Archive for the ‘Youth Group and Sunday School’ Category

Camp and baptisms

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

The seventh church children’s camp finished today. I went to the camp today and the first day to help with the transport and the preparation and finishing, but also all day on Wednesday to organise some activities. One was dong the filming to create a video of the participants dancing to the song “Happy”, as is the fashion these days. Another was an evening of Extreme Sports, of which my personal favourite was Extreme Ironing (which really does exist, it is on Wikipedia!) – the children were very imaginative in finding extreme ways to iron my shirt. I have not had much of a chance to speak with the leaders about how it went, although I could sense a great feeling amongst the participants whilst I was there, and heard the Bible being explained and discussed well.

This week’s main event is the first ever baptisms at the Rovereto church, which will be taking place next Sunday afternoon. It will be great to be able to rejoice with the church for how God has been building his kingdom through the ministry of the congregation.

Kids’ Club 2

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Now I am back in Italy, more awake than I was in Australia – jetlag is less of a problem travelling west. It is good to be with the family again!

Today was the World Refugee Sunday of the World Evangelical Alliance. We celebrated by listening to the stories of the Pakistan refugees that God has entrusted to our church. I found it a very moving moment. We had prayed regularly for the persecuted church, and God responded sending the persecuted Christians to us so that we could help them practically.

This week’s big activity is the second edition of the Kids’ Club, an evangelistic program for children. This time we will be going public, doing it in a park next to a lake where a lot of people go on Saturday afternoons (weather permitting). Pray for the testimony, and give thanks for the great team that have put it all together.

Activity time

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

It was a very weekend on all fronts for me – church, family, and band. On Saturday afternoon there was a seminar on building up the community, especially on dealing with conflicts, followed by a worship evening with input on forgiveness. Then on Sunday morning there was the annual Sunday School presentation, for which I prepared the section for the older children, and helped Pinuccia to coordinate the three classes. It was fun teaching (with two others) the older class this year, and to prepare the presentation, as we were able to do lots of things in different ways, like create videos, listen to popular music, watch films and analyse them, walk around the city taking photos of wrong behaviour, etc.

But this is also the time of year when lots of organisations run activities. So this weekend there was a children’s festival in our town of Lavis, an expo with children’s activities in a town just down the road, and a festival in the area of Trento where the church hall is. So we had to be selective. The Lego and Star Wars (two of our children’s favourite activities put together) at the expo could not be missed, so that was squeezed into Friday evening between Daniele’s handball practice before, and -my band practice and a planning meeting for the next Kids’ Club after. The photography class for children at Lavis was good as well, and then the birthday party of one of Stefania’s friends took up Saturday afternoon (whilst I was in church). We wanted to go back to the expo for the chocolate demonstration on Sunday afternoon, but we had to give that one up, after staying late at the church picnic at the park with our friends. Instead on Sunday night there was a concert for me with the band.

More events

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

We are continuing with the extra events, that is normal for Spring time. On Friday there was a public holiday, which required a bit of juggling of my commitments. During the day many from the congregation went to a get together for various churches in northern Italy at a city 2.5 hours away. That night there was also a concert by the band at Lavis. I had calculated that the time might be tight, but I went for it, having warned the band that I might be late. I got home 8 minutes before the concert started, changed into my uniform and drove to the concert, and arrived 4 minutes after the start time – only to find that it must have been the first time an event in Italy had ever started on time. So I waited in the wings during the first song, and snuck on stage during the introduction of the second.

This week’s event is the Sunday School excursion, for the small and middle classes. Since the smaller children this year have been looking at the animals of the Bible (that is, the stories that the animals appear in), we will be going to the zoo which is about an hour south of Trento. The teachers will take the opportunity to reinforce the lessons, for example asking when we see the lions, “Who remembers what story the lions were in?”

In Croazia

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

The biennial conference that we were at last week was one of the more helpful for me for a while, mainly because the children are a bit older and a bit more autonomous, which meant that Pinuccia and I were a freer to participate and for relationships with the other missionaries. That was true especially in the first half of the week; in the last few days half the family was sick. But in between bouts of fever, head and throat aches, and vomits, Pinuccia and I managed to sneak out for 20 minutes to watch the sun set over the sea (one of Pinuccia’s favourite activities, as they get great sea sun sets near her home in Sicily) on Thursday, which was our 10th anniversary. Thanks also to the Australians who helped me out, babysitting sick children, giving romantic advice, and serenading us with beautiful songs in the background, whilst we sat watching the sun set. On the first evening, I won a free entry to the hotel’s saunas and spas, which Pinuccia enjoyed as an anniversary present. I’m thankful to God that the children loved the time here – Stefania would insist that she was not sick any more the moment she realised that the children’s program was about to start – and so pleasant to be with – we had some great family outings together in the spare time, at least until the illnesses started to take over.

This Saturday there is the fulfilment of Pinuccia’s 14 year old dream, to start a Kids’ Club. Pray for the team that is organising and running it, and for the children that will come. There is also a Pakistani service on Friday, so you could pray for the witness as well. Both are hoping to become monthly events in the future.

Working with children

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

My Sunday today was dedicated to the Sunday School, and more of the Sunday School than usual. As we move towards the end of the school year, we tend to do some activities together for the two older classes, preparing for the transition of some of them to the next class after the summer break. So in the morning there was a lesson for the two classes together, which I did, and in the afternoon we had an outing together. It was supposed to be an afternoon on the snow at the beginning of the month, but it got postponed a couple of times and become the first picnic of the year. Despite the arrival of the Spring weather, I had to do this with a pretty bad cold. Doing the lesson with no voice was no fun (although since I could not speak up the children did have to keep quiet to hear me), and at the park I just collapsed and had to sleep. But after I work up I managed to be a bit more useful and sociable.

After the church service, Pinuccia made an announcement which, she said, greatly excited her. When she came back to Italy from Switzerland 14 years ago, so had a dream and a desire of starting a kids’ club. For various reasons it has not been possible. But in the last few weeks she has been meeting with a handful of other people from the church, to prepare the first church Kids’ Club, which will be held on April 19. She is grateful for this team that has the same desire, and are working together on the same vision. The aim for the future is to start regular meetings of such a club.

This Saturday the family will be going to Croatia for a week, where there will be the biennial conference for ECM. Pray that it will be a helpful time for all four of us, and a time in which we can help other missionaries. We also can count it as a special trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary during the conference – quite appropriate as half our honeymoon was spent at an ECM conference. Although to be honest, Pinuccia does not consider a missionary conference such an appropriate way to celebrate our anniversary.

Sandwiches for India

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Last Sunday there was the Sunday School’s annual fund raising event for a school in India. But more than fund raising, the aim has always been to have the children give what they can offer for the good of other children. This year we did something new, transforming the monthly church lunch after the service into the Sunday School Sandwich Shop, with the children busy making bread rolls and waiting on the tables, and the “clients” making a donation for the lunch. The church hall was nicely transformed into a restaurant for the occasion, and unexpectedly more people turned up than usual for a church lunch, which stretched our resources. But we found enough space, even though not enough tables, and had enough food, with a little left over which we could give to a couple of homeless people who have been attending the church lately. We raised over €400 for the school, but more importantly it was the children who, indirectly, gave the money.

Daniele and I however had to leave half way through the event, for his first chess tournament, which he was excited and enthusiastic about. He had two draws and five losses, which is not bad considering all the others were 3 to 6 years older than him. He proudly wore his medal (which all the participants won), and was really happy to win a Christmas bag of chocolates as the youngest player.

In local news this week, Trento topped the table this year as the best Italian city to live in. And there are lots of events in town to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the end of the Council of Trento. It is indeed a great place to live, where we can proclaim the grace alone of God in the place in which that doctrine was cursed.

Party time

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

This has been and still is a long week-end of parties. First on Friday there was the birthday party of one of Stefania’s class mates, and on Monday there will be another one. On Saturday morning there was a beginning of year party in the school courtyard, and in the evening an almost surprise party for my round number. Sunday was the first day of the Sunday School after the summer break, so we had a traditional party to kick the year off. Although I did not actually participate, as the other teachers of my class and I took the 11-12 year olds outside for some group bonding activities. I am looking forward to the near year with them, after a difficult year last year. Only one person remains from last year’s group, and the new ones are more enthusiastic than the ones who moved to the teenagers’ group. Then in the afternoon there was a reunion party for the children’s camp that we ran in June. It was good to see almost all the children there, welcoming towards a few new people who were present, and enthusiastic to come to next summer’s camp – even though the majority where not from the church.

Camp

Monday, June 24th, 2013

We all had a lot of fun at the children’s camp that ended yesterday, building spaceships, going to an observatory, dancing with the stars, listening to Professor I. M. Smart (that was me) and his robot S-147-4-5 (“S” for Salmo, ie Psalm) talk on astronomy, doing English gymnastics, and lots of other activities around the space theme. After making Daniele cry last year by scaring him whilst impersonating a pirate, this year I made Stefania cry when the Professor sacrificed himself to save humanity from an asteroid, and would not return. I think it is due more to having sensitive children than to my acting ability.

Professor I. M. Smart and S-147-4-5, with a galaxy

Professor I. M. Smart and S-147-4-5, with a galaxy

Around these activities, we taught how great and powerful God is who created everything, how small we are in the universe, and yet God is with us, knows us, and cares for us. The last day we bought it all together, that God knows how to save us, has the power to do it, and wants to do it. It was a bit disappointing to hear from the children the same (wrong) answers to the question, What do we have to do to be saved, that they gave at last year’s camp, that is read the Bible, pray, go to church, etc. But I am encouraged that I was a couple of years older before I finally understood the answer, despite having heard it many times before. On the other hand, there was a good time talking with the parents as they came to pick up their children, and one father in particular was very interested. Pray that he will in fact come to church one day, as he said he might, and bring his three children.

Lots of things

Monday, June 17th, 2013

A lot has happened in the last week, so much that I did not even get time to write on last week’s events. So going back to the beginning, last Sunday there was the end of year presentation of the Sunday School. We farewelled three children who will be moving on to the youth group after the summer break, two of whom have grown up in the church, and who I have taught for 4 years. I had fun putting together a highlights video of 10 years of their Sunday School career, although I did not manage to embarrass them as much as I hoped!

Scuola domenicale

Scuola domenicale

Then yesterday afternoon there was a celebration for the baptism of seven people in the church. There were two who were part of the youth group that we started almost eight years ago, so it was pleasure for us to see them continue to grow in their faith. There were also two international students, which is a reflection of the changing face of the church lately.

In the meantime, Stefania finished school on Tuesday, so she is at home now and needs to be kept entertained. She had a performance for the last day of school, and a class party and a school party the week before, not to mention two birthday parties of classmates. Daniele instead had his “graduation” ceremony on Thursday, as he finishes up his three years of pre-school. He will continue until the end of the month, as will Pinuccia who teaches in a pre-school. She has a lot of paperwork to do for the end of the year, as well as her usual teaching hours.

On Saturday night there was the band’s main event of the year, the final of a provincial Karaoke contest that has had qualifying rounds going on all year. So we played the background music as an orchestra for 16 singers (including another one of the youth group of eight years ago, and another person who grew up in the church and whose parents now go to the Rovereto church), as well as playing a few of our own songs at the beginning and end. We also played the music for some dances from the local dance school. One of the dancers was Stefania’s dance teacher, who is also the sister of one of her class mates, goes to the Assemblies of God church, and sometimes to our young adults’ activities for the various churches at Trento. It is good to see the evangelicals getting into the arts! There were other performances as well during the evening, but we were allowed to have a rest at those points. Just as well, because after 5 hours of concert, we were all pretty tired!

Concerto della banda

From the local newspaper: look carefully on the left in the second row

There was a lot more going on last week – teachers’ strikes, meetings at school for Pinuccia and on Skype for ECM for me, double band rehearsals, tradesman doing some work on the house the whole time, and more. But the main thing we have being doing is preparing for the children’s camp, which is on this week from Wednesday to Sunday. It has been taking up a lot of time, and there is still a lot to do in the last couple of days – not only for the camp, but also other commitments, like receiving reports from Daniele’s teachers today and Stefania’s tomorrow. We are not quite yet in the panic stage, but we are close! Pray for the 22 children who will be attending (including 10 with no evangelical background), that God will be working in them. Also for the 5 teachers, that we will work together well and faithfully. Not to forget our two “mascots”, who are underage but who participate a fair bit anyway – pray that it will be a fun and helpful time for them as well.