Archive for November, 2006

In the cell groups

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

On Monday night, Maddalena led the Bible study. She has only been a Christian for a couple of years, but I had noticed from the way that she participated in the studies that she would be good at leading as well, and so it turned out. There was also the person that became a Christian a couple of weeks ago for his first study – he should have come last week, but his son had a small accident and they had had to go to the hospital. He participated well in the study.

On Wednesday night, a Chinese lady in the group gave a testimony of how she had been witnessing to a Chinese friend here, who is a Catholic priest. (They are so short of priests around here, that they have to import them from China.) It has forced her to grow in her faith, and she has had to consider things she has never thought of before, although she was getting a bit discouraged and frustrated because her witness did not seem to have any effect. Then yesterday he rang her and said, “Maybe you are right, the Bible is true after all”. So she was encouraged again to see that God had in fact been working in him.

Youth Group sleepover

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

The youth group with the other leaderWe all survived the sleepover, with three teenagers eating home made hamburgers under the sign of the inverted golden arches (W for Wilson fast food restaurants, if you don’t get it) and watching two films, and two remaining to sleep in Stefania’s room whilst her cot was in our room. It was certainly hard to find some films – they all had seen all the films recently released, so we had to be happy with some that they didn’t mind rewatching. Above all, it was good for them to spend some time together, and for us to get to know them better and they us.

Dan Brown the evangelist

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Two messages ago I mentioned some doubts I had that the Da Vinci Code had been an appropriate film to watch in the cell group, given the presence of two non Christian husbands. I don’t know how much the film and subsequent discussion contributed, but during the week one of them rang one of the elders to say that he wanted to be converted. This was the first time that he had come to one of the cell groups meetings, and we are encouraging him to become a regular part of the group to help him grow. His wife has been attending the church for a year, after a couple of years with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. She became a Christian a few months ago, but her husband just thought  it was another of her ‘whims’ – first the Jehovah’s Witnesses, then the Evangelicals. But she and others had been praying for him, and at the end of August he started coming to the church services. Now he has obviously understood that it is not just a whim, but a real change that has happened in his wife, a change that he wants as well. So pray for him and the family (they have three boys as well).

Meanwhile, in the Youth Group last night we were back to the usual program after our record night, with just the two girls coming. Now we are preparing for the big night next Saturday – dinner, videos and a sleepover. It will be interesting! Pray for that night as well.

Everyone out on Friday night

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Last night (Friday) was a bit complicated for us, because occasionally the different church ministries we are involved in overlap, and this was one of those times with both the Women’s Bible Study and the Rovereto cell group on at the same time. So I took Pinuccia and Stefania to the church office, where they had to wait for half an hour by themselves for their meeting, whilst I went on to Rovereto, and then picked them up again on the way back (having obtained permission to sneak in amongst the ladies after their study had finished, and getting my second supper of the night in the process). The meeting at Rovereto was one of the best that we have had, with a growing sense of “togetherness” in the group. Stefania I am told really enjoyed herself in the ladies’ meeting, although she was a bit of a distraction, and her laughter drowned out the speaker at times. She then went to sleep in the car on the way home, well after 11pm. Maybe we must take her out more often at night – she then slept in until 11am this morning (which is never does usually), giving us some time to get things done, and especially for me to finish the study for the Youth Group this evening.

Pizzas and the Da Vinci Code

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Some of the Monday group after pizzas at our houseAt the Monday cell group this week, there was a pizza and video night at our house. It was good to sit around a table and talk together. For the film, it had been decided to watch The Da Vinci Code, as no one in the group had seen it, and the others thought it might be useful to see it in order to speak with others about it. However it might not have been such a good choice, as two non Christian husbands came as well (which in itself was good, especially as one has only just started coming to church). But maybe it was a good choice after all, because I said a few things afterwards about some of the film’s historical inaccuracies, and especially because of the discussion on some of the sentences said towards the end of the film – “Does it matter if Jesus was divine or human?” (when it obviously did, as the person who said it prayed to Jesus when he was in trouble) and “What is important is what you believe in.”

Record night at the Youth Group

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

Yesterday evening, not only did all three of the (mostly) regular people come to the group, but two of them also brought a friend (both of whom had come a couple of times last year before the summer break, but not at the same time). So we suddenly found ourselves which five youth, as well as the return of the third leader after her mission trip to Senegal. After a quick table extension and raid to the kitchen for more chairs, we were ready for the study.

The other activity yesterday was standing out in the cold again for over an hour, as the bank based in Lavis had its rennovated headquarters inaugurated. The band was there to play a few songs before and after the ceremony, but also
because this town bank is a major sposnor of the band and other local associations.

Cell groups and looking after Stefania

Friday, November 10th, 2006

I have finished my responsibilities for the week now – a bit earlier in the week than usual, but it is how the programming worked out this time. The Monday night cell group was mostly dedicated to a time thinking about how we wanted to witness together to our friends, and it was decided to have a film plus pizza night (showing the film Luther) on the 20th of January. More about that in future posts. The Wednesday night group had the second study on prayer, with some good practical advice given by the group members to each other. Thursday night was the cell group leaders’ coordination meeting, which is the part of the church training program that I lead. There was actually so much coordination done, that we didn’t get to the training that I had planned. But that doesn’t matter; we can do it next time, and it was helpful for everyone to hear what was going on in the other groups, and for the cell groups to learn about some of the church plans and the part the groups will have in them. My sore throat must have got better by then, because I almost lost my voice from talking in the other two groups, whilst I had no problem on Thursday.

Thursday was also the first time that Pinuccia and I have really had to juggle commitments and do “shifts” to look after Stefania. Pinuccia had a training meeting for all the teachers in the schools in her area at 6pm, which she went to straight from work which finished at 5.30. The meeting went until 8pm, but she got permission to leave half an hour early, which meant she arrived home just before 8pm. That gave me 15 minutes to say hello and finish getting ready before I had to go out. It also meant that I had to look after Stefania for six hours instead of the usual four, and juggling making and eating dinner for both of us at the same time. She did at least sleep for one hour of those six, not having had a nap in the morning as she sometimes does. Whilst reading a book on being a father, I did find a good piece of advice which has helped me cope better with these hours looking after Stefania, instead of being able to do my own thing: I pray for patience to play with her and for the desire to spend time with her. As I have said often in the past year, Stefania has taught me a lot about thinking about others before myself.


Sunday, November 5th, 2006

This afternoon there was the Reformation Day service in church, to remember the principles on which the church is founded. So we looked back at what some of these principles were, and our guest speaker reminded us that the real reformation starts from a personal encounter with God, which then can change external forms, even though when it is questioned it is usually on the basis of the forms that are reformed, and not on what changed inside the people. There were also about 10 people who visited from three Italian churches in the mostly German speaking half of the region, churches with which we have a good fellowship but not had much time together with recently, so it was good to be reminded of our fellowship through this concrete experience of it.

Yesterday was also Remembrance Day, remembering those who died in the wars. Here at Lavis there was a ceremony this morning at the war memorial, where the band played the national anthem and a few other patriotic songs. It worked out well, since it is the only Sunday in the year when there is no church service in the morning, so I was able to play at the ceremony. We were fortunate that we are having an unusual warm spell at the moment (it would have been about 10 degrees), so although the feet froze when we stopped marching and had to stand still during the ceremony, and the cold hands made playing instruments rather difficult, it could have been a lot worse!

Yesterday I also managed to finish another beta version of the next version of my Italian Bible computer program. I have recently found some pieces of time that I can use for the computer work (in the afternoon when I look after Stefania, I can let her play or watch TV in the lounge whilst I work on my laptop there), so hopefully I can be more productive
with the computer ministry now.

A running nose and sore throats

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

For most of the week Stefania has had a slight cold, meaning a running nose and a few problems sleeping, but not much else. However she did manage to pass something on to us, as we have both had sore throats for a few days. Pinuccia took the day off work today, as she probably would have lost her voice yelling after 25 children. At least it gave her some time during the day to finish the study for the Youth Group tomorrow (on the baptism, genealogy and temptation of Jesus).

Don’t forget to pray as well for the Reformation Service coming up on Sunday afternoon.

Public holiday – doing different things

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

This is one of the exceptions to getting one night free a week, as I mentioned last week. Today is a public holiday, so I have both today and tomorrow night free. Public holidays used to be a bit of a nuisance to me, as it didn’t change much except I was able to do less because the shops were changed. Having a family though changes things a bit… Since Pinuccia was at home all day as well, we did some decorating the house together, took Stefania to the park (probably the last time for a few months – it is getting too cold), and will watch a movie tonight (at least that is the plan, it depends if Stefania lets us). I did get a few things done for myself however, in particular fixing up the second last problem before I release the next beta version of my Bible program. I haven’t been able to do much programming at all lately (as I do it in the time left over from church commitments and preparation, with has become a lot less with Stefania taking priority as well), but know that I have got a few weeks ahead in my preparation I hope to do a bit more now.