I am now in Rome, Italy. It’s been raining. I think I took the rain from Nakuru with me. My plane landed a little late in Rome. Then it took 30 min or more for luggage to come out. Fortunately my bag was one of the first. It was THE first to come out from Kenya to Amsterdam. I gave a little cheer. It’s the little things in life that make me happy. By the time I got to the train station at the airport there were no more trains going to Roma Tuscolana where Danielle would come get me. So I had to get on a van shuttle where it would take me to the Central train station. At the station (now 11 pm) I waited in customer service line, which was not moving. There was a man there wearing a little badge. I don’t know how official it was. But he asked where I was going, looked at the schedule, and said there were no more trains going that way. He said, “I will call my guy.” Ummm…ok. I went to the taxis to see how much it would cost to get me there, and they just said it depends on the meter. I forgot that this was not Kenya, and there are such things as meters. So I went back to the guy and his guy showed up. I was being watchful the whole time, getting ready to bust out my kung fu if need be. Judo chop some folks. But the guy got me to my destination and even let me use his phone to call Danielle. It was expensive but whatever. So after 1 hr of sleep in 23 hrs I hit the hay in the comforts of an Italian apartment but only slept for 6 hrs. Ran a couple errands with Danielle the next day. Met some missionary friends during Chinese dinner. Good people. Went with Danielle to a class where she teaches English for free to about 30-40 people. Most of them are a bit older. That was fun helping them with some grammar and trying to hold a bit of a conversation. I think the percentage of people who speak English in Kenya is higher than Italy. Interesting. I slept at a man named Brian’s house last night. He has been in Italy for 4 or 5 years doing some good stuff here. His wife is out of town and let me stay. I’m about to go to the Colosseum. Hopefully it won’t start raining again. And I don’t get lost. It’s a few miles away. Cheerio.
Wow! Ancient Rome is amazing. Italy has been the number one place I have always wanted to visit since I was a kid. Now that I’m here, it’s a bit surreal. It is beautiful in a totally different way than Kenya. The architecture and art are amazing. I walked into some gigantic church, and there was this sense of reverence. It’s strange for me though. This building is extraordinary with all its marble statues, floors, walls, pillars. The walls are painted wonderfully. The amount of detail is baffling. Knowing that there were probably thousands of workers that put their time and energy into that thing is amazing. But at the same time, here is this church in all its beauty and glory giving praise to popes, the disciples, angels, and whoever else I don’t even know without much of a mention to Jesus, the Son of God. I bet if the disciples saw that they are immortalized in marble, they would be disgusted. Plus on top of that, the pope at the time (just an assumption) commissioned this to be made. Whose money was used to build this? All those men, women, and children who were probably misled into believing that giving more of their money will get them into heaven as they were struggling to make ends meat. Giving money to a church shouldn’t be about making huge monuments. So here I was sitting in this place in awe and wondering, “Where is Jesus?”
I think pretty much all the men are good looking here with their nice clothes, quality, model haircut, and well-trimmed beards. WHATEVER!!! And I think all the women are beautiful. I’m learning that women (young and old) are captivating. It doesn’t matter where you are from either. Kenya, America, Italy. Doesn’t matter.
Went to the place last night where the refugees come and have tea, play cards, learn English or Italian, and whatever else. Danielle organizes it and some of the local missionaries and some locals come to help. I sat at a table and watched these guys play cards then talked to a few guys. One is from Ghana. He left for more opportunity. One is from Pakistan and is a computer engineer by way of Moscow. Another is from Afghanistan and learned English in just a few months when he came to Italy. I’m learning more and more that a lot of the world knows more than one language. Not so much me. A couple of the guys met my mom and step-dad when they were here in July. That’s pretty cool.
This morning Brian, the guy I’ve been staying with for the last few days while his wife is at a human trafficking conference, took me on a 45 min run that went along the ancient Appian Way. That was cool. Seeing the ancient houses and ruins on a run is spectacular. There’s a part of the road that has the original paver stones. That’s just amazing to me.
Got my first gelato in Italy. Stracciatella. It was raining, a slight drizzle. I walked out of that little place with a smile on my face. God has given me so much. So much that I don’t deserve. Walking home I could only think, “Here I am in Italy. This is one of the biggest most unexpected journeys I have been on. I’m eating some great ice cream, rain falling down on me (I didn’t bother opening my umbrella). I just didn’t care if I was getting wet. God has given me so much. Thank you.” I walked back eating my gelato with my little spoon. I’m inside now with some pizza from around the corner looking out the 3rd story window watching the rain fall down in front of the dim of the yellow street light. I feel like God is saying, “Enjoy this. Enjoy me.” So instead of me thinking about how much I’m not doing. I will focus on what God is doing and what he has done. Aaah…Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Yesterday I went with Danielle and several other Christians to package and hand out food to the refugees. They meet every Saturday under a super old archway. Then went to the center where many of the same guys go and have tea, some snacks, play cards and the other stuff I mentioned before. They showed me how to play a couple games, so I joined in. Had good conversation with a couple guys. One lived in London for 4 years before he was deported. He had a job, graduated college, and seemed to be doing fine. But he had fake papers to say he was there legally. Rome seems to be the hub for where people go. It’s from here that they get their initial papers then try going elsewhere for more opportunity. One guy was in Norway for a couple years before being sent back to Italy where he has legal documents. There are 300 guys who stay at the camp, a building I haven’t seen yet). They are only allowed to be in there from evening to morning. Then they have to go. So they often end up just wondering around or sitting in parks. They can’t get a job. They have very little money. Some of them take Italian at places for free. I was talking to this one guy who is married but hasn’t seen his wife since last year. She lives in Lithuania. He doesn’t want to live there cuz he says there is little opportunity and they discriminate against Muslims, and her parents don’t like him. So we got on the subject of religion and talked about Islam and Christianity. It was nice talking to him. Hopefully I’ll see him tonight at the train station when we hand out tea or on Thursday at the center.