Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Missionary Life

Hello Everyone, Well some of our friends have asked for more detail on our mission experience so I will attempt to give a little more. We work in the office from Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 5:00 (often later). Rick is primarily the financial secretary. He makes sure apartment rents are paid, utilities, repairs, supplies and missionary travel and various and sundry other expenses. We have an Italian couple who are serving 1/2 time and come in for 6 hours on Tues., Wed., and Thurs. They do all the Italian communicating and Italian permisso work(like visa's). Rick has fun with his Italian getting all the work organized. I do secretarial stuff. I order, send out, and keep track of supplies. I send letters to parents after each transfer (6 weeks) to update parents on their missionary's progress. I order travel, make flight reservations (Malta flights come up quite often), and keep President Toronto informed of all travel times, dates, etc. I have several reports to complete- weekly, monthly, annual. I do lots of secretarial "stuff". I am constantly getting calls or faxes from missionaries needing supplies and need to organize their deliveries as the assistants travel for district, zone conferences or scambi (exchanges with other missionaries to train). I also organize the delivery of mail and packages in this same way. We have no one else working in the office. I know many offices need missionaries to help out but our president is quite a stickler that their job is missionary work. They seldom even stop by the mission office because they know the president wants to see them organized and working hard all of the time. But even without missionaries stopping by the office it stays very busy and bustling. President Toronto has been District President until recently and that entails all the work that a stake president usually does- he is a very busy man. The office has church people in and out everyday, mailmen, delivery people, people needing to be paid, repair men and now many people helping to organize the closure of our mission. Rick and I have definitly improved a great deal with our computer "skills". Most of our work is on a church program called IMOS (Internet Mission Office System). We learned on a different program and then Europe joined IMOS in December so we learned a new system- always fun. It is a good program but they are constantly upgrading it. They are finding that they had to change a lot of things once they opened Europe. The banking system is so different here as are many other things. We have had to push ourselves to gain computer knowledge that wasn't there before. It has been a good thing.
We are scheduled to move up to Rome the second week of July. President and Sister Toronto leave at the end of June and then we will help supervise the moving of a ton of stuff to the Rome and Milan Missions, Rome and Milan Offices and some things to the couple's apartments. For the last few months we have been making list after list of items in the mission home and senior couple apartment and and lists of our 34 apartments, and what is needed in each apartment, how soon it is no longer needed, when is someone headed that way to deliver the items. After 28 years, the mission home has a lot of stuff (21 twin beds, pictures, book shelves, furniture, books, fold up tables and chairs for conferences, all the kitchen stuff for serving lots of large group meals, etc.) I can't even begin to express all the stuff that has to be sorted out to missionaries first, then members. I have an entire room of office supplies and missionary pamphlets, Book of Mormon's, etc that I have to box up, lable and have ready for the movers. And we are hoping no Italian feelings get hurt in the process- not an easy task. Once we get the mission moved we will get trained in the office in Rome. We will replace a couple that are going home at the end of July. They have two couples in Rome just as we do but they don't have an Italian speaking couple. So we will be doing much of the same stuff we are doing now but with a little different division of labor. We will move right into the Sommerfelt's apartment so we won't have to set up an apartment.
Saturday is our p day. We clean, shop and sightsee (and watch a movie occasionally.) We get to Sigonella every week and I do a lot of the shopping for missionary dinners, conferences, etc. We enjoy reading a newspaper or two at the library, getting mail, eating lunch at Subway. When we move to Rome we will head down to Naples (a two hour drive) every month or so to shop. I'm sure we will want to do some sightseeing in Rome so we won't go every week. The base that we knew in Naples is gone now but they have a new one so we will check it out. We attend the Sigonella Branch, English speaking. Rick is first counselor, I am 1st counselor in RS. A girl has been called to lead the music in sacrament but she has never shown up so I always lead the music. Then we often teach a lesson or give a talk. It does make you stretch yourself a little. We usually pick some people up and drop them off after church. We have a very international flavor to our ward. Our new Sri Lankin member (Rick baptized him) comes, a Filipino family and a sister, Lilian from Nigeria, Ingrid and her sons from Brazil/Italy, Leah who is Chinese/American. Then we have 7 or 8 good solid American familes that are wonderful! When we move to Rome we will attend an Italian Ward which I am looking forward to doing.
As we have mentioned, part of the reason the missionaries are being sent elsewhere is because of the amazing growth in some countries. But, our mission has had increased numbers of baptisms each year for the last 3 years with decreasing numbers of missionaries. Some of that can be attributed to our mission president who is strict but very focused. He is a wonderful teacher and I love to hear him teach. The spirit flows. And some of the growth can be attributed to the focus of using the members to bring the gospel to their friends and neighbor. There has been a great deal of teaching to the members and they are sharing the gospel in greating numbers and reaching out to investigators. Most missionary lessons are taught with a member present. It is a great way for everyone to grow in the gospel. I am so impressed with these young missionaries. They are so obedient and to see their growth through their hard word and obedience is truly amazing.
So, one last thing. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings we help the Catania missionaries teach English course. It is a service offered to the community and we have quite a few show up. We started out with 63 the first night and we have dropped a little in numbers but are still having from 30-45 each night. It has been a good experience and has opened our eyes to a lot of cultural things. We have made some good friends through it and have shared a spiritual message each night. Rick loves to share the word or words of the night. I usually have a story to read or song to sing (in English of course), discussion, question and answer, grammar. We will finish in two weeks and then have a break.
One of the best things about the mission is our scripture study, personal study time. It is amazing the growth I feel from that. I understand so many gospel principles in a more complete and thorough way. President and Sister Toronto have taught such wonderful lessons at the many mission conferences we haave attended. I can see such value for our young kids to go on missions and learn these skills early in life. Of course, they need to learn them in the home as well so they will be able to go on missions and ready to be obedient and hard working. Make no mistake, missions can be hard but so worth it.!!.. Enough- Basta! Buona Sera Buon Amici

Thursday, April 8, 2010

An April greeting from Catania. The last couple of weeks have been quite busy with a trip to Malta (to conduct an audit, speak in sacrament and, oh okay, a little site seeing) followed by a week end of General Conference (not too bad viewing on the computer) and a fine Easter dinner with branch members. The dinner had a mini United Nations feel to it with a fine family from the Philippines (the Manas), our great newly baptised brother from Sri Lanka (Jayasinghe) and sweet sister Lillian from Nigeria. We felt blessed to dine, watch conference, and reflect on the reality of the Resurrection with such good friends.

The English class is still a fun challenge. Last Tuesday, we departed from the usual instruction to view a concert put on by 6 sister missionaries. Such talent! Violin, piano and beautiful harmonious singing with testimonies of the Savior by each young woman. A truly special evening.

We are also working towards the upcoming mission merge. July 1st is the target date for closing the doors in Catania and heading north to Roma. We have two more transfers with one coming next week, a lot to pack (and some to toss) to say nothing about our own move. But hey, we have a new mission car....a 2010 Opel Meriva. It is smooth riding and spacier than our little Ford Fiesta but the transmission leaves something to be desired.

This is a week of birthdays with grand daughters Caitlyn and Ashlyn earlier this week, Robyn (who is expecting!) having her birthday today and industrious Jan's tomorrow. Enjoy the springtime and have a little Italian food this week!!