It's a beautiful time of year here in Italy! The temperatures have dropped to the high 70's, mid 80's without humidity, leaves are turning beautiful colors and the vineyards are full and fragrant.
I think it has become our favorite season here.
It's a season of harvest-all the hard work throughout the year is ready for the pickin'. It is interesting how after you live in agricultural areas for 10 yrs you automatically are keen to weather and temperatures and the effects on the crops. We had such a dry season here in Padova. Most of the summer without any drops of rain which is unusual for us. We watched corn fields dry up and other crops completely die because there was nothing more the farmer could do. And yet, you get in your car and drive about an hour and you see lush fields, fragrant bushes and row after row of beautiful vegetation. You ask yourself what the difference is-months ago, you watched as both farmers plowed, prepared soil, and planted away. Both worked so hard, early mornings and late into the evening they sweat as they poured themselves into their work. And yet, not all had fruit to show in the end for their labor. Did one do something wrong? Did God favor one farmer over the other?
This is perhaps an illustration of how our own year has gone. Praying, praying and praying. Reaching out, praying some more. Seeking the Lord for CC Padova and seemingly coming up with one disappointment after the other. We sought the Lord for pure hearts, for His heart for the city He called us to minister to and yet everything seemed to be stagnate. We would drive an hour in one direction or another and see fruit-others vineyards were now bearing fruit and we would rejoice for them but sorrow in our own heart wondering why we weren't seeing the same in Padova.
And yet, God was working. He is working. It is in the little answers to prayer-the fleeces we found ourselves laying out before Him to know if He was indeed in this place. Many times I would find myself seeing a small glimpse of His glory and yet say "Yes, but...." Yes, Lord, you did that, but what about this?" Spending time looking at what isn't happening rather than rejoicing for what is! What a good lesson!!
We heard back from the Commune yesterday. For now, they will let us use the building and will charge us 5 euro an hour to use it. They think it is a good idea for us to arrange some concerts at Christmas and Easter, perhaps in the summer also. Please continue to pray that perhaps more opportunities to serve the community will come about.
This past summer was an answer to many prayers. As many of you know about and came along side of us in prayer for the concerts Jim and his band played in. The place in Padova has really been a blessing for us. Jim has been meeting with the manager of the park there each week since July. Lino is a little older than Jim and loves music, plays guitar and also does sound for different gospel choirs in the area. He is not a believer (yet) but has a great liking for Jim. He is starting to open up to him about difficulties in his own life. This past week he asked Jim to stay and have dinner with him. There is also a security guy there who Jim has talked with previously. He is the one who said he actually hated the church and religion. Well, this past week as Jim was leaving, he called out to him to talk. He said 'well Jim, it's just different here in Italy-it's like a state church-not like what you are talking about." We believe he is open to chat some more. He told Jim he talked to his Mom about the things he and Jim talked about!!
Jim is teaching Hebrews at the Bible College this semester. He has a great group of students and loves pouring into their lives. Please keep him and the students in your prayers.
I will be helping out with a couple of the Girls Discipleship classes. One of the topics I will be sharing on is Femininity. It's a subject dear to my heart and I pray God gives us a great message! I so long for God's heart on this topic.
We are in the planning stages of the Italian Ladies Christmas Tea in Dec. Last year was such a blessing and we look forward to it once again. Sue Long will be coming over from Siegen Germany to share the message of Jesus with us. Last years Tea hosted close to 80 women and this year we are expecting more as we are encouraging the women to invite their family and friends. Please be praying for Sue and all the details of the Tea.
There is an Int'l Ladies group here in Padova that hosts different outings and get-togethers. Every year it seems there is something that gets in the way of me getting together with these ladies. It is something I would like to do this year-hopefully that will work out. I would like to host some coffees/luncheons at my house as well as organize some craft workshops at our house. Please pray this will work out. I also met a lady through a scrapbook group and we are going to start getting together once a month. She is Italian which will be great for me to keep practicing the language!!
And so we see, God is indeed at work here in the place He has called us. It has been in the waiting hours, weeks, months and even years that we see He has been preparing us, teaching us, drawing us to Himself. We are reminded from His Word that the rich and the poor, God has made them both. That it rains on the just and the unjust. Sometimes there aren't cut and dry answers to why things happen as they do. Why does one farmer labor just as much as the other and yet his crop is destroyed. We don't always know the answer. What we do know is that after the harvest, both farmers go out again and plow and prepare for the next year. Perhaps they learn something from the year before, perhaps there was nothing they could do differently. But, they press on, they forget what was behind them and look ahead to the new season. And so it is with us. We press on, we look ahead as we are led by the One who has called us, the One who is faithful and the One who promised that He also will do it!
Thank you for your prayers!