make it more Thanksgiving-y.

Evening at the Opera

Sunday night the ward in Palermo 2 was putting on a free concert featuring opera pieces and arias from Verdi's Rigoletto and La Traviata, Puccini's La Boheme, Bizet's Carmen, and Mascagni's Cavelliera Rusticana etc, etc.  Professional singers and performers came to put it on.

They asked our District to not just attend, they wanted us to SING at the event.  Us.  Sing.  Among professional Opera Performers....Hahahahaha.  Well, we were game, so we went and participated.  We opened the concert singing "God of Our Fathers," and closed with Janice Kapp Perry's "I Am a Child of God."

During the closing song, we sang one verse in Italian, and another in English (Anziano DiCaro had fun with that).  Needless to say, we felt very humbled by this experience, but the Spirit was at least present during our closing song.

Wiltbank Leaves No Stone Unturned
Sorella Wiltbank is a Finding machine.  On our way home from the concert, she started talking to some gypsies about the Book of Mormon.  Fun Fact: Gypsies are also called Romani because they originated in Romania.  Unfortunately, she didn't know they were gypsies (because she's never encountered them before), and gypsies are known to ransack and rip-off chapels when they get an address for one.  Oops. Hopefully they decide to leave us alone.
     But I really, really admire Wiltbank's drive to talk to everyone about the gospel.  She is so good at it.  We usually just do a lot of street contacting - stopping people and inviting them to English Course or asking them straight-up if they want to take the lessons.  Not much usually comes of it - our best success comes from talking to students at English Course, especially after they hear our spiritual thought.  Giuseppe is our latest example of that - he was originally touched by our explanation of the Plan of Salvation, which we later came to find out was because of his mom's recent passing.

Would You Prefer Your Chocolate Dry or On the Rocks?
Amarena Mon Amour Bonbons
Earlier in the week, my companion was already not feeling so great, and we went to the grocery store to pick up some necessities.  In the check-out line, she spotted Cherry Chocolate Bonbons that reminded her of Christmas at home, so we decided to get some to help brighten her day.  Once outside, we opened the package and took one. She took a small bite, while I shoved the whole piece in my mouth.  Bad idea.  A bitter, burning taste filled my mouth.  Oh joy, I thought to myself.  We got Those kind of chocolates.  I didn't have the heart to tell her.
     "Ugh - gross.  It's burning my throat!" says my companion.
     Sorella Bradford (who has lived in Europe) said, "Oh no, you didn't try the Vodka chocolates!"
     "What?"  said my companion.
     "Ya, those chocolates have alcohol in them," Bradford said.
     "OH NO!" Wiltbank was aghast, "WE BROKE THE WORD OF WISDOM!"  Now, before my comp repented to the President or entered both of us in a 12-Step Program (Hello, my name is Sorella Nef. I'm a recovering Vodka Chocoholic), I reminded her that it was unintentional.  But I mentioned it to President anyways. Hahahaha.

What Happens in Palermo Stays in Palermo
President Waddoups is going to start wondering about us Palermitani missionaries.  Between the fact that we are holding his cashmere scarf hostage (he left it here at Zone Conference and we're taking pictures of us wearing it), and the 80 euro Turkey, fraternizing with the mafia, tipping-off gypsies to a hot lead, and guzzling Vodka chocolates, he's probably wondering what in the world is going on down here.

Naw, President loves us.  He wrote me this week that the Lord is going to bless our District these next couple of months, and he expects great things of us.  Great things.  What happens in Palermo may stay in Palermo, but I'm hoping that will be - not the shenanigans of goofy missionaries - but a swelling of the Spirit and the expansion in membership.

Well, I am out of time again.  We are celebrating a member's birthday today: John Arrias, turning 18, baptized a year ago.  I am convinced he will be an Apostle one day.  He does everything for the missionaries and is very wise and mature for his age.  Super awesome.

Forza Palermo!
Sorella Ashley Nef

No comments:

Post a Comment