It was a wonderful afternoon at the baptismal service at Rovereto today, the first in that church. Firstly to hear the testimonies of the two people who were baptised, the elder’s teenage daughter (that Pinuccia and I saw a lot over the years in the Sunday School, the Youth Group, and the camps), and a man converted in the last 18 months in which he has been attending the church at Rovereto. Two very different people, with different stories, but the same witness to God’s free gift to them, not based on what they had done. It was also a great time together for the two churches at Trento and Rovereto, in their diversity. There was the Pakistan group with the Africans, the teenagers with the young adults, even a Russian family who had come to visit their son who is studying at Trento. For many, it was the first time we had seen each other for a few months or even a year, as each church continues their ministry in their own town. But despite the separation, there has always been the commitment to each other and to the gospel in the whole province of Trento, which made the picking up of the relationships easy.
The seventh church children’s camp finished today. I went to the camp today and the first day to help with the transport and the preparation and finishing, but also all day on Wednesday to organise some activities. One was dong the filming to create a video of the participants dancing to the song “Happy”, as is the fashion these days. Another was an evening of Extreme Sports, of which my personal favourite was Extreme Ironing (which really does exist, it is on Wikipedia!) – the children were very imaginative in finding extreme ways to iron my shirt. I have not had much of a chance to speak with the leaders about how it went, although I could sense a great feeling amongst the participants whilst I was there, and heard the Bible being explained and discussed well.
This week’s main event is the first ever baptisms at the Rovereto church, which will be taking place next Sunday afternoon. It will be great to be able to rejoice with the church for how God has been building his kingdom through the ministry of the congregation.
Today was the start of one of the church’s biggest activities of the year, the camp for children. This year it is even bigger, for the first time lasting a whole week. It is great to see so many of the church members involved in various ways, such as leading and organising activities and cooking and advertising and so on. I went this afternoon to help take some things and people, but had to come back to Trento for a concert at night. I will be going for the whole day on Wednesday to run some games and do a video, and then again on Sunday afternoon to help with the closure and bring material back. Pray a lot for this camp, and for a positive effect on the children. Some have various difficulties, and it would be good to see the Gospel transform their lives. Pray also for safety, the theme is “Survival School” with Bible studies on Joseph and some challenging exercises in the mountains. One of the participants is sick even before the camp has started, so we are praying that he will be able to come to the camp soon.
The Kids’ Club, our evangelistic program for children, went public yesterday for its second event. We set up in a large park next to a lake in one of the valleys, were a lot of families go in summer to get some relief from the heat. The weather was not as good as it could have been for this period, so there were not as many people there as we expected. On the other hand, a few invited friends came along, including one who wanted us to repeat the program in her town in the mountains. One of the highlights was seeing some teenagers dancing along with us in the playground – they were too old for the activities of the program, but the music was reaching them anyway. I’m also thankful for the creativity, courage, and service of the Kids’ Club organisers. Now it is time to think about the third edition of Kids’ Club, which will probably be after the summer.
Now I am back in Italy, more awake than I was in Australia – jetlag is less of a problem travelling west. It is good to be with the family again!
Today was the World Refugee Sunday of the World Evangelical Alliance. We celebrated by listening to the stories of the Pakistan refugees that God has entrusted to our church. I found it a very moving moment. We had prayed regularly for the persecuted church, and God responded sending the persecuted Christians to us so that we could help them practically.
This week’s big activity is the second edition of the Kids’ Club, an evangelistic program for children. This time we will be going public, doing it in a park next to a lake where a lot of people go on Saturday afternoons (weather permitting). Pray for the testimony, and give thanks for the great team that have put it all together.
My short time in Australia has come to an end, and in a couple of hours I will be flying home. It was good not only to see my mother, but to see her health improve a lot whilst I was here. Back in Italy, the summer school holidays have started, so it will be back to work having fun with the children for three months.
And we won 2-1.
Here I am in Australia now, enjoying some time with my family until next Sunday. The news from home is that Pinuccia is coping looking after with the family but is tired, the pregnancy is going well, and that she is expecting two boys. Now we can start thinking of names.
As well as the change in plans caused by the upcoming twins, there has been a few more changes and much uncertainty since then. A few weeks ago my mother entered hospital with some serious health problems. So I am taking the opportunity of using my old ticket to go to Australia on Tuesday, although I will be going by myself and be away for just two weeks instead of 2.5 months. If anyone wants to meet up at Sydney during this time, let me know!
Pray for this time with my family, and for Pinuccia and the children (all four of them) – she will have a lot more to do in the house, and although she feels better now that she is in the fourth month of her pregnancy, she still gets very tired easily. We do have our niece staying with us, who is a help, although after 5 months looking for work she started a job today, from 2pm to 10pm, so her help will be limited. Just to make matters more complicated, our brother-in-law is also staying for a couple of weeks as well. It will also be a help that the summer school holidays start on the 12th, which means many school, church, and recreational activities are winding down, and there is less running around to do. On the other hand, I will be busy until the last moment. Sunday morning I will be going to the church at Rovereto to preach. Then quickly back home to change into my band uniform, for a concerto at 1.30pm. After that, we’ll be going to a church pizza night hosted by one of the families. Then on Monday, a public holiday, there will be a Sunday School excursion to the zoo near Verona all day. Somewhere in there I hope to be able to pack my bag as well.
It was a very weekend on all fronts for me – church, family, and band. On Saturday afternoon there was a seminar on building up the community, especially on dealing with conflicts, followed by a worship evening with input on forgiveness. Then on Sunday morning there was the annual Sunday School presentation, for which I prepared the section for the older children, and helped Pinuccia to coordinate the three classes. It was fun teaching (with two others) the older class this year, and to prepare the presentation, as we were able to do lots of things in different ways, like create videos, listen to popular music, watch films and analyse them, walk around the city taking photos of wrong behaviour, etc.
But this is also the time of year when lots of organisations run activities. So this weekend there was a children’s festival in our town of Lavis, an expo with children’s activities in a town just down the road, and a festival in the area of Trento where the church hall is. So we had to be selective. The Lego and Star Wars (two of our children’s favourite activities put together) at the expo could not be missed, so that was squeezed into Friday evening between Daniele’s handball practice before, and -my band practice and a planning meeting for the next Kids’ Club after. The photography class for children at Lavis was good as well, and then the birthday party of one of Stefania’s friends took up Saturday afternoon (whilst I was in church). We wanted to go back to the expo for the chocolate demonstration on Sunday afternoon, but we had to give that one up, after staying late at the church picnic at the park with our friends. Instead on Sunday night there was a concert for me with the band.
For the past few years, May has been the most active month in the family, even more so now that Daniele is at school, as there are many end of school year activities. This week for example both children have school excursions, as well as a school festival. During the last week, Stefania had her end of year recital for dance (doing Cats), and Daniele a chess tournament. This year it is even more active, as Pinuccia has her regular check-ups, and both children a series of medical appointments as we slightly change their treatments. The fun part though is that there are also a lot more activities to do together as a family with the better weather, and lots of events are organised. More on those next week…
In the church, you could pray for the busy weekend coming up. On Saturday afternoon there is a training session on communication and conflict, that evening a praise night with input on forgiveness, and on Sunday after the service the annual Sunday School presentation and then lunch in the park together.