i tried to write this monday but my brain melted and i went to bed.
yesterday i skipped church because i am a jerk like that. no but really i had a reason. a reason, you ask? yes. a reason! eli had invited me to come hang out in a distant foreign land called cricket town. i may or may not have mentioned this, but he plays cricket, something he learned while living in pakistan; and now he is pretty good. he told me that the guy he plays for wanted him to play so bad he bought all of eli’s gear. so he plays with a bunch of sri lankan guys, who were all born here in italy. anyway, i took nine years to get to the north west edge of town (man, i am getting old!). I was led to believe that there was going to be a game played that i could enjoy watching, but this was not to be; it was just practice. i felt like i was back in bellingham leading the middle school youth group going to football games and things. so i sat there for two and a half hours watching them run around and hit things and throw things with their fancy jump-throws. i let my mind wander, i just sat and relaxed, allowed myself to pause and think. it was actually a very nice, peaceful time for me. my one regret was wearing my short pants. i could feel the cold creep in from the gaps, climb its sneaking way into my body, i tracing its inundations through skin and bone. the day was a bitter kind of cold, on the edge, feeling as if it were almost ripe with frost. but it was not quite there, just enough to make most things uncomfortable without giving you anything fun in the exchange. though i did play in snow! kind of. there was a skating rink next door and they had a nice pile out of collected zamboni harvests. the sight of the white heaps spilling onto the sidewalk, lying under the fence, gathered in little hills, fit perfectly with the mood of the day. i know where to go to get my white Christmas at least. the time went by faster than i could have expected. if asked, i would have said i spent 45 minutes tops in the cold. but no, it was over three times that. crazy how that works. maybe i just blacked out…
the sri lankan community was having a memorial service and we were allowed to join the gathering and eat their food. so we stood outside in the cold again, as it was crowded inside, and shoveled new foods into our mouths, new to me at least. i tried to eat and show appreciation, but it was hard as i was still full to bursting from three days of eating too much. we rode tram and metro to termini and hung out for a while. he asked how i was here and i had to explain the idea of raising support and having other people pay for you to hang out in another country. thanks abundant go out to all those out there who have helped make this possible. really. thank you.
i went from there to the park near the colosseum and met up with phil. we were planning on playing soccer with some of the guys, but after waiting for quite some time, and people using the field, and the rain starting, we called it quits and headed home. i passed much of the rest of the afternoon reading a tale of two cities, a book i am currently in a state of having completed. and if you haven’t already, go read it as soon as you can. very worth it. what a story!
that night was spent out at the train station talking to new friends and old. a friend of the uthmanns is here with his parents and he, weston, and his father, mark, wanted to come out and see what the whole refugee thing was about. weston, having been to yemen twice before, had some good time connecting with our yemeni friend ali, of whom you have already heard much. we spent more time that usual here. phil brought along an italian friend. the hope for the agape refugee team is to get italian students involved in helping as well, which has so far come with mixed results. but he is a good guy who speaks english like a champ, so it certainly wasn’t bad having him around.
i started thinking about these three guys we know from iraq and how they fled the terrible situation there, what with the aftermath of a war and all. i get kind of bitter when things like that come up. these are iraqi citizens. they are people. they have lives and families. these are the people who are dying. there is a family in my town that put a sign up on a prominent street keeping an ever growing tally of the u.s. and iraqi civilian dead since the war. the u.s. dead is far too high. the iraqi dead (again, civilians) is astronomical. to capture some of this bitterness, i hand you over to reese roper and all his bitterness towards a lot of things. this song is mainly pointed at the ridiculousness of american churches in supporting things like war and money. i could think of a few things in the Gospels (and by a few things i mean a lot of things) that would prove such ideals false and contrary to the love of Christ. but this is a rant for another day. still, i can’t help but think of this song when i talk to my friends from war-torn countries.
and then i stayed up until the book lay completed in my thankful hands.