We slept in Monday because we were super tired from the late nights the past couple nights. When we finally decided to get up for the day, Rosa made us really good hot chocolate for me, and orzo for Austin (a hot barley drink that members drink instead of coffee). I think it tastes like burnt toast. We talked with Rosa for awhile, and she told us about her conversion story, as well as her experiences serving temple missions at the Bern, Switzerland temple. She also told us about one of her great-grandsons that was born with several problems, but through a series of miracles has survived and is doing well now. She reminds us SO MUCH of Austin’s grandma. Her husband passed many years ago, and she loves to cook and clean and take care of people. And she loves Austin. Austin called her “Santa Rosa” the whole time we were in San Remo, because she really is a saint. She helped us start laundry and told us to go out in the morning and she would take care of the rest. We finally got going around 10:00 and climbed up to a Catholic church sanctuary up at the top of one of the many hills in San Remo. It was a long climb, but the church was fairly ornate for being so small and in a relatively small community. Afterwards, Austin found the apartment of a woman that he taught on his mission that got baptized while he was still in San Remo. She declined an invitation to family home evening with us that night, and so he wanted to go by her house and say “hi”. We ended up staying for awhile and trying to convince her that going back to church was a good idea, because she has not had good experiences with the members in the branch. It was sad to see a woman throw away something so good in her life because of others’ actions, but we hope that she will get over those things that are bothering her and find her way back. After going to her house, we made our way back to Rosa’s to find one load of laundry already washed and dried! In Italy, clothes dryers are fairly ineffective at drying clothes (they just get REALLY hot, but no drying actually occurs). Most often, people just hang out their clothes to dry on clotheslines. So, Rosa had put in our 2nd load of laundry while we were gone and we helped her hang them out to dry.
For lunch, the Pols invited Rosa, Austin and I to their house. Rosa did not know where they lived, but had the address and thought it was right under where church used to be. So, we set out on a long walk to the Pols’ house. The Pols are a family that I knew in Utah. They are originally from Argentina, and moved to Utah so that Giada (their daughter) could learn English. I knew them because they were members at Lifetime Fitness, where I worked, and I coached Giada in swimming. Well, turns out that Giada was born in Italy (her mom’s parents are Italian) and has Italian citizenship. She does not have citizenship in any other country, although she has lived in Argentina for almost her entire life. So, since she can’t get citizenship in Argentina, her dad thought it would be a good idea for her to learn Italian (she has an Italian passport). Anyway, with his work he can live anywhere, so they moved to San Remo so that Giada could go to school and learn Italian! It was very random to see them at church, and even more random that they invited us over for lunch.
Turns out, they lived WAY up the hill from where Rosa thought they did, so we had a long uphill climb to reach their house. Poor Rosa; she has to climb up 3 flights of stairs to reach her house when she goes out, but I don’t think she was prepared for all of the uphill climbing we did to reach their house. The Pols in the meantime thought that we were getting a ride with their home teacher, Ciro, who was coming to visit as well because he wanted to see Austin and we didn’t have any other time to see him. Anyway, Susanna Pol was pretty upset that we had walked all the way from Rosa’s house, and Rosa was pretty tired. We had pasta with a tomato-ey ragù sauce, and baked chicken. The chicken was SO good, cooked with the spices of rotisserie chickens at the supermarkets, but homemade. Then we had ice cream. Then Susanna kept trying to feed us other things, like candy and cookies and orzo and drinks. We had a great time visiting with them, and with Ciro and his wife, Francesca. Ciro is a police officer, but has been having some back problems lately, so it was fun to try to figure out what his problems were with the language barrier. Susanna Pol’s husband is not a member of the church, and Rosa and Ciro made sure to share about their conversions and gospel topics while we were there as well. It was a great meal, and we were there visiting for 4 hours!
After lunch, we had a 2 hour break before dinner. I was super stuffed, and Austin reminded me that sometimes in San Remo, he would have lunch and dinner appointments, and it was physically painful for him to eat so much food in one day. I finally realized why he gained so much weight in San Remo! The members are so friendly! The Panellas invited Rosa and Austin and I over for FHE Monday night, and assigned Austin the lesson. Austin decided that I should help, but since I don’t speak Italian, we had a discussion first and I helped pick out scriptures, and then Austin took it away once we had the actual lesson. First, though, we had dinner, even though I was already completely stuffed with food from lunch. We had these delicious vegetable stuffed raviolis with tomato sauce, a really yummy soup, pan fried chicken and eggplant, and little pastries. The good thing was that dinner was strung out over a few hours so that I had time to recover between each dish, and left not feeling too full actually. After dinner, Austin gave a great lesson about always moving forward in the gospel. What is amazing about this branch is that everyone comments and participates like crazy! Austin’s lesson didn’t get finished until after 11:00, and then they played a game while I booked our hotel and car for our first day back in Chicago. We didn’t get to bed until close to 1:00 am, and I felt pretty bad for Rosa who had had a long day.