ACCI appointees to Italy, Brad and Julia Frey along with their two children Mitchell and Vika came to Parma from London where they are presently serving Eltham Green Community Church. They are not only fellow workers but long time friends. I first knew them both when they were students at Bethany College of Missions and before they were married. Brad had come from Thunder Bay, Ontario and his future bride Julia had come from Russia where she had already obtained a degree in English so she arrived at BCOM language ready. Both were very capable and likeable students. In some ways BCOM was not as intellectually challenging as were their minds capable of grasping the material so it is my guess they didn’t have to log a lot of late nights cramming for exams. They are still ahead of the curve and seem to meet their goals both spiritually and temporally so when they finally said, we are ready to go to Italy I had little doubt they’d get there. For a number of years they lived on Vancouver Island, a place where Jeanne and I once lived for a short time. They were up the island at Port Alberni and served a church there for perhaps seven years or so. Once they had their call firmly fixed, they went to work clearing up their affairs, selling property and raising funding. What looked like it might a couple of years to do turned out to go rather quickly as I found a spot for Brad in London where he could work while establishing UK citizenship, something Brad had by legacy through his father. They arrived in London, took an apartment above the church and began working with the youth.
While Brad was busy with the church, Julia went off to more schooling and qualified herself in second language instruction which should give them what they need to start and English academy in Italy when they arrive to live there in about a year. Well, this is pretty much the story on how they made it to Europe and might be an encouragement to other readers who feel called but consider it is all too big a stretch. If people say, “Here I am, send me,” take faith and courage in hand, then doors of opportunity do open and God has His way of getting the called into the field. After all being a missionary does have something to do with faith. ACCI’s job is to do what it can to support these folks and keep them in the field. At any rate, it was fun to see them come into the sanctuary last Sunday morning.
Julia already met some of the ladies at an earlier retreat. Brad had been here before but was rather surprised to drop in on a church with almost one-hundred fifty enthusiastic worshippers in what is commonly known to be a gospel resistant, wasteland. Following the service where Ray Ciervo of Southern Evangelical Seminary was the preacher, we had lunch together at Pastor Cerasino’s home where Mariela did it again by serving fantastic pasta. There was a lot of English being spoken with Brad, Julia, Ray, Ted and Kent in the room. After lots of laughs we took photographs with the SES teachers headed off to nap or back to Abortivi’s house and Brad, Julia and kids back to their hotel.
After a good rest we met the next day around noon. Monday is not always a good day to visit Parma. As most tourists discover Mondays and Thursday afternoons are quiet with many of the restaurants and stores closed. If you want to see the real Parma visit the city on Friday or Saturday nights between eight and
two in the morning when streets and restaurants are filled with thousands enjoying a passagiata. I originally thought to take them to Pepin for arrancini and carcioffi pannini but then considered it might be closed and the children would not take to a stand and eat restaurant. I suggested that we go to a terrific restaurant that features traditional Parmigiano fare. With its romantic and antiche interior Trattoria Corriere made a perfect impression for these “foodies.” I ordered for
them the much bragged about torta fritta (hot, puffy, deep fat fried sweet breads that you fill with fresh parma prosciutto, salumi and ham.) Along side is fromaggio di Parmigiano. Later they ordered tagliatelle for the children, followed by a veal dish with salad and eggplant (tasted much better than it sounds). Along the way we took some photographs. At around two they picked up their luggage from my hotel and went to the train and Bologna. I will see them again on Thursday of next week in London.