03.31.06

Ear Infections

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:45 am

I got to test the Italian health care system today. Chloe woke up at about 2 AM with an earache. She has never had one before, and she was crying nearly the whole night. Nothing we gave her seemed to relieve the pain. So we headed to the ER this morning. It came on so quickly that it kind of made us nervous.

I checked her in (I always have to write my name down when asked for it – I’ve yet to find an Italian who can spell Rotert) and we sat and waited. About 20 minutes later Chloe was on the table getting examined by a very kind doctor/nurse who even spoke some English to her. She quickly confirmed the diagnosis, and wrote a prescription. I asked her where I need to go pay and she kind of shrugged her shoulders. All Italians have all of their health care paid for in full by the government. So they’re not really set up to bill individuals. She said that they had our address and if we needed to pay something we would be billed. I filled the prescriptions (also free for Italians) for the grand total of about $40. Not a bad deal really.

Foreigners can buy into the program for about $500 per year for the entire family! Since we’ve just settled in, we haven’t really looked into it, but how can you beat that?

Oh – Chloe’s already feeling a little better.

03.29.06

An Eerie Darkness

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:56 am

We had a partial eclipse today. I think it got to around 50% covered. Kind of cool!

03.28.06

Elections

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:16 am

It’s almost election day in Italy. I don’t pretend to understand Italian politics (but I’m not sure the average Italian understands it either). There are dozens of politicial parties all vying for power. But since there are so many parties, nobody ever really has a majority of the votes. So the parties form coalitions who share the power. These coalitions then nominate the leaders who sit in the senate. At least, that’s how I think it works.

Many people are surprised to learn that the Communist Party is alive and well here in Italy, and even wins sometimes. It’s especially popular with young people, who are attracted to its promise of jobs. And jobs are a very difficult thing to find here.

As I type this there is a commercial on TV about how to fill out your ballot on election day. Apparently it’s so big and complicated they run commercials for weeks in advance.

03.26.06

Amici

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:16 pm

Reality TV is pretty big here in Italy. Tonight is the season finale of Amici. I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to describe it. It’s kind of a cross between American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and Big Brother. A group of young people live in a house together and during the week practice for the contest on Sunday. They all have to sing, dance, and act, no matter what specialty they have studied before they went on the show.

But where things get interesting is when they pass a microphone around after each dance or song and let people critique. There is also a panel of judges, which includes an American (everyone makes fun of his accent) and a platinum-blond transvestite named Platinette (I swear I’m not making this up). There’s a lot of yelling and emotions. All us viewers get to send in our votes at $1 a pop. Whoever doesn’t cut it goes home in a pool of tears.

Italian TV is not for the faint of heart.

Update: Tonight, for some unknown reason, Platinette’s wig is sitting on the table and he/she has a gold sparkly thing on his/her head instead. Truly bizarre.

Life Group

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:35 am

Sunday mornings we have Life Group at the Casey’s. People are sometimes confused by the term “Life Group.” If you take a church in the US, and shrink it down to the size of a living room, that’s Life Group. Everything that goes on in a conventional church happens in Life Group. We sing. We pray. We study. We encourage.

Today’s meeting was nothing short of incredible. I saw more mature believers come along side a couple who’s millimeters away from making a commitment to Christ and help them in their understanding of Scripture. I saw a group of believers from all walks of life join together for worship. I saw encouragement and discussion. It was exactly what I think “church” is supposed to be.

Oh … afterwards I also saw (and tasted!) one of the best pot luck dinners I’ve ever seen.

Pray for us – all of us want to see Anconans all over the city in groups just like this.

03.21.06

Ancona!

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:29 am

We’re back!

I can’t believe it, but I really missed putting new posts up on the blog. It’s really become a nice little outlet. I’ve been accumulating things to talk about, and will be posting them shortly. In the meantime, ponder this:

If I were to make a snap judgment, I would say that on the surface, Peruiga is prettier than Ancona. WWII was not kind to Ancona, and a lot of the city suffered pretty major bombings. From what I hear, many of the older historical buildings were destroyed. But when someone from Ancona asks us why we moved here, they always follow up there surprise by saying, “C’e il mare…” In Ancona, there is the sea. As I write this, I can look out my balcony and see the sea.

Maybe Ancona is prettier after all…

03.08.06

Perugia, we hardly knew ye!

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:53 am

Today after I dropped the kids off at school I grabbed the camera and headed for the center of town. We have four days left here, and I decided to be a tourist for a morning and take a picture of everything that I’ve stumbled across and thought, “I wish I had my camera!”

I allowed myself to wander down streets I’ve never noticed, and found quite a few surprises. I found some views and angles that I haven’t seen. I just explored and allowed myself to take it all in. I was amazed more then once – I thought I knew Perugia but I found places and corners I didn’t even know existed.

I’m going to miss Perugia.

03.06.06

671 Smackers

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:18 pm

We’ve had an interesting problem here in Perugia with our gas bill. All of the bills are still in our landlord’s name. They are sent to her realtor, who then calls us and tells us how much to pay. Well about three months ago, the realtor told us that we have never received a gas bill. I thought this was strange, since I thought I had been paying it. I then found out that Enel, the gas company I thought I was paying, is also the electric company. Since I never see the bills, I just assumed that when I paid Enel it was for gas AND electric. Silly me.

So the realtor came, read the meter, and called the company to see what the deal was. And today, it arrived. A €?671 ($805) gas bill for ten months of gas. After my heart started beating again, I realized that for ten months, that didn’t seem too terrible – especially considering how expensive natural gas is here in Italy. It would have been better to pay that over the course of the year, especially since we’re moving in exactly one week.

But the thing I find really odd is this … if you didn’t pay your gas bill in the US for 10 months, even if it was because they didn’t send you any bills, wouldn’t they shut your gas off?

03.05.06

What missions is all about

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:49 am

Josh Furnal, my teammate, reads constantly. I’m not a huge reader, but Josh likes to throw a book or two my way every now and then. Thankfully, he’s stopped recommending his high and lofty philosophy books.

The most recent book of his that I’m reading is called Velvet Elvis. It’s a strange little book (that is excellently laid out, graphic-wise) by Rob Bell. But listen to this little snippet about missions work:

Missions then is less about the transportation of God from one place to another and more about the identification of a God who is already there. It is almost as if being a good missionary means having really good eyesight. Or maybe it means teaching people to use their eyes to see things that have always been there; they just didn’t realize it. You see God where others don’t. And then you point him out.

Which pretty much summarizes our work here in Italy. God has always been here. But sometimes people miss Him in the business of life. Our job isn’t to “bring God” to Italy (later, Rob Bell says He’s “really heavy”). It’s to point Him out.

And really, if you zoom the camera lens out even further, isn’t that what being a Christian is? Seeing God where He is, and pointing Him out to others?

03.02.06

The Pendulums

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:08 am

I guess we would call them commuters in the US, but in Italy people who live in one city and work in another are called pendolari – pendulums, for the way they swing back and forth every day (much more descriptive than commuters!). In between major cities, they often form committees so they can gang up on the people who are in charge of the trains and demand their rights.

Apparently there was quite a ruckus yesterday in the tiny town of Vittuone, just outside of Milan. The pendolari, having just heard that a train was cancelled and they had about a two hour wait, decided to block the tracks, thus blocking about 2,000 other passengers who had nothing to do with this little “sit in.” Some of those other trains couldn’t even make it to a station, so they were stuck in the country.

I’m on the fence on this issue. On one hand, the trains in Italy are relatively reliable. They’re mostly on time, maybe a little dirty, and inexpensive. But when the system fails, it seems to fail spectacularly. And so on the other hand, the pendolari have a point. They’re fed up with hour-long delays and employees who probably aren’t paid enough to give a care.

In related news, the 24 hour train strike tomorrow has been cancelled. I would hate to be a pendulum.