Archive for June, 2009

Church camps

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

We have just come back from our annual church weekend away. It was a good experience. Unfortunately, with a lot of people working on Saturdays, we don’t start until mid morning on Saturday (and even then there is little more than half the people present), so by the time we finish with lunch on Sunday it feels like it has only just really got going. The other big news of the day at church was another pregnancy announced. So we are now at four in progress, although one is due to end in the next couple of weeks. There really does seem to have been a very contagious virus going around the church in the last few years!

With that, and two end of year dinners for the cell groups during the week, my church activities for the year have almost ended. The last is the church children’s camp from Tuesday to Friday of this week. This is in fact the second such camp, but as we were in Australia this time last year we were not involved with it. It is for children from 6 to 11 years old, in a large house in the mountains of one of the church families. This is fact limits the places a bit, and with the 13 children present there will not be room for our family. So after organising it all, Pinuccia will have to stay at home the whole time with the children, whilst I travel an hour and an half each way every day to help lead and to look after the musical part (including two new songs that I have written for the occasion).

Then next Sunday, we will be having a baptismal service, for three people in the church (one from the group at Rovereto, a Romanian lady that came to Trento this year, and one of the young adults who also goes to the Wednesday night cell group) and one from a nearby (in the sense of a bit more than an hour away) church. So lots of pray for this week.

The end and a new beginning

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

We had two of our end-of-year meetings this week, with the Monday night group cell group having their last meeting at our house, and then the Young Adults’ group coming for dinner on Saturday night. There was in fact only about half of the group present, since some have already left for summer jobs elsewhere, but it was good to get to know better some of those present that we did not know too well, and also to have back at our house again the three teenagers that were part of our Youth Group for three years. This week, I have the final meeting for the Rovereto group (which will be in a pizza restaurant) and for the Wednesday group, which will be another dinner at our house. Then on the weekend there will be annual church weekend away, which is an important moment in the life of the church to pray for.

In the midst of this end of year winding up, we are also thinking about the next year of studies that will restart in September. I met with the elders a couple of weeks ago to talk about it, and then on Friday there was a meeting with the group leaders to discuss the program. We will be doing studies on 1Chronicles and the Apostles’ Creed. During the next few months, I will be preparing the studies on the Creed for the others to use, as well as creating some notes on 1Chronicles to help the other leaders prepare those studies. So I will have a bit to do in the next few months.

The other exciting news for me was that we will be starting a new group, the fourth outside of Trento, which will have the long term aim of becoming an autonomous church, like all of our groups in the province around Trento. Basically, the group in the Valsugana has had some difficulties this year, because it has been a very “fertile” area, with lots of children born in the last few years, which has made it difficult for their parents to get out to go to the studies. So the plan is to start a new group in the western part of the valley (the part nearest Trento) on Saturday afternoons, and to continue the other group in the eastern part of the valley on Friday evenings. Since my main responsibility is to start new ministries, and also because the church is still short of leaders, I will be running it to begin with. But since my other main responsibility is to train people to take my place, and there will be a lot of capable people in the group, I hope that I will only be in the group for a couple of years before I can hand it over to others, and so be free to start another group elsewhere. The other advantage is that Pinuccia will be able to come as well, so that we can go to the same cell group again. We should be starting off in September with 6 couples and 9 and a half children less than 4 years old, so it should be interesting!

End of year activities

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Our four days away at a conference for missionaries in Italy went reasonably well. There were a lot less people present than expected, which meant less opportunities for catching up with friends. All our free time was also taken up looking after the children, which made it hard to talk with others. Although Daniele did stay with the other children for one of the talks (the first time he has ever done this), so at least Pinuccia and I were able to hear slightly more than half of the talks. As all who have had children have experienced, it has been difficult for both of us to get much decent spiritual input lately, with church services being almost impossible to follow (also because both of us teach Sunday School one third of the time), and even decent time for us together with God difficult to find. Although this Sunday was good, because there was the last Sunday School of the year so the children watched a video on Moses and had a party, so I could leave Daniele there with Pinuccia and enjoy the service like a bachelor again! In the past couple of weeks I have also started regular Bible reading and prayer times with Stefania, so there are the beginnings of a family devotion time there.

This week church activities are starting to close down for the summer break, so we will be doing a bit of hospitality in the coming weeks. The Monday night cell group has a film night at our house tomorrow night, which will probably be its last meeting of the year. On Saturday the young adults will be coming to our house for dinner, to finish their official activities of the year. And next week it will be the turn of the Wednesday cell group for dinner at our house. As well as this, Pinuccia has applied to teach English at preschool next year, so this week has a couple of tests (Wednesday written, Thursday oral) in order to see what level she is at. So pray for that as well, so would much prefer doing this than the after school care she is doing at the moment.

Bible study group planning

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

On Thursday I had my annual meeting with the elders to talk about the Bible study groups this past year, and to think about the program for next year. For the studies, the groups will be doing 1Chronicles and a series on Christian doctrine based on the Apostles’ Creed. This means that after a few weeks without having to prepare any Bible studies (because I was far enough ahead to have prepared all of them for the rest of the church year, that ends this month), I will have to really work hard on the new studies for a bit. This will be partly in order to get ahead for the next 12 months (especially since in July we will be going away for a month, so I won’t be able to do any preparation then). Since I have to prepare the studies on the Creed that the other groups will use, as well as some guidelines for the 1Chronicles studies (even though each group leader will prepare his or her own studies on the book), it is also partly to have something to give them in September when the church activities restart. Actually, I need to have something ready already by the 18th, when all the Bible study group leaders will be meeting and we will be explaining next year’s program.

In our meeting on Thursday, we also talked about structural changes, with the possibility of a new group starting (and which we might be involved in). It is not sure yet, so I will say more about that another time.

This week we have had staying with us for a few days Suzanne Bikker, the new missionary for Rovereto. This was to sign her rental contact, but also to meet the new International Director of the mission, who stayed for a couple of days as well. But it was also good to spend some time together with her (since we will be spending a lot of time together in the next few years), and also think further together about her future ministry.

This week, we will be away for four days at a conference held near Florence for missionaries in Italy. Should be a good time to chat with some of our friends from around Italy, and for Stefania and Daniele to play with some other children in similar situations.