ISLAM EDUCATION. I love how you guys are getting another perspective of Muslim people. We have a decent number of Muslims here in Italy, immigrants from Morocco or Tunis, or from Egypt. Mainly people I wouldn't usually walk up to on the street, from outward appearance. But when we do, sometimes it goes well, and sometimes they just tell us about how the Quran is all anyone needs, and we just say thank you and keep walking.
There is also a large language barrier, since for the most part, "they" don't speak Italian very well. But there are a few standard jobs that the Pakistanis and Iranians have here: Internet Cafes for one. The man downstairs at this place that we come to each week has a couple of translated phrases from the Quran on his wall, next to the prices. They're mainly nice people, though, I'm sure.
CHOCOLATE EXPO. We were in town over Valentine's Day (obviously), and there was a large Chocolate Expo in Centro.
One had 'pepperocino' on it, which I first thought was peppermint. Nothing wrong with that. Then Anziano Robinson points out, "That's HOT pepper, like hot tamales!" Still, good! :) And then there were a few caramel or vanilla based.
(Side note from Mom: a "Ward" is a congregation, with a Bishop + 2 counselors for leaders. A "Branch" is a very small congregation, with a Branch President + 2 counselors for leaders. In Ferrara, the church is very small, numbers-wise. Ferrara has a branch with a Branch President.)
SHARING MESSAGES. We are involved in the Home Teaching here in Ferrara. ("Home Teaching" is like it sounds, when you visit someone in their home, and share an inspirational or spiritual message.) We home-taught the Branch President last week. Our companion, the Ward mission leader, did most of the talking. Not because "I don't speak Italian," but because most of the chit-chat was in Italian, and they spoke faster than we (as missionaries) usually do. But, the message and interaction went well. And Sorella Cataluddi (the Branch President's wife, or "First Lady," ha) made hot chocolate. It was delicious: thick and rich! Mmmmmm!
CHANGE FOR A DAY. I did a companion exchange this past Monday with the greenie (new missionary) from Bologna. It was cool to be able to talk to him, share some advice (today is my 1/3 mark, did you know?), and see his enthusiasm for everything. He also had his wide-eyed "I'm in Italy" expression, looking around at everything. It was lots of fun.
For service, we went to a food kitchen around 7:30 in the morning to help prepare and serve breakfast to the homeless/unemployed. It was coffee, tea, pastries/bread, and fruit. Nothing fancy, but the people were grateful, so that was cool. The mission president said we could do that every 2 or 3 weeks.
I uploaded a TON of pictures to dropbox. My favorites include our silhouettes, a model of a castle, the chocolates from the expo, and my half-melted ice cream cone.