Monday, March 10, 2014

Marzo Pazzo Standard of Excellence

Suzy radiating happiness with friends and our District (we're her friends too)
Marsh, Suzy, me
Suzy's Baptism
What a great evening! - even though she had to be baptized three times (1. Her foot popped up; 2. The words were said wrong; 3. Third's a charm!). Suzy is super crazy happy. The more she learns about the gospel, the more she loves it.
     Visiting Teaching? "Can't wait!"
     Callings? "That's the best!"
     Member Missionary Work? "I CAN DO
She's going to be stalwart. Her aunt and cousin came to the baptism (but her mom, no sadly).  Love this girl.

Green Magic
Kermit the Frog got it wrong. "It's not easy being green"? Only sometimes, my amphibious friend. I was always told about this unnamed power around new missionaries (greenies) who just enter the mission field. I haven't believed it because I don't remember having anything special happen during my first several months in the field. In fact, those were my most difficult times. But the day greenie Marsh and I step out on the streets - shoot! Potentials popping up everywhere. Investigators coming out of the woodwork. Apparently, the Lord blesses new missionaries. I just happened to be one of the special ones who needed to learn more by not having the surge of success.

Well, she's got the magic, for sure. Maybe it's because she's personally connected with the head honcho.   I don't know. I'm sure my mom's prayers being put on turbo don't hurt either. But, whatever it is - I'll take it, because it's magic right now, and it sure is nice having work to do that really feels like it's going places.
E magia!

Che Graziosa! How Wonderful!
Chiara (pronounced Key-ara) is charming. Her favorite line is "Che graziosa!" She has a mouse named Puzzino (little stinker). She loves saints and the madonna (not that there's anything wrong with that) but we're working on it. She likes everything about the Church so far, and because of that, we're going to shoot for a baptismal date. Fingers crossed!

Erika is a new investigator, a 17 year-old student from English Course, who seems very prepared because she has been steadily moving away from the Catholic faith. She has some friends who are members who are helping with her lessons. Attending Suzy's baptism was a positive experience that motivated her to attend Church the next day, and she enjoyed it. We have a lesson with her tonight.

Mmmmm.  Pane Panelle
Gaspare is a new investigator we found one interesting morning. I was awoken by thoughts of a less active (no particular reason), so I knew that the Lord was either telling me something or I needed to get more sleep. I assumed it was the first. So, we got ready and went out to pay her a visit, only to find that she had no interest in meeting with us. But right outside was a man selling pane panelle, my favorite Palermitano food.

Pane Panelle
Ah, pane panelle. It's a Sicilian street food fave: Panini stuffed with chickpea fritters and potato croquettes and served with salt and lemon. It's all deep fried. Oh, ya. Delicious.

Anyway, I figured that Sorella Marsh needed at least one good thing to show for the morning, so we got some pane panelle and started talking to the vendor, Gaspare. He's evangelical, full of questions, and seemed more interested as we talked about prophets and the Book of Mormon. We gave him a copy with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet, and he gave us his number.

A couple of days later, we called to invite him to Suzy's baptism - and he came. When we talked, he revealed how he'd been feeling a little lost, faith-wise. He was converted at 18, but now in his 50s he's been searching for, well, more. This led him, the other day, to pray in his truck that he'd be shown the way to go...and then we showed up. "I saw something different in you," he said.  Looks like someone is ready for the gospel. He came to Sacrament meeting and liked it. Today, we just got a call from him requesting to meet this week!

Gionata Internazionale della Donna - International Women's Day
Palermo Sisters with our Mimosa Flowers: Jackson, Mikesell, Marsh, Moi
March 8th is International Women's Day.  Everyone wears purple and gives flowers.  Yes, just walking down the street, people greet you with, "Auguri!" (Best Wishes or Congratulations!) as they hand you a small bouquet of bright yellow Mimosa flowers, the first blossoms of Spring.

Zone Conference
Palermo Zone Conference
photo: Sister Waddoups' Blog
Zone Conference was really good. The theme?  Finding. Anziano Prete and Kasper, and Sorella Mikesell were giving addrestramenti. Following the talks, they wondered what to do with 2 hours of leftover time, and I proposed that we all go out Finding. They actually liked the idea, so for the remainder of Conference, 12 companionships set to the streets for 10 minutes of Finding.

Missionaries went in completely different directions, and all came back with a phone number and a story to share. Marsh and I stopped the first person we came across and talked with him about the Plan of Salvation. Got his number. He lives in a paesino (town) called Bolognetta (about 30 km outside Palermo), so we are passing the number to the Anziani there.

Conference in Catania
Next week we will be having a Mission Conference in Catania. Missionaries from all of Sicily and Bari will be there. Should be a BLAST. Even cooler - it's going to be on the day of my year mark as a missionary. How's that for sweet!

Marzo Pazzo - Crazy March!
March Hail and Sunshine in Palermo
March is called La Pazzarella (the Crazy One) here in Palermo because the weather is Schizophrenic! In the time it takes me to get ready in the morning (1 hour), we will have had hail, rain, sun, more hail, more sun, more rain, more sun, hail that sounds like it will smash the roof in, and then more sun.

Palermo weather can't figure out whether it wants to have a nice Spring day or the Apocalypse. So we are learning the value of layers. Layers that can be put on and removed as the weather's personality changes. Crazy March.

Standard di Eccellenza: 40 Baptisms
Marsh and I with Gelato and Oranges!
The President believes March is the month.  The Standard of Excellence has been set for our mission to reach 40 baptisms in one month (for the entire mission).  We've never hit 40 before (I think the record is 23 baptisms), but we see a LOT of potential in these early days in March, so I think this is the month we can do it.  Here in Palermo, we've already been blessed with 2 baptisms (better than last year), with many other potentials waiting in the wings.  It's getting exciting, and the Lord will help us reach goals that we are willing to work toward. Crazy March could be crazy good.

Che Graziosa!
Sorella Ashley Nef

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