What’s been going on with us in Rome Italy

We have been very busy at the Friendship Center helping our friends there find work. We go about 4 times each week. Our Morning and evening commute is much of the same, traffic and lots of it! Lots of cars and hundreds of motorcycles whipping by cutting in and developing a new lane in places one is not supposed to be found, but hey! we are in Rome and we are learning to do it the Roman way. Everyone has a place to go. Whether we be driving in our little Toyota Yaris or on the bus or on the Metro it is about the same. However, our car smells a lot nicer! They have what is called the ZTL, which in italian is Zona Traffica Limitata, which means, as you might guess Limited Traffic Zone. They are trying to cut down on the traffic on the “ancient” areas of Rome to protect them a bit more. You have to pay about $1000 a year to be able to drive there and the Friendship is just inside the ZTL, so we have to take the bus or metro to get there.

It is wonderful to take the bus and have a place to set. Much of the time you are hanging on for dear life surrounded by other dear life hangers. Waiting for a spot on the subway is fun too.

Entrance into Here are a few of the sites we see on our way on the Bus. The first is a picture from a distance of the Ancient Diocletian Baths built in around 200-300 AD. The Second is a church we have yet to explore, but have it on our radar for when we get a pday where we can explore some more. The Third is the Episcopal Church where the Friendship Center is on Via Napoli. As stated earlier, the Friendship Center where we love working almost daily. It is located in the basement or what used to be the catacombs of that church. This was the first Episcopal allowed in Rome (St. Pauls within the walls Episcopal Church). Of course there are no dead people down there anymore, the Church, LDS Charities joined forces with the Jesuit relief foundation and helped renovate the area.

We love working with the refugees from many different lands and countries. Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Libera, Morocco, Eritrea, Libya, Kenya, Pakistan, Philippines, and others. We love them all. each has a unique story to tell. Some of which are very tragic and desperate. We are very fortunate and blessed, we have things so nice in the U.S. I would love to take them all home and get jobs for them and nice places to live. May live in refugee camps and travel some distance to come to the classes at the friendship center by train or subway. The friendship center offers many classes for free taught by volunteers from the colleges, as well as Wards in the surrounding areas. Music lessons, piano, and guitar are some of the favorites, even African drums. Cooking classes for men and women. Italian and English classes, sewing, craft classes, like rock painting. Hygiene, CPR, Badante Class, (caregivers class) dental care, drivers license class, for those who can speak and write in Italian. Self Reliance Classes, How to find a job, interviewing, finance as well as building your own business which we teach along with our manager, Ether.

In some of the classes young women come who are with small children, they get a little fussy and when we are doing our Self Reliance Class, and it becomes difficult having them write things down, so we often babysit. The picture above shows how the Nigerian women walk around with their babies. A young lady who has the talent of hair styling was worried about my alopecia. She told me she makes wigs, she proceeded to take off her hair, which was a wig and try it on me. I don’t think it is quite my style, but it makes me look taller, anyway. She said she can make me one that I would like. I told her I would give it some thought.

We went to the open market this week and did some shopping. This is supposed to be one of the biggest open markets in Rome it is on Via Giovanni Conetti. It is also the time for the most delicious apples of the season, the Melinda Apples (a member told me this and of course, I agreed). The ad appears as “A Melinda apple to suit every taste! Melinda offers you a wide variety of apples to choose from, each one different but all with the same unique quality certified by the Melinda sticker. Love them!


We love our service as I have mentioned at the Friendship Center. The beautiful people there are golden! In spite of all that they have gone through, they radiate with beautiful smiles and love with their words and actions toward everyone at the center, and many are very spiritual and love sharing their love for the Lord and the gospel that they know. We hope some of what we do will rub off on them and that they will want even more of that gospel truthfulness and allow us to teach them. The center just started a gospel choir with some of the young adults from the YSA and missionaries to help the new choir director, Helen from Nigeria. She is so wonderful and full of enthusiasm, we just can’t help to participate in our new song we just are learning. One of our Elders is trying to compose the music for piano, by ear. He said he will work on it a little next week.

I couldn’t get the video of the new gospel choir loaded on the blog. I’ll have to ask someone for help.

Two weeks ago, we enjoyed having Bishop Waddell (2nd counselor in the presiding Bishopric) and his wife for a type of  zone conference, he and his wife spoke earlier in a stake conference, they actually have a son serving in the Rome mission as well. I am sure it was a wonderful experience to visit him as well. So they have a great fondness for the Rome Mission. They are with our mission president and his wife Pres. and Sister Pickerd. We were particularly impressed with the following remarks, We were called for a specific purpose and time, not by chance. Doctrine and Covenants 138:56 Preparing for the due time of the Lord. To develop into the people he wants you to be. It is our responsibility to keep every covenant  we have made. We wear the name of the Savior on our name tags. Focus on Jesus Christ who did all that the Father asked. 15 words will help us focus on the Savior. The First five are “Here am I, send me” (Moses 4:1). We trusted the Savior and his plan, as he is one with His Father. We were perhaps concerned when the Savior had to drink from the bitter cup when he asked if there could be no other way, but the next 7 words sum up His taking on the will of the Father. . .  “not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). The final 3 words the Savior said, “it is finished” (John 19:30),These words are crucial of what it means to keep the covenant call. What a great spiritual impression came upon us as we had just been testified to from one God’s chosen leaders.




Catching Up!

Forgive us as we have had to get a new internet server as well as problems with understanding how to increase our file capacity. Thanks to our genius nephew, Vallard. We owe a debt of gratitude for his help and patience.

Ok,back to our trip some time ago to Assisi,BEAUTIFUL!


These are the beautiful views outside of our window where we stayed in the Domus Pacis,  We had the opportunity to share this hotel with some of the local Franciscan priests. This is the view from our window of Santa Maria degli Angeli. It is the 7th largest christian church. St Peter’s Basilica being the largest. It sets at the foot of the Assisi Hill in Umbria. This is supposed to be the place where St. Francis died. Inside of this church is a smaller church much older with the dimensions of 5.5 by 3.2 m called the Porziuncola (meaning little portion of land) is the most sacred place for all the people and religious orders that adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi.
This is were the Franciscan movement started. Catholics from all over the world make pilgrimages here every year. While we were staying near by there were people from Munich Germany area as well as people from Benin Africa and Scotland.Saint Francis after a pilgrimage to Rome, where he begged at the church doors for the poor, St. Francis said he had a mystical vision of Jesus Christ on the wayside chapel of San Damiano, 2 miles from Assisi. In which the Christ crucified came alive and said to him three times, “Francis, Francis, Francis, go and repair my house which, as you can see is falling into ruins. Saint Francis took this literally to mean the ruined church. He sold his horse some of the cloth from his fathers store, to assist the Priest for this purpose of rebuilding the church. Saint Francis’s father found out about selling cloth from his store to give to the church and was highly irritated, sought restitution. Saint Francis in the presence of the bishop, renounced his father and family. Restoring several churches one of which was the little church, Porziuncola. Saint Francis built a small hut outside of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels and was soon joined by others, he founded the Franciscans.
Inside the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli are murals depicting Saint Frances’s life.
He was made Patron saint over nature and animals as he loved nature and sang and prayed for the animals.
We also went to the Church of St. Francis, and listened to the Bells as we approached. The streets were typical of “old italy” with the cobble stone roads that were very narrow and up and down the hill side. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the history, architecture and culture of the entire place. The Statue was to represent St. Francis coming back from a battle his lost.
As we were scouting around we saw this cool looking castle on the top of one of the mountains, it is called “Rocca Magiore” which means the “Major Rock” and just had to go have a look. Of course, I had to climb up the turret where the stairs were 3 feet wide and all carved out of rock. I went up 4 stories to get to the top and was able to snap a few pictures. It is an old museum now and History tells of it as a setting where all the rich people stayed there and closed out all the poor. After an uprising the new king said the walls would never be built again and two hundred and fifty years ago, a new pope came by, claimed the property for the church, and rebuilt it as a papal retreat. After years of disrepair the church gave it to the City of Assisi and they gladly took it and converted it into a museum. reminiscing a bit I saw a sight that reminded me of my mission 40 years ago, the little  69 cinque cento or 500 fiat. I had to get a picture. I wanted to ask if I could just sit in it, but the owner never came by and we got tired of waiting for them. I love these little cars.

Ferragosto in Italy

Assumption of Mary / Ferragosto in Italy

Every year many Italians observe Assumption Day, also known as Ferragosto, on August 15. This national holiday celebrates the Catholic belief that God took the body of Jesus’ mother Mary into heaven at her death.

Colorful wooden statue of Mary.
A statue of Jesus’ mother Mary, who is honored in Italy on Assumption Day.
©iStockphoto.com/Gijs van Ouwerkerk

What Do People Do?

Ferragosto is a widely celebrated national holiday in Italy during the summer. It involves processions of people carrying the statue of Jesus’ mother Mary in many towns and cities . One of the days of the Palio di Siena, or Il Palio in the city of Siena in Tuscany is held on August 16, coinciding with Assumption Day. This event involves a horse race around the Piazza in the city. Firework celebrations also take place on evening of Assumption Day.

Public Life

Assumption Day is a nationwide public holiday in Italy. Organizations and businesses that are closed include:

  • Government offices.
  • Post offices.
  • Banks.
  • Schools and other educational institutions.

Transport options, such as taxis, rail services between major cities and major long-route bus lines, are available but travelers are advised to check first with the local transport authorities. This past week we did have a car, however, a Sr. couple was headed to the Swiss temple with their ward and so they left us the car for a week. It was great fun and we did not always find our way without getting lost a few time, but thank goodness for GPS and google. We went to several stores and found our favorite one called Auchan, it is like a super walmart and it is in the largest Mall in the area. The entire parking lot is underneath the entire mall and we found it easy to get lost in.

We went in and Melinda wanted a watermelon and came back with one in the cart that must have weighed close to 50lbs. We brought a large shopping bag and it barely fit in it, but I had the carry that beast around while we tried to find our car later. Thank goodness we found a cart someone left and was able to cart it around while we looked for the car. Then I had to carry it up to our apartment. Whew! what a workout!

Thursday we had a short appointment with our trainer and then we jumped into his car and headed to Ladispoli which is on the cost about an hour out of Rome. We had a 45 minute meeting with Elder Alessandro Dini-Cicci of the seventy. It was a privilege to meet with him and discuss how we might better serve the people and get the priesthood leaders involved. A fruitful meeting too, as Ether Simoncini, our manager, walked away with an invitation to come to the next CCA meeting where Elder Dini-Ciacci meets with the stake presidents in this area and there, he will allow Ether to present on the status of the Self Reliance Initiative.

We had fireworks last night until late. Weather was nice and cool with a gentle breeze, probably around 67 degrees. With all the noise and celebration going on outside it was most difficult to sleep with the windows open. We hated to turn on our air conditioner. Oh, well tonight will be better.

We went out to eat and naturally there are many pizza places, so we chose the one closest to our home.


Not like the pizza we have in the states. Warren got a combination pizza with veggies and prosciutto. I settled with a healthy eggplant pizza. It tasted good, because we were hungry. Not our favorite spot! We have plenty of time to scout things out better. The people in the office were telling us about great hamburger places, however when in Italy go for the authentic cibo.(food)


In the back of our apartment is quite a sight! Yes you can see the writing on the window, GELATO Warren felt like we needed to visit and make ourselves know in the neighborhood. Warren found a little selection, I have a little lactose intolerance going on so I opted for a coconut cookie. Warren reports that the gelato was well worth it. Cookie was store bought and not that good. Very nice young couple, who were also the proprietors of the establishment let me practice a little Italian with them. They were very nice and even got a little chuckle over my lack of italian. Warren explained who we were, and what we are doing here. They were cute!

We have an up coming YSA conference (Young Single Adults) this Saturday thru Wednesday. We will be participating with the Self Reliance Initiative. Mainly how to write a resume, look for a job and all that goes with it. We have our Senior Directors coming down from Germany to take us to the conference in Assisi.

Image result for assisi

We hope to send more pictures your way when we go there.

Sunday, We road with Anziano Simoncini to church in his little toyota Yaris. I should have set more in the middle to balance out the weight, because I could feel our passenger side was a little heavy as we hit potholes.

We arrived at our Rome 1st Ward, (church) Warren pops out of the car after letting me out and stands at the door to greet our fellow saints. We are about 20 min early and not many were there so we go inside.


We finally got started on the hour, 9:00am, and people started to fill in. We had about 65 people there. We met the Bishop of the Ward. He is a local dentist. The talks were wonderful, spiritual and uplifting. The speakers spoke on ministering, a wonderful part about our church and it’s members. I love the quote that the high counsel man use,

“To minister” is defined as attending to the needs and wants of others. The Bible Dictionary adds, “The work of the ministry is to do the work of the Lord on the earth—to represent the Lord among the people.”2

Ministering involves extending charity—that pure love of Christ—to others, one person at a time. By doing so, we offer a kind, generous, peaceful, and pure heart. Opportunities to minister may come within the formal stewardship of a calling or assignment, or they may come as we spontaneously extend ourselves to someone in need. I believe these words of Elder Maxwell: Our impact is less likely to emanate from the pulpit—more often it will occur in one-to-one relationships, or in small groups where we can have an impact on an individual.

Such ministering follows the scriptural admonitions that should govern our every interaction with all of our brothers and sisters: “Be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” As we offer such Christlike service to those around us, we and they are blessed and feel His love.

Today, Monday 8/27/2018 We had a Zoom chat with our Manager, Ether Simoncini. Great individual full of enthusiasm and zeal for the great work of self reliance. We organized with him the plan for the conference. We studied Preach my gospel after a walk around around our apartment area.

Related image  This is our Apartment, they are fairly new apartments. We live on the 4th floor. It is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, we even have a clothes washer, no dryer however, so we have to hang the clothes up in the apartment and turn the fan on them to get them dry. We tried putting them out on the balcony, but the humidity is high here and they never did dry out, so we put them in front of the fan and got them dry by the next day. Related image


Made it to Italy!

Just to recap what has happened to us in the last few weeks. We embarked upon a remarkable journey to serve the Lord and be his ambassadors for the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints. We reviewed our goals on what we should be doing when we retired. Priority one, was serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

2/2018 Opened our mission call to the Rome, Italy mission. Went to the Draper, Ut. Temple, where we met up with Francesco Lapore. He was Warren’s mission companion when he was a younger man serving in the Milano, Italy mission. Francesco was a great support and mentor to Warren, learning Italian. 1st one to hear of our mission call.
Dale and Barbara Larsen Melinda’s parents

We were very fortunate to stay with these lovely people, our parents, Dale and Barbara Larsen. Our plan was to stay with them no longer than 6 months preparing for a mission. Instead we ended up staying 10 months. Wow! We were very appreciative, however staying for a short while turned into almost a year. We were Blessed! They were troopers letting us stay with them so long. What a blessing they were to us!

We gave our talks in Sacrament meeting in the River view 6th Ward 7/29/2018 had a delightful, delectable luncheon with great support from our family and a few friends. Cherry on top of the cake!

That evening we were set apart for our Mission. President Matthew Carr acting as the mouth piece of the Lord set us apart to serve. Our Bishop, Jeff Petersen and his wife Jeane Petersen were there along with our parents.


Tired and Excited at the same time. We arrived at the MTC, Missionary Training Center for 5 days to learn about our calling as Self Reliance Missionaries.

We met about 131 Senior missionaries in our group headed to all parts of the world,  serving in many different capacities. Great group to be with.

What an amazing group of people! Instructors are totally amazing and very Spiritual.

We separated into districts where is was more one on one with Preach my gospel and learning how to teach people.

Our instructors, Sister Barlow and Sister McCulley were awesome young people full of enthusiasm for the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as a exuberance for teaching us how to love and serve others.

We had a great video devotion while in the MTC. Elder Bednar talked about, The Character of Christ. Awesome inspired talk, this pretty much the same talk, “The Character of Christ”, Brigham Young University-Idaho Religion Symposium, Jan 25, 2003, Elder David A. Bednar  Also, a wonderful devotional from Jean A Bingham General RS President and her husband. Her talk was titled “Patterns”.

We marked the spot where we will serve in the Roma, Italiano mission.

We started in the MTC on

Got on a rather lengthy plane ride from Utah to Dallas, Texas to make another connection from Dallas Texas to Rome Italy. A total of 13 hours in all.

Yes, we arrived a little weary from such a long flight, jet lag due to not being able to sleep on the plane. We were picked up at the airport by Anziano Balzotti, who is one of the efficent, amazing office persons at the Rome Mission office, along with his lovely wife, Sorella Balzotti and a few other couples serving in the office as well. BLESSED!!

Had a lovely luncheon with our Mission President and his wife President and Sister Pickerd. THE BEST! they have been serving for a little over 2 years. About 8 months to go. Our brother Cody and Cheryl new them when they lived in Huston Texas. Small world.

President and Sister Pickerd took pictures of us at the temple, where we met a beautiful couple who are serving their 3rd mission. The Simoncini’s, who are serving in the visitors center at the temple. We found out when brother Simoncini was just a new member of 3 years met Warren’s brother in Palermo,Italy where he served part of his mission several years ago.