Wednesday, August 31, 2011

my favorite malady!! tonsilitis (this is really long but really good!)

well it happened. you know how hillary NEVER gets sick? except for that occasional bought of tonsillitis! yeah. it was a rough weekend hahaha and i didnt have good ol' dad to call in a z pac for me. well lets rewind. to last week. we went to acquaviva to see the costanzo family. these people are the most HUMBLE SIMPLE people that have ever walked the planet. BUT (ok how do i say this...) they are not stupid but they just dont think for themselves. they are catholic literally just because their parents raised them like that. thats it. its tradition couldnt matter less if its true. they have never even thought to question catholicism. it was interesting. many of our investigators are very intellectual, very much thinkers. these people just say 'well the priests say its like this...' but they are sooooo nice. they are literally humble also in the sense that they live off the earth. they gave us to eat figs, cherries and pastries, the figs and cherries from their own property. they have a son who is mentally handicapped, and he is a doll. his name is tomaso and they always say 'vero, toma? giusto, toma? che dici, toma?' its so cute!!! pinch their little cheeks!!!! they need to be baptized. the next lesson we teach them is going to be about KNOWLEDGE and finding our own answers 
thursday we had a lesson with love of my life antonio then we went to disneyland-- i mean carbonara. its a part of bari thats soooo cute old fashioned everything. you get on the bus number 4, you pass under this bridge and then a tinkerbell comes and poofs you into animated characters and when you get off the bus birds come and sit on your shoulder. its really quite wonderful. but really it is another world in carbonara. bari is more or less with the times. carbonara is at least 157 years ago. we stopped by slla avanatario and there was also sorella juan with her two sons (she is married to a man from mexico-- i couldnt bring myself to call him mexican because for some reason that has become a really negative thing in america to call someone mexican) and her sons are sooooo cute. there are seriously like dungen............ dungen..... dungen..dungen dungen BUTTERBALLLLL!!!! both of them. and when the mom said, ok its time for the prayer, the younger one, who was sprawled out on the couch looking at the ceiling half dead with boredon springs up FINALMENTE!!! they are soooo cute. then we went on a nice little adventure. we asked the son of slla avantario where strada 'la grave' was and he showed us how to get there and he said, its kind of far though, it might take you 45 minutes to walk. and i thought psssh we are missionaries. watch us do it in 20-- 22 max. so we start walking, and we walk past this complex with an open door. we walk inside and there is door with a baby announcement on it. we rang the doorbell and they didnt answer so we kept going. the city started to fade away.... and pretty soon we were in siena out in the vineyards at nonna's house (i know you all remember!) and i was thinking ok either we took a wrong turn or he wasn't kidding... so we kept going and as we walked we made the most of it. there were fig trees everywhere where we picked the figs. there were delish! and made our hands super sticky. then we saw some pomegranates! it was a feast! so pretty much that whole time we were in the middle of nowhere we were looking for the street la grave and then when we came to the end of it, we realized that that street IS via la grave. not that it leads to via la grave like i was thinking. anyhoo now we know. also happens to be the street where orazio lives. (coincidence? i think not!) then we went home (after getting a gelato...) and BEATRICE called us!!! we did a lesson with her in the park and it was awesome. she talk us about her nervous breakdown that she had. she destoyed her house. she knocked down all the walls. and now her house in in ruins and her son is angry with her. and i was sitting there the whole time picturing us in grubby work clothes reconstructing the house, painting the new rooms, decorating everything, frolicking through fields of daisies with paint chips and fabric swatches, just like the happily ever after on traiding spaces. so i said to beatrice this is perfect! my degree is in interior design! then the montage of happy images came screaching to a hault when she reminded me that houses in italy of made of cement, not wood. wa wa i dont know how to do anything with that. anyhoo.... we'll see what happens. friday we are going to her house to see the damage. can't wait! seriously though hahaha after that we had a lesson with michele. ok this was soooooo funny. the poor kid thought that all the members were like us, so when we were talking he is like 'i have bad news. i can't get baptized. it is absolutely not possible. i have work school and a family. this is not a lifestyle that i can lead.' i almost laughed right there. poor kid. anyway we explained everything and we hope that he is feeling better.
friday was miraculous. antonio had his interview for the baptism and he passed! the district leader said he was amazing and wonderful and antonio the same. after that it was kind of a bust. we went to loseto where the bishop lives and no one was home. (we tried to see less actives) then we tried the cassano family and they were home! they are active, but thats ok they need love too. i just remember being really really thirsty kind of like my throat was hurting. foreshadowing of the next day!!!
when we woke up we both had sore throats but we took airborne so i was positive that nothing was going to happen. that day we went to the church and finished the program for the baptism and we started feeling pretty crummy. we went to the farmacy to get antibiotics (luckily i have had tonsillitis before!). it was quite funny. you walk into the farmacy, ask for amoxicillin and they just give it to you. no perscription, no 'whats wrong'. just like buying french fries at mcdonalds. and it cost about the same as a gelato. crazy europe. then we went home. this then paved the way for the most action packed sunday i have ever lived....
sunday morning we went to church coughing and sniffling and fairly tired but happy the same. there is an eternal investigator, titta, who is literally insane, who comes faithfully every week but can't be baptized because she isn't right in the head and therefore has no need. anyway. we got all the way through relief society no problem. then when we were in sunday school. slla lecates coughed and titta started asking quesitons like whats wrong what are you taking have you seen a doctor etc. she started getting anxious. asking do i need to call the ambulance are you ok?? and we assured her that we were fine, we were taking medicine and that there was nothing to worry about. she is now disturbing the lesson. she startd freaking out saying that we are on the verge of death (as we are sitting there smiling) and that someone had to call 911 right now (118 in italy) or she was going to. pietro (who is the coolest guy ever--big and buff probably 32 y.o. was innactive until about a month ago) was laughing a bit and trying so hard to convince her that we were fine. the teacher who was fllo curci was very kind and told her this was not the place and that we were fine. well that did not go over well. titta (now on her feet) yells 'these girls are dying! it is my resposibilty as a doctor to call an ambulance!!' (she isnt a doctor....) pietro then says 'they have seen a doctor and the doctor prescribed them the antibiotics that they are taking.' titta got this curious look on her face. what doctor? when? where? fllo curci tells her that we saw doctor bellomo. titta thinks for a second. 'he's a dentist!!' and she is furious again. curci explains that we saw the other dr. bellomo and if she would please take her seat we could continue the lesson. she sits down. 'gimme a piece of paper and a pen' she says to me. she then writes us a perscription and says the SECOND we leave church we need to go pick it up. hahaha. we do the lesson for a few seconds when she flips out again on her feet saying that she can feel our infected tonsills pulsing in our throats and that she was going to call 118 because we were in danger of death. so she leaves. and i forget more or less what she was doing until in sacrament meeting she comes in taps us on the shoulder and says 'there is a doctor here. come and let him see you' i wonder what the ward was thinking.... well there really was a doctor. the ambulance wouldnt come but somehow she had called some doctor to come to the church. pietro (our hero) also came out in the hall with us and we let the doctor take a look at us, he told us we has tonsillitis and that the medicine we were taking was fine. titta felt soooo victorious. she was like 'how do you feel?' as though having the doctor look at our throats cured all our illnesses. bascially it was the highlight of the day. after church we had a huge confusion with one of the brothers who invited us to lunch without another woman etc etc. you'd think the MEMBERS would repect the white handbook.... anyway we went to stake president's house instead where his daughter and her boyfriend were all over each other. bleck! i hope i am never like that. we went to stake choir practice and i almost died because i just completely exhausted myself. so we went home early and made soup and read mormon doctrine.
monday we had a lesson with antonio then district meeting. at district meeting one of the italian elders, anziano errante, jokingly said that he didnt like it when the returned missionaries married italians and then took them to america because the church in italy needs members!!! with that comment i started thinking a lot about my future. what he described was pretty much my life plan until that moment.... but its true. the church in italy needs help. and i started thinking about all the good that i could do if i married an italian and raised my family in italy. then i thought about how much i would miss my family but that we will be together forever... no yes no yes no yes no... thank goodness i dont have to decide yet, but it did make me think. after we did some work in the area book and chose some ex investigators that we want to make into currents. then we went to the valentinis to steal some information from them because they know everything about everyone. then we went on a long adventure to find a less active member, maddelena. we went and she wasnt there but her sister was. her sister is ANTIissimo but gave us a glass of water. she wouldnt even let us say a prayer. we came back and as we got off the bus these two african boys got off also. they were looking for an address so we walked them there and as we were heading home, we saw two women sitting at the bus stop and one of them was eleonora (remember the crazy story of the lady on the phone who was in the hospital? it was her) she looked bad. really bad. i barely recognized her. anyway we talked to her for a few minutes when the Spirit told me to call the elders. so i did and they came. she was very happy to see them but she is changed 100% its sooooo weird. i wonder what happened to her.
yesterday was ZONE CONFERENCE!!! it was awesome!!! again i translated and its so fun to be one of the italians. anziano errante is the italian version of bryan myer if you remember him from high school. he is great. president made a bunch of comments about how we need to respect italian culture and not speak english all the time and anziano errante felt very vendicated i think. anyway the number one thing i want to talk away from the conference-- obedient means doing the things that they tell us to do. consecrated means asking 'what more can i do today?' that was beautiful to me.
well this morning we did a trial run baptism. antonio is SUPER excited. he tried on his clothes and he was all smiles. then we read some of the Book of Mormon together. i thought we would read a chapter. after three, he started reading 1 nefi 4 and we had to stop him because we were out of time. i wouldnt be surprised if he is still reading right now. he said he wanted to keep reading. when he said the closing prayer, he prayed thanking Heavenly Father for the Book of Mormon and he said 'i know that nefi is a real prophet'. it was beautiful. i can't wait. his white clothes are in the washer right now. his baptismal certificate is on my desk. this is real.
thank you all for everything. i also want to apologize that i haven't remembered anyone's birthdays. i've been out for coming up on a year so everyone has had a birthday and i remember them in the moment but never while im at the computer. sorry!! i love you. i know when your birthdays are, and when i get home i will give you the presents that i have for you.
all my love
sorella ashman

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the healthy need no physician

alright well last thursday was the day of all days. the culminating event of my mission thus far. it was the 11th of august, one day after my 9 month mark. we had a lesson with antonio. we read 3 nefi 11 together and then talked about Jesus Christs love for us. we then asked him a few of the questions for the baptismal interview and he said the thing that i have been waiting to hear. i asked him what repentance was and he answered correctly and then i asked if he felt like he had repented and he got teared up and said that the life he was living now was much different from the life he was living previously. and then we told him that he was ready and that we wanted to set another baptismal date. he looked like a kid on Christmas eve. we set the date for september 3rd (happy birthday to me!) and then we asked him to say the prayer. we all knealt down and finally antonio said the most heartfelt prayer. he could barely speak. he prayed that he would be ready for his baptism and that he could get through the prayer despite his emotions. the Spirit was so thick, you could have cut it with a knife. it was awesome!! i have waited 9 months for that. it was worth it. he is getting baptized. (how many times have i said that now...) but seriously.
friday was.... yeah. i will just say that it ended on a good note. we had no plans so we created one! we prayed about it and we felt good. after several attempts to find less actives, i was on edge of despair, and i said ok sorella, how many doors can we knock with the time we have left? we did more than 50! and i know that nothing we do is wasted, but pretty much it was no after no after no. oh well. no cold stone for them!! there was one guy that came out of his house and he was talking to us for a few minutes and he said that he had been to church about 40 years ago and i asked him what happened and he said nothing and i told him that we were sent there so that he could have another opportunity to have the joy of the gospel in his life. i told him that if he says no to us again that day it would be like closing the door on the blessings that God wants to give him. he said no. (i'm a very bold missionary, but it's the only chance i have to say things like this so i'm taking advantage of every opportunity.) then we finally stopped doing house and we stopped by the church where the elders were playing soccer and we talked to few members for a minute and then we passed by another less active who was home but wouldn't let us in. we were heading home very much.... well.... saddened. at the street corner we were waiting for the light to turn green and i was so frustrated and i was just thinking, 'why doens't anyone want this?????????!!!!!!!' i raised my hands and Book of Mormon in the air and yelled PENTITEVI E VENITE A CRISTO!!! which means repent ye! and come unto Christ!!!! i didn't think anything of it, but there was a guy in his car with the window down. he was watching us like we were aliens and then i realized that he had heard me yell and i busted out laughing. his light turned green and i waved as he drove away. great day.
saturday was great. we again had no plans but we knew that someone needed us. it was the same feeling we had had friday. so we tried our best to interpret the Spirit and we looked through the member book and both felt really good about going to the house of the relief society president. we took the bus about 20 minutes to get there and as we were looking for her house, we ran into fllo carlucci who lives in the same town. then we stopped by their house, and they were leaving but we did get to talk to them for a few seconds. i think that it was helpful for her. she was super happy to see us. then we went to see the last family that lives in the same town triggiano, the ramunni family. (great last name!!) the ramunnis are INCREDIBLE. the mom is soooo sweet and the dad is amazing. he went to byu so he speaks perfect english and even like an american. fllo ramunni has muscular distrophy and his daughter has autism and even though he has trouble walking, he can't help his wife tend to their children, and he has a lot of trouble transitioning between sitting and standing, he ALWAYS has a nice word and smile. i want to be like fllo ramunni. he is truly my role model. when we left our spiritual thought, he cried and thanked us for coming. he also studied vocal performance at byu and he is a wonderful bass. he asked me to sing for them so i sang one of the italian hymns. that afternoon we had a lesson with andrea our investigator who was so absorbed in the restoration film that i thought he might ask to watch it again. maybe on repeat or like me when i used to watch the wedding planner every night. the lesson went ok... i'll just say that when choosing a member, choose wisely. then we had another lesson with angela who is soooo sweet. the poor woman!! her really old mom and literally crazy boyfriend.... during the lesson, her boyfriend comes in with this toy parrot and takes the battery out of the clock and then with the battery in the parrot he yells at it 'non funziona!' then the parrot yells back, 'non funziona non funziona!' and angela just shakes her head.
sunday was GREAT. antonio gave the prayer in sunday school and it was wonderful. maybe it shouldn't be this way but it is, the members judge the missionaries by how well the investigators do. and he did great. good little kid. and then for lunch we went to an activity for the young single adults. it was miraculous. there were some 80 ysa and it was the most beautiful thing i've ever seen. that evening we went to try to see anna mola again. she wasn't home this time, but we are going to go again on friday. i refuse to give up on her!
monday was a holiday here. it's called feragosto and its just the excuse to close everything and go to the beach. well we had an awesome holiday and all the missionaries in the mission were at home to deep clean the house! it was beautiful. we rearranged everything and it was great. the highlight of the day was when we were moving this little book shelf that was much too heavy. we then realized that it had a chest FULL of BOOKS!!!! there were two huge Bibles and a book about siena!!! i endulged in the picuture book from siena, which is still hands down my favorite city in italy. then we found this cd that has a jazz version of i know Heavenly Father loves me sung by some awesome black girl. it's great.
yesterday was another long day. i was all stressed out for some reason (really not sure why...) but it happens. we had a lesson with antonio in the morning that was less than ideal. fllo curci the ward mission leader came and literally (i am not exaggerating) talked for 45 minutes and then we had to go. we didn't get to say anything. antonio talked a little, but the point of the lesson was to open him right up and help him clean himself out spiritually before his baptism. well, apparently curci did that because around 1 curci popped his head into the meeting we were having with the other missionaries and he said that they had just finished and that they knew everything. poor poor antonio. (our lesson started at 10) i hope hope hope that curci didn't ruin everything. we'll see.... then that afternoon andrea didn't show up to his lesson. we waited for 30 minutes and the member that was with us was like 'do you have enough faith sisters?' and sister lecates was like 'yeah i have faith, but he has agency!' hahaha so he never showed up. so we decided to repass the lukewarm people that we had found doing house friday and this guy, this doctor was so nice and i am not exactly sure what his deal is but he said he would call us. we'll see. then we did some more house! then something wonderful happened. there was a woman out side on her balcony. let's imagine this scene together
woman-what do you want?
me- we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, and we are here to share our message of Jesus Christ with you.
woman- i don't want to hear your message. im not interested in any message.
me- are you sure? we know this message is of great value and will be helpful to you.
woman- i am not interested in any message!!
me-ok please excuse us. we don't wanted to bother you.
woman- well you are bothering me so go away.
me- ok have a great night. (we start to walk around to the other side to talk to the other people)
woman- where are you going?
me- to take our message to the other people
woman- there is no one else here
me- in this whole palazzo, there is no one else?
woman- no, now go away
me- well i want to make sure. we have permission to do this work ma'am so we are going to do it
woman- you have no permission! this is private property and you need to leave!
me- we have permission but fine.
so we went to gate where there was the little intercom. no one answered. we left handouts in all the mailboxes. as we left i felt a very strong love and at the same time saddness for this unhappy woman. Heavenly Father knows her and loves her. He wants her to be happy and gave her the chance for real happiness, and she yelled at it to go away. we are going back there. Christ said, the healthy need no physician. we are here to heal the spiritually ill and this woman needs help to overcome this illness. i hope and pray that she will have her heart softened so that we can speak with her the next time.
all is well here in bari. i love you all and pray for you. thank you for everything.
all my love
sorella ashman

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

all the cool kids are doing it

well... where to begin... last thursday morning we had a lesson with antonio. he asked when he was going to get baptized and we said as soon as he was ready! and he said 'ok sono pronto!' hahaha not quite! i thought. so of course the next lesson we explained that if he can't keep his commitments to read the Book of Mormon, he is not ready to make this huge commitment with the Lord. it was really cute that he wants to get baptized so badly though. i think the thing is that in the MTC they tell you like make sure that your investigators are excited about baptism! its not scary or weird,make them pumped! and so we have been talking about how antonio will be cleansed from his sins and how he will get the Holy Ghost. lets just say he's pumped! even though now that he understands a bit better that it's not a joke, we are thinking that it might be a few more weeks. and then there's the other problem, the elephant in the room that no one wants to address. he lives in the boundaries for the other ward. yeah i don't really want to talk about it.
thursday afternoon something amazing happened!! the phone rang. it was ORAZIO the man from two weeks ago who said that he wasn't interested as he was READING the Book of Moromon and he said 'why am i still listening to you?'  i know that the Spirit was working in him. so he called and he say, 'hey. i've been reading this book. i've been having some fun with it.' i said, 'oh really? so when can we meet again?' he said 'this week.' ha! we are seeing him tomorrow. not interested my foot!
friday. let's just talk about what happened last friday. it was amazing. a few weeks ago, we had pulled some names of ex investigators from the area book, one of whom was Anna Mola. she was taking the lessons in 1994. (when miriam was ONE) and then when her friend who was a member moved to america, she stopped coming. she is married to but separated from the nephew of the ward mission leader. so friday we taught a lesson to nicola, our investigator who still doesn't believe that Jesus Christ is even the Son of God, then we got in fllo curci's fiat 600 and went to an art exhibit that was put on my one of the less active members of the ward. this was basically the celestial kingdom. there were three young violinists who were playing,it was outside and LITERALLY on the beach. so we are sitting there listening to the violinists and the waves lapping on the shore, then we got to see this beautiful art and the member artist was SOOO happy that we came. it just made my day. then we got back in the 600 and wento to ANNA MOLA's house. it was about 8:30 and she had no clue we were coming. then there she was. she is amazing! her daughter who WAS 2 when she was taking the lessons is now 19 and lovely. she was super excited to meet us and we had a great little get to know you lesson. she gave us her cell number and we are going to go see her again on friday.
saturday morning we went to cellamare. it is so small it took about 15 minutes to know where everything was. jk jk we went to do some inactive dive bomb sneak attacks as we like to cal them, and we met a woman named lucia canonico who hasn't been to church in 20 years. when she saw us she didn't even know we were missionaries. that's weird cuz members know who we are. anyway after much confusion with the bus,we finally made it back to bari and prepared for another lesson with antonio. this lesson was epic. antonio is a very closed person, but at this lesson, the member, fllo carlucci really reemed on him. 'how is it possible that you haven't prayed or read once???' it's been a month that we have been telling him everytime to read and pray and he still isn't doing it. so at the end of the lesson we all knelt down and we made antonio pray and pray correctly. it was a nice prayer, but the poor guy was wringing his hands through the whole thing! the thought came into my mind, 'hillary, he doesn't know how to be intimate with someone. he has no close friends or relatives and the thought of talking to GOD scares him.' so i asked him, 'antonio, is there someone in your life that you can confide in? someone that you tell everything to?' and he said no. and i said 'well guess what, now you do. you need to talk to Heavenly Father. He loves you. He KNOWS you and He is waiting to hear from you. you have got to open yourself up to Him or He can't come in.' he had tears in his eyes. and i began to begin to understand the layers of this man. he has no one! i of all people have kind of a hard time relating. remember how if we are in different rooms of the house i will say MOM!!! come be with me!!! but then i just think about the first two weeks in siena. foreign country. by myself. 20 years old. didn't speak the language that well and that is antonio with Heavenly Father. he has never really met Him before. he doesn't speak the language of prayer and he feels completely alone. i love antonio.
after that lesson we had a lesson with paolo and andrea. paolo was great, but andrea was the icing on the cake. paolo we met the other day on the street. he said he had a Book of Mormon! so when he showed up to the appointment with andrea it was great. andrea and paolo are two slightly awkward single men in their 40s but man andrea is incredible. he literally asked us 'where do we come from, why are we here and where do we go after we die' then at the end, we asked him to say the prayer. he. prayed. perfectly. at the end he literally said 'in the name of thy son Jesus Christ amen' antonio doesn't even pray like that! after that we went to the house of angela strignano--another success from the area book :) she is so nice and friendly, always wants to make us food. but this was fast sunday and she was a little put out that we wouldn't eat. the lesson was hard to do thanks to her 89 year old mother who has no idea what is going on but talks incessantly. angela is great, but we can only see her once a week. we told her that she could call us if she needed something and we also said that she will feel the Spirit as she reads and prays. she said, oh i already do feel the Spirit! last week when you left, there was this feeling of peace in the house for about a day. cool.
sunday was great. the ward was fasting for missionary experiences so the sacrament meeting was great. antonio slept through it all. that evening we went to the park to see the costanzo family who are a family of eternal investigators.... i don't know what to do about them. we did an FHE with them, their son, the elders, fllo curci and another family of investigators. it was great. then the best thing in the world happened. as we were walking home, we saw a DALMATIAN!!!! IT WAS SO CUTE!!! a little overweight but i can't talk. then we went home and sat on the balcony on the couch that i moved outside hehehe and this car drove by blasting tiziano ferro. i took it as a sign that it was the perfect day.
monday we had a potluck with al the elders in the district! it was great. they didn't love our vegeterian lasagna but what can you do? that night we had a lesson with antonio and we realized that he likes to sing the hymns! haha of course! so we are doing our best to get him the inni on cd.
yesterday was... long. we had zero appointments and the morning we literally walked around bari from 10 am to 1:30 pm. we were tired. but we did find this young man named francesco. another one of those people that say 'i'm not interested' just because all the cool kids are saying it, not because they really mean it.
anyway things are going great!! a few weeks ago, after i prayed i had the impression 'hillary, things are going to worse before they get better.' then they got worse and now they are getting better :) thank you everyone fore the prayers and letters. special thanks to jolena for the pics! i love you all and i know that this is the Lord's work!
all my love
sorella ashman

Sunday, August 7, 2011

pool of money

whew! it's been a long week. we have been battling the same battles that we battle everyday in missionary life- obedience vs. rigidity, kind vs. flirtatious, proactive vs. stressed etc. i have been thinking a lot about the things that i need to imporve as a missionary and just how challenging this city of bari has been for me. my first transfer here is almost over and there are many changes coming. when you aren't training a new missionary it is much easier to get lax with the rules, which i kinda hope that i train again this coming transfer because it keeps you on your toes. it's very tiring though because you have to do EVERYTHING and make every decision. well almost. every once in a while you say, 'sorella, i can't make 20 phone calls today. you get to be senior companion!' and you make her do it. but at the same time i would love to be junior companion again :) things were great back then.... maybe that's why i fell in love with sorella zeller. she spoke italian like a pro and the work was very evenly divided... anyway. this transfer there are big changes coming to bari! we are getting another companionship of sorelle!!! so i personally think that sister lecates and i won't be companions anymore but that we will be still together in the house. we'll see what president decides to do. this is a great thing becuase it means that there are more sisters in the mission now. we get the call on saturday to tell us what happens.... last wednesday we did a lesson with a man named orazio. the lesson was so interesting because he was saying that he wasn't interested AS HE WAS READING THE BOOK OF MORMON and he kept asking us questions and he said 'wow, who knows how much more there is to learn about this, how deep this goes.' and he was like 'why am i still listening to you?' and yet he continued to listen.... he was such an interesting person, and it can't have been an accident that we found him. we were doing house in a zone where we had never been before and i was feeling so good! (this was the same day we got the seven names of that man's children the 18th of july monday) we had passed by this house number 1 because we thought it was a business and we are not allowed to knock businesses. so we did the whole street and as we were leaving i said 'no that is just an excuse to be lazy because this person will probably reject us too' so i rang him and he was super nice, then we did this lesson last week and now who knows! the saddest part about missionary work is agency. because God sets up this awesome miracles, it's like a movie! all the things that just 'work out' and then we as missionaries try and do our part and then! the peopl CHOOSE to not accept the thousand dollar bill that we are handing to them. yeah. sad.
that night we taught nicola who is so wonderful and nice and then we all went to pizza! us and nico and the elders and it was great because anziano pedreira who was with me in sicily was also there and it was just wonderful.
last thursday we taught antonio. he will not be ready for his baptism on saturday, BUT we told him to pray for a new date. and i think he will do it. he hasn't been keeping commitments and its breaking my heart, but we finally figured out why! because i had told him that he would need permission from his wife before he could be baptized (which is the rule) but then we talked to the bishop and he said that since they are legally separated. boh! anyway he seems relieved because he really wants to be baptized. that afternoon, we met an old man who gave us two oranges and i tried to pay him but he wouldn't accept money (we didn't have any anyway) and then like 20 minutes later we saw him again and he gave us five euro! we told him we couldn't accept it and fought for like 5 minutes to give it back but he wouldn't hear of it. i hope God blesses him for trying to do something good. even if it technically is against the rules. we bought a gelato.
friday we taught a lesson to a beautiful young woman named gabriella. she is a very firm catholic, but she is also a student who has a colse friend who is a member. we gave her a Book of Mormon and she said she would read it happily but she also said that she has no intention of changing her religion. i've heard that so many times you'd think that i would accept it. but i can't. i just have to keep trying because if these people would realize what they are missing out on!! it's like we members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are all having a big party catered by Cold Stone and we are swimming in a big pool of spiritual money and we invite people to come and they don't want to!!!! itìs RIDICULOUS! oh well. i will do my part and SOMEDAY SOMEDAY one of the HUNDREDS of people that i talk to will canonball into the pool of spiritual money while eating a gotta have it size ice cream with brownies and whipped cream. someday.
saturday was interesting. about a week earlier we met this man named benvenuto, which means 'WELCOME!' yeah weird. we had tried to see him friday and he just didn't show up, so when i called him and i was like 'yoyoyoyo where you at man?' he was like 'sorry i'm with my son. i'll come tomorrow morning. peace' and i was like 'uh.... ok thanks for the notice!' anyway we reorganized the next morning so that we could see him and then he like didn't show up! so i called him. he said he wouldn't ben able to make it and hung up but then i was like 'no. he wants this.' sometimes we have to force people to realize it, just like when i went on the ferris wheel when i was five and i was sooo scared. but then it was the best thing ever!! so maybe i was a brat, but this work that we have it too important. i called him back and i was like 'look. we reorganized the morning so that we could see you. we know that this message is important for you and we would really love to be able to share it with you.' he was like 'ok' HA! so he came to the church and we did a little lesson. this man is smart. he said he has a million questions that the catholic church insists are 'mysteries of God' and i said we don't believe in those. he asked us how mary could be a virgin and still give birth, how the earth was created, and how can we have agency if we say 'thy will be done' GREAT quesions. i don't know about mary, but the other two we have the answers! anyhoo it was a decent lesson.
sunday was great. we had lunch with the valentini family who made us an all vegeterian smorgasbord. they are great. then we sucked all the information that we could out of them, about less actives mostly. they know everything. then we had a miracle that night. the perini family is a gorgeous family, but they have been inactive for a while. we have passed by their house or called them at least once a week every week that i have been here. we have only ever seen them once though. the wife is avoiding us. the poor husband is suffering because the love of his life has officially rejected the thing that's the most important to him. and it breaks his and my heart because this family is STUNNING. they are both young and attractive and they have one daughter who is truly a spoiled little princess full of energy. well there is an active member who lives behind them, but her palazzo is connected to the courtyard. so we buzzed in to this active member who let us in to the courtyard, and boom. there was the husband and the daughter. if there had been the wife, she would have made some excuse for not letting us come in. the daughter, however said, OH! le sorelle!! then she asked us to do a family home evening. so we said 'OK!' so we FINALLY got into the house of the infamous perini family. they are gorgeous. the wife was less than enthusiastic but you could feel the relief of the husband. things went well except we hadn't prepared anything and so i was really going off the cuff and i was kinda nervous because i love these people so much. anyway, this was just one step in a long and difficult process of getting silvia perini to need the gospel in her life again.
things with antonio are going much better now that he knows that doesn't have to talk to his wife. i don't know if that is a good thing, but he has promised to memorize 1 nefi 3:7. i secretly hope that he gets baptized on my birthday.
anyway i apologize for how nasty my hair looks in the pictures. i decided that i want to grow it out again, like it was in high school, so i evened it out from the asymmetrical and now its just in an awkward not long enough to be shoudler length, not short enough to be cute ugly phase. good thing im a missionary!
just so you know i have received several letters from dad and one from trisha and i am super grateful. to dad i want to say, thank you for being so strong and doing everything for your family. i knew it would be hard this long distance thing but you are so awesome for making this sacrifice. thank you thank you thank you for giving me the perfect life. i can't believe how incredibly blessed i have been. shame on me for ever complaining that this mission is challenging!!!! and in the moments that i think that, i think of the talk of elder holland that says that if we are going to be worthy of what the Father wants to give us, we have to pass through our own personal Gethsemane. the mild little things that i suffer can't even come close so i will try to endure it well. :) i love this gospel and swimming in the pool of spiritual money with my gorgeous family.
all my love
sorella ashman