Luke and Dawn Mann
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I am writing this entry from the third row on the right side of the 8:20 bus to Arezzo. It has been a long complicated series of rides from Ancona to Citta. Citta is a city of approximately 30,000 on the edge of Umbria and Tuscana. I had to take three different trains and de-board each time in progressively smaller villages where I would board smaller and smaller trains.
Arriving and seeing Luke running alongside my car shouting my name and then desperately popping on to the train to quickly pull me off (there were two stops at Citta and I was about to take the second and the wrong one).
In case you’re wondering about why Dawn is so animated, she is just explaining her most recent visit in an attempt to get permission to stay on in the country for even another six months. Nothing is easy. Everything is exasperating. Cynical Italian government officials pride themselves in their ability to make life complicated for someone else. They are perfected kill-joys. Bring the papers and they will want different and more the next time.
Luke and Dawn have no car, actually Luke and Dawn have pretty much nothing except a few books and clothes along with their only transportation a perfectly elaborate urban, mountain bike. Luke is recognized in the entire region as a top bike mechanic and has landed work in a popular bike shop as their principle bike builder and mechanic. There was virtually no place we went that he and Dawn were not recognized then immediately and rather lavishly greeted.
As we later walked through the streets we were met with “Buona sera’s!” at almost every stride.
Those going into missionary service often ask me, “What will I do?” Very little of this is about “doing” at all. In fact, for the longest time, those entering other cultures will not be able to “do” very much. We are occasionally able to do something but for the most part, we are called to ”Be” not “Do.” We are called through “ the love of God spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” to express light and life.
I was put up in a loaner. There is a couple from Florida (Peter and Marsha) who own a cute little two bedroom apartment and since they only come for four months a year, they make it available to Luke and Dawn for guests to stay in. I am one of the lucky recipients of this generousity. There may be only one draw back. It is situated opposite the Baci court where old, baggy panted men gather for the entire day, drinking beer and yelling obscenities and objections. By the time evening rolls around they are all quit lit and contrary, calling for the measuring tape even when the outcome is obvious. Still this sort of thing does present to the occasional visitor an authentic, rustic, provencial charm.
Two people could not be more common than Luke and Dawn. They have nothing by which to impress people except their cheery greetings, warm smiles and focused listening. The words will come later. But these are veterans. These are people who have, throughout most of their married lives tromped through a wide variety of cultures and circumstances, Asian, Latin and European. They are the real deal.
I can usually tell if people are having an impact. When we are on the street or in a coffee shop and people see the Mann’s walking by, people will heartily wave or shout “Come vai!” from their doorways and windows or even when seated in a coffee shop as we were this morning , those passing by will turn about and come into the shop for hug. There is an undeniable magnetism that could only be the power and presence of God working through a supernatural love of God for the people and natural affection for the culture they call home.