|The city of Catania rests at the foot of smoking Mount Etna|
No doubt about it, missionaries love Conferences, and the mission conference scheduled for Sicily's eastern city of Catania was going to be a good one. President and Sister Waddoups would be there along with Elder Patrick Kearon of the Quorum of Seventy.
|Photo bomber Barrow|
The eastern coast of Sicily is defined by the looming presence of Mount Etna, the largest most active volcano in Europe. Remove Barrow's head, and you'd actually see smoke coming from the mountain.
|Next generation of missionaries: Anziano Peachey and me|
We had a nice reunion that evening with a bunch of missionaries from the "old days."
Anziano Wortham - from my first transfer.
Sorella Rossell & Sorella Felice - from the MTC.
Anziano Peachey - his dad and my dad were
missionary companions in Honduras, and his
grandfather, Jim Peachey, was in our stake
back in California (Peachey is now serving
The next day, we gathered in the Catania building where even more people were waiting: Anziano DiCaro and Hurlburt, and Sorella O'Connor. We had the greatest pow-wow (pics coming).
Connections with the Visiting Authority
|Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy|
1st Counselor in the Area Presidency
Double Fun Fact: My dad has just begun working for her uncle, Paul.
Triple Fun Fact: Her father, Dr. Russell Hulme, delivered my mother into the world! Thank you Hulmes!
Elder Kearon greeted us all personally (hence my knowledge of his wife). Then he gave an AWESOME addestramento.
"Always Do Finding"
He talked about Finding. "Always do finding! Never stop. Every day go on the search. Always testify. Always teach!"
"Speak of the Spirit"
He talked about the Spirit and spoke of his own conversion experience when he was in his mid-20s, and how we need to describe the feelings of the Spirit clearly. "What are the words your investigators use when they speak of the Spirit?" Answers: Warm, Peaceful, Like Home, Familiar, Sweet, Happy...
"The Spirit is overwhelming at times to those who have never felt it. They don't often know how to identify it because it is a startling new feeling to them. Be sensitive to that."
|Break the Pattern|
He talked about the importance of planning as a means to fulfill goals. "However," he said, "Don't get so caught up in the rigidness of schedules that you follow the same pattern all the time. Break the pattern!" He said this more than once. "Don't be robots. You are human missionaries, you know."
I totally agree. Missionaries must keep themselves open to the flow of the day, the random opportunities, and casual interactions. How else can we follow the Spirit?
If we're sticklers with schedules, we'll miss the Spirit's guidance.
If we're solely driven by Day Planners, we won't find those who are seeking.
If we betake the day with blinders, we wont see detours leading to who is ready for our message.
Most of the time, the greatest successes are when people and situations just happen to emerge amid the schedule. So the moral of the story: Plan the day, but be open to throw it all out the window and follow the Spirit's plan.
"Follow-Up and Be a Friend"
He talked about us needing to follow-up with people every day. Follow up with investigators and the newly baptized - especially. "If you do not follow-up, you are shallow, fickle, poor Christians." True. Missionaries aren't just serving for numbers. We are here to befriend.
Great Conference all the way around. Lots of really good thoughts and inspiration, but the biggest thing I got from it was that I need to be more diligent in my schedule in getting out precisely on time everyday. And, I need to be better about Finding. Those are the biggest changes I need to implement.
By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them
Speaking of befriending. Gaspare says he knows the Plan of Salvation is true. "And," he says, "I know the Book of Mormon is true. Not because I have read it all, but I know it must be true because of the fruits.
Like it says in the Bible: By their fruits ye shall know them."
Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,
neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.
Matthew 7:17-18, 20"I can see from watching you," he said, "that this must be true." Sweet Gaspare.
Let's Swap: Urchins for English Course
|Francesco and Mario, Urchin handlers|
"You lick them out," they said.
"They are soft," they said.
"They are like eggs," they said.
Oh boy. Never tried sea urchin before. We couldn't offend them, so...down the hatch! It was salty, fishy, slimy, weird. Since we tried their product, we invited them to join our English Course. We'll see if they're brave enough to try it.
Pasticceria Mille Luci
With mouth essenced with raw fish, no better time to cleanse the palate - and no better way than with a cannoli. Besides, Marsh had never tried one, so we headed over to Mille Luci Bakery.
Mille Luci is famous for its Mafia cannoli, so named because the Mafia has been seen ordering them en mass here. I can see why the Mafia would be bingeing on this little delectable cream and cheese filled pastry. They're dangerously excellent!
Day Trip to Agrigento
A bit o' History:
Today's Agrigento was originally the Greek city of Akragas, which was settled by people from Rhodes and Crete around 582BC, and quickly became prosperous in the cultivation of olives, grapes, and cereal, among other things.
At the height of its glory days, this area was one of the most important and most culturally advanced Greek cities in the Mediterranean.
However, as it grew more successful, so did its rivalries with other Greek colonies. And, for the next several hundred years was conquered and ruled by a variety of cultures and rulers.
The goal for our day's outing was not the actual city of Agrigento, but the site just outside of the city that holds some of the most amazing ancient ruins: The Valley of the Temples.
Valle dei Templi - The Valley of the Temples
|The plateau on the right is the Valley of the Temples|
The fact that Sicily is home to Greek ruins should come as no surprise. After all, the island was once a critical component of the Greek Empire. However, we were told that what was surprising is the quantity and quality of these ruins, so we were anxious to step back in time.
A smooth 2-hour train ride from Palermo dropped us off in modern, bustling Agrigento where we took a city bus for a 4 km journey to the site of the ruins. I've got quite a few pictures - are you ready?
The Temple Ruins
|Temple of Concordia, built 430BC, with statue of Icarus|
Legend says that this was the location Icarus fell to the earth. The massive bronze Icarus sculpture (a modern one) supposedly marks the spot of his fall.
|Inner structure was built when they converted the Temple into a Christian Church 500AD (100 yrs after it was built)|
Mikesell, me, Jackson, Marsh. I love these gals.
|Temple of Juno, built 450BC|
Back in the day, this thriving ancient city had, apparently, attracted poets like Simonides and Pyndar who described it as "The most beautiful of mortal cities."
|Temple of Heracles (Hercules), oldest temple|
|A Telamon (Atlas) at the Temple of Olympian Zeus|
|Temple of Castor and Pollux|
|This ancient Olive Tree dates to the time the temples were built. It is over 2,500 years old. Crazy!|
|Didn't someone say, Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel? Looks like a Flintstones wheel to me, "Wilmaaaaa!"|
|Part of the ancient city wall|
|In the Necropolis (burial tombs): Elder Romano (from Boston) and Elder Adams (fellow Sard from my 1st District)|
|Necropolis (burial grounds)|
|My awesome sisters: Mikesell, me, Jackson, Marsh|
Grazie All for your Love and Support,
Sorella Ashley Nef