Archive for May, 2008

Last Bible study

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Last night I led my last Bible study for the church year, and so naturally also my last before we leave for Australia. There are still a few commitments left (guests passing through tonight, end of year ice cream with the Youth Group on Saturday, church on Sunday (including the end of year presentation by the Sunday School and the monthly church lunch)) and Pinuccia has two days of work still, but for the most part we are free now to get things ready to go. There are quite a few lists around the house of things to do and take, and I still have to prepare some of the material that I will take with me to present our work at Trento, but we are more or less on schedule for our Tuesday departure.

Starting to finish up

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Things are starting to come to a close here – partly because summer is on the way (although the official break doesn’t start for another five weeks) and partly because we will be leaving in 10 days’ time. So for example on Thursday night there was the last meeting of the cell group leaders together, in which we talked about the program after the summer, and yesterday there was the last Youth Group study – although there is another meeting next Saturday at the ice-cream parlour under our old house. Pinuccia is also involved in the preparations of the Sunday School end of year presentation next week, whilst I have my last two cell group studies to do on Tuesday and Wednesday. In all this, I am also trying to get material ready to take with us to Australia, to present the work here. I have done a lot of it, but there is still much to do in the next 9 days.

Busy weekend

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

We were kept busy over the weekend by various activities. First of all, the local cooperative bank had its Annual General Meeting on Saturday, and the band was invited to play at a refreshment afterwards. Unfortunately, as AGMs tend to do it finished late, so we waited around in a big tent under the rain from 5pm to 6pm, when everyone came out. Usually it is exciting to play to a crowd of 1500 people, but they were all interested in eating the refreshment rather than listening to us, so the “concert” seemed a bit flat. The crowd did leave a little bit of food for us (although a lot had been finished off), so I filled up on that before going home, and discovered that both Stefania and Daniele had collapsed in bed – very strange for them so early. So instead of the whole family going, I went by myself to a special praise and singing night at the church, with the help of half a dozen Americans who were visiting. It certainly attracts; the hall was almost full and about half of the people were not from the congregation (some I know were friends who were invited, I’m still not sure where the rest came from).
Then this morning there was the usual church service, after which Pinuccia had a small meeting with the Sunday School teachers about the changes in September after the summer break. (More on that later, when we have some more information and have been able to decide exactly what will be happening.) So I took the children home and prepared lunch for us all, whilst Pinuccia got a lift and came home later. Then at 5pm there was the presentation of the Rovereto Church Planting Project in a hall in that town, which was good for giving people an idea and a vision for what will be happening, and for reminding people that the project itself won’t achieve anything, it is what God does that counts, so we need to be praying. There were two immediate effects of having that meeting. The direct one was that someone else from the mountains above Rovereto will try to come to the Bible study on Tuesday. The other indirect effect was that on the way home we stopped to eat a pizza at a restaurant at Rovereto, and discovered that one of the waiters was someone who used to come to the church, but having worked in hotels and restaurants for the past few years he hasn’t been able to come lately. But he was missing the fellowship a bit, and although he can’t come to the Tuesday night meetings (as he works), I will arrange a lift for him to church on Sunday, and who knows maybe in the future he will be able to contribute more to the planting of a church at Rovereto where he lives.
Tomorrow will be busy in another way: Pinuccia’s school will be having an excursion to the local library, and the morning teachers will need all the help that they can get. So instead of just going in the afternoon, Pinuccia will be at school all day, and I will be looking after the children the whole time as well. That will certainly keep me busy.

Guests

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

The house has been getting a good clean lately, with quite a few visits. First on Saturday there was the usual Youth Group meeting. Then on Sunday we had invited three people for lunch after church. However at the last minute they had three guests from another part of Italy come with them to the service, so we invited them as well. Since there was also someone from New Zealand that had just arrived at Trento for a 3 month internship with the OECD here, we thought that we might as well invite her as well. At this point we needed a bit of a fish and loaves event to make the food last for everyone – and we came close to that. Pinuccia asked a couple of people if there is any shop open on a Sunday that would sell some meat. There are in Sicily, but she had forgotten that she is at Trento! However, the Saturday cell group had organised a BBQ on the May 1 holiday, which had been washed out. They had it instead on Saturday, but since others from the church would have gone on May 1 but couldn’t last Saturday, there was a lot of meat left over. Which they had just happened to bring with them to church on Sunday morning to see if they could give it to someone. So we took that, and with what Pinuccia had already cooked plus my pasta (adding some extra things to make the sauce last longer), not only did everyone eat too much, but on Monday we had leftovers to eat for lunch and dinner, and there is still some sauce in the fridge for another day. Although in any case it wasn’t the best weekend for the dishwashing machine to break down.
Then on Monday the person who was due to give the study at the cell group was sick and couldn’t, and since it was one of the studies that I had prepared for the others, and I had already led it for another group and will do it again tonight (Tuesday), I led it on Monday as well. This meant that the group meeting was moved to our house, as only in that way could Pinuccia attend as well. So now at least the lounge room is sparkling clean.

Project planning day

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Since Thursday is the only night that no cell groups meet in the church, it is set aside for leaders’ meetings – usually the church committee, training and coordination meetings. But the free Thursday nights are also used for other meetings – and sometimes there are not enough such free nights. So last night at the church office there was a meeting to discuss the Rovereto project (preparing for the presentation of the project next week, and also thinking and praying about some of the details). At the same time, at the house of one of the elders, another group met to talk about the Nehemiah project and what exactly the church can do to serve the city. The other elder was supposed to be in both, so he went to the Rovereto meeting, then went to the other meeting where he has a smaller role to catch the end of that. We also had to do some juggling, as Pinuccia is doing an English course at the church office, which finished when the Rovereto meeting was supposed to start. So I took the children in the car to the office, we quickly said hello to each other and she took the car and children back home again. Stefania was a bit disappointed at the end, as she had made a trip in the car but at the end didn’t end up going anyway.

New program

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Yesterday I had my annual meeting with the elders, to talk about the program for the cell groups after the summer break, and about my personal program. We try to have partly a common program across the groups (a direction that we want the church as a whole to go), whilst leaving freedom for each group to fill in the rest of the program. So next year we will be looking at our responsibilities in the congregation. Each group will prepare for themselves studies in John’s letters, whilst over the summer (hopefully I will have time whilst in Australia!) I will prepare some studies on the Italian translation of the book Life in the Father’s House by Mack and Swavely, that each group will be able to use. Towards the end of 2008 I will also prepare a series on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, which the groups will be able to use later on.

We then had to postpone deciding about my personal program, as there are still some doubts about the church activities. The group at Rovereto and on Wednesday nights are certain. However we don’t know yet how to organise the Youth Group (as the elder teenagers want to go up to the Young Adults, and maybe the older children in the Sunday School could move up) and the English language group (it depends if there are any English speaking students next academic year, as most come for a one year course), and there is the possibility of starting introductory meetings for new people in the church (that average about one a month at the moment). Things will be a bit clearer in a month’s time, although probably we won’t know for sure until September.

I’m not sure when I will be blogging next, but in case it is more than a week away that is a meeting next Friday evening that you can pray for. We will be having our third meeting in a sort of cultural coffee shop at Trento, with one of the elders leading a discussion on the difficulties of believing. It is very low key evangelism, but an important way of getting people to think about spiritual issues and to have a voice in the culture of the society we live in.