Friday, July 30, 2010

Storm in Roma 2 30/07/2010


It is just a bit before 7pm here in Roma, and the thunder clouds that have come and gone all week long have finally joined forces covering the entire Roman sky in gray.  The thunder is echoing off every surface of the city, seemingly coming from every direction.  The streets are all the sudden filled with people rushing to get to where they need to be before the rain that is threatening to fall carries through.  Flashes of lightening fill the air, right before my window and off in the distance all in the same breath.  There is a new smell in the air, not the hot asphalt, sweat and trash that lingered in the sun, but the sweet smell of a coming rain.  Church bells compete with the crashing thunder.

I have been waiting all week for this moment.  I awoke this morning looking toward the sky praying that I would be able to witness this city as I have read of in books, with the lightening putting on a spectacular show as the thunder offers the sound effects.  And here I am sitting in the window watching it play out.

There is something about a rain that brings refreshment, and that is what today has been for me.  A day of refreshment.  A day to spend time with God, a day to thank my supporters as I wrote out over 40 post cards, a day to thank God for this city and the people in it.  A day to refocus and be refreshed before Language School begins on Monday.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We Are the Family of God

There is an old song that say's:

We are the Family of God, yes we are the Family of God and we gather together to be one in Him, and we will bring light to the world. 

Something like that anyway, I tried to find it on Google but, alas Google failed me.

Song or not, these words ring as true as the bells here in Rome.  As I sat sipping on my cappuccino this morning waiting for church to begin listening to the bells of Rome I was saddened.  Because though the bells rang loud and clear, their message fell on mostly deaf ears.  No one around me even took notice, of the ding and dang and the bing, bing, bang competing for their attention.  Bells calling out reminding people of that now was the time to Worship.  But all over this vast city the cathedrals are nearly empty.  Empty of people, of passion and of purpose.

The church I have attended the weeks I have been here, is anything but empty.  Indeed it is filled to the brim, with 5 people sitting in pews made for 4 and a few chairs added at the end, leaving no room for personal space.  Personal space, is something most Americans value.  Not so here.  Which as I think about it in connection with the body of Christ is a beautiful thing.  You cannot come to church here and be alone, you may not have a pew or a row of theater seats to yourself.  You will not go unnoticed.   Is that not perhaps how it should be.  Both at church and at our home fellowship group (and many other day to day meeting's in Italy) it is customary to greet one another with a kiss on each cheek.   (I double checked with Sarah as to which cheek goes first, so as not to meet in the middle)

Friends let me tell you that this more than anything else thus far has been on my heart and mind.  All through the New Testament we see the instruction and mention of greeting each other with a holy kiss.  Up until my time in Haiti and now here, that seemed like one of those parts in Scripture that was cultural and did not apply to me, but here I am in the midst of a culture where this is still the norm.  I have been dwelling on this since my time in Haiti, where my first instinct was to dodge the germ ridden kisses, for fear of what I might catch, but my second instinct of politeness won out thankfully.  And the more time I spend greeting my brothers and sisters in Christ with a kiss the more I have come to appreciate this instruction.

As I spoke with Sarah about it she wisely pointed out that it is hard to come to worship holding a grudge here, because you know you will have to be kissing each person.  There is no avoiding the interaction.  Like I said above you will not have personal space, and I think Church, that this is something we ought to consider.  How beautiful it is to come into a community of believers, to be personally greeted, and stuffed into a pew with people, to feel instantly part of the whole, part of the family, part of the community, loved and acknowledged.  So perhaps even though it is not our American cultural norm it should in fact be a Christian cultural norm.  "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

12th day at 12pm in Rome

Today marks my 12th day living in Rome. ( I was going to title the blog; The Twelve Days of Roma, but decided that would make this a very long and drawn out blog with a stupid title. )

I awoke after my second night of good sleep in a row.  This is because on Sunday I found the only open store in my neighborhood and bought a fan and ear plugs.  The fan because it has been roasting here, 38C which is 100F plus the humidity.  And the ear plugs because every night about 11pm a festival down the street begins to play Jazz for a few hours, and then at 12:30am (00:30) - 4am there is some sort of club or party happening every night playing a loud thumping base.  So, after two good nights of sleep, I awoke at 7am to get ready for my big day.

I got up got ready found directions to the Remax Office online.  Checked my Facebook, where everyone had commented on the pictures of the apartment I am considering renting.  Most comments were not encouraging.  But I finished getting ready, and decided I had time enough to stop at my new favorite neighborhood coffee bar and start the morning right with a Cafe Freddo.  Yummy goodness.

I finished my coffee just in time to jump aboard the 628 Bus and head all the way across Rome to the Remax Office where I was meeting with Brian and the team there to write a proposal for the apartment I looked at last week.  I was feeling a bit anxious about the apartment after all my facebook comments, so on my walk from the bus to the office I talked to God, and let Him know my hearts concerns.  He promptly reminded me of John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Just what I need to hear.  We met with the lovely agents, who kindly spoke in English for my benefit, we got the proposal all worked out and signed and stamped.  (they love to stamp things here in Italy)
They took my proposal to the Condominium Owners meeting today and I should get an answer soon. 

I want to stop and thank those of you who gave me your honest opinion on the apartment, even though it looks like I did not listen, know that I did.  I double/triple checked with Brian and Sarah and the people at Remax and all agree that this is a Sweet deal, in a fantastic and safe neighborhood in Rome.  They are all very in favor of me getting into this place.  I even asked Brian if he would let his daughter live there, and he assured me he would.

So folks, there you have it one more thing accomplished.  Thus far we have gotten me all my official papers, and an Italian bank account, and now with my apartment proposal in I can safely say we have accomplished all the main things we needed to do before Brian and Sarah leave for the States for a few months.

I am also happy to report I have gotten the chance to attend two church services in Italian and have had the privilege and joy of attending our Home Fellowship Group twice and picnic once.  The group that we meet with to study the word of God is so exciting to me because it is so diverse and passion filled.

In attendance thus far there have been 3 sisters from Moldova, 2 brothers and their uncle from Bangladesh, 1 girl from France, 1 Italian and 1 girl (my current roomie) from Australia plus 7 of u from the US.  Normally there are a few more Italians and some guys from Albania.  We have a great time together, eating, sharing life, and digging deep into the Word of God.  Pray that those who do not know the God of the Bible yet would come into a deep personal relationship with Him.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What to Say

It has been Friday here for quite a few hours, though it is just 6:38 am in CA it is 15:38pm here in Rome.  I have been up for 6 hours but it seems like at least 24.  Who knew you could see and walk so much in one day?  My mission today was to simply explore my new neighborhood, to get a lay of the land, to pick up a few things.  Today there was a Bus and Metro Strike (common here) so Brian and Sarah, my team leaders said to just spend the day exploring by foot.  So that is what I did.

I would love to tell you I had a fantastic time, but that is not so.  Sure there were good points, and I saw a lot of cool things, but it is CALDO (HOT) here, and the sun beat on my skin all day long.  And I not being the stick figure I hope to be after living here for sometime and walking like I did today, was feeling it as I finally approached home, and my legs were sticking together, meaning that just because my feet were moving forward did not mean my thighs were coming along without a fight.  Ahh what I wouldn't give to get rid of my inner thighs.  (Which if things continue on like they did to day may just rub themselves away)  I apologize if this is too much of a visual, but someone else should feel my pain.

I said there were good points.  I found the old city wall, not hard.  (to find, the wall is hard.)  Then I meandered through the walking arch and found myself facing the Terme Di Caracalla, a huge area covered in ruins of what used to be one massive Roman Bath.  Somehow bath just doesn't fit.  It was more like a elite spa/country club if you ask me.  Spread out over a huge expansive area, which I traipsed all about taking pictures, and trying to envision the Toga wearing pool party that must have always been taking place when Caracalla was opened in 217AD.  The space is now used for Opera's and theater productions, and I have to admit it would be a great venue.  It is also serving as a home to some of the most obnoxious birds I have ever heard.  Yes, even the Seagulls speak a different language here in Roma.  They are crazy sounding, reminiscent of The Joker's laugh  in the last Batman movie.  The Seagulls are not alone in their annoying calls, they were surrounded by other much more invisible birds and I still cannot describe the sound they make.  Some where between loud telephone wires, and nails on a chalk board and a dentist drill all amplified and in surround sound.

Roma is a city of noise.  A fact that somehow helps me to sleep, but can grind on your last nerve in the heat of the mid afternoon sun.  There are sirens constantly, which either means the cops and ambulance drivers just enjoy making noise or there are a lot of issues in this city.  There is constant traffic and horns, and engines.  There is the sound of the birds, the people, the construction the buses that are driving by empty.

I walked through the noise all the way to San Giovanni Church, though I was too hot and exhausted to try to cross the crazy traffic to go inside, maybe tomorrow.  Then I found it, the store I had happened upon last night, a new department store called Coin.  Did I mention it is 4 stories of air conditioned loveliness?!  I meandered about, and made my way all the way to the top, to use the restroom.  Which by the way looked out upon San Giovanni.  As I stepped out I saw it, a salon, it was calling my name,  "Come, sit, get your sweaty hair washed, and cut, and feel much better."  So I did.  I had wanted to get my hair chopped before I left for Roma, but there had not been time or money.  Now that I had enough of both I decided to brave my first Italian hair cut, I fumbled through asking for prices, and explaining that I would love it if they wouldn't mind cutting my nasty sticky hair off.  They wisely handed me some hair style magazines which I quickly flipped through and chose my new look.  My hair dresser Massimiuano seemed pleased with my choice, and sent me back to get my hair washed!!!  What a nice feeling.  I was returned to him, much cleaner, and he set to work promptly cutting my hair with confidence.  He made it look just like the picture, so I think I can safely say that I have found my new hair stylist here in Roma!

I left there feeling much more put together and less like a half drowned animal.  I wandered back into the heat, found a pharmacy, bought some sunscreen, found a store with cheap sunglasses (because I forgot my wonderful brand new ones at home) purchased a pair and then finally found a spot to eat something.  Originally when I headed out this morning I had intended on finding a coffee bar and having some little bite, but I had been unsuccessful and thus did not eat until after 2pm.

Lunch was lovely, I was surrounded by art, over my table hung The Last Supper and across from me was a painting of Moulin Rouge, ah, Roma the constant intermix of the sacred and profane.

Me and my thighs shuffled home, made it to the 9th floor of my building, and my third fight with the 100 year old lock and won.  Maybe someday soon it will just give up the fight and let me in the first time I turn the key.  Maybe.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

All Roads Do Lead to Rome

It was a long Road that's for sure, but now after 30 years of following God's path I have made it to Rome.  As I write I am gazing out over the city, with the Colosseum just beyond the trees, and Circus Maximums to my left along with part of the Ancient city wall.  The breeze is a welcome companion as it blows through my open window, carrying with it the sounds from the streets below.  I plan on exploring those same streets tomorrow, as there is a planned strike, and I won't be leaving my neighborhood till later in the evening to attend Home Group.  I know there are 2 parks, lots of shops, I saw 3 desert places, and a few home stores.  Tomorrow I will also go get a keys made at the hardware store just in case I should lose my set.  Tonight I am heading over to Brian and Sarah's for dinner and will attempt to make it there on my own, jet lag and all, and then back again I suppose.

More later, my eyes are tired.  Thanks for all you have done to get me to this, my new home.