November 16-17, 2013
(Oops! This was still in draft form and I forgot to publish it.)
Palermo Stake Conference was held November 16-17 so we had to stay in Sicily for that. The Palermo Stake covers the entire island of Sicily. Even though it's called the Palermo Stake, the conference is held in Catania.
For the first time, the actual conference was held in Catania at the church house but was televised in several other locations so members didn't have to travel so far to attend. This is something even our stake in Utah had done for a few years.
The biggest difference was that the Saturday afternoon leadership session was held in the city of Enna which is a totally different city in the center of the island and about a two hour drive from Palermo and a one hour drive from Catania. Enna is one of the little cities that sits high on the top of a mountain. Those are my favorite places to visit in Italy.
Another major difference is that the afternoon leadership session is split into two parts with the priesthood in one room and the sisters in another room. It's almost like a giant Stake Auxiliary Meeting only with all the men meeting together and all the women meeting together.
Immediately after the afternoon session, everybody joined together for the Adult Session of conference.
This was the first time I've attended the Saturday afternoon session in Italy and was totally surprised when I walked into the building on a college campus where the meeting was being held and was immediately ushered into the sister's meeting. I thought I would have that time to comb my hair and pull myself together a little bit since we had been traveling all day. I was wrong.
During the adult session, the Stake President leaned over to me and asked if I would give a talk since one of the speakers was ill. Yes, I'd love to--NOT! Again, a loving Father in Heaven came to my rescue. I normally carry a copy of the conference talk I prepared and had translated into Italian in my briefcase, which I didn't have with me. That morning I had slipped a copy of it in my purse without even thinking about it. Another little miracle.
During the Stake President's comments, he talked about bees and how they work together to build a hive and take care of each other. Each day of their life is spent spreading pollen so trees can produce fruit. They spend their entire life doing good. I loved looking at the faces of the missionaries as he talked about bees because the theme of our mission is "bee the best you can bee".
I had an extra bee pin in my purse so the next morning before conference began, Michael and I presented the stake president with a bee pin. He was so touched. The tears just ran down his face. He immediately pinned it on his lapel and wore it proudly. It made me smile to see him.
The theme of the conference was missionary work and how members and missionaries need to work together. During his talk, Michael had every missionary in the audience come forward and either read a scripture or give a 30 second testimony. Benissimo, they did great!
As soon as conference was over, we slipped out a side door and drove the three hours back to Palermo and got there just in time to catch a plane back to Rome. I've always heard the saying "There's no rest for the wicked" but I've added another line that says "There's no rest for the righteous either!"