Ciao! Saluti dall'Italia! In other words "Greetings from Italy". I apologize for such a late blog entry but honestly things have been crazy and my electronics just seem to always be dead! Well I don't think that there is enough room on the blog for me to reflect on all the amazing things the past couple days so I'll just mention a few of the highlights.
First off, I think we all now know how it would feel to be famous because we get stared at EVERYWHERE we go. I guess it is unusual to see a group of 11 basketball players almost all over 6 feet tall (0r in Mick's words..2 meters) :) It also doesn't help that most Italians never see blondes, and I have yet to see a natural one either. Since being here we have met our host missionary Charlie and his wife Shannon! We have all truly enjoyed being with them and their wonderful three kids! Especially the youngest boy "Benji" who just can't seem to say any words other than "J.J". They have so kindly allowed all of us to eat at their house a couple nights so far and we have had such a great time over there except for the 4 flights of stairs up to their door. You would think a bunch of athletes would be able to do it but after a very long day on our feet and walking what seems like 15 miles a day...its a struggle to say the least. Drew, BW, and I have discovered the wonders of a very sketchy elevator but nonetheless it's an elevator. I would have to say the best memory at dinner would have to be Bake's dance with the hot pink streamers to "Ain't No Sunshine". Quite a sight! Between that and "pulling it out of his hat" (inside joke) I completely lost it in tears crying.
We have been working in a elementary school in Naples and it has been such a joy. Clapping, screaming, dancing, and laughing are all the events other than basketball that goes on within the hour we have with each class. We start of by an introduction and many drills, followed up by all of us playing against each other, and then someone from our team shares their testimony. These times at the school have been very special for me. As fun as it is seeing whatever wild move JJ can come up with in the dancing competition and seeing Mick block a 3rd graders shot to the other side of the gym, I have been able to have some really special moments with some children. First I met Antonio who was an autistic boy and we were able to really have a type of connection. Although I was not able to really have a conversation with him I was able to get him to play with me outside gym and really just try and show him that I cared. Personally, it was just a really meaningful moment.
A couple days ago we met at the end of the day for a time of reflection and discussion. We went in expecting a meeting full of touching on the highlights of the day and all left with a feeling of the touching of our hearts. The only way a can really explain it is a truly bonding experience. It was a time of opening up and letting ourselves be vulnerable and open with each other and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of. It is something I will never forget and I am sure there will be more like these within the days to come.
I would have to say one of the best things about the trip in my opinion is going to the courts in the evening. The court is located in almost as we would call like a "town-square". It is somewhat the hot spot of the area. It's the hangout place for all the teens. It was a great way to start the week when one of the first things I was told was that I should get a medical marijuana card for my asthma. This was a sure sign that evenings at the court would be interesting......and that they have been. From awesome basketball games with the locals, watching the boys put on a show of dunks for everyone, to being able to share my testimony numerous times with people there! I have met 3 guys in particular that I have created a great relationship with. One of which came to church with us today which was a great experience. I have been able to really get into some deep conversation with them and hope to go even deeper before we leave and try and let the Lord work through me and speak through me. I will try and give an update soon as to how things are going but I am really starting to fall asleep so I better get some rest but please continue to pray for my team and I as we finish out our trip here and continue to try and share our faith with those here in Naples. Thank you!