This summer was probably the busiest season we’ve maybe ever had, but it was full of blessings and opportunities that we never could have imagined. When we first moved to Rome, we noticed a park in the neighborhood that was super run down. Over the years, the park became even more neglected with overgrown plants and grass, glass and trash always all over, and graffiti on most everything. We would occasionally take the kids there, but like other parents, were so sad to see this space being more or less abandoned. Nearly 3 years ago, God placed the desire in our hearts to see this space being used for a meal bringing people together. Honestly, it was just a dream. Then, God sent a church from Oklahoma who wanted to help us and our local Italian church with the project!
It “just so happened” that we also were blessed to have 2 amazing interns working with us for 6 weeks as well as several other interns working in the city who were willing to come and help us all during the week of our community service project. We wanted to see the park transformed—and that is what this team did! We cannot say enough about how hard these people worked…and in the heat of the Roman sun! They cleaned up trash and glass, weeded, mowed, trimmed branches, repaired benches, painted—honestly, they did it all, anything and everything—and with the most joyful hearts!
At the end of the week, we had a clean park that had a mural depicting the story found in the Bible from creation to Christ. We had a space where families would start gathering more often and where we could host all kinds of other events the rest of the summer. All week long, people were very curious about the project and would stop by to ask questions. They would ask, “…but why are you doing this if no one is paying you?” Why? Because we have been changed by the love of Christ and want to share that love with others! You can check out an article we were interviewed for here. When people would stop to talk, we would invite them to the big community festa we were hosting the end of the week.
This festa—American style BBQ—was a blast! We served over 200 hot dogs, hamburgers, and ribs along with classic potato salad, watermelon, chips, soda, and brownies that evening. The team was also a very talented music group and performed a concert in the park while everyone was eating. It was truly an unforgettable night as the entire surrounding community came together to fellowship.
This idea that was once only a dream—a “what if” became something that actually happened. Thank you to everyone who had a part in serving this community!!!