i hope you are all just circled about in the christmas spirit and remembering our savior jesus christ ... like us here in taranto! isn’t christmas so great? let me let you in on a secret: christmas is the best best best on the mish. and that is REAAALLLYYY saying something because there almost isn’t anything like a wightman christmas. mission christmas ... woo!
lets talk italy now ...
after i wrote last week, we rushed to a friend’s home to learn how to make orecchiette (a traditional pasta from puglia) by hand. whoa it was way fun! homemade pasta is one of the best things to ever be. angela (our friend) said we were naturals. woo!
me making orrecchette.
the orrecchette club!
i was just studying away when i stumbled upon a fabulous quote:
"the word disciple comes from the latin meaning "a learner." a disciple of christ is one who is learning to be like christ--learning to think, to feel, and to act as he does. to be a true disciple, to fulfill that learning task is the most demanding regimen known to man. no other discipline compares...in either requirements or rewards. it involves the total transformation of a person from the state of the natural man to that of a saint, one who loves the lord, and serves with all of his heart, might, mind, and strength."
i was just throwing that quote around all day and loving it. then sorella taylor asked who said it. i had to look it up again in the 1974 september ensign and GUESS WHO SAID IT!? chauncey c. riddle!! what a great guy! natalie's grandpa! (right? or did i make that up? haha i read that and immediately remembered natalie's sweet grandparents with GREAT names!!) if i am mistaken that is embarrassing ... but the quote is still great and so are natalie's grandparents. we also did some service for this sweet lady in the ward that fell inside the temple and broke her arm. we helped her do the lady jobs in the house like sweeping, laundry, dishes, other things that require two hands. she asked me to iron and then got out the largest, most antique looking iron i have ever seen. turns out it was a steamer and an iron and needless to say i was in love with this contraption. and now i am obsessed with ironing. everything looks new when it is ironed. cool.
always a slow day because it is planning day. then we updated our area book for what felt like years. and had a lesson with "gifted." gifted is the nickname that all the youth use for donato (which means gifted in italian).
was a holiday called madonna immaculata or something like that. really it is just another day that the kids don’t have school, everyone talks about how great mary is (just like every other day in italy), you eat a lot (just like every other day in italy), and the christmas season officially begins. we celebrated with sorella piccione (remember my fav cook?) woo!! it was SO good! she invited some family that aren't members. they were gems. her nephew is a former mr. italy. ha! and her niece is so wonderful. hopefully we will get to teach them. we ate so much that i thought i would burst. after we went to visit the mother of a less active in the ward. she is alone at night as her son, who lives with her, owns our fav pizzeria. we came to sing christmas songs with her and cheer her up. she forced cookies in our mouth and i thought i was going to die from fullness. then we visited the kovacs and she prepared a huge surprise dinner for us ... i almost died.
we watched the christmas devotional after church. what a gem. christmas is so great! i hope everyone watched that devotional. if not i highly recommend that you do. especially if you think christmas isn’t the best thing ever.
there is a woman in our ward, sorella pastano, that is one of the closest things to a saint that i have ever met (like my mom, dad, sister, and chris sudweeks, and natalie riddle/mees). anyway she was the rs prez a few years ago when the bishop asked her to make contact with all of the less active sisters in the ward for christmas. she make handmade cards for each one, writing a personal note inside each, and delivered each and every one of them to the 100 or something less active sisters. she said that some people are rude because they don’t want to have anything to do with the church, but she still visited them. well even though she was released years ago, she has continued this tradition of handmade and heart filled card for all the less active sisters in the ward. the best thing is that she doesn't sign her name, she does all this and signs it as "la chiesa di gesù cristo dei santi degli ultimi giorni" taking absolutely no credit for herself. if that isn’t enough she does the same thing for easter and also called every person in the ward for their birthdays. haha! i want to be like her when i grow up. so we helped prepare those cards for the hand delivery and volunteered to deliver some for her. it was WAY fun! we did some old fashion tracting (casa a casa) and visited these less actives and walked about in italian christmas hustle and bustle. dream life.
i read this in english class with my students. read the section "information, please" and prepare to be amazed. my class was in tears. literally.
we met up with val to chat because he has been a little down lately. the first thing he said when we came is was..."i miss my family." SAD! he got started talking about them and how much he loves them and then he shared a perfect liahona story that i will try to quickly summarize for you, but it will not be as great as it was when he said it.
so valentine is a refugee, right? right. one day, a few days after his boat arrived in italy, he was on the bus with his friends. an italian lady entered the bus and dropped 50 euro on the ground, without noticing anything. valentine and all of his friends witnessed it and stared at the money on the ground. valentine was closest to the money and he immediately had a rush of thoughts in his head. he thought of what 50 euro would do for his family. he said that 50 euro would be like 1000 dollars or something like that in nigeria. he thought of how it would take care of his mother and sisters back at home who are suffering. he came to italy to find work and every cent he makes he sends to his family back home. he thought about his friends in italy that are suffering. they don’t have food, the only have the clothes on their back that they have been wearing since leaving africa, and lots of them have sick children at home in africa that they are struggling to support. and then he thought of himself. a christian. that was all that it took for him to stand up, pick up the money, and hand it to the lady to whom it belonged. she was shocked at his honesty and his friends were upset with his decision. but he knows who he is. he knows who he is trying to please. and 50 euro is nothing compared to his faith.
i love valentine so much.
and i love you so much.
and i love my mission so much.
and i love my savior so much.
and i love christmas so much.