Sunday, August 26, 2007

I Walk the Middle

Downtown Ancona is nestled between two sets of hills, the second of which ends in cliffs that fall to the sea. In the very bottom of this little valley is a street that goes from one end to the other, each end opening up onto the sea. This is the 'elbow' of land that juts out into the sea which gives the city its name (ankon is greek for elbow).

Recently, the downtown section of this street (Corso Garibaldi) was permanently shut off to all but foot and bicycle traffic. This plan, approved by our mayor, Fabio Sturani, involved re engineering the flow of traffic downtown so that anyone coming from the north into downtown enters through the new tunnel and drives DIRECTLY IN FRONT of our facility.

Anywhoo - those who have shops along Corso Garibaldi have supposedly seen a drastic decrease in business and about half of them are complaining by putting neon stickers in their windows protesting the creation of this isola pedonale (pedestrian island) saying that the island isolates the shops from customers.

It is funny to see how the mind of the Ancona people works. They are so used to there being traffic on this street that even now, though the street is completely empty of cars, they walk on the sidewalks. I, on the other hand, am proud to walk the middle. I embrace the new Ancona and am excited to see it transformed, renewed and to see old ways made new.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Amore al Pistacchio

One of our friends here in Ancona, Francesco, has been busy lately filming and editing an indie film. Late one night in September, 2001, while in NYC, he got the idea for it and is just now getting around to completing it. Check it out here.

Guests from Romania

Well, we got back from camping yesterday afternoon and had just enough time to put everything away and clean up before picking up Heather Wimsett and Darlene Runner at the train station. Heather has been working in Romania for several years and Darlene is her intern, there since February. They will be staying with us until Monday. We house lots of guests in our 'line of work', but it is a special honor to host these two - you can just sense God's presence when you're around them. As soon as I have the photos downloaded from our camping/rafting adventure, I'll post them.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Going Camping

Well, at 7:00 am, we're heading out. Heather and the kids will go with the Roterts to catch the bus to the train station to Terni. Meanwhile, Marcus and I will ride in the camping-equipment-laden car to the site, near the Marmore Waterfalls in Umbria. We will spend the week there, fending off a rainy forecast and making memories. Tuesday, Massi and Maurizio will be meeting us to go rafting and to celebrate Mau's 45th birthday. (We all are chipping in to buy him an MP3 player.) If you need us, you'll have to wait till we get home or call our cell phone. The kids don't start school until September 17th! I'll post when I get home about the experience - camping in Italy is NOT like camping in the U.S.!

Extra-long bed available upon request...

Our 11th anniversary was Friday and I surprised Heather by booking a room at the Hotel Federico II in nearby Jesi. We enjoyed the 18 hours away from the kids, the dinner in Moie and each other's company. I'm so lucky to have Heather and love watching how she continues to grow and blossom into the woman God intends for her to be.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's a Date!

The other night as our family walked in front of Ancona's principal theater we noticed the new poster announcing the coming concerts and performances. We got really excited when we noticed what was scheduled on November 17th (the 12th anniversary of our engagement). A ballet (Heather's favorite) set to the music of Vivaldi's Four Seasons (Jason's favorite) here in our very own, beloved Ancona. Yahoo!

Ancona Team Retreat - Day 3

Well, we're done. After three straight days of meetings with very few breaks, we emerged tired, yes, but united, excited and ready for action. I'll be sharing with you in the next few days some of the results of our conversations including our reworded vision statement, our primary purpose for the next 5 months, our 6 primary objectives which will get us there and some explanations of some of the changes.

One of my favorite things about the retreat was the emergence of the primacy of prayer - more than just a value or a 'we should because we're Christians' there seems to be a passion for it and a commitment to make it central to everything we are and do: in practice, in teaching, personally, corporately, in discipleship and in evangelism.

I am very proud of our team for being willing to be very honest and transparent, willing to sacrifice and share for the furthering of the church here. For all of your prayers and encouragement, thank you! If I can now ask you to pray for our team as we take the next step, which is to, together, turn these conversations into goals. Please pray for wisdom, unity and above all, protection as we all sense that Satan, he who would keep everyone from getting any closer to Christ, is not pleased with our progress.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ancona Team Retreat - Day 2

Whew, just got back from jogging with Brian - we broke through another level today - jogged for 4 minutes/walked for 2, five times for a total of 30 minutes. It feels really good to push through the pain and discomfort, knowing that my body is burning fat, building muscle and that my lung capacity is improving.

I feel a similar way about our conversations today. We met again from 8 to 5 with just a few short breaks and though we were tired, sleepy, and we didn't always agree on everything, I feel we were able to really push through and get to a new level today as a team. We're trimming away unnecessary things, building new and healthy habits and improving our ability to work together toward a common goal. Thanks for praying!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ancona Team Retreat - Day 1

We just finished our first day of meetings and I couldn't be more pleased. We are meeting at the Rotert house today, tomorrow and Wednesday. Matt & Angie are watching the kids for us this week which is a real blessing. We dropped the kiddos off before 8:00 and started our conversations with a mug of Swedish coffee and some pastries. Today's agenda was mainly team-building and I feel we were able to lay a really good foundation for the next couple of days' worth of conversations. Tomorrow we will be revisiting some of our team's core values and documents as well as talking about the vision for what's ahead. Thanks for praying!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ancona Team Retreat - Takeoff

At 20:00 we kicked off our retreat at our house. Jacob volunteered to take care of the kids while the adults shared a worship & prayer time. Here was his 'order of service':
-opening prayer
-icebreaker: what are you thankful for?
-sing three songs (in italian)
-Bible story
-coloring page
-closing prayer

Meanwhile, the adults (Heather & I, Brian & Heidi and Marcus), gathered to pray, sing and worship together. Afterwards, the guys and older kids went up to Forte Altavilla to lay on the grass and watch the shooting stars.

I'm excited about the next three days - there's lots to discuss. Tomorrow, Monday, we will be focusing on team building, looking at lots of things, among them some of Lencioni's principles of teamwork. Thanks for praying!

Monday, August 6, 2007


I've often said that the hardest thing about living overseas is watching my kids adjust back-and-forth between American and Italian cultures. Whether at school, at home, traveling, at play, however it manifests itself, it is the hardest thing for me to accept about cross-cultural ministry. Today, I was able to pinpoint one of the triggers for this sentiment.

I've recently begun jogging again, thanks to the promptings of my teammate, Brian. We drive up to the Cittadella park and jog around for 30 minutes. It is a beautiful setting: a park on the top of a hill overlooking the city inside the walls of an ancient fort. There are lots of families with kids at the playground and people laying on the grass or walking around. As we were jogging this evening, I saw two grandparents sitting on a bench, baby grandchild in a stroller. They just sat there together, smiling, looking at their hurry, no rush, just enjoying the cool, summer evening with their grandchild.


While our parents do a good job of keeping in touch and showering us with love, both while we are away and 'at home', it is a gut check every time I see it. It makes the times when we do return to the U.S. that more special, that more important. It pushes us to pack in as much time and as many memories into those weeks and months as possible. It encourages us to be creative in how we communicate with grandmas and grandpas. In the end, it makes us grateful for having the kind of parents we want our kids to spend time with.