Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mission Accomplished!!

President George Bush made the mistake of using this title after the liberation of Iraq.  We use it simply to say that we have returned from our calling as full time missionaries for the Lord in the great country of Italy; but in no means to say that our work is over.   We recognize that we have much more to do and more service to give, and we look forward to each opportunity.

After our last Sunday with our branch in Siena, our formal service was completed.  We took two days to rent a car and drive down south into the other mission to visit the temple site in Rome and to spend a day and half with Salvatore and Rosa Izzo.  Salvatore is a man who Darryl had the great privilege to teach and baptize when he served as a young missionary in Pisa some 41 years ago.  Salvatore and his wife, Rosa, live in Carinola, a small town about 45 minutes outside of Caserta, near Naples.

We enjoyed our visit with them.  We drove down to Mondragone, a city on the Mediterranean Sea.  It was s cold and rainy day, but we weathered the elements and enjoyed a stroll along the waterfront.

Salvatore, Rosa, Bonnie and Darryl, by the sea
Rosa is a great Italian cook, and we always enjoy her creations.  But for our last meal there before we left, Darryl offered to prepare them an American breakfast.  Rosa actually let him work in her kitchen, and we ate eggs, sausage and toast, along with a few of Rosa's delights.

One our way back to Siena, we first stopped at the Rome temple site.  There wasn't much activity going on at all; so we hope they have resolved their labor disputes and are back to work, as the Church recently reported.  It appears that the three auxiliary buildings are fairly complete on the outside.  The temple itself looks pretty much complete on the outside as well, except for the spires.  We hope that the temple can be competed and dedicated sometime in 2016.  We look forward to the chance to return to Italy for these historic events.

We then stopped at Civita di Bagnoregio, a very interesting medieval town that sits on the top of an ever-eroding hilltop, connected now by a narrow walking bridge.  It always amazes us how the ancient Italians constructed these towns on the tops of the hills; building large churches and cathedrals that had to entail heroic efforts just to get the stones and other materials to the site.  It was quite a hike from the top of one hill down over the bridge and then up to the small town.  But we enjoyed the beauties that surrounded us.

We returned to our little apartment in Siena Wednesday night and made the final arrangements to close the apartment and turn the keys over to the owners the next morning.  We continued to pare down our belongings, making a number of trips to give extra stuff to our elders and sisters, and to some of our members.  On Thursday, we turned the apartment back over to the owners, packed up our little Meriva with our six suitcases and other stuff to deliver to the Mission Home, and drove to Milano.

In Milano, we had our "last supper" with President and Sister Dibb, and then got about five hours sleep before waking up at 4:00 am and heading off to the airport for a 7:30 am flight back home.

Our return trip was extra long because after flying from Milano to London, and then to Dallas, we missed our connection in Dallas, requiring us to wait another four hours for the next flight.  But we finally arrived home about 11:00 pm where we were greeted by two of our children, Kristine and Daniel, who took us home.  We had been up for over 24 hours at that time, and were just grateful to be on our home soil again.

Waiting for our connecting flight in London
Kristine and Daniel picking us up
And there we are, home at last!
After seeing our two sleeping twin granddaughters that were born while we were gone, embracing Jason and Tara, Kristine and Daniel's spouses, and talking for about an hour, we crawled into our bed for some much-needed sleep.

We loved serving the Lord in Italy!  We love the members of the Siena branch and our hearts will always be with them as they struggle and grow.  We love serving with the young missionaries that crossed our paths during our 18 months in Italy, and they will always hold a special place in our hearts as well.

The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fullness through the prophet Joseph Smith, and the priesthood authority to act in God's name resides in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Prophets and apostles exist today to lead and guide those who will humble themselves to listen and do.  We are grateful for our testimonies of these truths, and we are committed to move forward in our lives to serve and love our fellow beings, sharing these truths as directed by the Spirit.

As this is our last blog post, we invite any who might have endured, or even enjoyed, our various posts during these 18 months to come and participate with us as we share some of our experiences at our "homecoming" sacrament meeting.  

We will be speaking at our Eagleridge Ward on April 19, 2015 at 11:00 am.  Our ward meets in the chapel located at 351 Lofty Lane, North Salt Lake, Utah.  

After Sacrament Meeting we invite all to come to our home for some light refreshments and some more talk about the beauties of Italy and the courage and faithfulness of the Italian Saints.

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