Tuesday, August 12, 2008 0 comments

Train to the Future

Today, I am on a train to Rapallo, near Genova.  Matteo and I are going to spend a few days with Nadia and her family at their house by the sea.  I've finally come out from under the clouds that covered Milan, and it is a beautiful evening here in the mountains we're crossing—or, we would be if we weren't mostly in tunnels.   Matteo will stay until Saturday; I will probably return to Milan Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.   I have things I need to work on before going to the convegno in Firenze next week.  It's a little strange—while writing this I keep thinking in Italian and translating back into English. 
I can't get out of my head today the book I just read—A Touch of Betrayal by Catherine Palmer.   It's one of series of four, of which Tammy has and I borrow the second and third.   I read the second first, but the third one I read twice because I wasn't ready to get out of the story yet.  I think the titles of her books are a little overdramatic, but I enjoyed the stories.  The books are Christian romance novels, which I love, even though I don't always want to admit that, being a serious former English major and all, that I like such fluff.  But, it's wonderful just to read for the pleasure and escapism of it, something I just don't do as much as I used to. 
It's wonderful, too, to read books written about people who live in my "real world," –people who follow a code of morality and whose relationship with God is a part of day-to-day life   It's something refreshing to me in today's culture where God and spiritual things are completely left out of popular entertainment.  I wish we were more open to talk about our spiritual lives.  That's probably the most important reason I have for wanting a husband someday—I want someone to be mutually accountable with, someone to pray with, to talk about my spiritual ups and downs, to encourage each other.   I want to raise my children to be truly integrated—not to compartmentalize spirituality from other aspects of life; I know I often have.  Growing up, it seemed we so rarely talked about our faith.  We prayed together at meals, but almost never at any other times.  I want to be more comfortable sharing that part of life together.   I'm hoping things will be different now that Dad also had become a Christian,  We need to take advantage of the spiritual high the family is on now to talk more openly.  It's also something I need to put into my work here in a much bigger way.   I'm more of a project person—I plan things, do thing, teach—but I'm not as good at building deeper relationships.  I get along well with everybody, but often at a fairly superficial level.   I need to find a way to work in more discussion of where people are spiritually and their highs and lows; I need to work towards more meaningful conversation.  It is difficult when I only see most of the church members briefly after the service on Sunday.   I need to make it a priority to find a way to spend more time with individuals outside of church activities; I would like to invited people over to my place for lunch, but I haven't yet as I didn't know if people would really want to come all the way out to my place; it's out of the way for most of my friends.  But, maybe they would. 
Back to the book I mentioned earlier—the series is set in various parts of Africa, and is about three sisters and a brother, as adults; as they find love, find God, etc.  My head has been in Africa all day.  I would love to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Now, there is a motivation to get in shape!  Grant, the man in the story, is an anthropologist living with the Maasai; he is studying their stories and myths, and trying to write down all these important parts of the heritage before the children all go off to the city and the ancient culture is lost.  It sounds like a wonderful work.  I've though the last few years that I would go back to grad school, and then teach English literature.   But, it seems so meaningless in the grand scheme of things, to be wrapped up in the minutiae of academia.  I want to be involved in missions; I would like to study languages, cultures—to travel.  And yet, somehow it seems selfish or unwise to live my life like I want to live it.  What I really want to do is, after next summer when I finish my commitment here in Milan, is to find somewhere else to go to teach English (or whatever other job is available), and learn another language.  I think I could learn Spanish fairly easily, now that I speak Italian—I can already understand it pretty well.  I was reading online the other day that English teachers can earn quite a bit of money in Korea.   However, I really need better certification.   And, I don't know if I'm brave enough to move to Asia, to a country I've never seen, with such a very different culture.   But, somehow, I would like to learn another language, and I want to travel. 
There are people who save up some money, and then just go travel—backpack around the world.   Why not me?  Then I think—it would be more responsible to get a job, earn money, settle down—but why?  You only live once.  The only thing really stopping me is wondering what mom will say.   Everybody will think I'm crazy—but I just want to be free.   And I don't have a husband or children, my parents are still young and in good health—so to who is it irresponsible?  But how do those who backpack find the money to do it?  I, so far in life, haven't been very good at making money.  But it has been worth it—I wouldn't trade the time I've spent doing mission work in Italy for a high paying but lifeless job in an office.   Somehow, I want to see the world.  And then, after a few more years, I do want to marry and have children.  I often feel that biological clock ticking—the older I get, the more I look forward to having children.   I've come across several websites on homeschooling lately—it's something I'm very interested in.  
And then there's finding someone to marry.  Reading these romance books make me wonder if I'll ever find anyone to feel that strongly about to feel that way about me.  I daydream, but in reality—I'm not the type you find in romance novels   I know God has a plan for me, and that he will send the right person into my life, so it isn't something that I spend a lot of time really worrying about.  It's just that sometimes I feel lonely for someone I haven't met yet.   Usually I'm fine—I'm happy being single, and I'm not at a point where I want to settle down.   But sometimes—it seems to be about a month out of the year or so—when it seems I feel lonely more than usual.  It hasn't been too bad yet this year (it was downright depressing last year, around May), but still I want someone to talk to, to tell all those little details of everyday life.  I can talk to Mom about most things, but as close as we are, there are still things she doesn't understand—some, because we are of different generations, and some because I live in a different culture.  She doesn't know the people I know or how they think, or the ups and downs of life as a missionary.  And besides, it's expensive to call the U.S.!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 1 comments

My Dad!

Hello everyone! Over the years, I've talked a lot about my Dad, and I know many of you have prayed with me that some day, he would find God and become a Christian. Well, that day finally came! On Sunday, June 8, he was baptized. Of course, my entire family is ecstatic! He's been searching for many years now, and he's finally decided to take that step. My mother said that she just finds herself laughing, she's so happy. She's been praying for him for thirty-two years now (the time they were dating, and the twenty-nine years they've been married). Thanks to all of you who have prayed for him over the years, and please keep praying now as he begins this new life!
Thursday, January 31, 2008 0 comments

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is having a good new year. For New Year's Eve (called Capodanno here, the cap of the year), we had a party at the church building. We brought food and ate together, both the traditional lenticche and cotacchino (lentils and some sort of pork) as well as a potluck assortment of other meat and side dishes. Eating together with the church is often interesting here--the congregation is so multicultural (there's typically at least nine nationalities represented on a Sunday morning) that at potlucks you might try various recipes from all over the world--Chinese pasta, a type of rice dish from Ghana, American hamburgers, etc. I took some chips and dip as well as my favorite pumpkin muffins.

After we ate, we played some games and had a bit of a talent show, or as Lewis put it, a talent-less show. The highlight of this was Mario, who was once the Italian roller-skating champion, and now twenty years later is still quite comfortable on wheels. We also wrote down how to say 'Hello, how are you?' in all the languages represented. (See photo). Then we spent some time singing together, and then prayed together as the new year began.

After getting the new year off to a good start, the first three weeks of January were rainy and dreary. It didn't rain to hard, but a good steady drizzle for three weeks will drive you crazy. We did get a good snow one, about the same time it snowed a bit there, and it was quite beautiful for a few hours, but after two days of snow, it changed back to rain so we had mostly slush. Finally, about a week ago, the sun came out again and the weather has been wonderful the last week, sunny and actually clear enough (doesn't happen often with the incredible smog here) to see the Alps in the distance several days in a row. I have included here a picture from my balcony from the first day I could see the mountains, once the trees finally lost enough leaves. I've never seen them quite so clearly again. It always amazes me on the few clear days we can see the Alps from here--they aren't far at all. How in the world can we not always see those huge mountains that are right there?? But, with the smog, it's a rare day that you would know there were mountains at all. The three weeks of gloom, I certainly have appreciated the sun this week. I now understand why people get seasonal affective disorder.