Archive for September, 2009

In Madrid, and social cultural ministry in the church

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Most of this week (Monday-Thursday) was spent in Spain, in a training and planning meeting for some of the leaders of European Christian Mission. It is hard work, staying inside for meetings all day, but there are good relationships between the about 20 of us that come together every six months, so that makes it more enjoyable. It was also hard work for Pinuccia to look after the children by herself. But it was great to see the excitement of them all when I got back.

After the service this morning, there was a presentation of the new association Altrimenti. This association has been in the works for almost a couple of years, and will be the social and cultural arm of the church. Some of the things that the church has done in the past (eg public conferences) and some of the things that individuals have been doing (organising collections of second hand clothes to send to other countries, working in nursing homes) will be brought under the name of this association, whilst also gives us a better base to do similar things in the future. This is just at the time when ECM in the past few months, and especially in the meeting this week, has been considering how to promote integral or holistic ministry in the mission. Although the church is not just now starting such ministry, it will now have a more conscious part in the church’s service in the community, and be more directed and organised.

A full week

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

It was a full week this week with church activities, out six evenings in a row. First on Tuesday and Wednesday there were the usually cell group Bible studies at Rovereto and Trento. Then there was a co-ordination meeting with the cell group and church leaders, so that everyone knows what everyone else is doing. Since it was the first such meeting after the summer break, we worked on a summary of where we are at the moment and looked at our plans for the year. It was encouraging to see more than 80% of the (more or less) regular attenders of the church in one of the seven cell groups, which becomes almost 90% if we include the few in the young adults’ group that do not attend one of the cell groups. However, it also causes problems with the groups, because they are more popular than we can cope with. For example, the three groups at Trento each have 16 members, whereas a dozen is usually the recommended maximum size. But we do not have enough leaders to start another group.

After my “recreation night” at band practice on Friday, on Saturday there was the first meeting of the new group in the Valsugana, which caters also for the “baby boomers” in the valley: six couples are in the group, along with 8 children under 4 years old plus two more on the way. It will be interesting to see how such a group, which is very different from the other groups in the church, develops. Then this evening, there was the monthly service at Rovereto, which it was my turn to preach up. By the way, this morning there was also a record attendance at the service at Trento, with 76 adults (not counting guests).

In the meantime, we had Pinuccia’s cousin and her husband staying with us from last Sunday until Saturday, when they moved to the apartment that they had found. It is at the centre of Lavis, only about 500 meters from our house, which no doubt will be convenient at times. For example, I leave tomorrow for four days at Madrid for meetings with ECM, and this creates some problems for Pinuccia in managing the house and the children (even though she will take a few days off work). But she will be able to get her cousin to help to do some shopping, or to have a meal, or to have a lift somewhere if necessary, since I will be taking the car to the airport. I in the meantime will get a bit of a break, although two and a half days shut up inside in constant meetings is tiring in another way.

Facebook

Monday, September 14th, 2009

I have never been a great fan of Facebook, as the information I might have put there I have been writing instead on this blog. But I thought recently that is would be a good way to great my blog read more, and as a result more people praying, as probably more people read Facebook posts than RSS feeds to blogs. So I have set up a Facebook page, which will have pretty much nothing more than the contents of this blog. And probably I won’t visit my Facebook page often to see what others are saying – life is too short to follow everyone! In any case, this is a test message, which hopefully should show up as my first message on Facebook as well as on my blog.

So if you read the blog and want to follow it instead on Facebook, send me an invitation to become your friend. And if you are reading this on Facebook, and want to see the last three years of messages, head over to http://richard.laparola.net/

E se sei un amico italiano e non capisci inglese, mi dispiace ma non troverai la mia pagina di Facebook molto interessante!

The first week

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

We have finished now the first week of church activities for us both. I was particularly happy to see things improving at Rovereto, with a new couple that we have invited repeatedly for a couple years finally deciding to attend. Suzanne Bikker, the new missionary, is already having a positive impact on the ministry in the church, especially at Trento. She has got to be friends with the couple in the small time that she has been here, which I am sure helped them to decide to come. This week we will even be going to their house for the study. Then there was the first meeting for the Wednesday night group, which had less than half its usual number, as a few people still have to return to Trento after the summer break or had other commitments. Then on Thursday Pinuccia and I had our first “official” meeting with Suzanne, and in the evening I had a meeting with the group of welcomers to talk about how their ministry was going. Today there was the first day of the Sunday School year, with a sort of party for the children, and a time to pray for them and the teachers in the service. Pinuccia was kept busy organising that this week. And in the midst of all that there was also my birthday to celebrate: another year passes by God’s grace and in his strength!

Meanwhile the hours of Pinuccia’s work have continued to change or threaten to change a few times this week. But at least next week there will be no problems for her to start the English course on Tuesday and Friday afternoon. Then she will take a week off work whilst I am in Spain for an ECM meeting, so there should not be a problem then either. Especially as we should have some resident babysitters. Pinuccia’s cousin who got married in August in Sicily and her husband were both offered jobs in schools on Friday, so they will move to our house tonight and stay in the spare room, until they find an apartment to rent for themselves. Pinuccia is happy to have part of her extended family here with her now!

Half back to normal

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

We are half way back to our normal rhythm, with Stefania back to school and Pinuccia back to teaching since Tuesday. We are still not too sure what Pinuccia’s hours will actually be. They have already been changed three times this week, and could be changed again tomorrow and maybe again in a couple of weeks. She is hoping though to be able to do the English course, which will be on Tuesday and Friday afternoons after work (if the times of her job aren’t changed).

On the other hand, I will be really getting back to my normal work, with the groups on Tuesday (at Rovereto) and Wednesday (at Trento) restarting this week. Then on Thursday there will be a meeting for the group of welcomers, and on Friday band practice (which has already been going for a few weeks). This year, Monday will be my night off and our night together.

Today, after the church lunch, Pinuccia ran a meeting for the Sunday School teachers (which includes me). That will be starting next Sunday as well, although it will be a few more weeks before my turn for teaching comes up. Thursday there will also be the first of our weekly meetings with Suzanne Bikker, as we really start to work together as a team.