A Visit to Tuscany

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Friday

Mark this date with red letters: today I took my first train trip as a discounted senior.  In Israel, in addition to all the stuff we saw and did, I did this: I turned sixty.

I have to admit that this number sort of snuck up on me.  I certainly didn’t feel like I was approaching seniorhood—until I fell and broke my wrist, and then fell again and badly dislocated my hip.  Today I’m recovered, and have most of my strength back, but I have to admit that I am feeling sixty.

But that’s the nice thing about getting the senior discount.  Now I feel like I do deserve it—I’ve earned this discount, baby!

So today I came to Tuscany to visit the three dear sets of friends.  The first are Marta and Pietro (see Encouraging Gypsy Believers).  Marta and Pietro are expecting their first grandchild, but otherwise they are facing a lot of opposition in their ministry.  I knew about the former, but not about the latter.  They were very glad to have me come meet and pray with them.  Marta wanted to pray about her granddaughter, too.  I hadn’t heard that they knew the baby’s gender.  Upon hearing it, I nearly screamed in my excitement: “It’s a girl?  It’s a girl?”  It was like I was reliving that moment when I first found out about my own granddaughter.

The second set of missionaries I needed to meet were Elisa and Paul—Marta and Pietro’s daughter and son-in-law.  Elisa was preparing brunch for us because Paul had to leave early in the afternoon to go to a conference.  I told Elisa how thrilled I was to know that the baby is a girl.  And she looks very healthy, ready for Sara Grace’s birth in December.

The brunch (which Pietro pronounced brunk) was a delicious, multi-cultural event, with scrambled eggs, scones, homemade peanut butter, and a sweet sauce made from coffee and maple syrup.

We enjoyed a great, though brief visit, with a wonderful time of prayer together.  Then Marta drove me to another little Tuscan town to spend the night with my friend, Suki, and her family.  We’ll see what tomorrow holds.

Saturday

go SA

Suki and Lincoln are missionaries who live by faith.  Their life is very different here in Italy than it was in their native South Africa.  There they both had jobs that paid very well.  They owned a nice house and had cars.  Then they got the call to Italy.  They sold everything and came to Italy.  They worked part-time and temporary jobs here, supplementing their meager income with their savings until that savings ran out and so did the work.  They have neither one had a job in a few years now, yet their rent gets paid and they have plenty of groceries.

There are a lot of missionaries like them who have no visible means of support.  But what makes Suki and Lincoln different is that they don’t worry about it.  They don’t complain about it.  They don’t stress over it.  They don’t scramble about, begging people to donate to their ministry.  They don’t try to make ends meet by their own human striving.  They simply believe that they are called as missionaries to Italy, and that since God called them, He will also provide for them.  And He does.  He always does.

Suki and Lincoln are evangelists, sharing the gospel one-on-one with everyone they meet.  In addition, Suki visits churches around Italy and shares her story about how she came to know Jesus (see Night and Day).  So even though they don’t work for any human, Suki and Lincoln work for God, and He pays their rent and food in miraculous ways.

So we spent some time in prayer, and then they asked me if I would like to watch the rugby match on TV after lunch.  I love rugby, so of course I said yes.  As a Texan, I love American football, but rugby is even better than football.  Rugby has the same heart-stopping passes and interceptions, fantastic catches, exciting dives into the end zone, and precision goal kicks from midfield.  But in rugby there’s also the scrum, which looks like a schoolyard brawl.  In fact, a lot of the time, rugby play will devolve into a pile of bodies, a tangle of random arms and legs that you’re almost certain will cause the referee to stop the clock.  Sometimes it does, but often it doesn’t, and someone will suddenly pop up with the ball and start running toward the goal.  After rugby, football seems so S-L-O-W!  In rugby the clock almost never stops.  South Africa won, which made the day even better.

Sunday

Graffiti David

Their friend, Stefano, came over to have breakfast, house church, and lunch with Suki and Lincoln and their kids.  After which, Stefano was going to take them grocery shopping, since they don’t have a car and the supermarket is too far to carry a week’s worth of groceries.

Their house church evolved out of necessity because the churches in their town were either physically unreachable without a car or unbiblical in their preaching.  We ended with prayers for Suki and Lincoln, for Stefano, and also for me before my trip back to the United States.

After lunch Stefano drove me to the train station so that I could catch a train.  This has been a wonderful weekend of fun visits, great food prepared by a couple of gifted cooks, and lots of encouragement and prayer.  As I’ve said before, my Boss is the greatest.  He treats me like a princess, and like a daughter.  God is good!

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