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Buon Autunno!

Hello everyone, we hope that this newsletter finds you well. My apologies for sending out the September newsletter in October. We have had a VERY busy few weeks and have much to tell you about so let's get right to it. 

New Studies!

One of the things that has been keeping us busy is that we have some new studies with new students! We are very excited to report on two new students in Vicenza, Stefano and Andrea. 

Vicenza is a small city, of a little over 100,000 not far from Venice. There is a small, but vibrant congregation of the Lord's church there. We have not yet visited the city or the congregation, but I hope to soon (possibly as early as November). There is a woman at the congregation who organizes studies through the Let's Start Talking organization. She had some students who she needed someone to study with and we took them on. 

Vicenza is too far away for us to commute to, but thankfully we have technology that we can use and I'm meeting with both of my students through zoom. One of the reasons I am anxious to go to Vicenza is to meet them in person and maybe have face to face studies with them. 

I've had two studies with Stefano so far, and one with Andrea. They both speak English very well, and both seem to have an interest in Spiritual things. Stefano asked me if I have a job outside of teaching these classes. I explained that I am a teacher and a preacher (we don't usually use the term missionary when we are talking to people here, nor did we in Ireland. They have an idea of mission work that does not include the developed world so it confuses them). Because of his catholic background he asked, "How can you be married and a preacher?" This gave me a great opportunity to study with him about some of the differences between our churches. He expressed that he very much liked the idea of a church following only the Bible. 

We are hopeful that I can continue these studies for a long time. Please pray for these two new students and pray that I can find some others in their area as well. 

We also continue to study with our other students. Mostly on line, but some face to face which is so much better. I have had some great conversations with Valentino lately. Martina, Rebecca's student from Russia, has recently gotten a job, but they continue to meet when she can. We are so thankful for every opportunity we have to teach others. As always we ask that you pray for more. 
Stefano at Vicenza, probably not the best picture of either of us. 
Studies with Valentino continue to go well. 

Preaching In Italy and Good News From Torino!

I have had three opportunities to preach in Italy in September. On the 6th Rebecca, Violet and I woke up early to catch the train down to Rome. It is about an hour and a half train ride which left around 8:00 AM. We arrived at the church building just a little early so had time to fellowship with some of the members before worship. The subject of my sermon was, "Three Groups of People." In it we examined what the Bible says about those who are safe (children and the mentally disabled), the saved, and the lost. I especially emphasized our obligation to teach the Gospel to the lost, and to our young children. I also spoke about how we must encourage the saved. I did not feel as though I did a very good job with the sermon, but everyone seemed to appreciate it and, at the very least, I got the message across and was understood. We visited with the brethren after worship and got back on the train to come home. 

Before moving on, let me mention just how blessed we are with Violet. She woke up very early (after getting up every day for school the week before), sat for nearly two hours in taxis and on the train, went to worship and sat quietly during the whole service (even singing along with the songs), then behaved through lunch, then sat on the train again. Not once did she complain about being tired, bored or anything else. We are truly blessed to have such a trooper. 

The lesson I taught was a blessing to me, probably more than anyone else. It reminded me not to take for granted that Violet will just grow up and be a faithful Christian. Rebecca and I have to remember our obligation to teach her about God, Jesus and His church always. It will be especially challenging to her as she has very, very few friends who are being raised in Christian homes. Please keep her in your prayers always.

I usually preach in Pistoia the last Sunday of the month, but in September I was scheduled to preach in Florence that Sunday, so we went to Pistoia the third Sunday this month. I preached the same lesson I preached in Rome and it was well received. After services Giovanni and his wife Anna took us out to lunch. Meals in Italy are events and we were at the restaurant visiting with them for quite a while. We had a great meal and even better conversation. They don't speak English so at times we had a bit of a struggle, but all in all it went well. 

You may remember me telling you about a man and his friend in Torino who were baptized a few months ago. They worship with the church in Pistoia through zoom. The congregation purchased a large screen TV so it is like they are there in the building. It is so great that they have this technology, but also that Luca and Marianna have been faithful in their attendance. 

But, here is the best news of all - Luca taught his wife, Valentina, what to do to be saved and then baptized her in their bathtub!!!!! Here is a man who is just a few weeks old in Christ and he is already spreading the Gospel on his own! 

Please keep them in your prayers as well. 

The last Sunday of September I gave the lesson in Florence. Ove the month different men presented different lessons about women from Genesis. My lesson was "The Laughter of Sarah." In the lesson we studied about the back story to Sarah's laughing, and then noted that in the story of Abraham and Sarah we see the: Plan, patience and promises of God. The lesson was again well received and I appreciate the Florence brethren's encouragement. 

In October I should be preaching in Milan, Florence and Pistoia. Please keep all of those efforts in your prayers. 
From Left to Right: Valentina, Luca and Marianna in Torino. 

Covid Concerns

For the past few months life in Italy has been, mostly, normal. But, as the countries around us are experiencing more and more cases, and Italy's cases continue to grow there is concern that we could be heading for further difficulties. 

One thing they are talking about doing is making everyone wear masks outside. We already have to wear them in any enclosed, public space (restaurants, shops, public transport, taxis, church, etc.), but at least we've been able to go without them outside. That will probably change on Wednesday. 

Violet has to wear one at school, but not at her desk. We are a little concerned that she will have to start wearing them at her desk too, but no one knows for sure. 

The mask thing is just a simple irritation, but it could mean that there are going to be further restrictions put back in place. We really do not want to have to go back to worshiping online and nobody wants another lockdown (the economy here will likely collapse if that is the case). 

We realize that things with Covid in the US are bad and we are praying for you, Please continue to remember us in your prayers as well. 

Personal Stuff

Despite concerns regarding Covid, we are all doing well. Violet is back in the rhythm of school and doing very well with it. She now spends a lot of her free time writing stories in Italian and then drawing pictures to go with them. It is a lot of fun to watch. She also just recently received a yellow stripe on her white belt for karate and will go for her yellow belt in a few weeks. She and her friend Tahlia continue to get closer to one another and she continues to make new friends everywhere she goes. 

Rebecca is also doing well. I bragged on Violet earlier, but now I am going to brag on Rebecca. She has done a great job recently of improving her Italian. She has not had anywhere near the amount of hours in class as me or Violet, but she is really starting to hold her own in conversations. We have been spending more and more time with Italians and Rebecca is hanging right in their with the language. She also continues to work very hard every day. I have no idea how she finds the time to do all that she does. One things that I am especially grateful for is the fact that she is doing more intense Bible lessons with Violet. She's been focusing on teaching her virtues like honesty, faithfulness and courage. Please continue to pray for both my queen and my princess. 

I am doing well too. I have had a recent blessing from an unusual source. On Violet's 5th birthday in Galway we celebrated by going to a trampoline park. While there I injured my right shoulder. It has never been quite right since, but recently it has gotten very painful. Fortunately, one of the members of the church in Florence, Giovanni, is a physical therapist. He and another member of the church, Simone (this is the Italian version of Simon. It is pronounced Si-moan-ey), are business partners. Simone is a personal trainer so they have a combination gym and physical therapy practice. I asked Giovanni to look at my shoulder, but told him I wanted to be a paying patient. I do not want to take advantage of the fact that we are brethren for free mdeical care. I've started going to their office on Monday afternoons where Giovanni works on my shoulder and Simone exercises it. The reason this has been such a blessing is because I am getting to spend an hour to an hour and a half talking with them. This not only has helped my Italian, but also has helped me to get to know them better and become closer as brothers in Christ. It is kind of difficult to get to their office. It would just be a few minutes drive, but it takes over an hour to get there on the bus. But, I told Rebecca it is well worth it to have time of fellowship with them. 

Thank you so much for all you do for us! We love and miss you all! 
Rebecca speaking with Miranda at the park. They met a few weeks ago and we've been blessed to have a few conversations with her since. 
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