The past three days have been good ones… as have pretty much all of the days so far!
Day 9 (Wednesday) started with our visiting Ignacio and Litzy at their church building, hearing them describe their dreams, their challenges, and how we might partner together going forward. They are truly an enjoyable couple, and God is doing good things through them and the church they lead!
Wednesday was also our travel day, so much of the afternoon was consumed with flying to Rome, getting checked in at the hotel, and grabbing dinner.
Day 10 (Thursday) was all about seeing Rome. Our hotel is about 3 blocks from a major transportation hub (“Termini”), so hopping on the Metro is easy… though their current construction issues meant lots of twists and turns and stairs before we made it onto a train! We visited St. Peter’s Basilica (a cathedral) and the enormous plaza you’ve seen on TV where the Pope addresses the crowds from his balcony. Under the cathedral we saw the tomb of St. Peter… at least, that’s what the sign said. As we left the plaza we stopped into a free exhibit called “The Word of the Lord” that was all about the Bible down through the ages. We each took our turn at using a replica of Gutenberg’s printing press… though I don’t think any of our papers survived the rest of the day. Mine didn’t even survive lunch.
After lunch (pizza!) we visited the Vatican Museum for a couple hours. You could spend a day there and not see all the statues and works of art. Eventually we had to narrow our focus on getting to the Sistine Chapel… which was amazing. I was surprised by how high the ceiling was, and I can’t imagine the scaffolding that must have been in place for Michelangelo to paint that amazingly huge work of art. No photos were allowed, but we all tried to sneak a few with our phones anyway. You can tell me next week (when I get them posted) if mine are any good.
On the way back to the hotel we made two more stops: the Parthenon and Trevi fountain. Both were beautiful. I threw a coin into the fountain, which apparently means I’ll return to Rome someday, though I’m not clear how that’s connected to tossing a coin in a fountain. Maybe I’m supposed to try to fish it back out on my next trip?
Today is Day 11 (Friday), which is memorable for two reasons: our visit to the Colosseum and our visit with two local church leaders. You might remember the Colosseum from the many movies that have featured it, like Spartacus, Gladiator, and Jumper (that last one for my fellow scifi geeks). For an hour and a half, we wandered around the ruins, listening to our audio/video guides and snapping photos. It’s interesting how similar it was to our modern sports arenas. If you’ve ever gone to a game and had to look for which gate to enter and which section to sit in, you have something in common with the ancient Romans. Beyond that, we watch athletes kick or dribble or hit a ball around, while they watched people fight to the death, sometimes against wild animals. Other than that, though…
We spent a few hours this afternoon with Joel Mullen, an American missionary to Italy. He and his wife first came here 16 years ago as volunteers, then returned 11 years ago as missionaries. He currently serves as the district superintendent, encouraging the leaders of the six Churches of the Nazarene here in Italy and pastoring the church in Moncalleir, near Torino. Unlike the other districts we’ve visited, the churches in Italy are primarily Italian. One is an immigrant church (Peruvians), but the rest are Italians reaching Italians.
He took us to visit the church here in Rome, and we were able to spend some time with its pastor, Angela Cereda. She is bivocational, just like most pastors on this field, earning her living as a counselor while also leading this fairly young church. It meets in a building that is owned by the district, with the church on the first floor. The two upper floors are living space, with 4 bedrooms sharing a common bath, kitchen, and balcony, bed-and-breakfast-style. I think it was the home of the district superintendent in years past, but now it is available for visiting pastors, missionaries, students, etc. (If you want to visit Rome and support the church at the same time, they suggest a 25 Euro donation per person.) She has an amazing story, and I’m glad we have this strong sister serving the Lord here in Rome.
All that’s left tonight is dinner and then maybe a little shopping before bed. I still haven’t figured out what I’m bringing home for Stacey… and I don’t have much time left! Tomorrow we fly back to Paris and visit the Eiffel tower. Sunday I’ll be preaching in a church in Versailles, and then Monday we fly home! It’s been a great trip, but I’m very ready to be back home. Please pray that we have safe travels for the rest of the trip. And please pray for our health. Kyle seems to be over most of his cold (or whatever it is), but Mike is still fighting it hard. Lots of coughing. I haven’t caught anything yet… and I’d like to keep it that way!