Hello from Italy.
Rachel and I are currently in the process of trying to decide what direction we want to go in life. We are currently considering three options.
1.Staying in Italy
2.Going to Albania
3. Returning to America
We’re at a very interesting point in our work here in Catania. We’ve been here for three and a half years now, and I am starting to see "recycled students" - students who came when we first got here. Ninety percent of our students come because they want to leave Catania and go to England (or anywhere else) for work, which they usually do. They come for a few months to learn English and then they are gone. We try to teach them about God and tell them the good news about Jesus Christ. Many times it feels like nothing is getting through to them, sometimes (0.001% of the time) it feels like they are understanding everything.
Speaking of these "recycled students," right now I have two. They came when Rachel and I first got here. One of them went to England, and for family reasons is back in Catania speaking very good English and looking for the truth about life/God. It’s pretty incredible to see the change, and it’s pretty awesome to get to speak with him about the truth. We’ve only had four lessons but they are the highlight of the week. It’s very exciting to speak with someone who is ready to learn. These students are few and far between but they are here. So when do we say, "Ok that’s enough. It’s time to move on?" It’s impossible for us to answer.
We’ve been working with the youth here in the church for three years. We had planned on doing Bible bowl again this year, but it seems like they are at a point where they are ready for more in-depth study and discussion so we are working through that now. Some Italians have expressed interest in teaching immigrants the Italian language as a form of evangelization. Sicily is a door to Europe, so there are plenty of immigrants to teach. So we are starting to work with them on that.
Then we have been invited to move to Albania to do similar work there. We went to a church camp in 2013 and every time we see Sokol he says, "Come to Albania." Recently, I was in Greece for a workshop and he was also there. He said again, "Come to Albania." So I asked him, "Do you say this to everyone? Do you try and get everyone to move to Albania?" He replied, "No. Just you. I think the youth in the church need to see examples of young Christian families. Many missionaries have come, but they are all old. It's hard for a 20 year old to connect with an 80 year old."
From the first time we visited I have always loved Albania, and I would love to live and work there. But we’re in Italy, we finally speak the language, and we see things moving in the right direction here. I want to move to Albania, but I feel like maybe I want to move there for the wrong reasons. We see a need in the north of Italy - the youth are looking and asking for guidance on how to be Christian men and women, but we have not been invited to any specific place. We have just talked among ourselves about the possibility that maybe Catania was our training ground and now we should move up north.
And last but not least we want to go home to be closer to family. There are many opportunities to serve, to do foster care, and to do other things in America. So, in reality, we have four (Catania, Northern Italy, Albania, America) good options in front of us. We have good and bad reasons to want to try and do all of them. So how do we decide? That’s where we are in our work right now. Interesting right?
I am writing you this evening to ask for prayers for wisdom (I need a lager portion than most) and to let you know we are thinking about continuing some form of foreign missions. To those of you who have supported us these past four years, we want to say thank you. If we continue foreign missions longer than the original plan, we are aware we might have to fundraise again. And that's ok. God has always provided for us and we know he will continue. I'm just trying to say that you guys have been great! Your support has been a huge blessing, but we're not taking it for granted.
Alan and Rachel