It is not quite the same as ‘going to the office’ but our daily trips to the beach in Tre Fontane in Sicily were the euquivalent of ‘going to the office’. Instead of taking our briefcases we carried a large beach umbrella – and I do mean large – 3metres by 2metres and a weight to hold it down on the beach!!
We arrived at our ‘office’ – an outline of a large ship surrounded by flags from the different countries represented in the team and we planted our massive umbrella in the middle of Noah’s Ark – as we named it 🙂
This arrival was sufficiently obvious to make the many kids and their parents on the beach aware of the arrival of some strangers in town. In many places to be recognised as a stranger can be a disadvantage – however when you are trying to stand out and be seen it is a distinct advantage – and so it was!! Many of the kids could not keep their curiosity down and had to come and see who these strangers were and what were they doing making an outline of a large ship on the beach and planting an unusually large umbrella in the centre of the beach ????
Well from there started a wonderful 6days of making friends with many local kids and their parents as well as a large number of those who come to this small seaside town from as far away as Switzerland, Germany, UK and other places. Many of them have relatives who were from this small place and they come every year for a seaside break in the sun. God blessed us with several members of the team who spoke Italian and we also had a young Italian guy who is involved in organising a Soccer tournament for churches around Italy. So the Lord provided enough people in the team who spoke sufficient Italian for us to be active in different parts of the beach at the same time. Under the umbrella we had a team led by Rose who were face painting and singing songs, while nearby we had Stefano and some of the others in the team and from the local church playing beach volley ball with a group of teenagers who came to the same place every day at the same time and loved having the opportunity to practice their English with ‘native’ speakers as they saw us.
Over the course of these days we had the opportunity to explain why we were there, who we were working with and the reason we had givenour time and resources to come to this small place in Sicily. After some days we were able to invite some of the teenage girls and some of the mothers to a ‘pamper evening’ in the house we used as our base and they received manicures, pedicures and massage as well as hearing the gospel message as Rose shared the story of Mary wiping Jesus feet with her hair. In the final days of the time at the beach we gave out more than 40 gospel bracelets and everyone who received the bracelet heard a clear explanation of the gospel. It was wonderful to hear some of the children explaining the bracelet to their friends who they had brought along to receive the bracelet after they had received it. For many of these children (and the parents who were also present sometimes) this was the first time they had heard the gospel explained clearly and simply.
We had fun on the beach ……yes this was for sure. More importantly God had His way on the beach regardless of our lack of wisdom and language and what sometimes seemed to us like chaos…… everything was in His plan and we now leave the local believers to continue to water the seed which has been planted and trust that they will see a harvest.