Monday, December 28, 2015

First Christmas in Italy

Last week was Christmas! Yay! It was fun running around and trying to
visit everyone before Christmas. We made brownies and snicker doodles,
very American dolci but people loved them. The holidays are a pretty
big deal and you can't just go to someone's door during this time
empty handed right before Christmas. There's a quote that says "people
don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care", and
I've definitely found that true. It was amazing what a difference a
simple gesture like a plate of cookies made when we visited people.
One member who has stopped coming to church, and blocked the
missionaries phone numbers, wasn't there when we dropped off the
cookies, but called us ON CHRISTMAS, and thanked us and said the
cookies were "buonissimi" and said that we could come see her the
following week! Another lady actually let us in, who said she didn't
want to see us anymore, and another lady also invite us back and were
actually going to a service project with her today! Yay for cookies
and brownies.
For our mission, we're not allowed to proselytize the day of
Christmas, Christmas Eve, and the day after Christmas is definitely
more celebrated here than in America, so for certain hours we were not
allowed to go to people's homes unless we were invited. Luckily we had
a meal appointment the 25th and the 26th. The 25th we ate with the
bishops family and we ate so so so much food. I don't know how they do
it. They had different types of scaccia, arancini, appetizers like
cheese and meat and olives, and THEN we had the main course, lasagna,
a ton of lasagna, and then the second course, a plate full of sausage
and potatoes, and then the pandoro. Their family has little kids and
it was fun being around them for Christmas. Christmas Eve my companion
and I made cinnamon rolls, so we could put them in the oven Christmas
morning. They don't sell brown sugar in Italy, it's just not a thing
and there's no substitute for it. So we tried to find it at the
international food store, and it wasn't there, but there was this
Indian sugar that looked similar and seemed to have a similar texture
so we bought that instead. When we got home from buying the sugar, we
tried it, and just had to laugh because it was definitely not brown
sugar. Haha, it was sweet with a little bit of an Indian kick to it.
We decided to use it for the cinnamon rolls anyway. In the end, the
actually tasted really really good! You couldn't taste the curry
flavor, it was only sweet. So I was quite satisfied with that. Then
Christmas Eve, we had a fancy little dinner with our food scraps that
also tasted surprisingly good (tender mercies, right?) and we watched
some of the bible videos.
In preparation for Christmas, we took advantage of sharing a lot of
Christmas messages with people, scriptures, videos, all that good
stuff, and typically our invite for them would be to find a way this
year for how they can bring themselves closer to Christ, whether it be
to study his life, or share your testimony of Him with a friend. Every
year I feel like it's never forgotten, we're always reminded, "don't
forget the reason for the season!" The reason is Christ, but I feel
like I always kind of glossed over that. I've definitely never
understood the nature of Jesus Christ more than I do now. Studying who
He is, last week it kind of just clicked a little more in my mind. The
bible is made up of the OLD testament "of Jesus Christ" (you could
say) and the NEW testament of Jesus Christ, and we also have ANOTHER
testament of Jesus Christ (the Book of Mormon). People have been
prophesying of Him since the beginning. He is the literal son of God,
and He truly came to Earth and truly lived, and He was the only one
who could save us from our sins. The more we learn who He is, the more
we will love Him, and the more we will have a desire to follow Him and
all the examples that He has set for us. I can testify that Christ
lives, and that He leads and guides His church today.

Love you all and happy almost 2016!

This was last pday, Christmas billboard

Cinnamon roll :)

 I bought a strand of lights for our apartment and Sorella Roberts
brother sent glasses that if you wear them the Christmas lights have
shapes, like ginger bread men

Our Christmas Decor

 This Sorella made a giant nativity and it's really cool

Monday, December 21, 2015


Last week we had zone conference, Sorella Roberts birthday, some epic
bidones (4 for 4 one evening, can't make this stuff up), but also some
epic casa finding. It was a pretty great week, but what's most fresh
in my memory is what happened yesterday, because it was yesterday and
it was awesome! Yesterday afternoon we went to one of the rest homes
in Ragusa with some members in our ward to sing Christmas carols.
There's one Fratello in our ward who is really into singing, he's an
older guy like late sixties, but he loves music and so he organized
the whole thing. It was fun and the people there were really grateful,
it made me wish I went to rest homes more before my mission. They have
the best stories and most interesting lives. So we sang some Christmas
hymns, we sang "I am a Child of God" and "Love One Another" (those are
two in the LDS hymn books). AND THEN, SURPRISE. Fratello Magrograssi
pulled out the big guns and handed us all sheet music for different
Italian classics. We started off with "Volare" which I could barely
sing because I was so happy and so excited to be singing this song in
Italy with a bunch of Italian people and a man with a killer operatic
voice. My face was like red as I was singing and also awkwardly
laughing because I was going to burst with happiness. We sang a couple
other ones, and one that was in siciliano which I could barely read
because they even have extra characters in the alphabet for that
language, but it was a lot of fun.
Then yesterday evening, our ward mission leader had a Christmas
devotional with his family and a couple other people and he invited
the missionaries to come and share something also. Each person shared
a Christmas scripture or story or song, I played the piano, it was a
lot like the Christmas devotional my family does on Christmas. In the
morning before we open presents every year we sing a Christmas hymn
and then read the scriptures in the Book of Mormon and bible about the
birth of Jesus Christ and then sing again, prayer, all that good
stuff. After we finished with the prayer last night I was thinking
okay, now we'll head home. Nope, instead, the mom started bringing out
snacks and then dad left, and after a couple minutes in comes Santa
Claus! He was saying "ho ho ho" and my mind was like "AMERICA" and
also in a bit of shock it felt like for a moment I woke up from the
dream that is my mission. We were not informed about the Santa Claus
thing haha. But things returned to Italian and it was all good and
normal again. Their kids all opened their presents, and they even got
one for each of the missionaries! We didn't open it yet, because we're
weird foreigners who like opening Christmas presents on the day of
Christmas. Presents aren't as big of a thing for Christmas down here
in Sicily. Not everyone does it, people are more about getting
together with family and eating good food. This country is all about
food, family, and Jesus. I like it, they're my kind of people, haha.
They're really humble and make me realize how selfish I've always
been! I would have never liked having the missionaries over for
Christmas, because like that's MY family time, haha. But the people
here are so open and giving, we've been invited to so many people's
homes for Christmas, obviously we're not going to all of them, but
it's the thought that counts!

That's about all I have to say. Merry Christmas, Buon Natale! Remember
why we celebrate this holiday all over the world, because God gave us
the greatest gift we could receive, and it was a Savior, Jesus Christ.


Sorella Holiday

Oh and pandoro is this cake bread food that is probably in every
single Italian home for Christmas right now. It's really good.

Sorella Roberts took a panaromic of this little Christmas devotional

 Babbo natale.
 This is our ward mission leader dressed as Santa Claus and his daughter and father-in-law

It's not Christmas in Italy without some Pandorro and Panatone 

 They gave the missionaries Christmas presents! Their family is so
cute I could have cried

Italians are like crazy for brownies, haha, I don't know what it is
but they love them. So this lady also made Sorella Roberts a brownie
cake and put birthday candles on it and everything. It was really cute.

 Wednesday was my companions birthday and this one lady made us pranzo.
She's actually like a professional chef and has been working in
restaurants for a very long time. She made spaghetti dallo scaglio and
these delicious roll biscuit things, chicken and peppers

Awkward sunny picture-
We were waiting for the bus in Catania so we took a picture. We got
new pillows for the apartment at zone conference yay!

 Christmas lights in Ragusa

Monday, December 14, 2015

Training Ragusa

My new companion has arrived in Ragusa! Last week we got up to drop
Sorella Battezzato off at the airport on Thursday and then the three
of us that were waiting for new companions did a scambio in Catania
until they came around 6 and then I met my new companion and we took
the bus back down to Ragusa. I LOVE Sorella Roberts, she is just
really genuinely awesome and I feel like we have a lot in common but
she's way cooler than me, haha. It's crazy how the work in a city
changes with a different companionship. We've already been able to
contact a couple families that haven't been coming to church whom I
haven't been able to meet with since I've gotten to Ragusa. You're
definitely called to a certain area at a certain time for certain
Another cool thing about my companion is that her older brother served
here about 18 years ago, when the mission was at the time the "Catania
Mission". One of the cities he served in was Ragusa! He might of been
one of the Elders that helped teach and baptize one of the women in
our ward and she was super happy to hear that and got really emotional
when Sorella Roberts told her.
When you're training a city you start to see the city with different
eyes. When I got to Ragusa I was just kind of thrown into it all and
I've never really taken the time to just see how beautiful it all is!
So for P-day today we did a little sight seeing. We saw one of the
touristy churches and my companion graduated in Art History so she was
able to explain a lot of the pieces. It was like things I walk past
everyday became brand new!

Yesterday I played the piano for our wards primary program it was just
WAY TOO MUCH CUTENESS. I wanted to barf, but just because it was too
much cuteness I couldn't contain it. Also, I was really happy because
if you could choose your calling in church, my dream calling would be
primary pianist, it's kind of the best.

Last night our ward watched the Christmas Devotional that was last
week in Salt Lake, it was all translated which obviously made it
harder for me to follow but it was really beautiful nonetheless. Our
ward really loved it. So the Christmas Devotional, for those of you
who don't know, is this meeting they have every year where a lot of
the general authorities of the church speak, about christmas, the
tabernacle choir sings, and everything is all lit up and beautiful and
the talks are really beautiful. There is usually a talk followed by a
musical number and it follows that pattern. At the end of it, they
invited the congregation to join in on the last verse of silent night.
One of the men in our ward passed out hymn books, and we all joined
in, and even though they were singing in English and we were singing
in Italian, it was really awesome. The spirit was so strong in the
room after the devotional, no one wanted to leave, haha.

Sorella Roberts and I were talking about this morning how awesome that
is that you can feel that same, wonderful spirit all over the world.
It's just another testimony of the truth of these things.
There are a couple quotes that I have on sticky notes on the inside of
my ipad case, and one of them is, "The real voyage of discovery
consists not in discovering new landscapes but in having new eyes."
-Marcel Proust. I was reflecting on that because after having a new
companion, Ragusa really does seem like a completely different city.
I've learned so much new stuff about it here in just the past few
days! Yesterday we ate pranzo at a members house, and the husband was
telling us a Sicilian tradition about how if a young girl who's not
married yet can peel an orange with a  knife, but it has to be done
perfectly! Like you can't break the ring and it has to be completely
white, you cant cut into the pulp. If you can do that perfectly you're
ready for marriage! Then they made us try it, haha. That was totally
random, but I just thought it was intersting how much I've been
learning that I didn't even know before! We sometimes get really
comfortable with what we know, and feel like we've got all the answers
and we're just content with that, but there is always more to learn.
Somethings we may have already known, but when we go back and study it
again with new eyes, it has new meaning.
I can't tell you how many times I've taught the lesson of the
restoration, but it has never been so wonderful to me now as it has
been at any other time in my life.

I love you all and I can't believe it's almost Christmas! I get to
talk to my family in two weeks!! I hope you all find a way this
Christmas to remember the Savior and how amazing it is that He was

Sorella Holiday

My new companion Sorella Roberts and I eating Ragusana food :) SHE'S MY HEIGHT!

Here we are next to the valley
I live at the top of a hill in Italy. WHAT?! Never really thought about that


 Random but Sorella Battezzato and I saw this dog walking on a fence
and took a picture lol
 My brain knows this isn't what America looks like and I don't know why I'm so used to it, but isn't it awesome? :)

 Super cheesy :)

 More of the edge of Ragusa

 All the compagnia
I walk past this every day, I don't know why I never took a picture

Monday, December 7, 2015

Transfer Three!

Whoa! Transfer three starts this week because they cut this transfer
short so people wouldn't be moving around for Christmas. I'm staying
in Ragusa, and Sorella Battezzato is headed to the island of Sardegna!
My new companion will be Sorella Roberts and I'm really excited to
meet her, because she sounds awesome. She's finished with college, and
loves traveling and yoga, and things, and I hear she's been to India!
Idk why I love India, because I've obviously never been, but if she is
someone who can respect my dream of going there, I know this is going
to be the start of a great companionship. I'll meet her on Thursday
after dropping Sorella Battezzato off at the airport so she can head
up to Rome and then Sardegna.
This week was a lot of goodbyes because Sorella Battezzato knew she
wasn't going to stay another transfer. I can't think far enough back
of what happened this week. A lot of awesome stuff happens each day
but by Monday I can't remember all of it. Miracles, a couple new
investigators, some really cool people we've been teaching for a while
now which I would write a novel about but I don't want to share too
much information about their personal life. I don't know! It was a
good week. There are two couples that come together to English course
that started coming last week, and they're really adorable. They ask
us a lot of weird questions, but they want to come to church now, so
that's cool. So, I don't know if anyone else was aware of this but
there's an Italian documentary called "the Mormons" and it's literally
about the Amish, hahaha. There's a lot of confusion about who we are
out here because the church is so small. Another fun culture fact, but
before I get to that, I had my first dream in Italian this week!
Yayyyyy. In my dream I was talking to my companion in English, and I
asked her who Padre Pio was and then there
was this little boy sitting next to me who started talking about him
for a while, anyways. Fun culture fact is that you can find a picture
or statue of Padre Pio in every home and in every shop down here. His
picture is in our elevator, and his face is more common than the sign
of the cross!

Speaking of the cross, a common question we get is, why isn't there a
cross on your church? Well, yes, Christ died for us, but He lives! I
know He lives! He is the literal son of God, and because of the
perfect life he chose to live, doing the will of the Father, although
he was capable of doing otherwise. HE BROKE THE BANDS OF DEATH. Both
spiritual and physical. He gives us hope in this life and in the life
to come.
Every morning we have one hour to read scriptures and any other
materials before we start the day. I seriously love and cherish that
hour. The more I study the life of Christ, the more I read the Book of
Mormon, it all comes together and it all makes sense, it's just very
very clear. I know everyone has heard it before "Jesus Christ is our
Savior", in every language, everyone knows it. But it doesn't mean
anything until you really study it out and find out for yourself. It's
like E=mc2, I've known that since I was like 5! Every kid knows it and
they just kind of spit it out to sound smart, because it sounds cool
or something. But I honestly didn't know what that meant until college
when my physical science teacher broke it down and we studied each
part of the equation. It's really genius! I know what they mean about
that Einstein guy now. But it works the same way for "Jesus
Christ=Savior and Redeemer of the World". I invite you all to try to
figure out what that means. And if you think you already know, study
it again! That's how we retain knowledge of things. You can study, you
can pray, and you can receive a confirmation in your mind and in your

'Tis the season :)

Sorella Holiday
Yesterday we did a mostra in Ibla

We had help with our mostra :)

Did I ever mention how I'm a giant on this island? Haha

 Since Sorella Battezzato is going to Sardegna we took a lot of goodbye pictures with different families.

Kinder eggs are these candy eggs they sell all year long. They are chocolate with a toy inside.
 Sorella Battezzato has a picture of the first time she had kinder eggs with her trainer and so we took the same picture to create a tradition. Also we bought matching companion sweaters last pday. I look totally crazy, haha :)

 These are some members that live in Comiso. They're too cool for school but they grace us with their presence. Their daughter is planning to serve a mission too! :) 

 So cool!

 Nudolini! This picture is really irrelevant but I was excited about my Italian-Asian noodles!

 This is another sweet family in our ward! They're really cool and make really good food. I'm literally Yao Ming, haha :)

 One of our amazing investigators, my goodness, this woman is going to be speaking in general conference one day.

There are just certain staples of life here in Ragusa and this sweet woman is one of them. She's just loud and bold and she LOVES Sorella Battezzato because she's also Catanese.