Monday, July 27, 2015

Piano Lessons in Nuevo Chao

Today was the day I taught my first piano lesson, in fact I taught two. The girls were both so sweet, they made it really fun. Erica went first. She's had some lessons already, so I challenged her to play with both hands "Tan Humilde/Jesús Once of Humble Birth," simple version. Then with Marisol it was her first lesson ever, so we just did notes, rythms and fingerings. My biggest challenge is figuring out musical terms and techniques in Spanish. Instead of learning the notes as letters, they learn do, re, mi, etc. Middle C is "do central." Erica had this piano book called "Toca Bien" that was just what I needed to figure it all out. Wish I could find it somewhere.
Going home a combi saw us coming and waited for us on the highway. It was so full we told them to go on without us, but they insisted. They even moved people around to make room for us on the benches. I sat near the back, Ken sat near the front, and there were so many  people between us I couldn't  see him. Remember this was in a mini van. There were at least 30 people inside and I think more got on at the next stop. A little girl gave me her seat. I moved over and invited her to share the seat, but she insisted on standing. She asked questions about my name tag and the church, and speaking English. Then  the lady behind chimed in with little bits of English. They always ask our ages, and I get embarrassed. When I told them Ken was 65, an old man, the man sitting behind said he was 65 too, so I had to say that he was a young man at 65. So we all chatted, then the woman told me she was baptized but hasn't been to church in a long time. I invited her back, and she said she might come. Eventually they both got off, and the little girl and I talked some more. Her mom was the one collecting money on the combi. We could see Ken, and he was making faces at us. She gave me a big hug before we got off, and I told her mom what a sweet little girl she had.
I've been experimenting with recipes and figured out cinnamon rolls, so I made some for district meeting tomorrow. The sugar's kind of coarse and I used sweetened  condensed milk caramelized for frosting. We'll see how they go over with the young missionaries.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Church in Nuevo Chao

Today was our first time attending church in Nuevo Chao. The smallest of all the branches in the district, its attendance is usually around 30. Today it was half that due to national festivities for the 28th of July, kind of like Logandale during the Clark County Fair. We arrived on time at 9:00, were greeted and welcomed warmly, escorted upstairs to our seats and made comfortable. As the young missionaries, both Peruvian, looked around, they commented, "Where are our teachers? Where are our speakers?" Then they asked us both to give we did. I had something saved on my phone from back in the Spanish Branch, so I introduced us, told how we met, and talked about families, yes all in Spanish. Ken pulled out a Liahona magazine and told a story about prayer. Whew! Welcome to the mission field! Time for Sunday School...Elder Gomez took charge and had everyone introduce themselves, tell their favorite food and favorite sport. Interestingly most people named ceviche as their favorite. Our class included people of all ages, and everyone participated.  Elder Gomez is from Iquitos in the Peruvian jungle. He's very small with nerdy glasses, but he gives a powerful lesson laced with humorous interludes of Charlie Chaplin antics. By the time he finished teaching about "Work as a Blessing," it was nearly noon.
Afterward I chatted with one of the young women, Erica. She said she missed her piano lessons from Sister Smith who was here before us. first student! Her mom Trinidad said they had a keyboard, so I should come to their home. Imagine, their very own keyboard! So we agreed to meet at 3:00 tomorrow, and they left. Then Rosa, the relief society president told me she wanted her daughter Marisol to start piano lessons...wonderful!  So I'm meeting her after Erica. Now I just have to figure out how to teach piano lessons :)
Our apartment came with a large stack of old Liahona magazines. We thought about taking them all to the church in Nuevo Chao, then we decided to just carry a couple at a time for when we visit inactive members. The other night as we left a meeting, a collectivo backed right up to us and offered us a walking, no waiting. He said he'd been watching the people coming & going to & from church, and asked for some literature. We gave him a Liahona!
Saturday night was a Baptism for 3 people....kind of a fun exciting fiesta, but they got it done. In the end it was a spiritual experience.
I decided to retire my beautiful Italian bag for something more fashionable around here. Now I feel much more in style!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Veintiocho de julio

This is like the 4th of July, only it's the 28th instead. There's going to be a huge celebration with parades everywhere. The children are out of school practicing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nuevo Chao

Today we visited our assigned branch, Nuevo Chao. It's a 40 minute drive south from Virú in a combi, a van customised with lots of narrow bench seats like a mini bus. Also they have blaring huayno music which makes it feel like a big fiesta. Since people here are small, they don't need leg room and can crowd in just fine.
The two elders met us there and took us around to introduce us. It's very sandy with sandy roads and dirt floors in the houses. Addresses are even harder to find than in Logandale, so we need an escort until we learn our way around. The local mission leader Hermano Lachira said he'd take us around in the afternoon after he finishes working. He makes frozen fruit bars from lúcuma and other fruit and sells them.
The Church is an interesting building towering high above everything else. The Elders have their room on the top. The bottom two are the church, and one in between is under construction. The couple before us were very beloved by everyone. He worked with the leadership and she taught primary and piano lessons. They both visited inactive members. So I guess they expect us to do the same. The children I've met are very beautiful. They have faces like China dolls and some remind me of Disney princesses. It will be fun to get to know them better.
Since the pueblo inclines up the foothills of the Andes, half our walking was uphill, luckily the first half. We came home exhausted. Guess we'll have to work up to all this new exercise!
Strolling along the main drag in Nuevo Chao
The Church Building in Nuevo Chao is one of a kind.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Parade in Viru

This massive parade wowed us our first night in Virú. It lasted hours with children and adults dancing to flutes,  drums, brass and fireworks. What a welcome! Click on  Welcome to Virú, Perú

Getting around

It's a new feeling, not having a car, but then no one has one. We take taxis, collectivos, buses, and combis. To get to Trujillo, we catch a bus for 4 soles and it takes about an hour. To get to our other assignment in Chao, we take either a collectivo or combi for one or two soles. I'm not sure since we haven't gone there yet. To get to the big church at Puente, we take a collectivo for a sole, and to go to the small church in Virú we walk.
Today we took a collectivo to this meeting in Puente. It was a beat up old car with two passengers crowded into the front passenger seat, and a large girl with an ice cream cone in the back. We were pretty cozy next to her. When we got out I stepped back onto the road and nearly got run over by a truck. Ken says I need to be more careful.
Casa capilla Virú, Perú

Moto Taxis

Moto Taxi: an innovative way to get around in Virú 

Moto taxis come in personalized colors and designs.
Moto taxis start with a motorcycle, then add rear wheels, a tent, or even a flat bed rack!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dulces from the market

Marcuya, little mandarin oranges, a strange bean pod with seeds nestled in cotton candy...add some Inca Kola and liquid lúcuma yogurt and we have a treat! We've been giving our apartment some TLC. We have some pretty cool views out the windows: Eiffel Tower, a cemetery, a banana tree and a poinsettia tree. Life is good!

Friday, July 17, 2015

In Virú

Thursday after driving down the coast through fields of sugar cane, asparagus, avocado groves and corn, we finally arrived at our assignment, Virú. This is the Peru we remember: lots of energy in the streets, rows and rows of market stands, and lots of Peruvian culture.
That night we participated in the District Presidency meeting where they welcomed us with open arms.  El Presidente  Blas shared what he termed an inspirational experience about his goals for growing the Virú District into the Virú Stake. As he meditated about this goal, he decided two years would be a reasonable time. Wednesday the Mission President met with him and informed him he had a married couple coming tomorrow for two years. President Blas told us he realized at that moment why he felt two years was appropriate. He and the other hermanos assured us that with our help they could increase the attendance in the five branches of the district, and from there the goal could be accomplished. It's a meek feeling to have them put so much faith in us and our abilities. As the meeting proceeded, we could see the strength of the leaders in attendance. It was humbling to be in the same room with them. We have a way to go to match their spirituality.
This morning we met with the twelve missionaries from this incredible group! They are so fired up and so full of desire to invite the world to Christ, it's surprising the whole Virú valley had not been converted. No one played the piano, so one of the Elders accompanied the opening song "How Great Thou Art" on the harmonica...very moving.
Late afternoon we shopped for shaving cream and other necessities, like food. We also were wowed by a traditional procession with costumes, dancing and Peruvian flutes. Makes us feel like we're finally in Peru.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Trujillo Temple

Three days in Trujillo and as many visits to the temple...such a beautiful landmark here in the city. This afternoon we leave for Virú, our assignment here. It's a small town an hour south of here and agricultural. We'll see when we get there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mejor Amigas

Hermana Rios & Hermana Whitney

Quinoa for breakfast

Hermana Rios has been so kind to us. When I asked her about quinoa she started cooking it it for lunch first thing this morning. Then after my run, she couldn't wait to have me try it, so she dished it up for breakfast. So yummy with a cup of yogurt on the side!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Midnight in Lima

Midnight seems to be a busy time for flights arriving in Lima. All the baggage carousels were busy with flights from various points around the world. We collected our bags, went through customs, rechecked them to Trujillo, freshened up a bit, then wondered how we would spend our five-hour layover. A crowd of people waiting with balloons and signs started waving to us, so we wandered over. They were meeting a group of missionaries coming home from Chiclayo, what fun, just like in Utah.  Pretty soon they were shaking our hands,  and the girls gave me hugs & kisses and they all wanted to hear who we were. Then their missionaries arrived and everyone cheered....more hugs and handshaking. One of the older men (older than them but younger than us) Hermano Barboza, talked to us for over an hour about his missionary experiences and how he'd served as a bishop, stake president and other callings. He told us his conversion story, and it was pretty cool. He said it's published in the Liahona August 2001, "Esto es lo que andaba buscando," "This is what I was looking for." We'll have to look it up and read it. Then Sister Barboza came to get him...more hugs and handshakes...and they left. All in all we felt pretty welcome arriving in Lima at midnight.

And we're off!

We knew it would be a long day, but it got a head start when Ken jumped out of bed at 5:00am, too excited to try to sleep anymore. The flight to LAX was delayed a few minutes...not much, but enough to start up his stress. Fortunately those agents at the gate have special training to calm such passengers. At LAX we had about an hour to connect, not enough time for the shuttle, so we sprinted across the terminal, outside across the passenger pick up, through terminals 4 and 2, and finally to the international terminal. What a maze of confusion! Then back outside, up the escalator through the airline counters with crowds of people and back to security. Somehow Ken figured out the gate and we got in line with our fellow passengers. The flight attendants were beautiful Peruvians who took my hand luggage, stowed it up top for me and tucked me into my seat. When Ken came along, she asked if we were going home, and I started to cry. Between the flute music and all the Peruvian Spanish around us, I really felt like we were going home.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pioneers Part 2

A pioneer is “one who goes before to prepare or open up the way for others to follow.” We recount the pioneer stories that we don't forget the trials and hardships of those who opened our way. We have a legacy to keep and pass on.

John Nay, my great-great-great-great-grandfather joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in August, 1841 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Four years later John and his wife Thirza Angelina moved to Nauvoo.

They received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple on February 7, 1846. Temple records show they were participants in the fourth endowment company of the day.  It was a sad, eventful and chaotic day, the last day endowment sessions were held there. Latter-day Saints were to vacate the city and temple they had labored to build.

Brigham Young led the first group of saints out of Nauvoo on Tuesday, June 16, 1846. John and Thirza left as well. The Nay family crossed the Mississippi River into the Iowa Territory. They traveled with two other families who were also from New Hampshire. Before they reached Winter Quarters one of the families lost the father, the mother and two children to the flu.

Grandpa and Grandma stayed near Council Bluffs in Harris Grove for about five years where three more children were added to the family, Joseph Brigham and twin boys, Ormus and Ormon.  Ormus is my great-great-great grandfather. His brother was buried on the plains of Iowa. The goal in Harris Grove was to build and prepare wagons and gather supplies for other Saints moving westward.

 As President  Uchtdorf states, "The pioneers cared for each other irrespective of social, economic, or political background. Even when it slowed their progress, caused inconvenience, or meant personal sacrifice and toil, they helped each other. They considered those who came after them, planting crops for the wagon trains that followed. The pioneers serve as a good reminder of why we must break away from the temptation to isolate ourselves, and instead reach out to help each other and have compassion and love for one another.”

In spring 1852, a call came from church leaders in Utah, urging all saints still in the Council Bluffs area to make every effort to immigrate to the Salt Lake Valley that summer. After inspecting the various wards, Apostle Ezra Taft Benson wrote from Council Bluffs to Brigham Young in Salt Lake City, The companies are strong and ready to go.

John and his family came on west where they founded a town named Cedar Fort, named for the cedar post palisade constructed for protection from Indians and the US Army. As the wood palisade was replaced with a stone wall Cedar Fort became known as Stone City.  

Elder Ballard wrote, “When we truly believe, we don’t ask, What do I have to do? but rather, What more can I do?”  John truly believed, and did ask “What more can I do?” Then answered with further voluntary sacrifice.

The family was re-baptized and then gave all they had to the church. A deed, recorded by John in Utah County land records, reads as follows:

Be it known by these presents that I John Nay, of Stone City in the county of Utah, and Territory of Utah, give and convey unto Brigham Young, Trustee in Trust for the Church all my claim to and ownership of the following property:

20 acres of farming land in Utah County
4 acres of Garden Lots in Cedar Valley
One yoke of oxen and wagon
5 cows & 5 calves
2 yearlings
2 sheep
2 swine
Household furniture, beds, bedding and goods
2 cabins in the picket fort
80 days labor
Farming utensils and tools
Three guns & one cooking stove

In the 1861 October General Conference, Apostle George A. Smith read from the pulpit the names of over 300 heads of households and called them to the “Southern Mission.” In the decade prior to this call, a handful of Latter-day Saints had been called to the “Cotton Mission.” The struggling Cotton Mission was in need of reinforcements, and 300 families were called to help. One of the names read at conference was John’s son-in-law. John and his second wife Thankful Lucy joined them in the move to the Southern Utah Mission.

By 1888, John and Thankful Lucy, left Pine Valley in Southern Utah, for Circleville. Their church membership records were recorded in the Circleville Ward on December 16, 1888.

John was lame. Lucy provided the income by growing potatoes. She would drive them in a large wagon to be weighed. Lucy was six feet tall and large boned, but she was agile. The men in charge would make bets as to Lucy’s weight, but she would jump off the wagon before they could weigh her. The size of her family was always the brunt of jokes. Keeping herself and her large family members in food and clothing was a lifetime struggle. The boys helped as they could by herding cows. They were generally paid 2 cents a head per day. If the cows were left out a night the boys were docked 4 cents per head, which made them more diligent.

When John and Lucy came to Circleville, Ormus stayed behind in Southern Utah. He got mixed up with riders of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. This did cause grief for his wife and family.

The riders got together and decided to rob a Central Pacific passenger train out of Elko Nevada. The crime didn’t pay. They unsuccessfully tried to open the Wells Fargo express car. The guard inside the car refused the robbers entry. He was fired upon through the walls of the car and injured. But they were still unable to gain entry. Ten dollars was taken from the conductor, and the train robbers left.

News of the robbery was quickly telegraphed to Elko. The posse left Elko to track the robbers. Snow was several inches deep, so the trail was easily followed. The sheriff tracked two of the robbers to a corral in the mountains near Deseret, Utah.

The posse demanded surrender, but the men began firing at them and the posse returned fire. A total of 75 or 80 rounds were fired, ‘resulting the mortal wounding of Ormus Nay.’ None of the posse was hit.

Ormus was reported as having taken a bullet in the left shoulder, which had passed through one of his lungs and lodged in his back. He was spitting up blood and the lawmen were afraid that he would die before they could get him back to town. He didn’t, he attended his trial on a stretcher. Louisa, his wife, was unaware that her husband had been involved. She thought that Ormus had been working for a rancher in Nevada. He was convicted and sent to the state penitentiary at Carson City, Nevada.

On January 2, 1893 Ormus was finally released. The family was reunited and moved to Circleville. While here, Louisa bore two sons, Chauncy Leon and Ora Bertrum. In April, Ormus, even with the bum shoulder from being shot in the foiled robbery, found useful work.

A history of Circleville records: “That summer pink granite stone was quarried up Kingston Canyon and hauled to Circleville by teams; each man donating his time and labor. The blocks were piled on the southeast lot of the Church Block and reserved for the Ward House. These stones were never used in a church building. Just after the turn of the century, the school district bought the pink granite from the church and Ormus helped build the two-story rock Circleville school building completed in 1902. His niece, telling about Uncle Ormus building the schoolhouse, said, “He was so strong, he took those big old blocks, put them on his shoulder and went up the ladder with them.”

As Sister Whitney mentioned a few minutes ago, President Monson asked, “Can we somehow muster the courage and steadfastness of purpose that characterized the pioneers of a former generation? Can you and I, in actual fact, be pioneers? I know we can be, and oh how the world needs pioneers today!”

Here’s an account from the journal of Andrew Jackson Allen, my great-great-great uncle, also great uncle of Sarah Melinda Allen, who in June of 1897 married Ormus Calvin Nay right here in downtown Circleville.

I was born in the year of our Lord 1818, in September, on the 5th day, in the state of Kentuchy. In 1834 the Elders came with the gospel to our county. I went to Nauvoo in '44 having dezier to see proffeit Joseph Smith and the temple site. When we reached Nauvoo Brother Joseph ware murdered just a few days previous and the Saints were all in moarning and a glume seemed to be all over the citty. I ware to be baptized when I got to Nauvoo but the proffit being kilt and the people feeling so bad I did not and returned to Kentuchy.

In 1845 there was Elders sent thro the country notifying the saints that the church had agreed to leave the city of Nauvoo and emmegrate west in to the willderness etc. and when I heerd that news, the spirit promted me to gether with the Saints, and I soald my possesions for what I could get and Emmegrated to Nauvoo in '46 in February and ware baptized my self and wife in the Mississippi river and started on west with the Saints, not knowing where they would settle down.

Elder Ballard has observed:

“Packing a few belongings into wagons or handcarts and walking 1,300 miles (2,090 km) isn’t the way most of us will be asked to demonstrate our faith and courage. We face different challenges today—different mountains to climb, different rivers to ford, different valleys to make ‘blossom as the rose’. Our struggle is found in living in a world steeped in sin and spiritual indifference, where self-indulgence, dishonesty, and greed seem to be present everywhere. Today’s wilderness is one of confusion and conflicting messages.”

The word came that when spring came for all to continue their journey that could git suffissiant fit-out with provisions to last them till they could find a location and raise grain which would be about 15 months, I travild on beeing one that got reddy getting seeds of all kinds as much as I could.

The president Brigham Young with 150 men started the tenth of April 1847 to seek a place to locate the Saints making the road as they went. Now there ware on the road in all 600 wagons. By second night we reached the Elkhorn River which we found verry high and difficult to cross tho all got over and no serious ackasadent. The next night we campt at Luke Fork, we lay over til the back companyes came up. Here there ware a young man returning back to winter quarters with too ladyes with him and some indians came out of the brush and wanted one of his oxen which he refused to give up to them and the indians shot him and kilt him.

We traveled on the in regular order crossing water courses and following the pioneer trail from President Young. AJ recounts 80 head of cattle were stampeaded and lost, indians stole 6 head of horses, one child died, poisoned water killed two of his oxen “so I put two yoke of cows into the team and the cows all wanted to go their own way and my job was to control them. It was dangerous tho we had no bad luck.”

We met the president and the brethern that went ahead they informed us they had found a good valley and located a settlement which was good news to us. Bro. Brigham preached to us and said to put our trust in God. We ware gladded and went ahead quite encouraged. Close to the valley we met some mountaineers who told us we could not live in the valley we ware going to, it ware so coald and frosty. They offert to pay 1,000 dollars for one ear of corn matured in the valley, we travelled on.

When we got in sight of the valley I think if there ever ware a glad people it ware us. We reached the valley Sept 25, 1847. When we got located the next thing ware to get some wheat soaed. The land was verry dry, beeing so dry it did not get up till in the spring, the crows fed on it through the winter and when it did come up it was so thin I thought it ware no account. When spring came we ware verry anxious to put in our garden seeds. We put them in the ground the first opin spell that came, after which there ware frost snaps which destroyed most of them, this ware owing to us not understanding the climate.

In April there ware a grat deel of snow fell which made the ground quite wet, which brought up the wheat we had soan, tho the crows had destroyed so much of it that it ware verry thin in deed. When vegetation sprang up many of the people had to go to prairies to seek roots to eat, such as wild onions and thistle root. Those ware not pleasant, but hunger made them good.

May 7, 1848.  The spring grain sprung up looked quite good, next thing we see ware thousands of young crickits making there appearence in evry directions, we discovered they ware eating at the young growing wheat and garden truck. We begin to destroy them in evry way we could, but all in vain. It really seemed as tho the more we kilt the more came.

May 20, 1848.  There ware a coald snap that froased the vines and such things that ware easy kilt. The fall wheat we had got ware just beginning to put the head out of the boot and the frost kilt it as fare as the head were out. This ware a trying time as the crickits also ware eating at evry thing grown but not froased. . . . Just now the sea gulls in flocks by the thousands got to ground… and begin to eat the crickits thay would cover the fields and fill themselves and then fly to the watter and drink, then thay would vomit them up, and go again and fill themselves up again, then drink and vomit again. Thay seemed to repete this time ater time and soon they destroyed the crickits. If those gulls had not destroyed them thay would have destroyed all our groing crops and that would have brought great suffering among the people. We attributed this to the hand of the Lord in our behalf.

July 24, 1849. This year we celebrated the day the pyoneers came to the valley. The number of persons at this celebration 2587, waggons 464, horses and mules 1028, oxen and cows 332.

President Gordon B. Hinckley observed: “The power that moved our gospel forebears was the power of faith in God. It was the same power which made possible the exodus from Egypt, the passage through the Red Sea, the long journey through the wilderness, and the establishment of Israel in the Promised Land.”

Add to our definition the instruction from D&C 64:33. Being a pioneer means that we “be not weary in well-doing”.

May each of us likewise resolve to be a pioneer and to go before and open the way for others who are buffeted by a world steeped in sin, confusion, and doubt. May we remember the pioneers and their stories, remember that they came to build Zion in a united effort.

May we accept the responsibility to instill faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in all we meet.



Friday, July 10, 2015

Pioneers Then & Now...talks given in Circleville, UT

When I  think of pioneers, I think of my husband's ancestors and their wonderful stories of  faith and courage crossing the plains, enduring hardships, starting new lives in the west, and you all know the drill. When our children gave primary talks on pioneers, their favorite story was the one about Jens Jorgensen who crossed the plains with a handcart company in spite of his crippled leg. Because he couldn't keep pace, he mostly walked alone catching up late at night after the company stopped to camp. One day as he was out there all alone, he noticed a great cloud of dust in the distance. As it approached he heard a loud thundering noise. The dreaded herd of stampeding buffalo! It was too big to run out of the way, and anyway he couldn't run. Everyone knew that stampeding buffalo don't stop for anything, and these were on course to trample him to death. After a quick prayer, he felt impressed to do something bizarre. He walked over to a nearby knoll, raised his cane above his head and waved it around. The herd parted just like the waters of the Red Sea and galloped around him on both sides. And ever since, he has been infamously remembered as a great cane raiser!
My side of the family doesn't have stories like that. They never crossed the plains, none of them lives out west and I'm the only one in the US. I still like to think of them as pioneers though. They demonstrated the pioneer spirit of moving forward with faith, hope and determination to make life better for those who followed after them.
Around the turn of the century, that's 1900, my grandfather Chedrawi Boulos and my grandmother Martha along with her father Naim Bassil, fled their mother country because they were Christians, victims of religious persecution. They were from Lebanon, a small country on the Mediterranean just north of Israel. It's famous for the great cedars of Lebanon. Sometimes I imagine my ancestors cutting down those giant trees to help King Solomon build his temple. Anyway Lebanon was invaded by the brutal conquerers of the Ottoman Empire. They were killing off the Christians, as is happening in the Middle East today. To this day Lebanon's government is half Christian and half Muslim. So my ancestors got on a ship and waited to see where it would take them. Some went to New York, but mine sailed to the most eastern port of the North American continent. ..... St. John's, NL, which today is part of Canada. These great pioneers worked hard as merchants and eventually owned shops, movie theatres and other businesses. My grandparents raised a family of nine children, although my grandmother gave birth 21 times. My mother Doris was right in the middle of the family.
Meanwhile my father's side of the family had its own pioneers in Italy. My Italian grandfather Leonardo had  courageous convictions about changing the politics of his country. Yes he was a pioneer. He recognized the government tyranny that left him and his fellow citizens living in poverty barely able to feed their families. My Uncle Cesare remembers that the family was always moving because his father had to run away and hide from one political group or another. After the Great War, the people of Italy were picking up the pieces of their battle ravaged country. My grandfather had great hope for the future as an opportunity for rebirth. In 1920 he had a brand new baby boy, and he named him with this pioneer spirit of hope for the future, Risorgi, and this was my father.  What a name! It's caused me grief my whole life, Risorgi. No one had ever heard of it. No one could even pronounce it, Risorgi. Grandpa Leonardo made the name up because it means resurrection. It symbolized the rebirth that Leonardo dreamed of for his beloved country. Risorgi grew up with a strong willed determination. Uncle Cesare calls him "cativo." Cativo describes someone with a strong volatile kind of personality. When it's stormy outside, you say it's cativo weather.  You know the movie Despicable Me? In Italian it's Cativo Mio. Risorgi wasn't despicable, just strong willed to the extreme.  Perfect for being a pioneer.
Uncle Cesare remembers a time when this older brother of his took a row boat and set out across the sea in search of a new life. In a few hours, he was overcome by the hot sun, barely alive, and fortunately the boat floated him back to shore.
No doubt Risorgi grew up listening to his father express strong political opinions. When the Italian government under Benito Musolini allied with Adolf Hitler, people like Grandpa Leonardo were enraged. If you remember the movie Life is Beautiful, there are two little boys in it named Benito and Adolfo. Now they were cativo, just like the leaders they were named for! So young Risorgi felt this political outrage, and just like a pioneer, determined to do something about it. He learned about a meeting in Rome where Musolini and Hitler would be together for the evening. He acquired a rifle and got on a train to Rome. After a ride of 5 or 6 hours, Risorgi got off in Rome planning a great assassination. Suddenly he was overcome by a strong fever that made him unconscious for several hours. By the time he came to it was too late, and the meeting was over. He got back on the train and returned to Livorno.
As World War II raged,  the Allies bombed Italy for its alliance with the Nazis. International law prevented the allies from bombing national monuments, so they just bombed the people instead. They called it carpet bombing. They  would select a specific area and destroy every square inch of it. After one such incident my Aunt Giuliana went searching for her mom, but all she found were her shoes among the burned up rubble.
So the family fled to the mountains to be safe. Even after Italy broke off relations with Hitler, the Nazis still occupied the country, so the people lived in constant danger. There's an old movie called Tea With Musolini  starring Cher, where some young Italians run an underground operation that helps a Jewish woman, Cher, escape to safety. Risorgi was one of those young men. He used to put on this black robe to disguise himself as a Catholic priest, then he would lead small groups of people to safety. One day the Nazis caught on,  and they chased him. He ran, and ran,  and dove into a haystack to hide. Finally they found his mother and questioned her. Was he in the house? The fields? The woods? What about that haystack over there? Of course she told them no, and then she watched while they brutally stabbed their bayonets into that haystack knowing full well that her son hid beneath it. After the Nazis left, Risorgi crawled out, unharmed.
Uncle Cesare looks up to Risorgi for being so smart and having  such a pioneer spirit. Risorgi  went to college. He did well and graduated with a degree that made him a sea captain. After the war he took a position  as an officer in the Italian Merchant Marine. And guess where he sailed? Right to the international port of St. John's, NL. No doubt he frequented those Lebanese shops on Water St where he focused his romantic charms on the owner's daughter Doris who worked there. He even wooed her with some beautiful bright yellow flowers that he picked growing wild in a Newfoundland meadow. She accepted them, however,  with dubious sentiments...dandelions...really? Risorgi borrowed a car and took his sweetheart out for a spin. Unfortunately they were pulled over for speeding. The big Irish cop reproached him harshly for breaking the law, then asked him for his name so he could write up the ticket. In all sincerity, he answered with his thick Italian accent, "My name is Risorgi Bernardini." Too embarrassed to admit he couldn't understand, let alone spell that name,  the police officer simply replied, "Alright, Sonny, I'm lettin ya off this time, but I'm warnin ya that ya'd better not be speedin anymore!"
And so Risorgi married Doris, and because he couldn't raise tomatoes in the short Newfoundland growing season, they pioneered their way to Toronto, eventually bought a small farm, and raised a family, starting with me.
When I was a teenager, I went on a one-year government sponsored youth exchange that took me to French West Africa and remote parts of Canada.
After a year of university, I traveled again, this time to South America. It was in Peru that I met my sweetheart, decided to investigate the Church and become an American citizen. To be able to return on a mission to Peru 41 years later is a privilege and a blessing that I'm grateful for.
As the only member of my family to leave Canada and join this true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I consider myself a pioneer in a non traditional sort of way. As I serve this mission together with my sweetheart of more than 41 years, I hope to be able to meet more non traditional pioneers in the mission field and help them along their way. The pioneer spirit has always been about faith, hope and determination.
President Monson says,  "Can we  somehow muster the courage and steadfastness of purpose that characterized the pioneers of a former generation?" In other words, having courage and strength of purpose is being a pioneer, no matter what the time period. We can all be pioneers today.
Risorgi Bernardini

MTC teacher RM from Peru

Monday was a rough day. We left the house at 4:00am...tough to say goodbye for two years. It got silly after we landed in SLC, and Ken realized he didn't have shoes, only the slippers on his feet. What to do? Fortunately Adele & McKay's house was on the way. We made a quick shoe stop, and we were ready.
The time at the MTC was exhausting; nonetheless, we experienced numerous spiritual and uplifting moments.  We had a close district, animated young teachers, talks by general authorities, and even the funeral of an apostle, Boyd K Packer.
As we head to the Circleville cabin for the weekend, we look forward to more farewells and delivering our pioneer talks Sunday.