Archive for June, 2007

Two major events to pray for

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

The cell groups have now all finished for the year – although with the last band practice tomorrow, the events I am about to describe, the first of three summer Bible studies I will lead for those still at Trento, and then the church committee meeting, it will still be more than a week before I get a free night.

You could pray now for a couple of “end of year” events in the next week. The first is the annual church houseparty this weekend, and then from Monday to Wednesday the ECM Italy prayer days on the southern shore of Lake Garda. The ECM Director of Ministries (ie in charge of the on-the-field work) is coming to speak at the houseparty, so it will also be a good opportunity from both sides to strengthen the partnership that the church and the mission have in order to plant churches in the province together. I will be going to Verona tomorrow afternoon to pick him up, and he will stay with us on Friday and Sunday nights. Then we will take him to the prayer days, from where he will return to Madrid. But we will bring back with us another person – a Dutch lady who is a missionary candidate with ECM, currently doing Bible school at Rome, and considering coming to work at Trento when she has finished in a couple more years. She will be staying with us from Wednesday until Monday, to get to know the church a bit better and so we get to know her a bit better.

So I think it will be the week after next when I really get to start my summer break. Even though there is a lot of work I will have to do then, but more on that in another blog message when I start to do it.

The Beginning of the End

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Into the last week now, and yesterday the Monday night cell group had its traditional social activity, pizzas and film. It was at our house, as we are one of the few with a lounge large enough to accomodate everyone. Although with 19 people for the film, it was a bit tight and hot. (There aren’t that many in the group, but since two couples with children split their attendance with the husband going to one group and the wife to another, we also had the family members that don’t belong to the group.) So I went off to my local take away pizza shop to pick up four double and one normal pizza; still have some leftovers for lunch today as well.

For the film, we watched End of the Spear, which I saw in English at an ECM meeting in Spain in February, and which has just come out in Italian (on DVD, I don’t believe it ever appeared in the cinemas). It is the story of Jim Elliot and the other four missionaries killed in South America in 1956, although it actually does not speak much about them: it is mostly about the tribe and the son of one of the missionaries and the effects the killing had on them. It speaks a lot of the cost of following Jesus, and the power to transform that He has as well. There were some very moved people in the audience at the end.

Stefania had a great time too. She didn’t like the pizza as much as we were expecting – maybe they were not up to the standards of Daddy’s pizzas which she devours. She ate a lot of Mummy’s pop corn however. Even though the night went late for her, she is a social character and since there were three (older) children, as well as all the adults, she was very active playing the whole evening. The moment she went to bed however it was straight to sleep, and she had a nice little sleep in this morning as well.

Changes in the cell groups

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Now that we are coming to the end of the church year, it is time to start thinking about next year. On Tuesday afternoon I met with the elders to talk about how the cell groups went this year, and to think about the program after the summer break. Then on Thursday night there was the bimonthly meeting with the cell group leaders, in which we heard from them how they thought their groups went and we thought more about next year together.
For the studies, we thought of two themes, with one series working on the Christian character for about 10 weeks, and a shorter one on the church and especially the Christian’s place and role in it. I will be preparing these studies during the summer and then distributing them to the other leaders. Between these two series there will be an in depth look at Ephesians, which each leader will prepare for their own group. There will also be some “structural” changes. The first is that the Rovereto group will move from fortnightly to weekly meetings. It was hard to have much continuity meeting every two weeks, but on the other hand I am not sure if the group is stable enough to make the change. (There is only one couple that I am almost sure will be present next year; with the other people there is some doubt.) But I think also that moving to weekly meetings will give it the stability and continuity and group identity that it needs. At the same time, the two people that I have been training (Andrea and Carmelo) will take over the leading of the Monday night group. There might be the need of a fourth group at Trento, but we are not sure yet and will probably wait until September when we see how many people sign up before we decide. But if there is a fourth group, I will leave the Monday one and start the fourth with some helpers that I will train to take over. If there is not, I will attend the Monday night group for a while to see how it goes, but then around January when number two is a bit older the idea is that I will stay at home and Pinuccia will go to the group, so that she gets some fellowship and Bible study as well.

Summer is on the way

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

It has been a fairly quiet weekend really, with three nights in a row at home. With the band in Germany on Friday, the weekly practice had been brought forward to Tuesday, and with the Youth Group no longer meeting Saturday was free as well. We were hoping to take advantage of the free day to spend a few hours at one of our favourite lakes in the mountains above Lavis, but the summer storm season has arrived so although it was warm enough, sure enough the clouds rolled in during the afternoon for a short but heavy downpour.

On Sunday there was another sign of the approaching summer – about one third of the people at church were visitors, most of which were tourists on holiday. Last year it happened at least once that there were more tourists than regulars, as they come then and the regulars go away on holidays then; when I was leading the service I had to do a bilingual service. After the service some people came to our place for lunch, the couple that has restarted the Young Adults’ group recently. So we were able to talk about their plans for the group and encourage them in their ministry, and think about how to get the Young Adults’ and Youth Groups working together. As the wife is the first of the seven pregnant ladies in the church due to give birth, there was also a lot of talk about babies and being parents as well!

Studies, and a new face at Rovereto

Friday, June 15th, 2007

It was into the usual routine this week, although with band practice on Tuesday instead of Friday this week, I was out the first four nights of the week (with three Bible studies as well) and have my free night of the week tonight (plus the bonus night tomorrow because the Youth Group has ended). The highlight was the Rovereto group, which had all but one of the members present, plus a new member. Nadia is from Ukraine, and like many East European women here is working as a nanny. This means that she does not have much freedom, having to be almost always in the family’s house, but could get a couple of hours off to come to the study, and had started coming to church whilst I was in Sicily.

A few end of year activites, and bureaucracy updates

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Since the school year finishes a few weeks earlier than the church year, the Youth Group is the first of my regular commitments that has gone into summer hibernation. On Saturday we took the members of the group to the ice cream parlour that is under our previous apartment – the best ice creams in the area. Then on Sunday morning the group’s video which summed up its activities for the year was shown. There was also the recital by the Sunday School children – a play that Pinuccia had written and a couple of songs. Then this afternoon, along with most of the church, we went up the Valsugana valley, where one of the church members made about 40 pizzas for everybody. (He is an ex pizza cook, and a very good one too, and has built a pizza oven in his garage.) With the better weather and longer days now, it was good to be able to stay outside and chat together. With three weeks away due to our trip to Sicily, there is a number of people in the church that I don’t know now, since there are often new people attending, so it was good to meet a few of them as well. There was also the announcement of another pregnancy – there are now seven pregnant ladies in the congregation, quite a high number considering there are less than 70 regular (or almost regular) adults in the church.

Just to keep me busy, there was also a concert with the band on Saturday night, which meant a quick change into my uniform after the Youth Group before going to play in a small town in the mountains just about Lavis. It was my last concert before the summer break (although the band will be going to Germany next weekend, I will not be going), although I am not sure how many weeks we will have of rehearsals still.

As I mentioned last time, there was also a public conference on depression in the town library on Friday. It went well, with a good attendance between invited friends and people who came from the advertising, and an encouragement for the listeners to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

I should also give an update on the possible meeting place we might be renting that I mentioned a few weeks ago. The negotiations with the town council go ahead, and we have got over the problems of the low roof and a few parking places that were required. There should not be any further problems, although it will still take some time for the bureaucracy to come through. But keep praying for a solution to our hall problem. Today was quite a squeeze in the hall we currently use, and with another seven babies coming along now…

Speaking of a bit of time needed for the bureaucracy, doing the week I finally got my application for Italian citizenship accepted. It took about six months for me to get all the documents and the appropriate translations and legalisations from different offices in Australia and Italy. However, the estimated time for my application to be approved, when I will become a dual citizen, is two years, so I’m not going to be holding my breath waiting.

All together again

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Pinuccia and Stefania arrived safely back on Monday afternoon, and Stefania took five minutes to make a mess in my nicely ordered and clean bachelor pad as she pulled out her books and toys she hadn’t seen for a few weeks. I have got back to my usual work as well, with already a couple of studies and a new version of my computer program to study the Bible released.

Yesterday we also went to the hospital for the last of the three scheduled ultrasounds. Number 2 is fine and there are no problems, with everything in the right place.

Pray for a public meeting that we have organised for Friday afternoon at the public library at Trento, on “Depression between faith and cure”. A pastor in central Italy that has written a book on the theme is coming to present it. Pray for a good attendance and a good presentation of the Gospel.

Bachelor boy

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

I arrived safely yesterday just before dinner time, and now it is back to my old bachelor habits as I have two and a half days before I go to pick up the girls from the airport. Since today is a public holiday, there is nothing to do outside anyway, so I will at home catching up on a lot of things and cleaning the house. There is also a lot of unpacking to do: Pinuccia took advantage of the almost empty car to transport a lot of things from Sicily – mostly food (olives, fruit and vegetables, flour, 10 litres of olive oil, oregano, dried tomatoes; unfortunately the sausages and ricotta cheese would not have survived the journey and had to be left behind), but also her wedding dress, a stereo, books, clothes from Stefania’s cousins, etc. So there will be quite a few trips and down the stairs to lose a bit of weight my mother-in-law put on me.

I promised some photos from the wedding we went to in Sicily, so here they are.

Pinuccia, Stefania and Richard dressed up for a wedding

Stefania ready to go to the wedding