Monday, January 13, 2014

We are All in This Together

Apartments in Palermo
May I Take Your Order Please?
The Fast Food Song
Thursday's English Course was rockin!  The Anziani were gone for the evening because they needed to pick up the new elders at the airport.  So both of our Basic classes were combined to make a huge class with 30 students or so.  Class topic:  How to order at a restaurant.  The students had a blast.  And, we taught them The Fast Food Song - just for laughs. Everybody sing with me:
          Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut,
          Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut -
          Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut,
          Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut -
          McDonalds, McDonalds
          Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut
If you don't know it, look it up on YouTube. Guarantee that the tune will get stuck in your head.  Well, the students loved it - they just laughed and laughed.  There were several new students as well as............... MEMBERS!!!

Member-Help in English Course
Members in front of Church. Notice the English Course Sign!
photo from Paolo Hedfi
For the first time EVER we had members at English Course.  In all of our classes!  It was the best because during our spiritual thought (which was on prophets and revelation), we asked members to bear testimony and offer the closing prayer.  After class, we found that students were more comfortable approaching members and asking them questions that they probably felt too intimidated to ask us. It was super cool!

And the members loved it too.  The more they participated, the more they felt the Spirit, and it finally clicked - why it is important for them to get involved in the work.  By evening's end, the members shared their observations.  Here are a few things they said:
          "The students need to see that members are normal people too.  And that we're Italian."
          "It's good because they feel more comfortable talking to us sometimes."
          "It gives another support to what you say as missionaries."
This is what we have been trying to tell them for months, but it finally fell into perspective as they actually came and participated.  Way to go, members!

Member-Help in Discussions
Members also get the Blue Ribbon in helping with our lessons this week (with the entire District). They attended a number of discussions with our investigators, bearing testimony and just being present.  Result?  Church was filled with investigators on Sunday - at least a dozen.  We have so much more success when members join us in the work.

Fun Fact: Did you know that some Sicilians say the letter "S" the same way Sean Connery says them - with a "sh" sound?  Mostly older people and those who live in the little towns.  Super fun - especially when they teach.

Finding Success
There were a couple of days this week when we hit the streets and people would stop us and ask us questions.  That never happens in Italy - so when it does happen, it's a miracle.  So great!  A couple of call-backs came of it.  One of the young ladies is pretty cool, about my age or so, and runs an antique shop.

Finding Less-Actives
We've also started contacting Less-Actives.  Here are the varying results so far:
          1 wants to meet with us.
          1 didn't even remember she was baptized, she's been inactive for so long (baptized by her uncle
                as a girl and remembered as we talked.  Very nice, but not interested).
          1 wasn't at home.
          1 first said they were Atheist, then said they were Buddhist.
          1 address didn't even exist.
We've put a map together with every member marked on it so we can pace our progress.  Very helpful.

Welcome New Elders
The new additions to our District: Elder Rigby (from Boise, Idaho), and Elder Garner (from Las Vegas, Nevada).  Both have been in the field 6 months, and are very nice.  Rigby said he knows some people from Rupert, Idaho (where my dad's family is from).  Truly a phenomenon - everyone always knows someone from Rupert.

Rigby and Garner are both shorter than me, which means, with Anziano Duffin gone, that I am officially the tallest person in my District. Feel the power, Kronk!  Oh - I can feel it.

The Conundrum of Josie
This is the 3rd week of no lessons with Josie.  She insists that she is too sick to leave her house, but she has been coming to Church!  You know, I don't know how many missionaries in the world can say that their problem with an investigator is in not getting them to Church - but in just meeting with them.  What a strange conundrum.  I talked with her on Sunday and I told her we need to meet with her.  She agreed.  If she doesn't come to Tuesday's English Course, we'll try to set up an appointment for Wednesday.

Introducing, Luigi
Meanwhile, we have a new investigator!  His name is Luigi (not Giuseppe :) ).  He is a 20-something student from English Course.  Nice, genuine, and always a good participant.  We asked him if he would like to know more about the Church and our beliefs.  He said Yes!  Our lesson with him is tomorrow.

A Kinship with Mikesell
The awesome Sorella Mikesell
You know, it's kind of funny how much my companion reminds me of my mom. Her family situation with her siblings is similar to my mom's experience, and she has a lot of the same sense of humor.  Also, she will every morning and every evening serenade me with the same type of singing my mom sometimes does for me and my dad.  :)  It's uncanny. (Editor's note: I like this girl)

She also doesn't put up with any crap from anyone.  One of the stories Sorella Bradford tells is from her time with Mikesell in Rome 6 months ago or so. They were doing internet and the Anziani were there, and one of the elders made a very rude comment about how women are lower than Priesthood holders or something.  Sorella Mikesell immediately turns to this elder and said, "The only thing you have that I don't have is a penis."  He shut up after that while everyone else just laughed.  Way to go Mikesell!  (Editor's note: I love this girl!)

Her favorite thing to do is to change rap songs into show tunes.  Hilarious.  I'm laughing through half my day sometimes, she is so funny.  Oh and hey!  She knows about Mama's Place in San Francisco near the Italian Quarter in Washington Square with the Monte Cristo sandwiches!  (Editor's note: she is officially adopted into the Nef family)

"I, Nephi, Having Been Born of Goodly Parents..."
Nephi, by Arnold Friberg
I finished 1 Nephi today!  Nephi is super cool.  It impresses me every time I read that he:
          1.  Starts the Book of Mormon
          2.  Thereby becomes the first person people meet when they start reading the book.
          3.  He founds a nation.
          4.  He was a punk kid, the youngest (for a long time) of the family, who goes on to take down Laban single-handedly (with God's help), travels through a desert, makes his own bow, and builds a boat.
          5.  He becomes King and Prophet.

Even though he has two stupid trouble-maker brothers, he never lets them drag him down but always tries to pick them up.  He's obedient and radiates the power of faith.  What a special guy to not only influence his generation, but also now millions of people in our day.  Go Nephi!

Fun thing: I am often called Sorella Nefi (Nephi in Italian) because Italians misread the nametag.  I don't correct them :) .

We're All in This Together
I'm thankful for the amount of help that came from our Palermo members this week.  Their presence and testimony and example and friendship made all the difference to those who are curious about the gospel. Because, in seeing them - others see the gospel in action.  The ease of this week's success just goes to show that we're all in this work together.
"We are all in this together.
With fellow ward members and missionaries,
we plan and pray and help one another.
Please keep the full-time missionaries in your thoughts and prayers.
Trust them with your family and friends.
The Lord trusts them and has called them
to teach and bless those who seek Him."
Elder Neil L. Andersen
And, a big welcome to Elders Rigby and Garner in joining our Palermo District Family.  With their help, Forza Palermo will continue strong.

Siamo Tutti Sulla Stessa Barca! (We're all in this together!)
Sorella Ashley Nef

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