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. 
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. 
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.
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

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