Friday, August 30, 2013

Tanti Auguri a Mi

Is it weird that I kind of forgot about my birthday? 

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling...
22 that's so weird. I prayed about it and Heavenly Father told me I could listen to the Taylor Swift song on my birthday. jk he didn't.

It's been a good week in Cagliari.  But I always say that. 

Super Stars
Thursday we had ZONE CONFERENCE, which is always so much fun.  Also it rained, so we got to do missionary work in the rain which always makes you feel like a super star (at least when you serve where it doesn't rain every day... it's probably the worst in other places).  

At zone conference they brought us the new english course program that we are implementing here in the mission.  It's really legit.  We are the first non-english speaking mission to use it, and it's designed by the Church.  

The Last Shall Be First
(We may be the last to get iPads, texting, and Facebook, but at least we've got a kickin english course.) 

They have tested it out in America to help immigrants adjust, and so we are the first mission outside of America to start using it.   

Also I had to give a destramental in zone conference about using language study wisely, which was probably a little sign from God that I haven't been using my language study time as well as I should--just a little correction from the big guy.  

The Sorelle of Sardegna

It was also way fun to see all the other missionaries.  We were all a little bummed, though, because we didn't get ANY pictures all together because President had to go to the airport right after and we didn't have time.   

When No News is Bad News
Also the Assistants FORGOT to put together our MAIL!  So we were all pretty let down about that... pazienza.  That's like the best part.  It shouldn't be, but it SO is.  Other than that, it was fun to meet with all the missionaries and just remember that you aren't alone; that you are all working together for the same purpose.

We had different activities every day for the rest of the week.  One of them was this really fun grigliata (BBQ) with the ward at the church!  

It was really fun... we got to play games with the kids and Presidente Caravagna played a ton of songs about California for us and we ate watermelon.  good times.  

Cagliari Ward, Rome Stake
Also, they announced that Cagliari is going to become a WARD next month!  They are organizing a new stake in Rome and Sardegna is going to be a part of it!  So they are holding a big conference in Rome on the 15th of September with Elder Ballard and all the members are flying over.  

(They keep asking if the missionaries get to go too, but we don't think so.. it's too expensive.. and they probably won't broadcast it, so that's weird to miss a Sunday of church on your mission, hah.)
Never Seen Us Before?
Saturday was a WHOLE day of finding with another Mostra at the Bastione.  We met this really cool girl from Pulia and she said she had never seen the missionaries before (even after studying in Rome and living in Sardegna for the summer.. all of which have missionaries).  

We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and she said she wants to meet with us before she goes back to school! (and I think she was serious).. also we saw that photo guy there again... he said that he looked at his old pictures and he has MORE photos that he took of me from the Saint Efisio parade..  

Reward System
Also Sorella Nef and I made a goal to have at least 20 GOOD contacts every day (people that we meet on the bus or on the street casa don't count) --even with full days like zone conference and days when there is no one out like Sunday-- and we DID it.  

We are starting a new photo series called "The Streets of Sardegna on Sunday"

 where we just take photos in the "busy" parts of the city when we try to do finding

 and there is literally NO ONE to talk to. 
It's fun.

So we celebrated by watching 17 Miracles (which Presidente Caravagna gave us with Italian subtitles). 

We watched a little Saturday night before bed and a little Sunday night too.  It was SO good.  Neither of us had ever seen it.  It really made us grateful that we are here in Sardegna instead of crossing the plains with no food.  Also it just gives a lot of power to remember that we are helping to move the work of the Lord forward here in Italy.  

It's so beautiful to be a part of a work so big and so important.

Pulling Strings
Sunday no one came to church :( BUT we got to go to PRANZO with the SANNA FAMILY... which is the best.  They are like our own family here in the Cagliari branch.  

Presidente Sanna was just asked to be the First Counselor in the new mission presidency (which is way cool because he is the only Italian in the presidency).  We keep joking with him, trying to get him to pull strings to keep us here for his daughter's wedding (Martina gets married Sat. the 7th and whoever leaves will leave the Tues. before).  

Sorella Sanna said she told President that she'll only let her husband be the counselor if he lets us stay in Cagliari.  Martina said she told President that if he has to take me out then he has to send me to Rome 5 which is the ward that she will move into when she gets married.  

I love love love the members here.

Adele.. my Italian nonna 
(not a simp but a sweet old lady that we visit every once in a while.. 
She told us to tell our moms that she prays for us.. cutie)

Monday we did KINDER EGGS!  My toy was an airplane. so obvious. Everyone thinks I'm going to Rome or Bari.  We will see on Saturday!  So weird--this transfer went by so fast.
Wow, I'm out of time again. Quickly, today was a great pday!  I begged Sorella Nef to go to the botanical gardens here which was so beautiful and reminded me of the Huntington Gardens and then we had lunch at a cafe at the base of the Bastione. perfect.

Giant Ficus Tree at the Botanical Gardens

With love from Cagliari,
Sorella O'Connor

p.s. thanks for the package Mom! and YES I did tell you there were flamingos!  Yeah, there are lots of them.  We see them fly by our apartment sometimes and we see them from the bus too.  I like them.

Love you and thanks for the updates!

(Email Sent - August 28, 2013)

I found the studio of my favorite grafitti artist in Cagliari.. 
totes stopping by with a Book of Mormon later.  It's my DREAM

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Happy Ferragosto!!

Buon Ferragosto!*  Don't know what that is?!  I didn't either until I came to Italy.  Even Italians don't really know the religious significance for the holiday when we ask them.  They say it's just a holiday where everyone gets together to eat.  Sounds a lot like Thanksgiving to me.  Just in the middle of August. 

Pranzo with Sorella Seu

One of our members invited us to her house to celebrate with her family, none of which are members except for her so it was really fun.  Everyone is curious about the Mormon missionaries.  Sorella Nef and I had a great time, but the elders were a little nervous because everyone kept offering us wine and coffee and pig's head.  

Also, Sorella Nef and I added another one to our missionary kiss count (oh dear). One of the brothers was cutting up a watermelon and everyone was making fun of him because he was doing it in a really weird zig-zags and whatnot.  

Anyway, he basically said, "You'll see, I will win, and when I win I will get a kiss from the girls."  

And Anziano Walker was like, "Yeah man, I don't think you are going to win that," which just motivated him even more.  

So he cuts up this watermelon and everyone claps and he says, "Okay, now I get my kisses.

and we are like "Uhh sorry, no we can't."   

Sorella Seu is like, "THEY CAN'T KISS YOU!" 

and he just yells, "THEY can't, but I can!" and he grabs my face and kisses me right there on the lips! 

 Just kidding... not on the lips, but still it was so crazy and I turned bright red and Sorella Seu turns to me and said in English, "HE IS CRAZY".  It was really funny. 

(Kaitlin needs this shirt)

But other then that it was so fun. It was everything I ever dreamed an Italian pranzo would be like: everyone sitting outside at a huge table eating pasta and gelato and laughing and speaking 4 different languages (us in English and Italian, some family from France, and a little bit of Sard).  

Life is Hard
We left joking around saying "Oh yeah.. the mission is so hard."  That's been our latest joke.  Everyone says the mission is so hard (and it is sometimes), but we have had so many great moments lately when we just stop and sarcastically say, 

"Oh yeah, it's so hard to be a missionary here in Italy where everyone feeds you pasta and gelato.

or "Yeah it's rough giving out copies of the Book of Mormon on a historic site looking out on a beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean Sea."  Life is hard.

(Kaitlin's photos)
Maria Rita and Giuseppina are doing SO great!  We met with them twice this week and they came to church on Sunday!  Yesterday Maria Rita told us that she really wants to try and get baptized while we are both still here.  She said, "I'm convinced." 

So we are trying to get her ready for the 1st of September, which is the latest possible date that we would both still be here.  We decided this yesterday when we met at the church. 

(Mini miracle:  usually we meet at the park, but it rained for a random 10 minutes so we changed places.)  
Chapel in Cagliari

She started asking us about baptism again, so we decided to do a mini tour.  We showed her the room where we do the baptisms and we took her down into the baptismal font and then we showed her all the clothes that we wear and she picked out the dress she wants to get baptized in.  It was probably the best moment of my mission so far:  planning it all out and explaining it to her.  

She is so excited.  She wants to be baptized!  I can't believe it.  Especially after her call the other week.  She just needed time on her own to really think about it and recognize the changes she has made since coming to church.  

It was good because we had a member there who talked to her and was getting her to think really seriously about it.  We have had several people in our branch get baptized and go inactive in the first year because of different reasons, so she was asking Maria Rita questions to make sure she is really ready.  

It's really the happiest feeling ever.  
They aren't lying when they tell you that.

Also we got two new investigators last week named Rita and Sara who are doing really well!  We have met with them twice and we brought a member and her daughter to the second appointment, and it went SO well.  

We were really nervous because we thought maybe they were just meeting with us because we are their EC teachers... BUT they told the member that they want to keep coming and meeting with us because they feel the spirit when we teach them!!!  SO GREAT. 

We taught a really great Restoration lesson with them and the members did so good at bearing testimony and at the end.  We extended the baptismal invite and they accepted!!!!  As soon as they left, the members did a little happy dance with us. They are still way at the beginning, but it's so great to have investigators that really have that desire to know and are willing to keep listening and improving.

Other little miracles from the week:
We have started doing mostras at the Bastione San Remy, which is the PRETTIEST place in all of Cagliari.  Right in the middle of Centro Storico (historic center).  

We get a lot of tourists pass by, but we have also had a ton of ragazzi (youth) come up with interest. Saturday we literally gave away ALL of the copies of the Book of Mormon that we brought.  A group of ragazzi came up and we only had one copy left and they were literally FIGHTING over it. What?! 

No Fighting Please - Plenty to Go Around!
So we took down their numbers and said we could call them and bring them their own copies.  It's great talking to the young people because a lot of them really have no interest in the (traditional) church anymore, so a lot of them become Buddist because they think that's the only other route they can find spirituality.  

It's really great because they are really open and interested to know more.  Plus, I'm better at talking to ragazzi than I am to adults.  Like this one girl gave me a ton of names for Italian indie rock bands to look up after the mission.  

Also, we met another photo guy, haha.  He starting taking pictures of us, so I waved right at him to show that I knew what he was doing.   

He came up and asked if he could take our picture with the mostra, which has different sides--like one about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ etc. So I said, "Yeah, why not?"  

So he did, and then he was like, "Wow you guys have beautiful eyes!" and puts his lens 2 inches from my face to take a picture of my eye and then does the same to Sorella Nef.  So weird. 

 He gave me his business card so I could look his name up on Facebook because he said he was going to post them. awkward.  

We had another great mostra Sunday night too at the same place.  We have started doing sondaggi (survey) finding with people which works really well.  No set investigators yet, but lots of good seeds planted.. as well as lots of copies of the Book of Mormon given away.

We've also had a lot of other little, tiny miracles:  Like going to visit members and having lessons with their family members who aren't baptized.  Less actives we have been working with that are coming to church regularly again.  People giving us lots of fruit (plums and figs this week, also bread) and random referrals for the anziani.

Love Love Love
Its been a really great week here in Cagliari.  Every day goes faster and faster.  I know I was complaining about how hard the mission is, probably a little too much...but this week I've really remembered the joy that comes from being a missionary. 

I love serving. I love it I love it I love it. 

I love feeling the constant presence of the Holy Ghost to guide me. 
I love being able to see the way that the Lord works through us to teach his children. 
I love the people. I love the people. I love the people.  

It will be so hard for me to leave Cagliari just because I have made so many dear friends here.  Maria Rita made me so sad the other day because we were talking about transfers coming up and she said, "But if you leave you'll be able to come back during the mission to visit, right?"  

It just broke my heart thinking of having to say goodbye just yet.  I've been here for 5 months (tomorrow) and it still doesn't seem like I've had enough time.

Every day I am grateful to be a missionary here in Italy. I'm living the dream. Seriously.  Anyways, I'm out of time.  We have zone conference tomorrow and we have to pick up the sorelle from sassari. 

Ciao Ciao!
With love from Cagliari,
Sorella O'Connor

p.s. Thanks for the updates.. I love them. It's so good to hear from home. I love the pictures and I forgot Kelsey is driving my car, which scares me, and I can't believe how much older they look.  It's only been 7 months!  

Also I forgot, tell Bekah that her baby's name means "salt" in Italian.  (Mathew 5:13) I love it. Also when is Brit due?!  I get to come home to new babies!  

Also stop having so much fun.  Wait till I get back to go see Taylor Swift.  Also, I'm sad Dad gave his last speech!  

I know I chose to go on a mission now, but it still makes me a little sad he won't get to speak at mine. va bene. 

p.p.s.  Anything you want from Sardegna before I possibly leave?  Next week would be my last pday to get things and send things home so let me know. I wish I could send cheese in the mail. Patziensa.

(Email Sent - August 21, 2013)

Here are some more photos taken by Kaitlin's FB friend at the Bastione San Remy: