Posts Tagged ‘Florence Italy’

Four hours until we land in Chicago.  We were not scheduled originally to fly through Chicago, but when we got up this morning, we found the notice that our flight to New York from Rome was delayed two hours, meaning that we would certainly miss our connection to Seattle, which is our next stop.

With the cost of making international calls via internet now affordable, I turned on my own mobile phone, called the American Airlines  US office and rescheduled us through Chicago.  No problem—as they say all over the world!

Because Sherrylee and I spent our first Thanksgiving together in Germany in 1971, to call home, we went to the Post Office, informed the clerk that we wanted to make an international call, gave him the number, and then stepped into a special telephone booth in the office to wait for the call to be placed.

In a minute, our phone rang—no ringtones then—and her parents were on the other end. We talked for eight minutes, part of which was taken by Sherrylee asking her mother which end of the turkey to stuff. I remember vividly paying over $50 for that phone call, which, as a point of reference, was exactly what we had been paying monthly for rent at our first apartment.

I’m glad we came to Italy.  Our Rome to Florence flight took a bit longer because our plane was diverted to Pisa because of high winds.  I thought I might catch a glimpse of the leaning tower as we landed, but no such luck.  By the way, if you ever go there, the baptistery in front of the church in front of the leaning tower may be the most interesting structure to visit.

The same is true in Florence where the Baptistry of St. John  is a must visit.  As it was explained to us, these early medieval churches built their buildings to reflect their theology. A large building would be built, large enough for a very large pool of water into which you went down and walked out of to be baptized. This building not only would be highly adorned and appropriately decorated, but often the artwork—or so it appears to us—was really the medieval version of Powerpoint slides thrown onto all the walls and ceilings for instructional purposes. The art of baptistries tends towards the stories of God’s redeeming work , which seems highly appropriate to me!

But the theological lesson continues. The baptistry would always be built outside of the church, but not too far from the front door!  So in Florence,  one would be baptized, exit the building through the famous doors called the “Gates of Paradise” and then walk into the church as a new-born member of the Body of Christ, straight to the altar to participate in communion.  The theological instruction for the new Christian is unavoidable!

Makes me wonder about our baptistries?  I’ve seen baptistries under trap doors under the pulpit! Then there are those high above the pulpit—or low and over on the side behind a curtain.  In fact, almost all of ours are behind a curtain. What does that say??

We had about an hour of wandering in Florence before we met two missionaries from Ancona, Italy, who rode a train several hours both ways to meet with us. Brian and Kyle have been part of a team, which has worked in Ancona for the last ten years. Wonderful guys who didn’t know that much about LST, so we spent some time together talking about possibilities.

Our second day in Florence, we had a delicious lunch with Mike and Anto Mahan and their two children. They have ministered to the Church of Christ in Prato, just outside of Florence for many years and have hosted many mission interns over the years, but will host their first LST team from York College this summer.  We like to meet personally with new hosts to make sure everyone has the same expectations.

After rushing to the airport this morning, then, to catch the flight to Chicago, which left an hour earlier than the New York flight, just enough time remained before we needed to go through passport control and security to meet with Andrea and Heather Gentile, a great couple who are part of a team planting a church outside of Rome. He is Italian and she American; in fact, their teammates are of the same configuration.

Sherrylee and I have the best job in the world. We get to travel to Scotland, Ukraine, Greece, and Italy, meeting with local Christians, U.S. missionaries, national evangelists; we get to listen to them tell excitedly about their work; sometimes we get to encourage them ; we always pray with them.  We talk about the Kingdom of God and what we might be able to do together to bring glory to God!

The churches we have visited this time battle for God in fields, where the spiritual warfare is vicious. But we must never forget that even in Europe, we are more than conquerors!



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