Main Menu

Sciacca – Week 8
Transfer 16, Mission Week 97

Ciao Tutti!

So this week was really crazy! We were all over the place and we have been on some sort of transport for 50 hours this week which was really nuts and definitely the most I have ever done in a short amount of time within my whole life. We were definitely worn out by it all and it was a very fun travel at the same time. So we started out Monday night by heading to Palermo and we stayed the night there so we wouldn’t have to wake up super early on that Tuesday morning for travel to get to Palermo for our train and run the risk of being late for it or something like that. We headed out on that train at 9:30 and we were on that one for a good amount of time. We had a guy assigned to sit next to us and I am not really what sure what language he spoke because after he sat down for a second I asked him where he was headed in Italian and he didn’t acknowledge me so I am not totally sure haha.

He got off after a little bit and we eventually made it to Messina where we cross on the boat to get back over to the mainland. I have been on that thing a fair amount of times it seems like. We had a small expensive lunch on the boat and got back on the train.

We then had to endure this lady that was sitting in another little section play traditional Sicilian music out loud and at first it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it definitely started getting a little annoying after a while hahaha. We finally arrived at Salerno at 6:30 in the evening and had about an hour and half layover before we had to be on the train again. Just enough time for a pizza!! We were close enough to Napoli and we were logically starving at this point. We had a pizza place picked out that we wanted to check out also hoping it was a like a sister restaurant to Sorbillos in Napoli. Well that place was closed so we made our way to another one and sat down and stuffed our pizza down in about 15 minutes or so, which was super delicious as well! After contemplating for a total of 3 seconds we decided to head back to the original place since it was said to have been open by then and grab a pizza to go. Don’t know what was up, but it was still closed. There was another one that we passed by and we decided to check it out and it seemed to be a fast place. We ordered and then I started talking to the older man that took our order. I was asking if they were from Salerno and whether this was their Pizzeria. We were just starting the small talk and then the guy that was making my pizza who was younger stated in Italian that we weren’t from around here. We said that we were from the United States and then all of a sudden he asked in English if we had a tag. Mine was half way covered by the tip of my jacket and we were shocked at the question and the fluency of English. Then he said that he was mormon and asked where we were from.

Well we told him we were from Sciacca and he said that he served part of his mission there. We asked him his name and having heard it since being here as well as talking to the members about him we had a great little time talking to his family and his pizza was really good too!

We in fact have a cook book he made while he was on the mission and it was a pretty cool experience.

After chowing down that pizza we had a nice short little ride for the next leg of the trip. We were late taking off and then we also sat at a station for a while and I had a feeling we were going to miss the connection to get on the bus headed towards Foggia. I tried searching for someone and went down the train, but the door I knocked on no one answered, didn’t realize till after it was the door connecting to the carriage hahaha. When we got off we were rushing around and then we saw the Tren Italia worker getting off and we asked him about the fact that we missed the bus and two others had the same problem. Well thank goodness we asked him, because he offered all of us a ride to catch the bus. So we hurried in the car and headed to one of the towns about 40 kilometers away that the bus would stop and pick up more people. It was super funny and we were just laughing at the situation that we were in and everyone in the car was super nice and we got to talk to them for a good amount of time.

Making it to Foggia we had our ride up to Pescara and then sat in the station for 2 hours waiting for the next train and oh my goodness was it freezing in that station. It was so cold and we were tired hahaha.

That was definitly the most painful part of the trip as well as waiting in the Porto D’Ascoli station for the last train. We arrived in Ascoli around 7:00 in the morning and we were able to go and get some breakfast at the Anziani’s house, shower, and study before getting Anziano Campbell’s permesso. I got to try these really good fried olive type things in Ascoli which are famous there. We had a nice little short stay in Ascoli before heading back down to Rome and from there we were able to thankfully take a night train with beds on it so we knocked out really fast on that part and when we woke up, besides the few times along the way, we were arriving in Palermo. Took the bus back to Sciacca and were finally able to make it to our area.

We had a great few work days here in town and were able to accomplish a lot of great stuff. We were able to visit some members and we also had the chance to help some members move to a new house so that went really well!

Friday while we were planning there was snow coming down! It was crazy!! That rarely ever happens down here. It was sticking of course, but cool to see. That is also a holiday here in Italy called the il giorno dell’Befana it is where all the Christmas decorations are taken down and apparently this witch comes and leaves some gifts for the kids. It is a cool little cultural holiday. Well, needless to say there weren’t many people out with a combination of these things. We hopped in somewhere to grab something to eat in the evening and ended up sitting down from little bit. Upon exiting I turned around and Anziano Campbell was talking to this guy in English and we were all of sudden in full fledge conversation with someone that served in Sciacca as a missionary 20 years ago and was on a trip planning where he will take students on his trip this summer. It was super cool talking about members and the experiences that he had on his mission. It was super cool!

Well Saturday the whole branch, as well as our new convert, were going to head to Palermo to get to a conference where there would be a General Authority speaking. Well the bus was late for starters and then the next thing that we knew we got the slowest bus driver ever and it took like 3 and half hours to get all he way down there.

Thankfully everyone was a great sport about it and we had a potential there as well that is the husband of a member in our branch. Well we made it for the last 15 minutes or so, but it went super well! It was a nutty night, but we made it back safe. All went well and we had a great Sunday to the close of a super long and busy day! We were super happy about everything that happened and all that we were able to accomplish.

One thing that the experience in Salerno made me reflect on was a story that Elder Quentin L. Cook recounts in a devotional he gave some years ago about President David O. McKay.

When I was your age, President David O. McKay was the prophet.

President McKay served as President of the Church from 1951 until 1970, which was the year I turned 30. There is always something very special about the prophet who serves when you are a young adult. I loved and admired President McKay. He often related a true account that occurred while he was a missionary serving in Scotland. He was feeling homesick after being in the mission for just a short time and spent a few hours sightseeing at nearby Stirling Castle. When he and his companion returned from visiting the castle, they passed a building where the stone above the door had a carved inscription of a quotation usually attributed to Shakespeare, which read: What E’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.

Recalling this experience in a talk given in 1957, President McKay explained: “I said to myself, or the Spirit within me, ‘You are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than that, you are here as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. You accepted the responsibility as a representative of the Church.’ Then I thought [about] what we had done that forenoon. We had been sightseeing, we had gained historical instruction and information, it is true, and I was thrilled with it. … However, that was not missionary work. … I accepted the message given to me on that stone, and from that moment we tried to do our part as missionaries in Scotland.”

I love this quote a lot because it shows that we always have to be doing our part to be who we really are at all times. We didn’t have to start talking to the people at the pizzeria and often times in our lives we may find ourselves in situations where we can maybe be different than we normally are or whatever. I just really love the fact that wherever we are we should always be doing what we can to be who we know that we need to be. I really know that all actions have consequences and something I loved this week that I read in a talk from President Thomas S. Monson was how we are always affecting the lives of others by the way we live our lives whether that be for good or bad. I hope that we may all do what we can to be who we need to be always! Sorry for the length of the email this week it was super long!

Have a great week everyone!

Vi voglio bene!!

Anziano Garrett

Pizza in Salerno

Pizza in Salerno with an RM who worked in Sciacca while he was on his mission

It’s freezing cold in Sciacca

Catania – Week 21
Transfer 14, Mission Week 86

Ciao tutti!

This week was really awesome, but man it passed by super duper fast!

We were able to accomplish a lot of things that we needed to do and got it all done in a manageable amount of time. We had a family home evening last Monday evening that went really well with our part member family. We were able to address the questions that they all had and still teach what we felt was right for them in that moment. That is something that is so amazing about the gospel that it can be tailored, then taught, and applied to everyone initially. I really enjoy that we can be able to bring to the table exactly what the Lord knows will make people happy and live with joy in their lives.

We were able to visit a less active family at their house for lunch which also went really well. We had an interesting conversation about a dish of food found here in Sicily called parmigiana which is made with eggplant, tomatoes, cheese, and some other things that I am forgetting. It was interesting for the fact of the name and how we started talking about how much of a melting pot it is here in Sicily.

There is such a mix of cultures which makes it such an interesting and unique place. The food is a mix of certain dishes which causes even the cities in Sicily to have different dishes that are specially made in those places. For example when I was in Trapani they are famous for their cous-cous which comes from the country very close on the northern tip of Africa called Tunisia. Here in Catania there is a special dish called pasta alla’norma which is a ragu based pasta with melanzane and ricotta salata. It is super cool to me and I enjoy learning about all these things and being around it all. That is a little culture story for everyone! The lesson went really well though and we were able to talk about family councils which is something that Elder M. Russell Ballard talked about last April in general conference. It is where we can meet as a family and discuss situations and make goals as a family to continue to grow and progress in this life together. He explains how their are four different types of family councils and it is something I can’t wait to apply in my future family. Really something I want to do because it is something that is so special for the family. Here is the link if you are interested in reading more about it.

We had to wake up at 3:30 on Wednesday morning to make our way up to Rome. We got started nice and early and we made our way to Messina where you have to take the ferry across the strait with the car. It was a nice long drive and we were making good time and of course we had some stops for the restroom, gas and lunch. We stopped in Napoli on the way up for lunch and it was amazing to finally eat a pizza from Napoli. I will say expectations were high, but the pizza definitely lived up to what it was. I will put a picture in there. It was the best pizza I have definitely had. Not to say there isn’t good pizza out there, but it was awesome. We made it up to Rome and parked the car up at the mission office. Got on the Metro and headed down to the station to meet all the other Anzinai in the zone that had to travel up on the train. Unfortunately the train arrived late, and this caused us not to be able to make it to our Geso spot in Piazza Spagna. We were however able to make the best of our time and get down to a different spot where Anziano LaPray and I went finding for the brief 30 minutes that we had. The First Lady we saw ended up being a great conversation and we got her number which we really hope turns out to be a cool opportunity for the missionaries to teach her up in Rome.

We had another early morning in order to prepare for the conference and make our way down to the Rome 1 church. The conference was so amazing. Once they were all in the building we were able to go down the line and shake all their hands and meet them all. We had such a spiritually strong few hours with all the general authorities and their wives. We were able to here from every single one of them there.

It was super special and amazing to be able to hear and see some overall themes among them, but how they all each had some different things to take away form each individual talk/testimony. They all had so many great things said I don’t even know where to start. Time was a big theme that was talked about as well as just remembering how great and wonderful this calling is as missionaries. I will definitely keep close the things that the talked about and do my best to apply the things that I learned through the spirit. I loved that we were able to hear from them for so long. Sorella Nelson talked about a lot of great things and one thing that I really liked was if we were able to see a short 10 minute clip of who we were at any point in the pre mortal life that it would change the trajectory completely of our life on earth. We would know what are true purpose is and without a doubt would work with all our might, mind, and strength to accomplish what we know we need to accomplish. She also told a cool story about how once in Russia with members of the church she addressed a group and said she wanted to get to know them all a little better. She then asked the whole group to stand when she called out one of the 12 tribes of Israel. She found 11 different tribes that day! Every one except the tribe of Levi was there, but then the next day in their travels they were able to meet a missionary that was a Levite. Pretty cool stories.

President Russell M. Nelson was able to address us for about 45 or 50 minutes and his topic was very interesting, but applied so well to missionary work and who we are. One of the first things that he does though is the asks the whole room who had their paper scriptures with them. Most people didn’t since traveling with the iPad is more convenient and what not. He said that he likes and uses both, but said there is just something about the paper scriptures. He then told us how he just recently got that copy that he was holding. He then turned it in the inside where the date was written, May. He decided that he would read every word of the entire quad, in which he finished 2 weeks later. He talked about the 12 tribes of Israel and the Gathering of Israel which was amazing to see. We were so blessed to have him there and instruct us on something that we maybe didn’t know everything about, but something that was able to stick with us in such a way to open us up with a drive to find more. I am thankful that we were able to talk about this great gathering of Israel that is taking place and the Abrahamic covenant. We are able to participate in this great gathering in helping Heavenly Father’s children find the truth. I really loved all that we were able to learn from the conference and hope to retain the feelings and apply the knowledge that I have now.

It was nice to see and catch up with some people after the conference and talk to everyone I haven’t seen in a long time. It was definitely just an all around amazing conference and interesting how it differed from the last mission conference when it comes to the aspect of knowing a lot more people in the mission now. We had to switch out our car after the conference and made our back home, but since we weren’t going to make it all the way we had to stop in Cosenza and stay the night. That was weird to be back in that city as well. Was able to get a nice run in Cosenza that next morning which was awesome. We made our way back after that and have had some awesome few days back here in Catania. We were able to go and have another lesson with our part member family, have a special broadcasted conference to our stake, and found 3 new investigators this past Sunday.

One of the new investigators we were supposed to go over and teach a lesson to our investigator that came to church, but at the end she wasn’t able to come down for the lesson. We had a meal, which was super good by the way, with a less active daughter of the family. She made this pasta with a sauce that uses the inc sac of a squid. It was super good! Sorry those are my food rants, but we were able to teach her boyfriend the whole restoration and we will be headed back there next Sunday to teach them. That was a super cool miracle! The other two were found at the Geso while Anziano Parkinson and Anziano Ponce went off to make sure there weren’t too many missionaries concentrated a small area when we were stopping people. They both sounds awesome too!

It was a crazy past week with lots of fun, spiritual, and instructive moments. I am so happy to be here serving in Italy with all the fellow missionaries and laborers around me as well. This past week I was able to be in 3 of my 4 cities, which is something super strange. I have had a ton of thoughts and memories flooding back to my head about many different experiences over my mission so far. I am so thankful for the cities I have served in, the people I have been able to meet and serve to the best of my ability, the people I have served with, the miracles, the lessons, all the experiences, lessons learned, etc. It has been such an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I can’t wait for the lessons and all the things I will do today and the rest of my time here in Italy as a full time missionary of the Lord. This makes me think of a few scriptures in Alma 29.

10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.

11 Yea, and I also remember the captivity of my fathers; for I surely do know that the Lord did deliver them out of bondage, and by this did establish his church; yea, the Lord God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, did deliver them out of bondage.

12 Yea, I have always remembered the captivity of my fathers; and that same God who delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians did deliver them out of bondage.

I will always remember the wonderful things that the Lord has done and hope to always cling to those feelings and memories so they will always stay close to me. I am thankful for the great times and the difficult ones as well. It all is for our benefit and helps us to draw closer the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you all again for all the prayers and help that you all offer me. I love you all and am so grateful to know that we all as missionaries have so many people supporting us.

Have a great week!

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Garrett

With Anziano Spencer, my companion from Trapani, at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

With Anziano Spencer, my companion from Trapani, at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

With friends at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

With friends at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

Some friends at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

Some friends at the Mission Conference in Rome, October, 2016

We stopped in Napoli to enjoy world-class pizza on our journey to Rome for the Mission Conference, October, 2016

We stopped in Napoli to enjoy world-class pizza on our journey to Rome for the Mission Conference, October, 2016

Napoli pizza - pizza doesn't get any better than this

Napoli pizza – pizza doesn’t get any better than this