Trip 38 / Entry 31 / Aldo’s Genetori

(Parents) 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

On the morning of our forty-eighth wedding anniversary we met up with Mary and Oreste to spend some of the day at the “spiaggia” (beach). Oreste loves the sea.  Before we did this however, we had a short errand to run.

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Aldo Cerasino, my oldest ministry partner and very close friend, originally comes from Martina Franca. I promised that If I had time and they were willing to receive me, we would drop in for a coffee and say, “Hi.” It seemed that they were quite willing to see me so Mary and Oreste took us there first. Even though I am sure it was a challenge for them since they speak no English, they were very cordial. After an hour we went on to the, “mare” (sea).

Trip 38 / Entry 30 / Albero Bello and Trulli…

(houses built in the fashion you see here).

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I will let the photographs tell most of the story. It is really an amazing village with herds of Chinese people taking turns posing in front of a Trulli cottage, taking photographs of each other giving the peace sign. I never understood Asian people and their obsession with the peace sign? I hardly see a photograph of Chinese, Vietnamese or Thai with the two finger salute somewhere in the picture.

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After about two hours we drove back to Martina Franca to enjoy an evening to ourselves.

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Trip 38 / Entry 29 / Oreste…

…our chauffeur, cultural informer and guide

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

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IMG_3110He drove like a mad man to the sea front tourist city of Polignano a Mare . By eleven in the morning we were there. The crystal clear sky, moderate temperature and cool sea breeze was perfect and wonderful for my (our) first visit to this region. Before we walked along the cliffs looking down three hundred meters to the sea, we stopped for a photo at the monument honoring the famous singer of “O’ Solo Mio” from this city, Domenico Modugno . While taking turns and snapping away at different combinations another family of three walked up waiting their turn.

IMG_3124My choleric personality jumped into action. “Posso faccio vostri foti?” (May I make your photograph?). They were thrilled and in English asked where I was from and what I was doing in Italy. While Jeanne, Mary and Oreste quietly waited, in less than ten minutes I presented to this young businessman and his wife, the gospel with exchanges of hugs and email addresses all around. Jeanne observed from a distance and said that they really emotionally connected with me and the gospel. I eagerly wait for an email and more conversation.

At around one we had a nice lunch and then hopped in the car while our Mario Andretti drove us at breakneck speed to Albero Bello. Oreste has no idea why the town bears this name since the town is not internationally known for trees.

Trip 38 / Entry 28 / Supper at Oreste’s and Mary’s

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I warned Jeanne. I supposed that Mary would be ready to wow us with food and she did. Though it was after eight-thirty before we climbed another four flights to their apartment we were invited to sit down and having a “po cena d’sera” (a little evening meal). The afternoon meal is usually the biggest so when the “apperitivi” of “mozerella fresca, pane, olivi, salumi” and “picolo biscotti orrechiette” was put before us, I happily gobbled away. Mary didn’t join us and I could still hear banging away in the kitchen. Occasionally, I IMG_3134would look at my watch and try to guess when she might join us. This she did in about twenty minutes bearing a massive skillet of spaghetti immersed in a concoction I had never seen before in my life. Oreste proudly told us it was, “la specialita di Maria!” Our eyes bulged as we were handed large portions but once we took the first bite we continued to spoon away until every morsel was drug from the bottom of the pan.

Mary jumped up and ran to the kitchen and brought three more items to the table. Oh, no! We had only had the primi and now for seconda of something that I cannot describe as meatloaf though it was made in a similar way. It was far more delicate and crusted all around with toasty bread crumbs. When sliced. There was an interior of prochiutto and mozerella. I could taste the hint of onion, celery and so forth so it was flavored similar to a meatloaf. Then a “contorni” of peas and onion as well as oven roasted potatoes flavored with garlic and rosemary.

At ten we stumbled onto the street and made our way to our beds.

Trip 38 / Entry 27 / Martina Franca

Tuesday to Friday, June 3-6, 2014

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We did make it to Fisano about forty minutes from Bari. Coming to meet us were Maria and Oreste. After more traffic and time than expected they did arrive. After introducing Jeanne we jammed our luggage into their little blue car and drove the thirty minutes to hotel,

IMG_3174The Rococco, which looked fabulous on the internet but sorry to say, did not show off so good in real time. Upon arrival, I was unprofessionally informed by an unsmiling, youthful attendant who appeared to me as though he just came from his bed that we were not booked to stay in the hotel but in an apartment a short distance away. We all toted bags and followed him like ducklings to what he proposed to be “tuo centri metri” (200 meters – it was not). Then once there he opened the door to a stair case of five flights with no elevator. With huffing and puffing, up we went but once there, we had lots of nice space for seventy-five euro a night (with no prima colazioni – breakfast). Nevertheless, it was private, breezy and clean. We would spend three nights and except for the climb several times a day and two occasions when there was no hot water which they finally remedied on the last day, we had a good stay. Yes, we celebrated our forty-eighth anniversary in this little apartment.

Trip 38 / Entry 22 / Collecting Jeanne

Tuesday to Thursday, May 26 – 28, 2014                            

Milan and Parma

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On Monday morning I flew from Alesund to Copanhagen and then to Milano then went to The *Best Hotel (*in name only). It is a suitable 2-Star if you only want a bed and a shower. If I had thought of it, it would have made more sense to stay at an airport hotel rather than shuttle all of the way into the city then back out again in the morning laden with baggage. It cost me twelve Euro but I left my bags in the train station while I went back out to pick up Jeanne who had traveled all night from Charlotte with the Haley family.

We made the connection and then took the shuttle back down to the central train station in Milano, and then went directly to Parma and or Bed and Breakfast at Ducale where I always stay. Giovanni was thrilled to see us and gave us a nice room on the breezy side of the hotel.

Hostaria da Beppe

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

IMG_2910 cropAfter a short rest, Jeanne felt awake enough in the evening to go for amazing risotto at da Beppe just behind our hotel. I have written about Beppe before when last October I ate there for the first time (scroll back). I told her that she just had to do this once before she died. Beppe does everything (EVERYTHING) himself. Parmeseani turn their noses up because Beppe is from Napoli but foreigners have discovered him.  Seated across from us were three tourists from England and within an hour there were at least sixteen others. In one group alone there were ten people to feed all at once.

I think there is an unspoken rule you should know about. If you eat at Beppe’s Hostaria, you must just relax. He washes every dish, sets every table up, then delivers the “liste” and takes your order. Then he goes behind the door which is posted with a clear sign “ENTRATA VIETATO” (Entrance Forbidden). There a mystery takes place. Somehow from his menu of thirty or more risotti and other items, he turns out plate after plate and delivers them to the table with lightning speed. Oh yes, and somehow he serves up the right wine with flair.

Jeanne admitted to being impressed. After devouring his specialty (ham hock – for the specialty “ossobuco di vitello da Beppe”) and a small, but perfectly grilled steak we stumbled back to our hotel three blocks  away. For more information on what people have to say, see Trip Adviser.

Trip 38 / Entry 20 / Tore’ and Siv

Tore and Siv

Tore and Siv

Tuesday to Thursday, May 20-22, 2014 / Alesund, Norway

When my friend Peter Barnes of London read on Facebook that I was going to Alesund he began connecting me to his close friends who live there.  I am always a little leery of this sort of match-making as occasionally it didn’t work out so well. The old adage, “One man’s jewelry is another man’s junk,” has proven true more than once. I have had blind date ministry connections of this nature that just didn’t click. Yet, I trusted Peter to know, after all, he has a prophetic gift so he should have some discernment about this. Soon, I was texting back and forth to Siv the arrangements to meet. Tore would come and pick me up and take me out to

IMG_2768their house for supper on Tuesday evening. We knew a lot of people in common so this broke the ice as we discussed a number of common relationships. Siv was stirring chicken Alfredo with lasagna. Eivind, a very outgoing guest completely fluent in America idiom, carried the conversation while we waited on supper. He had just returned from YWAM in Orlando. Another arrived in the doorway, a tall reddish haired fellow that looked like an athlete but assured me, he

Their place

Their place

was not. He was the older son, Ole engaged to be married to a California girl next week. Hans, at about ten was engrossed in Lego land videos so he really didn’t quite lift his head up from the IPAD but was a cute guy. It was a real family atmosphere so I can see why their house fills up on Thursday nights for worship and prayer. Many of these who come are young people who have no church background. Some suffer from fractured homes and lives so Siv has become “Mom.”

I really enjoyed all of them. The next day they continued to extend love and hospitality. They drove in to Alesund from the other side of the island and took me for a photo shoot at a wonderful  Norwegian heritage community followed by supper and conversation at their house again. This time we had grilled chicken, slathered in pesto and wrapped in bacon.

Ole, Eivind and Siv

Ole, Eivind and Siv

Tore is a success in his occupation. This meant that we talked business and mission, he having gone to Mongolia and China, places I have never been so I was interested about his experience.  This brought us to a conversation about ways in which to help missionaries through business enterprises.

I also met Siv’s sister, Tove Kristin, with I became acquainted as she drove me back later that evening.

In all, I spent  about ten hours with the Havold family and have I an invitation to return if ever in the area. This was the highlight of my two days in Alesund and to be honest the trip would have been a complete waste without meeting the South African and the Havold’s. “Take no cloak or script… “ it pretty much works though I do have cloak and script if I need it.

Teaching Evangelism at Smyrna Bible Institute

A few of my students

A few of my students

At least once every year for the past five years I have spent a week or two teaching at Smyrna (Kraftskolen) near Tonsberg in southeast Norway. I usually have about ten to fifteen students in the first year class. To learn more about this scroll back through my blogs and you will find a good number of stories and photographs relating to this school.

This time I spent a week from October 7 to the 14th before going to Oslo where I would meet up with Southern Evangelical Seminary staff and students at the Ga Ut Senter where they would be presenting a seminar series on “Why Apologetics?”

Brad speaking

Brad speaking

In the meantime Brad Frey, a Canadian, ACCI missionary living in England came up to join me. While I spent a number of nights teaching and preaching, Brad joined me with testimony and teaching.

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On one evening we had, what they called, “A Bad Taste Party.” Regrettably, Andreas, my friend and Dean of men thought it a good idea to dress-up like me as an example of “bad taste.” Frankly, I think for an older gentlemen, I have fairly good taste but considering the laughter in the room upon his arrival, I am forced to reconsider some of my apparel choices. Some people can think they are in the groove when they are really in a rut.

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While at Smyrna I met a young Pakistani couple. I really liked Joel, his wife and young daughter. It was my hope to find some church that might adopt them as they are a people without a country at the moment. I’m still open to trying to locate a congregation who might adopt them. If not, they will be forced to return to a very dangerous part of the world.

Slovenia: The 14th least evangelized nation in the world.

Imagine: a nation of two million people with about 1,000 Bible believing Christians?

You can’t see Rosie but she’s there.

We have just arrived here last evening after a rather long ride from Parma, stopping off for the Canadian’s to visit Venice if only for a couple of hours. We pulled into the church parking lot at six and then set about to getting our sleeping arranged.

The main piazza at night

All churches should somehow include rooms for visitors. When I come here, I never have to pay for accommodation and this is a big help to missionaries and traveling teams like the one I have with me now. This upstairs of the church has a large library filled with books (mostly English) where I made my bed with a mattress on the floor. Fred and Rose are in the “prophet’s chamber” (the room where I usually stay). It is a big room with a queen size bed, couch and small table and its own bathroom with private shower. Three of the guys are in a large room that could handle five under dorm like accommodation. We have stuck one of the fellows (the one with insomnia) in a small office space where he can read in the middle of the night if he wants to. In all, the facility has four bathrooms and two showers a kitchen, dining room and an area that seats about ninety people for a sanctuary on Sunday. This is not, by American standards, a big building – it just happens to be a well-designed building. In spite of this use of space there is still room for Chris and one other to share an office.

            

Chris has a dream to build a massive church – ministry center on this same location and has already set out to raise the 1.5 millions euros it will take to make the evangelical church visible. The pastor and his wife have a lot planned for North Street Band so I suspect it will be a good idea if they get a good sleep tonight because Thursday they will begin five days of non-stop ministry. After playing in the main cafe in the center of the city, we will drive to Murska Subota on the Austrian-Hungarian border, play for a Gypsy village, do concerts in the city center, go and hour south to Slovenia’s second largest city, Maribor have two concerts then back to Ljubljana, play on the street and on Sunday do a concert in the parking lot of the church. Then one more time they will play in the center of the city.

All of this is pretty exciting for a ministry team of five from Perth, Ontario.

I meet some very nice people!

One of the pleasures I have is meeting interesting people of many cultures.

Unfortunately, I often spend entire days going from one “BAR” (not what you think) to another just waiting until a particular ministry appointment time or person is available to meet. Part of my work is to get to know people so I frequent coffee shops (“Bars”) in Italy and other countries. Sometimes I make a new contact but often I don’t and it’s just a way to “hang out” without having to stare at four walls all day. I get a kick out of people who imagine that I go to the beach. My work is often extremely boring and except for the language and cultural barriers,  I could just as easily be in Oklahoma as Italy.

Three hundred meters from Ducale Bed and Breakfast on Via Costinuente in Parma is the coffee shop and eatery, Caffeteria Pulciella (named after the bird not the clown). The owner and hostess Halla Margret is an opera singer who comes originally from Iceland. Her husband and co-owner, Paolo was equally as pleasant to both myself and The North Street Band.

At Pulcinella

Most often they feature classical music but after we were acquainted they invited North Street to play on Friday night and then begged them for more.

I met Halla and Paolo when I came through in late August, drew her picture and then proposed the idea of having the band perform to which she gave me an immediate “thumbs-up”.

Me with Lydia, my new “hottie.”

The main thing is this. While I sat there in their coffee shop, drinking tea and typing blogs, I observed something I had never seen before. Paolo seemed to know every old lady in the neighborhood and would, when seeing one of them hobble by, go over to the window and tap on it. Once he gained their attention, he would wave them in for coffee. Every so often he would actually leave his place behind the bar and race out to get them. One doesn’t see this sort of thing often (especially in Italy) and it caught my attention so I wanted to tell you about it.