Monday, January 30, 2006

Leaving... on a jetplane...

Well, it is hard to believe that my time here has come to an end. It seems like for so long I have been talking about this trip, and now it is over! My flight is tomorrow (Tuesday) at 8:30 AM. Rome is about two and a half hours away from here, so we are planning to leave at about 3:30 AM. Yikes! My connection is in Munich and then on to LAX.

I think last time I wrote I had just been able to move in here with Antonio and Dolores. It has been nice being in their home, despite the challenges--a broken furnace and a broken washing machine! It is a good thing I brought a lot of clothes. :) See, it pays to be a girl at times.

Being in the house has allowed me to get to know them better and also to see what their daily schedule is like. I have sat at the computer with Antonio and seen a little of what he does. He had me edit a vision statement that they had drawn up for NTM Italia. It was good to have some work to do, and working so closely on the vision statement kind of cemented some things in my head.

The ministry they are doing here is unique for NTM. They have a dual ministry--serving as representatives for NTM and being involved in a church plant in the city of Campobasso. We have talked about ways I could be involved in both. Antonio needs a lot of administrative-type help in the office, which I have a lot of experience doing. He has also talked about my being involved in following up with people who are interested in serving with NTM in some way, whether it is going to Bible school, going on a short-term trip, etc. He would like to have someone who can develop a relationship with those who are interested and answer their questions. I might even be involved in going on some of the short-term trips or taking people to the NTM Bible school in England to check it out. On the church plant side, we have talked about helping with the music in some capacity and also developing relationships/doing discipleship with young girls or women.

Of course the first thing I will have to do is learn Italian! :) I have been able to understand a little, thanks to my Spanish. However, I would probably come and first take a chunk of time to study and learn the language.

On the lighter side, I have done a little traveling around this area. Last weekend we went to Termoli, which is on the coast. We met some missionaries there, and they showed me a medieval village. By the time we got there, though, it was evening and VERY cold, so we did a rather quick run through. I did get to eat gelato while I was there, which made me happy. :) Here in this area they do not have gelato due to the weather, so I was glad to find some there!

This weekend we went to Napoli to visit another missionary couple. They are considering coming to work in this area, so it was fun to meet them--potential future co-workers if God leads us both here. I have to say that I was kind of shocked when we got there because Napoli is a huge city, and it is extremely dirty. There is trash everywhere, and most of the buildings are very run down. Antonio and Dolores said it is the only city in Italy that is that way. Also, the people drive like maniacs! I am grateful we got there and back safely. :)

One interesting thing I did get to see in Napoli is the third-largest amphitheater in Italy. The others are in Rome and Verona. The ruins are actually in pretty good shape, and we got to go down underneath to where the gladiators and the Christians would have been. There were a lot of columns, carvings, and statues here and there--some very deteriorated and others in fairly decent condition.

Well, I should probably wrap this up. I need to head upstairs and do my final packing. When I get back and have an opportunity, I will post some pictures of my time here.


Monday, January 23, 2006


I hope I am able to type as this is an international keyboard, and my fingers are mostly frozen as I write this!

I really have not had a chance to sit down at a computer for a long period of time since I arrived. A few days ago I did get some time, and I used it to call my parents on Skype (free through the computer). It was a much-needed conversation, as I had not spoken with someone at home since I arrived.

Let me back up... I arrived in Holland on January 11th, and my friend Femke was there to pick me up. I was starving, so my first meal in Europe was Burger King in the airport! I have learned that in Europe everything is smaller than in the US, and they also take every opportunity to charge you for small things like ketchup for your french fries. Yikes!

Anyhow, I will not give a blow by blow of my time in Holland because I would be here forever. I will try to summarize. I stayed with Femke in her college flat, otherwise known as an apartment, for a couple of days. She shares it with 5 other girls, and her room is very small, so it was quite an adventure, but we made it work! She is going to college to become a teacher, so I attended class with her. The classes were quite different than anything I am accustomed to; it was an interesting window into education in another country.

It is common for students to go home on the weekends, so we went to the home of her grandparents (I cannot find the apostrophe on this keyboard!). We spent a couple of days there, or rather we slept there. During the day, we took the train to various locations, including Gouda (where Gouda cheese comes from), Utrecht, and Amsterdam. It seems like almost all cities in Holland have a canal system running through the center of town, which is very picturesque. Many of the stereotypes are true: there are windmills everywhere, there are bicycles EVERYWHERE, and they do eat a lot of cheese, bread, and potatoes. However, I did not see anyone wearing wooden shoes! This, apparently, is not common anymore.

I had a wonderful visit with Femke, and I really got to see quite a few things in the short time I had there. We went to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, which was extremely interesting, and we also went to a museum which houses some of the work of Rembrandt. I have to confess, though, that I do not get excited about looking at endless paintings of people posing in chairs, etc. I guess I am not very cultured after all.

I certainly will not get fat here; I do not think I have ever walked more in my life! Actually, I have really enjoyed it; however, when it is freezing outside, it does tend to dampen the spirits a tad.

Anyhow, moving on... On Monday (the 16th) I left Holland and flew to Rome via Dublin, which geographically did not make any sense but financially it did! It took me about 2 hours to get through immigration, etc, in Rome, which was rather unexpected and rather distressing. I was afraid Antonio Marino would eventually give up and leave, but thank the Lord he did not! Apparently, several 400 passenger planes arrived from other countries all at the same time and completely bogged down the passport control line. Oh well, it was a good cultural experience!

I was not able to stay with the Marinos right away. They had gone to Panama for the holidays (to visit relatives) and had some trouble getting back here. Consequently, only Antonio and Anna (his older daughter) were here when I arrived, and it did not seem a good idea for me to stay in the house without his wife being here. For the first few days I stayed with an Italian couple (believers) who were wonderful and very hospitable but barely spoke a word of English! Somehow we communicated, though, and had fun in the process.

On Thursday, Dolores and Sofia (the younger daughter) flew back from Panama, and I was able to come stay here at the house, which was very nice as I was craving clear communication. Antonio and Dolores live in a little town called Pietracatella, which is a short drive from a slightly larger city called Campobasso. They are both up in the mountains, but Pietracatella is higher. If you picture a little village high in the mountains where everyone knows each other and the buildings are all thousands of years old, you have Pietracatella! It is very stereotypical and very beautiful as well. The view is unbelievable!

It is a very picturesque spot, but it is definitely not a tourist trap, so I kind of stand out. The other day I walked around with my camera, and everyone stared at me as I walked by. It is just the camera that stands out, though, because I do not look that different.

Anyhow, I am starting to ramble on here. I have had a very interesting visit with Antonio and Dolores. I now have a much better picture of what they are doing here and how I could possibly fit into the ministry, etc. Over the weekend I attended a small gathering of believers, which is the beginnings of a church--very exciting! If I get another chance on the computer, I can write a bit more on that subject.

I should go because Antonio is back from town, and he will most likely need the computer soon. He is battling with the heating system, which is broken. He has somehow acquired two wood stoves, which are not really working properly. Mostly we get smoke, not heat! So you can picture me all bundled up in layers and layers in a freezing house in the mountains of Italy--smelling like I just came from a campfire! Ah, the joys of missions...

Hope this finds you all well. I am sorry I have not been able to post pictures so far. I would need help as I am not familiar with this system, and Antonio is already so busy that I hate to ask him. If I do not figure it out, I shall do it when I get back to the US!

Ciao for now...

Friday, January 06, 2006

California Dreamin'

Well, the holiday rush is through. It seems like this year was a little different than other years with Christmas and New Years falling on a Sunday. I know it threw some of our family traditions off, but it was a good reminder of what should come first--celebrating Christ's birth! We had a really nice service at my parents' home church in San Jose.

Currently I find myself in San Gabriel (the LA area) at my grandparents' house. I spent Christmas with my parents, my other grandparents, and my brother up in San Jose, and then my parents and I came down here for New Years.

Mom and Dad are leaving tomorrow morning, but I will stay for a few more days. On Tuesday I begin my trip! :) Can't believe it's already here... I will fly to Amsterdam and spend 4 days with a friend there, and then I'm off to Italy for 2 weeks to meet the Marinos and see what NTM is doing in Italy.

I'm mostly ready to go, although there are always the last-minute details to take care of. Ah, there I go ending my sentence with a preposition... shame, shame!

Thanks to all of you who posted comments; it was an encouragement as I forge ahead in this new technological enterprise! :)

Cheerio, and the next time I post, it will be from the Continent! AHHHH!!!! :)