We have a saying in Italian. Non c’è niente di nuovo sotto il sole. (There is nothing new under the sun.) And yes, I know it’s from the Bible. But I also know that King Solomon, who wrote that, didn’t live in a foreign land. Otherwise, I wonder if he might not have changed it to: “There is something new under the sun. Every day, and in countless ways!”
I can picture her still so old and frail, hobbling up the steep hill leaning on her pair of homemade walking sticks. “What do you have there Zia (Aunty)?” my husband asked, pointing to the open-mesh bag on her kerchief-covered head. While I just gaped, wondering how many other nasty things she’d carried on that seldom-washed, dirty headscarf!
Tips for missionaries (and people everywhere).
The fire didn’t heat better out of the fireplace. All it really did was create more smoke! Though no one would ever convince the dear, stubborn, old man of that! Yet we fondly remember those simple evenings of reading by the fire in my father-in-law’s home as some of the most cozy and delightful evenings of our lives, even with the choking smoke and burning eyes!
Adapting to different cultures is usually difficult, and many times perplexing and mind boggling. Take Italy’s standard greeting of kissing both cheeks. It’s really not as standard as you may think. Because usually people here just sort of touch cheeks and kiss the air. And furthermore, cheek kissing is often considered inappropriate in many business or formal settings.
One by one they filed in, sitting around the smoky fire in the dark, dingy room. The entire village, it seemed, wanted a look at the Americans. While I in turn, through teary, smoke-filled eyes, examined them. Our new town folk, for this was our new home.
Moving to or even visiting Italian villages is a unique and sometimes perplexing experience. Expect people to stare (and I mean really stare) as you walk down the street, without letting it give you a complex. No, you are not funny looking or strange. They just don’t see many outsiders, and curiosity is one thing people don’t lack!
There is but one road leading to the isolated town, our summer village. A place little touched by time, by technology’s progress, or by the frenetic pace of getting ahead. Thirteen years had passed since our last visit. And though fewer and older, the inhabitants somehow seem to remain much the same.