Time has a thing about going fast even when it isn't fun. In the past 7 months I gained a year in age, gained a few more college credits, worked a few thousand hours on countless projects dealing with tracking equipment, hazardous materials, tools, people, a bunch of programs for the shop I work in, started volunteering with the base chapel youth group (Club Beyond), and logged over 1200 miles on my bicycle. I still did not get out and see much of Italy beyond a 50 mile radius. Work and fatigue kept me close, and bicycle riding ever weekend had a way of keeping me close too.
The summer riding in Italy is like nothing else on this earth. You can go from the flat valley to the mountains and back again all day long and you will never get tired of the scenery. Every time I went out riding I saw at least one other crazy rider. I was only passed from behind by 10 or so riders during the past 6 months. On the other hand I caught and passed countless riders. I guess the competitive juices start flowing when I set my sights on a rider and try to catch up. If I am going up a steep climb it isn't too hard to keep my rhythm and overtake the rider. On the flats it's a little harder to switch gears and stomp on the pedals a little more. It is nice when you catch up because you can draft a little then whip out and pass them like they are standing still.
Work is work is work. If I tried to explain what I have learned it would be more confusing than anything. Lets just say it is stressful being responsible for $15 million worth of equipment. It isn't cool when one or two pieces disappear and can't be found anywhere on the base. Other things I get to deal with are tracking/ordering all the chemicals we deal with in the shop. I usually hand off the ordering/tracking to people who work for me, but I am ultimately responsible. A great deal of patience is needed to let other people do their job or mess up even when I make sure they know the correct way of doing the job. Messing up will hopefully teach a lesson.
Church has been a learning process. It took me almost a year to figure out the real reason why I am here in Italy. I needed to be isolated to allow Jesus to break me down and have Him be put back in total control of my life. Once I did that step things started happening. I found a chapel sponsored youth group that needed volunteers. I spent the month of August getting to know the kids on Tuesday and Thursday nights playing Ultimate Frisbee and other crazy games. When the school year started every Tuesday night we get together for about 2 hours of food, games, and a lesson taught by one of the volunteers. In early November I started taking a college math class that wouldn't allow me to volunteer Tuesday nights. It was a huge bummer to not be a kid one night a week. Math is done in a three weeks, so right before Christmas I will be back to being with the high school kids.
Well, I'm off for an adventure...an American Thanksgiving put on by some Italians in the town of Udine, about an hour from here. The Americans that are heading it up have a unique connection to me. They have nothing to do with military and everything to do with spreading Jesus' love. I have no idea what to expect.