Ok first off, our flight to Rome was probably the most fun flight I have ever been on. Our MTC group of missionaries were so close so we just had a blast the entire time. Some were determined to hand out a million Book of Mormons. I was nervous to do so and said if the opportunity came I would. While I was in the London airport I had that opportunity. I was waiting in customs and a 17 year old girl was standing right behind me. She was Romanian and was returning home from a study abroad in America. We were chatting and long story short she was super fascinated by all of us missionaries. We talked about prophets and she asked me "do you have prophets?" I said…"Yes! we are the only church that has modern day prophets and apostles on Earth!" I then told her about the first modern day prophet Joseph Smith. She was interested but said, "How do you have proof?" at the exact moment I just whipped out a Book of Mormon and said, "This is the proof!" She got excited and I told her my testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Then she had to leave to catch her next flight. I will probably never see that girl again. But that is ok... it is just exciting that a little piece of truth is out there in the world.
When we finally arrived in Italy the first miracle of the mission happened. NO ONE LOST ANY LUGGAGE! Seriously! Mini miracle. Anyway, when we all walked out of the airport and saw our mission president it was so exciting and extremely comforting. From the airport we drove to the LDS Temple construction in Rome. It is HUGE! The temple square is bigger than Salt Lake City's temple square. We then drove to the mission home, the Villa. It is the largest mission home in the world apparently. It was built long ago by Mossolini for his daughter. It can sleep over 40 people! At the Villa we met Sorella Waddoups (mission president's wife) --she is such a doll and so sweet! Love her! We had a big Italian dinner, well I guess it's just 'dinner' here and then…it is such a blurr in my mind but the big news was finding out where our first area is! There is a tradition in the mission that everyone opens up a little golden envelopes with the area inside, everyone is drum rolling and it is super exciting! So......
I am in Foggia! I literally had never even heard of Foggia in my life?!!? So random! None of the AP's or anyone had a lot to say about it except there is a great ward. I was like ok sweet! The next day we woke up super early and I took a train to Napoli and then a bus to Foggia. On the train it was super strange because the tickets were organized in a weird way. Long story short I was put in a little, Harry Potter-like train compartment/room, with an elder. He was the former AP and he was leaving the Villa to go to his last city before he finished his mission. Literally we were all alone in there. He was like this is the first time I am been alone with a girl in 2 years! It literally felt like I was on a date! So hilarious/awkward all at the same time. HAHAHA! Anyways once we arrived in Napoli I got off the train and I met my new companion! Her name is Sorella Price, she is from Springville UT, she has been here for over a year. So far so good. No complaints! She is super cute but kinda shy in some ways. For example, she doesn't like street contacting all that much but I can't speak language so we are working on using each others talents/we are forcing each other to street contact even though it is uncomfortable for us. Anyways, right before we left on our train to Foggia Sorella Bray and I ate a Napoli Pizza..... most amazing thing (I am ruined now) and then I had so say goodbye to Sorella Bray. So hard! We were just giving each other the biggest hugs! I am sure people thought we were so strange but I love that girl.
On the bus the closer we got to Foggia the odder the scenery became. It was more rugged-ghetto. So I asked my new companion Sorella Price what Foggia was like. She continued to explain to me that it is kinda the "armpit" of the mission. "It is like the ghetto of South America with the stubbornness of Europe" great...… Ha! Bring it.
So now that I have been living here in Foggia for a week I have been trying to describe it. Yes it is a little sketch. Maybe even a lot sketch. Think of what you would think Italy would be like.... The Amalfi coast, Florence, Rome... now think of the exact opposite. That is Foggia (the entire Bari Zone is like that)--now that sounds extreme. There are definitely some really cool old buildings but most of it is really run down apartment complexes. Not exactly charming. Napoli is considered more charming than Foggia. BUT I love it here! We have one really strong investigator, we have lots of potentials, and so we have some exciting work going! Our ward building is really big and nice! In lots of areas in Italy member numbers are so small that church is held in the missionary apartments. So it is big deal we have a ward building! Also a huge tender mercy is this amazing,cute,new American family just moved into our ward. It is super random that they live in Foggia (IDK why you would choose to just live in Foggia) All the people and missionaries are shocked! They are so nice and have the cutest little girls and they speak English!!! Last night the mom drove all the way from their home in the country to our sketch neighborhood to give me a "Welcome to Italy card" and some pumpkin chocolate chip bread. Literally the sweetest thing ever!!
Missionary work is coming along! We taught a lesson about the restoration of the Gospel to an African man named Jake. I was able to contribute and say a little here and there, including the first vision! He speaks French so we gave him a French Book of Mormon and I was able to read him part of the introduction in French. It was awesome! He was excited to get the Book of Mormon and seemed to like what we were saying. We teach him again tomorrow so hopefully all goes well. We are going to invite him to get baptised! On Sunday I gave my testimony in Italian at church. It actually went a lot better than I thought it would! Everyone said it was great.. they might have just been nice but I am sure it went pretty well! There are two other greenies in our district here in Foggia. Anziano Anderson and Anziano Hanely. They were in my district in the MTC. So it is fun to be together again in Foggia. One of the Elders has really struggled with Italian... since day one in the MTC. He gave the most simple testimony but it was amazing. Seriously I was so impressed! Little miracles everyday!!
Yesterday was zone conference and we traveled to Bari. It was great to meet some other missionaries and see President Waddoups again. Last night when we got back to Foggia our district... 2 elder companionships and me and my comp... went and got pizza. We were sitting outside, just eating pizza, and some Coke light and I was just thinking, "this is the most surreal experience of my life." I am just sitting in some random/kinda sketchy Italian city eating pizza. I am the only blond for miles around and I get so many weird looks, I barely say a word of Italian/half the time I have no idea what is going on?! I guess you could say I am totally out of my comfort zone but
somehow... in the strangest way possible... being here in "freaking Foggia" it feels right. I always feel safe,and protected. I am really happy and I just tell myself every morning when I wake up and say... WHAT AN ADVENTURE! It's amazing!!!