Big News

The last few months have contained so much activity. I finished my online Teaching English as a Foreign Language [TEFL] certification course and started tutoring and helping with some English classes. For about a month and a half, we increased our street outings with Schiavitù Mai Più [Slavery No More] to every weekend instead of every other week. We wanted to have a greater presence and witness to the Treasures, so we decided to do a trial run of this expanded schedule. There are a lot of changes happening and the vibe in the zone feels tumultuous. We here rumors of higher and more frequent fines for the girls, and we feel an urgency for a breakthrough with them. Right now, we are taking a break from our outings to evaluate the situation and pray for guidance on how to proceed. We have had awareness raising events and have seen growing interest from the public and among the Church to put an end to trafficking. I have also started a project to use photography and art to create some graphics in Italian to use to spread the word about the mission of SMP.

The Lord is near to the broken hearted. -Psalm 34:18

 

I’m so encouraged by all the growth I have seen over the past year. Growth in our anti-trafficking ministry, growth in the local church [the church plant that I am a part of in my neighborhood just celebrated its 3rd anniversary in January], and growth in myself.

My second year of short-term service on the Rome City Team is coming to an end in just under 1 month, and after much prayer, discussion, and evaluation, I have decided to transition to a long-term position! I have really wrestled with this over the last couple of months. I wanted to make sure to make the right decision for the right reasons. When I started to plan my return to the States, I realized that if I love a place and its people so much, and if I love what I do, and if my team leaders and friends really want me to come back, then maybe I should really consider transitioning to long-term. Here is what my team leader, Sarah, has to say about it:

Heather has served thus far on the Rome City Team for 2 one-year terms. We have seen her grow and develop as a Gospel worker and as a person. She has shown diligence, adaptive skills, and integrity in the face of the many and various challenges of missionary life in a foreign, urban culture. With each phase, she has progressed and even come to flourish as an integrated and respected member of the local church, the mission team, and in this city as an ambassador for Christ.

As team leader, I value her service, her character, her support and contribution to ministry. My husband (Brian, Europe Area Leader) and I have envisioned team ministry goals, which include a continued role and responsibilities for Heather. Because we are confident that Heather can play a part in strategic local ministry projects, my hope is to have Heather return as soon as possible to the Rome City Team in the capacity of long-term staff.

Respectfully,

Sarah Bennetch, Rome City Team Leader

This is going to be a long process. I’m working on documents to change my status with ReachGlobal, and when I get home, I’ll have interviews, training, and more partnership development to do before I come back to Rome. I am really looking forward to the time that I will have back in the States. It’s going to be a wonderful time to reconnect with family, friends, supporters, and churches. This is a journey, and I’m so glad that I’m not on it alone.

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. -Deuteronomy 31:8

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Celebrating Freedom

Freedom is a beautiful thing. This month, we are celebrating freedom and also raising awareness of those who don’t have it. October 18th is the European Union Anti-Trafficking Day. Our anti-trafficking initiative Schiavitù Mai Più [Slavery No More], along with partners across Europe and all over the world, is campaigning for freedom with the project “18 Days of Freedom.” During these Freedom Days, we are posting pictures with captions like this: “This is what freedom means to me. What does it mean to you?” We are sharing these pictures along with the hashtag #18DaysOfFreedom in order to promote freedom and justice and to create awareness of those who are still being exploited. It has been so encouraging to see the involvement and movement grow from day to day.

The campaign will culminate on the 18th with freedom events in the cities of participating organizations. Here in Rome, we will be having some dramatic performances in piazzas and a showing of the film Nefarious at a church in the city center. We are hopeful that this initiative will not only put the issue of trafficking on peoples’ radar, but stir them to take action in the fight against these injustices. One of our constant prayers is for the Lord to bring more locals into involvement in justice ministry.

Here are some of the images that we have shared so far:

If you’d like to join us for the remainder of the project, add your photos to the #18DaysOfFreedom hashtag and share with your friends!

Summer in Review

It seems almost impossible that we’ve already wrapped up summer activities. With all the goings on, the time flew by. Here are some highlights:

Outreach English Course

Outreach English Course 2014

Our OEC was such a joy. We had a wonderful team from Ohio come to help us teach our classes. They served willingly and were a great help to our team. Although our class sizes ended up being smaller than we had hoped, our students participated with enthusiasm and showed progress through the classes. There was a good mix of ages and cultural backgrounds which seemed to encourage discussion and learning. Hearts were opened and we could see the Lord was working as attitudes toward reading the Bible as a method of studying English softened over the course of the week. Several people even took home Bibles that we offered at the end of the week, and several indicated interest in continuing to study English this fall when classes start up at a church in the city center. All in all, it was a success!

 

YWAM

YWAM Team at Work

YWAM Art

We were blessed and encouraged to work with an amazing group of young people from the Youth With A Mission team in Leeds, England. This team faithfully prayed for our ministry here in Rome, interceded for the Treasures while on a prayer walk in the area of the city that we go to with our Angel Squad for our ministry Schiavitù Mai Più [Slavery No More], and prayed over different areas of the city before deciding where to set up some art installations. They worked hard, shared their creativity, and created opportunities to interact with locals in the piazza where they engineered their artwork. Their time with us gave us ideas for future projects and opened discussion for our team about making use of more evangelistic tools.

 

Personally, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Austria and stay with my friend Wally [an Austrian girl who was my roommate until she moved back to Vienna in mid-July]. And a few weeks ago, my parents came to visit for 10 days. I was so glad that it worked out for them to make the trip this year and that I got to show them some of this country that I love so much.

Summer in the City

Well, it is summer in Roma yet again, and as it goes, the warm weather brings visiting teams, special event opportunities, and a few extra trips to the gelateria. So grab some sunscreen and let’s take a look at what the heat has in store for the Rome City Team for the next couple months:

-OEC-
This week we have our Summer Outreach English Course. It’s a week long intensive course that we are putting on Monday through Friday [July 7-11]. We have a team from the States that arrived yesterday [July 5th] that has come to help us teach these classes. We are praying that the Lord will bring open hearts and open minds. The classes will be taking place in the Salvation Army facility that is in my neighborhood and would be an excellent opportunity to begin to develop relationships with people in the community. We still don’t know how many will be in attendance, but we will be thrilled even with a handful of new acquaintances.

-YWAM Team & Vision Trip-
We will be working with a visiting Youth With A Mission team from Leeds, England the last two weeks of July. We are prayfully considering what kind of activities to include in the schedule for their time with us. During the time they are here with us, we will also have a family visiting us for a vision trip. This means that they have been seriously considering joining the Rome City Team and now want to visit our team to get a feel for how ministry and life function in Rome. We hope that this time will be fruitful and insightful and that the Lord will give clarity to help their decision.

-Freedom Days Planning-
With temperatures climbing higher and higher, October seems like an eternity away, however we are already beginning to plan a schedule and events in advance. October 18th is the European Anti-Trafficking Day, and leading up to the 18th, our team will be participating in an “18 Days of Freedom” awareness-raising campaign. We are hoping that this campaign will shed light on the issue of human trafficking and will stir people’s hearts to join the fight to end modern day slavery.

-Personally-
In June, I was thrilled to have one my dearest friends come to visit for a couple of weeks. Now, my parents are planning a trip for September. Living overseas has its upsides and I’m thrilled to be working here as the Lord has called me to for this time, but being away from family and friends can be difficult at times. It makes it all the sweeter when loved ones are able to make the trip and come for a visit. I am tremendously grateful for these blessings.

Come and make my heart Your home
Come and be everything I am and all I know
Search me through and through
‘Til my heart becomes a home for You

-My Heart, Your Home//Watermark