Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Segesta

We went to visit the ancient site of Segesta on December 8. It has a Greek temple that you can walk around inside. The area also boasts an amphitheater which you can explore on foot as well. It is a strange feeling to walk though a place where those from ages past have lived. We were amazed at the view from the hilltop of the amphitheater; you could see all the way to the Mediterranean.
Pictures include: Me sitting in the amphitheater, view from the hilltop, us in front of a column, inside of the temple (I am sitting at the back of the temple, at the bottom of the second column from the left.), looking down on the temple from the amphitheater site.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Cefalu is a beach town a half hour drive from Temini. It boasts a beautiful stretch of beach, a "Sicilian romanesque" cathedral, and "La Rocca" or the rock. The rock is a large outcropping (ok perhaps its more of a small mountain) that rises above the town and has ruins of an ancient temple of diana, among other things. It's approximately a 2 hour hike to the top, which we have not attempted yet. Probably in the spring, when the wind is not so cold. We were there with some friends the first of December and took a chilly walk along the now deserted beach. I was excited to find sea glass in amber, white, and green. (I'm sure it was just pieces of broken beer bottles, but they were pretty nontheless.) Here are a few pictures of the town, mainly the beach.

Christmas in Termini

"Christmas time is here....." Our town is all dressed up for Christmas and several Catholic holidays that coincide in December. Along the main street, there are lights and in the piazza's near the local church and duomo there are several displays. Many people also wrap their balconies with lights, since most live in apartments and don't have a yard or bushes to decorate. We have done a few things to our apartment as well, putting up a tree and having candy in a dish. Christmas would not be complete here without pandoro or panetone, cakes. Pandoro is a light yellow cake dusted with powdered sugar, while panetone has bits of candied fruit scattered through it. Both are delicious and come in many varieties. There are several live nativity scenes also located at different churches throughout the area. Christmas definitely comes to Termini and with a lot less rampant commercialism than the US.
Photos: Our tree, street up from our house, duomo (largest church in town), street and piazza near duomo, and church up the street from our house.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Handmade ceramics

December 1, we got to go to Santo Stefano di Camastra, a small town that is know for its ceramics. After stopping at the tourist center in the middle of town, we were given directions to a workshop and store. The owner was more than happy to give us a tour, and explained the process step by step for us. The vases were all hand made on the potter's wheel, the other pieces had 1 form made by hand and then a mold was made from that. Each piece was fired in an electric kiln twice. The first time was to harden the clay for painting, and the second to set the paint and glaze. The paint used actually had small crystals in it that became the glaze when heated in the kiln. The owner was the third generation of his family to run the business. He was gracious enough to demonstrate creating a vase on the potter's wheel. The clay is just "terra e acqua" (earth and water) and he began by kneading it like bread to soften and prepare it for the wheel. The he centered it on the wheel and began spinning. It was amazing to see that dirty lump of clay transform before our eyes into a vase. After the vase demonstration we looked in the shop at the wide variety of items, everything from dishes to wall decor to lamps. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the shop, and did not leave empty handed. I found a beautiful serving platter as well as a couple of gifts.


We got to enjoy 2 very filling Thanksgiving dinners that week. On Wednesday evening we had dinner with a local pastor and his wife. She cooked 1/2 a turkey and that was 13 kg which is close to 30 lbs. (I wouldn't want to run into a live one that size, it would be huge.) We definitely did not go hungry after a meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, and bread. We finished off with chocolate and strawberry cheescakes and pumpkin pie. The funny part is while we were having an "American" Thanksgiving in Italy, our family back home was having Italian food for Thanksgiving. Then on Thursday our pastor and his family came over for traditional Thanksgiving dinner where we repeated the menu from the night before. Suffice it to say we were pretty "turkeyed out" for the rest of the week. We enjoyed the fellowship of good friends and still had time to contact family back home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why we are in Italy

Many people thought we were a little crazy to give up 2 well paying positions, a nice house, the comfort of the familiar, and the closeness of family and friends to move across the Atlantic to the island of Sicily. But when the still small voice of God nudges you to do something, you had better listen. I could go on about all the hows, whys, who, what, and where, but the real beginning to this story starts in a chapel (short church service) seat at a very conservative, Christian college. That's when I met Jesus. I had a heritage of Christianity through my parents and grandparents, but becoming a follower of Christ is a personal decision. I grew up in church, Sunday school, and youth group, showing everyone what a "good girl" I was. Unfortunately somewhere along the way I realized that I had all the "head" knowledge, but it wasn't real in my heart and spirit. However, by the time I figured out that, something else got it the way - Pride. I certainly wasn't going to go around telling everyone that I didn't really have a personal relationship with Jesus. God has a way of catching up with you when you least expect it, in chapel that day we had a speaker that was sharing how he met Jesus. He was in church and feeling the pull of God on his heart, but was too worried about what people would think to ask questions and respond to that nudge. Well then a man came up and told him "Don't let what other people think send you to hell." That phrase summed up all my fears and I knew that I was so worried about what people would think that I was dooming myself. You say that sounds harsh, but it's true. God broke my heart that day, and I repented of my foolish selfish pride, right there in the middle of chapel. I knew all the right things to say and do, but they had never really been real to me. After that I was still concerned with what people would say, but I knew that I was right with God and that was more important. Looking back over the last 9 years, I have seen God's hand on my life in ways I never would have imagined. Different things have happened that can only be attributed to God's protection and guidance. And so I am here in Italy, working with my husband, to help a church and pastor who needed an extra pair of hands. God will take you places you could never imagine and do what best fits your skills and talents. I know that I would be miserable if I had not listened to that nudge in chapel and the nudges since then that brought me here.

I know that God is real, He lives in me, and I have seen things happen that could only be attributed to His hand. Some will say I'm crazy and that's ok, because what truly matters is God's opinion and whether or not you have accepted His Son, Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross.
Romans 10:9-10 in the Bible sum up God's plan for mankind. Salvation and peace with God is as simple as A, B, C,
Admit you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned...
Believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead
Confess that He is Lord of your life
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him (Jesus) from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

I know this was long, and I am honored if you take the time to read it. I felt the need to share why I am in Italy and Who I am working for.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Termini Pictures tour 2

Here are a few more sights in and around Termini: Mount San Calogero at night, the view from Villa Palmeri overlooking the Mediter- ranean, and the view looking up into Termini from across the harbor. Termini's harbor is mainly industrial so there is no swimming allowed. However there are nice beaches within a 20 minute drive.

Tour of Termini

I just realized that we have posted a lot about what we are doing, but not much on the town we are in. It is a beautiful little town of around 40,000 or so. (About the size of Harrisonburg, Virginia when the students are gone.) There are mountains that remind us of home and Massanutten peak, and since we are on a hillside you can look out over the Mediterranean sea. The humidity is much like the Valley's during the summer, but lingers year round. The summer is hot and dry, and perfect to take advantage of the many local beaches. Fall and winter usher in cooler weather and a rainy season. The pictures include: our apartment building, ruins at Villa Palmeri, Mt San Calogero, moonlight over the harbor, and a park just up the street from our house.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Bowling in Italy is a far cry from bowling in the States. It is still noisy and fun, but we would never be allowed on the wooden bowling area stateside, whereas it was nothing to have 15-20 people congregating, talking, and cheering right next to the bowling lanes. We had a great time, played a terrible game, and enjoyed the fellowship of the youth group.

Shopping in Termini

Shopping in Termini is an adventure. In America you just drive to the mall or Wal-mart or Target, here you walk to the stores, even if you have a car because parking can be very limited. I had the opportunity to go shopping with the pastor's wife yesterday. We were walking from Termini alta to Termini bassa (upper to lower). We went to several clothing stores, shoe stores, grocery, discount grocery, and several housewares stores. We walked for over 3 hours, but because we kept stopping it didn't seem nearly as long.

There are also some unusual things that you don't usually see in most cities stateside. There are fish vendors with little trucks on the street corners most mornings. The one we passed had regular fish as well as 2 octopuses, which I found out later is a delicacy around here. You also wish people you pass a good morning "Buon Giorno" whether you know them or not. There are also the older men that sit around in the piazza's, park areas of town, and discuss everything from politics to soccer. Termini, and much of Italy is a mix of both ancient and modern. There are buildings that are hundreds of years old with a satilite dish attached. You will see a modern building seamlessly attached to a building that was built in the 1700's. It has a beauty and simplicity and values the ancient, rather than tearing it down, but incorporating it into the modern architecture.

Suffice it to say, you see much more walking than you do riding around in the car.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Recipe for Crepes


2 eggs
500ml milk
80 gr. butter, melted & cooled (2.82oz)
250 gr. flour (8.81oz)
Pinch of salt

Mix eggs, milk, and cooled butter.
Add flour and salt slowly, mix for a smooth batter.
Let sit in fridge for 1 hour.

Ladle a scoop into an oiled frying pan. Cooks quickly, basically a very thin pancake.
Add a tsp or so of cinnamon and some sugar for sweeter crepès, or some parmesan for cheese flavored
Spread jam, nutella, peanut butter, cheese or whatever you like.
They can also be filled with a meat mixture and baked in the oven.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gruppo Giovanile

We were privileged to be asked to assist the local leaders of the youth group in Palermo. We had kick-off dinner in mid October, followed by a meeting with games, introductions, a devotional, and plans for the coming year. Shawn was able to help set up an internet forum for the group. We will be helping wherever we are needed. Currently there are plans for a youth service in December as well as a giornolino (newsletter) coming in January. I will be assisting with the newsletter, and continue to improve my grasp of the Italian language. Shawn will be involved with music and drama. We are excited to see what God has in store for Gruppo Giovanile this coming year. Continue to pray for us as things keep getting added to our schedule. We want to be able to minister effectively, but not spread ourselves too thin.

Kid's Program

Recently we began a Saturday afternoon kid's program for every other weekend. The first day we began with 4 kids and ended with 13. They came bouncing in ready for some fun. We started with introductions, then songs, story, snack, and of course games. Many of these kids attend "Settimana Felice" during the summer and always asked for more or wanted to know when they could come again.
Shawn led the music, with the help of one of the ladies in the church, I got to hold the sign. Then I told the story, while Shawn translated. We then had a snack, and it was GAME time. The kids started warming up to us during the story, but they really did during the games. We played "wink" and a circle game that kept all of us moving. At the end of the afternoon, the kids wanted to know when we would have another "Pomeriggio Felice". They are very excited about the program and we have had an opportunity to minister to the parents as well and make connections.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sugo di Pomodoro (Tomato Sauce)

This is for those of you that wanted some recipes. This is for homemade tomato sauce; it takes a little bit of work but it is well worth it.

The directions are a little vague, but here we go.

You need enough tomatoes to fill a two handled pot. Try to use roma and cherry tomatoes. Cut out the tops of the tomatoes and cut in half.* Add 2 onions cut in chunks, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a handful of fresh basil (Tear the leaves, don't cut), and one large carrot-cut in chunks.
Cover the pot and put on medium heat stirring occasionally. Don't add any water or salt; the tomatoes have enough water in them.

After the tomatoes and carrot are soft. Mash through a sieve. I have a thing with a crank handle that looks like a pot with holes in the bottom that mashes the tomatoes, and stuff. (Sorry I have no idea what it is called) Catch all the juice in another pot, and mash till all that's left is skin and seeds. It takes a while and you need a lot of muscle in your arm to crank all the juice and pulp out.

After you finish getting the juice and pulp, put back on medium heat (make sure there are no chunks). Add to taste salt, sugar, olive oil, and more basil (approx. 1/2T. salt, 4T. sugar, 1/2c. oil. More or less to taste). The sauce is ready when it cooks down, and gets more dense. It can be used for pasta or pizza sauce.

*You can also blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, take off the skins and scoop out the seeds. Then instead of mashing the tomatoes through the strainer, if there are no skins/seeds, you can puree in a food processor or blender.

Kicking into gear

Well we have had our plates full the last couple of weekends. Yep, we were eating. The weekend of October 11-12 we had church in Termini on Saturday afternoon, because the pastor's wife's father was retiring from ministry at the church in Palermo on Sunday. Our service on Saturday, was special because Shawn had his first opportunity to speak. He did well, and the pastor was able to take a break. Then we went to Palermo to eat pizza with some friends. They invited us to spend the night, which was a blessing, since we didn't have to make the trip back home. Sunday we went to the retirement service, then had a church dinner afterwards. Now, in Sicily, they are very passionate about their food. We were told "Mangia, mangia" (Eat, eat) many times and your plate stayed filled. (We didn't eat dinner that night.) Everyone was very gracious and welcoming. We had a great weekend and enjoyed the chance to fellowship with good friends. Guess I'll post about last weekend in the next post.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The food here is amazing. We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves every time someone invites us to dinner, not to mention the pizzarias, gelaterias, and my personal favorite, the hot cornetti stand. It's a good thing we do a lot of walking or we would be in serious trouble.

You can walk around the corner from our house to the fruit stand, which carries a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, everything from strawberries to cactus fruit to tomatoes for making homemade pasta sauce. Up the street there is a meat store that offers fireroasted chickens, which we have enjoyed several times. There is also a bakery where you can get fresh, hot bread every morning.

By far, our favorite places include: the gelato and the cornetti stands. Gelato is Italian ice cream, but it has a flavor that is unlike the American version. Flavors range from chocolate to pineapple and fruit flavors. The cornetti stand is 30 km away in Palermo, otherwise we would be very regular customers. Cornetti is a big, warm, flakey croissant that you can get different types of fillings in, including nutella.

And then there is nutella, typically a breakfast food, you can spread it on hot bread or dip fruit in it. They also make crepes, very thin sweet pancakes, to put nutella in as well. Nutella is basically the chocolate version of peanut butter, but it is made from hazelnuts instead of peanuts. Currently my favorite food to eat with nutella is strawberries. Buona, fragole! (Good, strawberries)
Suffice it to say, neither of us are starving. I am learning how to cook like an Italian through my gracious language tutor. Crepes with nutella are next on the list. Ciao for now.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Update Sept. 7th '08

Well, its been almost three weeks since we crammed our lives into a round of suitcases and then the suitcases into T's poor Seat four door.

The transition has been interesting, we have slowly started to gain a bit of a daily rhythm but are still somewhat in limbo, since the vacation season begins to wind down this coming week. Shops will be open regular hours instead of "vacation" hours, schedules will go back to normal, including our churches. So things will be "getting back to normal" as we try to meld our lives into a new and sometimes challenging routine. Challenges include: Laura for the cultural immersion, language and lack of familiar surroundings and "comforts", Shawn for lack of "familiar" crutches of home (reliable internet, ability to get out of the house and drive where we want, a normal schedule of responsibilities), and both for the lack of rest due to our neighbor hood yapping patrol, and oh yes, as one local paper presented it "The Infernal week of heat on the Island". However concentrating on the positives has been one of our goals, God blessed us with an apartment that is within 5-10 minute walk of everything but a large market store and the beach. the church is within a 5 minute walk and we have bread, fruit, supermarket, stationary, and (he he for Shawn) a computer store, basically below the house. So life is good, God is gracious and more than enough. Continue to be in prayer for us as we integrate into our church family in Termini Imerese, and that we will be able to overcome the challenges that come our way.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shifting focus.


Well we made, our luggage made it, and the car made it from the airport to the apartment. Now if our energy reserves will just make it as well we will be set.

God is amazing, and sometimes funny when you look back over events. When we arrive in Rome, our second stop of the trip, we went to the internal check in desk to get our boarding passes for our last hop. They inform us that my checked luggage was fine, however... Laura's was probably getting ready to come out at baggage claim which was an 11 minute walk from where we were then standing, back in the direction we had just walked 10 minutes from. Then we would have to exit the airport Terminal B (international) and re-enter Terminal A (domestic) to check in Laura's luggage and get her boarding pass. So annoyed but realizing that the poor girl behind the counter had nothing to do with it we went on our way. So we arrive at the baggage claim, which was right around the corner from our original arrival gate, to find lucky that nothing had started to come down the luggage chute yet. Then comes the money shot, as we are standing there waiting for L's bags, where looky there here comes my guitar sliding down the chute, complete with tag that clearly states the last hop of it's trip is to be PMO (Palermo). So completely annoyed at the whole situation, tired from lack of sleep we choose to focus on the new seemingly newly hired girl back in Dulles and how much of a dunce you have to be not to check luggage though to the last stop after having been told 3-4 times to make sure that it was (yeah Ok I know I could have looked at here baggage claim tickets too, but I looked at mine, mine were Ok so hers should have been too. Right??) So, we wait for the rest of my bags to come out assuming they also would not have been sent through to the end of the trip, only to never see them come. We decide that maybe they actually sent them in the right direction and haphazardly pray to that effect, assuming that some one at the check-in counter will be able to give us confirmation of this. We get to the check-in window and get started and are informed that they have no way of knowing where the rest of our luggage is and short of filling a lost and found claim there was nothing to be done at this point. So we check the other bags in are told that we should be charged again since they are being rechecked (praise God we weren't) and are finally able to walk back towards the boarding area, deciding that we would trust God to get all the luggage there safely.

It's interesting looking back over things and reanalyzing the events with a non frustrated mindset. We realized that our luggage had been checked-in separately, so traveling in the mind of the baggage sorter independently. If the girl in Dulles had not made the mistake that she had, I could very easily at this point have no guitar, remember that was one of my checked pieces that was checked through to Palermo. So God provided and came through as he always does for us. Sure he could have just made the whole situation easy and just had the bags checked like they were supposed to be, but then what would have been the life lesson in that. We would not even be thinking about this whole situation now, if everything had gone according to planed. Sure we would have thanked God for providing safe passage but, not have been reminded that he works in ways that we my not always understand, or want to understand at the time, but if we keep an open mind and are willing to peek outside of our little boxes we'll see that He is able and willing to do all things for those that are in Him.

Monday, August 18, 2008

At the airport and waiting...

Well we made it through security, got our bags checked, and are seated at the gate. The excess baggage fees ended up being a little less than we had anticipated, so even less that shipping a bunch of boxes. We are looking forward to sitting down on the plane and doing NOTHING for the next seven hours. We do want to express our deepest thanks to those of you that helped us out over that last month. Your efforts in making up for our shortcomings were very much appreciated. Well God bless, and we will talk to you all soon!!

Friday, August 8, 2008


It's hard to believe that we have only ten more days left in the States!! The immensity of it all is starting to kick in. We are starting to get excited but at the same time realize the awesomeness of the task before us.
The house has been rented, someone is dropping off a check for the car this afternoon, there is only painting and grouting left on the room, and then we get to start the cleaning process.
God is good and He always provides.
Please be in prayer as we start to pack that we would remember the things we need to take with us. Also begin to pray for our flights: for an easy time at security, for safety, for our luggage (we a only a one hour layover on our first stop) that it will all get through. Also be in prayer for our second week there, it will be the week of the Vacation-Seminar which is the same event we participated in last year. Pray that is will be a time of refreshment both spiritually and physically for all those involved.