Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Night in Tornino

I attended an event tonight with I Ragazzi di Martedi Sera, the group that meets at Jason's house on tuesday night. It was a concert by Hillsong London hosted by Atleti di Cristo as an outreach. I had 6 hours of language school that lasted until I had to leave for Jason's house. I was unable to pick up my camera and was therefore "off-duty" for the night. 

Tonight was the first time I was able to sing praise and worship songs in english since I have been here. I absolutely love singing worship songs in Italian and I do feel like I am truly able to worship. However, english is my mother-tongue and "heart language." It is always going to be the language in which my heart feels and expresses. (and some days is the only language my tongue speaks!) 

The event was a success with 1,500 of people in attendance. Nicola always draws a large crowd and I think having Hillsong there brought believers from all over. Tomas Guzman, who is from Paraguay, is the current president of the group and Nicola, from Italia, is the vice president. They both shared their testimonies and did an amazing job. Though Bekah and Mael will be the only ones to truly appreciate this, I thought you might like to hear how beautiful it sounds to hear and Italian sharing their testimony. 

Tomas was PREACHING it! He pulled out the scripture and made an extremely clear gospel presentation. My Grandfather would be so proud! 


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This is part of Nicola's testimony. He did a very good job as well. The MC is a guy named Gianni, who is a sports commentator and also comes to Jason's on tuesday nights. Again, just an example: 
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whoops...

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have had my first language goof. I have heard so many stories of people saying extremely embarrassing things while learning a new language. I knew my doom was coming, though I am surprised it did not come sooner. (at least to my knowledge!) 

What I meant to say was "thanks for the language exchange." 

BUT

I definitely thanked Giovanni for exchanging tongues with me. 

Probably not something you want to say to an Italian guy. 

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning...

Like a Child

I have experienced many new emotions since I have entered into this new culture. Some were expected and others were surprises. I am now beginning to see how the situations that have revealed these emotions were uniquely designed by my Heavenly Father. 

The first emotion I experienced was loneliness. Not the kind of loneliness when you do not know anyone or are somehow unable to interact with other people. This loneliness is rather ironic; it comes from being surrounded by crowds of people every day and yet feeling completely isolated and unable to connect with them because of a language barrier that seemed at first to be monumental. For days on end, I felt like a premature baby in the NICU. I was completely isolated and longed for real human contact. I never realized how deep a desire it is for all humans to feel connected. However, during those times, my Father blessed me with an overwhelming sense of his presence holding my right hand and guiding my steps with his counsel. I learned that even this "instinctively human" need can be met by my savior during a time when He has asked me to pick up my cross and follow him. Though I am able to communicate much more now than I was when I first arrived, there are still days when I wish I could tell Giovanna, Sergio, and Agnese, those who work in the bakery downstairs and make my cappuccino in the mornings, the details of an experience or even express how special they are to me. (many people did tell me I would not be able to express my sense of humor in Italian for quite a while...but I think my sarcasm has translated quite well from day 1. I always seem to find a way to convey it!) Nonetheless, my Father has proved himself to be my ever-present help in times of need. 

The other emotion I have been experiencing a lot lately is the feeling of being a child. I am enjoying being able to communicate in a pragmatic sense. However, I know full well that my vocabulary and grammatical ability matches that of a 5 year old Italian child. There are some aspects of being a child that are quite interesting. For example, I noticed today that my learning pattern is exactly like that of a child. I remember when my siblings were little and learning to speak. They needed repetition and the word or phrase did not stick in their heads until they used it themselves, unprompted, in a dialogue. I am the same way. I also remember laughing at the words and phrases they picked up. Sometimes, the words seemed completely random and I would always hear my parents say, "where did she learn that??" Not anything bad: just random. I am the same way. My language teachers laugh at the random words I pick up from hours of listening and talking each day. I come in every day asking, "Lorenza, che significa xyz?" I can almost hear them thinking to themselves, "how in the world did she pick up that word/phrase?" 

Being a child again also has it's difficulty. I must confess that I prided myself and even found some of my identity in being a communicator back in the States. My highschool years where spent traveling to various debate tournaments and my college degree was heavy in rhetoric. That ability has been like a rug pulled out from under my feet. How humbling it is to daily live in an environment where many who hear me speak broken Italian assume that I think broken thoughts. But who am I? Am I a "History of Ideas" major? Am I a "debater"? Am I a theologian? No, "I"am crucified with Christ. It is not I that lives but Christ who lives within me. In realta', I am a broken vessel whom God has declared righteous. By stripping my identity away from me, I have found it even deeper in Him. I often wonder what it is people see in me that makes them want to talk to me. It isn't my nationality: if anything, that is a hindrance for some people. It isn't my personality hidden behind my frustration with reflexive verbs. It isn't the my brains; in their mind I know just as much as a 5 year old. It certainly isn't my clothes in a world where everyone changes their wardrobe every 3 months for the "color" of the season. It certainly isn't my looks in a place where I walk the streets with models. The only thing it can be is Christ in me. He has completely stripped me of everything I could possibly claim to be "mine" and replaced it with a child-like dependence on Him. How beautiful yet humbling to think that the ONLY thing people see and are attracted to in me is Christ! 

In light of this new experience, Mark 10:15-16 affects me in a much deeper, real way:

Let the little children come to Me. Don't stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. After taking them in his arms, He laid His hands on them and blessed them.

In this passage, Jesus is not saying we have to have "blind faith" or throw out all knowledge to come to him. What he is saying is he wants our dependence upon him just as a little child is dependent upon it's father. He blesses that child-like dependence and adoration and delights in his child. He has so clearly done this for me each and every day. I am completely dependent upon him not only for my salvation, but for every breath I take as a child of God. 

I am unbelievably blessed to be in a place where the people have been exceptionally encouraging and helpful. They seem to long to communicate with me just as much as I long to communicate with them. The smile on their faces is just as big as the smile on my face when we understand each other. My hand gestures and facial expressions have gotten much bigger as a means of communicating my emotions when my words don't suffice. Their warm smiles and sparkling eyes reach straight to my heart and often speak louder than words. 


Sono Andata in Svizzera!

The Sullivan family are friends from North Carolina who were fellow homeschoolers. David and I were in debate, CWIS, etc. together all through highschool and he is in the core group of my closest friends from childhood. His brother, Joel, is in culinary school in the states and is studying abroad in Switzerland for the summer. The family made a vacation out of it and have been touring France and Switzerland. Knowing they would only be a few hours away from me, I had to buy a ticket and meet up with them. I took a train up mid-morning on sunday and stayed until Monday evening. Because their flight was delayed, they did not arrive in Zermatt until late sunday night. However, we were able to spend all day monday together enjoying our beautiful surroundings. 

Train station in Visp. How gorgeous is that sky?!

Check out my train ride! 
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I love how they make their houses fit the land rather than making the land fit their houses.

What a beautiful bridge. Looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. 

Seriously??

There are waterfalls EVERYWHERE. Speaking of water: I've never tasted better water in my life than the regular tap water in Zermatt. I filled my bottle up when I left and was so sad when it was gone. 

There are also fields of these beautiful wild flowers everywhere. Usually there are purples ones scattered as well but they apparently didn't make it in this picture. 
Finally in Zermatt!
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Talk about a nice hostel! There was a really sweet girl named Wendy who shared the room with me. She is from Hong Kong but is now living in New York. I enjoyed talking with her quite a bit. 

No joke: this is the view from the window in my room! We had to climb a cliff to get to the hostel but it was well worth it.
We took an underground tram to the top of the mountain. We had to cheat since I had to leave that evening and the hike down was going to take several hours. This tram went straight up with solid rock all around it. 
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Micah, the oldest Sullivan boy, and his wife, Laura. 

At the top. About to hike down. 

David thought the view was pretty sweet. 

Daniel is pretty cool. 

This mountain is one of the most famous in the Alps. It is extremely tall (over 14,000 feet) and uniquely stands alone. It lies on the boarder of the Swiss and Italian Alps but is the iconic emblem of the Swiss Alps. It was first climbed in 1865 (we saw the plaque of the man who first climbed it) and is one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps. Since it was first climbed in the 1800's, 500 people have died climbing it. 

Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan

The air was amazingly crisp and fresh. I felt like a new person after sleeping all night with the windows open. My lungs definitely needed the break after being in the city. However, when we were hiking, the air smelled just like it does at the beach! My guess is all the minerals everywhere actually made the air salty smelling! The cool, strong breeze with the salty fresh air was just what the doctor ordered!





Another waterfall. 

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Too many amazing pictures. Had to put one more up of the Matterhorn! 



Overlooking Zermatt. Almost back! 


Rebekah is amazing! What 9 year old girl has 20-something year old brothers who drag her around France and the mountains of Switzerland?!


One blonde-headed best friend of mine was thought of here and all the late, calorie-laden nights we have experienced together over the years. This was the first time I had seen anything Ben & Jerry's since I left. They would never allow it in the Land of Gelato where I currently reside. Nonetheless, there are many happy memories attached to half-baked and dublin mud-sliding!

This is the town of Zermatt. It is very quaint and they only allow electric cars. 

Amazing chocolate, cheese, brats, and pocket knives are and were found in this town! This is me loaded down with all my goodies! I was also carrying my bag to head to the train station...
I arrived back in Milan late that night and definitely struggled getting to language school the next morning! I am not sure what was worse: waking myself up or climbing the stairs of my school with very sore legs! I enjoyed seeing my friends, though I felt a bit of homesickness on the way back to Milan. I love my "new home" along with the wonderful people and new experiences I am having here. Having a clean break from the old and the new helped me not feel too homesick. However, this was the first time I have seen old friends from home since I have been here. As refreshing as it was to see them, I felt a little heart-tugging when I got back on the train. 



Saturday, May 23, 2009

To Lago di Como and Back

I hitched a ride to Lake Como today, which is the third largest lake in Italy and one of the deepest in Europe. The bottom is 656 ft. below sea level. The lake is known for the beautiful villas which have existed since Pliny the Younger. (around 100 AD) By car, it takes less than 3o minutes to get there. We rode the scooter up which allowed for great pictures and lots of sunshine on the way. 


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These mountains are slightly more rounded on the top. They become much more rocky a little farther up and eventually turn into breathtaking alps as you keep traveling. I have completely fallen in love with Northern Italy because of them. The point-and-shoot did a horrible job of capturing the gorgeousness before my eyes. There was a bit of haze out today, which made it even worse for photos. 

Many famous people, such as George Clooney, have Villas in Como. His is apparently somewhere this-side of the lake.  

AH, the haze really makes it impossible to see how beautiful it was. 

This is a ragazzo taking insanely staged and cheezy pictures of his ragazza. I was told his is a very "southern Italy" thing to do. :)

This was the slightly scary, model-wanna-be girl after her posed picture was taken. 



SO CUTE! I love how they dress their kids too. See the adidas shoes? Check out the mom: high heeled tennis shoes. Very popular. Don't ask me why. 

Bellagio, a small town on the part of the lake where it splits into a wishbone shape. 



Found a bunch of Amber.



Gelato.
Restaurants getting ready for dinner, which starts in about 5 hours. 

Nice park by the lake. Notice the cute family playing with their kid and the naked couple (the guy was wearing a speedo and the girl a bikini) tanning in the grass. I cannot tell you how many Italian men I see laying out on a towel wearing a speedo in the parks. It is absolutely disgusting. I thankfully didn't get the other couple beside the naked couple who was in desperate need of a hotel room. DESPERATE. It was worse the couples on the metro. 

Gorgeous, nonetheless.



I really like these trees. I had never seen them before moving here. They are really short but very thick and shady. 

Bellagio. 



Batman and Robin. 



After a long but fun day...

On the way back to Milan. 



Back in Milan!! This is apparently a cemetery for a bunch of very famous Italian writers and composers. I need to check it out soon.   


This is my city!!

Il Castello (castle) in Milan. I haven't been here yet but am hoping to next weekend. It is right beside my language school but I have been so preoccupied with "living" that I haven't actually gone. 

LOVE Milan. I feel so blessed to live here. 
Domani: off to Zermatt, Switzerland to meet up with David and Joel for a couple of days. CAN'T WAIT!