I thought it would be fun while learning Italian to borrow a phrase here and there to show you guys what God is doing as He prepares us for Italy.
Relax, I don’t pretend to know much. I’m sure I will horribly butcher the language that Bocelli sings so beautifully. However, in my falling down on syllables and rising feebly on accent marks I will someday make sense to someone. And, hopefully make disciples.
So, I turn to my first phrase: Capitare a fagiolo (pronounced cah-pee-TAH-ray ah fah-JOH-loh).
When you look at this phrase in its literal terms, it still doesn’t make sense. It means, “to happen at the bean”. What could that possibly mean? What of any significance could happen at a bean? Does this necessarily imply that beans have to be present? Is this only useful in conversation while planting beans?
As you might have heard, food is sort of a big deal in Italy. They like it…in worshipping terms. As John Hooper explains in his book, The Italians, “But then, if leisure is prized by Italians, the everyday pleasure of eating is hallowed.”
It’s hard to find a good Italian restaurant here in Tyler, Texas but almost impossible to find a bad Italian restaurant in Italy. And, as you might expect pasta is a main staple. When we visited for the first time and stayed in the homes of each missionary family on our team, we had pasta of some kind in every meal. It’s cheap. That’s the main reason why one particular family included it in more than one meal a day everyday.
But beans (i fagioli) are common, too. In fact, there was a time in the history of Italy, and this still may be the case for many who live in poverty there now, where beans were their only option. Beans were affordable even to the poorest of families. So, for something to “happen at the bean” meant you were out of every other option. Beans is all you had on the table. And, that was perfect because you accepted your lot in life. Why, after all, wish for spaghetti when you only had beans?
When someone in Italy says, “È capitato a fagiolo!” what they mean to say is that is happened at just the right moment. No complaining. It is what it is. You got beans.
We have learned to identify with the idea of this phrase. When we sat in Candidate Orientation we could barely stand the thought of this process taking “two years on average” as our coach stated before even landing on our mission field. Two more years? Think of all the lost dying souls! Think of all the work to be done! What an injustice to wait two more years! At that moment our perfect time was Now.
We are now only 4 months away from that two year mark. As I think of the family that began this journey at Candidate Orientation in 2014 I can only be grateful that we didn’t jump out of the boat and swim against the waves alone. To think we could have listened to well-meaning friends who suggested we were with the wrong agency and our budget was too high. I’m glad we didn’t stick to our plan. We watched painfully as all other options were taken away. And, we learned to deal with God’s perfect timing.
This gratefulness didn’t come easy. It actually came with our share of sighs and disappointments. Through not seeing our “workable plan” work well enough to get us there. In releasing what we thought was best.
It turns out our journey to Italy will take a little longer than two years. How do we feel about that now? Well, don’t let me fool you — we are anxious to get there. In every conversation with fellow outgoing missionaries who are further along and closer to the field, we fight jealousy. Every time a well meaning friend asks how far long we are and we can’t say “We are 100% funded” we feel some angst.
But God is working out the perfect time. And in these days, He is filling our lives with meaning and purpose. Disciple making opportunities. Watching our children grow into an understanding of what it means to be a missiomary. Deep talks where our marriage is strengthened. We cannot trade what God is doing now for the sake of getting there Now.
Figuratively speaking, we didn’t start this journey wanting only beans. But it turns out if God is cooking beans then it’s a feast. And when He puts them on the table, it’s time to eat with no complaints. So, our hope is that God will keep changing our taste buds, basically. Craving what only He can give and when He chooses to give it.
And the day we arrive and begin life in Italy won’t be too late or too soon. It will be at the perfect time. It will happen at the bean.