Friday, March 30, 2012

The Meetings



So we've been here for just about a week now, and had our first Sunday meeting at 11:00am and Wednsday night meeetings at 7:30. The last time I was here, the meeting attendance on Sundays, the biggest attendance day, was an average of about 50- to the low 60s. At our first meeting back, it was 85! Because of all the studies that came! I did not recognize the congregation! I must say I saw about 20 studies in attendance! And there were many people missing I was told. That gives you an idea of how much the congregation has grown! Now, some of the brothers will even go to the camps before the meetings to bring them with their cars.

The overall spirit of the congregation is real encouraging. Everyone is happy at the growth, and having a full share in the pioneer work. There are 41 publishers in the congregation, and this month 23 are auxillary pioneering! 10 are regular pioneering!

Right off the bat they put us back to work. We came here, and on the first day, saw our names all over the schedules! Dolce (sweet)! I was suppossed to have given the public talk at our first meeting, but lost my voice from the plane ride over, so wasn't able too. But- this sunday I will be going to a city called Modena (known for its Balsamic vinegar), to give one- super excited about that! This past Wednsday, I was able to talk, so had the privilege of the bible highlights, and then was asked to have a part in a demo on the service meeting. Erik had the congregation bible study reading. Feels like I'm really back, and feels real good to be involved right away.

Below you will see a picture of one man, from one of the refugee camps.His name is Edoka.The left of the picture was taken last year , and shows that, him at one of his first meetings here . And the picture on the right, was taken this past Wednsday. I was happy to be here to see.......



His first Bible reading! Just soo amazing. Jehovahs blessing and the growth of the Bologna English "congregazione", is definitely being seen here, even from the short time we left just a few months ago. Ciao!






Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Welcome to Bologna-- We're here!



We made it!! Ok, I've been so itching to update this blog, and now that I FINALLY got internet, its on! Sorry everybody for taking so long. Ok...

Well, there's no words to describe just how AMAZING these past few days have been, & just how great it feels to be back. It seems that there is a "first for everything" , & although I've been here before, the "firsts for everything" has really been whats made these past few days so amazing. Seeing all the familiar sights for the first time again, the Kingdom Hall for the first time again, getting on the "Autobus" again to get around, "I really can't believe I'm here right now, it feels like a dream" ( been saying that a lot). But even more great, was the first time I saw each of our brothers and sisters once again. Right from the start, at the airport we were welcomed with big open hugs. Then at the first meeting for service , big open hugs, and again at the first meeting on sunday, with BIG open hugs and smiles. SO SO nice to see everyone again, I've missed them all. And its nice to see we're not being given the "what are you doing back" look! But, that we're both truly happy to see each other again.

Over these past 8 months in Hawaii, one of the biggest things constantly on my mind, was just how those whom we were able to study with the first time around were doing. We left these men with tears, knowing Jehovah would take care of them, yet sad thinking we may never see them again. I remember a number of them saying, in fact- we will see you in paradise! It was sad to leave. Well, on my first Saturday out in service, I had a "first" of returning to that very refugee camp! The camp that started it all. It was so unreal to be back up there. As we stepped out of the car I told my service partner Ejims, how I felt, and that I was hoping to see two men in particular again.

In less than 1 minute stepping out of that car, I looked back down to the roadside enterance of the camp, just outside the front gate- & saw them! The men we had studied with in the begining! I right away went towards them. One of them, Thomas, had a look of disblief, and waved back as I called to them from a distance. The other, Joseph, just starred and looked like he had no idea who I was. Then as I got about 5ft. from him and said, "Do you remember me", his eyes got so BIG and he shouted "JAVAN??!!!" as he ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug! I forgot he cannot see good without his glasses! That moment- made my trip. That moment made me remember and confirmed all the wonderful experiences we had here some months ago. There's no words to describe just how awesome that was. I thank Jehovah for letting me see them again. There's no greater work, that can give you so much satisfaction,where people appreciate you for the lifesaving message Jehovah brings.

I'll end this blog, with a story of one refugee. He was the first man, I was able to sit in on a study with back here in Bologna. His name is Kenneth. Kenneth was living in Libya when he was caught by Libyan soldiers, and was forced onto a ship, with not a full tank of gas, and pretty much no food or water. Terrible living conditions. He was told to sail to Italy or he would be killed. There were 350 refugees on that boat. Libya's way of getting at Italy, was not by bombing them but by sending thousands there on ships. Halfway across the ocean, the boat breaks down. As he is telling me this story, there is dead silence from the rest of us. He pauses with a very sad look in his eyes, and fear, like recalling this story is making him relive it again. Halfway across the mediterranean sea, the ship breaks down. Gas is leaking. Other ships pass by, and as they call out for help for their lives, the other ships just pass by. They don't care about these refugees. What happened next? He says "We began to pray to Jehovah, many of us began to pray to Jehovah". One of the men onboard the ship, then began to try and do anything to try and fix the ship . They tried to start the ship many times before, with failure.... Than after praying, it seems the boat started right up again. And although having little gas, somehow they made it to Italy. Kenneth says he knows how. "I believe... if it not for Jehovahs angel directing us", he says, "we should not have made it." He started saying this to us because we were studying about spirit creatures in the bible teach book. He knew Jehovah got him here so he could learn the truth.And how happy we were to be here with him now, seeing him so grateful to learn about Jehovah.

Yup, this is why we are here! Stay tuned more to come soon, about the meetings and such. Oh yeah, and we ended the day of service with brickoven homemade pizza by our Sicilian brothers and sisters in the countryside of the city in Imola! Jehovah provides! Ciao!!!















Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This Is It!!!!

 

So basically, we had 3 hours to kill , here at LAX airport. After literally just cruising for the past 2 hours waiting for info on our flight , we thought it was really weird that our flight was leavin in a HALF HOUR & we still didn't see what gate it was in the screen. We were in the right place that was on our ticket.... Wrong building TOTALLY ticket!!! After running to the next building, convincing the guy at the already "closed" front desk to let us through , even though he didn't want too, and didn't even work there, running through security checkpoints asking people to cut- hearing our names being announced over the LOUDSPEAKER!......we find ourselves here. Waiting for our flight, about to leave the country for 4 and a half months. Just all part of the plan! Yup, the adventure begins!

I really can't believe I'm going to be back in Bologna with all the friends once again. Ready to get busy. Even though I've been there before, in some ways it's still all new to me, in some ways no idea what to expect. A whole new adventure! It really hits you the first time you step on a plane going out of the U.S...when you realize, when the majority of people around you aren't speaking english that this IS really happening!

I know the amount I get out of this trip, is up to how much of me I give.... Next time I write will be on the other side of the world! Madrid next, then Bologna here we come!!! Not sure when that will be so Erik & I give our love to you all! Shoots den! Cheehee!!!!

 

It's Actually Happening!!!

So much has happened over these past few days, and as I sit here on the sand eating my Jewel OR' Juice Acai bowl it all just seems like a blur. Well as of today, finally started packing(guessing today was probably a good time to start ;) ) "How do you pack for a 4 month trip? " you might ask. Well all I can say is pack light. You know... just the essentials...like a 70's inspired Penny skateboard to get you around town, a travel journal to remember all your adventures, and your Polaroid instant camera, to take random pictures with your friends in Jehovah's service . Yeah, the essentials :) .


From send off gatherings with the congregation, to my family, & to the boys, it's made me all come to appreciate again one thing.
That only because of our relationship with Jehovah, can we have the best friends and support in our lives. And that I am really going to be preaching the good news back in Italy! And will be away for 4 and a half months!!

The trippy thing is , by the time your sitting down reading this, I'm probably off the island, far away from home, maybe even out of the country. It's finally starting to hit me as I write this here at sandy's beach, eating my Acai bowl , sitting on the sand- & I realize I won't see this same ocean~ or bowl, for a long time! (Gasp + big eyes) :0 But yet I know, it will all go by so fast... and be just a blurr. There's much harvesting to do! Mahalo for all your support! Please pray for me. Love you all.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Rundown - Field Service

Aloha everybody! So I just realized, some of you who may be reading this, may have no idea what really went down the last time we went to Italy... & therefore, why I am so excited to be going back. "Do they really need help in the preaching work there?", you may ask. "Do those whom you preach to even speak English?", "Who are you preaching to?" "How did you end up way over there in Bologna, Italy anyway?"In all honesty, before we went last year- I had no idea what would be in store for us, & was asking the same first few questions myself. Well strap yourselves in-cause here it goes... "3 Months May-July. Need Greating.Italy. Let me know." After saving money for a while, always DREAMING of preaching in a foreign land, and seeing the world....this was the text I got. Jehovah answered my prayers...out of the blue...from a brother I hadn't seen or talked too in a while, & had only met a handful of times before! He wrote into a few countries (Germany, France,Spain, Italy) branches around the world asking to help the english speaking territories, left it in Jah's hands and everything just seemed to fall into place for us going to Italy from there. The brothers in the Bologna English congregation told us "COME! COME!"

When we got there, we found that being in the English congregation, its a lot like being in the Chinese congregation in Hawaii. It's a foreign language. So we're in a foreign language-but its our native tongue! That's the best part. So for the first 2 months we were there, our service mainly consisted of public wittnessing, searching for those who speak english- on the busses, the train stations, the sidewalks, the main "center" of Bologna "Piazza Maggiore"- everywhere. We came to learn that our main territory would be looking for Africans. Do they speak english? Why yes, they do! In many parts of Africa, such as Nigeria & Ghana for example, they are taught English, in that way they can communicate with other parts of Africa that may have a different tribal language than they have. So unless you overhear a loud American with a camera around his neck, field service is basically looking for Africans!
We also did something called "Research", which I've never done before this trip. Its basically getting a section of the city not researched yet, & searching all the doorbells of each house in that area. If one has an African or American name on it, you ask if anyone there speaks English ~ "Parlah Inglese?" If its a yes, you give a wittness, mark it down on the map, and BOOM- you've contributed in helping make the territory.House to house ministry would consist of going back to the houses already researched. Phew! Now that that's outta the way, now -to the good stuff! Yes ladies & gents. it gets WAY coooler!


OK, so like I said before the first 2 months we're like this. Research, Territory, & Public Wittnessing, looking mainly for Africans... UNTIL... You see another part of being in a foreign language field is getting them good ol' referrals. Yeah you know, the yellow form everybody forgets to fill out, even though we keep getting reminders to (I'm guilty). Yes that one! So in about our 3rd month there, we get a refferal to go look for a man named Abraham. 3 brothers went to go find this man, and just couldn't find the house (they thought) they were looking for. Its a good thing they had a car, because the refferal was at the top of a big mountain! Anyway, after not seeming to find (they thought) what they were looking for, no Abraham, but they turn their attention to another area up there on that mountain. Its a courtyard area...full of Africans! So "why not preach to them, since we're up here?" As they start to talk to a few, more & more start to gather around. Before you know it there's a bunch who wanted to learn, and in fact started studying right there on the spot!!

One man who didn't speak english, got frustrated that he couldn't learn, so a brother downloaded the bible teach book on his Ipad in Arabic. & he sat in as well! Then as many started to gather around, one man sees the referral sheet....and says, "I'm Abraham, I've been waiting for you for weeks!" It turns out they didn't find a house, because it was a house they were looking for. They found not a house...BUT A WHOLE REFUGEE CAMP!

Many here we're Africans who were living in Libya, during the time of the civil war uprising last year. They saw war firsthand, shootings, bombs, etc. right in their home towns, and had to leave everything to escape, actually getting shoved and crammed onto a ship heaaded across the ocean from the north tip of Africa to the boot of Italy. Conditions at sea we're very rough, in fact it was this same sea, that the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked! One of my studies told me out of the 600 that were on the same ship as him, only 200 survived. That's him on the picture to the right. Yes brothers and sisters, many of us will not come close to experiencing, hopefully, what these ones have gone through. Very sad indeed. Because of this many are very much willing and ready to study.

SO, 7 of us went back to this camp, all hoping for some productive studies. We could not have imagined how amazing it was gonna get. One brother told me to get ready, because its gonna get crazy. So we all went in started talking to a person, then some more would come by and want to learn as well, even asking for bibles and bible teach books, some saying they couldn't get preached to the previous time. You find an empty spot to sit down, & get into a deep, & I mean really amazing study. The questions come pouring out, and they are truly searching. All 7 of us walked out with new, great progressive bible studies that day. It was a truly eye watering sight, as I stopped while studing with a man on that first day, to see all 7 of us sitting down around the camp courtyard having a deep heart to heart study with someone who TRULY wants to learn about Jehovah. I'll never forget, when the man I was talking too, looked straight into my eyes and said "Please I want to learn what the bible teaches, I have so many questions".

I'll never forget the spiritual HIGH felt by all of us as we left the camp that day. The feeling of really seeing all those whom are still longing to learn about Jehovah, and who are searching for the hope that we already know of. I remember one brother even saying "I think this is what Paradise is going to be like". That gave me chicken skin. It was so Amazing. Felt like we were in a yearbook or something! There's no words to really describe how we felt that day.


From then on, it just got better. I would study with somone in a park, 3 others would walk by, sit in & ask if we could come back and study with them. "Here's my number" , they would say. It was like this all the time. Before we knew it we had so much people to study with, we didn't have time for door to door! Some started attending the meetings right away. Some wanted to study 3 times a week or more. Just a dream! And it was REAL!!!


From what I've heard recently, 2 buses had to be rented to go to the speacial day assembly, so 50 studies could come! The circuit overseer, when visiting the congregation with a little over 30 publishers, had 90 in attendance-because of the studies! He had never seen anything like this before! There is just so much work to be done, and the need for workers is greater than ever, not only in Bologna, but in all of Italy there are refugees!


Yes brothers and sisters, this is why I want to go back, and am SO GRATEFUL to Jehovah, for letting me return. To see all our friends again, and to get back into the very busy preaching work! The "harvest" is SO GREAT, and "white for harvesting". (Scroll down)


Yup, so that's what happened & is still happening now! Whew , that was a blast from the past, that was great to revisit! Hope you enjoyed reading this! Also don't forget to watch my videos at the links to the left of my last trip. It'll give you a better visual of what happened. You'll also find my pictures, and some links leading to the sites of the brothers I went with. I look now to prepare for the future, praying that we can be used by Jehovah to help anyone there once again.With that I'll bring this post to a close, & say MAHALO, GRAZIE, THANKS for reading everybody! Chehuu!! Italy here we come!!!

~ :)