Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas! Hope this day is filled with love and joy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Gift Idea

Well, we're heading out tomorrow morning, Monday, at 6 am. Heather's dad is driving us to Dallas and my folks are coming down to get us. It has been a great 10 days here in New Braunfels - it has been great seeing friends and family. The temperature has swung from the 70's down to the 30's. This evening we are sitting around playing the Seinfeld Scene-It. Fun stuff.

Hey, by the way, Heather's sister, Jennifer (Jenny), has recently published a children's book called 'A Match Made in Heaven'. It is a great gift, especially for Christmas. You can order it online or download the digital version immediately. Check out and search for the book title or click the book link above.

If we don't see you before, have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Italian Blog

While we're stateside we are keeping an Italian blog for our friends back home. We will be putting pictures and things on there that you won't see here. Check it out at - you may not be able to read it, but you can enjoy the pictures and video. The last post is about Taco Bell's insane suggestion that we add a 4th meal to our diet...yeah, real healthy...(but delicious)...

On Being Stateside...

Well. We're in Texas. I'm sitting in my in-laws' guesthouse, listening to Bon Iver, studying and preparing lectures for a class I'm teaching in January. Man, it is a lot of work. It is one of those intensive, one-week classes - five days, 35 hours of class time. I'm reading the book Organic Community by Joe Myers right now - really, really good so far - putting into words things I've been thinking/feeling/experiencing.

Really smooth transition this time around. I miss my team, church and home - but it has been smooth. I feel some timid tendrils of cultural stress already, but different than ever before. Whereas in past trips 'home', I've raced out to buy the food and sweets I've missed or run to the stores to shop and see what latest game or gadget is out, this time I find myself, well, not.

It all seems too glittery. So big, so very, very big. And loud. So much junk, crap. I'm sure it is worse because it is the Christmas, shopping season, but I still feel it. My ears and eyes are especially sensitive to the commercial nature we're surrounded in. I'm not used to having cable. Not used to paying so little for gas, so much freedom, so many options.

I want to retreat to the silence of this little guest house and yet find myself wishing I were sitting at Yuri's caffe at Piazza Roma where I know how to speak and what to order.

I'm sipping a Dr. Pepper, happy to be with family and spending dollars. I'll lay down on this grass for it is green but I find myself increasingly homeless, increasingly rootless...

Go hug a missionary today. We're weird for good reason...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Secret Seafood and Side-by-side Scaffolding

I ate lunch with Josh and Maurizio yesterday. It was delicious. Maurizio can be temperamental sometimes and yesterday he was...about parking. So we ended up going to a new place - one we had never heard of. It is tucked into the old soccer stadium by the tennis club - a little hole-in-the-wall seafood place. There is no sign, no indication except for a rickety exhaust tube from the kitchen that rises over the wall.

Delicious. Spaghetti with tomatoes and clams followed by a shared fried fish plate accompanied by a delicious local white wine. Maurizio is an enigma to me. I can't figure him out. I baptized him last year and since then his life has been awful. Well, according to him. It hasn't been NEARLY the life-saving event he thought it would be. You know the country song - no girl, no house, no dog...

There are two buildings just down the road from our house next to each other and both of them are being redone - repainted. This is a major process that costs the owners of the apartments thousands of euros and hours of heartache. It happens every 20 years or so and the city is full of buildings that are surrounded in scaffolding as mostly foreign workers are busy stripping, rebuilding and painting. The scaffolding goes up, the transformation takes 2-3 months (or MUCH longer) and then the scaffolding comes down and the building is restored to its pristine, original condition. One of the two afore-mentioned buildings is covered in scaffolding. The one next to it instead has hired a new service for the job. It is two guys with a huge platform truck with a crane that allows them to reach great distances. No scaffolding. They peel the paint, fire the walls and go to town while everyone watches and while piles of crusty, cracking paint form around the base of the building. Bare, naked, patchy walls are visible to everyone.

Two buildings side by side. One covered in green canvas which hides the work, the other exposed, cold, shivering. In the end, the result is the same...I think. Maurizio is the scaffolding-less building. As I listened to him talk and waver between lamenting and laughing I just smiled and enjoyed the moment. He's a good friend. Maybe my best Italian friend and he's just like George Costanza. I'll keep praying for him, keep exploring new restaurants with him, keep sitting with him as the old stuff gets scraped away and the new stuff gets put on.

I'm pretty sure I still have some scaffolding of my own up in some places...