Christmas, Camp, and Covid
It has been a very busy and full last couple of months. God is continuing to move, speak, and work and I couldn't be more blessed to be a part of what He is doing in this place! Some of the highlights since my last update in October include a visit from my mom, a Christmas concert outreach, youth winter camp, almost a month of quarantine for me, changes to youth group, and preparations for a tutoring center at the church.
My mom was able to come and visit me for about 5 weeks this fall, from November 10th through December 14th. We had blast together! It was so much fun to have her here and a part of daily life. She was able to participate in youth group, women's Bible study, church services, church prayer, etc. She fit in so well and the church absolutely adores her! It was also one of the first times I acted as a consistent translator, so that was a new and welcomed challenge for me!
Moving from left to right: our women's Bible Study group, Erina (gave her life to Jesus last year), Holden and Avila (Landon and Rachel's kids), Diletta (does the youth girls' study with me), Yodit made a cake for my b-day, my school friends threw me a b-day party, Giovanna (one of our deacon's wife).
For my birthday my mom took me to Disneyland in Paris. Since I was little, we have taken a mommy/daughter trip almost every year to Disneyland, so it's kind of a tradition for us. We've obviousy missed the last few years, so this trip was quite special. Neither of us had ever been to the park in Paris, so that was quite exciting. I miss having her around and definitely look forward to her next visit, whenever that may be!
On December 18th we hosted two back-to-back Christmas concerts consisting of traditional Christmas carols, Feliz Navidad, and gospel music, such as Lean On Me, This Little Light of Mine, Oh Happy Day, and Amen. Italians associate Christmas music with gosepl music as well, and they aboslutely LOVE it! The audience was clapping, singing, on their feet; it was definitely high energy and so much fun! We had about 40 people attend that aren't part of our church! They were coworkers, neighbors, friends, acquaintences, clients, etc. of those that attend our church. Italian culture is very personable, so relational evangelism is the most effective means of sharing the gospel.
In preparation for the event, I made a promo video with the help of some of our young adults. We advertised the video on our social media accounts in order to reach and invite those in our community. The Sunday following the concert was our Christmas service. The childrens' ministry led us in additional worship, highlighting some of the songs they sing during Sunday morning kids' worship. We also showed an interview video of our youth answering the following questions: What is the true meaning of Christmas? What is your favorite part of the story of Christ's birth? Jesus gave Himself for us; so if you could give Him something, what would it be? We wanted to take the opportunity to allow the children and youth to minister to the rest of the body and highlight some of the ways the Lord is teaching and using them. The promo video is posted below along with a picture of our children leading us in worship.
Our theme for the spring semester is apologetics. We asked the kids to write any questions they had about God, the Bible, theology, controversial subjects, doubts, life, etc. We compiled those questions into categories and will spend each youth group tackling these difficult topics. Furthermore, we asked five of the men in our church to participate in the studies. Each one has chosen a topic and will share once during the semester. They will also host the youth at their home and provide dinner for us all so that we can continue in fellowship. Our hope is to further the unity among the youth and adults so that we aren't just operating as separte ministries, but as one body. We are excited to see what the Lord does!
Youth Winter Camp
Our theme this year was Galatians 2:20: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." In addition to our youth, we invited the young adults group from Montebelluna, so we had around 45 people total, including leaders. I was in charge of games and activites, which also included events for New Year's Eve, given the fact that camp ran from December 29th - January 1st. Two of our youth boys, Daniel and Luca, led worship and our afterglow two of the evenings. It was such a blessing to see them serve in that area.
Prior to leaving for camp, almost all of our leaders, including myself, got sick. We had fevers, congestion, cough, body aches, that all started just days before camp; it wasn't looking good, especially with the strict covid regulations that were in place. However, miraculously (and I don't say that lightly) the Lord healed us. I say miraculously because I truly believe that the Lord healed us! He wanted this camp to take place. All of the messages taught focused on salvation, our new life in Christ, and how to walk in the Spirit. We had great conversations with kids, wonderful times of prayer and worship, and lots of laughter! Below you will find a highlight video from the week!
Thursday Evening Church Service Changes
In the fall we changed the format of our Thursday evening service. We now meet downstairs in our cafe, giving more of a home bible study feel to service. We sit gathered around tables, listen to the study, and then divide into small groups for discussion and prayer time. The people seem to be enjoying the change and it has definitely fostered deeper relationships and fellowship.
In January, we added an additional component with zoom. Now Thursday evenings are a hybrid service: part in-person and part on zoom. It has been a real blessing, especially in light of all of the quarantine rules with Covid. People who live too far away to make the drive that late in the evening can now participate. People whose work schedules prohibited them from getting to church on time can now tune in. And finally, various believers who are scattered in various parts of the country with no church can now have fellowship with other believers. Two familes in particular have become a regular part of our Thursday night services on Zoom: one from Sanremo (north-western Italy close to the French boarder on the coast) and another from Calabria (southern Italy). We are praying for these families, for their cities, and for the furtherance of the gospel. We would love to see a community of believers emerge in these places and see new churches planted.
In January, Landon, Rachel, myself, and their three kids had the privilege of going to Sanremo and meeting the precious believers there. It was such an encouraging time. They are a sweet family of three: the dad (in his 70s-80s) and his two single daughters (in their 40s and 50s). They have such beautiful relationships with the people in the community and they have been faithfully preaching the gospel and showing the love of Christ for years. Pray that the Lord would soften hearts and bring revival.
After two years of successfully avoiding Covid, it finally got me. I was sick with a cold for a week at the beginning of January, which resulted in me staying home, resting, and attempting to heal. However, as soon as I entered back into normal life, I got Covid, which resulted in another 14 days at home alone. I spent a total of about 21 days by myself. It was a little rough at the end. I could definitely feel the effects of being away from people for so long. To those of you who prayed for me during that time, thank you. The enemy has really used this virus to bring about division, isolation, fear, and discouragment, but God is greater. He continues to work in spite of Covid, through Covid, and in the midst of Covid.
Biblical resources in Italian are limited. However, people are hungry to learn, grow, and be challenged in their walk, so there seems to be a need for book/commentary translation. One of the guys in our church (along with a few other people) just finished translating David Guzik's commentary on the NT. He absolutely loves translating, so we've been looking into other options for him. We have a few books lined up and are excited to see how the Lord will use these books and resources for His glory in this country.
What's On My Calendar?
Women's Bible Study 7:00pm (twice a month)
Missionary Team Meeting 9:30am - 12:00pm
Church Prayer 8:00pm (twice a month)
Day of rest
Church Service and Worship 7:00pm
Sending Team Prayer Meeting on Zoom 5:00am (once a month)
Youth Group 5:00pm - 8:30pm (1st, 3rd, and 5th Saturdays of every month)
Sending Team Meeting 6:00pm - 7:30pm (4th Saturday of every month)
Worship Practice 8:30am
Church Service 10:30am
Youth Girls' Book Study (once a month - day and time vary each month)
Tutoring Center (soon to be put on the calendar!)
Guest teaching at the Bible college for the women's discipleship class (1-2 times a semester)
Mom's visit - My mom arrived safely, with no boarder or Covid complications. The Lord sustained her physically and opened up the way for her to come and get back home.
Camp - God healed all of the leaders, spoke to kids, used them to minister to others, and filled our time with joy and abundant blessings!
Bible College Teachings - I taught one time in person and another time over zoom. One girl sent me and email afterward expressing her gratitude for the hw assignment I gave them because the the Lord spoke mightily to her through it. There's nothing better than hearing a testimony of what God did! Thanks for praying!
New Church Building - We are continuing to make progress on the building, slowly but surely! They've started work on the courtyard, so we should have a more stable and welcoming entrance into our building soon! God continues to provide monthly, even when it looks bleak.
Women's Bible Study - God has been greatly using this book and this group in the women's lives, as well as in mine! We have about an average of 10 women every Monday, ranging from all ages and walks of life (single, married, engaged, raising young children, grandmothers, etc.) The women are growing and disciples are being made!
Outreach - Christmas Concert - Lots of people came out for the event and many were exposed to the gospel and to the love, grace, and joy that is found in Jesus! The whole evening was filled with smiles and laughter!
My Health - God brought me through my two months of constant colds which finally ended with getting and healing from Covid! Praise the Lord I am healthy again and back in the saddle!
Calvary Chapel Feltre:
Post Christmas Concert
Pray for salvation for all those who attended the concert. Pray that the Lord would continue to speak to their hearts and draw them unto Himself. Pray for boldness for our church to continue sharing and loving on those who came, considering most are friends, coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintences.
As is the case with much of the world, this has been a heavy season spiritually. We see the Lord moving and doing great things, so it makes sense why the spiritual battle is raging on among us; the enemy wants to destroy the work of the Lord. BUT, God is greater! God is bigger! And we already have the victory! Pray for the weariness, defeat, depression, and discouragement that many are facing.
Church Planting/Home Churches
Pray for the believers in Sanremo and Calabria. Pray for a fresh filling of the Spirit, boldness and perseverance to continue to preach the gospel, and for salvation! Pray for the harvest and that the Lord would continue to build His church! Pray for revival!
Albania Mission Trip
A group of 9 of us from CC Feltre will be heading to Albania for 5 days in April on a short-term mission trip. We will be joining up with an evangelical church there to minister to and alongside the believers. Pray for unity, for God's guidance, for the filling of the Spirit, and for salvation of souls.
Our youth have been under attack these past few months. They are weary, burdened, and overwhelmed with school. Pray for revival, renewal, fresh fire, and unity. Pray for our youth leadership. Pray for the upcoming changes and the new schedule for the semester. Pray for the men who will be teaching. Pray for new relationships to form and for discipleship to take place.
Valentine's Day Outreach
We just did our 3rd annual Valentine's Day mini outreach as a church. We give out candy or homebaked cookies in a bag with a card with Romans 5:8 attached. It is a means of creating and fostering relationships with our neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances, etc. for the purpose of sharing the love of Jesus and opening doors for conversation about the gospel. Pray for those who received the bags and for continued relationships and opportunities to preach Christ.
VBS Summer Outreach
Covid restrictions seem to be slowly lifting, so we are praying for and planning a VBS outreach for this summer. Pray that the Lord would bring kids and families, pray for salvation, and pray that the Lord would provide laborers for the week.
Financial provision for the church
God continues to provide, but we want to be faithful to continue to ask and recognize that all that we have comes from Him. We need a new camera for live streaming and recording of services (each message has about 100-250 views each week and we are currently using a camcorder from the early 2000s). Our sound board is also having issues. Pray that the Lord would provide specifically in regards to technology.
I'm hoping to open an after-school tutoring center in the next month. Kids will come once a week to study and do homework, and if needed, get tutoring and additional help in whatever subject they are struggling in. Pray for God's guidance, filling, protection, and provision. Pray that He would bring kids and give opportunities to build relationships with families in our community. Pray that He would ultimately use this to bring many to salvation.
I will be teaching multiple times in Italian in the upcoming months. Pray that the Lord would speak through me clearly and supernaturally override all language limitations I still possess. Pray for motivation to continue to study Italian.
I am truly humbled each month by the Lord's faithful provision through you all. I know that all that I have comes from Him and I don't want to lose sight of that. So I want to continue to pray for His provision because He knows my needs better than I do.
Until the whole world hears,