Italy update #6

Buon giorno! Tuesday morning … been three days since our last update and much has happened. Sorry for being incommunicado the last few days. It is a bit harder to get internet these days.

Nonetheless, we are here in Mestre and the weather, for one, is much different. We are no longer longer for our jackets each day. It is in the 80s and nice and sunny. Regardless, we are in the gym each day for camp from 8:30 – 5. Yesterday we had a great first day of camp. We have 27 kids at camp this year, which is right around what we had last year. Apparently the economy, which is terrible here, has had quite an impact on the families and their ability to do a number of different things. Having said that, July is a heavy vacation month, with many families, especially in the Veneto region, heading out on vacation during this month.

About half of the kids are returning members of previous PTR camps, so it is great to renew those friendships. But we also enjoy investing in new kids and families. It takes so long, years in fact, in Italy to really form solid relationships. The gym we are in is perfect. Six hoops and plenty of open space to maneuver. The second week of camp is always nice because the coaches have a good feel for how camp runs and what the expectations are for campers and coaches alike. Monday is always a day of trying to figure things out … what can the kids handle, what is their skill level, and how will the logistics of the day play out?

Last night we went into Venice for a few hours to catch the sunset in Venice. For some it was the first time. For others, it was the opportunity to visit this beautiful city where one goes in and never comes out the same way twice … ever! Crazy how they built Venice and how intricate all of the little pathways are. Most of the crowds had gone home for the day by the time we arrived at the center (San Marco) around 7:30 pm. We go home around 11 pm in time for Team Time and then off to bed for Tuesday.

Backing up to Saturday, we spent a beautiful day in Florence. Hard to imagine a more perfect day to see the city than what we enjoyed Saturday. Sun was shining, but there was a cool breeze blowing all day. It took us two hours to get there by train but by the time we arrived we hit the ground running. Five of us climbed to the top of the Duomo, which has close to 500 steps, and has a breathtaking view of the city. The three that stayed behind were not very keen on the very tight spaces getting up to the top. We spent some time on the top of the cathedral before heading back down to tackle the David statue. Six guys went and caught a close-up glimpse of that famous statue while two of us climbed the bell tower adjacent to the Duomo. Always amazing to see history up close and personal!

We grabbed dinner at the train station before taking the two hour train ride up to Mestre. We got settled into our apartment where we are staying, which is in a perfect location … a 5-minute walk from camp. That proved to be key yesterday. We say good-bye to one of our teammates as he headed back down to Faenza to run a week-long soccer camp this week; but we gained a few other teammates … a friend from Scotland who played pro rugby in Italy for three years and a couple from Pennsylvania. We praise the Lord for our team, which also includes those from the local church plant here.

Sunday we were able to sleep in as church was moved from the morning to the evening. After lunch we headed to the local park and hit up the local courts for a few hours. We ran into some kids from previous camp years who were excited about coming to camp. One of the kids actually informed us he was coming to church that night, which was nothing short of a shocker to us! Kids just do not do that here, and neither do their families. But sure enough, at 6 pm, he and his family came to church. We were praising the Lord for this as, again, this does not normally happen!

We had a great time of worship together as one of our team members preached and four others shared testimonies of God’s faithfulness. It was great to meet everyone who would be working together this week and to especially worship the Lord together to kick off the week. We are excited for what the rest of the week holds and are trusting the Lord for the results!

Thanks for praying. We have a great day of camp lined up today and play our first match tonight here in Mestre. May God richly bless you as you continue to be a blessing to us through your prayers!

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