Little has changed since our last update. We continue to wait for the Italian Consulate to grant us visas so that we can leave for Italy and labor in the country. They have held our passports since May 15 and referred our application to Italy's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has yet to make a decision. This caused us to miss our scheduled flight of July 9. We have a new flight scheduled for August 21, but we will need to receive our passports with the visa in order to board the plane.
One piece of encouraging news is that the local authorities in Milan contacted the elders of the church and informed them that they were aware of my anticipated arrival and wanted to review the church's legal documents. This led to the discovery that the church's constitution was not officially recognized by the Italian government. The elders subsequently completed a process to obtain this status, which was granted on August 2. We then sent this updated document to the Italian Consulate in Los Angeles. We are waiting to hear back from them.
It is very humbling when our plans don't work out the way we hoped. It can be especially frustrating and unnerving when our future and the wellbeing of others (especially our own family) is uncertain. The good news, though, is that God is good and always in control. He doesn't need us or our big plans, but he loves us and is committed to us. He is "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (Ps 103.8). He is pleased to use the gifts he has given us not for our own glory or greatness, but for his. And he has promised to use every hardship, setback and disappointment in our lives for his purpose, working them together for good as he conforms us more and more to the image of his Son (Rom 8.28-29).
Janie and I are so grateful for your prayers. Thank you for praying for us and our situation. Thank you for praying for God's grace to abound to us while we are stuck in an unexpected delay. Truly the Lord has proven his promise to us again and again, that his grace is sufficient for us in every circumstance, for his power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12.9). Please continue to pray for us and for the church in Milan as they await a pastor to serve them.
We love you and are grateful to God for all of your support and encouragement. Please feel free to contact me personally by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike and Janie