Tuesday, August 12, 2008

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.!


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