E-book: Pasta, pizza, and Pinocchio: Questions and answers about the Church of the Nazarene in Italy (part 8)

  Page:  << Prev    |   Introduction  |   1. The Leaning Tower, the Lira, and Women's Lib  |   2. Italian, Illegal Drugs, and Insulated Buildings  |   3. Fiats, Florence, and Furloughs  |   4. The Military, Missionaries, and the Mafia  |   5. Marco Polo and Ronald McDonald  |   6. The Cerratos, Alabaster Churches, and Work Crews   |   7. Communism, Catholicism, and the Charismatics  |   8. Sincerity, Self-support, and Sowing the Seed  |   9. Books, Broadcasting, and the Bible College  |   10. Culture Shock and Carpeting  |   11. A Word from My Heart  |   Next >> 

Missions in Italy

10. Culture shock and carpeting

In this electronic book (e-book), "Pasta, pizza and Pinocchio," Howard Culbertson answers questions he has been asked about missionary work in Italy. Originally published in 1980 for the Nazarene Missions International reading book series, this Nazarene Publishing House publication carried ISBN number 0-8341-0612-4. Some material has been updated for this e-book edition.

Why did they send you to Italy? Did you feel called to that country?
     No, we didn't feel that our call was to a specific country. In fact, none of the three couples now serving in Italy really felt a call to Italy.
     Our World Mission program leaders attempt to match up individual missionaries' gifts and skills with the requests that come in from field councils for additional missionaries. That is, they attempt to match people with the needs. As a result of that process, the Longs, Lovetts, and the Culbertsons landed in Italy.
I don't suppose there'd be much of a culture shock going to Italy, would there?
     You are right in thinking that American culture is related to the Italian one. But that doesn't mean that an American feels immediately at home in Italy. The language is different. Foods are different. Buildings and cities are different. Cars are different. The political system is different. Money is different.
     The way of thinking and communicating often differs. The Italian code of behavior is centered around a family-based social web. Rather than being success oriented, the Italians consider relationships to be the most important thing in life. Add all those things up. And they do happen to equal what Oberg called culture shock -- at least they did for us! [ more on culture shock ]
What are some Italian customs that would be different from those in the U.S.?
     Among good friends of the same sex, there is much more kissing and hugging. When you greet your friends at church, for example, you kiss them on both cheeks. Good friends are often seen strolling down the street arm in arm. This must, however, be rooted in deep personal friendship. The kind of immediate back-slapping buddiness put on by American men would be regarded by the Italians as effrontery, a shameless disregard of propriety.
     Meals are eaten on totally different schedules. The noon meal will be eaten around 1:30 while the evening meal may be served at 7:30 in northern Italy and as late as 11 p.m. in Sicily. When dining, you do not put your napkin in your lap. It should be left folded beside the plate. Until I learned this one, I had waiters bringing me napkins a couple of times during a meal. They thought they'd forgotten to give me one when it was really lying over my knee!
     Italians are sometimes thought of as being disorderly because they don't use nice, straight waiting lines as we do. However, what may look like a mob (or a horrible traffic jam) often has a very definitely understood order about it.
What do your kids do for schooling?
     We have started Matthew in the Italian public schools (Rachel hasn't yet started to school).
Aren't there American schools available?
     Yes, but some of those "American" schools could teach U.S. public schools a few things about drugs, immorality, humanism, and materialism. And they are quite costly as well.
Won't your kids have to take make-up subjects before they enter American colleges?
     Not necessarily. Thousands of foreign students enter the U.S. each year to study with no problems. We will, however, probably be tutoring them in English, American history, and such subjects if we continue their education in Italian public schools. This will make an easier transition for them into American schools during home assignment years as well as for entering college.
How do you decide what to do as a missionary?
     Once a year the complete missionary staff (all six of us!) gets together. We report on our individual ministries for that year. We evaluate where we are and what we have or haven't done. We attempt to sort out our priorities for the coming year. Theoretically, it's a team strategy effort.
     Normally, each missionary will be working in areas and on projects where his interests and abilities lie. It doesn't always work out ideally in practice, but that's the theory.
What did the Lovetts do?
     Russell and Donna Lovett moved to the Naples area in the summer of 1978. They worked in evangelism and church planting in that area and had charge of two already existing, but struggling, churches. Russell also took on the responsibility for pastoral training on the district in addition to interim responsibilities as mission treasurer and literature coordinator. He also worked as district NYI president.
Did you get a lot of American visitors?
     Yes, we did. Particularly whomever was living in Rome and we in Florence. Both of these cities are visited by almost every American tour group that comes to Italy. In our summers in Florence scarcely a week goes by that we don't see somebody from the U.S. With nearly 13 million tourists coming each year, tourism is one of Italy's biggest businesses.
Can you travel easily or are there restrictions on you as a foreigner?
     Italy is a western European nation which does not attempt to control the movements of people inside its borders. The only difference from the U.S. is that every hotel or motel does have to send a copy of its nightly register to the police. Therefore, when you register for a night's lodging you have to present identification such as a passport. [ getting a U.S. passport ]
     With our churches scattered all over the country, our responsibilities do make us travel quite a bit. We also get out of Italy at least once each year to church functions in northern Europe.
Have you seen much of Rome?
     We spent eight months in Rome in language study. While there we became the official Nazarene tour guide, relieving the Fullers of that responsibility. So we have seen Rome and seen it well. But we still enjoy going there. Where else -- asks a Rand McNally guidebook -- can one stand on a perfect 17th-century square, in front of an Egyptian obelisk plundered in the 1st century, while looking at the world's most famous church which was designed by Michaelangelo in the 16th century and built on the site of a 4th-century basilica?
Were you located very far from the other missionary families?
     Florence is three to four hours north of Rome where another Nazarene missionary family lived. Naples, where another family lived for awhile, is another three hours on south of Rome. The Long also lived in Sicily for awhile and that was 14 hours from Florence. So we were quite separated from each other. [ more on living in Rome ]
Do you missionaries get to see each other very often? Do you fellows get together on a regular basis?
     We men see each other more often than our families do. We're together maybe once a month, meeting with district boards and carrying out other responsibilities. Our families are all together perhaps three times a year at things like district assembly, military personnel retreat, and annual council meeting.
I heard somewhere that it costs $12,000 a year to keep a missionary family on the field? Is that what you make?
     That figure includes travel, medical care, housing, education for children where necessary, language study, and salary (which runs about $6,000 annually including cost-of-living allowances). Both husband and wife are under contract to the church and both are considered as missionaries with individual salaries.
Do all missionaries get paid the same?
     Theoretically they do. Our salary and benefits are set by the Nazarene General Board. That's the same for all missionaries. Then a cost-of-living allowance is added which varies from country to country and supposedly puts every missionary on the same standard of living. Career missionaries receive an additional annual increment after their fifth year of service. Single missionaries get 70 percent of the salary set for couples.
What was your home like in Italy? Did it have carpet and other luxuries?
     In our first term, we lived in the second story of the Florence church building. Built in 1952, it's a three-bedroom apartment with high ceilings and marble floors. (Wood is too expensive since it all has to be imported. Marble, on the other hand, is quarried out of the nearest mountain!)
     On one side of the church is a very small grassy area where the children can play. There is an outside concrete stairway leading down to that small yard.
     The Fullers and Longs lived in a similar arrangement in Rome while the Lovetts rented an apartment in Naples when they lived there.
If a young person feels called to missionary service, what should he do?
     The first thing would be to write the Department of World Mission in Kansas City. Tell them about your call and express an interest in knowing where to go from here. They will then suggest possible ways of preparing, kinds of experience to get, as well as some practical next steps to take. [ more on knowing God's will ]
In what other European countries are there Nazarene missionaries?
     We have Nazarene work in most European countries, including several where we do not have expatriate (or foreign) missionaries. Rather than listing all of those where there are Nazarene churches, it may be easier to name the European countries which we have not yet entered. We are not yet in Austria, Belgium, Sweden, or little Liechtenstein or tiny little Monaco. . . . [ continue reading ]

  Page:  << Prev    |   Introduction  |   1. The Leaning Tower, the Lira, and Women's Lib  |   2. Italian, Illegal Drugs, and Insulated Buildings  |   3. Fiats, Florence, and Furloughs  |   4. The Military, Missionaries, and the Mafia  |   5. Marco Polo and Ronald McDonald  |   6. The Cerratos, Alabaster Churches, and Work Crews   |   7. Communism, Catholicism, and the Charismatics  |   8. Sincerity, Self-support, and Sowing the Seed  |   9. Books, Broadcasting, and the Bible College  |   10. Culture Shock and Carpeting  |   11. A Word from My Heart  |   Next >> 


A word from my heart

Next chapterThanks to all of you who made our missionary ministry in Italy possible. . . . [ read more ]

SNU missions course materials and syllabi

Cultural Anthropology    Introduction to Missions    Linguistics    Missions Strategies    Modern Missionary Movement (History of Missions)    Nazarene Missions    Church Growth and Christian Missions    Theology of Missions    Traditional Religions    World Religions
 
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Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132  |  Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax: 405-491-6658
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