Trip 38 / Entry 24 / The ACCI Gathering

Thursday to Sunday, May 28-June 1, 2014

Group Crop

IMG_3035Sometime last year I suggested that we have a get together in Italy. Mostly, I thought this would consist of about a dozen Italian workers and some of our staff members. Well, before I got this out of my mouth, Ann had it on the griddle. Within three months Ann had assembled a team of Dawn Mann and Francesco Abortivi in Italy working with her on the idea. Soon, along with about seventy others, board members, missionaries, and ministry partners,  I had an invitation to three days at Spiaggi Romea on the Adriatic coast south of Venice and near Rimmini .  Not much later I was hearing of a large number of takers so in the end we had forty-eight adults and twenty-three children registered.

Sunday morning closing service

Sunday morning closing service

IMG_2962In all, over the weekend, we had representatives from eleven nations in attendance.  On Saturday we had another twenty ministry partners in attendance. Many of these people I had not yet met so it was fun to see how much the work had grown since beginning in 2000, some fourteen years earlier. Besides the Canadian contingent where this all began, we had attendees from Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, The United Kingdom, and The United States. In several respects, this was beyond my expectation! First of all, I never expected that ACCI would grow to this size and international influence.  Secondly, I never suspected that people would be this committed to the mission and future of ACCI that they would go to such trouble and expense to come together in this way.

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It was obvious to all that there was a tremendous supernatural affection that each member had for the others. From the first minute of acquaintance all seem to feel an affinity and shared purpose to advance the cause of Christ together. There was an authentic collegiality from the first day that only grew as the days went by.

If I died right now… it would have been more than enough.

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Spiaggia Romea is a beautiful resort with everything one can imagine to do. Yet, the spectacular recreational options didn’t seem to attract people. Mostly, I found people in small groups huddled around tables, getting acquainted or visiting with those they already knew.

IMG_2974The meetings were filled with engaging personal and field reports followed by guided prayer where we were able to supportively gather around our fellow workers. There were amazing words of personal encouragement and lots of tears – the kind of tears that left all feeling refreshed and filled with joy. I am not allowed to share the details and anyway, it would all just take too long but the most important thing is that our hearts were knitted together in love.

Trip 38 / Entry 23 / Spiaggia Romea

Thursday to Sunday, May 28 to June 2, 2014

Southeast of Bologna on the Adriatica

Mariela came for us at 11:30 and we packed ourselves into the car with her and her daughter Rebecca for the two and half hour ride toward the Adriatic sea coast.

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IMG_2975We drove into the gateway of this spectacular resort, got registered and went to our rooms to settle in. Before registering we began to get the bad news, there has been a spotty train strike with one of the couples having to come by taxi from Bologna 250 Euro away ($325 USD).  That wasn’t the worst news, another couple while in the IMG_2977Bologna train station, had their bags taken with their passports and money. Surprisingly, both situations were soon rectified. In fifteen years here in Italy, I have never heard of the police returning anything that was stolen or lost. Yet, they got it all back in tact within an hour. No one knows exactly how but we were thrilled to say the least!!! This is a miracle akin to Moses crossing the Red Sea.

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IMG_2993Then as for the other couple forced to pay 250 Euro for a taxi ride? Imagine? There were special donations made to The Gathering and this allowed the leadership team to reimburse those who were out because of the train strike. All in all, it didn’t turn out as bad as might be expected.