Oh man, what happened? Has it really been 5 months since I came back? It’s all a blur. Since January I’ve been trying to update you all on what’s going on, and have failed miserably. I blame it on the cold.
Lots of things got in the way, I got blind-sided once or twice and had to take some time to pull myself together, but I’m back on my feet now. So here’s a brief summary of what’s been happening:
Poppi and Florence
In October I was asked to take the position of outreach coordinator at church. Shortly thereafter, I was asked to attend a forum in Poppi, which is in Tuscany.
I remember this place from when I was studying in Florence. The Adventist church owns property there with cabins and a conference room, and they often hold retreats there. It’s in a beautiful wooded area in the mountains, and autumn was in full swing.
This forum was to discuss projects and challenges to outreach within our congregations, so we got to hear a lot of feedback and ideas from pastors, elders and other outreach coordinators. I participated in a small group that discussed the role that “catechism” (in the broad sense of teaching doctrine to the members of the church) plays in outreach.
But the BESTEST part was meeting up with old friends!! So many people I knew from Florence are now pastors and leaders in the church. Getting re-acquainted with them and seeing their surprise when they recognized me was beyond adequate words. It was a great break for a short time, and I hope to catch up more with these people in the future.
On the way back, I had about 3 hours in Florence to revisit my old stomping grounds while waiting for my train. Florence has a magic about it that Verona just doesn’t have, and I miss being closer to it. Maybe soon I’ll have the chance??
Christmas and New Year’s
The time between that trip and Christmas break is a little hazy. I haven’t been getting much work at the school, so I’ve been filling hours with online classes, which means lots of running back and forth from home to school and back again. Frankly, it’s exhausting.
Christmas break, therefore, was a welcome reprieve. On Christmas eve, I went to Beatrice and Radu’s house, where we had a nice dinner, then we ladies sat downstairs watching Pride and Prejudice while the men watched TV upstairs.
The next day, a friend from church came and picked me up, and we went to her house where we had dinner with a big group of Brazilians. Sharing a meal with Brazilians is definitely something you should add to your bucket list if you haven’t done it already. Most fun I had had in months!
For New Year’s, Valerio invited me to a dinner with some of his friends. We ate, goofed off, took some silly pictures, ate some more… and in general it was a great time to relax.
Matteo, who I’ve met before, lives in Mestre, which is just outside of Venice. Matteo is also an artist and his apartment is BEATIFUL, with his handmade manger scene being the decoration that dazzled me the most.
He lives on one of the top floors of a large apartment building overlooking the city, and when the proverbial ball dropped, we could see probably five different fireworks shows all across the skyline.
The next day we went together to Venice. Matteo attended high school in Venice, so knows his way around quite well. and we were further blessed with some sunshine. I saw parts of Venice that I didn’t know before and with some excellent company!
Ten Days of Prayer
Every year in January, the Adventist church holds 10 days of prayer, and we held this at church every evening for 10 days. This was really a blessing. There were those who came every night, and those who only came occasionally, but it was a good reminder of how prayer is really essential for the soul. Our topic this year was “Abiding in Christ”.
When Israel was wandering through the desert, God ordered, “Let them build me a sanctuary that I might dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8) Through this period of prayer, it struck me as never before the significance of God coming and dwelling among us. God wants to be close to the ones He loves. He’s not a god that hides away and makes us jump through hoops to get close to Him. This has been forefront in my thoughts since the end of this period of fasting and prayer.
What’s up next?
Something happened over the last couple of weeks that really woke me up to the fact that I’m not taking full advantage of my time. Basically I was facing some serious burnout. My schedule is constant moving and classes and lesson planning and dealing with certain people who are real emotional vampires, and by the time I get home I sit on the computer for hours on end just staring at youtube or FB, because doing anything productive or constructive felt like it would take too much energy and emotion.
But I want to do great things. Over Christmas I was talking with Beatrice, and long story short, it somehow got into my head… wouldn’t it be great to have an Adventist academy here in Italy? Go figure, we have the 2nd largest private school system in the world (behind the Catholic church) and there are NO schools here outside of the seminary. This to me is a travesty. So I’m slowly making plans, all on paper at the moment and with a lot of prayer, that this might become a reality. If anyone has any contacts who could pitch in with this, let me know!
I also want to be a little more creative with my blogs, so taking the cues from a photographer friend of mine, I’m hoping to start uploading videos. Stay tuned…
Lastly, I’ve started making little plans for trips I’d like to make, because for my own psychological wellbeing I need a change of scenery every now and again. Easter weekend I’ll be going with Beatrice and her daughter on a whirlwind trip to Romania (only 3 days, 2 nights). I’ve also come across an interesting little spot in Torino that I’m dying to go see, but you’ll have to stay patient for that one!
Finally, I’m hoping to attend a leadership certification event in Florence in May, which will be useful for some of the ministry ideas I’ve been brewing as well as for opening the school. This will be interesting since I tend to be the youngest person at any of these events. It’s always a very strange sensation.
So now you’re all updated! More to come!