The last two weeks have been filled with Michigan and Georgia encounters! Every one of them is connected to God’s work in the world and to Rome in particular.
We were invited to Peter’s home on Sunday, June 23, to enjoy an afternoon meal with him and family friend, Katrina. He is working through the aftermath of Cinny’s recent passing and we were pleased to share this time with them over Rotisserie chicken, salad and gelato on the Terrazzo. Certainly not lost on me was the joy of his art collection gathered over the years, mostly exchanged with artist friends. The bronze sculptures of his babies when crawling and stone busts of his twins were among the beautiful places to rest the eye. We joined him again on Tuesday night at a nearby restaurant where we were delighted to get to know him even more personally. We had the honor of visiting his nearby studio and hearing the history of much of his work. He asked me to “fill in” for him at the JNRC (Joel Nafuma Refugee Center) two mornings a week leading the clay/sculpture table, which I will do, as he leaves for a three-month period. I hope Fimo clay play in Sunday School counts as experience. (Of course, it is not about the clay, but about the relationships built and the love of Christ shared over the tables.)
Note here for Dubliners: Deano’s own Jennifer Shaffer let me know that her Grandfather was in one of Norman Rockwell’s illlustrations, The Pharmacist. A young Peter is featured in “Soda Jerk”. He laughed and said that his father would pay others $5 for a sitting but not his own kids – they only got a buck. Check it out at the link below.
Waiting at the bus stop after leaving Peter’s that Sunday, a large group of American students gathered with rolling luggage in tow. I noticed a Michigan State University tee shirt and gave a shout out. Sure enough, all were from MSU, returning from a weekend in Paris with several more weeks of study in Rome. They are Advertising/PR majors. It doesn’t take long for them to ask what we are doing here. Once the word missionary comes up, the conversation heads to the work and needs surrounding us. Helen shows particular interest in the work at the JNRC and I share that an opening of an art exhibit with the stories of individual refugees will be held in a few days. We exchange emails. She also asks about where she might attend an English-speaking Protestant church, so we help her with several options. She and her friend, Adele, are Asian-Americans. I welcomed them with excitement to the exhibit that Wednesday evening. Now, you know I love this part. They ask if there are any specifics of the center that could benefit from advertising, just getting the message out there. Of course. I introduce her to Jill, the rector’s wife at St. Paul’s Anglican Episcopal Church, as well as to Kate, the summer intern from North Carolina. They must produce a finished video for their classwork. Adele says, “Imagine, this could be an influence of faith on our classmates and larger community, not just complete an assignment.” Yes, what could come of this connection? Helen Song is heading on a mission trip to South America soon. She has promised to keep me updated and we will look into supporting her with our own tithe designation.
Stay tuned for Part II – “Georgia in the House”