Thank you to everyone who prayed for our missions trip to Sicily! We were certainly blessed in many tangible and spiritual ways. The Lord used us to be a blessing as well to the church in Syracuse and several young people we met on the street. Here are some of the ways God worked on our trip-
I have been part of our young adult group for almost 2 years now and I still struggle with fear, shyness, and stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to really connecting with these brothers and sisters from the church. They have always been welcoming to me but since I am the only American, I have battled against insecurities with the language and cultural differences. But I have always made an effort, even if I don’t talk very much, to at least show up, because I know my God can do a lot with just a little availability! I have seen little victories here and there over the last year but I experienced some major growth on this trip. Nothing unites a group of people more than serving and doing ministry together! I had been praying for team unity on this trip in general but didn’t realize how much I really needed it until God began to work on that. I usually get pretty shy and quiet when I’m surrounded by the whole group (mostly because my pride doesn’t want me to sound like an idiot if I butcher their beautiful language!) But He did a good job at mixing up my time so that I had an opportunity to get to know each member (one-on-one) on a deeper level. Whether it was on the plane, standing in line, sharing a room, or sitting next to someone at dinner, God gave me all of these moments to come out of my shell. Bit by bit, the walls of my comfort zone began to crumble and the real Jen, outgoing and friendly, began to emerge.
We divided our team and some stayed at the home of the pastor’s family and the rest of us stayed a stones throw away in a b&b. I stayed at the b&b and shared a room with two older single girls. Despite being exhausted from the full day of travel and outreach, the first night I ended up staying awake until midnight talking with these two girls. They encouraged me that no matter how I may feel, they all see me as one of them and not an outsider. To them, I am part of the young adult group and encouraged me not to let my fears or insecurities keep me from spending time with them. God created a deeper friendship that night. I always feel like I have to be the one to encourage others because I’m the “missionary” but sometimes I’m the one who needs encouraging and love that God used these sweet Italian sisters to do so. By the end of the trip, I was feeling more and more confident to speak in Italian with them and for the first time since moving to Rome, I felt like I belong in this group.
I also really connected with another young girl on the team who likes to speak and practice her English, so we ended up partnering together several times as we went out in the piazzas to talk to people. Although there are ten years between us, we have a lot in common and I had the opportunity to encourage her walk with Jesus and pour into her several times during the trip. On the first day after we had preformed a few skits in the park, she and I went around to talk to people who had watched to see what they thought. We met a group of youth who had watched the skit and we started asking them questions. As I listened to the conversation in Italian, God laid some things on my heart to share so I just jumped right in speaking English! But my sister was quick to jump in and translated everything I said in her beautiful Italian. One young guy seemed really interested as I shared the gospel, while his friend was very rude and uninterested. But it could be that just the opposite was happening in their hearts and the one who was rude and closed off could have been the one who was the most touched!
On Sunday night, we went to the old town part of the Island of Ortigia and set up our stage right in front of the Duomo di Siracusa and preformed the three skits that we had prepared. It was late but there were tons of people still walking the old streets with their gelato and friends. Afterwards, a bunch of us found ourselves talking to a large, young group of friends with whom we shared the Gospel and ended up praying together with 9 of them to accept Christ into their hearts! Two others from our team shared and prayed with two other young girls to accept Jesus. Over the course of our weekend, several young people gave their lives to the Lord! I was also blessed to see some of the more shy people on our team open up and boldly share the Gospel and their testimonies. The Lord had prepared many divine appointments for us to meet people, share the Gospel, and take part in new souls being added to the Kingdom. God is definitely doing a work in Sicily to build His church there and it was exciting that us Romans got to be a part of it.
Sunday morning at Calvary Chapel Siracusa was also a blessing. Our pastor Brent shared from Jeremiah about God’s faithfulness and His good plans for us. I received a sweet and encouraging promise from the Lord after having been praying for a specific word. I love when a word or promise from the Lord is associated with a fun experience, such as a missions trip. God can speak to you wherever you are, but to give you a promise on a missions trip down in the southern Italy paradise called Sicily? Well, that’s pretty sweet 🙂
Up and coming:
-From June 1-4 we have our annual Calvary Chapel Italy retreat and we’ll all be heading up to the mountains to a christian retreat center in Gran Sasso. This is a time that we all look forward to when all the Calvary churches in Italy come together for a few days of fellowship, worship, rest, and being encouraged through the Word. It’s a time to see dear friends and other fellow missionaries serving in other parts of Italy. This year, Tessa and I are in charge of organizing and planning the curriculum and rotation schedule for the youth and kids sessions. Please pray that all of us, both adults and kids, would be blessed at this retreat and grow in the Lord; for the financial provision and availability for many to attend; for the pastor who is speaking and what he will share; that our friendships with other church family would be strengthened; and that God would meet each one of us individually and speak to our hearts.
-This month, we begin to wrap up our spring semester of classes and I will say goodbye to my students for the summer. But that doesn’t mean our relationships are over. In fact, I’ve been invited to come see my English students in their dance recital next month! Please pray for Miky and I as we finish up; for our relationships with our students to continue throughout the summer; grace, energy and strength for the final push; that while we continue to love them, God would use us to draw them to Himself.
-We are starting to plan some outreaches and events for this summer and pray about what things God would have us do. Next month, we are planning to have an outdoor concert with a couple of bands in a piazza here in our zone. Pray for all the permits we need and the hoops we have to jump through to get them!
-Financial provision for daily life and the retreat coming up.
Thank you for your partnership in being salt and light to the Italians!
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