31 March 2005

ciao ciao. its almost been a month and yes i have been very busy. two weeks ago was my exam week but it was wonderfully complemented by two of my best friends, laney and emily, my parents and my sister coming to visit me for a their spring break. i loved every second of it and was so thankful that they came. i miss them all so much and i dont think that necessarily helped with my nostalgia.

this past week i was in sicily last week for 8 days. i flew into palermo where my grandmom is from and we stayed there for 2 days, but mainly on the beach in mondello 20 minutes outside of town. the rest of the time we stayed on the east coast in ortiggia and toarmina. both of those towns were amazing and i didnt want to leave. sicily makes florence look like a rundown dump. everything about sicily was just more beautiful. and it came from its natural beauty- the beaches were covered in hundreds of different colored and naturally patterned rocks accompanied by tons of sea glass and pottery shards rounded by the perfectly transparant turquoise ocean. it is not as touristy and the ppl are all so nice and they actually speak italian..(hmm funny thing), there were a lot more families and couples. so i probly spoke more italian this past week then i have this whole semester. we had like 3 or 4 good beach days so i got the tan back that i started in hawaii in january..lets hope i can keep it for awhile this time.

in ortiggia we caught a bus from the train station and it was great b/c the locals were on it- an old lady who is a supposed millionaire who lives in an abandoned palace, an old man who sat right up next to the bus driver, and a woman from vermont who lives there every summer with her husband- and we all talked the whole way. there was such a community feel. once we checked into our bed and breakfast and found our own little private beach we soaked up the warmth that we have been so much longing for the past few months and as we were leaving we met a street performer, a black guy from germany and his dog that he found in palermo that has been following him for the past 3 weeks.

there are so many pictures of ppl i wanted to take. this town doesnt speak of tourism at all. and every time i find a new cute store or restaurant it makes me wonder how many places are overlooked b/c they are off the beaten path. i felt more comfortable and light hearted there in sicily. the beauty really forced me to slow down and embrace it.

speeding by on the train ride to tourmina, as i was watching the island go by, i caught a split second view of a silhouette of a guy sitting on his roof watching the mediterranean birth the sun. i wondered if he was annoyed by the train soundtrack behind him. he will never know how that one instant made my morning smile.

to get to the beach in toarmina we had to take the funivia (basically a 4 car sky ride) down the mountain and then walk 10 minutes down the side of the road. once we got there we walked a empty beach but crowded with color and i embraced the moment (like my mom says- i stopped and thought about where i was for a second) and i loved being the one that ppl saw from the train as it rode by, wishing they were in my place.

so besides beaches we went to the greek theaters of syracuse and tourmina and to the syracuse catacombs, we didnt do that much touristy stuff though because we wanted to make it more of a relaxing trip then a busy on the move trip. every day we ate wonderful food and ended each day off with a crepe filled with nutella...simply amazing and i just might trade in my gelato privilage for crepes for the rest of my time here. (i also decided that when i move to new york i am going to buy a crepe machine and have my own stand in the city)

the most amazing part of the trip was on good friday (which i actually forgot about before this happened...) we were coming back from the beach and were going to go walk around downtown (il centro) toarmina to go shopping and all of a sudden after we passed the main piazza and went through the arch we hit a huge crowd and we were like, 'what is going on here!?' so we kinda pushed through and saw on the right there was a staircase up an alleyway that was packed w/ young and old women dressed in all black with black veils on holding red paper box torches, and in front of them were two lines of 10 little girls in little white nun outfits standing in order from youngest to oldest and the youngest, probly 5 y/o, was in the front carrying the cross standing two times her height. i heard a band coming from the main piazza and looked over and there was a statue of Jesus like he had just been whipped being carried on poles on the shoulders of 6 men. this was around dusk and there were torches on the sides of the buildings. this main strip road was probly about 10 feet wide and lined w/ shops and people on both sides. then all the little girls filed into single line and walked down the strip and then all the women in black with their torches lined up on both sides of the strip and just stood there as the statues came through. after the whipped Jesus came through, a glass casket with Jesus' dead body came through on another 6 men's shoulders, and behind that was a statue of weeping mary being carried on the shoulders of 6 women. by that time the sun had set and i noticed that all the stores has closed and turned off their lights as this procession came through the town and every one was involved. following the statue of mary was a crowd of people and we joined it to go to the next piazza where they added 2 more statues as the band played mournful music and the funeral song. it was a sad emotional amazing beautiful cultural experience that i was so glad to be a part of.

sunday we all went to church together. the first time i had been to a mass all in italian. it was very beatiful hearing the echo of another language as they sang together through the tall standing but small duomo. before it started we went in to get seats and i watched the preist pray for the ppl as they entered the confession booth. as we left we were given a small candal on a round cardboard circle that said 'Jesus is my light' in italian. that is probly my most prized souvenir.

so i am back in florence and this weekend will bring more surprises. tuesday me and lindsey went to caffe zaza b/c i was craving pappa al pomodoro (a rich tomoato based tuscan country soup thickened with bread). and last night 4 guys cooked my roomates, my friend lindsey, and i dinner. i can get used to that for sure.

09 March 2005

sorry i have not posted in awhile. i try not to get online much while i am here b/c i find myself gettin so caught up in whats going on back home that i forget that i am in italy. so yea enough of that.

last weekend was my first weekend that i stayed in florence since i got here and so i was excited to see what it would bring and couldnt wait to go to church for the first time too.

me and aimee went to this church called st james episcopal and it was a bit traditional...well really traditional but i really loved the reverand. it seemed very down to earth and personable. the serman was focused on the omnipresence of God in psalm 139 and he said, 'i cant say that God is somewhere b/c God is everywhere and i cant say that heaven is a place that we will go to b/c if so then Jesus, after the assention, might have reached the milky way by now'...ha. but i really love psalm 139..it is definately one of my favorites..especially the part that says, 'I look behind me and you're there,  then up ahead and you're there, too-- your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful-- I can't take it all in!

b/c the vastness of God's love is uncomprehensible but at the same time so attainable- if we just allow ourselves to receive it. i love that i can know that where ever and what ever i do...God's love is always consistant. (me and aimee were talkin one night about our sisters and how we love them so much. me and aimee are both the oldest and want so much for our sisters to know that we love and support them but it seems sometimes that no matter what , they can not be convinced b/c they feel like they wont add up or will always be compared to the older sister. but i got a revelation about that being how God is with us. my attempts to let my sister know i love her are a shallow comparion to the love letter that God has wrote to me, yet even after reading the word it is still so hard for me to accept this love)

"there is a spirit in man and the breath of the almighty gives him understanding-great men are not always wise-nor do the aged always understand justice" i can see that as i get older i feel like i am wiser because of experiencing more of life but also alot of times i feel so naive. i should always be in the mindset of learning but i feel like if i do that, then i will be interested in other things than God. God is secure with me saying that though because even if i dont realize it- He is security. Gods wholeness does not change based on my mood or opinion of Him. this is something i know that when i think i have convinced myself there could be another way -God reasures me. like during worship at hillsongs - i started crying b-c the lyrics really spoke in agreement with my heart and i cant even remember the song but all i know is that my spirit is alive and is always crying out from within. but as long as i ignore it or push it down or dont feed it the word, then -IT WILL STILL BE THERE! and that is the funny thing- i cant run away. if i sin and if my transgressions are multiplied they accomplish nothing against Him. it is not like we are some how getting back at God for our lack of devotion to Him. it is our fault that we dont listen to the only words that bring life. "God may speak in one way or in another yet man does not perceive it. while slumbering He opens the ears of men and seals their instruction in order to turn man from his deed." (job) so i am actually coming to think that it is impossible to drown myself out of the pool of conviction- so i might as well swim in it and stop pretending that i am cold, b/c it is a heated pool!

so this past weekend i was in london and yes it was amazing. we did all the tourist stuff offcourse and went to see the changing of the gaurds at buckingham palace, big ben, westminster abbey, st pauls, piccadily circus, oxford st, leicester square, trafalgar square (where i preceeded to start my new picture series of tourists taking picturse of eachother in front of famous monuments), tower bridge, london bridge (did you know that most ppl mistake the tower bridge as the london bridge b/c the original london bridge from the song was moved to arizona and the london bridge as of now is really plain and boring), we rode the tube all day long and loved it. went to the national gallery to see the caravaggio 'the last years' exhibition, we walked across the millennium bridge to the tate modern, national portrait gallery to see the frida kahlo portraits, and ate at local cafe's.

sunday night me and aimee went to Hillsong London and matt redman was guest worship leader. i felt right at home in God presence. i miss that atmosphere so much.

ill put pictures up soon.

"weeeeeeee!! that is what you say when you are having fun- you refer to yourself and some other people" -mitch hedberg

(i got a bike! it is beautiful- pink and white, big U-lock and a bell all for 32 euro!) cant wait to ride in giro