I never cease to be amazed by the welcoming nature and kindness of the Christian community around the world. This has especially been shown the past few weeks in both our training and arrival in Scicli. During our training, the members of SwanBank were amazing, welcoming us into their homes, serving us in the coffee lounge, and just being friendly faces- giving a smile and encouragement.
The same can be said for the church here in Scicli. On Sunday we attended the local Methodist church, which we were aware of due to the fact that they fund the project at which we are working, and were given a wonderful warm welcome. After the service we were greeted by nearly everyone in the congregation and on the way out we were privileged to be invited back with a family for lunch. It was the full Italian experience! Their home was absolutely beautiful with a lovely green garden away from the busy town. We were served 5 courses of food all of which was just amazing but the highlight of which had to be a gelato cake to celebrate their daughter’s 17th birthday.
It was a bitter sweet feeling to leave quickly after the meal had finished as we had to be back at the House of Cultures for our shift. The time we spend with the boys is lovely and does feel extremely worthwhile but to have to abruptly leave such hospitality and new friends was a shame.
During the church service on Sunday we had to listen very intently- picking up the odd Italian word here and there but nowhere near enough to know what was being said. At one point ‘Inglese’ was being thrown around so we knew we were being talked about! Fortunately for us, the preacher was from the USA so he was able to slip in a bit of English to sum up his sermon. He explained that he had been speaking about how our faith motivates us to step out of our comfort zones to take risks and thus serve God and the people we meet. This was a huge encouragement to us and rang true to our reasons for choosing to take up this amazing opportunity. He also drew our attention to a piece of stained glass at the front of the church which read ‘Il mondo e’la mia parrocchia’ (the world is my parish) which also spoke to us. The boys and other volunteers we are working with are all from different backgrounds and we are away from our own country and homes yet God can still use us to show his love to all we meet, regardless of a language barrier or cultural differences.
The sense of family we felt at church has also begun to reveal itself in our work at the House of Cultures. We have been more involved with the boys this week, playing more games- Uno quickly becoming a new favourite!, teaching, and chatting with them. We have found some of the quieter boys are starting to open up to us and us to them. This family feel was especially shown on Thursday this week when we went on a trip to the near by city of Modica to visit another project. The boys were able to play football with new friends, as well as dancing, eating and playing games together. The sense of community between the two (very different) projects was really quite special.
So that’s a little of what we’ve been up to this week. Sorry for the lack of cats this week, but at least food featured! May we take this time to thank our family (whether biological, church family or just those of you who have made us feel so welcome and wanted) for all the encouragement you have given and everything you do for us no matter how small.