One Last…

Posted in family, food, kids, ministry, Newsletters at 6:04 am

One last…

prayer with a church member.

Bible study with our English groups.

trip to the sea.

dinner with our neighbors.

prayer walk with Kyle.

trip to the post office.

rubbermaid ready to be shipped to the US.

chat with an acquaintance who just heard about our departure.

phone call with the shipping company.

struggle to conjugate Italian verbs correctly.

pizza, always salame piccante.

dinner in Numana.

glance at Giulia, Emanuel, and Alex, wishing we could watch them grow up.

prayer of thanks to God that He allowed us to watch the church members grow up.

day trip to Perugia.

walk down the Viale on the way to La Via.

early-morning wind storm that rattles all the shutters.

ache in my heart when I see the nervousness on the kids’ faces as we talk about the future, about leaving friends, about fitting in in the US.

spaghetti con le vongole, cozze all’adriatico, fritto misto di pesce.

walk with Filippo so he can practice his English.

espresso at the bar, with a sugar-coated ciambella to get the day started.

pot luck after our church gathering, with all of the craziness there normally is.

time to hear Simone and Daniel teach, who will capably lead the church this summer.

wave of humility that God used us to plant a church in Ancona.

wave of thankfulness for the supporters who brought us and kept us here.

discipleship time with Lance and Alex.

dinner on the Koval’s terrace, watching the sun go down over the sea.

experience with the Italian health-care system (bureaucracy at it’s finest).

afternoon with the refugees.

glance at Ancona from above, seen from the highway coming back from Senigallia.

trip to see Valentina.

hug, kiss-kiss hello and good-bye (always left, then right), ciao ciao!

nervous wait at the ticket counter while our luggage is weighed, pat down at security, two take-offs and two landings.

bittersweet arrival in Chicago, happy to see family and friends, always with the memories of who we have left behind lingering near.



Posted in church, family, finances, food, friends, ministry, Newsletters at 6:25 am

Wow. For nearly all of you, I’d imagine, Thanksgiving dinner has been reduced to picked over leftovers in the fridge and great memories. Our turkey arrives today. That’s right. We’re a little non-traditional over here.

The deal is, since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated outside of the good old USA, it’s just a regular day here. The kids have school, people go to work, I had choir practice, and we even had a meeting with the parents of Trey’s class in the evening. In order to really have a good time and relax and have time to reflect and be thankful, we decided to invite friends to join us on Sunday. So, soon we will enjoy our feast of Thanksgiving, as well. And, boy do we have a lot to be thankful for.

First off, we are thankful that our teammates had a beautiful baby girl, Gemma, last Saturday. Pray for the Kovals as they learn to go from a family of three to a family of four. Second, we are thankful that next weekend we will attend a conference with members from our church. The speaker is Gary Thomas, and he has written some great books on marriage and parenting. I truly believe his messages will be a great encouragement and exhortation to our body of believers. To tell the truth, we were not going to go because the cost is very high and we couldn’t afford it. When one of the men in our church told us that it was so important to his family that he took an advance on his salary, we started to think differently. Then, when another brother told us that we should shorten it by attending only two nights instead of three (thus saving our family $273), we decided that it must be important. The entire church decided to shorten it by a day just so that we could be able to go! (One for all, and all for one they told us J) Last year there were nineteen of us from our little church, and it was quite a spiritual boost to these new Christians.

There is so much to be thankful for that I really don’t want to say “lastly.” But, let’s just say it for the sake of sending you a quick note…

Lastly, we are thankful for you! As the year is coming to an end, it is easy to reflect on how much you have meant to us throughout the year. Thank you for the financial support, the prayer support, the letters and phone calls, and much, much more. We are thankful for our time spent in the States with you this summer. We are thankful for all of you who opened your homes to us and treated us as family. Really, thank you.


Spiritual Birthdays

Posted in church, food, ministry, Newsletters at 1:08 am

“Auguri! Buon Compleanno!” I overheard Brian saying on the phone the other day. I had to think twice because I couldn’t remember anyone who was having a birthday. Then it hit me. Simone and Mariana were having their first birthday! Not the hospital kind, but the kind that Jesus explained to Nicodemus late one night. The birth through baptism that comes with the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit. What a journey it’s been for them … and us. What an incredible year that we have been able to experience. What a year of growth for their family and of change in their lives. I overheard Brian asking things like, “What’s been the best thing about this year?” and “What’s been the change you’ve seen most in your lives?” Maybe he didn’t know I was eavesdropping (he will after reading this :) ) but it was such a neat conversation that I couldn’t help myself.

That’s what’s so wonderful about this missionary live that we lead. We get to be a part of such wonderful things. Sometimes people treat us as if we are sacrificing some big thing to be missionaries. Honestly, sure I love my country and my family and my home and even Mexican food. A lot. But as Jim Elliot, famous missionary to Ecuador once said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” I don’t really want to be a fool. There’s nothing here on this earth that really matters that much to me compared to the glory that awaits us in heaven (not even Bath and Body Works or Ranch dressing). My family, of course, but things? Experiences? Trips to Disney like other American families? Meh. Not really all it’s cracked up to be, in my opinion.

The thing is, you’re a part of this journey, too. And we thank you for working with us. A more modern author, John Piper, says, “Go, send, or disobey.” I love it. So true. So, we work together you and I. We go. You send. And the Kingdom (including all of us) reaps the benefits. Benefits way cooler than a big portfolio or 401K.

We also celebrated an anniversary this month. We have now lived in Italy for seven years. We used to approach our arrival anniversary days with excitement and maybe a little party with our teammates. But this year’s anniversary came and went without a big to-do. We actually hardly even remembered. I think that means we’re doing OK! Thanks for sticking with us!


Fish dinner, diesel fumes, and friends

Posted in Ancona, culture, family, food, friends at 2:21 am

Some good friends of ours invited us to attend a fish dinner down by the port. The area of town is called Gli Archi (The Arches), and all of the buildings have a large sidewalk in front and are covered with huge arches.

The dinner was a benefit for some non-profit organization. They spread out picnic tables underneath the arches and everyone mingled around until the boy scouts hurried by to take tickets and bring the food.

There is a street right in front of the arches, and it’s one of the main ways into town. Traffic tapered off as dinner went on, but the occasional bus or streetbike roaring by quickly reminded us to hang on to the kids.

When people think of Italy they often think of a fancy restaurant or a big plate of pasta. They picture wine glasses and pizza. And to be sure, the big fancy Italian dinner is something we enjoy about living here.

But as I sat, scrunched on a flimsy picnic bench with family and friends on either side, I realized that I would much rather have dinner sotto gli archi than in some fancy restaurant. The seafood pasta and fried fish was great, but not nearly as great as the company. I found myself smiling as Trey chatted with Maurizio, as Silla grabbed Francesca to take her for a walk, as Marco brought over a huge dessert that he bought before the pastry shop closed. Dinners like this are just as much for the company as the food.

But … the food was delicious, too!


Culinary Delights

Posted in Ancona, food, Team at 1:29 am

People always comment on what the food must be like in Italy. The stereotype is mostly true. We eat pasta about once a day, and pizza is always available for a quick snack downtown. But sometimes you just get tired of pasta, and pizza won’t hit the spot either. So what’s a missionary to do?

Down in the center, near Teatro delle Muse, you’ll find Tunital, home of the best Kebab in Ancona. You can find kebabs all over Europe. Some people call them Doner. Some people pronounce it ke-BAB. But on our team for some reason forgotten to history, it’s KE-bab. And it’s delicious. We go there often enough that they know just how we all like it (half meat, half fallafel, a little spicy). And of course …

the mayonnaise blast. A dollop of warm mayo ready to help the first bite slide right down.

It sounds goofy. And maybe we’re a little bit obsessed about it. But sometimes you just gotta’ have a kebab.

(And sometimes we get really sad when we go all the way down there and they’re closed.)