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

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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.

Nefarious Event Prayer Guide

One of the faithful volunteers helping with preparations for our Nefarious film event produced a great prayer guide for this last week leading up to the big day. Will you join us in praying? And if you feel so led, you can join our team as we fast on Thursday [from food, or whatever the Lord calls you to go without as a reminder to draw near to Him]. Here is the list of items to pray for each day:

Monday, March 18th
Pray that the Holy Spirit will start to prepare the hearts of the people that are coming, that they will be open to see and receive the truth of the situation of human trafficking. Pray that VIP’s will commit to come and reserve their seats ASAP. Pray that God will provide the volunteers what we need to help us the day of the showings. Pray that God will protect the people that are in charge from getting sick, getting discouraged or frustrated as the big day approaches. Pray for spiritual protection for all the people/volunteers/churches that are involved.

Tuesday, March 19th
Pray for the Exodus Cry team as they have been traveling and ministering for almost a month now. Pray for protection, the leading of the Holy Spirit, strength and wisdom from the Lord as they minister to so many cities and different cultures.  Pray for us as we focus on inviting as many people as we can here in Rome.

Wednesday, March 20th
Pray that God will bring the right people to fill the 425 seats. Pray that a lot of influential people will come and their hearts will be broken by the Spirit about the situation of human trafficking.

Thursday, March 21st [our team’s day of prayer and fasting]
Pray for wisdom for us as we put together the last details. Pray for unity, love and grace amongst the Body of Christ and the volunteers. Pray that we will serve with a humble attitude and servant hearts.

Friday, March 22nd
Pray for the potential technological/media problems during the showings. Pray that everything will go well and without problems. Pray that the Rome volunteers and Exodus Cry will work together and communicate well with one another.

Saturday, March 23rd
Pray that this will be a day when God will be glorified through everything we do. Pray that every seat will be filled, every DVD (Nefarious DVDs) will be sold, every person that is present will be changed, every heart will be broken and everyone will leave fired up and ready to do something about human trafficking. Pray that we will see people come to Christ that day. Pray that the Body of Christ will work beautifully together and will be an awesome representation of Christ. Pray that that day will be the beginning of the fight against trafficking and not just an end to a successful outreach.

 

Thank you for your commitment to pray and to be a part of this movement to end modern-day slavery!

10 Days!

Hello, everyone! It is just so incredible to me to think that 10 days from now, I will be in an airplane on my way to Italy! God has been so good to me this past year, orchestrating everything perfectly and leading me to this place. I’m so blessed.

As I had you pray for last month, my visa came through and my funding is at 100%! [If anyone would still like to give, you are more than welcome. It’s always good to have a little extra in the account in case of emergency situations.] It was a crazy trip getting to this point, but I’ve seen the Lord working the whole way.

For example, it was not easy getting my visa. The first trip that I made with my mom to the Italian Consulate in Houston, they would not allow me to apply. The man refused to let me apply for the religious visa, saying that only ordained ministers, priest, or nuns could apply. I tried explaining how my other teammates had already been issued religious visas as missionaries from other Consulates and were currently in Italy. He was unmoving though, and I left in tears. We spent the next couple of days getting a letter from ReachGlobal put together explaining how my Commissioning Certificate is equivalent to an ordination and that, according to Italian law, that should be sufficient for a religious visa. When we went back to Houston, we still had to argue with the man at the Consulate [yes, the same employee] to get him to let me apply, but finally he said he would allow it even though he made it clear that did not think it would be approved. He still made us jump through several hoops that no one expected we would encounter, and I was becoming doubtful that I would receive my visa. However, a week later, I got the envelope back in the mail. It arrived so quickly that I was sure it had to have been declined, but when I opened it, there was my shiny new visa in my passport! I was squealing and jumping up and down. God provided faithfully, even as I doubted.

I know He will continue throughout this coming year to provide my every need and to give my opportunities to trust that He will. I know that it will be a time of stretching and growth, and it won’t be easy, but it will be so worth it. I’m excited and I’m ready.

-H

PS – A big THANK YOU to all of my prayer warriors and supporters! Please continue to pray as I prepare to leave and prepare to serve. You are much appreciated!

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

Reality is beginning to set in.

Now, being a little less that two weeks from departure, it’s finally starting to sink in. I’m actually going to Italy. In two weeks I will be in an aeroplane over the sea. I’m kinda FREAKING OUT! I’m so unbelievably excited, but I feel like I’m nowhere near ready. I still have things to shop for, I still have questions that need to be answered, I still have to pack, I still have no idea where to begin!

But I’m taking deep breaths. This trip is all about what God is going to do in my life. He can handle my moments of freakage and show me things infinitely more wonderful than I could ever imagine. Which reminds me of a thought I had this afternoon…

I was contemplating Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” [NIV] I’ve loved this verse for a long time, but today I thought about it a little differently than I have before. Usually, we like this verse because God tells us that, ultimately, He has good things planned for us. But what if we only got the first part of this verse? “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.” Shouldn’t we rejoice in this too?! Sometimes we get caught up in waiting for our uncomfortable situations to be over that we forget: God had a plan. What’s even better? He has a specific plan for each of us… Wow. How amazing. And I know the nature of God. If I was just given the beginning of this verse, I would know that it would NOT say, “I know the plans I have for you. Plans to make you suffer and never have any fun.” Come on now. That’s just silly. I know that whatever happens is ultimately for my good. Rough stuff is tough to get through, but it brings me closer to my Father. And when He brings me His blessings, I owe all the glory to Him.

This semester is terrifying and exhilarating, but God is bringing me to it so I know that He will bring me through it. I’m learning more and more to trust in that Big Plan He’s got. I’m guessing it’s pretty good, because He’s a good God that God. ;]

The Beginning.

Ok. I’ve taken the first step in blogging and actually created my blog. *cue applause* This electronic journal of sorts is the gateway to all things grand and magnificent. Well, not really. It’s just where I’m going to keep everybody up to date on my foreign goings-on.

Right now, I’m one month away from departing for this grand adventure. Actually, exactly one month from now I’ll probably be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Asleep. Most definitely. Unless I’m staring fixedly out the window at the seemingly endless expanse of saltwater. Either way, I will be en route to Italy for the greatest adventure of my life. As you can tell, I’m so incredibly excited that I’ve already created my blog a full 31 days before my departure! But don’t worry. I won’t be updating everyday leading up to February 18. Maybe just a couple times to keep everyone updated on the status of my readiness [or non-readiness] to leave home. It’s a scary scary thing, but I know that God is going to do great things through this trip. I’m leaving it all in His hands.

Your eager traveler,
-Heather