October 2007


I just wanted to let you all know that I may not respond to things for a few days. Thursday morning I am headed for Geneva to visit a missionary family I know. Those of you who attend(ed) Masters or Grace Church know John and Meg Glass – basically one of the most awesome families ever! 🙂 They were home on furlough last fall and John taught a class on missions at Masters that I was privileged enough to take. They have invited me to their home for a few days, which is actually in France. They live just a few minutes from the Swiss border, and their ministry is actually in Geneva. I am so excited for this chance to see them! I know John has the internet and everything, so I may check my mail/blog a couple times – I’m not sure. And now, I must go to bed so I can get up and go to France/Switzerland! How cool is that?! 🙂

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Finally … I am getting around to blogging on the Focus Conference. This conference took place October 9-12, and it was the most awesome week!

Tuesday afternoon, Frank, Kathy, some of the elders and deacons from the church, and myself drove about 4 hours to the southern part of Toscano (Tuscany), to the city of Chianciano Terme. As we drove into the hotel parking lot, I already started to see some familiar faces. Lucio, Johnny, Massimo, and Jordan, are dear friends of mine from Southern California. One of the main reasons they are so dear to me is because they were instrumental in God’s burdening my heart for Italy. I was going to try to explain who exactly these people are – but it would take too much time. So, in a nutshell, they are from my Italian Fellowship Group at Grace Community Church and it was a huge blessing to see them! J Here is a picture of us.

Italian Fellowship Group - in Italy!

The preaching was amazing! The theme was Sola Scriptura, so it was all about God’s Word – it’s importance, it’s truth, it’s power. The speakers were John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, and Lance Quinn. Steve Lawson preached this awesome, rock my world message on Hebrews 4:12-13! Wow – I have never heard this passage preached like this before. Most of the passages and basic principles being preached on were familiar things to me (probably familiar to most people), but they went deeper and looked at the verses in such a way that I felt like I’d never read them before! MacArthur hit the importance of God’s truth and standing up and fighting for the truth of God’s Word. Lance Quinn’s last message was on Paul’s ministry and how ours should follow his example (great message!). This time of preaching and being saturated with the Word was so refreshing to my soul! I came away with a renewed love for God’s Word and His truth!

I got to meet fellow believers from all over Italy which was really cool. There were a lot of missionaries there as well, so it was great to get to know some of them and hear about their ministries and things they are going through. I actually met a girl from CA, near Fresno, who is finishing up a year in Italy. So that was pretty cool. J I had a lot of fun too with the elders and deacons from our chuch. It was great to be able to spend some extra time with them – getting to know them, practicing my Italian, laughing with them. Good times. We went out for gelato one night, and it was a lot of fun.

A very exciting part of the conference was the presentation of the MacArthur Study Bible in Italian! Each person attending the conference received a special conference edition of the Bible, which was awesome. My first Study Bible in Italian! Thankfully I have the English version, so I can translate it. J It was a privilege to witness this Bible being presented, as it is the hopes and prayers of those behind the project that the Study Bible will be a great tool and resource for the Italian people!

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A fun part of the conference for me was getting to meet each of the speakers. I talked to Steve Lawson a couple times, and took this picture with him. That was so fun for me, because he is one of my favorite preachers of all times! J We also got one of his books translated into Italian.

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I met Lance and Beth Quinn, and quickly fell in love with them! What a wonderful couple! After spending 5 minutes with them, I felt as if I had known them for years. I went out with Lance and his wife, Beth, the last night. Carey and Pam Hardy were at the conference too, and they came with us. It was such a blessing to get to spend some time with these couples. Here’s a picture of me with Lance and Beth.

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And then there’s John MacArthur. John and I go way back … to my freshman year at Masters. The only problem is … he doesn’t remember that. J John MacArthur meets so many people, that I’m not offended that he doesn’t know me, even though I have met him numerous times. I actually was looking for the Quinns on the last day to say goodbye, and I couldn’t find them. So, I went in search of them, and they were eating lunch in the hotel with probably 8 other people, among whom were John and Patricia MacArthur. Lance kindly introduced me to them, explaining that I was a recent grad of the college and I was here in Italy as a short-term missionary. John signed my Italian Bible and wrote in it, “Thank you for your faithfulness.” So that was just one more special moment out of the many. I did not get a picture with the MacArthurs (after all, this was taking place in the middle of their lunch, so I couldn’t ask for too many favors), but here’s my Bible (can you find the mistake on the cover?). J

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This conference was the hugest blessing, and I thank God for the awesome privilege of getting to attend. I came away so refreshed and encouraged! I didn’t want to come down off the mountaintop experience, but alas, the mountaintop experiences cannot last forever. That’s what heaven is for! J

What are you doing … that is an excellent question. I thought I would give y’all a quick overview of what my week looks like and some of the things I am doing.

Sunday

In the morning, I attend the Italian Church service. We start out with a singing, testimony, prayer time, which I really enjoy. It’s amazing to see the hearts of the people and hear about what God is doing in their lives. People will share verses in which God taught them something during the week, stories of evangelism, difficulties, prayer requests, etc. The elders rotate preaching, so that is something different that is taking me time to get used to.

After church, there is almost always something going on, whether it’s people staying at the King’s for dinner, a church dinner or celebration, whatever!

In the late afternoon, we (Frank and Kathy and myself) leave for the Filipino Church service, which is in Venice. Like the Italian Church, they have a time of singing, testimonies, and prayer before the teaching. It’s a blessing to see their hearts of compassion for people.

 

Monday

I have Italian class on Monday evenings in Venice. I’m usually on my way by early-mid afternoon, depending on what else I need to do in Venice at the time. There is a lab to study in at the school, in which I have to spend at least 10 hours during the semester. In the lab they have computers, a library, magazines, audio and video things. Last week I watched one of my favorite movies in Italian – it was quite funny! J But it was really helpful to hear two hours worth of Italian. The word “key” was used quite a bit in the movie, and I wished I had known that word a couple days sooner (more on that at another time).

Tuesday

My Tuesdays just got rearranged. We found out about this free language class that’s offered to immigrants, so Frank called to see if I could still get in on it. They have graciously allowed me to sit in on the rest of the class, so now I’m doing that on Tuesdays. 30 minutes after that one ends, I sometimes have to go to my other language class (we’ll call that one Class 1 and this new one Class 2) on Tuesdays, due to some schedule changes. After my class(es), I got to a Filipino Bible Study.

Wednesday

This is my “free day.” I am calling it that just because there’s no class or anything scheduled early on in the day. I have an Italian Bible Study to attend at night (it doesn’t start until 8:30. Italy is a late night culture). Last week, we began practices for the Christmas concerts, which is used as a means of outreach. So now we are starting practice at 7:45, and then we will have the Bible study at 9:15.

Thursday

I have both Class 1 and Class 2 on Thursdays now. I have 4 and ½ hours of language classes with a 30 minute break between the two classes.

Friday

Friday nights is the Filipino Youth Meeting. This is mainly evangelistic, as most of the kids coming do not know the Lord. The group averages about 10-12 people. We play games and hang out for awhile, and then Frank teaches. I have started meeting with one of the Filipino girls (who does know the Lord) before the youth meeting, and I am very excited for this opportunity to disciple her!

Saturday

Saturday night is the Italian Youth Meeting. As I mentioned before, Italy is a late night culture, so this doesn’t start until 8:30 p.m. And it usually doesn’t get over until 11 or 11:30 (which makes Sunday morning a bit difficult).

As you can see, most of these activities are in the evenings and nights. During the day, there are various things going on. I have been able to be of assistance to the Kings in some practical ways, which has helped them to be able to focus on other things that they need to do. I have been able to help with dishes and cleaning around the house, cleaning the church, and cleaning the car (trying to eliminate the smell after our lovely questura/flood experience … and I think we have success!! Praise the Lord!).

I am trying to build relationships with people. As I previously said, I have begun to disciple one girl. There is also a girl in the Italian youth group that I’m getting together with on occasion. She is helping me practice Italian, and I am helping her practice English. Although neither of us fluently speaks the other’s language, I thoroughly enjoy this time with her and hope to develop a good relationship with her. I have made several unsaved contacts (mainly through my language classes), and I am praying and seeking for opportunities to share the Gospel with these people.

“Macelleria” is a word I learned after being here for a week or two. I would see it all the time, usually as the name of a store … so I asked Kathy or someone what it was. It is a meat shop.

“Cavallo” is another Italian word I have learned. If you know any Spanish, you might have guessed it is a “horse.”

 As I was walking to Piazza San Marco a couple weeks ago, this window caught my eye.

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As I looked at the words and the painting of horse heads … it didn’t take fluency in Italian to figure out what this store was. I thought – is this really what I think it is? Then I looked through the window at some of the meats. The first one I saw was “Salami di Cavallo.” Horse salami … I was almost tempted to buy some (NOT).

Now, perhaps you are familiar with people eating horse, but I did not grow up with horse on my dinner plate. I think of horses as sweet animals that you ride around on … not serve with mashed potatoes and gravy! Since then, I saw another horse meat shop, but I’m not planning to go to one anytime soon.

About two weeks ago, I had to go into Venice early on in the day in order to buy my book for my language course. After getting the book, I had about 4 hours before my class started. At that point I had the choice … do my homework for class and study Italian … or wander around Venice. I’ll give you one guess as to which one I chose! J I did not take my little copy of a map of Venice in with me, so I didn’t really know where I was going. I decided that did not really matter though. My IBEX professor, Todd Bolen, gave us the advice to get lost in Jerusalem, because then we would see interesting things we never would have seen otherwise, and we would learn our way around. So, with his words in mind, I set off in the general direction of the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). Thankfully, it was not too difficult to find, because there are signs pointing in the direction of the big tourist attractions. J I was definitely a typical tourist that day, with this being my first time wandering around Venice and seeing Piazza San Marco. I had my camera in hand, and I took a lot of pictures of a lot of different things. Those of you who wanted more pictures … here they are!

Here are a couple pictures taken from some bridges around Venice of the canals. The second canal picture is taken from a bridge I cross over right by my language school.

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 I really liked the way this picture of the gondoliers turned out. Sorry Steve, I didn’t ask if either were named Giovanni. 🙂 

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This is a picture of the Rialto Bridge. It is a famous bridge that crosses over the Grand Canal. It is lined with shops and many tourists.

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This is the view of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge.

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 After much walking, I finally arrived in Piazza San Marco. In some ways, I was unimpressed with it. Two words I would use to describe this place: people and pigeons. Now, who in their right mind wants to partake in this, I’m not sure! I know that I do not; personally, I think the pigeons are disgusting. But, many others would disagree, as I evidenced that day.

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 Here is a picture of me there. Can I just say that it’s really awkward to be smiling and taking a picture of yourself (and the sun was very bright … and hot!)!! But, I figured some people (like my parents especially) would like to see a picture of me at some point.

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This final picture is one that I just thought was kind of cool. These pigeons were taking a bath, and I captured one of them drying out his wings.

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Last Sunday, was a full day (as is every Sunday!!)! I was able to witness my first baptism in Italy! It was a very exciting and joyful time. The man baptized is actually Ukrainian. His mom came to Italy to work, and then he came here to work as well. She came to know the Lord, and then some time later, her son did too! It is a reminder to me of how our sovereign God works in so many ways to bring the Gospel to people. It makes me think of a missionary professor I had at The Master’s College. I don’t remember the exact details, but he decided to travel through Europe to Asia. He ended up getting saved through a random man he met on the streets of India! We certainly have an amazing, powerful God!

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 After church, we had an “Agape.” The Italians get this term straight from the Bible (but they pronounce it differently than we Americans would pronounce the Greek word). It’s a common word used here among Christians in reference to a church dinner. The weather was a bit cool and drizzly, so we ended up having to set up tables inside rather than outside. But there was not enough room inside, so we young people got to go outside (thankfully the raining was all over). I really enjoyed this time – eating amazing Italian food (there was so much!!), meeting some new people, getting to know the young people better, trying to communicate in Italian … good times! Here are a few pictures from the Agape.

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Anna and Elena are names of the girls in the last picture. Elena is helping me some with learning Italian. She wants to practice English, and I need to practice Italian! They are both in the Italian Youth Group. 

After a brief time of rest and a cup of coffee, Frank, Kathy, and I headed off to Venice for the Filipino church service. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half to get to the apartment where we meet (they do not have a building to meet in). First, we have to drive about 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic. Then we take a bus the rest of the way into Venice, which is about 10-15 minutes. Then we take a boat taxi down the Grand Canal from Piazzale Roma to the Rialto Bridge, and this is about a 10 minute ride. Then we walk about 5-10 minutes to the apartment (the timing of this depends how late we are and how fast a pace Frank sets!). After our service, we celebrated the 6th birthday of one of the little Filipino boys. There is often a time of food and fellowship after the service. Here is a picture of Erika and me – she is one of the Filipino Youths. She is a sweet girl with a desire to know the Lord, and I am enjoying getting to know her. It was so cool, because I was able to get Erika a John MacArthur Study Bible! She had told Frank she wanted a Study Bible, and she was asking for what kind. I asked Frank if I could see what I could do to get her a MacArthur Study Bible. Well, the Lord provided one and I got it from Lucio Stanisci at the Focus Conference! She was so excited when I gave it to her on Saturday!

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I am not familiar with posting pictures on here (I am learning about the world of blogs!), so let me know how these came out. Can you click on the small ones to see a larger image? I was just trying it different ways – let me know if it doesn’t work this way! 🙂

Well, I’m so sorry that I haven’t had any more posts! I have several written, but I have not been able to get them posted! I’m headed to bed right now, but I wanted to give a quick update!

Today, I moved into an apartment! The Lord totally provided this, and it’s a huge blessing! One of the blessings in it is that I now have high speed internet! That means I should be able to stay in touch a little better (hopefully a lot better!).

Tomorrow, Lord willing, in the midst of unpacking and organizing my things here, I will post several things.

I almost forgot … a main reason I haven’t been blogging for the last week is that I was out of town! I was in Tuscany last week at a conference – the Focus Conference. It’s like the Shepherd’s Conference of Italy (just think much smaller). I got to hear (and meet!) John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, and Lance Quinn preach!!! It was so wonderful and refreshing to my soul! But … I will have to tell you all about it later.

Also, thank you for all your comments!! It made my heart so happy to find so many people leaving me notes! 🙂

That’s all for now, and since it just turned midnight here in Italy (I just heard the church bells ring) …. bouna notte e sogni d’oro (good night and sweet dreams)!

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