Nina came over yesterday, and we kissed cheeks, Italian style. I said, “You smell good!” Nina shook off the compliment, saying, “No, I’m all sweaty!” So I said, “OK, then you sweat flowers!”
Later, when I told Nina about something I was doing to secretly bless someone, she said, “You stink of God!” So I responded, “And you sweat flowers! What’s the difference?”
Felicity came over, and we gave her birthday cards. She has been fasting, and I’ve never seen her looking more happy, peaceful, and energetic all at the same time. Plus, her clothes are loosening up on her as a result. The benefits of fasting are shining through Felicity’s body, soul, and spirit.
Nina and I said goodbye to Felicity and went to get our hair cut by mutual friend, Sybil. Over the previous year, every time I went to get my hair cut, I had told Sybil, “Shorter! Shorter!” I guess she was used to people telling her “not so short!” so it had taken some time for her to understand that I really meant it when I said that I want my hair cut really short. Last time I went to Sybil for a haircut was at the end of August, and she did it. She finally cut it really short. So this time I told her that I want it cut really short like the last time. When Nina saw how short Sybil was cutting my hair, she said, “Girl, you’re being balded!” And every time the subject of my new haircut came up, she reiterated about how bald I am.
Sybil laughed and told me, “Don’t worry about it, fratella.” Sybil made up that word fratella. The Italian word for brother is fratello, and for sister is sorella, so Sybil put them together (frate + ella) to make a new word: fratella. Being a writer, I love that sort of thing! Making up words is part of how languages flow and change. The really good ones stick. However, I don’t think fratella is ever going to be embraced.
Then Bethany came over. Bethany jokes about being a missionary/evangelist thinly disguised as an English teacher. She had moved in with a family for the purpose of teaching their 10 year old daughter English. This family lives in darkness, both literal and spiritual. They have a light fixture in the kitchen that broke some years ago, and has never been fixed or replaced. So now their kitchen is terribly dark, and Bethany hates cooking there. The dishwasher is broken who-knows-how-many years ago, and they have done nothing to fix it. The father does all the washing up. The one and only well-lit room in the entire apartment is Bethany’s room, which has a glaring florescent fixture that must be positively blinding after the darkness of the rest of the house.
Then one day, the family asked Bethany about her faith. She told them about Jesus who came from Heaven to live with us as a human, and died for our sins so that we could be in Heaven with Him forever. They digested this information in silence, and later sent her an SMS, informing her that she was fired because their lifestyles were “incompatible.”
Italy isn’t an easy place to be a foreigner, but instead of being worried about all this, Bethany said that she’s looking forward to the next adventure. She knows that God has called her to Italy, so she is secure, being right where He has placed her. Her assignment in that house is done, so it’s time to move on to the next Holy Assignment. Our lives are so different from those of unbelievers, who worry about losing their job, who have no security from one day to the next. Bethany knows that if you lose your job because of the Gospel, then God will give you an even better job. If you have been faithful to share your faith, God will be faithful to take care of you and your family.
So now, as I am getting ready to go to Israel, I feel very grateful for the place where God has put me, and the people He has put in my life. I love my funny, sweet friends!
How strangely appropriate that I’m posting about how sweet and funny my friends are on the Ides of March. God has a great sense of irony and humor! And of course, God is good!