Let's start by saying that I love Siracusa. I have only been here a couple of days, but this place is enchanting. Very glad to be ending here. It's weird being on my last leg, but I feel like I have a new wind under my wings here, which feels great. It is BEAUTIFUL, and we are seeing miracles. But before I get into that - about farewelling Rome.
This is the sector of the city in which Jews were exiled for centuries - no matter their economic status.
"Ghetto" is an Italian word meaning "Foundry" and was first used as a word of segregation in 1516 when Venice Jews were expelled to an industrial island (that had once been an area for cannon-making) west of Venice. Once occupied by Jews, they renamed the place "Gheto Nuovo" - The New Metal Foundry.
Lots of deep roots here. Some Jewish families can trace back even before the Romans. Amazing.
|Jewish Pasticceria has been here for over 300 years!|
Amici Addio - Goodbye Friends
Final goodbyes to some pretty special friends. Let me introduce you to people who have blessed my life.
|The Crew: Vescovo Teodosi (left), Missionaries, and GANS (young adults)|
|Me and Jerwin. He is a rascal, that one. New convert.|
|with Beth and Elena. Beth always says, "It's ok. It's alright"|
|Bishop Gillespie's Family (Rome 6). They are so sweet and kind. Love them.|
|Sorella Bosco and Lia. She's from Peru and married an Italian|
|Veronica Valle. Helped her do her genealogy|
|Shiela, me, Carol, Jomar, Jerwin|
|Rome 2 District Back: Sorella Udall and me|
Middle: Anziano Philips, Stewart, Ostler, Anderl, Sorgiacomo on everyone
Floor: Anziano Lercer and Quaresima
Monday I called up Sorella Mikesell to say goodbye as she ended her mission. Love her.
Tuesday we had our last District Meeting (DDM) with ice cream provided by a member in our ward, Sorella Salsiccia (which means Sister Sausage, might I add). A real saint that woman - really old, never married, and loves the missionaries.
Then we had a couple of final appointments and Sorella Udall and I made cake for our own goodbye.
Wednesday was CRAZY! I started packing, and realized that I needed to make one of my bags weight-worthy for the plane ride home. So I set aside some stuff to send home (be looking for packages).
Anyway, we get back from an appointment where we taught a Peruvian member how to do genealogy, then continued to try to get my stuff pulled together, but learned that Sorella Udall's new companion was arriving a day early.
Off to the station!
Then we missed the last train home before 9, so we waited for the 10pm, only to find that another sister was coming to stay at our house as well...and I still had to pack!
So on my last night in Rome, I ended up packing until 1:30 in the morning. :( And because my train was leaving at 7:26am, I was up at 5am to be ready for the Anziani to taxi us.
When they arrived, that was an adventure on its own.
Since both me and the other sister heading out were going to Sicily, they assumed that we each would be taking one bag. That was true in my case, but not for Sorella Henson, who had 2 very large bags. Normally that would be fine with a van...but we had a small car. President's car.
|Anderl holding my luggage. Or is the luggage holding him?|
We made it right on time though. No worries. Well...only a few.
|Journey from Rome (A) to Siracusa, Sicily (B)|
Once in Messina, it was our cue to disembark and split off to Ragusa, Catania, and Siracusa. But since I was the travel police making final checks for everyone else, I inadvertently found myself trapped on the train when it started moving to head for Palermo! Hahahaha
It was pretty great because right as Sorella Kippen and I saw one another and I was about to step off the train, the door shut in front of me and began whisking me away. Uuuuuuuuuh.....
Lucky for me the train happened to be switching tracks and took me back, no problems. Gave Kippen a good scare though. :)
Then we made it just in the nick of time to the other train that was going to Catania. During the excursion Sorella Arnold, Kippen, and I managed to talk to a ticket checker dude on the train about the gospel, and he gave us his number. His name is Alessandro. Really cool.
We were picked up by a member named Giuseppe Virgillio who happened to serve in the same mission Lauren is going to. I got him talking about his mission for a bit as he shared some cool stories. Now that I know where Lauren is going, I am going to have to plumb him for more info.
I know the Lord inspired president Waddoups to send me here. There is a reason, and I intend to discover it. (There are more than likely many reasons, but I want to know them all). Our apartment is huge and gorgeous too.
The primary kids here know me as "La Sorella di Nefi" - Nephi's sister - because of a kid named Marco who was being clever. I am down. I'll take it!
Surge in Siracusa
The ward seems to have passed through a difficult period, but they are now on the other side with a new bishop and counselors, and you can tell they are ready to expand. People are coming out of the woodwork. Less actives who are so far gone they have shrines to saints and Mary in their houses are agreeing to come to Church. Random people are at investigators or members houses and are agreeing to take the lessons. The Lord is preparing people, and in the strongest way to date on my mission, I can tell the Lord is using me as His instrument to help these people come to Christ.
Angels and Instruments
"Behold I say unto you,
how great reason have we to rejoice;
for could we have supposed
when we started...
that God would have granted unto us
such great blessings?
And this is the blessing which hath
been bestowed upon us,
that we have been made instruments
in the hands of God
to bring about this great work."
Alma 26:1, 3The Lord uses missionaries as His instruments, or tools, to do HIS work, and work HIS power. In doing so, missionaries become ministering angels. Or, powerful tools in the hands of God to help others.
Revolving Doors of Missionary Work
Though it was difficult to leave Rome, new adventures (and blessings) await me in Siracusa. As the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. With that, here are some doors of Rome.
I love the Lord, I love the work, and I love Siracusa. I am ready to have the most powerful 6 weeks of my life.
La Sorella di Nefi,
Sorella Ashley Nef
A French PS to my missionary sister:
Je sais che Lauren connais deja un peu du francais. Je ne le recorde pas tres bien, mais je ferais mieus pour l'etudier. Je t'aime! Bonne settimane!