Peace in the Whirlwind

Deep breaths. *inhale* And let it out. *exhale* Ok, let’s begin.

Can I tell you how crazy the past few weeks have felt? If you know me very well at all, you will know that my Myers-Briggs type might as well be written with only one capital letter: inFp. I identify pretty clearly with most of the descriptors of this type, but more than any other aspect, I am absolutely a Feeler. I think with my heart, I am concerned about the way that my decisions will affect other people, I deeply desire harmony, and I process a LOT of emotions.

A few weeks ago, my team leaders told me that they wanted me to shoot to arrive in Rome at the beginning of September. Whoa! I am so excited to be getting back to life and ministry and all my dear people in Italy, but this was a sooner departure date than I had anticipated, and not going to lie, I freaked out a little bit.

I started mentally processing what transition back to Rome will look like, leaving my family and the dear community that I have formed here in my passport country. The States are home, but Rome is home too. Movement is such a strange feeling now, because I’m always going to people I love and leaving people I love at the same time.

We started getting things in order for this planned departure date of September 8th, and I started to calm down. By the first week of August, I had all my support necessary to fund my budget for two more years of serving on the Rome City Team! Cue all of the emotions about being fully funded! Then last Wednesday, I bought my plane ticket! Celebrations!

Then just this weekend, I was finally getting everything in hand to apply for my visa. But Sunday night when I went to set an appointment at the consulate, the whole month of August was red – NO APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE for the the rest of the month. I immediately prayed, “Lord, please present a solution. I don’t even know what to ask You to do, but please work something out!”

So here’s where we stand right now: Either the consulate will work with me somehow, I will be able to apply for my visa SOON, and I will continue with my plans to fly out on September 8th, OR I will go for a visa appointment on September 6th, I will pay the fee to change my flight, and I will depart toward the end of September. There is not a lot that I can do about it either way, and worrying is not going to help in the slightest.

So I am going to trust in the Lord’s timing. His peace that passes understanding has been SO comforting the last couple of days. Even when it feels like my emotions are riding a roller coaster, He will continue to be faithful.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
– Psalm 91:1-4 (ESV)

June 17 Prayer Requests

It’s the 17th of the month again. Thank you for joining me today in prayer.

I’d like to start by sharing a PRAISE! My budget is now 90% funded! I have only $430/month left to raise! God has been so faithful to bring partners in ministry around me who are so generous and encouraging. I am so so grateful.

Please be praying that this last remainder of support will come in quickly and that I will have a sense of urgency and perseverance until this phase is completed. A September departure date is totally feasible and I’m trusting that the Lord is going to make it happen.

Please be praying for the dynamics of ministry in Rome during the summer. It can be difficult to make things happen because so many people are traveling. Pray for our team leader, Sarah, who is facilitating a Bible conversation English class in June and July. Lauren will also be helping with a week long English outreach the first week of July. Pray that they will have a good turn out for these events and that the Lord would prepare students’ hearts to hear truth.

Please be praying for our future interns and for me as we continue in support raising and preparations for fall departures. Pray that we make good use of our time and that we are intentional about investing time in people and enjoying every minute we can with friends and family before leaving for Rome.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
-Matthew 6:31-34 (ESV)

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!

Visa Success!

God is so good! Thank you to everyone who prayed for my visa appointment on Monday. I arrived early and they let me right into my appointment anyway. I was questioned a little bit about my commissioning certificate, but nothing like last time. There were no problems at all. I was allowed to apply and we were back on the road before my appointment was even supposed to start. And guess what. This morning, not even 48 hours later, my visa arrived in the mail! The Lord truly prepared the way and made this process easier than I ever thought it would be!

Hooray! 27 days to departure!

Preparation and Prayer

Where did February go? It’s March already and time is marching on toward my departure date – April 1st. That’s right. 30 days.

Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord provides? And isn’t it funny how we’re continually surprised when He does? The last month and a half has been an incredible blessing, and it has been so encouraging to see Him work and fulfill my needs. Let me tell you a couple stories to illustrate…

First, please be praying for tomorrow, Monday, March 3rd as I go to Houston to apply for my visa. Over the past several weeks, I have been collaborating with my team leaders and leadership at EFCA headquarters to put together paperwork that I’ll be taking with me to my appointment at the Italian consulate. I finally have all my official documents in place and plan to submit my application tomorrow. This process last time was very difficult. I am praying that since I have been issued a religious worker visa in the past and have documented proof of living in Italy that my appointment will go more smoothly. Please be praying with me for this appointment tomorrow morning at 10:30 CST.

At the end of January, I was searching for an affordable option for airfare. Since I will be gone for a whole year and airfare cannot be purchased more than 11 months in advance, I could only search for one-way flights to Rome. I began to find that these are often even more expensive than round-trip tickets. Eventually, I found a travel agency that provides affordable airfare for missionaries, humanitarian aid, adoptive families, etc. I was able to get a great flight leaving on April 1st for less than what I had budgeted!

I also started thinking about needing a new place to live. Without talking to anyone, a couple of the girls who go to the church that I attend in Rome contacted me. They said they had heard that I will be needing a place to live when I get back and that they are looking for another roommate. After talking with my team leaders and Skyping with the girls about the details, I decided to live with them! This means my rent will be cheaper than what I had planned – another blessing for my budget! I am also really excited to know that I’ll be living in  community with other believers, not too far from the rest of my ReachGlobal teammates, and in a great area of the city for ministry.

My budget is almost completely funded and I have less than $1000 left to raise for the entire year! If you’re interested in giving, go to http://www.efca.org/give. Click “Give Now” and under Designation: Other, put my account number “Creamer – IMA #1488.” I am so blessed by all of the parters that the Lord has led to join in this ministry and I am confident that He will supply the remaining support.

The little things [and big things] are all coming together, and I know the next 30 days are going to pass by really quickly. Please be praying for me as I wrap up my time in the States and prepare to go back on the field for another year.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

-Isaiah 60:1

But Wait, There’s More!

October is here and as hard as it is to believe, I have been serving on the Rome City Team for almost one whole year. But as this year comes to a close… wait, there’s more! During August, I was asked by my team leaders to seek where God was leading me in relation to the end of my one year assignment in Italy. After much prayer and many discussions, I have decided to come back to serve in Rome for another year! I have such a heart for all the ministries going on here, I’m plugged into a local church, and I’ve come so far in my language learning. These things mean less adjusting and more allowing the Lord to work through me. How could I say no to that?!

I’m still coming home as planned, in fact, two weeks from today I’ll be getting back home to Texas! Please, be praying for me as I travel from Rome to London to Chicago to San Antonio. I’m really looking forward to spending time with family and friends and getting my fill of things I’ve missed while abroad [read: Mexican food]. But I’ll also be looking for opportunities to share about what the Lord has been doing in Italy over the past year and finding more partners to join in supporting this ministry. My goal right now is to be back here in Rome by February, but that will depend on how support raising goes and on God’s timing. I will have to be fully funded again before I can return to the field. If you’re interested in joining my monthly support team, or in giving a one-time gift you can click here, select Designation: Other and type Creamer 1488 in the given field. To those of you who have been regular prayer warriors on my behalf, thank you so much. I will continue to rely on your support through intercession.

While I am home, I am considering taking a TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] certification course. If this works out, please pray that I find a good program, that I study well, and that I am able to earn my certificate. I think this would really help me in our English teaching ministries here and could present even more opportunities to develop relationships and share the Good News with others.

The Lord has been so faithful and provided so much over the past year. I can’t wait to see how He will work through the next! If you’d like to hear more about it when I get home, let me know. I’d love to share my stories with you!

IMG_1699

Watching the sunset from the terrace on the roof of my building. This is my favorite place to spend time with the Lord and to bring friends who come over to my apartment.

Adjusting and Learning

Ciao from Roma!

In case you didn’t see on Twitter, or Facebook, or get the note from the messenger pigeon, I made it safely to Italia on October 23! All my flights went pretty smoothly. Only my last flight, London to Rome, was delayed, and that was only about an hour. All in all, everything was relatively uneventful, which is nice when flying over an ocean.

Airplane Taxiing

About to leave San Antonio!

Transatlantic Flight

Just before sunrise over the cloud-covered Atlantic.

I got over my jet lag in just a few days, and the last couple weeks I’ve just been adjusting and settling in. I’m staying with my team leaders, Brian and Sarah Bennetch, right now, and they have been so helpful with getting my documents put together, getting my bearings in the city, figuring out my next steps, etc. I’m so blessed to have them and my teammates Zach and Naomi Baliva who already know the ropes and can help walk me through this process.

Appia Antica

A rain storm coming on a street corner on Via Appia Antica.

At this point, I’ve been mostly playing the information collector, gathering culture, standards, language. I know this role is essential right now, but I’m also looking forward to getting involved in the different areas of ministry in this city. I’m praying right now that the Lord will show me a few specific areas that I should be involved in. I think one of them might be teaching English. Last week, I went with Sarah to the English class she teaches and it was so fun to interact with her students, especially when they had those “ah-ha!” moments of comprehension. Even though I wasn’t in charge, I still got to be included in that “teacher” role which I’ve come to love so much. It made me miss the girls Bible study that I taught back home, but also excited as I anticipate finding that area of ministry that I just fit right into. The Lord has been so faithful to get me all the way to this place, I know He has a special purpose and plan for what He wants to accomplish through me while I’m here.

Right now I’m off to work on filling out another legal document and checking out cellphone plans. More stories [and pictures] to come soon.

Buon fine settimana! Have a good weekend! ;]

-H