Saturday, September 29, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Mechanically-Inclined Individuals Everywhere, Lend Me Your Ears...
Other: Standard transmission, front-wheel drive.
Symptom: When I get into 3rd gear or higher and my RPMs get up above 2000 there is a loud whirring sound which doesn't seem to get louder whether the windows are up or down. Even when I slow down, it remains loud until I get under 2000 rpms or so. The only other thing I can think of is that it seems to get slightly louder if I'm turning to the right and only slightly so if I'm turning left.
We dropped Marcus and his parents off at the airport this morning at 5:00. While speaking to his father, Richard, he suggested maybe a bearing? Anyone else out there care to venture a guess before I take it to the mechanic?
Marcus, you will be missed! Get some rest, raise some funds and get back over here!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
In January of 2002, just after arriving back in Ancona following our first furlough (and Haven's birth), our team began meeting as a small group, a cell group which we called Life Group. We had been studying the cell model of churches and seen that God seemed to be blessing some of the churches in Italy that had followed it, including the largest Evangelical church in the country, the Parola della Grazia church in Sicily. For nearly six years we have been committed to the cell model of ministry and church-planting, not believing that it is the perfect model (as if a perfect model exists), but that in it exist qualities or characteristics of community that would be especially beneficial to those having grown up in a nominally Catholic religious background. These would be, to name a few: proactive accountability, small group intimacy and emphasis on lay leadership. We have sent teammates to Singapore to study how best to do children's ministry within the cell model. We have purchased sets of discipleship materials to be used with the cell model. We have visited two different Italian cell churches to find out how they do things and to learn from them. In other words, we've made a pretty significant commitment to figuring out how it can or should work in our current context.
A few years ago, we tried adding a Sunday morning 'Cell-abration' service and moved our Life Group to a mid-week time. This more than doubled our work-load on a team that was already close to burn-out and moved our focus prematurely off of building relationships. After six months we changed the Sunday morning service to monthly and a few months after that cancelled it all together. We went back to our roots and focused on our Life Group and on building relationships with the 'unchurched'.
Last fall, still meeting as one Life Group on Sundays, we had grown back to the point that we needed to multiply into two (a GOOD thing). For nearly a year now, we have been meeting as two Life Groups and slowly growing. At our retreat last month, our team talked about how we were shifting in our view of the 'need' here, about where people are and about the need stated by several of our church core for a regular gathering of everyone together. After talking and praying we decided to refit our Life Groups to focus more on community and prayer and to reintroduce a Sunday morning gathering. We met with the five core Italians and presented our ideas and concerns to them, asking for their help and their commitment. They were happy and helpful! Afterwards, our teammate Marcus commented that this meeting was the best thing we had ever done as a team since he had been on the field.
So, a week from today, September 30th, will be our return to having a Sunday morning celebration service. In the past, our Life Groups have been structured around 4 'W's: Welcome, Worship, Word and Witness. The new Life Groups, will be very flexible and transportable, but focused, instead, around the following five characteristics:
1. Leader - each group will have a servant leader, a facilitator whose main job is prayer, pastoring and communication
2. Weekly - this is one of two wings of our community here and thus will be meeting weekly
3. Meal - sharing a meal together is foundational - it fits with the culture and encourages a laid back comfortability (ask Josh for more on this!)
4. Deeper - the focus of these groups is NOT Bible study, but instead, simply to do life together. Thanks to our friends at Real Life Church for maybe even inadvertently helping me to see this. During the meal and anytime before and after (or anytime!), the group is encouraged to process the message from Sunday and to ask each other how they're doing, what they're struggling with, how they can be ministered to, etc.
5. Prayer - most importantly, the groups will pray together. I LOVE that Rosa, in our meeting with our core, insisted that this not just be 'lip-service' to prayer, but actually be a time where we all pray together.
This makes it easier to invite people into our homes, takes some of the structure out of Life Groups into a time/format that most Italians are comfortable with and continues our focus on the principles behind the cell model. It also makes it easier to train cell leaders and hopefully will help everyone see that they can start a Life Group.
Please pray for our team and church as we transition here: that we would continually evaluate and change, attune to the Spirit's leading. Pray for Brian and I during the coming months as we share the bulk of the preaching/teaching. Pray for real, Italian ownership. Pray for those who will be invited to step further into our community's circle.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
My Old Man's Blog
Monday, September 17, 2007
First Day in a New Class in a New School
Saturday, September 15, 2007
If you want washboard abs...
Start with 30 seconds of center crunch (just a regular crunch).
Then follow that with 30 seconds right crunch (if your hands are on your head…you can try to let your right elbow touch your left knee).
Then 30 seconds of left crunch (you should get the picture)…
The second half is like this…30 seconds of “bicycles” which is pretending to peddle a bicycle with your feet while alternating moving your elbows (hands still on head) to each knee…you look like a drunk 2 year old on this one until you get it down, but when you do…look out cuz it hurts.
The final two are “ups and “up and outs”…the ups are simply raising your legs as high as you can (try to get those truthful hips off the ground each time…again for 30 seconds) and then up and outs are when you go up…hips off the ground…and then stick your legs straight out in front of you without letting them touch the floor.
We started this with only going 1 time through, but once the soreness starts to die down, you can do it for the whole 6 minutes (that’s 2x’s through for the mathematically challenged).
Thursday, September 13, 2007
My First Italian Root Canal
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Top 10 Differences Between Camping in Italy & the U.S.
9. There is a quiet hour from 2-4 pm where you can't even drive your car in the campground.
8. Even the pool closes down during the quiet time.
7. In the evening there is corporate dancing to loud techno/pop music.
6. There is a bar on-site where you can get a shot of whiskey or a stout espresso.
5. You can order fresh pasta at the bar to be ready the next day.
4. Even while camping, the main dish eaten is...pasta. (No Dutch girls, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.) (The picture at right is of an Italian vending machine - olives available!)
3. 95% of campers are in campers (as opposed to tents).
2. Most campers are 'seasonal' campers which means they are there for the WHOLE summer season - they even bring major appliances and do landscaping around their campers!
1. And the number one reason camping in Italy is different than in the U.S. ... they all wear bathrobes to the bathroom!
MY favorite part of our last camping adventure was getting to stop by the nearby UPIM store.
(This is for Heidi :) )
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Amare Terra Mia
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Last night we had two Italian friends over for dinner. Here, it is customary for the guest to bring a gift or something to contribute to the meal like a bottle of wine or a dessert. Last night, they brought dessert. Made in a small, inland, Marchegian town, they brought delicious pastries. Inside, they are filled with cocoa, nuts and raisins and on the outside, on top, they are covered with a red frosting made from a liquor made from the "wings of ladybugs." Huh? Alchermes is the name of it and we're still trying to figure out if our friend is telling the truth or pulling our proverbial leg. In the meantime, we keep eating them and don't suffer any adverse side effects...except for this white, spotted, rash...
A Rough Afternoon
Haven had just gotten up this morning and found a euro under her pillow. The tooth fairy had come and made the switch. One front tooth down, one to go. Silly parents, we thought the next one would come out a few weeks or months from now, but no. Her big brother Jacob had something else in mind. During an altercation in her bedroom, Jacob got mad and punched her in the face. Heather called me from the back side of the house saying, 'It's an emergency!' I ran and overheard Jacob saying, 'I punched her and knocked two teeth out...' After a moment of looking at him funny I took Haven into the bathroom and had her wash her mouth. I glanced at her mouth and saw that only two were missing. 1+2=3. Something wasn't adding up. I asked her if she was OK and through sobs and tears she whimpered, "How much will the Tooth Fairy give me for this one?" Dang capitalists! I asked frightened Jacob where the teeth were and he led me to Haven's room. He handed me one tooth and one small piece of white plastic. OK, so he only knocked out one tooth. "You knocked out your sister's tooth!" Whew...after a LONG speech about 'With great power comes great responsibility' the punishment was handed down. No video games for 5 days. For Jacob, that will be enough. For Haven, well, she now has permission to sing a Christmas song early which is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN in this Casey home. How was your day?