Sabbath in Milano

Saturday, June 18, 2016
Milan, Lombardy, Italy
We slept in (finally) without waking up until past 9 am. I never sleep this late, but we are still adjusting our hours and needed the extra hours of rest.

Carmelo has rented a van for the weekend so that his family of Salvatore, Angelo and spouses, and the equipment needed for services in Milan could all be carried . Services were at 3 pm and Carmelo came by at noon to the hotel.

Off to Milano!

Milan is big bustling city in the heart of Lombardy. We worked our way through traffic to the hotel near the train station. We also passed by the square where Mussolini and his mistress were hung upside down to show the world that they were dead. The hotel where services are held is across the street from the Lombardia Region government center.

Carmelo and his crew set up for the Webcast via Webex while brethren arrive. Twenty one people connected via video. The people are delightful. I meet Ludmilla Wolf for the first time. She is a Facebook friendof mine and she speaks excellent English. Also, a notable person is Tito, a Romanian who now lives in the Turin area in northwest Italy. His story was interesting as he originally came from Moldova and was previously a Sabbath-keeper. Carmelo introduced us to others: Giovanni, Luciano, Manuel and others . And the ladies: Laura, Ludmila, Delia, Daisy. We were fascinated by this lovely combination of people.

Kissing.

This, too, is an integral part of the culture. In the Bible the "holy kiss" is spoken of. Well, that tradition has never stopped here—probably going back to when the terms were first used. All people greet and say good-bye with kisses. Two of them, one on each cheek. In Bergamo it is three kisses. We're getting ready for Ukraine because it will be somewhat the same next week.

Kissing total strangers is not a problem. To the brethren it is totally natural and acceptable. The warmth amongst the people is striking. Bev and I feel very comfortable being immersed in it.

I was given the total time for the sermon. Since Carmelo translated for me consecutively, it took longer and the service ran the full two hours . I spoke a lot about what we are doing in the development of our ministry in the US. Plus I talked about our media work in TV and the Internet in addition to our printing the Beyond Today magazine and tens of thousands of booklets.

After services people formed circles of chairs and talked to one another. At first it was a circles of men and women. Then people intermixed. The dynamics were interesting. There was ample translation and we really appreciated getting to know so many of the people personally. Truly, the Sabbath meeting was a time for each one to encourage one another as it is written in the book of Hebrews. We fellowshipped about two hours. Then we walked about two blocks away to a restaurant where we had a dining room all to ourselves in the lower level of the hotel. It was beautifully set up.

Again, the process of fellowship and dining are skillfully intermixed for a maximum social effect. We had a chance to talk to several, but I sat next to Carmelo and was able to become even better acquainted with him and his extended family . Family is vitally important and honored. Each one supports one another.

The dinner began with a glass of Champaign and a toast. Then the appetizers were served which was the focaccia bread of various kinds, mozzarella and tomatoes. We thought it would not end, but that was only the beginning. Then the main beef course was served. And last, tiramisu was served for dessert. Everyone, as you can imagine, was happy and joyful. Then we walked back to our vehicle and Angelo Di Vita drove us back towards Bergamo.

The entire van, with the three families, broke out into Italian song. Sounded like an opera! All sang with gusto. The sister’s voices were beautiful! They turned to YouTube versions of songs to follow along, which I thought was a great idea. For sing-a-longs find a YouTube and sing along!

But, Angelo took a wrong off-ramp exit on the Autostrada (freeway) . In the van the two sisters, Anna Maria di Vita and Antonella Anastasi sat in the front of the van with Angelo, the driver.

We were on streets that were not familiar. Advice to Angelo came from all quarters of the van, most notably from the sisters up front who “knew” the way. It was amusing to experience this interchange. I praise Angelo for being so patient and compliant. My wife Beverly noted that I would not have been so “understanding.” 

We finally found our way back on the Milan-Venice freeway which is four lanes each way…as busy as any major American city. We got back to the hotel at about 11, listened to a sermon by Greg Thomas and went to sleep. What a day! 

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2017-11-23