It has been over a week away now, and major homesickness has settled in. We are to leave Rome now and take the train to Napoli, where our friends at the Casoria Church are. There is a change of plans in that the church providing the apartments for us wasn’t told that we would be back on Sunday. As a result, we have to pack all our bags and equipment and take it all on the road. Once again, Crista E La Reposta comes through for us and chauffeurs us to the airport. We will have to arrange for alternative lodging Sunday night.
There is some sadness, as Melissa Moeller, one of our vocalists, has to go home. So we say our goodbyes. I guess there are a lot of goodbyes on a missions trip like this.
The day is quietly intense for me as I feel the responsibility for shepherding our group of ten. We negotiate tickets and train schedules. After a brief nap and a long train ride, we arrive in Casoria, which is in Naples. We are greeted by the pastor of the church, Douglas Valenzuela. A fast-talking, passionate dark-haired man, he is balanced by his quiet and hospitable blond wife, Diana.
During our conversation, he reminds us of the high unemployment here, the indifference to anything spiritual, and the fact that born-again Christians consititute only one half of one percent of the population. He is so very passionate about reaching his community, and we vow to help and serve him. They make us a late dinner, “American style,” and then hustle us over to our hotel rooms. We are beat, and decide to play it by ear tomorrow. Tomorrow is another down time day, and I am hoping to use the extra day to recuperate from a nagging cold/cough. You can pray for me that I can sing this weekend.
Napoli is in stark contrast to Rome. Where Rome is clean, up-scale, touristy, and metropolitan, Naples seems more inner-city urban, economically-challenged, graffitti-drawn. There is high unemployment here which creates an economic vacuum filled by the air of the mafia and other dark forces. Please pray also that we will be bold and have opportunities for ministry beyond music here.
Besides my cold, I walk around with a cloud of homesickness in my head. I miss Deb and Justin and Rachel and Paige. But I shake it off in anticipation of the busyness that lies ahead.
Fun Facts: (1) Fitness doesn’t seem to be a big deal here. There are no joggers, no cyclists, no gym memberships, no workout rooms at the hotel. But interestingly, Italians are generally thinner than Americans. I don’t know why. (2) When I say “American Style” in referring to dinner, it means that there was only one main course, not two as is typical for Italian dinners. (3)
Photos: The Italian Villa where we were so graciously entertained Sunday afternoon in Rome (top photo). A break during one of our rehearsals (middle photo). A beautiful (and quite typical) scene in Siena (below).