Wednesday, July 22, 2015

(week 26) Shoot...6 months already...?

Che si dic!?

wow...what a week. alright so today (monday) we're traveling to
Taranto for our zone conference on wednesday. you may wonder why we're
already heading up there, and that would be because it's about an hour
long train ride plus a 3 hour bus ride to get there :) I guess that's
what you get when your mission covers more than half of a country
haha. anyway, i'm super stoked for zone conference! we start off
today, since it's p-day, by kickin it as a whole zone and we're gonna
have a BBQ and we got permission to watch Meet the Mormons so that's
gonna be siickk. then tonight we're gonna start a zone blitz where we
all just are missionaries in Taranto for a time period. so basically
there's gonna be a ton of missionaries in a city instead of 4 lol. but
here's a little recap on my rather uneventful week:

monday was super tight. after email and what not in the morning, we
met up with a member in the ward named Giovanni D'Oppido. he's a 25
year old return missionary that served in England so he speaks perfect
english. he's probably the sickest person here in Crotone, we love
kickin it with him. and his family is also super tight. so we went
with him, his family, and other families that their friends with to
the beach. dont worry, we didnt swim or anything (i wish we could
haha) but we did play football on the beach with him. and his mom made
us some bomb lunch too ;) and they have a thing called a bungalow
which is basically a mini house right on the beach so we were chillin
there for a bit. it was super fun. i got my legs wet in the
Mediterranean so that's all that matters hahaha. then after that we
met up with the sistas and got some gelato and played fooseball in the
church as we waited for our investigators to show up for an activity
we were gonna do...but they didnt come hahaha sweet. so then we went
to see this lady that loves the missionaries and she gave us free
pizza and drinks and yeah.
wednesday we had a beach volleyball activity with the youth and our
boy Giovanni and the sisters and senior missionaries and that was
super fun, since we actually got to play :)) and it was in the evening
so it was blazing hot lol.
friday we went with Giovanni to go pick up a new suit since one of
mine ripped...and because there are some good sales going on right
now, but mainly because i needed one for zone conference. anyway, as
im in line about to pay for it, my card gets declined and i find out
later that someone got my card information and had been using it
fradulently :) love when people take my money :) so that was
embarrassing haha. but its ok because i got it all worked out now. and
luckily was somehow able to get the cash to go back on saturday to get
the suit. but when we went back we had to walk and it was an hour long the heat...oh my haha.
sunday came and it was a good sunday. church was awesome, i learned a
lot, and we had 4 investigators of ours come! :)
well, that was pretty much my week, nothing too crazy.
however, quick little cool story:
so we had the opportunity and privilege to teach an African named
Lucas last week. he speaks amazing englislh and no italian. it was our
first real lesson with him and so we taught the Restoration, in
english! it was my first time ever teaching the Restoration in English
to someone, and it was such an interesting experience. i'm so used to
teaching it in Italian that it was a little weird at first so do it in
English. Though i like to think i'm decent at italian right now, the
reality is that it's absolutely nowhere near my english capacity haha.
and so when i was teaching and explaining things to Lucas in English,
it was almost like hearing the Restoration for the first time in a
while, and it was awesome. and when it came time for me to bear solemn
witness on the truth of everything we said to him, i felt it more than
usual. I could say things I wouldnt be able to say in Italian, and it
felt so good. it was just what i needed--an opportunity to be able to
fully express myself and my thoiughts in my native language for the
first time in a while. i know this story may seem kinda lame to you
guys, but it really is the struggle out here having to teach and
converse in your 2nd language. dont let anyone say it's easy, because
it's not haha you actually have to think hard about what you say and
really pay attention when they speak to you. i guess that's helping
with my focus issues i had before the mission! haha. well guys, i
gotta get goin', hopefully i can write a tad more next week. i love
and miss you all. and just remember, "doubt your doubts before you
doubt your faith"

-Anziano Blaise

our mafia boss, i mean branch president ;) 

gelato on p day 

hahaha dont worry i didnt buy this almost purple blazer, but i did think about it to be honest...

(week 25) A New Beginning

what's up guys!?
well, it's about that time again, the start of a new transfer. as you
all know i was emergency transferred like 3 weeks ago here to Crotone,
and will be staying here this transfer (unless i get emergency
transferred again haha). luckily, my stellar comp is staying here as
well. he's such a boss I love it haha. we're getting a long super
well, and it's paying off because we've gotten some good work done
this past week. our beloved district leader and his greenie came down
to Crotone for an exchange wednesday/thursday and it was soo sick,
always miracles during exchanges. I went with the district leader,
he's soo funny and one of my best buds in the mish, and my comp went
with his greenie.  during this 24 hour exchange we acquired several
super solid potentials, but most of all we got 2 new investigators out
of it! and one of them we got committed to a bap date on august 8th!
super sick. we also got 2 other investigators before the exchange. one
from our english course and one was a referral from a new convert. i
swear, english course is the sickest thing ever--it's super fun to
teach english to italians in the first place, and because we always
begin and end in a prayer and do an inspirational thought at the end
these people get a little exposure to our beliefs and practices. it
pays off too. somewhat often we get really good questions from the
students that sometimes lead into us teaching them a lesson or two.
unfortuantely, its difficult to get italians to commit to anything,
but every now and then it clicks. after english course on tuesday,
this 20 year old girl that has been coming for like a year or so
finally came up to us with a question before course started. she asked
us about our stance on Adam and Eve and all that, because she's
catholic but doesn't agree with a lot of the catholic teachings. we
proceeded to answer her question only to find she was very pleased to
hear our response identical to the one she received while searching on the day before haha. apparently she chatted with
missionaries a little bit on too, pretty cool. but anyway
we were stoked and were going to ask her if she wanted to sit down and
talk more about our beliefs some other time, but some lady came in and
interrupted and threw it all off topic. we tried to talk to her after
english course, but she left like right after the closing prayer so
that didn't work. on thursday after english course, we weren't about to
let her get away, so my comp ran after her practically and basically
said what we wanted to say tuesday. she gladly accepted to meet us the
following day in the late morning. long story short, we met, and it
went quite well. it was my first restoration lesson in a while, but it
felt good. she liked what we had to say and agreed with it and the
commitments we extended. unfortunately she couldn't make it to church
on sunday, but its all good because she said she's reading the book of
mormon and wants to meet with us again this week. i have plenty of
other stories to tell, but not enough time to tell them :/ but just
know that my week was a good one. and a hot one, oh my. this next week
should be pretty sweet because we have some awesome lessons lined up
and an activity for the youth that we organized...beach volleyball! so
sick. and we're allowed to participate too so that's gonna be SICK.
it's always awesome to meet cool people out here. a lot of the times
missionaries get so stuck on teaching the gospel, that they forget
these people are PEOPLE and they don't care what we have to say unless
we care about them. my companion and i realize this and are really
trying to form a solid bond with everyone, members or not, to show
that we truly care about them. it's such a good feeling to help people
and to help put a smile on their face. this is one huge reason i love
english course, it does just that. as San Francesco d'Assisi said,
"always preach the gospel, and when necessary use words." I love this
mission and the opportunity it gives us missionaries to just focus on
being the best we can be and loving people and helping them to realize
why we do the things we do--because God loves us all and He wants
everyone to hear what He has to say! we had lots of good times this
week and it got me really excited for this next transfer.
well guys, that's about it. i'd love to hear from you guys even if i'm
too lame to give a long enough reply haha. i love answering questions
so if you have any, ask away! love and miss you guys a ton. keep on
doin your guys' thang ;) love y'all.

-Anziano Carter Blaise

Saturday, July 11, 2015

(Week 24) Life's Good.... still

What's up errbody!??
Alright, so once again no crazy stories to tell, but it was another
solid week, as they all are. Since I pretty much haven't written in my
journal since about...4 weeks ago, I have to rely on memory to tell
you guys what I did throughout the week (sorry I'm a horrible person
haha). So instead of being boring and wasting space taking you hour by
hour each day of the week, I'll just go over some "highlights" I guess
you could say...
Ok, so as you all know I was emergency transferred like, 2 weeks ago I
think. But Saturday we got transfer calls for this Thursday and they
told us that both me and Zappettini (my comp) are staying!! I was
pretty sure this would be the case, but I'm glad they confirmed it.
The only change happening in our district is Sister Marsh is going home
tomorrow because she finished her mission. So basically I'm stoked
because I love it here and I love my comp and my district--they're
sooo cool. I talked to President last Sunday when he was in our branch
for church and he implied he was gonna have me (and maybe Zappettini)
stay here in Crotone for a little while because "that's what the Lord
needs for the time being" so I'm pretty glad to know that I've still
got some decent time here 😌 it's just getting hotter and more humid
by the day out here. Never a cloud in the sky and always humid as heck
since we're right by the water. On Tuesday and Thursday we taught
English course, as always, and this one girl came back both times! The
reason I'm/we're so excited is because we met her and her parents on
the lungomare/beach walk one evening and they're extremely cool people
with a ton of potential to accept the Gospel. And, the easiest way for
us to get to the parents is through English course, and if the
daughter keeps coming then so will the parents. Yeah it's like pulling
teeth just to get a first lesson out here in Italy but hey, gotta do
whatcha gotta do haha. Our 2 investigator's with baptism dates are looking
great. One of them is having health issues but we're praying for her.
They have some legal stuff to sort out before they get baptized so we
fasted with and for them so they could finish in time for their baptism
date. But things are coming along and their faith is unwavering. We
have tons of potentials that we look forward to trying to start
something with this week, so wish us luck. We spent a couple days
doing a lot of publicity for our English course because it's suuperr
small and we need more people big time. So we went around putting up
posters on random walls and poles that didn't look illegal lol and we
went into some bars and stores and got permission to put our posters
outside on their windows. We attached a bunch of those little paper
thingies to the posters that have our contact info on it and people
can tear one off for themselves. We went around today to do some
things and in the meantime we noticed that like a ton of those paper
thingies are torn off so that's a good sign. We also got a phone call
from a couple people about it and once we confirmed that it is in fact
free, they seemed certain they would come haha. English course is
honestly so fun and such an effective way to find people to teach. So
I'm stoked for this. We're continuing to visit members both active and
less-active to try and build friendships and get referrals and it's
coming along. We're also trying hard to mend some of the wounds that
were created not too long ago, before we both got here, within the
branch. There's a bunch of hard feelings between the members and the
branch is almost split, so we're trying to fix that because it's been
ruining a lot. We've also been getting a significant amount of people
stopping US on the street lately and asking us questions about our
church or what not so that's a pretty cool change. We've got some cool
things planned for finding methods this week so I'm excited. One of
which is called "football finding" haha essentially just throwing
around the football on the beach and playing with the random kids that
wanna join. Apparently, it's pretty effective out here when 2 Americans
are seen playing football haha so we'll see. We're also organizing a
youth activity this week...beach volleyball 😏🌊🌅 idk if we'll be
able to participate yet but I hope so hahaha. We're trying really hard
to expand the youth out here because there's like 2 in the whole
branch. Oh my gosh, I almost forgot to mention the fact that we ate
FuFu again on Friday...! I LOVE FuFu. It's like the best African food
ever. There's a lot of Africans here and some in the branch and on
Friday we went to a new converts house with all their African "family"
and we had FuFu together and it was bomb lol.
Well, that's pretty much all I got for this week haha. I'm really
excited for what the next transfer has in store. I miss and love you
guys a ton! God is good. No God, no happiness. Know God, know

Ciao ciao for now 🇮🇹

Anziano Zappettini and I in our cooking aprons

this is why I don't buy peanut butter out here!

Monday, July 6, 2015

(week 23) Crotone is sick

well guys, as you know, I was emergency transferred last week on tuesday and was given less than 24 hours notice lol. but, luckily all went well.

I absolutely love it here in my new area, Crotone. it's right on the beach and we get a nice breeze to help ease the heat and humidity of the Italian summer. my new companion is MONEY. this dude is in his 8th transfer so he's 5 ahead of me. his name is Anziano Zappettini. He's italian by blood but pretty much american haha. he's a couple months younger than me but has done a lot more in life already than I have. not to get into too much detail, but this guy is awesome. he had to begin living on his own at the age of 14, so he got a job and was providing for himself by then. and eventually graduated in diesel mechanics by the age of like 16 and started making really decent money. all of his extended family and most of his immediate family are inactive, yet he's stayed strong. he wasn't sure about serving a mission, in fact, he was offered a job in alaska as a diesel mechanic to get nearly $100,000/year, but turned it down and decided he needed to go on a mission. in short, this guy is such a great guy, and wants to work hard out here but also have the time of his life... he's super awesome and we get along perfectly.

It was rough leaving so abruptly, not being able to say goodbye to everyone I wanted to and not in the way I wanted to, but it worked out. this weekend on saturday we had a karaoke activity here at the church and me and my comp sang (after peer pressure) Somewhere Over the Rainbow. not the old song but the cover by that one hawaiin guy with the ukulele lol. obviously i suck at singing and my comp is about the same so yeah we butchered it haha but it was soo fun. and there were a bunch of africans there that wanted to sing their nigerian songs so that was hilarious haha. man it was a priceless night. we also ate some bombbb italian food at the party too. man. oh and our mission president was there as well because he had to come down and do interviews for temple reccommends because we dont have a stake down here; there's not enough people lol. then on sunday in church, the mission president was still there, and it was a great sunday. my comp and i had to teach priesthood and gospel principles, and I gave a testimony in sacrament meeting since I'm the new missionary in the branch. and i also passed the sacrament haha. it was a good session of church, I learned a lot. our investigators came and so did the less actives we're working with. our investigators, Antonela and Gianluca, are lookin good for getting baptized on August 8th! after church, we hung out with the sister missionaries in our branch, the senior missionaries, the mission president and his wife, and the district president and his family and we ate some food (of course) that an italian member made for all of us and they made us take home all the leftovers...ugh. it's like everyone wants the elders to get fat or something. but anyway, it's been a very busy but great week. we did some finding one evening on the lungomare, which means beachwalk, and it was awesome. it was perfect weather with a nice breeze and the sun setting on the mediterranean as we were finding some great people to talk to about our english course and the gospel. we found several awesome people and had great conversations with them, but nothing has come from them yet. it's rough sometimes to wonder why we have all these amazing conversations with people and feel the spirit and they seem so excited to take the next step, but then you never hear from them again. but as i'm coming to realize, it's out of our control. as missionaries all we can do is invite people. people have their agency to choose. our job is to simply present it to them in a way that they can make a solid choice for themselves, and nothing more. we aren't to push people to accept anything, only to invite them to accept. so as I continually meet amazing people that end up not doing anything regarding the church, all I can do is look back and be satisfied with my effort. it's tough, but it's really all the Lord asks out of us missionaries. I know there are people out there that are prepared, and I intend to find those people with the help of the Lord. He takes care of His servants. I know with all my heart this Gospel is in fact the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer. I know this Gospel will bless anyone's life that chooses to accept it. I love sharing this happiness with others and I look forward to these next 18 months and what they have in store for me and the people I meet. I know I'm supposed to be here in Crotone, Italy at this time. I love you all and would love to hear from you :) and if you have any questions, please ask me, i'm always here.

Anziano Carter Blaise

Here's the investigator family that came to the apartment at 11pm at night before I left for Crotone just to say goodbye to me!! I love them so much

 My boy Denis!! (new convert from Caserta) one of the guys I miss most from Caserta

Last Napoletanna pizza for a while

View in Crotene

View in Crotone