The home sickness is beginning to get a little debilitating. It haunts the back of my mind like last night’s dream that stays out of focus. I’ve decided today that I don’t ever want to be away from Debbie and the kids for this long again. Really.
That being said, today I am pretty focused on the tasks at hand. We are in Casoria, a town in the Naples area. After breakfast at the hotel, we leave early for the church, and while the Team is off at an open air neighborhood market, I am finishing my sermon. This evening, we will have a small mini-conference for worship leaders. I have asked Luke Lewis of our Team to learn two songs in Italian, and along with Cate Morris, teach the vocalists the songs. Brandon Bee, along with Jebby Moates, will do a little teaching on rhythm section with the instrumentalists, and teach the same two songs. Bob will teach a songwriting intensive, and Jonathan Kvamme will teach sound tech. At the end, we will bring everyone together and worship together.
Someone shared with me that the further south you travel in Italy, the more personable and warm the people become. And it is true. In contrast to very warm Romans, the Neopolitans are even more so bursting with hospitality and warmth. There are many faces I see from last year, and they are visibly joyful at my return. I thank God that He gave me the privilege again to be with these people (if only I could remember their names!). I must have kissed two dozen people just saying hello.
Everything goes well. What the Neapolitans lack in musicality, they more than compensate for in expressiveness. When they sing, “God is Good,” you know that they mean it. Bob and Cindy Kilpatrick have again joined us, and the Team is at full strength.
We did have another episode similar to last year, where one of the participants began to criticize the lyrics of one of the songs we were teaching. It started a little firestorm of sorts. I believe it to be a cultural thing, where everyone has an opinion and feels the need to express it. I was told there are 73 political parties (!) here, and the city is plastered with posters for the upcoming elections in June. We remind them that while individual opinions are valued, it is more important in corporate worship to sing united with one voice, as God’s people. Thankfully, they respond positively, and move on.
There is good news. Douglas has arranged for Bob and Rick to meet with the mayor of the city, to talk about the upcoming outreach festival they are putting together in September. We are hoping that Brandon Bee will play at the festival, which draws upwards of 10,000 people over nine days. Oikeo Music (Melissa Saulnier) will be taking video of the meeting. Douglas is pleased at this meeting which will occur tomorrow.
After the meeting, we have another late dinner, and experience the best Italian pizza I have ever had (and I guess that says a lot). I eat more than I ought to for being so late (after eleven p.m.), and go to bed late. We have decided that, at the end of the trip, we will do a reverse “Biggest Loser” and find out how many pounds we have collectively gained.
Fun Facts: (1) This morning, our Italian guitarist, Danilo, injured himself by walking full speed into a glass window at the hotel. He gave himself a minor concussion and blood flowed freely from his Italian nose. It was a bit scary, and we had an extended time of prayer with the team, both for Danilo and for all the other attacks we’ve been experiencing. Afterward, we went back to the window where he impacted the glass. The smudge looked like the Shroud of Turin. (2) I was able to do some laundry today, and it will be good to slip on some clean clothes. (3) I have been avoiding lattes and gelato due to my cold and cough. What irony.
Photos: A late photo of the band on the road to Naples (top photo). Cate at the Gate. Cate poses in front of the Casoria Church (center photo). Notice the bars and spikes on the walls, and the heavy gate at the entrance. They are necessities of ministry—four 10-passenger vans have been stolen from their church parking lot. Lastly, a fairly blury photo of us rehearsing at the Casoria Church (bottom photo).