Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Power in the Blood

I apologize to all who have been looking at my blog and turning away disappointed because I haven't updated it in two weeks!!! I promise I'm going to update on all my wonderful adventures and get you all caught up asap.

I just got back from a 4 day trip to Madrid, Spain. It was quite an incredible experience! I'll get into more detail later, but one of my favorite parts of the trip was walking through the Prado Museum of Art and seeing all the famous Velazquez, Goya (my favorite), and Picasso paintings. One thing that really touched me was how many paintings in that museum were of Jesus Christ being sacrificed on the cross. I used to disregard a lot of those paintings, just because I felt there was so much religiosity and money motivating them. But this time, standing two feet in front of Velazquez's "Christ on the Cross", I was so moved almost to the point of tears. My heart filled with so much thanks and praise that as He hung on that cross, He was thinking of me. And immediately I started praying for my friends here to believe that this painting indeed was real, and that Christ DID die for them, and that He hung on that cross until everything was finished. Whether or not Velazquez was a true believer, the Lord really spoke to me through that painting which was definitely an experience I've never had before. So fresh, so profound. 

I was working in the studio this afternoon and this song came on my itunes, and I wanted to share it with this experience that I had. I love Fernando Ortega, and he does this song so well. 
"Christ on the Cross" painted by Diego Velazquez

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


It's been about a week and a half now since I've been in Florence and I'm still trying to come down to reality... But it's beginning to feel like home :)

I've been having problems with my computer, and it took a while to get our internet keys working at our apartment. So it's been impossible to do any blogging whatsoever. But no worries! I've been faithful to my journal and decided I might as well type up some of the entries. Lets just say EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. of these past 10 or so days has been filled with adventure. I have soooo many stories to tell it's overwhelming! But I'll do my best to share all the moments just the way I experienced them. I've also been updating my family with a lot, too, so some of my "catch-up" posts might be excerpts from those emails.

First things first. The trans-Atlantic journey. 

Last Monday was the first time I had ever flown over an ocean, let alone across the borders of the United States. BIG DEAL. My parents dropped me off around 10am at Cleveland Hopkins...that was a lot harder than I thought. I think all of us were fighting tears. They watched me go through security, and once at the end, I waved goodbye one last time before turning a corner and realizing that was the last time I would see them for almost four months.

Suddenly I felt so lonely, and a little scared/nervous having to fly to JFK by myself (never having flown alone before). I found the gate and sat down, finally letting the tears flow after such an emotional goodbye to my parents.

All went smoothly getting to JFK and finding the rest of our travel group. JFK is seriously the biggest airport EVER. There are EIGHT terminal buildings, all separate from each other, and if it wasn't for this super nice man who showed me how to get on the train between the terminals, I would've been utterly lost. I felt SO covered by prayer. There's no way everything could've gone so perfectly smooth except that I was in the Lord's hands.

Once I found my groupflight escort, things went perfectly fine, well....to a certain extent.

The Italian workers decided to go on strike the day we were meant to arrive in Florence. Basically, they screwed up our entire flight itinerary, and I ended up traveling for almost 2 days straight! We flew from:
JFK in NYC to Munich, Germany
Waited out our layover for 8 hours.
Flew from Munich to Nice, France over the Alps.
Waited in Nice for 2 hours.
Piled onto a bus and drove 6 hours south to Florence.

We finally arrived at El Hotel Mediterraneo around 2:30am, and had to get up super early for orientation that same morning. BOY was I exhausted.

Here's an excerpt from the email I sent my family once I arrived. You'll get a better picture how those 2 travel-days went. I'll update with day #2 of "Hannah in Florence" as soon as I can!

"When I last talked with you, everything had gone exceptionally and sovereignly smootly getting me to JFK sweet and sound. I ran into two of my architecture friends, Andrew and Pat. Other than that, all the other students on our flights I didn't know. The trans-atlantic flight was quite nice. All our flight attendants were beautiful French women, so I felt very cared for and safe. I struggled with some motion sickness on that flight (I didn't actually get sick though I felt like it at one point), but I think the main reason was because I had nothing in my stomach since breakfast. When I was in JFK I thought the food court was accessed AFTER security, but obviously I found out the dumb way. I grabbed a thing of trail mix and chex mix, but not having eaten anything since breakfast (it was around 4:00), my body was definitely feeling it. They did serve a meal on the plane, but I couldn't handle it. I think I was at the point of food depravation that I had not appetite at all.

The best part of the flight was I happened to sit across the aisle from a young woman (25 yrs) heading back to Israel. Her name was Ruth, and she was completely deaf! We ended up writing notes back and forth for a couple of hours. I can tell you more about our conversations, but I think it was something from the Lord. She told me she was visitng her older brother in NYC for 1 month who is also deaf (genetic trait), and now she was heading back home. So that was hard on her. Also her flights got all messed up/cancelled, and she begged one of the men at the counter to help her get a new flight set up, and he happened to find that one seat on the plane next to me. She told me her day had been absolutely awful until being able to talk to me, so that was really encouraing to me :) She's going to find me on facebook and I'd really like to keep in touch with her. We had some pretty awesome conversations via passing notes.

I was able to sleep for only an hour or so, and then we landed in Munich. Flying into Germany right after the sun had come up over the horizon was absolutely breathtaking. There were little clusters of houses surrounded by hills upon hills of perfectly plotted farm lands of all different shades of greens and browns. The early morning sun contrasted the land with the most perfect shadows I had ever seen, and the angle of the light made the soft covering of mist sparkle. It was truly amazing. I wasn't able to take a picture or anything because I didn't have the window seat, but the image will forever be with me :)

So once in Munich, I think our layover was about 8 hours. I grabbed a sandwich and forced myself to eat something a little substantial. It helped me feel a bit better. My head was really hurting between not eating and not sleeping. So Pat, Andrew and I found our gate and sprawled out across the chairs and managed to get some broken sleep here and there. It was really cool because the airport there had these awesome espresso machines where you could make baby cups of espresso/coffee/lattes for FREE! I had a few, but with not much in my stomach, I didn't want to overdue it.

We flew from Munich to Nice, France and arrived around 5:15. There was supposed to be a bus there for us, but no one could find it anywhere. Apparently the women escorts coming on the buses had found out THAT morning they needed to come get us. We waited maybe 45 minutes or so til they finally arrived. However, they informed us there was another flight of 60 or so students coming in around 6:30, so we ended up waiting evern longer in the airport (some more of my architecture guy-friends were on that flight). We didn't actually leave Nice until 7:00pm, and the bus ride was at least 5 hours. I ended up getting a seat to myself on the bus which was really nice because I had so many little bags and my camera. Because we ended up leaving Nice so late, there was only a short period of daylight. We literally drove along the coast of France and then down along the northeastern coast of Italy. It was really beautiful, but once the sun went down and I couldn't take many pictures (the windows were reflecting a lot too :/) I fell asleep. It was so much easier to sleep on the bus! We stopped around 9:00pm at a rest stop to order Paninis. I felt SO BAD for the Italian women working that little panini shop. So many of us barely stoke any Italian, and I think they were overwhelmed with 80 students suddenly asking for paninis. That helped me feel better considering I had barely eaten much at all the past few days. I DID make sure I was drinking a lot of water. The bus ride ended up taking way longer than it should have. I'm not sure why....if it was traffic or they had to go a different way. I was able to sleep most of the time.

Once we all got to the hotel, we unloaded our luggage and figured out rooms. Because all my friends had been guys, I had no one to easily choose a room with, so I decided I'd wait until everyone chose rooms and than tell them I'd be a filler (to fill up a quad or triple or whatever). It turned out that all the rooms were full, so they gave me a quad all to myself tonight! I thought I'd be all alone, but it just so happened that my friend Amber had to stay in my room tonight because of confusion or a double booking. It's okay though, I was feeling homesick and lonely, so it was nice to have a friend with me..."