Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 57: Ragussa, Sicily

Ciao a tutti!

Man, what a week. Sorry I didn't get an email out last week, we were in Catania doing stuff as a zone and it takes 2 hours to travel out there already and we had interviews to do and a bunch of other stuff and zone conference the next day so yeah. Sorry about that. Good news is it was an awesome conference and I learned a lot from it. I also got to see some good buddies I haven't seen in a while.

I could write a mini book on the things I've learned this week, including zone conference, but I'm gonna try not to do that haha. I do, however, want to mention a couple cool things that happened this week. And when I say cool, they may not be cool to you 😂 but they are to me...

Monday evening, I had to the opportunity to go out and proselyte with my buddy from the MTC Anziano Toronto. He used to serve in Catania and so he knew the place pretty well, as well as some people. So we left the Catania chapel slightly after 6 and began our little voyage. We get to the bus stop to wait for the bus to take us to the center of Catania—where all the action is, and right there we start talking to a guy from Bangladesh, and he was super cool and attentive. Of course there was a slight language barrier because he didn't speak the best English or Italian, but we got our points across. Long story short, he wants a Book of Mormon in Bengali. Then we also talk to this other guy, about 25 years old, right next to us, who's Italian. Turns out he's really interested in religion and likes our beliefs and is super down to meet with the missionaries. Then we get on the bus and another convo sparks with a Jehovah's Witness. Then we get off and as we're walking I just see countless people staring at us and our name tags super hard and just like so curious...something I've never dealt with in any of my areas I've served in, wherever I've gone, the people have always just ignored us and avoided eye contact. Here it was different. You could feel a feeling like he Lord was preparing this place, like it was ready for the Gospel really. Idk how to explain it. Anyway, then we stopped at an outdoor bar type thing and were talking to some people, and the lady working there and her friend were staring me down hard and then asked, "what's your name tag say?" And so I just started explaining. Then her 17 year old daughter joined in. We ended up talking for at least 10 minutes until Anz. Toronto told me we had to go because we were low on time, and basically this woman had agreed very strongly with the main beliefs of our church I explained to her. She told me she wasn't baptized but considered herself to be evangelist because she likes their stuff haha. I told her that I knew some guys who would LOVE to talk to her about baptism and how us Mormons do it and all that good stuff haha. So yeah got that phone number real quick. So yeah I could go on forever but basically there were just people all over the place in Catania and I freakin loved it! I wish I could serve there...

Wednesday we had a lesson with Giuseppe, a guy who we're getting ready for baptism, so to speak. This dude is all over the place. Basically he said that he believes the book is Mormon is true and that our church is true but "according to Revelations 1:4, there are 7 true churches in the world..." Literally makes no sense I know, but somehow it makes sense to him. Anyway, at first he told us he hadn't been reading the book, and it was insane because it's exactly what we role played in zone conference, and we said dang near exactly what we said in zone conference. It went well. I tried not to get upset with him, but it was hard because he just wasn't putting the pieces together I guess. I mean how can our church be true, but also 6 other churches, especially when all and each of these churches professes different doctrines and beliefs. (For example): the Mormon church baptizes by immersion, and the Roman Catholic Church baptizes by sprinkling water. how can you believe the Mormon church AND the Roman Catholic Church to be true? There is one correct way to baptize, and they baptize completely differently...idk, it makes sense to me. We tried to explain these things to him and all he would do is revert back to the scripture in Revelations. It frustrated me but I tried not to show it haha. So we told him to just focus on the Book of Mormon. Because honestly, if the Book of Mormon is true, then the man who translated it really was a Prophet of God called to restore His true and ONLY church back on the earth, which is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So that's what we left it as—putting Moroni's promise to the test once again (see Moroni 10:4-5). That's why this book really is the keystone of our religion. Without it, we are just another church. But with it, we are the true and only church. It's amazing.

We're working with an ex-communicated member, and honestly he is one of the greatest guys ever. He's just had a pretty rough life and confronted a LOT of challenges in his life. He can't wait to get baptized again this year. He's amazing. He told us his whole story Sunday about how he met the missionaries and dang near immediately got his testimony that all this was true. It's a long story, and kinda personal so I don't wanna tell it. But it helped me realize again that God looks out for His own and really does send Angels to minister unto us and help us when we are in need. I know this because I've seen this. God hears our cries for help, and doesn't ignore them, I know it.

Just wanna wrap it up with a cool scripture I read a couple days ago in the New Testament. You'll find it in Acts 5:40-42. Peter and John are out preaching the Gospel after the resurrection of Christ, and the people are rejecting them and literally beating them, trying to kill them. They even bring them to a trial to try and find them guilty so they can kill them. It reads:

40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 ¶And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

That verse in bold got me. It hit me hard. I thought to myself, "how often to I get down on myself for being rejected and made fun of for preaching the gospel in Italy?" Then I read that verse, and realized I was in error this whole time. Peter and John were almost KILLED for preaching, yet they leave the scene REJOICING that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. Wow. Never again (hopefully) will I get down on myself for any lack of success or type of rejection. It is an honor to wear the name of Jesus Christ on my chest and preach in His name. I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and for everything my brother Christ has done for me. I am forever indebted unto Him, forever. I hope that I will "cease not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" for as long as time allows me to. I love this mission and I love this gospel. 

Until next time.

-Anz. Blaise

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

Zone Conference (off of Sister Waddoups' mission blog)

"so bomb..."

Sicily brand

Peep the homies in red.  They work in the grocery rightt beneath the apartment..haha they're so sick


My MTC companion

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week 55 Ragusa, Sicily

Hey everybody!

Alright so I'm pretty sure I let you all know last week that I would
be getting transferred to Ragusa on Thursday. Well, it happened!
Leaving Foggia was literally almost as hard as leaving home to come on
a mission, almost the same. I know I sound crazy, and like I may be
downplaying my fam, but I'm not. Foggia is probably in the top 5 least
attractive areas of my entire mission, yet I woulda gave anything to
stay. I was in Foggia for just about 6 months. It grew on me so much I
honestly thought of it as my second home. The thought of leaving never
crossed my mind because I didn't know what life was like to be outside
of Foggia. All in all, it was rough news for me to hear I was getting
transferred. But i did it.
Saying goodbyes was real hard, especially to the youth of the ward,
and Loris and Roberta (the two I baptized like 3 weeks ago). I hope so
bad that we can see each other again and hang out, because we really
did become dang near best friends. man...
Well here I am in Ragusa, Sicily, not too far from Africa haha. I
thought it'd would be fairly warm because of that, but its not! We're
up in the mountains so we get some serious wind and cold air :) It's
sooo pretty though, wow. The prettiest place I have ever seen. I spend
so much time marveling at the beauty that I forget to take pics, and I
even get lost. Pics honestly don't do this place justice. But Sicily!
man this is a different country haha. People look a little different
here and they speak different, and their food is even a little
different...but sooooooooo good!!!! My gosh guys I can't tell you
enough how bomb the food is down here. Canoli and arancini are famous
in Sicily, and holy freak are they good. Hopefully I can learn some
Siciliano dialect during my stay as well ;)
Not too much else to talk about...oh! Yeah it was about 14 hours of
travel to get to my area haha. Took a train to Bari, then a bus to
Reggio Calabria which got on a ferry to take us to Messina, Sicily,
then it took us to Catania, and then I took another bus from Catania
to Ragusa. Quite a day you could say.
My new comp is a good guy.  ight guys, love and
miss you. I wanna hear from you all!

Ciao ciao

Iblea, a small part of Ragusa.  We do lots of proselyting her believe it or not haha
Alleyway next to our apartment

Corso Italia..a "busy" street in Ragusa

Ferry ride to Sicily


Bus ride..long day of travel
"SPUMA is soooooo good!"

re-united! He's in my zone now! Saw him Thursday and Sunday

Our church! 

From my new apartment balcony...bad pic but trust me the view is better than it seems
The Dicarola family (most of them) This was my last Sunday in Foggia

Some of the English course squad
The District of Foggia...miss em

Simone!!! Mamma mia I miss this kid

more goodbyes ..classic Italian :-)

Roberta's mom

saying goodbye

Saying goodbye to the Maggiolino Fam!

saying goodbye to Loris and Roberta

The Guastella family


He's from my MTCgroup, saw him on my way down to Ragusa.