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!
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.
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.
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!