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

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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]

img_4215

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?

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

Hello!

Let’s start the transition! Why let this perfectly good blog go to waste when I could just change it?!

This was the blog I used to keep people updated (though, unfortunately, not very thoroughly) on my semester of Bible college 2 years ago. Now, I’m going to use it to keep people updated (more regularly, I promise) on my mission work in Italy with ReachGlobal.

Right now, I’m in the process of building a ministry partnership team of prayer warriors and financial supporters. My goal for departure to the field is March, but I have to be fully funded before I can go.

I am SO excited about what God is doing to bring hearts to Him in Italy. My team is eager for my arrival and prays for me to join them soon. I can’t wait to get there and to start my Italian classes, to begin friendships with people I can invite to a house church, and to share Christ’s love with refugees, trafficking victims, expats, tourists, and everyone I meet! But I can’t get there without help. If you are interested in seeing people come to know Christ as their Savior and would like to be His hands and feet in Rome by joining my support team, please contact me for more information.

I am bursting at the seams to begin this exhilarating journey with all of you!

Love and blessings,
-Heather

And life goes on.

There’s still some adjusting going on here at CCBC Italy [for example, prolonged jet-lag, cultural change, and inability to express oneself or understand anything being said to you]. There’s also a battle that we students are fighting in spiritual warfare mostly in the forms of discouragement and doubting. I was experiencing some of the disheartening effects last night and this morning. God has been so good though and through prayer and even my class on Nehemiah this morning, I received so much confirmation and encouragement from the Lord. There has been strength and unity added to our group, and even as my roomies and I have been getting to know each other better and joking around, I can see where we are building relationships and bonding. It’s an exciting thing to see.

I have to go as my battery power is about to expire, but I’ll leave you with this request: please, keep all of us in your prayers.

Much love! Buonanotte!