A Final Word….From Dad

It’s hard to believe that we are only a few hours away from seeing Sorella Ghio become Francesca Ghio again.  What a blessing to see her coming back.  Just being able to type that has me in tears at the moment.

I wish I had been more diligent with this blog, but I didn’t realize what these last 18 months would be like.  So many people have told us about the countless blessings they have received while they had a child serving a mission.  They made it sound like every day was Christmas and each time you opened up the morning paper, somebody had stuffed large sums of money in small, unmarked bills into it.

Didn’t work that way for the Ghios.  The last eighteen months have been difficult ones.  Still a lot that this family is going through, and sometimes those pressures have posed quite a threat to our family.  We’ve seen some tough times, and we have had to learn to weather them without the resolute strength that Francesca has always given to this family.

But that doesn’t mean that blessings haven’t been there.  I remember when my brother came home from his mission, the bishop asked my dad to speak.  Dad said that the topic given to him was, “What it is like to have a son as a missionary.”  Dad said that it was “too personal to talk about,” and then gave a talk on the Word of Wisdom or something.

I never really understood that until now.  By both avocation and vocation I am a writer, and I just don’t have the words to express the feelings in my heart or why I tear up at just the thought of my daughter’s service.  It really is too personal.

But as I posted her last letter home, “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED,” I felt the need to intrude on my Love Bug’s blog to tell her this:

Your dad is more proud of you than he ever has been in his life.

You did what you felt the Lord asked you to do.  You fulfilled the promise given to you in a baby blessing so many years ago.  You were willing to sacrifice so much just to serve your Father in Heaven, and you demonstrated that you have grown up to be everything I ever hoped you would be.

There are great things ahead for you, kiddo.  You have many shining moments in your future.  But if you ever shine more brightly than you do today, I won’t be able to bear it.

Our family had been away from Italy for nearly 100 years when you left for Rome.   When you went back, you took with you all of the good that has come to the Ghios over a century in America.  You carried back the most precious treasure your family found here, and that is the gospel.

You made your old man proud.  And somewhere tonight, Grandpa Ghio is smiling and saying “Well done.”

The Ultimate Letter (September 8, 2014)

That’s not the subject line because this is a great letter.  It’s because this is my last letter home!

And I have no idea what to say.

I must admit that it’s really weird realizing that this is my last week.  It doesn’t feel real yet.  But, I’m not all that torn up about it either.  I think I’m ready.   I’m ready because I feel like I’ve done what I came here to do.  Everytime I think about being done, I feel at peace.  I think it’s the Lord’s way of telling me that my time here is done, and it’s okay to move on.

This week we had zone conference, during which I got to bear my testimony.  (Each conference, all of the new missionaries and those going home bear their testimonies).  I decided to give my advice to the newbies.  Here’s what I said:

 

  1. Throw things away.  So many apartments in the mission are full of useless junk.  Ain’t nobody got time to ready Liahonas from 1984.

 

  1.  When cleaning, you must use a disinfectant.  Probably the scariest phone call I got was from the elders in Battipaglia.  It was deep cleaning day and they were calling to tell me that they were done.  I asked, did you clean the fridge?  “yes”  “With sgrassatore? (italian 409)”  “What’s that?”  They had spent all day cleaning with just wet rags!   Cleaning supplies are a must.

 

  1. At about 15 months into your mission,  start taking iron pills because you’re going to start losing your hair.

 

  1.  Water is not the only solution to ailments. When we have medical issues and we call for help, usually the answer is “Drink more water.”  NO!  Go see a freaking doctor.

 

  1. If you want to be remembered, write a postcard to the friends you’ve made at least once a transfer.  I’ve tried really hard to stay in contact with people, and it has paid off!  I feel like if I were to go back to my old cities, I would have at least 5 people who would remember me.  Feels to good to keep in touch.

 

  1. Don’t stress about things you can’t control.  Yeah, we need to be obedient and follow the rules.  But, unless you’re the one driving the bus, you can’t stress out if it’s late. I’ve learned that it’s a complete waste of energy stressing about things I can’t change.

 

  1. Have fun and enjoy where you live!  Missions are supposed to be hard, not miserable.  We live in such a wonderful place! Don’t feel guilty about stopping to get a donut because you can smell the bakery 5 blocks away.  Visit all of the Catholic churches!  See everything your city has to offer!  Figure out where your favorite gelateria is!  It’s okay to relax and enjoy being a missionary.

 

  1.  Success does not equal baptisms.  Right now, a lot of missionaries feel really down and are kicking themselves in the teeth for “not being successful.”  Pfft!  No! Success is about doing your best, it’s about doing what the Lord asks you to do.   I read a bit of a letter I got from Pops a while ago that said,  “The Lord needs to count on you.  He doesn’t need to count your converts.”     If we spend our entire missions thinking that we’re only successful if we baptize, we’re going to finish and realize that we didn’t recognize a lot of our other successes.

 

I feel so good!  I feel so ready!  You know, about 2 years ago, God asked me to go on a mission.  It seemed so impossible and I felt like He was asking a lot, honestly.  But, let me tell you-  the feeling you get when you realize that you’ve done what God has told you to do is AMAZING!  Completely indescribable.  That’s what I’ve learned.  You put God first and you do what He asks, and the blessing start pouring out in ways you couldn’t ever imagine.

I’m so excited to see y’all!   Next Monday, I will send a “Pulse Check” email, just so Mom knows that I’m alive.  😀

Love you so much!

Ci vediamo fra poco!

Sorella Ghio

 

 

I Refuse to Believe It’s September 2014 (Sep. 1, 2014)

I’m kind of in denial about being 2 weeks away from going home.  Crazy!!  Where did the time go? I thought I was going to be all sorts of upset about it, but then I got some crazy inspiration.   On Friday, I woke up at 3am because it was so freaking hot.  I was all sweaty and gross, and I was thristy from how hot it was.   After getting up to drink a liter of water, I layed in bed and remembered-  air conditioning.  America has AIR CONDITIONING!!!!!! Sweet granny Moses, my house has AIR CONDITIONING!   I’m just really looking forward to that now.

Anyways, I don’t really have a lot of time to write today because we are short on time.  We made the sacrifice of going out to visit Eleonora, an English course student, in a small town outside of Rome.  She spent all morning giving us a tour of her beautiful city, and then made us lasagna for lunch.

After lunch, she asked Sorella Furia to talk to her in English so that the two of them could practice together in front of me.  Wanna know the miracle of the day?  Sorella Furia taught the entire restoration message in ENGLISH!!  This girl speaks very little English, but somehow managed to clearly and simply explain the Book of Mormon and who Joseph Smith is.  It was so cool!  After her explanation, we both bore testimony about the Book of Mormon and how it can help her in every aspect of life.  She was really touched by what we said and was very grateful for the time we spent with her.  It was well worth the sacrifice!

But, we got back a little bit later, and we have to run off to another appointment.  So!  Meno male that I see y’all in two weeks and can just catch y’all up in person!

I’m alive and well.  Making the best of the last little bit I have.  Trust me, Pops, I’m sprinting to the finish line.

Love y’all!

Sorella Ghio

How You Know You’re Homesick (Aug. 25, 2014)

Here’s how you know that I’m quickly approaching the end of my 18 months.  We had a lunch appointment this week with Slla Mora, an older sister from Ecuador.  She taught us how to make these really good polpettine di zucchine (zucchini meatballs…).  To drink, she made us cinnamon tea, made with real cinnamon sticks  (something that’s not easily found here.)  As soon as she handed me my glass of cinnamon tea, I started tearing up.    It’s been too long since my mother last made me that….  Silly, I know, but it happened.   Over it….

So, we don’t have work again.  You know, I’ve learned that having work is a rollercoaster- you have your highs and lows.  This week has been a low.  We just don’t have anyone to teach!  That being said, we’ve been doing quite a bit of finding.  But I’ve got to be honest- I’m the worst finder ever.  I’m awful at it.  I can talk to people.  I can teach. Just put me out on a street and I somehow have no idea what I’m doing.   Don’t get me wrong, I still do it, I’m just really bad at it.    I mostly feel bad for Slla Furia because  I recognize that she’s not learning how to do it either.

So, this week we’ve planned a few exchanges with the other sisters to help us find some people.  The other 2 sisters we live with are good at it, especially Sorella Stephens.  I’m hoping to learn from them!  I want to help the work grow here!!

That being said, we still are keeping busy.  We have had several visits with members.  Just a matter of getting them to help us teach their friends!

One of the cooler moments of the week-  Yesterday they had me translate in Young Women for a 14 yr old girl from England.   The lesson was on eternal marriage and how we can explain it to other people.  The teacher asked the youth to write down a couple of sentences that they would say to people if they asked “What does eternal marriage mean?”    I asked the young lady to do it, and she gave me this blank stare.  I thought she may have not understood me, so I tried asking again but with different words.  Still no reaction.  For about a minute, she was silent.  Finally, I asked her,  “Do you know what an eternal marriage is?”

She said no.  All of a sudden I realized that I had no idea who this girl was or what her background is.  I blurted out, “Are you a member of the church?”   She said “Yes, I was baptized at 8 years old.”   But bless her heart, she literally had no idea what an eternal marriage was.   So instead of translating the actual lesson, I sat there and got to teach her all about temples and marriage and why it’s important to us.  While I was talking, she was taking notes of what I was saying.  It was so neat to be able to teach her about that!  It amazed me that she didn’t know, but I’m glad that she’s finally had someone explain it to her.   So great!

Well, I should get going.  Got other letters to write and people to respond to!

Love y’all!

Sorella Ghio

A Real Letter, I Promise (Aug. 18, 2014)

So I realize that y’all got jipped last week on a letter.  Sorry about that. It’s mostly because the highlight of the week was Safaa’s baptism, and I don’t really want to share that over email.  But I’m way excited to tell you all about it when I get home!  It really was a miracle!!!  So grateful for that experience.

This week was also good!  Let’s see, on Monday we had an FHE with the Silva family. They taught us how to make Philippino food!  It’s becoming a weekly thing.  🙂   I really do love this family! Fatima is the mom and she has 2 boys, DJ and Janus.   Janus just got the Melchizedek priesthood a couple of months ago and is preparing to go on a mission.   Because my cyst had come back with a vengence, I asked Janus to give me a blessing.  He was really afraid to do it because he 1) something is wrong with his hands, they’re sweaty all the time  and 2) because he wasn’t sure how to do it.   When I asked him for the blessing, he said, “But sorella, my hands.”  I told him that if I cared, I would have asked someone else for the blessing.  But I could care less about sweaty hands.   I want him to gain confidence in giving blessings!

So, Janus agreed to give me the blessing. One of the neatest blessings I’ve received on the mission.   Daniele was there to help him and had him repeat the words after him. But when Janus started saying the blessing,  he gave it in Tagalog!  That’s his native language and he feels way more comfortable speaking that than English.   I have no idea what he said, but the Spirit was so strong!  I knew that he was saying good things and that God was hearing him.  I have faith that that blessing worked!

And it has!! My cyst is doing much better now.  Almost gone, actually!  I’ve been using more neosporin to try and avoid as much scarring as possible.

We also went with the Silva family today to Bracciano.  It’s a beautiful city near Rome that has a lake.    Fatima has decided that she wants to spend the rest of my Pdays doing stuff with me  😀 I love this family!!

Anyways, things are going well here.  Remember how we’re working on finding all the less actives?  We only have 20 more names to go!  🙂  It’ll be neat to finish this project before I leave. I feel so accomplished!!

We had deep cleaning day this week.  Aside from baptisms, they’re my favorite days of the year! lol.  It was nice because the other sisters actually helped a lot, so we were able to get everything done pretty quickly.   Had enough time that I decided to go ahead and pack to see how much stuff I can take home with me.  I’m leaving quite a bit of clothes, but have lots of souvenirs!  Looks like I’m sending some stuff home!!!   Don’t worry though- I’m not trunky!!!  I unpacked everything right away, so I’m not ready to leave this place quite yet.

Um, what else? I made tacos for another member!  Her name is Slla Sanchez, she 73 and from Ecuador.  Cute little old lady!  We’ve seen her a lot since I’ve been here and loves the visits.  She heard from Slla Mora that I make tacos, so she bought all of the ingredients and invited us over.  Haha.  She loved them!  She and Slla Mora have started talking to all of the other hispanic sisters and now we have all sorts of lunch appointments!  Haha!  I never would have imagined.

In other news, I finished the Book of Mormon in Italian for the first time.  So cool!  I feel like the story comes to life in Italian.  It’s been easier for me to imagine each story in my head.    I think it also makes me focus more, so I got a lot out of it.   I think my new hero is Moroni.  What a trooper!  He was living in awful circumstances and was honest about it.  But, he kept writing what the Lord commanded him to and didn’t complain.   I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have been in his place, to have to watch an entire population destroy themselves, and then have to write about another population that did the same.   But he didn’t lose hope.  He knew that what he was doing had more long term effects.  I really admire that.   We should be so grateful for the book of mormon!

Well, y’all are probably tired of reading all of this, so I’ll let ya go.  Hope all is going well!

Love,

Sorella Ghio

A Great Week (Aug. 11, 2014)

Mircales happen people!  Miracles. Happen!

This week, we baptized Safaa!!   But  I probably shouldn’t tell you all of the details about it over email.   So when I get home, it’ll be the first thing that we’ll talk about!  Trust me, I’m so happy for her.  It’s been a great weekend!!

Things are going well here.  I love this ward so much.  Yesterday in church, several members came up to me and asked, “What are you still doing here?!”  Nice to know that they recognize me  🙂

This week is vacation week for Italy.   So, it’ll be a quiet week for all of us.   Probably do a lot of finding.

Well, it’s been the best week of my mission, and I feel bad that I can’t even express it to you!  But, 6 weeks people  😀

I love you all!

Sorella Ghio