More fun times!
 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (ESV)
Yesterday we went to a park with our children to take advantage of the last days of Summerfall (word I just invented to describe our warm October weather).
Noah and Eva have become much more courageous after this summer in America with slides and swings and climbing things.
Suddenly, I saw Noah, my normally cautious firstborn, do something I had never seen him do…slide head first at rapid descent down a steep plastic tube with somewhat of a drop at the end. He was proud of himself for stopping before he fully ejected into the unknown below. You should have seen the smirk on his face!
Mom and Dad were a little less impressed…he has a good brain and we hope to keep it inside his head. And keeping his new jeans nice for school would be a plus.
Quite frankly, Melodee and I feel a bit the same way about jumping into this fall; maybe you feel the same way. There are more opportunities than there is time, and we want to be wise about how we commit. That’s why I’ve dropped everything to write you. We need backup!
Can I ask you to pray for seven things?
1. This weekend we have a Bible conference to encourage the church at large with the help our good friends of the Italian Theological Academy.
2. Our ministry has gotten really busy already this fall with Young Couples group, Choir preparations, Staff and Church leader training, Preaching, Discipleship, Melodee teaching English and Piano (she already got to share the Gospel in her first English lesson!!).
3. On a personal level we are trying not to over commit with family, but both Noah (6) and Eva (4) are taking a music class and we’re debating on signing Noah up for a sport to help the arches in his feet (at his pediatrician’s suggestion).
4. Thursday I head to Como to have my regular checkup with my oncologist…it’s an all-day trip there and back for a fifteen minute visit, but well worth it! Pray that I don’t miss any trains and that the appointment will go well.
5. Pray for the salvation of the many people we are in contact with…We share the gospel so often, but there are so many people to reach and so little time! Pray for Holy Spirit’s work!
6. Pray for us as we are praying about the completion of this church plant and about where God would move us, and that God would provide Italians to go plant the next church with us! There are so many cities and towns in Umbria still unreached by the Gospel!
7. Pray for good stewardship of time, energy, money and all our other resources!
I know that your time is precious. Thank you for taking time to read this and especially for praying. There is nothing in the universe that God uses more than your prayers to do His will in this unreached heart of Italy.
I don’t often forward notes from others, but I just received a note from my parents, veteran missionaries Fred and Rachel Whitman, that you do not want to miss.
First, they talk about a unique opportunity: an Italian Christian History Tour, led by my Dad.
It is unique in three ways:
1. It may be the last tour my Dad organizes
2. It would be a great opportunity for you to enjoy Italy, learn about our history and have a greater understanding of the need of the country.
3. For a tour of its kind, it is truly a great deal. My Dad never makes any money off it…he loses money every time, but he considers it worth it because of what it does toward raising awareness in the hearts of the participants to the needs of Italy.
The second part is regarding our new deacon! As a church body we were able to vote on a new deacon for our church body.
Soon, we will update you on our furlough plans, but this message is time sensitive, so without further ado, happy reading, and we hope to see many of you here!
(If you subscribe to both letters I apologize for the redundancy!)
Jon and Melodee
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.