The second day of our outreach was dedicated to worship, the Arts Gathering and seeing a bit more of Rome. We started the morning with a light breakfast from the bakery (poor Chris had to hunt for one that was open that early!), then moved downstairs for a deep time of worship and the first two sessions of the gathering. The first one was on the declarative power of the arts and the importance of being centered in/with God in the things we declare/pursue and the second was on the foundations of artistic communities, how it is crucial to watch over and cover our fellow team members and members of Christ, how we need to be unified both as a team/body and in vision, and the importance of blessing each other, both in the general sense, to preserve unity/relations and in being mindful of our own spiritual states. Personally, I found both of them really powerful, both in reminding me of the power/responsibility we have as artists (both are massive, by the way) and in reminding me of the types of things I want to see, foster or am accountable to/for in the various communities I’m a part of, arts-related or otherwise.
When the sessions and worship were finished, we heard testimonies from some of the other artists about what they were doing in their ministries. We had people from YWAM bases with various schools/programs, schools and gatherings outside of YWAM, individuals and even local ministries share what they were doing.
After the sessions, testimonies and pizza for lunch, we set out as a collective group to see more of the city itself. Andrea (the leader of the YWAM base in Casorate, Italy), Chris and Sarah (a staff person for YWAM London Radiant originally from Italy) led us to some of the more important historical, political, and societal sites in Rome, including the Pantheon, the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain (the Lizzie Mcguire movie fountain), the Altare Della Patria, a castle and the Vatican, all within about three and a half hours. We also got more gelato (chocolate, coconut and something else I don’t remember, possibly tiramisu this time) near the fountain, because obviously that’s just what you do in Italy. The weather was beautiful too, narrow cobbled streets opening up to reveal broad sun-filled plazas or political monuments at the turn of a corner.
When we were finished with sight-seeing and prayer-walking for the day, we headed back to the church, where the local congregation was having a party to celebrate all of their October birthdays. Despite our rather large numbers, they welcomed us with open arms. I remember being so floored by their generosity. I’m still touched to think of it. Imagine having a potluck at your church and suddenly adding 50 people to your numbers (most of whom don’t even speak your language) without even batting an eye. They were so kind, hospitable and generous to us, serving food to each of us plate by plate, constantly offering us more food or water, and cleaning up everything on their own. I felt so honored and loved by these people, and I couldn’t even carry a conversation with them! I believe this is a God-given generosity and hospitality we were blessed with time and time again during our stay, a special gift that I think is particular to Italians.
After the party, we cleaned up the rest of the room to set up our sleeping stuff and settled in for the evening. Some of the staff went out to explore or enjoy a few drinks, and Gabby and I spent the rest of our energy (or at least the rest of mine) playing Crazy 8’s in the church’s four story stairwell.
All in all, it was a powerful, beautiful and fun, memory-filled day.