Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas will feel different ...

Yesterday was the last day of school for our kids before the beginning of Christmas vacation... it comes a week earlier here in Portugal than it did in Italy. I love Christmas vacation with our family! If on their summer school break, we enjoy being outdoors - picnicking, going to the beach, taking walks - our Christmas vacation time has always been characterized by staying up late at night and sleeping in in the morning, playing card games and board games together, doing puzzles, watching lots of movies, eating haphazard meals and just enjoying each others' company.

Christmas will feel different this year - we're in a new country, in a new house, with Whitney far away in the States (she'll be spending it with Denny's family in Lancaster, Pa. If you live there, try to see her!)... and in times like this, I feel the weight of the transition a bit more.

Looking back, I remember our first years in Italy - with no children of our own, no family around us, and not very many good friends to spend Christmastime with. My first Christmas celebrations in Europe weren't
really easy ones, but slowly we gave birth to a family of our own, we built deeper friendships, we developed our own traditions and the Christmas season came to feel more "ours" and less something foreign.

Yet, I can't help but think that Jesus' coming into the world as a man, as a child, has an awful lot to do with being a stranger in a strange land. How contrary must it have felt to our God's nature, to come into this world full of sin as a fragile child? How foreign must the very young Mary have felt giving birth to a child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, in a barn... in a town far from her home and family.

I find myself feeling so thankful once again for all that God has done since we've moved here to Portugal. Our house has come to feel like a home so quickly and the depths of the friendships that we so enjoy are surprising after such a short time. Our home is warmed by such a sense of "family" and of "community", there always s
eems to be someone extra around our table or sleeping in one of our spare beds when I wake up in the morning. God is so faithful to His promises...

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." Mark 10:29-31.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What to blog about

I'm having a hard time getting into this blogging thing. Oh well, maybe it will get easier and I'll do it more frequently, but then again....maybe it won't (where are those smiley things on this program?).
Anyhow, things a
re moving on with TRIPLET. This weekend, they have two gigs in Lisbon. The first is for another local band that played at their CD release party and so now this band, ENDAY, has invited them to play at their EP release. They seem to be putting alot of effort into this party, which will also feature some Portuguese actress. Anyhow, I hope that this will be a good opportunity to share the love of Jesus with ENDAY, as well as all those who come.
The other gig could possibly be one of the most important gigs to help get more exposure in this country for the band. They will be opening up for Portugal's most popular hardcore band, MORE THAN A THOUSAND. This i
s a great opportunity and we're praying that it will open up many more doors for TRIPLET here.
Ben is working
on editing the video, but with the gigs and other stuff (like him getting sick), it doesn't look like there will be a December release of it, like we had hoped. He says that it's coming out great, so we can't wait to see it and see how God will use it.
As most of y
ou know, Alana & Isaac were extras in the video along with alot of other TRIPLET fans. They acted out being TRIPLET in the video and here are a couple still shots of that.
Isaac actually wants to get into doing tv commercials, so it would be cool if this helps him get into that field (giving a cut to his parents, of course...I really do need to figure out how to use emoticons in this blog).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A House Fulfilling its Destiny

When we began looking at houses to rent last August before our move to Portugal, Denny and I thought we had a clear idea of what we wanted and needed. Yet, as we visited one place after another, God spoke to us even more about the kind of house He wanted for us, the kind of space He wanted us to create, not only for our own family, but for all those who would come through our doors. The more we searched, the more impossible the task of finding that place seemed, until our last day here before heading back to Italy, when we saw this beautiful house, the one that is now our home.

After moving in on the first of October, we set to work, to transform it... t
o create the environment that we felt each room should have, to fulfill its purpose. The living room/dining room - big and spacious, yet so "homey". The cozy, practical kitchen with it's corner bench table - a perfect place for a chat over coffee or tea. The family room - great for movies and meetings. The bedrooms - each suiting the needs of its occupant, decorated with memories of life in Italy and hopes for the future.

All rooms that have been in constant use since we moved in... giving a sense of warmth and shape to our family life, hosting dinners, meetings, movie nights, chats with friends, young people needing a place to work or to rest or to just be... all that we felt these rooms would become.

What had remained "in limbo" was the room we
had set aside as a practice room for Triplet, the Portuguese band we're working with here (and our good friends). It's been sitting - basically untouched - serving only as a storage room for our sound and light systems and a host of musical instruments. We've been working to raise funds, while searching for the best materials and the manpower, to soundproof it so the band could begin using it regularly to practice. But still it remained a storage room.

This week, in view of their upcoming gigs - Thursday in Lisbon for MSN Portugal, Friday and Saturday in the Algarve - Triplet needed a place to practice. So, in lieu of "the real thing", Denny, Ben and Ruben (Triplet's guitarist and bass player) set to work soundproofing that room with the resources we had on hand - a roll of industrial carpeting, mattresses, pillows, blankets - you name it, it's hanging in there.

And last night, when the first sounds of Triplet's songs began to fill the house (not near as loudly as I had anticipated :o), I felt such a sense of completion... like finally, that room was fulfilling its destiny, being used for the purpose God had in mind when He gave us this house.
Sure there's still much to be done in every room of this house, but God's faithfulness is so amazing to me. Because as we offer all that we have to Him, He creates something that is so many times greater... and rooms built with brick,mortar and wood become places of destiny.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We had to die

We got a phone call yesterday from one of our friends in Italy, who has been a great supporter of the Rock on the Rock festival from the start and who, along with his wife and kids, has served on staff at the festival since its second year. He lives near Lake Garda and is a leader in the church he and his family are a part of, which is one of the few Evangelical churches on the lake. I remember being at a meeting of all the church leaders in the area a few years ago (there were three churches at the time) and meeting the young pastor of the largest of these churches, who flat out told me that he saw no worth in what we were doing, not only with Rock on the Rock, but with music in general! So, needless to say, we never got any support for the festival from him or his church!
A couple summers ago, I was invited to go and do sound for a youth conference a
t the beach, put on by the denomination that this pastor belongs to. I went along with Maureen & Isaac (they covered all our room and board for a week at the beach, so we thought it was a good deal). I was surprised to meet some decent musicians in the worship band and two of them were in a progressive rock band together. In fact, the one evening, the band was able to let loose in worship and I cranked up the PA, which got the whole place rockin'.
What had, up until then been pretty cut and dry worship times, brought the house down and all the youth were out of their seats dancing and praising!! And guess who was there, quietly observing from the back?
So... back to this phone call from our friend, Giuseppe Sosa. He was calling to tel
l us that he was at this young pastor's church last Saturday for a prog rock concert (yep, the guys we met at the youth conference) and not only was this pastor enjoying it, but at a certain point got up and started letting lose himself - running, shouting and dancing!!! He confessed to Giuseppe that he has changed his ideas concerning music, so we're hopeful that he will get on board with promoting the next Rock on the Rock, as well!!!
One of the verses that came to mind as we were praying about moving to Portugal and about what would become of the festival if we left, was John 12:23 which is:
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Maureen had sensed that our leaving Italy would in some way cause the festival to grow even more and that God would raise up Italians to carry it on. So we're excited about this news about our young pastor friend and are looking forward to hearing many more stories
such as these in the coming months.

We have now entered the blogging zone

Many of our friends in ministry have had blogs for quite some time now, but we thought that MySpace, MSN, Skype, Yahoo!Groups and Emails were sufficient enough to keep in touch with our friends and family around the world. Well, think again!!
I guess since we are opening a whole new chapter in our lives in Portugal, it's time to expand our cyber contact, as well. I doubt that this will be daily,
at least from me, but with both of us at the keyboard, we just might manage a
weekly blog. So welcome to "Tales of Life on the Edge... of Europe" and we hope that you will join in adding spice to this
new chapter of our story.