Thursday, May 24, 2007

Time in Tuscany

Well, it wasn't the getaway and celebration of Nikki's Birthday and Mother's day that we had hoped for, but it was special to be together, return to Siena (birthplace of our daughter's name) and visit our dear friend Luisa Pasquale (met her brother Danny at Denver Seminary when God was calling us to Italy) and her church family in Firenze.

I'll describe our trip briefly and then post some quick pictures. don't forget to check out the videos, there is a great one on there of Siena the pigion chaser!

Before we left for Florence/Siena, Nikki contracted the flu, so we didn't even know if we would go. Then our friend who was going to host us got sick, so we needed to find other accomodations last minute. God provided! (picture of home behind Siena)

Nikki was feeling better the day we left. And some friends of our's hosted us in the Tuscan countryside. They even babysat Thursday night so that we could enjoy a somewhat romantic dinner nearby.

Friday was in the town of Siena. At lunch, Siena turned to one of the people in the little pizzeria where we ate and said, "Jesus loves you!" We cried. So beautiful to see Siena beginning to live out God's values for her life. Later, Nikki explained to Siena the meaning of her name (Interior Beauty of Jesus 1 Peter 3.3-4: Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.) while in Piazza del campo (see pictures). That night we cruised by San Gimingnano, a city that Anthony studied in Architecture studio creating his favorit design project(see picture). Finally, we returned to Florence, exhausted--2 kids 2 years old and under are not meant to travel all day--to stay with Luisa who had recovered from her sickness.

Saturday Anthony me with Campus Crusade's leader in Florence to build a relationship and pray together. He got a bigger picture of what God is doing on the campus' in Florence, Rome, Pisa & Salerno. Then we ate lunch in Boboli Gardens and went to meet the Ammirabile family once again in the Tuscan countryside. We had dinner with them and we overwhelmed by their ministry of hospitality (see pictures of their camp & size of an average dinner gathering at their home).

Sunday was spent in Firenze at Luisa's church. It is very different from ours, however, we felt the presence of Jesus and were warmly welcomed. We met a missionary from Chicago who has been in Italy for over 30 years (Luisa & her roommate, missionary with Crusade pictured,also)!

Our drive back was beautiful, Tuscany at dusk is magical. We didn't know this till returning, but they have some 6,500 feet mountains in the northern part of the region and an extensive coast line.

We never did run a race--one of the original purposes for visiting Tuscany during this period. But the smile we share, the people we met and God's leading the trip and healing Nikki and Luisa were priceless. Sammy agrees :)

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