World Cup Soccer

Print Friendly

 

20140614-210259.jpgIn case you didn’t know this, the biggest sporting event in the world is not the Superbowl.
The biggest event is the World Cup of Soccer!

It comes every four years, and this year it is hosted by Brazil.

Many countries in the world come to a halt when their national team is playing.

Since Italy plays at midnight tonight, I am guessing tomorrow morning our church people will be a bit sleepy.

Melodee was surprised when we got married. She didn’t even know I liked soccer…but when the first World Cup rolled around, her usually indifferent husband became an avid fan!

This year it seems a given that Brazil will win, but I’m very excited to see Italy and USA team compete in the big cup.

If you would like to follow some of the best games of the world’s sport, here is the best way to get them right on your phone.
Click here!

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in Life in Italy | Tagged | Leave a comment

Shock Wave – by Bethany Bassett

Print Friendly

 

Worthy insights from a friend and fellow culture-observer…

Why we Italian culture can drive us crazy, but we cant stop loving it…all in one soccer game!

Italian soccer team pre-2014 World cup in Perugia!

“On Wednesday night, the four of us had the chance to watch Italy’s national soccer team play a friendly match against Luxembourg right here in our local stadium. This felt… epic. The World Cup is the only sporting event I’ve ever really followed, and the Italian squad has reached Dream Team proportions in my mind. That the very first live soccer game of my life would be the NATIONAL TEAM, playing in my OWN NEIGHBORHOOD, felt significant enough to inspire a ballad or two. Or, at the very least, a live-blog.

That was before we got in line outside the stadium though….”

Read it all right here! http://bethanybassett.com/shock-wave/

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in Life in Italy | Leave a comment

Waiting……

Print Friendly

    

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
    but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
        they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;
        they shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)

We all take comfort in the strength that is promised in this verse.  But there is a key word we often forget: “wait”.

Since my surgery on April 24th I have had to do a lot of waiting…

waiting

Waiting and meditating on my trip to Milan

  • waiting to get out of the hospital (two hospitals, to be precise).
  • waiting to go home from Milan after another week of constant checkups
  • waiting to be able to eat real food again
  • waiting to be able to read to my kids and pray out loud with them
  • waiting for biopsy results
  • waiting for stitches to come out
  • waiting for be able to preach, teach, disciple, talk, eat without pain(I’m still waiting on that one!)

Waiting has been a blessing in many ways.

  • It has helped me appreciate the patience and hard work of those around me, picking up my slack.
  • It has helped me have something to look forward to.
  • It has helped me delegate and swallow my pride as others excel at things I love doing.
  • It has helped me have time to reconnect with God on a deeper level through prayer, reading and meditation on God’s Word and truth.
  • It has helped me see God at work.

And God has been at work!

On May 22nd I went back to Milan with Claudio for my one-month checkup.  They gave me more good bad news… an in-depth biopsy of the part of tongue they removed found another carcinoma in situ.  So…more cancer, but the doctor does not see the need to take more (up to half my tongue)!  You can imagine the roller coaster of conversations I had with myself and those around me.  Here is a sample:

Pessimistic me: “More cancer!” 
Optimistic me: “But they got it all.” 
Pessimistic me: “But this is the fourth time!”
Optimistic me: “Well, in situ is the best kind to have because it didn’t spread.”
Pessimistic me: “But when will it end?”
Optimistic me: “Hopefully now!”
Pessimistic me: “But what if it doesn’t?”

How did I end this cycle?  I had to got back to a previous foundational thought: God is good.  Once we learn to trust him we can finally move on with our lives.

John Calvin said it this way:

“not a particle of light, or wisdom, or justice, or power, or rectitude, or genuine truth, will anywhere be found, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause; in this this way we must learn to expect and ask all things from him, and thankfully ascribe to him whatever we receive.” [My emphasis]  (Institutes of the Christian Religion Book I Chapter II p. 40-41)

Despite the setbacks and the waiting we have much to be grateful for. In fact, God is working above and beyond our expectations and we can only look ahead to all He will do.  Here are a few clear signs of God’s blessing and protection:

  1. The carcinoma was in situ, therefore it did not spread.  The doctors don’t even want to see me again until September!
  2. We are so loved and feel so loved!!!
    1. When I got back from the hospital I had almost 800 e-mail messages…mostly of encouragement or of people wanting to help.  (Now you understand why it has taken me so long to write again!)
    2. MANY people have sent money to help cover my medical and travel expenses and even just to help me buy books to read during my recovery!
    3. Despite the burden of work of the ministry, our co-workers/family have encouraged me to take all the time I need to get better.
  3. God has amazingly mended some relationships that are very important in our life and ministry.
  4. We have had and will have several outreach opportunities:
    1. Music outreach
    2. Soccer outreach
    3. Baptisms
  5. We have had some precious family times!
Soccer Outreach

Soccer Outreach with Christian Artist Angelo Maugeri

What more could we ask for?  This very well may be one of the best years of our life!

Here are just a few important requests:

  1. Pray that my tongue would heal enough to get back to preaching and teaching, since Dann and Liz leave on June 13th for their 8 month long furlough.  I will be taking over several of their responsibilities in their absence: youth ministry, men’s ministry, staff leadership and…administrative duties (Lord help me!).
  2. That God would help us to catch up on so many things that I am behind on because of my illness and that we can manage our time and finances better.
  3. For Sunday’s baptisms and the choosing of our first deacons.
  4. That we can continue to improve at training leaders, in order to bring this church to independence.
  5. Our residence papers. Apparently they won’t renew Melodee’s residence papers without further documentation, including a marriage certificate with an apostille from Michigan that is translated and legalized.

Thank you for sticking with us as I continue to wait on God’s renewing of my strength, meditating and delegating!

whitmans_easter 2014

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in Monthly E-letter | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Still in Milan

Print Friendly

 

God doesn’t always answer the way we would have imagined.

Wednesday morning, as I was reading my devotions, the Lord put some verses on my heart.  In Psalm 77:1 the Psalmist describes his situation:

I cry aloud to God,
        aloud to God, and he will hear me.
    In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
        in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
        my soul refuses to be comforted.

There is no description of a deliverance in this Psalm, but it struck me that the turning point was in verses 11-13, where he affirms:

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
        yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
    I will ponder all your work,
        and meditate on your mighty deeds.
    Your way, O God, is holy.
        What god is great like our God?

What struck me was that the Psalmist did not reflect on his deliverance…but on the fact that God had delivered in the past. Reflecting on God’s perfect holy ways and on his power was enough to give him comfort.

Little did I know just how soon I would need that truth.

Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori

Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori

Our train left at 5:45 pm from Milan.  Around 5:35 my mom and I climbed onto our train, anxious to get back to our families.  As I lifted the suitcase onto the overhead compartment I felt something warm and different in my mouth. I sensed that something was wrong, so I turned to my mom and to the other passengers with me.  They all looked white as sheets.  I looked at my reflection and I could not see my teeth (remember, my mouth was still numb from the operation).

I touched my mouth and got a handful of blood.  I ran to the bathroom and tried to rinse the blood out.  No water came out of the faucet, so all I could do was spit.  As soon as I spit my mouth was full of blood again. I tried the other bathroom.  No difference.  Another sink full of blood.  Panicking, we decided to get back off the train before it left for a 6 hour trip (it was the last train of the night for Perugia).  My mouth kept filling with more and more blood.  I began swallowing it, because I didn’t know where to put it.  I couldn’t rinse out my mouth, so I didn’t know where the bleeding was coming from.  At this rate, I figured, I would pass out before I got to a bathroom in the station.

The police called for an ambulance, but it felt like forever before they came.  I kept losing more and more blood.  Finally a policeman encouraged me to spit the blood on the ground.  Then I remembered all those movies where they would put pressure on an artery to stop the bleeding, so I stuck my thumb on my tongue and kept it there until I could get it checked.  The ambulance came and brought me to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

By the time a doctor saw me, the bleeding had stopped.  In fact, he couldn’t even understand where I bled out.  Everything seemed to be in place.  We got in touch with my tongue doctor, and they decided to keep me for a couple nights in observation at this little hospital (the cancer center doesn’t have an emergency room).

As they brought me to my room, my mom asked if she could stay the night with me.  The person bringing us was categorical: she would have to leave the hospital immediately after dropping my luggage off.  I prayed in my heart to God:  “Lord!  Where are you??  I haven’t seen my wife and children in over a week.  We missed the last train of the night. I may have to be operated on again, including the wretched feeding tube. I almost bled out and now they want to send my mom away in the middle of the night!”

It was then that Psalm 77:1,11-13 came back to mind. “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.”   I figured God had given me those verses for a reason so I forced myself to focus on the fact that God had been mighty in my life to this point.  After all, the present seemed pretty dismal.  Even now, as I write this I can’t help tearing up as I think about it.

The nurses brought us to my room, where there was already another patient.  Then something happened…the one nurse looked with compassion on my mom and changed his mind, bringing us to another room, where there was only one bed and a recliner sofa.  They attached me to an IV and brought me a bowl of milk and even gave my mom a sandwich, and brought sheets and a pillow for the recliner for her to sleep on.

Before we went to sleep Wednesday night all I could do was look back amazed at how God had taken a situation of utter desperation and turned it around,  giving us above and beyond what we needed.  Once again.

Duomo of Milan with Claudio

Duomo of Milan with Claudio

Needless to say, I am still in Milan. Friday, Claudio from my church came to trade spots with my mom (he just happened to be a little over an hour away visiting relatives!)  Friday morning I went back to my cancer center, where my doctors checked me at regular intervals.

Claudio and I checked into a hotel near the hospital.  Today my doctor came again to check on me, even though it’s his day off.

Monday I have one last checkup, then Alessio and Roberto from our church will come pick us up and bring us home, Lord willing.

Every checkup has been perfect.  They have no idea what happened to me.  And I have been on strict orders to take it easy and relax. I have not even attempted to pick up a suitcase! We have walked a bit, I have rested some, I saw Milan’s main square for the first time in my life.

It feels like the calm after the storm.  I wrote this little poem as I reflected on this moment of stillness that God is giving me after my near-death experience.

Lord, help me not forget.
When the storm is over,
When gone is all that tore
  at my very life and breath.
Lord help me not forget.
 
Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in Suffering | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Suffering is what unites us.

Print Friendly

 

If suffering is what unites us as human beings, then how is it that I can ignore the suffering of others when I am ok?

If you don’t have a close connection with suffering you are probably not even reading this article. At least I probably would have not read it until 2010.

Feeding tube - day four

Feeding tube – day four

This morning I woke up after a very peaceful night of sleep. It was my first almost full night of sleep since I got to the hospital four days ago. I pulled out all the stops last night. I asked for pain meds and sleeping aid.
The problem is I slept too well. My feeding tube came out. There is only one thing worse than having a feeding tube. Having to put it back in while awake.
I hoped they would let me keep it out. No way. It had to go back in. (Fortunately I got a new, clean one).

Here is how it went:

First time: I didn’t swallow at the right time. It went into my mouth.  I yanked it out.  No way!
Second time: It did not even make it that far.
Third time: The doctor coached me and it made it down: “breathe” now swallow hard, now breathe.” “We did it!”. “But it’s still stuck in my throat!” “That’s the point!” “But it bothers me!” “I’m sure it does, but it’s in. Now let’s get it taped up before it comes back out.” “No negotiating on that point.”

Then I had breakfast…a large latte with sugar…directly into my stomach through my mega-syringe.  That is, after a good job of uncontrollable sobbing.  Sometimes we just break.  I almost always have one of those breaking points sooner or later.
The feeding tube is still there, making me gag, but I feel better. Now I can think again…so I am writing this down to not forget.  But I have only been in this condition for four days. What about those who suffer for four weeks, four months, four years? What about those who suffer for eternity?

Some people suffer all their life and then head to an eternity of suffering. I need to stop ignoring the suffering of others. Today is my turn. Tomorrow it’s your turn. And I want to be there for you. Especially if you were there for me. But even if you weren’t.

Suffering unites us more than happiness.

If I know that you are headed to an eternity of suffering I am going to beg with you. This suffering reminds  me of what you will go through…forever.  I am going to cry with you. I am going to talk to you about it. If my five minutes of suffering felt like an eternity, your eternity of suffering really will really feel like an eternity! It will not end.  Our suffering only gives us hope if our hope is Christ.

Discussion Question:
What have you learned about suffering?

P.S. It looks like I might be getting out Wednesday, but I really want this feeding tube out NOW!

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in Suffering | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments