(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.
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).