Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jesus & Re-entry Shock

Migrating through reverse culture shock (yes, it can still happen even to a veteran, even after only 3 months overseas) brought an interesting thought: did Jesus experience it when he returned to heaven?!  What were his feelings upon leaving Jerusalem, Israel, his home, mission, family and friends, to return to heaven?  What did it cost Him to go home?! 

Did He struggle with leaving His darling, if defiant, and sometimes disgusting earthlings?  Was He divided—as I am--between pangs of grief and relief?  Disorientation and excitement?  Gratified and disappointed? Conversation I want to have with Him when I get to heaven...

Jesus returned to a throne; I sleep in my own bed again.  Comfort, safety and protection.  Yet He stood at the stoning of Stephen.  Rolling up His sleeves?  Ready to go back into the fray, to rend the heavens and come down, to rescue His beloved? 

Sometimes I want to roll my sleeves up and go back into the fray--go back overseas.  I want to beat off the enemy as he attacks and snarls around those he is seeking to devour, push back against the darkness.

Other times I don’t want to go back.  I never want to leave the comfort zone again.  I’m scared of the kinds of battle I get into.  I lose my way in the dark.   

As I seek to restore my equilibrium now, I know I long for control, stability, ducks in a row, no flames licking at my feet.  Isn't this preferable to thinking I am losing my mind and my emotional health, as my thoughts and emotions distort in the crucible of overseas work?  Yet I'm willing to do this if necessary, to watch the sparks fly up from the fire I melt in, the fire releasing others to their calls and gifts, into life, the fire that burns but does not consume, my own burning bush.

This is holy ground.  All I have is one prayer: "Hallowed be Thy Name."  All I know to do is keep fighting the darkness, even when I feel like I'm losing the battle. 

And I will stand, for God is able to make me stand.  He stands with me, and is for me.  And I am called to be an overcomer--"Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  

The Kingdom of Heaven is forcefully advancing, and forceful men take hold of it.  And forceful women. 

Looking for a little force right now, even from the comfort zone, and confident about nothing but God's ability to keep me in the battle.  And that I need to continue.

And so I just booked the next flight, for the next adventure.  To be continued...

To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore.  Amen.  (Jude 22-25)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Alla scoperta della vita!

The OM Italy Leadership Team planned to share something with us in person before we left, but didn't get the chance. Maybe that's all for the best...this email arrived this week, with the words, "Perhaps it's actually the perfect time to hear something encouraging from your friends in Italy..." Encouraging on:

"Many years ago, when God started planting in the hearts of many the dream of an Arts School of Mission, He already had each one of you in mind.  So in a way He had planted you in our hearts so that today we could gather in this place and bring Him honor and glory together, for His ways are perfect.

"You are certainly the fulfillment of a promise, but also the promise of a new era.

"A new voice arising; a gentle whisper, a loud yell in the midst of battle.

"In the last 2 months we have seen Beauty. The indescribable beauty of our God, as it becomes tangible, more and more in each one.

"You have inebriated the Valley with a banquet for the senses, a feast of color, sound and movement.

"We have been awakened from the numbness of our senses and are keen to embrace a new language. We don’t want to miss it! God is speaking and all that He asks from us, is that we bring our ear close to Him and listen. We plead with you to never stop being a channel of His voice.

"Thank you for your obedience. For shining from this Valley like strong beacons of light into a firmament of Darkness.

"Thank you: your presence here has made our load light, has multiplied our joy, has reinvigorated our tired hands.

"We are certainly one, not just together, but bonded by veins, tissues and junctures in one body, and despite of our destinations, let us be faithful to our calling so that wherever we may go we will continue to operate as one, honoring each other, lifting each other up as we continue our walk; discovering life: Alla scoperta della vita!

"With much love and appreciation, your brothers and sisters of OM Italy."


Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name: worship the Lord in holy splendor.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters: the God of Glory thunders,
The voice of the Lord is powerful: the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!” The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.

May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I returned from Torre Pellice to find a note on my door: "There is a surprise for you in the refrigerator!"  I expect a little leftover pizza, or maybe a hunk of local cheese.  I find cheese all the form of this state-of-the-art cheesecake, Hungarian/Italian style, made by Livia.  Across the top, is my favorite Hungarian word, "Csodalatos," written in chocolate across a strawberry top.  Oh my...for those of you who have been following along my journey, you will know the significance of that word in my life....

After a long conversation with Marco about the impact of this school, I decide that I have procrastinated long enough.  I ride the elevator one last time to Room 321, finish packing, and take the garbage out.  Bedtime arrives at around 10, as I stuff the last of the laundry in the suitcase, and set the alarm for 3 am.  This part of the journey is over.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Last Day in Bobbio

Last day in Bobbio.  The sun is shining and the building is fairly quiet.  But the elevator is starting to hum up and down; the heroes are emerging.  I lie in bed calculating; yes, I have managed a full 8 hours sleep for the first time in who knows how long.

Spotty showers and heat problems continue, but this morning the showers are hot, and the heat is on--although we probably won't need it in another hour.   Our peek-a-boo spring is sending some warm rays over the snow-covered mountains, which I check daily as part of my morning ritual.  No new snow, just a rising mist, signaling mild temps.

Rendez-vous at 9: we will have a final cappuccino at Silvano's before three head out at 10.  I join everyone in the lobby--including Marco our cook--and off we go, silent or joking, denying the angst of another round of goodbyes.

As we approach the main square, a baby donkey stumbles out from behind a building, skitters to a halt and stares at us.  "Oooohhh...." some of us gasp, while others whip out their cameras.  Marco rolls his eyes and shoos us on, but we have to stop again: mama donkey, papa donkey and a whole family of donkeys follow baby out, drawing chuckles from both us and the townspeople.  

Silvano greets us, almost in tears.  More photos.  We bring our cappuccino and pastries out to the deck, while he snaps pictures of us.  The moment goes by too quickly, the body antsy with leaving, the mind racing between all that is left to do, and all that has been done, and next things.  Last minute gifts come to mind; the pasticerria is open--we can pick up some there, and still make the 10:00 am shuttle.

Once that group is tearfully waved off, I head for Torre Pellice, to browse the market (which I've only managed once in my time here), have my last gelato, and visit with Matt & Rose.  Also on the agenda: a look at the murals painted at the Salvation Army by some of our visual artists.

The market is bustling.  I bump into Silvano again--"What, you are stalking us?!"--and Lauren's family.  Francesca walks by with friends.  And then I am at the coffee shop to meet Matt & Rose.  Matt takes me to see the murals, while Rose finishes shopping for lunch (pasta in a butter/sage sauce), served on their terrace.  We meet Lanette for gelato; more goodbyes, then Lanette and I walk around town a bit, over to the bus stop.  I have to get home and finish packing.   


I leave Lanette at the bus stop, only to find Francesca on the bus!  We are both exhausted from goodbyes, and have more to go this afternoon, when the next crew of heroes leave. Five of us will be left tonight at Forterocca.