Wednesday, October 12, 2011


well things are going great. i wanna stay here forever. and i might do it. being with sorella hicks makes me feel like a huge sinner though because she is perfect. and i am realizing more and more the spiritual cancer that i have had without ever knowing it. its great to have someone different than you because you even each other out. she is seriously the best. she is quite, tidy and simple. have any of those words ever been used to describe me? uuuuuuh.... yeah i didnt think so. i was such a horrible child. im so sorry. not that i am much better now...
anyway i want to start by telling you all about the story that i am writing. while we were reading the Book of Mormon the other day, i had the thought i my writing skills must be going down the tubes, even though i was a pretty good writer (in english and italian) when i was a student. so i decided that i wanted to write a story. its not just a two page fun story, its already 10 pages by hand and its just getting started. i think it will be like 40 pages. not a novel but you know. anyway, its about me and what will happen if i stay in italy. miriam comes to visit and run a half marathon with me. at the very beginning for about a paragraph life is perfect with me and my hot husband and then my friend carmen (a member here) comes to our house because she got kicked out of hers and then the story goes from there and all the problems that happen. anyway yesterday slla hicks was sick so we sat at home all morning. she slept and i wrote the story. (i also have a weiner dog in the story hahahaha!!!) anyway as im writing it, i am seeing myself, as selfish and distracted as i am, and also seeing that im not always right. i read the story to slla hicks and im thinking that ive created all these problems for myslef in the story and when i finished reading what i have so far she says "poor husband" and i was like "poor husband???" then i realized that she was right and i was a selfish pig. hahahaha when i get home i will type it and translate it in english.
last thursday there was an awesome huge miracle. we had a lesson with angelo our new little love. fllo curci got there before us, and they had talked about how he needs to quite smoking. then the Spirit overcame him and he said, "fine i dont smoke anymore" and he threw his lighter and cigarettes in the garbage. now dont get too excited because he has smoked since then, BUT very very little and not for the last two days. he was smoking three packs a day, and though he didnt quite go 100% he is now smoke free :) that afternoon we saw annalisa and stefania and we talked about the restaurazione, but they had so many questions about.... well lets just say "the law of chastity"...... i told them next time we see them, we are teaching the law of chastity and they can ask us whatever questions they want. one of the questions they had was "isnt it sad for you to know that when you are in love with a person you cant share that love fully?" i almost slapped them across the face. THE WORLD HAS NO IDEA WHAT LOVE IS!!!!!!!!!! after their lesson we saw grazia and gianni. they are a lovely couple (she is GORGIOARMANI!!!!!!) she has been separated from her husband for a while and gianni is her new boy. they live together, but grazia is having problems with him and she is scared because she was already separated from her husband and doesnt want to be separated again. anyway gianni is younger than her and she basically feels like his mom. but grazia is an ex investigator and she is smart because she knows that the answer to their problems is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. good girl. we have to work a lot with them....
friday we saw orazio and maria and we taught them the word of wisdom. they are not ripe yet. we set a date with them and i know that we needed to set it, but it might have been to show them (and me!) that this is real and that they need to be baptized. the lesson went well, but they still dont have a testimony of the Church so they weren't convinced about the word of wisdom.... hahaha that night we had a big fat party. slla magno, the most perfect person on the planet, organized this awesome activity at her house with 4 investigators (antonia dibenardo, maria pia montone, alessandro, and then another friend of sis magno)  and it was just the bees knees. she even made focaccia (mom, dad and mim do you remember focaccia??? that delicious salty bread???? in bari its a little different, but you get the idea)  we talked about faith. there was a really good discussion, lead of course by fllo curci. when you guys meet him man o man..... he is a character. he is awesome.
saturday was awesome. slla hicks was kinda sick so we didnt do much the morning, then the afternoon we saw jared, who is our new african investigator. he is AWESOME. the first time we saw him, he was all hung up on joseph smith. so we planned a lesson with no joseph (even though it was hard for me because a HUGE part of my testimony is about JS especailly since i went to the sacred grove) anyway so we talked about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and then he was like "this is what you all need to preach. dont talk about joseph smith blah blah blah" and i said "im sorry jared, but have we said one thing about joesph smith today? our message is about Jesus Christ, and joesph smith is a part of it, but its really about Christ." BOOM! anyway then we talked all about prayer and we left him the commitment to pray to God and ask Him why we met each other. then that night there was a baptism. giuseppe dabbicco, who is the boyfriend of a member. the baptism was incredible. the girlfriend was sooooooooo happy. she gave a talk and she bawled the whole time. it was so cute. he had to get baptized twice, just like me. but man the Spirit was strong!!!! then after the baptism, fllo curci asked me to share my testimony so i did and then the baptism just happened to happen the same day as the ward dance party. now here's the thing, everyone was saying that missionaries can't dance, but its not written anywhere ANYWHERE that we cant... anyway... i think we can. so we did. and it was the most fun i have had in my WHOLE mission. and i am NOT just saying that. i spent the whole night twirling around the daughter of one of the investigators and feeling supremely momish. it was wonderful. and then one of the other little girls came and wanted to dance too and i had one little baby on each hand and it was sooooo fun.
sunday ROCKED!!!! it was POURING rain alllllll day (its weird for me that there is enough water in the air that it can rain all day... hahaha in henderhole if it rains, it rains for 30 minutes and thats it.) angelo and his beautiful wife came to church!!! they loved it. she was thrilled that he went to church and they said they are coming to our church from now on. his wife's name is marinella. she is sooo different from him, but we all know now how i feel about having your compliment. :) after we had a huge lunch with the puglisi family and it just so happened that the girlfriend of the guy who got baptized on saturday is the granddaughter of a member who lives in ragusa, who is married to the father of another member here in bari (she is a widow and he a widower) yeah its a really complicated family tree, but long story short, a couple from ragusa was here too and i was SOOOOO happy to see them. i LOVE them. and we all had lunch together. it was bomb. then we tried to do a bunch of stuff but nothing was going well, so we just went to the young single adult activity and it was wonderful.
monday was awesome. we taught angelo and his wife together. she is sooo great!! i cant stop saying how much i love her. then we went to see titta. she could have a whole book herself.... ill save it for another time. then we spent the whole afternoon with angela cafagno. she is a member that was baptized 7 years ago. she is my favorite person in bari. i'll just be honest. we went with her to see slla lassandro and her husband who never got baptized even though she was a member when they got married. there is still hope!!!!! then we had fhe with antonio at slla magno's house. antonio told us that sunday night he was out until 5 am at the discoteca. i was a little shocked. and i told him that that's not really something you do on sunday!!! but i was too hard on him and i felt bad. i know he's just a baby, but i felt partly responsible because i must not have taught him well enough.... but its all good, i just hope he didnt drink anything. that night as we were walking, we saw a huge stack of board games in the garbage!!!!!! so of course i took the harry potter game--- never used!!!!!!! and its in italian. haha!
yesterday we stayed at home in the morning cuz sis hicks was dying (by dying i mean still sick). i wrote the story and she died. then that afternoon, we saw fllo costantino, who is less active, and his mom who is not a member. he is so cute, he needs some love because he has no friends in the ward. his siblings are active but they all live in other cities. and we found out that his home teachers never come. so thats no good. anyway, then we saw angelo again. he says he wants to see us as often as we want to come :) it was an ok lesson. i wish marinella had been there, but she was sick. anyway it was good.... then we taught english course and fllo curci walked us to the church and as we walked i told him about how i am rebellious and i used to fight a lot with my parents and that i dont trust some people and he loved it. he loves hearing things about people, especially their weaknesses. he says it is a very big problem as he smiles from ear to ear. hahaha english course was great. we taught the students how to play baseball and football and we decided that next week we are going to have a kickball game.
ok that is about it.... i hope the letter is good, we are kind of in a rush. also sis hicks doesnt take as long as i do....
about the end of my mission..... :(:(:(:(:( my release date as of now is june 1 2012. i might extend but probably not, since i already got an extra transfer in the field. start looking at flights. i dont care who comes. you can all come if you want to!! lodging and food i am sure will not be problems. we will stay with members. they wouldnt have it any other way. and i think we do 15 days or so? its all up to you. you should arrive on the 31st of may though. and we'll go to sicily :)
thank you so much for everything. shout out to vanessa jr. and aunt janelle for her birthday!!!! ya hoo!!!! tanti auguri bella!!!
i love you all i miss you like crazy.....
all my love
sorella ashman

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Almost 11 months :-/ che strano...

yeah it seems impossible but its true, in a month, i will have been on the mission for a YEAR!!! its so weird!!!
to be honest, i have been incredibly confused these last few days and weeks about what i want to do. i know i dont need to worry to much about what happens after the mission, but at the same time its hard for me to NOT think about it when there is the possibility for such huge changes in my life. i was pretty much convinced on italy until dad sent me his last letter with pictures of the house on spring court pond which i love so much. its like i won the price is right. all of this could be yours!!! but instead its like im choosing to live in a tiny little box with no central heating or cooling surrounded by thousands of people on all sides in a foreign country. slla hicks and i started a list of the pros of living in italy. its coming along quite.... slowly. so far we have vespas and bidets. ok im just kidding. the real reason i would do it would be to help the Church. because like we all know from my big fat greek wedding women are the neck. its really us that are in charge. and the Church in italy needs help!!! and the house where i live in the end isnt important. what happens inside the walls of my home is. oh and if i do end up living in italy, vanessa, i wont leave america without spending much time with you. (that goes for everyone, but she expressly asked so i had to calm her fears.) ok i dont need to or want to think about it anymore.
this week was AWESOME. seriously one of the best weeks i have had in the mission so far. last wednesday we had corrolation and then the bishop came and asked if we would go to visit an ex simpatizzante who needed a blessing. her name is antonia and she has been suffering from depression. she was taught by my mom, sister foote, who was also born in ragusa, then transfered to bari. funny huh. anyway she was supposed to get baptized but doesnt like the decima, and its hard because she isnt 100% mentally stable. she has medication etc so she is pretty good, but her depression is really bad. she needs our love!!!! and we are gonna give it to her gosh darn it!!! anyhoo the lesson went well even though it was completely unplanned.
thursday we had another miracle lesson, quite similar to the one with antonia with another ex investigator, an older single woman, named maria pia, who also was supposed to get baptized but doesnt like the decima and has depression. strange. we want them to get baptized the same day. anyway, its really nice being the missionaries who get to reap where the others sewed. i havnet been able to do it that much. let me explain- when you first meet an investigator, you need to teach them the basics, and you need to teach them all of the things that in preach my gospel. yes you teach them to their needs but at the same time, you are preparing them for baptism. you are preparing them for the baptismal interview. when someone has already had the baptismal interview and passed, they know their stuff enough that you can pretty much teach them whatever. so with both maria pia and antonia, its really about them. not about what we need to teach from preach my gospel and its really nice. most of my mission has been finding and teaching. when sister foote left ragusa, literally every single investigator changed. then i was there for another 6 months, and when i left every investigator was one that i had had a part in finding. when i got here they had one investigator, with whom i still haven't had a lesson, and so again, these people that we are teaching are people that i have had a part in finding. now that we have reopened the doors with maria pia and antonia, its great. the other missionaries did all the hard work. thank you sister foote and anziano knutsen!!! ok that was a long tangent, but now you get to see inside the missionaries' minds. that afternoon we ate in a restaurant for lunch hahaha just because i felt like it and it was really close to our house. it was sooooooooooo good. mom (and whoever else) when you come, we are there. then we taught english course, and then we had a lesson with annalisa and stefania!! the teenagers (van they are 16 and 17--youngissimo) this lesson was DA BOMB. (thank you again toonchic. actually in italy when you say something is a bomb, its a good thing. ahahah so you are right it was italian slang that was influencing me. and yes counting in english is still much easier. thats strange) anyway. stefania told us that she was reading the BOM and her dad asked her what she was doing, and so she told him and he told her that he and her mom had sutdied with the missionaries in the past!!! woah!!! then she told us that she had prayed truly and sincerely to know if the BOM was true, and she said she didnt get any answer. but they both said that they still dont think its true because of the plates. ba. anyway we analized their questions and their prayers and then we all knelt in a circle and prayed together to know if the Book of Mormon was true. well im convinced. i dont know if they felt it, but literally i felt a tingle come over me- yet again- saying that it was true. its amazing.

friday we planned and then we went to see another old woman ex investigator, maria simone. she is great. i love her. she is super sarcastic and frank. she hasn't had a baptismal date like the other two, so we are starting from almost the beginning, but she said that our visit really made her happy and she wants us to come again. she has been friends with one of the most faithful members for 40 years. that evening, we went to see the valerio family. they have been inactive for about 25 years, but they are now coming back to church because they know they messed up going inactive. they have six children who are all baptized and inactive. if we could get them to regain their testimonies fully, they could revolutionize the ward. this meeting was really lovely because we just happened to see sister santoro who is sis valerio's visiting teacher and we all went together. sis valerio opened right up with sis santoro and they were talking about how she doesnt have the faith to pay tithing how that is what keeps them from coming to Church and going to the temple, and many other things. it was really good because if we want to help these people we need to know them. if they think that we are just missionaries who come and go they wont open up, but if we go with their visiting teacher bing bing bing!! i won the price is right again.
saturday we went to see beatrice and silvia, and yet again, they havent read anything and they dont believe that the Book of Mormon can help them. anyhoo we discovered yet another problem, its not enough that beatrice destroyed the house, that she works 12 hours a day, and that silvia has no work. now we find out that beatrices son is verbally abusive because his father and grandfather also were and that he yells at both his mother and sister and demands that they do things for him when and how he asks. they both said its unlivable at their house. i don't know what else to do, besides get the members involved. but its hard because beatrice never has time. anyway in the end it went really well. silvia requested that we pray. haha i love prayer requests. then we went to lunch at orazio and maria's house. it was sooooo good. she made spaghetti with clams. she knows how to cook this one. then we went to watch conference and after we went to get a panzerotto with the young adults :)
sunday was the best day of my life. the morning we went to see titta in the hospital. i want to have a skin disease so i can stay in the dermatology department. its seriously like a hotel. ok its ugly and im sure the food isnt great, but you stay for free, you can go for a walk and they have vending machines and big trees. the hospital here is a whole other animal. its sooo weird. then we went to watch conference. brother desantis brought us lunch in the church so we ate there and then we lived in the church. it was awesome. about 20 minutes before the last session started, angelo walks  in (the miracle from last week that accepted his baptismal date immediately) he came and sat next to me, and about half way through, he had to use the bathroom. then he never came back...... we were worried that we had lost him. but dont worry, youll see what happens. in the end, the thing that was super awesome was that for the evening session orazio, maria, antonia, mariapia, and angelo all came!!!!!!!!! 5 investigators in church!! the most ive ever had. :) plus i learned a TON of things. i think my fave talk was the first of the whole thing. elder scott talking about how scriptures learned by memory are our true friends.
monday was great. we had district meeting and then we ate lasagna with the anziani from the libertà ward because we needed to teach a lesson together with them. so after we ate, then we went to the train station to teach jared, a young man from nigeria (ok probably about 33-35 years old) he was great. he loves the Bible and when we told him about joseph smith, he was like "i dont need to know him. he is not important. do not preach the word of joseph smith. you need to preach the word of Jesus Christ." he was a little confused. but just the same he was super. we are going to see him again. then we got gelato to celebrate. then we had an appointment with angelo. we didnt know if he had completely dropped off the face of the earth or if he just wasnt feeling well or what. so i called. he apologized for his behavior. he said that he hasnt been in a church for 10 years, and he freaked out. anyway he was busy but we fixed the appointment for the next day. we then decided to visit the oldest member of the ward, slla valenti. 89 years old and still walks to church every sunday with no problems. she got out all her pictures from when she was baptized and the letters that the missionaries wrote her etc etc. we were there for an hour. hahaha then we left because we had another appt at 6 with this guy we had met on the street and fixed the appt. on the street. we figured he wouldnt come, and he didnt. but then all of our back ups weren't working out, but fllo costantino was in my mind. he is a single older man who is a bit strange but super nice. he lives with his mom and has no friends. i called him. he said he could come to the church right now! it was sweet. so he came and we did a FHE with him and he was all happy. then he gave us a huge bag of cookies and walked us home.
yesterday was off the charts. started out with orazio and maria. they are the greatest! we asked them a bunch of questions to understand the journey that they have made so far. orazio has come leaps and bounds. maria hasnt touched a page of the BOM but she feels the Spirit so strong, and she keeps asking and thinking about the restoration film. anyway one of the quesitons was "do you feel like you have come closer to Christ since we have been meeting together?" maria says "a little" orazio says "i refuse to answer. the answer is too obvious." HAHAHA!!! I LOVED that answer. orazio is such a tough guy. anyway, we were dying to get a baptismal date with them. its been a long time. i dont think i've ever had an investigator for so long without fixing a date or dropping them. we told them that we think they are much closer to Christ and that they could be ready to be baptized on october 22. all four of their eyes popped out of their heads. but they said they would pray about it. i dont know why, but the Spirit really told me that that is the day. i was going on total faith then because we had chosen that day a long time ago, and they aren't ready right now. in fact, the first thing that orazio did when we got there was show us these two HUGE barrels of wine that they are making. and maybe it won't work out for that day, but i know that i did what the Spirit told me to do. then we saw angelo. he is an angelo. he is soooo wonderful. we saw him with fllo curci and it was great. he is going to come to church again on sunday and try. he said he shouldnt have run away from his fears, but he should have faced them. so sunday he is going to face them. the afternoon we saw maria pia and it was perfect. she is super sweet. she told us the story of how she found the church. the ex wife of her dead son is a member. her name is sabrina and she lives in rimini (near fano where i lived in 2004!) sabrina told her to go to the church and viola! she came. that was 2 years ago.... anyway we read the BOM with her, we told her that she is ready for baptism whenever she feels ready. then we had a huge miracle. there was a bus at 6:20 at her house that would take us home by 6:30 and then it takes 20 minutes to walk to church for english course. well at 6:15 we were at the stop. at 6:35 it still hadnt come. we were chatting with an ex investigator that we saw there and then we lost all hope and decided to run to the church (it would take about 50 minutes on foot walking). we started running and then we heard a whistle. the ex simp was signaling that the bus was coming!!! i saw the bus and i thought "there is no way" but thanks to adrenaline, as the bus passed the busstop (literally running at full speed) i pounded on the door and he let us on. we got to the church 1 minute late. it was fun. after english course, we saw antonio, who is a joyous treasure.
whew. it was a great week. thats all i have for you today. ok except i bought a scarf with the pope on it. hahahahahahaha
i love bari, i love italy, i love being a missionary. the work is the best its ever been. thank you for your letters and support.
all my love
sorella sh