27 children joined us this last week as we kicked off our first ever VBS! 6 of the kids had never been to church before. The week was met with much joy on behalf of the children and parents. We are so thrilled with how things went- God was so faithful! Everything went smoothly, everyone enjoyed themselves, the kids didn’t want to go home,Â and the parents are begging for us to do this more often! It was a great way to start this new adventure! A special thanks to the team from CCC and OCC who helped make this all possible!
Sunday the Modugno church will be having a baptism service. Please keep it in your prayers- for the people who have made the decision to be baptised (it is not an easy decision-they often face ridicule and rejection from family and relatives). Please also pray for the new people who will be there. These services are a great opportunity for sharing about God with those who really need Him.
We were blessed to welcome 2 little ones into the church family this month- both born to couples who participated in our premarital and newlyweds classes…what fun!
Sunday the 7th of June was the last day to sign up for Estonia trip. There are 15 people going. We are excited about the level of interest. Please be praying as many of the people who are interested in going are struggling to come up with the funds necessary to go. Pray also for the preparation of hearts, and for the organization of everything (this is our first time in Estonia so say an extra prayer that things will go smoothly).
We started our summer round of premarital courses. We will be doing an excellerated version in english for one couple, and another “normal” version for a second couple. We are excited that there is a third couple attending the course this summer who are considering beginning to work with us in the couples ministry. We could really use the support and are excited to see how God demonstrates his will to us and to them.
My (Carli’s) parents arrive Wednesday- the kids are thrilled (and so is mom!). It will be nice to have some help and support for a month.
It has been a super busy spring. With Gianluca at work all day and almost every evening filled with meetings and appointments the moments of rest have been few and far between!
Sunday Gianluca had the opportunity to preach at a small church in Barletta. Although it is a small reality, Barletta is a very large city and we are excited to see how God uses this church to reach the people in that city who need the Lord.
Monday we celebrated our 7 year anniversary. It was nice to actually have a day off and spend some time together!
Thursday we started our latest round of premarital courses. We only have one couple who is getting married this year which will make for a new and interesting dynamic in teaching the course. Gianluca has also began the work with the team who will be overseeing the center. It is a team 6 people who are members from the Modugno church. Each member has an area of the center for which they are responsible. Gianluca is trying to coordinate this team and also to be the bridge between the center’s team and the pastoral team( in terms of communication). He has been to the center a few times already and I am sure we will spend a lot of time there this summer as well!
Gianluca is preparing for a “day retreat” with his Mission i6:8 leadership team next Monday the 25th. That evening there will be a meeting in church for anyone who is interested in participating in the trip to Estonia this August. We are prayerful that a lot of young people will show up and choose to get involved. Keep praying for this latest venture undertaken by i6:8. We are excited to see what God will do.
This weekend there was a men’s retreat at the center. 16 men participated in the reatreat, which went very well. Gianluca spent all day Saturday helping at the retreat- he taught a few of the sessions and helped lead a time of prayer and confession. The work among the men here has taken great dedication on the part of the leaders and is slowly beginning to grow. We are excited to see a few young men beginning to participate and are hopeful that God will continue to renew and refresh this ministry.
This weekend a group from the church also went to a Open Doors conference in central Italy- the Modugno pastor and his wife were 2 of the participants. The theme was on forgiveness and from the testimonies that were shared seems to have been a very powerful and moving event. Open Doors is a great ministry and we are excited that a few young people from the church decided to attend this event to learn more. Visit http://www.opendoorsusa.org/ to learn more!
Our blog always has a prayer page which lists our requests and needs, but we decided to write a post in order to emphasize a few important prayer requests. We would plead with you to join us in prayer and fasting for these few important points:
1- We rejoice in the Lord and praise him for how well Carli’s pregnancy has gone up until this point. However, we now ask your fervant prayers for hers and the baby’s protection during these last 2 months. We had our last doctor’s visit here in Italy on Friday and the doctor said that Carli is needs to rest and take medicine to stop contractions (dialation) for 10 days (and then minimize the dosage and be up a bit more and see how things go). 10 days brings us to 4 days before our departure! Please pray that God will intervene and calm the contractions and help baby girl to stay put until her due date.
2- Please pray for God’s grace and protection in our travels. The doctor gave Carli permission to fly, but it has become even more of an adventure with her current state of being. Please pray that our travels will go smoothly. Pray for the kids to rest, and behave. Pray for connections and for all the details. Pray for Carli and the baby specifically- for grace and physical strength.
3- Please also pray with us for these last 2 weeks. We are sooooo busy! There is so much to do since we are leaving for 3 months. Gianluca in particular is very busy and with Carli having to rest he is also having to pick up the slack a lot around the house- lifting things, helping with the kids, groceries, etc. Pray for grace,
the ability to use every minute wisely and for physical strength.
4- Pray for all of our health!!!!!!!!! Pray for Carli and the baby in particular, but also for the rest of our
family. The kids have been battling cough/colds for over a month now (with fever coming and going) and Gianluca has been battling a sore throat/cold too. We would humbly ask that you intervene for our
family’s health. We are asking the Lord for good health for our travels and our time in America.
5- Please pray and fast for the national youth event that is held annually on November 1st. We had
scheduled to be here on the 1st and leave the morning after because Mission i6:8 is very involved in the event this year. Unfortunately they cancelled our flight on the 2nd and now we will be leaving on the 1st (which means Gianluca will be unable to attend). This requires a lot more orgnanization and delegation on his part. Please pray for the event itself which is always very evangelistic and which challenges young Christian youth to continue growing in their walk with the Lord. Please also pray for Mission i6:8‘s involvement this year. Pray that God will challenge many Italian youth to get involved in the world of missions and to dedicate their lives to serving God full time.
Thank you for partnering with us in prayer. We appreciate your prayers always! They are a true blessing and encouragement. It is good to know that we are not alone.
5 Years ago I packed up our few belongings to come to be a “missionary” in Italy. At that point we did not know how long our stay here would be, but I was convinced (as was praying that God would convince Gianluca) that we were called to serve here as full-time missionaries. I didn’t really know what to expect from the adventure which lay before me. Everything was exciting and new.
Our years here have been a roller coaster- filled with lows, moments when you feel everything is dropping out from under you; and highs, moments when you are at the very peak able to see clearly what lies ahead and the beauty that lies all around you. I became a mother (in the sense of becoming pregnant) just 3 months after our arrival here- It was a surprise, but I had wanted to have children at the beginning of our career as missionaries in order to be able to dediate myself fully to the family while they were young and I was still learning and language and culture here. Yet, God has catapulted me onto the roller coaster ride from the first week we arrived. After one week I had already began counseling one young lady and after a couple months God had brought several others onto my path. I have often felt in conflict, knowing that the role of parent is an important one, but desiring to be more directly involved in the ministry as well. The partnership as a ministry team that I desired to have with my husband was difficult once our first child arrived, and nearly impossible after the quick arrival of our second. I saw how God was faithful to provide Gianluca many other resources to encourage and bless him as he saught to carry forward the ministry that God had entrusted us with, and I was thankful and yet it was difficult to not be a part of it.
And then I began to see the ministry that God had given me. So many families here are afraid to become parents, and the ones who have chosen to have kids often shrink away from the responsibility of parenthood. I began to talk with young mothers, and mothers-to-be. They shared with me how I was an example for them and asked advice on how to raise, discipline and educate their children. They began to ask questions about why I do things certain ways and to share how much they admire me for having the courage to have three children. These incidents allowed me to realize the tremendous responsability I have as a mother. I realized that people were observing me and how I relate to and care for my family and they are learning from me!
Yet, this is the least of my responsabilities. The role of parent is so important and not to be underestimated. God is helping me to shape the life of two (soon to be three) young persons. I am teaching them how to interact with other people, how to show respect, how to love each other, others, and their future spouses, how to speak, how to love and obey Jesus, what is the Bible, prayer and worship. When I live my responsibility with impatience and irritation my kids notice. They know if I am joyful to be their parent or if I am tired and would rather be doing something else- And so I began to challenge myself (and not just as a parent, but also as a wife). I challenged myself to do every task, mundane or super-spiritual, as if I was doing it for the Lord.
Philippians 2 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”, Galations 5:13 says, “…rather serve one another in love.” and 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I challenge myself to cook, clean the house, do the dishes, pray for my husband and our ministry, do our accounting and correspondence, iron Gianluca’s shirts, as if I was doing it unto the Lord- with sheer joy and passionate love. Realizing that these tasks contribute to his kingdom- these tasks that seem so mundane to so many people help Gianluca to be able to successfully accomplish all that God has called him to do. I challenge to myself to care for the kids, wash their clothes and their hair, cook their meals, teach them right from wrong, discipline them with love and patience, read them devotions, be silly and laugh with them, cuddle them and hug them, and tell them how much I love them, that they are special and that I am proud of them as if I was serving the Lord himself- with consistent, unwavering patience, and overflowing joy. Because I am doing these things for the Lord. Because how I live my life as a wife and a mother has a direct influence on our ministry here. Because if I am a success as a mother and wife, I am also more of a success in our couples ministry. Because more than all the courses I can prepare and teach to the young people who come to them, if I am not a living example of a devoted and loving wife and mother, than nothing I say will matter much.
It is hard sometimes to do everything we do as if we were doing it unto the Lord (1 Co 10:31). When we are cleaning up our daughter’s poop from the bed rails, blankets, stuffed animals, clothes, hair floor, etc, or when we are tired at 10 o’clock at night and don’t have the energy to cook our husband dinner when he has just walked in the door from a meeting…It is hard when you are a bus driver and all the kids are screaming and throwing things to understand how you can do what you do for HIS glory; it is challenging when you are a parent who is discipling his child for doing wrong to understand how you can handle the situation in a way that brings HIM glory; it is exasperating when you are a wife who is picking up her husbands socks from the floor how the task you are undertaking could be for HIS glory; it is hard to imagine as a youth worker how your endless, seemingly unheard speeches can be making a difference in the life of that adolesence…And yet it is! And yet you are! Your attitude, my behavior, give the Lord glory if we choose for them to. Your patience and love draw your kids to Christ and teach them how to live their lives or repel them away from you and God. Your service to your husband and family allow him to go to work and provide for you family with peace and joy. Your interactions with those around you at work, at school, at home, on the bus, in the store, and everywhere else you go can bring God glory. You are a tool to show God’s love to those who most need it. I am a tool to show God’s love to my family and to the body of Christ and to the lost here in Italy, and around the world who need it.
You are making a difference! . . . . .What kind of difference are you making?
This last weekend we were able to see the comings and goings, as we worked at the center, of a women’s retreat hosted by the Modugno church. God is very good and did great things during and through the retreat and those who served there.
We were also able to participate in an amazing baptism service Sunday morning. Three people were baptized. One teenage boy, and two ladies. One of the women had just attended the retreat and was so filled with passion for what she had learned and for the Lord. Each person who was baptized shared their testimony and Gionathan’s, the teenage boy, testimony was particularly challenging. At the end of the service ten people accepted the Lord during an alter call!
God is so good and is doing good things. Please keep praticipating through your prayers!