A dose of my home.
Welp, my attempt at blogging while here was a complete fail as everyone can tell. I’ve seen some of my companions keep up with it, but for me it just got too hectic. I had the urge to blog tonight for some reason though. Anyway, To try to sum three months in one blog would be a futile attempt. So I guess I’ll just try and shed some light on how I’ve grown as a man of God, and as a man in general.
The Dictionary.com definition of the word “growth” is:
And these three months,like no others, have been nothing less than a constant spiritual and physical growth. I could never imagine before leaving the United States how much I would find out about myself. I would kind of compare it to moving a growing plant from a smaller pot to a larger one so that its roots weren’t constricted. I’ve learned that I can’t go weeks without a clean bathroom, which I had to thank my mother for after realizing this, I’ve learned that the world doesn’t stop when you have a problem, and most of all how important God, family and friends are in my life.And most of all I’ve gotten a large dose of change(not coins, haha.)
Now change in this context is on a small to large scale basis. The vastness of the world doesn’t come close to the amount of knowledge you can obtain by just observing it. Every second of sensing is a constant flow of experience, even if it is the same monotonous tasks, it subtly changes from day to day,The point I’m try to make is the amount of change may not be evident, but change is change. My life changed on a larger scale since January though. I’ve changed Culturally, Physically( I think), Mentally as in how my view and process of thought, and of course spiritually. Being immersed in another culture created both cultural and palpable difficulties. Language barriers, Finding food, etc. are examples of cultural. Tangible differences being: “When do I use the Bidet?”, “Why isn’t there a Walmart in Italy?” etc. which I’ve adapted to, but were still kind of shocking, ha ha. Mentally I mean, once you take part of the cultural activities as a regular resident you pick up the habits of them. For me it’s hand motion, as I’ve said I’ve been learning the language for about nine months now. So I’m beginning to mimic Italian motions subconsciously, I admit some are incorrect, but it blows my mind that just being around a different culture affects you on a subconscious level.
Well after that huge spiel, what I really wanted to explain is two amazing experiences, one that just happened yesterday. Well as man of my family and people of my program now know, I was baptized a couple weeks ago. Something as a believer I’ve been putting of way too long, but I’m so happy it finally came time. That was a spiritual checkpoint for me here. It showed me it’s time to stop following the regular flow of things and start doing my job as not only a son of God, but as a man. So with that I’m ready for the change. The other experience was actually early this morning while returning from singing with the pastor of the Church of Christ founded in Pisa. While on the 1:12 AM bus, I met a man from West Africa who has made his way to Italy to play basketball. He suddenly talked to myself and my friend who was returning with me, about the NBA, about where we are from, and then he told me about the importance of respecting your mother and father. He went on to say that by laying that foundation of support and love of your family, God blesses you for doing something expected. He told me of his city, and I could relate to him. He explained how the youth of his country only look up to men with money, and not men with knowledge. So every time they see an African-American, or a well dressed black man they wonder if they could ever achieve that. They set their sights on material possessions and at that moment I felt our worlds were completely the same. It’s an epidemic of “material hypnotizing” in a way, and to be perpetuated in the youth of my city and a city on the other side of the globe shows me it’s a universal struggle. Not as only a black race, but a human race. Aspirations of material wealth is a road to destruction. But that’s what companies are selling us.
I know I left a lot of loose ends in this, but it’s because I haven’t really thought this all out. But In the spirit I feel like there is a lot to come, and I’ll soon be back in Europe for one reason or another.Until my next jolt of inspiration, One God One love.
Two passages that have really spoken to me lately are:
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Expressing the importance of love, and giving in the word charity. A mean is measured by his works and his faith in God’s eyes, but as stated if you can’t love your neighbor(or enemy) as you love yourself. How can you love God? In the end love overcomes the hatred you bear. Love ‘em is what I learned I guess. Because being here I must say I’ve had to love a lot. Haha. Pride is poison.
Well, here we are again three days later. Sorry. We started our classes on Monday( Martin Luther King Day in the States), and I’ve barely had time to think about anything other than networking. So, where to start? Sunday was more of a chill out, and eat eggs day. I’ve eaten so many eggs up to this point, that I think I may be related to Humpty Dumpty.
We went Grocery shopping Monday, yet again, and found that it’s so much easier after the first few times. Granted the store was cleaned out of everything by the time we arrived. I also, tried “Mukki: La panna” for the first time. My roommate had told me it was a very fresh, thick type of milk that he had eaten with his biscotti and enjoyed, so I tried for myself. Turns out, after pouring this into a huge bowl of Muesli, which is a German breakfast food that mixes grain and fruit, I quickly realized la panna is *drumroll please* italian for cream…So…I ate a bowel of grain and cream…sweet. Chalk it up to experience though, right? My experimenting wasn’t all failure though. I actually bought a can of nutella, which is hazelnut and chocolate spread, and made a nutella and jam sandwich; or “nutella and jella sammich”…lame. You also get a sweet,new glass cup when you finish the jar…Way more than what peanut butter jars give you…
Still on the topic of food, my roommate and I have eaten at a restaurant around the corner from us about two times this week, because they have a two platter, one side dish special for about twelve euros. The service was excellent on Monday, but…today…not so good. They seated a table of about ten people right before we ordered dessert. Needless to say, we never got to order our dessert. Screw it though, I got gelato across the street, haha. We also made pasta(squisito).
But okay enough about food.
This week la mia famiglia abroad, chose to plan our future trips across Europe. Which kind of turned poopy for me. A large portion of the group had a set mind of where they wanted to travel, and activities that wanted to do, and most of them seemed to agree with each other. But me, being the oddball out, didnt’t really agree with the group decisions.Spring break being the biggest dividing line. Hopefully I find others who want to do other traveling. I promised la mia mamma I would always travel with at least one person outside of Florence so she can stay sane; but what I’ve found is I’m not a group type of guy. I’m pretty “solo dolo” when I do my thing. I’m not a party person. I don’t drink heavy. I don’t smoke. So, when it comes to going to pubs or bars, it’s not really my scene. I’m not the average twenty -one year old. By some standards I guess I’m lame, but screw them too. This kind of concerns me though. I came to Italy for the culture shock. I came to get out of my comfort zone, but if I can be comfortable at a pub; but not like being there. That’s really not a new exposure, correct? I don’t want to drink until I can’t remember what I did last night. That would be a waste of this experience to me. So exploring and remembering everything I can is my mission. I love the group I’m with, but I’m learning our differences. We are supposed to be visiting Pisa and Sienna this weekend so I’m stoked to see what we will actually do.
Okay after the long dreadful complaining. This week has also brought a little bit of revelation. By networking with all of these professors I’ve actually started some research on a cultural comparison of African Americans and Italians. I hope both cultures won’t take offense to this, but the commonalities of the stereotypes is amazing to me.So I want to investigate true commonalities. I’m just stuck on finding a point to the research. Since I only truly know one side of the comparison. I need more Italian friends… =(. Aside from that I’ve also found my italian is coming back to me. Well, actually better than before. I found myself walking around the apartment blurting out random phrases. Showering, and singing music videos I saw earlier on the TV while cooking. So, hopefully if I try really really really hard I can be borderline fluent leaving Florence. God willing. We shall see. Tomorrow I will return to the outlook over Florence for pictures on a clear day so I’ll be posting them. Other than that. I love my classes, the teachers are amazing, aside from the language barrier I think I will get along just fine.
Sorry If I have you snoring by now. This is this is the only complaining I’ll do. I mean. I’m in Italy. Haha. I’ll try to write tomorrow, but until then…Have a beautiful week., and stay encouraged. Va bene? Bella.
"In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury." Proverbs 14:23
Don’t Just talk about it. Be about it. To me, dreams are the crops of a man. When untended, they rot, and the man himself never realizes his potential. But when tended to, and finally cultivated. You get a glimpse of your destiny, of what you were created for, and how you are supposed to help mankind tend to their crops. Ya know?…
There are thousands of causes for stress, and one antidote to stress is self-expression. That’s what happens to me every day. My thoughts get off my chest, down my sleeves and onto my pad.
Get not your friends by bare compliments, but by giving them sensible tokens of your love.
A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.
Inside of San Miniato
Ciao a tutti,
I’m writing this while eating a bowl of Frosties( The Italian equivalent to Frosted Flakes) quaint right? Well I’ve failed at trying to write on here at least every other day, but my body has still, sadly, not adapted to this six hour shift forward. But, beyond that, the past three days can not be summed up in a post. From getting lost with my roommate in a eerie quiet residential part of the city, trailed by a guy who looked like Jack the Ripper, to being told I look like Ice Cube in a hip-hop shop. I’d say my stay in Florence is really starting to feel like home. Now that our orientation week is over I feel as though my experience here is about to get a whole lot different. I’ve woken up late every day this past week, because of prior waking up at about four o’clock every morning. So, yeah…forget sleep right? However, so much to explain. I guess I’ll start with the beginning of the week.
From Tuesday to Friday we explored different squares, from the train station, to a beautiful outlook over Florence, to the completely silent but beautiful San Miniato chiesa. Directly in front of San Miniato we’re a collection of tombs, of who, I couldn’t tell you but the detail of the sculptures seem to explain what kind of person buried under them were. One in particular that caught my attention was of a woman with a group of children surrounding her, and grasping onto her dress. What I drew from it is she loved the innocent, when no one else could, or would. Love and hate in this world, and the heart of a human being is yin and yang, strange right?
Before the chiesa we visited the overlook of the city which was breathtaking, but I feel like I’d visited there, not physically of course, but some way it felt familiar. This is how I feel a lot walking the valleys and hills of this city. I feel in my spirit I’ve been here before. It feels very homey, comfortable, inviting and I’m constantly battling with this idea of if its right to feel this way when I’m trying to adapt myself into another way of life. Though it was really cloudy the day we visited the overlook, to see it on a clear day seemed to be a glimpse of a kingdom.
The train station seemed pretty basic, from arrivals to departures, a McDonald’s (C’mon), complete with a blend of all races. The day we visited this, about Tuesday,l fell behind the group into a Combo shop that sold TokiDoki, which held me up for a good hour, afterward just going to get lunch, haha.
Besides the pure aesthetic view of this city, on the first day of our orientation, our program president explain how some cities of Greece were losing, what the Germans called the “zeitgeist” which was defined as the spirit of the time, or period. What I really understood it to be was the spirit of a specific place, city, site. Because in Greek philosophy, especially Aristotle, believed inanimate objects to have spirits, sort of its characteristic. All of this to say, this city does have a feel, or a spirit to itself, and it’s alive and thriving for the time.The culture is still alive as I would think it was in the past. Though the economy is about as bad as ours in America, I’m amazed that it has survived this flood of American, Russian, and Asian tourists.
So besides walking three times as much as I usually do in a year, I feel at peace here. Especially in the morning, not really a worry. I mean how could you worry when studying architecture that has been standing since the twelfth century? Even a total imbecile totally ignorant of what the heck every building or sculpture name is (guilty), could gain an appreciation.
So besides getting lost a couple times, eating a hot dog pizza (-_-) at Acasamia today, and finally finding a tasteful wine. I’ve grown accustomed to the finer life, haha. But I’m finding myself. I represent the have-nots, the underdog, the overlooked, the poor, the over-comer, the driven, the humble. Anyone who put their mind to achieving, and hasn’t given up. Just know I’m still fighting for you.
Stay encouraged one love.
"And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it” Habakkuk 2:2