Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From Beauty Salon to Pilgrims Mountain

The Fab Four: Sorella Mikesell, me, Bradford, and Robinson
Splitting Hairs looking for a Salon
Sorella Mikesell has been frustrated by her hair.  It is quite big and void of the beloved blonde highlights, so we've been on the hunt for a competent hair salon.  BUT Italians seem very intimidated by the excess curl.  "Would you be able to cut this?" we ask.
     "Uh...um...uh...It's just so...big!" they respond.
     "Ok, well thank you," and we walk to the next salon.  "Hey, do you think you could bleach this hair?"
     "No.  If we did, it would all be burned off.  She would have no hair left" they say.
     "Ok.  Have a good day."
What exactly Italians do for bleaching that they think it would burn off Mikesell's hair is beyond both of us. But we kept poking around to see if we could find a place.

Salone di Bellezza - Beauty Salon
Little did we know, the perfect salone di bellezza was literally just behind our house.  We peeked our heads in, "Hey, would you be able to cut this hair?"
     "Si, certo" (certainly!)
     "Good.  Would you also be able to dye it blonde?" (we had to specify how blonde since they seem to think that a nice chestnut is blonde here.  Whatever).
     "Yes, of course."
     "Well, cool.  Thanks.  We will come by a little later and set up an appointment."  Which we did.

Giusie Discussion
The day of the appointment, we went in the morning and as salon conversation got going, stylists Michele and Rosie asked questions about the gospel, and so I gave them a mini Lesson 1.  When Giusie (the assistant) asked more questions, I gave a mini Lesson 2 (not your normal salon gossip, huh).  Very nice people.  We finished the appointment and promised to return with copies of the Book of Mormon.

Turns out, Mikesell didn't like how stripy her hair turned out, but was too timid to ask the salon for a correction for fear of being a hassle, so Sorella Bradford dragged her back and explained.  No problem.  As they corrected the highlights, Bradford talked about our beliefs and then the Anziani (who had nothing to do at that point) showed up and started teaching another salon client who had asked some questions.  The client was interested and gave her information to the anziani for a follow-up visit.  A pretty productive day, all told - probably the most productive we have had in a long time.  All because of a hair appointment.
I'm wearing my Godfather shirt.  Don't mess with me!  Capeesh?
That's the Brakes
This week has been a little mlah as far as the work goes.  None of our investigators could meet with us, nor could our less actives.  The appointment we set up with Catarina fell through.  Her neighbors say she moved and neither we nor the members could get in touch with her.  Weird.

True Colors
Sunday we had a fireside for the members about how they can help out in missionary work.  It was great up until the end when we broke into groups and modeled for them the Restoration Lesson (Lesson 1). That's when the evening took a left turn.  A few members told us we were teaching it wrong, that we were bad missionaries, and that they didn't see the need for missionaries if members had pamphlets and could teach the information themselves.  Ok, fair enough.  Mikesell didn't like the way her highlights turned out and some members didn't like the way some missionaries highlighted the Restoration.  But then other members started going off on unrelated topics (like how they still feel Catholic, or how much they like the Pope, or how they feel about Jehovah's Witnesses).  Note taken: member-teaching needs to take place.  In the end, we discovered those members who will be fantastic helps during lessons.

On a More Positive Note
At English Course, the man who organizes the Opera Nights showed up.  His name is Tanino and he had some questions.  "Hey, so do you do other lessons besides English Course?"
     "Yes, of course.  We are missionaries and teach about our beliefs."
     "Great.  Because I have been reading the Book of Mormon and I have some questions about why these Nephites and Lamanites are fighting all the time."  He set up an appointment with us for Tuesday. Fantastico!

Monte Pellegrino - Pilgrims Mountain
View of Palermo with Mount Pellegrino by August Wilhelm Julius
Mount Pellegrino is Palermo's large mountain that juts into the Mediterranean.  Goethe described it as "the most beautiful promontory in the world."

While that may be debatable, it is beautiful and invites many a visitor to hike a trail up to the top and enjoy a spectacular view of Palermo bay and its countryside.  Our District decided to make the trip on our P-day, but since it was raining, we took the bus to the top.

Check out the view from the top:
View of Mondello from Mount Pellegrino
View of Palermo from Mount Pellegrino
Anziano Rigby, and DiCaro strikes a pose
Santuario di Santa Rosalia - Sanctuary of Saint Rosalia
Near Mount Pellegrino's summit is the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalia nestled right up against the mountainside.
The Baroque church is unique - not for the fact that it overlooks the Mediterranean - but for the reason that the inner edifice is a dark, wet cave.  Why would there be a church facade over a cave?

Santa Rosalia
Rosalia painted by Anthony Van Dyck
1625 while the artist was in Palermo
hoping not to catch the plague.
It's a great story surrounding a girl named Rosalia (born around 1130) who, at age 13, rebelled against an arranged marriage by cutting her hair and running away to live in a secluded cave for the remainder of her years (which would be to the age of 33).

Her name, however, wouldn't become legend until 500 years after her death when a plague ravaged Palermo in 1625 and threatened to wipe out the population.

As the story goes, a local soap maker, Vincenzo Bonelli (who had lost his wife to the plague), hiked up Mount Pellegrino where he was visited by the spirit of Rosalia.  Apparently, she led him to her bones in the cave and promised that if he brought her remains to Palermo for a Christian burial, the plague would end.

Well, he took her bones, organized a funeral procession through town, and wadduhyaknow - the plague stopped spreading. Rosalia was instantly instated as the new patron saint of Palermo and the four old patron saints (who sat on their halos and did nothing to stop the plague) were fired.  They still stand stoically confined to the four corners of the Quartto Canti Crossroads in Palermo, while Rosalia is honored in paintings and statues throughout the city.  Locals affectionately call her La Santuzza (little saint).

Follow Me Through our Tour of the Sanctuary
Sorella Robinson walks through the Sanctuary Foyer
Entrance to the Cave
Inside the Sanctuary Cave
Beyond the arched entrance is a dark and damp bat-like cave.  Water drips steadily from the ceiling and channeled by dozens of suspended metal gutters angled in a creative melee that looks like interpretive ceiling art.
Anziano Nickle on the left peering up at the grotto gutters

Rows of pews face an altar with a blue light back lit marble statue of Rosalia (right).

Encased in glass is what seems to be the pride of the sanctuary: Rosalia in all her marble gilded glory, reclining next to her own gold plated skull.
A very cute Priest gave us the tour.  He's in the black coat and beanie.
After the inside tour, we followed a path to the mountain's summit to take in the beautiful view.
Lots of trees and cactus and rocks.  Looks like Rohan from Lord of the Rings
Various gorgeous trees (planted in 1940s) on the Mountain
Mikesell and I with our Tour Guide Priest.  Loved him.
Palermo District: Rigby, DiCaro, Nickle, Garner, Mikesell, Bradford, me, (Robinson is taking the pic)
Great way to end the day, eating pane panelle
Nickle, Garner, Rigby, DiCaro, Bradford, me, Robinson, Mikesell
From beauty salon discussions to a hike up Pilgrims Mountain to hear the story of a girl who cut her own hair in defiance against loveless marital entrapment and lived out her life as a hermit only to become the patron saint of Palermo - it's been an enlightening week (Mikesell's hair is proof).

But through the ups and down and hair-raising events (sorry), our pilgrimage, as servants of the Lord, is a daily adventure in looking for ways to bless lives.

Avventurarsi in Avanti  (Venturing Forward),
Sorella Ashley Nef

A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Landon (16!), Uncle Chris, and Dad this week!!!!


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