Thursday, November 24, 2011

Alma the younger lives again!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIRIAM!!!!!!!! you are legal!!!! go vote!!! yay!!! i am so happy for you. i love you!
last thursday i learned that marinella lagattolla is by far the best member i have ever had at a lesson. she has been baptized for three weeks and she is perfect!!! we went with her to teach daniele, the man who we found doing house a few weeks ago. the lesson was incredible. INCREDIBLE marinella's testimony was the icing on the cake. at first when we came over he was like "yeah you know i am happy to have you here, but i just invited you for politeness." bla bla bla anyway so we tell him about the restoration and he loved it. i told him how the Spirit works and that he might get goose bumps or feel warmth etc etc and he was like "thats interesting!" like in a good way. anyway the lesson was awesome. when we invited him to be baptized he said he would think about. we gave him the Book of Mormon and he said that he would devour it. it loves to read. he also said that in one week he was going into retirement and then he would be free to dedicate himself to our message. sweet! he is obsessed with his grandkids. his house is wallpapered with their pictures. anyway it was a perfect lesson, and we are going to invite him to be baptized on december 31.
friday morning the other sorelle got a phone call from a member whose girlfriend was supposed to get baptized this weekend. he told them that they needed to do the baptism the next day!!! AAAAAHHH!!! it was exciting but there was a lot to get done. that afternoon we saw jared, the african who is a rebel that could be killed if he goes back to africa. he left to go back yesterday because his mom cries so much and begs him to come home. we also found out that his name is GERALD not jared. thanks nigerian accent..... anyway this lesson was out of this world. we talked about baptism with him. we asked him why he loved infant baptism and he explained about how when a child starts young than he shall not depart from it, that scripture. and i was like you're right. and thats why we bless our babies and teach people to have big families. but what is baptism for? remission of sins and making a covenant with God. a baby doesn't need it. anyway more stuff like that, then out of nowhere he asks where is your church? are there any black people? does your preacher speak english? so we answer his questions. he then said "i think i am beginning to be interested in your church. it must be a very good church." i think my mouth just dropped. from the first lesson him yelling at us to not teach about joseph smith or the book of mormon, to this. WOW. anyway so we knew he was leaving to go to africa and it is a huge risk. we gave him a present. a book of mormon. i don't know how he took it because we wrapped it and told him to open it by himself. i told him though that this gift is the most important thing that we could ever give him. he was sooooo grateful for the gift. i was like wait til you see what it is before you thank us. haha.
that evening we had an AWESOME fhe with sorella magno (the 75 year old is getting married) and maria pia who is sooooo close!!! we talked about forgiving ourselves. it was a great lesson. fllo curci didnt really get it, but he is a man. the older ladies were eating it up though. when fllo curci gave us a ride home he was talking about how husband is such an ugly word compared marito. its true. then curci was like hu hu hu husaband. its so ugly! (yes he speaks some english) it was really funny.
saturday was soooo fun. we did one of my favorite things in the world: BLOOD DRIVE!!!! it will probably keep me from donating blood for 5 years in america but i hope not.... it was sooo fun because there were so many members there. anziano mickelsen and i ALWAYS talk about italian grammar and that day was no exception. we were talking about the subjuntive tense and he actually has this little book allll about subjuntive. we were reading some together and the other members were listening then we got on this huge discussion about the subjunctive and it was almost like who wants to be a millionaire because phone calls were made and things were discussed before we realized the final answer. (anz mickelsen and i were RIGHT!!!) anyway the entire waiting room was involved. it was fun. the nurse who took my blood asked a million questions about us and she asked if we missionaries were dating. hahaha italians always like to know about things related to "love". soooo many people want to know our point of view on cohabitation etc etc. anyway then we went home finally and then we had the much anticipated meeting with michele sciacovelli (sha ko velli) to set his baptismal date. alright this lesson was super difficult for several reasons. before we got there, i got phone call from a member who is a plumber who wanted to go over and do some stuff at our house. i told him he could come get the keys from me at fllo curci's house. he said that was fine. also, we had to hurry to get to the baptism and we had to call the mission pres to get permission to ride with fllo curci and michele in the car because slla curci didnt feel like coming. so all of that had to be dealt with while we were trying to set a baptismal date. anyway let's just be grateful that michele is already elect. one of the first things that he said was that he wanted to get baptized and get batized soon. so we were like well that makes it easy. how about december 10th? he said "of course!" alright thats done! elect people make missionary work too easy. i love elect people. well the member plumber came to get the keys from me, then when he brought them back, i told him to bring our cake that we had made because otherwise we wouldnt have made it to church in time. then we got in curci's fiat 600 and went to the baptism. michele LOVED it. it was a very special baptism. this young woman, stefania, sang with the stake choir back in september and has been coming to church and intstitute ever since. her bf is a member, and the strongest family in bari lives in the palazzo with them, so it was inevitable. this week she is in swizzerland to do baptisms for the dead at the temple!
sunday there was another baptism!! hahah!! it wasn't a convert baptism though it was the daughter of the bishop of the other ward. it was beautiful, especially becase the little girl sang!!! it was sooo cute. her name is jasmine so you can see the cake they made her :)

monday was interesting...last wednesday, the bishop gave us a referal for a family of ex investigators. he said he tought it might be time for them again. it was great because i had also felt like that a while ago when i saw their names in the area book. anyway we used our faith and we set our goal for this week at 8 new investigators (the average is 2) because we wanted this family. they would have been 5. so we got on a bus and we went to adelfia. we rang the citofono and the young daughter said her mom wasnt home and that we couldnt come in. so we went to the relief society president's house. surprise! she let us in and then asked if we wanted her to come with us to go and visit another family of ex investigators and i was like sure! so this family i had heard about them- ameli and marco- they seem like they are already members. they are AMAZING. i don't know why they ever stopped taking the lessons. anyway it was nice time with them, we shared a spiritual thought, then we went back to the first family. this time slla iacovelli rang the citofono and the mom was home but she said she didnt want to talk to us. she convinced her to see us. this woman was angry. she said that she had been tricked and cheated by certain members of the church and she didn't want to have anything to do with the mormons. well i wish that i could say that by the time we left she had agreed to baptism, but fortunately our Heavenly Father works line upon line, precept upon precept. she did soften up a lot by the time we left and when we asked if we could pray, she said of course and knelt right down. i am not sure why we were supposed to go there, but i am glad we did. the bus ride home was fun. i like to sit in the front. its kinda like mr. toad's wild ride because you see these obstacles and you're about to hit them, and at the last second you just barely squeek past. anyway i talked to the bus driver all the way home. he was great. and he was super against praying to statues.
tuesday we saw michele again. we got to learn a lot more stuff about him. friday his book comes out and he has asked me to speak at the premier about how he has changed his life etc etc. anyway i asked how it happened that he changed his life so much. he told us that he was illiterate when he went into prison, but that in prison your ONLY contact with the outside world is through letters. (i thought hmm sounds familiar!! hahhaa jk mission is not prison!) but he started writing and something strange happened when he wrote-- he felt better. then he started reading, then he started devouring all these books. he got a diploma in prison and he is now going to school for another. he is just the coolest person ever. and now he has found God and he is so happy. he said the FUNNIEST thing in the world. ok catholics here think its like a sin or something if your parents dont baptize their kids, then there are the other catholic ordinances. anyway he was like "now if i tell you this, don't be scandalized." curci said "nothing can scandalize me" then michele said "I NEVER GOT BAPTIZED. I HAVE NEVER DONE THE CRESIMA OR CONFESION" i busted out laughing. and i said "even better!" hahahhaahah!! he laughed too. then curci explained that it doesnt matter if someone is baptized 100 times in another church. anyway that lesson was great. when we started he was like "i'll say the prayer!" he has never prayed before. it was soooooo cute!! he got a little choked up. the afternoon we proposed a baptismal date for maria pia for january 7 and we talked about all her concerns about baptism. she said she would think about it. she also asked when we are leaving. she wants to do it when i am here. i love her. she kinda reminds me of gramma dorothy. anyway she is gonna get baptized.
ok a few random things:
christmas phone call will be happening on the 26 if that is ok with everyone. since christmas is sunday, they are giving us the 26 as our day off. i want to do skype. it will be the morning for you guys. let me know
i was actually quite glad to hear about grandma norene. sister kelly called me last night. i do wish that i could have seen her another time, but i am glad that she was such a great example to us all. she really changed many lives.
my address is
via giulio petroni 99-B
70124 bari
i hope thanksgiving is great. if there is ever a moment of silence maybe if someone needs to say a spiritual thought or something i would like to share something with the whole family. if this can be read i would appreciate it. i am so grateful to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. i am so grateful for all of the undeserved yet ever present blessings that my Savior provides for me everyday. i am grateful for agency and i am grateful for plans that don't go the way that i thought they should. when that happens, it means that He has something even better in mind. i am so grateful for my eternal family and especially for my wonderful and self sacrificing parents. i am grateful for the constant exmaple of my great grandmother Norene, and i am grateful that she has been released from her period of trial and has enetered into the joy of the Lord. today, however, i am grateful overall for one thing: the Book of Mormon. it has changed my life. i know that if anyone wants to be happier they need to read the Book of Mormon DAILY. i am not sure why this is my message for you all, but i want us all to put in a more effort to read and study to Book of Mormon. i am grateful to Joseph Smith who gave his life because he knew it was true. i know all of it is true, from Kolob to faith, from the temple ordinances to church attendance. the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the way, and there is no other way save in and through Jesus Christ. this is His church. this is His work, and the Book of Mormon is His book. in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

double baptisms!

yes it was very nice to talk to you all last week. i am glad that the funeral went well. i havent really talked to anyone here about it cuz i dont seem to be able to without crying! hahaha but yesterday during a lesson it came out and not that i didnt cry, it just seemed to be the right thing to say. anyway we are putting the cart before the horse.
last week was CRAZY. monday was halloween, and i found out about janelle. tuesday we moved. wednesday was p-day. thursday was a disaster.... ok so slla johnson who was serving in the city next to us called taranto and her comp stayed with us cuz sis johnson had to go to sicily in the morning and sister olsen couldnt stay alone. so thursday morning johnson had to take the bus at 8:15. except that the bus actually left at 8. we got to the bus station at 8:07. which is cutting it close even for the 8:15 but we would have made it. anyway we then had a crisis and didnt know what to do, so we called president and he with the assistents arranged a flight for sis johnson from bari to rome to catania. then we had to find someone to give her a ride to the airport. as we were standing at the bus station in the middle of the crisis, my phone rings. it was annalisa. she told me that they didnt want to take the lessons anymore but that they still wanted to be friends. i was pretty much destroyed when she said that. we cant really have 'friends' here.... its like investigators or nothing.... anyway that was a rough morning hahahah we then had to teach two lessons. good thing there were four sisters though because we did splits and went to teach the two lessons at one time!!! i saw orazio and maria with sis johnson and we watched some of the testaments. it was awesome. i cried. maybe because i was so stressed about everything. then we had to get sis johnson to the airport. orazio and maria took her. they are the best. then we went home and finished everything, cuz the house was still a disaster. then we went to the station to get our new companions. i didnt know who mine was going to be so when i met sister sobeck i was pleasantly surprised. i had to break my italian fast though. i didnt speak english for 4 months!! im just sayin. she looks just like my roommate hillary when i was alaska. she is a super hard worker and she asks lots of good questions and she is the best little greeny you could ever hope for. i love her. we went to get a gelato and then when we got home we ate spaghetti with tomato sauce that i had been cooking ALL DAY. it was delish.
friday we kicked butt. we taught four lessons in one evening. the new house is a miracle because its so close to everything!!! the time we spent to walk to and from the old house is the time it takes to teach a lesson. one of our new investigators is anna. she is an older woman who owns a shoe shop. she bought us orzo and sister sobeck loved it!! jkjkjk she hated it. she made her niece listen to our lesson too. she was like 'come here! sit down and listen! this is important!' hahah it was awesome. then we saw angelo and marinella, then maria pia and we asked her to think about getting baptized around christmas. then we saw fllo costantino and his mom who is literally insane. she has the biggest crush on me that anyone has ever had. she likes me more that giulio. she gave us some whole wheat pasta and sauce to cook at home and she made us eat a bunch of cookies bla bla bla. then we went to the store to grab some milk and the anziani were there!!! it was awesome. another plus of this transfer is that my firstborn son, anziano pedreira is now in my ward. we served together in sicily when he was born, and i was SOOOOO happy to see him i almost didnt believe he was coming.  i love the anziani.
saturday was great. we waited at home for the anziani to come get some things they had left, and 'we'll be there in 10 minutes' turned into an hour. then sister olsen from taranto called and said that her comp left her camera at our house and that if we could take it to a member's house that morning their bishop was in bari and would go get it. so we went to the valentinis house to give them the camera and there was this cute little couple there who are basically living my dream (except they are both american) but they are missionaries in sicily. they both served their missions in italy and then they wanted to come on a mission so they just decided to go to italy and then from there they worked everything out. so they were pretty awesome. then we saw angelo and marinella and we gave them sone presents for their baptism. a tie for angelo and some earrings and a hair clip for marinella. she wore them both to the baptism. we all got matching earrings. :) then we gave them a huge carton of orzo. they were soooo happy with the gifts. then we had to go back home. we ate curry and then we did another hour of study because greenies have to study for an extra hour everyday for the first two transfers. then we finished all the prep for the baptism and then we were going to go to fllo curci's house and lo and behold, there he was! so we walked him home and talked to his wife for a little. she is not doing well. she has alzheimers. anyway he thought it would be a good idea to visit his friends. so we went and we taught them and it was awesome!! sister sobeck shared a beautiful testimony and i told them all about my decision to go on a mission which wasnt easy. i included a teeny bit of giulio in my story and then after the lesson fllo curci started grilling me about my love life and i ran away (literally). he always invades my personal life. hahaha
sunday was the best of times and the worst of times. the fast and testimony meeting was off the charts. there is never a pause in the meeting. i bore my testimony TO angelo and marinella about when i went to the sacred grove. it was seriously one of the best fast and testimonies i have ever been to. after church i found out some really heavy news. we went to lunch with the juan family. i LOVE slla juan she is the one that is supposed to give me job when i finish my mission. anyway, as we were on our way, i asked who her husband was riding with because he wasnt with us in the car. she told me that her husband wasnt living at their house and that they were separated right now. and i was shocked. heres the thing. in sacrament i noticed that they never talked to each other, rather they talked to the kids. and they never sat by each other. but seriously. lots of people here are obsessed with their kids. when i found that out it the hardest thing ever. anyway she is planning on moving to america with the kids. she asked if we have any divorced relatives and i was like well my grandparents, but it was a loooooong time ago, but sister sobecks parents got divorced a month ago. i hate divorce. anyway that sucked. and i am still heartbroken. we have been praying for them every prayer.... well then we had to go to the happiest thing in the world. i ironed their clothes, then we went to the church. the other sorelle were there and were already filling up the font (bless them). anyway angelo and marinella arrived and they got dressed. there also happened to be stake choir practice. guess what angelo did? he just went right up and started singing with the choir! it was sooooo cute!!! hahaha the baptismal service itself was great. it was wonderful. i sang 'i believe in christ' with slla hicks. the talks were wonderful and when they got baptized they were so happy!!!! 
marinella literally laughed she was so happy. it was the best. but even better, their testimonies after their baptism. WOWOWOWOW. marinella is ready to be a relief society teacher. here's the thing. she doesnt talk a ton, so i didn't know all that was in her. but the Spirit really did His work and she GOT it.
monday was fun. i forgot that the greenies have to get their visas and what not. i forgot when you train you also agree to that.... hahah oh well. anyway so we ran around all morning doing immigration stuff. it was all worth it though when this man sneezed reallyREALLY loud and then yelled MADONNA MIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! when i get home i will reinact it for you. then we got gelato after we finished. then we went home for 30 minutes, then we saw my favorite african jared! it was a BOMB lesson. we read acts 17 and talked about having a personal relationship with God. then i felt like i needed to ask him about baptism. so asked him what he thought about baptism. and he said that all babies are born with original sin and they needed to be baptized bla bla bla. then the Spirit worked Its magic. instead saying NO ITS NOT LIKE THAT i said 'jared would you be willing to hear a different point of view?' he said yes. then i explained things as they are, that  Eve chose to eat the fruit knowing that there was no other way. and i asked him to pray about it. last time we asked him to pray about why we met. he did and he doesnt know why yet, but he knows that it is for a reason. after the lesson we had a fun experience. we were going to visit some less actives. i had fixed the appointment but when i called to confirm, they cancelled. i felt like we should go anyway. then there was this young man who looked like he really wanted to talk to us so i opened my big fat mouth. he was so cute, he was from iran. we ended up taking the same bus and talked the whole time. then we got off and i didnt know exactly what to do. sister sobeck was like 'what are we supposed to do now?' and i was like 'lets get on this bus' so we got on and there was this man who really wanted to talk to us. so we talked to him. he said he wanted to come to church. he is a person who is truly truly searching. then i dont know why, but i invited him to come to the FHE that we were doing at fllo curci's house. he came!!!! hahaha it was awesome!! then he had to go. then we did the fhe we had planned with angelo and a less active family. it went well.
yesterday i fell into simpatizzante love. nicola. the one that looks like giulio. if all investigators were like him, the world would be a better place. anyway we taught him after english course and it went really well. we started teaching the restoration and it didnt feel right. but i didnt know what to teach him so i was praying please please let me know what i need to say!!! and then my 'companion' (we were doing splits) said 'how often do you pray?' just out of nowhere. and it just went all uphill from there. he said the closing prayer and he asked the the things he doesnt know can be revealed to him as soon as possible. anyway it was awesome. life is just awesome.
congratulations vanessa and jeffereson!!!!! i wanna know what names you are thinking of!!! i have a long list. ok everyone this letter is tooching long. sorry. hope you enjoy. the church is true. i am a witness that it works :) hahaha
all my love
sorella ashman