Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Crotone! Transfer 4 Week 6!

Christmas Caroling, Christmas Parties, and Christmas in 🇮🇹 Italia! ...oh yeah and  Octopus soup!

First off Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you had an incredible day and really took the opportunity to remember our Savior Jesus Christ! I know I really felt the spirit of Christmas and more importantly the spirit of Christ! 

On Tuesday we had a combined District meeting with the District of Cosenza, we did a secret Santa gift exchange and a really awesome training on our purpose as missionaries. The Sister that gave the training was Sister Condé who is going home to America tomorrow! It was really cool to see her testimony of Jesus Christ and how much she relies on Heavenly Father's help. As for the gift exchange I got Anziano Smith who works in Cosenza so I went to a Chinese store and got him a little air soft gun... but I actually got two and gave one to his companion before the gift exchange. So when he opened his, his companion pulled out the other one and said "It's on" I'm glad I don't live with them hahaha

On Thursday we went to the Pediatrics unit at the Hospital to sing for the kids, we went to the end of the hall where this big Christmas tree was set up. We started to sing the Italian lyrics of the familiar Christmas  carol "Silent Night" and one by one each child came out from their room and made their way down the hall way to the lights on the tree. We continued to sing as some came closer in wheel chairs, others trailing IV posts behind them and others in the arms of their loving parents. They gathered around and we continued to sing, a few in English, a few in Italian and everyone's favorite "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!" As we began to close I asked them if we could all take a photo together and all but one said yes. Afterwards we went and talked to this one girl that didn't want to be in the photo. She said she was embarrassed by the IV pole and she didn't want everyone to stare at it. A thought came in to my head, the IV pole was taller than I was but it was adjustable, we lowered it down and Anziani Haws stood in front of it and we took a picture with her and her Mom! The Christmas joy was definitely present as she saw herself as a person and not a sick child. 

Friday was the Church Christmas Party! They actually decided to do a dinner  which was really good! It started an hour and a half late (Italian standard time and Mormon standard time combined is not good...) but it went pretty well. We ate Lasagna and some other type of pasta and then chicken, salads, fruit, walnuts, and lots of desserts! Of course I made brownies and the Sisters made Pound cake! It was a good turn out for as small as the Branch is and definitely a lot of fun. 

Christmas Eve! We left early and caught a bus to Cutro to hang out with the Tedesco family. Sister Tedesco had 12 families mapped out for us to go visit and sing Christmas Carols to. They were all families who are going through a rough time and could use some Christmas cheer. Most of them when we left were in tears and you could really tell that they felt the spirit. Yay for Christmas!

Then we came back to Crotone and had dinner with Carla and her family. Carla was a foreign exchange student in Indiana and the family that she stayed with was LDS (Kind if the same story as Virginia back in Cagliari!) and she is an investigator of the Sorelle. We had the best Christmas Eve dinner and and I ate Octopus!!!!  it was really good! We ate lots of good stuff and spent some time getting to know their family! 

Christmas! Our one day to sleep in and my companion forgot to turn off his alarm, so we were up at 6:30 anyway! But we both went back to sleep! Church was moved to 10:30 and it went really well. The Branch President likes to do impromptu choirs. He doesn't have a practice or anything, he just says everyone that wants to sing come on up! So that was a train wreck... I've never heard "Angels we have heard on high" sung in so many different keys at the same time. Good thing it's the Sacrament that we go to church for! After church we went to the Corrado's family for lunch, it was great! I never thought I would eat pasta for Christmas dinner but when in Italy I guess! Then back to the church to skype and it was great! 

Today we are watching "Finding Dory" at Church! So far it's good! I can't believe my First Christmas is the mission is over! Today is also a holiday in Italy it's Saint Steven's day so literally everything is closed, we can't even buy milk. So that's the week in a wrap! I love you and I hope you are all having a good Christmas! 


Anziano Bellucci

Monday, December 19, 2016

Crotone! Transfer 4 Week 5!

Buon Natale Fratelli e Sorelle! 

Christmas is upon us! I can't believe its almost here! We've had some pretty good days here in Crotone! A week of exchanges, being locked inside our apartment, making pizza, and a whole lot of English Course Finding! 

We went to Cutro on Tuesday to visit a family, we ate lunch and played Jenga, gave some English help to one of the kids and overall had a good time. It's really interesting to help these kids with English because a lot of their text books are Italian made and there are so many mistakes. Cracks me up. It went well though and then we went to Cutro again on Wednesday to see Antonio. His Grandma is still in the hospital here in Crotone so we brought stuff to make Pranzo with him and his brothers. 

Thursday we did a scambio (exchange) with the Anziani from Catanzaro, I worked with Anziano De Feo and we had an awesome time! Little mini bio about him, he is from Canada and his parents are both Italian so he grew up with Italian in his house, his Dad grew up in Taranto and if I remember right they actually got married here in Italy before going to Canada. So he knew a little Italian before coming out and went to the Spain Missionary Training Center and was companions with Anziano Redaelli there. Anyway we had a really good time, we taught the Restoration to a new investigator and it went super well and then on Friday morning we didn't have anything planned so we decided to go out and do some English Course Finding! We gave out almost 200 English Course cards and talked to so many cool people! I have so much less fear on exchanges, I don't know why but it's great! I have a lot more confidence and I talk to so many people and when you do that the spirit is so much stronger! It went really well and then when they got back we decided to have them spend the night and we went Christmas Caroling with the Sisters to a bunch of members and investigators! It was a great night and we were able to see a lot of smiles. 

That night we went to lock the door and the key got stuck in the door. So we tried and we tried and we tried to get it out but nothing worked. Thankfully it was unlocked and we could still open the door with the handle but it was annoying. We decided to go to bed with the door latched but not locked. You couldn't get inside from the outside but it wasn't bolted. So the way that you lock our door from the inside is to use the key on the inside and lock it like a dead bolt. The problem is there's no handle on the outside, you have to use a key to unlock the door and with the key stuck on the other side you can't put another key in from the outside. Long story short, if we left we wouldn't be able to get back in. We had a meeting at 8 AM so we left Catanzaro in the apartment and went to the meeting and then tried to mess with the door some more. Well we got the key out and then Anziano Redaelli went out in the hallway and locked the door and then tried to unlock it. Well we couldn't get it unlocked. That left Anziano Redaelli locked outside and me and Anziano De Feo and Haws locked inside on the fourth floor. My companion was real stressed and it was 12 and the guy that we had called earlier couldn't come until 4. A hammer, a pair of pliers and some blunt force later they finally got the door unlocked. So the guy finally came at 4 and sprayed some WD-40 on it... like that's what it needed and hopefully next week they will be replacing our door. For now we can't lock it :/ 

When we finally got out of our apartment we went to an English Course Student's house for Pranzo, they are wonderful people. Very Catholic and not interested in hearing about the church but they come to English Course every week and are so nice. She actually told me on Thursday at English Course that I have gotten fatter since I got to Crotone. In Italy that's not rude... they will literally see their Grandma and say "Wow Grandma you've gotten fat!" And it's not rude. I added a little cultural lesson to English Course that night. Haha So she is in her late 30's early 40's and her Mom comes to English Course too. So we ate with all of them this big seafood Pranzo and I told her it's her fault if I get fatter. 

Sunday was absolutely exhausting... I translated Sacrament meeting which is exhausting in itself and then taught Sunday School and Priesthood I helped my companion teach. I was so tired by the time we went home! I made lunch and watched "On the Lord's Errand" the story of President Monson, its a good one! That was pretty much all the exciting things that happened this week! 

I am pretty excited for Christmas, it should be a good one! We have some plans with members and I will get to skype home! I can't wait to hear about everyone's Christmas! 

Have a great week and a merry Christmas! Remember to keep Christ at the center of all things especially in this special season! 

Buon Natale e vi voglio bene!

Anziano Bellucci

Monday, December 12, 2016

Crotone! Transfer 4, Week 4!

I'm running out of ways to start my emails... so... if you have any ideas let me know!
Hello everyone and Merry Christmas! I can't believe we are less than two weeks away! It doesn't quite feel like Christmas here... it's been about 45 degrees all week which I hear is about as cold as it gets, and there's no snow but it's okay because the Christmas spirit, or rather the spirit of Christ is definitely here!
Like I said last week we headed over to Taranto on Monday for Zone Conference and it was a great time! The travel kind of blew but it was a lot of fun. We took a two hour train and then a bus for three hours to get to Taranto and the Zone Leaders had pizza waiting for us because they know how much the bus ride blows. I learned that I can ride in a tour bus just fine on the freeway (super strada) but when we drive through every little town and curvy roads I get real sick and the bus, on the way there was a curvy route 😳😷not so good but I made it!
Tuesday was the conference and so we get to see President and Sister Pickerd which is always so great, they are like a little piece of America that you don't get to see very often so it's always so nice to talk with them. It was nice to meet the missionaries from the Zone, there is a Sister from my group who is actually training! We had a really cool training about light and the different ways that we can all be a light to our companion, our members and our investigators. Anziano Friedman who is one of our Zone Leaders shared a really cool story, he grew up Jewish and so he shared the story behind Hanukkah and the lights in the temple, I got to learn some more about his conversion as we did an exchange the next day. Taranto is a huge city, its bigger than Cagliari but it definitely reminded me of Cagliari which was really nice. That night Anziano Friedman took me to this vending machine that has DR. PEPPER! For the first time in 6 months I got the sweet nectar haha the little can cost 2€ which is like $2.20 but it was worth every penny. They import it from England so I guess I can see why it costs so much but it seems a little excessive. Speaking of expensive things, I saw some Jiffy peanut butter the other day the little tiny one and it was 6€ crazy. They have PB from Holland that isn't too bad and its double the size and half the price so I buy that one.
Anyway Wednesday our exchange continued and we went to one of their investigators houses for Pranzo, she is a wonderful lady and so sweet, she is like an Italian Mom for the Anziani of Taranto. And man can she cook, she made my favorite, homemade ravioli! We all about ate ourselves sick! And then she made Tiramisu for dessert which was Heavenly. Funny story about this, he first time they went over there she asked if there was anything they didn't eat and they said no and so she made tiramisu with coffee and they couldn't eat it and she felt so bad so this time she made it with orzo and it was so good! She grew up Catholic but has never really studied the Bible and so she has a lot of questions. As she reads the Book of Mormon she doesn't always understand the references to the Bible or sometimes just the wording so she writes down the verse and then they go through it. She has such a desire to understand and a thirst for the knowledge it was so great to see her pour over the scriptures. And I learned a lot from Anziano Friedman's answers to her questions, things that I didn't fully understand before. The Gospel is cool because there is always more to learn!
Back on the bus and about 4 hours later we made it back to Crotone! Meno male it was a freeway bus this time! There is your Italian Phrase, meno male is like "Good thing..." "Fortunately..."
Parrucchieri (Hair salons) are almost all closed on Monday so we have to get hair cuts on not P-Day so we went Thursday and my companion likes this place it's called the "Gentlemen's Club" to me it's called "Over priced old men with cigars and alcohol" but he likes it so we went. It is kind of a cool place their water spray bottles were like old Jack-Daniels bottles which was interesting but they did a good enough job! We then went to the church and set up the baptismal font. The Sisters had a Baptism on Saturday and baptisms here usually happen in the ocean but it's too cold so they have this portable thing (It is a giant pain in the butt but totally worth the Baptism!) so we got it set up and ready!
Friday my companion was sooooo sick, he didn't get out of bed at all. I called a member and had them bring us some medicine, drugged him up, made him eat some soup and sent him back to bed. I cleaned the whole house, read two ensigns, watched Meet the Mormons in Italian (Way better in English) and read almost half the book of Alma, made some apple sauce, a ragù sauce and a carbonara for lunch. All while my companion slept... I don't know what I'm going to do when I go home and here isn't something planned for every hour of the day.
Saturday Baptism! We spent almost the whole day in the church, we moved the font into another bigger room, we taught seminary and made lunch for the one seminary student that came and then it was time to fill the font! I don't know if I said this before but our church is two apartments put together and so the bathrooms still have bathtubs because eventually they will move the church and this will turn into an apartment again. So the font gets filled with a hose from the bathtub and it takes FOREVER. But it all worked out and we were ready for the Baptism! The Sisters asked me to sing a duet with Sorella Taylor "Bisogno ho di te" which is "I need thee every hour" it went pretty well but public singing is so not my favorite thing to do. Anziano Redaelli was feeling well enough to baptize Xenia a cute little Filipino girl and it was amazing, so many members came out to support her and it was definitely a boost that both us missionaries and the members needed.
Church is almost always my favorite part of the week! After Sacrament Sister Zarfino came and started talking to me about all this homemade pasta she had bought and the sauce she had made before church and I was so hungry but she hadn't said anything about us coming over so I said "Sorella Zarfino, is this an invite?" And she's like "Well yeah, I wouldn't just be telling you about this if I wasn't going to invite you over!" So we had Pranzo together and it was just as good as she made it sound! We then went with a new convert to visit his Grandma in the hospital and she was in a room with 5 other people (We won't talk about Italian Hospitals) and we asked if we could sing a Christmas carol and all the old ladies said "Of Course!" So we started with "Nato è Gesù" which is Silent Night and then we sang  "Oh Come all he Faithful" or "Venite Fedeli" and by the end we had a handful of people come in and singing with us from several rooms down the hall, it was incredible! We had such a great time and the spirit was so strong, then all the Italians sang a hymn called "He came from the stars" or something like that and it was absolutely beautiful and you could see their faces light up as if they were imagining their childhood memories and their families. The spirit of Christmas really is the spirit of Christ, it can touch the hearts of those who are prepared to hear it and we can share the word through a simple smile, a song or a kind word to someone in need.
Christmas is quickly approaching and I just wanted to invite you all to remember Jesus Christ in everything you do this Holiday season. He is the reason for the season and when we focus on him we really can feel that Christmas joy. I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Anziano Jacob Bellucci

Monday, December 5, 2016

Crotone! Transfer 4, Week 3!

Hey everyone! How is everyone doing?!?!

We have had a pretty good week here as usual! Tuesday we had DDM in the morning and afterwards we went to this panini shop here in Crotone and it was SOOOO good! I got a panino with sausage and peppers and onions and some crotonese sauce, it was great. Calabria which is the region of Italy where we are, it includes the toes of the boot of Italy is known for spicy food, "Calabrian Spice!" So the panino was a little spicy but still real good. We finished off District lunch with a quick stop at the French fry shop called "Chips and Beer" because there are so many tourists almost everything has English names... Also good and a really good night at English Course!

Wednesday we went to Cutro to meet with our New Convert that wants to go on a mission! We had pranzo with him and his Grandma and we're going to start teaching him English! Then we went and saw this really cool less-Active family and shared the #LightTheWorld video with them, they loved it and hopefully they'll come back to church!

Sorella Angela... her last name is too hard to pronounce (Siniscalchi) so everyone calls her Sister Angela and she is the sweetest little old Italian lady you've ever seen. She is 82 years old and is in amazing health, she wakes up at 4 AM everyday and works out and walks to the cemetery to see her husband, she lives in an old castle which is so cool! She walks all over the city and we came over on Thursday and she was out sweeping the leaves off the neighbors steps, she is so active and really she just loves to have some company so we try to go over and talk to her once a week. While we were there someone came by selling costagne which are chestnuts and she bought a 5 Kilo bag of them, we carried them inside for her and she pulled out her nut cracker and said "Alright, I've got work to do so I'll see you guys on Sunday" she is honestly the coolest Grandma ever.

Thursday two really cool things happened... the first was that I had made homemadchicken noodle soup because the Sister missionaries were sick. Anziano Redaelli had never had chicken noodle soup before! What a shame... turns out he likes it! Probably just because it's American and he loves everything American!

The second and even cooler thing happened at English Course. Our English course is huge, we've had about 30 people each week which is pretty big! We always ask at the end if any of them would like to offer the prayer and no one ever says yes but Sister Condé asked again and this lady who is probably 30 years old just started to pray and it was the most humble prayer I've heard in a long time. Afterwards the Sisters went and talked to her and she just started to cry, she felt the spirit so strongly and now the sisters are teaching her! As we were getting ready to leave another student came up to us and was asking questions and he started to explain how he felt during the course. He began to explain to us that the Sisters were just teaching English and he could see so much light in them. He said "I don't know how to explain it, it seems so strange, they're not talking about religion, they're just teaching English and they have such a strong spirit, I feel so good when I'm here." That was a testimony of two things to me 1. We have a light, as disciples of Jesus Christ we have a light that can be shared in the way that we act, the things hat we say and smiles that we share. #LightTheWorld is an inspired initiative because we all have the light, and its our responsibility to share it! 2. It hardly matters what we say or what we teach, if we create an environment for the spirit to testify to the hearts of the people we teach then we can be saying anything and the spirit will testify to those who are ready to receive the message. It was really comforting as obviously I am still learning Italian, I make a lot of mistakes but we all speak the language of the spirit, it's universal and can be felt by everyone.

We set up another Christmas Tree with the D'oppido family on Friday! One of the strings of lights broke and Anziano Redaelli tried to fix them, he twisted the wires together and taped it up. He plugged it in and they worked! Then he unplugged it and went to plug it back in to show everyone, it made a huge bang and started a small fire... I don't think he will be an electrician any time soon... but the Christmas tree had lights on half of it and I thought it looked pretty good!

The rest of the weekend was pretty normal! We did some less active lessons and I met some pretty cool members! Yesterday we went to Sister Zarfino's for lunch after church, she made this pasta with sausage and hamburger meat and besciamella and mozzarella cheese! It was soooo cheesy and so good! Then for round two was just a big old plate of meat. Calabrian meat balls, fried chicken, and chicken cordon blu... just straight meat and we ate so much!

This afternoon we are heading to Taranto for Zone Conference, it should be really fun! We will be in Taranto until Wednesday because we are doing an exchange with the Zone Leaders, it should be good! I'm excited to meet the Zone Leaders and the other missionaries here.

I hope you have a good week and let me know what you are all doing for Christmas! I love seeing what you are all up to! Love ya!