Trip 39 / Entry 16 / DTS Friends

Saturday, September 27, 2014

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IMG_3663This is the part I most dislike. I hate the day when it is all over, I pack up again, say our goodbyes and go to the next city. It is hard to imagine the bonding that can take place in one week. It was a small group but such nice students and staff. Can I say it? Yes, these are my friends (brothers and sisters) now and though we may never see each other again on this side of glory, we have shared the divine privilege of meeting and this will make the reunion so much sweeter.

Trip 38 / Entry 35 / Fidenza Outreach

Since I was to be picked up in Parma at four for a new church street project outreach in Fidenza we went back to Parma in time for a short rest and getting picked up by Francesco. Off we went.

It was a terribly hot in the afternoon without a breath of air when we arrived in Fidenza at about five-thirty. We parked and walked the four blocks to the city center where there was a festival. In Italy almost anything that features a balloon is called a feste.

Fidenza

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It wasn’t hard to find our outreach team. There were about fifteen young people from various nations gathered in a loose circle enthusiastically singing to the sound of a strummed guitar and another fellow beating on something that served as a drum.

The Brazilians

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10296994_733365286686696_4521078741189322577_n (1)Almost ten years ago I made about three subsequent visits to Portugal where I connected with Brazilian, Free Methodist missionaries to Portugal, Cindi and Eduardo. They had now come from Lisbon, Portugal to Italy and Parma, renewed acquaintance and be introduced to the Gruppo Cristiano Latino Americano leadership. Two new Brazilian workers who feel called to Italy, Moses and his wife, Jacione have been in Portugal establishing EU residency for this very purpose. Ten years haven’t seemed to make much difference in Cindi and Eduardo and to me they looked the same as when I left them. They also brought along another pastor, Cida whom I had met but frankly, hadn’t come to know because of the limitation of language for both me and her.

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After so many years we enjoyed reconnecting and promised to talk more on Sunday when we would have more time to socialize but for now we had to go to a service where I would preach.

IMG_3212The evening was shared by a band from Brecia that had come down to help. Even in the heat, they certainly held the attention of the audience with lively music interspersed with testimony and videos.

Trip 38 / Entry 4 / Lake Como and Emily

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Emily being Italian and taking a call

Emily being Italian and taking a call

I have a young friend in Milan serving with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I first met Emily in Budapest when I taught at a week-long YWAM DTS. At first I thought of Emily as just one more of the sixteen or so young people in the building. Then on the first Monday it was Emily’s turn to prepare lunch and after the morning sessions we all made our way upstairs to the kitchen where Emily was making fresh tomato sauce, listening to Andre Bocelli and stirring a huge pot of spaghetti with a wooden spoon. I thought, this girl is in Budapest but she has an undeniable Italian heart and as we got better acquainted this became clear. Since that time, more than five years ago, I have stayed up with her.

I do listen, see.

I do listen, see.

It turned out that I eventually connected Emily with other missionary friends in Italy the Dilles where she stayed for a while. Now we have other friends in common so it was quite unsurprising for her to get a text message from me asking, “What are you doing tomorrow? Do you want to go up to Lake Como for lunch?” This is the kind of invitation that a young, poor missionary could hardly resist and so the answer came back quickly and arrangements were made to meet at the train the next morning at 8.

ThougIMG_1952h Como is a must destination, in all the many times I had been in Italy I had never gone. We spent a couple of hours walking then stopped and had lunch overlooking the lake on an unimaginably perfect day.

IMG_1949The conversation mostly centered around outreach methodology and the nasty subject of raising support.

 

IMG_1963It was a terrific time and later that evening after she did her English outreach class we went to Restorante Da Oscar where we enjoyed an amazing meal.

IMG_1964Whenever I have opportunity, I try my best to do evangelism and since Oscars is one of those places where you are squeezed up to those at the next table we became acquainted with the English speaker who was curious about us. While we worked our way through my incredible Frutti d’Mare and Emily’s Tagliatelle con Salmone in creamy pesto sauce we shared worldview with Nicola.

Treating those who could not normally afford this sort of thing to a special dinner out is one of my ministry privileges. Let me suggest that when you go on holiday abroad you find out who might be serving in that area and invite them out. Both of you will be encouraged and blessed.

North Street Band arrives in England

Arriving at Gatwick

Arriving at Gatwick

If you’ve kept up with my blogs you will have, by now, heard of North Street Band from Perth, Ontario and my plans to bring them over for concerts in England, Italy and Slovenia. Planning and fund-raising for this took the better part of a year, so we were excited to see how things might unfold after all of the dreaming and preparation.

Pastor John and Daniel showed up at Gatwick to meet us while we waited together for the five to show up. We carefully watched people come and go until after an hour, out of the doors they came. For the young guys, this was their first international trip so they were “eyes wide open.”

After greeting and loading the mini-bus, off we went to Eltham where we would be serving Eltham Green Community Church for the next week.

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They took a day or so to bounce back from jet lag and then it was concert time. They performed three times. First, they performed in the open air on High Street with many of us handing out invitations to the concert on Friday night and Worship Party at the church on Sunday morning.

UK 09-06 to )9-25 460Eltham is tough ground. The community is riddled with social dysfunction. Many children come from broken, abusive homes. Some leave home early so there are many teenage mothers and girls living on social assistance. Public drunkenness is rampant.  Drop out rates are high and large numbers of young people are involved in delinquent activities. It is within the context of this chaos that Eltham Community Church tries to make a difference.

UK 09-06 to )9-25 541North Street went ahead as best they could and though attendance at the events were not as high as we had hoped, the band was well received everywhere they played.

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A performance hall was rented for Friday night . It was cold and raining when the band finally took the stage. This turned out to be a good event seeing that so many in the church had no idea of who the band was or the music they played.

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UK 09-06 to )9-25 673The church on Sunday morning was packed where the band played a worship concert and I preached the gospel.

York and the Cathedral

York Cathedral

We had a great sleep and another English “Full” Breakfast. By 10:30 we were on our way to York and into the heart of the city. It was Sunday morning, but still impossible to find a spot on the street so we found a convenient parking lot near Marygate then hiked through the York Museum Gardens toward the cathedral. By now the fog had lifted and the morning was beginning to clear and sparkle in the crisp early autumn morning. The leaves were beginning to turn and fall, giving us rather memorable moments as we passed through light to shadow under the enormous trees that bordered the Ouse River along the Dame Judy Dench Walk. It was what one might  hope for the morning you make a visit to historical York.

As we pressed through the crowds already filling the sidewalks we kept our eyes fixed on the massive tower and steeple of the York Cathedral, world famous for its Gothic design. Then there it was! Suddenly at the intersection of three streets there it stood glistening in the sunlight. We walked around it trying to get a good photograph (as everyone does) and then noticed well-dressed, college-aged young adults, both men and women, at the doors handing out what appeared to be bulletins. We walked up to see if there might be a church service or perhaps we might go inside to take a look. We were told that this was, “The Battle for Britain Sunday.” It was then that we noticed well-decorated military personnel milling about in small groups  in front of the church. It was apparent that something important was taking place and that we were just a little “tacky” for the occasion. We could come back at one o’clock if we’d like to see it.

St. Michael le Belfrey

The Family in York

Soon Jeanne was discouraged enough with the reception that she went on her own toward another small building standing in the shadows of The York Cathedral. I was distracted taking photographs when she, frantically hailing me in her direction,  caught my eye. When I reached her at the steps of St. Michael le Belfrey I could hear what she was hearing, choruses that we were familiar with and robust singing coming from inside. We were graciously invited to come in and entered a pew two-thirds of the way back amid a group of about one hundred other worshipers. We enjoyed about forty-five minutes of singing and preaching before they broke for fellowship time.

“Elevenzies” at Betty’s Tea

Leaving the church we walked the crowded and narrow streets of York and eventually came across Betty’s Tea, a rather notable experience with tea and crumpets served up in grand style by girls dressed in crisp dresses and aprons. The light streaming in through the tall windows made the room dazzle and the occasion splendid. While having our tea a well-appointed, older gentleman at the next table heard our accents and introduced himself as a guide for the York Cathedral and in but a minute was bad talking the Puritans for knocking the stained glass windows out of the church in the mid-1550s. Although we wish they had never done such a thing, the fact remains one never knows who they are talking to, now does one? After visiting York Cathedral on Sunday morning, it occurs to me that most of the people who are attending church in this impressive edifice are really worshiping culture and art rather than the God of culture and art.

The shops were magnificent, especially along the street that was once essentially an outdoor slaughter house. The streets had names like “Swinegate” and “The Shambles.” These are “must see” visits. There are lots of characters so I asked one if I might snap his picture and he heartily agreed, striking for me his best pose.

So much for saying we had been to York. Now on to Chatsworth House, where the movie Pride and Prejudice was filmed.