It is the end of a long day with lots of walking in Florence. Funds have been low so meals have been small and less frequent than one might choose. We decide to stop in a local eatery and splurge on a real dinner. When mine comes, I dig into a large bowl of creamy, silky, hearty mushroom risotto. My mouth waters even now when I think of it. I was filled, I was comforted with this rustic Italian bowl of goodness.
I love to travel. I love to see "the spot" where history happened. I love to walk the streets with people in their town. I love the art, the color, the form in brick and stone.
There are particular flavors and moods in different locales. Each enticing in it's own way. Everyday in Chicago, I feel as though I am traveling. There are many landscapes. As I walk the streets and shop in the produce markets, the languages and many of the products are unknown to me. The language of signs and marquees of stores are defined by neighborhoods. They advertise their wares, but also the ethnicity of their inhabitants. There are German neighborhoods, Russian and Jewish neighborhoods. We live in a Polish and Korean neighborhood. The eating, shopping, and cultural practices are dictated by the heritage of the inhabitants. The Czechoslovakians and the Romanians are settled in just South of us. To the East are those from Sierra Leone, Ghana and South Africa. Downtown one finds those of Hispanic heritage.
Obviously, people from all over the world are gathered here. Our missionaries are gathered here. Perhaps the people have come to hear the message of Jesus Christ that the missionaries have come here to share. Each month the records of those who have become members of the church come into the mission office. Always the list of birthplaces reads something like this: Vietnam, Spain, Alabama, Philippines, Indiana, Nigeria, Illinois, Puerto Rico, Idaho, Bolivia, Mexico, Jamaica, etc.
There are approximately 7.5 million people within the boundaries of our mission. Heavenly father loves each one of them. He watches over and cares for each of them one by one. The missionaries share the message of that love with individuals one by one. As the world comes together here in this wide, wide world of Chicago, they can be filled and comforted as they come to know that they are children of a Heavenly Father who loves them.