Journal Number 2
June 11, 2010
Milan, Italy Almost
90 miles logged
sit in this mold smelling, but refreshingly cool basement in San Donato a
neighborhood in Milan, Italy I have the great task of transcribing to you
people what has happened in my life in the past five days. Let me first try and give you a couple mental
pictures to take with you as you read:
First, lets imagine a polar bear who has known his whole life in the
arctic tundra of maybe the North or South pole (I can't seem to remember where
those fellas are from) is somehow thrown in the middle of his life into the
Mojave Desert or maybe some tropical island.
What would that bear think? How
would his body react? How would he
adapt? Also all of you can thank me for implementing a "Lost" reference into
this journal. Second, let us think of a man, in his early twenties,
handsome, blonde, big ole blue eyes (sorry I am getting carried away, back to
the mental picture) thrown all alone,
with nothing other than some fancy
camping gear shoved into a backpack , into a foreign country that he has only
visited for a mere moment in his life.
He now has to make his way by foot across said country, not knowing the
language, not really mentally prepared for what lies ahead, and all alone (I
mean since he doesn't speak the language, really all alone). What would he think? How would his body react? How would he adapt?
second of those two mental pictures lies a bit closer to what I am about to
transcribe to you, butt they both give you a thought about what you need to
consider when you would take something and place it in a environment it is not
used to. Alright let me get on with
telling you the tale of what has happened in these last five days. The danger, suspense, the romance (psyche),
the adventure, and the pain. We begin at
day one (well day zero really) (I also realize that I have depicted this day on
a video blog, but if you like reading and pictures here are those for you):
Day 0: June 7th, 2010
left you I was hanging in the air next to Gino the Italian rocket
scientist. We land safe and sound from
that long journey through the skies and I gather my things and exit the
aircraft. After meandering through the
airport to customs, I see Gino for one last time. He tells me in his broken English that it was
beautiful to meet me and I say the same to me.
Then as a father would lightly punch his son at a baseball game, after
hitting a homerun, on the chin, so Gino does to me. It was this sort of "go get em' tiger"
thought that started it all off for me.
Customs was a breeze. I mean they
didn't even think twice about who I was, or what I was doing in their
country. It was a bit strange, but I
rolled with it. I find my way to the
luggage carousels and after a minute or two, there rolls around my life in a
bundle for the next three months. I
collect my bag then out to the Italian world I go. Man alive, there were so many people out
there waiting on friends, family, and loved ones it was a disappointment no one
was there for me, but alas I continue on.
I sit down and pull my stuff out of the duffel it was all crammed into. I pull out that handy cell phone and come to
my first and biggest difficulty. I
somehow cannot make any outgoing calls. The phone informs me that all outgoing
calls are barred and I don't know the password to unlock the stupid thing so I
sit lost and alone at the Italian airport.
up my strength, completely flustered by the recent flaw in my plan and get some
cash out of a bank automatic teller machine.
I buy a phone card thinking it would solve my problems, but I am too
confused and flustered to figure it out.
So I sit down and send out a text message to the only person I know in
all of Italy (and I barely know him) Sam Fiore.
You see Sam and his wife Joan came and spoke at the Bible school I
attended a couple years ago. So I
emailed them a while back informing them of my visit and they provided me with
their contact information. In the text I
just said I am in Milan, lost and need some help if he can offer it. He immediately calls back. My spirits were completely lifted. I find out they are about to start church and
his daughter Nina gives me directions to the church from the airport. So after an hour or so of travel I make it to
the metro station where the church is next to.
I send a message and wait, but no response. I figure out how to use the calling card and
make a couple calls, but no response. So
I venture out on the streets. After a
while of walking in the wrong direction, later to find out, and in the heat on
top of that, I turn back to the cool shelter of the metro station. After about forty-five minutes I was about to
give up, when my cell phone rings, it was Sam.
What a blessing. He said that
church just got out, come walk to it and then join his family for lunch. I walked in the right direction and met Sam
and Joan. Oh it was great to see
them. They were so kind and warm
hearted. Exactly what I needed in that
time of mental peril. Joan left to
Nina's house, where we were having lunch, and Sam showed me around the church
building. It was all so lovely. I met some lovely people who were so kind, even if they couldn't speak
a lick of English. Then Sam and I
carried on to Nina and Michael's house for lunch.
ride there Sam tells me about the radio station they are working on putting
back up in Milan, it all sounded wonderful.
Then we arrived at Michael and Nina's.
A soon as I entered I was greeted by this older fella who was as tall as
me and bald headed, wearing glasses and another younger fella but older than me
and he was cutting some chicken. The
bald headed fella was Walt Baker. He was
the guest speaker at Sam's church and the younger fella cutting chicken was
Michael, Sam's son-in-law, married to Nina.
Walt and I talk for a bit and I tell him I am from Memphis,
Tennessee. He informs me of how he spoke
at a church there, it ended up being the church I grew up in named First
Evan. What a small small world. He also knew my grandmother, Mary Ann
Frazier. So small sometimes. Walt and I talked for a good while about our
mutual friends and family, while Michael cut away on that chicken. Then it was time for lunch. But lunch was not inside on the dinner table,
but outside in the backyard on a table there.
I found out that this is a common practice in Italy, everyone, on a good
day, eats with their family and friends outside. I hope to bring this practice into use when I
table I met Michael and Nina's children: Glori, Jake, and Max. Lovely kids.
There was a bit of tension, you know with a new person talking to them
who they didn't know, but I soon lightened the mood for them and we carried on
as good friends by the end of the day.
After a lovely meal and conversation, I helped with the dishes and then
was able to use the computer and the internet for a while. It was nice to connect with the world
again. Then I decided to attend the
church Michael planted there in San Donato.
It was lovely even though I didn't understand a lick of what they were
saying. And then on the way back to the
house Nina offered me a place to stay for the night. You see I was just going to take a train that
night to Genova, but I am glad I stayed instead. So we got back and me and the boys all laid
out beds in the basement and off to bed I went, for the last night with friends
for the next five days.
Day 1: June 8th,
morning I awoke extra early. You see
Nina told me the night before that if I wanted to take a shower, which would be
my last for a number of days I would have to get up really early, before the
family gets up, to take it. Man that
shower was so refreshing. I mean I
really soaked it in, you know it being my last shower for what I thought was a
while. So I shoved all my things in my
back pack and got ready to leave. Not
really having any complete inclination of what I was in for. All the kiddos were headed off to school that
morning so I hitched a ride with them to the train station. Michael and I bade farewell and I boarded the
metro to the central station then off to Genova. Walking toward the ticket office in the
central station I heard something familiar to my ears, English. Some fella came up behind me and asked where
I was off to. I did look like a traveler
and so was he. His name was Greg, a
fellow patsy, from Seattle, Washington. He was travelling around Europe on a little
vacation and then was off to teach English to some Italian kids. It was just like a breath of fresh air to
spend some time in conversation with him.
We found out we were on the same train so almost the entire way we spoke
together. It was delightful. We bade each other safe travels as I finally
got off to my stop in Genova. I find it
so funny that the train ride there took about and hour and a half and then
walking the same journey took me five days.
Traveling by technology is much more convenient.
the station I found myself entranced by the architecture of the building around
me. It was this incredible dome shaped
room. I mean something else really to be
just an ordinary train station. Here take
a look (that's the outside I guess I didn't snap a photo of the inside, still
way out of the station my eyes caught sight of a newsstand with maps. I darted over there and found myself a map
combo package of a map of Italia and Europa, for a reasonable price as
well. Perfect. As I was browsing through the maps this fella
came up to me. He asked if I spoke
English and started talking with me. His
name was Vitaly and he was from Amsterdam, Holland, but he was not Dutch, he
was Russian. It was great to have an
English speaking companion for most of the day.
Vitaly and I walked around the city a lot. We saw the water, old buildings, and good ole
Chris Columbus' house, you know the guy that sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Here are some pictures of what we saw in
There I am standing by the Mediterranean Sea, or at least
the bay into that sea.
Some Great old buildings in Genova.
and I spent about half a day together wandering through the city before I had
to leave his company. We said farewell
and fare travels to each other and then I was off on my way. The first stop for the day was an outdoor
supply store to look for fuel for my stove.
The weather outside was a bit rainy and really overcast so it was rather
cool to walk in. After a good while of
walking I made it to the store but came to a road block. The fuel that they sold doesn't fit my
stove. So I had to buckle down and buy a
new stove and fuel. The gathered my things
and head off to the road, SS 35 that would be my close companion for the next
five days. It was right after lunch that
I set off on the journey North.
road was on the other side of the city so after navigating my way there I set
off toward Milano. After I got out of
all the business of the traffic and cars from the city the walk was marvelous. It was still quite foggy and a bit rainy, but
I didn't mind one bit, I was just enjoying it all. Along the way I said "ciao" to some people
here and there. Here are some pictures
of the views that I saw along the way:
trek was quite mountainous and I guess it was good to start off with a big
challenge than start right on the flats.
You see right off the coast in Italy is a pretty big mountain range that
follows the coast and breaks into the alps.
The mountains were about the size of maybe the Appalachians so it wasn't
all that bad. Next week is the killer, the Swiss Alps.
day was slowly winding down I began to look for a place to lay my head and
sleep. It was quite hard to find some
wooded areas in the mountains that would be flat and good for a tent so I just
kept searching. I asked this fella that
was riding his bicycle by me what I should do.
His name was Angelo and he told me of a town not to far down the
mountain that had a big river going through and I could find shelter under a
bridge there. So I kept on searching
with my eyes along the way for the river and bridge Angelo spoke of. I finally get to a town and it ended up being
much larger than I thought. So I walked
and walked through the city and find a fairly large stream running through it
with a couple bridges. I find a way to
get under the bridge and sit down on a ledge.
That is when things started to turn sour for me, mentally.
I was starting more and more to feel the lonliness of this journey but it
doesn't hit you as bad while you are moving, but as soon as I sat down under a
bridge in a strange town, where I could understand no one. I had a mental break down of fear. I suddenly felt the huge overwhelming punch
in the face of fear. It almost knocked
me down it was so bad. I started feeling
uneasy, afraid of being robbed or stabbed and I could not contact the ones I
loved back home. It was a miserable time
for me. So I started on giving up with
the sleeping under a bridge idea and decided to sleep in a local hotel. I went to the first on looking for a room,
full, the second one, full. I didn't
know what to do. Night had now fallen
upon the small town and I began feeling uneasy.
My courage was regained a little when the fellow at the second hotel
told me that the town was extremely quiet and there in absolutely no crime
there. And then Daren, my director on
this whole thing called. I explained my
situation and he told me that I must have courage, be brave, and the only thing
that will get me though this is my faith in the Lord.
know if I have ever talked with any of you about faith or my faith in the
creator God, but at this moment of my life my faith was the only thing I had
left to cling to. No one on this planet
knew what I was struggling with and no one could really help me. There was
nothing that anyone could say at that moment to change how I felt. It was
the Lord who is sovereign over all that gave me the strength to sleep under
that bridge that night, and it was Him that watched over me then. For the next five days this simple faith that
I have within me was the only thing that kept me alive and going. I understand that talking about faith and
spiritually is something people shy from, but if you plan on reading more about
this journey of mine you will have to realize that this trust in the Lord is
the only thing that has, is, and will keep me alive for the next 84 or so days left. So keep reading, there is more to come.