Thursday, November 5, 2015

October was a busy month.  This was the sunrise from the car as we headed out to meet with the other senior couples from our mission.  Our destination was La Spezia near the Cinque Terre.  It was a long trip across the country to the western coast of Italy.  We drove up a mountain to find our
agritourismo lodging.  I was sure that we were lost the higher up we went on little winding roads, but finally we arrived at the correct place.  That's always a blessing in Italy.

The main home where most of the couples stayed is over 600 years old.  Amazing!

This armor takes us back a few years but added to the atmosphere of ancient days.

There are many stories of fairies and elves in the woods near by.  It was such a fun place to visit.

Three of the couples staying only one night stayed here in the home of the proprietor's parents.

This was our bed for the night.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of the humongous spider that shared the room from the opposite corner up near the ceiling.  I'm not kidding you when I say that he was a good 3 inches in diameter.  I just hoped that he stayed in his corner for the night.

We all went by car to the  La Spezia train station  and then took the train to Vernazza, one of the 5 cities of Cinque Terre.  The really brave or crazy took the challenge of hiking from Vernazza to Monterosso through the mountains.

Leaving Vernazza.

It's getting farther and farther away.

About half way there we came upon these mangy looking cats.  I don't know how they got here or why but apparently they are fed by the hikers.  They were nasty looking cats.

The path took us over this stone bridge at one point.

Looking ahead to Monterosso in the distance.  I hope we make it.

It's getting closer.

Ahhh!!  We made it.  I think it took us about 2 1/2 hours of many steps of ups and downs.

The next day we went to Portovenerde, another beautiful city along the coast.  Some of the couples left this day but others took the boat and visited more of the Cinque Terre cities.

This quaint narrow street houses the many shops that tourists love to purchase souvenirs from.

This stairway took us from the street of shops right back down to the sea. We weren't long in Portovenerde but it was a very pleasant trip connecting with the other couples from our mission.  It gave us a fresh start with a renewed spirit.  They are some of the choicest missionaries out there.  We love them all.

We also had our Young Women's Evening in Excellence in October.  They are singing "Walk Tall, You're a Daughter of God"  It's great hearing it sung in Italian.  They are such beautiful young women all striving to become better.

Our next event was a visit from Salt Lake City by the general Young Women's President, Bonnie Oscarson, and the Relief Society General President, Linda Burton.  This conference was held in Milan. We were invited to attend, transport sister missionaries and help prepare and serve their meal.

I loved how the visiting authorities were able to mingle with the sister missionaries and just get to know them better.

Sister Burton

Sister Oscarson and Sister Burton

The young elders who serve in the general area of Milan were privileged to also attend.  Besides our meetings with them they also held two other evening meetings for the local leaders and members.  They are such dedicated sisters and true followers of Christ.  We loved every minute spent with them.

Going on at the same time in Milan was the World's Fair, Expo 2015. Since we were all going to be there, tickets were purchased in advance so that the senior couples could attend.  It was an amazing opportunity.   The theme this year was "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life."  This is a picture of souvenirs with the mascot symbol for the fair.

There were hordes of people there
It took us forever just to get through the entrance.

We did a ton of walking and saw many exhibits from the outside but the lines to enter the exhibits were hours long.

This water exhibit was located near the entrance.

We stood in line for over an hour just to enter the Israel Exhibit.  That was enough to deter us from going inside any of the other exhibits.

We did see the outside of the U.S. display.  We can at least say that we attended the World's Fair.

The next morning we boarded a cram-packed metro to try to get tickets to see the Last Supper.  Most of the couples had gone home by now so we were on our own getting there.

We didn't have any problem finding the  church, Santa Maria delle Grazie, but tickets were sold out until later afternoon.  We think that the World's Fair and all of the fair goers probably had something to do with that.  We couldn't wait that long to head home so the best we could get was a picture of the Last Supper.  Maybe on another trip to Italy we will be successful.

It truly is amazing how it has been preserved over the years. Leonardo da Vinci probably had no idea at the time how famous his masterpiece would be.

Since we were already in downtown Milan, we decided that we should go visit the Duomo once again.  It was on our way back to the car and at a metro change,

This was our first time actually going inside of the Duomo.  It is immense!!  There is no other word to describe it unless you also add beautiful.

Work began on the Duomo in 1386.  It was a work in progress for many years and then after the bombings of WW 2 there were repairs to be made.  It has survived a lot.

The tile floors are unique and beautiful as well.

The Milan Duomo is the third largest Catholic Cathedral in the world.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Swiss Temple in Zollikofen

One of the highlights of September was our trip to Zollikofen Switzerland to accompany Jessica Cigni to the temple there.  Jessica is a member of our branch in Ancona and has been planning and preparing for some time to go to the temple.  Since there have been delays in the Italy Temple, plans were made to go to the Swiss Temple.   It is out of our mission so we received special permission to accompany her.  It was a long trip on the train (12 hours) but well worth the effort.

It was definitely a more relaxing trip on the train than driving all the way to Switzerland.

 This is Milano Centrale, a very busy train station where we made connections.

I love the arched hallways.

We stayed in the temple hostel near the temple.  It wasn't the ritz but it fit the bill for a place near and convenient.

There is a common kitchen and dining area in the hostel for the patrons to use while they are staying for the week.  It is an expensive trip, so when members come they have to make it worth while by staying a good share of the week.

We shared the space with members speaking French, German and Italian.  It was so interesting and fun watching everyone prepare their meals and enjoying each others' company.

Some bring the entire family so all can benefit.  The young couples take turns going to the temple and staying with their children.

We took advantage of every minute by doing as much as we could in the 3 days spent there.  We traveled on Monday, attended Tues, Wed  Thurs, and traveled home on Friday.

 The four languages that we encountered there were German, French, English and Italian.  It was amazing how smoothly it all went even in the temple with all of those languages.

We truly were in Switzerland

 Traveling through the Swiss Alps was an amazing sight.

This wouldn't be complete without a picture of the temple at night.  Beautiful!

An added surprise in September was a short visit from our son, Curtis, and one of his co-workers, who were on their way to Germany for a work conference.  Due to flight prices, they stayed for a whole week, so that meant that they had a couple of extra days.  So why not throw in a trip through Italy?  They arrived on a Saturday evening so gelato was in order.

We also had a bit of time on Sunday before their train to take a quick trip to Loretto.  I've posted about it before but here it is again.  It's a place of great importance and pilgrimage.  The house of the Virgin Mary is enclosed in the cathedral.

It was a short visit but much enjoyed.

Also in September the Relief Society had a hike/picnic at the Parco del Cardeto.  We had to do a bit of walking to get to the park as it is on a high hill overlooking Ancona.

Once at the top we had a great view of the sea and part of the city.

Here are the sisters and Samuelito with his mother.  We had good food but most of all good friendly conversation enjoying each other's company. In the background is the old lighthouse.

We stayed until sunset and what a beautiful sight it was.

It doesn't get much better than this.

On the way out we also were able to get a picture of the current lighthouse all lit up.

One day while sitting in church I noticed that the back of the chair in front of me had a little dust on it so I gave it the finger test.  Sure enough.  They needed to be cleaned.

The bottoms were worse than the backs so as Young Women we went to work.  Kimberly also enlisted the help of Francesca.  

Many hands make light work.

Kimberly reminded us that it was a service project.