Monday, October 28, 2013

The New "Normal"

First, my apologies for not writing for several weeks. It's been absolutely crazy here at the church and I've literally not had a spare moment. So much has been going on in the past couple of weeks that I don't even know where to start with this post, but I'll do my best.

The craziness started with the St. Paul's board visit 3 Sundays ago. St. Paul's has been undergoing some  major renovation for the past 10 years, and this visit was a celebration for reaching the halfway mark. Austin worked really hard on setting up things for the board to do and see that are outside of the regular tourist experiences. Somehow I got on the good side of the group and was able to tag along on some pretty incredible Roman experiences. I could write a blog post about each of them, but I don't have time so you'll just have to deal with a quick overview. Tea with the British Ambassador to the Vatican at the highest vantage point inside the walls of Rome, a private tour of the Vatican observatory (which just happens to be located at Castel Gandolfo, you know, the Pope's summer residence), a private tour of the US Embassy's art collection, a private tour of the Villa Aurora with the Princess who still lives there (Yes, I did say Princess), and more food than I care to remember.

Tea Time!
It's a shame they didn't have this during the
whole "Galileo incident"...
These chairs are only 500 years old...
The Princess casually holding a letter from
Marie Antoinette

Fr. Austin, Rev. Jennings, Me, and Bishop Pierre 
Now if all that wasn't enough for one week, the Convocation's Convention started in the middle of the week. Since there are only 9 Episcopal Churches in Europe, spread out over Belgium, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and France, they band together to make a pseudo-diocese called The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. Convention is held in a different church each year, and this year it was St. Paul's turn. It was really great to meet people from all over Europe and make some good connections. I even got to meet the Rev. Gay Jennings, President of the House of Deputies. She gave a great talk about the state of The Episcopal Church. Everything with the Convention went off without a hitch, which was a huge relief to the St. Paul's staff. We also had a Peace Party with the the Artisans group from the Refugee center and we were able to sell a lot of their crafts. These parties are a great way to spread information about the Artisans group and the JNRC.

Peace Party for Convention spouses

Now as you can imagine, the church staff was quite tired after such an eventful week. The church closed down for a few days last week so everyone could rest, which was perfect timing for my good buddy James to arrive from Madagascar. James has been with the Peace Corps in Madagascar for the past year and a half and this trip to Rome is the first time he's been off the island since he arrived. You can imagine that he might be a little culture shocked. James, Austin, and I took a trip up into the Italian mountains around Umbria. Just an absolutely gorgeous area. We spent a night in a town called Norcia, which is famous for two things: Pork and Truffles. The Italian word for pork butcher is norcineria, which is derived from Norcia, so as you might guess the pork is ridiculously amazing. Norcia also happens to be the town where St. Benedict was born. There's a large benedictine monastery in the town where they make beer. Beer, Pork, Truffles. Sounds like my kind of place. We also stopped in a small town called Todi, which is where all Italian restaurants in the USA come to get their stereotypical views of the Italian countryside. Ok, thats not true, but its one of the prettiest towns I've ever been to.


St. Benedict

Needs no caption
One of St. Paul's parishioners asked me yesterday how I was settling in after 3 weeks, and I told him that I was doing well, but I hadn't seen what a normal week working with the church was like yet. He replied that I had indeed seen a normal week because "normal" doesn't exist. Even though he may be pretty accurate in that statement, it'll be nice that everything is settling down now and I can get a grasp of what this new "normal" will actually be like without so many events and guests. But it has been an incredible time the past couple of weeks and I'm still in shock about some of the experiences I've been able to have. That'll do for now!

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