Celebrating Freedom

Freedom is a beautiful thing. This month, we are celebrating freedom and also raising awareness of those who don’t have it. October 18th is the European Union Anti-Trafficking Day. Our anti-trafficking initiative Schiavitù Mai Più [Slavery No More], along with partners across Europe and all over the world, is campaigning for freedom with the project “18 Days of Freedom.” During these Freedom Days, we are posting pictures with captions like this: “This is what freedom means to me. What does it mean to you?” We are sharing these pictures along with the hashtag #18DaysOfFreedom in order to promote freedom and justice and to create awareness of those who are still being exploited. It has been so encouraging to see the involvement and movement grow from day to day.

The campaign will culminate on the 18th with freedom events in the cities of participating organizations. Here in Rome, we will be having some dramatic performances in piazzas and a showing of the film Nefarious at a church in the city center. We are hopeful that this initiative will not only put the issue of trafficking on peoples’ radar, but stir them to take action in the fight against these injustices. One of our constant prayers is for the Lord to bring more locals into involvement in justice ministry.

Here are some of the images that we have shared so far:

If you’d like to join us for the remainder of the project, add your photos to the #18DaysOfFreedom hashtag and share with your friends!

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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.

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

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

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!

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.

But Wait, There’s More!

October is here and as hard as it is to believe, I have been serving on the Rome City Team for almost one whole year. But as this year comes to a close… wait, there’s more! During August, I was asked by my team leaders to seek where God was leading me in relation to the end of my one year assignment in Italy. After much prayer and many discussions, I have decided to come back to serve in Rome for another year! I have such a heart for all the ministries going on here, I’m plugged into a local church, and I’ve come so far in my language learning. These things mean less adjusting and more allowing the Lord to work through me. How could I say no to that?!

I’m still coming home as planned, in fact, two weeks from today I’ll be getting back home to Texas! Please, be praying for me as I travel from Rome to London to Chicago to San Antonio. I’m really looking forward to spending time with family and friends and getting my fill of things I’ve missed while abroad [read: Mexican food]. But I’ll also be looking for opportunities to share about what the Lord has been doing in Italy over the past year and finding more partners to join in supporting this ministry. My goal right now is to be back here in Rome by February, but that will depend on how support raising goes and on God’s timing. I will have to be fully funded again before I can return to the field. If you’re interested in joining my monthly support team, or in giving a one-time gift you can click here, select Designation: Other and type Creamer 1488 in the given field. To those of you who have been regular prayer warriors on my behalf, thank you so much. I will continue to rely on your support through intercession.

While I am home, I am considering taking a TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] certification course. If this works out, please pray that I find a good program, that I study well, and that I am able to earn my certificate. I think this would really help me in our English teaching ministries here and could present even more opportunities to develop relationships and share the Good News with others.

The Lord has been so faithful and provided so much over the past year. I can’t wait to see how He will work through the next! If you’d like to hear more about it when I get home, let me know. I’d love to share my stories with you!

IMG_1699

Watching the sunset from the terrace on the roof of my building. This is my favorite place to spend time with the Lord and to bring friends who come over to my apartment.