Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Before I

Before II

After I

After II
We have now had three days with no graffiti on our wall. I’m not sure how long it will be before some kids seeking fun in destruction will re-paint their graffiti on our little wall, but for now it looks lots better than it did. I kind of like the gray. It goes well with the red fence and the orange building across the street.


Lots of great food - this is the dessert bar...
Pasqua is the Italian word for Easter. It translates "Passover." Pasquetta (-etta at the end of word is diminuative. It usually means small or little.) is celebrated the Monday after Easter. It gives everyone in Italy a long weekend. In general people like to be out doors taking walks and relaxing. It is kind of like a welcome to Spring. Traditionally in our District, several Branches gather in Battipaglia for some fun because we have such a great lawn. This year was no exception. Well, there was one exception. I thought it would be nice if we did some work around the church before we celebrated. So when people arrived, we did a few projects. Mainly, we cleaned out the planter area outside the fence and prepared it for planting.

Never challenge an Italian to a game of fussball...
Noemi Mondelli was in charge of the games and we had a lot of fun. Here are some pictures and videos of our activities. We also practiced our choir numbers for District Conference. I thought it was amazing how such beautiful music followed what appeared to be chaos.

Getting ready for games.
The Mondelli's brought their dog, Nami (like Tsunami). She had a great time. (Double-click on videos to see full screen.)Water balloon volleyball was fun.
Our sisters were practicing for our choir number at District Conference on April 21st. I couldn't believe that from so much chaos came such beautiful music. (This video is a bit long, but it is fun and illustrates the point well.)

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Sister Barretta, Branch Librarian and Primary President.
She worked tirelessly for several days geting the building
organized. These are some of the excess manuals we had
to dispose of.
One of the projects I have wanted to finish most is to get our building looking really nice. Brother Arena, our Facilities Manager, visited us as I described in a previous post and helped us catch the vision of how nice our building could look. Since his visit, we have really cleaned house. One of the first things we did was to empty all of our cabinets of things that were of no use. One of our biggest problems were the large numbers of church manuals which had been collected over the years. It seems that it is Church policy to send enough manuals for the members as listed on the computer. The branch would try to order just enough for the active members to have a copy, but the Area would send the number according to the Branch List. I can’t believe what a serious waste of printed material this results in. Here is a picture of our kitchen after we emptied our cabinets of most of the old and unneeded manuals.

Trashy Garage I

Trashy Garage II
We wondered what to do with them. First we offered them to members and investigators who came to the church. They took quite a few, but many remained. I thought of giving them to people we meet who express an interest in learning more about the Church. Then, I realized that with good luck, we might get a person interested in reading one book. I doubt we could interest them in two or more books. So, we could either interest them in the Book of Mormon, or a Sunday School manual. It gradually became clear to me that we were going to have to throw away a lot of unneeded manuals. So, that is what we are doing. So far we have eliminated two entire cabinets. My philosophy is that if there is an empty shelf in a cabinet somewhere, someone will find something to put on it. I like the idea of reducing the number of cabinets in the building.

Some of the large items from the garage hauled away by truck.
Our second effort was cleaning up the garage which we use as a game room. Brother Arena arranged to have a truck come and take away larger items like broken furniture. Here is a picture of the stuff the truck hauled away. Sister Scherbel then went in and thoroughly cleaned and organized the garage. It looks SO much nicer. There is plenty of room for ping pong and fussball and it looks a thousand times cleaner than before.
Wall with grafitti

Future flower box
Our next project is to clean up the area outside of our fence. There is a triangular area which was full of weeds and trash, and a short wall covered with graffiti. We have received permission to paint the wall and I have already purchased the paint. However, we needed to pull the weeds out of the triangular area and then haul in a bunch more dirt to fill up the triangle before painting. I started by making dirt from debris around the building.

Cement "Rock"
If I had a hammer...
First, there was what I thought was a large rock. It turned out to be what was a sack of cement which had hardened. I found a little hammer and started breaking it into small pieces. As I was spending several hours breaking up this “rock” I had time to think about many things. I thought about God creating the world. He made dirt also. He must have had a much larger hammer. Then I found several cinder blocks lying around and broke them up. It is amazing what a little hammer and a little time can accomplish. So, I made some more dirt.
Surplus Cinder Blocks 

Dirt is everywhere! Notice indentation behind pole where our
first bucket of dirt came from...
Although this effort helped clean up our yard, it wasn’t nearly enough dirt, so when I saw our landlord, Quinto, in the parking lot, I asked him where I could get some dirt. He looked at me like I was really na├»ve, and said there is dirt everywhere. (True enough.) He said all you need is a bucket. So, he opened his little garage storage area and took out a plastic bucket and a hammer. Then he walked over to our fence and started scooping dirt into the bucket – right out of the landscaping around our apartment buildings. (See picture). He then carried the bucket over to our project and dumped it in the triangular area. I said I didn’t think the people who owned the apartment complex would want us to take a bunch of dirt out of their landscaping and asked if there were somewhere else we could get some dirt. He pointed out a little island just across the street from our project, filled his bucket again to demonstrate to the newbie how it should be done, dumped it into our project, and said we should take some dirt from there since there was too much there anyway. He said if anyone asked what we were doing we should just say that Quinto said it was all right. ("Quinto" means "fifth." He must have been either the fifth child or the fifth son born in his family.) He used to be a fireman here, so maybe he actually knows someone. Anyway, that’s what we decided to do.

Dirt supply island
Ready to start hauling dirt

Help from Elder Taylor and Elder Ostler during Pasquetta

During Pasquetta (the Monday after Easter) we had a work party and then a fun party. During the work party, the Elders were able to get most of the weeds removed from the area we wanted to plant. Today, April 6, I decided to start hauling dirt from the little island and wheeling it over to our project. The missionaries agreed to come around 10:15, but didn’t arrive until 11:45. By that time I had hauled seven wheelbarrow loads of rocks and dirt over to our project. The Elders helped with a couple more loads and it is pretty much ready to plant. We now have to decide what to plant.

Ready for flowers
While I was moving dirt, our next door neighbor came to talk to me. He wants us not to plant anything too high which would block his view as he backs out of his driveway. I agreed. We had a nice conversation. It was great to finally meet him. The man constructing the new apartment buildings (the many-colored buildings) in front of the church also stopped by and said we could take all the dirt we needed from the little island. I thought it belonged to the city, but apparently, it his. Sometimes it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Another man stopped on his way to the Catholic church down on the corner. He said he had read some in the Book of Mormon. I had another nice conversation. It was amazing how many people stopped and talked while I was working. They could see what we were doing and were very supportive.

I think we'll plant some flowers here too.
It was a beautiful day and Sister Scherbel was able to mow the lawn at the church again. So, there we both were, working together to beautify the church. It doesn't get much better than this. And the Lord said, “Let there be dirt”, and there was dirt.