Bella Cosenza, and Happy Easter

Today I’m back in Cosenza to pick up my Permesso di soggiorno. Which is basically like a green card. Essentially, I’ve been an illegal citizen for the last year, and we’re just now fixing that. Most missionaries get there Permesso within the first 6 to 8 months, but… I’ve almost been here for a year now and I’m just barely getting mine. I’m excited to see my old stomping grounds and maybe even say hi to a few old friends.

Our train stopped in Napoli as well, and we had the chance eat some pizza. The pizza there really is incredible, however the first Napoli pizza I had a few months ago was better. Still, one can tell that Napoli is a sick city.

Also, this week we had zone conference. It was really good, and I got to see my old companion Anziano Moscon. He, Anziano Drenk, and I all served in Mistretta right in a row and we are the three district leaders of the zone. I thought that was pretty cool. Mistretta Anziani reppin! Also, the Anziano that took my place in Mistretta is also in our zone, so we got to have some good conversations about Mistretta and our experiences there.

Something that really hit me this week was the fact that there really is an opposition in all things. What I mean by that is sometimes, especially in missionary work, things feel like they aren’t going anywhere and it starts getting easy to become discouraged with failure, but then God makes sure to send a miracle or 2 your way and you remember again how awesome it is to be out here.

The mission is awesome. Punto. Basta

This email didn’ t send last week, so I’m just gonna send it all together in one big email.

As far as this past week, goes we found a super cool new investigator named Giancarlo that is really excited to take the lessons. Also, work with our members is slowly starting to grow. A couple of our members are really leading the way, and I’m excited to see where it will go once it becomes “normal” for the members to help more with the work. However, all this being said, the members here are great and excited to share the gospel, we just need to all figure out how to work together.

For Pday we went to a museum across town just in time for it to close. Then we decided to get pizza at a really good pizzeria we had heard about, that was also closed. Instead we just went home and cleaned. So, Pday wasn’t allowed l that exciting, but our house is clean now! …well some of it haha.

I’ll make sure next week we actually do something interesting for Pday that way I have some good pictures for all you guys that just scroll to the bottom to see them, and for all you that read, thanks for being diligent. Go ahead and give your self a pat on the back for being awesome.

Yours truly,
Anziano Findlay

This is a pizza I had in Napoli.

This is a pizza I had in Napoli. Da Michele’s arguably the best Margherita pizza in the world (cheese pizza for you all that don’t understand real pizza) it was really good, however we had it like right after the place opened, so it gets even better.

Fried Pockets of Mozzarella and Pomodoro Sauce

Ciao once again to those of you that actually read these,

It has been yet another week in Cosenza and the Calab (province of Calabria) and I’m still alive, so that’s good. Not much happened this week — we did a lot of walking around trying to get investigators. We hear the phrase “sono in fretta” I don’t know how many times. Which by the way if you don’t want to talk to someone there are so many better excuses than, “I’m in a hurry” especially when you’re an Italian who definitely doesn’t have work because everyone knows you’re not actually in a hurry. OK got that out out of my system. What’s actually tough right now is that during the day pretty much everyone in Cosenza goes to the sea and doesn’t return until 8:00 in the evening which makes finding real tough.

Besides that we have been doing a lot of new convert work with our Ghanan converts and they have a fourth friend we are still working with to get baptized so we still have lessons with them all the time. Besides that though we don’t have much. We have pretty much been dropped by all our investigators besides the Africans, so now all we have to do every day is go out and finding or hope for a service opportunity. Today is also the start of the next transfer and my companion Anziano Hansen will probably be leaving the city, so it will be all up to me to find some new investigators for the next transfer.

Also this week we helped one of our members out a ton with moving furniture into one of his 3 houses. He is super cool and had us come over to dedicate the house yesterday. He had me play the violin for them. I played “If You Could High to Kolob” for them and made all of them cry a bit. I also played in church yesterday as well. The members just love that I play violin. They asked me to play all sorts of tunes for them after church. However, apparently since I play the violin that also means to them that I play the piano, so I also had to try and play piano for sacrament meeting. That wasn’t so fun. In fact it was very rough. Maybe if I play enough though I’ll actually figure it out haha.

Comunque, una di mie cose preferite qua in sud Italia sono i panzerotti. Fondamentalmente loro sono pizze che sono piegate a metà e poi sono fritte. Come “pizza rolls” in America ma piu grande. Perché il mio collega andrà via abbiamo comprato queste 5 per i scorsi 7 gorni. Loro sono troppo buono. Dovreste provarli, specialmente tutti di voi che siete in Italia adesso.

Siete forti! Continuate a mantenere la conservazione!

(Translation)

Con Amore,
Anziano Findlay

PS for those of you who do read this and don’t just skip to the pics everything: thanks! Feel free to email me back if you ever want to.

  1. A Panzerotto, a fried pocket of mozzarella and pomodoro Sauce
  2. Tiramisu we had at a branch pranzo (lunch)
  3. Cheesecake we had there also
  4. A bad pic of the nicest park in Calabria, it’s in Catanzaro though not Cosenza

Swimming Pools

This week was incredible to say the least. We were pretty busy all week planning the baptism, making sure to stay in contact with our three investigators, and setting up our swimming pool of baptismal font. We also picked up a couple new investigators that were both referrals from members which was pretty cool and pretty rare. However the highlight of the week was getting to see our three African friends get in the water. I got to baptize George, the oldest of the three. It was so cool to see how happy they were to make this covenant. When they rolled into to church the next day they all had huge smiles and were dressed in brand new white shirts and ties. When we confirmed them Bismark, the most ready of them, started crying because he was so happy. They each bore incredible testimonies about how they felt after baptism and how they came to know the church was true. They really are a blessing for the branch out here in Cosenza which hasn’t seen a baptism in almost 3 years, and what is even cooler is that we are still working with one of their friends and we are hoping that Bismark will be able to get the priesthood and baptize him him in about a month.

Besides the baptisms we didn’t do too much. We visited some members and did our best to try and get everyone to the baptism. Luckily our whole district was able to come and do stuff for the baptism. One crazy thing that happened was that the Catanzaro Anziani’s train broke down, so they missed their connecting train back to their city. They had to catch a bus back to Cosenza and spend the night with us. It ended up all working out though. They got back to Catanzaro in time for church the next day without any problems.

Comunque, Io so che le vite dei questi Africani, Kingsford, George, e Bismark, sono meglio perché del vangelo. Ho visto un cambio in loro. Adesso hanno il vangelo nelle loro vite. Erano molto felici quando ricevono lo Spirito Santo e la rimissione dei peccati. Se loro potessero sorriso piu grande, sicuramente avrebbero impostato un record. Io sono molto emozionanto per il loro futuro nella chiesa come membri!

(English Translation)

Un sacco di amore,
Anziano Findlay

  1. A dank red sauce pasta I made.
  2. My birthday Briosco, gelato down here in Calabria is amazing by the way
  3. Our baptism squad pic

 

Interviewin’ some Africans

Ciao carissimi

This past week has been super full of just nitty-gritty missionary work, but also has been really exciting. We started the week out by pretty much just chilling for P-day on Monday. On Tuesday we had District meeting as usual, but we made sure to do some good old American celebrations for the 4th of July. We made some dank cheeseburgers and hotdogs for lunch and then had some apple pie that the sister missionaries made for the district. It was probably the most American thing I’ve done in a long time. There are tons of missionaries that have been out way longer though, so it’s not so bad. On Wednesday we taught a lesson to our African investigators to prepare them for their baptismal interviews for Saturday. After that we did 5 straight hours of finding which actually isn’t uncommon out here. It’s also not uncommon to do that and get the corns thrown at you more than once throughout the day (which if you don’t know what that is it’s like the middle finger out here). Then Thursday we did service, finding, and English course as usual. Friday we did our last lesson in preparation for their interviews.

Saturday was lit, so it gets its own paragraph. Our three African investigators, Kingsford, George, and Bismarck, had their interviews on Saturday. To make sure they are ready to be baptized they have to be interviewed by our mission president. They each went in one by one and came out with huge smiles on their faces. If everything goes well, next week we will be having a baptism for three Africans on the 15th, only two days after my birthday! I couldn’t ask for a better birthday present! I’m so excited to see them get baptized next Saturday.

Mi porta così tanta gioia che queste persone stanno venendo più vicino a Cristo. Io so che loro sono pronti per i loro battesimi. Anche io so che il battesimo è la cosa più importante che loro possano fare in questo momento nelle loro vite. Io amo di vedere quando il vangelo cambia le vite delle persone per il meglio. Se io potessi capire la gioia che hanno il nostro Padre e Gesù quando le persone si battezzano, sono sicuro che sarei la persona più felice nel universo. Sono molto grato per quest’opportunità che io ho di portare le persone in Italia a Gesù.

Buona fortuna a tutti di voi che siete missionari! Spero che voi possiate trovare le persone pronte per il vangelo. Io so che a volte può essere un po’ deficile, ma non poi smettere mai!

(Click here for English translation)

Vi voglio bene,

Anziano Findlay

  1. Apple pie for 4th of July
  2. Homemade Puccie, a Puccia is a kind of sandwich from the south of Italy, it is essentially a grilled sandwich with sliced prosciutto, mozzarella, and mayo.
    3-4. I made some panzerotti for P-day lunch today. They weren’t incredible, but it was fun to try

Taranto Zone Fire Department

Ciao tutti!

Sorry this is a week late. I wasn’t able to get it out on the WiFi in time. Ma vabe. Non fa niente. (i say that all the time because my companion says it, and for those of you Italian muggles that pretty much means “whatever, doesn’t change anything”)

This week went by really quick. I started off on a scambio (exchange) with our district leader. I spent a few days in Crotone and did some finding there with Anziano Pineau, an Anziano about 6 months from the end of his mission. He is actually training my MTC companion Anziano Lamoureux. Crotone has a pretty sick beach and also a Seria A calcio team so they have this huge soccer stadium for that. We actually found a couple of people for them to teach right after we got off the bus, so that’s pretty cool.

We a are making progress with one of our investigators. We have now taught him all the lessons, but all that he needs to do now to get baptized is stop smoking. He is down from 8 cigarettes a day to 4, so hopefully he will keep following our plan for him to stop. Also yesterday in church we had 7 investigators. Six of them were Africans again because they love coming every week. Two of them are looking really ready for baptism. I am so excited for them! In the following weeks we could see some baptisms here in Cosenza!

In other news a crazy fire started in the middle of Cosenza. There was smoke and ash everywhere. Luckily it was in a pretty well enclosed lot filled with bamboo, so nothing important got burned. However, this lot also happens to be in the middle of the city right off of the biggest city street, so it was pretty whack to see all the smoke in and ash in the middle of our city.

Finally, this week for P-day we did some zone volleyball in Taranto because we have Zone conference this week. It was pretty fun. I’m excited for Zone conference as well. We’ve got a pretty dope zone.

Anyways, sorry this was so late.


OK, now for this week. We started off with Zone Conference which was pretty dank. We talked about the importance of using “Preach My Gospel” as a guide for our missionary work as well as other small things we can do to better ourselves as missionaries, but the cool part is what came after. A field fire started right outside our church. It burned close enough that we had to run outside and fight it with buckets of water to keep it from catching the church grounds on fire. We did a pretty good job of it until the firefighters finally got there to put it out, but then after they left the fire started up again in a spot that wasn’t completely out. We actually put that one out ourselves, but then another spot lit up from further away that came in and literally burned right up to the fence before we noticed, so we had to rush out and stop it from burning onto the super dry church field. Eventually the firefighters returned and finished that fire off, but then about an hour later after we had all been inside cooling down the fire started again on the other side of the church. Luckily it was all taken care of and the church grounds were barely touched by the fire. We definitely were blessed to be able to keep the fire from burning any of the church grounds.

The rest of that day was spent on a 4 hour bus ride from Taranto to Cosenza. The following day we had some lessons. One with our 3 African investigators on date and the other with our Philippino investigator. The lesson with the Africans went really well, but our other lesson wasn’t so great. We have been working really hard to get our Philippino investigator to stop smoking, but he doesn’t really have a real desire to. We decided to go bold and call him out for not stopping and not following our smoking plan for him. We also asked him if he would be willing to stop if Jesus was asking him instead of us and he still wasn’t sure. Sadly, the next night he dropped us, so he will not be getting baptized. Also our Italian investigator’s father is struggling with cancer, so she had to miss church, so she is off date too, but hopefully we can get her back on for a few weeks out.

The works been a bit tougher of late, but it is still amazing. I’m learning so much and I love being able to share the gospel and see the happiness and purpose it brings to people’s lives even if they don’t get baptized.

La mia testimonianza è che Dio è il nostro Padre in cielo. Lui ci ama, e Lui ci ha dato il Suo figlio, Gesù Cristo, per salvarci e mostrarci come mai possiamo tornare a vivere nel Regno di Dio. Con Dio possiamo diventare qualsiasi cosa che Lui vuole che diventiamo. L’altro giorno la mia zona, noi eravamo vigili del fuoco. Era un po’ pazzo! Però per questi due anni Lui vuole che Io sia un missionario. Io so che Dio prepara le persone che chiama. Dobbiamo essere pronti per la chiamata.

1 Nefi 3:7, “E avvenne che io, Nefi, dissi a mio padre: Andrò e farò le cose che il Signore ha comandato, poiché so che il Signore non dà alcun comandamento ai figlioli degli uomini senza preparare loro una via affinché possano compiere quello che egli comanda loro.”

Vi voglio bene,
Anziano Findlay

  1. The longest word in the Italian dictionary
  2. The Great Cosenza Fire
  3. Zone volleyball
  4. The Great Taranto Fire (I don’t have the cool firefighting action pics, so I’ll send those next week)
  5. The TZFD

Week 7 – A lot of Africans

Ciao Carissimi!

This week was pretty lit because it was the beginning of my second transfer in Italy! For those of you who don’t know what that means, a transfer is a period of 6 weeks where your companion and location doesn’t change. At the end of each transfer you get what are called transfer calls. This is when you receive your assignment for the next transfer: your new companion and your new city. My companion and I were not moved from our current city Cosenza. However one Anziano in our district finished his mission this last transfer, so we had to stay with him until his new companion got here on Thursday. We spent Monday and Tuesday in Catanzaro with him, then came back to Cosenza Wednesday, and then on Thursday we dropped him off with his new companion. It was pretty cool to hang out with another missionary for half a week.

We taught a lot of lessons again this week. We finished teaching all the important stuff to one of our investigators which was awesome, but she doesn’t feel ready for baptism. We will have to keep having lessons with her to get her ready for her date later in July. We only have one big lesson left with three of our other investigators on date for baptism. Two of them are from Ghana and they pretty much soak up everything we tell them. The other is from the Philippines. He is really excited to get baptized, but like most people in Italy he smokes a lot. We are working with him to break this habit so he can be baptized.

Our two friends from Ghana are incredible missionaries themselves. Something about Africans is that they pretty much never do anything alone. They always bring friends. These two simps (short for simpatizzanti which means investigators, just FYI so y’all don’t get confused) they have come to church for the last 3 Sundays. Last Sunday they brought one friend, but this past Sunday they brought 3 more. Their were a total of 6 Africans in church which is literally equal to half of the active ward. We taught a huge lesson to them after sacrament meeting about faith in Christ and His example for us. It’s pretty funny because we literally never go finding to get African simps! They just come to us!

Se qualcuno di voi vorreste mandarmi e-mail in Italiano, per favore non esitare. Io penso che sia un buon modo per praticare il mio Italiano. Sono stato imparando tantissimo, e lo so che posso ringraziare Padre Celeste per tutte le cose che io ho imparato. Il dono delle lingue é reale.

Vi voglio bene,
Anziano Findlay

  1. Me and Anziano Blackwell, the Anziano in my district that just went home
    2-4. Some cool art I saw at an art gallery

Deep Doctrine with a Mason

Ciao tutti,

This last week has been pretty great! We had a goal of getting 5 people on date for baptism and we hit it! On Wednesday we had a lesson with some immigrants from Ghana. One of them was already on date from our last lesson with them the previous Sunday, and Wednesday we challenged the other and he told us he is ready now. Then on Saturday we had a lesson with an Italian woman that has been working with the missionaries for a while. She told us that she believes the church is true, but that she doesn’t know why but she isn’t sure about baptism. However, we got her to accept a date and she promised us she would pray about baptism and try and progress towards it. She already pretty much follows all the commandments, so to be honest I really think it is just matter of time until she gets baptized. If it doesn’t happen now it will eventually.

For p-day last week and today we played some basketball. It’s fun with a good squad of Mormon missionaries that haven’t actually worked out for a range of 6 months to 2 years, but at the same time for some reason we all were so much better than any of the Italians we saw playing. That’s probably partly because pretty much the only sport that people play here is calcio (soccer).

One cool thing that happened this week was that this free-mason guy came up to us and started talking to us about Jesus. He had some cool things to say about how He had two different kinds of qualities. Those that were visible like miracles and teaching and those that were invisible like charity, love, and friendship. He then contended that the reason the people crucified Him was because they could not or would not see those invisible qualities and therefore could not or would not understand Him and His gospel. Then he went on to give us an American 1 dollar bill and pointed out the symbolism of the pyramid on the back. He talked about how the eye represents God’s all seeing eye and the rest of the pyramid recognizes the world. God’s eye sees everything, but the world does not see all like how we cannot see the the real top of the pyramid. Then he started to talk about some weird stuff like the illuminati (hence the subject line), but what I really liked about what he had to say is the Idea that we need to learn to see and have those Christ-like qualities that are not always so evident in daily life because they provide an even clearer view of who our Savior really was.

Anyways that’s about it for this week. Nothing too crazy happened, but the work here in Cosenza is really starting to pick up. It is a good feeling to be teaching lessons all the time. One of our investigators met with us three times this week and lessons are always great because you feel like you are having real success by teaching people. However, don’t get the idea that finding isn’t as important. Nothing happens without finding. However unsuccessful you may feel after walking through the whole city and not getting a single new investigator you have to keep going because the good work like lessons can’t happen without it. Plus, God blesses those who are diligent even in the face of failure.

Vi voglio bene!
Anziano Findlay

  1. A gesso that I drew for some finding in Catanzaro during our blitz there
  2. Some real Pizze Margherite (which is the real plural for Margherita pizzas, which is also the real name for cheese pizza) we ate with an investigator
  3. Got my hair cut, but in Italy they cut your hair how they want, I ended up with a Riga along my part which is where they shave a line into your head
  4. A beach in Catanzaro with my name tag.
  5. The same beach earlier that day that I snagged right at sunset, just beautiful

 

Week 5

This week was pretty crazy! We started off with some zone calcio (that’s what they call soccer) on p-day. It was pretty fun, but all the Italians that were watching us were laughing so hard at how bad we were. I guess we really all are true Americans haha. Then we blitzed the city that night meaning that most of our zone went out and did finding together with a big finding method called “gesso”. Gesso means chalk, essentially what we did was draw a message on a sheet in chalk and then lay it out in the middle of a piazza and talk to people that look interested. We actually picked up a few new investigators with it which was pretty awesome.

Later this week we had a lesson with one of our African investigators. We were waiting for him outside of the store that he usually begs outside of. And before you get the wrong idea of him, let me explain the culture here. There are boatloads of African refugees that come to Italy everyday, mostly from Nigeria and Ghana. They come to escape religious persecution or because they have heard life in Italy is better. The only problem is is that life is not much better for them here. They don’t have legal documents and they can’t speak Italian, so none of them work and to survive they have to beg. Begging is also way more common here especially because of cultures like the gypsies (which yes, gypsies are very real) and because of the amount of refugees. Anyways, we were waiting for our investigator to come, but we felt like we should go to the bus station, so we left deciding we could teach him another time. When we got there we found him at the bus station. He was having a really rough day because he had lost a family member the night before. We were able to comfort him and tell him a little bit about the plan of salvation. This really cheered him up. I am so glad we listened to that spiritual prompting and were able to help him in a way that our planned lesson would not have been able to do.

One thing I have really learned this week is the benefit to recognizing people’s needs and answering those needs with the gospel. We had another investigator going through a similar struggle because her dad has cancer. We were able to relate with her and comfort her as well. It is amazing the effect the gospel can have on people when they can see how it helps their life and can feel the joy that comes from it.

Pics

  1. A brioss, essentially the original ice cream sandwich aka the essence of dolci perfection
  2. A pork chop made by Sorella Spadafora, a member who on countless occasions has told me that she will cook for Jesus in heaven
  3. My comp. Anziano Hansen and Sorella Spadafora with the lasagna we made
  4. The Zone Calcio squad
  5.  They set up a broadcast of the Real Madrid/Juventus final. This was a sick bicycle kick goal that happened about 20 min in. Soccer is like one of three things Italians all love

Sunday Meal with Members in Cosenza

Anziano Findlay’s parents received this very thoughtful note and photo this morning:

Ciao!

My wife and I had dinner with your missionaries! I served in Cosenza for 13 months back in 2011, so we came back to visit on our tour of Italy. We ate lunch together at a members house, Maria Rosa, on Sunday.

It was fun getting to meet then and we wanted to let you know they are happy and being well fed!

Have a great day,
Andrew Bringhurst

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