Happy New Year!!
In Italy the New Year celebration is a big deal. It is traditional to have a succulent meal with multiple appetizers, at least two kinds of pasta, two side dishes (one being lentils cooked with sausage), two kinds of meats, and in some areas fish. The meal usually starts after eight o’clock and takes a break when the clock strikes midnight. Then there is dessert and a good espresso coffee, games and much laughter and joy. Christians then gather to pray together.
One thing that is never missing is a continuous display of fireworks big and small in all directions (We don’t celebrate the fourth of July, so this is it!).
In some southern areas, such as Naples, they literally celebrate with a bang — with gun shooting and home made explosive devices. Needless to say, many people end up in the emergency room with gunshot wounds and other injuries. All in all, Italians know how to start the new year off with a bang!
Our new year has started with a bang as well.
We thank God for the opportunity to spend Christmas and New Year’s with Melodee’s parents in Florida and to see our kids enjoy being with their grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins that they rarely see. Eva was able to be on American soil for the first time.
Other than spending a day in the emergency room for a swollen tongue, our time was uneventful in all the right ways.
Now we are back in Italy. As we count it a privilege to serve God here, we immediately sensed the pressure of the important job we are called to and the spiritual battle we are in.
Here are a few examples of things that you can pray for:
1. Hernia Surgery
I wish I could say I am getting back to work, but tuesday I got the call I had been waiting for since June… and Thursday morning I had hernia surgery (maybe moving too many pianos?). Everybody is so patient with me! I feel so guilty having to take more time off, but God knows exactly what He is doing!
2. Radio Ministry Challenge
We have not one, but two radio stations that have invaded our frequency, covering our signal even here in Perugia. Pray for us as we go back to the lawyers to see what we can do. It’s another one of those David and Goliath situations…but we all know who won in that story!
On February 1st we have our “Vision Meeting” to officially vote in the three men who were chosen as deacons. Pray for them and their families, as we have already seen some spiritual battles in their lives spring up form nowhere since the announcement. Also pray for us as we prepare the deacon training manual.
4. Youth Ministry
Pray that we can continue to develop leaders and teachers, whoever they may be. We are still looking for someone to be mentored into the teacher/leader position.
5. Baptist Mid-Missions European Enrichment Conference in Malta
In mid-February we will be traveling to Malta to participate in a wonderful conference with most of the Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries of Europe. Pastor Patrick Odle from First Baptist in Elyria and Pastor Ed Sears from Grace Baptist in Winston Salem will be encouraging us through the Word. Pray especially for me as I have been asked to lead the worship time, something I love doing (though I usually do it in Italian!).
God has been giving us some incredible opportunities to share the Gospel with people.
For obvious reasons, personal details have been omitted.
7. Please continue to pray for us in our teaching and equipping ministries, that God would use us.
Please pray for my parents too who, after almost 45 years in Italy, are having problems renewing their residence permit. As you can imagine, we are all quite concerned, but we look forward to God’s provision.
8. In February I also return to Milan for my cancer checkup.
My oncologist says I am “special”. (I’m not sure it is a compliment, though.) He says he has never seen anyone with such mysterious symptoms. Honestly, seeing what some people have gone through with this disease, I am very thankful that I am a bit different!
Thank you for taking time to read this “brief” note. As usual, it was supposed to be short, but there is so much going on, this was the best I could do!
As my father-in-law, also a pastor says: “I can’t believe we can have this much fun and still get paid for it”. Thank you for being with us through your prayers, through your giving, through just being our friends. We are the richest of all people to be able to have you in our lives and share this common treasure of the Gospel. You are a blessing to us, and we pray that we can be a blessing to you.
Dear Jon and Melodee,
Thank you so much for the update and for the family picture. Goodness, what precious kids! Those years of being young parents pass all to quickly; enjoy them to the max. We are in prayer for you, and for your dear mom and dad as well. We thank the Lord for all of you, asking His strength and grace will sustain, provide, protect and encourage you as you engage in the things He has given you to do.
Much love to you and all your extended family!
Thank you!! I hope you do realize, that without you and Doc there would probably not be a Noah and Eva!! Thank you for recruiting me, adopting me as your own and supporting us all along the way!
And by the way, the children’s books you gave us are staples in our daily reading moments!