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Buon Primavera!

Spring has sprung here in Florence...the weather doesn't know it yet though. But things are well with us and our work and we hope that this message finds all of you well. Things in the world are tense (I want to reiterate that we are as safe here as you are in the US), but we sing "This World is not My Home," and troubling times help us to remember the truth of that song. I look forward to that, "city with foundations whose architect and builder is God" (Heb 11:10) and find comfort in that future. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to preach in Florence and decided to preach on John 14:27, "My peace I leave with you." The lesson was well received and was a good reminder to me that, even if we will never have peace between nations and tribes here on earth we can have peace with God. If you do not have that peace feel free to write me and I will do my best to help you find it.

Now onto the work that you've been doing with us here in Italy. 

God Gives the Increase in Milan

This month we are happy to tell you about a new sister we have in Milan. Her name is Justina Eghaghe. She is originally from Nigeria, but has lived here for around 14 years. She is married to an Italian man. She was invited to a zoom study by a relative. I cannot remember now where that study was being held, but it was in English so she started studying. Then someone got her in contact with the church in Milan and she attended our Tuesday night class. She speaks Italian very well, but she wanted to study in English too, so we arranged to start studying on Fridays. 

Justina is one of the most eager learners I have ever come across. She only wants to talk about Jesus and the Christian life. When we were studying I noticed she had a King James Version that she was struggling to read. We offered to send her a New King James version and she was very grateful to get it. We also sent her an Italian Bible. She has thanked me over and over again for those Bibles and let me know that she is reading them every day. 

The day Justina was baptized she wrote me immediately and said, "There is no one on earth as happy as I am right now." 

If you would like you can send Justina a card. I think it would make her very happy to hear from her brethren in the United States. I looked online and it looks like you can mail a letter that is one ounce costs $0.84 to mail. I am not sure how much a card would weigh, but two ounces is $1.70. If you get crazy and send a card weighing three ounces it will cost 2.55. 

Her address is:
Justina Eghaghe 
Via Caravaggio, 6b
Somaglia, LO 
Italia, 26867

A Visit From America

This month we had our first visitor to the field in a while, my closest friend Leonard Lay. Leonard and I met when we were much younger than we are now. His family taught me the Gospel and he and I have been like brothers ever since. We were able to visit each other over the summer for a few days, but this was the longest amount of time we've spent together in a few years and we had a great visit. We did some touristy stuff, but he also came with me on some Bible studies with Fabrizio, and he got  to attend worship in Pistoia and Florence. 

When we arrived at worship in Pistoia that first Sunday Violet asked, "Are you preaching in English or Italian?" I said, "Italian." She said, "Well, how is uncle Leonard going to know what's going on?" I said, "Hmm...I suppose you could sit next to him and tell him." She said, "Okay" and that is exactly what she did. She translated the entire worship service for him and it was just beautiful. 

The brethren at Pistoia immediately became enamored with Leonard and when hearing that his birthday was the next day (I won't mention which one out of respect for a man who is much older than I), they insisted we come back for a meal. It had been over two years since we were able to have a fellowship meal together and the brethren decided now was as good a time as any to have one. One of the members is a hunter and he had some wild boar that his wife said she could make ragù with and we were all keen to try it. There were about 20 of us who ate and we had a great time. The meal was lovely and the conversation was great. After the meal they surprised Leonard with a cake and we sang happy birthday to him. 

Violet got a real kick out of having her uncle Leonard here and insisted he come with us to drop her off and pick her up from school every day. She introduced him to everyone as her uncle and never once did she feel the need to explain why her dad and her uncle don't look so much alike. 

Leonard was also able to come with us for our youth activity this month which I will write about shortly. All in all it was great visit and was very encouraging to us and to the brethren here. 

Bible Studies


All of our Bible studies continue to go well. Fabrizio and I continue to study every week. He is learning all the time and I believe he is getting closer to becoming a Christian. In one of the studies we had when Leonard was here he suddenly said, "Scott, if I wanted to be baptized right now, would you do it?" I said, "Of course." Then he said, "Okay, thanks." You can imagine that I was laughing pretty hard on the inside. It would be like if in high school a girl had said, "Do you want to go to the movies?" and I said, "yes" and she said, "Okay, have fun." In any case, the studies continue to go well and he continues to attend at Florence most Sundays. I am hopeful that he will make a decision for Christ soon, but I do not want to pressure him so I am just taking my time and doing my best to answer his questions. 

I am happy to announce a new study I have with a young woman named Mirabel. She is 17 and from Nigeria. She just moved to Naples a few months ago. We connected through World Bible School. She is very eager to learn and very spiritually minded. We have only just started studying and she is mostly working through the WBS program, but I am very happy to have the connection. 

Important request - I want to ask for some help with her now. She sent me this text the other day - "Hi Mr. Scott, can you please give my number to some Christian teenagers that I could talk to? I have not met any Christians my age and I feel very lonely." If you are a teenager, or have teen children, or have teenagers in your congregation that would be willing to connect with Mirabel I would greatly appreciate it. It would be a great opportunity to help a young woman that wants to follow Christ. Please respond to this newsletter to let me know if you are interested in helping out this way.

We have several other studies going on. Rebecca's study with Alice continues to go well. In their last study they were talking about going to church. Apparently Alice said, "I need to go to church." She still has not come with us, but we are hoping she will soon. Also, after their study Rebecca told me that Alice's housekeeper was there and said, "I have been looking at the materials you are using to study with Alice. I find them very interesting." They talked a little bit about it. She is from the Philippines and we are hoping to be able to study with her in the future.

We have several other connections we are making through World Bible Institute. So far I have 5 students that I have connected with, but only Mirabel is very active. We are excited about the prospects we have though and will continue to try to make connections through that program. 
 

Florence Youth

This month we were able to have another activity for the kids at Florence. Since Leonard was going to be here we decided to do another escape room. I knew he liked them and I thought it would be an activity that would force interaction. We invited the Avanti volunteers as well. Some of the kids could not do lunch that day so we decided to just get together that evening and do the escape room. We went and picked everyone up and then went to the escape room. Everyone had a good time and we managed to escape with about six minutes remaining. It was a lot of fun. 

Since we were going to meet two of the kids' parents at a McDonald's I asked the kids if they wanted to eat together there. They all said they did so we sat down and ate together. The fellowship was good and the kids had a lot of fun. It was funny because Eleonora's brother started quizzing her on Italian geography for some reason. It turns out she is pretty bad at geography and everyone had a good laugh at her answers. Thankfully, she did not take it personal and had fun with it too. I pointed out that she may not know geography, but she is a violin virtuosa, which hopefully made her feel better. She is Rebecca's student and I was happy to report to Rebecca that she did really well with her English during the escape room. After we ate I told the kids they could get some milkshakes, but wouldn't you know it - the machine was broken! Apparently, that is a universal problem. 

We look forward to next month when we will get together and do a ropes course. Please pray for these kids. 

Amazing Experience


The last time I went to Prato I went to eat with Giuseppe Dolfi and his family. It was a great meal and a great experience. While we were eating he invited me to come back some Saturday night for pizza, as he has a brick pizza oven. We made plans to get together in February, but his whole family got covid so we couldn't do it. He invited us over for the evening Leonard was set to arrive. We planned to get him from the airport then go over for pizza. Unfortunately, Leonard's flight was severely delayed so he couldn't come with us. We went anyway and it was AMAZING. 

First, we thought it would just be us and Giuseppe's family, but they invited several brethren from Prato and Pistoia. 

Second, we thought we would have a pizza, but they made 27 that night! This worked out to more than one for each person there. It was, by far, the best pizza I have ever eaten in my life. It was very cold that day, but the room we were in was roasting, which was just what the doctor had ordered. There was a soccer game on TV. The room was hot, and loud and filled with fellowship. The pizzas just kept on coming and by the end we were all over stuffed, but happy as could be. I hated that Leonard missed it, but I was very happy that we did not cancel. 

I'm emphasizing the food, but really it was the fellowship that made the night. Most everyone there was a Christian and we all enjoyed good, pure fellowship. It reminded me of some of the feasts that we attended in Pohnpei. Sure, the menu and language were much different, but the fellowship was the same. It is so wonderful to be a member of the Lord's church and to be able to experience fellowship with His people all over the planet. 

Family Stuff

The Shanahans continue to be blessed with good health and happy days. Violet and I had a little cold last week. She was disappointed that it wasn't covid, because with covid you get to go to school on the computer. Speaking of school she is doing very well with her classes. She has recently learned division and she took to it like a duck to water. She had struggled with multiplication, but for some reason division has been very easy for her. She has had a full social calendar with several playdates the last few weeks and she and Tahlia, her best friend, have been going to the park after school quite a bit lately. 

An interesting experience we had the other day was meeting the Soto family. They are a Christian family that moved to Ukraine about six months ago to do mission work. He learned to speak Russian when he was in the military (if I tell you any more about that he has to kill you, so we have to leave it there) and decided to use it for the Lord's work. Unfortunately, with the war they had to evacuate and it is unlikely they will ever be able to go back. They are a lovely family and, honestly, you would never know by talking to them that they have just fled an extremely dangerous and sad situation. They have six children, four of whom are with them (two are grown). They have an eight year old daughter who, when we met them, Violet immediately took off with and we didn't see her again for several hours. We are hopeful we will see them again this weekend. If you are interested in learning more about them and finding out how you can help the churches in Ukraine you can find them at www.sotofamilymission.com. 

We are so thankful to each and every one of you for all that you do for us. We could not do this work without you and pray God continues to bless each one of you. 
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