Monday, June 22, 2009

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