The story starts with a risky choice. I got on a train from Catania to Sant’Agata Di Militello that would have me arriving at about 5:30pm. The sun goes down about a half an hour before then making it dark as midnight by the time I hit the damp streets of the coastal town. I had one of those “Oh crap what am I doing” moments as I descended the steps of the station. The email I had said a name and also to “look for a bar/tavern by the water the owner knows them by name”. There were many of these types of places, so I just started to walk and pray. Anything I did was both a literal and figurative “shot in the dark”, but I kept walking. It then started to rain so I kept praying. Within moments it stopped and my faith shot up so I asked the Lord for a miracle, that somehow I would find this family I’m looking for. As I reached the edge of town I saw a small Gelato shop/Bar/Restaurant and thought it was worth a shot. I walked in and asked the kind lady if she knew the name I was looking for, and to my surprise she did! I was thrilled as she picked up the phone and made the call, and even more when she said they would be there in ten minutes. So I waited for what seemed like a half an hour, a bit nervous and a bit excited. Finally the door opened and in walks a man with the name mentioned in my email. There was a problem however; this man knew none of the other names I mentioned, and there was one detail that was apparently left out of the phone call. See I had mentioned to the kind lady that the man’s wife was an architect, and the gentleman standing before me had a wife but she was NOT an architect, thus confirming he was not my relative. All this is happening in Italian by the way, which makes it much more fun…
The attitude in the room is still altogether joyful as another man joined the search for this American’s “parenti” (relatives). Cell phones are whipped out, loud conversations are taking place, and of course dramatic hand gestures. Still no luck as it gets later and later, and I was planning on catching the last train back to my hostel in Catania that night. These gentlemen however, were not giving up. Then a contact is made; the first name was just a tiny bit different, but the last name was the same, and… wait for it… YES his wife IS an architect! I was thrilled! The gentleman with the same/similar name was as excited as I was and happily offered me a ride into town to the much sought after house. After a quick stop to meet his “non-architect” wife and briefly explain the story, we made our way to the correct home. My heart was pounding as we knocked on the door. It eventually opened and then began the monologue (luckily I wasn’t giving it). The confirmations began, and before I know it I was sitting on the couch of my quite removed distant cousin. We begin to chat, me in "Spantalian" him in Italian with a few English words. I was graciously offered a place to stay that night, as the evening turned into night. Minutes later in walks the “architect” wife so we explained everything to her, she was delighted. My arrival called for dinner and a cracking open of the best wine! I was so blown away by their hospitality. I mean yes I’m family, but they’ve never seen me before and yet they treated me like a son. I laid comfortably in bed that night thinking over the fact that I was in the home of my relatives in Sicily, and I couldn’t help but thank God. It was quite a ride, but I asked for a miracle and I totally believe I received one.
The next morning I awoke to a pleasant Buon Giorno, and after a shower, coffee and breakfast. We sat, for a moment, and scribbled out the two family trees a bit in order to make sense of it all. I was then taken on a tour around the town before I caught the train back to Catania.
It is still a bit of a blur, but I am so blessed. It has been the cherry on top of this whole trip, which is not even over yet. A dream has come true. After an adventure to match any other adventure I’ve met the family, been blessed by them, and walked the very streets my great-grandparents did over 100 years ago. I’ve experienced quite a few things over my short life, and this one ranks among the highest.
Don't go through your life saying one day you'll do it save, plan, and do it! Our time is short, but our God is loving and He often waits for us to step out so He can surprise us! So step out, take it from me. Is DEFINITELY worth it!