Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another short note then back on the road

My wonderful sister asked if these recent posts are being composed now or if they were written while I was in Europe. The answer? These are primarily what I was scribbling in my journal each night while we sat in bed in our pjs, with a few edits for left out words or additional thoughts. Mostly, though, you are getting them "as is."

Also, I learned on Monday morning that I passed my comps. I cannot describe to you how it felt. I had a friend "on hold" in IM to "wait" with me while I checked. My hands were shaking and I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I didn't seriously doubt that I would pass the exams, but there's always this chance, and they're pass/fail, so there's no middle ground. The last two years have been very trying for my whole family -- not just me -- and I was afraid I'd put all of us through this just to see the word "fail." Seeing the "pass" in the online report was just about the best thing that's happened this year.

Well, other than going to Italy.

And spending a storybook week in California.

Even with some rough, rough patches along the way I would have to say that this has been an incredible year. God has blessed me indeed.

So . . . here's Tuesday in Florence. And hold on, because this was an interesting day.


We spent this morning with Sheila's friends Tosca and Paolo and their beautiful grandson Vanni. Oddly enough, he looks a lot like my nephew did when he was a baby. Tosca and Paolo are wonderful. He sang and played with the baby and very proudly showed us Tosca's paintings and pictures of their family. We are going there for supper tomorrow evening.

After we left we walked to an area with shops to find some lunch. D Woodroof had recommended a couple of pizza places. We went to the second one we tried because the first one was closed. When we sat down, I looked at the photograph on teh wall next to me and saw JT Hill's name! AHH! I go halfway around the world and see a photo taken by one of MY student workers! How bizarre is that? Found out that RS (the Harding in Florence director) had arranged for the HUF students to have their photos hung for display in several local restaurants and we just happened to choose one of those places for lunch.

After lunch, we returned to the Bible School an packed our bags. We walked to SB's apartment for a short visit and some apple juice, then headed to the bus stop. When the bus arrived, none other than RS himself opened the door and grabbed our bags to put them on the bus. He helped us find a quicker bus route to the downtown area and also helped carry our bags to the next stop. How wonderful!

When we got to our final bus stop it had begun to drizzle. So -- there we were, two women carrying two bags each , walking in the rain on this beautiful scenic drive close to downtown Florence. Our directions were poor so we walked quite a while in the wrong direction before Sheila could find someone to ask for better directions. We still weren't sure so she asked someone else. Finally, we headed back the other way and by now it wasn't drizzling. It was RAINING. We found a way to stack the bags and use our umbrellas but it still very awkward and WET.

After a while, Sheila went to scout out the area to see if she could find the elusive convent we were scheduled to stay in the next two nights. I stood with all four bags with my big HARDING UNIVERSITY umbrella in the rain.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

At one point I figured she was never coming back and that I would be there at night, be mistaken for a bedraggled prostitute, and confirm my mother's worst fears about me. :-)

FINALLY Sheila returned and the mystery of the elusive convent was solved.

We were on the wrong side of the street.

We had passed the convent four times without knowing.


Throughout this, I'd done a rather remarkable job of keeping my bags stacked, under the umbrella, out of puddles, and somewhat dry. Just as we got to the gate of the convent, the bags toppled and fell into a deep puddle.

I thought I was going to swear in a convent in front of a nun. This would not be a good thing.

Oh well -- it all worked out. Got the bags up and inside, got a room with an amazing balcony, rested a bit, and then hung things to dry.

We set off again, walking the hill to the Piazza del Michaelangelo. We arrived just in time to see a breathtaking sunset over the city of Florence. The beauty combined with my fatigue brought me to tears. It was the most amazing combination of natural and man made beauty I have ever seen.

When the sun had set, we walked back down the hill and found a wonderful little trattoria and bought some food for supper -- polenta, risotto, and grilled tomatoes. It was a wonderful end to a tiring but beautiful day.

I keep thinking about Grandmother. She would have loved to have made this trip with us if she could have. I believe she is somewhere, proudly watching her granddaughters on this journey, but OH! -- she would have loved to be here with us too!

And once again, there are too many pictures to embed into the text so I placed them in another online album.


Lawrence Underwood said...

Oh, how I wish I could have seen you waiting in the rain. Of course, I would have tried to help you stay dry.

Your thoughts at the door of the convent made me laugh out loud.

Stephanie said...

Congrats on passing comps! I always knew you would, but I can understand the anxiety. Now you can have a life! I know envy is a sin, but . . .

Sheila said...

Dear Readers,

I must take this opportunity to emphasize that we were wet to the core, and that no one seemed to know where that address was!

And the numbers are different there, not evens on one side and odds on the other. In fact, one person I asked for help said, "Well, are you looking for a red number or a green number?" (Or something like that, I don't actually remember the colors.) And that actually did make a difference, though I had no idea what color number I was looking for!

Twas an adventure indeed, and I was so thankful for that surreal sunset moment that helped erase some of the misery of the previous couple of hours.

Lisa was a trooper!