Tickets? Ready! Passports? Ready! Our eight suitcases bulged with the little we owned, including eight teddy bears! Other than one box left with my parents, a small stash of money, passports and other documents, that was all we had in the world. Luggage? Ready!
At last! We were finally ready to leave for the mission field! Italy here we come!
Nothing left to do but relax and await departure day… and battle doubt, confusion, and fears. And the skeptical attitudes of friends and family, convinced we had lost our minds!
The itinerant evangelistic team we were to serve with was ready and waiting for us. Or so we thought…
Our first home was to be the big 3-room (so to speak) tent, below.
Dismayed to learn that we would live in a tent, friends and family questioned us about running water, electricity, bathrooms, and beds. “Had we lost our senses?” they wondered.
They already thought us crazy for homeschooling our children, which we planned to continue. Homeschooling was a crazy idea back then. And it seemed to them that our planned departure, tent living, and lack of support were just more proof of our growing insanity! But mostly they worried over our lack of a support base.
Yet in the midst of it all, we were excited! And our hearts were at peace. And that’s why my dream just days before leaving seemed so strange.
“There’s no place for you,” they said. “You can’t stay.”
Bewildered over the dream that seemed so real, I suggested to Hubby that perhaps we shouldn’t go. “They said we couldn’t stay,” I told him. “They had no place for us!”
“It was just a dream, brought on by last-minute jitters,” he assured me. “All will be well!” But no matter how hard I tried to relax, the words no place for you echoed in my mind.
Even on the plane, my mind was a jumble of thoughts and emotions. “No place for you… The Lord will take care of us… We’ve gone round the bend… All will be fine…” But most prominent was “No place for you… no place for you!” All I could do at that point was trust it all to God. “Surely all was well,” I decided. “It was just a silly dream!”
Yet the thought lingered. For sometimes dreams do come true, even bad ones. And that one did! Their first words were, “We’ve got a little problem here. We’ve lost your tent. And there’s no place for you!”
But thankfully they had a plan and sent us off to visit Mario’s father, whom we hadn’t seen in 9 years. And for the kids it was like meeting their Nonno (grandfather) for the first time! After spending a couple of days with a family in Rome.
And our great Italian adventure had begun!
With the family at work or school, we were free to wander around the neighborhood. Ecstatic to be in Italy! So we set about learning how to fit in. “When in Rome we should do as the Romans do,” and set about instituting the regular ritual of the Italian passeggiata (the Italian promenade) and espresso at the bar. Two indispensable foundations of everyday Italian life!
But mostly we feasted on Rome’s beautiful sights. The aqueducts, the ancient buildings, and old cobble stoned streets. And found that even common, ordinary things held a certain fascination. A fascination known as the expat honeymoon. A delightful phase, until the reality of strange expat life sets in with what is known as culture shock.
But it was these simple, everyday sites that also make Italy what it is. The beautiful, majestic Umbrella Pine Trees, which I still love to this day. The tiny cars and mini tractors, row upon row of mopeds everywhere we looked. And a cacophony of traffic, horns blowing, and shouting Italian voices.
That experience taught me some valuable lessons.
First, that even during the tough times we can find things to be grateful for. If nothing else because we’re still alive and breathing!
And second, when we find ourselves left with nothing, no job, security, home, or even a tent, we have nothing left but God’s faithfulness to lean on. And that is always more than enough. He never fails and his faithfulness is new every morning.
It’s been a life-long lesson, this learning that God is always faithful.
Perhaps if we’d known how many difficulties and hard lessons awaited us, we would have turned gotten right back on that plane! But God, in his wisdom, only shows us one day at a time.
I’m glad we remained, for through all the difficulties I have come to see that the Lord would like us to live everyday relying on nothing but his eternal faithfulness.
But instead we look around and worry. When all seems bleak and impossible, we start thinking that there will be ‘No place for us’. We start wondering if our Father has forgotten us, and feel like orphans. But the Lord is good and his love will endure throughout eternity!
For Yahweh is good. His loving kindness endures forever, his faithfulness to all generations. — Psalm 100:5.