On Saturday 18th November, Gary and I set out on the early flight from Belfast to Milan Bergamo. We drove almost three hundred kilometers to reach our destination, after which, we were able to have a look around Imola and get a feel for the city. After getting our bearings, including finding the location of the church, in a nearby social centre, we got settled into our hotel and had an early night.
Sunday, of course, meant church and meeting people. Gary was pleased to be able to speak to several people in English, including Josh and Sara and their colleagues from a town about forty minutes away, Forlí. The theme of the service was Thanksgiving and Josh did a study which was very interactive, focusing on thankfulness.
We spent the afternoon with the Whitmans and their colleagues, Stan from Canada and his Italian wife, Annamaria. A younger missionary couple, David and Emily, were also present. Josh and Sara are part of TEAM Italy, an evangelical mission, actively involved in church-planting in Italy. It was good to get the broader context of what was happening in the area.
In the evening we went to Ravenna, a nearby city and froze. It did give Gary an idea of the history of the region, given that this city dates back to the medieval ages. On our return to the hotel, after a long day, the plan was to sleep. The Lord had other plans and Gary has already related some of that during his sermon. Suffice at this point to say that, it was a very special time in the Lord’s presence when Scripture and Spirit came together and ministered deeply to our lives.
On Monday and Tuesday, we were able to do practical things. There were three different visits to various schools which provided strong leads for future English teaching work, and even translation. We were also able to look briefly into potential accommodation, but there is more work to be done on that. We even managed to fit in a visit to the Republic of San Marino, the one city state that is famous for having a national football team that would make Lisburn Distillery look good!
Wednesday morning saw us up at four in the morning and away for another early flight. All in all, it was a very beneficial trip. Thanks to everyone who prayed for us during our visit. The Lord certainly answered prayer!