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!

IMG_0720

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)

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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)

Summer in Review

It seems almost impossible that we’ve already wrapped up summer activities. With all the goings on, the time flew by. Here are some highlights:

Outreach English Course

Outreach English Course 2014

Our OEC was such a joy. We had a wonderful team from Ohio come to help us teach our classes. They served willingly and were a great help to our team. Although our class sizes ended up being smaller than we had hoped, our students participated with enthusiasm and showed progress through the classes. There was a good mix of ages and cultural backgrounds which seemed to encourage discussion and learning. Hearts were opened and we could see the Lord was working as attitudes toward reading the Bible as a method of studying English softened over the course of the week. Several people even took home Bibles that we offered at the end of the week, and several indicated interest in continuing to study English this fall when classes start up at a church in the city center. All in all, it was a success!

 

YWAM

YWAM Team at Work

YWAM Art

We were blessed and encouraged to work with an amazing group of young people from the Youth With A Mission team in Leeds, England. This team faithfully prayed for our ministry here in Rome, interceded for the Treasures while on a prayer walk in the area of the city that we go to with our Angel Squad for our ministry Schiavitù Mai Più [Slavery No More], and prayed over different areas of the city before deciding where to set up some art installations. They worked hard, shared their creativity, and created opportunities to interact with locals in the piazza where they engineered their artwork. Their time with us gave us ideas for future projects and opened discussion for our team about making use of more evangelistic tools.

 

Personally, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Austria and stay with my friend Wally [an Austrian girl who was my roommate until she moved back to Vienna in mid-July]. And a few weeks ago, my parents came to visit for 10 days. I was so glad that it worked out for them to make the trip this year and that I got to show them some of this country that I love so much.

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

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

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!