About seven years ago, I was asked to teach a YWAM DTS in Budapest and made my way there fourteen hours later from Frankfurt, Germany by train after missing my flight. I arrived on a cold night at beyond one in the morning, exhausted and several times lost my way. I took a bed and began teaching the next morning.
At lunch time, I went up to the kitchen to discover a young lady cooking pasta and tomato sauce, listing to Italian music and speaking some Italian words here and there. I wondered – is she Italian? She looks Italian. I learned that she was a gringo from Eugene, Oregon. I asked her why she was in Hungary when she had an Italian heart? Conversation was spotty but enough to connect her with my friends, Belgians by the name of Dillis who lived near Trento in Italy. Eventually, Emily went to stay with them for a while and then later wound up serving in Milan with Youth with a Mission. During the seven years between we heard of one another through mutual contacts but then recently I received an email from her inviting to come see her and meet the YWAM team in Milan.
Things worked out wonderfully when I also found out that Dawn Mann, one of our ACCI missionaries from Citta d’Castello was passing through on her way to Switzerland so the stars had lined up (Okay, I don’t believe in stars lining up). This sure made my life easier because I always wanted to go see Luke and Dawn again (favorites) but they live slightly off of the rail line and this proves difficult for me to find the time.
It turns out that Imra Dillis is a friend to both Emily and Dawn and they had heard of one another but never met. My ACCI title is “Opportunity Development Director / Europe” so I saw this as a clear opportunity!
I met Emily in the morning at 11 in the magnificent Milano Centrale (Mussolini did a good a job on this one). From there she became my cultural informer by taking me to the art section of the city. We passed by trolley right through the opulent fashion district with names like Gucci, Prada, Versace and countless other famous names in fashion. What a glamorous (but hopeless) city!
One thing I enjoy is giving missionary friends a special treat they might not otherwise be able to afford or indulge in, so I let Emily chose her lunch. She picked an enormous organic hamburger and in my customary fashion, I ordered up two sticks of celery.
Later we went about forty minutes by metro and bus to the YWAM base where I met Luigi and Paola and a dozen more but cannot remember their names except for Justin from San Francisco, Simon from Sicily, Isk from Holland and so forth. ( I probably have most these names wrong). Luigi is a chef so we had a lot to talk about.
mily went with me back to the center of the city and we arrived at Central Station at almost the exact moment as Dawn arrived by train. After introductions I felt a little bit little bit like a fifth wheel as the ladies had so much to talk about and shared the same heart for ministry and Italy.
We put Dawn into her hotel room then went up to Buenos Aires where we had a small finger food supper (salumi and prochiutto) as we considered more ways we could serve together. It was a beautiful evening. Emily left before us but soon Dawn and I headed to my train. As I waited we talked more then said our goodbye’s until May.
As always, I am looking for divine appointments as this one on the way to Milan. I sat down across from a brother and sister on their way by train from Bologna to Milan. The lady returning to Cuba for holiday. I drew her portrait and this opened the door to conversation. I was able to share Jesus with some liberty.