So if you didn’t already know or realize, sitting around doing nothing and/or taking a break when I feel like a should be doing ministry things makes me really antsy. The last to days have been pretty light and mildly frustrating for this reason. This has not be the usual experience, mind you, just the last couple of days. But now as a schedule sets itself more firmly in my weeks I can at least mentally prepare for a slow period in the week, which I guess makes sense. I just wanted to do stuff and missed a couple opportunities. Mondays I can help make lunches at St. Andrew’s Scottish Church, and Tuesday I can help with English classes at Rome Baptist. I will keep these things in mind for the weeks to come so I don’t feel like a total lump of uselessness for a couple days. Phil brought up the thought that maybe our good Lord wanted me to take a rest. I had thought about that possibility, but still wanted to be doing things. Sorry, Jesus.
So yesterday (Wednesday) I wandered around for a good bit of time in the hopes of finding someone to talk to refugee-wise. I went into the international bookstore I know about. It was nice to peruse books that I could understand. I read the backs of a whole bunch of books in the English fiction section and I noticed a couple things. I would say that 90% of the books I looked at followed two basic structures: growing up and learning about life, or families dealing with their issues. Change the characters, places, times, and you have those two basic books. Has it always been like this? I feel like there could be other themes in the world we could explore. But still, in all that, some of those books did sound pretty good and I did some expanding of my “to read” list. I also thought it curious that on ‘book A’ by author’ that one dude’ it will say something like, ‘author of book B.’ and then on ‘book B’ it will say, ‘author of book A.’ And this author has ten other books on the shelf. But I guess those are the only two books they want people to know about.
I went from there to the park by the Colosseum where we played soccer to see if any of thos boys were hanging around. But it was ridiculously empty. In a cool park in a great location one might think more people would hang out there. But I guess if it’s a usual spot for refugees the average native Italian would steer clear. That seems to be the way of things. So I stumbled over a conversation in scratchy English with a man from Bangladesh who came here looking for work. ‘Sometimes yes, sometimes no.’ And that was that.
Leaving him, I walked past fancy restaurants at the foot of the great stone temple to the death of others as amusement and got bitter at all the Americans being Americans and eating ridiculously large amounts of expensive food (which I suppose we are all guilty of, but I was just particularly vulnerable at the moment; and maybe I was pretty hungry, too) and that sent me into some kind of weird frustrated state adding upon the already frustrated frame of mind I was in. It was a strange afternoon after that. I eventually wandered my way home and tried to fill my time with useful things. I was looking forward to the evening.
You see, in the evening there was to be things I could do. The refugee team from Agape all met at Tim and Rachel’s again for dinner. It was good to be around people again who I could talk to easily; I hadn’t seen anyone I knew all day. But this was a good time. One of the guys, Joel, led is in a discussion/devotional time and we broke up and prayed for one another afterwards. We listened to a couple testimonies as a way of getting to know each other better and then around 8 we said our goodbyes. We will meet like this every other Wednesday.
After cleaning up, Phil and I headed out to the train station. This is what I was waiting for all day. We had some time to meet and talk to several people before Walter and his crew showed up. Phil is better at crawling through the language barrier than I so it is always nice to have him around on these sorts of things. And so we played and laughed and had a good time. Then a tiny Italian man, very advanced in years, gave his salvation message, translated of course, by an Afghan friend of theirs. During this time though great disruptions occurred. There were of group of refugees, some of the guys we had played soccer with, who obviously didn’t care and were pretty loud. They were eventually silenced by their listening friends. I want very badly for those guys to hear that message. I asked the one who speaks English if he had heard this before, and he listened for a while, but eventually went back to his friends. But the hardest part was the two drunk Italian guys who may or may not be seriously fouled up in the head, one of whom I have mentioned before. Walter tried to calm one, the other turned to me. Playing the uke softly worked for a little bit. We just don’t know how to deal with these guys. The refugees wanted me to play some joyful music afterwards, so I busted out one of my favorites, O Come All Ye Faithful, and we had a grand time with that. They were smiles and laughter which was great and even crazy man threw down his cane and danced his crazy little jig. But the other dude of great alcohol consumption got right up in my face, pointing, jabbing, trying at times to pull my uke away from me with great force. I was more worried about my sad little instrument than I was about my body. That little guy is proving to be a great door into ministry and I would like to keep him around. We had to get a little more physical with these guys to actually get them to leave, which I hated to do. I wish the crazy ones weren’t so belligerent. Luckily the refugees had my back and understood the awkward intensity of the situation. They just wanted peace as well.
As we left, Phil and I stopped to pray for these times and especially against the obvious devices of the devil to disrupt times of prayer and ministry. This one crazy guy was talking about God and saying he was a Christian, but he was far too out of it to take seriously. That and his choice and constant use of Italian profanities. We thought about that possessed girl in Acts who followed Paul and Silas around in Philippi and announced that they were preaching the way to be saved. But Paul got so fed up with it he turned around and said, “‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’ At that moment the spirit left her.” (Acts 16:18) I wanted to do that so many times to these guys, but do I have the faith? Is that kind of stuff able to happen? Would anything happen? I don’t know. I really think we just need to keep praying that God will be with us and protect those times from the mad ramblings and shouts. Otherwise it was a fantastic night and the kind of thing I was waiting for all day. But it was the waiting that got to me.
One of these days I will make one of these posts without fixing any of my numerous typos along the way. We will all have a good laugh.