Forgetting Ourselves in Sicily

“Forgetting Ourselves in Sicily,” Ensign, July 2010, 68–69

Forgetting Ourselves in Sicily

Louis Menditto, Nevada, USA

“My name is Omar Interdonato,” the e-mail began. “I’m the son of Fiorella Italia. I hope you still remember her baptism.”

Thirty years before, my missionary companion and I had been assigned to the island of Sicily and were serving in Siracusa, a beautiful city on the Mediterranean coast. On Sundays we met with the few Latter-day Saints in the area in an old villa, holding sacrament meeting in the villa’s living room.

Missionary work was difficult, and we had few baptisms. Sixteen full-time missionaries labored in the city, which had been tracted over and over. But as my companion and I studied a map of the city one day, we noticed a small village located a few miles from our apartment on the edge of the city.

We hiked through the fields to this village, knelt on the edge of a ridge overlooking a valley, and offered up our hearts and souls to God. We then began tracting in a group of tenement-type buildings that made up most of the village.

We were eventually greeted at a door by a woman in her 40s dressed all in black—a tradition in Italy following the death of a loved one. We changed our door approach to emphasize the plan of salvation. The woman invited us in, and we met with her, two of her teenage daughters, and one of their friends. We learned that the woman was recently widowed and had four teenage children to care for. We showed the filmstrip Man’s Search for Happiness and were invited to return the following week.

The mother, along with her oldest son and two teenage daughters, their grandmother, and their friend were eventually baptized. Following my mission, I kept in touch with the family, but until I received the e-mail, I had wondered what had happened to Fiorella, the daughters’ young friend.

“My mother has been faithful to the gospel all her life and in 1983 married a good Church member from the Messina Branch and got sealed in the temple,” her son wrote. “I was born in 1984 and my sister, Veronica, in 1987. We are all active in the Church. I served a mission in the Italy Rome Mission from 2005 to 2007, hoping to repay the Lord for all the struggles of two missionaries who decided to preach the gospel in the small town of Floridia!”

There were times during my mission when I wondered if the two years of sacrifice were worth it. But how great is my joy (see D&C 18:15–16) to learn that Fiorella’s life was changed forever because my companion and I made the decision to go forth and forget ourselves in the service of others on the island of Sicily.