Friday, January 28, 2011

La Posta

Today arrived a package that was sent from California on Dec 4th.  Today is January 28th.  This package has been here in Italy since before Christmas according to the tracking but for whatever reason, assuming there is one it only just arrived today.  The box was stuffed full of wonderful Christmas presents from my good friend Renee.  She had so badly wanted it to get here for Christmas, but alas this is Italy and it just wasn't to be.

I remember reading somewhere, that the mail system in Italy is so bad that when they get too much of it they just burn piles of it.  I doubt that it is true, but nonetheless should I someday come across a pile of burning mail I will not be shocked.

Italy is a beautiful country with wonderful food and great history and fantastic art.  It is not however a very how shall I put it, efficient county.  From what I have seen this is generally accepted and thus continues.  My package for example:

Sent Dec 4th
Made it though customs Dec 13th
And ever since then they promise they have tired to deliver it almost every day according to the online tracking on the US side.
However there was no one knocking on my door or leaving me package slips until last week.
When the guy finally did make it to my door the first time it was while I was home sick with the flu, otherwise I would have been at school. He came and wanted 60 Euros for the package.  When I told him I did not have 60 Euros on me he said, "Non posso lasciare il pacchetto senza pagamento." roughly well then you cannot have the gift.
I told him I would be here the following Monday in the afternoon with the money, he promised to return then with my gift.
I waited all afternoon Monday for his return.
Tuesday I was out of town, Wednesday when I got home from school there was a sticky note message from the post office saying to call about my package.  I took the note with me to school the next day and my teacher kindly called for me, as I do not have all the vocab necessary for this conversation.  Whomever she talked to told her to call a different number, we did and finally were informed that my package was already returning to the States.
That was yesterday.  Today the guy shows up again wanting 60 Euros which I would have had on me if they had not told me it was already heading back across the Atlantic.   Again he said, "Non posso lasciare il pacchetto senza pagamento." To which I replied after studying Italian all day long, "Mi hanno detto che stava tornando negli Stati Uniti quindi non hanno i soldi e non ho mai sono qui quando si arriva. Vorrei che il mio pacchetto, quindi sto per andare in banca, e si può portare il pacco in 20 min. Va bene?!" Basically, listen buddy enough is enough, I want the package, I will run to the ATM and get the money and you can come back in 20 min.

And 54 days and 20 min after Renee sent me the package I actually got it, opened it and loved it.

Just a little picture of trying to get things done in Italy. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

12:04 am

Okay well now it is 12:05 am and I just got home from leading (in Italian) our Friday night Bible Study.  It was my first time actually leading the lesson which to be sure is much more challenging in a second language.   It is one thing to be prepared, to know your material and to have your questions ready, but it is quite another thing to be prepared to lead a discussion, because there is really no telling how people will respond so you cannot possibly have all the words and concepts you will need ahead of time.  But God is good, and our group is filled with grace and understanding and patience. 

I used a short video clip called Vinyl about a guy who looses a record he loves and searches his whole apartment looking for it.  When he finds it he throws a party and invites all his friends.  It is a silent film except for the music.  After watching the film we dove into our discussion and then dug into scripture and read the story of the woman who lost 1 of her 10 coins.  We continued discussing the similarities and differences in these stories as well as what they show us about God and then what our new found knowledge requires of us now.

Overall I think things went pretty well. 

Normally this would be the end of a week of school and the beginning of my weekend, but this month we have school on Saturdays to make up for the days we missed during our Christmas break.  So now that it is 12:16am I am heading to bed so that I can get up bright and early and head to school.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Today is Epiphany in short the day we (Christians though it varies by region and denomination) remember the Magi who brought gifts to Jesus after his birth.  It turns out that traditionally speaking this is the day Italians used to give and receive gifts.  According to Italian tradition the Magi stopped at the home of an old witch Befana on their way to find the Christ Child hoping to get directions. They invited Befana a very ugly but very kind witch to join them on their quest to visit the Christ Child, but Befana was so intent on keeping her house clean that she turned them down.  They went on their way.  Later the shepherds came by and invited her to go with them to see the new baby, but still Befana chose to stay. Later Befana regretted her decision to stay home and clean house so she gathered toys that used to belong to her child who had died and she set out on her own to give gifts to the baby Jesus.  Befana searched and searched but never found Jesus.  So now every January the 5th Italian children hang stockings and Befana flies on her broom to each home bestowing gifts and candy to all the good children hoping to someday find Jesus.  She also sweeps up the houses she visits, as she has her broom handy and loves a clean house.  On January 6th Epiphany Italian children wake hoping to find goodies and not coal in their stockings.  Now since the arrival of Papa Natale (Santa) in Italy the Italians get the joy of gifts on Christmas December 25th and then again on Epiphany January 6th, which marks the end of their winter holiday season.

Some say that the tradition of Befana actually stemmed out of an old Roman pagan tradition of going to visit an old woman to have your signs read during the festival of Saturnalia  As the Catholic Church altered many previously pagan celebrations it is thought that Befana took the place of the old woman.