Saturday, July 31, 2010

Making Assumptions...Lowering Expectations...

I am making way too many assumptions here.

Our schedule today called for a day in the Teramo marketplace—where to our knowledge no church existed—to support a work to start a church. A handful of believers were to join us, distributing invitations for our ‘gallery’ (and I use the term loosely now) show next Saturday.

We would be working with a young family who hold a Bible study in their home, which they hope will become a church one day. Jonathan met us at the parking lot, and we unloaded books and literature, and our art supplies.

I assumed there would be well, a table, and a chair or two. What we really had was a space, between a fresh pile of dog poo and the Jehovah's Witnesses. The only table there was the one we brought to set up as our arts workstation, and that was promptly commandeered for the books. Oh well, maybe I misunderstood…but that left us with an improv act that would be tough to follow...but we did it!

Scouting the piazza, the team found some boxes and two plastic chairs—voila! Covering the piles of poo with scraps of paper, three on our team set to with face painting, and two other sets of three positioned themselves in other corners of the piazza, to do some artwork and hopefully engage with the public.

Three hours later, the drawing teams had nary a nibble, and returned to the book table, as we began to see face-painted children float past us. There, the line extended into the crowd, and a small group of people were gathered around Jonathan, animated and engaged with a group of people around him; he was giving out quite a lot of literature.

Three of us returned to the drawing in a nearby cafe. After trying two other locations, I am stumped to report that no one engaged with me or my team over artwork. That is a first, and seems yet another indication of the spiritual deadness of this region. Truly bizarre. The Italians seemed quite suspicious, even the children.

But overall, we had a good day, and I think the team has turned the corner. Last night there was high silliness around the dinner table, as yet another meal of pizza and watermelon was served. That deserves a post in itself, but for now let me just say, you haven’t lived till you have eaten cornflakes and nutella for dessert.

Oh, and we learned that there is indeed a church in the city, an Assembly of God denomination, and that was a great encouragement to Jonathan. Hopefully he has now found some compadres to help him in his work. And the pastor called from Germany to say he had one response already to the invitations given out--surely a great encouragement to him.

The night finished with an impromptu drawing class with the team and some Italian guests, to my great delight and more laughs and good cheer. I left the team to move to my new new room, happy and satisfied, mindful of how much prayer went up for us yesterday, and rejoicing in my spirit. This team is beginning to prove what it is made of, and God is fighting for us. We had so many messages of encouragement coming in via email. I fell asleep thanking God for each artist on the team, starting to fall in love with each one, and they with arts ministry. I think we’re going to make it.

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