Some more good news in the church. About 10 days ago one of the Pakistan refugees got his residency after about 5 years waiting. This meant that his family was finally allowed to come to Italy to join him. Thanks to the great generosity of one of the church members, the plane tickets was quickly arranged and bought, and yesterday morning his wife and five children arrived in Italy. I’m looking forward to meeting them all soon!
A couple of weeks ago we found a hall up for auction after a bankruptcy. On Tuesday we won the auction with the lowest possible bid. So we are now the owners of a 345 square meter hall at less than half the market price, and less than any but the smallest apartments at Trento. And with a 20 year mortgage we will be paying a third less than what we pay to rent a hall half as big. We are thankful for this opportunity to have a much better place at a lower cost. We will be moving in a couple of months’ time.
It is time to catch up on some news, now that I have a moment free.
We had a relatively good week at the ECM conference in Croatia. The time looking after the family took out a lot of time that usually we would have had to catch up and meet the other missionaries, but we were expecting that. It was interesting coming from our town, where I know of only one other family with four school age children, to a mission conference where four (or more children) is quite common. For the mission as a whole, it was a good time to reflect on where God is leading us into the future of Europe.
Next Sunday there will be a couple of special occasions you could pray for. During the service, the Sunday School class I help teach (10-12 years old) will be doing the lesson for the youngest class (4-6 years old). We did it for the first time last year, and we wanted to repeat the experience to give lessons in Christian service and help them to mature as disciples. Later in the day there will be a sports afternoon (with an evangelistic talk) for teenagers and young adults from our church, a few nearby churches, the camps we have run for the past few years, and any friends that are invited. This is something new for the church, as a few of the members have a vision to develop a ministry through sports.
For more than a year, I have not been making trips I should have been for meetings for ECM or with other missionaries in Italy, nor for conferences, because the family situation has not allowed it. But having my in-laws staying now means that I can make a quick trip to England for a meeting on Thursday, plus two days of travelling. This is for some of the leaders of the various countries where ECM works, to talk about the plans and projects of all the teams in the mission. So you could pray for this trip, and the family that is staying behind. Then I have some more meetings to miss in the next few months, but we are hoping to go as a family to a missionary conference in June.
Lavis was on the world stage last night, as it hosted the Italy-Finland test match, one of the qualifying matches for the 2017 World Handball Championships. With about 1000 people present, it was a much bigger event than the Italy-Germany cricket match I went to almost 20 years ago, when most of the time I was the crowd. As Daniele plays for the local handball club, he was part of a group of children who accompanied the players onto the field. So he had his 5 minutes of fame, as the photos I grabbed from the telecast show. Stefania, by the way, got hers a few years ago, as she is on Google Maps playing in the courtyard of the school with her friends (https://goo.gl/svykud , with the blue pants). For the record, Italy won 27-19.
A couple of years ago Daniele was diagnosed with a relatively bad case of scoliosis – his back bone was both curved and twisted. So he has been wearing a back brace since then, and having regular physiotherapy appointments. We were told that at his age the brace did not actually do much, but it was important to wear it now so that everything would be ready when he would have his teenage growth spurt. However, when Daniele had a radiography in June, his back had straightened, so he did not have to wear the brace over the (northern) summer holidays. Yesterday he had an appointment with the specialist, who confirmed that the back bone was straight, although it is still slightly twisted. So Daniele can continue without the back brace, and also without the physiotherapy, and will have another check up in June. When I asked the specialist if it was normal that the back straightens up like that, he only said that the brace had done its work. This despite the fact that we had been told that the brace was not supposed to have such an effect until adolescence, and that we had been regularly rebuked at previous check ups because the brace had not been worn enough and was not tight enough. A couple of times we were told that, since the brace had not been used correctly, Daniele might just as well not worn it for the previous few months – the brace could not have done its work properly. And yet, it did… For Daniele, it is the third time that he has seen a big answer to his prayers, after the cases of the non exploding balloons and the little brother(s).
Life begins at 52, as they say. Well, maybe they don’t say it, but I think I will be entering a new phase of my life now. With Luca and Mattia doing a gradual beginning at the nursery the last two weeks, and school for Stefania and Daniele starting only on Thursday (and only in the morning for those two days), I was spending most mornings at the nursery and most afternoons, when Pinuccia was at work, looking after 4 children. So on Saturday I celebrated my birthday playing in a chess tournament. I won a salami, 500g of mortadella, 1kg of pasta, a bottle of wine and a bottle of balsamic vinegar as the best of the not so good players – a nice birthday present, and very Italian! Tomorrow all the children will start their normal hours, which means I will have a few hours free every morning for work and ministry. A new life beginning! Although I’m not sure if they will all actually make it to school tomorrow since they all have a cold, then Tuesday one has a dentist appointment and Wednesday another a doctor’s appointment, and on Friday I will be in a Skype meeting for the mission, so the life beginning may be more theoretical than real. But the mornings next week are looking pretty free at the moment, so maybe life begins at 52 and a week.
Tomorrow Pinuccia, Luca and Mattia start school, and just today we got all the details of where and when. It turns out they will be neighbours, but not at the same time. Last year a new structure was built in our town, 10 minutes walk from our house, containing both a nursery and a preschool. The twins will be going there from about 8.30am to 1pm each day, starting tomorrow. However, there is a gradual insertion, and this week it will only be for about an hour a day, and next week two hours a day. Pinuccia on the other hand was offered a job for the whole year at the preschool next door, from 1pm to 3.30pm each day. She is very happy and thankful with the location and hours of this job. Pinuccia and the twins will be able to greet each other as she goes to work and I bring them home, but at least they will have most of the afternoon together. The rest of the family will restart school on the 10th.
We have arrived back home. The trip went well, and I have suffered only a bit of vicarious jet lag – my body clock adjusted quickly, but with the children waking up at 4am so was I. But sleep seems to be back to normal now, even the twins are sleeping better now in their own beds than their two months of repeated wake ups during the night whilst in Australia.
Today we were in church, meeting friends and catching up on news – 3 new pregnancies, a few conversions at the children’s camp, a couple of families that will be leaving shortly. On the other hand, there was another refugee from Pakistan who had come for the first time today.
This week Stefania and Daniele will be doing a holiday program run by the town council, which will hopefully give us some time to start preparing for the coming year. In church, I will need to begin thinking about restarting the small groups and preparing Bible studies for them, and Pinuccia about the Sunday School. In the family, Pinuccia might start receiving some job offers, we need to organise Luca and Mattia’s nursery commencement, and there are a few other things to do around the house.