Monday, December 28, 2009

As everywhere in Italy, you will see amazing art and engineering right next to very urr, interesting stuff. Its a wonderful place to see art and history. Can't wait to show whoever comes.

Two places you will get to see when you come to visit us. The outdoor market is everyday except Sunday and sells just about anything. The art on the buildings is every where.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The first two pictures were taken on December 23rd at the mission home. The Harris's drove down after a baptism in Messina so we ate lunch on the deck of the mission home. Anziano Hervey, an Assistant, and Anziano Scotchi also joined us. The temperature was 72 and the birds were singing loudly. Just had to take a picture to show our lovely weather so far. The 3rd and 4th pictures are of Motta, about 3 miles from Sigonella Navy Base. Part of Motta is on the hilltop. There is an old castle, now a church on top of the hill. Lovely winding, narrow, laundry strew roads everywhere. Little bit of rain today.

Monday, December 21, 2009

We have come to the end of our four Christmas Conferences. This has been a true labor of love as we have helped transport, feed and house the entire mission, divided by their Mission Training Center dates. But what a joy! President and sister Toronto have been at the front in everything (and have encouraged us to advise the new Mission President NOT to do this next year!)and will surely rest well on christmas day.

Today marks our 41st wedding anniversary. I remember clearly our wedding date (not bad for kids aged 8 and 6!) and being told this would never last. Thankfully, Jan was wrong.

We have had the privalege of sharing the Gospel with a young man from Sri Lanka and will see where he goes from here. Our little Sigonella Branch is amazingly diverse in terms of countries represented: China, El Salvador, Slovakia, The Phillipines, Nigeria (visiting) Mexico and of course the US and Italy. Plus our friend from Sri Lanka.

It is a joy to serve...may you each have a most Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New pictures of Rick and I with our visiting missionary couples here for Christmas Conference. The Elephant out of lava rock is the Catania Symbol and was made in 1736. The ruins in the center of Catania are of a Roman Amphitheater. There is only a small part remaining but it once held 16,000 people and was built between the 2nd and 3rd century.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This huge pile of garbage is what is piled on many of the streets here now as the garbage hisn't being picked up. Who knows why. It might be that the city is out of money. We'll see if the trucks start picking up on Dec. 1. The other pictures are of a young girl that comes to English class. She invited us to her 18th party, a big one here because then they can drive. The one picture is also of the 7 Catania missionaries.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

trying this again

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's almost strange to think that 46 years have passed away since President Kennedy's death.

On a much more enjoyable note, we've spent the past two days attending the Palermo District Conference with Elder Gerald Causse of the 70 presiding. Elder Causse, the first general authority from France, is a member of the first Quorum of the 70 and serves as First Counselor in the European Area.

Yesterday's meetings took place in the little but lovely town of Pergusa located in the center of the Island. Today we meet at a hotel here in Catania. How wonderful to see nearly 1,000 Saints and investigators gathered together in this part of the world. Their enthusiasm and love for the Lord was evident. I've learned that Italians here are not all that much in a hurry to leave when the meeting is over!

It was also good to see some 40 or so missionaries, most with investigators or those thinking to come back into church activity. All told, a most delightful week end.

This past week, Jan and I received our official "permisso" (document) to allow us to stay in the country until our mission ends. This was especially fine in light of the norm being permissos are good for one year...we for some reason were given an extra few months. Considering the time and amazing level of bureaucracy needed in the process, not having to renew ours again is a real blessing!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hello, Family and friends. We are fine and still thoroughly enjoying our mission but just haven't gotten on our blog lately. We haven't taken any pictures so then I don;t think to get on it. We just got home from teaching English class. We have a lot of fun with it. Rick always comes up with an Enlish word that has several meanings and they discuss the different meanings and spellings. Tonight I brought two Dr. Seuss books and we went around the circle reading them to help with pronunciation. They liked it and we read "Red fish blue fish" and "The Cat in the Hat". Thank goodness for the Sigonella Library where I can get stuff I am familiar with. We did other things as well. We had two new missionaries arrive today. They are both Italian so they went to the MTC in Madrid (remember when we went to the Madrid Temple and saw the MTC and Mission Home in Madrid- Robyn, Kelly and Amanda and Sam?) They seem like really nice youg men. Sister Toronto and I made a nice meal for them and their new companion and we held a meeting with them. By the way Melony, the barbecue chicken sandwiches were a real hit and I bought a huge (45) box of American chips that I noticed the next day were all gone. We topped off the meal with Marie Callendar razzleberry pies and vanilla ice cream (yea Sigonella). Enough about food- We had a wonderful conference last week and this weekend our Palermo District which is all of Sicily is having conference- like stake conference with a preisthood leadership meeting and adult meeting Saturday and Sunday meeting. President Causse' who is the first French general authority( 1st quorum of seventy, 1st councelor of the European Area) will be speaking. Still hoping to get the fisrt stake in Sicily soon. Our days fly by with so much to do in the office. Sure do miss all you cuties. Love Mom / Jan

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ok So we have hot water and our computer is working- all is well. The pictures are of Sorella Hostetter who just arrived and her new companion Sorella Wendorf. I am dropping them at the bus station (really just a bus stop) and they are catching the train to Bari, about a 4 hour drive away but it will take the bus about 8 hours and they will travel on a ferry across to the toe of Italy and then travel up the heel. The picture of me standing in front of the 3 towers that are about a block from our apartment. The road is called Le Tres Torres. They are obviously very old but I don't know anything about them and there is no sign there. Did I mention that Sicily could really use some promotional advice to market the amazing things they have. But there is no where to park and no signage.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hello All, So we are staying so busy that it sometimes is days before we get back to this. Rick was called to be 1st Councelor in the branch presidency of the Sigonella Branch. We are teaching the Advanced English class on T. and Th. which sounds impressive until you think about the fact that we can only speak enough Italian to help those that can already speak fairly good English. They like help with pronunciation and definition so we are reading stories from the Liahona Magazine together. Dad gives a great lesson each night on American words and the different meanings. Tonight was potato and work. They like that. We have several that are now taking missionary lessons (not our doing. They have been with the missionaries for several weeks.) We had transfers last week and Zone Leader Council this week and that always gives us extra work. I make lunch for anywhere from 12 to 20. Rick has all kinds of requests for travel money, etc. We have also given a lesson at zone conference. Then thy pick up teaching supplies which I have to order and gather for each zone. There are always things that pop up to take care of. This morning we had no hot water to shower so cold quick baths had to do. I don't know if last nights winds blew out a pilot light or what. We called a person to come look at the caldaia and they said they would call us tomorrow- you know, domani, dopo domani. I guess here is where the sacrifice really comes in. Also, today I spent 6 hours on the phone trying to get my computer back online.. Tomorrow the Italian server guy is coming by to look at it because we determined it must be a local issue. I hope that's not domani, dopo domaani also because I've got to get orders out. We have learned to love these young missionaries. They are amazing people.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

OK, so if you read the blog, you'll see that there is no correlation between our comments and the pictures. Ah yes, the joys of technology...we will keep trying to add the correct pictures. Sorry for any confusion.
Here it is a most pleasant Sunday...the weather has been around '72 as a high and '58 as a low for the past week. It is with a sense (albeit slight)of guilt that we read of the conditions in Denver etc.

We joined our Mission President and his great wife along with the 6 missionaries here in Catania for a delicious dinner at a Morracan restaurant. It's interesting to note how close Sicily is to Northern Africa and there is a definite influence. We have two 'threesomes' of Anziani (elders) and Sorelle (sisters) for about two weeks awaiting some mid transfer arrivals.

The second picture is of our apartment building. All things considered, quite nice and starting to feel a little like home. When you rent a new apartment here, you basically receive four walls, some outlets and a few plumbing fixtures. Everything else needs to be purchased...everything from closets (wardrobes) to the kitchen sink. All shelves, cupboards, light fixtures etc need to be purchased. Thankfully, we've had couple missionaries here before us who put most of it together.

The Halloween picture is of some members (and mostly non members) who attended last night's fun party. The English classes that the missionaries... ourselves included included...have been teaching, has paid off in investigators (or at least party goers!). We were dressed simply as American tourists, with Sister Crawford's camera playing a key role in the costuming.

We are the only full time couple in the officee. A fine Italian couple serve for 6 hours, 3 days a week which helps us greatly with things requiring a greater knowledge of the language. We're really busy but happy. Zone Leader conference starts tomorrow...always something.

What a delight to serve the Lord and the good people of Southern Italy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just wanted to show you more beautiful scenes of Malta. One is from the balcony of our hotel in Mosta. The other is in front of the chapel in Malta. The Beresford's actually live in the church and then half of it is chapel, RS room, office, primary. Loved the colorful fishing boats.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So I have a few minutes and the Doyles asked a few questions so I will attempt to answer them. Sigonella is about 20 minutes away, an easy mostly freeway drive (on the tangentciale). It always feels so relaxing to get there with wide clean streets, driving rules that are followed, and English spoken. We enjoy the BX and Comissary and have an FPO box that people can send mail to for only .44 but we can only receive things that weigh 16 oz or less. Its great that we can send things so cheaply. We have also been to the 2nd hand shop (got some silverware there just the other day). We have been to the library which has a rather outdated selection of books. There is a movie theater, bowling alley and fast food restaurant of which we have only tried the food. There is also a laundromat that I will probably use to wash blankets and such because our washer holds about 8 items. It won't even wash both the top and bottom sheets at the same time. And of course I hang most everything on racks to dry in our apartment. There is a beautiful 2 year old school for kids K-12 (we talked to a couple of high school girls and there are 126 kids in the high school.) Stephanie Doyle- good place to come teach for a year and they even pay your way to go home for the summer. Gotta go- I'll write more later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

These are pictures of Malta. The Beresford's are the English couple serving in Malta. The picture of them is in front of the set for Popeye (Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall). It is now an entertainment park. The other two pictures are typical of hundreds just like them in Malta. Very beautiful place.

Monday, October 12, 2009

As I was leaving Sigonella Navy Air Station I passed this sight right across the street from the entrence to the base and couldn't resist taking a shot. Can you get a closeup? I'm guessing it's a father and son.
Spent today at the tri-district conference. Very nice with lots of sweet testimonies and instruction/discussion/visiting.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This is Rick with our new Branch President, President Collins and his wife Lisa. Chapel on the left, right is primary/young men/young women/relief society. Another gorgeous day. We have about 70 in the branch. The Italians meet at 9:00 and have a much larger branch. Our 8 Catania missionaries meet with the Italian branch and then take turns meeting in our branch 2 each week. We have 92 missionaries in the Catania Italy Mission, 74 young men, 12 young women and 3 senior couples. 1 couple is from England and they serve on Malta. Another couple are on the lower boot of Italy and we are here at the mission office. Tomorrow Rick and I will attend a 3 District Conference at this chapel. It will be held for all of our missionaries serving on Sicily.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another good week. Getting busier as we understand and do more. WOW!! We just skyped with Chris and they will be going to Dili, East Timor for his first assignment, leaving right around Christmas. Amazing! It's the newest country in the world. And he will get a chance to use and improve his Portuaguese. Kelly will get lots of beach time and maybe live on the beach.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hello Doyles, Kroffs, Family, You've been asking questions so I will write an update. Rick and I were on our own in the office this last week and all went well. We are starting to get the hang of things. This week was a fairly quiet week because President and Sister Toronto our gone to Cosenza (heel of the boot) for a Zone Conference. We have no missionaries working in our office but the Assistants to the President come by occasionally to do their stuff. They are very helpful in answering our questions. The Italian missionaries are parttime and the are in the office M, T, and Th from 9:00 to 3:00. I listen to their calls to landlords and am so grateful we don't have to try to do that in our halting Italian. We work from about 8:30 to 5:00. By the way Kroff's and Doyles, we will be going on the imos system in two weeks. We have internet in our apartment which is great and only took about a week to get set up. The driving in Sicily is very similar to the driving in Naples but with less horn honking(thank goodness). Catania is a city of about 300,000 with chariot paths and vegetable cart roads that are now paved. Very curvy and hilly. We don't have a view of the ocean from our apartment but don't have to go far to see it. We do have a view of Mount Etna from our kitchen balcony. (Yes that would be the live, active, very near volcano. Who me scared?) We were pleasantly surprised when the president called us in his office Monday and said he had booked us on a flight to Malta in two weeks to go to the Malta Zone Conference. We were hoping to get there sometime on our mission but so surprised to go so soon. WoW!! We registered on Sigonella on Tuesday so now we can drive on and off base. We were also able to get an FPO mailbox as retirerees. We will get up more tavelling pictures as we get more accustomed to our job and surroundings. Hope you have all had great weeks- Jan

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Looking out to the Ionian Sea and the city of Taormina below. There were spectacular views in every direction. We will be visiting Taormina again and with any of you that come to see us. There are Roman ruins and a Greek Collisium there - beautiful.

This is a farewell luncheon at Fratelli Bufalo. Next to Rick are the Stinebaugh's who we are replacing. At the end of the table are President and Sister Toronto. Across from Rick are the Meduri's, the new Italian part-time missionary couple and behind them are the Nudo's who just completed their mission. He is also the District President over the 12 units in Sicily (branches.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Well we've been in Catania for one week now and have finally gotten on to the internet from our apartment! Small miracles!! I forgot how things are in Italy...most things work some of the time, some things work most of the time.

We have had a solid week with 50% learning our new tasks and 50% trying to learn the driving routes. And yes, the Sicilian drivers learned how to drive from their friends in Naples (although I think they drive better here!)

President and Sister Toranto are superb and the couple we're replacing, the Stinebaughs have done a very nice job, setting us up well. I'll be interested to compare notes with the Kroffs and Doyles to see how they operate their offices...I know some things are different here.

Happy birthday Liam! We love you all and are enjoying this great opportunity. The Church is true, and is slowly but solidly growing in Catania Italy. Love, Dad and Mom aka Rick and Jan

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No words- Just pictures to tell the story.
Loved the MTC!!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Today marked day one of week two. Now we're learning computer systems (amazing what can be done with the 'new' microsoft word') as well as an introduction to the IMOS...the system we will be using in the mission home. Well, that was the theory as there are still glitches in the system that prohibited all of us from moving around in the system. Maybe tomorrow.

We had a most delightful week end with our family...sporting events, visiting wards, and a two grandcutie birthday party (and how about the Cougs!!) dominated the two days.

Now we're waitingto hear when Chris/Kelly will get their DC tickets as his State Department class begins next week.

Speaking of classes, we had another two hour Italian classe sta sera. Parliamo Italiano solo un po ma forse abbistanza cominciare nostro missione.

The MTC is a beautiful place with the delightful spirit of the Lord found everywhere. May you each have a delightful week. Jan and Rick

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's a warm Wednesday night and Mom and I just returned to our room after a rousing two hour Italian session (that followed an 8 hour day of "Preach My Gospel" and hepetitus shots!!). And I am really enjoying the experience as is Mom!

Last night we attended a fireside with Elder Sybrowski or the 2nd Quorum of 70. Although I hadn't heard him before, he and his wife were, we sat in the second row (it pays, at times, to be a 'senior')

We learned today that there will be 9 missionaries (6 elders, 3 sisters) flying with us to Catania. We went over to their study area and met two of the Elders. Well, off to bed.
Talk to you, dad and Rick

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Buon giorno la nostra familia i il nostro amici, Well here we are at the MTC. We arrived excited and ready to start and then I had trouble staying awake during our sessions. I guess the multitude of activities on Sunday got to me. All is well but we miss you all already. Thank you all for your unending support and help in sending us off to share the gospel. We've had two days now of instructions, meeting new friends, learning to give better gospel lessons, good food and inspirational talks. We have a general authority devotional tonight. Love, Jan/Mom