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Ciao a tutti! 

Hello everyone, we hope that this newsletter finds you all well. We are doing well here in Florence. Some people have asked so I will go ahead and answer here - The situation in Ukraine, which will affect all of us I am sure, is still pretty far removed from where we are. So right now we are safe and not worried about the sitaution (any more than we would be if we lived elsewhere). The biggest threat to life in Italy, right now anyway, is energy prices. They are already pretty high, but they will probably go through the roof in the coming weeks. Of course, we are praying for the situation and we hope you are as well. 

With that out of the way, let us tell you about some of what we've had going on this month. 

Saying Goodbye to a Giant in the Faith

I hate to start with bad news (from an earthly perspective anyway), but this month we lost a hero of the faith, Guy Dickinson. Guy was a member of the Forest Park congregation (where I was baptized), before I became a Christian. By the time I became a Christian he had moved to Florida, but he still visited at Forest Park often (his daughter Susan Taylor was a member there). Everyone loved Guy and talked about him and his wife, Bobbie, often. I first met them on one of their visits. They were both so encouraging to me and were two of the kindest people I ever met. We stayed in touch and when Rebecca and I got married they sent us a beautiful gift, having never met her. Then when we decided to move to Pohnpei they invited us to come to their congregation, the South Seminole church of Christ in Winterpark Florida and talk to them about support. We spent the weekend with them and they were just about the best hosts you could ever imagine. The congregation decided to support us, and they still support our work to this day. But that's not all. Guy sat us down one evening and said, "Bobbie and I have talked about it and we are going to support you personally, as well." I don't want to say the amount, perhaps they would like to keep that private, but I will just say they personally matched our highest supporting congregation. I couldn't believe their generosity, but then I found out that they supported at least 5 other missionaries the same amount. I remember talking to Guy about it and he said, "Well, the Lord has blessed me and I have a retirement account I don't need, so why not give it to His work?" If only more people had that attitude! 

That is not all Guy did for the Lord's work though. Guy was almost constantly thinking about souls and teaching the Gospel to the lost. When we went on that trip to Florida he was conducting personal Bible studies in a prison, a senior living center, and with several individuals. I remember he told me that at the prison he converted several people by starting his class by saying, "If you can show me the sinner's prayer in the Bible I will give you $10,000.00." He said "everyone in that class just knew they were going to get that money, but most of them wound up getting baptized instead." Guy also worked with several small congregations, encouraging them and preaching for them. He made several mission trips, all of which he financed on his own. 

Most of what Guy did he kept to himself. I know of hundreds (but I am sure there are thousands) of people he has supported, encouraged, and taught. 

Guy was 94 years old, and though it sounds crazy to say it, he died too young. The good that he did will long be remembered and many souls will be in heaven as a result of his efforts. I am reminded of Revelation 14:13, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. "Yes" says the Spirit, "they will have rest from their labors and their works follow them." Guy has rest now, and his works will follow for ages to come.

Please pray that his family will find comfort in their loss, especially for his sweet wife, Bobbie. 

New Studies

We are excited to report that we have added three new students to our schedule in the past few weeks. 

First, we have a new student named Gemma. Gemma is our first student in Milan, where we go to visit frequently. Gemma has been a member of the International churches of Christ, but recently reached out to us to study English through the Bible. She is in her late 20's and is married with a 4 year old son. This is very unusual for Italians of her generation. She speaks English very well and is interested in learning more about the Bible and the church. She has visited at the congregation in Milan before, but told me it has been a long time since she has been there. We are hopeful that she will start attending soon. 

Next, we have added Benedetta to our weekly studies. She is the mother of my student Mario, who lives in a city called Brindisi, which is in southern Italy. Mario is a good student and always has a lot of good questions about the Bible. He contacted me and told me his mother was also interested in learning English through the Bible, but, he said, "She speaks no English at all." I normally do not take on students who have do not speak any English, but Mario and his mother are both very interested in faith so I felt like it would be a missed opportunity to turn her away. We started studying last week, and though she does not speak any English we had a great class and a good conversation about God. 

Finally, we have also added Justina as a student. Justina presents a great opportunity as she is not an English through the Bible student, she only wants to study the Bible. She is from Nigeria, but has lived in Italy for 12 years. She lives about 40 minutes north of Milan and will start attending church there, Lord willing, this Sunday. She is very interested in learning more about the Bible. In addition to having personal studies she is also attending the Tuesday night Milan Bible class. One thing we are hopeful of is that Justina will lead us to more students in the Nigerian/African community that we can study with. I was tickled with her because when we were texting each other she kept addressing me as, "sir." I told her, "You don't have to call me, 'sir' you can just say Scott." She wrote me back and said, "Okay, thank you Mr. Scott." HA! I've decided to call her, "Ms. Justina."  

Please pray for all of these efforts, as well as our other studies, all of which have been continuing. We are now studying with no less than three people per day, and most days we have more than that! God is truly blessing us with opportunities! Please pray that we make the most of them. 
Probably not the best picture of Benedetta, but it's the best one that I have. 
Study with Gemma
Justina at the Milan Genesis class. She is in the top left corner. 

Discipleship Study with Fabrizio and Carlo

My studies with Fabrizio and Carlo continue to go well, although Carlo is in the process of moving to Siena, so we his attendance has been a little sporadic.

We have been studying what the Bible says about discipleship and they have both been enjoying the study. Last week Fabrizio and I studied the cost of discipleship. He told me he enjoyed the lesson and he very much wants to live for Jesus. He said, "In the Catholic church I would go to confession, but then I would just commit the same sins over and over again, and then confess them over and over again. I thought, this is useless. My priest told me that if I had bronchitis I would keep taking my medicine and that I needed to just keep confessing my sins. This does not make any sense to me. I need to change my life." I talked to him about how in order to do that you need God's help, and the community of the church. I explained how my life changed as a result of spending more time with my Christian family. He said, "I have really been enjoying coming to church here and I want to be a part of this community." He has not yet been baptized, but he is definitely learning and getting closer. 

Last Saturday he called me in the morning and asked if we could get together for a study that afternoon. I try to keep Saturdays opened for family time, but Rebecca and I agreed that this was important, so I went to the church building and met him. He had many questions, all of which I did my best to answer. He appreciated me giving him my time, and the next day came to worship. We ask you to please pray for him daily! 

Preaching

I've had good opportunities to preach the past few weeks. I have spoken twice at Florence and once at Prato. Unfortunately, because of a covid outbreak in the congregation, we were not able to go to Pistoia in December or January, but we are looking forward to going there this coming Sunday. 

This month when we went to Prato we brought a young American lady with us. She is a college student that is studying for the year in Florence. A few weeks ago Rebecca got a message from someone named Ken who wrote, "I serve as an elder in the Boro..." We did not know what on earth that meant, but we read on, "...and wanted to tell you about Kate. She is a young woman studying in Florence and feels very lonely as she has not managed to find a church family to spend time with, can you reach out to her?" It turns out the Boro is Murfreesboro Tennessee (we honestly had no clue). But, that is not important. What is important is that we reached out to Kate and she came over. She is a sweetheart and we had a wonderful time talking to her. She is just in her early 20's, but already has a pilot's license! She is studying architecture and she said it is very hard being around worldly people all the time. She came with us to Prato for worship and then came to Michele's house for lunch. We warned her that it would take all day and that nobody would speak English, but she came with us anyway and had a great time. They really enjoyed having her as well. She has since connected with other members of the church here in Florence and is now getting along great. 

Family Stuff


The Shanahans are all doing well, including Andrea. Violet just recently got a report card and it was the best one she's ever had (the don't really do grades here, but the remarks were all positive). I had a meeting with her teacher and she said that she really can't believe the improvement Violet has made this year. She has always tried her best and she is among the best behaved students in the class (which is actually the most important in my opinion), but on her last few tests she outdid a lot of the Italian kids! We still use a tutor twice a week with her for her homework, but lately she has been doing well completely on her own. To hear her speak Italian is amazing. She sounds exactly like an Italian kid, and she even uses the hand gestures just like they do. 

Rebecca and I are both doing well too. We don't sound like Italians, but our Italian also improves all the time. We have been spending a lot of time with our students and members of the church and that has been a blessing to us. We had to go to one couple's house recently to get him to sign something for our immigration paperwork. We thought we would just drop in and get him to sign the paper and then we would leave. We were very wrong about that. We ended up staying for nearly two and a half hours! After about an hour I said, "Well, we need to get going" (which was true) then they said, "Okay...well, let us tell you about..." and then we were there over another hour. It turned out to be a lot of fun and we were happy to get to know them better. When we left Rebecca said, "That reminded me of when we were in Pohnpei before Violet came along, you and I at someone's house who just wouldn't let us go!" It was true, because that would happen a lot in the islands. 

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We love you all and know that we could not do this work without you!
The Shanahans
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