Middle of Week 2 in Italy

Buongiorno!

Hopefully you are sound asleep as this update gets posted. It is 8:30 in the morning in Imola with a 6-hour time change to the East Coast, and more beyond that. Hard to believe that we are already halfway through week 2. Seems like we just arrived. Much has happened, but we are trusting much more to transpire before making the trek home. It has been incredible to watch the Lord’s hand at work!

We arrived Sunday evening and got settled into our lodging arrangements at the local seminary. It is nice to have the whole place to ourselves … sort of. A basketball club brought a group of 13 kids down from Udine, which is up north, and they are actually staying right across the hall. That has been quite a bit of fun as well. A bit rowdy at night, but good times.

It has been a different week than the first week, but no less fun and challenging. We split our team up into two groups as there are two different places that we have the opportunity to impact kids for Christ each morning. A group of seven stays in Imola and runs camp for the 21 kids that are from both Imola and Udine. A group of five gets up early and takes the 25-minute train ride to Forli, where we are working with another church-planting missionary family. This family is running eight weeklong camps this summer and we are excited to be a part of this week, where we are running the 47 kids through basketball stations and fun games. It has been a very hot week again, but we feel the Lord’s hand in providing the strength. After lunch with the kids the Forli team takes the train back Imola, arriving just in time to meet up with the Imola team for the 3:30 – 6:30 portion of their camp. The Imola camp runs from 9 – 12 each morning and then the kids head home for lunch while the coaches grab a bite to eat and get a much-needed break before the second part of the day starts.

There is a 3-on-3 tournament going on in town and we were able to put a team in. So Monday and Tuesday night the guys played in the tournament and won both games. They play again Friday night, just in time to head out Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, the tournament runs for two weeks so we will miss the second week, but the organizers were excited about having our team in it for at least the first week. Last night during the game the kids from camp showed up to show their support. All throughout the game they were chanting “Push The Rock” … it was great!. After the game, the organizers wanted to do an interview for their website. They were interested in why we had come from America to spend time in Italy. It was an opportunity to share about our desire to build relationships with the Italian people and to introduce them to the greatest personal relationship someone could have … with Jesus Christ. It all seemed to make sense to them until they asked how many people we had brought from the United States. I said “12.” The interviewer was a bit baffled by the response because behind him were over 30 people playing around on the court. I told him that all those people were Italians, to which he responded with “then how did you get all of them to cheer for your team during the game and not the Italian team?” It was another opportunity to share why we had come. He seemed quite impressed and in his translation back to the camera he mentioned how “bellisima” (beautiful) it was that this could be happening and that the kids would be doing that! Building into someone’s life really does make a difference!

We praise the Lord for the inroads that have been made in all three locations this week – Imola, Udine and Forli. Relationships are being formed with the kids and their families, which is huge for our missionary hosts here, who are at the very early stages of planting a church in Imola.

It is Wednesday morning and we are getting ready for Day 3 of camp. Today will be a bit different because the Forli team will not be going to Forli today. The kids will be taking bikes up into the mountains, so the Push The Rock team will all be together in Imola. We are all pretty excited about that. After the morning and afternoon sessions of camp we will be playing a local team from Imola at 7 pm. We are all pretty excited about that as well, especially those guys who have not had a chance to play in the 3-on-3 tournament. After the game we will grab dinner and watch the Germany-Spain World Cup semifinal match.

Again, it is hard to believe that we are halfway through the second week. Please continue to pray for the kids at camp as they hear the Gospel in several different ways throughout the day. We are extremely grateful for your willingness to pray for us and for the opportunity to share Christ with these kids. We take this opportunity very seriously but are having a blast doing it!

May God’s grace be ever clear to you today as you live your life Him before others!

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