Newsletter 37c - September 2001
My Australian sojourn is almost finished; on Friday afternoon I leave to return to Italy for another three years. Last weekend I completed all of my official activities, and so am just wrapping up a few things and preparing to depart. But before leaving I wanted to report on what I have done, and briefly mention what I will be doing in the first few weeks after I get back.
I wrote in my last newsletter about the first part of my stay here, a month of holidays and time with the family. The rest of the period, although it was not planned that way, fell into two parts. The first was mainly in Sydney, visiting various groups and spending time with friends there. In the second part I did more travelling, with trips to Canberra, Newcastle, Tamworth, Brisbane and Maroochydore.
I can not describe everything I did in these 10 weeks since my last newsletter, so I will just mention some personal highlights and special occurrences:
Back in Italy
As I said, I return to Italy on the 14th, after having notched up another year two days previously. I should arrive home about noon on Saturday - with my first visitor arriving to spend a couple of days at Trento a few hours later. I hope this is an omen to indicate that there will be lots of friends and others coming to visit in the next few years! One aspect of returning that I am really looking forward to is seeing the changes that have occurred in my absence. From my experience, I know that when I am involved weekly in something, I do not notice the small changes that happen gradually. But the advantage of going away and coming back after awhile is that these small changes accumulate, and I know I will see big changes in peoples' lives.
After my return I have a couple of weeks to adjust again and catch up with what has happened. In that period I also need to get things moving with the Youth Group, meeting with the people that have agreed to help me to lead it, and trying to decide on the best format to run it. I will also probably have to get the group in the Valsugana going again; the rest of the church activities probably will or will have recommenced without my input. In the first week of October I start my trips away, with an ECM 'think tank' on the use of media (ie radio and the Internet) in church planting from the 1st to the 3rd at Milan, and a GBU staff meeting at Florence from the 4th to the 6th. After that, it will be time to start thinking about starting up at the university.
Finally, thank you to all those that made my time in Australia so enjoyable and so productive, and that spent time with me, showing an interest in and supporting my ministry. Sorry to the few that I was not able to catch up with - there is always next time!