Monday, June 22, 2009

The Questura

We had the privilege of going to the local police station on June 8 and registering for our permission to stay in the country.  We took ID photos, and had our fingerprints put into the system.  Well, first we waited for about an hour outside and then we finally got upstairs to the office area where we waited another 15-20 minutes.  While we were downstairs, there were all kinds of people outside the immigration office waiting for their documents to be processed.    We finally got into the office and the officer was actually fairly efficient in checking our paperwork and then getting our signatures and fingerprints.  He first thought Shawn and I were brother and sister because our last names were the same.  Here in Italy married women keep their family name and use it for documents and civil occasions, but use their husband’s name for social settings.   Shawn explained and we continued the process.  After we finished up we had to go downstairs where they took more fingerprints and we had to give them another photo and the paperwork from upstairs.   After a mere 3 hours the whole thing was finally over and we were on to find some lunch and a bathroom.  :)   We still probably won’t see the actual document before we leave though.  That would be a miracle in efficiency within the Italian bureaucratic system.

Gruppi Americani

    The church in Palermo hosted a group of students from Biblical seminary in Pennsylvania May 31 – June 3.   They were traveling in Italy for their senior trip.   Their goal was to visit relevant areas in church history and then meet and fellowship with believers of another culture.   Their trip began in Rome and Florence, and then they came to Sicily for several days.  Shawn and the pastor of the church met them at the train station and took part of the group to the Centro Valdesi and part of the group stayed here at the church.  The church service Sunday morning was special, with a presentation from the youth group, introduction of the students, and a change in pastoral leadership.  After the service, Shawn and I prepared a catered lunch for them, and then we were off to the soccer game.  They had the chance to sit down to dinner with several of the CEMI pastors and learn about the churches here.  Lunch seemed to go well, as we had rave reviews when we got back from the game.    They had a couple of soccer fans in their group that walked down to the game, after lunch, while others visited the duomo at Monreale.  

We met them again Monday morning to make the trip to Agrigento IMGA0488IMGA0511with them.  Agrigento is known for its ancient valley of Greek temples, dating back to near the time of Christ.  We wandered around the ruins for several hours before meeting back at one of the main sites for a short meditation.  It was a blessing to be able to fellowship with other believers and reflect on God and His plans for us in the midst of such a setting.  It was a good reminder of why we are here, and to stay focused on the Gospel.  Then it was time for a 2 hour train ride back to Palermo.  We passed the time by playing spades.  By the end of the trip, I think all the actual rules were finally established.  IMGA0564

The group spent Tuesday both participating in a conference with the Filipino church, and sightseeing around Palermo.   Wednesday, we were able to meet them in Cefalu, a local beach town.   We ate lunch and then spent time on the beach playing frisbee.  The water was unusually rough so the lifeguards wouldn’t let anyone swim too far out.   It looked more like Virginia beach than the Mediterranean.  Normally, the water is like glass, flat, calm, and smooth.    We finished out the day with dinner at the church.   We took the group leader and one of the guys to the local cornetti stand for a treat.  The leader had been in Palermo 4 years ago, but had not made it there, so we had to show him what he missed.  They left for Rome Thursday morning to fly back to the US on Friday.  We had a good time and hope they did too.

(Pictures include: the group minus the sponsors, Shawn in front of a temple, me sitting in a tomb, which I didn’t find out about until later, and the card sharks on the train.)IMGA0561

Forza Palermo

Sunday May 31 we went to the soccer stadium in Palermo for the last home game. (Got tickets for 5 euros, great deal.)  Before the game we had arancine for lunch.  Arancine are fried rice balls with ground beef or ham in the middle.  Then we started walking toward the stadium.  I began following Shawn in the right direction, only to turn around an find him next to me.  He has a twin in Palermo; the guy was tall, had curly hair, and the same color shirt.  (When he turned around though, he definitely had  a couple years on my husband.)  We stopped outside the stadium, to get a pink and black team jersey for Shawn to wear because it was so hot that afternoon.  One of the most interesting things we saw on the way in was a flag vendor.  He had team flags, Italian flags, the Sicily flag, and……confederate flags.  It was weird to see the Dixie flag in the mix. 

Anyway we continued on to the stadio, and had to scan our tickets to get inside.  You also had to leave all water bottles at the front gate, in case you were sneaking in alcohol.  The other reason was they didn’t want them thrown on the field if the referee made a disliked call.  We went inside and found seats in the shade, which was a must.  We were with several of the youth and some of the other leaders, most of which are VERY big fans.  One guy had his little sports radio so he could hear the announcers, and get scores from other games being played that day.   They were hoping one of the players for Palermo would get 2 goals and hit a record for the season. 

My friend and I were rather tired, so we being avid soccer fans, dozed a little bit while our husbands cheered on Palermo.  Throughout the game, popsicle, ice cream, and drink vendors kept hawking their wares to thirsty fans.  Since it was fairly warm, I am sure they did good business that afternoon.  The crowd went wild every time the home team made a goal or goal attempt.  The final score ended in a 2-2 tie.  We enjoyed the afternoon with our friends in spite of the heat.

   (Note: My camera died just before the game started so unfortunately I don’t have any pictures.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009



The church in Palermo underwent a change in pastoral leadership after 25 years.  The former pastor had a desire to be more involved in missions and needed a little more flexibility.  He will continue to serve in a leadership capacity for the church, but a lesser role.  The new pastor has been a part of the leadership in his role as a church elder and will now serve as senior pastor.  They are both men of God and I know they will continue to be used of Him.     




The youth put on a final musical for the end of the year.  May 31 finished out youth group for the summer, they will resume regular meetings in September.  The did a musical written by one of the leaders about faith through the generations, beginning with the time of Christ and ending with the members of the current youth group.  They had songs from different eras, as well as later scenes involving some of the founders of the church in Palermo.  Everyone enjoyed it and the time and effort put in really paid off.  The musical was part of a Sunday service that included a change of pastoral leadership as well as 18 guests from Biblical Seminary in Pennsylvania.  DSC04740   DSC04785(Photos include: 70's hair, the congregation, scene from the time of Christ.)DSC04780

Sunset at Campfelice di Roccella

We had had a rough week and needed some solitude.  We went to the beach at Campofelice and watched the sunset and listed to the soothing rhythm of the waves against the rocks.  Even in the midst of the turmoil of life, the beauty of creation shows the majesty of our God.DSC04684  DSC04696   

Psalm 96:11  Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
      Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Psalm 98:7  Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
      Let the earth and all living things join in.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Alberobello is a unique little town about an hour from Bari.  DSC04651It is made up of little whitewashed houses called “Trulli”. DSC04626 These structures have a unique architecture, and are built without using any type of mortar.  The stacked limestone roofs sometimes have religious or other symbols painted on them with white lime.   The legend is that they were built to be able to be taken apart quickly so the landowners would not have to pay taxes on the buildings.  (Bad if you happen to be a tenant farmer and the tax collectors come through.)    The Trulli are only found in the town and surrounding area.   Their construction definitely sets them apart from any other place, and the region is designated as a world heritage site. DSC04659DSC04643 DSC04638We  spent over an hour wandering the streets, visiting shops, taking pictures, and stopping for coffee and ice cream.  Then it was back to the car for a sack lunch, before heading home to prepare for church.

Bari and a Birthday

After our conference finished in Avellino, we headed to Bari to stay with some friends and help out the church DSC04671there.  We stayed at the home of some missionaries in Carbonara, just on the edge of Bari.  We worked, and had some time to play and wander the streets of Bari. DSC04580 Shawn lived there for 5 years as a teen while his parents were doing mission work there.  We got to meet some of his old high school friends as well.   Tuesday we arrived, took it easy and did laundry from the weekend.  Wednesday, Shawn was off to help move and install cabinetry, while I went to help shop for a birthday dinner on Thursday.  After the kids were dropped off at school, we walked all over town getting supplies for lunch and more importantly, dessert.    The menu requested by the birthday boy included: rice and sausage main DSC04596dish, green beans, strawberries with cream, and chocolate bowl cake topped with more strawberries.  DSC04602We had quite the party with several other missionaries attending the festivities as well.  After the cake, the most important part of the celebration occurred, presents.  When you turn 5 that is high on the list.  Legos, art projects, a movie, and some cash rounded out the gifts.  He immediately requested dad’s help in assembling the lego kit.  The rest of the week, we went to cell group on Thursday evening, where we were given the opportunity to share, then I went to the women’s group meeting Saturday night where I shared my testimony of God’s grace.  Shawn also had the responsibility of leading music on Sunday as well.   We also got to eat lunch with a dear lady that Shawn had known from being there as a missionary kid.  We had a good time, but were definitely ready to return to Sicily.    DSC04612 DSC04615   (Pictures include: Bari port, blowing out the candles, high school friends, opening gifts, an elephant made of scamorza cheese, looking out over the water, “bread & tomato” beach, us with a friend, and Bari at night.)DSC04669  DSC04675

Pizza and a Coin Laundry

Shawn and I got into town several hours before we had to be in Avellino, because we took the overnight ferry ship from Palermo to Naples.  So we had some time to look around. DSC04459 We sat on the beach for an hour looking out toward Napoli and Mt. Vesuvius.  Then we went to Sorrento to visit a fantastic local ice cream place and have pizza for lunch.DSC04458  Sorrento and Napoli are known for their style of pizza and it is delicious.  We found a restaurant with outdoor tables and enjoyed a leisurely lunch.DSC04469  While we were eating some musicians came by and played and sang, then passed a hat around for change.  We parked in a parking garage and found a small glade with a castle and stream running beside it.DSC04463  It was lush and overgrown with vines and greenery.    As we wandered the back streets of Sorrento we found – a coin laundry.  It was tucked into a little side streDSC04465et, just off the main drag.  It was tiny compared to ones in the US; just 4 each of washers and dryers.  The prices were quite high for a load, but if you are on vacation and desperate…… Shawn has a radar for finding them and we took a couple of pictures.  They are not very popular because most houses have washers and clotheslines.  Anyway, we headed off to Avellino, full of pizza and ready for a nap.        (Pictures include: center of the town, pizza mimosa, castle glade, church tower, Shawn in the laundry, and the musicians.)DSC04472

Pompei revisited


We usedDSC04541 our sightseeing day during our conference in Avellino to visit Pompei and Sorrento.  We had a group of 13 including three kids.   The tomtom gps tried to take us down a closed road, but we finally found pDSC04548arking outside the excavation.  We had a local pastor and his wife with us and he was very good at bargaining a deal for all day parking.   Several people picked up hats at the souvenir vendors outside and then we were on our way.  Unfortunately, the ticket both was out of maps, so we were on our own.  It was fun to see the city through the eyes of the kids.  They were so excited about everything.   We walked and walked, making up touristy stories about the different structures as we went.  Shawn and I remembered some stuff, from when we were there in March with my parents,  but mostly we just read the signs on the outside of each building and eavesdropped on the tour guides for info.  This time we were smart and brought in drinks and sack lunches so we could walk around a lot longer.  (Last time we got too hungry and had to eat tourist food.)   We saw the Villa Misteri with its petrified wooden doors and shutters, the baths, and amphitheater in our wanderings.  We also saw a house that had been built on top of the dig and was used as a bed & breakfast.  They were going to build more houses, but found more areas of the city that hadn’t been excavated yet, so only one was completed.  After 5 hours of walking everyone had had enough, so it was off to Sorrento for some ice cream and pizza.  DSC04461DSC04460

We found a great ice cream shop the last time we were there, so that was our first stop.  After walking in the heat all day, it was a nice cool treat.  We had a police escort into town where we were extended a dinner invitation to the house of the brother of one of the pastors in our party.  Shawn and I had met them when we were in Agrigento for Pasquetta.  They were very gracious to haDSC04551ve 13 surprise guests for dinner.  They ordered pizza for us, including specially prepared ones for 2 who had gluten allergies.  We enjoyed the food, fellowship, and had coffee before driving the hour back to our hotel.  Everyone slept quite well that night.        (Pictures include: Shawn in the ruins, petrified shutters, garden with altar, Primavera Gelateria, SEGWAY – thought it was cool, and pizza and fellowship.)DSC04555

Missionary Conference

The second weDSC04485ekend in May we went to Avellino to attend a conference involving VMM missionaries from the Mediterranean.   There were missionaries there from Italy, Albania, and Montenegro, as well as a local DSC04491Italian pastor and his wife.  We thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship, food, and spiritual refreshment during the sessions.  We had as a speaker a former Italian missionary, whose wife had been a missionary in France.  We had fantastic food all weekend and were able to relax and all speak English, which was very nice for those of us trying to learn new languages.  We had the opportunity to swap stories and even a day to go sightseeing.  The hotel was located up in the mountains, not far from a local sanctuary.DSC04495  The view was incredible.  One of the missionaries in our group did find a little surprise in his shower when he checked in though, a small black scorpion.  He was very calm about it and alerted the hotel management after snapping a couple pictures.  Glad it wasn’t me or everyone would have heard the yell. DSC04496

Our speak gave advice from the book of First Peter which was encouraging and relevant to working in ministry. DSC04514 Each person also had a chance to share about their ministry and where they were working.  DSC04504It was neat to see how God is working in other areas of the Mediterranean.  We also had a chance to recognize a couple who was returning to the US after 10 years in Italy.  They will definitely be in a stage of transition.  We finished the weDSC04519ekend relaxed and refreshed.      (Pictures include: the tilted glasses at our table for dinner,  me working the projector for the songs, the terrace outside the hotel, the musicians, recognition of 10DSC04518 years of service, fun in the hotel garden, one of the mirrored columns in our meeting room, and our presDSC04527entation – complete with hand motions.)