Wednesday, November 17, 2010


There is a lens that I look through to see the world.
What tints or blurs it?
How often do I switch lenses to take another look; a moral check up test just like the eye doctor?

"Here's option one"

click. click.

"And option two"

Last weekend I was looking through pictures I have taken over the past year. I spent extra time on the photos from the Dominican Republic, Camp Selah, and Italy. Memories. Much like the snapshots I have frozen in my brain.

--------------------------------- Faces
------------------------- Moments
--------------------------------- People

They flip like paper in my mind. The world goes on around me. oblivious. loud. But in my head plays a circus of images.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ A child begging for food ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . . . . . . . . [I'm helpless to change his future. Subtle tears gather in my eyes.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~Broad shouldered Haitians crossing the trash strewn river to reach jobs ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[I will never complain about working again. The tiredness is thick in the air.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ A chapel full of worshiping students~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . .[Chills come over my body. God is here.]

~ ~A two year old Italian smile beaming up at me~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . [I could stay here forever. I love this girl.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ My 3 year old Dominican student running barefoot down the dirt path, ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ her mother screaming curses at her from behind. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[I would take her back with me if I could. God, save her.]

~ ~ ~ ~ The entire Adriatic Sea at sundown before my eyes. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . . . . [How does such beauty exist? I can only smile and breath the sea air]

They do not plague me like a stubborn sickness. They fall like torn pieces of paper, occasionally swept up by a slight breeze. A word. A conversation. A similar image.

They shape me and how I see the world. They help me understand things, and make me question things. My views shift.

"Here's option one"

click. click.

"And option two"

Saturday, November 13, 2010


One of my jobs is to clean the house of a family in South Bend. They are Orthodox Jewish and it's a normalcy for me to be picking up little yamakas and paper with Hebrew scribbled on it. I come to know this family fairly well throughout the last year and a half I've known them. The mom and dad, Devorah and Fareh, have four children under the age of 4. Yoel Aryeh, Shoobey (it's a nick name), Riva, and Yehudah keep me and their mom very busy, and they are joys to be around. I often see and hear things that make me thank God that I get to work for them. A few days ago was one of those times. As I was sweeping the playroom last Thursday I heard a conversation that has stayed with me throughout the week.

The kids had gone to bed, but Yoel Aryeh, the oldest at 4, needed to use the restroom, so after he was done his father was helping him back to his room. He spoke to his son as he led him back to the door:

"Yoel Aryeh I love you so so so so much. How much does Tati love you?"

His little boy responded with sweet childlike confidence:

"You love me so so so so much."

"That's right. I love you so much"

"Mhm. But Tati, HaShem loves me the most."

The beauty of what this small child had just said made me stop and look up. The father was looking at his boy with pride in his eyes and a smile on his face. His son was completely confident that he had his earthly father's love, but he knew that there is One that loves him the most.

the Name

He loves us the most.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Glass Wall

I sit in my room, cross legged on my bed. My heart is heavy. I look at the patterns on my quilt, yet don't see any of their beauty. My mind is everywhere. I'm tired. And I'm alone.

"I should talk to God about all of this..."

I glance up briefly but my eyes quickly go to the floor when I realize I don't have the words right now. My God that was so close to my heart yesterday seems miles away right now. Or is it just me believing that? I can't feel Him today. And today, of all days, is when I just want Him to hold me or at least feel His hope invading my heart.

"Maybe I should just try."

I hold back my words. What if He doesn't show up? I could be left high and dry. Isn't that what happens when you trust or expect something? I don't even attempt to look up now. I decide to risk one word. What harm could that do? I open my mouth as soon as I decide.


It's more of a question than anything. Are you there? Do you hear me? Can you see me? Do you still love me? Why aren't you here right now?


As soon as it leaves my lips I feel the glass wall I put up between me and Him shatter. The glass wall I didn't even realize was there. The glass wall that was broken down with a small hesitant call of His name. It is like the tense sad air I have breathed in all day is pervaded with a rush of relief that is let in by the shattered glass. I don't need the things crashing around me to go away. I just need to know someone is here.

He is here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010



An understood moment. A split second in time where your mind stops sailing alone and meets with another. When you feel yourself drift towards another being for unknown, or known, reasons.


A moment where you become aware of another creature. Where a head on a shoulder, a connection of eyes, a voice, a note, an existence, reminds you that there is so much more in the world than you.

And that life is a beautiful thing.

a word

a song

a sigh

a hand slipped in yours
a cry
a tear
a lullaby
a heart opening it's doors

a look
a glance
a breath
a heaviness carried in stride
a laugh

a sparkle
a presence
a shared joy and pride


Sunday, September 19, 2010

To Defend and Protect

My roommate and I are currently thrashing out what it means for a man to defend and protect. She had posted a blog that explored what a real man is. She is the writer of the room, and so usually this would be her posting a blog in her thought out, passionate, and eloquent words. However, this time it seems that this topic hit a string in me and as words poured out of my mouth about what I thought, so we decided that I should write a blog about it.

One of the qualities my roommate pondered upon was the idea that a man should protect and defend that which he values and loves. She put both "bucking up and taking on a challenge" and defending others in the same category. A wise mutual friend of ours responded and asked her to clarify what the difference is between the two. Is taking on a challenge really in the same category as protecting those around you? What does a man that fights for others look like?

Please feel free to challenge, probe, and poke at my thoughts here. I do not claim to be an expert on this. In addition I feel a bit presumptuous writing a blog about men as I sit here, very much a woman. Yet at the same time, I have watched and been a part of circumstances where men either took on that role as a defender, or sat back and either caused damage or did nothing to stop it.

Let me start off by exploring what defending someone or something looks like. Let's be honest, the picture that often comes to mind is an Aragorn-like image, a man with a gleaming sword swinging, violent and precise. His eyes show no fear, only focus, as he successfully obliterates his enemy, all the while keeping the image of his beautiful maiden in the back of his mind as his source of passion and strength. Let me also be honest and say that it is foolish and immature to think that this is the only type of protection a man can offer.

Protection can be a steadying hand when you encounter something or someone that unnerves you. It can be someone telling you bluntly that where you are going is going to hurt you, or will not honor God. Protection can be walking on the outside of the sidewalk so the girl is more shielded from the cars in the street. It can be setting up boundaries and sticking to them so you do not lead a friend on. There is a sweet relief that floods through you when you find that someone is there to defend you, and when you see that you are not left high and dry to fight whatever monster it is you are facing. Perhaps this is the best definition: When a man truly defends a woman, he offers her his strength.

Did you catch that? Defense is not forced. We live in a world where some men offer a bit of strength and then expect something immediately in return, or get annoyed if they have to expel their precious energies on someone. That leaves women cautious, fearful, cynical, and afraid of accepting the strength offered. It can be hard to know whether it is safe to accept a man's help. "Does he want something if I accept?" "If I accept this he'll get tired of me and stop being kind." "I don't want to be a burden on him" "He doesn't know what he's getting himself into. I'm too much." These are all thoughts that at times plague the minds of many women. For this reason, strength should be offered, never forced. If a girl honestly does not want help climbing down from a tall ledge, never try to grab at her and prove that you are capable. The purpose of protection is not to prove you are capable, but to offer strength to your sister in Christ as He offers it to you.

I will speak to the ladies now and say this: Yes, I understand. Wanting to be protected is the desire of many women, yet at the same time it's hard to let go of the thoughts and hang-ups that keep you from accepting genuine help when offered. It goes against so much about what the world teaches and perhaps even your very nature. ALSO: We are not to complain about men if we are the ones not allowing them to protect when appropriate. You want men to rise up? Fantastic. Let them rise up. You have baggage that makes this hard? Take it to Christ. I would also like to add that you very well know the difference between accepting strength and taking advantage of it. Let's not get ridiculous here and depend so much on a man's strength that it drains him unhealthily. We have ways of offering strength as well, and we are just as capable of pouring into them. If we want guys to treat us like sisters in Christ then we should behave like sisters in Christ. This is a two way street. It's important to know how to function as an independent person, completely fulfilled in Christ and His love. A man should feel welcomed, not obligated, to offer strength.

So now I go back to our friend's question. What is the difference between rising to a challenge and being a protector? Is there a difference? I think it can be put somewhat simply: From my point of view, protecting someone is rising to a challenge. It is standing up, offering the steadying hand, or putting another first. When a husband defends his wife he is rising to the challenge of leading her and loving her as Christ loves the Church. Do all challenges have to do with protecting and defending? Of course not. Some challenges are completely internal. Perhaps God wants you to allow Him to refine your heart, or He challenges you on a specific area in your life. Submitting to Him and working on what he has convicted you with is rising up and taking that challenge head-on.

Defending someone is more than swinging a sword at a dragon. It is offering strength where needed and expecting no payment in return. It's holding her steady when she needs it most. It's setting boundaries. It's God-honoring, and God-inspired. I challenge you to rise up to the challenge and examine where you may need to step it up in the defending department, or look at your motives for defending. Are you one of the men that makes women wary of taking help? Or can you confidently say that you are reflecting Christ in your actions and how you protect your sisters in Christ? And women, are you allowing your brothers in Christ to step up? Are you encouraging, and do you also offer strength where it is needed? Or do you suck in strength like a sponge, leaving a guy empty?

To defend someone is a noble thing. Offering and accepting strength is a thing of beauty. It is going beyond yourself while offering a bit of you to encourage and protect another.

Peace in Christ

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I was going to write some sort of blog to segue into a new phase of this blog. The "I'm not in Italy now so I'm just going to write about other things" phase. Well I've been sitting for a while and can't come up with any sort of closure that would take less than 1 million pages. And now I'm saying screw it. Because I can't wrap up the trip and the past month in words.

Basically this has been the past month since being back: happy. joy. family. driving. eating. laughter. fun. jokes.movies.culture shock. friends. change. angry stomach. college. sorrow.talks. adjustment. playgrounds. warmth. goodbyes. overwhelmed. learning. God. homework. familiarity. music. dancing. happy heart. cooking. late nights. peace.

So there it is. That's my segue transitioning this blog from Italy to the States. Now I feel free to write about what I want. I leave you with my current favorite song.

Peace in Christ

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Saying Goodbye

I'm a flake. It's true. During my time in Italy my mind swung like a pendulum between wanting to be at home and being completely content staying with the family for weeks more. And try as I might, I could not hold it in one spot and keep it from swinging back and forth. However, my last week with the family, I had no problems keeping my heart there.

As I spent my last days and hours with the family I took in every detail that came with living with them. My mind soaked in every mannerism, every quirk as the realization of my departure became more tactile to me. The amused glances Monica and I exchanged when Igor did something funny or ridiculous became like gold. Seeing Margherita dance brought me more joy than usual, and I made sure that in the last few days we played music and danced together a lot. Giuseppe's clever comments made me smile more than usual as I saw his quick wit developing.

The children began to ask me questions about why I had to go, and if I was coming back. They didn't understand, especially Marghe. Monica tells me that she asks everyday when I am coming back. Giuseppe's true nature came out as he suddenly switched from the Italian demon child to the sweet 5 year old I knew he could be. My last week there he listened like a dream, and even went as far as saying nice things to me. One of the last afternoons I spent with him we were sitting on my bed talking, and out of nowhere he tells me: "Alysha, I really dislike that you have to go. Can't you stay more with us?" Once I picked my jaw up the floor I tried to explain that I have family, friends, and school to return to. He didn't buy it.

I started saying my first goodbyes the day before I was to leave (Wednesday). Monica's parents came over to say goodbye to me, and when she hugged me goodbye the grandmother alm
ost started crying. Next was Marina, the woman who cleaned the house three times a week. It was with her I had my first official conversation in Italian, and she encouraged me so much when Giuseppe was being impossible. Next was my friend Mary, and Irish au pair that I had just gotten to know a couple weeks before. But our similar situations made us fast friends. We went to the upper city, split a pizza, and laughed so hard that the other tables turned to look at us with amused faces.

Wednesday night I was to say goodbye to the children because I was leaving early the next day. While they didn't understand what exactly was happening, they did understand that something was up. They came to my room, sat on my bed like usual and we all talked and had fun. We talked about how I was going home, and why. Monica came in to chat as well and told them they needed to say goodbye. First Giuseppe came up to me, gave me a big hug, and kissed me on my cheek. Then came Marghe, following suit. She asked if she could sleep in my room with me but she had to get up early the next day and I still had more to pack. They filed out of my room to their beds, Giuseppe with his slow gait and Marghe with her little girl waddle. I felt my throat tighten in an attempt to keep the hot tears at bay. I could cry later if I needed. Right then I had to keep it together and focus.

I said goodnight to Monica and we looked at each other with the full weight of the situation on pulling at us. I was going to miss her. Over the past three months she had become a good friend and like and aunt to me. She told me multiple times that I am family now, that me leaving was going to be hard for her.

I went to my bedroom, finished packing, and and got ready for bed. The next morning Monica got up early to see me off. Igor was to take me to the train station so I could get to the correct airport that was an hour away. She came in my room to find me sitting on my bed, looking dejectedly at my packed bags. I offered a half hearted smile and she came over to hug me. Fact: If I am ever close to tears, hugging me somehow immediately leaves me incapable of holding them back. She walked out, and I pulled my stuff to the living room to take it to the car. We hugged one last time, exchanged thank you's and goodbyes, and that was it. Igor took me to the station, and we chatted on the way, both trying to ignore the gravity of this car ride. He dropped me off, walked me as far as he possibly could go, and told me that we all will be in contact. He left and I held my luggage close as I waited for the train.

While I was not glad to say goodbbye to them I was glad to get it over with. I hate goodbyes. I'm no good at them and they don't feel nice to put it simply. But when I decided to be a nanny I knew that a goodbye would be a part of the process.

I will be in touch with this family forever. I can't imagine not knowing them yet three months ago I knew almost nothing about them. I remember praying that God would bless my relationship with the family and that we would be close. He answered that prayer in so many ways. I will be truthful and say that yes, I do miss the family very much. I have refrained from looking at pictures from my trip because I know it will make my heart ache. But it's not the end of my time with them, we will just adjust how we communicate. Praise God for technology.

This experience changed me and taught me about myself in many ways. But above everything else, the memories of my time with the family are among my most precious belongings. So as I start the new chapter of this school year, I go with a new friendship with four people that I will never forget.

Peace in Christ

Sunday, July 4, 2010

O, dici puó vedere... My 4th of July in Italy

Have you ever looked up what American food is? It's embarrassing really. The lot of our food, as you most likely already know, is taken from other countries. We are unoriginal in every sense of the word. It's okay. We're a new country, I'm willing to cut us some slack. However, this fact made it extremely difficult to cook an authentic American meal for the family I am nannying for.

A couple weeks ago I realized that July 4th was coming up. I mentioned it to Monica and offered to cook and American meal for them. She absolutely loved the idea, and we decided to make it a party. We invited her parents and her aunt that taught in the States for a year to come and eat the American meal.

After looking online for ideas I gave up. Monica asked what I was thinking about making and I told her that America is a thief and steals every one else's recipes. She laughed and then said maybe I could just make what my family normally has on July 4th. Oh. Never thought of that.

I told her that we grill hamburgers, and explained the concept of the hamburger bun:

"You have the hamburger between two pieces of round bread"
"Do you put the bread on the hamburger before you grill it?"
"Oh no, you put it on after, and then you can add ketchup and stuff."
"Ohhhhh. Like the pictures from McDonald's"
(Embarrassed) "Yea..."

I said I could also make banana bread (which they had never heard of), and Monica and Igor were both very convinced we needed corn if we were to have an American meal. Also they suggested salad with bacon bits. I went along with it, and also tried to explain what corn on the cob was. You must understand that we eat almost nothing with out hands here in Italy. Pizza is cut, hot dogs are without buns and cut, even watermelon is cut and eaten with a fork. Monica and Igor are such good sports.

A couple days before the 4th, Monica and I went to the store to get the food we needed. We were both equally excited about the meal. I was nervous however about her mother attending. Think of an old fashioned, proper Italian grandmother and you have the spitting image of Mari Maggio. She's a sweet old lady, but loves to do things the way she has always done, and doesn't often appreciate anyone doing differently. I could just envision her face when she realized she would be eating the entire meal without the need of a fork. I was sure World War III would break out.

The day came quickly and after getting ready I started making the banana bread. Now, I don't know why, but there are NO measuring cups or spoons in this house. So all of my measurements were complete guesses. In addition to this, there was not enough brown sugar, and it was a different kind than the states. I tried to balance out the other ingredients so it wouldn't mess with a lot. Well at least they hadn't had it before so they wouldn't know if I screwed up.

Soon the Monica's grandparents and aunt arrived to the house. Monica had dressed both kids in red, white, and blue, and the grandfather was conveniently wearing a very red, white, and blue button up shirt. Along with them was Monica's aunt, who lives in Milan.

When it was time to eat I brought out the food I had cooked and the family started clapping. Being the sometimes socially awkward person I am I didn't really know what to do so I looked at Monica for help like I usually do and she came to my rescue and started telling people in Italian what the different foods were and how to eat them. I chuckled to myself when a murmur passed over the table as they were told you were to butter and salt the corn, and then pick it up by the sticks on the side and bite into it.

As dinner began, the aunt, who was dressed in a bright blue shirt with a bright floral button up over it, started reciting the things to me she knew about the War for Independence. I told her I was impressed, and she sheepishly replied she had studied before coming over. Then she went to her purse, grabbed a leaf of paper with writing all over it, and continued with the history lesson in a mix of English and Italian. She began talking about why the war started, and with an absolutely stoic face, looked at me and confidently stated: "The War for Independence occurred because the British invaded the American colon." I felt my eyes widen and my mouth threatened to explode into an amused smile. Don't think about it Alysha, don't think about it. Hahaha oh crap I'm thinking about it! Stop. Focus.

And face was saved.

The grandmother that I had so worried so much about pleasing proved my worrying to be useless. When she ate the banana bread she asked where I had bought it. When I told her I made it she exclaimed that I was not allowed to leave Italy without giving her the recipe. She even ate the corn on the cob. I glanced over a couple times and smiled when I saw the grandfather eating his hamburger, bread, ketchup and all with a fork and knife. Later on the grandmother smiled and told me that she had brought mozzarella with her just in case things didn't turn out, but that she didn't need to put it on the table because everything was so good. Oh, Italy.

The rest of the evening included an impromptu board game, laughter, and lots of pictures taken by Monica's aunt. I saw her aiming her camera at me and made the mistake at looking into the camera. "No, naturale, naturale." so I didn't look into the lense, and decided to get comfortable and pulled my leg up onto the chair with me. "No not like that, the camera makes you look fat." And I burst into laugher at her bluntness. Hey, not many people would tell you that you need to switch your pose to better flatter how you look. I shifted, she took a picture and demanded that I "show my boyfriend" her photograph. In fact, the picture is sitting next to me right now because she had a print made and sent it to the house for me. She may be one of my favorite people I have met here so far.

There were no fireworks here, but my time with the Maggio family is something I will always remember. You seem to appreciate your own country more when you are not in it. I celebrated the 4th with a genuine pride in my nationality. I was able to offer a piece of the American culture to the people I am living with here, and they took it with enthusiasm and curiosity. I could not have asked for a more interesting, amusing, and Italian 4th of July.

Peace in Christ

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Foreign Kid

Remember the foreign exchange students in high school? Everyone knew who they were. Maybe you were or are the foreign kid. Then you will know exactly what I am talking about. People greet you with a sort of curiosity and then talk to you about the things they know about your country. You are immediately informed if they have been there before, or anywhere near it. Your last name immediately becomes your country. "I'd like you to meet Alysha From America." Alysha America. Oh well. It has a certain ring to it.

Converstations in a group of aquantances either completely circles around you or is completely outside of you. The two questions I get the most are: "So do you like Obama?" "What do you think about the oil spill?" Basically the two things that are on the Italian news about America. After everyones knowledge of your culture is spent the conversation turns away from anything familiar to you, and you go from the center of attention to a spectator. The ability to adjust is necessary in this funny business of traveling.

It's funny to see what people assume about you based on your country. I remember a guy being incredulous when he found out I don't smoke marijuana. Or when I didn't like being hit on. He told me that one of his favorite movies was American Pie, and light was shed on why he thought what he did. Now he was more of an extreme case of course, but you get the idea. Though I must say that there are Italians that genuinely know more about the States than some Americans do.

Some of the people I have talked with listen with a shocked curiosity as I tell them that not all American's go out to discotecs every weekend, or like to shop all the time. You must imagine their confusion when I proved time and time again to be shy and not the immediately crazy outgoing American that they see on tv.

It's funny to see the look on people's faces when they hear a foreign language coming out of my mouth. In the store people turn their head and look at me as I talk. I'd better soak this in while I can. I may never be so well listened to again. But I must say when I get back it will be nice to be able to talk in a store and not draw attention. You feel like you are interrupting the rhythm of the store, dinner, or party when you speak a different language than everyone else in the crowd around you.

I am the foreign kid.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Travelling Alone

I have been blessed enough to have moments where I feel strong and sure of myself here in this unfamiliar situation. Like when I realized that I knew how to get basically anywhere I wanted in Bergamo. Or when I pick Margherita up from school, and she runs for me to pick her up, her chubby arms spread as far as they go and a huge smile on her face. Usually these moments of temporary security happen when I am with the wonderful family I am living with. Monica (the mom in the family) and I have really good talks about everything, and this helps curb the gnawing vacancy of friendship here.

Along with this there are times where I want nothing more than to be home around familiar things. Yesterday, after two months of pushing down the feeling of loneliness it finally hit the fan. I felt it keenly from the start of the day when I again woke up in a room by myself and walked to an empty kitchen. I did my crunches that have become a habit and went to go eat breakfast. I showered, came back to my room, and spend time talking with God and reading the Bible. I think I assumed that because I did that it would automatically turn it into a good day. After that, I chilled in my room, got on facebook, went out for a bit, and watched School of Rock for the first time. I laughed at a funny part, but promptly was reminded that I was alone when only my laugh cut the air. I tried to ignore it and refocused my attention on the hilarity of the movie (I cannot believe it has taken me this long to see it).

For the past two months if a twinge of loneliness hit me I pushed it away like a child pushes away bitter medicine. Apparently the barrel for the million pieces of lonely I pushed away was filled to the top because all of the sudden I felt it all heavily.

I didn't want to do anything, because I would have to do it alone. So I sat Indian style on my bed. I found myself the closest to tears I have been in a long time. As they blurred my vision I tried to stop thinking about it and got up to reorganize my dresser for the millionth time. I was frustrated. Frustrated at myself for being sad, frustrated at the situation, frustrated at loneliness, and frustrated I could not get rid of the ache that had recently taken up residence in my ribcage.

Later that night I skyped with my family, and was able to watch movie with them via computer. It was perfect because one of the things I miss most is being able to just sit and watch movies with people, or just hang out. I was also cheered up by a friend that made me smile and laugh until I forgot I was lonely. God's good to me.

You may have a couple reactions reading this. You may think I'm out of my mind for being in Italy yet feeling sad. That's ok. I just recommend that you travel alone sometime and get back to me on that. Or you may swing to the other side of the spectrum and feel bad. You don't have to do that either because I am learning so much here and will be home soon. My heart seems to keep making desperate reaches toward home but I am keeping it here to the best of my ability. That being said I am also looking forward to being back, yet know that I will miss my time here just as keenly as I now miss home. See you all soon.

Peace in Christ

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Venice Waterblogged Part Two (in Venice)

I arrived at my hostel and walked up the stairs to the level the rooms were on. It was basically a floor of an old palace remade into a hostel. I payed for my stay and talked to the owner a bit. He asked "Where are you from?" "United States." He looked at me and said "Hm. You don't have an American accent." I looked at him really confused and he said he was from Australia and that I must have picked up an accent in Italy. I attributed it to the fact that I had just been listening to and speaking in Italian with the man that showed me where the hostel was. I tend to accidentally mimic accents. The tweak in my speech soon went away though as I talked with other Americans in the hostel. My room was with 7 other girls. 4 bunk beds were set up in a large room with one bathroom attached. I chose a bed and set down my stuff.

The thing about traveling alone is that it makes you come out of your shell. It's like the first week the freshman year of college. You realize your need to connect with people and therefore being shy must be put on hold. I found this to be true in the hostel as well. I walked out and joined a group of people at the table. Introductions followed, and we all learned the others' home countries, why they were in Venice, and how long they had been traveling. There was a mix of Aussies, Brits, Canadians, and Americans. I have not heard so much English in such a long time. I must admit it was nice. I connected well with a small group and we talked of deep things like friendship, religion, and the difference between being buzzed and being drunk (ok so the last one isn't so deep but they felt the need to educate me seeing as I've never been drunk). I also met a man from Turkey, Meshnin, who had just rode on the deck of a ferry for 30 hours to reach Italy. He was into making commercials and also making short clips to raise awareness for human rights and treating the Earth with care. We talked about the Middle East, the film business, dreads (he had his dreads for 5 years), and family. In the middle of our conversation he pulled out a little silver box and rolled his own cigarette, filter and all. Meshnin
the tobacco he had was organic and contained much less toxins.
He offered me one but I said no thanks.

That night we all went out. I met a girl, Rafa, and we talked for a bit. She happened to be sleeping on the bunk above me, and we decided to explore the city together the next day. We exchanged stories of the boys we missed and made plans to get up early the next day.
Rafa and I spent 10 hours on foot exploring the city. We rode on a 50 cent gondola across the canal, explored San Marco's Cathedral, and took water buses to the neighboring islands. For lunch we decided to be cheap and go to the supermarket. Our purchases? A can of pringles, tortilla chips, cream cheese, pickles, chocolate, and tea. It was glorious.

It was so nice to have someone to explore the city with. I was getting weary of doing things alone. We saw many beautiful, and hilarious things (like a monk playfully whipping someone with the rope tied around his waist).

Venice is a beautiful city. I don't think there is any place like it. However, it's not the kind of place you would live or spend more than a few days in. But those few days will be unforgettable,
I can tell you that.

The train ride back was good. I have certain songs that are perfect for trips alone on the train. They just feel like train rides to me. I met up with the family in Verona. We went to a beautiful restaurant and attempted to explore a bit. However, the rain came down like it was trying to push us out of it's city, and so we conceded and left for home. I hope to go back to Verona (Romeo and Juliet's city).

I feel so blessed to be on these adventures. Every once and I while I will catch a glance at my reflection in a window when I am out and am surprised that it is my image looking back at me. I would never have imagined that I would get to go to Venice, let alone Italy. God takes good care of me when there are no other resources. In fact, He provides way more than I could ever hope for.

Peace in Christ

My Train Songs:

Skinny Love by Bon Iver
Paper Planes by M..I.A.
Mademoiselle by Berry
Colgando en Tus Manos by Carlos Baute and Marta Sanchez
Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg
Say Hey (I Love You) by Spearhead
Me Voy by Julieta Venegas
Quelqu'un M'a Dit by Carla Bruni
Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michealson
Punkrocker by Sandi Thom
Another Way to Die by Alicia Keys (yes this is the James Bond theme song)
Knock You Down by Keri Helson
Waving Flag by K'Naan (the one ft. Nancy Ajram is my favorite)
Ciega, Sorda, Muda by Shakira

Venice Waterblogged Part One (the trip)

The City on Water. First of all, if you get the chance, go to it. It makes up for the excess of tourists with its beauty and atmosphere. However, I recommend that you wait until you have someone to explore it with.

On Friday I got on the train that would take me to Venice. Monica was wonderful and drove me to Brescia so I wouldn't have to switch trains halfway through. While I waited, I got a cappuccino (a real one) in a cafe in the train station. I thought of my dear friend Barbara and how she would like it because of the massive amount of foam in the cup. I got on the train and found a car that was nearly empty. I had an entire table to myself for the 2 hour ride. I waited until I heard the word "Venezia" and made my way off the train with my backpack.

The sight that greeted my eyes made me tilt my head in confusion. This did not look like Venice, or what the directions to my hostel described. The neighborhood I found myself more resembled an Italian ghetto. My stomach sank as I realized I had no idea where I was. I crossed the busy street in search of an internet cafe. I felt completely vulnerable as my mind searched for some sign of where I was, and nothing was found. I spotted and internet spot that doubled as a small casino. I walked in and was greeted my a row of rough looking men playing the slot machines. Great. I went up to the woman at the counter and asked to use the computer. I had to squeeze past a man to get to the tiny space. He smiled at me past his large nose. Once he helped me find the right button on the Italian keyboard and I found he spoke English. I was able to find directions to the hostel I was supposed to stay in, but this did no good because I was in the wrong spot. I returned to the train station with all of my resources exhausted. I looked and there was the man from the casino, sitting in the train station. He made caught eye contact with me with his eyes that reflected how bad he had been to his liver. "Is everything ok?" he asked. I had no choice. "Well I don't know how to get to Santa Lucia (the main street of Venice)." He got up, offered a smile and said "Oh, well I can show you how to get there." He showed me the bus stop, told me to get on bus #2 and to get off at the last stop. He told me he was originally from the Middle East and that he had been in Italy for 3 years, but was returning home soon. I thanked him for his help and walked to the bus stop.

I had no idea how to pay for this bus, so I prayed that I wouldn't get in trouble and just got on and off. No one stopped me. Don't judge, when you are a girl alone, lost in a completely foreign city, paying for a bus ride to the next city is low on your list of priorities. Finally I made it to Venice, and was greeted by a beautiful canal, water-buses, and gorgeous buildings. Ok, now to get to my hostel. My backpack and stress was making my back tighten up like a clenched fist. I asked directions to the street I needed to take, and the woman at the desk directed me to a bus. Well, according to Murphy's Law, if something can go wrong, it will. I happened to be standing next to an employee of the water-bus system, and he told me we were going the opposite way of my hostel. I tried not to let my face show how frustrated I was, but apparently failed, because he offered to show me how to get there. Can I just say that God provides at the perfect times? This man told the driver of the bus he would see him later, and he took me to the square I needed to be in. On the way, he told me which shops were fake, what were the tourist traps, the best places to eat, and things to be careful of. He wasn't flirtatious at all, and i didn't get a weird vibe from him. He took 20 minutes out of his day to help me get to where I needed to be. I thanked him for everything and felt my back's muscles release a bit of their death-grip.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Waving Farewell to the Teens

So tomorrow I am officially saying goodbye to my teen years. I am pretty sure I am ok with it. I didn't get too attached. Although I did feel like I should write a blog dedicated to them since they were with me for a while.

I mean, they did stay with me through the torrents of puberty and the awkward moments where my I wished I would stick my foot in my socially inept mouth. I was definitely an early bloomer, and this brought the lovely mood swings, acne break outs, and impassioned arguements with my parents in one fell swoop. I laugh thinking about how scandalous I felt when I whispered a swear word for the first time in the safety of my room. Or how terrified yet thrilled I was sitting behind the wheel of a car for the first time. My first job, first theater production, first solo in choir, first time wearing makeup out of the house. Each new expirience brought a rush of excitement mixed with a bit of nerves.

I learned a lot of hard lessons as well, like what if feels like when someone doesn't like you because of your race, and that appearances aren't always how things really are. Of course no one can make it through thier teen years with out a heartbreak or two, but now I can look back and smile at how my dramatic 15 year old mind wondered if I would ever "move on".

TPing houses and ducking when a police car came by, climbing on roofs all over the city, sneaking an entire pizza and a 2 liter of peach soda into the movie theater, quietly exploring the underground school tunnels... the list goes on of things that my friends and I did to pass the days and bring little thrills (yes, my mother does know about all of this).

I met friends that would change my life and how I view things. They were (and are) with me through the good and not so good moments in my life. And my family put up with my carefully thought out arguements and the times when my temper exploded like a hormonal time bomb.

Now I am in Italy and saying "arrivederci" to the teens and "buongiourno" to the 20's. Whoa. It will take a while to get used to this. Hopefully I adjust before I hit the 30's. I don't even want to think about that. Before I came I thought about the romantic idea of turning 20 in Italy. It certainly sounds wonderful: "Yes, I turned 20 in the beautiful country of Italia..." At least it sounds romantic because I would like to have people I know with me as I turn this corner. However, I chose this expirience and I am enjoying it to the fullest.

I thank God for how good He's been to me through the teen years with a full knowledge that He is already going ahead of me in the next chapter of my life.

Peace in Christ

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Italy's Secret

Italy has a secret.

In the street filled with people, in the thick heat of summer, you can see her walking through the crowd. She strolls on the cobblestone roads with a small smile, for she is so very aware of the hidden fact. She might have a gelato cone to distract her from the fact that there is nothing else to occupy her hands and mouth. It keeps her from being jealous of the lovestruck couples in the street. For surely ice cream is sweeter than any man's lips.

But at times she's not so sure.

Especially when the ice cream melts and leaves a sticky mess on her hands. It is said that men don't melt, even when it rains.

Then again, stranger things have happened.

Her sunglasses shade her eyes and make her feel like it isn't as personal when a man looks her up and down with his elevator eyes. He scans her from ground level to the top in a few short seconds and her gut twists uncomfortably within her. The sunglasses remain on her face, even if the building cast a dark shadow on her.

Because if he doesn't see her eyes, he doesn't truly see her.

She passes a bookstore and immediately walks in. The smell of new words hit her and she decides to stay a while. No matter that she can't understand the syllables on the shiny covers.

At least the smell is familiar.

She tires of not being able to understand the words so she continues on her way, taking in the music played by the old man on the street. He woefully plays his instrument and looks at the people passing by through his thick glasses. His face shows nothing. His emotions only ride on the notes he plays.

How she wishes for her piano.

When the streets loose thier draw and the shops have been explored she begins the walk home, passing the buildings, statues and cathedrals that made her jaw drop when she first arrived. Their new familiarity allows her heart to settle.

Becoming friends with a city is quite the adventure.

She is content.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Walk Like an ... Italian?

I am pretty good at learning the habits of others around me so I can blend in. In the Domincan I stuck out like a sore thumb, but I learned the accent, mannerisms, and lingo to slip into the culture as much as possible. I taught my body to move just like a Dominicana when we danced the bachata and merengue, and could not stop smiling when my host sister told me I didn't look American when I danced (I'd like to attribute this to the Lebanese blood but may be just my pride speaking). Here in Italy I have learned a few things to help me look like a Bergamasca native that is completely familiar with her surroundings.

The Walk: I walk everywhere. The trick to walking like an Italian is to keep a steady gate and let your arms swing at your sides if you aren't carrying anything. People my age wear headphones with only one earbud in and sunglasses as well. I enjoy walking with my music going and my sunglasses shading my eyes. When you pass people you don't make eye contact or say hi. Just look straight ahead.

The Fashion: I prepared myself to enter a country where fashion was everything. I was right. There is no such thing as a woman "letting herself go" here. Ever. No matter your class, you wear your choice of style to it's fullest. Scarves are a must. You can wear something rediculous here if you act like it is fashionable. I've seen the strangest clothes. This makes me feel better because as long as I act like what I'm wearing is cool, it is. I haven't seen any flip-flops but the ones on my feet. These I will not give up. I like them too much. Plus they let me show off my toe-ring.

The Feeding Time: This is just as, if not more, important than fashion. Whenever possible, you have the fork in your left hand. If you are going to fill up your glass, you check to make sure no one else needs it first. If they do, fill theirs, then give yourself some. Glasses are only filled halfway. There is generally more that one course. At the simplest, you have the main meal and then after some cheese or bread. Olive oil graces every Italian table. At parties you have at least four courses. First an appetizer, then the main dish, next comes the post main dish appetizer (I don't know the proper name), and then dessert. Conversation makes meals enjoyable whether you are at home or out.

Conversation: Italians are great conversationalists. It is a part of so much. At meals, if there is a slight lull in the conversation, someone immediately picks it up. Usually with a "How are you, (enter name here)? Is everything well?" The questioned person then tells the table what they have been up to, about thier sick kid, and the movies they have seen recently. This spurs more conversation. You always make sure to say hello and goodbye to everyone, whether it is your mother, your friend, or the lady checking out your groceries. You greet friends and family by taking their hand and kissing them on the left cheek first, then the right. Most people just kiss the air.

I smile to myself when a tourist thinks I am a normal part of the Bergamo scene. Here in Northern Italy my light skin and hair do not make me stick out, as there are Italians much paler than me walking around. I have even seen multiple blond haired, blue eyed Italians. Many people also have curly hair like mine so that helps as well. Just hand me my Aviator sunglasses and music and I'm ready to go slip into the Italian image this summer has handed me.

Peace in Christ

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Surviving Seafood

I came to the realization that I have been here almost a month. Almost. God has been so faithful in helping me adjust. This past weekend we went to a picnic for Giuseppe's end of the year party. Italians are very keen on spending hours together over food, and when I first came it was hard to sit and try to understand people for hours on end. I was surprised when I found that I was genuinely enjoying every minute of the picnic and loved talking with people. At this point I have become friends with some of the people Monica and Igor know, so I had a base of people I could spend time with. I have also met a couple Americans that have lived in Italy for a while and I was able to talk with them and even got invited to an night picnic in a couple weeks.

When we got home we had an hour to rest and then we had friends of the family over. They were wonderful. We laughed and talked for hours. I must mention the irony of the dinner. Monica is a wonderful cook. She makes all sorts of foods for the family and outdoes herself at parties. Let me say that I am not a picky eater at all. I have eaten cow tongue, pig's ear, and chicken's foot, but when it comes to seafood I would rather go hungry. When it came time to eat, my plate was set in front of me, and I was staring at the biggest slab of fish I had seen in my entire life. It was comparable to the size of a steak at Applebees. My heart (and stomach) sank as I heard the other people at the table sing thier praises about the choice of food. I begged my gag reflex to behave itself, and took a bite. I wish I could tell you I was wrong and that I liked the gigantic sea creature on my plate but it is not so. I forced a smile and ate the fish as quickly as I possibly could. My performance deserved a Grammy.

Italian party menus always have multiple courses, so I wondered what was next. Perhaps some of the awesome bread and cheese that we usually have. Oh no, what was brought next was shrimp on kebobs. I took a kebob, willing to give the shrimp a try even though I haven't liked them for years. I bit into one and felt my stomach twist. Nope. Can't do it. At this point my mouth had told my stomach that it didn't like what was going on, and I started to feel a bit queasy. Praise the Lord for our dog, Foxi, that came to my rescue. I slipped her the remaining shrimp with spy-like skills. No one ever knew. I love that dog.

Besides braving seafood attacks, I am getting to know the family better each day. We went up to the Italian side of the Swiss Alps today and drove to thousands of feet in the air. I couldn't believe the view. I love knowing that no one can outdo God. I am in the land of beautiful cathedrals, historic buildings, and impeccable taste, but those mountains easily outdid all of those things in beauty and majesty. His creation is beyond anything we could ever hope to create (although I may speak to Him about this whole seafood issue. I don't know whose idea it was to eat it. Me and that person will have words when I get to heaven).

Peace in Christ

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Elastic Heart

When I came back from the Dominican I felt as if my heart was stretched from Mishawaka to my little mountain village, Los Higos. I remember fighting back tears as I looked at a photo of the preschoolers Brit, Selina, and I poured our hearts and souls into during our time there. There were times I felt my heart was going to snap, like a rubber band that is stretched that centimeter too far. As time went on and I readjusted to my life in the States, the moments of feeling stretched were less frequent, but certainly made thier appearance.

I did not realize that these moments would still happen when I travelled to Italy. In my silly mind I imagined that one could only miss a single continent at a time. To my surprise I was very wrong. I find myself missing people in the States, and being able to spend time with friends and family. God told me to keep my heart here, so that's what I am doing, but it ocassionally escapes my watchful eye and makes and elastic reach for the things of home. It is like an addict that needs it's fix of something familiar in this unfamiliar environment. I might compare myself to a fish that voluntarily jumped out of her tank, and finds herself missing that safe water at times.

During the stressful times here in Italy I desire something familiar, and now the Dominican and the States are both familiar things to me now. My heart leaps when I hear English and Spanish. I became instant friends with a couple Spanish speakers here and they laughed at the American, in Italy, speaking Spanish. At times pictures will pop up of the Dominican, and I am amused that the place that was once unfamiliar is now something I think of as a safe home to run to.

However, I am here, in Bergamo, Italy, and I must try with all my might to focus on the here and now and try to contain my elastic heart and aim it toward learning all I can while I am in Europe. God made my heart to love adventure, but He also made it to connect to other hearts. I will return to these familiar hearts soon, but for now I will work to keep it here with me, with my kids, and one day I will feel the elastic chords of my heart pull my thoughts towards Bergamo, and the precious to-be-made memories.

Peace in Christ

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Before I left, I got asked by countless people why I wanted to do this. As I boarded the plane, I asked myself the same question and there are moments here where I shake my head and repeat it.

I have always been obsessed with adventure. From the books I read as a child (and now), to the movies I love, and the history I am fascinated by, adventure captures my attention better than almost anything else. I suppose this was the insigator in my search for an adventurous summer. I knew that travelling alone and living in a foreign counrty for three months would challenge me in every way. I wanted to better myself and learn more about the world. This time in Italy is already doing that. My walk with God has gotten more tactile as I am forced to come to Him only with hardships. He is teaching me a lot about myself and others.

Secondly, I made a promise to myself a while back that I would travel internationally by myself before I got married. It wasn't a matter of proving anything to anyone but myself. I knew that I could do it, but how could I really be sure unless I acted on it? I do not see marraige as an end to adventure. On the contrary I plan on going on countless adventures with my husband. However, there is something to going out on your own, and testing your own independence. I also didn't want to get married and regret not taking this opportunity to grow. I want to be a wife that is fully content with her past adventures by herself and the future ones with her husband.

When it came to finding the venue for this adventure I considered two facts: I love kids, and I love other cultures. Being an au pair (international nanny) was the perfect fit as it combined these two things. I get to live with a family, expirience thier culture and language, while being able to take care of kids. I grow to love my job more each day as Giuseppe and Margherita become more comfortable with me and as we spend more time together going to the park, reading books together, or snuggling as we watch a movie. I am truly blessed.

Peace in Christ

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Winning an Italian's Heart

Giuseppe Lazzarini insists on opening doors for people. He enjoys building things and just sitting and watching a good film. His favorite foods are pasta and pizza. Sounds like a perfect gentleman? Well, Giuseppe is 5, and was also not too keen on the idea of having a nanny (me).

When I arrived, Margherita, his little sis warmed right up to me and was walking hand in hand with me almost as soon as I walked off the plane. Giuseppe was polite, yet shy. However, soon the shyness turned into a general dislike of my presence. I tried everything. I didn't show my irritation at his stubbornness and had been nothing but sweet to this kid, so my friends endured my venting as I described his various insults throughout the day. I was so confused! Kids like me, and I like them. Even the most stubborn and closed off kids have become my buddies.

His mother, Monica, was encouraging, and said that he told his school friend that he liked having me here. However, I was greeted with a 5-year-old death stare. I was told that on Wednesday I was to pick him up from school for the first time, bring him home, and hang out with him for a few hours. I was completely convinced the kid wouldn't leave the school door if he saw me standing outside of it. The picture was clear in my mind: I would walk up to the door, he would take one peek and see the American invader waiting for him, and he would slam the door with a quick "Arrivederci!" I was sure this is how it would go. I needed a game plan.

I knew that Giuseppe loves to watch cartoons. So I planned to let him pick out whatever one he wanted and watch it with him. I prayed for the rest to come to me as Wednesday I walked to his school with a fake "everything is fine" face and slow walk.

I reached the gates and entered a world of moms chattering in Italian. I took a breath, walked up to the door, and asked for Giuseppe. They opened the door wider, and there he was, no expression on his face. I smiled like a good nanny and said "Ciao Guiseppe! Come stai?" No answer. Well, this is getting off to a great start. We walked to the side of the school and he ate his snack in silence. One the way home he did not walk next to me, only behind, no matter how slow I walked. When we got home he asked if he could pick out a cartoon and I cheerfully replied that of course he could. Halfway through the movie I asked him if he was hungry and when he said yes, I brought him and I cookies to eat. You may call it bribing, but save your judgment for when you have a scowling 5 year old Italian on your hands. He smiled at me for the first time. Ok, this is good!

After the movie he was a bit more talkative. By the grace of God (literally) I was able to understand his Italian. I was even able to reply a few times. We went outside and I seized the opportunity to have fun with him to show him I was not scary. Him and I played a combination of soccer, football, and who knows what else in the yard and had a grand time. After that was over we returned inside and watched a short cartoon again. He got up during the parts with music and danced, and jumped around, looking back at me and laughing. I could not smile big enough to express my relief and happiness. We are friends.

Peace in Christ

Monday, May 17, 2010

Citta Alta

On Saturday I was able to explore the upper part of Bergamo (Citta Alta). All of the old cathedrals and buildings are the same from hundreds of years ago. If you have never explored somewhere new by yourself, you must try it sometime. I often have missed people at home and wished for an "adventure buddy" so to speak, but I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around by myself at my own pace, accompanied only by my thoughts and my camera.
Citta Alta is filled with many side streets and places to explore, but by the grace of God (literally) I did not get lost in the maze of history. Perhaps my favorite place was the cathedral of Saint Alessandro. It was build in the 1400's, with painted ceilings that seem to reach the sky. The sunlight is thrown on the intricate depictions of Christ and the saints through the windows that are hundreds of feet in the air. Monks were singing God's praises as I wondered this huge place. The floors were marble and gold seemed to be everywhere. Italians seem to be experts at beauty, and this was clearly shown in how the cathedral was designed and decorated. The singing was haunting as I went down stairs that led to a huge room with the marble tombs of previous nuns and monks. As I climbed back up, I noticed room dedicated to prayer. I went in, sat down, and thanked God for the opportunity He has given me and for the things I have seen. Saturday may be my favorite day here so far.

I am learning more and more about Italian culture. This weekend we were invited to a friend's house and then hosted a party ourselves on Saturday night. It is common to sit around a table after you eat and talk for hours. I enjoy this time of getting to know people, but I must admit it gets tiring struggling to understand people for hours on end, and not being able to contribute much. That being said, my understanding of Italian is increasing. Hopefully by the end I will be able to add to conversations as well.

Other exciting news: I booked my hostel for London. I am travelling there right before I head home to the States. I found one right in the center of London, with easy access to the things I want to see. I basically wanted a place with a bed for me and a kitchen so I don't have to spend a bunch of money on eating out. This place has both of those and internet, with free linens included. For the price I am paying it is a steal.

For now though my residence is in Bergamo, Italia. I am navigating the complications of culture shock but life goes on and I am doing well. Arrivederci!

Peace in Christ,


Thursday, May 13, 2010


Well dear friends I fail at blogging. I find that it is only late at night that I can convince myself to stop looking at the world around me and get to writing a blog post.

I must swallow my pride for a second and admit that it wasn't until I reached the airport that I realized how big of a decision I had made when I decided to come to Italy for the summer. While boarding the plane my throat went dry and my heart tightened in my chest. What in the world was I doing? I cursed my impulsiveness and thirst for adventure as I sat in my small airplane seat and prepared for the long flight. My mind was going a million miles a minute as I thought of the people I would miss, dealing with culture shock alone, what the family would be like, and so on. I finally told myself to suck it up and that I was in it for the long haul and I'd better get used to it.

Despite my worries I arrived safe and sound in Italy on Saturday, May 8th. Seeing the family waiting for me put me at ease and we greeted eachother with many smiles.

The family is wonderful. Monica, the mom, and I get along great. I love getting to know her and spending time with her. I am nannying for two children. Giuseppe, 5, is a little man and insists on holding the door for people. Margherita, 2 1/2, mumbles her Italian with an adorable lisp. They don't understand that I don't speak Italian, yet strangely I understand them better than anyone.

Bergamo, Italy is perhaps the most beautiful cities I have ever been in. There is Citta Alta, the higher city, which has all of the origional buildings, the newest being from the 19th century. There are churches that were constructed in the 12th century as well. All of this is a short walk from our house. My camera will be my constant companion.

I miss people at home, it's true, but I love being here and I look forward to my expirience. I have already grown to love the family I am living with, and can't wait to get to know them better and for them to know me as well. Until next time.

Peace in Christ.