It was another weekend on the road – or I should really say on the train again as we headed north to Milan last Saturday morning.We were aware of the care of our God from the very first part of the journey when we arrived at the little station in Torre Pellice to start the first leg of the( 5 and a half hour journey) to the small town of Lissone near Milan – as we arrived to the station we realised that this ‘train’ was actually a bus! However for this bus/train we needed to have tickets which in Italy can often be purchased at the station bar (usually quite near the station!!) however in this case the bar was a good 10minute walk to the town centre and back and the bus was leaving in 8minutes! Oops! So I left Rose at the bus stop telling the driver that I was going to get the tickets (but he didn’t look too interested in waiting for me!). As I was on my way I met 2 young OMcolleagues who were waiting for another OM colleague to give them a lift because the train before our train(bus!) had not arrived! So that was our first leg taken care of in a way only the Lord would have engineered.
The rest of the journey went pretty well and we negotiated our way across Milan and onto the suburban train line to a small place called Lissone. Arriving there in good time for the meeting which was to begin at 5pm. However finding any kind of protestant church in Italy can be like taking part in a treasure hunt -they are usually quite small and well hidden! After a bit of a loss of my sense of direction we were re-directed by a shopkeeper and made the 15minute walk from the station to the small church – which is actually situated in a sort of complex which houses a gym and dance space. The meeting/mini conference lasted until 11.30 with a very stimulating exploration of how to convey the unchanging gospel in a relevant way today. We were delighted to be able to listen to some excellent bible teaching in English from a young pastor called Gary Aston.
After this we went to the home of the American pastor of the Bible Church of Milan (an American couple) who very generously gave us a bed for a couple of nights while we attended a few different meetings around Milan. On Sunday morning we were up early and off into Milan before the curfew of cars started (a gentle nod in the direction of smog/pollution) The curfew happens every couple of weekends and has so many exceptions that you wonder why they bother! Anyway this got us to a very small church at 10 and then in the evening we attended the church of the American couple we were staying with over the weekend – being in English this was also refreshing for us.
After watching the USA/Canada ice hockey final with my US brother (they lost!) we were up at 6.30 on Monday morning to be able to travel into Milan and then out to a place called Lallio (outside Bergamo) by train and then local bus.
We arrived almost at 10 on the dot – which was when we were supposed to begin but of course we are working on Italian time so we were actually very early! Here we were in a meeting of mostly mission workers in Italy (both nationals and non-nationals) which lasted all day with a break for lunch (pizza naturally!!) The Lord once again provided for us -we requested a lift back into Milan if possible from anyone going that way – what we got was a lift back to Torino which probably saved us about 1 and half – 2 hours and also saved the hassle of negotiating Bergamo and Milan at the rush hour. So instead of arriving back in Torre Pellice at 11.30/midnight we were in the house at just after 10. Indeed the Lord knows all that we need and one of the aims of the meeting for us had been to make good relationships with other workers and churches – the driver of our car back to Torino was a Welshman pastoring an English-speaking church in Torino and married to a lass from Dumbreck in Glasgow!! This church has been on our radar for a while to make contact with and hopefully go and visit. The Lord knows all our needs and provides!
So another weekend of journeying but not just journeying in the physical sense but journeying deeper in our walk with our Lord Jesus who shows us how faithful He is in His promises and encourages us through His faithfulness to follow closer to Him.