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Thomas Boldrini, 7, with his mother, Alessandra Covato, in their home in Ragusa on the Italian island of Sicily. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Life Without Pizza

Little Thomas Boldrini prayed and prayed to be like other boys in Italy.

By Andrew McChesney

When Thomas Boldrini was 1 year old, Mother gave him a little piece of cheese to eat.

He ate the little piece of cheese — and suddenly couldn’t breathe.

Mother rushed the baby to the hospital, and fortunately the doctor saved his life. But the doctor announced that Thomas had a serious allergy. He was allergic to milk.

That was a big deal in Italy, where the family lived. Italians love milk. In addition to drinking milk, Italians love pizza with mozzarella cheese and spaghetti with parmesan cheese. They also love chocolate and cake made with milk. Italy also has many specialty foods made with milk, such as briochine sweet bread and gelato ice cream.

But Thomas couldn’t eat any of those or he might die.

Everything changed in his family’s life. When Thomas was invited to a friend’s birthday party, Mother made him a special cake so he could eat cake at the party. At the gelato stand, Thomas could only order granita, a Sicilian dessert made from ice and orange or lemon juice. Mother told church members about Thomas’ allergy, and they no longer brought food with dairy products to the fellowship meal after the Sabbath worship service. The church members even changed their favorite pizza parties on Saturday nights. Pizza was still served, but only with crust and tomato sauce on top. No cheese.

Mother wondered how Thomas would survive with his allergy in Italy. Thomas wondered how he would survive. Every evening at family worship, he prayed for help.

“I want to get well, Jesus, so I can eat like other children,” he said.

Mother also prayed, and she contacted various physicians around Sicily to ask whether they could help. Finally a doctor from Israel said maybe he could help. He was experimenting with a new treatment, and he was willing to try it on Thomas.

Three months passed. Thomas and Mother kept praying. Then one day the doctor from Israel announced that the treatment was over and Thomas could eat any food that he wanted.

Mother was skeptical that Thomas no longer had the milk allergy. So, the doctor suggested that she bring a cake to his office the next day and they could eat it together.

Instead, Mother returned home and baked a lemon cake. She used a lot of flour — 4 cups (500 grams) — and just a tiny drop of milk — 2 tablespoons (30 grams). The next day, she cut an itsy-bitsy piece for Thomas, and he ate it.

Mother watched carefully to see whether Thomas would have an allergic reaction. Nothing happened.

So, Mother decided to take Thomas to another doctor to double-check that the boy was no longer allergic. The new doctor ran some tests and declared that Thomas was still allergic to milk. But when Mother told him about the lemon cake, he offered to do an experiment. He prepared a hospital bed and some medicine for Thomas, and gave him a half glass of milk.

“Lay on this bed and sip just a little bit of milk at a time for the next seven hours, and we’ll see if there is a reaction,” he said. “If anything bad happens, we have the bed and the medicine ready to save Thomas’ life.”

Thomas slowly drank the milk over seven hours, and nothing happened.

“You have completely recovered,” the doctor said. “You can eat everything, including dairy. This is a miracle!”

The next morning, Thomas drank milk and ate sweet bread for the first time for breakfast. At lunch, he ate spaghetti with tomato sauce and cheese. Finally, he got to taste a creamy pistachio gelato, something that he always wanted. He didn’t get sick.

At church on Sabbath, Thomas and Mother announced the big news. They told everyone that God has answered their prayers. The church members rejoiced. Several wept. That evening, the church threw a big pizza party. Everyone, including Thomas, ate pizza with cheese on top. Afterward they ate pistachio gelato, even though it was February and very cold outside.

Today, Thomas is 7 and filled with gratitude to God. Mother no longer has to bake him a special cake to take to friends’ birthday parties. He can choose anything he wants at the gelato stand, and church members can bring all of their favorite Italian dishes to the Sabbath fellowship meal.

At family worship every night, Thomas thanks God for His goodness and asks for only one thing.

“Thank you, God, for all the things I have and for helping me to get better from my allergy,” he says. “Tonight, I’m only asking you for good dreams, or no dreams at all.”

He knows God cured his milk allergy and can stop bad dreams, too.

Thomas Boldrini praising God for answering his prayers. In English and Italian. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

A 2016 Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped construct a new church building in Thomas’ hometown, Ragusa. Thank you for your offering that made it possible for Thomas and the other church members to move from a rented building to their own church, where they can learn about God every Sabbath — and enjoy fellowship meals and pizza parties.