Thursday, October 28, 2010

english movie night

we had our first english movie night of the season and, as usual, i forgot to take pictures. so, i'm going to be lazy and just link jessica's blog where she does an excellent job of recounting the events.

ps we watched monsters, inc. and i think they loved it!

a "normal" week at the scuola biblica

now that we have gotten into a somewhat regular routine at the bible school, i want to share these ins and outs of a "normal" week here.
had to throw in this cute photo of zoey
every weekday morning, as i have mentioned before, we ride the bus into florence (about 30 minutes) and have italian class from 9am-1pm.
our coffee break at school
we had to describe "guess who" characters in italian
to each other and draw them in class last week
in 2 short months we have learned so much and had a lot of fun, but we have also been really stressed while trying to learn italian. by the time class is over each day, i'm usually in need of a nap because of how hard my brain has been working, but that is only the beginning.

on mondays, wednesdays, and fridays we come straight back to the bible school for lunch at 1:30. after lunch we clean the downstairs and have an AI meeting from 3 to 4. then ryan and i usually work on our italian homework, study, prepare for our english classes, paint (something i've recently started), or clean our room. at 5 my only monday student arrives. we study for an hour.
immediately after my class, a few of us usually start scrambling something together for our simple supper. we take turns being the "head chef" but since i like to cook, i usually help.
at 6:30 we eat dinner together, along with any italians that have come for our bible study. at 7 we split men and women and have our bible studies.

the week we took pictures, david and debbie were gone
with the HUF students and a few people were sick
so there were only a few of us
we usually end our study between 8:15 and 8:30, and at 9 to 10 on monday, tuesday, and wednesday ryan, andrea, and angela teach a beginner's english class.
tuesdays after class we are on our own for lunch. ryan and i usually pack a sack lunch at the bible school and bring it with us to eat somewhere in florence. then we explore the city...take pictures, sit and study or draw, look in stores, sit at coffee shops, get gelato...whatever we feel like doing for a couple of hours to relax.
last week we split girls and guys
ryan and i both have students at 6pm tuesday night so we are always back in time for that. after class we eat something for dinner and i do homework and study while ryan teaches or helps teach the group class.

wednesday after class, lunch, and the meeting, i have students at 5, 6, and 9pm, and ryan has them at 6 and 7 with the group class at 9. between those classes, at 7:30 i study with ermenita (she is providing one on one tutoring if we want it) and try to eat something for dinner.

thursdays we are also on our own for lunch and we are free again for a couple of hours to do something on our own. the past few weeks, our school has offered free guided tours (in italian of course) of different important places in florence. we have been to the boboli gardens, santa maria novella, the academia, and santa croce. those tours usually end just in time for us to catch the bus to the church for our thursday night simple supper, english conversation class, and italian bible study.
some of us trying to cook and david being david
at 6:30, a few people prepare some simple soup or pasta for dinner, while a few others teach an english conversation class to whoever comes, and a few more teach the children of whoever comes. at 7:30 we all eat together and then sing and have a bible study (in italian) until about 9pm. by the time we clean the church and get back to the bible school it is usually about 10 and i'm exhausted. we have a test in our italian class every friday so i always try to study thursday night when we get home, but it never fails that i fall asleep after about 5 minutes and just end up studying on the bus friday morning.

fridays after class, lunch, and the meeting we are supposed to have "physical friday". seeing as we live in an older and very large building with about 11 other people, there are usually some activities in need of a large group to work on. so far, we have gutted, detailed, and reorganized the laundry room, moved in and rearranged for a deep freeze, and cleaned out and reorganized about 10 armoires full of blankets, towels, sheets, pillows, and any other type of household linen you can imagine. this is actually right up my alley because i like cleaning and reorganizing. we haven't been able to do physical friday every week though, because other activities come up (preachers conference, ermenita's graduation, library reading, going to people's homes, english movie night with our students, going out of town...). after physical friday work we usually work on the blog and clean our room, i skype my grandparents :) and we just relax a little. there are always plenty of leftovers from the week for dinner.

most of our saturdays are free to do whatever we would like. saturday is ryan's and my laundry day and that is also when we have traveled to pisa and san gimegnano. on saturday mornings when we aren't going somewhere, we usually walk to the saturday market in scandicci, read, lounge, paint, watch a movie, sleep, or hang out/go on a walk together or with students in florence or scandicci.

sunday, as you would guess, we go to church in florence. it is always a joy! we rotate with helping with the kids classes and that is always so much fun. we usually come back to the bible school after church and cook something. i use sunday afternoons to prepare for my english classes and study italian, and then i always skype my parents on sunday night. monday morning it starts all over again...
i love everything that we do here at the bible school and in florence and scandicci, and wouldn't trade the moments and memories for anything. living with 10 other people and teaching 40-50 students a week in the same building might stress some people out, but i only think about it and smile. i love the little things like answering the doorbell to see a smiling student face, sitting down to have tea with my students before our study, walking to school with the other avanti members (every one of us silently walking and listening to our ipods to get ready for the day), cooking and eating together, skidmark cleaning/bidet using lessons from debbie, reading the bible with italians, americans, men, women, young, old, happy, sad, lost, found...there's nothing like it and i'm so thankful for every minute, easy or hard.

i think all of us would say that even if it all ended today we have learned more about ourselves (good and bad) in these 2 months than maybe in our lifetime, and for that too i am so grateful.

so there it is...the life and times of an avanti worker, so far

Saturday, October 23, 2010

san gimengnano

last saturday ryan and i took advantage of another free day and ventured into the beautiful hill town of san gimengnano. it was a perfectly cool/overcast day and we had so much fun together. we would walk through one street and stumble onto a mysterious looking path and take that and keep wondering until we landed at a beautiful panoramic view of the town and countryside. we walked for about an hour and only saw 2 other people.

we went back close to the town center and found a wonderful lunch spot, some gelato, a few cappuccinos... then ryan climbed the main tower and i stayed at the bottom and drew buildings (my new favorite thing to do).

we spent the afternoon going in and out of ceramic shops, art shops/stores, stationery shops, food shops, wherever we felt like going. what a perfect day to slow down, relax and enjoy the beauty around us. i'm so thankful for days like those where we can recharge and just be together.
later this week, i'm planning a blog post that just talks about the things we do here on a regular weekly basis. those are the things that make up our lives here, but they aren't always the most photographed or talked about. it's so hard to describe our lives and purpose here, because they are always changing, but we know that we are exactly where God planned for us to be right now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

my new favorite word is "pinguino"

last weekend went great! all the preachers had warm beds and hot meals and i think they had a good retreat. during the day last saturday, ryan and i had a really fun day once again exploring florence and scandicci. then sunday, we went to prato (a little city about 30 minutes away) for church. they are such a warm and welcoming group and their service was wonderful. lucky for us, that sunday was the sunday of their potluck and of course we were invited to stay...this is how a potluck is done.
mom, you know this one is for you (look at those cheeks)
sunday was the opening day of the annual scandicci fair and our very own angela and emily were a part of the festivities (being in the band and all). they had a concert, conveniently, right outside of my personal favorite gelatteria.
see emily in the front (also the only blonde in the band)
look at our little angela go
the most famous of all tuscan fair foods..."the bambolone" (something like that)
basically a hot donut, full of chocolate and rolled in sugar
the rest of the week proceeded as normal. the price for saying an english word at lunch has gone up to 5o euro cents now (we almost have enough for a pizza night). ryan and i did more exploring in florence (i can never see enough of this city) on tuesday.
had to do it (this photo is amazing...go hubs)
one of my new favorite things to do in florence
is watch this man recreate classic art
with chalk on the street
and our classes were all great english and italian (we learned the animals in italian class the week and it was really fun). oh and thursday afternoon we went to the academia with our school to see this man...
even more amazing than i remembered...

our weekly monday night women's/men's bible study and thursday night church bible study were both so welcomed and uplifting, as usual. those weekly rituals have become so important to me and i'm so thankful for the people involved, the insight shared, and the bonds that are growing even stronger when we study like that together. i'm so thankful for my family here in florence and i'm equally thankful for my physical and church family at home. without the support of all of these, we would be nowhere. we are so blessed.

this afternoon at the scandicci public library, ryan, jessica, eric, and i read "rapunzel" (the real story of rapunzel is actually terribly dark and scary, so we had to change the ending a bit) in english to 2 different groups of kids and did crafts with them. it was so fun and hilarious.

as far as this weekend is concerned, ryan and i are headed to san gimignano tomorrow to enjoy a beautiful and relaxing day in the tuscan hills. we are just taking a book, the camera, and each other and i am very much looking forward to it.

my big italian blunder this week: "jesus and the risotto" instead of jesus is risen :)

until next week...

Friday, October 8, 2010

i think it's sinking in now

besides the usual italian classes, this week:

we had a men's/women's bible study
we each taught 5 english classes
we observed ermenita's graduation and celebrated with parties at gallo's and the bible school
we hosted ermenita's family
peter arrived
debbie's mom arrived
we cleaned up poop and pee of a new and wonderful pup
i got a spider bite
we got a new teacher at school
we were almost in a rioting mob stampede
we drank a lot of coffee and ate a little bit of gelato
we did homework and studied italian
we hung out in the "study lounge" at the florence public library (really)
we had our thursday night simple supper and bible study
we did skits in italian (we don't have a photo of our group)
we had kebabs
we watched "la vita e bella"
we went on a field trip to santa maria novella
it was another wonderful, challenging, exciting, beautiful, encouraging, rewarding week here in florence. ryan and i are so thankful for every day and for every person praying for us and thinking about us. please keep it up (especially that we will quickly grasp the language).

as i speak, we have just finished deep/speed cleaning the whole bible school for the italian preachers conference being held here this weekend. when i say "here" i mean "in the bible school" where we live. we will be cooking, cleaning and serving 10-12 italian preachers while they study and meet here together this weekend for an annual conference. i feel blessed to be able to serve these men who are leading the church all over italy. also, in the plans for the weekend is going to the scandicci fair that, i think, starts tonight. emily (flute) and angela (trombone) are in the scandicci band and it is playing twice at the fair. i can't wait to see them perform! i'm so excited that the fall is finally here.

we love you all

Sunday, October 3, 2010

one month and going strong

ciao tutti! the weeks are getting busier and 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 :)