Guitars, English Lessons, and Tomatoes

Letter from Jan 23, 2008

Hello again, one and (apparently) all! Come Va? Avete andato bene per voi? Spero questo è vero. So, ciao from the land of the Pope and the Wine, where the food is sublime. Seriously. The food here is amazing. Last Sunday I had the best lasagna I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. (no offense, mom…) Golly. Then came the meat, and salad, and dessert. The food here is so good. But then, and I knew it was bound to happen eventually, the tomatoes. So we’re doing a family home evening with the Manzo’s. All is going well. Then the food comes out. A whole plate. Of tomatoes. yeah, there’s also mozzarella and bread to go with them, but UGGGGGH!!!! I’ve been slowly getting used to them. SLOWLY! Line upon gross line, a foul tasting precept upon precept. Here a little, there a little more if I’m feeling brave. But then there’s this whole plate plopped down in front of me, filled with tomatoes. and the juice is all seeping in to the olive oil. I can’t NOT eat them. What’s a poor boy to do? So. mustering all the strength of will and constitution I possessed, I took the first bite. I tried to dampen the odious (yes, odious) taste that was filling my mouth with bread. The putrescence nearly gagged me a couple of times. Man alive! But, slowly (and I mean, SLOWLY) but surely, they one by one disappeared into the unwilling pit of my stomach. Being able to discuss this matter with my companion in English, I said “these are awful.” To which he replied “Really? I love them” At once an idea popped into my head. HE could eat them. But then, how could we pull this off without them knowing that I didn’t like the food they prepared. (Saying this to an Italian would be like saying “I think your only child should be shot, burned and buried so that no one would ever again have to look upon the foul creature…is next Tuesday good for you?” It would not go over well.) In the end, we deemed it impossible to accomplish, and I did in fact eat ALL of the tomatoes. Sorella Manzo commented on my slow eating, but was none the wiser as to my abhorrence of this particular food product. Mission accomplished.

So today, being P-day, we arranged with the other Districts to have a Zone vs Zone soccer game in Bari. The Bari zone (which is me) against the Taranto zone (not me). Taranto kicked our butts up and down the field. I think the final score was like 5 or 6 to 2. Ouch. But it was fun all the same.

We also teach an English course for free. I teach the advanced course, which is people who are close to fluent. Most of the time I know enough Italian, or they know enough English to answer all the questions. Fun stuff. We also volunteer at a nunnery, or monastery perhaps…maybe it’s just a church…either way, we prepare and serve food for the homeless and needy in our area. It’s a good chance to practice our language, since we’re not allowed to proselyte in church buildings, other than our own, of course. One of the workers found out from my companion that I’m a musician, and that I play the banjo. We talked a bit about how to play (he doesn’t know how yet, but he’s got one, and he can’t find a book here in Foggia) major and minor chords. Tomorrow he’s bringing it, so I can play the banjo for all of the workers. I hope I don’t screw up. When I got to play Anziano Mario’s guitar, the first barchord I went for I MISSED. how. embarrassing. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t touch a guitar for two months. After that, I played “Mood For a Day” by Steve Howe From the Yes album FRAGILE. He was blown away. Then I played the classical piece that I wrote, and he was really blown away. “My guitar has never heard such music” he said, in English, with his deeeeeep voice, and cool Italian accent. We’re pretty good friends now.

Ok, So the pictures I uploaded are only about a third of the ones that I have. My camera keeps wierding out for some reason. not sure why. But anywho, I’ll get them all uploaded eventually, and maybe even named.

Well, alas, I don’t have as much time as I’d like today. We’ve got to go talk to some guy in English. I haven’t met him yet, so we’ll see what comes of it. I am getting your snail mail letters mom. I actually got the physical letter before I read the email. crazy, huh?

Well, next week there will be more. I love you all. The Church is true. Yeah. more next week about everything. Stupid time. There’s never enough. Peace out.

Love, Anziano Jason Fullmer

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