Saturday, May 19, 2018

Arrivederci Genova!

Arrivederci a Genova!
We cannot believe that this is our last blog post in Italy. The time has gone by way too fast, as everyone told us it would. As we approached New Years Day 2018, we were invited to attend a conference for the young people in a beautiful little village on Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake.
We were there to promote Pathway, an online class for Italian students to learn skills such as English, Math, Finance, Time Management and prepare them for further education at the college level. There are currently about 40 Italian students participating. All the classwork is online and we meet with a group every Thursday night online where we review their homework and each student gets a chance to lead the group discussion. All of our students are scattered throughout Italy, but we were able to meet three of them in person here at the conference. The conference was a lot fun with about 150 young people. We ushered in the New Year with fireworks and a “cenone”, which is basically an eating marathon – mamma mia!
In February we organized a group of about 28 young adults to go to the Aquarium in Genova, the largest in Europe. It was great to have so many participate, many of which we hadn’t seen for a while. 
We also said goodbye to Xavier who left from the Genova 2nd Ward on his mission to Chile. We were really excited for him and he is such a great kid!

We have had numerous activities with the young adults, including lunches at our house which was so much fun to get to know them all and try to help them with their challenges.
Young Adult Fireside

Family Home Evening and painting lessons with Elder Harris.
           Sister Hall teaching the kids about genealogy.
Italians show their love through food and boy have we ever been loved! We had several invites to eat at members’ homes including sweet Sister Fava who is full of energy and a very faithful member. 
We also ate at Bishop Cagnacci’s house. Sister Cagnacci is from Puglia in the south and cooks a mean Southern Italian meal. 

We also have eaten at Sorella Pistone’s house several times and she is also 
known for her great cooking.
We had fun putting birthday wishes for Sorella Lewis on her door. It was only right since they “heart attacked” our car for Valentine’s Day.

We were surprised in February with a rare snow storm which pretty much closed the city down because of all the hills. I did venture out to the                                                        store with my little rolling cart.
I taught institute in the Genova 2nd Ward every Sunday night while Patti cooked wonderful American food which the Italian kids just loved. We have introduced them to Sloppy Joes, ham and cheese sliders, macaroni and cheese and the latest, ranch dressing, which they go nuts for. Italians only use oil and vinegar on their salads.

Patti lived in Arenzano near Genova when she was 10-13 years old because her dad had a job here.  Several American families working at the same job started the American School of Genoa which is now the International School of Genoa, fifty years later.  What started in 1966 with 23 students is still going strong today with over 300 students. She was invited by the director of the school one day and was quite the celebrity being one of the first students.
As we approached our last several months, things got a little crazy for us. Along with our normal duties, we had visits from my cousin Vickie Benincosa and her husband Rob. We had a great time.

Then, we had our daughter Emily and her husband Xavier visited for a several days right after Vickie. We also had a great time and they hiked up to several of the forts surrounding the hills of Genova. We all went to the Dolomites where they rode bikes up to Corvara, a famous area for serious road bikers. Miles even rented a mountain bike and did some riding as well – it was a blast!
So, to top it off, the week before we ended our mission, we were in charge of a senior missionary couples’ activity in the Torino area. We visited sites such as the Museo Egizio, supposedly the best Egyptian museum in the world and other local sites. The best part was visiting Torre Pelice and Angrogna where early church leaders in the 1850’s first opened up Italy for missionary work. It was a great way to say goodbye to our colleagues and honor the efforts of early church missionaries in Italy. We even sang hymns in a cave where early Protestants, the Waldensian's, worshipped to escape religious persecution from local churches. It was a humbling experience!
It has been such a blessing to be with these fine people and we have had several get togethers to say our goodbyes. They have all been so gracious to let us know how much they love us and we are so sad to leave them. We never knew the depth of love we would develop for the people we have met. We have all vowed to stay in touch via social media.
This means we love you in Italian

So, Arrividerci Genova and Italy – we love you and we are feeling so very sad to leave you, but, excited to be with our family again! We love doing the Lord’s work and in serving others. It has been the best time of our marriage – so far!
Arrivederci a Genova! Ci vediamo!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

We have been very busy the past few months 

and apologize for the lack of posts. To get us 

through from summer to Christmas, we 

will start by listing the four sets of visitors we 

had starting in September through November.

In September our good friends from Oregon, 

Reed and Jean Baxter, came and spent several 

days with us. We had so much fun and picked 

up where we left off over 20 years ago when we 

moved to Texas. We loved looking at iconic 

Italian scenes as Reed is an excellent artist and 

he collected many photos for future works.

The end of September our 

daughter Tara visited us and 

we were able to take Tara to 

see where Patti lived in Italy 

50 years ago in Arenzano. 

We also saw Portofino, 

Florence, Ravenna, Venice, 

Bolzano and the Dolomites 

and ended in Como. 

Tara is our good traveling 

buddy and usually tells us what we need to see 

and why. We got to see Otzi, the 5,000-year-old 

Ice Man in Bolzano and take a gondola up to 

Alpi di Suisi in the Italian Alps. Even though it 

was a whirlwind trip, we had the best time and 

loved having Tara visit us.

Right after Tara in October, Patti’s sister Holly 

came for several days. Holly really enjoyed 

seeing where they had lived and went to school 

when they were younger. It was a very nostalgic 

time. We had to do some missionary work while 

Holly was here, but she found her way around 

Genova and loved walking the streets and 

eating outside watching the Italians. She is a 

good traveler and we spent many hours just 

talking. It was a very pleasant and calm visit. 

She even treated us to a Brazilian Churrascaria 

in Genova.

In November our son Chris and his wife Kristy 

came to visit Italy with their friends from Texas. 

They saw Rome and Siena before we met them 

in Florence. We also saw Pisa and a lot of 

Genova. They were able to come to church with 

us and see what we do on Sundays. We sent 

them on their own to Cinque Terre, as we had 

some work to do here at home. We drove them 

to Portofino and had a lovely time, but had to 

leave them in Santa Margarita with their friends 

before they returned to Rome. They flew Turkish 

Air through Istanbul and loved it! They were so 

interested in all the sites, especially Kristy, who 

made many videos for posterity. One very cool 

thing was when Chris met an Italian firefighter in 

a store. They exchanged shirts and jackets from 

their stations. It was cool to see that the 

brotherhood of firefighters extends beyond 

country boundaries.

Let’s back up to Halloween. We planned two 
Halloween parties for the two church groups 
(wards) in Genova. We were surprised to see 
how much Italians love to celebrate Halloween. 
It was a huge amount of effort to pull them both 
off, but well worth the time. The members loved 
it and many people came and there was great 

We had the Genova missionaries for 

Thanksgiving at our house. We had to order the 

turkey from a local butcher shop. It wasn’t a 

Butterball, but, it only had a few feathers and 

tasted great! Everyone made a favorite dish 

from their family Thanksgivings.

We were also able to find a new apartment for 

the sister missionaries and help them move in.

We also inspected 15 missionary apartments 

including San Remo, Savona, Genova, 

Alessandria, Cuneo, Collegno and Torino. We 

are trying to teach our young missionaries how 

to manage a home. Miles also does the minor 

needed repairs. On our inspection visit to 

Collegno we were able to have dinner with the 

Caruso family who I knew 46 years ago when I 

served my mission in Italy. We shared fond 

memories of the good old days and the food 

was amazing as usual!

The first week in December we went to Milano 

for a Senior Missionary Couple Conference. We 

had a great time with the other couple 

missionaries and visited Milano’s Duomo, 

shopping and La Scala. We also went to Como 

one evening and rode the funicolare to a great 

view of Como. We also saw amazing Christmas 

lights they project on the walls of the buildings in 

their main square.

We have had a busy month of December.

Besides our normal activities we got a call from 

missionary who hurt his knee playing soccer. 

Long story short, he completely tore his

meniscus and ALC and bone chips off his 

femur. We took him up to Milano and he had to 

go home for surgery. Hopefully he can return in 

months or so?

We had a couple of Christmas parties which 

included a lot of planning and cooking on our 

part. We have a new center for the young adults 

and we had a Christmas Lunch for them. Patti 

made Hawaiian Sliders and meatballs which 

they downed. We played the White Elephant gift 

game which they had never seen before. They 

caught on very quickly and were stealing gifts 

like crazy.  It was a lot of fun! After that the kids 

got on a bus and we all went to a rest home and 

sang carols to the old folks. We also went to the 

room of an elderly sister, Cate, who is staying 

there after breaking her leg and having a heart 

attack. It was touching and the event was a total 

success and we all had fun and it was good to 

see the kids enjoy service.

The next day we rewarded ourselves with some 

R&R and went to Bressanone on Monday 

morning. The train ride was very relaxing and 

once we got to Bressanone we met up with 

another couple serving from Switzerland. We 

were able to have dinner with them and go to 

their apartment.

We stayed in a very lovely hotel that was 

originally over 500 years old.  Of course, its 

been brought up to date and had THE #1 best 

shower ever!

Super creepy guy statue outside of a restaurant. 

Never got the story on him.

They were having their 

Christmas Market in both 

Bressanone and Bolzano. 

They were just the cutest, 

typical Alpine villages with 

these adorable little shops 

set up in the town square. 

We just couldn’t think of anything quainter!  

Except maybe more snow on the ground.

The town of Bressanone is 

beautiful.  So immaculately 


Everyone speaks German, but they 

understand Italian and some speak it. 

We would love to live here in this idyllic 

little village!  

Everyone was so friendly. But it was a tad on 

the freezing cold side. We had the bright 

sunshine, but it was cold.

We also went to a museum that had Nativity 

scenes from the 1700s.  Like the entire village 

around the Nativity.  They were amazing!  There 

were also other scenes such as all the prophets 

who had prophesied of the birth of Christ.  

We went down to Bolzano, about 30 minutes 

south of Bressanone on Wednesday and met 

one of our Pathway students, Joseph and his 

family, and took them to lunch. The missionaries 

in Bolzano came with us. They also had a 

Christmas market in Bolzano.

We also got to ride a really steep gondola up the 

mountain to the PLOSE ski resort in 

Bressanone. Its was so beautiful and so 

freezing cold up there. But we got a great view 

of the town in the valley below. It was something 

different to do.

We rode the train back to Genova on Thursday. 

It was relaxing and uneventful.  Just what we 


On Christmas Eve we had lunch at the stake 

president’s house with the missionaries with 

both red and pesto lasagna’s - yum! Patti made 

macaroni and cheese which they love – go 


We really missed our family this Christmas and 

we are a little homesick but we got over it 

quickly as we went back to missionary work. On 

Christmas we took one of our Nigerian brothers 

with us to dinner at the institute director’s house.

We had a good Christmas dinner. Smoked 

salmon, pasta, antipasto, baked salmon, 

potatoes, etc. Oh, and panettone. That’s 

Manuela in the red sweater, who we work with. 

She is the Institute Director and her daughter, 

Christina. Mavis is the young man from Nigeria 

and we learned a lot that made us so sad for 

him. Too long of a story to go into now, but at 

23, he has already been shot at, seen his 

friends killed, put in prison for two months and 

his boat to Italy sank, but, they were saved by 

the Italian Navy. We just love Mavis!

We heard a great quote yesterday - “Everything 

we want is just on the other side of fear”. We 

need not fear for the Lord wants us to be 

successful and happy!