Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekly Exploration - Home Follow Up

This is a follow up to my earlier post, Weekly Exploration....

When I go out exploring, I like to find the streets off the beaten path. It's easy to find the 'touristy' streets, there are signs to them! But where do the Italians go? There is a street called, Via Mazzini that leads from Piazza Bra' (the largest town square in Italy, the guidebooks say) to Piazza Erbe (the site of the ancient Roman forum in Verona). This street, Mazzini, is lined with ice cream shops, newsstands and expensive stores. It is almost always packed with people! Italians would say, 'pieno di gente' while holding their fingers tight together and pointing them up, which means 'full of people".

I love that area, it is always bustling and full of life. Sometimes though it is so packed with tourists you can't imagine locals wading through the raff of people. So I love to meander through the alleys finding new passageways and nooks. Sometimes I'll walk all the way down an alley only to find it leads nowhere! Maybe a few doors, but nothing more. Today I found several streets that seemed out of the way for the out-of-towner. I found one street that was closed off to cars, set up for a two day blues festival (here's the program). Several restaurants with their outdoor seating were preparing for tonight's program of blues bands and tomorrow's full day of events. Another street held all the new stores that I listed on my earlier post. And other streets were brimming with people, but there were no tourists in sight. This is Italy. These are the people that we have come to tell about Christ and the relationship that they can have with him. For now, I will continue to explore the city, praying as I walk.

For more on:
Piazza Erbe
Piazza Bra

Weekly Exploration

Here I am sitting on a little street in Verona. For awhile I will have a weekly exploration as part of my schedule. Earlier I helped an old man whose receipt had been stolen by the wind and swept under a nearby car. Then I looked longingly at the charcoaler and attachments in the window of a garden store closed for the holidays. The 15th of August is a major holiday here. So far I went into a tiny little catholic church, found a comic book store, a music store, a handmade jewelry store where I want to take Angie, and several new restaurants including another japanese sushi restaurant. There are several of these in Verona. It was closed. Yet not everything is off I go exploring and praying as I do.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Prayer Journal

I have been working on a new prayer journal. I saw the idea in a magazine. It is a crafty little project and that is right up my alley. I love crafts!! I bought a photo album/scrapbook. The kind that is spiral bound and has cardstock as pages. Back when we were in the states I did the crafty part by decorating all the pages and laying out how I was going to divide it up. I decided on family, nieces and nephews (yes, I know they are family but they get their own section), friends and our team. Then you print off pictures of each person and put them on their page. Around their photo you write things you want to pray about for that person. Then you can flip through and look at their face as you pray. I finally, with the help of my hubby, printed off the pictures today. Tonight after dinner when we are watching some TV I am going to put my pictures in the album. I can’t wait to get up tomorrow and start praying though the faces that I love!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Installing Our Kitchen

So, we've shared this before but when you rent an apartment it comes with an unfurnished kitchen. Normally there are only pipes sticking out of the walls, but no fridge, stove, oven, cabinets, etc.... We brought our kitchen from Ancona to Verona. The problem was that the apartment we moved into had a sink built into the kitchen. We already had a sink built into our previous cabinets. So, what that means is that we had to reconfigure our kitchen. This meant making one side smaller than it was before so it would fit on the wall and we added the section from that side to the other. Then we had to get new countertops and I had to install them after I installed the cabinets. Here are some pictures taken over a couple weeks of me installing the kitchen.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Getting To Know Verona

I just wrote a post on our Go Verona News blog....

April arrived a little over a week ago and we have gotten her moved into her new apartment. We are finally starting to get things set-up and stabilized here in our own apartment. As we have been getting settled you can imagine the numerous trips around town we have had to make. What that has done has shown us parts of the city that we may not have seen otherwise. It finally feels like we are getting to know the side streets. The streets that....(read more here)

Check out other team posts at the front page of Go Verona News found here:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Conversational Relations

So how do you get to know people in a new city? We have had many different repairmen coming to the house to fix things that probably should have been fixed before we got the apartment. Since we have people coming to us, I have been taking the opportunity to converse with them. Every so often I come up with something specific to talk about, so that I have something to keep the conversation going. The past couple days I have been asking people about Lake Garda. It is a beautiful lake, or so we're told, that is only about 20-30 minutes to the west of Verona. Angie, April and I are going to head to Lake Garda this Saturday to celebrate Independence Day. We'll spend the day of the lake/beach and then return that evening home where we'll grill hamburgers and watch something patriotic. There are dozens upon dozens of cities surrounding the lake, so we have been asking which ones are the best. It depends they say. Do we want colder water that's clean? Or warmer water that is a bit more polluted? Lots of wind in the northern part of the lake, they say, that's why there's lots of sailing, wind surfing and parasailing. There are lots of great restaurants all around the lake. Our electrician told us we should head out between 7:30-8:00AM so that we get around all the traffic. Of course that is just regular traffic, since Italians don't celebrate the Fourth of July! From the suggestions so far, we have several options. I guess over time, we'll just have to try all of them and see which place will become "ours". Ours for going to the beach normally. Our version of a "lakelot" without actually having a "lot" on the lake.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Team Member Arrival

So, in about two hours one of our team members, April Houk, is arriving at the airport in Verona. She is travelling with a friend of ours from college. That way she has help travel and baggage. Once she arrives, we will begin guiding her through her first steps in this new culture in which she finds herself living. It will be an adventure for us together!

Pizzeria at Home

So, did we mention that we live above a pizzeria? There are many other stores too, but I want to focus on this little pizzeria. Some days, the oven smells waft up through our fourth story windows and it makes a little mouthwatering. A new ingredient that this place uses is cream cheese. You might not think it would be good, but it is great! Angie and I have both enjoyed different types with cream cheese on it. Not it's not slathered all over the crust. It is like any other ingredient on an Italian pizza. It is used sparingly. Good stuff, makes me hungry thinking about it, maybe I'll go get one of their "popeye" pizzas. They have spinach, cream cheese and a couple other ingredients. Good Eats!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Main Piazza of Verona, Piazza Bra'

Here are several pictures that I took while sitting in Piazza Bra, the main piazza or square of Verona.

Various Pictures Around Our New Apartment

I couldn't help taking this picture. This bicycle is just sitting outside the door of our apartment.

This is the tree lined street that takes you to many local stores , including our grocery store.

Here's our puppy, Brinkley, sitting in our new apartment buildings' private courtyard.

And here is a picture of our local grocery store. It's called MiGross. It basically translates "Give it to me in bulk!"

This is the walkway on the backside of our building. This covered walkway leads to each of the four stairwells that make up our building.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sick as a Dog

I have been sick as a dog for over a week now. We arrived in Italy a week and three days ago. I was still recovering from three pulled teeth when I started showing cold symptoms. Those quickly turned to a sinus infection, with bronchitis tempting its way in. After a few days in Ancona, we moved to Verona one week ago on June 12th. Angie and I came down and got the keys to the apartment from our rental agents. We then cleaned some, got some pizza from a nearby pizza by the slice place and proceeded to sleep on air mattresses, the kind you go camping on. The next morning around 6:30 AM we got a call that the movers were looking for our building. They arrived and we started the process of getting everything put into rooms around the house. They used the same method as when they moved us out of our apartment in Ancona, that is they used a ladder with a motorized platform. It raised and lowered, bringing all of our stuff from the ground to our fourth floor apartment balcony. The owner, Pino, was at the top of the ladder getting stuff off. After he and I would remove the boxes/furniture from the platform, he would send it down, I would tell him where stuff went, then he and I would carrying to each room. Every once in awhile I had to head to the bathroom to cough up congestion. As the day went on it got worse and worse. After getting all of our stuff moved in, we just crashed. For the first time in over two years we are in a stable living situation. Between my illnesses and our tiredness, we couldn't do much that day. Angie and I have been doing what we could as the week went on. We didn't even unpack the TV until tonight!!! We just watched some stuff on the computer.

The thing is I don't even remember the last time I was this sick, oh wait....yeah I do, it was in March/April 2001 right after we had arrived in Italy the first time. I had stomach issues, got bronchitis and fell down two slippery marble stairwells landing right on the middle of my back. I think the enemy would love to use my sickness as a way to get us off balance from the start here in Verona. It didn't work when we first arrived in Italy and its not going to work now either.

On that note, I am retreating to bed to rest. In six hours we are getting up so that a plumber can fix a few things that should have been fixed before we moved in. But if that would have happened, we would have never met the man we are going to meet tomorrow. Maybe God has something in store for him.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How Things Are Going

So, we have not last night, but the night before. Our entire trip has gone really smooth. So much smoother than previous years. Marcus, Emanuela and Ugo met us at the airport and helped us with luggage. Ugo's van carried all our bags and we took most of them to our storage unit, since we move to Verona this Friday. All of our stuff in storage seemed in fine condition. No mold, no dirt. Great! Yesterday, we met our landlord from our storage unit and picked up our car. He had a nearby mechanic do a full onceover, filling fluids and tires, etc... He also changed out most of the filters, which he showed me were a mess. Then we went to check on our car insurance. Our agent wasn't there, but we talked to him and said we could pick up the paperwork today. After that we went out and got new phone numbers for our phones. In the mall, we sat and had a cappucino and some Italian breakfast. Once done, we took off to the pet store to get a few things for Brinkley (check out his blog here). He has been great!! Not barking when we have left him and getting on his regular routine of food and sleep patterns. The funny thing is, as I was writing that last sentence, he let out a loud bark from the other room! After the pet store, we went by the post office and Angie went in to pick up the packets we have to fill out to apply for legal living permits. We have to do that within our first eight days.

Anyway, last night we headed to dinner with several of our friends, Valeria, Luca and two of their kids, Emanuela and her boyfriend, Luca, Daniel and Simona, Maurizio and his girlfriend, Antonetta, Novella and Giulia, Marcus and Kyle (both on the Ancona team). It was a great evening of dinner, laughter and reminiscing. Maurizio's eyes bulged with excitement when I told him OU was listed in the preseason top five and that he was welcome to come visit us in Verona to watch some of the games and have barbecue! He came over many Saturdays here in Ancona and grew to love American Football. He is looking forward to coming.

Really, the only downside to everything has been my health! It's crazy. Because I had three teeth removed last week, I have been dealing with pain and headaches. The oral surgeons' office insisted that the pain would be better next week. Also, apparently, I slept with my right foot in a funny position on the middle and longest flight. It felt like I had a huge internal bruise. For the past two days, I have been practically limping at times. It is feeling much better this morning. The last thing is my reoccuring bronchitis. It is showing its ugly head once more. I can feel it down in my chest and I am having difficulty getting it out. I am praying for it to keep from getting infected and just getting through it. We have a full day ahead for our last full day in Ancona. We make the move to Verona tomorrow.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Three Days To Go

How do I explain the veritible swirling of thoughts and emotions. "To-Do" lists keep flying through my mind. I do one task and then another while making sure we've got time with family and friends too. In three days, we leave for Italy. We'll be gone for over two years. All the things that I love about Tulsa and the USA in general, will out of reach and sight for those two years. We are looking forward to being in Verona, but time is sooo crunched right now it is hard to wade through the feelings.

We heard from the landlord of our storage in Ancona. He has been graciously making sure our car is up to speed for us. This is way above and beyond any repsonsibility he has. He had a nearby mechanic check the fluid levels, the shocks need work and the tag is out of date, all of which the mechanic is doing before we return.

Also, our rental agents in Verona have gone the extra mile for us. They already have our electric and water running. They were going to have it painted and cleaned for us too, but the cost was more than we were willing to pay right now.

We spoke with the manager of our apartment in Tulsa and she said everything looked great and we would be getting our entire deposit back within the next 30 days.

Last night, I found out our first flight had been changed which in turn didn't give us enough time to change planes in Chicago. So this morning, our travel agent got our new reservation for a few hours before. So, now we leave earlier, but still in America the same amount of time. We have a layover in Chicago for four hours!

We found out that excess baggage prices have almost doubled since we last flew internationally. So, we will be going through our previously set aside stuff to determine its "weight in gold" and therefore take it with us.

Lots to think about. Lots to be emotional about. We are metaphorically straddling two continents. My mind bounces back and forth like I'm watching a tennis match in my head. In a week.....things will again begin to sharpen in focus.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Crunch Time

Just a little over two weeks in the states is all we have left. It is crunch time. It doesn’t matter how much we plan ahead and try to get things done ahead of time these last weeks are always crazy. There are just some things you can’t do ahead of time. You have to do them at the last minute. That is where we are now. The last minute.

I am so thankful for the time we have had here in the states. I never would have guessed that we would have a year and a half in America at this point in our lives. I see it as a gift from the Lord and I have thanked Him every day. He knows the desires of my heart. I am happy to serve a God who loves me and cares for me. A God who provides not only what I need but what I desire. I love you Lord!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stuck at the Airport

So, here we sit at Starbucks inside the Louisville airport. Appartently, when the time change switched my phone's time to Eastern, it automatically switched over all my appointments to Eastern time zone too. Which means, since I input our return info in the Central time zone it changed it by one hour. We got here to the airport to check-in and found out our flight had already left.

About ten minutes later, we had new tickets, no charge...thanks Northwest! The downside was it was four hours later, we thought we only had to wait an hour!!! So, I'm on my laptop, using my cell phone's data connection, writing emails and drinking a nonfat Caffe Latte with shots of sugar free Vanilla and Caramel, and four packets of splenda.

Hopefully, there will be no issues with this flight and we'll arrive at 8:42 PM in Tulsa. We will be in Italy, three weeks from today!!! We don't have time to wait, but then again maybe God is giving us an opportunity to rest. We do have soft chairs, magazines and internet access. God knew about this, and maybe He decided to use it as a gift of refreshment. Thanks God.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Newsletter - May 2009

Below is the link to our latest newsletter....
If you would like to receive this through the US mail, just email us your mailing address and we'll add you on the list!
Go here to read past newsletters!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Time Confused

So, at night for the past several weeks I have been staying up to call various agencies, businesses and people in Italy in order to prepare for our pending arrival in June. At night, I mean late....from 2-4 AM are the best times for me to reach people. I have also been writing lots of emails to people and places in Italy. When I write them I think about what time it is for the recipient and will they have time in their day to write me back. Will their reply come before I go to bed at 4 AM? Or by the time I get up around 10 AM? Then I go back to writing emails to people in other states where we are traveling and I forget and think they are in the same time zone as the others I write in Italy. My mind is getting exhausted thinking in five time zones at the same time.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Newsletter - April 2009

Below is the link to our latest newsletter....
April 2009 Newsletter

If you would like to receive this through the US mail, just email us your mailing address and we'll add you on the list!

Go here to read past newsletters!

Contracts and Visas

We got our passports back after expediting their renewal (the expired February 2010 and they needed to expire after September 2010 for the yearlong visas we are requesting. So, last week we made our way to Houston, Texas where the Italian consulate is that has jurisdiction over the state of Oklahoma, among a few others. We had to go in person to present our application and documents. We are requesting a visa for "religious reasons", which is one of the valid reasons listed on the consulate's site. The visas are good for one year, but renewable in Italy, in the form of living permits issued by the main police station of the city you are living in. In our case, Verona. After inspecting all the documents, they told us the visas should be ready in 7-10 days. Not sure if that is literal or "business days". It literal, we could expect them as soon as Friday, May 1st or as late as Monday, May4th. If it is business days, then it would be somewhere between Tuesday, May 5th and Friday, May 8th.

(A building in Houston reflects another much like a Monet painting)

This week, the rental agency sent us the contracts to sign for our apartment in Verona. They also sent the bank information for the international transfers which would need to be done for deposits, first month's rent and agency fees. We did the transfers on Tuesday and emailed them copies of the contract Tuesday as well. We will be mailing the originals this week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Apartment in Verona

So, we heard back from our real estate agents in Verona this was actually around 2:30 AM last night when I called, that is 9:30 AM their time. Giulia told me she had "Buone Notizie" (Good News) for us! If we met the landlord between what he was asking and what we had offered the apartment was ours! I said okay and they are now preparing the contracts for us to sign. They will get us the landlord's bank account info for us to do an international transfer. Giulia, and on another occasion Elio (another agent), had told me they would be able to help us get utilities turned on. This is amazing, especially for the internet since one time we waited three weeks to get the internet on!

And here are some photos that the agency had emailed us.

Living Room:

Hallway coming from the bedrooms (living room is straight ahead):
Master Bedroom:
Matt's Office/Guest Bedroom:
Angie's Office/Guest Bedroom:
Private Parking area:

Here is the location of the apartment in Google Maps:

View Via 24 Maggio, 37 Verona, Italy in a larger map