Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Baptism and pizza


Happy Birthday to my favorite sister Claire!!!!!! She turned 14 on the 17th. Hope it was the best ever, Claire!

We had an incredible week full of miracles! Let me start by saying I love Italy and I love the people of Italy with my whole heart. I'm so blessed to be serving the Lord and furthering His work in such an amazing part of the world.

On Tuesday we stopped by to visit a less active, Miriam. It was the first time visiting her since I've been here and she is the absolute sweetest. She has an adorable 3 year old daughter and they are just so stinking cute. I enjoyed every minute of visiting with them, getting to know them, and talking about the Restoration together! After the spiritual thought, Miriam asked if we wanted to stay for pranzo.....as if we would say no to an invite like that! My first Italian meal appointment in Caserta!! Mama mia it was so delicious-- rigatoni! Pics attached :)

Carley, Zina, and Hess
English course this week was still pretty small, but people are gradually starting to return from their holiday vacations! On Thursday after english course, we went with some students to the best pizzeria in Caserta, the one right by our apartment where our investigator Zina works! We got some sad news that they're probably going to be closing the pizzeria at the end of the month....SOS because I don't know what I'm going to eat for the next couple of months I'm in Caserta!! Zina has been working there for 17 years and she's from the Ukraine! Every time we eat a pizza there, we get to talk with her more and more about the church. And the look on her face when we gave her a Ukrainian Book of Mormon was priceless :) Sharing the gospel with others really does bring so much joy!!

Deborah and her brother Simeon
And speaking of joy.. time for an update on Mary Joy and her daughter, Deborah! They came to church AGAIN yesterday!!!!! I think I'm probably going to cry every time I see their cute family walk into the chapel :) . Sorella Hess and I got to go to primary with her since she is the only Italian speaker in senior primary, it was so much fun! So not only is Mary Joy now an active member of the church, but Deborah is getting baptized next Friday, February 3rd! I'm not sure if it's possible, but I think Deborah may be more excited than we are...! We've been getting creative with our lessons to keep them entertaining and interactive for a 9 year old, it's a challenge but we love it. For the plan of salvation we did coloring pictures and cut them out and for tithing this next week we are planning on doing orange slices or chocolates or something yummy! Ah being a missionary is the best. Especially when we get to work with such amazing people all day every day.

On Friday afternoon we went with an Italian member and an American member to a foster home in our area. The American member gave us all a ride and wow it's been a long time since I've been in a car because the ride was probably 15 minutes and I thought I was going to throw up by the end of it...car sickness or maybe it's just the way these crazy Italians drive! Anyways, there are about 10 teenagers that live in this house. The relief society in our ward has been making quilts for months for these kids so we got to go help deliver them!! It was so much fun meeting new people and they were all so nice, hopefully they'll be able to come to english course tomorrow night :) I am looking forward to going back and serving there and the youth in the ward are already planning a visit!!

After our delivering blankets and a couple lessons on Saturday night, we decided to go visit Zina and get pizza of course. Sorella Hess and I wanted to get rid of our change so we dumped all of our coins on the table and started counting out coins to pay for our pizza. Well while we were in the middle of this intense process, in walks Gerry- our friend from english course!! I guess we looked pretty pathetic to him because he so kindly paid for our pizza. Miracles!! It was so sweet of him. But we still have lots of change hahah.

Okay now for the good stuff! Best for last?? Saturday was the best day ever!!!!! Gianfranco got baptized!!!!!!!!!! It was seriously such a special day. The baptism was on the American base at the non-denominational chapel because the next closest baptismal font is in Pozzuoli. It was really cool to see someone that I've become close with experience such a tremendous change in their life. He bore his testimony at the end of the service about the feeling of peace he felt. I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry...
Gianfranco's baptism

After his baptism we had a big BBQ with some members on base and they may or may not have been playing country music the whole time we were there.....enough said about that ;)

Today for pday we went to the best pizzeria in Napoli, Michele. WOW. I think I'll leave it at that.

We had a member of the ward give his farewell talk in church yesterday! He's headed to the Philippines. It was so weird listening to him because I feel like that was me just yesterday! I am so excited for him because he has no idea what he's about to experience. His talk allowed me to reflect on my personal conversion and the happiness that I've been able to experience in the past couple months. I'm so thankful for all the growth I've experienced and can't wait to keep learning, growing, and strengthening my testimony every day.

I finally watched the video "Lift" this week, (https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2015-05-003-lift?lang=eng) if you haven't watched it yet it is 100% worth your time and it's fairly short. This video helped me remember that when we are serving others we are serving God. And that when we serve others, we can feel sincere joy. James 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." I know that we rise by lifting others!! I am so thankful for the 18 months I have to dedicate my time solely to lifting other and helping the feel God's love for them :)

I know that we have a Heavenly Father that loves every single one of us. I know that we can communicate with Him through prayer and I know that He answers our prayers according to His will. I can honestly say I've never been so happy in my life and I am so thankful to be a representative of Jesus Christ!!

I love you all and hope you have a fabulous week :)


Louisa Russo

Found Nike in Napoli
Ciao Bella...our new PJ's


 More pics of Pompeii in case you wanted to see more.
Mount Vesuvius in the background