“I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you.” -Jeremiah 29:10-14
My favorite month has begun and already the nights are getting cooler and longer. I’m glad to see the summer coming to an end and I gladly welcome the cooler fall months! After several weeks in the Roman heat, I got to spend three glorious weeks up in the cool, fresh mountain air and green views while attending first the missions conference in Austria, a week visiting a friend at the base of the Dolomites in northern Italy, and then back to Austria for CC Rome’s conference. Although it was a little exhausting traveling back and forth with, and living out of, a broken suitcase, the natural elements and brotherly fellowship were like hyssop for my battered soul, bringing healing and relief.
I arrived at the castle with a lot of questions, concerns, and fears. I really wanted to hear the Lord’s voice. Last fall, God gave me a promise that he was about to do a new thing (Isa. 43:19; 48:6) and that one day he would bring me back to the place from which he sent me (Jer. 29:10-14). I was relieved that God’s plan didn’t include growing old and dying in Rome but that he still had plans for my life; good plans and a future. I didn’t know when, but I resolved to stay at my post indefinitely until I received further instructions from him. So I committed it to prayer over this last year and ever since, the Lord has been softly speaking to me about returning. Throughout this year, I’ve also been watching my circumstances change to the point where I cannot continue to sustain my current living situation. But because I know that Jesus is Lord over my circumstances, I didn’t want that to be the only determining factor in my decision to return. So I brought these two things together (my circumstances and God’s promise) to the castle and laid them before the Lord, asking for much needed direction and confirmation.
“God’s calling OFF the field should be just as strong and clear as His calling TO the field.”
After hearing some small words from the Lord during the missions conference, I still wasn’t fully convinced what His will was and still had a lot of fear and anxiety of making the wrong decision. My heart’s desire has always been to please God and obey His will whether that meant to stay in Rome or to go back to the States. I was really feeling like it was His will to return but at the same time I had a burden of guilt and fear of letting people down or being a disappointment. I decided to put out a few fleeces before the Lord and went into the Rome conference with three specific prayers: one, that if God was in fact calling me back to the States, that He would again speak to me the verses in Jeremiah about bringing me back to the place from which I was sent; two, that He would remind me that He will go with me and to not be afraid because He won’t leave me; and three, that God would give me a prophetic word.
God answered the first one while I was visiting church in Montebelluna the Sunday before the Rome conference and we just happened to read not only those verses, but the following chapters in Jeremiah that talk about the same thing. Even so, I still wasn’t convinced. Then He answered the second one when one day, I found a little piece of paper on the floor that had Joshua 1:9 written on it:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
On the last day of the Rome conference, I was still praying and asking the Lord for even more confirmation so that I could be 100% certain of His will that this chapter in Rome is coming to an end and that God is about to bring me back to the place from which He sent me. I wanted to be able to step out in faith, not based only on my circumstances, but on what God Himself has spoken and revealed to me. We spent the last night at the castle worshiping and waiting on the Lord but I received no further confirmation.
The next morning, after spending 20 minutes rearranging luggage and people, I finally ended up driving back to Rome with part of the Atlanta team that had come to the castle to serve with us. On our way back, I was praying and thinking back on all the things God spoke to me, and decided I would step out in faith even though God hadn’t given me a prophetic word. At that very moment, the pastor in the driver’s seat asked me if I thought my time in Rome was coming to an end. Before I could respond, his wife turned around and said to me that last night, God had given her a word for me that my time in Rome was coming to an end and even though she didn’t act in faith to tell me last night, she was telling me now!
“He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.” -Ephesians 1:9
God wants us to walk by faith and not by sight but that doesn’t mean we step out “in faith” on just our own feelings or emotions. We step out on God’s word which never fails and never contradicts. I’m walking forward by faith in what God has told me knowing that what He says is true; knowing that I’m not walking away from Him but I’m walking with Him.
I am now back in Rome with fresh vision and enthusiasm for the next few steps as I finish out the rest of this year in Rome and then begin the transition of moving back to the States. Practically, I envision the next few months to look like this: I will complete another round of English and sewing classes this fall, help with our big Fall Fest in October and our Ladies Christmas Tea in December, and then hope to be back in Chicago to spend Christmas with my family. After spending some time in Chicago, I will go back to the place from which I was sent in Spokane Washington, and from there I will begin the re-entry process.
I would appreciate your prayers for the following:
-Provision for a plane ticket and travel expenses back to America.
-Provision for the final 3.5 months in Rome for rent and bills.
-Apartment: grace with landlords and help to get everything cleaned up in the apartment so it is ready to be rented out again; grace as I close out utilities, bills and contracts.
-Practical needs upon returning to the States: a car, a place to live, and a job with health insurance.
-Final semester of classes and time with my students that God would bring them to salvation and continue to grow the seeds that have been planted; for creativity and wisdom in planning and preparation.
-To end this race well in all the areas I serve and all the relationships I have built with my Italian family; for God to bring about a nice and smooth ending to this chapter and open the new doors I am to walk through and prepare the new things He has for me in America as well as the new things God has for Calvary Chapel Roma!
Thank you to all my dear supporters who have loved, prayed, encouraged, and given throughout the past three years that have made it possible for me to serve here. I would appreciate your continued financial support for three months after I get back to America as I make this big transition and look for a job. I look forward to sharing with you in person all the many things God has done during this time in me and through me!
To give financially, click here.