Milan Monday: Wrap-up!

You can read all of my Milan Monday posts here.

It’s officially been five weeks since I left for Italy and three weeks since I came back. I just realized I never gave a blog update on how the trip actually went! Many of you readers are probably in my “Lindsay in Milan” Facebook group (You can request to join and read back on what I wrote if you want.), in which I gave little daily digests of the two weeks, but here’s a summary of the high points of what happened/what I learned for those who weren’t there.

Our team: Megan, Greg, Stacy, Julie, me, Lindsey, Cherise, Karla, and Jordan

A Typical Day
8 a.m. – Wake up
8 – 9 a.m. – Quiet Time
9 – 9:30 a.m. – Get ready
9:30 – 10 a.m. – Breakfast
10 a.m. – noon – Team meeting/worship/teaching/sharing/praying
12:30 – 2 p.m. – Lunch on the university campus with the team and/or students
2:30 – 4 p.m. –  English club planning
4:30 – 7:30 p.m. – English clubs
8 – 10:30 –  Dinner with the team and/or students
10:30 – ? – Gelato, caffe, lemoncello, etc. w/ the team (on in my case many nights, time to go back to the hotel!)

The University of Milan-Bicocca campus

Milan has SO MUCH graffiti everywhere.

Fun times in English clubs!

This was the perfect way to kick off my summer.
After the semester from hell, this Italy trip was just what I needed to get out of College Station, heal up some wounds in my heart, get back on track with spending time with the Lord, and rejuvenate my relationship with him.  Honestly I was a little scared to go on a trip like this right after that semester, but the Lord really blessed my experience even though I didn’t spend as much time as I wanted to preparing mentally and spiritually. This set a good foundation for my summer which has carried out into Oregon. This summer is exactly what I’ve needed. That being said…

Obviously this wasn’t a vacation.
I knew that going in, and most supporters knew that, too, but even so, I was more tired than I thought I was going to be on the trip. We only had one day to see Milan. All the other days we spent doing the schedule above. Basically I was around and talking to people from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. at least. For a introvert (who rides the extrovert line…), this was exhausting for me. That’s how I earned the nickname “Nonna” (Italian for “grandma”). Most nights instead of going out for gelato, I would lead the Nonna Club (Jordan, Cherise, me, and sometimes Lindsey/Greg depending on the night) back to the hotel for some down time. It was definitely good for me to realize how much I need just a smidgen of time for myself to really function well when I’m around people all day. Something to keep in mind for future trips and even work conferences, thinking back to my first national NODA conference in October.

Checking out the Milan city center and the Duomo on our last full day in Italy.

This trip was tiring as Jordan and Greg demonstrate.

We went on an excursion to Lake Como over the weekend.

My life has never been so scheduled around food.
It was so weird to eat three square meals a day. I’m not saying I don’t eat normally… I just don’t eat like we did in Italy. Normally in grad school, eating goes something like this:

Breakfast: hot chocolate I sip while getting ready and a granola bar at my desk at work or in the car on the way to campus.
Lunch: Greek yogurt, applesauce, cheese, fruit, celery and peanut butter, etc. at my desk at work
Dinner: Whatever I could make quickly when I finally got home from work/class (eggs, cereal, oatmeal, pasta, etc.) or whatever I grabbed on the way home. Or leftovers from eating out.

My typical Italian breakfast

So to go from that to a large, sit-down meals at restaurants for every meal was strange. I felt like I spent so much time just eating, but that was okay because it also meant great conversations with our team and out student friends.

Mmmm gnocchi. I miss it so much.

I didn’t realize I was going to make friends on this trip.
I mean, I knew we’d be meeting students and hanging out with them, but going into the trip, I didn’t expect to be long-term friends with the Italian students. I couldn’t believe how quickly we formed friendships with the students in just two weeks! Having technological luxuries like Facebook have been awesome for keeping in touch with several of the students I got closer to over the trip.

Some of the team and our student friends in Bellagio on Lake Como.

My sweet Filipino friend Rachelle!

Swapping shirts with Setfano, the most stereotypical Italian person I met

One of my sweet Italian friends, Monica.

Seeing the progress God has made in my life in the past two years is mind-blowing.
When I look back to where I was two years ago at Colorado LT, I want to cry out in joy and tell everyone about what God has done in my life increasing my leadership and faith. Learning how to share the gospel at LT was so frightening for me. I was so scared to tell people about Christ. But since then, God has given me so many opportunities to practice and share, and now it’s become so much easier. Praise God for his increased presence in my life.  I felt really comfortable sharing with the students I encountered in Italy, and I hope to have more chances with people in the future.

I have no idea if I’ll go back next year.
So as it turns out, this time next year, I have no idea where I will be. Fun times. Graduation in in just 11 months, and hopefully by the 2013 Italy trip, I will have a job, but who knows. At this point I don’t even know where I want to go. It’s all up in the air. That’s one reason I’m not sure I’ll be going back, but it’s not a super great one considering you have to commit to the trip in January. Besides the whole uncertain future thing, I just don’t know if I’m called back to Italy. I loved the trip this year, and I think it was a really great experience for me, but I didn’t leave feeling strongly towards coming back or not going back. I’ll definitely be praying about what God has in store for me missions-wise in the upcoming year.

Answered Prayers
-Leading worship was a good experience for me, and I really enjoyed being able to share that gift with my team.
-Team unity formed really well once we got to Italy, even though 3 of our team members weren’t with us in College Station before the trip. I truly love each of my team members and am excited to keep up the friendships I built there.
-We saw one student give her life to Christ!
-We saw many other students come closer to knowing the Lord, and know God’s after them. 🙂
-All our traveling was safe, and for the most part, all our luggage showed up when it was supposed to!

My married buddies and Nonna Club members, Jordan and Cherise at the city Center.

My roomie, advanced class co-team-member and new friend Lindsey!

Final Requests
-For the student who accepted Christ to starting building that new Christian foundation and that she be patient to see transformation in her life.
-The missionaries who hosted us are in the states this summer raising support. Pray their trip is fruitful!
-Pray for more believers to rise up in the church in Milan to help the missionaries disciple new believers.
-Pray for our friends who are students and who are still in school! Blech. Many still have big exams coming up.
-Pray for the students who don’t know Christ yet that their hearts are continuing to be softened by the Lord.

This has been somewhat of a little bit of word vomit as I try to process everything that happened in Italy! If you want to know more, please don’t hesitate to ask me! I’d love to share more specific stories from the trip. (I’ve got some funny ones!) Again, if you want to read my daily digests of the trip, request to join my Facebook group, or if you want a end-of-trip prayer letter, I’ll be sending those out before the end of the summer. Just send me your address or email address.

For now, this is the last Milan Monday post, but if who knows… maybe I’ll go back next year!

Check out more photos from the trip here!

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