TARANTO! yay!! puglia is known for its christmas season so yeah what a relief. aaaaaaaaaand the best christmas present ever: sorella taylor is staying! woo! taranto/disneyland just got a little bit better!
since last time ...
once upon a time we met a friend of valentine, named bright courage. yes! and his italian girlfriend christine. their story is reeeeally good but equally as long so remind me to tell you about them next year because it is a good one. anyway. we went to visit christine at her house. she lives in lama, which is about 20 minutes outside of taranto by bus. we are definitely not strangers to the lama area, all of the less actives of the ward gather there so we frequent the area often. so we decided to go visit christine and some of the meno attivi friends thursday morning. then we got lost. oh boy did we get lost. we ended up walking all over, seriously i think we circled the perimeter of lama about 20 times ... for 2 hours. we finally found it after asking a whole bunch of confused italians where her street was. we had a little lesson then it ended in this dialogue:
christine: i really like that name white mary.
me: yeah that is ... uh ... pretty. who do you know with that name?
christine: that is how you say your name, right?
me: ... um no. wightman. white man. uomo bianco.
christine: oh ... i like white mary better.
me: yeah me too.
christine: (to slla taylor) crystal is a really pretty name too!
slla taylor: my name isn't crystal.
interesting. anyway crystal and white mary will be working on speaking more clearly in the future so our investigators know our names. haha!
whoa okay this great big fat miracle happened thursday night after corso d'inglese. there is this really fashionable and nice and smart a perfect lady that comes to my advanced class sometimes named alessandra. she is really great. mostly because she is 1/3 of the people who laugh at my jokes in class (that is how i test how fluent they are ... clever right?). we played a new made up version of jeopardy that i invented (semi disaster) then i gave my spiritual thought before doing my usual begging for someone to say the prayer. they almost always say no. but this day i just felt like i should keep begging them. so i did. finally alessandra volunteered. then she began one of the most beautiful and personal prayers i have ever heard (this is one of the beauties that missionaries get to witness often, people praying for the first time. best. thing. ever.). immediately after she closed the prayer she said "sorella i need to talk to you." i said goodbye to all my students (aka my bffs in taranto besides valentine my bffl) then sat down to talk with alessandra. she then explained how she lost her mom unexpectedly in august. she looked into my eyes and said "i need to know what happens after this life." guys ... this is gold. GOLD! i explained to her the plan of salvation and bore my testimony that i know without any shadow of a doubt that there is a life free from pain and sorrow that is without end and in the presence of our family and our loving heavenly father. it quickly became one of my favorite experiences of my mission ... no!of my life. pray for alessandra! pray that the church will soon welcome one of the most fashionable and sweetest people in all of italy! yay alessandra! hopefully i will have more info on her soon!
another miracle happened. we just happened to be at church when the doorbell rang. two men were there to learn about corso d'inglese then said they wanted to learn about our gospel. i love when people find us. it's fun. and the last time that happened, that person got baptized and has the title of my bffl. so yeah.
we are teaching this new family that had a really good relationship with the sisters 5 years ago then lost contact with us. they called us! again, people finding us! and they are great! they have three kids, the youngest is our number one fan. we had a nice little lesson with them and this angel in the form of an italian lds woman named sorella pastano then taught us how to make puglia's famous panzarotti (a more delicious version of a calzone) so we can start a business in america. i am pro at it now, so everyone come to my house in a year and i will make you panzarotti and you will love it and you will love me. mission blessings ....
church. it was good. valentine paid tithing for the first time! that was the best thing ever. this is a man that doesn't have a job BUT still pays tithing on the money that he gets from the sweet italian people that give give give all day long (even to slla taylor when she wears sweatshirts and jeans ... see the email from the week about the service project if that joke made no sense . but as an immediate blessing from valentine paying his tithing ... he FOUND A JOB!!!! yeah. tithing is so good.
valentine paying tithing.
one young fellow in our ward served his mission in idaho (ha imagine that call. an italian in idaho) and he is the salt of the earth. so great. captain moroni great. his grandma died on saturday morning and monday was her funeral. that is how they do it here in italy. no waiting to bury their dead in beautiful castles. haha! my first catholic funeral. it was really really sad and empty. so glad that we know there is no end! never ever! val came with us because claudio (aka the italian captain moroni) is valentine's best friend in the ward. i know this because he told us that about 400 times while we walked there. "claudio is my best friend. i love him. i just love him so much. claudio is the best. he is my master (yeah i don't understand that either, but that is a classic valentine line that really just means that he loves them) and i love him. he is the best man." then we talked to him about missionary work and will be teaching him how to bear his testimony in italian next time. should be a good time!
good day. i learned how to make grissini (italian bread sticks) then argued with a really nice man, but very confused man at corso d'inglese about who is better: beyonce or liza minnelli. what a silly guy. guess whose team i was on in the argument?
and now it is today.
will you read "live in thanksgiving daily" by elder wirthlin. it will make you feel so festive and happy! and then will you find more things to be grateful for. i love this season of gratitude. we are so so blessed. we are blessed to live in a time of religious freedom and when the fullness of the gospel is on the earth. we are blessed to know that families are forever and there is no end. we are blessed to know that there is no such thing as coincidence but every miracle is part of heavenly father's infinite and unique plan for us. we are blessed.