Week 4 – Sick Stories in Saracena

Ciao everybody!

This week was great we started out with district meeting in Catanzaro where I gave a lit spiritual thought at the beginning. I would suggest all of you to read President Uchtdorf’s talk from this last General Conference “Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear” and then read Matthew 5 and see what you learn for yourself. We ate a district lunch at this super good pizzeria, but from what I’ve heard it is nothing compared to a good Napoli pizza.

The rest of this week was pretty usual. A lot of finding, mostly while walking around town, and a few lessons with members. We also picked up 1 1/2 new investigators. I say 1/2 because one of them is a Nigerian named Victor, but he lives up in the neighboring town of Rende. This means he can’t get to church on Sundays because he doesn’t have a car, busses don’t run, and he lives too far to walk. We are trying to figure out a solution to this problem.

On Saturday we visited some members out in a small Paesino called Saracena. This little town is built into the cliffs of a mountain and the views from it are amazing. One of the members we visited, Fratello Barletta, an 86 year old that travels an hour and a half to get to church every Sunday, told us stories about how he was personal friends with President Hinckley and President Monson and about some crazy experiences he had in Chile on his mission. He is one of the coolest people I have ever met! He has had so many cool experiences in life, and everyone in his Piesina regards him and respects him.

Anyways, it is amazing out here in Italy. Often times things seem can hard, strange, or even kind of stupid sometimes (like how busses are always like 30 minutes late), but there is a beauty that shines through all of the ugly. The church may be very small especially down here in Calabria, but the members and the people are strong. I love it here, and I am so excited for all the amazing experiences I will have out here.

Salute,
Anziano Findlay

Pics:
1. A cool view in Saracena
2. My Companion with Fratello Barletta
3-4. More views from Saracena
5. The pizza I had at district meeting

Week 3 – Zone conference in Taranto

Ciao everybody,

This week was super lit! We started off with some ping pong during prep day and then finished the day out by teaching a family home evening lesson at the church to one of our single members. We talked about the character of Christ and how we can become more like him. Then on Tuesday we just did a lot of finding like usual and we helped one of our member’s with some house work.

Wednesday we left for Taranto. We had Zone Conference this Wednesday and Thursday. It was super awesome to meet all the missionaries in the zone. Our Zone leaders are Anziano Bellini and Anziano Allen. They are both great missionaries and really cool people. Also at zone conference I gave my birth testimony (which means my first testimony to the zone in complete Italian) it was pretty great. We also got to hear a death testimony (the last testimony to the zone before you leave) from one of my favorite missionaries in the zone, Anziano Blackwell. I’m sad I only get to serve with him for one transfer. For those of you at BYU right now, if you meet a tall funny red head named Brent Blackwell, tell him what’s up for me! At the end of the conference we were invited to do one the game that will better our missionary work. That one thing is to think of one Christ like attribute and try to change your life to better follow that standard. I invite all of you reading this to do that as well. Think about how Christ lived and how he acted and choose one or more of those thoughts and try to live your life by it. I know you will see a huge increase in happiness and purpose in your life.

After Zone conference we had a pretty usual Friday. We cleaned the church with a member, and after that walked the city to do some finding. Then on Saturday we got to have Pranzo, which is the meal at lunch time but it is more like a dinner, with the same member we cleaned the church with. She made us a mussel pasta, wurst with mustard and sour krout (she’s actually German not Italian), and some really tasty dolci (sweets, almost like a pie crossed with a cake). It was all homemade and really good! After that we just did finding as usual and ran into a new potential investigator. We were supposed to have a lesson with one of our investigators, but she had to cancel because she was going to an opening of her friend’s new bar to help her with it. We ran into while we were walking the streets and said hi. Now we have a lesson with her tonight and we are going to get her on date for baptism!

Sunday as usual was great. I got to go to church and attempt to talk to all the old members who speak the Cosentino dialect instead of Italian which is always kind of awkward, but I’m getting a lot better at understanding when people are talking in Italian. On Sunday Juventus, one of the biggest calcio (soccer) teams in Italy won the Italian title for the sixth time, so there were hundreds of people wearing team gear, driving around honking there horns and waving flags out their windows, and partying in the central piazza. It was nuts! Sadly I didn’t have a camera on me or I would have taken some pics. Also, at the same time down Centro, the main street of Cosenza, there was a parade celebrating the Italian/Albanian heritage of Cosenza. There people dressed in all sorts of cultural clothing dancing and singing to old Italian music. There were people playing guitars, accordions, drums, clarinets, and even a bagpipe, and there were dancers dressed in these old fashion Italian dresses dancing with handkerchiefs. Also, the Archbishop along with a bunch of Catholic priests were strolling the streets with the performers. It was really cool to see. Again, sadly I didn’t have my camera or I would have taken some pics.

Anyways, it is great out here in Italy! I hope you are all doing well back in the States!

Anziano Findlay

Pictures:
1. A great view from a members house
2. Me and my companion
3/4. Some cool views from the Zone leader apartment in Taranto
5. The Duomo in Cosenza (largest/oldest Catholic Church in the area)

 

Cosenza week 2

2 weeks down and only 10 more weeks of being a verdino!

So far I am loving it out here in the field! The people in Cosenza are great. They love talking and getting to know us. It can be a little hard to understand them sometimes though because a lot of the older people will speak Cosentino which is the local dialect here. Also, those who do speak Italian speak with pretty thick cosentino accents. Most of the teens and people my age however speak Italian, so I have an easier time understanding them. However, I need to get to the point where I’m thinking in Italian instead of translating everything I here into English. Then I will really start learning quickly. Right now especially when I am really tired I have trouble translating as fast as they talk which after leaves me almost completely confused.

The city is pretty small, but parts of it are beautiful. One investigator that moved to Milan before I got here is visiting for the week and he will talk with us and go on walks around the city. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is friends with almost everyone in Cosenza and he loves introducing us to his friends.

The city is pretty small, but parts of it are beautiful. One investigator that moved to Milan before I got here is visiting for the week and he will talk with us and go on walks around the city. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is friends with almost everyone in Cosenza and he loves introducing us to his friends.

Besides that, mission life is a lot of the same stuff most days. We go on walks and try and talk to people about the church. Every Tuesday and Thursday we teach an English course and then if our investigators come we try to teach them a lesson after. I still haven’t met some of our investigators because one just went out of town to Bucharest for the last week and another may have just moved to Napoli, but he we have a hard time reaching his phone.

Some cool thing I got to do this week were play my violin to the English course, and then immediately following that I played in one of the Piazzas as in an attempt to do some contacting. Then this last Sunday I played with the primary kids when they sang a mother’s day song during sacrament meeting. Finally, got to video call my family for mother’s day. It was great to see all their faces again and catch up a bit.

I’m super excited for the coming weeks!
Anziano Findlay

Mother’s Day Video Call

(written by Anziano Findlay’s dad)

This afternoon we got to speak with Anziano Findlay via an internet video call right after our church meetings in Missouri. It was 12:30 pm our time and 7:30 pm his time in Cosenza, Italy. He was at the church in Cosenza, which sounds like it is located along a string of storefronts on a busy road in the downtown area, and is essentially what was a garage converted into a church. It is quite small, although it does have a ping-pong table, an amenity we don’t have in most churches — kind of a humble stand-in for a basketball court. It is the best place for wifi, he and his companion opted to call from there using their tablets.

IMG_1840

Giving us a tour of the church space (not exactly a building)

We learned that his companion is Anziano Hanson (or Hansen) from Orange County, California, and that he has been out for 5 transfers (apparently the unit of time in his mission), or, in other words, 6 months. He was also on a call with his family at the same time so we didn’t meet him.

I’m not sure if it is because he is in Italy, but the family metaphor sounds like it maybe a little more extensive than usual in his mission: he was born in Cosenza, his trainer is his dad, his MTC companion is his brother, any other trainees by his trainer are his brother. The oldest sister missionary in his district is his mother. His grandfather died when he got there (the trainer of his trainer finished his mission).  I’m not sure if anyone is his godfather though. 😉

Anziano Findlay played his violin in church today with the primary children for Mother’s Day, which today were made “children” instead of “child” just by one child, (two children). The primary is currently 4 children when they are all there.

He also said that he and his companion came up with the idea one day to have him play hymns on his violin on a corner downtown to make contacts, which sounds like was fun, but at the same time became problematic because people thought he was busking and kept trying to make donations, to which they had to decline, as it would be inappropriate being missionaries, which sounds like made things awkward.

Right now Anziano Findlay says understanding what people are saying is quite the challenge, and he doesn’t know what people are saying, but it sounds like he is hopeful it will get better since his companion speaks so well. For example, he said that someone said a long string of sentences, and after stopping he realized as they were talking, “they are saying something about being at home,… but that’s all I’ve got.” It sounds though that people there like to talk to each other a lot, spending lots of time at meals talking for example, so I’m sure the language will come for him with time.

He told us that he got to eat at a member’s home this week, who turned out to be German rather than Italian, although she cooked Italian food for them. He told us how first she brought them a big plate of pasta, and he was feeling full almost 2/3 though, but thought he better clean his plate. Then she brought out turkey, … then fruit, … then bread, … and then dessert. I’m guessing he ate it all.

He’s only been there two weeks, and only has gone food shopping once and forgot to buy sandwich meat, so he has been eating tuna fish and crackers when he cooks for himself. He won’t use his bread for tuna fish because he says the Italian bread is too good for tuna fish. He loves the bread, and says it can stand on its own. He also loves a street food he called kay-bobs, which Mikayla says sounds like it might be schwarma.

He said that the big meal of the day is called pranzo, which is served midday. Everyone comes home to mom to eat pranzo. No one is out on the street during pranzo. Pranzo can take a while.

He was quite happy about the gelato saying it is the creamiest dessert he’s ever eaten, and that his companion thinks they have one of the best gelato places in the mission in Cosenza (he tried chocolate first).

One thing that sounds like a real challenge in his current city is that the public transportation doesn’t run on Sunday, and most people don’t own cars. Also the busses don’t run on time. So getting people to come to church who don’t live near the church is difficult, since there isn’t an easy way to get there.

One thing that he is grateful to his mother for is her insistence that he bring some short sleeve shirts (she got him to take 4) as it is quite hot (he hears it will get up to 110 degrees F this summer) and his mission rules do not allow for his plan of rolling up the sleeves of long sleeve shirts. He said that they have a small washing machine in their apartment bathroom, but that they have to dry all of their clothes on drying racks. Unfortunately we can’t send packages to him easily as the custom fees are ridiculous – one sister missionary was sent a $50 dress and was charged $130 by customs to get the dress. So it sounds like it is better just to send money and have them buy clothes there.

I’m sure when Anziano Findlay reads this, he’ll find many things to correct as our memories can’t do the call or his experiences justice from this far, but it was delightful getting to talk to him, and hard to believe we won’t get to video chat again until Christmas! (We are kind of spoiled at this point as he has only been out on his mission for about 2 months).

 

Week 1 in the field!

Buongiorno!

I’ve had one week in the field. My whole group started out in Rome for two days. They took us around to some of the sights like the Collesseum and a Catholic cathedral. We also started contacting which is really fun, but also really awkward. I usually can hardly understand what people say to me which really socks. During church I sat through a testimony meeting and 2 lessons that I could barely understand anything. People’s accents are so thick and they talk incredibly fast. I’m getting better though. The people here seem so cool, I can’t wait until I can actually communicate with them lol!

My birth city is Cosenza, Calabria. Southern Italy, especially here in Calabria, is a different place. The culture here is really lazy. Hardly anybody works, nobody goes to school, and things like the bus system don’t really function on time, everyone smokes, and everyone lives off their parents and the government. With all this, there is still an amazing beauty to the culture here. Everyone spends all day with there family and friends which is super cool. Most families in the USA only spend the evenings and weekends together, but here everybody goes home for every meal. They are also a really happy people who really know how to have fun.

The last few days have really just been spent getting paperwork done and contacting. We had one lesson with an investigator, and we talked to a lot of new people. We have 2 ready solid investigators with baptism dates and I’m really excited to teach them.

Italy is so beautiful, and I am so excited to spend the next 2 years here

Ciao!
Anziano Findlay

Arrived in Italy!

Ciao from Roma, Italia!

I arrived in Rome today at 8:00 in the morning, which is something like 2 or 3 in the morning for you. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to call in the JFK airport. Sadly, their pay-phones did not work. We arrived at the Villa where the Mission home is located, and what is really cool is that it was designed by Benito Mussolini as a place for his friends to stay stay when they were in Rome. It is so crazy that it is now owned by the church. Anyways, I don’t have time to write much, but I wanted to let you know that I am safe and that Italy is beautiful.

I’ll write you again on Monday!

Anziano Tyler Findlay