Time Flies…

Posted in Ancona, church, culture, family, kids, ministry, Newsletters, Team at 4:00 am

I just realized that I typed “Volume 8 — Issue 1” on the byline of our most recent newsletter. How is that possible? Is this really the eighth year of sending out newsletters?

A lot has happened over the years. We spent over two years in the US raising support for our work in Ancona. What an experience that was – easily the most faith-stretching experience of our lives.

Then we moved to Perugia to study Italian. We enrolled in a small language school and tried to train our mouths to make all the weird sounds we heard all around us. We also adapted to the Italian rhythm of life, and enrolled our two oldest kids in school. What an experience that was – easily the most faith-stretching experience of our lives.

Next we moved to Ancona and started to dip our toes into life on a team. We learned all the reasons why working on a team is such a great thing, and we also learned why it can be a really challenging thing. The Italian culture started to feel a bit more familiar to us, but things were still new and scary sometimes. Moving to Ancona and working on a team was a great experience – easily the most faith-stretching experience of our lives.

After our first furlough, we came back to Ancona with a new confidence. The language wasn’t quite so difficult. Our kids were doing pretty well in school. We even had a baby in Ancona. Our team leader asked us to be the interim team leader for six months while he was in the US. What an experience that was – easily the most faith-stretching experience of our lives.

Just before our second furlough our landlord gave us six months to move out of her apartment, and we were faced with finding a new place and completely furnishing it with absolutely no way to pay for it. What an experience that was – easily the most faith-stretching experience of our lives.

Which brings us more or less to the present day. We still get our faith stretched on a regular basis. God still pulls us through despite our doubts, and shows us how faithful He is to us.

And through it all, He’s forming a church in Ancona. Sometimes He uses us, and sometimes He does an end-run and brings people to us that we never would have even met. He molds us and shapes us and chips away at our rough edges until we become more and more like Him.

And to think. It’s only taken seven years so far…

Thanks for sticking with us.


Lame Taxes

Posted in culture, finances, friends at 2:58 am

We were greeted from our Christmas travels to a letter from the Agenzia Entrate – more or less the Italian IRS. By the end of January, we need to pay €109 (~$158). It’s TV tax time.

Italy’s three main, state-run television stations are supported by a yearly tax, paid for by everyone who has bought a TV. It doesn’t matter if you never watch the state channels, or if you only use your TV to play movies, or even if you have ever turned your TV on. If you buy a TV, they send you a letter in January asking you to cough it up. And the state channels still have commercials, so where all this money goes is a bit of a mystery.

So what’s a poor pastor to do? Do we pay the tax like good foreign residents? Or do we stick it to the man and refuse to support the media machine? Here are some facts:

  • Christians who I respect have laughed at me when I asked if they pay the TV tax. They say it’s a joke and no one but foreigners who don’t know any better pay it.
  • They can come and “audit” you if you don’t pay. What this really means is a bit of a mystery.
  • After midnight, most of these channels play shows that range from soft-core, to full-out pornography. If I pay my tax, aren’t I supporting this programming as well?

I’d love to get a discussion going – but hurry … the tax is due January 31!