Friday, August 4, 2017

Settled in and keeping busy...

We were so excited to have a visit from our son Brian and his wife Kendra! They had previously spent time in England with her brother’s family, so we only had them for four days. But we made the most of it! We toured around Genova and then headed to Florence. 

The weather was perfect and the tourist crowds hadn’t hit yet. 

Florence is so quaint. Everywhere you look it is just so Italian!

May, June, and July were very busy months for us with many activities. One was a Talent Show Night.  
It was very entertaining and everyone had a great time. 

We have a high percentage of families from Ecuador living in Genova.  It is a little bit of a mystery to us why there are so many living here.  But they had great fun at the Talent Show and we learned more about their country! 

Of course, there is always food at the end of every activity!  And Ecuadorian food is very good!  But it can't beat Italian!
Some of the local boys who play soccer in the church parking lot.  Such a great group of kids!

The youth (12 to 18 years of age) had a “Missionary Day” where they went out with the missionaries to see what it is really like. It was a hot day, but they were troopers and had a great time.  

We recently had our Stake Conference (where all the congregations meet together). Miles was able to see some of his old friends from when he was here as a missionary 44 years ago. It was a wonderful reunion after all these years. One man still had a book that Miles’ father had given them when they visited. It was amazing and emotional to see his dad’s handwriting in the front of the book. 

When I lived here 50 years ago, there were not any of our church members here. When we sat in that rented auditorium and looked out to see how many people were there, it brought tears to my eyes. The church has really grown here in Italy. 

On one of our days off, we took a day trip to Arenzano, the little town I lived in, 50 years ago. We were able to find my apartment building. 

We spoke to a nice lady coming up the sidewalk and found out that she lived in the exact same apartment that my family did! It was a beautiful coincidence to meet her that day. 

I love going back to Arenzano and reminiscing on the magical time it was for me. My family would get gelato and walk along this “lungomare” in the evenings. It hasn’t changed at all, except that the trees are a bit bigger. 

                                                                                                    Arenzano has a beautiful beach that gets very crowded in the summertime with sun-loving Italians.

On the first Sunday of each month, all of our Young Single Adults meet together after church for “pranzo” (which is lunch). It is so much fun for everyone to get together. I will admit that it is a LOT of work for me cooking for that many people. 

I feel like I am “feeding the 5000” and always worry that we won’t have enough.  But somehow we always do.

I cannot begin to count how many batches of brownies we have made for the activities. But the Italians LOVE the brownies.

And the Sloppy Joes!

This is a wonderful lady named Cate, from South Africa, who we visit weekly. She is not able to get out of her house, so she loves the company.   She has a lot of frogs all around her apartment. She says that they remind her to Frequently Rely On God. I love frogs and I LOVE that motto!

Once again it’s transfer time. We had a little goodbye dinner since a couple of them were returning home to the states. It’s always hard to say goodbye!

Institute graduation. This is from the entire stake, not just the Genova kids. Proud of their hard work and dedication.

P-Day(preparation day) at Staglieno Cemetery. This is more like a museum than a cemetery. The marble statues are incredible.

Portofino is a little over an hour’s drive from Genova. Such a gorgeous little fishing village and home to many yachts of the rich and famous. We love the colors of the picturesque buildings and villas. 

We would love to own this yacht and sail around the Riviera. 

But this is more our style and what we could afford!

We took care of a missionary who was sick. She loved sleeping in our big chair.

Genova is a big port city. We get these huge cruise ships that dock in the port and the tourist population greatly increases. It is hard to tell from the picture how gigantic these ships are.

Our Genova Zone (minus the San Remo sisters) after our 4th of July picnic. Great missionaries!  

We are so blessed to be serving here in Italy!  We absolutely LOVE our mission!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Settling down in Genova

March was a crazy month, trying to move all our belongings in our little Toyota Yaris from Savona to Genova, about a one hour drive (we made 5 trips in all). 
I had to practice what I preached, so I cleaned our Savona apartment from top to bottom. I’m not sure it had ever been so clean before. Fortunately our Genova apartment was all cleaned and ready for us to move in. Miles couldn’t figure out how we could have five carloads of “stuff” to move when we only arrived in Italy with 2 suitcases each! I admit I had accumulated quite a bit, but it was all “necessary senior missionary couple stuff.” I have the Church’s Keyboard class curriculum, including a keyboard, all of our English class curriculum and notebooks, all of my “learning Italian” books, and lots of kitchen supplies. I have even acquired some house plants!

I have three words to describe how we feel about moving to Genova and our new apartment. WE LOVE IT!!! The apartment is lovely, with very beautiful antique furniture. We have beautiful big windows in every room. I love sitting in the kitchen and looking out the window at the cars and people passing by. 
 The best part of all is we have parking! 

I won’t repeat the details, but here in Italy, that is more precious than gold. 

The worst part, if there is one, is the wild and crazy tile in the bathroom. Not sure what they were thinking when they picked this!

We live in the hills above Genova in an area called Castelleto. During the 14th century, Genova was fortified and protected with a wall and fortresses built high above the city.
Christopher Columbus's house
Porta Soprana, ancient city gate 

Castelleto lies right below these walls and forts.

To reach our apartment from “downtown” or centro, as it is called, we take a little red train or “funicolare” up the hill. Our apartment is right at the top of the hill. Or if you still need to get your 10,000 steps in, you can always take the stairs! But you will be sore the next day!

I thought I would hate this big, crazy, conglomeration of a city, but now that we know our way around, we love it. There is so much history, so many beautiful buildings (palaces and castles), and ornate apartment buildings everywhere you look.

We are supporting the two Genova wards, working mostly with the Young Single Adults (people between the ages of 18 and 31). Each group meets twice a week for Institute (religion classes) and also a Family Night. I’ve been making brownies and lemon bars for these events and they LOVE the brownies! There are 83 names on the rolls, but only a handful of people actually show up. We’re hoping to change that. We are also in charge of having a big activity every two months. Our first one is going to be a talent night on May 13th. This has caused quite a bit of excitement with everyone, so we are hoping for a good turn-out.

Our first Sunday at church Miles met an elderly couple who were new converts when he was here 43 years ago. He loved seeing them and the brother has been a stake president and president of the Swiss temple.

We invited our Savona missionaries to come to Genova so our Italian chef could teach me how to make REAL lasagna. It was quite a process taking over four hours, but the results were amazing!

We had our Senior Missionary Couples Conference in Ravenna, Italy. We had all of the senior couples serving in the Italy Milan Mission meet together for 3 days. It was amazing! 

Ravenna is famous for its churches and basilicas built 1400 years ago that are decorated in mosaics that will take your breath away. You just need to see it to believe it. There is a lot of early Christian history and symbolism. 

We loved spending time with the other senior missionaries and getting to know them. Since we are all spread out across northern Italy, we don’t see each other very often and it was so helpful to hear about what they are doing.
As we walked through a piazza in the middle of town, who should we meet but the local elders, with their pass along cards. Way to go, Elders!
President & Sister Allen with Elders
We had a fabulous dinner at a trattoria, which was the best Italian food we’ve eaten since being here.

On our last day, we went to San Marino, which is that small, independent country in the middle of Italy. I had no idea it was a cliff-side castle, reminding me a where Beauty and the Beast might live! It was breathtakingly beautiful, not only the castle and fortresses, but looking down it was surrounded by green rolling hills, clay-tiled roofs, dotted with wineries.

On our last evening, I was feeing a little adventurous at dinner and wanted to order something other than pasta. The waitress described something that she said was delicious. I heard “potatoes and stew” and thought I was safe. I guess I need to learn the Italian word for “baby octopus”! I didn’t eat one bite.

On the last day, before we left for home, Miles and I wanted to say we had been to the Adriatic Sea. It was only a few minutes drive from Ravenna. It was beautiful, flat, somewhat desolate, but we loved it. Just to say we had been to the Adriatic Sea was enough for me!

A wonderful gift for my birthday was attending the baptism of a sweet young girl. The ward was extremely supportive. There was enough food to feed an army.

One of the hardest things we’ve found on the mission is transfer time. Just when you have truly come to love these hard-working missionaries, they get transferred. The upside is that they are always replaced with another group.