Monday, January 9, 2017

Four Years Ago Today

 Four years ago today a young, married couple arrived in Florence Italy with plans to do some mission work for two years.

Four years and two kids later, and we're still here.  We can't believe how fast this time has flown.

I just want to give you a small summary of what's happened this past year, and then I'll include photos from the last year.

Alan has had several new students this year.  He has had a handful of students who are genuinely interested in studying the Bible.  These students not only study the Bible in English with him, but also meet with one of our elders to do a regular Bible study in Italian.

We have started a work with foreigners who want to learn Italian.  We've gotten 5 students over this year who've asked us for Italian lessons instead of English.  Four of them still come, and they come every, single day of the week. So some days they do just an Italian class, and some days they study the Bible in English and/or Italian.

Can you imagine telling someone about Jesus and his teachings for the first time in their lives? It's such a strange and beautiful experience. We (Americans and Italians) live in a country that is fairly familiar with Jesus and the stories about him. These four students who study Italian are traditionally Muslim and are from Iran. They have SO many questions about the Bible.  They've only been coming for a couple of months, but we've already had many conversations talking about issues such as how Jesus can be God and man, woman's roles in the church, how the Bible views women, forgiveness, grace, sin; basically you name it and we've talked about it. We specifically ask for prayers for these four students. Ali and Shiva seem especially interested and studying to discover what is, in fact, the truth.

One day, while walking in the park with Shadi and Shiva, they asked me if the Bible is against women. In talking about women's roles and how women are viewed in the Bible, we discussed the fact that a husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loved the church - even giving up his life for her. Next thing I know, one of the girls is crying saying that it's one of the most beautiful things she's ever heard.

So we ask for specific prayers for Ali, Moji, Shiva, and Shadi. That they won't stop searching for the truth.

In addition to classes, we stay busy with church events - pot lucks every month, volleyball every week, youth group meeting twice a month, Sunday school, English class on Thursday evenings for the kids during Bible study, and VBS in the summer.

This summer we had several visitors from VBS, and a few of them studyied the Bible on a regular basis afterwards.

We also spend a lot of time with our church family - eating in each others homes, going to kid's birthday parties, and just spending time together. Catania is an amazing church and they are awesome at sharing God's love with each other and with those around them.

And of course, on a personal note, Alan and I had our second child this year. Sunny Faith arrived in August and she and big brother Davey are keeping us busy. They also have helped us make friends with most of our neighbors and the local businesses around our apartment.

Speaking of births, there have been nine baptisms this past year. Our new brothers and sisters in Christ are getting involved and growing already. Continue to pray for them as well!

We have many plans for this coming year that we are super excited about, but I will include that in the next blog, which I hope to post later this week.  For this post I just wanted to give you all a summary of this past year.

Thank you all so much for your support and prayers. We appreciate you all and pray for you as well! May God bless you in this new year!

Ringing in the New Year 2016

2016 New  Year
Two of the Nine baptisms we had this year! 

David was Olaf for Carnivale

David makes friends everywhere....even at the offices where we go to get our visas done

Sunday School Class
Bible Bowl for the teens/pre-teens

Support for the kids doing Bible Bowl

Playing basketball when we had Agape in the countryside 

Angelica - one of my students who sadly moved away this summer! I miss our talks and walks! 

Youth Group

Hanging out with Naomi and Elisa 

Family came to visit 

Hanging out with some of our favorite Roman people. :) 

David loves scooters. 

Laura came to visit Catania! 

Giulia has grown up so much these past few years! 

Every once in a while we all go out for a pizza. 
Sunny Faith was born 

Friends, church family, and students came to visit Sunny after she was born. 

Some local food - arancini! 

Some local pistachio desserts! 

Downtown Catania with family when they came to visit 
Rachele and I got to be pregnant at the same time together! 

Pregnant girls date! 

Vacation Bible School 

Two of the new Avanti workers - Bethany and Erin - came to visit us and help with VBS this year

Claudio volunteered to help us with VBS this year. 

Sila and Sunny at church. She gets passed around a lot. 

Antonella, Agostino, Favor, and Sunny 

Going to the park with Naomi and Elisa

Kid's birthday party 

Learning to make meatballs the Italian way. 

Buying bread at the panificio

We threw Davey a little bday party in the park. 

Eating traditional Iranian food that Moji prepared for us! 

Hanging out at church

Mogi and Ali made has us over for dinner one night

Sara and Sunny
English Movie day at our house, 
Eating with Christians from Italy and Germany.

Thanksgiving with some of our students and a family from church


Celebrating Yalda night (Longest night of the year) with our Iranian students and friends

Yalda night 

Christmas cookies for the orphanage

The church gave gifts to a local orphanage

Spent Christmas Eve with the Lastrinas

Sunny and Sabrina 

Playing scopa on Christmas Eve