Travel Diary - Frankfurt to Florence
November 14, 2022
I’m sitting here at Florence airport after having to rebook a flight to London, thanks to a British Airways cancellation! Thankfully I was able to book with Lufthansa through Frankfurt 2.5 hours after original flight was booked. It’s been another full week of meetings, firstly in Frankfurt (the YFC Germany centre in Muhltal to be exact), at the YFC Western European Leaders gathering and then here in Florence with the launch of WakeUp Deborah Italy.
It was an amazing blessing to spend two and a half days with YFC leaders from France, Portugal, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and via zoom with Austria. I was able to meet leaders for the first time, and some, the second time. It was a time of hearing about the ministries in each of these nations, the challenges as well as the great things that are happening. It was a time of encouragement as we had input from the member care team of EMENA (Europe, Middle East and North Africa). It was a time of prayer and fellowship as we shared one another’s burdens.
I was able to have two nights extra at the YFC base in Germany and got to know some of their staff a little and have a day of complete rest, which was wonderful. The base is right next to a beautiful forest area so it was refreshing to go for walks through the autumnal trees. I departed for Florence on Friday morning and waited at the airport for a couple of hours until Saskia, the leader of WakeUp Deborah in EMENA, arrived from the Netherlands. We were met at the airport by Liz Thompson, the WakeUp Deborah Italy coordinator and long time YFC worker here. She is American, but grew up in Italy as the daughter of missionaries and is now married to an Italian and has 3 beautiful children. They live about 30 minutes outside of Florence in the lovely town of Montespertoli. They have a view of a vineyard and the rolling hills of Tuscany! We stayed with friends of theirs in the nearby town of Empoli. Massimo and Lidia have three boys, a set of 12 year old twins and a 7 year old. They made us feel very welcome in their home and the first night we gathered altogether with Liz’s family for authentic Italian pizza.
On the Saturday was the launch of WakeUp Deborah, held in a church in Florence. Around 25 ladies gathered to hear from the YFC Italy director, Ester, and a local author who shared what teenagers need to thrive. Then Saskia shared how to implement WakeUp Deborah in a local church. There was a time for discussion and questions and I had the privilege of praying at the end. Saskia, Ester, Aurora (an intern), Liz, her husband Paolo and one of her children, Sofia, and I then headed out for dinner at an American restaurant close by.
Sunday morning saw us gathering with Lidia and Massimo’s local evangelical church. Massimo is on staff there and it happens to have Brethren roots (the denomination I grew up in). Apparently the Brethren were one of the first evangelical churches to make inroads into Italy. Liz then took Saskia and I into Florence for an afternoon out. After lunch at an Italian restaurant, we roamed the streets to see the Duomo (an amazingly ornate cathedral made of marble), the Ponta Veccio (the famous bridge with jewellery shops), and the many leather merchants. I bought a ‘L’ stamp from the famous paper store, Il Papiro, as a small souvenir. I had been to Florence many years ago and it was nice to return for a ministry trip rather than just as a tourist.
Now it’s back to London for two nights, a catch up with an old school friend, then homeward bound on Wednesday morning! I’m looking forward to having a good rest when I return.
November 20, 2022
I arrived back in London on the Monday night at around 6.30pm after a very efficient 15 minute trip on the Heathrow Express train to Paddington station, then a short taxi ride in one of the modern ‘black taxis’ to my accommodation in Little Venice. It felt like returning to a home away from home with a home cooked meal waiting for me upon arrival.
After repacking on the Tuesday morning, I was off to meet my old school chum, Trent, who’s lived in the UK since 2004. We caught the underground from Paddington to the Borough market where we perused the luxurious food stalls, including the biggest Paella pan I’ve ever seen, and sat down for a piece of baklava and tea from the Turkish Deli. He then treated me to a delicious lunch at the Hutong Chinese restaurant, located in the top of the Shard, London’s tallest building. The rain and clouds eventually cleared so we could have a lovely view of London Town while chowing down on some award winning food.
Next stop was Bond St station so we could see the Christmas lights in Regent and Oxford Streets. This is a famous shopping district that contains the first department store, Selfridges (you may remember the TV series that was made about it) and Liberty, a department store built in the Tudor style. Liberty had an amazing collection of Christmas decorations and, in the children’s section, a scaled model of the store itself made from lego. Regent St ends up in Piccadilly Circus and the West End where all the theatres are. It was fun to soak up some of London before flying out Wednesday morning and the twelve and a half hour flight to Singapore then six and a half hour flight to Melbourne. I walked in the door at about 10.30pm Thursday night and am grateful to be able to sleep in my own bed again. For the time being at least!
It’s been a wonderfully fruitful, adventurous time. I’ve met so many wonderful colleagues along the way, made new friends and caught up with old. I’ve seen some ancient sites and majestic scenery. I’ve ministered to many as well as been ministered to. Most of all, through it all, I’ve experienced the presence of my faithful Father who gave me many surprises along the way. I’m so grateful for all those who have supported me along the way. If you are one of those, thank you.
This is Lyndal J Walker, signing off until next time.