November 2007


Last week I had not one, not two … but three Thanksgivings. Let’s just say by the second one, I was so ready to be done eating. J

The first Thanksgiving was Thursday night for the Italian Church. Kathy basically does the whole thing by herself, with some help here and there. I tried to be as much of a help to her as I could. Thursday I had my language classes, so I could only help her for a few hours in the morning, and then during the meal. Frank put me in charge of decorating the bulletin board, which was really interesting. He asked me if I was creative, and I was like, no not really. I enjoy making scrapbooks, but that’s about the extent of my creativity. And even then, I’m not very creative. So, last week began the project of the decorations…

My friend, Thomas, offered to help me, for which I was so thankful! You see, not only am I not creative, but I don’t have a printer to print things; nor do I have a Wal-Mart to run to in order to get supplies. This really made life interesting! How do you make decorations when you have no supplies and no creative genes in your body?? By the grace of God alone! J Thankfully, Thomas can print out things at his university for a pretty inexpensive price. So we found some Thanksgiving coloring pages online – yes that’s right, coloring pages. What else am I going to do when I can’t draw a turkey?? He printed out several things and he and another girl colored and painted them. I did have one creative thought amidst this – write out “thank you” in each language represented in our church or people who might be at the Thanksgiving dinners, which includes the following: Italian, English, Tagolog, French, Arabic, Spanish, Ukrainian, and German. I was pleased with the way those turned out. I also used pictures on my computer of typical fall, nature scenes and put verses on them. I needed to print these at Thomas’ university. At this point it’s Tuesday – two days before Thanksgiving and one day before we’re supposed to decorate. I went with Thomas to print the things, but I realized when I got on the bus that the pages had fallen out of my bag between the university and the bus. So after retracing all of our steps and missing a few buses and being really late to where I was supposed to be next … I had made no progress. So now I’m without a key part of the decorations and no place to print them. Thomas’ university was closed on Wednesday for a holiday, so what was I going to do. Thankfully, Thomas found a place we could print at near the church on Wednesday … or so we thought. We walked around trying to find some places, asking different stores if they made color copies … no success. Finally, someone tells us there is a Mailboxes Etc. nearby. After searching for it for awhile, we found it and were so excited! Well, then the guy had problems printing our things and it took forever and a year … but we finally had success!! We got the board decorated Wednesday night, with Kathy rewarding us with a piece of apple pie with ice cream when we were finished. J Frank was really pleased with the way the board turned out. Oh, and Lewis thanks, because we did reuse some of your leaves and pumpkins! J

So, why do I tell this long, ridiculous story … as a reminder that life in America is generally easier. If I were home doing these things, I would have had supplies easily accessible. I would have had several stores close to my house at which I could print things. I would have had a stapler that you can staple things right to the wall with (you know, the kind that opens up and goes flat?) instead of having to use push pins and try to cover them. It reminds me of a missionary story I heard once. A missionary in the Czech Republic tried to buy his wife a simple cake for her birthday. This project that would have taken maybe an hour in the States took an entire day for him. Those are the little (but seemingly big in the moment) frustrations of missionary life. J

The dinner went well that night. People seemed to really enjoy the food. There was a time of sharing where the mic was passed around to everyone and they all shared something for which they are thankful. Now, I was told that there was a time of sharing, but I thought it was like Sunday mornings where whoever wants to share something stands up and shares. Well, I didn’t catch on until the mic was a few people away from me that the mic was being passed down the table (apparently I was not paying very close attention). But I thought since I can’t share in Italian, I won’t be asked to … well that was a wrong assumption. I said in Italian that I don’t speak Italian, but Frank wasn’t satisfied with that. He said they could translate. So, I managed to mutter out something. For the next dinner, I was a little more prepared. J

I had invited a few people to come that night, but none of them did. Although, I later found out one of them came, saw the parking lot was full, and left. The other people I invited had other things going on. They were appreciative of my invitation, and I was thankful to at least have the opportunity to invite them. I continue to pray for opportunities build a relationship with them and to speak to these people about the Lord (as much as I can in Italian, anyways).

Here are a few pictures of the evening and the decorations. I will continue with another post about Thanksgiving at a later time, since this turned into a rather long story! J

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Time of giving thanks

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My little buddy, Simone! He’s the King’s grandson.

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My artistic ability … haha!

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Taking silly pictures with our decorations J

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I don’t know if you are aware, but the dollar is very low vs. the euro. It has been steadily declining since I got here. As you think of missionaries in Europe, I would ask you to please pray for them, because things are very expensive. The Lord has been so faithful to me as I have been blessed over and over again to see the way He provides.

If you’re interested you can click here to read an article from November 20th, and here to see one from September when I arrived here in regards to the dollar vs. the euro.

Ok, so here is the latest plan. Now, as the Lord keeps reminding me, His plan prevails, not mine. So this may very well change. But as of right now, this is what things look like.

As I stated in an earlier post, I am coming home December 14th. I will be applying for a student visa, and Lord willing, return to Italy at the end of January. Today I enrolled at another language school for February – July. Then, I will return home in August.

The Lord has been so gracious to provide the necessary finances to do this. I am trusting that He will continue to provide. I am now starting to look for a place to live and figure out what exactly would be the best living situation. I cannot return to the apartment that I am in now – someone else is moving in when I move out. Kathy has offered that I am always welcome to live with them. I would ask for you to pray for wisdom for this, because I’m not sure what to do. I will be going to language class in Venice 5 days a week, which makes my present commute quite long and tedious. But if I live in Venice, I’m far away from the Church and the people here that I’ve developed relationships with. Also, the price of rent is very high in Venice. So, pray that the Lord would guide me to the perfect place.

Lord willing, I will be in Southern CA around January 16-20. I hope those of you in SoCal will be around, because I can’t wait to see you!

Tonight, I attended my 3rd Thanksgiving dinner in the last 4 days. Let’s just say I’m ready for this wonderful holiday to end. 🙂 I will post and show you all pictures in the next few days, as I am headed to bed now. But I just took a look at my last few posts and noticed the shocking lack of pictures, so I wanted to at least put one up.

Thursday I got to talk to my family, who was all together at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. There’s a program called Skype, which allows you to talk from computer to computer via the internet, with video! This was awesome, because it was like I was there with them for Thanksgiving! My cousin walked “me” (a.k.a. her laptop) around and I got to talk to everyone. I even got to go outside and watch the boys play. Way too fun. I got to talk to my cousin’s little boy, who is talking way more now than when I left (he’s two, I believe) in September. I took a picture of the screen when I was talking to him. He is trying to hand me a candy corn – which is one of my favorite candies, and my family so rudely at them in front of me the whole time we talked!!   

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If that’s not adorable, I don’t know what is! 🙂

Please remember to pray for the Thanksgiving dinners we are having – one Thursday night and one Saturday night. This is a great outreach opportunity. We are supposed to have around 65 people at the dinner Thursday, and from what I understand, a lot of them will be unbelievers. I have been able to invite a few people. I am pretty sure I have one or two guests coming Saturday, and possibly one Thursday night.

 I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! 🙂 Enjoy spending time with your family and friends. And don’t forget to be thankful! We have so much to praise the Lord for – just read Ephesians 1-2!

I am finally answering a question I received about language school (I’m sorry I didn’t respond to this sooner). Here is what I was asked in a previous comment:

“Language school, is that a fun thing for you? Or is that something of a chore?”

Yes and yes.  J  

I have always enjoyed learning words and phrases in other languages; I find it fascinating. Anyone I know who is not American can probably testify that I ask, “How do you say _____ in your language?” In High School, I took 3 years of Spanish and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also took one year of Biblical Greek as a Bible major at Masters, and although this was a time consuming and difficult language to learn, I loved it! When I came to Italy for a week in November 2005 (which by the way, it was 2 years ago now that God began directing my heart toward Italy!), I tried to learn as many Italian phrases as I could. I was the official language person in our group – it was my job to learn the basic phrases that we might need. So fun! My favorite phrase from that week was “mi piace” which means “I like it.”

I studied a little Italian before I came to Italy in September. I did not learn a lot because it was during my senior year of college; between school and being an RA, the Italian language was not high on the list of priorities. Since I have come to Italy though, those informal Italian lessons with Cristina (from my Italian Fellowship Group)have proved invaluable. I came here knowing how to say my name, age, ask “how are you?” and the responses, and a few other random words and phrases. She also taught us the pronunciation of the letters, which has been incredibly helpful! I seriously would have had a much more difficult time without that foundation. Something that helped me with this is the way we memorized verses in Italian. Even though I did not understand all of the words, I learned how to pronounce them.

That is a history of my language background. Now on to my language class in particular. Sometimes it is very fun and enjoyable, but I would have to be honest and say it is usually a chore. The class is taught by way of total immersion – the professor only speaks Italian. I find learning a language this way very hard. I remember the first day of class – I felt so stupid and clueless. I left knowing I had class on Thursday, and I was just hoping I understood correctly what the homework assignment was. I could not communicate to anyone in my class, because they were all from foreign countries. I have felt all along like I am at a disadvantage. The majority of the other students speak either French, Spanish, or Portuguese, which are all similar to Italian. Also, most of them had arrived in Italy before me, so they already knew more than me. And I think most of them have Italian roommates and classes at the university (in Italian) … so all in all, they are way ahead of me! This makes class very difficult, because my classmates all seem to understand what the professor is saying all of the time, and I don’t!

I really like the Italian language and I am really enjoying learning it. There are many times though when I just get frustrated because I feel like I am not progressing. I feel like I’m not immersed in Italian enough to really learn it – I’m around English too much. But, God gives me little glimmers of hope amidst the fog of darkness which envelops me at times.

On Sunday I got to go out to eat two times, which was a lot of fun. For lunch after church, I went to a restaurant in a location where supposedly Napoleon came through (no idea if that is fact or rumor). It was a nice restaurant and the food was so good! We had a couple antipasti (appetizers), one of which was a meat slices with mozzarella cheese. I asked what the meats were, because there were quite a few and they did not look like the ones I’m used to. I was told there was prosciutto (ham), pork, and turkey. Well, he did not tell me what all of the meats were, and I just assumed that it was different kinds of ham, pork, etc. Prosciutto is very common here, and you can have prosciutto crudo, which is cured ham, or prosciutto cotto, which is cooked ham. Both are very good (esp. the cured). I took several pieces of the prosciutto crudo, and I was really enjoying it. After we were done, we were talking about the kinds of meat and I asked what the one was that I liked. He said it was beef. And then there was a disagreement at the table that it was not beef. Then, I was told that usually that meat is horse. I think I might have had a look of surprise on my face, and I asked him if he was serious … and he was. So, even after saying I wouldn’t eat horse in an earlier post, I did. And the funny thing is, I really liked it! J

That night, I went out to eat with a group of Italians (plus one Filipino) at a Chinese restaurant. It just made me laugh that I was going out for Chinese, and honestly I was a little scared. It was really good though, and I enjoyed it.

An interesting fact … going out to eat at a restaurant is a very long process. I believe we spent over 2 and ½ hours at lunch. And I think we spent that long at dinner too! I’m used to spending maybe an hour at a restaurant I the states, 1 and ½ hours max though. And usually in the states, if you spend 2 hours in a restaurant it’s because it’s really busy or there’s bad service, but that is not the case here. The Italians eat in courses, so it just takes a long time. In America our food all comes on one plate, except maybe the salad and dessert.

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