The early morning Sunday sunshine pokes into my apartment window. It is a welcome relief to my surface sleeping. After a small breakfast of espresso and pastries, we are off to Torraccia Church. As we arrive, Bob and Pastor Mungai ask me to share my testimony. A young worship team begins to play, and the tiny storefront slammed full of Italians starts rockin’ out.
The service is two and a half hours, and it is as lively as any black pentecostal service you’ve ever experienced. Though the songs are sung in Italian, it feels like we know them all, and we sing with our brothers and sisters, loud and full. I share my testimony, as well as one of our other team members, Cate Morris, a recording artist and worship leader whose testimony visibly moves the women in the congregation. Bob treats us with an extremely rare (and spontaneous) appearance of his wife, Cindy, and they sing “Lord Be Glorified” together.
After the service, we walk to the property upon which Torraccia is hoping to build, and we pray for the church, the property, and their vision for reaching their community. On the way out, I pick up a small rock, a piece of loose marble, from the property, to remind me to pray for them.
We are shuttled to a villa owned by one of the church members. The little villa is gracefully tucked between green rolling hills adorned with olive trees and picturesque old stone buildings. We are entertained on an outdoor patio and served a 96 course meal (at least it seems like it!). We are full to exhaustion, laughing and singing, watching some of our team members play futbol with the Italian children, drinking some smooth homemade red wine. This is the picture of Italy one imagines when one dreams.
It takes seemingly hours to say our goodbyes. We leave for the Crista E La Risposta tent again to do our last concert in Rome. I had decided that Brandon Bee, an extremely talented producer and musical artist with a young, hard-edged sound, would share a few tunes, as well as talented and anointed singer/songwriter/worshiper, Cate Morris. Our drummer, Alessandro, brings his local band, Dunamis, to play as well. The concert begins a bit late, as they had to set up the sound system again, but everyone is in high spirits.
The service goes off without a hitch. There are a few testimonies shared, the music goes well, no one splits their pants, all our individual artists as well as the group band sound great, and Bob is his typical alive and spontaneous self. It is an evening filled with many memorable moments, too many to mention in a blog or capture with mere words.
In the midst of the exhaustion—and somewhere during the serving of dessert—I am reminded again that God has plans greater than I ever could imagine. I find myself drawn spiritually to the team, to the Italians, and to my own small sense of sufficiency in Christ. Tomorrow is a day off. I think the team earned it.
Fun Facts: (1) One of the traditions here is to kiss a person goodbye on both cheeks. This can get rather complicated, as you might be saying goodbye to 20 people or so. Also, you always have to remember to lead with your left cheek. If not, you’ll end up bonking heads or kissing her (or him) on the lips! (2) We have to be careful in being culturally sensitive, not only in our actions, but in our dress as well. I’ve had to coach the team on sportcoats and dresses and stuff (shorts is a definite tourist faux pas).
Photos: Bob and Cindy share a song during the service (top photo). The Team gathers at the Torraccia property to pray for the building (middle photo). Local band Dunamis plays the tent during our concert (lower middle photo). Bob expresses his inner flower child (bottom photo).