Chiuso (kju:so) is quite possibly the most frustrating word in Italian. It means “closed” and one can find it posted in the window of a place of business at the most inopportune time. Many shops close for a pausa (pause) during the afternoon for a few hours each day. When a holiday falls close to a Friday or Monday the shopkeeper has the perfect excuse to make a ponte (bridge) and close his doors for a long weekend at the beach. Today is Ferragosto (the Assumption of the Madonna) marking the midpoint of summer holidays and, practically speaking, the country comes to a virtual halt as signs on nearly every store and restaurant announce chiuso per ferie.
Not much gets done in Italy in August. One finds chiuso written everywhere, in some shop windows it appears the entire month. As a missionary it means putting tract distribution on hold until September. It is legal to place gospel tracts in mail boxes in Italy and although I believe personal relationships are the key to long term success in reaching Italians souls for Christ I also firmly believe saturating the community with evangelistic material helps break up fallow ground for the seed of the gospel. I recently purchased 50,000 gospel tracts that I will begin distributing in a few weeks after people return from vacation. I want to be a good steward and not waste any material that would most likely be discarded with junk mail. I wonder if you would pause for a moment and pray with me that hearts will be open to receive the Gospel, the people of Verona will be ready to do business with God, and many souls will be redeemed as we begin laboring again in earnest mid-September.