August 17 Prayer Requests

It’s that time again! My 17th of the month prayer requests. First off, let’s start with praise!

In my last post, I mentioned my sticky visa situation. On Thursday, I checked for available appointments again out of curiosity, and a spot had opened up for THE NEXT DAY. So I dropped everything else I was doing, got my paperwork in order, and headed to Houston bright and early on Friday morning. My friend and teammate Josh came with me to see where to go and what to do when he has to apply for his visa, and to make the drive more fun. We even got to skype with our teammate Esther on the way there and have a virtual roadtrip with her!

Houston Visa Trip

Friends don’t let friends roadtrip alone.

There were no complications, and on Monday morning I picked up my passport with my new visa in it from the post office! Praise the Lord!

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I am so grateful and in awe of the ways that the Lord has provided. He just keeps reaching down and quieting my heart, reminding me to trust Him, and wrapping me up in His presence.

So my prayer requests for this month mostly revolve around my forthcoming transitions. TWENTY-TWO DAYS from now, I will be on an airplane headed back to my heartland. Here are a few of the things that I am praying about in regards to returning to Rome:

  • Saying Goodbye See You Later – Pray that my last few weeks in the States are spent well, enjoying every moment I can with family and friends.
  • Safe Travels – Pray for uneventful flights and zero complications with layovers, luggage, etc.
  • Language Learning – Pray for easy transition back into using Italian everyday. I’m so looking forward to being immersed in this language again, but I’m sure that I am going to be a little rusty after being in the States for nearly a year and a half.
  • Apartment Hunting – Pray for the place that I will call home! I have been searching online for apartments and I can’t wait to check out listings in person once I arrive. I really want to find a place that is accessible that I can use in the ministry of hospitality.
  • New Roles – Pray for the new responsibilities I will take on as our Team’s English Outreach Coordinator and for the roles that I will have in helping our interns adjust well to life on the Rome City Team.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
– Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV)

Living and Active

I’ve been back in Italy for just over one month now, and it feels so good to be in Rome, my second home, once again. April was wonderful. Here’s an update on what readjusting and diving back into ministry has looked like:

After smooth and uneventful flights, I arrived safely in Rome and stayed a few days with my team leaders. I am now living in the San Lorenzo neighborhood, an area that has a lot of students because of its proximity to one of the universities in the city. My current housemates include four other girls: two Albanians, an Austrian, and a Brazilian. They’re all such treasures and I’m so blessed to be able to live in fellowship with all of them. We are all a part of Chiesa Evangelica San Lorenzo, which meets just around the corner from our apartment. This is the church that I started attending regularly before I came home in October, but this time around, I wanted to be much more involved in church life, helping the body, and seeing it grow. Right away, I got plugged into a mid-week Bible study [that often meets at our apartment], and last week I began helping with the worship ministry. I’m so excited to start getting to know people and to have a place where I “fit” and know that I’m being helpful.

I am still working on my online Teaching English as a Foreign Language [TEFL] course, and plan to finish before we have an Outreach English Course this summer. In the meantime, I hope to help one of my roommates study for an English exam next month. It’s the last exam she needs to take to finish her studies, but she has been postponing it because she doesn’t feel prepared. Hopefully we will be able to get a lot of practice in and she will be confident enough to take it and pass! She is helping me with my Italian too. I am also going to start getting Italian tutoring from one of the girls from church. She is super sweet and I’m really looking forward to beginning our lessons.

Spiritually, this month has been tremendously refreshing. About a week after I arrived, we had a 3-day team retreat in the mountains in Umbria. It was gorgeous, and so wonderful to spend time all together after being apart from my team for almost 6 months. I’ve been catching up on my Bible reading plan that I started at the beginning of the year. I was nearly a month behind, so I started reading multiple passages everyday. Right now, I’m almost finished reading through the book of John, and every day I fall more and more in love with Jesus. How beautiful it is that the Word is living and active and transformative, and that God reveals new truths through it with each reading. Yesterday, I also began reading Augustine’s Confessions. In reading his words, I am gripped by the magnitude of who God is. I am so small, and yet, God knows me, and I too can know Him.

One of my roommates, who just accepted Christ as her Savior last November, told me that she has tried to read John several times, but hasn’t been able to make it through. I told her I would love to read it with her, and I can’t wait to start it over again and to see what the Spirit will reveal through the Word this time.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

-John 14:27

Team Retreat

Team Retreat!

Sunset SG

Sunset over San Giovanni

Beautiful Things

Summer! It is hot in Rome, and life is moving quickly. Here’s what’s going on:

-The Bennetches-
My team leaders, Sarah and Brian, left the first week of August for a two-month Home Assignment. They will be visiting supporting churches, seeing family and friends, and hopefully getting some rest. Please, pray for them as they travel, and for their time Stateside to be fruitful.

-New Team Mates-
The Rome City Team has two new long-term team members on the field! Scott and Elaine Wyler arrived mid-July, after 3 years of developing ministry partnerships and support raising. We are so glad that they are here! Please, pray for their adjustment to life in Rome, for reliance on the Lord for strength, and for new beginnings as they search for an apartment and start language school.

-TREK7-
In July, we had a short-term team come through Rome. These 5 twenty-somethings were part of ReachGlobal’s TREK7 program which sends teams on 7 week missions trips across the world. The team that came to Rome was unique in that they were the only team whose time was split between multiple locations [Madrid, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Rome, Italy]. They came to do ministry projects, to meet the missionaries on the field, and to learn about the cultures and how ministry works in each context. I was so blessed to be able to spend time working with them, getting to know them, and showing them around this beautiful, complicated city. We had an outreach English course for 5 days while they were here, and they were also able to participate in refugee ministries, food service, sports outreach to kids in one of Rome’s poorest neighborhoods, and prayer walking the streets where we have our Slavery No More ministry.

-RGEC-
Scott and Elaine made it here just in time to join us at the biannual ReachGlobal Europe Conference. The day after our TREK7 team headed back to the states, the 5 of us on the Rome City Team took a train trip to Trieste, Italy where a shuttle picked us up and took us to the hotel in Portorož, Slovenia where we spent a week hearing great messages, meeting other staff and learning about their ministries in other parts of Europe, praying, worshipping, and relaxing by the Adriatic Sea. It was a wonderful time of resting and hearing from the Lord, just what I needed! And after the conference was over, we took a little team retreat to Lake Bled, Slovenia, just the 5 of us. It was lovely to have that time to spend together before Sarah and Brian would leave, and Lake Bled was unbelievably beautiful! A place right out of a fairytale.

-Anti-Trafficking-
Our Slavery No More team has been doing street outreach ministry every other Friday for the past few months. In the area of the city we are focused on right now, most of the Treasures we encounter are Romanian. I have been going out with the team, but while the Angel Squad goes to chat with the girls and bring them our gifts [snacks, iced tea, personal care items, cards with Bible verses and information, etc.], I have been staying in the van with Brian to watch and pray. When they return from each conversation, I always send out a text message to our groups in the city who are praying for us as we go out to let them know who we’ve talked to, where they’re from or other personal information they share with us, as well as the atmosphere on the street and other ways they can be praying. We took off the month of August as the Bennetches are gone and other team members have been out of town here and there [Rome pretty much shuts down in the summer as people go on holiday]. I’m hoping we will be able to start going out again in September as things return to their normal routine.

Rome City Team [Me, Brian, Sarah, Elaine, and Scott]

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TREK7 visiting the Trevi [Emily, Tim, Leah, Christine, and John]

Lake Bled

Lake Bled

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
-Gungor

Meraviglioso Marzo

Marvelous March!

Another month here in Roma and we here on the Rome City Team have some seriously exciting items in the works.

In just over a week [March 23], our Slavery No More movement has the Nefarious film event that I mentioned in my last blog. The Lord has been incredibly faithful and provided not only a cinema for the event [Nuovo Cinema Aquila, where we will have THREE showtimes], but also the patrocinio of the Comune di Roma [official patronage or sponsorship of the City of Rome]! Also, these connections give us further possibilities for future events and the opportunity to grow our relationship and witness with city officials. We have been truly blessed!

  • Please pray that this event touches lives and opens hearts and minds, and that it will spark a fire of change that burns long after the event is over.

In February, while my team leaders were out of town, I had the opportunity to assist teach once and lead teach twice at Tuesday night English class. I was nervous, but it went really well. We have a really enthusiastic group of students who are always ready to talk and ask plenty of good questions. I’m excited to start building friendships with them and to meet outside of class for language exchange and even cooking lessons!

  • Please pray that these lessons continue to open doors for us to show God’s love to our students.

I finished my fourth month of language classes at the end of February and passed my B2 level exam! After 4 months of lessons consisting mostly of grammar, I decided to switch to a different school to put what I’ve learned into practice. I’m now taking a conversation course 2 hours a day Monday through Friday. This has been a challenge so far, but I’m already feeling a little more comfortable speaking and listening.

  • Please pray that I am able to maintain friendships that I made in my old class and for new ones to begin in my new class.

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 1:6

All Things New

I’ve never been much into New Year’s resolutions, but I do enjoy the excitement and anticipation that the new year brings, and the ways that I see God bringing newness into my life and the world around me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

-2 Corinthians 5:17

There are so many ministry opportunities that the Lord is providing and I’m looking forward to all the new connections to be made.

The anti-trafficking movement Schiavitù Mai Più (Slavery No More) was able to reach out to three different areas of the city in December as groups delivered smalls care packages and messages of hope to trafficked “Treasures” on the boulevards for Christmas. I was not able to go with any of the groups as the ministered to these girls, but I did get to help put together some of the gift bags and prayed earnestly for the groups while they were out. Many contacts were made and we are hoping to begin relationships with these trafficking victims and become familiar, friendly faces in this continuing outreach.

Our Schiavitù Mai Più team also has a wonderful opportunity to be the final stop on Exodus Cry’s European screening tour of the Nefarious: Merchant of Souls documentary at the end of March. Through this event, we want to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking throughout the whole city. Right now, we are trying to find the right venue to use that will be an efficient and wise use of resources, and an effective location to create widespread awareness within the varying subcultures that we are hoping to reach (government officials and other cultural influencers, faith communities, the general public, and the Body of Christ).

I’m also excited for new opportunities to minister as we start up English classes again. I’ve missed that part of the week since we’ve been on break, so I’m really looking forward to helping with that as we begin the semester tomorrow night!

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

-Psalm 51:10-12

The Lord also amazes me with all of the things that He REnews. After a difficult December, He has encouraged me so much this month and renewed and refreshed my heart. He also continues to show me more of Himself in little, everyday things like language learning. Language learning is so cool. It helps you understand where words in your own language come from! Like: benediction. In Italian “benedizione” translates as blessing. It comes from the root word “benedire,” and if you break that down, “bene” means well or good and “dire” means to speak. So, literally it means a good word or to speak well of something. How cool is that?! [Please, take my interpretations with a grain of salt as I am not a linguist or fluent in Italian. Haha!]

Another encouragement I have received is that my roommate Danielle finally arrived on Saturday! After some troubles at the Houston Consulate [much like I had], she finally got her visa and made it here on a standby flight and with all her luggage. Yay!

And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

-Revelation 21:5

It is so good to know that our Father is making all things new and that we can trust in His promise to do so because His words are always trustworthy and true. What new things is He beginning in your life?