Newsletter 28 - April 1999
Over the years, I have become used to thinking of the student work with the GBU in Italy in one way, and that for example in Australia in another. For instance, in Italy there have always been small groups, and even at our national meetings it was possible to get to know everybody well, as in a good year there might be around 20 people present. So the annual student weekend last week came as a bit of a shock, with over 50 people attending, so I had to mentally adjust to an Australian style meeting - getting to know a few people, talking a bit with some others, and realising that there would be some that I would not even have the chance to get past the stage of "Hello" and "95 thousand lire please" (since I was doing the registrations). In fact, with a collective memory among those present going back 18 years, we knew that this was easily the largest GBU student meeting in that period. But it was not just the number present that was significant, but also the range of cities represented. In fact, two of the three strongest groups over the past few years, that usually account for most of those that attend, had just one student present between them. On the other hand, for the first time I met a student from Sicily; there were large contingents from groups at Perugia and Bologna which had formed this year; and there were some people from Pisa, Pescara and the Veneto that are looking at forming groups there. The latter is important for me, because I will be involved if anything gets going in the Veneto region, as it is not too far from me, being more or less the area between Trento and Venice.
Speaking non statistically, the weekend as a whole went well. We had chosen a topic which more explicitly than in the past relates to what the GBU is on about: evangelism. And through the talks and the seminars I think people were helped in their witness on the campuses. The speaker was Marcello Bozzi, a past member and leader of the GBU group at Turin, who will be starting work for the GBU in September. We were also able to pray for each other, and to share ideas between the various groups, which is important because with few opportunities for contact between the groups during the year, it is easy for the students to feel isolated and alone back at their universities.
The other significant event of the past month is that I have finally become a car owner, after six and a half years here without one. Although I was hoping to get a Fiat, good Italian that I am, there were not any decent small ones available, so I ended up with a 1990 Renault 5. It does feel a bit strange, have got used to travelling on buses and bikes, using lifts and legs, because I donít associate living in Trento with driving around. And in fact in the two weeks I have had it so far I have used it just three times - even allowing for a week away, it is not a lot. I hope to not have to use it too much, but on the other hand I am sure that I will be corrupted by having it fairly quickly and will start driving it a lot more. I guess thought that I probably should be driving it a bit more at least now, to get used to it and driving in Italy: I have been known to drive on the wrong side of the road, and I keep turning on the windscreen wipers when I want to turn the corner!
I am coming to the end of the usual spring time activities, with just two more in the next couple of weeks which will keep me busy. Then there will be a bit of a break from these special events, before the summer activities start up.
May 10: Evangelistic meeting at the university, on "The Gospel and Pluralism"
May 14-16: ECM Italy prayer days
June 5: End of year celebration at the university, where I should have a stall for the GBU group. This and the evangelistic meeting will be the last opportunities to find new people for the group before the last current student (Paolo) leaves Trento
June 21-July 9: Summer evangelism team at Perugia; more on that next time, but pray for the preparation that I (and others) will need to do in the meantime.