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.




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.