Monday was a day.
I started my day with a good morning of walking around and talkin’ to Jesus. Wore a heavy sweatshirt as the rain was just on its way out and the clouds were still having their sky-encompassing party up there. Day one of two waking up to lightning bonanza. The sun decided to finally man-up and shoo them clouds away while I walked and the heat came and forced a rapid costume change. Hope all the hip Italians dig the sweatshirt around the waist.
It feels great to not only start the day with some Bible exploration and some prayer, but with some Bible exploration and a couple hours of prayer. Really sets the mood for the day.
I did the usual route backwards, ending at the train station that takes me to the ocean. So I went to the ocean. The sky was mostly clear, but all around the darkness of coming storms cast shadows and weird light. There was a wall out to sea where the clouds came down, a terrible sheet of water, and rested upon the waves. The buildings on the beach were lit by the sun’s spotlight gaze while behind crawled a mountain of behemoth grey. It drizzled a little, sunned a little; the weather battled above us, Olympian gods in a titan struggle for the sky.
I rode back and read. At home I cracked open Eli’s manuscript, made the best sense of broken English I could (which isn’t actually that bad), and put my own little spin on it. He was very excited about me doing that particular action. So I did. A lot still needs to be done. Get to stay up late tonight before we meet tomorrow morning. Feel like I am back in school.
Phil, Peter, and I take Monday nights to meet together, try to study the Bible, but mainly just talk about anything and everything, swim deep as we can go, or are able, or feel like. In two sessions we have made it through the first ten verses of Ephesians. At that pace, they just might finish the book by the time they leave this summer.
Then a bunch of us went out to play soccer. Fifteen minutes in and the clouds decided to unleash all fury. We played like champs through the storm and swamp. My shoes are still wet. Everyone had their soccer gear, fancy shoes, the works. I played in what I had: jeans and skate shoes. I scored the most goals. I kid you not.
Day two of two waking up to the storm eruptions outside. A tumultuous time of year, it seems, for Roma. Will there be a day three…?
I met this fine morn (for again it had cleared up rapidly) with one of the head Agape guys, Jason. I asked if he wanted to do coffee some time and chat, get to know each other better because our interactions before had been shallow, making me feel like a dope and making him look fake. I figured if you are dedicated to spending at least five years in another country for Jesus you can’t be that much of a jerk, and that there must be something lost in translation here. So we had coffee and it was wonderfully refreshing. We connected on the soccer game that we both played in the night before and went from there into anything and everything. Life, stories, ministry, future. He is a big talker so much of the time was him talking, but I had a good twenty minutes in there to open up at the end. No, but really, it was a great time. Good to know him better in a different context and see him as real and begin a friendship that could very well be a very good thing in the future. I think it was also good for to him to see me as someone who has world experience and not just some high school know-nothing here for a fun time that it felt like he saw me as. Good good good.
I went from there are rode the metro to the end of the line and met up with Paul, our Nigerian friend who I am teaching to play guitar. But today, travelling as I did, I took only the ukulele. We talked for a while and sat in a near-by park. I showed him a basic scale and he busted that out and had it down well by the time we were done. A quick learner all things considered. For someone with no experience with stringed instruments before, this was not bad. We were both hungry after about an hour so we grabbed some kebabs and talked some more. He has amazing stories. Just wonderful. He knows his Bible like a best friend. He always talks about how God is so good, and how thankful he is for everything. And really he has much to be thankful for. When he was in Austria, before they sent him back, a family there basically adopted him. He saw a vision of this happening before it happened. Another time, here in Rome, a boy was talking in his mother tongue, something Paul did not know, but somehow understood and responded, completely taking the other guy by surprise. And me. This is like the opening chapter of Acts going down here! He knows (and so do I!) that God has great plans for him. This is very evident.
Lindsey and I met with Tim and Rachel directly afterwards, talking about the week and plans for the next. Big things are going down around Thanksgiving weekend. More on that later, probably after it all happens because I still don’t really know what’s going down exactly. But I suppose we shall see. Tim told us some amazing things. I may have mentioned how he just kind of disappeared on Sunday at train station tea time. He had good reason for this. An Iranian believer friend of ours who spends nights with the refugees at the train station from time to time, pretty regularly actually, told Tim about a new believer among the refugee population. Tim met the guy who told his amazing tale. As it was told to me, this guy was talking to our Iranian friend about all sorts of things he was dealing with and burdened with. Our friend was insistent that Jesus was the only way to obtain peace about such things. After days of these discussions the man has a dream. A man steps out of the shadows and says he can give him peace. The guy says ok, that would be great, thanks. But the man from the shadows says that he needs to remove his green bracelet. The green bracelet is a symbol of Islamic pride, identification, strength. But the guys says that this bracelet has been on his wrist for 38 years, it is a part of him now, the knot is so tight it could never be undone, it would have to be cut. But the man from the shadows says, I am the only one who can untie it. Then the guy wakes up. His arm lays outstretched beside him on the concrete. The bracelet lies next to his hand, uncut and untied. The man talked to our friend, believed, and spent the next few nights telling everyone he could about the Man who freed him: Jesus.
There are many stories of those from Islamic countries receiving visions of Jesus and then believing. A whole church I was told about (from the people who helped start it) was started from such people. Jesus is moving in that culture. It is going to be good to see what will happen.
Tim also said that two separate refugees asked where ‘Robbie and the nice girl’ were. It is good to know that Lindsey and I are becoming a recognizable presence here. I thank the Lord often for such things as this.
On the metro today I started a new book on my Kindle even though I am currently in the middle of two other books. I do that kind of thing. But this book is by Ray Bradbury who, after the reading of a single novel, shot his way to the top echelon of my favorite authors and has held his place firmly ever since. I am already a quarter of the way through.
English class tonight was fun. I drew some random picture on the white board with a caveman and a dinosaur and several other things and they made up a story about what was happening. Both stories ended with the volcano destroying everything. Creative. We had more dinner than any of us knew what to do with and I met a couple visiting on a vision trip of sorts to different cities, seeing where the Lord will lead them into full time missions. I got to tell them about life here and the vision for prayer stuff going down in Illinois. They got super pumped.
And now I would like to go to sleep. So that is what I am going to attempt to do…after of course more writing. Today was busy and I loved it.