Monday, March 26, 2012

Piano, piano. We understand Italian better at church, movie, family visit

UFO sighting: Claudio catches the Aerobe.
Sunday, March 25
Counting the three months we were here last year, we have now spent almost five months in Italy. Our progress in learning Italian moves along slowly, but this weekend we notice some advancement. At one time, I could speak more Italian than I could understand; this is because I had done most of my study in books and had little opportunity to hear rapidly spoken Italian. Now that is reversed. I can understand more than I can speak. We can sense that we have improved. Piano, piano, Italian for slowly, slowly.

Last night we went to the movie John Carter in Montecatini and found that we understood everything that was going on. Not every word or sentence—not by a long shot—but every plot development and the gist of every conversation. Granted, it was primarily an action and adventure movie with a predictable love story, but we still consider this a milestone. Usually there are two or three places in a movie where Lucy and I look at each other and ask, “What just happened? Did you understand that?”

Today we decide to go back to the Valdesian church in Lucca that we attended last year. We are welcomed back by five or six people who remember us from last year, including the pastor, Domenico, and his wife, Iole. It is nice to be back in a familiar church, where everyone joins in singing from the hymnal and follows along in their Bibles during the sermon. Our first time here in February of 2011, I felt I understood about 30 percent of the sermon, and about 36 percent the last Sunday we attended in late April. Today I think I am up to around 45 percent, maybe even a little higher. It helps that we are able to read the Bible text in English, so sometimes I am able to anticipate what the pastor is going to say.

Another good catch by David.
Back in our apartment after church, we receive a delightful surprise visit from my third cousin Claudio and his son David, who ride up on their bikes around 3 p.m. We munch on dolce, both American and Italian, and talk about our families and our plans for the future. For the third time this weekend, we notice that our understanding has improved. Of course, there are still many feelings we can’t express, but we feel relaxed and content, because it is for times like this that we have come here—to be able to reconnect with the Italian side of my family and my past. We give David an Aerobe (kind of like a Frisbee) and the four of us play catch for about 10 minutes before they have to go. It is a great way to cap off a nearly perfect weekend. 
Claudio e Santo David.

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