Thursday, September 12, 2013

Preparation Update!

So much has happened since coming home, and coming home has been better than living in Provo was. Not only do I get to see my family everyday, but I have so much more time to use to prepare to go on my mission.

First: Update how I'm doing on some of my goals.

1. Read all four standard works before I leave on my mission.

I'm in Hebrews! Almost done with the Bible!

2. Learning Spanish.

Well, this one could be going a lot better. When I first got my call, I created a Spanish Pandora station to help me learn Spanish.

But I learned something other than than Spanish. I learned I don't like Spanish music.

However, I have gone to the Spanish ward in my stake! That was a really good experience. I also gave the Spanish sister missionaries my number so I can go with them to a lesson sometime. It hasn't worked out yet, but hopefully soon!


So when I first got my mission call, I posted on Facebook that I was going to Mexico on my mission. AND some of my hispanic friends from high school, who I haven't talked to since high school, messaged me and were like "Hey I saw you're going to Mexico for your mission, if you need any help learning Spanish just let me know?"

How fabulous are these people?

One of them, my friend José, I told him that the Spanish I really needed to learn was the missionary discussions, and now he's taking the discussions! The Spanish Elders are teaching them and I get to be there. I try as hard as I can to understand and contribute, but I know my speech is more butchered than my hearing!

Then later, I was out with the English Sister Missionaries (which was amazing!) and as they contacted people on the streets, they started talking to this one man who really didn't speak English. Lucky for us, I brought my Spanish Preach My Gospel and another Spanish Missionary book and I did my best to teach this man about José Smith! We got his number and texted it to the Spanish Elders. I haven't had any contact with the man since, but the Elders told me he said he'd come to stake conference!

I love going out with the missionaries. They are the greatest examples to me!

3. Saving for my Mission

I haven't been able to get a job, but I've realized that babysitting I can make more money. Fortunately, I've been able to get pretty regular babysitting jobs. The kids I babysit are great and I like knowing I can help these families. One family, for example, that I babysit for has 2 kids with about 12 allergies each! Yikes! Their mom was really nervous getting a babysitter since they recently had to use an epipen, and I was like, "Don't worry, I carry an epipen. I know allergies." I guess this is the first time my peanut allergy has been a blessing to someone!

(as a side note, since with a peanut allergy you mostly have to avoid fried food and desserts, I think it's helped me avoid the dessert table at events. Dear Waistline, you're welcome. Love, Peanut Allergy)

4. The Temple

Well, I'm not endowed, yet. But I will be. I need to get my recommend and set a date.

And I'm not done reading The Holy Temple by President Boyd K. Packer yet, but I'm pretty close. His book is really good, by the way.

Even though the Washington DC temple isn't as close to me as the Provo temple was, I still try to go at least once a week. I've figured out the metro and now know how to get there (and have gotten there) by metro.

Lately, I've had much more motivation to go since I've had a Family History breakthrough!!!

My mom's family is from New York, and a month ago we didn't know anything about our ancestors from before they came through Ellis Island.

But I remembered this: I had found a passport certificate for my great great grandfather. It says the town in Italy where he was born: San Fele.

Now if you don't know anything about San Fele, there is a reason. San Fele, I've learned, is a tiny little town far off the beaten path in the center of the italian peninsula, about a 2 hour drive from Naples.

On a whim, just because I felt like doing some genealogy, I googled "San Fele Genealogy." I wasn't expecting much. This was the first result.


If that wasn't a miracle in and of itself, it got better! I saw a list of surnames from the town and beside it the email addresses of people with a personal interest in those surnames. I emailed the people who's addresses were listed by the surnames I knew were in my family.

I told them what I knew about my family.

My great great grandmother was named Philomena Fortnash. She was married to someone with the last name DeCarlo (don't know his first name) and had two girls. Then DeCarlo died. Philomena married Carmine Tomasulo, who was my great great grandfather. They had kids (including my great grandmother Livia Tomasulo) and then went back to Italy for some reason. While there, Philomena had their last child (Mike) and died in childbirth. Carmine came back to America and married Rose Tarangelo. They had more kids and Carmine died in 1917 of the Spanish Flu. Rose was left with all the kids from all 3 marriages. She sold flowers on the streets of New York to support herself.

So I waited for a response. And it was like, nothing, nothing, nada and then....

One person emails me back. This is what he said, I'm quoting.

I had 2 sources of information:
1. My late Aunt Joan transcribed approximately 37,000 San Fele Birth, Death & Marriage Records for 1810 to 1860. My Aunt also did the town of Marsicovetere in Potenza. She worked on the San Fele & Marsicovetere films for over 10 years. For the most part the San Fele records have been consolidated into 3 data bases that are easy for me to search. To date I have not had a chance to consolidate the Marsicovetere records into searchable data bases.
2. My 2nd source of information are scans of 1861-1929 San Fele Birth, Death & Marriage Records that LDS has on line at These are slow and hard to search, but are available to any one with access to the web.
The following is what I have found on your family:

He sent me my genealogy going back to the 1700s!!!!!

But what he sent me was on Rose Tarangelo and Carmine Tomasulo. I asked him about DeCarlo and Philomena Fortnash, telling him that "Fortnash" means "strong birth" in Italian. He said "Fortnash" doesn't appear in San Fele records and gave me alternate spellings. The name DeCarlo appears about 5 times. 

Fabulous. Then again, it was pretty miraculous to find so many generations in one day!

But I wasn't satiated. I started looking through the records posted on I had hypothesized that my great great grandmother died in San Fele, so I looked for a Philomena Fortnash. This is what I found.

Filomena Fortannascere's death certificate. It's the top right.
It was a death certificate for a Filomena Fortannascere, and her husband was Carmine Tomasulo. In addition, I found this.

Uncle Mike's birth certificate. He's the bottom left.
My great uncle Mike (Michelangelo)'s birth certificate! Carmine Tomasulo was his father, Filomena Fortannascere was his mother. This record verified the first one! I had found my great great grandmother!

From looking through these records and this gentlemen's database, I've been able to find about 200 of my ancestors and their extended families! I've taken over a hundred family names to the temple already! I was baptized and confirmed for Filomena Fortannascere! My mom did her Initiatory. I can't wait to be endowed so I can do more work for the dead.

Here is a picture of my ancestors that I'm doing the work for.

The Tomasulos.
My great-grandmother Nellie is on the bottom, second from the left. These are some of her siblings and their spouses.

And this is my great-grandmother.

Nellie Pavone.
Né Livia Tomasulo.
How amazing it is to be doing all this work!

5. Learn to play guitar.

This isn't really a mission goal, more of a personal goal. I do have a guitar and I've been practicing pretty much ever since I've gotten back from Utah. I'm not amazing, but so much better than I was. I can play the song "Pompeii" by Bastille pretty well. This is that song.

If you don't see a video, here's the link.

Well, that's what I've been up to! I can't wait to get to Mexico!