Hello from Italy! I am currently writing from Rome where we are spending the Easter Holiday with the Church of God here in Ostia (suburban Rome). Wow! What a country. This is our first time DRIVING across Italy and what an incredible experience that has been. It's like adding a 3rd dimension to this country as opposed to flying into places or taking the train. The mountains have been beautiful and cover this country from North to South. Different kinds of mountains with different terrain. The various regions of Italy are so different from each other--yet all beautiful. I'll be sharing more later about the churches we have visited, but it has been breathtaking to see different regions of Italy.
Our drive down was thankfully uneventful. Germany was lovely. We stayed in a town we had never been to on the way down. Austria was gorgeous---all one hour of it as we made our way across the Alps into the Italian Dolomites (Alps). We drove along the coast after spending time with the Northern Italy Church (more later), and that was just ridiculously out of this world. Small medieval towns hugging massive cliffs. It was hard to believe they are real places and not sights created by Disney.
I've always said, pound for pound, Europe is the most beautiful continent in the world. Every few miles brings a different geography---perhaps snow-capped mountains, or sharp steep hills with castles built in hard to reach places. There are too many sights to even stop and see. It would be overwhelming.
And the people have been consistently kind and lovely everywhere we have gone. Not just in the churches but all around.
Today we spent time taking Marco around to the major sights of Rome: The Coliseum, the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain etc. He's been there before, but he only remembers the Sistine Chapel. He loved that place as a small child. Always attracted to those Biblical images. Today we spent a lot of time talking with him about the differences between Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy.
Rome was in full gear this weekend as the Pope's Eastern message is tomorrow. We saw that the stage and video screens are all set up for his big annual speech. I'll be speaking at the same time on Easter, but there will probably be a lot less people showing up and it won't make the news.
Tonight I spoke at the special Saturday service on "the Challenges for Christianity in Europe." Tomorrow we have a 7AM Sunrise service, followed by the main service at 10:30Am and then a big Italian easter meal.
By the way....it's been non-stop pizza and pasta on this whole trip. It's like there are no options but that. I mean....I know Italian food is good--and it is my favorite--but...don't they want some Thai or Chinese or something else from Thai to Thai. I can't believe the amount of restaurants that really do serve Italian food like we eat back at home. I'd never noticed that before. I mean, if you don't want lasagna, ravioli, or pizza--good luck trying to find something to eat. Not complaining, just found it kind of surprising.
On our way down we visited the leaning tower of Pisa for Marco's sake. It was just a 20 minute detour off of our route. It's leaning still....and it's very, very white. And Marco's enjoying seeing his name everywhere. He was named after Marco Polo and the name Marco is very, very Italian. So it's "Marco" everywhere down here.
We're looking forward to Easter tomorrow. We hope you have a great Easter wherever you are celebrating it. We are very happy to be spending Easter in Rome--the sight of so much important Christian history. It was amazing to be at the Colisseum in Rome today on the day before Easter. And then to head to St. Peter's and see these massive concrete structures that cover a span of history between when Christians were a small minority being persecuted to when they conquered the Roman Empire---well, that was just amazing. It's a profound thing to be celebrating Easter in Rome.
More soon. And hopefully the photos will load properly in my next post.