Wednesday, August 18, 2010
As we discovered in our last episode, all is not sweetness and light on the mission field! But you knew that already…
There are those moments, however, and Sunday, Aug. 15, was such a day.
After a new high in bizarre-church-settings-that-I’ve experienced (another post for later), we were sent off with sandwiches by the church in L’Aquila to set up and exhibit in the city’s main piazza. This was truly that for which I think I had spent several months preparing, and the team had focused on. It was time to tell Antonella’s story to the people of L’Aquila.
This was a gorgeous sunny day that did not even think about raining.
This was a day the artists set their faces like flint and pulled off an amazing installation in record time.
With improvements learned from Saturday’s fiasco.
This was a day when the firemen of L’Aquila, local heroes, stopped to see what we were doing in front of their make-shift tent at one end of the piazza. What a delight to show them some of our artwork—including some that honored them as heroes. They were deeply touched, and helped us find some fencing that we could more easily use, rather than our makeshift scaffolding/chicken wire contraptions.
I’ve asked leaders in the church to present gifts of artwork to the firemen after the church has selected what it wants to keep.
This was a day when it seemed we could do nothing wrong. When the team could relax and enjoy all their hard work, and watch God honor the effort by bringing literally hundreds of people through our exhibit.
This was the day when we sowed at least 500 seeds into L’Aquila: the exhibit brochures with Antonella’s story included. I have no idea how many books, Bibles and New Testaments were distributed—the book table was swarmed regularly and the literature was flying! And pockets of conversation continued throughout the exhibit with our artists, translators and Italians—some for minutes, some for longer stretches.
We had offers from several who wanted to buy artwork; we left it to the church to bring these pieces around now to them, and thus connect the church further with the community.
The atmosphere was so delightful in our open air gallery that people came by and stayed for hours. Some of the church folk started this trend, which helped set the tone for a relaxed, friendly, comfortable church. Thank you, L’Aquila brothers and sisters!!! One sister, Ursula, an artist herself, was overwhelmed with inspiration when she saw what we did; she vowed to take up the baton and invited us to come and help her reach further into the arts community she knew in L’Aquila, including a local arts university.
One of our artists invited a group of hip hop dancers to see the exhibit; they came over and spent about an hour with us, finishing up with a demo in the piazza.
We set up ‘walls’ as part of the exhibit—places where guests could write out a thought, prayer or dream for L’Aquila on paper ‘bricks’ and post them as an act of hope in their future. As the sun set slowly over Piazza Duomo, I thought, "Yes, this is what we came to do. Mission accomplished!"
Well, I could go on and on…but this is a long enough post. More to come, including one of my favorite moments of the exhibit, with Rosella of the ice cream shop. Stay tuned!