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)

July 17 Prayer Requests

Over the past couple of weeks, my heart has been so heavy with the burdens of the world. The whole earth is aching. I know you feel it too. Please, just be remembering to pray for those that are hurting because of loss, terror, persecution, and all the attacks of the enemy. But also, do not let the enemy steal your joy or cause you to live in fear. Our God is so much bigger!

As I begin to make preparations for returning to Rome in a couple of months, I am starting to process what transition will look like and all the goodbyes I will have to make. I have developed such a strong community over the past year that I have been in the States, and with the tremendous blessing of this treasured community there will be a strong sense of loss when I leave. It is a beautiful thing to have people that you love in so many places all over the globe, but it makes all departures bittersweet. I will have to start these goodbyes already in the next couple weeks when my friend Kellie moves to Florida to work with the Jesus Film Project. Pray for her as she needs to raise the remainder of her support before leaving at the beginning of August.

And speaking of support… I am nearly 97% funded! That means that I have less than $200/month left to raise! Please, continue to pray with me that the rest of this support will come in within the next couple of weeks so that I can purchase my plane ticket and begin preparing my paperwork to apply for my visa.

And pray for these friends!

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Josh, Esther, and Lauren attended their final training this past week in Minneapolis. Pray for their continued effort in building their community of partners in ministry to support and encourage them as they prepare to join our team this fall.

Let us draw near to the Father’s heart, let us listen to the leading of the Spirit, and let us walk with Jesus, shining the light of His presence into the world around us.

May 17 Prayer Requests

As I mentioned last month, I’d like to be involving others more frequently in request for prayer for myself, for the Rome City Team, for our ministries there, for Italy, and for Europe in general.

This month, I’ve been in touch with our current intern (already in Rome) as well as three more future interns who are hoping to arrive this fall. As we’ve begun to be more frequently in touch, it’s our hope that the Lord will begin to knit us together in unity and prepare us to be working together in Rome.

For our intern already in Rome, please pray for her process of transitions and ongoing language learning.

For our future interns, please pray for their training and readiness activities, as well as the process of raising support and developing a ministry team to encourage and surround them in prayer.

For the Rome City Team as a whole, please pray that our hearts are drawn ever-closer to the heart of our Savior so that, through resting in Him, we might gain clarity and wisdom for what He is calling us to do.

Would you spend some time in prayer today for these requests, for the ministries being carried out in Rome, and for the hearts of people who we will interact with to begin to be softened toward the Good News? Thank you for joining us!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
-Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

 

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

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:

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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

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

Waiting and Stillness

Ciao, everyone!

I hope you had a peaceful holiday season. I hope you had time to meditate on the strange beauty of our Savior, come to dwell among us, as you celebrated His birth at Christmastime, and that you had time to reflect on the way the Lord has worked in your life over the past year as this new one has begun.

For me, like many of you I’m sure, this past year contained many ups and downs. But I treasure the reminder that each New Year brings of the REnewing, REfreshing, and REfilling that Christ gives us.

They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

-Isaiah 40:31

Being back home during this time has been such a blessing. I’ve really enjoyed spending time with family, catching up with friends, and remembering how to truly rest in the Lord. But it has also been a period of transitions with its share of discomforts, and this past month especially, He has been reminding me to wait on Him, which has always been a difficult concept for me to follow. And though I may not understand His timing, He does have a plan and I know that there is a purpose. There will always be opportunities to wait on the Lord, and during this season He has been bringing me to meditate on Philippians 4 in the stillness.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

-Philippians 4:8

In the quiet of waiting, the Lord has encouraged me with many of these “things above.” One such instance was my Skype check-in this past week with my team leader Sarah. She updated me on the continuing work of the Rome City Team, particularly of the Slavery No More ministry’s on-going outreach to the “treasures” on the street and the growing interest of the community in this effort. There will even be an informational meeting and basic training session on Saturday the 18th for those who want to get involved in the anti-trafficking ministry. Sarah also let me know that they are eager for me to return to Rome and to take on more responsibilities in the team, such as managing and updating our team’s “web presence” and heading up our English teaching ministry. There are already plans in the works for two week-long outreach English courses this summer. In preparation for further teaching opportunities, I plan to enroll this week in an online Teaching English as a Foreign Language [TEFL] certification course.

At this point, my goal is to return to Italy in April for one more year with the Rome City Team. The Lord has been faithfully providing during my time in the States and I am beginning to look into options for applying for another visa and to search for low-cost airfare. As always though, I must be fully funded before I can depart for the field. I am so looking forward to rejoining my team-family and diving into another journey of following Jesus with open hands and an open heart.