This has nothing to do with me in Rome, but it is my niece, and she is adorable (Leeny, hope you don't mind me putting her on my blog)The reason for the title of this post is because in the past week I have probably met 15...ok more like 7 or 8 Andrea's. Before you start thinking, "oooo Chris is trying to pick up girls in Rome," Andrea is the Italian version of Andrew. And most of them are pretty cool kids.
Before I dive into this week, go to www.indianagazette.com and click to go to the pumpkin contest...vote for the Frumkin Family entry... it is my friend and c-ruleinrome consistent blog commenter Greg's nephew. So vote for him and hook a little kid up.
Also, check out this short story .... great stuff coming out of the Rabbit Room, so check it out.
As for life in Rome, well it goes on crazy hectic fast but fun. This past week was wild as we tried to evaluate how our first week went and how to move forward. One of the things we decided was to not have La Bella Vita this week and instead have a student party where we had fun but also sought to get into spiritual conversations. So, to find out how that party went on Friday, keep reading... as I describe the events leading up to that.
Ever have a conversation that you walk away from and think, what just happened? I had a number of those this week; some were good "what just happened" and others were in a "did I make any sense there?" One thing I am continuing to learn is how I need trust God more in presenting the Gospel. I struck up a conversation with a guy named Max this week because he was reading a English music magazine. He liked to listen to Christian hard rock because he said he likes that music and their songs have a positive message. We talked about the Gospel but I am pretty sure I butchered it in my attempt to communicate what I wanted to communicate. I think it is easy for me to get so caught up in the goal and the excitement that I don't listen very well (either to what God is saying or the person I was talking to). The least I can do is trust God to use our conversation. I am glad he is in control in the end and I am not.
One conversation that went terrific was with Maria-Vittoria and Ricardo, two Physics students. Great people, fun to talk to, both agnostic. I asked Ricardo at one point why he was agnostic. He responded, "I searched for God for a couple of years and couldn't find him, so I don't know if he exists." He said he would need a physical manifestation of God to believe, as would Maria-Vittoria. Kanda (who I was sharing with) asked that if you saw a physical manifestation, would you believe it or would you just try to explain how it could happen naturally? Great question, and Maria said she would probably try to explain it away. Good honesty, even if it is sad to me. But then she hit me up with this money question. "Why do you believe what you believe?" And you know what? I didn't have an immediate answer. What I would have liked to say (but didn't) is because it is too real to me. I have read enough about Jesus, seen His work in others lives, that I am absolutely convinced that Jesus is real. For me, when it gets down to it, if I didn't follow Jesus, it would be a choice. I dont think there will never be a point where I will say Jesus doesn't exist and isn't the Son of God and one with God; it is a choice of will I follow or not, not is He who He says or not. I think that is the question that it ends up boiling down to. Will you follow or not? If you have questions about this, please email me.
Some of the most exciting conversation I have had have been with people who don't speak English very well. Both with a these two guys Daniele and Simone and with another two guys Ricardo and Andrea: man, our conversations were so amazing but a lot of it was trying to figure out what the other person was saying. Someone watching us would probably scratch their head, confused by the mixture of languages and hand motions. And believe me, after such a conversation, you use hand motions like life is a game of charades. Both conversations with these guys went great. Daniele and Simone were friendly enough to grab cafe with us, talk about life and decisions, and the Gospel. Me and Joel are hopefully going to meet up with them this week. Ricardo and Andrea came to our party on Friday.... which leads in to the party.
First of all, let me surprise you all and say that I hate hosting parties. I hate that first half-hour. I feel like a kid on his first date, desperately trying to impress yet feeling as if there is a squirrel running around inside (dont ask why a squirrel, but butterflies are boring). So I was pacing the apartment at the stroke of 7:30 (when our party began), wanting to escape somewhere, anywhere but there. Yet, faithless though I am, our party was soon rocking. Seriously, the turnout was much higher than I expected. Highlights included Matt Reis belting out opera for Andrea (another Andrea that I invited), talking to Ricardo and Andrea (different than the one I just mentioned) for a couple of hours about their slice of Paradise and a short film that we watched, and finally leaving at midnight to go to bed, exhausted. It was so encouraging to have so many people there and to get to meet so many more Italians.
Some final thoughts (because I am exhausted right now)... I think I have the gift of tongues. I say that jokingly yet half serious because of the fact that I had some conversations entirely in Italian last week. I don't know exactly how it happens but God constantly brings to mind what I have learned when I am talking with students. If you tested me right now, I would probably fail, but this past week, it was fun. Also, I was walking home today thinking about the dilemma of this blog... how personal do I get? How vulnerable do I make myself for all you readers? So here is what I was thinking about that prompted these thoughts... sin sucks. Serious, it is sometimes and all-or-nothing throw down battle with Satan. He doesn't want me telling people about Jesus and he doesn't want me living the way Jesus wants. So he fights for my mind, my thoughts, my actions. So pray for me with that. Also, one thing I have realized (over and over and over again), when I don't connect with God, something is missing and I turn to other things. For me, when I don't connect with God I either want a relationship or want some other thing to fill that void. It isn't even necessarily a relationship with a specific girl, it is simply wanting someone to fill that void that I should be filling with God. I don't recommend that... fill the void with God, it is much more satisfying.
Thanks for reading, much love to you all, and thanks so much to Jeremy and Katie who sent a package and Matt and Megan and Mom who have sent letters. Love you guys, you made me feel loved.