Our last leg of the trip was to be Rome, where we would spend a day and a half. Monday we prepared again to catch a train to the capital city. Before leaving Florence, we all stood, held hands, and prepared our hearts.
We prayed for God to speak to us as we entered this city of high spiritual significance. We remembered the Christians who had died here, Paul who had endeavored to go despite the waiting persecution, the Catacombs, the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity.
When we arrived in Rome later that day, Daddy and I only had enough stamina to venture out to look for a few groceries and a converter for our phones. Mama stayed behind and took a nap. When we came back to the hotel, we snacked on olives, chips, chocolate and nuts, then Mama and I found a “Stretching for Seniors” segment on youtube.com and worked out our sore muscles. Daddy lay back on the bed, telling us about his feats of wood chopping and “natural exercise”—which meant he didn’t need to do our “inferior” stretch routine.
We walked around the block to a cute restaurant called Florian’s. Inside there was a dessert shop filled with chocolates and pastries, then a quiet salon with white table linens and clear, elegant chairs. We ordered salmon, lasagna, and a creamy pasta dish filled with bacon, peas, and mushrooms. Afterwards, we headed home in the cool, Roman air, thinking about our last day in Italy together.
Early the next morning we caught the Hop On/Hop off bus which took us to major points around the city. We
When the ancient Coliseum came into view, we all grew excited. It was one of the stops Daddy had specifically asked for. While he and Mama went in to look around, I stayed outside and flirted with some Roman guards who came by.
Lastly, we took a hectic taxi ride across town to the Catacombs. Down under, we learned that this was an ancient Christian burial ground. Christians came down occasionally to worship, but apparently hadn’t done too much hiding out there as we had been taught. Most of the tombs had been busted out by robbers looking for marble or valuables. The guide explained the meanings of the sign of the fish, the hopeful artwork pointing to an afterlife that had the last say over temporary death, and the reverence of those who were left behind to honor the dead.
Sobered, we returned to the surface of the earth and walked out of the Catacombs, catching a bus back to our hotel.
Chapter VII: Alpha and Omega
Mama all but hobbled as our trip came to a close–she had done the entire tour in house shoes because the sneakers she had brought were actually too small for her. Despite this, she still managed to pass out one more tract to a guy on the bus. She had been doing this the whole trip, making connections with those around her to extend the gospel to them. In between our wonderful excursions, we had passed crouching beggars, immigrants having a hard time, and argued (at least I did) with people trying to get over on us. As I completed this time with my parents, I was aware that though my siblings and I had been excited for them to have a pleasure trip, they had never drawn the line between pleasure and kingdom work. They were always ready, in season and out, to take the gospel to the world.
After I waved goodbye to them that drizzly Wednesday morning as they rode away in a taxi, heading to Fumicino Airport, I went back to the hotel room and collapsed, then cried a little. I reflected on my time with my parents. From my father’s sermon and testimony on the bus in Tuscany to my mother’s dogged persistence to find someone who could read the tracts she’d brought in two languages, they wanted to spread Christ’s love to Italy. And so, God humbled me, and reminded me that I was supposed to have the same fervor, the same heart of love, the same resistance to being weary of sharing His light in dark places.
This had not just been a trip of physical bodies crossing oceans and territories on planes, trains, automobiles, and boats. This trip had been a spiritual one, where we returned to the past to encourage ourselves onward. It was our reminder to be good Christian soldiers, to heed the call to share God’s love at all times, in all places, to all people, for all time.