Monday, July 23, 2007

Lots of Lasts

As I've looked back on our team's history, I laugh at how many transitions we've had. The last couple of months have been building up to what I believe is one of the biggest our team has faced yet. On July 31st, Matt & Angie Crosser will transition out of their full-time status on the GoAncona team and become full-time team leaders of the GoVerona team.

Matt & Angie arrived in Italy in March of 2001 into a team context that was still storming and heading into norming. In the past 6 years since then they have become some of our closest friends. We've seen each other's ugly sides and been with each other through the best and the worst of times of this ministry in Ancona.

Since being accepted as the leaders of the new team, we have continued to work together toward a smooth transition and it really has been. We've talked lots about this month and how there would be lots of 'lasts' and yet for all the talk and preparation, I'm beginning to experience the reality of those words and thoughts. Last retreat, last outreach event, last English lesson, last staff meeting, last team meeting, get the picture.

We will, of course, still see them for the next three months while they prepare to head back to the U.S. and we will still stay in contact when they are up North, but still, the reality of a post-Crosser team is starting to set in and I find myself full of emotion and anxiety.

Thanks Matt & Angie for your years of service together. Thanks for the laughs and meals and prayers and tears and dreams and new technologies and new TV shows and for everything else in between. As the lasts start to dwindle and fade and become replaced with lots of firsts up North, we wish for you a great new life and ministry in the fair city of Verona...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


The view is always incredible. But on a summer night, sitting on the steps, the Marchegian shoreline stretching out before you, lighting up the sky, it really is something. The wind was strong, carrying to us whispers of conversations mixed with sounds from the shipyards far below, the whining of high-speed drills and saws - an eerie mix, like the growls and cries of beasts emerging from the inky sea that surrounds us.

We sat on the steps of the city's Cathedral, ancient steps built hundreds of years ago on top of the ruins of a pagan temple built in times even further removed. The statues of lions stood as guards behind us as the wind whipped our hair about and played tricks with our voices.

Beautiful setting for a difficult conversation. Romantic backdrop for hard questions and tough decisions. As we sat and talked with one of the members of the summer team, a guy approached the place where we sat and sat on a step below us. He fumbled around to light a cigarette and then to remove his guitar from a red, nylon case. He hummed and strummed, adding his song to the sounds around us, and in this stranger I saw a shadow of the young man sitting beside me.

Somehow the stranger helped, the shadow strengthened my resolve. Standing at a crossroads, difficult decision to make, I saw clearly what was at stake and which direction to take. At any point, I guess we all stand there, at that crossroads looking left and right, and through the fog, we can probably make out the shadow of what we could become. Our future is not written for us, but in an incredible demonstration of faith in us, we are allowed the privilege to carve out our life, to choose our path, all with the hope of returning to Him who formed us.

I'm writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way,
I'm drawing a map to Righteous Road.
I don't want you ending up in blind alleys,
or wasting time making wrong turns.
Don't take Wicked Bypass;
don't so much as set foot on that road.
Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth.
Make a detour and be on your way.
-Proverbs 4