Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Kids Club at Lavis

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Yesterday afternoon the church was present at the festival of Lavis, doing craft work with children. It was not an explicitly evangelistic event, but was more to make ourselves known to prepare for future events. But for us from Lavis, it was a good opportunity to talk with people we know as they passed by, and explain who we are, what we are doing and why. At least, it was for Pinuccia. I was kept busy taking Stefania and Daniele around to the other activities, and accepting lots of compliments for the twins.

Kids Club at Lavis

Twins

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Luca (2210g, on the right of the photos) and Mattia (2185g) were born today at 4pm Italian time. They are a bit small, since they were born a month before the due date – there were not any real problems, just a belly getting too large for Pinuccia to carry. They are still getting used to the new environment and need help breathing, so they are still in an incubator, and will remain there until they don’t need it any more, whenever that might be.  Pinuccia saw them for only a minute after the birth, but when she has recovered a bit more she will be able to go and see them, as they have been moved to another section of the hospital.

Prayer for Pakistan

Monday, March 17th, 2014

A couple of prayer points from our church I wanted to share more widely:

1. Today, one of the church members (who pastored a church in Pakistan before have to flee the country) will be speaking at the United Nations at Geneva on religious liberty in Pakistan.

2. Another member of the church, who also had to flee Pakistan leaving his family behind, had his son kidnapped last week.

My previous life

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Sometimes I refer to what I did in Australia as “my previous life”, as it seems so different and distant from what I do now. But every now and again things happen that bring back recollections of my past life. For example, on Friday I was remembering a conversation I had with some good friends at Newcastle at least 25 years ago, when Don Carson’s book Exegetical Fallacies had recently come out. One of the group said, “That would be a book for Richard!”. An accurate assessment, and in fact a few years ago I was asked to translate it into Italian by one of the local publishing houses. It is just been printed, and on Friday I received a few copies of the book for my work, and for my memories.

Last Easter, Stefania and Daniele saw me look at some chess news on Internet, and wanted to know all about it. So they learnt the rules, and started going along to a chess club at Trento, although only Daniele has continued after the summer. As I have taken them to the children’s lessons at the club, I have got to know some of the other members, and regained a bit of interest from my teenage years. It is also another opportunity to meet people outside of the church circles. Since the summer I have played in three single afternoon friendly tournaments, being a bit the unknown and unrated dark horse. The third one was today, when I also picked up my first placing (3rd). Which was the best result I ever obtained in my teenage years as well. Next Sunday there is a family day, with a tournament for children and one for their families, so we’ll see how Daniele fares in his first official matches.

But what made me the most excited all week, and brought back lots of memories, was discovering on Saturday morning that the Dr Who special (to celebrate my 50th anniversary a couple of months ago?) would be shown on Italian TV that night, at the same time it was shown in England. Usually I have to wait a year for shows to be dubbed and come out in Italy. Instead, I had an expected evening being nostalgic about my previous life.

New services

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Yesterday afternoon, for Good Friday, there was something new in the church – our first Pakistani/Indian service. This came about through the Pakistani pastor that God sent to Trento as he fled from persecution, as he has been making contacts with the immigrants not only at Trento but also in other parts of Italy. So there were about 45 Asians at the service, from Trento and elsewhere, as well a number of church members who wanted to participate. This sort of ministry was certainly not in our vision a year ago, nor how we thought that the new premises would be used when we decided to start renting it, but it is exciting to see how God leads us and uses us if we make everything – including ourselves – available to him.

Pakistani/Indian service

Pakistani/Indian service

Review: Abraham

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Abraham: Following God’s Promise (http://www.logos.com/product/20888/abraham-following-gods-promise-complete-church-curriculum-for-leaders-and-pastors) is a course published by Logos, and so available only for computer and not as printed material. I was provided with a free copy, and this is my review of it.

The product contains a lot of material: a book for group members, and a book for leaders that organizes the material in two different ways, for leading a small group and for preaching a sermon. There are also short videos that present each study (basically a person reciting what would be the first paragraph). There are also sermon handouts, teaching slideshows and small group handouts, which can be downloaded from the above web page. So there is a lot of material which can be used.

What stands out for me in the study guide is the background material, with the literary context, historical and cultural background, and how the passage is used not only in the rest of the Bible back also in other ancient texts. It would be too much to use in a study (which is a positive thing), but would be good for the group members to read beforehand.

On the other hand, I find the emphasis of the interpretation of the passages is too much on the experience of the group members, and not on God. Often the drift of the study is “Have you ever felt like Abraham did?”, and then we should be like or not like Abraham, and we see one of God’s characteristics in this way. Whereas I would have liked it the other way around: “What do we learn about God from how he revealed himself through Abraham?”, and then “How should be behave or think as a result?” This is a question of emphasis, which would only requiring changing the order of the study. More difficult is that it is missing a sense of the Biblical narrative and the progression of God’s plan. Sure, as I said it is very good at picking up the references in the rest of the OT and in the NT to Abraham, but they are still not placed in God’s story. So we do not see how Abraham’s story is leading up to Christ, except where there is the parallel of the sacrifice of Isaac. There is therefore hardly any mention made to the actual content of Genesis 12:1-3, only to the fact that Abraham showed faith in responding to the call despite not knowing what exactly he was being called to (and so, “Have you ever felt the same way what responding to God’s call?” is the question in the study). But the content of God’s promises in these three verses, not just the fact that God promised and Abraham followed, are fundamental to understand God’s  response to the sin of Gen 1-11, and how he would bring blessing to all nations through Jesus Christ, which all of the rest of the OT prepares for.

Anniversary week

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

I had three anniversaries in the last few days, of which the last was the least noticed by others, but maybe the most significant for me.

The first was on Wednesday with the anniversary of my birth, which I celebrated by sending Stefania to the first day of school and getting some freedom. I then used up that freedom with my first meeting for ECM work of the new academic year (via Skype), and then the first Bible study for the church of the new year. On Saturday there was a special thanksgiving meeting for the first anniversary of the Rovereto church: a wonderful opportunity for being thankful for God’s work in that city. And today is the 20th anniversary of my arrival in Italy, for which I give thanks to God for how he has helped and used me in all this time. If you want to read a brief summary of what has happened in the past 20 years of my life, you can read the newsletter that I sent out this morning at http://www.laparola.net/richard/news.htm

How many fingers?

How many fingers?

Snow business

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Although it has already snowed a few times in the mountains around Trento, this weekend there were the first snow falls in the town itself. Stefania and Daniele certainly got excited at the sight. However, it does reduce participation a bit. Church this morning had about 1/3 less than its usual number, with people unable or unwilling to get out with the snow. The beginning of the usual mid winter blues, as numbers and keenness drop until Spring starts in a few months.

But there are still lots of activities. In fact next Saturday is the day when people in the church managed to organise three events at the same time (as well as the usual Saturday afternoon Bible study groups). The one that stayed on that date is an evangelistic concert at Trento, with Samuele (my ex-flatmate) and some friends from other churches playing, as well as a presentation of Altrimenti, the social arm of the church, and its project to help a hospital in Cameroon. The other events for Saturday got moved – the Sunday School’s biscuit making to the 11th, the Youth Group to the 18th – so there will be more on those in a future post.

Really Italian

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Today I exercised my Italian citizenship for the first time. There was an election for a new level of government (the fifth!) that has been created between the town and provincial levels. So I cast my vote there. Only 6 parties in 4 coalitions, Italian politics is not as interesting/confusing as it used to be before they changed the electoral system. I actually could have exercised my Italianism a few weeks ago when I went to Spain, but when I did the on line check in I forgot that I was Italian, and gave the details of my Australian passport. If I had said that I was Italian, I would not even have had to use a passport. Part of the reason of obtaining Italian citizenship was to make travel easier around Europe, so hopefully the next time I go to Spain I will remember.

The end of the vacation

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

After the long summer break, preschool starts for the rest of the family on Wednesday. Stefania starts her third and final year, whilst Daniele goes for the first time. Pinuccia has accepted a job at a school in the centre of Trento from 2.30pm to 5.30pm; that is, the after school care. It means she will be at home almost an hour later than she was last year, which means an hour per day less with the children. She is not happy about this (and neither will Stefania and Daniele be once school starts), but there was nothing better available. On the other hand, with both children at school, Pinuccia and I will both get a lot more time to do other things. After a few years in which I have been able to do a lot less than what I had wanted to do, it will be a big change. I wonder though if we will suffer from the “empty nest” syndrome, having such an empty house during the day.

Although the school restarts on the 1st, it will be a couple of weeks before we actually arrive at the normal rhythm. Firstly because Daniele has a gradual insertion at the preschool, first doing 1.5 hours per day, then a few more hours, before starting full time attendance in the second half of the month. At the same time, my mother arrives on the 1st for a visit for a couple of weeks, which will help to fill the hole left by all my family going out every day!

The first couple of weeks of September are also filled with the preparations for the new church year, and getting the groups restarted. Pinuccia will be leading a meeting for the Sunday School teachers on Thursday, with the classes starting probably on the 12th. She will also have to work out a program for the monthly ladies’ meetings. I will be getting two cell groups started, as well as helping the other groups start looking after the enrolments. So I will have a gradual insertion into my normal pattern of church ministry as well.