Newsletter 49b - September 2004
After a two month trip in Australia, we arrived back at home a week ago. It was different in many ways from my previous three trips to Australia. First of all, of course, because I didn't go alone this time. Pinuccia got to discover Australia, as we played tourist when we had some spare time. Her favourite places were on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Aquarium. Having Pinuccia with me also meant that I got to do a lot of things that I would never have done as a local – it was my first time in those two places, and others, and I enjoyed them a lot as well. With cricket being played in the winter as well now, I even got to see some cricket (on the television), the first time in quite a while. The other major difference was having a trip of only half the usual duration, as that was the limit of Pinuccia's holidays. This made the trip a lot busier than usual, but we did get to do and see almost all that we wanted to. There were also a lot more people that wanted to receive prayer information, which was one of the major aims of the trip. Welcome to all those that are reading this newsletter for the first time!
The trip was a good opportunity for us to get to know each other. Pinuccia got to see a lot of Richard's past, meet his friends, and see him in what was his home environment. Richard got to see Pinuccia in a strange setting, and so see different sides of her character. Now we hope to have some 'routine' time at home - we have spent more than half of our five months of marriage overseas so far, so some time together at home will be good. Although next week I will be at Brussels for an ECM meeting - our first separation.
As I write, the church activities are starting up again after the summer pause – although the Valsugana group has been meeting together in the meantime without me, which is a great sign for its growth into an autonomous church. In fact, they have also organised some open air evangelism, which they will do for the first time on the 26th and then do it again in other towns in the valley. So at the moment the aim is to get as many people involved in the small groups as possible. Then the aim during the year will be to reduce my leadership from four groups to two, training new leaders to take my place. This will not be difficult in the Valsugana, where they already are willing and capable to do a lot; my role will be to give help and advice and gradually reduce my involvement and participation. A bit of a shame, as it is the group that I enjoy going to the most. I will also be working with another couple (Carmelo and Miriam), with the aim of having them take over one of the groups at Trento next year. Pinuccia on the other hand is working with Mariangela on the program for the Sunday School this year, and with Daniela and Miriam on the program for the ladies' studies. Pinuccia is still waiting for work, as there has not been enough demand for relief teachers yet. You could pray that she would be offered a good job soon, with more stability than last year when she had to often change schools.
It is always a joy coming back to a church after a long absence, and seeing how much God has done in the meantime. God of course works all the time, but when there are small changes every week we don't notice it as much as when we see them accumulated over a period of a couple of months. So I was really happy to see the changes to the church when I went last Sunday. Just a few things I noticed: there are some new people coming, the houseparty a couple of weeks ago was a great success, the Valsugana group has done a lot, and Mariangela is taking on more responsibilities in the Val di Non group freeing up Angelo to do other things. It was interesting also that a couple of guests visited on the weekend, and they commented to me on how "on-the-ball" they found the church and the leaders, with a clear vision and desire to proclaim the Gospel, especially in the towns and valleys around Trento where there isn't any evangelical witness. And I realised that it is true, that they have matured a lot in this – seeing the church through someone else's eyes helped me to see the differences between now and the past. Pray that God will continue to grow the church in size and in maturity, and that he will fulfil this vision of extending his church in the province.
If you would like to read about what we did in the last three years, you can download and read this file. This is a copy of the album that we created for our deputation and took to all our visits, and has a lot more information than we were able to communicate in our meetings. It is 1.7Mb, and Acrobat is required to read it.