• Jenna Wirshing

Spending the Quarantine in the USA

Well, we are living in quite interesting times. I'm sure many of you know, but for those of you who don't, I am currently in the United States. As I shared in my previous update, my grandfather passed away in October. Six months ago, my family planned to do a mini family reunion to celebrate his life during the week of March 12th, what would have been his 86th birthday. So, what I had planned to be a two week trip home to Reno in March has turned into an indefinite stay in quarantine in my hometown state.


I arrived in Reno on March 3rd. Six days later, Italy announced that it had closed its borders, my flight was cancelled, and as of now, I haven't been able to reschedule a return flight. It's looking like the beginning of May will be the earliest that I can return, but that could potentially change as well. I truly miss Italy, I miss my church family, I miss being able to worship collectively in Italian, I miss hearing Italian, I miss our fellowship, I miss eating together, I miss the laughter, and I miss seeing all of their beautiful faces. I am so looking forward to the day I will be able to return Italy and greet the believers there with a kiss on each cheek! However, I am truly blessed that I am here with my family and am taking advantage of the extra time I have to be with them. It really has been an unexpected blessing.

1. The first photo is my immediate family (Stepdad (Matt), Mom (Kimmie), and Stepsister (Danielle))

Click the tiny black arrow on the right side of the photo (it's hard to see) to progress to the next picture

2. The second is my extended family from my mom's side

3. The third is a photo of the oldest female cousins (Lauren, Danielle, myself, Nikki)

4. The fourth is a picture of my childhood best friends (we were able to do dinner with them one night)

5. The last picture shows two of my former students and myself catching up at dinner

THE SITUATION IN ITALY

First of all, I just want to thank you all for praying for that sweet country and for all of the people there. Italy has been hit quite hard during this quarantine, but God is still moving and He is still faithful and the church is still banding together despite being unable to gather together physically.


Italy has been under extreme lockdown since March 9th. All Italians must remain at home and are not even permitted to take walks. When they leave the house, they must carry identification and documents stating their destination because the police regularly stop people and if they cannot prove that they are either going to the grocery store, to a medical appointment, or to work, they will be ticketed.


The church hasn't been able to gather together for a church service since February 23rd. However, despite the limitations, the church has been gathering together virtually through Zoom and Landon has been posting daily devotionals on Facebook. We've held women's bible study through Zoom, created multiple WhatsApp group chats (one for the women and one for the youth) so that we can continue to communicate, offer encouragement, share Bible verses and prayer requests, and support one another through the isolation.


As a result of the increase in digital postings and messages, Landon shared that they've had 30-40 new likes on their Calvary Chapel Feltre Facebook page. Nicola, one of the guys in our church, posted the messages on a page for people living in Feltre, Pedavena, and other surrounding cities, so many other people have been reached with the hope of Christ. In fact, two individual women messaged CC Feltre asking for bibles. God is moving and working in the hearts of people even in the midst of hardship and tragedy. I encourage you all to take a look at Calvary Chapel Feltre's Facebook page. Click the following link to access their page: Calvary Chapel, Feltre


LESSONS FROM JOB

In reading through Job, I noticed that the book is full of misconceptions. The characters in this book were trying to make sense of the events occurring in Job's life. They were trying to find a reason to explain the suffering Job had endured; to answer the question "why?". Job had suffered great calamity: he lost his children, his livelihood, his health, and the support of his wife and friends. From Job's perspective, he felt like God was against him. His friends were convinced that he was suffering because he had sinned. And his wife told him to just curse God and die. Nobody had a proper view of the character of God or a proper understanding of suffering. Yes, there are consequences for sin; and yes, we do see evidence in scripture of God judging sin. However, those consequences and judgments are clearly explained; it was never a mystery of whether or not they were being judged.


God is not a vindictive God and He takes no pleasure in our suffering (Lamentations 3:33, Ezekiel 33:11, Romans 8:31-35). However, when calamity strikes, when suffering arises, we often ask why. Surely there must be some reason or purpose. God does use suffering to conform us more into the image of Christ. We can always be confident of that fact. But, we don't always get an answer to the questions: Why this particular trial? Why this way? Why does it have to endure this long? Job's friends thought that if you were righteous and blameless, then no calamity would befall you. But that just isn't true. The storms of this life beat down on the righteous and unrighteous alike. Sometimes bad things happen because they just happen. We live in a broken, fallen world. We all experience suffering, but the difference is that we have hope when the world doesn't. You see, this is not our home. Our comfort, health, and safety is not our main objective on this earth: knowing Christ and making Him known is the goal. So then, are we willing to suffer for the sake of Christ? For the sake of the gospel? Are we willing to experience hardship so that somebody else might be brought into the kingdom? Why God allows certain things, we may never know, but we do know that He is good, He is a loving God, nothing is beyond His control, and He sees the big picture even when we don't.



I've completed a couple puzzles while in quarantine and was reminded of an analogy from Kyle Idleman's book Don't Give Up. "Have you ever tried to put together a puzzle without the box?" You dump all of the pieces out, begin flipping them over, separating the edge pieces, and finally start constructing. As you sit there gazing at the pieces, attempting to fit them together, you begin to wonder what picture they will form. However, "when you have a few pieces, but no big picture, it's easy to give up. The big picture is your guide for the whole process. It shows you where you're going. It assures you that everything interlocks in a way that makes sense." Life is often like a puzzle without the box. We see all the pieces, but have no idea how they fit together or what picture they will eventually form. It's easy to think "what's the point?" or be tempted to throw in the towel when you're drowning in a sea of puzzle pieces. But then faith comes barreling into the picture. Hebrews 11:1 describes faith in this way: "Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." According to Idleman, "faith is believing all the pieces are going to somehow fit together even when you don't have the big picture to work from. It's believing that God has a purpose even when there seems to be no reason.


Like Job, we may never get the answers to our questions. We may never understand why things had to happen the way they did. But we don't need to have all the answers, because Christ Himself is the answer. C.S. Lewis said "I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?" We aren't trusting in circumstances, in people, in places, in our jobs, or in our financial security. We are trusting in a person, in the Lord, who spoke the world into existence. A God of miracles, a God of the impossible, a God of love. We don't always get the healing, we aren't always kept from harm. Sometimes we lose the people we love; sometimes we do get sick; sometimes we do lose our job; sometimes we do lose a child; , sometimes we do suffer tremendous pain and loss. But our hope was never in those things; it was always in Jesus and in the hope of the promise of eternity where He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things will be gone forever (Revelation 21:4).


There is great potential for this season to be filled with fear, anxiety, and frustration. I'm sure things haven't gone as planned for many of us. The future is unknown. Life is changing on a daily basis. People look at you like you have the plague if you sneeze in public. Tensions are high, stores are depleted, hospitals are overrun, people are unemployed, and many are mourning the loss of their loved ones. And yet, God is still on the throne. He was in Job's day and He still is in ours. But may our response in this crisis point the world to the goodness, grace, hope, and love of Christ. Again, the storms beat down on the righteous and unrighteous, but the difference is that our house is built on the rock. We have hope when the rest of the world has none. We can have confidence in the future because we know that God holds all of the puzzle pieces, He has the big picture, and He makes beauty from ashes. May we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on the circumstances of this life. May we shine as lights in the midst of darkness.

The above video (The Italian version of the worship song Way Maker) was compiled by Landon for our virtual Easter service in Feltre. We recorded each section at our individual homes and Landon pieced them together. Landon is on the left, singing a harmony; Daniela is leading on the guitar; I am accompanying on the cajon.



Praise Reports!!!

First, here are the prayer requests from my last update, along with the praises for how God has answered them! It's important to REMEMBER!

  • My language acquisition, a mind to learn and memorize, and stamina and diligence to study Italian daily

I took my level A2 Italian language exam on February 20th. I needed to reach an A2 level within the first two years in order to keep my visa. I received the results last week and scored a 47/48, so I passed! Thank you for praying!

  • A smooth process in getting my residency, identity card, health card (I pay for the entire year of health care all at once, so it's a big initial expense), and bank account. There are still a lot of legal items to be taken care of.

I got my residency and obtained a bank account and God has provided abundantly to cover the cost of healthcare for the year. I still need to get my identity card and health card when I return in May.

  • Vision and direction for youth ministry and outreach within the community

Luis (our youth leader) started a new series on the Romans Road. Each meeting he prepares a teaching on one verse from the Romans Road so that the kids have a full understanding of the gospel and what each verse means. My role, before we were all put into quarantine, was preparing PowerPoint presentations to go with each message. Unfortunately I was only able to complete one before we went into lockdown.


We did a church outreach on Valentine's Day. Each individual family baked cookies, packed them with a verse, and delivered them to their neighbors. The purpose was to build relationships with our neighbors and spread the love of Christ.

  • I will be coming home in March for a couple weeks to be with my family to celebrate the lives of my grandparents. It's a short trip so I want to be purposeful with my time. Pray for wisdom in planning time with family and friends.

Well, the trip definitely has not gone as planned, but God has been so very gracious during this time and I have been abundantly blessed by the time I've had with my family and am so grateful to all of you who have reached out with words of encouragement!

  • Salvation for the people of Feltre and Pedavena and boldness for us believers to share the gospel

The Word of God has been going forth through Facebook and has spread as a result of the quarantine. Many have heard the gospel and some are beginning to reach out.

  • Unity within the body of Christ here in Feltre and continued discipleship, raising up, and equipping of the saints for ministry

Social media, technology, and virtual meetings have provided a platform for the church to stay in fellowship and they are encouraging and supporting each other in such beautiful ways. I'm always so blessed and humbled by the way they love one another.

  • The new church building project. Pray for wisdom for those selected to do the renovations and for opportunities to share the love of Christ and the gospel with them.

We've selected the contractor and he began construction about a week before Italy went into a nationwide lockdown. As a result, construction has been haulted until the lockdown is lifted. Keep praying for opportunities to share the love of Christ with him.

Prayer Requests!!!

  • Wisdom for when to book my plane ticket home

  • Encouragement for the believers in Italy during this isolation

  • Revival in Italy. Pray that the situation in Italy would spark revival and many would come to salvation

  • My language acquisition, a mind to learn and memorize, and stamina and diligence to study Italian daily, especially while in the USA (it's a little more difficult to learn Italian when I can resort back to English daily)

  • A smooth process in getting my identity card & health card when I return

  • Vision and direction for youth ministry and outreach within the community, especially in regards to reaching out virtually during the quarantine and how to reach our country after the quarantine since hearts might be soft and receptive

  • Wisdom in purchasing a car. I'm hoping to do so when I return. Pray for the right vehicle and opportunities to share the gospel with those I come into contact with as a result

  • Continued unity and vision as a missionary team (Landon, Rachel, and myself)

  • Salvation for the people of Feltre and Pedavena and boldness for us believers to share the gospel

  • Unity within the body of Christ here in Feltre and continued discipleship, raising up, and equipping of the saints for ministry

  • The new church building project. Pray for wisdom for those selected to do the renovations and for opportunities to share the love of Christ and the gospel with them.

  • Financial provision for the new building project. God has already provided for the full cost of the building, all that's left now is renovation costs.

  • Financial provision. I've seen the Lord provide abundantly and faithfully each month already, but I want to be faithful to continue to ask and believe that He will move and stir in the hearts of people to help make the work that I'm doing in Italy financially possible


Once again, thank you so much for all of your prayers, encouragement, and support, especially in these crazy times! The body of Christ is so necessary and I'm constantly reminded of how grateful I am for you all and for the opportunity to still be in fellowship even when we can't physically be together!

God is on the throne and will continue to show Himself faithful on our behalf!

Jenna

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