Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dateline: June 2017, Rome - A land flowing with milk and honey or at least with water

When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they were promised that the Lord would lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey.  Happily, you can buy milk and honey in Rome.  But that might not quite qualify it as a land flowing with milk and honey.  However, it is a city flowing with water.  Everywhere you go in Rome there are water fountains (for lack of a better description) constantly flowing with drinkable water, frankly quite tasty water.  Most of the fountains look like the one pictured above.  They are used by tourists and Romans alike. 

You might even say the water has gone to the dogs – I dare say; however, that the fountain was here before the dog park.

Sometimes the fountains are effectively hidden in a remote overgrown part of a park, seldom used.

There are more picturesque versions like Trevi fountain (perfectly drinkable but not accessible directly) or the boat shaped fountain sculpted by famous artists Bernini & Lorenzo at the foot of the Spanish Steps.  It is not uncommon to see people leaning over the fountain below to fill their water bottles from the water flowing from the side spouts.  

When you are here visiting us and touring the city, you will never have trouble refilling your water bottles.  These fountains are not just in the center of the city, they are everywhere. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dateline: April 2017, The Office (since when do these need to be in order)

Each day, Monday - Friday (and some Saturdays) we walk (30-35 minutes) or drive to the office (10-15 minutes).  Since we may need the car on any given day, at least one of us drives.  The office is on a dead-end street next to a park.  It is one of the few spots we frequent in Rome where there is almost always a parking spot available.  I pay bills – almost all electronically either through a church system or directly via the bank website.  I even make journal entries.  It is an accountant’s dream mission.

Shauna is the mission secretary.  She handles certain correspondence with missionary parents and the missionaries’ home church leaders.  Much of her time is spent tracking the legal permission (Permesso di Soggiorno) to stay in the country that each missionary outside the EU must apply for and maintain.  This permesso is in addition to and in many ways more significant than the visa that each missionary obtains prior to coming into Italy.  

There is another missionary couple in the office.  They handle missionary travel - the young missionaries are transferred from one city to another after 3-6 months in one spot.  About 20% - 35% are transferred on specified dates every six weeks.  They also order and distribute missionary literature supplies, missionary mail and the data for people who have requested information about the church or who church members have asked the missionaries to contact.

The view from the office balcony.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Dateline: May 21, 2017, Church Conference

We had a semi-annual conference of our church for the members in Rome.  It was held at a hotel near Borghese Gardens because none of the Church’s three buildings in Rome are large enough to hold the collective members.  Forty five years ago when I was here as a young missionary, there were but few members and just a rented location in which meetings were held each Sunday.

One of the speakers told of taking a walk the evening before, getting lost and soaked in a sudden downpour.  He equated this to our spiritual lives.  We all get lost from time to time and sometimes we get wet.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, He can find us, He can lift us, He can heal us, we can be cleansed from sin. The scriptures tell us: 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).

A full standing portrait of Christ in white robes, seen from the side, gesturing to the left in front of a wash of orange and yellow colors.