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This is Sicily

02.04.15
by Tim, missionary to Italy
in Church Planting, Europe
Sicily is a great place to get to know: one moment making you mad, and the next, winning you with its charm.

It was unusually warm this November morning. Sitting in the Sicilian post office I could smell the body odor of at least 25 other locals jammed into the small government outpost. Each one was waiting to step up to the glass which separated us lowly citizens from the not-so-helpful public servant.

But whose turn was it? There was no line. There was no machine that emitted numbers to indicate the order of arrival. It was up to me to ask around to find the last person. And, when I did so, a minor conflict erupted. Apparently, there was a list on a table back in the corner where you were to write your name. Someone signed me up. I was “Teemotee,” the forty-second name on an unofficial list that many of my fellow patrons did not respect. They would simply cut in line if you didn’t make your way to the window fast enough. So, I sat there sweating, waiting. This is Sicily.

My leg still in a cast from that soccer incident two months ago, I sat down next to number forty-one, the elderly lady who had been kind enough to write down my name on that list. She looked very Sicilian. Her hair was done. Her clothes, though a bit out of style, were pressed and coordinated. She had small feet that didn’t quite touch the floor as she sat back in her chair. It only took a moment for her to jump into conversation.

Did you have a car accident?” she asked in my direction.

No,” I replied, “I hurt it playing soccer.” 

This is all the opening she needed to dispense advice on how I should to be more careful, the best places to get treatment, and the proper methods and eventual pitfalls during rehabilitation.

When there was a pause I added, “The hardest part of the whole thing is that my wife has to drive the car.”

It was like putting a quarter into a machine! How to drive. What to avoid. The best and worst parts of local life. The advice poured from her, but she was so nice about it. It wasn’t a “know-it-all” sort of arrogance. Rather, she was being friendly and helpful. She shared about her family, a relative who’d had a similar injury, her husband, and some of her own driving misadventures. So, I sat there listening, waiting. This is also Sicily.

Sicily is a great place to get to know: one moment making you mad, and the next, winning you with its charm. Please pray for us as we learn the culture and assimilate to our new surroundings so that we can be a more effective witness.

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