Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Adventure" being an understatement...coming to an unexpected hault

Its unbelievable how quickly this past month has gone by. The past week we managed to visit Venice, Rome, Pompeii, and bello sorrento, Cortona (small town in tuscany-BEAUTIFUL! A treasure not yet discovered by tourists) Tuoro, Isla Maggiore, San Marino, Santarcangelo, cervia, cesena. So many stories from that, so little space to write! I attached a few pictures from our side trips, so enjoy that!(also attached a pic of me giving my first talk in rimini!) Once we got back on friday, we did service. We did a 3 hr study with a brother from the cong!!! Do you recall the previous experience that I mentioned about the study with a list of questions? Well, we went back for the next study, and about 4 other nigerians grabbed a chair with their Bible's in hand for the Bible study. It is amazing to see how well they listen and greatly respect the Bible. They all had different questions that kept us on the edge of our seats, very very deep questions about the Bible, which even made me want to do some more research about those topics! They later thanked us and were extremely thankful for us taking the time to explain Bible truths to them.

It has truly been phenomenal working together along with the friends here. Rimini english congregation may be small, but certainly are a strong "army" and have zealous spirit for the ministry! This past month I really had the opportunity to get to know each of them, and honestly feel as if I've known them forever. I will dearly miss them. It is evident how Jehovah is richly blessing the congregation and helping it grow! So many laughs, memories, adventures, tears shared.....I highly recommend for all that have the opportunity to experience serving abroad to do it. This trip has helped me in many ways grow spiritually,emotionally,mentally...pretty much all of the above. Not only has it shown me what qualities I may need to work on, but also how to become adaptable in any type of circumstance that may come my way. Most of all, it has made even more of an impact to me what a beautiful brotherhood we have. I feel as if rimini english is my second family, since that is how they have all treated me. Nowhere else in the world will you be able to have a strong bond and establish a true friendship with people across the other side of the world if it wasn't for this organization.

I cannot EVER thank Jah enough for allowing me to have this experience, along with the rest of you that gave me the support I needed to go through with it. I know this won't be my final trip here, it actually has helped me set even more goals and have a new perspective and outlook on what's to come in the near future. With a new cut, new italian wardrobe, new friendships, new unforgettable memories, this trip has definitely been life changing for me and a perfect end to my summer this year and perfect start for me to get working on all the upcoming goals I have! I hope you all have enjoyed reading my blogs...and there will be more to come with any other trips I do...This was just a start! I'm really looking forward to what Jehovah has in store for me in the near future :)

Being that it will be my last night here...I leave you all now to enjoy wine, more gelato, and piadina. Its definitely bittersweet having to leave...but I know I WILL come back!

P.S. Italy- I will see your beauty once again very soon. Ciao bella Italia!!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Daily life.....

Time: PLEASE PAUSE! It is going way too quickly for my taste. Sorry to have kept you all hanging! For the past week and a half we really have been enjoying service and just regular daily life here. Large part of how the ministry is done here is street witnessing! Bus stops, train station, and even when on the bus! We've had many nice experiences so far in the ministry. Here's a couple that come to my mind:

We approach a nigerian man waiting at the bus stop, and start a friendly conversation with him. He immediately states that he has such deep respect for the Bible that he is a pastor of the local church and that there is no need for him to be ministered to, since we should really find those who are the lost sheep, unlike him! We tactfully then explained that we talk to people of all backgrounds and etc and he immediately states the problem he has with Jehovah's witnesses is that we dont expand our ministry, and that is one thing we should focus on. We then started to explain that we came all the way from US to speak to people like him as well as others about the good news regarding God's we continued on to explain that we have not been paid to do this service, etc his face literally turned red. He immediately changed his demeanor, and his eyes opened brightly and stated "Oh really?! That is something very encouraging to see, I did not know Jehovah's Witnesses did this kind of work" and of course as we went on he was actually accepting and listening attentively to what we were saying, and in the end actually took the magazine! Its interesting to see how different a person's reaction can be once their perception has been changed. So who knows how Jehovah will make that seed grow!

Another: In the center of the city there is this big water fountain that surprisingly is fresh mountain water that we all regularly fill our bottles of water from throughout the day when we are out in the ministry. As we were filling our bottles, a young nigerian man immediately can tell that we are witnesses and starts a friendly conversation with us. Turns out that I had spoken to him about 2 days prior as he also remembered I gave him the truth tract! Anywho, he starts commending us on our work, and how much he loves the bible etc etc but he is seeking to know the truth about God. As he was explaining himself, you can see how truly sincere he was searching for the truth. The brother I'm with starts the chapter in the Bible Teach book of the last days, which was relating to what came up on conversation at the beginning of the conversation. We considered the first two paragraphs, and he listened and answered the questions correctly. BUT he then starts to asks us if we believe about Jesus presence and if we know that he still hasnt shown his presence..and he starts quoting about 6 different scriptures (Nigerians know their Bible very well! ) as you can imagine, the conversation was quite lengthy, but the good thing about it was that he was listening.

Once we showed him different scriptures regarding it, he began to understand, and then stated: "I know you Jehovah's Witnesses have the truth, but so do pentecostals, so I do not know at this moment who exactly to believe in." At this point, we were already talking for about 1 hr and a half, so what the brother did was exchanged phone numbers with him, and invited him to the Kingdom Hall, which the nigerian man stated he did want to go this friday. He thanked us many times for explaining this to him, and for wanting to help him, despite his color!....Sidenote: Here it is very common for nigerians or foreigners to be discriminated on, even by government. They will first give the italian a job rather than the foreigner, whether the foreigner has legal documents to work or not. I will explain this in the next blog....hahha

Last one for tonight: We accompanied a brother from the congregation on one of his studies (he has 8) We get to the house and we studied for 2 hrs, because the study wanted to keep learning more and was "excited about the things he was learning" It was so beautiful to see how much he appreciated the Bible and learning about why its so important to use Jehovah's name and how caring Jesus and Jehovah are by giving us hope by means of the Kingdom. I was touched by it so much that I was almost moved to tears! Sometimes in the truth we tend to forget about the small truths that we learned about so long ago, and take it for granted. Seeing how in others' their eyes light up is truly encouraging and wonderful. Jehovah is still drawing his sheep to him! This study had a list of questions, and anything new that he learned in the study he wrote down on this sheet. He studies twice a week!

To say the least, the ministry here is truly refreshing and amazing. There is much work to be done all over the world! Any rate, I have posted a few pictures from yesterdays adventures, which we met up with some bros in the region of Umbria, and he took us to Spello, Assisi (which was my favorite!) and perugia. Enjoy the pictures! I'm off now to go over a couple from my hall's house that invited us for dinner and games. I will write again soon and will fill you in on more studies!!

P.S. I love how in service, capuccino and pastries or gelato breaks are always welcomed....view picture above as an example! hahha

The first few pictures are pictures from yesterday morning's train ride from rimini to Foligno, it went along the coast. It was absolutely gorgeous. Enjoy!!!! Talk to you all soon!! Come again!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First full weekend in Rimini...

Ciaoooo! I apologize for the long delay in writing you this second post. It's incredible to believe so much has happened within 7 days! But I can safely say we have gotten settled in and fully getting the routine now of life here in Rimini. Friday morning we did get our monthly bus pass! In order for us to get this special shiny plastic card, we needed to go to the nearest "photo spot" to have a picture taken for this special shiny bus pass card, which was outside of the office at the train station. Little did we know that they really meant a literal photo booth (View attached) which is where they also have their passport pictures taken........I was definitely disappointed that I was not able to take goofy pictures as our photo booths are back at home.

At any rate, Friday night we went to our first meeting! They have it at 8:30, which is a tad late but of course is necessary for them to have it at that time since most of the friends work til late. It's about a 12 minute bus ride to the hall from where we are, and only takes about a 20 minute walk to get to the actual bus stop from where we are, which is not too shabby, considering its a nice scenic walk to the stop. The kingdom hall has 3 levels (including an auditorium in the basement). There is a russian, chinese, and spanish congregation and french group that meets at the same hall that we do, and obviously italian cong too. (Surprisingly, there is a HUGE need for chinese here!) It is beautiful! View above picture. I will take inside pictures this weekend! The friends are WONDERFUL! So nice, friendly and warm! Immediately they started asking us what our service plans were to start making as they call "appointments" to go out. About 3 different friends are british and finnish..about 10/15 africans-to be specific nigerians, and the rest italian. Here's the kicker for a congregation of only 32 publishers:THEY HAVE 60 BIBLE STUDIES AND ONLY 14 PIONEERS. 20 OF THESE STUDIES USUALLY ATTEND MEETINGS. Clearly, Jehovah is blessing their efforts. The following morning we met with the group for service.

We quickly learned how much WALKING is involved and still much search work is being done here. They have about 700 different territory cards, for rimini, san marino, and other regions near by, including the mountainous areas. A lot of streetwork is done, especially saturday mornings at the open markets (which they sell FABULOUSLY CHEAP clothes, food, real italian leather shoes, bags, belts scarves, coats, etc that are good quality) We mainly are responsible for reaching nigerians,those who speak bengali (bengladesh) and phillipino. Therefore, we carry 3 main languages on us, since there are no current groups for begali or tagalog here. Also, I've quickly learned how to differentiate those who are nigerians, (which they usually wear regular clothes unless special occasions) and those from sengali wear their special garb on a daily basis, but they mainly speak french. It is neat to see all the different types of people in the center city part of rimini. Italy is much more diverse than I originally thought!

I LOVE SPEAKING TO NIGERIANS! They have such high respect for the Bible, that when you mention to them at first that you are a witness (which they appreciate you identifying yourself first as a witness, since they have many witness friends back at home) they actually stop and listen to you and will take anything you have to offer to them. It is so refreshing to have someone stop what theyre doing and listen to you, since they have such high regard for the Bible. So I'm very excited to start  developing calls to say the least!! After service, a big group of us from the hall and a few others from surrounding area went for some pizza and gelati! After, we took a stroll at the beach at night, which was absolutely gorgeous considering it was a full moon. The friends in the congregation are definitely outgoing, fun, and great to be with! Definitely jokesters too, so I blend in haha

Sunday, after the meeting I went to the beach with the friends from the hall, which is a normal custom here during the summers after the meeting. Their beaches here are definitely interesting. Your not charged a beach tag, but you pay $3.50 euro to use a beach chair, and you are not allowed to bring your own or lay a towel on the ground to lay on. The adriatic sea is definitely warm, not wavy, and beautiful!!! Of course, after the beach we went for some more italian delicious food followed by some gelato...who can ever get enough of gelato?! We managed to meet up with even more friends from different areas--gotta love loud crazy italians that are obsessed with wanting to come visit NYC and California!

Yesterday and today did more service of course, and really got to enjoy some nice conversations with a few nigerians and scottish people. It is currently 1:06 am right now, and I have early service tomorrow! But I will keep you posted on the next developments and more details about yesterday and today's experiences in the next post! Come back!!!

p.s. the last pic you that you see on this blog, was our first home cooked meal today..which was delish! (gnocchi with pesto sauce, homemade bruschetta bread, mozarella, and salad!! I can definitely eat like this everyday.