"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Friday, October 31, 2008

let me love You anew.

as i was making scrambled eggs for breakfast, philippe reminded me of how beautiful the view is. how many people get to wake up, look out the window, and see a view like this? it's incredible.i've only been here a month and a half, and already the view began to seem mundane. when you see the same beauty over and over again, does it lose its beauty? does it lose its perfection? or is it only the perception of the viewer? because our view of the adriatic sea every morning? it doesn't change. it's still just as beautiful. but i lose sight of that beauty.

i wonder if it's the same way with God. when i'm close to Him, everything seems so beautiful, so wonderful, so new and ... perfect. and then i grow accustomed to it. i lose sight of the real beauty of knowing and being close to the Lord. the beautiful becomes the mundane. the thing is, it isn't the Lord's beauty that changes, but only my perception of it.

it's like when you're reading a good book. if you put it down for a while, you usually forget just how good it was. you have to go back, reread parts of it so that you can get excited again about that book. when i'm not close to Lord, i don't know what i'm missing out on. if i don't read my Bible, i forget how wonderful it is. if i stop talking to Jesus, i forget how much i loved spending time with Him.

Jesus, open my eyes to your beauty again.
in the words of shane and shane, i want to yearn for you. i want to burn with passion over you.
this life doesn't mean anything without Jesus.
let us see this beautiful view anew every morning. let us never fall into a mundane Christianity.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

random things..

a few random things..

thing number one.
i realized last weekend just how picky i am at doing the dishes. it's ridiculous, i know. but it's true. everything must be rinsed well before i wash them otherwise they leave floaties. and i can't have any floaties in the water. you know, chunks of food or lettuce or anything. if there are floaties i remove them immediately. if there are no more suds on the top, there isn't enough soap to actually clean the dishes, so i refill the sink. maybe i'm crazy, maybe i'm OCD.. but i won't do dishes any other way. oh, and i only wash one dish at a time, so i don't put any in the water to just sit in the water and wait to be washed.

thing number two.
they sell wine in juice boxes here. like the kind with straws and everything. crazy :)

thing number three.
at the grocery store the other day, cristiana's cousin assumed that philippe and i were married. philippe is 45. it was weird. that has never happened to me before. at least not with a man so much older than me. we laughed. but i still thought it was weird.

thing number four.
this weekend is full of traveling. i'm excited :)

thing number five.
milk here is not refrigerated until it's opened. so you can buy 4 boxes (yes, it comes it boxes, too. like rice milk in the states comes in boxes.) of milk and they'll last you a couple of weeks. they won't go bad. it's pretty nice.

thing number six.
i made some really good tomatoes last night. well, i didn't make the tomatoes. but i made the oil/salt/basil mixture to dip them in. it was delicious!

thing number seven.
the wine that cristiana's parents make is potent. it's not bad, but it definitely isn't the wine that i'm used to. so i just assumed that, in general, wine in italy is stronger. but philippe bought a bottle of sicilian red wine (the best wine in italy is supposed to come from sicily) last night, and it was much better. not only much better, it was really really good. i'd highly recommend it.

i think that's enough random things for now. i need to get back to work.
but have no fear, a real update is on the way. and by "real" i mean that it will talk about the majority of my life here instead of my random thoughts :)

oh. and.
today is the halfway mark.
6 weeks left.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

i'm going to update soon. i promise :)
and p.s. God is good. even when my emotions are up and down every day. (bipolar? hm.. i don't think so but it feels like it sometimes).
He is doing some great things here... i just need to be open to seeing them and acknowledging them for what they are.
that's all for now.. i need my sleep!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Adoro Gesù

(translation: I worship Jesus)

as hard as the last few days have been, my spirits have now been lifted.
1) worship music does wonders for a person's attitude.
2) miracles do happen...

yesterday they took out the respirator/ventilator thing and he could breath on his own! he was/is weak, but he's improving. and tomorrow morning they are going to put in a pacemaker that they had said in the past they couldn't put in. prayers, even from around the world, are heard. how exciting :)

also, i'm going to this youth conference in Bari, a city about 3 hours south of here. it's going to be great...
the title, "perque io vinco", means "because I win." the theme is based on 1 John 5:4, which says, "For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith."

it's next saturday. and then sunday/monday we're going on another road trip. assisi and sienna here we come!
i'm excited.

so. i feel like i've been on a kind of emotional rollercoaster. or just a big drop and then a big, sudden hill. the thing is, it happened before i even found out about my uncle doing so much better. the Lord does great things, huh?

let us press on to know Him
let us press hard into Him
and as surely as the coming of the dawn
He will respond
oh, that we might know the Lord...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

handed over.

I'm a little bit tired... I'm a little bit jaded...
And I need someone to tell me "you can make it..."
I'm a little bit tired... I'm a little bit jaded...
And I need someone to tell me "you can make it..."

I know your fear and I still believe you can descend without the wings to fly... And in time you'll carry your food for ammunition compass strength across the wire now...

gavin mikhail
handed over

Monday, October 20, 2008

dizzy. kids. food. uncle.

a lot has happened this week since i last updated.

wednesday morning i woke up and was too dizzy to even stand up. so i didn't go to the office. thursday they told me to stay at the base again and take it easy so that i didn't get sick again. laying in bed is not one of my favorite things.

so friday and saturday were full of scrambling to put together the program for the park, which went very very well. it was cloudy and a little chilly so there were less kids, but it was still a good time.
afterwards, we went out for pizza. good pizza. i think all pizza here is good though. i also had this little breaded/fried thing that had a zucchini flower in it.. it was good.

sunday morning was church, which was pretty good... and THEN we went to cristiana's parents' house where we had an incredible meal. seriously, it was authentic italian food and soo good! appetizer was tomatoes with basil leaves on bread. next was (i forgot the name of it..) a type of lasagna that's made with pasta that is already cooked. the pasta was like fettucini, but wider and shorter. it was wonderful but the portions were huge.
that was followed by some cooked greens, an eggplant/garlic dish, and sausage cooked over the fire.
watermelon for dessert.

i sat next to cristiana's father who told me all about an old general in the army, how to make a kind of scrambled eggs, and told me that i had a lot of siblings. most of this took a long time for me to understand, but still it was great. that man is so loving, so joyful, so full of the Lord, it's incredible. he started telling a funny story and put his arm around me, and every time he laughed, he would pull me close to share his joy. i had no idea what he was talking about, but it made me feel loved.

today. my mom told me that my uncle john is in ICU at a hospital in georgia, where he lives. he's had a degenerative heart disease for a while now, but i didn't realize it was progressing this quickly. basically, he's on a ventilator/respirator right now, but the part of his heart that is causing the problem is inoperable. the outcome doesn't look good.
please pray for a miracle.

i also got a ticket today. on the bus. because i didn't punch my ticket as i got on because my hands were full of groceries. go figure that the one time i don't punch my ticket, there's a guy checking tickets. argh.

it hasn't been a good day.
and i want to go home.
not just because of today, though. because of a lot of things.
i need more encouragement from the Lord.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

andiamo a fare spese

(translation: we go shopping)

i'm working on creating a small curriculum to teach conversational english. lessons start next week :)
at the same time, i am learning even more italian in the process. exciting!

did you know that milk is not refrigerated here until you open it? kind of like a jar of jam.. not refrigerated until it's opened. weird. so we buy these boxes of milk that don't expire until december. weird.

and every time i go to the grocery store, i find something else that is so different than at home. like last week... they had rabbits for sale. and by rabbits, i mean whole rabbits sold the same way that chicken breasts are wrapped/styrofoam-plated. including the head. it was gross. apparently the meat is pretty good, though. hm.

i'm tired. and we just got a lot more things to work on this week. including having the children's program for the park planned out by 1pm tomorrow. ouch. better get moving on that!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

finally some encouragement :)

this was definitely an encouraging week, for a lot of reasons. granted, it started out horribly, it ended soo well.

first of all, there's an american woman named megan who is here in pescara. she came over to be a mormon missionary, but she fell in love with and married an italian man who isn't a mormon, therefore ostracizing herself from the mormon church. well, her husband is the real estate guy who we rent the church building/office from, so she stops in every couple of weeks. this week, she stopped in for the sole purpose of inviting me over for dinner sometime, and to a halloween movie party she's having. it was soo encouraging! seriously, she came just to see me, and i had only met her once before. how nice! and she's shown an interest in spiritual things concerning christianity, since she can't go to the mormon church anymore, so it may be a good opportunity to help her a little closer to becoming a christian.. exciting :)

and then.. i made a fun catapult one day to use when i talk about david and goliath at the children's program in the future. that was just a little thing, but still fun.

and then came saturday morning, when i realized i hadn't put up signs at the park for the program. and i felt soo bad, because it was finally a beautiful day, not raining or anything, and i thought i had ruined the opportunity to have the program at the park again. bleh. i felt terrible about it. but we went anyway, and the park was just teeming with kids and their parents!! seriously, it was nothing like parks in green bay, because there were hundreds of people in the 1-block-radius park. anyway, we started setting up the puppet curtain and everything, and kids came and sat right down in front of us. it was crazy that they were so excited and ready for a program like that. it went well, and there were about 25 kids there!!

i talked about God's love for us, and how it never runs out. we used the story of the lost sheep as a puppet show for it, and then they all made a little sheep with cotton, and put them on straws so they could do their own puppet shows at home. it was soo great.

what was even more encouraging, though, was this one lady who came up to me and talked to me for a while before the program even started. her child was only 2, so the girl was too young to participate, really, but the mom hung around the whole time watching and laughing and everything. it was great. the greatest part, though, was that she really pursued a conversation with me. she didn't speak hardly any english, and i speak hardly any italian, and yet she kept on pursuing it. i loved it! it's so easy most of the time to just give up and you end up just smiling and nodding in awkward silence, but she kept on trying to get me to talk to her, to understand italian, and to relate to me by talking about different cities in america that she has been to. it was so encouraging.

after the program at the park, we went out for kabob sandwiches (but not like the lebanese ones from al khaymeih this summer, these were almost like gyros, only you got to choose from tons of vegetables and sauces and meats to put in it) and home-made gelato. it was wonderful :)

the week has ended so well, i couldn't have asked for it to go better.
praise God for the encouragement i needed at just the right time!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jesus, use me here.

kjieri gave me this song last spring when i was so restless at moody.
these lyrics, by everybodyduck, have been a theme song for yesterday
and today, and will probably be for a good length of time.
it's hard to be here. but here are the lyrics :)

Use Me Here, Where I am,
I'm not gonna pray anymore that You'll change Your plans.
Despite my fear, I place my life in Your hands.
The future can wait, tomorrow might be too late,
So Jesus use me here.

I lay my hearts desires at your feet, o Lord.
Take all the plans I've made and all my dreams.
Blinded by triumphs of tomorrow,
I've let sin control today.
So many drowning within reach.
Father, it's time You heard me say... (chorus)

I tell myself I want to know Your will, O Lord.
Still I confess I've had plans of my own.
But from now on I plan to listen to Your will and to obey.
No matter what the future holds, I'm gonna live for You today.

Use Me Here, Where I am,
I'm not gonna pray anymore that You'll change Your plans.
Despite my fear, I place my life in Your hands.
The future can wait, tomorrow might be too late,
So Jesus use me here.
Use me here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

i can't bear it now.

"There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can't bear it now." -John 16:12.

i wonder how many times Jesus thinks that of his people here on earth. if we aren't close to him, why should he tell us things? how can we possibly bear what he has to say to us if we aren't leaning on him to support us?

Jesus, help us to be so close that we can bear the things you want to tell us.

on a much lighter note, i just found this picture:
yes, it's a pay phone. in a lake in uganda. apparently it's a new solar-powered technology.
crazy, huh?

this morning at the bus stop i had a conversation with an old man who didn't know any english (except for "thank you" and "yes"). it was fun :) he was pretty excited that he knew how to say those two words in english. and then i taught him "you're welcome" in english.

i could understand almost everything he was saying, i just couldn't respond in italian very well. at least my listening comprehension is getting better, now i just have to learn how to speak it, right? it'll come with time :)

by the end of the conversation, i think the man thought we were students at the university. either that or maybe he thought that we were on a mission to travel around italy to a lot of different cities as tourists. (because i tried to tell him we were working for Youth with a Mission, but i couldn't communicate that it's an organization. hm...) anyway, i hope i have more opportunities to talk to people in that way :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

tempeste, burattini, e copre con moquette

(translation: storms, puppets, and carpet)

today is saturday, which means that it's the big day when my primary work for the week is supposed to go into action! saturday is the day that we have the children's program at the park. saturday is the day when, every week, it starts pouring rain shortly before the program is supposed to start.

today is no exception. about 15 minutes ago, the skies broke open with thunder and rain. they say that a storm like this will most likely turn into hail.

and we even had a puppet show prepared. :(

it makes me wonder, though, if we are not supposed to be focusing our energy on the park, but somewhere else. i just wonder why this has happened three weeks in a row. there must be a reason, but we definitely cannot get discouraged.

you know what else i miss about home? carpet. everything here is tile.
i miss the softness under my feet. a small thing, yes, but still i miss it.

do you ever get tired of being with people?
because this week, even though i feel alone, i am surrounded by people that i wish i could spend time away from.
is that weird? i don't mean to be rude, but i sometimes just need time to myself, when i can process, when i can have my own space, when i can just be me.
and right here, right now, that's hard to do.

here's my verse of the day:
jeremiah 31:3b - "I love you with an everlasting love. So I will continue to show you my kindness."
an everlasting love :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

yes, i'm american. please rip me off.

i just went down to this kid's toy shop (kind of like that, anyways..) because they also have a copy machine. we needed to make copies of signs to put up in the park to advertise our program for tomorrow afternoon.

now, i went to this shop once before with giuseppe and he got copies for 7 cents each. i went by myself later that same day and got copies for 7 cents each. but at the end of my interaction with the woman, she asked me a question and i didn't understand what she was asking. that clued her in that i wasn't a native and i didn't speak the language.

so i went in today, bringing exact change for the 7 copies i needed at 7 cents each. when she was done, she told me it was 70 cents. that means 10 cents per copy. i tried to communicate that i knew it was supposed to be 7 cents each, but i didn't know the right phrases to use. argh... i wasn't happy.

why do they think they can rip me off just because i don't know the language? i still know my numbers, thank you very much. i'm not happy. and it makes me all the more motivated to learn italian so i can tell that woman next time i go in that i know it's only 7 cents per copy.

did losing 21 cents really make me that frustrated? hmm...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

gli autobus, precettori, e l'hummous.

(translation: buses, tutors, and hummus.)

this morning i decided to catch the 7:40 bus instead of the 8:20 so that i would get to the church earlier to get more work done. what i didn't realize was that there are buses that are exactly the same as the city buses that run in the morning, but they take kids to school instead of taking the normal routes. so there are actually three different buses that run past the base at 7:40 in the morning.

so, unknowingly, i wave for the first one to stop. i thought it strange that there were no adults on the bus, but shook it off because it was taking the same route as usual. within the next few stops, there were other adults on the bus, so i felt more confident in my decision to get on this bus.

go figure that about a mile and three quarters away from the church, the bus turned off to go a different direction. ouch. so i get off at the first stop, but that wasn't for another quarter mile. so i got off and walked to church. i got there at about 8:30. it was a nice morning stroll through a beautiful park. a good time to think, pray, and get mentally ready for the day :)

i just felt like an idiot. a hit to the ego, i guess :) tomorrow i think i'll look a little closer at what the little screen says on the front of the bus...

on a much better note... i was given more responsibility today, which means more things to work on, which means that i won't have to piddle around trying to find things to do. it's a good thing. a very good thing.
AND i talked to andy today about helping me learn italian, so from here on out, i'll have a real live italian tutor! i'm excited.

kay, i'm going to go and learn how to conjugate italian verbs before i leave the church! on the way home, i'm buying garbanzo beans to make more hummus. again, i'm excited :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

i miss.... a lot of things.

on saturday afternoon we were supposed to have a program for children at the park. the week had been so rainy so we prayed and prayed that we would have sun for the program. all day saturday was beautiful and sunny! and then a half hour before we were supposed to start, it poured. for a long time.

so we went out for pizza and gelato instead. they don't eat dinner here until about 8 or 9 at night, which is a lot later than at home. so we were all pretty hungry. good thing, because the pizza was great.

on sunday afternoon, ed and irene left to travel italy for a week before going back home to colorado. it was weird not seeing them on monday, and to be honest, that's when i started feeling lonely. i knew it would hit at some point, but i didn't think it would be this soon. i miss familiar faces. i miss conversations with references to a past that we both experienced. i miss even the simple things like actually being able to communicate with the cashier at the fresh produce store around the corner.

i know i went through this same thing on a smaller scale when i worked at camp the first summer, when i moved to iowa, and when i moved to chicago. but somehow this time is different. and harder. it must be the distance.

my mom sent me this psalm today to encourage me:

I lift up my eyes to the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

it's true of the Lord no matter where i am. He never changes, never wavers, and never leaves. Lord, help me to remember that and to cling to it.

on a lighter note... josh comes today. he's the guy from minnesota who is coming to work here until the beginning of december. his flight was supposed to get in early this afternoon, but he hasn't called yet and it's almost 8pm. hm...

on an even lighter note, cristiana and i found oatmeal at the grocery store today! they don't usually sell it here in italy, so it was an exciting find :)

that's all for now.
i'm going to enjoy my homemade hummos with crackers for dinner!