Saturday, March 24, 2007


The Arch below is actually Constantine's Arch, my fingers were going faster than my brain.
Also, Piazza di Spagna is the correct Italian spelling for the Spanish Square.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rome Pictures

This is the Piazza di Spagna (the Spanish Square, most people call it the Spanish steps). I'm not exactly sure what that is at the top. Unfortunately, due to the fact that we only had a day there, we didn't look into a whole lot, but mostly hit the highlights.

Obviously, me on the Spanish steps.

This is the Rome McDonald's, supposedly the most unique, right there in the square.

This is the inside. Don't mind the horrid look on my face, someone didn't tell me he was putting me in the picture.

Saint Peter's Basilica. I took this one of the statues on top. I think they're close to lifesize, but I know they're huge!.

The statues close-up.

Saint Peter's Square - Vatican City

We saw this couple taking their wedding pictures at one of the fountains - no telling that they're native Italians (heavy sarcasm).

We found the Pope-mobile!!!

The Rodeo drive of Rome, where all of the designer shops are....

This is on one side....

This is on the other! (Story about this store to come later.)

If you have to ask....

The Trevi Fountain. We hit it at dusk, so the lighting wasn't great, but it was beautiful!

This is the view you get right out of the subway station. Smack! Right there in your face!

This is looking up at the Colosseum from the bottom. I'm not kidding, the thing is huge!

This is Constantine's Arch. It's right beside the Colloseum, and is amazing in itself! You gotta love the night pictures that Neal took, the lighting is so cool!

This is how they serve wine in Italy - decanted. We had dinner at this little cafe that was literally right across the street from the Colosseum! It was wonderful!

This is the cafe. This picture was taken right in front of the Colosseum, that's how close it is.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More about Kristen

For those of you interested, there is a lady that writes for a New Orleans newspaper (where Kristen is from) that wrote about her. The link to the article is listed below. It is the best way of describing Kris that anyone could've come close to attempting.


This is our new house, on the day we went to see it. The floor you enter on is the main floor, and it also has a daylight basement, as well as a lofted second story guest suite.

This is the basement area. There's a fireplace to the right of me in the picture. That's the dining area. In the forefront is the living area. What we are looking at, on the left, is the kitchen. Past the kitchen, further back on the left, is an office area. The door right in front of me leads to the downstairs bathroom, with stall shower, bath tub, and utility area.

This is my new play-place!!! Believe it or not, this is a huge kitchen for Italians. There is usually only a counter about the size/length of the one that the sink is in. And all that pantry space is usually not even there.

This is the view from the lofted guest suite. The house right across the street is still under construction, but we still have a pretty awesome view of the ocean from here. Neal and I considered taking this as our suite, but it would be an awkward area for us, and unfortunately, there is only a half bathroom up here. But it will make an awesome guest suite!

This is the view from the back of the house, looking to the right. Those mountains are actually way off in the distance. There are more to the left that are huge and you look right up into. You can see them a little bit in the next picture.

This is Janie's new garden area! Actually, the landlords told us we could do whatever we want to any of the landscaping, so this will be my other new playground. Nobody puts plants out here until mid- to late-April anyway, so I'll still be in good shape to put out some tomatoes and herbs, as well as lots and lots of flowers!
I'll post more pictures in the next couple of days. I have tons that we took in Rome, as well as some around Gaeta. Please be patient, I promise I will get most all of them up eventually.

A few pictures

I haven't been online very much lately, and thus unable to update as much as I'd like. The past two weeks have been busy busy, but we've gotten alot accomplished. Neal has bought a scooter (motorino, as they're known here in Italy) from someone going back to the US, and has been taking a motorcycle safety class to be able to drive it. We've found a house - YEAH!!! We're moving in on the 30th of this month. Neal says it is my birthday present. Boy he's getting out easy this year: a flight to Italy on Valentine's Day and our new house on my birthday. But it's okay. It will be nice to be able to stretch out some and enjoy it. This will not only be our first real home together, but also our first house. We're both really excited! I'm sure we're going to have to keep ourselves in check, as I've already got tons of garden ideas, and Neal's already talking about cutting grass, having dinner parties (the house has a massive outdoor patio for entertaining), and the like. Our landlords, though only the wife speaks very broken Engligh, seem extremely nice and very accomodating. The house was immaculate compared to some we've seen, but they still want to paint some areas, and have a lady come in to clean it once before we move in. The housing office said they've always been great people to work with, so thank God for that! The best part of all of this means we are this much closer to being settled, with a computer that I can post pictures with, and with a webcam to talk to our families on.

Anyway, I don't have a whole lot of time today, so I'm just going to post some pictures, and I'll update more in the next few days. We love you!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Update on Kristen

I was hoping to come in on this beautiful morning to update everyone on our trip to Rome on Saturday, but it doesn't seem quite as important now. I checked in this morning on Kristen, and I found that she passed away on Friday afternoon. Please keep her family in your prayers. God was gracious enough to allow her to be awake and aware several times during her ordeal to spend time with her family, but she will be greatly missed. Please pray for comfort and peace for them. Thankfully, this was not extremely sudden, but it would never have been easy to let such a wonderful person go.

I think of what Neal's mom told me on Saturday when she told me that she was praying for Kristen, that sometimes the physical healing that God promises doesn't necessarily mean life on this earth, but going home to Heaven in our perfect heavenly bodies. I suppose that's what God had in mind for Kristen. Her attitude was always gracious, wanting God's will above all others, and I know that He is pleased to accept her into eternal glory.

We love you and miss you all.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

March 1st

Happy March Day! Again, we're sorry we didn't get time to say goodbye to everyone, as it was a crazy schedule leaving sooner than what we originally were prepared for. But we will definitely keep in touch!

Well, life has been busy lately. The command has kept us busy with "Welcome to Gaeta" classes, checking in, and our first housing trip this past Tuesday. Little by little, we're learning a few words in Italian, and mostly learning how to pronounce the words we read. Our cultural relations lady said that even if we don't know what they mean, Italians will appreciate our attempts and especially if we can pronounce them correctly. We can now get around a little better, and we've learned enough hand gestures to take care of most of the rest, but it is so different being in a culture that you have no idea what is being said around you. It's very interesting, but at the end of the day can be very taxing as well.

I took my first trip with "the spouses club" today. They do little tourist trips once a month to places you can't go unless you have a large group, mostly around the Gaeta area. We went to The Golden Chapel here in Gaeta, which originally was a hospital, then a hospice, and is now a retirement home for those without family, with a chapel and a larger church attached (the Church of the Enunciation - not sure about the spelling, but it's when Mary was told she'd be carrying Christ). It was amazing! There was so much handmade woodwork, gold-leafing, and gorgeous painting everywhere! Apparently, Pope John Paul II visited there in 1989, and several others. Stephen would've loved the paintings, as they were all done in the 1600's by local students from an art school here in Gaeta. And there were depictions of Jesus birth, circumcision and dedication at the temple, the turning of the water to wine, and the loaves and fishes - amazing! The chapel is rarely open, so we were definitely fortunate to get to see it. I know Neal's going to whine because he had to work today and couldn't go see it too. But they're having a special mass later this month, so we may just have to go then. I took tons of pictures, and I'll post them as soon as I can find a way to upload them.

Yesterday, I took a trip to the Gaeta open-air market. It's a weekly thing on Wednesdays. They have clothing, bags, linens, and of course fruits and veggies available for sale. It was so much fun just to roam about and browse. I didn't buy anything, but am still in my scoping things out mode until I get better acquainted with the area and prices. It's hard to get used to using the Euro and keeping the exchange rate in mind while shopping. But some stuff is about the same, electronics are much more expensive, and food seems to be much cheaper here, especially if you get it at the market. My next excursion planned is next Thursday at the Formia market (the next town over, about a 5-minute drive without traffic). I also walked down Via Independenzia (Independence Street, known as Picollo Alley) yesterday to browse in the shops. It was a good little walk, and I had so much fun! I always get a few odd looks, but Italians tend to stare since it's so easy to spot Americans and newcomers in such a small town.

We've made a couple of friends at the local pizza shop down the street from our hotel. We've gone there about 4-5 times now, and they have begun to loudly greet us as we walk in now. They're very patient and help us to pronounce the ingredients correctly. And the pizza is to die for! I've now started branching out and had a calzone too. Fairly different from the American calzones, even New York style, and so much better!!! We just went to a tavern last night with another new couple that's staying in the hotel, and it was great. It was really the first time I've had beef since we got here. It was weird to realize that, especially given how much of a carnivore I tend to be. We ordered a ribeye, and is was sooo good! The meat over here is cut much leaner, so there was very little fat on it, and they cooked it to perfection! It was so juicy and moist, I thought it might have been the best steak I've ever had! And here I was, worried that the beef over here might not be great quality. I think I'm going to be in gastronomic heaven while we're here, I may be spoiled when it's time to come back to the U.S.

Lastly, but so much more importantly, I'd like to ask you all for some prayer. Right after we left Knoxville, I found out that a college girlfriend of mine is in the hospital. Her name is Kristen. She's struggled with Cystic Fibrosis and Juvenile Diabetes for years. Since I've known her (about 3 years), she's had a couple of flare ups that have put her in the hospital for a day or so. However, this time, she's been in for about a month. It's been quite a roller coaster ride, and the doctors have said it's going to be a major uphill battle. She's a very small person to begin with, and being on ventilators and in bed for a month are wreaking havoc with her body. Please pray for her parents who are at her side 24/7, that they are getting the rest and peace that they need. Also, she's had a fever the whole time and they've found that it's a difficult-to-treat infection, and the doctors need wisdom and guidance with how to take care of her infection, her therapy to begin walking again (they just recently put a trach in so she could get out of bed here and there, among other things), and how to go from here. Shortly after I first met Kristen, when she was telling me the details of her condition, she said that God had given her a burden to pray for complete healing from both, and not just less flare-ups. Please pray for this now. She's such an amazing woman of God and continues to be an example to those around her. She's a super person and very loved.

P.S. If you'd like to keep up with her progress, you can follow the blog her parents are keeping at: Once there, click on the CarePages icon, the "Visit a CarePage." You then need to register, which only takes a second and is free. Once you've registered, then type in "KristenFischer" into the blank for where you want to go, and you're into her CarePage. Just be sure you type it with no space between names and the first letter of each name in caps. You can even leave her a note there. Also, her parents have asked for as much prayer as they can get. Please feel free to share this information with your prayer list/group.

Thanks so much everyone! We love you all!