ciao tutti! the weeks are getting busier and busier...in fact, the upcoming week looks like it is going to be the busiest yet. today, week we received ermenita's parents and brother (for her graduation, yay!), peter arrives this week, debbie's mom arrives this week, we are getting a different teacher in language school, and we got a puppy. yes, she still has puppy breath!
so monday after class we came back for lunch, i had my english class with olga and i prepared my turkey meatloaf and chocolate chip cookies for our men's/women's bible study. roberta, our italian friend brought pasta to go with it.
tuesday after class we swung by the coop for groceries, had lunch at the bible school, and prepared for english classes. i found out that my student, chiara, had to cancel for that day, so after ryan and i did our homework and studied italian, we watched "the incredibles" in italian. it was one of the more relaxing weekdays we've had since we've been here, but it was good to get recharged. i feel like i'm always tired here, but it's always a good tired. i definitely don't have trouble sleeping anymore!
ok, wednesday after classes we returned for lunch at the bible school, did our homework and studied some more italian, and prepared for some more english classes. nothing really out of the ordinary, but i did meet my student sara for the first time and we had a great time getting to know each other. she comes at 9pm every wednesday and she is so sweet and eager to learn. also on wednesdays i will usually have ornella and a brother and sister alex and luna (ages 9 and 11) but they aren't able to start coming until this week. besides alex and luna, my students range from ages 16 to 33, and they are all so unique and wonderful. i have all women students, and it is such a neat bond i have already made with all of them. i feel so blessed to have a designated time each week to sit and talk to eager, open-hearted women about jesus and his life. wow, i'm overwhelmed just thinking about how awesome it is. each study is new and different and even if i use the same material on 2 people, each person has totally different questions and thoughts. it's so amazing to watch a mind work in this way. obviously, i will take a little different approach for alex and luna, we are going to start with colors, months, days, numbers, alphabet, greetings, food, animals...who knows. and then we will start doing fun little kid bible stories. i know i will have great stories about them all!
so thursday we did the grape harvest with the HUF students in chianti and that was good fun hard work. this is not normal, but the grapes were covered in fuzzy MOLD. apparently there was way too much rain before the harvest and they molded, but we harvested them anyway. we went up and down the rows of the vineyard with big plastic tubs and a pair of scissors, snipped the grape clusters, and threw them in the tub. we got filthy and tired and it was a beautiful wonderful day. another one of those moments when i look around and think...i'm doing _____ in ITALY and i'm not just a tourist anymore, it's normal for my life right now because i LIVE here. it was a surreal feeling. ps for lunch the family on who's land we were harvesting had a huge fire and cooked ribs, bacon, sausage for us and had bread and a special homemade tuscan grape bread for dessert. i'm drooling just thinking about it again. so after the harvest we hurried back to scandicci, took quick showers, and rushed over to church for our thursday night english conversation class, simple supper and bible study. emily made some amazing soup and the fellowship and study were great. we all collapsed when we got home that night.
location of the harvest
look at that mold! it was on every grape
our lunch at the harvest
friday morning we had a huge exam in our italian class and we were so tired from the harvest, but we all did great! after class we had lunch at the bible school and then we went to the house of a friend of david's, andrea spinelli. he is a brilliant artist who has invented 3 machines interfaced with his computer that i really don't even know how to explain. one carves intricate wooden frames (very simple explanation because i'm retarded when it comes to math and things of genius), one paints what he tells it to, and one paints however he moves his hand. yes, it was astounding. after we got back from andrea's house we began our first "physical friday", which consisted of cleaning out the laundry room (much more extensive than it sounds). we got a new deep freeze from the HUF villa so we got rid of 3 pieces of furniture in the laundry room to make space for it, and we had to consolidate, organize, and get rid of a lot of things that we don't need and won't use. it was right up my alley for those of you who know how much i love to deep clean, organize, and purge. it was hard work for a friday afternoon, so we realized that a mcdonalds cheeseburger sounded really good. yes, for dinner friday night we went to mcdonalds as a group and i enjoyed every second of it! don't even think about judging me, believe it or not, you can get tired of eating pasta for every meal.
street signs are really graphic
here. they have blood
call me crazy, but after thursday's harvest and friday's laundry room revival, i got up at 7 saturday morning to do more physical labor. emily took jessica, angela, and i to the home of elizabeth whatley, where we spent 8 hours that day. elizabeth is the director of the pepperdine program here in florence, she lives in the old medici hunting lodge in the woods outside of florence, and has a lot of beautiful land. however, the previous owners treated the beautiful land like a land fill and we worked all day saturday cleaning some of it out. it didn't feel like we even made a dent but hopefully it was helpful to her. she was so hospitable and cooked us a wonderful lunch, but man my hamstrings are tighter than ever! saturday evening we just chilled and i went to bed pretty early. i was so pooped.
sunday we went to church and then we went back over to elizabeth's villa for an authentic italian feast. we thought it was just going to be our group and a few close friends but when we got there, there were about 60 or 70 other people there. she had tables and chairs set up outside, and everything was cooked on her outdoor woodburning oven/grill. amazing doesn't even begin to describe it; i just counted and there were 7 FOOD courses. her house/land also looks just like "under the tuscan sun" so i really felt like i was in a movie. it was another surreal feeling. i think the meal lasted 2 1/2 hours and after we finally got up from the table we walked to an olive grove and ryan and eric played soccer with some italian men and their sons. meanwhile, jessica, angela, and i walked with some of elizabeth's neighbors to go see their farm house. we volunteered to come out in november and help them with their olive harvest.
the 4 newest avanti women
we finally told everyone bye and came back to the house. i have been preparing my english lessons for the week and getting my thoughts together for the women's bible study, because i'm supposed to lead it tomorrow night. it was another great week in italy that once again has me saying "how are we some of the ones that got chosen to go here and do this?" whatever the reason, i hope i'm living out what God had planned when he sent us here. please pray that we are. we miss you all.
ps, i think jessica may be posting some videos and other photos of our activities here on her blog. there is and especially great photo of me cleaning our toilet :)