Mission Trips, Outreaches, and New Ministries...Part 1!
Oh wow! What a busy and full season it has been! I wrote my last update on March 1st and soooo much has happened since then. To give you some highlights, as a church, we took our first mission trip to Albania, ran our first VBS, hosted English conversation nights for the community, began monthly street evangelism outreaches and hosted a Christmas concert for the community. I personally took over youth group, taught for the first time in Italian, opened an after-school tutoring center for teens, attended my first Italian wedding, went to youth summer and winter camps, and got a tick bite!
Before getting into the details, I just want to thank all of you prayer warriors! I am convinced that your prayers have been instrumental in breaking up the hardened ground here and paving the way for the gospel to go forth! God is moving!
On September 4th, Calvary Chapel Reno Sparks showed an update video of the latest happenings here in Feltre. In case you missed it, here it is!
In February our youth leader, Luis, stepped down to dedicate more time to his family. As a result, I took over our youth group. At that time I was the only official youth leader, so Landon came alongside of me as a point of reference for our boys. Leading this youth group has been one of the greatest blessings of the past 10 months. I love these kids with my whole heart and am so privileged to walk alongside of them as they grow in Christ.
Last spring we focused on apologetics and asked 4 different men from the church to each teach one topic. On the night they taught, they hosted youth group at their house and prepared dinner for the kids. The heart behind this decision was twofold: give our men opportunities to disciple and pour into our younger generation and give our youth the opportunity to build relationships with the older men and women in our congregation.
I also had the privilege of teaching a few times in italian on different religions, the claim that Jesus was a comunist, and whether or not Christians are permitted to kill in combat. We had great biblical discussions and the kids were so gracious and helpful with the language. This year we will be focusing on the Word of God: how to read and study it, it's reliability, and an overview of each book of the Old Testament and how it relates to Jesus and the gospel. Please be praying for the Lord's direction and wisdom as I lead and plan. Pray for Diletta and Vincenzo as they come alonside of me as our new youth leaders. Pray that the Lord would call new kids to Himself and that our youth group would grow as a result of many coming to salvation!
Side Note* I do have to thank all of you who have been praying for my language acquisition. I have by no means "arrived," but I am able to teach, convey biblical concepts, hold conversations throughout the day, and even acted as a translator multiple times this summer. I still have so much to learn and improve upon and am doing so with private language lessons this year. Please keep praying for a sound and ready mind to absorb and process all that I am learning. Pray for the ability to communicate clearly and cohesively, especially when teaching, ministering and sharing the Lord with people.
From left to right: Vincenzo, Sharon, Giulia, Jenna, Matteo, Alessandro, Luca, Irene, Landon, and Diletta
In March we opened up an after-school tutoring/study center for local teens. As of right now we have 5 students, but we are hoping to see the program grow. I run the center and am assisted by two of our young adults, Diletta and Vincenzo, who were recently married in July. Our hope is to build relationships with local teens and families, meet a need that so many kids have, and ultimately see people come to Christ. Please pray for wisdom in how to advertise and get the word out, pray that the Lord would bring kids, and pray for salvation.
MISSION TRIP TO ALBANIA
In April our church took its first mission trip. A team of 7 of us joined up with several Italian missionaries serving in Durres, Albania to asist with their different ministries. We had the privilege of sharing at multiple church services and at their youth and young adults group, leading worship several times, sharing testimonies at a women's Bible study, making multiple home visits, and participating in a kids outreach at the park where we played games, sang songs, and acted out a Bible Story.
There were so many things that we took away from that trip. These missionaries (Emanuele, Patricia, and Denise) serve the Lord with their whole heart and love the people fully. They have full plates serving people in multiple cities and villages, pastoring two churches, leading multiple studies at universities and in impoverished neighborhoods, ministering to youth, kids, women, and families. They have English clubs, after-school programs, practical skills classes for the local women and neighborhood park outreaches. We were challenged and enouraged by the work that they are doing and have started implementing some of the things we saw from them. It was such an amazing trip! So full of joy, laughter, love, and unity in the Spirit. We fell in love with the missionaries and their kids and can't wait to partner with them in the future. Below is a video highlighting some of the events from that trip!
CALVARY CHAPEL ITALY CONFERENCE
In early June I attended my first conference/retreat since moving to Italy. COVID hit the world just 4 months after my arrival, so I had been limited in my ability to travel, meet other believers, see other churches, and be a part of other ministries around Italy. So this conference was such a blessing for me. Rich Chaffin was the guest speaker and his daughter happens to be one of my closest friends from my days at Bible College, so it was so much fun for me to see him and sit under his teaching again.
The family from Sanremo was also able to attend the conference. It was such a blessing getting to spend time with them, pray together and seek the Lord together. Please keep praying for them. Pray for stamina, encouragement, and open doors for the gospel to go forth in their city.
From left to right: Yasmina (youngest daughter), Christina (oldest daughter), Kimmie (my mom), myself, Ali (Father of Yasmina and Christina)
My mom was here visiting during that time, so she was able to attend as well and everybody immediately fell in love with her! My mom exudes the love of Christ and she was such an encouragement to so many during her stay in Italy. She loves these people fiercely, even with the language barrier, and it warms my heart. After the conference we took a few extra days to visit some cities on our drive home. We explored, did some shopping, and had multiple divine appointments. I had prayed during the conference for more opportunities to share the gospel and the Lord answered! We were able to share Christ, His love, and His redeeming work on the cross with 4 beautiful people. We talked with each one for 20 min to an hour. There were tears, lots of laughter, hugs, and sweet times of prayer. I want these people to know how much they are loved by Jesus. I want them to know the hope of heaven. Please be praying for Elhadji, Luigi, Gabriella, and Alda Maria.
MISSION TEAM FROM CCRS
In June we welcomed our first official mission team to CC Feltre. Other mission teams to Italy have come to Feltre in the past, but a team has never come just for CC Feltre, so we were quite blessed. A team of 10 from Calvary Chapel Reno Sparks (my home church) served past the point of exhaustion, loving on kids, proclaiming the truth of the gospel and the Word of God, training and equipping our children's ministry team, and teaching English to those in our church and community. We couldn't have asked for a better team. There was such joy, such unity, and such humility. They served joyfully the whole week and were a source of encouragement to our church. They truly led by example and we can't wait to have them back next summer!
Thanks to the labor of love from CC Reno/Sparks, in June CC Feltre hosted their first full-week VBS with 21 kids in attendance, half of which did not attend our church. The theme was "In the Desert," all about the life of Moses. Over the course of the week we had, in addition to the 10 from Reno, 24 volunteers from CC Feltre come out to serve. This outreach brought new life back into our church after 2 years of COVID shutting down social interaction. Our people were so excited, filled with joy, and eager to see the gospel go forth. Many kids prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Parents were ministered to each day through conversations at drop-off and pick-up and many heard the gospel as well at parent night. His Word went forth!
One of the missionaries in Northern Italy (Denae Downs) created a kids music album of songs taken straight from Scripture. You can find the music videos online: più forti project. We used two of her songs during VBS and gifted each family with her CD at the beginning of the week so that the kids could practice the songs and hand motions. One of the greatest moments for me was looking out during worship and seeing every kid and adult singing and dancing, doing the hand-motions like their lives depended upon it! The joy was palpable. Multiple parents expressed their gratitude during the week saying that they'd never seen their child so joyful. The kids would go home everyday singing and recounting all they had learned with their siblings, parents, grandparents, etc. At the end of the week the parents were begging us to do at least two-weeks worth of VBS next year! Unfortunately just the one week almost killed us, so we might need to get a few more under our belt before we expand.
Below is our slideshow video of VBS that Nicole Kelly created for our parent night. It features all 4 songs that we sang and taught to the kids during worship
CHILDREN'S MINISTRY TRAINING CONFERENCE
The CCRS mission team also put on a children's ministry training day conference for our surrounding churches (this was the first ever...nothing like this really exists here). We had teachers from 4 different churches represented, two of which were not Calvary Chapels (which is quite a big deal in Italy...the churches lack unity, especially among the differing denominations, and therefore rarely collaborate). Each session was recorded, so both audio and video files exist and were able to be shared with those who couldn't attend. The conference lasted 7 hours and the people were engaged the whole time and couldn't get enough of what was being offered. They had so many questions and were eager to learn and grow to better raise up the next generation in the Lord. We are so grateful for all that Leonard, Dustin and Heather prepared and shared with our sweet people and are looking forward to planning more events like this to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. As a gift to each church, CCRS donated a flannel graph (unattainable here in Italy) so that each children's ministry could continue with the things they had learned.
Our week of VBS was directly followed by a trip to southern Italy for a wedding, upon from which returning home, I drove straight up to youth camp. Landon and Rachel departed for the States for 6 weeks immediately afterward and I then collapsed from exhaustion (from what I thought had been due to a busy season and crazy high temperatures and humidty). However, I discovered in mid August that my fatigue was due to Lyme disease. I had been bitten at the end of June (didn't know it was a tick), developed a bullseye rash a few weeks later, and was then diagnosed with Lymes shortly afterward. I underwent a 16 day antibiotic treatment and am doing so much better. I still need to do some follow-up, but I definitely am not weighed down by the extreme fatigue I had in the summer. Thank you to all who were praying for me during that time. Keep praying for my health, that the Lord would sustain me physically!
Here are a few photos from other miscellaneous events that took place in late Spring and Summer, some of which include Diletta and Vincenzo's wedding, and a visit from my childhood best friend and her husband (Elysia and Matt)
WHAT'S ON MY CALENDAR?
Women's Bible Study (twice a month)
Missionary Meeting (twice a month)
Teaching English to two boys ages 7 and 10
English lesson with a local high school kid
Private Italian lesson
Church Prayer (twice a month)
My Sabbath day of rest
Women's Discipleship Class (multiple times a semester)
Zoom prayer meeting (once a month)
Youth Group (1st and 3rd Saturday of the month)
Zoom Sending Team meeting (4th Saturday of the month)
Evangelism Outreaches (once a month)
New missionary couple moving to Feltre:
Paul and Rebekah, a young couple recently married last June, will be moving to Feltre at the end of February to join our team. Pray for God's favor in regards to their visas, for financial provision, for housing and the ability to learn Italian quickly. Pray for God's leading, direction, and wisdom in ministry and unity for us missionaries.
Pray for our youth: for their walks, that they would have a hunger and thirst for the Lord. Pray for unity and friendshp. Pray for boldness to invite their friends to youth group. Pray for spiritual awakening and revivial in our kids as individuals and as a group. Pray for Diletta and Vincenzo as they grow as leaders and pray for us as a leadership team. Pray for me as I plan, prepare, and teach.
Women's Bible Study:
Pray for Rachel and I as we lead. Pray for the ability to teach and communicate clearly in Italian. Pray for wisdom in how to organize the flow of each study and for the women to have understanding and perseverance as they learn and practice this new IBS (Inductive Bible Study) method.
Pray for God to provide the perfect car in the next month. I'd like one with 7 seats to use for ministry purposes, especially in regards to youth group.
Pray that the Lord would grow this ministry, bring other workers, and bring salvation to many as a result
Summer Mission Teams:
We will have a few churches coming to Italy this Spring and Summer to serve. Pray for wisdom in planning events, pray for salvation of souls, and pray for each team that the Lord constructs. Pray for unity and for lives to be changed.
Revival in Italy:
God is moving in this country and in our city. Pray for revival and an explosion of the gospel. Pray for a harvest and that the Lord would send and raise up laborers.
I have seen the Lord answer prayer like never before in this past year. He is a big God who does exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). I know that His Spirit leads and guides you all as you pray, so pray as He leads. I can't wait to see what He has in store for this year!
Until the whole world hears!