5 days and 10,600 miles

italyblog5daysx It’s been 5 days exactly, since landing back home. 10,600 miles traveled within a matter of 10 days. Folks ask me how my trip went and I never thought such a simple question would be so difficult to answer. I think, too, it depends on what you really want to know about. I can tell you bits and pieces (you can see the blog here, that I'm working on). But truly, I don’t think I could sum up what the entire adventure was like in a sentence, or two, or three, or an entire book’s worth…the words are difficult to come by, for me at least.

I will never be able to tell you fully, what it was truly like to take it all in and simply be. ...to finally be in that place that I had waited so long for, to walk in the streets and experience life, even if it was for a short bit. How I wish I could, though! Or at least, been able to show you more fully. I feel like even my photos (you can view them here) seem to sell the journey short for what it was. There is something so different about hearing the commotion in the streets and the market, watching the sun quietly grace the mountain and ocean at 5:30 each morning, feeling the wind on your skin and flutter your hair...writing hardly does justice when you try to weave your travels into words. But I remember saying to myself, I am so happy here.

As quickly as we came, it feels also as quickly we left. Yet, it strikes me how quickly I fell into routine and grew to love the people and ministry there...how quickly I started making Messina home. Messina was like a breath of fresh air (but really, a fresh breeze was always there). The work was hard, the days were long, the sleep was short, but I found there was so much joy in that. All because of what The Lord has done for me, and because of what work He is doing there. Oh yes, my emotions were the highest they’ve been in the longest time and I felt shaken to the core numerous times, but the week was so rich, so sweet, and so full of the goodness of The Lord.

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Transitioning back into life at home is harder than I imagined. I’m having a hard time remembering my English, and time itself. Oh, don’t misunderstand; I love being back. But it’s bittersweet, you see. It all seems so differently paced and I can’t tell if my health problem is turning better or worse. Things are strange because everything but you seems to be the same; mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Oh, they never tell you that. They also never tell you how much you’ll ache to go back and hug the people you met (which on my part, was very American and not like their culture at all) or how much you'll desire to walk the same route you did for those 10 days, even though you sweat like a pig, both ways. They never tell you how raw you end up feeling or how you slowly start to realize you left your heart in that place.

It’s not that the work we did was glamorous or that we resided at the prettiest of places; despite how Instagram or my camera can make things seem. It’s not that life was perfect and we dilly-dallied in the streets, shared the gospel and just left with no connections, no accountability...No, life that week? It was sweat, it was tears, it was fear, weariness...it was hearing each person’s story of how grace saved them, the conversations we struggled through and the ones over Google Translate, the heart-to-hearts, the songs of praise either hummed, whistled, sung, or played...it was the Gospel that people across the world (that you've actually met!) love and cling to...it was the friendships you spent the week investing in, the opportunities to show Christ’s love to children even though there was a language barrier, it was the love we have for one another because of Christ’s work on the cross. It amazes me. It’s only because of Jesus that we can love others whom we have nothing but that in common with.

I often catch myself going back to the photos of the streets I walked and the people I stood with, and I slowly begin to see how dearly I miss that place and long to return. Whenever I look at a map and see the distance between my town and Messina, I’m overwhelmed. How good The Lord has been & is to me. So grateful and full of thanks. I don’t think I’ll ever have all the words to share, and I think that’ll be okay. I’m so glad you’re even wanting to listen.

HannahMessina