Sunday, January 30, 2011

new digs

this is our new home! the bathroom was still being worked on (don't worry). we went to do the last inspection with the owner on wednesday so these are the pre-move-in pictures. we are just waiting for the gas to be turned on and then it will be all OURS. hopefully tuesday morning we will be moving on in. i will be posting picture as soon as we get in, get it cleaned, and put our own touches on the place :)

keep praying for us as we find our niche in our new roles and new community

oh, and if you know my mom, wish her a happy birthday tomorrow!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


so, we are starting friday night activity night for our students/friends/new people/church members... every friday night starting in february through may we have something planned at the bible school.

1st friday of every month: movie night
2nd friday of every month: american cooking school
3rd friday of every month: game night
4th friday of every month: book club

ryan and peter are in charge of the movie nights, debbie, ermenita, and i are in charge of the cooking school, angela is in charge of game night, and andrea and emily are in charge of the book club. eric and jessica are going to help out everywhere until they leave (they are moving to southern italy to work with a church there in the middle of february).

i found some cotton yarn at the market so in my free time, i'm going to crochet and knit some cotton kitchen washcloths to hopefully sell as a fundraiser for the bible school at the cooking schools. we will see how that goes.
i found this pattern here and i think i will try it, or i may just make up my own crochet pattern. i'll show you how they turn out.

be praying for our friday night activities that we will have huge turnouts and make meaningful relationships with the wonderful people here!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


italy has the greatest doors

what's behind them is usually really great too, maybe not in the third picture though, since there is a skull and crossbones on the door.

this week, besides the regular schedule, i'm crocheting a baby blanket for a girl at church who is due in may, maybe i'll post the final product later if it turns out (i've never made a blanket before).

yesterday, with my student, olga, we were reading the story of jesus and the samaritan woman at the well and i had to explain the term "living water", whoa. her english is very good but this concept is not an easy one for someone who hasn't grown up reading the bible, actually it's not easy for someone who has. i wish i had been recording her speaking as she began to understand the idea, it was such a beautiful explanation. just because of the language difference, there is always a new perspective i gain from these studies.

hope everyone has a great week, this is our last one living at the bible school!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


well since you've last heard from me... all the current workers have returned to the bible school from vacation, we have started back classes and bible studies and all our normal semester activities, 17(ish) HUF students have moved in with us (my brother included), we have totally revamped/cleaned/remodeled the bible school, debbie and david have ordered a new washer/dryer and fridge for the bible school, ryan and i have selected and paid for our own apartment to be closer to the church and university (we move in feb. 1), we have planned a ton of outreach activities for our students/people we know/meet, we have done a lot of planning for our outreach ministry here in florence, we have raked leaves, picked up a dump truck load of old tile and bricks, and trimmed 3 giant palm trees (that involved david on scaffolding with and ax and ermenita being stabbed in the leg with a falling dead palm spine and requiring a trip to the hospital, a tetanus shot and a few stitches).

however, this week i have unfortunately done almost nothing because i've been vomiting for 2 days and trying to recover so i can go back to normal next week. (before all you women freak out and say, "you idiot, you're pregnant", i can confirm that i am not; it's probably just a virus).

so, besides eating crackers and jello (of which my husband has become the most accomplished of makers, seriously, i would put him in a jello-making competition if that existed) i have been doing a lot of thinking about the things i love and that make me happy and i just feel like sharing.

1. i have been thinking about this guy:
i have been thinking about how lucky i am to have this man who not only puts up with my quirks and annoyances, but honestly says that he loves those things about me. how he woke up to a puking wife on his 26th birthday and instead of having a "woe is me" outburst, refused to leave the house and not only made jello, washed sheets, hunted sprite, cleaned bathrooms, stayed up until 3am washing/folding clothes, and answered my every beckon call, but also made me think i was crazy every time i started to have a pity party and apologize for ruining his birthday. how he loves me, takes care of me, complements (not compliments) me in the right things, is similar to me in the right things, makes me feel so comfortable, how he leads me spiritually, how he looks at me everyday like it was the first week we were dating, how he always says "if you love it, i love it", how he always puts me first, how money is just another thing to him (if we have it, great; if we don't, great), how smart and capable he is (but always patiently listens to my 2 cents, even if they don't matter)...ok, mushy enough? sorry, but this virus has given me some clarity of thought that i have to spit out before i forget.

2. how special my parents, brother, and grandparents are to me. there isn't a day that goes by that i don't see their faces in my head and thank God. they have made me who i am (i'm really just little pieces of them all assembled) and i long one day to live close to them again if that is God's will for our lives. i feel myself light up and calm down when i'm in their presence. luke 14:26 makes me sad, but matthew 19:29 gives me comfort. i never feel more comfortable and unconditionally accepted and loved than when i am with these people.

3. i've been thinking about this fren (the best):
she is probably the most humble, honest, selfless, patient, loving, listening, true good true friend the world will ever know. she makes me feel so comfortable, "at home" if you will tolerate my cheesiness. i miss her everyday and feel reenergized every time i get to talk to her on gchat. of course we catch each other up on our daily lives, but we get to the good stuff and talk like we were laying on the couch or sitting in her backyard together. we talk like it's a beautiful fall saturday, our husbands are out playing golf, and we have nothing to do but talk and talk. i can just see us together as old women and it makes me so happy. i want to live near her forever and i hope that is in our future (especially considering that we want to open a store together), but for now i don't know the plans so i just thank God for putting her in my life and keeping her in it even though we are so far away from each other.

4. ironically (since my top 3 things i think about are people), i've realized that it really is just about loving God first and then loving other people. that's not just my revelation, it's what the whole bible is about, that's who jesus was, a people-lover. at first this sounds easy, "of course i love my husband, my family, and my best friend", but no, it's not that easy. think of the person you most dislike in this world (there's always someone)...ok, loving others means that you care about that person's spirit and their happiness and their taken-care-of ness. it's hard and gross and it's easy to just ignore it, but that's IT, that's what it's all about. not to mention loving those people who we walk past everyday, sit next to on the bus, wait behind to get coffee, who interrupt our day with their bad attitudes, long lines, bad driving, stinky armpits, standing in the middle of the see how it gets complicated

5. i want to have faith like the centurion

6. i don't like romantic comedies (except sleepless in seattle)

7. you really can kill someone with kindness, but it is extremely hard and i'm not yet strong enough to do it

8. i love good music, it makes me feel things, takes me away, makes me emotional in a really good way

9. i love creating things, created things, and people who create things (this includes food). i would love to own a store one day where i was able to sell created things (this doesn't include food) that make other people happy

10. i'm a nurse. why? something motivated me to push through all the hard work and sacrifice of nursing school, but what? i did it for 2 years in a hospital and i wasn't happy or fulfilled. i love taking care of kids, but i guess i'm still thinking on this one, because i'm trying to think of a capacity that i can be a nurse someday and enjoy it

11. plants
i love them and i would totally love to live in a building that looked like this. in the city of paris, i was more intrigued with the plants on the front of this building than the eiffel tower. i know i'm weird. i don't know if it's the plants themselves or what they mean to me, see here, but i am mesmerized with all things plant.

12. what a blessing each day is. there really is something new everyday and if you stop and think about what IT is, and thank God for that, you will begin to draw comfort and meaning out of day to day monotony.

13. "we ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." mother teresa said that, but it helps remind me that what i am doing is just planting a seed, if God isn't sending the water and the sunshine then nothing will come of it

i will stop here because 13 is my lucky number and so i don't bore you completely to death. but one last thing because it's about this blog itself. when we came here and i started this blog, i felt obligated to the people who are financially supporting us to kind of use the blog as a newsletter...a way to be held get approval for what we are doing with other people's money. i felt like it had to be perfect or nothing at all and then i realized how stupid and selfish that is. people wouldn't be helping us unless they trust us to do the right thing here or better yet trust God to work through our clumsy efforts. and as debbie so wisely and frequently reminds me, "God will do good in spite of us". isn't that the truth! so, what i'm getting at is that this blog is going to loosen up a little bit, i'm going to stop trying to make a weekly newsletter to check off and instead focus on the little wonderful details that make life here and everywhere...wonderful.

Friday, January 7, 2011

this is...

this is our new years day lunch with rosa (our cook and friend) and her husband felice (remember, his name means happy). it was wonderful!
their beautiful home
felice with his bird, figaro, getting kisses
appetizers, yes please
the group (notice me already going for the silverware)
danielle and lulu
the hubs
sweet rosa
this is a normal day with david
these are homemade brownies with blueberry frosting that i made for my student last night. she came over and we watched movies and played phase 10, my family's favorite!

recipe for the brownies from joy the baker here
recipe for the blueberry frosting from a random food blog here

(i always forget the "finished" picture because i'm just too excited to eat)
movie and popcorn
intense phase 10 playing
this is zoey learning tricks (emily is teaching her not to eat something if she calls it "poison")
this is the hubs fixing bikes
this is just another week at the bible school!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

summing up december

i guess when we took a break at the bible school for the holidays, i took a break from blogging.
i needed to let my brain shut off. half of us are back at the school now and we are trying to get back into a routine this week. we don't start classes or bible study back until the week of january 17th, but are trying to get a lot done now so that transition will be easy.

so after thanksgiving we continued our classes until the 2nd week of december and then i guess the bible school officially closed for the holidays. david, debbie, ermenita, emily, angela, and andrea all headed back to the states for most of december, while the 2 couples and peter held down the fort here. danielle and lulu (a young couple at church) stayed in david and debbie's apartment the whole month to look after things too.

we had 2 weeks for official vacation and our sweet family blessed us with the christmas present of a lifetime. during our 2 weeks we were able to travel to france, scotland, and ireland and celebrate a glorious 2 year anniversary on the cliffs of moher. we had a amazing time that cannot be summed up in a normal size blog post, so you'll just have to look at ryan's facebook pictures and use your imagination. our trip was very much needed rest and relaxation for us and we came back to the bible school feeling so energized and ready for another semester.

we returned to the bible school december 21st and since then:

ryan and i went to a nice restaurant in town christmas eve
we had 2 christmas dinners (one at a man's house from church, one at elizabeth whatley's, the pepperdine director)
i have crocheted 3 scarves & 3 hats
i have cooked a lot of food
i have painted
we have been practicing italian with rosetta stone and rosa (our cook)
we have washed a lot of clothes
we have cleaned the bible school
david has repaired the dryer
david and ryan replaced the brakes on his car
david and ryan replaced the tires on 2 bicycles
we had a church potluck
we renewed our health insurance
ryan and i have started a regimen of reading the bible through in a year
we have skyped our friends and family
i have made a lot of popcorn
we have started searching for apartments in florence
we had new years day lunch at our cook rosa's house
we have taught the kids bible class at church
the guys have watched a few football games
we have gone to lucca and fiesole and spent some more time in downtown florence
we have written thankyou notes and birthday cards
we have received some sweet letters
we are preparing for our spring classes
we have had friends over

so, we have kept ourselves busy. half of us are back at the school now and we are trying to get back into a routine this week. the other half of the group comes back at different times this week, and i'm excited to be all back together again. we don't start classes or bible study back until the week of january 17th, but are trying to get a lot done now so that getting back into the swing of things will be easy.

ryan and i have been asked by the church in florence to stay here and work with them and we feel that God has lead us to this specific ministry. we will continue one on one english classes throughout the semester but we will be starting a ministry aimed at students. we will be planning things to do with the students/kids at church like: VBS, field trips, weekend retreats, movie nights, holiday parties, camp. at the same time we will be trying to get involved with high school/university students in the community through concerts, movie nights, weekend retreats, holiday parties, cooking schools, game nights, and any other suggestions we might get. david has also talked to us about starting a soup kitchen and we are very much excited about the possibility of that. we are so thankful for the blessings God has given us to be able to be a part of this work here.

since new avanti workers will be coming in the fall, we have to move out of the bible school to make room. we also want to be closer to the church and the university. that is why we have started searching for an apartment. i think tomorrow ryan and i are going to go with david and look at some places. i'm really excited about having our own place to have people over and have bible studies.

please continue to pray for us and our work here. we want to be effective and useful and we are so thankful for the things God has already shown us and the ways he has already been using us. we could not be doing any of this without the unconditional love and support of the friends and family that God has blessed our lives with. thank you!

*oh yea, last night and tonight in searcy, arkansas, debbie is conducting an italian cooking school as a fundraiser for the bible school. i guess i'm a little late to tell you to go to it, but i can tell you that she has compiled 2 italian cookbooks that contain recipes for some of the best food i've ever eaten and they are for sale at mckinney supply in searcy. if you're in the neighborhood of searcy it will be way worth the $10 to get yourself one.

have a happy new year!