My mom asked me via facebook if I have been surprised by anything; not at first, but then I thought about the elderly population here and that they are so out and about. On public transportation, meeting with friends that they have likely known their whole life, wandering the streets, going about their business. I love it.
I was also caught off guard by my own journal entry. I laid down on my bed to write and what poured out on to the pages was not descriptions of the beautiful sites, or my day, it was my heart. Let me share...
9 years ago I like millions before me threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain with the hope that the folklore would in fact become reality. Now here I am living the dream of millions of people throughout the ages-I have returned to the city that I loved at first sight. This time not only as a tourist but as a future resident. So my vision is different, which is as it should be, seeing as I am on my vision trip.
A trip set up to help me more fully understand the ministry that God has invited me to join Him in. To meet my team leaders, to get a firsthand look at what it will mean to live here in the midst of a passionate people who want to experience life but who (for the most part) do not have a personal relationship with the giver of life. A people who feast on bread and wine but have not experienced the freedom and forgiveness it represents. A city known throughout the world as the center of the Church, but that is dying spiritually. These are the people God is inviting me to share with about His love, forgiveness, and life, what a privilege and a joy to get to share with them true passion - the passion of the Christ as well as the Passion I have for Christ. What an awesome responsibility.
(this is not to say that there are no Christian's here. Of course there are, but there are so many others who have yet to discover the love of Jesus.)
It is only my second day here and already it is clear that I was created to live here. It is a part of me. Even though I am seeing the trash on the streets, the graffiti everywhere and the dog crap along the sidewalks - the more real side of Roman life, it is not enough to kill my love for this place and these people.
Both days we have spent a good chunk of it out and about. You could never be truly bored here. It is just impossible. Nothing here will let you be that lame. There are more things to see that you could experience in a lifetime. (not to mention all the things you cannot see) And more is still being unearthed. Churches built upon churches that are built upon pagan temples. Chapels decorated with human remains, by priests who made it their life purpose to not let the dead saints be forgotten. I am telling you people are passionate here. (even about really odd things like dead saints)
There are gardens and roads everywhere and more sky than I know what to do with. If somehow you ran out of things to see, then you could spend an eternity people watching. It is fantastic. Like a soap opera, beautiful people engaged in lively conversations, or making music or just driving like crazy people. There are about 4-5 million people who call Rome home, and that is not counting the millions just passing through. Each one with their own story, Can you imagine the beautiful tapestry that would weave? Like giving life to life story upon story all tied together by they fact that they were each knit together by the Master Creator. He who is holding all the threads together.
Try, just try to wrap your mind around the vastness that this city represents, the possibilities the heart of God. I cannot, I only have but a glimpse of this city of ruins, filled with life but headed towards spiritual death. A people who have what many can only dream of and yet without Christ have nothing at all. It breaks my heart. As it should. Yet there is a hope that is tangible here as well. I can see God pulling all the strings together weaving all the lives of His people to tell His story.
Of course there are Brian and Sarah but more than that we share a passion for an organic people-relational ministry a ministry of strong theology that is Christ centered. Then there are the partners that God is providing, a few local churches, people from Campus Crusade and possibly Young Life International and churches in the states with a passion for planting churches here. God is good. And He loves these people so it is such a blessing to be a part of that pouring out of His love and affection.
That my friends was the journal entry that surprised me, it is typed here as it appears in my journal, so don't mind the roughness, or rawness expressed, I had not written it with the intention of sharing it, but you need to know my heart is beating a little differently here.
[I know that some of my statements were vast generalizations...it was a journal entry not a research paper...please hear my heart, not get caught up in the details]
And of course a few of my favorite pics of the day...
This is one view from the roof of the apartment, as Brian pointed out, even if we only ever reached the people here it would be 1000's.
Brian and Sarah at the park with me for our first team meeting! Brian went and grabbed us some espresso! My kind of staff meeting. (right dad?)
This is the Trinita Church right at the top of the Spanish Steps. Beautiful, no?
I loved that the hotel decided to let you know who made the fountain. It is King Triton in case you were unsure.