The First Invasion

The First Invasion
My Homeland

Friday, September 4, 2009

August 15-17, 2009

Saturday August 15, 2009

So Janelle and her family are going to Abruzzo (Danny’s family) this weekend because Monday is a holiday. I don’t want to go with them, plus I wasn’t invited, so I get to spend a weekend alone in the Eternal city.

I made reservations at Hotel Matisse where I stayed on my first trip here with Janet. However, that location was to capacity so I had to stay at the one around the corner. That one has no air conditioning and no internet access, but its still close to everything.
Danny & Janelle dropped me off at the Acilia train station and they were off, as was I. When I got there and put my suitcase down I had to take another shower because I had been through Termini station. When I say DISGUSTING it doesn’t even tip how horrible that place is.
I rested and then got up and went walking. I made my way passed an interesting place called the corner of the four fountains.

On the walk to the Trevi Fountain, I had to pass the President’s palace an this is the view from the doorway there.
It’s very “Italian city view” to me. The Cathedral in the background is St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
Then, there are pictures of the President’s place.

SO I go down these very steep steps and into familiar places. I see familiar shops and then tons of people speaking English or whatever language they chose. And finally I got to see it in the daylight.

I cant decide if I like it more at night or during the day. You be the judge.
After that I needed to do some postcard shopping and try to find a souvenir for Alfreda. Once that search was done, it was lunch time. I decided to go to the restaurant that Janelle took me to on my first trip to Italy, L’Archetto. They serve lunch on Saturdays so it was quite nice to sit relax and enjoy.

After lunch I walked around the city and did some baby shopping for Emily & Donnie cause she popped out the baby, Lochlin Pierce. I got a couple of cute little outfits for their 2 boys and then it was dinner time. I went to this one restaurant cause the dude at the door was cute.
My entrée was Sicilian Lasagna and it was bleck!!!! So no picture of that, but dessert was Crème Brule and it was MAGNIFIQUE! So of course I took a picture of that.

I had never had it before. I will definitely have it again!
After that, I headed back to my room because I was tired. Tomorrow I have to make the trek to Acilia to go to the meeting.
I did according to plan and got back to the center just in time to go play on the internet, call Marlena, call Carisa, call Sherika, and go to dinner.
I went to the Byron Café on the corner cause they had a bar and were always busy, so I figured the food must be good. I was right.
I ordered an Amaretto Sour that was great. Instead of Sweet & Sour mix he used orange juice. Then I ordered some fresh minestrone soup, some beef tips in a cream sauce w/asparagus, 1 liter of water, apple pie & ice cream. I was so full!!!! The food was ssssoooooo good!!!!
Notice the FULL amaretto . . . Notice the EMPTY drink and same amt of water.
Hopefully when Marsha and those get here we can come back!
I stumbled walked back to my room, talked to Freda for minute and then went to sleep. I had a big day planned for Monday of going to the Rome Bethel Branch.

Buono Notte

Monday, Rome Bethel Visit

So I had gotten very good instructions on how to get to the branch. I even had a little map (that I left in my apt in Acilia). I did remember the words: via di Bufalotta and Bus No. 86 from Termini.

At Termini station I got on bus No. 86 and waited. Just before we were leaving 2 young ladies walked up and asked if it was the bus to via di Bufalotta. The driver said yes and they got on. Me being me, struck up a conversation.

“Are you going to via di Bufalotta?”
“Yes. ”
“I thought that’s what I heard you say? May I ask where you’re going?”
“We’re going to the Jehovah’s Witness branch office.”
“Oh so am I! What a coincidence. You know when y’all walked up to the door of the bus I said to myself you looked like you were witnesses.”
“That’s what a sister said to us yesterday on the bus. That’s a compliment.”
“I’m Erica and you are?”
“I’m Anita.” “And I’m Mckenzie.”
They were two sisters from Canada that had gone to the International Convention in Paris and come to Italy. They were also going to Greece leaving later on that afternoon.
Once at the branch we were in the same tour group. We exchanged information so I’ll be keeping in touch with them.

There is very little I can say about what I saw besides what you see in the pictures. I did see Marco Caproni a brother from my congregation, but he didn’t see me.
The pictures are in order of how I took them. If you have any questions about a certain one just email them to me.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Singing@ the Spanish Steps 2

August 9, 2009 - Sunday Evening

Sunday Evening

So after the convention, we (Janelle, Danny, & I), went to Piazza Spagna to be with the friends. Little did I know what I was in for. Janelle told me in the car that she was bringing her song book just in case there was singing like before.

When we reached the plaza, there were witnesses everywhere. It was like another convention. The first person we saw was Lidl girl. Who is Lidl girl? Ok.

So, when I first got here, me and Janet went shopping at the local shop – Lidl or for those back home Aldi. You gotta pay for bags and everything.

Well, the girl at the checkout said something to me in Italian and I looked at her confused and just gave her the money on the screen. She smiled and we left. Well, after that, whenever I was in Lidl I would get in her line because she knew I didn’t speak the language and was patient with me.
Danny told me that she was a witness, but I thought he thought I was talking about another girl.
Well, anywho, guess who the first person we saw was . . . Lidl Girl!!! Of course I grabbed her and hugged her and made her take a picture.

Then there was the singing. I didn’t take pictures of that I recorded stuff. So listen above. It was wonderful. There was a circle of young brothers in the middle of the crowd. They would hold up numbers with their fingers and everyone would flip in their books. Then they would count 1,2, 3 and the singing would begin a cappella. You can hear all the languages above: English, Italian, German, Albanian . . . it was beautiful.

The non-witnesses mingled in looked real confused. Then someone would explain and they would smile, stand, listen, and then leave.

What a witness that must have been. People from all over the world gathered in unity without months of planning, no translators, no security guards protecting one nationality from another.
The was a Lebanese brother there that said that the Preaching work is under ban there and they cant sing kingdom songs at the meetings. He said it was one thing to sing at the convention, but it was so much more to be able to Sing Praises to Jehovah on the public street with no threat of imprisonment. That makes me teary eyed. Ever since then I have been singing a little louder at the meetings. Poor people in front of me. :o)

I met 2 sisters there. One was Lori from Texas. She is an only child & so is her husband. We shared a songbook and talked. I told her about how much I missed my mom after being gone a month and she told me that’s why she lives in Texas to be close to hers.
Then there was Serena from Belgium. I don’t know what it was, but we started talking and there was like an instant connection. Of course she gave the invite for me to come and visit her when I can. It was wonderful.
Throughout the course of the evening I met lots of people and took lots of pictures. By the time we went home, I was tired and felt a little bit more fulfilled.

It was truly a joyous & wonderful experience and I am so glad I was allowed the opportunity.
I hope you enjoyed the District Convention Series. I have other experiences to share, just ask.
Next is my weekend alone in Rome and the visit to the Rome Bethel Banch.
A piu tarde!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday - Auugust 9, 2009

I followed more instructions from First Aid and instead of trying to sit in the seats with no leg room, I sat in the Elderly/Disabled section with one chair for my rear and the other for my feet. There were lots of people there with the same affliction so I didn’t feel as bad. My ankles looked a lot better as long as I kept them in the chair.
Before I could sit down in my chair a sister approached me to take a picture. I was really excited when I read her name tag & saw where she was from. Can you guess? Of Course its in the pictures so I won’t tell. I just thought it was fitting. She told me I could come and visit whenever I feel like it. I’m hoping for the spring of 2010.

There were a few technical difficulties in our section. The television was small and sometimes the sound would cut out. At one moment, the brothers worked very hard to get the sound back on. When it went out we were in the 1st talk of the symposium and when it came back on it was the end of the third. Everyone clapped loudly. Apparently, the applause frightened the television because it went out just as fast as it came in. In time it was repaired. Then they brought another tv to put in the middle because the section was larger than they had anticipated. Yeah for us! Check out the black bar in the middle of the screen. (see pics)

AM Attendance: 59,851 . . . 8369 (English) 470 (Japanese)
PM Attendance: 55,897
Baptized: 343

I saved up all my energy so that I would be able to walk around at lunch and search for Maurice & Aleece. I gobbled up my food in record time and Janelle & Family arrived when I was done.
We were off to meet delegates from other lands. That is exactly what we did! (see pics)


It was always hotter after lunch and this was no different. However, Jehovah is a loving God that always makes provisions. During the session the female attendants went through the section offering water to those that needed some. Isn’t that wonderful?
At the end of the session, I was sad. As we sang the last song I was boo hoo crying and not the cute lady cry. I had the ugly face on. I was praying: “Oh Jehovah what is wrong with me? Why can’t I stop crying?” Eventually I did stop just long enough to be moved to tears again by the applaus and singing after the prayer. Everyone seemed to just be standing around their seats.
I ventured up into the stands now because it didn’t matter if my ankles grew fat I wasn’t going anywhere but home. I wanted to see the crowds with my own eyes, but first pictures!

Once upstairs I was crying again. Tears of joy. What an honor to be a part of such an organization.

(See pics)
Sign they walked around the base of the stadium
This is the only pic that Wiggles didn’t pose for!
Nancy (holding the baby) was Janelle’s Maid-of-honor
Look at that cute lil baby!
Ola & Vita Gustavsen (Newlyweds)

After the clapping was done, I went back on my search for Maurice & Aleece. I went over to watch the “March of the Delegates” as they headed to their buses. I just knew for sure they would be there. However, I idnt see them. Yet, as I walked I saw a familiar face. Let me digress.

On Wednesday night just before this convention, I asked Alfreda about finding Samantha Jones. She lived with us in Decatur and we hadn’t talked to her in like 15 years. I figured she would be on Facebook somewhere, but there were over 500 “Samantha Jones” and I couldn’t search them all. So, I just gave up. I tell you that to say this.

The familiar face I saw was SAMANTHA JONES!!!! When we looked at each other we screamed and hugged and of course I cried. I told her the Facebook story and she said “Wow!” and I said “I KNOW!”
What are the odds? I haven’t seen or heard from Samantha in 15 yrs and I had just asked Freda about her. She gave me all of her contact information and I gave her mine and we are supposed to chat when I get back to the States. I wish you could have seen us hugging and crying. It was beautiful.

It did also reinforce my belief that we are on “The Erica Show” it has the same premise as “The Truman Show” with Jim Carey. If you don’t know ask me about it.

I had to start my journey back to Janelle & Danny so we could leave, but I made one more pass through “DelegateLand” for Maurice & Aleece. I never saw them, but look at these beautiful sings of love from the brothers and sisters that I did see. (in the pic slideshow)

“We will never forget you!”
“How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity. (Ps. 133:1)”
“See you in paradise. Greetings from you brothers in the Uppper Harlem Congregation”
“See You In Paradise”
“We thank Jehovah for you!”
“Christian Love from Your brothers in the USA”
“We Are A Big Family”

I ask you, please show me another religious organization where you find the following:
1) If you say I am your same religion you are embraced and exchange phone numbers and addresses.
2) You can take your songbook from your local congregation and fly 5 or 10,000 miles away, go to a convention, hear the song number, and be able to sing harmoniously with the crowd.
3) You can take your Sunday Meeting Bible Study Aid from your local congregation and fly 5 or 10,000 miles away, go to a convention, and be have the same magazine as the Albanian sitting beside you.
4) You go to a convention in your hometown & save your program. You go to an International Convention 5 or 10,000 miles away and the manuscript talks deliver the same information in your native tongue as well as the language of the country you are in.

How well, we as Jehovah’s people are cared for. We truly are a people no part of this world.

*Make a list of ones you want to meet in the resurrection and list the questions you want to ask.*