when the moon hits your eye

On a Saturday morning in Rome we cross the Tiber, and arrive at the church in Trastevere, Melissa, Nikki and I. I’ve not yet quite seen the beauty of a fall day in Italy and the un shines through the crisp clear air in this more quiet part of town. We’ve grown very fond of Trastevere. In part because it is hushed and peaceful and seems easier to breathe deeply and be on that side of the river, but also because some of us have grown rather fond of this ministry cooking lunch for 125 Afghani refugees. We pressed the buzzer by the green door of the church and Elizabeth let us inside. She is from the Netherlands and speaks 5 languages fluently in addition to three other languages imperfectly, and we assist her in preparing the meal.

The kitchen on the second floor flat is small and four souls can barely move around in the small space. We sauté onions in olive oil, mince garlic and ginger, drain yogurt and peel pumpkins that Elizabeth bought behind the train station that morning. I stand at the sink hacking at great green squashes, splitting them open to reveal rich orange centers overflowing with seeds inside. The window is open and I peek out my head and look down at the streets winding around the tall brick buildings. Men are setting up table and chairs, shaking out white linen and laying clothes on the tables outside the doors of their restaurants. Short and stout wine glasses are placed upside down in the center of each table and napkins folded in squares by each chair. It is still early in the morning, but soon people will be hungry. They will sit at the tables and eat their fill. The restaurant owners stand in the doorways of their shops watching and waiting. Prepared to cook up a feast.

“Why did no boys come with you today?” Elizabeth asks us while beans simmer and rice soaks on the stove.
“Two were tired.” We reply, “And one is in Paris for the weekend, the other is on duty.”
“ Tell them to come next week,” She says, “Tired is no excuse. If anyone should be tired it is me.”
She lives over an hour away from Rome and wakes up early to buy food at the market and cart it on the train all the way to Trastevere. Today the pumpkins were heavy. There were four of them. Enough to feed 125 hungry men.

After three hours of cooking, we pause, pray and walk down the street for espressos. I promised myself I would drink one while in Italy despite my hatred of coffee. The man behind the bar handes me a small white china cup on a saucer and watches me drink the shot of caffeine.
“Its very good,” I tell him, complimenting him on his espresso brewing skills. He smiled and thanked me, a grin of pride on his face.

When we returned more people had arrived. A woman and a man from Iran, a man from Afghanistan and another missionary. We considered them our reinforcements and after a time of prayer in Farsi, Italian and English, Melissa, Nikki and I took our leave. Last week we felt rather useless as women, when it came to actually distributing food, and therefore this week we merely helped as best we could in the preparation and left the “glamour” of evangelizing and feeding to the men.
But we didn’t mind.

We crossed the river and caught a bus back to the Convent and that night those of us students who were not in Paris for the weekend, went to the theater.

In dresses and heels, with flowers or feathers in our hair, we ate dinner on the edge of a piazza, the night lights reflecting off the wine in our goblets, feasting on pesto and gnocchi. When we were filled, we happily searched for gelato, filled ourselves even more and then sat down to watch a ballet version of the opera “Carmen”.

Professional dancers amaze me. And we left feeling cultured, and refined.
The moon was full as we walked past the Spanish steps and returned to Via Nomentana.
A full moon Saturday night.


  1. Aw, man, you make me really want to be there with you in Italy! Caleb's making gnocchi this week, and I shall think of you. :) <3 Em

  2. ooh! your husband can cook? *chuckles* Well that is convenient for you, my dear, since we both know your own cooking skills. *winks*


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