Buon Giourno! Long time no post, but in my defense we have been busy! So in other words, get ready for a LONG post =)
Eric and I arrived in Searcy two weeks ago excited to begin these two weeks.
We have been staying with my mother's childhood friend Lisa, her husband Mike, their two boys, and their puppy Zoe. Mike and Lisa have been so gracious to us! Not only allowing us our own room, but also cooking for us, and encouraging us after each long day of training! Which leads me to our past two week excursion in the "Little House."
The Little House is located to the left of College CHurch of Christ in Searcy and is where our training is held M-F, 8a-5p.
Howard Bybee, Jim Woodroof, Carl Mitchell
The first week began Monday the 16th with our first teacher, Carl Mitchell (on the right).
Carl and his wife Frankie, along with Howard and Doris Byee, first began the work in Italy some 55 yrs ago. After each couple getting married, the four packed into an old four door, drove up from the south- driving only in the night bc of their vehicle's bad condition- boarded the Queen Elizabeth 2, and set sail for Italia. Carl is a licensed Psychologist and has practiced over the years without fee. On our second morning with Carl, we were handed an 190 question physc test! We all joked about the possibility of not making it overseas, not due to lack of funds, but because we failed our test! ha. After Carl's class, was LV Pfeifer at 9:00 sharp. LV taught us more in detail concerning other religions that will be present throughout Italy. His class was only Monday and Tuesday.
The 9 o'clock slot for rest of the week, and the 10 o'clock for the next week was reserved for Jim Woodroof. Jim is married to Louinne. They have worked in New Zealand for many years, and have recently been a part of the Avanti program. Their son David and his wife Debbie are now serving their second year as directors at the Bible School where we will very soon be living! Jim spoke alot about the life of Jesus and discussed his findings recorded in his book Between a Rock and a Hard Place. PS He also just launched his own website! visit it here : www.jimwoodroof.com. After Jim's class we broke for the two hour block of church History. This is not as simple as it may sound! Dr, Diles and Dr Jewell started back to the very beginning of religion in the first century and explored its evolution all the way to our present time.
Howard and Doris
Howard Bybee has also led us in a more intense study concerning Catholicism Doctrine and its church history especially throughout and in reference to Italia. Howard along with Carl and their wives are responsible for the Churches of Christ that are alive today in Italy. Actually Howard and Jim just recently got back from a visit overseas to all of the churches just this past summer! If you dont know this already, Howard is also quite the joker. We heard about several of his pranks.......as well about the time of his Italian trial.
Finally by noon, our brains got a small break with the Loves, Joli and Paul. Crossing the street to their house, we practiced learning and SINGING a few Italiano songs! Both Joli and Paul are very talented and we learned a lot! In fact, on Friday Howard announced to us, for the first time to our knowledge, that we would be singing for College Church of Christ that following Sunday night! Ha! The Loves also fed us with genuine Italiano cooking! we had rizo, fritas, paninos, and more! In the afternoon, we talked with Howard Norton who worked and raised his family in Brazil for several years, concerning missionary anthropology. He spoke alot about good cultural "manners." I especially enjoyed his advice and encouragement. He and his wife have now committed to work in Honduras.
Don, Ryan, Peter, Laura, Angela, Andrea, and Eric
On another note entirely was our Apologetics class with Mr Don England. Mr Don is a retired chemistry professor at Harding. He has challenged us the entire two weeks to really examine our faith and our "presuppositions" that lead our thinking on a daily basis. Nothing I am saying is giving justice to any of the things we have learned. I in particular wish I had a recorder for Don's first lesson- it was captivating.
What else??We've also had classes on Eastern Religions- such as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Gordon Hogan moved his wife and children ages 3, 6, and 11 to Pakistan- or India- i cant remember which place they started working- but whichever the place, it was a long shot from the US. Apparently they were one of the first to do any Christian evangelizing there. Now some 50+ yrs later are 80 churches and countless new brothers and sisters. We also heard from The Reeds. They too, like the other raised their families in a foreign land-they settled in Vincenza Italy. (this is where one of the AI workers, Lindsey Walle, is currently working- You can visit her blog http://lindsaywalle.blogspot.com/ ) Lastly was Bruce McLarty and Noel Witlock. Bruce addressed living in a post modern world, while Noel spoke about the importance of church and church family.
Doris and Louine
Howard, Eric, Ryan, Jim, Bob Corban
Bob and Joyce Corban, Louine, Doris
Monday through Thursday our dinner was planned. I cannot remember each night specifically, but I will say how wonderful each night was! It was a treat to see what we would have next! Italian pork loin, beans, salad, BREAD,ice cream sundaes- with HOME MADE hot fudge, eggplant lasagna, slow roasted beef, carrots, and potatoes, cobbler (just to give you a hint of the things we enjoyed; yum). We ended each night with freshly brewed decaf.
I feel as though we were equipped on all sides:spiritually, mentally, emotionally. There were several times when I stopped and just observed and let the surroundings sink in. I am so thankful to have this opportunity to grow. It was exciting hearing the stories of Howard, Carl, Jim, Don...leaving us laughing sometimes, and others, probably too many to say, in tears. Thankful and happy tears. It was the stories of new brother and sisters that gave me the most joy. To think that we too have been given this opportunity to spread the good news about Jesus in this way is mind boggling.....and SO exciting.