Bible-based | Christ-centered | Family-focused | Mission-minded
Scott, Rebecca and Violet Shanahan have embarked upon a new mission work in Italy. Previously, the Shanahans had spent 12 years in Micronesia planting congregations and teaching the lost on the islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae. They also spent one year working with the church in Galway, Ireland. In March of 2019, they transitioned to Florence, Italy. They are doing a good work and having much success.
Rebecca, Violet and I want to thank you all for your kind words, prayers and patience with us during this difficult time at the loss of my father. I apologize if you wrote to me and I was unable to respond. I was overwhelmed with messages and I don’t think I responded to everyone, but I did read each message and appreciate each one. For those who took the time to send cards, thank you very much. We especially want to thank all of you who helped with our travel expenses. A last minute trip to Cape Cod, at the very beginning of tourist season, even with the bereavement fare, was very expensive. Your help with that took a huge load off of our minds.
We are back in Florence and back to work. We ended up spending a little under two weeks in the States, before we were able to return to finish out the school year for Violet. This is a reporting year for us, so we will be back in the States in a couple of weeks. We look forward to seeing all of you. Now to tell you about the work you’ve been doing…
Memorial service for Edward Kevin Shanahan. There were a lot of laughs and more than a few tears.
We returned to Florence on Thursday, May 25th. That next Sunday was a Florence Sunday, and one that I normally preach on. I asked to be excused from preaching that day, and the brethren graciously took over for me. That morning the Harding students were there, and Robbie and Mona Shackelford provided pastries for breakfast (this is something the church is doing every so often now) and we had a time of fellowship before worship. All of the brethren spoke very kindly to us and there were hugs all around. Since the Harding students were there I helped on the Lord’s table leading prayers in Italian and English. It made me happy to serve.
The next Sunday we were back in Florence and I preached. I decided to preach on the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, in Matthew 20. I have not studied that parable in great detail, but I found it very comforting in light of the fact that my father prayed for forgiveness with me the last few days of his life. Our God is a God of grace and generosity (which, I believe is the point of the parable) and I take comfort in knowing that He is generous to forgive even at the last hour. The brethren all told me they were also comforted by the message. One of the points of that sermon is that we are called to be workers. I encouraged us to get out into God’s vineyard and work!
This past Sunday (yesterday as of this writing), I preached at Prato. I preached the same sermon and it was, again, well received. One of the brethren who joins us through zoom, as he lives in Austria, just lost his mother this past week. He told me that he was also comforted by the sermon. At Prato I also teach Bible class, when I am there. This week we studied Acts 18 and 19. We had a great discussion on the differences between John’s baptism and great commission baptism, and on the Holy Spirit. The brethren there are all very good students and they ask good questions and make good points. I sometimes get anxious when someone raises their hand because I am afraid I won’t understand them, but, with God’s help, I’ve gotten better at hearing and answering the questions and comments.
After worship I went to eat with Giuseppe and his family. There is a group that eats together at Giuseppe’s house most every Sunday. It was a very nice meal, but way too much food. We shared an afternoon of fellowship and I was greatly encouraged by that. Rebecca and Violet attended Florence as I still do not have my Italian license and have to go by train early in the morning. They reported that worship at Florence was very nice.
Next week I will preach at Florence again and the following week I will be at Pistoia. Please pray that I preach the truth of God’s word in a way that it can be easily understood.
There is not a lot to report here. Our studies continue to go well and God continues to open doors for us. One good thing that has happened is that Andrea, from Vicenza, and I have started studying again. We used to study in the evening, but that has gotten difficult, so now we are studying during his lunch break on Mondays. Our studies are going well.
Our other students all continue to come for their lessons every week. The class that I am enjoying the most is my class in Pistoia. It is a mixed class with kids and adults, which makes for some fun conversations. The students in that class are all doing well and learning more about God and the Bible, through English.
My Italian through the Bible studies are also going well. I have two active students, as I have not pushed it very much. When we get back from reporting I plan to really push for more students. I plan to go to the immigration office to start advertising. There should be a lot of potential students there.
Andrea looking pensive
You can find a line of hundreds of immigrants outside the immigration office every weekday.
We are all doing well. This is the first time I’ve ever experienced this level of grief, and it is weird. I will be fine for days and then very sad all at once. I actually started crying at the gym the other day. When someone looked at me funny I said, “I dropped a weight on my toe.” (that second part didn’t really happen). Eventually I am sure I will stop thinking, “I need to call my dad.” I have started to do that several times. I am comforted by the fact I got to spend time with him and say goodbye, and by your prayers.
I now live with a 5th grader! Violet finished 4th grade last Friday. The last day of school is always an emotional day, but this year was very difficult. In Italy students have the same teacher for all five years of elementary school. Violet loves her teacher, Maestra Alessandra. Maestra got married last year. This year, on the last day of school, she announced that she is pregnant, which made the kids very happy, but that she would not return for their last year of elementary school. Violet was devastated by that news. We are hopeful she will get a good teacher as a replacement, and that she will be able to do well and enjoy 5th grade.
Violet asked if she could have a sleepover with her two best friends: Tahlia and Ahafia (that is pronounced Ag-af-ia) on Friday. For some reason, Rebecca and I agreed to that. This was a huge mistake. The kids had a great time, but we were driven slightly crazy. In reality, I am thankful that Violet has good friends and that they are comfortable coming to our house. Both of the girls made it through the night and nobody asked to go home, so that was good.
As I mentioned I still don’t have my Italian license. They were supposed to schedule me for my exam the first week in June, but the equivalent to the DMV here only gave my driving school two slots for exams in June. There were other students who have been waiting longer than me so I have to wait until we get back in September. Hopefully, I can get the license right away and then be more mobile, which helps our work.
As you might know, Rebecca decided to really concentrate on improving her Italian in the last few months and started attending classes more frequently. The school she goes to is run by a friend of ours and is a very good school. They have two interns from Reunion Island, which is a small, French island located to the east of Madagascar. Rebecca got to talking to them. She said at first they were very shy, but then she started talking about Pohnpei and the food we ate there. They got really excited and said they eat many of those foods too. They talked for a while and eventually Rebecca went to her class. He teacher said, “Rebecca, everyone in this school has tried to talk to them, including Lavinia who speaks French fluently. Nobody has succeeded in getting them to say more than three words, except you!” Everyone in the school was impressed with how she was able to get them to open up. She found a point in common with them and showed a genuine interest in their lives. She is a sweetie and always has been.
Thanks again for your support and prayers. We look forward to seeing you in person soon!
This isn’t going to be a normal newsletter
As many of you know, we are currently in the US. My father died yesterday. As a result this newsletter is going to be different. I assure you our work is going on and our studies are going well. We thank you so much for your prayers and continued support, also for the kind words we have received during this time. We will return to Florence on May 26th. We are reporting this summer. If I have not already scheduled your congregation for a report I will do so soon.
Many have asked what they can do to help. First, you can pray for me and my family. Please pray that I will be able to use this terrible situation to spread the Gospel to my dad’s friends. You may not care to read what follows, but if you do I would like to say somethings about my dad….
I am not sure where to begin, as there is so much I could say. My dad, Edward Kevin Shanahan, always went by his middle name. It seems almost all of our male relatives are named Edward and they all had nicknames like: Eddie, Ed, big Eddie, little Eddie, and little big Eddie. My grandmother did not want my dad to have to have one of those nicknames so she just called him Kevin. He was born in Malden Massachusetts on May 11th, 1948. He died just four days after his 75th birthday.
Everyone who knew my dad knew one thing about him; He was a recovering alcoholic and he was active in AA. I will never forget the day my dad quit drinking, which he started when he was a young teenager. It was July 21st, 1989. I had just gotten home from my job bagging groceries at a local grocery store. My dad was sitting in the kitchen with a glass of scotch. That was not abnormal. What was abnormal was that he called the entire family into the kitchen and said, “I’m an alcoholic, and this is my last drink.” He finished the drink and poured the rest of the bottle down the kitchen sink. He never drank again. He went through withdrawals at home. It was hard to watch, but my dad was tough and he made it through. Sobriety was not easy for him, but it got easier as time went on.
After he and my mother divorced, and my sisters and I were out on our own, my dad was by himself, but he was anything but lonely. He became active in AA. It was recently described to me how active he was. One of his friends said, “Everyone in AA is active, we are a service based community. But then there are those who are really active, then there is Kevin.” I remember once my uncle came to see my dad and he said, “I felt bad for him because he lives in a small apartment all by himself. We went out to lunch and every single person who came into the restaurant greeted him and he talked to them for several minutes each. By the end of it, I felt bad for myself.”
I knew my dad had helped some people with their sobriety. If you asked me to guess I would have said, “I don’t know, ten or twenty at least.” I would have been off, way off. This weekend dozens of people have visited him and said to me. “Your dad saved my life.” I lost count of how many people said that, but it was way more than 20. It seems every person who has found sobriety on Cape Cod in the last 30 years was in some way influenced by my dad.
My dad had a series of strokes not long after Rebecca and I married in 2003. We started talking about the condition of his soul at that time. In 2005 I baptized him into Christ for the remission of his sins. He did not live in the Bible belt, though there is a good, active congregation not far from his house. Unfortunately, he was never very active with the congregation. My family arrived in Massachusetts on Friday. Dad had been visited by dozens of people that day and by the time we arrived he was exhausted. I greeted him and he smiled at me, but was soon asleep. I saw him Saturday morning when he was alert. We spoke again about his soul and he said he knew he needed to be forgiven. We prayed for that forgiveness. He rested most of the day Saturday, but there were people in and out all day. The number of people who came to say goodbye to him was astounding. He was totally surrounded by love. In the late afternoon I found myself alone with him. This was our last conversation: “I want you to know something, you were a good dad and I am proud to be your son.” We held each other and he looked at me, smiled and said, “That makes me very happy.” We just sat together alone for a while before the crowds started coming in again.
He had to have pain medication administered every two hours. Sunday night I spent the night at his house, to give my sister a break. I should write an entire volume just about the work she did in caring for him. He fell asleep around 6:00 that evening. I gave him his medicine at 10:00, then at midnight, then at 2:00. When I went in at 4:00 his body was there, but he was gone.
My dad was small, but he was a giant of man in his community. To be half his size in my community would be a great accomplishment.
I could say so much more, but my heart is broken and the words are having trouble coming out. Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. They have not gone unnoticed.
Hello everyone, we hope that this note finds you well. Here is the short version – My dad, Kevin, will likely pass from this life in the next few days. As a result we are leaving tomorrow to go and spend time with him. We will be in the Boston area for two weeks and would appreciate your prayers while we travel.
The longer version – my dad, who has had four other cancers, a heart attack, and a stroke, was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. When we got the diagnosis nobody really panicked, like I said he’s had four other cancers and he’s managed just fine. Also, the doctor said he did not think it would be very aggressive and that it would be treatable. Unfortunately, it spread a lot faster than they expected and last week he started to have difficulty breathing. The doctor told my sister she suspected malignant pleural effusion. If that was the case they would not do his scheduled radiation therapy and we would have to start end of life care. They did not tell us if that meant months or weeks. So we were just thinking we would come back for our scheduled reporting trip and move things around to spend time with him.
Yesterday we got the call, he is not going to make it. So we have decided to all go together as a family to Massachusetts for two weeks. We will leave Florence this afternoon, spend the night in Rome and then fly to Boston tomorrow.
We appreciate your prayers. If you respond and do not hear back from me please know that I will have seen your message, and appreciate it.
Hello everyone! We hope this email finds you all well. We are doing great here in Florence! We have all been healthy lately (that sound you just heard was me knocking on wood) and we have been blessed with lots of opportunities to share our faith. Let us tell you all about the work YOU have been doing here in Italy.
As reported in our last newsletter, I have started to teach Italian through the Bible. When I first announced the program I had five students sign up. So far, only two have actually taken any classes – Marita and Caleb. Marita is from Peru and only speaks Spanish. I thought that teacher her would be too challenging as we have an added language barrier, but the studies have been going very well. She is a very good student. I have learned that as similar as they are, there are a lot of major difference between Italian and Spanish. I was afraid they were too similar and I would not be able to teach her, but so far so good. We have been reading Old Testament passages, which she seems to be somewhat familiar with. We are meeting twice a week, so I should be getting to the story of Jesus pretty soon. Please pray that I can use this tool to share the Gospel in such a way that her soul will be saved.
Caleb is an American. He is a member of the Assemblies of God. So far his major problem with Italian is his pronunciation. I also thought maybe I would not be helpful to him as I definitely have an accent, but his pronunciation is TERRIBLE. So I have been able to help him. We have been reading from the New Testament. I ask that you pray for this one because he brings more doctrinal baggage to the study than most of my other students.
I have one more potential student who wants to study English and Italian. She has not yet come to any of the classes she’s been invited to, but she keeps saying she will come. Her name is Allie. Please pray that she will come to the classes this week. One thing she told me, which is not my normal experience, is that she is interested in the religious aspect of the classes.
I have not advertised the classes, beyond one post on a Facebook group. Now that I am getting more comfortable with teaching Italian I will start pushing for more students. Please, as always, keep this effort in your prayers.
Preaching and Bible Studies
Not a lot new to report here. We are still studying with all of our students that you have read about in past newsletters, and those studies continue to go well. I’m most excited about my Tuesday night class in Pistoia. The students in that class seem to be the most interested in learning the Bible. Lord willing, we will see some fruit from that class soon.
I have preached in each of the Tuscany churches (Florence, Prato and Pistoia) in the last few weeks. In Pistoia one of the members, Jana, has recently returned to worship. She had not been to worship since before the pandemic. I am glad that she is back and ask you to pray that she will continue in the faith. Jana is VERY evangelistic and is always concerned with the souls of others. The congregation has recently given her several Bibles that she distributes to people she meets. At Pistoia we have recently had three visitors (one single lady and one couple) in attendance as a result of her invitations. Please pray that I will get to have studies with them soon.
This past Sunday I was preaching in Florence. We’ve started a Sunday morning Bible class that Giacomo, one of the younger members at Florence, is teaching this month. During the class, one of the new Avanti volunteers, Alex, was in the auditorium setting up the computer to stream the worship service. He came into the classroom, came to me and said, “Scott, can you come help me? There is a man here asking for something, but I’m having trouble communicating with him.” I went into the auditorium to find a youngish man there. I asked him how I could help him and he said, “I need some formula for my baby.” I thought, “Oh great, a rip-off artist.” We have a pantry in the building so I checked to see if there was formula in it, there was not. So I went back to him and said, “I’m sorry we don’t have any formula, but if you want I can take you to the grocery store and buy some for you.” I figured if he just pressed me for the money I would tell him, “sorry, no” and leave it there. But he didn’t. He said “Okay” and we walked to the grocery store. He told me his name is Mustafa. So I said, “Why don’t you ask Timon and Pumba to help you?” Not really, but I did say, “Oh, like the lion king!” He laughed and said, “Yes.” I found out he is Bosnian, but was born in Italy. His parents both died when he was young. He is married and has three young children. A boy, aged 3. A girl, almost 2, and a newborn baby boy. The baby is having a problem with digestion and needs a special formula. We found the formula he needs and I picked up a package of it. I said, “Do you need anything else? Like diapers or anything?” He said, “Yes, we could use some.” At the end, we bought him two containers of formula, and diapers for the baby and the toddler.”
He was very thankful for the products. So, either he is a masterful liar and just sold the stuff, or he really was in need. He showed me pictures of his family and never asked for cash so I am pretty sure he was really in need. I am hoping to follow up with him soon, and I hope to have a Bible study with him. He was also asking me if I knew anyone that had work for him to do.
Please keep him in your prayers, both that he finds work and that we can turn this into a study.
For Easter weekend Violet gets a whopping four days off from school (plus Saturday and Sunday). Last year we asked our friends the Palmers, who have started a congregation in Colmar, France, and the Andersons who live and work in England, if they wanted to meet up with us someplace that weekend for a retreat of sorts. The Palmers could not as they were extremely busy, but the Andersons could. We met up with them in Portugal and had a great time. This year, we asked everyone if they wanted to do it again and they were all available. We all met up in Romania for the second annual “Missionaries Retreat, which is really just an excuse to spend time with our friends.” The theme of this year’s retreat was, “Hey, let’s relax.” It was a fantastic five days of fellowship and sharing. This was the first time for the Andersons and Palmers to meet, and they really hit it off. The Andersons have three children (and one on the way) aged 9, 7 and 4. The Palmers have a 4 year old and almost 2 year old daughters. Violet rarely gets to spend time with other children being raised in Christian homes, and almost no time with a girl her age from a Christian home. (She and her friend Adelena spend some time together, but Adelena, as fun as she is, is only 7).
I really can’t describe how nice this weekend was for my family. We loved every minute of it. We did a little site seeing together, but most of the time was spent talking. Most of our conversation revolved around our fields and spiritual things. It was an all around great time, and we were all sad for it to come to an end.
Can you believe the first quarter of 2023 is almost done? Crazy how fast time goes by. We are all doing well and we hope that you are too. We have been very busy here in Italy this past month and want to tell you all about it. Please consider sharing this newsletter with others who might be interested in it.
Last month I told you that we were going to launch a new effort to reach the lost, by teaching Italian through the Bible. I am happy to say that effort has been launched and so far is going very well. I have met twice with my student, Roxana from Peru. I was a little nervous about this because I know that Spanish and Italian have a lot of similarities. I was afraid she would be too advanced for me to teach her. It turns out, though they are very similar, they are also quite different. So I have been helpful to her with Italian. I was really happy when she started reading Genesis 1 and I had to correct her pronunciation of some words. When that happened I thought, “Okay, I can do this.” She is a very good student. She is familiar with the Bible and the stories we have read so far. I look forward to continuing this study.
This morning I had my first study with Caleb. He is an American here with his wife and three children. He is a believer so he is very interested in the Bible study aspect of the lessons. His major problem with Italian is pronunciation. I sometimes have trouble knowing where to put the accents on words, so I was a little worried I could not help him. But his pronunciation is pretty awful, so it looks like I will be able to help him as well. Lord willing, we will be able to have some good theological discussions as well.
Hello everyone, we hope that this newsletter finds you well! We are doing well, for the most part. I don’t love talking about problems, but as I have mentioned in other newsletters, this school year has been terrible for viruses. We have been sick almost as often as we have been well. We all got a virus a few weeks ago that made Violet miss four days of school (though it started for her on a Saturday so she was really sick for six days). I had it for about four days, followed by two weeks or so of residual congestion. Rebecca had it the worst. She was sick for thirteen full days before she started to get some relief. Unfortunately, just as she felt recovered she got another virus this weekend and is sick again! We would be pretty worried about it, but we know a lot of other people who have had similar experiences. We just ask that you would keep us in your prayers.
That’s enough negativity. Let’s talk about some positive things YOU are doing in Italy.
A Great Opportunity!
I normally start off reporting on things we’ve done the last few weeks, but today I am going to start with something we are about to do, because I really want you praying for it. Tomorrow I will teach my first ever Italian though the Bible class! I am a little nervous about it for two reasons: First, while I am pretty conversant in Italian, I still make mistakes. If the student I am teaching asks too many complicated questions, I could have a difficult time. Second, my student is a Peruvian woman, who speaks no English! So if she does have questions, I probably won’t understand them anyway. (Maybe that’s an advantage).
Despite those nerves, I believe that this will turn into a great opportunity for our work here. The students we will be reaching are mostly immigrants from developing nations. While I dislike stereotyping, it is generally true that people from those nations are more spiritually minded. If we can use this tool to introduce them to the Gospel, I believe it will be a fertile field.
Please be praying for this. I’ve been working on it for at least two years and I think I am finally ready to start.
Perhaps Another Opportunity
The Italian through the Bible opportunity is a certainty, as it starts tomorrow. We have a second opportunity to share, that is a little less certain. We have been studying the last few weeks with Belinda, who is a member of the church at Prato. She asked us to help her improve her English and we decided, though she is a faithful Christian, to work with her. We figured that it would help to encourage her, and bring us closer. I knew that she was a social worker, but what I did not know was that among her other duties, she works in a drug rehab. As soon as I found that out, I asked, “Do you think you could get me in there to conduct some studies?” She said she never thought of that, but she would look into it. Please pray that, that works out!
Belinda is a good student, a faithful sister, and she speaks English well. Rebecca and I have gotten closer to her and her husband, Maurizio, in the past few weeks.
Preaching in Vicenza
This month, in addition to preaching in Florence, Prato and Pistoia, I took a trip to Vicenza to encourage the brethren there. Rebecca and Violet stayed home and worshiped at Florence. The Vicenza congregation is a unique group in that they now have three different congregations meeting in their building (when we first started working with them they had two). They have a group from a nearby American military base that meets at 9:00 AM, an Italian language service at 10:30 and a Ghanaian congregation that meets at noon. I have preached for the Italian and Ghanaian congregations before, but this time I preached for the American military congregation as well. They have a group of about thirty-five meeting. The congregation is made up entirely of young families. While we worshiped I noticed that not everyone was singing, which I found odd. I preached my sermon, which the congregation seemed to appreciate, then we finished our worship. I had a few minutes between services, so I started talking to some of the members. It turns out that more than half of the people who come to worship are not Christians. They are friends that the members have made that come to worship! How great is that? Worshiping with them was very encouraging and when I heard that they were bringing in that many visitors I was even more encouraged. I have been in contact with some of the members since preaching that day, and I am trying to work out how I can help them with these visitors. I am trying to schedule a Bible class for them, but so far that has been difficult as all of our evenings are taken up with studies. Please pray that we figure out a way to help this group.
After the American service I worshiped with the Italians. I preached for them as well, and my message was well received. The congregation is very friendly and appreciates our help. Immediately after worship there was a short Bible class, which is something they have added since my last visit with them. After the Bible class the Ghanian brethren were coming in for their Bible class. Since they do the class completely in the Twi language, which I do not understand, I was able to take a break for lunch before worshiping with them. Francesco and his wife Lorenza, from the Italian congregation, invited me to eat with them. There is a large space upstairs with classrooms and a kitchen and we ate there. What I did not know, was that there is a group of Russians and Ukrainians that have a meeting up there every Sunday. This is not, I think, a church group, but the church has let them use their space for organizing aid to Ukrainian refugees in the area. Two of the ladies that run that meeting helped fix lunch. The five of us ate together, and the meal was very nice. It was a mix of Italian and Ukrainian food. The conversation was in Italian, as these two ladies have lived in Italy for quite some time. Violet has a little Ukrainian friend at school who has taught me a little bit of Russian (hello, how are you? Things like that). When I found out that these ladies were Russian I decided to greet them in their language. They were very surprised, but very disappointed when I couldn’t get much beyond the first two sentences. This was not the first time I have disappointed ladies in my life, but I think they were the first Russians.
After lunch it was time to worship with the Ghanaian brethren. I was exhausted by this point, but these brethren are my favorite to worship with in Italy so they lifted me right up. There are around 40 people who meet together, and when they sing you can feel it in your bones. I have learned how to say, “Good afternoon” in Twi and so I started my sermon with that, which they got a huge kick out of. The translator then said, “Why don’t you speak Twi and I will translate it into English?” I said, “Maybe we better stick with our native tongues.” However, during the sermon I was talking about how Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-nego were so protected by God from the fire that they didn’t even smell like smoke. To illustrate how amazing that is, I told them how a few days before I was talking to some of the parents from Violet’s class, and they were smoking. After our conversation, which only lasted a few minutes, my clothes smelled like cigarette smoke (which I loathe) so I had to put them in the laundry. The translator said something that ended with, “washing machine mu” so I said, “Exactly, washing machine mu.” That really made the congregation howl. (It turns out that means, “in the washing machine” in Twi). However, what is more important than making them laugh is making them think. They all thanked me for the sermon, which was about how God has the power to help us, and they told me how encouraged they were. I truly love this group and I hope that I can be an encouragement to them as they grow.
As you can imagine, after all that I was pretty tired. But I was also spiritually charged and thankful that God gave me the opportunity to worship with three groups of people from such different backgrounds. The interesting thing is, no matter the culture or language, we all worshiped the same way as the New Testament teaches.
There is nothing very new to report here. We have all the same students that we had last month, and the studies are all going well. I have started to meet with Teresa, who is in my Tuesday class, privately on Fridays. We are mostly working on her listening comprehension. I am recording different dialogues between people in a church setting and then asking her questions about it. We are going to, in the next few weeks, listen to a conversation about salvation. Please keep that one in your prayers.
Other than the sickness mentioned in the introduction, we are all doing well. Violet is getting bigger every day, and learning new things all the time. I am starting to study with her as well. We usually do a nightly devotional, but I want to get her studying more deeply, so we are starting to do that at least once a week (though we haven’t quite started yet). A few weeks ago I had a meeting with her teacher and she told me that Violet was falling behind in math. She suggested we re-hire Violet’s tutor to help her, or have Violet do the after school program on Tuesdays (she gets out of school at noon on Tuesdays). Violet’s old tutor is pregnant and cannot come to the house right now, so we decided that she would do the after school program. But then Violet asked if she can just try to do it on her own, so I said yes (I prefer to have her home). This Monday I had a meeting with her teacher and she told me that Violet has greatly improved her math! I was so happy I bought her a donut (Violet, not the teacher). Now Violet is slipping a little bit in Italian. As it gets more complicated her grammar is suffering. So we have to figure out how to work that out, but I am sure she will do fine. She is a smart kid.
Speaking of being a smart kid, the other day I made some pancakes. The pan got kind of smokey, so I had to turn on the hood fan. The house ended up getting pretty smokey and the fan is loud. Violet said, “Can you turn that off?” I said, “No, I am using it to get rid of the smoke.” She said, “Well, it’s doing a wonderful job of that!” I was almost as proud of her use of sarcasm as I was her improved math scores!
That’s all for now, God bless you all and thank you for your prayers and continued support!
I have a question – has anyone notice that it’s 2023?!?!?!?!?!? How on earth did that happen? This year, if the Lord wills that this earth keeps on spinning around and we are all still on it, Violet will turn ten! ten! Her father, who will remain anonymous for now, will turn fif…fif…fif…, well, my computer won’t let me finish that number, but trust me, it’s a big one! I have no idea where 2022 went, nor do I know where any of the years before that went. All I know is it’s 2023 and there are still too many lost souls in Italy and the rest of the world for us to get comfortable now. So let’s talk about the work that YOU are doing in Italy…
Pohnpei and Italy have few things in common, but one thing that you will find in both places is that nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to do anything between about December 20th and January 8th (In Pohnpei it was tough to have studies the entire month of December). We were able to get away for five days around New Year’s eve (a little on that later), but since we’ve been back we have been busy as beavers who have a lot of Bible studies going on.
All of our normal students are back at it and we have had some great conversations and lessons with them. One of my students, Mario, asked me a lot of questions recently about Christmas and our position on it. I told him, as I tell all of my students, that the churches of Christ don’t technically have a position on anything, the Bible does. What’s important is what the Bible says, not what any particular person or congregation says about a thing. He liked that. Then we talked about how the Bible does not say anything about Christmas, but many Christians celebrate it the way they would celebrate Thanksgiving (in the US) or liberation day (in Italy). He also liked that, and especially liked going over some of the myths of Christmas (three wise men, December 25th, etc.). He also informed me that he recently decided to quit smoking (which I was unaware he did) and drinking beer. He then asked, “What does the Bible say about those things?” See what happened? He didn’t ask what the church or I say about them, but what the Bible says. I told him, “The Bible says smoke ’em if ya got ’em.” No, not really. We had a good discussion on both subjects and I told him why, from the Bible, I personally do not drink alcohol and recommend others don’t either. He was pleased with the study.
Another of my students, Andrea, who does not always like to discuss theology, divorced a couple of years ago. He then started dating another woman, but they recently broke up (without getting into details he, as far as I know, has a right to remarry). That got us into a discussion on what a God centered marriage looks like. He also seemed to enjoy this discussion.
Rebecca’s studies are going very well too. Her study with Alice continues to be hit or miss, that is sometimes Alice seems very interested in discussing the Bible and God, but others seems like it’s the last thing she wants to talk about. However, they had a very interesting discussion in their last study. Alice said something along the lines of, “Why are Americans always talking about abortion?” Which opened up a door to discuss a very sensitive topic from a Biblical point of view. (Remember she grew up in communist China under the one child policy). Rebecca handled that discussion perfectly, of course.
All of our other studies are going well. Fabrizio and I have not studied in a while, because he recently moved to Pistoia. But, he continues to be faithful and to grow in his faith. He went to a congregation near him recently and hopefully will start attending there full time.
We had not been to Rome for quite sometime. I do think we’ve been there since our lockdowns, but maybe only once. We had the opportunity to go there this past Sunday and it was a wonderful visit. The Rome congregation is the biggest that we work with, but they still need much help. They have grown some since our last visit, but they still have no young people in the congregation.
On this visit I preached a sermon from Daniel about the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. The principle point is, “Our God is able!” After the sermon everyone was very encouraging and many told me they appreciated the lesson (I hate writing that as it sounds like I am trying to brag, which I hope I do not sound like. I think that sentence may be terrible from a grammar standpoint). One woman in particular, Tea, is a newer Christian. She told me, “That is an amazing story. I had never studied that book yet, and did not know about those three young men. What an example!” She has an amazing story herself. She wanted to know Christ and passed by the building everyday. Eventually she went in and said, “I want to be baptized.” I am very happy to tell you that the leaders did not baptize her right away, but studied with her for three months to make sure she knew what she was doing. Since then she has been very faithful. We hope that she will begin attending the class I teach on Tuesday nights for Milan.
We met another younger man at the congregation as well. His name is Patrizio. He grew up in Canada, but his parents are from Italy. He moved to Rome about 7 years ago. He told me he, “came to the Lord” about two years ago and then started attending the congregation in Rome. I have no idea what that actually means, or whether or not he has been baptized. But he has a lot of faith and wants to learn more. So we are trying to start studying with him as well, and possibly add him to the Milan class.
Please continue to pray for these two and the congregation at Rome.