Amazing weekend! I experienced so much and I am so thankful that I pushed myself to go on that retreat.
So starting the weekend with where I left you last, which was Friday night, I went to the bus station and waited for the bus to come. I was so nervous that I was either going to miss the bus or get on the wrong one! In conclusion, I was a nervous wreck for no reason, of course. I got on the correct one and went up to the bus driver and asked (in Italian of course) if he could please tell me which stop was the correct one. It was very easy because the whole system is like how it is in America and an automated voice calls out which stop is next. I got off on the correct one and Gianni, the man who invited me and smelled exactly like my Grandpa Whitescarver, came to pick me up from the fermatta. We went up to the convent and had dinner of sandwiches and dessert of grapes and apples. When I arrived, there were only four other people there so I was nervous that it was going to be a small group of us. However, they told me that there was a big group coming from Milan but they were a few hours late so we were waiting for them to come to start worship. Once they came, the room was filled with Italians, French, and me, the American. I was beyond nervous because I was the only English speaker in the room other than Gianni, or so it appeared. We went down to worship and Gianni sat next to me to translate what the priest was saying. When Gianni went up to speak there was a guy Matteo who came and translated what Gianni was saying. It turns out that Matteo spent 3 of his high school years in Texas because his father was transferred there for his work. We went upstairs and had gelato from one of the girl's family's gelataria and it was SO good; I had seconds.
We woke up and had bread and coffee for breakfast. There was marmellata and nutella for the bread and it was very good. We had praise and testimony about how after we leave retreats, like this one, we need to keep our fire lit and make sure that others see our passion for Christ. It was very good and I was very thankful that I had someone there with me to translate. After testimony, we had mass and then began preparations for lunch. I helped to cook and I am so thankful for that because now I know how to cook authentic dishes! We had delicious pasta, a hamburger type of thing that I will make many times, french fries, coffee and fruit.
After lunch everyone was very tired so we split up to either take naps or explore the countryside, I went on a walk by myself and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There were grape vineyards and olive groves all around the convent and I was in awe. I took so many pictures, obviously, and will get those put up on facebook later this week. After our nap time/exploration time, we went into small groups and talked about what we are trying to do to keep our fires lit. This group of kids had all gone to world youth day in Madrid and so they were talking about their experiences and what they missed the most. Since I had not been, I just explained what I do to keep my fire alive after I leave the conferences that I go to with my parish or with other friends.
Then we went back inside to the chapel and had more praise then were let go to do our own thing. A group of the French kids and I went walking around more and it was so much fun. They are so nice and friendly and it was really great to feel so welcome in their group. Everyone I spoke with was so eager to get to speak English with me and was also willing to help me with my Italian. It was seriously amazing and I thank God that he pushed me to go.
After our walk we had another amazing session of praise and then everyone got ready for dinner. Dinner consisted of a mixture of split pea and minestrone soup, quiche (potato, spinach, ham, and a few other types), and then salad. We went out to Florence and had what they called Florence by night. I was excited because I was going to finally get a tour of Florence and find out about all the things I walk passed on a daily basis. This was not the case. It ended up being that because I was one of the three who live in Florence and because I had been here the longest, it was Florence by Night lead by the American. Yep, I gave our tour. It consisted of us walking passed the Duomo, getting gelato (I got lampone and golosella, so good), and then walking by the Palazzo Pitti. These kids got the best tour of Florence ever given, that is without a doubt! We rode the bus back to the convent and made our way to bed, thankfully because I was pooped!
We woke up to breakfast and then had praise and Sunday mass. After mass we had lunch which was delicious pasta, ribs and some other piece of pork that no one would tell me what it was, bread toasted on the grill, and salad. We sat around and everyone who knew the words of the songs sang them. It is interesting to see how similar teenagers are no matter what language they are speaking. One of the guys brought his guitar and everyone sang along to the songs he played and it was almost like I was back in America for a moment, almost.
After our three hour lunch, the Milan kids all packed up and left. Me and two of the French girls that I roomed with stayed back to help Gianni and Elisabetta clean up the convent meant sweeping and undressing the beds. Us girls rode the bus back together and made sure we exchanged contact information so we would be able to get together on a weekly basis. This week is pretty busy for me, but next week we are for sure getting together.
I came home and started my laundry right away and showered. I had a very calm night of catching up on things and waited for Courtney to get back from her French Riviera trip. I had a horrible night of sleep because I kept feeling like there were bugs crawling all over me. That is definitely not a good thing because I am TERRIFIED that we are going to get bedbugs. I tried going to bed at 10 but didn't fall asleep until 3am thanks to Courtney talking with me and story telling. I am so thankful for her, she is such a great roommate. I have had the best luck with roommates, really, I have lucked out with first Kellbell and now Courtney.
The weekend was amazing and filled with food and praise. Everyone was so nice and I just can't explain my feeling that I still have from this weekend. God is so amazing and I am just so thankful that I have faith and love him so much; he is pretty awesome and I don't know who I would be without him.