Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's Been a While

Journaling in my beloved Bar Agostini, my Cheers in Italy, where everyone knew my name (thanks for the pic Sara)
Ciao cari amici,
I apologize, it has been a while since I have last written. Have you missed me? I have missed you. I thought I would take some time to fill you in on life, God, and of course, music. I am back in the US of A, enjoying the comforts of Chipotle, peanut butter, and everything being in English. It is funny the things you miss when you are gone. Since it has been a while, I will start from the very beginning, a very good place to start (name that movie?).Our Team picture before Amos broke his leg on the scooters...

I left Italy June 4th, which seem like ages ago. I left after a debacle (in the kindest way) of a debrief, which ended with a lot of time in the hospital. It was a little strange saying goodbye to a country that had been home for the last 9 months. I mean, that is enough time for a new life, from start to finish, and I guess you could say that my life has changed in the last year, though I still have yet to figure out just how completely. It ended in a way that was only appropriate for STINT craziness; my Video system on the plan overseas didn't work, my plane to Columbus was delayed 2 hours, then I sat on
the plane for 3 hours without moving anywhere, then was told my flight was cancelled. I slept in the airport and me, Kanda and Sara all flew out the next morning, though I flew to Dayton, not Columbus, because there were no flights to Columbus. Ah, such was life on STINT in Italy.

I arrived home to family and friends. My sister Heather was living at my parents house with her beautiful three kids until their new home in North Carolina was ready to move into. Needless to say, I love being an uncle, but having kids (ages 5,3,1.8) live with you is an excellent form of birth control! I began work at Day Camp the day after I got home, so I haven't really had time to stop and breathe. I am the director once again for a Day Camp for my city and get to hang out and play games with 6-12 year-olds all day. So if you are wondering what my official title is, really it is a professional dodgeball player who happens to play other games. Hopefully by the time the summer is done, I will work off the pasta-belly I put on in Rome, stay alive, and return to Italy with some semblance of the Italian language left in my head.

Life in the States has been different and eventful. Believe it or not, I miss speaking Italian... a lot. I miss my Italian friends and life in a big city, and when I tried to cook my family (2 sisters, their husbands, and oldest brother and his wife, Mom and Dad) an Italian meal of Amatriciana, I missed Italian grocery stores too! Besides those things I miss, there are great things that have happened, like I bought a new computer! I am starting writing for a website in Nashville, so I will let
you know when the first article is published.

Despite all this, it has been easy to already settle into a comfortable routine. I like how God shakes me out of that. I was sitting in church on Sunday, trying to listen to the sermon, but God had other plans for me. The guy speaking would say something that would send my mind racing, but not necessarily along the lines of the sermon. I realized I have gotten too comfortable at home, too ready to push God out of the picture because I dont feel my need for God as drastically here. That doesn't mean my need has changed, but it is easier to ignore in comfortable America. I don't want to be that guy, that comfortable Christian who sits back and praises God on Sunday, lives a moral life, but never truly d
epends on God. I want to speak out, show Christ to those around me, learn how to life in the reality that I am a child of the King of Kings. The other thing I thought about while listening to the sermon was...

This is the one and only time this year I will talk about my need for money on this blog. I promise. I am raising money to go back to Italy and work with Agape Italia again next year and it is a sizeable sum. I trust that God can bring it in; I am excited to go back, help lead, and hopefully to see God's name glorified in Italy. If this blog has been an encouragement to you, if you are interested in Italy and Jesus, and are willing to hear me out a little more about this (no commitment, I promise, just hear me out), can you please email me at and let me know how to get in contact with you? To give you an idea of the amount, it roughly equals $40,000 for all the monthly
and one-time support I need. I would love to have your support financially and prayerfully for this next year.

OK, enough of that, more free music gems; I will be honest, I haven't listened to this group yet (someone I trust recommended it), but I downloaded this CD and have a road trip tomorrow and let's be honest, who dislikes a free album? So go to DOWNHERE and get a free album from the band called DownHere.

And the last official shot of the Roma STINT 07-08 Team... I love you guys.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I bravi ragazzi - a photo journey

The last week has been a whirlwind of craziness, something that makes me sit back and, this truly is Italy. I am leaving in less than 10 hours for America for the summer and not quite ready for it and not sure how to adjust to being back. I love it in Italy, I love my family and friends and Day Camp in the States... It is hard to say goodbye to a STINT team that has become family this year and to friends I have made here, but it is good to know that it is not a goodbye forever. We will see each other again and I hope in that. Hopefully in the States, I will post more regularily here, but for now, please enjoy a photo journey through some of my friends from this year and the craziness that was our Team Debrief on Elba Island.

Daniele is the first guy I knew here, being friends with the STINT team last year. He is a solid friend, brilliant with languages, and someone who is growing in his relationship with Jesus. I enjoy hanging out with him and look forward to it next year.
Claudio and his g/f are some people I met at English Club this year and are so much fun to hang out with. He is massively improving his English and every time we hang out, he seems to bring up God, which is a lot of fun to talk about with him. I think he is in process, figuring out more and more who we are, who Jesus is, and what that means for him.
Le ragazze - Maria Teresa, Federica and Ana are some of my favorite girls here. Always so much fun, true friends and Ana is my first and only "sorella peruviana."
The Roma Tre crew, Cesare, Emiliano and Manuela, are such good guys. While Cesare doesn't believe the same as I, he is a good friend to talk to and the other two are checking out who Jesus is. Emiliano is one of the highlights of my year, just how genuine and solid a guy he is and how willing he is to seek to follow Jesus. I look forward to hanging out more with him next year.
Giorgio and Alessandro are "good people", as some other friends would say. They are solid Catholic believers, encourage me every time we hang out, and genuinely want Jesus to use their lives. And they are stinking smart at physics.
This picture perfectly captures my relationship with Marco and Andrea... a little wild, Andrea being the instigator and Marco chilling... They are good friends that I have known for the whole year; Andrea is a legend at campus, a parkour genius, and a guy who is interested in Jesus but never has time for him... pray for this crazy, fun friend.
Mark is the only Scotch-Italian I know, and a good guy at that. He speaks perfect English with a sweet Scottish accent and his Dad cooks some great sausage (he had me over for dinner). I look forward to more conversations with him.
Valmir (Amos always feels the need to sing out his name, opera-style)! An Albanian friend, Valmir is a believer who is an all-star; not only does he hook me up with cheap food, but he loves Jesus and wants to follow Him and help others do the same.
Me, Simone and Matt, after cooking dinner and enjoying an evening of food, wine and great conversation together. Simone is a guy that I look forward to hanging out more with next year, as we check out together if Jesus really is the only way.
My good friend David, an atheist and communist who I get along great with. He has a big heart and though he claims to be a "lost soul", I am thankful God is in the business of "seeking and saving the lost."
Welcome to Team Debrief, where we went to the Island of Elba, did important stuff like trying to process through a years experience in a couple days and other stuff, like ride scooters (or motorini) around the island. I rocked out on this classic Vespa for the first part, then switched with L for a more powerful one (so I could drive other people too).
We stopped at this lovely little lookout and enjoyed the beautiful weather, the absolutely stunning sea and terrain of Elba and God's creation and something that Italy has perfected: gelato.
And this is how my time at Debrief concluded... Amos breaking his leg, lots of time in the hospital and having our final team meeting at the hospital, praying and celebrating what God has done throughout the year. And it has been a good year... and I thank God I am coming back next year to see what amazing things He will do then.