Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Palermo: Return to the Island

Me and Sorella Udall
Well, it has now officially become a trilogy because this week from Tuesday to Thursday was Palermo: Revenge of the Questura.  I had to go back to Palermo, Sicily for my permesso (visa).  Third time's a charm!  The good news is that I got right in and out - no problems, with questura visit done in a record 45 minutes.  Yes!

Then I had to remain there for 3 days.  But the lovely Andersens hosted us once again, and we had a blast.  
I just love them. :)

Palermo Zone Conference
The day after my permesso, I attended the Palermo's Zone Conference (that makes 5 transfers there, but 6 Zone Conferences).  It was funny at one point because they had a break-out session dividing the sister missionaries and elders.  When it was finished and we re-entered the chapel to join the elders, they were all standing with written notes to us sisters.  Cute.

Zone Conference Pizza. Yum.

My note said: "Sorella Nef, we think you are the most prepared missionary to hit this mission.  You rock!"  Aw, made me blush. Thank you, thank you elders of the Palermo Zone!

Also Attending the Zone Conference was JOHN!  He was invited as a young man preparing to go on a mission (one elder translated for him the whole time).  We talked for a bit. He says everything is different in Palermo now, and I can see that.  But it sounds like things are starting to work down there. Yay!  He said he was not going to attend the conference, but when he heard I was going to be there, he decided to come. Isn't that sweet?

After Conference, my comp and I went out and did some Finding.  We found a man named Salvatore who says he and his family would be interested in meeting the missionaries, so we passed the info to the Palermo sisters.  He seemed really cool, really solid.

Good Company
But I think the real reason we were in Palermo was to help the Andersens.  They have been having a rough time getting the Gans program (Young Adults) rolling.  

Things were going well for a while, but now...uh, not so much.  They had a real knock-down tough meeting with some of the leadership, and they came out feeling pretty downhearted.  So we went home with them and spent that night and the next morning getting their spirits back up.  By the end of our visit, they were feeling a lot better.  I think they just needed company.  It gets lonely for them down there.  But it was a joy to be with them.  They call me Sorella Nefi, like Nephi in Italian.  I like it. :)

Tastes of Home
We arrived back in Rome on Thursday just in time for Correlation Meeting (where our blessed American ward mission leader Brother Rigby gave us apple juice and other American treats not found in Italy.  This week is was cinnamon graham crackers.  Other times it has been peanut butter or Oreos.  Mmmmmmm).

Advertising for Temple Fireside
Modge-Podge of Activity
The rest of the week was a modge podge of activity.  Our set appointments fell through.  So goes missionary work.  But we worked with members, youth, and we got some Finding done. Actually came across a few people that look promising.

For instance, there was this Filippina couple I talked with on our way to Church who loved seeing my family photos.  We had to get off the bus quickly at the end, so I didn't get their number, but I handed them a temple card and asked them to call us.  The lady said, "Yes! I want to see you again!"  

And then guess what - they called!  Last night.  So we set an appointment for Sunday.  So excited.  They were very sweet.

We went to the Temple grounds with this board (right) promoting the Temple Fireside, and got some good stares.

Sorella Caramia, from my Cagliari days, came to visit Rome, so we got to hug and chat for a bit.  She is doing super great.

Ya gotta know your brain is fried when you walk out of the house with one blue and one black shoe on. :|
Hugging Sorella Caramia. She's so cute.
Scatter brain = Mismatched shoes

Rome 2 Relief Society - love them.  Yours Truly is towering in back
Via de Foro Imperiale (Colosseum in background)

Young Women Genealogy Activity

Our task was to take an antique box full of photographs and documents and input it all into the computer. Cool stuff.

San Pietro in Vincoli
The church of St. Peter's Chains is famous for it housing the supposed chains that bound the apostle Peter.  This is also the home of Michelangelo's statue of Moses on the tomb of pope Julius II.
The simple exterior gives way to 18th century coffered ceilings and Doric columns inside.  Beautiful.
Michelangelo's Tomb of Julius II
This is the tomb of pope Julius II.  Michelangelo famously hated this pope, hence the rather unorthodox and pretty irreverent sculpture of old Jules provocatively posing on his side above Moses. 
Michelangelo's Moses

Look!  The famous horned Moses.  Michelangelo completed the statue in 1515.  His horns are somewhat confusing to most, however they were meant to connote "the radiance of the Lord."  

The Hebrew word for "beams of Light" also means "horns."  And, since horns were much simpler to carve than rays of light, well, there you have it.

Peter's chains
Fun Fact:
There is a small flaw on the right knee of Moses.  According to legend, when Michelangelo finished it, he was so struck by how life-like his work was, he hit the statue's knee with a chisel and yelled, "Now speak!"

Picture (right) is presumably chains with which Peter was bound in prison in Rome.

And then there are a few things at San Pietro in Vincoli that seem a little macabre and can give visitors the heebie-jeebies.  For instance, the flamboyant Grim Reaper that greets you.  Yikes.
Love the irony of a pope tomb with gift shop beneath

Sufficiently creepy skeletons on this dude's grave (left).

Not what you'd call a warm and fuzzy place.

Macabre aside, we do have daily reminders of heavenly help in the work.

Reminders at San Giovanni in Laterano
Angels above us
The Heavenly reminders are not always evidenced by what is seen, but more by what is felt.  However, I loved a couple of artful reminders at San Giovanni church.  Angels and the Tree of Life.
Tree of Life motif

We're not alone.  And our work is to lead people to the Tree of Life, a symbol of God's Love, or, Jesus Christ and His everlasting gospel.
"And the angel said unto me:
Behold the Lamb of God,
yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! 
Knowest thou the meaning of the Tree...?
And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God,
which sheddeth itself abroad
in the hearts of the children of men;
wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things...
yea, and the most joyous to the soul."
1 Nephi 11:21-23
Yes, that's where the beauty is and that's what gives life meaning and purpose.  And it all begins with a simple seed of Faith.

So blessed to be here.  Love to You All,
Sorella Ashley Nef

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