Newsletter 61a - September 2007
In the church
All of the church activities have been going for three weeks now, and I have been encouraged by what I have seen happening in them so far, especially in the groups that I am involved in. Andrea and Carmelo are doing a good job of leading the Monday night cell group, in which they took my place. I will be attending the group until the New Year, with maybe a bit of help along the way, but they are responsible for the group.
On Tuesday there is the group at Rovereto, which has switched this year from fortnightly to weekly meetings, and already I have seen this make a positive difference to the way the group works, with more people coming as well. Unfortunately for Rovereto, the couple that I had hoped would be key people in the future of the group there got jobs elsewhere in the province this year (they are both teachers, and can be posted to different schools every year). But it is fortunately for the Valsugana, where they have moved to this year. In fact the Valsugana group has got past the usual threshold of a cell group of 12 people, which means it is starting to decline a bit in its effectiveness. So there will be a big decision coming up sooner or later, about splitting the group and/or starting a weekly service there. It is certainly getting closer to being a new autonomous church planted by the mother church at Trento, and being the first such church the decisions we make for it now will have ramifications on the many other churches that are in our vision to plant in the future.
On Wednesday there is another group at Trento, which for the past couple of years has been the hardest to run because the people in it are very different and there was little sense of belonging to the group. But it seems that the work of the past two years has paid off, and I can feel a different spirit in the group now, with a desire to help each other, and also the highest percentage attending each week of all the groups.
The group for the four teenagers has also had a couple of meetings. We are continuing with the studies in Luke that we started last year. Before the summer break, about a dozen young adults (mostly early twenties) started meeting informally, and now they have started regular programmed meetings three times a month. I have already seen that it has had a very positive effect on these people, as they come to church more often and some are a lot more sure about their commitment to Christ due to the encouragement of the others of their age. We have decided to have some social activity once every two months for the two groups (Youth and Young Adults) combined. When we mentioned this to the teenagers, they were very enthusiastic about it; they suffer a bit from a lack of Christian friends of about their age.
As well as the four groups that I am a part of, and the two others that I have already mentioned, there is also a cell group in the Val di Non valley that continues on, and another at Trento on Saturday afternoon. This latter is also over the threshold with 15 members, so a decision needs to be made about its future as well. Then there is also a monthly meeting of the women in the church, and an evangelistic English Bible study which is mostly attended by international university students. There is also the Sunday School (18 children from 4 to 11 years old in two classes), which Pinuccia is in charge of even though she does not teach there. But a couple of weeks ago she ran a meeting for the Sunday School teachers (as she does about three times a year), for some planning, encouragement and educational training.
In the family
Daniele is growing fast (over 58 cm at the first month), just as Stefania did in her first few months. For a couple of weeks now he has been sleeping at least eight hours at night without needing a feed, which Pinuccia is especially happy about and so is a bit less tired during the day. Daniele had three health problems picked up when he was born, although two of them have almost sorted themselves out since them. But we need to do a few more check ups in the next few months to make sure that they are still alright. Stefania too is growing, especially in her understanding. Although she can not talk much (it is normal in bilingual children to start talking later), she understands most things we say to her in either English or Italian, and seems to like letters a lot – she knows about half of them so far. She also enjoys drawing, and after she has eaten she sits in her high chair making pictures whilst we finish our meal.
In the middle of September, there was a milestone for me: it was 15 years since I arrived in Italy as a young, eager missionary. A lot has happened since then of course, and I thank God for his support and the way he has worked on my character in that time. I might be a bit less young (although I like to pretend that I am still the same), but I am still eager to see churches that glorify God be planted and grow in and around Trento.
On the computer
At the beginning of September we went to Tuscany for a few days for a meeting with other missionaries in Italy, that we meet with fairly regularly. Being able to talk with others in similar situations to us (missionaries, cross cultural marriages, father working at home, two small children) was helpful to us both. I also came back with requests to do three new web sites (or at least set them up so that others can put in the material and update them), so I am working on those at the moment as well. They are also the final touches on a major release on my Bible study computer program that I have been working on for about a year, and which I hope to release shortly.