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Buon Autunno! 

Happy fall everyone, we hope that this newsletter finds you well. We have a lot of news to share, so I'll get right to it. No need to have a lengthy introduction, so I'll close this part now. Really, when you think about it there is no need to have an introduction since we all know each other, and you know that we hope you are well. No need at all to say it every time I send a newsletter. I could just start right away with the news, which I am going to get to right now. I'm not going to say any thing else about introductions, or not having them. I'm just going to tell you all the stuff that we've been doing the last three weeks since we've gotten back to Italy. There has been so much that has happened, and I don't want to delay telling you about it any longer...sorry, someone texted me so I got distracted for a I was saying we have had a lot going on and I want to tell you about it right now, because really this is YOUR work and you need to know what YOU have been doing through us the past few weeks. 

Back to Work

We returned back to Florence on September 2nd, and got right back to work contacting our students and attempting to reestablish our studies. We got home on a Thursday and I set up my first study for Monday, with my Pistoia class. They were still on vacation mode (school did not start back until the next week) so only one of the students, Alice, was present. We had a very good discussion and it was nice to see her. Alice was, until just recently, my youngest student at only 11 years old. She is a great kid and I enjoy studying with her. 

When we went to worship on Sunday, Eleonora, the daughter of Orfeo and Debora, who was just baptized this past summer, approached Rebecca and asked if she could study English through the Bible with her. Rebecca thought this was a great opportunity for her to encourage and equip this brand new sister in Christ. Eleonora is 14 and in her second year of high school. So far they have had two studies together and Rebecca says they have gone well. 

I have also been able to study with Stefano, Andrea, and Daniela. All of those studies have gone well. I had set up to study with Valentino, but someone at the place we were going to meet had covid so we decided to wait until next week to start studying again. 

Rebecca has also studied with Marina and Alice (individually). She has had two lessons with Alice and they have both gone well, but the last one went very well. Alice is Chinese and asked Rebecca to teach her English earlier this year. She has not seemed super interested in the Bible, but in their last study she really started to open up. Rebecca asked her about her own religion and she said she is Buddhist, but not really devout. She asked Rebecca how strict Christianity is, because her grandmother is a very devout Buddhist and she has to live by very strict rules. This gave Rebecca the opportunity to talk about sin and forgiveness, both of which concepts were new to Alice (at least the Biblical idea about them were new). Rebecca said it was a great conversation and she looks forward to studying with her again. 

I am excited to report about a new study I have with a man named Fabrizio. He visited the congregation this summer while we were gone and one of the Americans here contacted me and said, "I met a man who wants to study the Bible, but is not interested in studying English, he just wants to study the Bible. Would you be able to study with him?" You can probably already guess that I said no, I am not interested in doing that. Well, if you guessed that, you would be wrong. I contacted Fabrizio immediately and we made a plan to meet. The first time we met we went to a little café near the train station. We had a great conversation and I learned that he is very dissatisfied with his church (Catholic) and wanted to be part of a church that follows the Bible only. I told him that, that is our goal. The next week we met for a first Bible study and it was great. He actually knows his Bible pretty well and asked some great questions. Lord willing, we will meet every Wednesday night for studies. The study is challenging as he does not speak any English at all, but this will be very helpful to my learning Italian. In Pohnpei I learned a lot by leading personal Bible studies in the Pohnpeian language and I am sure that will happen with Italian as well. It's funny because I slipped into Pohnpeian a few times last night when we were studying. I could tell when I did it by the confused look on his face. 

I have also restarted my Tuesday night class with the Milan congregation. We are studying Genesis. So far we have covered the introductory materials and chapters 1 and 2. The brethren seem to be interested in the material and have, as normal, been very patient with my Italian. Even though we meet pretty late in the evening, I always enjoy teaching this group. 

We still have a few students we are reaching out to, but we have really gotten to a great start back and are very excited about all of the studies we have going on. As always, we ask that you keep our students in your prayers.  
Rebecca and Alice
Study with Daniela
Study with Stefano

Worshiping with the Saints

Our first Sunday back we went to worship at Florence and it was great to be there. The brethren gave us a very warm welcome back (part of me thinks maybe they thought we wouldn't really come back). Giuseppe actually had tears in his eyes when he greeted us. We had a great worship service with them. It was so nice to get to sing in Italian again. We worshiped with them the next week as well and again it went very well. 

The next week we went to Prato. I contacted Michele when we first got back and asked if we would restart our Wednesday Bible class. He told me the congregation couldn't do that right now, but asked if I could come to Prato two Sundays a month and teach a class and preach. I told him I could not do that because of obligations at Florence, Pistoia and other congregations. We settled on me going there once a month and teaching a Bible class and preaching. We are studying the book of Acts for our Bible class and the first class went well. It's challenging as it is all in Italian, but I was happy that I was able to veer off of my notes and make the class more participatory. The Sunday we were there they had already arranged a guest speaker, Dario D Luca. He is a professor of micro-biology and genetic medicine for a University in Ferrara, so he is of at least average intelligence. He is an excellent speaker and taught a great lesson on forgiveness, and the importance of forgiving others. 

This was Rebecca and Violet's first time to go to Prato and they were warmly welcomed. The members of the congregation are very friendly and we had a nice time with them. We were told that next time we would come we would eat at Michele and Alba's house. He said, "We don't make much food, so bring some bread." I have a feeling he was kidding. We look forward to worshiping with them again. 

This coming Sunday Rebecca will be at a woman's retreat so Violet and I will go to Pistoia by ourselves and the next Sunday I am preaching at Florence. After worship that Sunday we are taking the four members of the youth group, and the Avanti volunteers to lunch and for an activity. I am going to preach a lesson more geared towards the youth that day and I am looking forward to spending some time with them. 
Teaching in Prato. This was the part of the lesson where I said, "To give a really high five you go like this..."

2.5 Years from the Day...

Exactly 2.5 years from the day of our arrival Rebecca, finally, go her permission to stay! We are so relived This means that she can now enter and exit the country with no fear of getting in trouble, or turned away. We are so thankful to you for all of your prayers during this process! 
It is unbelievable how long it took to get that little card. 

Family Stuff

We are all doing very well. Violet was having a VERY hard time coming back to Italy. She really wanted to stay in the US and be close to her grandparents. We explained to her that if we lived in the US it would not be constant traveling, visiting family, attention and fun, and would actually be quite boring. But, to an 8 year old that just doesn't seem plausible so she had a pretty hard time. When we first returned she had several uncharacteristic meltdowns. She wanted two things - To go back to the States, and to not. go to school. We set up times for her to play with some of her friends and that helped a little, but she was still having a hard time. When school started she started to get back into the rhythm of life here and is now content to be back. In fact, the other night when we were returning home from her karate class she said, "Florence is a really nice city, I'm glad we live here." Since then she has been just fine and has not cried about being back or having to go to school. I figured it would just be a matter of time, but I hate that she had to go through those turbulent feelings. 

Here's some exciting news - the Shanahan family has grown...sort of. Because Violet did so well with getting back to school and everything we told her she could get a pet. We are not allowed to have dogs, which is what we really wanted, so we got her a cockatiel. We bought it last Saturday and it's way more fun than I would have imagined. Violet is super excited about it and wants to take it with her all over the house. She named it Andréa, pronounced the Italian way, because in her words, "We don't know if it's a boy or a girl, and Andréa is a boy's name in Italy and a girl's name everywhere else, so we'll be safe either way." She's much more clever than me to come up with that. Anyway, so far he or she is a lot of fun and we're all enjoying having him around. 

Rebecca and I are both doing well and happy to be back home in Italy, though we did have a great time visiting everyone in the States. This has gotten very long now, so I will just close here. I won't go on and on like I did in the introduction.

Thanks for all that you do and may God bless each one of you! 
The Shanahans
Violet with her best friend on their first day of third grade. 
The newest Shanahan, Andrea
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