Tuesday, July 26, 2011

camp, weaving, paul simon, oh my

as you very well know now, the last week of june and the first week of july we spent in the mountains of italy at camp.

most people (like me) grew up going to camp and probably some of your most fun kid memories are from camp (mine are). kids look forward to this week all year long and here in italy it is no different. these kids came from the churches all over italy so some of them only get to see each other at camp every year.

this experience was really special in so many ways and i am so thankful for all the adults for letting us americans get so involved. we had so much fun and were blessed by getting to witness the lives of many kids and teenagers being changed forever. there were 3 beautiful baptisms (in a deep freeze) that i will always treasure being a part of.

instead of talking about it, i'm just going to show you the video i made:

so, then the day after we got back from camp ryan, angela, and i drove to STIA italy, see it there about 2 cm north east of florence.
this is where angela and i learned how to weave. stia is a sleepy little town in the casentino mountains and it is known for their wool. the 100+ year old wool mill there has been very well preserved and the inside made into a beautiful museum. the wonderful lady who taught us has 2 weaving "labs" in this museum so this is where we spent 3 glorious days together. ryan came along as our photographer, he may have gone swimming in the river a few times too. the light in this room was absolutely heavenly and ryan took some of the best pictures he has ever taken here. guided by our teacher, ryan took step by step photos of the weaving process that we plan on making into an instructional booklet for the women we will teach here in florence. angela giordano, our teacher, will also use this book to teach the women that she goes to help in developing countries, because most of them can't read. i'll share a few of his beautiful photos, but i also made a video of this trip.

then we were home for about 4 days, in which i worked on videos (ermenita's wedding slideshow and something for the bondeno church)/cleaned/washed clothes and ryan went to the bible school to help with the complete kitchen remodel happening over there. his job has been cutting tile so he comes home every day looking like he just took a dive into a vat of flour. even after his shower, for hours white powder seeps out of the corners of his eyeballs. cool.

so anyway, after a few days of that we went to milan to see PAUL SIMON in concert. we got there on a sunday afternoon, rented bikes and rode all over the city until the concert at 9 that night. AMAZING. he is still great live, very encouraging. the next day we had until our train left at 3 in the afternoon, so we did the same thing, discovered the city on bike.
it was wonderful, i'm getting so used to battling crazy italian traffic on bike, i actually miss biking when i'm away from it for a couple of days. i'm looking forward to conquering daily life on a bike back in the states.

since then we have had a few people over for game night, had girls night at mona's house for ermenita's last fling before her wedding, i've been working on more videos/purging our apt/cleaning/packing for our trip to the states, and ryan has still been working at the bible school. tonight we are going to a cookout at the villa, i still have to do one last art project for ermenita's wedding, we have to run a few errands in town, and we have to finish packing but that's about it.

we leave saturday morning before the sun comes up for our visit to the states! we are really excited and i'm very prepared to have reverse culture shock, but that's ok. i'm just so excited to see our family and friends again, even for a short time. oh, and i'm also cutting all my hair off!

see you all on the flip side.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

first things first

so i know we just returned from 2 weeks of church camp and 2 days learning to weave in the mountains of tuscany and eventually i will get to that, but first i have to mention some things that we did before that.

several sundays ago, we all loaded up and drove to Ferrara, where one of the avanti members andrea has recently moved. the kids of the church had planned a play and they really wanted us to be there for that. what a great congregation! they had their monthly pot-luck after church so we actually got to sit around and get to know some of the members. i personally love this church because it is in the middle of a field on a river and several of the members have made the church grounds a huge garden. i started wandering around admiring all of their produce when one of the members joined me and told me about every fruit tree and vegetable they have. it was great, right up my alley! ryan makes fun of me for how passionate i get about plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, trees...basically anything that grows out of the ground. naturally, i loved it.
"mary and martha"
lazarus, of course
sweet little church in Ferrara
that night, we all went to a small town called Cerbaia, where they have an annual donkey race complete with festival and fireworks. it was so fun (the italians take this very seriously; part of the festival include a parade of the donkeys where they end up at the church of the town to have the donkeys blessed by a priest).
donkey blessings
donkey race
later that week back in Florence there was a hour long fireworks show from piazzale Michelangelo celebrating the saint of Florence (i'm a sucker for some fireworks)!
the last and possibly most important thing that we did in the week leading up to camp was...

make 50+ jars of homemade jam


since moving to italy, i have participated in a lot of tasks that make me look back and say "now i feel like a real woman". ex. not having an air conditioner, dish washer, or dryer; hand washing loads of clothes in a sink; riding my bike or taking a bus everywhere; making homemade bread, pasta, limoncello, soap, olive oil, pizza dough, aromatic salt; getting all my groceries home on a bike...etc. to some people that statement is sad because those things and more are a way of life and to them i'm just a wimp. but coming from my comfy american life they give me a sense of "if i can do this, i can do anything". i guess that's good, right?

anyway, the point is that i added something else to that list and it was making jam with fruit from our own trees at the bible school.

we have a lot of fruit trees and every summer they have to throw away handfuls of fruit that go bad. not this year! angela, ermenita, and i spend 2 days picking, washing, peeling, slicing, boiling, smashing, and jarring fruit till our little hearts were content. we had so much fun and now we have a great thank you gift for everyone who helped us with our vbs a few weeks ago.
(you're lookin' at 26 pounds of fruit my friends)