In August everyone abandons Milan. Its really quiet, there is little traffic and many shops are closed. These conditions mitigated against us meeting our first priority: purchasing an electric kettle.
Wandering the deserted streets I struggled to explain our predicament to the remnant of shopkeepers. I waved my arms, used various hand gestures and to my frustration-when I was understood- they informed me that they did not sell "bollitore elettrico."
The first few days were tough. I would love to tell you that I had remembered to bring tea bags with me-that I had found acceptable teabags here. It just wasn't to be. I'm afraid that in the end I contemplated somthing quite unthinkable. In my despair I decided I would purchased a coffee machine.
Its in these moments that we realise who we really are.
As I ventured out into the unknown I noticed that the streets were not entirely deserted. On closer inspection I realised that, aside from the tourists, there were all kinds of non-Italian people trying to make money in a variety of informal ways.
At the supermarket there was a man returning trollys for people (so he could have the coin). Another stood at the door offerring to help people carry their shopping. At the traffic lights a lady tried to clean peoples windscreens. Basically, wherever there was any possibility (however small) of making some money, someone was there.
As I approached the supermarket, the biggest shop I could find open, I asked the man who was informally collecting trollys if they sold "macchina per il caffè" here. "Non Italiano" he replied. "Where are you from?" I asked. "I'm from Nigeria" he said. "Oh, ok, erm...you don't happen to know where I can buy a kettle do you...and some Yorkshire tea bags?" He smiled and said "Yes. Are you a British man? They sell Darlington Tea bags down there." Its close enough I suppose -still its quite amazing how God answers prayer!
Now its september the residents of Milan have all returned. Shops are open, its busy, and the traffic is heavy. The news here is filled with reports about Migrants who, being unable to get to other countries, are struggling to survive in Milan.
As countries to the north have closed their borders, migrants wanting to travel to Germany are now stuck in northern Italy. The numbers increase daily (more than 13000 arrived in Italy this week) and headlines in some of the papers suggest that local residents are becoming extremely frustrated.
On Sundays the church here takes breakfast to the many people sleeping rough near the central station. At the moment its really hot (even at night), but when it gets colder (and it will) the challenges facing these amazing people - people who have risked everything in search of a better life-will increase considerably.
Please pray for the Migrants, that God would provide a place for them to flourish.
Please Pray for all the people affected by the Earthquake.
Please Pray for us, that God will help each of us to integrate and learn Italian and that we will relate well to All.
Link to welcome at synod https://youtu.be/KfMaZw_V-k0
P.s local news about these isues can be found on this link: http://www.thelocal.it/20160722/italy-fears-calais-style-migrant-camps 29 Sep 2016
I tried to buy petrol yesterday. However, when I picked up the nozzle, nothing happened. As the cars started queing up behind me I tried hard to look normal (it didn't work). I went in the shop to ask advice, no one was there. By this time a symphany of horns (not brass) began playing behind me. One Italian tried to tell me - at light speed - what to do. I could only make out two words: "pay before" - but I wasn't sure where to pay. The shop was empty, there was no card machine in sight. As the polyphony of car horns began to melt my ear drums I contemplated abandoning my car. It was then, when everything seemed impossible, that I noticed a card machine hidden away in the corner. I managed to flee the scene unharmed.
Moving to a different culture, learning a new language, adjusting to a new environment- it can make your head spin. A fog of confusion pervades even the simplest of daily tasks. If your not careful, mental fatigue, a severe bout of intellectual constipation can set in. It is at these moments that one's mind longs for somthing familiar... somthing it can understand... somthing like a fish and chip shop-even a pot noodle.
I should not complain. Afterall no one has ever died from irregular verbs (though its possible Italian prepositions can kill you). However, while I have an army of church people helping me, I can't begin to imagine how migrants entering Europe must feel.
First they risk their lives, crossing both the desert and the sea. If they survive this, they have to adjust to an entirely different language and culture - often without any support whatsoever. They have little or no money, and no right to work (Lev 24:22). What a terrible situation to be in (Ex 23:9). May God have mercy on these brilliant and amazing people. May God bless them and make his face to shine upon them (Deut 10:18).
* Please pray for the thousands of migrants trying to make their home in Europe. * Please pray for us as we study Italian. * Please pray for our children-that they continue to enjoy the new environment and that they settle in well.