Sunday, September 30, 2007

Team Flo 2007-2008

We just got back from our Campus Ministry retreat.
We have planned, prayed and talked about how ministry will look this year.
Sitting around that table, I am overwhelmed with the people the Lord has surrounded me with.
I am once again the youngest one on the team and I love that fact.
There is a lot of wisdom, experience, and love around that table.
The Lord is up to something in Italy and I cannot wait to see how He chooses to use this team.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Will work for wine...

Last Friday, my team and I were invited to take a break from moving in and partake in the grape harvest out at our friends, the Ammirabile's, house in the Tuscan hills of Montespertoli. They needed some extra hands to cut down the bunches of grapes and honestly, who says no to that?

First of all, it is beautiful out there. The rolling hills, the tall cypress trees, and the smell of clean air are such a welcome break from the crowded city.

Second of all, the Ammirabile's are one of the neatest families I have heard about in my time in Florence. They used to run a Christian camp for youth, but now they mainly focus on their farm. They make their own wine, olive oil, vegetables, etc. They love to talk about John 15 while we are out there. They are a beautiful picture of an Italian family loving Jesus.

So, we packed ourselves on a bus at the crack of dawn and brought all of our wine making knowledge with us. Basically, that consisted of the picture of Lucy stomping grapes with an old woman. Seriously, that episode was on replay in my head all day...until we actually started working.

Here's the How To to grape harvesting.

What you'll need:
1 world's oldest tractor with large bin on the back full of "grape stick" (highly technical term)
2 cutting shears for all involved--preferably sharp
3 buckets for dropping the bunches into
4 men to come around when your bucket is full to haul it off to the aforementioned large tractor bin
5 the best picnic lunch of all time
6 lots of energy

After you have aquried these items, please proceed to the vineyard.
Tear off the leaves covering the grape bunches and start snipping.
Fill bucket, yell "pieno!" (full), wait for man to come by, get new bucket, start over.

The following are some excellent examples of skilled harvesters.
Take notes. Watch the form. The precision.

Kelly is a pro.

Ryan was one of the "bucket runner" men. He did double duty.

Hard core roommates.

Now we get to eat them!

This precious family served us a 5 course picnic lunch, gave us a bottle of wine, and invited us back for the olive harvest.

How much do I love living in Italy?
This much!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A little peek

At Via Ricasoli 37 in progress.

We've moved in, but we're not quite settled.
More pictures to come, once things find their place.

Kelly, Emily and I have had some great roommate time getting our little casa situated.
We can wave at the David every morning and I wake up to the sound of cappuccini being made downstairs.

Here's a preview, ignore the boxes....

Living room.

Living room from the other angle.

Kelly and Emily trashing useless things in their room.

(If you only knew how massive this was compared to last year!)

Entry way after day one of moving in and unpacking.

The heinous wires that I have spent too much time trying to figure out.
Phone or no phone, I refuse to look at them again.

Windows in my room.
My favorite thing!!

A little desk nook in my room.

The coolest shelves in the living room that need some major decorating tlc.

I feel so blessed by this apartment. The way the Lord dropped it in my lap.
I cannot wait to see the conversations that will take place at our table.
I am excited to see Italians plopped down on our comfy chairs.
I am thrilled to be able to cook in an actual oven!

Thank you Jesus for great housing! You are too good to us!

Stay tuned: More to come!

Monday, September 10, 2007

All packed up--Again

Well, I managed to fit my whole closet in two bags for the second time in my life.
I should get a gold medal. Seriously, it was an olympic feat this time around.

You'd think that now, after I have lived there for a year, that I would know what makes the cut and what doesn't.
But, no.
I still have high hopes for my cute, yet slightly uncomfortable shoes.
And I still find myself thinking, "Of course I will need that Target-brand, American-looking sweatshirt at some point."

I will admit it: My name is Sarah and I am an over-packer.

Between contemplating how to shove all my worldly possessions into two humongous duffel bags, considering working out and then saying no, and thinking which color I would re-paint my room, I have also been thinking about the year ahead of me.

Once again, I am going to jump on a plane and spend my time working in a country I don't understand, in a language I can't speak, with people I don't know. And the kicker is, I signed up knowing what to expect this time around.
Serioulsy, Lord, this is the plan?!

I love my life. I love the adventures the Lord takes me on. I love knowing that the time I am investing in Italy is worthwhile and that I grow by the second over there.

But, left on my own, I would never have chosen this road. I would have picked the really wide, well-paved street with the gorgeous houses and tall treese on it. Every time. I am addicted to comfort, security, and ease.

So as I sit here and type this, having said goodbye to my best friends in the world for the third time in a year (remember the visa debacle), I was really trying to set out how I feel, how I am processing going back, to gage whether or not I am prepared. But I can't.

All I know is that Florence, Italy is where I am supposed to be. The choice is not up to me. He dropped this in my lap five years ago and I have never been the same. Thinking about spending a second year over there is so normal and right in my mind that it freaks me out.

I know I am not prepared for this year.
The lessons it will hold.
The challenges that will break me and build me.
The valleys and peaks that will dot the landscape of ministry over there.

And yet, I know it is all coming. A tidal wave of good things, hard things, frustrating things and exciting things.
Part of me wants to say, "Bring it on, Lord!" and the other part is saying, "Hold on one sec while I duck for cover."

But the monsoon was so refreshing, the lessons so perfect last year that I can't imagine not running flat out for the downpour again. I get soaked with the Gospel over there.

Thank you Lord for not leaving the decision up to me. Thank you for choosing this path, this journey.

So here I am. Two gargantuan bags, too many shoes, unprepared, but ready.