First off, yes! The package got here safe and sound!!!! YAHOO!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I couldn’t believe it when I opened it. It is totally awesome. I’ve loved everything in it. I wasn’t expecting any Christmas stuff, so it was an extra fun surprise! You guys are the best. It is so awesome. I’ve already been working hard on the snacks. I can’t wait to open the letters and the packages! (If I get transferred, I’ll probably open up the iPod early so I can upload some music on it on the Church’s computer here before I head out; there may not be another good chance–please forgive me!). I can’t thank you enough, Mom and Dad! I happened to see the Nilsson’s on Wednesday night, so my package made it in just 6 days! This keyboard I’m using is really bad so I’m having a really hard time typing.
Well, I did happen to also get my permesso this past week, so I’m officially here legally! Just FYI about Anziano Heder’s 4 Pelone’s pizzas attempt, he failed miserably. Poor guy. It was a silly idea anyways, but he only managed to get through 1 and a half. He was out 18 Euros at that point, with an uncomfortably full stomach. On the bright side, two hobos got a free pizza! That made their day. We also found Jake, the American member, a good pair of pants (He’s a big boy; a 6’2″ and 245 pound 15-year old freshman!). He’s a really great kid and is excited to serve a mission.
[I asked Craig how his Italian is coming along.] As far as the language goes, I can understand most normal people. We do have some investigators and members that slur their words super hard and use weird slang that’s way hard for me to understand. A lot of people here don’t even speak Italian, they speak Napoletano or Casertana. That’s frustrating. The languages can be a mix of Italian with Spanish, or with other languages. It’s messy down here in the southern part of Italy. I’m able to read the Book of Mormon in Italian without a problem now, as well as other reading materials, which is really nice. The language never has been too much of a concern for me—not that I’m good at it—but I just don’t stress about stuff like that. Last night two of the American families in the ward had kids that turned 8, so we went to their baptisms and brought 3 investigators. They had some speakers at the baptism so I had to translate for our investigators. Typically Anziano Hoover does the translations in the church on Sunday, but he was sitting too far away for them to hear him. It went well I thought. I definitely wouldn’t call myself fluent by any degree, but I guess competent is a better word. Italian is an awesome language. I get by. 🙂 I think our investigators got a little scared off because the water they baptized the kids in was freezing, apparently. We reassured them it wouldn’t be that cold normally, haha. It was funny seeing the shock on the little kids’ faces when they got in the water. On the bright side, they did love the American desserts after the baptism! (So did the missionaries. 😉 )
Quite the adventure happened on the way home after the baptism though. We got a ride from the American Base to Caserta from one of the Italian members of the ward. The problem was that the poor fella isn’t quite….. normal. He’s the nicest guy, but he can be a little bit of a handful sometimes. I personally wanted to just walk to the train station rather than hop in with him because I was sketched out. Anyways, I couldn’t convince the other Elders and we got in. After riding in 1st gear all the way to the freeway (I don’t think he understood the concept of shifting) and nearly burning out the engine, he finally shifted a couple times once we got on the freeway going about 20 km/hr in an 80+ zone. I thought we were gonna die. Anyways, we hit some stop and go traffic after a little while, in which he managed to rear-end somebody. We were going slow, and luckily no damage was done, so we continued on our way. Italians don’t use lanes either, so we rode for about 15 minutes on the shoulder of the freeway too. Just cruisin’. Anyways, after going through a maze of freeways, we doubled back on ourselves once, witnessed some random girl throw up out the side of the car in front of us, and counted 18 “campfire/umbrella girls” (aka prostitutes) on a strip of a kilometer or two. After a couple hours, we finally made it home. We saw plenty of bizarre stuff that night…
Another weird thing that happened as we were riding a train back to Caserta was when we started a conversation with some ragazzi (teenage boys). We explained we were missionaries for our Church, and they asked us where we were from. We said America. Then they proceeded to pull out a bag of marijuana and offered us some. I don’t know how they missed the part where we were missionaries… Silly kids. I feel bad for Anziano Barrow. I’ve been told off countless times, quite rudely, but not pelted with firecrackers and stones. That stinks. [Craig is referring to his Timpview High School friend, Ben Barrow, who is also serving in the Italy Rome Mission. Ben and his companion were recently persecuted by a bunch of 12 and 13-year old boys who were throwing firecrackers and small rocks at them. The missionaries tried to ignore them at first, but the boys kept on and on, and finally they just had to get out of there. Ben was understandably very upset about it.]
I’m really happy to hear about Ashley’s new job!!! A manager! Wow! That’s really awesome. I hope she hangs onto that and loves it! I like Quizno’s, that’s a good store. A 5-minute walk is unbeatable, too! That’s really funny. Elder Willie (the senior missionary in Caserta) mentioned to me that he used to operate the train in Hogle Zoo when he was younger. I thought that was a funny coincidence.
By the way; yes, it’s true. We do teach a lot of Africans. The amount of Africans in Italy is HUGE because a lot of them find ways to get smuggled over on fishing trawlers and such for cheap prices. We have about 5 Africans that we are actively visiting right now. Three of them even had baptismal dates. The problem is that it is incredibly hard to get them to follow through on their commitments (coming to Church, reading, praying, etc.), and so they aren’t progressing in the Gospel. It is hard. Most of them are very sincere, and very humble, but they just have hard living conditions looking for work, or work for projects. They are very fun to greet in Twii. I just know some basic lines that make them laugh and start a good conversation with them. They love talking about God.
Today we just played basketball and hung out in Caserta. I’ll see what pics I have to upload, I’m not sure I really took any…. Oopsies. I may have more to send, but maybe not! [There must not have been any new pictures because we didn’t get any.]
That’s just about it for this week from me. All is well, and this Saturday I’ll know my fate from transfer calls!