Newsletter 58a - December 2006
In the family
When we left the hospital after Stefania's birth, as we were saying goodbye to the gynocologist I said, "See you next year!" Well, we just made it, because Pinuccia is pregnant again, and last week we went back to the hospital for the first check-up. She is about to complete the second month, and the baby is due on July 29 next year. As was the case with Stefania, Pinuccia is feeling a bit off, with a sense of nausea, but with no vomiting or worse. Give thanks to God for this grace that he gave us, and pray for Pinuccia and the baby in these coming months.
This pregnancy also affects our furlough. We were due to return to Australia for a few months in the middle of next year, but it is not possible now. So we have delayed the trip, and are now planning to return in the middle of 2008. All my Australian readers will just have to wait another year to meet all my children - unless you would like to come here to visit us.
In the church
At the Monday cell group a few weeks ago, there was a pizza and video night at our house. It was good to sit around a table and talk together. For the film, it had been decided to watch The Da Vinci Code, as no one in the group had seen it, and the others thought it might be useful to see it in order to speak with others about it. However I thought on the night that it might not have been such a good choice, as two non Christian husbands came as well (which in itself was good, especially as one has only just started coming to church, and it was his first time at the cell group). But the day after I thought that maybe it was a good choice after all, because I said a few things afterwards about some of the film's historical inaccuracies, and especially because of the discussion on some of the sentences said towards the end of the film – "Does it matter if Jesus was divine or human?" (when it obviously did, as Tom Hanks' character, who said it, admitted to praying to Jesus when he was in trouble) and "What is important is what you believe in" (and not the fact of believing itself).
And it turned out that it was in fact a good choice. I don't know how much the film and subsequent discussion contributed, but during the week one of these husbands rang one of the elders to say that he wanted to be converted. It would certainly not have been the effect that the author of The Da Vinci Code book would have expected! His wife has been attending the church for a year, after a couple of years with the Jehovah's Witnesses. She became a Christian a few months ago, but her husband just thought it was another of her 'whims' - first the Jehovah's Witnesses, then the Evangelicals. But she and others had been praying for him, and he gradually started coming to the church services. Now he has obviously understood that it is not just a whim, but a real change that has happened in his wife, a change that he wants as well. So pray for Massimo and Angelita and their three boys as well.
Sometimes it is clear when it is just the "right time" to do something; that is how it is feeling with the work at Rovereto at the moment. This month yet another new couple from Rovereto starting attending the church (she has just arrived from Peru; he has always lived there but is not a Christian). Pray that they will in fact come to the meetings of the group, and that this group will continue to grow and one day become a new church.
On the road
At a long weekend at the beginning of the month we travelled 600km south for meeting organised by the GBU [the Italian Christian student movement that I used to work for]. Don Carson spoke, and his talks were as good as I expected them to be. There was quite a crowd of 350 people, which is a most I have ever seen at a Christian meeting in Italy. There were many people that I knew from my time working with the GBU and that I hadn't seen for a few years, as well as a number of missionaries that I regularly meet with for fellowship, and it was good to see them all again. Although with so many of them, the time with each of them was a bit limited.
There was also a good group from the church who went - 13 adults and five children. From what I have understood from them, they benefited a lot from the meeting - they don't often get to hear a speaker as good, clear and deep as Carson.
It was also the first time that we have been about to leave Stefania in a crèche during a conference or church. Pinuccia said that it was too good to be true! We wondered how Stefania would cope with all this time without us, but she had a great time and didn't complain at all when she was left with the other children (although Pinuccia missed her a bit!). It happened that a number of the other missionaries that we see regularly have children within a few months of Stefania's age, so I pray that they will build good relationships together as we travel around Italy for meetings.
Don't forget to check out my blog at http://richard.laparola.net/ for more regular updates (once or two a week) and for breaking news. Those who have been reading it were the first to hear about the pregnancy!