Friday, December 31, 2010

The Valley of the Inconquerables

So, as you’ve learned by now, Torre Pellice is the cultural capital of the Waldensian Valley, rich with the history of Protestantism in Europe. It is also the spiritual capital of the Waldensians—the Valley of the Inconquerables as they are also known.

After church, Matthew took us to its spiritual heart: leading us through the center of town to via Beckwith, the Waldensian quarter, with several historic buildings: the New Temple, built in 1852, and Casa Valdese (Waldensian House), where each year the Synod, most important body in the government of the Church, meets.

The buildings are different architecturally from the typical Italian structures here in the valley, quite beautiful and orderly in line and form, and well-kept. Trees line the road, and persimmon trees dot the lawns. (And by the way, my first experience with a persimmon on this trip was not a happy one!)

Across the street, there is an athletic field, where the team has hosted sports events. Next to that is the Waldensian Cultural Center, with the Waldensian Museum, founded in 1889; it houses fine art and archaeological collections, with a modern art section, a library of 100,000 books, and photographic archives. The center also carries out cultural and publishing activities, and we hope to exhibit here one day.

This historical neighborhood covers the entire history of the Waldensians, from the Middle Ages through to today (we didn’t stop to see it all).

We are walking, and talking of course. So many questions…so many challenges…each of us with different ones, grilling the OM Italy team, as they are us. The Tellos have to raise funds, pack up their lives and move over. How will they handle culture and language learning? The Carsons have a baby on the way. Can they move over to Italy for any length of time? Can I?! I have funding issues, stamina issues, and wonder if I can handle the rigors of this training session.

We are ready in principle, but still counting the cost…the pile of work before us, and the lack of resources. Can Westerners, more used to comfort and convenience, sacrifice all—family, comfort, possibly life itself—to replicate what the Waldensians did—bring the light of the gospel to a post-modern Europe?

By the time we meander back over to Jill and Anna’s, after another obligatory stop for coffee, we still don’t know, but still ready to give it a try! It would be easy to think of the impossibilities, but I shake off the pressing concerns, ask God what my part is here, and sit down for dinner.

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