Monday, June 30, 2014

Trio Trio Trio

If you guys keep saying "last weeks" I'm seriously going to stop reading your emails. 

America
I got all the letters you sent me Mommmm :) Thanks. I played my America CD the whole time Sorella Williams was packing because she is from Canada and she said she hates all national anthems. She got mad when I used to sing the national anthem down the empty streets at night. haha. 



People keep writing me and I think they think I'm trunky or something.. NOT trunky. It just makes me laugh because it still hasn't actually hit me that I'll leave one day. It feels like I'll be a missionary forever in Siracusa,' so when people say things like "dying" and "5 weeks" it doesn't really phase me. 

It was a little weird writing all the days in my next planner though. I'm just not really thinking about it. Also, update for you Mom, my back is much better.. so thanks for the advice. 

This week was a lot of goodbyes and organizing things because we are putting two companionships into one. 

Current Events:

-We got a pamphlet about exorcisms in our mailbox from one of the local churches, haha.  We decided to add that to our list of finding tools in PMG.

-Two italian opera singers/simps sang goodbye to Sorella Vickers in our chapel and I cried. 

-Italy is out of the World Cup and we are all sad about it. 

-I got hugged by an African man at the train stop in Catania and all the anziani saw and they won't let me live it down. 

-One of my favorite members made us a lasagna and then drove us all the way to Catania to drop off Sorella Vickers AND downloaded all of the "Frozen" songs for us in Italian.


"Okay, Ciao"

-So Sorella Vickers had to stay an extra day to pick up her permesso (and when we went, it WASN'T even finished) so she needed to fly alone back up to Rome.. We went to the airport to drop her OFF and pick Sorella Kippen up. 

We checked her in and got her to security and everything and then we went back to Siracusa for the ward party.. We got to the ward party and I got a call from the office elders..

"Pronto!" - me
"Where is Sorella Vickers?"-OE (OE-office elders)
"Ummm... on the plane?"-me
"No. She isn't."-OE
"What do you mean she isn't on the plane?!"-me
"The airport just called us. They said she checked in but never made it to the counter... 
Why didn't you make sure she made it to her gate?!"-OE
"We took her to the security and we can't go past that, anziano."-me
"You didn't WAIT to make sure she made it THROUGH?"-OE

Kidnapped?
So then Pace and I are freaking out because our first thought it that she is beautiful and that she got STOLEN.. and the Office Elders think she has tried to run away and Giuseppe is calling every number that exists for the Catania airport and we can't breathe... 

About an hour later they found out that her gate had changed and she had gone to the one written on the ticket because it was going to the same place at the same time. So that was the scariest part of the week... 

Colors of Brazil
-Then we had a great ward party and all our contacts and almost all of our investigators came. We did a photo scavenger hunt and it was a lot of fun.. It was 'I Colori di Brasile' or 'The Colors of Brazil'. 




-Sunday we had 5 investigators in church! I think that's the most I've had my whole mission! Enza and Emmanuelle came! even though I called them ALL Saturday and couldn't get ahold of them.. they came on their OWN! 

So did Anna Maria.. I haven't been able to get her in church for two transfers! Then Isabella came who is one of my favorite investigators from the other sorelle and Naomi, another one of my favorites. 

Divine Combine
It was so divine to put us together, I just kept feeling like I had a connection with their investigators and even Pace said that Isabella told her (before the combining) that she felt like we had known each other forever.. and Pace felt the same way about our investigators and now we get to work all together. 

We seriously have SO much work.. it's such a contrast from when I first got here. We built up a ton of work on our own, and now with ours mixed with the other sorelle we are just trying to fit everything in. It's going to be such a great transfer. 

Conversion
So when Kippen came down (she had taken my place in Rome 2) I was asking her about all the members and everyone and she says to me "Oh yeah, Marco got baptized my last day there."... 

MARCO!  Marco is Luca's best friend... and LUCA got to baptize him. It was the best news ever. 

The first time we had an appointment with Luca he asked if he could bring his friend... I remember the first lesson with Luca and Marco, and now they are BOTH baptized and LUCA got to baptize him. I get emotional every time I think about it. 

Luca's Baptism

Marco's Baptism

The Lord has blessed me so much on my mission. I remember vividly the first time I met Luca on the 336 bus, we had been talking to the bus driver and we were almost to our house.. I realized that Luca was the only other person on the bus and he had been listening to our conversation with the bus driver and we decided to give him a pamphlet just in case he was interested... he said no.. and we got off... 

And from that small, simple encounter, he and his best friend are now baptized. 

Small and Simple
It's really the smallest, simplest things that lead the the salvation of many (Alma 37:6). 


 Alma 37:6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

It just reminds me of how little we do as missionaries.. We play the smallest part in the great work, and with the efforts of MANY and great effort on the Lord's part we can see so many blessings and so many miracles. 

Vi viglio tanto tanto bene.

A Presto.

With love from Siracusa,

Sorella O'Connor 

(Email Sent - June 30, 2014)

This guy says he looks like Dad

random fire in the neighborhood

Countdown: T-5 Weeks

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Last Transfer

Ciao Tutti
We had a really busy week this week. I love busy weeks. Also I lovvvve Siracusa. & I'm realllly happy because I get to finish my mission in Siracusa. 



We all guessed it, but you never REALLY know. 
Staying
Transfers were really crazy.. both Sorella Williams AND Sorella Vickers are leaving Siracusa... 
SO they are putting Sorella Pace and I together (Hurrah!) and they are giving us a third companion. 


Kaitlin with Pace and Vickers

I'm not a big fan of trios, and dying in a trio with another dying missionary is going to be a weird mix. But I'm really happy that Sorella Pace and I will be together. We followed each other on Twitter before the mission and now we get to be companions. 
Sorella Kippen is going to be our third companion, which is also weird because both of us have kind of served with her.  Sorella Pace lived with her in Pescara, and I did scambi with her when she was a greenie in Sardegna. 


Kaitlin with Sorella Kippen (to the right)

 But the plus side of it is that we all know each other and we all get along.
It's great because we get to combine all of our work together. We are going to be really busy next transfer and everyone is going to get baptized before we leave, I can feel it. 

I just really can't believe it's my last transfer.  
It still feels like I have at least 6 months left, but in reality I have to do all the things I wanted to do in 6 weeks. So that's all the news with transfer calls. 
Retiring
Also I had been PRAYING not to be STL my last transfer because I'm not very good at it and my body is so tired from the up to 10 hour travels every week of my WHOLE MISSION for scambi.. and God answered my prayers! I'm really happy because it means I get to stay in Siracusa and just focus on the work here for my last 6 weeks.
Cool Things:
We had 4 member appointments this week, which we were excited about. 
We got the same meal for three of them and it reminded me of when the sister missionaries in California told us they once got lasagna for every meal for a whole week.  In the summer everyone eats pasta salad with an mixture of whatever they have... peas, corn, hot dogs, tuna, pickles, peppers, olives, eggs, eggplant, and other things that I don't remember.

Pasta Siracusana
I love member appointments so much, not only because we don't have to cook but also because I love to hear the stories of how the members found the church and how they gained their own testimonies. I have never met such faithful people. 



The Italian saints are so incredible.
Not cool: 
I hurt my back really bad... I don't even know how. I think it's because I haven't been stretching enough and my muscles are really tight... 

Whatever it is, it makes me walk like the old Sicilian ladies with their hunched backs and potato bodies... It was funny the first couple of days, but now it's getting pretty old not being able to walk or sit for very long without it hurting. 

It's hard because as missionaries we don't get a lot of rest time.. Okay, we don't get any rest time.. and I don't want to take any rest time because I ONLY HAVE 6 WEEKS. So I'm just toughing through it... and making Sorella Williams take 5 minute bench breaks with me every half an hour that we are walking.
Alike: 
We had an incredible lesson with Alessandra, from English course. I love love love her. I feel like she is who I would be like if I weren't a member of the church, so I get really excited to talk with her because we think very similarly. 

We taught the full restoration this time and as we got to the Joseph Smith story, I felt impressed to ask her if she has seen God answer her prayers, She started to get really emotional and she started to cry, so then I started to get emotional and we were both crying as she told us how she has seen God answer her prayers. It was a really powerful lesson.  

She is still really skeptical about Joseph Smith, but I promised her that as she continued reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it that God would answer her prayers.
Lunch Hour?

We also went to go visit another member for lunch who lives outside of Siracusa. She doesn't get many missionaries over because they live so far away and we have to take a long bus ride to get out there. 

We have been trying to see her for the last two transfers, but it's hard to sacrifice so much time out of missionary work.  Since the other sisters were probably leaving this week, we got ourselves together and found a way to go out there, spend two and a half hours with them for lunch, and then catch a bus back.
Well it was bad planning on our part, because we KNOW that you just can't do a lunch appointment in 2 and a half hours in Italy. Even though President made a one hour rule and we TRY SO HARD to do it in an hour.. you just can't tell Sicilians that you have only one hour to eat. 
So we go out there early in the morning, planning to do some less active finding, after which we find out the less active living there is dead.. 

While we are wandering around this town, we find an archeological site (not uncommon to find in any city you go to) so we decide to stop in while we are waiting for Sorella Papa to come get us for lunch. 

We started asking the one other person in the park about what the ruins were and we found out they are greek temples/alters from 80 BC... That's like Alma times... so cool. 


"dying" this transfer


After about 20 min Sorella Papa comes to get us and then she finds out we can only stay for 2 hours and she gets really mad because she hasn't even started cooking and she thought we weren't going to be leaving until 5:00. 

But we had an activity at church at 6:00 and all our investigators were coming... so she is cooking and we are talking to the daughter and playing with their puppies and she starts making us chicken and we sit to eat and she says, 

"There is no way you are making it to the 2:20 bus, you are just going to have to wait until 5:00." 
So we are FREAKING out... trying to find another member or anyone to come get us and we find out there is another bus in the town nearby that has a bus leaving at 2:40 and so we are stuffing pasta and eggplant and chicken down our throats as fast as we can and I ask if we can share a spiritual thought and the husband says, 

"Sister, you have 2 minutes or you are going to miss the bus" 

So I'm reading as fast as I can in Italian and we say amen and we run to the car. 
Sorella Papa was driving probably 90 miles an hour down this tiny Italian street trying to pass people up, honking at them to get us to the bus stop in the next city. 

Then I hear her yell “THERE IS THE BUS!” and there it is... coming down the mountain ahead of us, so she hits the gas and says “WE CAN MAKE IT!” and she catches up to the bus and passes it up and we are all screaming and.. well.. we made it.. and Sorella Papa earned herself brownies every Sunday for the next six weeks.

The activity in church WAS SUPPOSED to be watching “The Other Side of Heaven” but the GAME (World Cup) was on.. so everyone came to the game and no one brought the movie and the missionaries aren't allowed to watch the game even though we begged President... 



so we ended up having one of the youth pull it up on the computer in one of the other rooms to watch with the missionaries and whoever didn't want to watch the game. 
So that movie made me all emotional, watching Elder Groberg leave his misison... Sorella Pace, Anz Smith, and I were all in the back crying because we all leave soon. 



It made me reflect a lot on my mission and all the people I've met and all the people I love. 
Sweet Blessing

THEN afterwards I asked the anziani for a blessing for my back, and Anziano Hansen gave me one of the sweetest blessings.  He also talked a lot about the things I've been worried about and about serving with all I have these last weeks of my mission.. so that made me even more emotional. 

I was so grateful for the blessing though.  It's incredible how clear the message was that the words were coming from my Heavenly Father and that no one else could have known the thoughts of my heart. 
Knowing that I leave soon has made me appreciate the little things I love about Italy so much more.. 

...like the old man at the ward party explaining to me in detail how you make tomato sauce, and how much I love talking to people in Italian... every little thing just seems so much sweeter.



"lowering stuff down to the anziani from our 4th story apartment using a bag and jump ropes..."

breaking up the band
Transfer Calls

Saturday was a weird day because we were trying to plan for the week and then we got the transfer call and all of us were in shock.. Pace and I kept joking about being together because we both were praying for hard working companions for our last transfer and hoping we could stay together in Siracusa.

But then Vickers was freaking out because she is going to Rome and Williams is going to Battipalia, near Napoli.. and then we hear the doorbell ring.. and the sisters from Catania were at our door... 
They just got THEIR transfer call saying they were ALL leaving the city and we were trying to figure out WHY they were at our apartment... 

All Together Now

ENNA was having a baptism in Siracusa because there aren't any members in Enna.. so it's Ennas first baptism and they are having it in Siracusa, but we heard we weren't allowed to come because the girl didn't want anyone there... but all the missionaries from Catania and Enna and Siracusa were all in Siracusa for this girl's baptism.. 
It was hard to plan for a week when we didn't know what would be happening with transfers... so we decided to just all go to lunch after they got done with the baptism.  




It sounds confusing because it was confusing... but it was fun to see all my friends before they all got transferred.. 
That night we had an appointment with Giusi and Luigi who are some of my favorite people.. Luigi found a job, so they are hoping to get married sometime in December!  

Then we saw Anna Maria.. Sorella Williams was laughing at me because even though Anna Maria has MS, she always says “sto meglio di voi” meaning that she is healthier than us... 

Then when Anna asked me to get her a glass of water, I stood up and was all crouched over and walking weird because of my back and Anna was standing up walking better than me. She still isn't making much progress as far as quitting smoking goes... but she is so sincere in her desire to get baptized..
Good Sunday

The Sunday of transfer week is the day everyone says goodbye.. the saddest day...
We were sitting in church and in walks Enza and Emmanuelle!! Our two new investigators.. They hadn't answered their phones all week until Saturday and she said she was really sick... but then they came to church the next day! I was sooooo happy. 

It's the first time we have been able to get an investigator in church for such a long time. They loved it a lot.. other then Enza felt sick because the air conditioner was on tooo high... but everyone came to greet them and it was a good Sunday. 
Afterwards we had another meal appointment with everyone because at least one missionary from each companionship is leaving. We said goodbye to Smith because he flies home tomorrow.. 

It was strange watching him leave and knowing that my group is next.. and even WEIRDER seeing Elysse's pictures from coming home because SHE was in the MTC WITH me.



It goes by so fast. 

Sunday night we had no appointments so we did finding in Ortigia and met some really cool people. Lot's of pretty people in Ortigia because that's where the rich Italians live. There was also a little festival with a street all covered in flowers... it was really pretty. The perks of serving in Italy. 



What If... ?
On the way home I was hurting a lot from my back and we were walking by when I saw this little family and I had the faintest impression to talk to them, but I ignored it because I just wanted to get home and then I thought,

What if THEY are your miracle family and you just pass them up?” 

so I turned around and asked them the name of the street we were on and we got to talking.. turns out the dad's uncle was a member of the church and he had died a couple of years back.. He said he had come to our church to see the baptism. 

Then they offered to drive us home. I told them we were there with a message about eternal families and asked if we could meet up again... They wouldn't give me their information but they said they would call us.. which almost never happens.. but sometimes it does, so there is still hope.. but at least we got a ride home, right?
Today we spent Sorella William's last pday in Ortigia.. my favorite part of the city. I took my film camera and I talked to all the cool shop owners while Williams souvenir shopped.
I love being a missionary. It's the best thing. I wish time could slow down just a little bit. I'm excited to come home and see all you guys... but I'm so happy that I get to be here in Italy for at least a little bit longer. I just love everything about it.
Talk to you soon!
With Love from Siracusa,
Sorella O'Connor

(Email Sent - June 23, 2014)

Countdown:  T - 6 Weeks

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Promises Made to the Fathers

Happy Father's Day Dad! Sorry it's a day late.. but you know, mission rules and all. 


Vision Board
Every other Sunday the missionaries host an activity for the youth because the ward wants us really working together with them, strengthening them, and preparing them to serve missions.

Well yesterday we did an activity where we gave them all these long white sheets of papers and they had to decorate it and create a "vision board" of their lives.. where they are, where they want to go, and who they want to become. 





One of the greatest challenges for the youth is seeing the big picture.. realizing that the small choices you make now effect how your life will be later. We wanted to give them a vision of who they could become and help them see how their choices now impact whether or not they will reach those goals. It was really great activity and the youth (even the boys) loved it. 



Promises
As I was creating mine, I was thinking of all the influences in my life that have made me WANT to want these things in my life. & I thought of you, Dad. I remembered when I was really young, we had just come back from a wedding that wasn't in the temple. 

I remembered that you took both my hands in yours and made me PROMISE you that I would get married in the temple. I made that promise, even though I was so far away from making any sort of decision.. 

But your influence and your expectations for me have always pushed me to try for the best and to become better. Whether it was getting better grades to get into BYU, or buying me my first camera and telling me to go after my dreams, or making me learn how to jump start a car. 

Thanks, Dad. Ti voglio bene.


Prayers Pay Off
This week was a really good week for missionary work. We saw tons of miracles. I know it's because of all of your prayers on my behalf, so thanks you guys.

Tuesday we dubbed "middle part day" so the anziani had to come to DDM with middle parts. Poor elders.. serving in a city with 4 sisters, we really can get them to do anything.

Also, we had a lesson with Alsessandra! One of our English course students. She is one of my favorite students.. we always have really good conversations whenever we chat. She told me that she had really bad impressions of the church before, but since she has been coming and hearing our spiritual thoughts she has realized that we aren't like everything she has heard. 

She had so many good questions, the lesson went all over the place but it was good. She agreed to keep meeting with us so we are way excited about that.

Long Walk
Wednesday we felt impressed to go stop by a member's house, but they live WAY out of town... like over an hour on foot and it's like a million degrees right now and Sorella Williams hates the heat more than anything.. so she was not excited when I called this family and they said that we could come if we could make it in an hour. 

So we walk all the way over there and we share a really great spiritual thought from Elder Bednar's talk from conference (MY FAVORITE.. see also "In the Strength of the Lord") and afterwards they look outside and the dad says, 

"Hey.. my cousins are here... sisters can you just stay a couple of minutes?".. 

So we did and we briefly met this couple and they were nice and they started asking this member questions about the church and then they turn to us and said,

"Hey, would you guys like to come visit us sometime to tell us more about your church?"

... umm yes.. in fact we would. 

Late Dinner
So we got their information, on the way back we decided to stop at a less active's house and she lets us in and said, "We were just about to sit to dinner, would you like to stay?" 

and I say "No no no, we still have to get home on time."

... but you just can't say no to Italians for dinner so she made us stay promising it would only be ten minutes and then she would give us a ride home... which turned into 2 hours of dinner (which actually hadn't been cooked yet) salad, bread, then gelato... but that's just how it is.

So the anziani are calling us at 10 and are like "Ummm where are you guys?" and the members are like "Just pass the phone to us.. WE will tell them its our fault" haha I LOVE Italians.

Ya Welcum
Thursday we took a bus for 3 hours to RAGUSA for a scambio. Ragusa is like the promised land. I love it there. We met a cute Australian girl on the bus and she just came to Italy on holiday for fun by herself and she is staying on a farm outside of Ragusa and I want to be her when I get home - just travel the world. we gave her a mormon.org biglietto so she is going to get baptized. 

You're welcome, Australia. 

Also we had to sleep on the floor in Ragusa because they only have two beds. 

Sacrifices
Friday we headed back and I met this guy from the YEMEN who told me his whole story of how he had crazy dreams about Jesus and decided to convert to Christianity. Then his family tried to kill him and his best friend was killed while they were both trying to escape and he got baptized in Ghana. 

Now he is in Italy and trying to learn Italian and he showed me the huge scars from where they stabbed him. SO crazy. He is going to get baptized too. He said he wants to come to church.

I love Italy because I Love Italians and I love teaching Italians because you can just be so HONEST with them. 

Colpo D'aria
Also they hate air conditioning.. literally this week 2 members told me they were allergic to air conditioning. 

I DON'T GET IT. It's so hot. 




Signs are Everywhere
Also they take everything as a "sign." We are meeting with this sweet member, Giusy, and she is really sad because she and her fiancĂ© can't get married until he finds a job, but they are both getting older and she wants kids.  

She comes to our appointment and we are in the middle of the lesson when she pulls out a stuffed animal and says "Sorella, what does it mean?

and I'm like, "Uhh that some sad kid dropped his toy?

and she is like "I think God is trying to tell me something.

Then she got called to serve in the Primary on Sunday.. maybe she was right?

God Talks Today
Saturday we met with the members' cousins and it went SO well! They had all these questions about life after death and then in the middle the father looks at me and says, 

"I have a question.. God talked to Moses face-to-face, didn't he?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, then why won't God talk to prophets in our day?" 

I just started to tear up because in that moment I just had THE BIGGEST testimony of Thomas S. Monson as a prophet.. It was one of the coolest moments of my mission, testifying to him of living prophets. 

Before we even started the lesson they said, 

"We are coming to your church tomorrow. All our evangelical friends and our Jehovah's Witness friends keep trying to convince us to go but we never do.. I don't know why, we just like you guys".. 

So we are way excited about them. Enza and Emmanuelle. 

Lead Me Guide Me
Another cool story about them is that about a month ago while Rossell and I were on scambio, Williams and Vickers had been praying about where to do finding and they asked God to send them to someone who was prepared to get baptized.. 

When we went to their home on Saturday, Sorella Williams said "Oh my gosh, we knocked THIS door that day."

MIRACLES: but then they didn't come to church on Sunday. patzienza.

All Things Italians
Also I love Italian church because Fratello Conforto plays the piano cool, Rosario periodically hands me candy from different pockets in his camper vest during Sacrament Meeting, moms breastfeed in church, no one wants to turn the a/c on, everyone shares their stories about when they saw Jesus, and the simps (that come) love it.

I LOVE ITALY. The closer I get to coming home the more I get emotional about how much I love Italy, Italians, and the culture. I'm really going to miss it here. I'm really trying to enjoy every minute of it while I'm here, so that when I get home I can feel satisfied with all that I did and be at peace moving on to later phases of my life. 




The mission is the best thing that I've ever done.

With love from Siracusa.

Sorella O'Connor

(Email Sent June 16, 2014)

Countdown:  T - 7 Weeks

Monday, June 9, 2014

More Than We Realize



Long week of conferences this week. good for missionaries, bad for missionary work. 

We had zone conference in Siracusa this transfer because the chapel in Catania is under construction so that was really fun. The Messina sorelle missed their train so they got to stay an extra night and I got to do another scambio with Sorella Wiltbank. 

We NEED each other. 

We had a huge miracle!    

We taught English course together and there are these two students that I just KNOW are ready but I've had a hard time setting up an appointment with them. Well, we finished the lesson and shared our spiritual thought.  

How Can You "Know"?
One of the students asked how I can always say that "I KNOW" these things.. which turned into our English course class all staying late and hearing me tell my personal conversion story.  One of the members was there and he told HIS story and everyone was crying and the spirit was really strong.

I got to talk to the two students afterwards and one of them told me that she is really interested in meeting with us and she loved the spiritual thoughts.. The other told me she has seen a huge change in her life since she started coming to our church and she has secretly been reading the Book of Mormon and she loves it... 

It was the biggest miracle of my time here in Siracusa. 

More Than We Realize
It was a huge testimony to me that God IS still guiding this work and he is doing so much more than we realize. I went home and just said the biggest gratitude prayer. I want SO badly to share this message, but it's so frustrating when you can't find anyone that wants to listen. So that is my miracle from the week.

We also had a stake conference Saturday night which really just means ALL the members in Sicilia got together and I got to see all the missionaries.  People think it's funny to say their "goodbyes" to me and I don't think it's funny.



Also Uchtdorf and his cute wife and Neil Andersen and Linda Reeves all talked about missionary work at stake conference (broadcasted from Switzerland).  It was a great week. 


The Reeves, Andersons, Uchtdorfs, and Texieras at the Swiss Temple
for the broadcasted conference.

Elder and Sister Uchtdorf at the construction site for the Rome Temple.


The Uchtdorfs greeting some of the Italian youth.



(photos from mormonnewsroom.org)


Sorry so short today, Mom, but I don't like this keyboard.  

Also Carol told me that the GANS got interviewed for a mormon.org video... How cool is that? Look out for it.  

Also it's hard to think because these loud Italian ragazzi are yelllllling behind me.

Vi voglio bene.

With love from Siracusa,

Sorella O'Connor 








(Countdown:  T - 8 Weeks!! 7 emails. 2 Fast Sundays. 1 Transfer Day.)

(Email Sent - June 9, 2014)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Magic in Messina

Ciao Famiglia


I forgot my planner again so I don't really remember what I did this week. oops. But I'll try and recooperate.  
Highlights from the week:
Reunited
I got to go do a scambio in Messina this week which was really fun because Sorella Wiltbank got transferred to Messina! We got to be companions again for a day. 
So Wednesday night we took a bus to Catania to meet Sorella Stephens, the other STL, so we could travel to Messina the next morning.  So Sorella Williams wanted to leave earlier to Catania because she is scared of doing anything in the dark.. 

But I didn't want to waste all day traveling, so we got to Catania at like 8:30 and still had to wait at the super sketchy bus station for another bus to take us to their house. 
I pretended not to be afraid because I didn't like admitting that she was right and we should have left earlier, but there were all these crazy people running around and they were like trying to wave down buses for us and stuff.  

Anyway, on the way to their house we met this 22 year old guy and he said that the sisters had knocked on his door just that week, but he didn't let them in..So we had a chance to explain to him a little about the restoration and he gave us his information because he wanted to know more! 
Messina
Then the next day we took another bus to Messina.  
I LOVE Messina.  



Every time I go I tell myself how I want to serve there because it feels like EVERYONE we talk to is super prepared and willing to listen.  And they live above the Armani store... but that doesn't have anything to do with it. 
So I was really excited to be with Sorella Wiltbank again and we had SO many miracles.  First we were walking home for lunch and we saw these two Italian guys having a really intense conversation, which is pretty typical.. but as we walked by, the older man pulled us aside and he tells his friend to look into our eyes.  He says, 
“Look at the peace and happiness in their eyes; it's because of Jesus Christ.” 
and I'm thinking “Yeah, look into my eyes, but please don't notice the shock in them.” 
So he goes on to convince this guy that he needs to meet with us because we can give him the happiness we have in our eyes.. and the other guy is just staring into our eyes and he is like,
Yeah, you're right, they do have a light in their eyes... Look into my eyes; I have sad eyes.” 
Purpose
So we gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and he opened it to the "What is My Purpose?” page and he just looked at it, then at us, then at it, then at us, and he said “What IS my purpose? That's what I'm looking for.”  
So we invited him to church and he said he is going to come.  He gave us his address and his phone number and the older friend is like “Hey wait, I want to come too!” and we secretly think he is one of the three Nephites because he speaks Spanish and he told us he travels all around the world, and he convinced this guy to come to our church... 
Magic
So we kept walking down this same street and we were talking about what a miracle it was and how we always see magic when we are together.  We passed by two ladies sitting outside of a bar (K: "bars" are little counter cafes in Italy.)  and we stopped them and asked them if they would be interested in our English course.  One lady said "yes" and that she is going to come.  
We started walking away when we both felt impressed to turn back and keep talking to her.. which would be really awkward, but we are both used to being awkward so we did it and I invited her to church on Sunday.  She says “Wait, are you Mormon?” We say "yes," and she replies “I'm Catholic, but I've always wanted to know the differences in our beliefs.” 
She gave us her information and said she would love to meet us.. so we keep walking down the same street and I'm ranting because I've been doing straight finding for 8 weeks in Siracusa and we have only had 2 new investigators and I walk down one street in Messina and everyone wants to give us their information to meet with us.. 
Jaw Dropping
So as we are talking about it and laughing about the magic we have when we serve together, a car pulls up to the corner where we are standing and waiting for the light to turn so we can pass.. This car lets out a young Italian girl and she turns to us and starts talking to us and right away she asks US if she can give us her number and address so we can come to her house one day to talk... my jaw is literally on the FLOOR and we exchange numbers and explain who we are and why we are here and she was just so excited to have us come over. 
At this point I've decided that I'm not ever leaving Messina... and we keep walking home and the other sisters are wondering why we are late because we are stopping and talking to everyone.
Danish Referral
Then we run into this tourist couple and they ask us where they can get pizza and we start walking with them and to show them a place where they can get pizza.  They start to walk away... so I run after them to give them a mormon.org card and they say “Oh you are Mormon?... Our neighbors in (some obscure town in Denmark) are Mormons.. They are going to pick up their son who was been in South Africa for 2 years.” 
Who has Mormon neighbors in Denmark? 
Anyway, they said they are going to go home and tell their neighbors that they met the Mormon missionaries in Italy. Cool stuff. 
It was an incredible scambio. I just have been really down because we are working so hard to find people to teach here in Siracusa.  I KNOW there are people ready here because the other missionaries here are having a TON of success and finding tons of people.  
And I know its not us because as soon as we leave Siracusa, I find tons of people.  But when you mix me and Siracusa together, we spend all hours of the day trying to find people to teach.  It's been rough for me, but I still have faith and hope that we will find more prepared people here.
Speaking of prepared people here.. we had a really great experience with Adrianna this week.  She is our (only) investigator from Romania.  She invited us over on Friday to have some Romanian dish.. We all crammed into their cute Italian kitchen and we were eating Romanian sugar donuts with her, her roommate that only speaks Romanian, and Maria (her friend that's a member). 

We started the lesson and Maria wanted to share a message from the Liahona and then we tied it into 3 Nefi 11 and we started teaching them about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was one of the best lessons we have taught here in Siracusa.  I love Adrianna with all of my heart.  

We were teaching her about repentance and baptism when her phone rang... She was afraid to answer because she didn't know the number, but we convinced her to answer and it was someone calling to offer her a job!  She has been looking all over for work and someone just called out of the blue to have her come in the next day. 
shock
It was such a miracle.  She just sat there in shock and we talked to her about how it wasn't a coincidence that they called while we were talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was such a beautiful lesson... The only problem is that for right now they are having her work every day for 8 hours... so she couldn't come to church on Sunday.. so that is the next hurdle that we are working on.
As hard as it has been here in Siracusa finding missionary work, I absolutely love it here. 



I'm having a lot of fun and I love the members here.. especially the youth.  Our bishopric has asked us to work a lot with the youth and to help prepare them for missions and it has been such a cool experience.

So all is well here in Siracusa. VI VOGLIO BENE
With love from Siracusa,
Sorella O'Connor  

(Email Sent - June 2, 2014)