Archive for September, 2007

Compassion, band break, and family

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

After the usual activities in the past few days (Thursday a rare free night, Friday band practice, Saturday afternoon with the teenagers), today (Sunday) was different and busy. We had Compassion, an organisation that runs adoption at a distance and through which the church members have adopted 23 child (we have one in Rwanda), come to show a video and talk. Then we had to leave straight away, so I could do a quick change into my uniform because I had to be at the band headquarters at 12.15, to make a trip to Arco (one of my favourite towns in the province, almost an hour from here) for a parade and concert. Then it was 7pm by the time that I got home again. It was the last concert for our conductor, who has had to resign from the band. We will have a temporary one to prepare us for the Christmas concert. However, since they are changing the practices to Tuesdays, the only day he can come and when I am at Rovereto, and in any case we will be in Sicily when the Christmas concert is on, I have told the band that I can’t come to the practices until after the new year. So there is one more Friday practice and Sunday concert for me this week, after which I will be having a break from the band for a few months.

On Tuesday, my mother and brother will be arriving for a visit for a couple of weeks, so you can pray that all six of us will have a good time together. More on the visit naturally next time I write.

Massages

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

This week Pinuccia and Daniele have been doing a baby massage course, which someone in the church has been running at Trento. Pinuccia had in fact got some personal lessons when Stefania was born, but the revision has been helpful, and in any case the course needed some mothers and babies to demonstrate the techniques to those doing the course but don’t have a new born. Daniele has been enjoying the course as well, being very relaxed and happy whilst he gets massaged. It has meant a return to the olden days for me and Stefania, as we have had some afternoons together, including doing the shopping, just like when Pinuccia was working. (After the New Year holidays when Pinuccia goes back to work, I will be looking after both Stefania and Daniele, and doing the shopping, so that will be more interesting.)

At Rovereto this week, the person that hosts the study was sick on Tuesday and since we do not have any other houses to meet in there (although we are getting closer to having two other possible houses) we had to skip the meeting. Another good reason for the weekly meetings now – otherwise it would have been a month between meetings. There was a new couple that was going to come as well, but I hope that they will come instead next week.

Co-ordinating groups

Monday, September 24th, 2007

After the cell groups in the first three days of the week, Thursday is a more general planning and training day. Especially this Thursday. First of all in the afternoon we went to visit the couple that are looking after the new Young Adults’ group (about a dozen people from 17 years to late twenties) – they have a son a month older than Daniele, so they had the opportunity to get to know each better as well. After a few more informal and irregular meetings before the summer, the Young Adults’ group has now started regular meetings with a program. So we talked about the transition between that group and the Youth Group (teenagers) that we lead (and especially for the only male in our group, who is two years’ older than the others, and might feel more at ease in the other group), and things that we can do together. We decided to have some sort of social activity for both groups every two months; when we suggested this to the teenagers they were very enthusiastic, as they suffer a bit from little contact with other Christians of around their own age.

Then in the evening there was the first cell group co-ordination meeting of the new year, which we hold every two months and which I lead. They are very important, as the church has reached the stage that no-one knows everything that is going on. Represented at the meeting where the six cell groups, the Youth and Young Adults’ groups, the Ladies’ group, and an evangelistic Bible study we do with university students in English. It went well, although with some many groups by the time that we heard what they are all planning to do this year, it was time to finish and we could not do the other co-ordination I was hoping to do. The biggest “problem” that was raised was that two of the groups have grown past the usual threshold of 12 people, over which the cell group does not work so effectively. So we will need to do some thinking about the future of those two groups. Especially the one in the Valsugana, as we need to think about the best way to deal with this growth to reach our aim of an autonomous church there.

Friday night was then the usual band practice, and Saturday the meeting with the teenagers at our house where Pinuccia led the study that she had been busy preparing most of the week (as well as a visit for lunch of some of Pinuccia’s relatives). Sunday morning was of course spent in church (with my turn to lead the service), and after another visit from a friend in the afternoon we had some quality time together in the evening. We even managed to get the children to bed a bit earlier so as to have more time alone; we don’t often get such opportunities.

Good sleep

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

The really good news this week is that Daniele has slept right through the night (until 7am) for the first time the last three nights, so Pinuccia especially has enjoyed getting some uninterrupted sleep. Although it has not also been so uninterrupted, because Stefania has had a few symptoms of a cold, like a sore throat, and has woken up a few times in the middle of the night because she couldn’t breathe well.

In the studies this week, it was good to see some new faces. One of the members from Trento has decided to come to the meetings at Rovereto (as it is the easiest for him to go to with his shift work as a nurse), and for only the second time there was a Ukranian lady who works twenty four hours a day looking after an elderly lady and using can not get to the meetings. Then on Wednesday night there was someone who had only started coming to church a few months ago, and is learning a lot about the Bible and being a Christian.

The first 15 years

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

After the anniversary of my birth on Wednesday, there was another significant milestone today: it is 15 years since I arrived in Italy as a young, eager missionary. A lot has happened since then of course, and I thank God for his support and the way he has worked in my character. I might be a bit less young (although I like to pretend that I am the same), but I am still eager to see churches that glorify God be planted and grow in and around Trento.

Yesterday was the first meeting of the year for the teenagers’ group. Three out of the possible four were there, and I think it was a helpful time for them (and for Pinuccia) as we talked about our worries. Pinuccia’s meeting on Thursday also went well, and I could see today that all of the Sunday School teachers were keen to restart as they too had their first classes after the summer break.

The first week of work

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

For the next few months at least, most of my activities are concentrated in the first half of the week. So now it is Thursday morning, and I have already done the three cell groups that I am attending. (I still have the Youth Group study to prepare for Saturday, but I do that study only about once a month.) The three groups got off to a positive start. On Monday night, Andrea and Carmelo (who have taken my place leading the group) did a good job with the introduction to the year, and have worked hard in the past couple of months preparing and organising for the group this year. On Tuesday, when the Rovereto group meets this year, there was only one couple from there, but it was a very helpful meeting in encouraging them with the vision that exists for the group (to grow into an autonomous church) and to think about ways of making it grow. In the Wednesday group, which has always been a difficult one because the people in it are very different and there has not been a sense of ownership to the group, there was a good spirit, and so I believe a lot more promise for this year. It is the group that the best cake shop owner and cook at Trento comes to, which worked out well because yesterday was also birthday number 44 for me, and he always brings along a cake or similar for supper. So I got a cake there, even though he hadn’t remembered that it was my birthday. Actually two cakes, as one of the ladies in the group who did remember brought one as well.

Yesterday we also went to the hospital in the morning with the results of Daniele’s thyroid hormone exam. The two important values have returned to the normal range, but a secondary hormone is still too low. So for the moment he is OK, but the pediatrician told us to repeat the exam in a month to make sure the thyroid is still working properly.

Now it is time to get the house ready for the Sunday School teachers’ meeting this evening. It will be mostly my job cleaning up all of Stefania’s toys strewn around the lounge room, and cleaning the public part of the house, as Pinuccia still has some work to do to prepare what she will be saying when she leads the meeting.

Back to work

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

We had a good time in Tuscany this week. Pinuccia commented that it was good to have a “change of air” from the usual activities at home. Being able to talk with others in similar situations to us (missionaries, cross cultural marriages, father working at home, two small children) was helpful as well. I also came back with requests to do three new web sites (or at least set them up so that others can put in the material and update them), so I will be working on those for the next few weeks as well.
After a day in church and resting today, tomorrow it is really back to work, with studies on the first three days of the week for me, then leading the Sunday School teachers’ meeting for Pinuccia (whilst I do the double baby sitting) and the teenagers meeting at our house on Saturday.
The results from Daniele’s blood test had arrived in the post whilst we were away. From what I can work out, it doesn’t look like he has any problems any more with the thyroid, but it is hard to interpret what the results actually mean. We’ll find out for sure in the next couple of days when we take the results back to the pediatrician at the hospital. I’ll let you know.

Visiting doctors and Tuscany

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

We have been making the rounds of the doctors again in the last few days. On Thursday the pediatrician at the hospital rang to say that a problem had been found in the routine blood tests that they do on all new born babies. So we went to the hospital on Friday, where he explained that Daniele has low levels of some of the hormones in the thyroid, which could be caused by congenital hypothyroidism (a defective thyroid). About 1 in 3000 new borns have this disease, and with the blood test they pick out for a retest about 1 in 100 babies. So after a visit to our local pediatrician on Monday to get the request, today (Tuesday) we had a more precise test done at the hospital. We will find out the results at the beginning of next week, but from my calculations there is only about a one in 30 chance that Daniele has this problem. 20 odd years ago it invariably meant physical and mental retardation within the first year, but now with the compulsory screening the disease is diagnosed in the first month and can be treated without difficulty, even if it can’t be cured. So at the moment we are waiting and not too concerned (well, Pinuccia is a bit). Our pediatrician gave us some good advice, to not worry about future possibilities now, there will be time enough for that later if it is necessary… He did not quote Jesus, but Jesus would have said the same thing Matthew 6:34.

Certainly there are no growth problems so far: at 52.5 cm at birth, Daniele was already much larger than average, but at his check up on Monday (less than four weeks), he was already 58 cm and had gained more than a kilogram.
In the meantime, we will be going to Tuscany tomorrow until Saturday for a meeting for missionaries in Italy. (We should have gone today, but with the unexpected hospital visits we could not get ourselves organised in time.) The journey will be interesting – four hours’ driving (plus quite a few rest and feeding stops) with two little ones in the back. But we are looking forward to the time with these fellow missionaries, many of whom we know very well. Then when we will have returned, next week it will be time to get back to work, with three cell groups for me, a Sunday School teachers’ meeting for Pinuccia to organise and run, and then the teenagers’ group at our house for both of us.

In other news, yesterday, just in time for the end of summer, I finished the 12 studies on the Christian character that all the cell groups will be using this year (as well as studies in Ephesians that each group will prepare for itself). On Sunday the last people returned to church after their summer holidays. The couple that I was investing in for the group at Rovereto did not returned there, but since they were able to get teaching jobs in other valleys they will be living elsewhere this year. But Rovereto’s loss will be the gain of the group in the Val di Non or in the Valsugana (they haven’t made a final decision yet). During the summer, they also discovered that the wife was pregnant, which means that in fact for a period of about six weeks eight of the ladies in the church were pregnant (out of about 40 female adult regular attenders). Four are already born; the next half are due from December to February.