Due to my dad's excitement at looking out the window every twenty minutes, I got very little sleep. I jest. It was probably every thirty minutes. You wouldn't know that he has flown to all parts of the world, as he is little boy-excited each and every time to be on an airplane. Good for him. I talked to my therapist the day before departure and she left me with a simple "Good luck!" and completely ignored my fear that I was flying on the 22nd, which is a Day of Great Peril. Nevertheless, I bit my nails and tried not to visualize the plane bursting into flames and plummeting to the grave of water below.
I'm just now starting to relax, so I thought it would be a good time to record my initial thoughts.
Truthfully, I have no idea what I'm doing here. I am very excited to be here, and I am honored more than I can say. But...I still don't know what purpose I serve, aside from reminding my dad to get his room key ere we go to dinner.
My dad is speaking with Luis Palau's organization this week, and he is able to do so in various languages, speaking messages of overt Christianity or just hope and heritage, depending on the venue. It isn't legal to publically preach the Gospel here. Weird, isn't it?
Despite being a Highly Enlightened American (which is NOT an oxymoron) I still think of Europe as she was in her younger years. I think of the flying buttresses (actually don't know what those are) and the music and the stained glass and heaven help us all...the baked goods. Europe has the pope, and the cathedrals, and the history. They have modernized, as all countries do, but Europeans are religious...right? I mean, maybe not Christian but certainly...something.
Mix Roman Catholocism with some Pagan fun, sprinkle with a dash of mystic awareness, and you get the mishmash that is the Euro religious climate. Obivously this is very general, and I am not in any way qualified to make such statements aside from My Superior Intellect and Discernment.
Being in such an environment is odd. Third world countries are the ones that need love and Jesus and free hot dogs while some punk kids skate to the sound of Whatever Band Passes As Cool But Are Still Christian...right? What do we have to bring them? Surely all the people in this gorgeous, history soaked land have all the information they need to make an informed choice as to their religious adherence? It appears that maybe they do not.
Here's some blatant honesty from this pastor's wife: I hate evangelising. I'm not proud of such a statement, but there it is. I really detest pamphlets, it makes me itch when random strangers want to talk about their faith choices, and I become a dark shade of red if you ask me to hand out candy bars to strangers on the streets of Ireland. I hate this about myself, but I also can't shake it. I mean, if someone wants to ask me what I believe, I'm cool with that. Hugging strangers and passing out balloons that say WWJD makes me want to rip my clothes and don sackcloth.
I love any excuse to travel, but I also can't forget the reason that we are here. Marseille, and France, should at least hear the truth about Jesus. Information is liberating, and if accurate information is all they get, then this will have been a succesful trip. Luis Palau does something that, in my mind, shouldn't work. Yet, it does. He obviously knows what he is doing, and I think he is a great man with a fantastic organization. I am just really, really hoping that I'm not asked to join the Balloon Guild. Latex makes my mouth feel weird. But what will I do? Write, take pictures, hope nobody asks me to testify, and...
My next unorganized thoughts are about food. I know, you are jealous. Yes, yes you are.
Tonight we ambled into an Italian restaurant just down from our hotel. It wasn't quite a hole in the wall, but almost. It was sandiwched between two buildings , with a tarp for a roof and gaps that would have allowed rain to drop onto our table. Alas, no rain. Taste, however, was abundant.
The little French woman brought the chef out to talk about the night's offerings. He spoke of amazingly wonderful things in French, and I could have unwittingly ordered garbage with sauteed poo nuggets. Luckily, he repeated himself enough and I orderd some simple spaghetti bolognese. This Italian man was adament that all things were either grown/caught in Provence or exported from Italy. He told us repeatedly that all things were Italian. All things. His message was clear: all things in his restaurant were Italian, which obviously is the best. He convinced us to try what he called the 'Ferrari of Mozzarella', and we literally couldn't say no. He told us that he would weep if we didn't try it. Bring on the molded Italian car cheese.
A soft sphere of creamy white was set before us, sprinkled with spices, and served with crostini, pesto, dried tomatoes and olives. I spread some of the Creme de Mozzarella on bread, added some pesto and...SHUT.UP. It was amazing. Dad and I were quickly downing the luxurious cheese that, as he assured us, cannot be found in the U.S. EVEN IN NEW YORK! (Apparently this was a big indicator for a chef.) The sweet lovely French lady came over and told us to slow down our eating so we could enjoy it better. Tres amusee at her show of courage.
The meal was amazing, but I said to my dad that even though this amazing Ferrari Cheese of the Gods wasn't available in the U.S., I still quite preferred Mama Palma's spaghetti.
And that, folks, ain't no lie. I'll swear on a stack of pamphlets.