Italy – Great First Week!

Buongiorno! It is Sunday afternoon and we are getting ready to head to Imola. It is hard to capture the first week in words, but let me try to give you an idea of how it ended up.

Thursday was a great day of camp and many of the coaches had to really dig deep to work through fatigue and slight illness. We actually prayed for cooler weather and that is what we got. Praise God! The coaches  did exceptionally well throughout the day. Side conversations with the kids in camp after some of the testimonies led to great opportunities to more explicitly share Christ. Camp ended well and then we split up into groups and went to different homes for dinner. On a very full stomach we played our third game in three nights. Many campers came with their families to the watch the game. The game was tight but we ended winning by about 10. Great experience to see two Push The Rock players hit the floor and the team we were playing stopped play so that we could get up. Sportsmanship concepts appear to be taking root. We finished the night with Joe giving his testimony and the players were very attentive. Seeds planted will hopefully take root.

Friday was the final day of camp. It was incredibly hot! But again God gave the strength to get through the day. Early in the day, a player who was given the gospel yesterday, came to his coach and asked to pray to receive Jesus as his Savior. Upon praying, he was challenged to go and tell a friend what he did. When he told his friend, they both returned to the coach to talk some more. God was definitely tugging on his heart but he was not willing to accept Christ on this day. We continue to be thankful for the opportunities to share the truth and to see the Holy Spirit working throughout the camp day. Bible lessons with Carmen and Gabriel have created many opportunities to hear the questions from the kids in camp.

As camp was ending the parents started to show up with food for our closing program. There was a mountain of food awaiting us … but before we could enjoy it we wanted to have the kids demonstrate for their families what they had learned at camp. We even pulled the parents out for a few games, which most enjoyed. If that were not enough, the parents invited us for a pizza dinner to say Thank You for the week. We spent close to two hours getting to know the parents of the kids we had worked with all week. It was great to share many of the same things with the parents that we had shared with the kids all week … Jesus, the Savior of the world, wants a personal relationship with each of them. On a side note, we were not the only ones enjoying a feast. The mosquitoes descended on us like the Last Supper … Pat had a complete blood transfusion!

Saturday was the first morning we could sleep in, which we did with great excitement and diligence. We took the bus into Venice for the day, which was a blast for all of us. But WOW, it was hot! It was over 100 degrees in Venice, but we enjoyed walking around and catching the sights and people of such a tremendous city. We were also fortunate enough to take a gondola ride! In the heat of the day we went into a local restaurant to catch the Germany-Argentina game with the locals. We went home and enjoyed some time together as a team studying Romans and recapping the first week.

This morning we worshiped with the Il Faro church. This is always a highlight of the trip as we worship Christ together in multiple languages. Chris brought a message from Acts 2 about the importance of the cross and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. After church we had a luncheon with everyone and now we are getting ready to head to Imola to tackle week 2. As exciting as week 1 was, we are excited about what the Lord has in store for us in week 2.

Thanks for praying!

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