Newsletter 60a - June 2007
Most of the time since the last newsletter was spent in Sicily, where we spent a few weeks for the wedding of one of Pinuccia's cousins and then time with family and friends there, since summer holidays this year are not possible due to the upcoming birth. It was a good break, although I was able to get some work done as well, especially whilst all the Sicilians had their siesta break after lunch. Pinuccia came back rested, particularly because she was looked after by her mother, and Stefania had a great time playing with her cousins.
Three weeks away from church can be a long time in this part of the year, and in fact when we returned there were about ten new faces in church. So now I have to catch up to get to know them. The week after we got back, Pinuccia had to help the Sunday School teachers prepare for the end of school year recital, with a play that she had written and a couple of songs. (Pinuccia had had to work in Sicily as well, creating the masks for the children.) The recital went well, as did the video that the teenagers had prepared which summed up their year's studies and activities. There was also the announcement of another pregnancy, so there are now seven pregnant ladies in the congregation, which is about one fifth of the female adults that regularly attend!
With this growth in the church (due to new people coming, but also the baby boom), the public hall that we have used for the past 15 or so years is becoming small, and there are also problems related to the fact that it is not our place. So for some time there has been a low-key search for another hall; that is, we looked at various possibilities as they came up, without a determination that we had to find one immediately. But recently an option came up which we have been looking seriously into, and having answered all of the town council's requests for changes, we are only waiting for the final council approval. ("Only" probably means a few months yet whilst the correct official gets around to signing the document, especially as the summer slowdown is arriving.) So it is likely that around September the church will be signing a rental contract, and then after a bit of time for renovations (which means everything needs to be done – floor, walls, division into various rooms, toilets, kitchen, etcetera) moving there. It is in a great location, about two minutes' walk from the train and bus stations (via Lampi 8 if you want to look it up in your favourite map program or site), and could mean a more effective outreach into the city from a visible location in the middle of town. It would also mean an increased financial commitment from the members, as we start paying rent for the first time. So pray for this possibility, that we really do create a meeting place that is helpful for the progress of the Gospel at Trento and in the province rather than being a burden, and that the church members will feel an ownership of it so that they are willing to renovate, look after and pay for it.
I am now coming to the end of my regular commitments before the summer break. The Youth Group has already finished with the end of the school year, and the cell groups will run for another two weeks. Then there are a couple of important events at the end of the church year, with the annual church houseparty and then immediately afterwards the annual prayer days for the ECM missionaries in Italy. Pray for both of these events, that they will be a time of more intense fellowship as we stay and eat together, and a time to create a stronger identity and vision together as a church and as a mission. The ECM European Director of Field Ministries will be speaking at the church houseparty (and then participating at the prayer days); pray that it will also be a time of strengthening of the partnership between the church and the mission for the planting of other churches in the province. After that, there will be a couple of months for me without regular commitments, which means preparing studies for next year and during more computer work that is usually possible. And this summer, preparing for and then adapting to child number two! The next newsletter is due just after the birth, so you will hear all about it then.