Well, I guess you'd like to know what we actually did in Rome (aside from being tourists). This is a bit complicated.

You see, we were supposed to work with university students. However, due to a Metro system labor strike and students who simply did not come, all three times we tried to go to the university... failed. So, instead, we hung out and learned about how university works in Italy. That is a lot more than you want to read right now, so if you'd like to know more, just ask me.

On our first Saturday in Rome, we visited a church that's being planted in the Laurentina area. They have English classes on Saturday, so a few of us were able to participate in those while the rest worked to clean up some public flowerbeds outside that had been publicly neglected. After our little excursion to the coast, we came back and were honored to be a part of their worship service the following Sunday.

Let me tell you about going to church in Italy: There are not an overwhelming number of protestant churches. Sunday morning we went to Rome Baptist Church, which is an international church (four services, each in a different language). This felt almost exactly like any other Baptist church you've ever been in, except they made us stand up and introduce ourselves to the whole congregation. The rest of our group had been there the week before, so my friend Su and I just mumbled something about "Tennessee, Carson-Newman, study abroad..." without remembering to mention our names. Needless to say I wasn't crazy about this, and what I really wanted to say was, "If you want to know my name, you can come ask me yourself." Sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but that's just how I feel. Just being honest.

Sunday afternoon we went to the church plant, with a much more comfortable 20 people. As always, they asked if anybody knew how to play the keyboard, and again I was obliged to tell the truth. It's a really good thing I've gotten over being afraid to play the piano in front of people -- in fact, I've grown to love it, and especially in worship services. The pastor read about Peter walking on water, so people shared about times they were afraid, and how our faith in Christ overcomes fear if we focus on Him.

Apparently this was the day for communion, because we had it in both services. At Laurentina we had real bread and tiny cups of bitter wine (emphasis on bitter, not the good stuff). I'm gonna go ahead and put this out there: The whole experience is a little more believable when the "cup" doesn't actually taste good. I know I'm not supposed to say that because I'm Baptist and all, but seriously... This is Jesus' blood we're remembering. Somehow cheap wine seems to represent the bitterness of the cross better than cranberry juice, at least to me. Ok, I'm done here.

Our final task for the trip was another teachers' workshop like the one we had in Macedonia. We had fewer teachers, and fewer people sharing ideas, but overall it went well. There was what I thought was a rather humorous debate between an American and Australian about what is "correct English" (as if this hasn't been hashed out in textbooks and classrooms for decades). I think we had a total of 7 people at the workshop, which I thought was not too bad for a Tuesday morning. In the meantime, the rest of our group was back at Laurentina giving the neighborhood some much-needed beautification by painting rails and clearing out trash. I wasn't there, but I saw pictures, and they did a good work.

We (the ones who led the workshop) spent the afternoon with the missionaries having one last plate of carbonara, a taste of the "best tiramisu in Rome" from Pompi, and a random side trip to a monks' crypt completely decorated with bones from the bodies... That was weird... We weren't allowed to take pictures, but I found some at this website: http://www.cappucciniviaveneto.it/TheCrypt.htm

So ended our European adventure. I think I've had enough pasta, pizza, gelato, and public transportation to last me a few years. Until next time, this is Little Becky, signing off.
*tips hat*

Ciao, Europa!
Thanks for reading!

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