Friday, February 25, 2011


In a few minutes I am setting out to attend a conference of Italian Youth with a passion for missions.  I am going as an observer as I am now to old to be a youth.  :)  The theme for the weekend is HIS PASSION: MY PASSION - SHARING THE PASSION OF GOD TO THE NATIONS.  The conference is taking place just a 3 hour bus ride away on the East Coast of Italy in a town called Montesilvano, and to be completely honest I am looking forward  to the chance to escape the craziness of Rome, my routine, and my computer and to enjoy being at the beach...I have missed the beach!  I am also interested to see what the conference organizers have in store, to attend the workshops and the seminars (In Italian) and to make new connections with Italian believers who not only have a passion for God but for reaching out to the World!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Letting God Enter In

First of all I want to say Thank You to those of you who have responded these past two months by renewing your support, increasing your support or beginning your support, and for all of the prayers and words of wisdom!  A HUGE THANK YOU!

I would love to tell you that enough has come in, but so far that is not the case.  It is almost the end of February and for this month even with all the extra giving my support is still low.  If you are planning on giving please don't delay, your support is desperately needed!

But I also wanted to let you know about my encounter yesterday just to remind you of how God is at work here, even when things seem grim...

Yesterday I had another language exchange appointment this time with a woman about my age.  Before our meeting I met with God over coffee and asked that He direct and bless our conversation.  As we were chatting in Italian the first 1/2 hour the woman asked me about my work, so I told her what I am doing here.  When we switched to English she asked me if I was Catholic.  I said no, and then she asked me to explain the difference between Protestant Evangelical and  Catholicism.  She was eager to here what I had to say.  She asked where I went to church, and I gave her directions and an invite.  I told her about our home group that meets each week.  I asked her about her own beliefs.  She explained how she used to be Catholic and had lost her faith.  She shared about taking part in a World Youth Day hosted bay the former Pope.  I could tell that it had been a transition point her her life.  She told me of a friend who goes to a Catholic church in the south that sounded to her a lot more like my idea of church.  I asked about her family and their beliefs, and she wanted to know about mine.  It was evident that God was indeed leading our conversation.  When our time was over she asked if we could meet again next week to talk.  Of course I said yes!

Today I am watching the little Bambino again.  You can join me in praying for him and his family and our times together that they too would be directed by God.  And tonight I am meeting with another Italian woman and would love to enter into a Christ centered conversation with her as well.

Thanks again for your prayers and support!  Please keep them coming, I am not ready to come home and it seems like God is opening doors here! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Not a bad day

Yesterday I woke up feeling pretty crummy, after a night of very little sleep due to a very stuffed up head.  But I had been invited on Sunday to the home of one of the ladies in my church and I really wanted to go.  She had wanted to get together back in Sept, but at that point I spoke little Italian and she spoke even less English.  Now that my Italian and my confidence has improved I was looking forward to getting to know her and her family better.  Getting to her house was no simple thing, she lives outside of the city, which meant I went to catch the train (which I am not loving at the moment due to my run it with one 2 weeks ago) The train was late, because it is Rome.  Then I switched to the metro, when I got the the main metro station which is always a zoo (because it is constantly under construction) it was even more so as they actually rerouted people out of the metro altogether and then back underground, just to switch from one line to the other.  But all this considered I was still doing pretty good.  I rode the metro about 7 more stops and then got off and boarded yet another line for another 4.  In all it took me about 1 1/2 to get to her metro stop, where I called her and she came and picked me up.

She was very impressed that I was able to navigate myself all the way to her zone, and told me so again and again in Italian also adding that she hoped that she and her family could a second family for me here in Rome!  I was honored and blessed and glad that I had made the trip.  And I loved her even more when she suggested we stop for a cappuccino  before heading to her home, a woman after my own heart.  We chatted over coffee and I was able to answer all her questions in Italian; where are you from, why Rome, tell me about your family, do you like the city, what is it that you do, how long are you staying...And I was able to ask her questions as well.  I found out that she is Brazilian, she is married to an Italian, he is from Calabria, they have one son, he is studying to be an engineer, they have lived in Rome for 20 years, she used to work as a secretary in Brazil, and in Rome has worked a number of jobs, her husband works in a restaurant near our church...I tell you all this knowing it sounds simple, but you have to keep in mind we had this conversation 4 hours of conversation in Italian!  After coffee she took me to her home, a beautiful 2 story apartment.  She got busy making lunch and I chatted a bit with her shy husband and son.  Then we all had lunch together.  Two types of pasta, a quiche, samples of sausage, cheese and olives from Calabria and gelato.  She had also made me a cake, but I had to take my piece to go as I could not eat one more bite.

Before leaving she lent me some Christian books in Italian so I have something to read, and she invited me to come back anytime, especially during the summer when I want to go to the beach, she has an extra guest room, and they are not far from the beach. Like I said a woman after my own heart!

From this appointment I did my best to hustle back to the other side of Rome where I was to meet up with Anne a fellow missionary who has been here a year with GEM (Greater Europe Mission) but is heading back to the stated with her husband next week.  This was my second meet up with Anne this week because she is hooking me up with a sweet job.  I am taking over her role and babysitter/English teacher for two different kids in two different families.  I met the first family and child on Tuesday, they live on my street just two buildings down, which is amazing!  I am excited for the chance to get to know some neighbors and to use some skills I have.  And now we were meeting up at the school of the second child where we would pick him up and walk to his apartment together.  I am happy to say I am in love with this 4 year old little man.  He is adorable, and there is possibly nothing more hilarious then watching a little kid playing with cars stop to chew out in Italian one imaginary driver whose parking job was hindering the flow of traffic out of the parking garage.  Complete with sincerity, hand gestures and facial expressions I see Italian's use everyday  but watching a 4 year old recreate the situation on the floor of his bedroom and understand how ridiculous and funny it is was pretty amazing.  Another reason I am so glad I did not let this cold keep me from my day.

I got back to my apartment around 6:30pm and sat down to craft my newsletter letting my supporters know that I am in a bad financial state and really need their support and prayers. Over the next few hours I received emails of encouragements, promises to pray and even a new supporter! Then I watched the latest episode of American Idol online and was just about to fall asleep when my phone rang at 11pm.  Not a normal time for my phone to ring, I answered seeing it was Joe another fellow missionary from GEM who we work with.  He let me know that their whole station wagon was full of kitchen stuff for me from Anne and Andy, and wanted to know if they (he and his wife) could come unload it.  Of course it was fine, I got dressed again, and they showed up with bags and bags of kitchen supplies and food!  What an amazing blessing!  I had woken up expecting a day that would be tiring and overwhelming, and went to bed last night overwhelmed by all the ways God had blessed me!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Not Good and yet...

Friends my heart is overwhelmed.  This has perhaps been my toughest month in Rome and yet I am starting to see God open doors into the relationships and places He wants me.  It is my belief that Satan is not happy about this, and hence He is taking every opportunity to hinder the progress I am making here in Italy.  I have had a run in with a train badly injuring my leg, I spent a week sick, I have had to stop attending language school, and some of my friends here have returned to the states and too top it all off I am seriously underfunded!

You have no idea how much I hate, HATE continually having to ask people for more support, I feel like a broken record.  Yet, as a friend and supporter reminded me yesterday raising financial support is an ongoing part of the life of a missionary.  She suggested that I lay it all out for you clear as day so that you are well informed and able to assess the need for yourself.
ReachGlobal requires that Single missionaries serving in Rome raise $6285 a month.  When I left for Rome last July I departed in good faith based on the promises of faithful giving. (some of it monthly, some quarterly and some yearly.)  Since being here there have only been 2 months where the total $6285 pledged actually was given, usually I am seeing about ½ come in.  I was hoping that those who give once a year at the beginning or end of the year would help to make up this loss, but that did not happen.

This means that at this point, almost 8 months in my Ministry Account is severely underfunded.  This ministry account funds not just my salary (which has been cut by $1000 a month) but also our ministry here in Rome, heath care, retirement, travel, payroll services in Minnesota as well as other office costs at out headquarters, housing, conferences and training, and language school.  Because of the huge shortfall in my account I have had to take a $1000 pay cut and stop attending language school and they have frozen my ministry spending until my account reaches the minimum balance required of $4,500.

My heart is overwhelmed because I feel like I am just really starting build good relationships with Italians, my language is improving, and I am finding niches for ministry.  I have tried to make the best out of the situation, taking on two babysitting jobs with Italian families where I am there to teach their children English.  This is helping me supplement my income a bit and it gets me into the homes of my neighbors.  Because I am missing language school I am working hard to meet up with complete strangers to exchange language, which again lets me meet more Italians, but is not nearly as effective as school.  Today I went to the home of a family that goes to my church, and spent four hours or so talking with them in Italian over lunch and coffee, this is a great new connection and the mom really wants be to consider them my second family here in Rome.  I have encountered a woman from Moldova and her two children for a week now each time I go downstairs to the Coffee Bar to do my Bible study.  I am praying that God will help me to help her and her family.  Last week one of the girls from our home group led the Bible study for the first time and did a fantastic job, she is hoping to move into our neighborhood which would be a great new addition.  We have had a number of people visit from ReachGlobal some joining our team and others to attend a conference on ministring to the refugee population in Europe, Sarah has been asked to start teaching English at our local library and she has asked me to help her, and I am back to teaching English on Tuesday nights where some good relationships are forming.  I was also able to write out my testimony in Italian and am working on putting it to memory.  And next weekend I will head to a conference for Italian youth interested in missions.

So, as you can see many GOOD things are happening, and it breaks my heart to think that I might have to come home in the next month or two if my support does not increase by $3000 a month.  It would be such a shame to have to leave right when all of these connections are happening.

I have been reading through the Bible with my home group four passages each day and as I read through Exodus this past week a few thoughts struck me and I feel they apply to God’s provision…
1.       When God called the Israelites to leave Egypt he first had them go to their neighbors and ask them to give them their gold and jewelry.  And God prompted the Egyptians (who did not believe in God) to give over these things.
2.       The Israelites were likely in shock and totally excited by this as they had been serving as slaves for quite some time, they likely doubted that their asking would produce such a bounty.
3.       Later when it came time to construct the Tabernacle God had Moses request the people to bring forth all the gold and wealth they were willing to give in order to accomplish His desire.
4.       I am guessing based on knowing humans and having read the story of the Israelites short term memory problems with how God continued to provide all that they needed that giving up this wealth that God had provided was very difficult.
I am asking you point blank to think hard about how God has met your needs and how He continues to meet your needs.  Then I am asking you what God had Moses ask the people of Israel, to give willingly whatever you can out of what God has blessed you with.  If you are already doing so, thank you.  If you are one of the many who promised to give but have not been giving I ask you to start today.  And if you are not giving and can give willingly to the work that God is doing here in Rome then I ask you to give today too.

I am asking all of you to pray for me.  Pray that I would not become discouraged, that I would continue to serve faithfully with joy.  Pray that my language learning will not diminish, and that my new jobs will help tie me over as well as help me build relationships with these families.  Pray that God will supply all my needs as I know He is able to do.

If you are a member of a church or a group who might be able to join my support team please pass along my need to them as well, for we are all one body!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Waste Not

I am learning that God has let nothing in my life experiences go to waste.  Turns out that even my Online Dating experience prepared me for life as a missionary.  This week I signed up online at a sight for people searching for Language Exchange Partners.  Much like one signs up for online dating minus the pictures and with much less upfront information.  And now just a few short days later my inbox is filled with Italians who want to meet for coffee and to exchange an hour of English for an hour of Italian.  Today I am meeting with my first 2, then Sunday 1, Monday 2...I am taking a break on Tuesday and Wednesday to attend the Refugee Highway Conference and then 2 more on Thursday.  Just goes to show you that you never know what God will use. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Just when I thought I was getting my footing here in Rome...I am just starting my 8th month of living in Italy.  And things were settling into a routine, wake up go to school for 4-5 hours, homework, time to meet with people, go to bed.  But this month God had different plans.

This month because I am not fully supported I had to stop attending my language school.  At first this seemed like getting the rug pulled out from under me.  I had just passed a very hard level of Italian and had studied very hard for my test after having missed quite a few days last month being sick.  My pride wanted me to say, no I have to keep attending this school, but wisdom and money said no.
But as I thought about it I realized that this may in fact be an answer to prayers.  I had been frustrated that I was not meeting more Italians and that I was not able to spend a lot of time with God or in my neighborhood.  Because I cannot afford language school for the time being I am finding free and creative ways to improve my Italian.  One of these ways is to find language exchange partners.  And as it turns out there are a lot of Italians looking for just that.  So in this way because of my need, God is going to be filling my schedule with Italians whom I can and will be expected to talk to.  Hmmmm...feels like a good thing.  And as I have been browsing the language exchange websites searching for partners, it seems like there are quite a few who are studying or have an interest in Film and Television, hummmm what was my major again?  Oh yes, that's right Film and Television.  Seems like once again God never lets anything go to waist.

Now that I do not have to be up before the sun to get to school I can also start my days with God.  And I figured that I would bring a little bit of CA into my neighborhood by having my time with God at the Coffee Bar downstairs.  This is not really done here, people do not just sit around at coffee shops like they do in CA reading their favorite book or Bible for that matter.  But, I figure since this Coffee bar is in my neighborhood and I desire to be a light in my neighborhood one good way to make people begin to take notice of me is to let myself be different.  Which in this case is a comfort to me, as I have missed my morning quite times at Coffee Cat with a cappuccino and my God.

Already I can tell that Satan is not so excited about my new found avenues for ministry.  Two nights ago, I was heading to go teach English at a local church and when I went to board the train like I do almost everyday my footing was not good, and I slipped landing with my left leg and half of my body between the train and the platform.  Thankfully the kind people inside the train pulled me up quickly before the train doors shut on me and before the train departed.  However in falling I injured my leg pretty badly as it hit the train.  I decided there was nothing to do but continue on to class as I had invited some new friends to try out the beginning level, and did not want them to show up and not find me there.  I transferred to the metro, and then after hobbled tears falling to the rest of the way to the church.  Some of the other teachers helped clean me up a bit and got me some ice for my swollen leg.

Yesterday when I got up I knew I still needed to meet with God and encounter my neighbors so despite the pain I went to the Coffee bar and settled myself at one of the outdoor tables.
just as I was finishing my reading and beginning my praying an older woman with bear legs (sunny but COLD) the size of my wrists if that came and sat down, I looked up and knew instantly that this woman was homeless.  Now we have homeless for sure in Rome, but not in this neighborhood.  She looked cold, and she was using a cup of hot water to mix with a can of soup.  I recalled that I had 2 extra pair of tights that were too small in my apt. and some gloves, so I asked her in Italian if she was cold.  She promptly put her thumb on her nose and all 5 fingers wiggling about stuck out her tongue and made an ugly face.  I was a bit taken aback, but seeing as I am from SC was not totally thrown off.  I packed up my stuff went home, put together a gift bag for her; sweater, tights, tea, crackers, gloves, and a book about God in Italian.  I made my way back down there, and handed the lady the bag.  She looked surprised, and then angrily spat out words that I could not make out, and then demanded for a coffee.  I told her I did not have coffee, as I had left everything else back in my apt, including my wallet.  She went back to her soup, and I went back home.

I had been reading Exodus, about Moses being sent to the Israelites to get them to leave.  And had noticed how at first when leaving meant harder work for a time, they were willing to stay as they were rather than get rescued.  Funny how God works.  Then at home I listened to Dad’s sermon about the Famine in the Land and again was struck by the idea that the people here are unable to see their own true needs, and are willing to stick with quick fixes.

All this to say, please pray with me as I try to get my footing in this new approach to language learning, and ministry.  Pray that God would continue to reveal His path to me, and not let me stumble.  You can also pray that my conversations with these new language partners and times in my neighborhood that  God would be glorified that people (myself included) would be aware of the need for a savior, for rescuing and would find that in Jesus.