Saturday, December 04, 2004

Thankful for the internet

One of the things that I enjoy doing in my free time in the fall is listening to OU games on the radio. We are probably going to Germany right after Christmas time, which means I won't be able to listen to the OU bowl game, so tonight is the last time I get to hear or see a game for another year. The season has gone well for them (12-0) and therefore enjoyable for me. This year there was even a few of the games live video streaming through the internet. That has been really cool, since I haven't had the opportunity to watch live games during my time in Italy. Maybe next year, all the games will be streamed through the net. I guess I can always hope.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving Early!

I know it is a little early for Thanksgiving, but we just hosted a Thanksgiving Outreach here in Ancona. It was really exciting. We had the most people ever at our facility for an event. There were thirty-nine people, including the eight of our team on the field. It was such a neat thing to see people we have been praying about for years come for the first time or once more to an event at our facility. Angie was in charge of hosting and planning the event and she did an absolutely amazing job! Our entire team and church was involved and we all put forth much hard work to see this event to fruition. Angie planned the event meticulously and our efforts were rewarded by a great turnout and opportunity to grow many of our relationships. I have heard people talk about churches focusing on numbers and I tell you the truth....I am focused on numbers. Because what better way can we determine how many souls are experiencing the Christ induced loving acts of service and sharing that are part of an event such as this. I am more than excited and I don't even really know how to write about it. God is continuing to move us, this team and this church forward, the funny thing is.....a few years ago, this church didn't exist. It is really something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Wow look at all the people!

Matt getting ready to carve the 2nd Turkey.

Angie getting everything ready.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

And then there was rejoicing in Heaven

Tonight our church (and team) reached a huge milestone, our first baptism. Agnese is a young woman who has been coming with Marta and Amedeo made the decision to be baptized tonight. We were at a restaurant called Tunital Foods (kebabs, similar to gyros -pita bread stuffed with vegetables and grilled meat) with a visiting missions group from College Heights CC when Jason received the call from Amedeo. Agnese wanted to be baptized tonight in the sea. She has a special spot that she frequents when she needs to think and pray; it was in this spot that a new sister in Christ was born. Since Marta has been the one discipling and evangelizing Agnese, it only made sense that she be the one to baptise her. We sang an Italian hymn and Amedeo asked Agnese why she was doing this. She said to have Christ as my only God and for salvation. Marta and Agnese went in the cold cold water and Marta then baptised her. After they came out of the water, we had some communion waiting for her to take her first communion as a baptized believer. We were all very excited. There is only one first baptism. As we were walking up from the beach, I thought it would be a neat idea to pick up a rock off the beach for every baptism we have. We can write their name on the rock and the date they were baptized. it will be a great reminder as we win souls for Christ, one soul of a time.

Marta and Agnese right before Agnese's baptism in the Adriatic Sea.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Google Does It Again

I love I even have it as my homepage. It is simple clean and loads fast. Google is rarely down and so if it doesn't come up, there is an instant tip that something is wrong with our internet connection. Google keeps amazing me, setting the standard for new services, like mega-space for online email storage and even ownership of which I use for this blog. And now, they have done it again.
Today, released their first beta version of a desktop search tool. It is easy to install and easy to use. If you are familiar with at all, you will be totally at home with the Google Desktop Search tool. I downloaded it on both computers and instantly was in awe of the power of this new search tool, it blows the search tool that comes with windows away! If I type in "kids time" in the Google search space in about 1 second it brings me every document, photo, video, text file, or email with those words included. It doesn't only look in the file name either, it looks in every word of every document. If you use quotes when you search it will bring back items that have the words in quotes in that exact phrase. Once you install it, it does a one time scan, which takes several hours, but only works on it when the computer is idle. After ten minutes I already found files quicker with it, than with the traditional search capabilities. You can check it out at And you can see a snapshot of it below. Best of all it's free, so check it out and save yourself some time in your searching.

Google Desktop Search Screen

My new photography class

A community school here in Ancona is offering classes for a very low price. We are able to enroll in up to three classes. They are all for fun and potentially a great way to meet people. We went to a cooking class the other night (see previous entry Cooking Class). Tonight I went to the first session of a photography class. It lasted about an hour and is for the basic beginner in photography. I would not classify myself as a basic beginner normally, I take up to 1000 pictures per month and had classes in school growing up where we developed our own pictures in a dark room (the old fashioned way). However, 'basic' is great here in Italy. You see when you are learning a new language your ability in conversations is directly dependant upon vocabulary knowledge in the field of conversation. In other words, I am fluent in English, but I still may not be able to talk to someone about nuclear physics, because I am not versed in the vocabulary related to that field. Or some people may feel that way when talking to someone about sports. In this case, my vocabulary is gaining momentum everyday in Italian, but my vocabulary related to photography in Italian is still in a stage of infancy. Fortunately, he used overhead slides so that made it easier to follow. There was one point in the middle of the lecture where I had no idea what the lecturer was saying and was fighting the urge to get sleepy (for those of you wondering, I never closed my eyes - my college professors would be proud and quite possibly a little bit jealous). At the end I wasn't sure if the class was over or not, because for several minutes everyone kept sitting around not gathering their things as if in anticipation of something else. I asked the woman behind me when we were suppose to finish, she said, "about an hour." I said, "so about now?" She said, "I guess so." Apparently I wasn't the only one confused then. The teacher had stopped talking to the class, but was talking with individuals. Finally, I saw a few people get up and start for the door. Seeing my clue, I gathered my stuff and headed out of the classroom. Soon we are supposed to move from lecture into more lab photo style work. At the end of the class, we will put on a show of our work. Who knows who I will meet or what will result of the class, but at least there is much potential.

Learning photography in Italian.


Collegamento is the name of our church's bi-monthly prayer event. It means "Connection." It comes from the idea that we need to have a connection with God. And the way most 'connections' go it should be two way. During the one last night we prayed about the future of our church and the vision that we feel God has led us to follow. Usually we start out with everyone together and after a bit we separate into adults and kids so that we can participate in prayer suited to the different ages. Check out the pictures below to see the adults and kids times in action.

Angie with the kids during collegamento (our bi-monthly prayer event).

Collegamento (Our Bi-monthly Prayer Event)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Smoked Cooking Class

So Tuesday night Angie, Heather and I went to a cooking class that was made available through a community school. We arrived a little early to make sure we found it, so we went to a nearby cafe to have a quick cappucino. After we downed the quick pick-us-up, we headed to class. As we walked through the gates, into the yard we saw it was a home with a cooking school in a building in the back. The hostess/teacher greeted us and walked us all around to the building where the cooking school is located. We walked in and the setup was in a small room, with a make shift kitchen on the wall directly across from the entry door. In between the kitchen and the entry way was two tables with a total of 14 chairs. The kitchen was setup like a tv kitchen, with the refrigerator, sink and cabinetry on the back wall. On the long island facing the class there was a stove and countertop space for cutting, mixing and the like. At each seat was a folder with the menu and itinerary for this and future classes. There was also a name tag (with our names on them) and an apron. Yes, I put the apron on and no, it was not the first time I put an apron on. Informally, I am sure I put on an apron at home some time when I was young, to help mom in the kitchen. Formally, I put my first apron on working for my uncle's restaurant, Martin's Bar-B-Q in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In all, I have worked for several restaurants, sit down and fast food. The restaurants I have worked in are Martins' Bar-B-Q, Briarbrook Country Club, Subway, Applebee's and the Banquet department at Holiday Inn. Almost all of them had aprons involved.

Throughout the course of the evening we watched and took notes while our teacher Lina made a several course dinner, consisting of potato soup, pasta with a sun dried tomato sauce, baked fresh fish over a bed of vidalia onions and a light dessert made of custard glazed orange slices. Good stuff, the class lasted for four hours and fortunately we were able to follow most of it. One of the main differences between a cooking class here and one in America is that every thirty minutes our teacher would light up another cigarette for a smoke break inside, from the front of class. Ahhh, it was almost smoked fish. Now, I guess we will have to try out the recipes at home. We will probably put some, if not all, the recipes in some of our newsletters.

Our Italian Cooking Class

Friday, October 08, 2004

Rats with wings

We live on the fifth floor of our apartment building. It is also the top floor. From the windows on the front side of our building we can look out over the piazza in front of us. There is a rectangular park that sits among the walls of apartment buildings. There are places for kids to play, benches and trees. The trees which are pretty tall are not higher than our apartment windows. Every once in awhile I look out to see the strange creatures flying over the tops of the trees in circular patterns. I have a love/hate relationship with these black winged creatures of the night. I enjoy watching them as they glide across the sky like competion skaters completing figure eights. I also enjoy the fact that they eat small bugs, especially mosquitos, for that I cheer them on. However, I would hate to find myself within a small confined space with them flying overhead. Or whizzing by my face screeching. Tonight though, before going to bed, I watched as a lone bat flew around and around our piazza, above and through the trees. Mesmerizing much like our fish tank. As I watched, my ears were opened to the sounds of the city once more. It is 1 in the morning and the city is still alive with sounds. First the chirping of the bat as he swoops, far in the distance a dog barks solitarily, a couple of cars drive by on the street in front of our piazza and music is stilled heard, albeit softly, from windows across the way. These are the echoes of life that tickle ones' senses and the remedy for insomnia. Fortunately, insomnia is not something I usually deal with, I am normally a night owl. I guess owls and bats go together.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Learning to drive...again.

So, I didn't mention that this new car is a manual transmission. That is pretty much standard here. Probably about 98% of the cars here are standard. Learning to drive a standard is alot like falling off a bike....once you do it, you figure out what caused it and you don't do it again.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Fresh Starts

So, today we had a hard rain. You know the kind. There weren't thunderstorms, but it was a hard, driving rain nonetheless. The kind of rain where water is flowing in the streets. Light rain merely opens up new smells (usually not good ones) that have been trapped under dried substances. However hard rains provide a cleansing. Of the streets. Of the sidewalks. Cars. Buildings. And some people.

The rain only lasted about thirty minutes, but it was more than enough to cause change. It was more than fitting that it happened today, August 31st. The last day of Summer. I know, I know, Summer officially lasts until September 21st, having to do with soltices and equinoxes. That in and of itself doesn't make sense to me, because I am much more likely to go swimming before the first day of Summer (June 21st) and so much less likely to go swimming after August 31st. Read about the "End of Summer" in Italy here. In that last item I noted how the weather had turned cooler before the end of the month, however it heated back up the last few days. Tomorrow should be different however. After all, the first day in September is always cool in Italy. The rain seemed to be ushering in a fresh start into the fall weather.

Fresh starts are what the August/September "time-between-the-times" is all about. The country of Italy will almost shut down in August. Businesses close down for weeks or even the whole month. Last week I saw many who were transitioning into a fresh start. One man was repainting his fruit stand. New paint=Fresh Start. Several other businesses take August to renovate their shops. New shelves=Fresh Start. I saw the owner of a small store which is the equivalence of a convenience store in America (minus fuel). He has had his stored closed for several weeks now. He is bronze like the third place medals handed out at the Olympics last week. His appearance betrayed that he had spent much of his time at the beach or at the very least, in the sun. I asked him if he was ready to open tomorrow. He answered "Domani sono prontissimi!" Which means 'Tomorrow I am more than ready!' Time off=Fresh Start.

As the Casey's return to Italy this month (in less than two weeks in fact) our team will be having a fresh start. We have a growing church, that had four visitors to Life Group this last Sunday, making the attendance in our home fifteen. We have much to do in the upcoming weeks and we know that God continually gives us 'fresh starts'. In fact that is why we are here in Italy. There are many people who need a 'fresh start.' Not with paint or shelves or time off, but rather an internal cleansing of the soul. We want to share about the fresh starts God has given us and is more than ready to give others, if they only accept His offer. In this life we can be more than thankful for fresh starts.

Friday, August 27, 2004

At the End of Summer

Well, it is Friday, August 27, 2004, which leaves only four more days of summer. Here in Ancona the cool weather has already prematurely hit. Usually on the first day of September it becomes noticeably cooler, however, we were surprised yesterday as the temperature began to fall near 70 degrees. Last night it even felt a little chilly. It was great. Today, we awakened to a cool morning with the hint of the coming Fall weather in the air. Fall is my favorite time of year, wherever we are in the world. I love the temperature, football (I can listen live online to my favorite team - go sooners!), the smells of food at outdoor fairs in the cool breeze and the need for jackets. Jackets just make you feel a little more prepared. So, I guess we'll see if yesterday and today are flukes of weather or if Autumn has indeed arrived a few days earlier.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Read The Back Page First

I discovered something recently that I have a particular habit of perusing when I get a new magazine. Frequently, people send us magazines from the states. Mostly, technology magazines for me and home, family and cooking ones for Angie. Almost exclusively after mentally digesting the cover, I head to the back inside page first. Don't ask me why. I think it has something to do with the way I think. When filling out forms, I often jump all around the page, I guess it makes it more interesting for me to fill out. However with magazines there is a system. Usually, in a magazine there is a fairly interesting article on the last page. I am not sure why that is. You can't do that with a book. I mean, I suppose you can, if you don't have much time or you don't like to read and you only want to find out what happens at the ending. I assume with magazines, since most people like to read them from front to back, they are deliberately leaving people with a good remembrance of their magazine. Whereas I am left with the sparse and often uninteresting ads that I leave for myself last, more on that later.

After reading the last page, I then start skimming the entire magazine, this time from front to back. I stop only on the most interesting articles or snippets that truly capture my attention. Once I have made it to the end (again), I start at either the front or the back working my way towards the middle of the magazine stopping at the less interesting articles along the way. Afterwards it may sit for a time. From that point, I begin shotgun reading. This is when it becomes less organized and more like 'pot shots' of reading throughout the magazine. Usually I while just open the magazine lawlessly. Opening at any point in the magazine, like cutting a deck of cards. As soon as I open it, I am faced with a decision, read one of the least interesting articles left, or if it is one I have already read, determine if it was worthy of a reread (which is the case with some of those early articles) or flip to another section altogether. This goes on for some time, until which time I have either read the entire magazine or kept it out long enough to have forgotten if I have.

The last thing I read in a magazine is the ads. I do love to read. I don't read as many books as I did in the past, but I read all the time. Either magazines, news online, countless informative websites and even comics. I guess this is why I will even check out the advertisements in a magazine. I don't want to waste anything. So next time you pick up a magazine to read, think about how you go about it. And maybe, just maybe, you'll start reading the back page first too!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Star Spangled Banner in Italy

So we went on a vacation finally. This summer has been really hectic and so it was great for us to get away for a few days. We stayed in a hotel in Rimini (about an hour North of Ancona) that had a large swimming pool. We spent each afternoon at the pool, enjoying the cool clear water. Hotels in Italy work a little different, especially in the high vacation season. They have many activities for you to be involved in, such as water aerobics and game night. They have organized kids' games at the pool everyday and beach volleyball is available a few days of the week, among many other things. We were at the pool one day when they came around asking about volleyball one day and as the lady in charge was asking people she yelled over to me across the pool and said,"hey, you should come play volleyball with us, you're white!" I assume this latter statement had to do with my lack of tan rather than anything racist. However, I did have a tan, I was just not dark brown like she was. I declined gratefully, so I could stay relaxing in the pool. On the last day of our four day vacation, we went to a small theme park called "Italia in Miniatura," which means (you guessed it), 'Italy in Miniatures.' Basically it is a huge walking path on a mini island in the shape of Italy on a big cement pond. It had recreated famous buildings and locations on the island in the spots where they are in Italy. You can check out the park at They also had one of those simulators that you can choose virtual roller coasters, time travel, ice caves, etc... We went to do that and as we were paying the ticket guy asked where we were from (not an uncommon question for us). We told him and we talked for a bit about what we were doing in Italy and how we liked it. We went to sit on a bench and wait for our turn on the simulator. All of a sudden over the simulator guy's loudspeaker we heard him say (in English), "and now an American song." We laughed as we looked and caught his eye. Then we smiled as we heard the "Star Spangled Banner" start. At first it was funny that we were there in Italy listening to that song. And it almost felt a little embarrassing, since it felt like all eyes were on us...THE AMERICANS. However, as we listened to the words about the country we love, we became aware of the fact that we were the only ones that it meant anything towards. At that moment we were at the same time a little lonely, very patriotic, thankful and homesick. Lots to feel in a short time. At the end of the song, we felt a little sheepish about the tears in our eyes, but then he broke our serious state by announcing it was now time for "the Scottish song." Bagpipes started blaring and we were jolted out of our somberness. Afterwards, we rode the ride, but it was the song we'll remember.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Mmmm Fresh Bread

As the dawn broke this morning, I smelled bread cooking wafting in from the new pastry shop and bakery that just opened. Ok, well that isn't exactly how it happened (I mean, I am not usually up at dawn anyway and if I is a small shop a block from the house). If you remember me writing about this shop you'll know what I am talking about (read the previous story here
Angie came home this afternoon and asked if I saw the new shop was open. I hadn't yet. We had seen them starting to do more like bringing in a cash register....that is usually a sign that something is getting ready to happen. So about an hour later we down to see their grand opening. When any shop opens in Italy it is a BIG deal. I mean there is always some kind of grand opening with snacks and refreshments. We went in and bought a few pastries to take home. I wished the woman behind the cash register well and she asked us to take some of the snacks on our way out. So I grabbed what tasted like a minipastry roll with raisins. It was deeeelicious. Once we got outside, I snapped a shot of the front of it, which is seen in the picture below.

Mmmmm Fresh Bread

Monday, July 26, 2004

Us At The Beach

Us at the Beach Posted by Hello

X-Files in Italy?

So, we went to beach today to help celebrate the one year arrival date of Marcus Van Dorn, team member.  We are going to all the places that he went one year ago today.  First we went out to the airport and had a cappucino.  Then after lunch, we went out to the beach, where he went with the crew of people that were here last year (Jason, Jacob & Haven Casey, Matt Hodges, Martin & Susan Brooks - We were in the states for Home Assignment and Heather was in the states to be with her sick grandmother).  Later tonight we are going to the same restaurant they went that night, which so happens to be one of our team's favorite restaurants, La Bussola (which means "the compass"). 

The beach is a different world.  It is the one place in the world where men, women and kids walk around half naked (with swimsuits, mostly).  Something to note about beaches in Italy - modesty is sacrificed.  A very small percentage of women go topless.  Young girls (elementary age and younger) do not always wear tops.  And the scariest of all, men wear speedos.

When we were getting ready to leave, Marcus, Angie and I wanted to take a few snapshots to remember the day, when I saw a tall, skinny, elderly man walking by with a cigarette hanging from his mouth and wearing a speedo.  My eyes felt like they were blinded by the flash of an old camera.  After a few seconds went by and the blindness went away, I thought how he looked like "cigarette-smoking man" off the TV show, X-Files.  I immediately wondered what the CIA was up to in Ancona, Italy.

We proceeded to pack things up and leave the beach.  I think we made some great memories today that last a long long time.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Sounds of the City at Night

In Italy, things seem close and open, rather than in America where things seem apart and closed.  From our balcony tonight, you could hear a virtual buffet of sounds.  From the ristorante in the piazza below, you can hear the dishes clink and clank as someone washes them in an effort to clean up.  From the open windows of several apartments surrounding us, the sounds of conversations, laughter and friendship are heard.  A woman talking on the phone comes from another.  In the distance a car drives by, however it is alone in it's venture.  In Italy between 8 PM and 10:30 PM people are at home, having dinner and enjoying each other.  The sound of a concert in a nearby piazza is heard as people are preparing to go out for the night.  However the sound that always peaks my interest comes from an apartment on the backside of our building.  Drifting up from an apartment below are the sounds of traditional Italian music playing from an elderly couple's radio.  In reminds me of a time that existed forty years ago or more.  Their lights are almost completely off, which is common in Italy at night to prevent heat from beng produced by the light bulbs.  This couple, whom we know only from seeing them out on their balcony, are sharing in a moment of closeness.  It derives from an intimacy of their lives, enjoying the sounds of a music they love most.  Ahh, there is nothing quite like Italy at night.  The lights, the sights and most of all, the sounds.

Suggestions of refreshment

We were getting ready to go to the store in the early evening and I looked out our home office window, when I saw a certain yellow haze covering the buildings.  I looked further outside and saw that there were clouds covering the sky.  And these weren't your run-of-the-mill fluffy clouds that make you want to jump because of their appeared bounciness.  These were dark grey, menacing clouds that would make most kids scared.  To us, they were a welcome friend.  As the days lately have been hot and muggy, we have dreamt of respite from the heat.  This was a sign that one was coming.  I heard the wind start howling outside as it began to find it's way into our apartment through the large open windows.  The sound of leaves flying off trees and blowing on the ground below emphasized what was about to happen.  I partially closed the shutters of our office window, just in case it started to do something before we returned, our papers wouldn't get soaked.  We left the house and headed to the corner grocery store (less than one block from our house).  As we walked the wind picked up and began blowing dust around, then into our eyes.  The feeling while not enjoyable, was overlooked because of what it was trumpeting in.  We went into the store and heard several people whispering in excitement about the coming storm.  As we were paying wind ripped through the open doors of the grocery store.  We grabbed our bags and walked out into the beginnings of a sprinkle, but you would have thought it was a dowpour for the way that we carried on.  We looked to the heavens and silently thanked God for the cool drops that were wetting our face.  By the time we got home, it had picked up and during the elevator ride, had become a hard rain.  The wind and rain was coming through the windows where we saw neighbors in the building across pacing their balconies drinking in the summer refreshment.  One neighbor saw Angie lowering our shutters a bit and said with a smile, "It's raining!"  Angie returned the smile and happily agreed.  I am now sitting in a cool room where just a few hours before I was almost paralized by the humid summer heat.  It is funny the difference that the temperature makes.  Irregardless, we will enjoy it.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Where The Heat Sticks Like Honey.

That does it....It's hot.  Well, the cool summer we were enjoying left about three weeks ago.  It has gotten increasingly hotter since then.  It is one of those kinds of hot where everything feels sticky and air from the fan doesn't seem much different in temperature than the air around you.  I know it will get hotter though, I remember in years past it definitely being hotter.  Times where while riding on the elevator you feel like the air around you is so thick and hot that you almost stop breathing and desperately wait for the doors to open on the fifth floor (it is slower compared to elevators we have ridden on in the states, but fast than most in Italy).  Enough of that, so it's hot.  We will get through it.  Normally every year on September 1st, no matter what the weather has been like the summer previously it is like the heat miser heads to the hills packin the scorching sunshine with him.

In actuality I know that it is God who brings in the cool air in September and I am thankful to Him for it.  Cooler weather makes it easier to complete tasks, provide motivation and makes living much more comfortable all around.

Friday, July 09, 2004


One of the things that Angie and I missed from the states were the store bought Starbucks brand Frappucino's. This week we searched a little bit on the found some potential recipes and on the first one **voila** Frappucino. It is as if we poured it straight out of the bottle. Well, one less thing to miss now!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Mmmm...Fresh Baked Bread.

Have you ever been walking by a bakery early in the morning and caught the scent of freshly baking bread? In Tulsa, off of eleventh street, Wonderbread is always pumping that smell in the air. In Italy, there are many small bakeries throughout the city. On a corner about a block from our apartment building there has been an open business space for several months. About two weeks ago we noticed a new bakey and pastry shop going in that space. It looks like they are moving pretty quick on it, therefore it could open soon (something that doesn't happen often). Since many businesses close in August, for an Italian holiday and the heat, I expect that it will open up in September. It excites me, however not just because of fresh baked bread and sweet homemade pastries, but because it means new opportunities. Throughout our life here, we are looking for opportunities to meet people and befriend them. Through those friendships we hope to be able to share the message of God's gift to them. As I pass the shop they are working on I can't help but wonder who will meet because of this new bakery. Will a relationship be struck with the owners, employees or frequent customers we might meet there. Join with us in prayer as we move forward with new opportunities and pray to God for us keep from missing any opportunities as well.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Watching the news...

2 WORKS FOR YOU--Homepage of KJRH-TV, CHANNEL 2--Tulsa, OK

I was surfing the net and came upon the site above. From this site we can actually watch the news live or archived (for the past month) from a tv station in Tulsa. I had also been researching the possibility of watching college football games online in the fall. There are a couple of services and it looks more and more like a possibility. It makes the world continue to feel smaller in some senses to be able to take part in things from home, thereby reducing homesickness. And uhhh....those of you in Tulsa...hope you didn't get rained on during the fireworks last night, the forecast said rain was possible.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Life in Italy

Our Life Group (our church) went really well today. It is somewhat strange this summer, because first of all the Casey's being gone have given me lots of extra responsibility (not to mention the fact that we miss them) and second, our church has changed so that we have a flock (albeit small), but a flock nonetheless. Which means we have more responsibilities to care for the flock (and each other as the church). So, our Life Group (weekly church at our house) has become smoother and smoother. I am reaching a new level of my language ability as well as rely on my weekly outlines which are sent to Amedeo to correct after I have written them in Italian. And as any small groups grows with time, ours has incorporating our new family, Amedeo and Marta Riccardi (plus four daughters). Today, we had Marcus, Angie, Amedeo, Marta, Valentina, Michela, Simona, Cristiana, Danielle, Simona and myself. The four W's that we use to structure our Life Group model can be used as a barometer to evaluate how things went. Our WELCOME time went well, after answering our favorite ice creams and looking at the church announcements. Our Worship time flowed smooth as everyone joined in on the three Italian songs and one English song (with Italian words to sing along). During one of the songs it was incredibly heartening to see our entire Life Group raising their hands in the air as we sang "Ti Diamo Gloria" (We Give You Glory) which include the chorus "Jesus is the King!" After communion together, we prayed for the three kids (Valentina, who just turned ten, is participating with the adults) and Marcus, whose turn it was to teach the kids. While the kids had a lesson and craft, the adults discussed knowing God (from I Cor 2) and ministering to each other by encouraging and praying for those whose needs arose during our time together. As we challenged each other to seek to know God, we welcomed the kids back in who shared what they did and learned about. At the end we finished with a group embrace. As soon as we finished, we got things out for our monthly fellowship dinner. Everyone brought something, there was Italian, Romanian, Mexican and BBQ. We were so thankful for the diversity of our group, everything tasted wonderful. It is such a huge plus in our lives to be part of God's Church. He is making us more like Him as we seek Him together. It is a journey, that we will not soon forget.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Blankets in June.

I am in awe of the weather here this year. Last year we were hearing of the heat wave in Italy from news reports and teammates. People were dying last year because the heat was so high and the percentage of Italians with air conditioning was so low. Tonight, however, we were sitting here watching TV with the balcony door open under throw blankets on the couch. Throw blankets???? It is almost the end of June? Granted it has gotten warm some of the past few days, during the day, but the nights have been cool and almost chilly. I have to admit even the days have not been too bad. So, I hope I am not jumping the gun here, but this summer is looking to be extremely easy to get through.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

An English Birthday?

So, Angie and I were in our apartment yesterday and we saw that a family was decorating the piazza below our balcony for a birthday. It looked neat so we took some pics. As we went on through our evening we kind of forgot about the party...that is until we heard singing. However, the strange part was that we heard Happy Birthday in English! WE looked out the window to see all the kids singing Happy Birthday to their friend and they did it in English, I suppose prompted by their parents. It was interesting to say the least. Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Resident Permission Application Turned In

Well, we just got back from the Questura (Police Station) where with the help of Amedeo (the police chief in our church from a nearby city) we were able to turn in our applications for our permissi renewal in record time! We were in and out in about twenty minutes. When we arrived, Amedeo was already there to meet us. Once we got inside, we still had to fill out the applications, if we had done those in advance we probably could have been in and out in about 10 minutes! It is still hard to believe that it went so smoothly, our God is indeed great. He has helped our team manage with these difficult tasks in the past and now he has continued to make it easier. We are not totally out of the woods though, turning in the applications is the first of a two step review of our applications. We are supposed to go back on August 7th and pick up our permissi. At that time it will be secure for a year or more stay in Italy. Turning in the applications is usually the most difficult step, however. Please pray that they would make the permissi for longer than a year this time. We have heard recently that in the past they would double the length of time each year you renew it, which if that is the case, we would get it for two years this time, four years the time after that. It is a great feeling to have these major steps out of the way. Thanks for your prayers. Here are the things that we had to get together to take with us (the starred items are things we weren't old we would need but had them just in case).

- Three passport size photos.
- Our current permissi (they expired today).
- Two $15 stamps called 'Marca di Bollo' which are used for all kids of legal documents.
- Our passports.
- The letter from the Christian organization in Italy that is legally inviting us here.
- * Our new Italian resident cards (see below to read about the resident cards).
- * Our apartment contract (for verification of living situation).
- * A current gas bill (for further verification).
- * and Amedeo!

Whew, I am glad that's over.....for at least another year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Ancona Residents

After more than sixteen days, and four visits we got our Ancona resident cards, whew.! Posted by Hello

Here's Angie's new card! Posted by Hello

The cover of our new Identity card.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Under Control?

Gianni Bruno, who was co-leading the youth with myself was amazed at the loss of control we had over the students when they got ahold of the water balloons for one of the group icebreakers. Posted by Hello

New Friends

Angie and I with one of the couples we got to know at the convention, Sandro and Rimina, from the Latiano Christian Church. Posted by Hello

Palms, Palms, Everywhere Palms

Here is Angie standing in front of one of the numerous palm trees at the hotel. Posted by Hello

Great Youth Sessions

Here is a picture of Angie and I with the youth we were working with at the convention. Posted by Hello

Gone Swimmin'

Here is the olympic size pool we enjoyed in our afternoon free time. Posted by Hello

Breakfast Under the Sun

This was the place where we had breakfast each morning. It was an outdoor eating area near the pool. Posted by Hello

Sittin on the Porch

This was the fronts of several outdoor hotel rooms, like the one we stayed in. Posted by Hello

First Glimpse

This is the hotel where the Christian Church convention was in Lecce (That's my shadow in the foreground). Posted by Hello

The Castle of Otranto (Lecce)

Here I am standing in front of a castle in Otranto ( A city near the convention). An Otranto website said the following about the castle, "The castle which we see today with its towers, bastions and walls was the work of the Princess of Aragon and was constructed after the conquest of the city by the Turks in 1481."
 Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Something about an oasis...

We arrived in Lecce today after a six hour train ride. It was nice, comfortably air conditioned and a plug was in between our seats for me to plug in our laptop. We watched a couple of movies on the way to Lecce. When we arrived, Pino Neglia (an Italian pastor at the Lecce Christian Church) was there to pick us up. He drove us through Lecce, where we got to see the building for the Lecce Christian Church. He then continued on to our destination, a hotel in the town 'Torre Del Orso' (which means the bear tower). Centuries ago the southern coast of Italy was dotted with watch towers and today we saw the remains of the called 'The Tower of the Bear." This week we are in Lecce for a Convention for the Christian Church/Church of Christ churches, instrumental and non-instrumental. After we checked in the hotel and began walking towards our room, it was if we stepped into a dream. We have been so stressed the past few weeks, this weekend comes as a great refreshment. The palm trees and flowers were everywhere and we saw the olympic-size pool in the middle of the courtyard. Our 'room' is more like several cabanas tied together. Imagine one of those storage rental places, but instead of garage doors, there are front doors leading out into a small garden with plants and flowers. The room is small but adequate. We are definitely looking forward to the next few days. I may try to post a picture tomorrow.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


I don't know why but sunsets here are just spectacular. There have been so many time since we have moved here that I am just in complete awe of God's paintbrush. It is not that Tulsa doesn't have some beautiful does. But there is something different here. We have tried to capture it in pictures or video and it just isn't the same. It is no wonder that great artists were born here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Out of the Loop?

Have you ever felt out of the loop? Today starting around 5:00 pm horns started honking all over the downtown area of Ancona near our house. They kept going until around after 8:00 pm or so. For those three hours we kept wondering what in the world could be making them honk like that. It could be traffic, but three hours worth of traffic? Tomorrow is a federal holiday, in fact Independence Day. So, it could be holiday traffic, but I'm not sure if the traffic would be that bad. Another possibility is that the Ancona team could have finally won a game or even tied (as you can guess they haven't done too well this season). After all our thinking, we are left at the same place...out of the loop. In some ways, that is the way we feel alot of the time over here. Either not knowing songs all Italians have known as kid's songs growing up, whose head was on the money, where to get a residence card (they just changed it), when to use some words and why cars are honking at 6:00 pm June 1, 2004. The longer we live here, the more we understand and get in the loop. So, I guess it continues to get easier, at least in that arena. If we ever find out what they were honking about....we will let you know.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Ministry To Goats???

So, we were sitting around at our house after life group today chatting (It was Marcus, Angie, Amedeo, Marta, their children and I). I have been talking to them about helping out in our kid's time during life group. During a portion of our life group (church) all the kids go to one of the back rooms of our house to have a special story and activity time that is designed just for them. We take turns teaching them on a weekly rotation. Right now, since I am leading life group in Italian, Angie and Marcus are taking turns every other week doing kid's time. That's why I was talking to Amedeo and Marta about helping out. This past week I prepared a document with the specifics of kid's time, the logistics, what goes on, etc. Then I used a function in Microsoft Word to translate it. For kids the word "capretti" came up. Naturally, as someone focusing on youth ministry, I am constantly looking for new words to describe youth and kids. Normally, when I am comfronted with a new word I doublecheck it one of my dictionaries to make sure of the accuracy of the word. In this case I triple-checked it. First by looking it up in Word's translation dictionary, by typing the Italian word in first and it came up with "kids" in English. Then I used my dictionary on my Ipaq and looked it up finding "kids" again. When I showed it to Amedeo, he smirked and said in Italian, "I'm not sure you mean this word." I said it means "kids" and is another way to describe children in English. He thought for a second and he said I don't think we would use it that way here. I started to get confused. He asked Marta and she began explaining that it had to do with sheep and goats. I sat dumbfounded for a few seconds when it hit me, what I was referring to the children as was 'little goats' or 'kids' in it's other English usage. When we explained it, we all laughed and I told Amedeo, I have to laugh at my inadequacies with the language at times, rather than cry. So at this time we will not be starting any new ministries to 'little goats.'

Friday, May 28, 2004

Ahhhh.....Ancona at Night.

This is a cartoon rendering of Ancona that I found online several years ago. I have always thought it was cool. We live just a few streets to the right of the streets in this pic.

Sometimes We Only Think We Know

Last week, our team scouted out three language schools for us all to use for improving our lingua Italiana (Italian language). They all seemed like good options, but there was one that stood out in the minds of Angie and I. It was called Kompass and is about a fifteen minute walk from our house.

Today, Angie and I went to enroll. The old gruff guy behind the desk, hinted that he remembered us and with a smirk said, last week there were four of you (Jason, Marcus, Angie and I). We said, 'yeah, there were four of us.' He laughed and said, so does that mean tomorrow there will only be two of you? We all laughed and continued to make sure we understood there program. He turned out to not be very gruff at all, but very nice. We paid our enrollments and registration fees, then he gave us our receipts. He said, maybe someday you can help us out here with English, we said that might be good. He then asked if we were working in Ancona, then almost immediately he said, 'you don't have to answer that.' for fear he was being too personal. However, I told him what we were doing and he seemed impressed. While all this was going on, one of their professors was standing nearby. He came over and in total English said, "I don't mean to bother you, but we have a class of translators in here, would you mind coming in and letting them practice with you, if you can't understand them then future clients may not be able to either." We said sure, finished registering and went into a class of 13 college age girls, where we stayed for about an hour. There might be many opportunities which come from this and for that we are excited.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Our Wise Heavenly Father.

This morning I as woken abruptly as I was sleeping in on my day off to the phone being handed to me by Angie. It was Amedeo, one of our new church members. He could tell he had woken me up and enjoyed the thought that he had. He was calling to see if we minded if he dropped by for a bit with his youngest twin daughters. His oldest two daughters were at school and his wife was out with a friend. Although it had not been on our plan for this morning, I quickly said no we didn't mind and he was welcome to stop by (I am not sure if it came out exactly like that in Italian, it is one thing to speak Italian once you have been awake, it is another to do so 30 seconds after waking up). He said he would be by in about a half hour. So, no sooner was my finger pressing the hang-up switch on the cordless phone than we were scurrying around taking showers and getting ready. When the three of them arrived, the two girls busied themselves with our basket of toys in the living room and Amedeo was looking over our summer schedule that we had just planned last Monday. He helped correct a few grammatical errors for some Italian items I was working on and we talked about a few things. The funny thing is, while we knew the Casey's would be leaving for home assignment, we didn't how the void would be filled they were leaving behind. Although, it won't fill the void perfectly, God has sent believers our way to help further the work of his kingdom here in Ancona. We praise Him for always taking care of his children, in this case us. He is truly wise beyond our comprehension.

Let's Go to the Movies

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Yuri and I went to see the Passion. We talked awhile afterwards and propelled our relationship to a deeper level. When I was heading home, we came up with an idea to go to another movie the next week. Well, he was sick with a fever and couldn't go, but we postponed it until last night. It was a lot of fun showing up and meeting Yuri's girlfriend Claudia, as well as their friends Laura and Matteo. Not sure where things will go from here, but we have already set up going to a movie next week together. As we continue to do things with these four Italians our relationships will surely deepen. Then by just spending time with them our chances for opportunities will increase for us to share about our life as a follower of Christ. We are excited about our new links to friendships.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

The Edge of Summer

The Casey's left today by train for Rome. The will be flying to the states tomorrow for their Home Assignment. They will be travelling throughout the states for about three and a half months before returning to Italy in mid-September. While they are gone I will be acting as the interim Team Leader, handling day to day leadership on the field. This adds a whole new arena of work for myself as I was just feeling comfortable in juggling my normal tasks. However, we have been planning for this for several months now and I feel ready to take the challenge.
We will however miss the Casey's tremendously. Jason and I teared up as we hugged one last time before they laft for the train station. Angie and Heather held each other tight and whispered encouragement to one another as she walked out the door. Marcus drove them to the train station using their car, which he is to park at their house. There is a hole left, although, the three of us who remain will do our best to continue forward in the effort of ministry that we are doing here in Ancona. God's will be done this summer in Ancona.

Time Seemed to Stand Still

Last Wednesday morning around 9:15 am (Italy time) I received a phone call from my brother, Kevin. He said our dad had went into the ER at Saint Francis Hospital. Dad had fainted several times that night and was not feeling very well, so they went in and found out that he had experienced a mild heartattack. During all the diagnosis, it was found out he would need major open heart surgery. I was overcome with emotion. Our team prayed for my dad and us, since we were upset and feeling so far away. Angie and I both felt helpless. We prayed very fervently for his healing and recovery. Dad ended up having an eight bypass surgery which he came through very well. The doctor had said there was very little damage to the heart, so the blockages we all they were concerned about. During the surgery, the doctor said that there was evidence on Dad's heart of a previous mild heartattack at some point in the past (of which Dad has no recollection). Our team sent out prayer requests to all their prayer partners and many people and churches responded to us saying they were praying for us and our family, especially Dad. Things have progessed well. And we thank God for the healing that has happened so far. Dad's arteries were so blocked that statistically he could have suffered a fatal heartattack by more than a fifty percent chance. We are thankful for God taking care of our family while we are so far away. God is great and worthy to be praised.

Monday, May 17, 2004

The Winds Of Change Are Blowing

So, today was the last staff meeting before the Casey's head to the states for their Home Assignment. With the addition of a new family in our church there will be lots of new tasks and responsibilities for myself and the team that remains here. I am so grateful for what Jason and Heather bring to our team and we will miss them this summer. By the time the Casey's return in September, I imagine my gratitude for what they bring to our team will have increased even more. God be with them as they travel and as our team is continuing the efforts here in Ancona.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Shout to the Lord

My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like You, All of my days, i want to praise, the wonders of Your mighty love. My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength, let every breath, all that i am, never cease to worship You. Shout to the Lord all the earth let us sing, Power and majest praise to the King, Mountains bow down and the seas will roar, at the sound of Your name, I sing for joy at the work of Your hands, forever i'll love you forever i'll stand, nothing compares to the promise i have in You!

We sang these words today in life group. As we did I looked over at Marta and I saw this woman who knows maybe a total of five English words trying to sing along with us. I sat looking at her wondering to myself "Why is she doing this? Why did her family decide to come and worship with us and our little group of believers. We who don't know the language well, we who fumble around and make so many mistakes....Why are they doing this?" And then I listened to what I was singing...what Marta was singing. Marta, Amadeo and their four preciouse children are doing it for the same reason Matt and I did. All of us left what was comfortable to come to a place where we are uncomfortable because we long to see the people of Ancona know Christ. As the song says the mountains bow down and the seas will roar, at the sound of Your name. When will Ancona do the same? Tears filled my eyes and I stuggled over the emotion in my throat to sing louder. Nothing compares to the promise we have in You!

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Saturdays in Italy

Today the sun is shining and the weather is perfect. There is a light breeze flowing through our open windows. Sounds can be heard of children playing in the piazza below our balcony. Tomorrow, we have for the second week, a new family that is beginning to attend our Life Group (church). They are an Italian family of believers who come from our sister church in Matelica. They live much closer to Ancona than Matelica (about an hours drive from their home) therefore they wanted to get involved in a church that is closer to home. They have four young daughters and have been taught the truths of God more than adequately. This is due to the fact that Harold and Enid Fowler are the missionaries at the church in Matelica. The Fowlers, who have been extemely supportive in our team's ministry here, have encouraged the new family to get involved. So, we rejoice and look forward to the new fellowship as well as the new adjustments that will have to be made for our first Italian family that is part of the church in Ancona.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Bags make good raincaps

During this time of year it tends to rain sporadically through the day. It isn't usually enough to get really soaked, but wets the ground and removes the humidity from the air. Angie and I were out running some errands and it started to sprinkle. While we were in a store it began sprinkling a little more. We decided to duck under the awning of a nearby shop to escape the drops. Once it returned to a light sprinkle we began heading on our way once more. As we were crossing the street we saw a humorous sight. Two men were walking across the street towards us and one of them was wearing a bag on his head, the kind of plastic sack you get at the grocery store. It stood tall like a tophat. The funny thing was, since it was a smaller sack it fit around his head good without having to use his hands to hold it on. He had positioned it so that the holes used for handles were around his ears, allowing it to securely fit and not disrupt his ability to hear his friend. I guess sacks do make good raincaps.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Welcome to the Crossers' Life in Italy!

In an effort to preserve memories and present stories of our life in Italy as we experience them, we are beginning this new weblog. Sometimes in our lives and ministry there are too many things that happen for the general email updates, therefore this will allow more stories to be available for those who would like to read more. As you read the blogs keep our lives and ministry in prayer.

- Matt Crosser