Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Short note then back to Europe!

I made it to Knoxville and back safely and think that comps went OK. They were written comps and have to be read by three faculty members, but I should find out in a week or so if I passed or not. If I've learned one thing in this process it's that it doesn't help to worry about a grade after completing a project. It's in the readers' hands now and it will be what it is. Hopefully all I have left is wrapping up the two classes I'm taking this summer. Then I'll be able to reclaim about 10 hours a week. Huzzah!

I have a week and a half left of work before getting 3 weeks off. I will treasure every minute of it.

Now, back to Europe:

Sunday in Florence

After our overnight train ride, we arrived at the Bible School in Scandicci around 8:30 AM, just in time to quickly change clothes and hop in the car with David W and head to church. We stopped at a neighborhood pastry shop and met up with Robbie S, Mona Lee G, and Kyle T. How spoiled am I to be halfway around the world and yet see people I know.

(The Florence Bible School -- home for 3 days)

I am now sitting in church and I see Harding grads Alex C and Ben L to my right. Julie W is a few rows back. Harding's connections to Florence run very deep.

(Florence church of Christ building)

(Recent Harding grads Ben and Kyle. This was the only time I was able to introduce Sheila to other people in Europe!)

It has been wonderful to listen to men -- in another language -- encourage their Christian brothers and sisters and praise the same God I love. I can grasp just enough to hear words of God's love for us, our love for Jesus, and our need to stay strong and serve others.

The building is beautiful. The singing from this small group is magnified tenfold by the domed ceiling and hard floors with wooden pews. The baptistry is sunk into the floor and there are columns and pseudo columns around the room.

An amazing time.

(Inside the building)

5:00 ish

We had lunch at the HU villa with Robbie, Ben, Alex, Mona Lee, Kyle, and a Chinese woman named Flora who lives in Prato -- about ten miles from here. She spoke very good Italian (which was an odd visual for me) but no English. Food was excellent and the company was some of the best in the world. I am so glad to be here. Now I know
I will apply to be a faculty sponsor for the summer program so I can bring my family here. I understand why Sheila lost her heart here.

(A Robbie S painting in progress.)

(My lifelong friend/mentor Mona Lee!)

10:30 ish

Just back from supper with Sheila's friends Sergio and Christina. Once more, a wonderful meal full of fellowship, but very different from lunch. Christina used to study the Bible here at the school but never took English lessons. So instead of conversation in English that even came around to Harding politics (like lunch at the villa had), tonight's was all in Italian (which I don't understand) and about things I couldn't discuss anyway. Still, it was wonderful to see the Italian part of Sheila. Of course I've seen her ask for directions from people the last couple of days, but this was seeing her -- listening, discussing, joking, laughing . . . It's always good to see someone doing what they love, and connecting with the Italian people is what Sheila loves.

Tonight, after two nights of sleeping in my clothes -- one on a plane and one on a train -- I will finally get to wear pj's again. Wonderful. And tomorrow -- a shower! Pure joy!


Stephanie said...

I'm jealous. You've completed comps AND been to Europe. Life's so unfair! :-)

Anonymous said...

I would LOVE to go to Europe- so far I've only been out of the country once- Mexico, which really doesn't count. I love seeing your pic's of places you go!
Please say hello to Emily for me!