Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Saturday: Lago maggiore

On our last day, we went to Lago maggiore. It's like the Lake Geneva of Torino. It was incredibly beautiful and I got so many amazing pictures! It was a perfect day that God totally orchestrated because it was supposed to rain that day. The scenery was breathtaking and the conversations were incredible! I love my friends!

Many of our friends that we made in the beginner class are Sicilian and so they loved getting to talk about Sicily. They described to us all of these different gestures that have various meanings. It was too funny. I'm pretty sure when they told me to say something and they video taped me they made me speak profanities in Sicilian. Haha.

I was glad to get to hang out with Luigia, Lorena, Jenny, and Matilde each a little bit that day. Luigia even invited me to visit her home at L'aquila. I felt so honored by this invitation and I really really want to go!

After we got back from Lago Maggiore Luigia and Damiano invited us for aperativos. It's very common in Italy and its where you buy a drink and you're able to eat whatever you want. Of course I had to try things!

The problem that we faced was that we needed to leave room for the dinner invitation that we got from Jenny, Majid, and Lorena!

Went to dinner at the dorms that Majid and Jenny live in and it was incredible. Lorena and Jenny made us what would be considered a Sicilian Sunday lunch. Sunday lunch in Sicily is huge and is pretty much an all day eating affair. We had a pesto, tuna, penne pasta and a garlic, pepper, tomato pasta. They were both incredible. They also made a pastry type thing filled with meat, cheese, and spinach.

As if that wasn't enough food, Majid made us traditional Moroccan food! It was a curried chicken made in a particular oven type bowl with traditional Pakistani bread. It was so phenomenal!

We ended up having a really good conversation. Well I watched Candice and Rudy talk. Lorena does not trust the church because of all the divisions between the Catholic and Evangelical church. She said has never seen a church like Il Refugio. Majid also talked about the motivations that other churches have had, not to serve but to just convert.

It was really cool because when Lorena was walking us home, Candice said that the only thing that matters is Jesus. Lorena said she knew that but she still didn't trust the church.

I am so thankful for Candice because she was a huge help in the beginner class and especially for the conversations after classes during dinner.

Friday: Desperation

In the morning, Rudy and I got coffee with Luigia. It was really incredible to get to know her better and get to just talk to her about spiritual things.

It was also really an intense time. I realized how much I was desperate for her and everyone else we had met to come to know The Lord and to be with me worshiping and praising the great gift of salvation that he provides for us in Jesus Christ. I cried. I told Luigia I was desperate for her to know God.

Then we went to spend time with God with our team and i jut couldn't hold it together. I cried out to The Lord, literally, that I didn't want to wait any longer to see souls saved. I want to be that desperate to see The Lord change lives all the time. I want to be a prayer warrior who not only fights but perseveres. Everyone needs God. Everyone needs Jesus. And I am praying that God saves many that we came into contact with.

We had a good discussion about our families and then we had a party at English Clubs.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Thursday: Finally!

Candice decided that she wanted to try and cook and American meal for everyone and so I went to the market with her to get groceries. I'm so upset that I didn't bring the camera because the little local market we went to was so beautiful! All of the seasonal vegetables were bright and gorgeous and I just loved it. We got so much food and Candice decided to make chili and a vegetarian stew.

On our way back, Candice shared her testimony with me which I was very grateful for. The Lord has saved us from similar lies and it was awesome getting to know her. An interesting story she to me was this. I guess at one point, Candice signed up for a 4th level Italian class. She had been to Italy before and could sort of speak but she figured she had some experience and so it wouldn't be that hard. She had a really difficult time with the class and wanted to just give up but then she started having these dreams. In the dreams, people would come up to her speaking Italian and asking for help and she could totally understand them but couldn't speak any Italian. She decided that she had to work hard so that she would be able to share her story with others and help the Italians come to know The Lord. So cool!

At English clubs we talked about our hopes and dreams for our lives. I told the group that my goal in life is to help others realize and pursue their passions. Luigia asked a really good question after that. She said, I see that you have peace in your heart and I can imagine it but I don't understand it. I don't have peace in my heart. Do you feel good because you get it from somewhere else and that is why you can help people? Or do you help people because it makes you feel good. So basically is helping others a selfless or selfish act. I told her that when I was 8 after a kid's program on valentines day I accepted Christ. That didn't mean I was all of a sudden perfect but it did mean that despite what happened in my life, I had a peace that passed understanding (like it says in the Bible we will have). She asked if I ever have doubts or questions and I told her of course! I definitely ask God why he allowed certain things to happen what is going on or his motives and intentions with my life and I told her it is okay to ask questions, to inquire of The Lord. I said above all the important thing is that you have the gift of Jesus. If you want peace that passes understanding, you need to accept the gift that is him.

After that we had a scavenger hunt around the city and had the delicious dinner that Candice and Katie cooked and had wonderful conversations.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday: Truth Talks

In the morning of Wednesday, I had a really great God time. Since i had felt so strange the night before and really felt it was spiritual oppression, I prayed against spiritual oppression. At breakfast, Rudy urged us to keep going and to not give into the temptations to get angry with one another and to be frustrated because this is not of The Lord. It turns out that everyone was feeling this oppression.

Then, we went to the market to do some shopping. It was tons of fun! I believe that Anthony said it was the first or second largest market on the Mediterranean which is pretty cool. After going to the market, we got kababs at this shop just down the street from Il Refugio. It was so nice to finally have meat!

We went right from there to our team meeting which was a really great time. Everyone was feeling the same thing with oppression. I felt a lot better about every thing. Anthony talked about how satan is like a lion and tries to get us alone and away from community. I totally felt that yesterday. All I wanted to do was not be around the group and be in solitude. Satan, like a lion. Looks to get those who are weak away from the group so that he can attack. It's his tactic. Thankfully The Lord protected me and used the prayer times we have daily to prevent this from happening.

Go English clubs on this day, we went on a tour of the city. At each point, someone from our group shared a short testimony of their life with Christ. Many were very powerful and corresponded with the statue or building we were looking at. Mine was at the statue of Adam and Eve, made unique. My talk said this:

"Even though I believed in Jesus. at the age of about 8. it was not an instant transformation. God has been continually refining. and transforming my heart. to show me that the things of this world. are fleeting. but the things of God. are eternal.

I used to value physical beauty a lot. I thought that if only I could be beautiful. then maybe I would have friends. maybe people would like me. and maybe I would be successful in life. I would cry. because I did not think. I was beautiful enough. I would think to myself. if only you were beautiful. then you would be well-liked. I had a wrong view of God's creation. I thought God had made a mistake. in how He made me.and I failed to see. that beauty comes from inside. rather than from the outside. My mind began to change. when I was reading the Bible. and I read a passage in Psalms 139: 14 that says, "I am thoughtfully. and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you. when I was being made in secret. every detail. in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance. in your book were written. everyone one of them. the days that were formed for me. when as yet there was none of them.

I realized that God. had not made a mistake. He had known me. and every day of my life. before I was conceived. I felt God say to me. stop hating my creation. I have made you beautiful and unique.

In Proverbs 31:30-31 it says that Charm is deceitful. and beauty is vain. but a woman who honors the Lord. is to be praised. Because God taught me this lesson. I now view beauty from the inside out. knowing that physical beauty will not stay. it will pass away. but the beauty that comes from within. from honoring the Lord and following after Him. is the true beauty. that all will see. and cannot ignore."

Damiano (with Luigia's help) translated into Italian for me! He did so well!

It was really beautiful when people came up to me after and said they could relate with my story. I just hope that my story touched their lives

After the last site Matilde, Candice, and I went to get pizza for dinner. I got a pizza with bufala mozzarella which is a creamier mozzarella cheese. It was delicious! Even better was out conversations and getting to know Matilde more. She is a really wonderful girl.

After dinner, Candice and I just prayed that The Lord would be working in people's lives and that seeds that were planted this week would begin to grow.

Tuesday: Understanding

When we first arrived in Turin we were told that there is a lot of spiritual warfare that goes on here because of the occult worship that goes on here. There is even a statue of satan, the dark angel within the city. I half expected to feel this presence and half expected not to.

Today, I understood what they meant by that. In the morning, we went to breakfast and then spent some time planning the day. We were rushing around, trying to make time for food, planning, and time together as a team. It felt pretty overwhelming and more like a whirlwind. When we were able to meet as a team, I just felt like all I wanted to do was to go and be alone and pray; I definitely did not want to be in community. It was really hard to focus, I had a hardened heart towards the people and it was really for no reason at all.

At the end of the time, I withdrew from the group to go pray over the chairs of the people that I knew would be coming. Candice asked me if I was okay and I said yes. I was okay, I just didn't want to be around people.

English clubs definitely refreshed me. Rudy and I taught the music, entertainment, and sports vocab and idioms. At the end of the first half, we had Entertainment Afternoon and had our students perform. It was really awesome!! And a ton of fun. The second half of the day, we talked about our talents and whether or not they are a gift. Many people said they were from God but some disagreed. It was really cool to see one particular student go from not wanting to have anything to do with a biblical discussion to actually reading a verse from the bible! Totally a change in heart! And only a work The Lord could have done.

We had a really incredible discussion about the final question, "Why do we tend to worship the creation rather than the creator?" Domani had a really beautiful answer when he said that the creation cannot exist without the creator; they exist in the same space. It was really cool because its so true! Hello! God exists in his creation. You can't worship his creation, you must worship the one who created it.

Well. After dinner, we went to get gelato because none of us were hungry. So we walked all around the city since the first place we went to was closed. We went to a place called Grom. I got the flavors Baccio and Crema di Grom. They were fantastic! Erin and I danced to some jazz music that two guys were playing on the streets on the way there. It was a fun time. The Chinese students came with us.

After that we went home and started getting ready for bed and for the next day. I told Rudy that I felt what they were talking about with spiritual oppression. I also got to talk to Mike for a while which was so nice.

I feel so blessed to be here and to do this work. I'm excited to continue to see what God will do.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monday: Hit the Ground Running

Blog title credit to Erin.

Today was really a delightful day in The Lord! This morning I got to wake up and go on a run with Sarah along the River Dara. It was really refreshing to be out in the crisp air again. When we got back, we got ready and went to the cafe below our hotel and got pastries. The specific pastry that I got was filled with Nutella! It was phenomenal and I decided that I will be getting that every day while I'm here.

We then went to the colleges to pass out fliers for the start of the clubs tonight. It was super encouraging to me! Many people took the fliers and seemed excited that they were free. We then had team meeting and spent time in worship, prayer, and a small teaching. It was really and incredible time. I realized how hard it has been for me to focus when praying and just how I feel like God has been putting me through this time of asking me to fight. To fight feeling bad about myself or just lies, to fight through my current tendency to not pray without ceasing. That's what I felt during that time.

After that, we prepped for the English clubs. Candice and Paul are working with our English club which is a huge help since Paul is fluent and Candice is nearly fluent. We had about 10 people join us for the beginner class. We started with our vocab for the day, all about food. We played games and had a lot of fun learning. We then taught some English idioms that they can use. There was a special one that we taught them that we got to video but it's a surprise. I'll hopefully put it up later today!

We took a short break and then went into the bible portion of the club. Paul was telling us that at first we needed to keep it very surface; read a passage and then talk about what it says or means. When you start asking them how it applies to their life, that's when they start closing up so right in the middle, I told Rudy that we had to scratch our questions and he said okay, you run it.

Now. I had no idea what to do. The first question was do you trust God? Which I changed to are there people in your life that your trust? We had a good discussion about what it means to be trustworthy and to trust someone else. I then turned to one of the passages that was on our sheet not knowing what it was and hoped I could work with it. I asked The Lord to guide my words and it ended up being the story about the woman at the well. In this story, Jesus offers the woman living water and she quickly asks for it and wants it. In my head as it was being read I was thinking, where can I go with this? But of course, divine inspiration to the rescue, I ended up focusing in the fact the the woman trusted Jesus right away even though he was offering this strange water. I was really glad I was given new words to speak over that passage.

We then cleaned up after the clubs and went to dinner. On our way, I noticed myself talking slower to the Americans. When we got to the restaurant, we had our own private room upstairs which was pretty cool. We had 4 students from the advanced clubs join us for dinner. Alejandro, Wei Yung, Yasir and one other guy whose name i forget. I got to talk a lot to Wei Yung, a student from China who is studying engineering. It was really cool to talk to him. When he introduced himself, he said his last name first. We ended up talking about why and it's because they want to show respect for their parents and elders. They actually have two word for respect, one that means respect and one that means respect for your elders. I believe that the one that means respect for your elders is pronounced "chin-shay". When he was telling me and I asked how to say it he was so confused and asked why I would want to know Chinese and I told him it was because I love culture and wanted to know more about it.

Most non-Americans think that Americans are egocentric and only think about themselves so when I started asking questions about China and Wei Yung's life he really opened up. I ended up sharing with him about being a good person in Christianity. He has someone who had talked to him about being a Christian who had said that they are almost like perfect now. And I got to share with him about how when you become a Christian your heart is transformed. How the Bible says the old is gone the new has come and that we are a new creation in Christ and we are constantly dying to our old self and filling the holes in our heart not with fleshly things but with God. About how we live in the world but not of it. It was really cool and he seemed interested and remained very attentive. He was very confused when I told him my major and that I was going to work with a church instead of using my major. He asked if many people who go into business do that.

Before dinner I got to talk to Alejandro. He is from the Philippines. He wants to go back because even though he has lived here his whole life he feels like home is in the Philippines. He said the culture there is that you invite people into your home even if you don't know them but in Italy you're uncle could come to your house and you would say why are you here? I didn't invite you and send them away. We also talked about settlers and he said it sounded like a way to make enemies. Haha.

While we were still hanging out after dinner in the restaurant, we had a dance party and we showed them the flash mob we did for Jamie and Eric's wedding.

Overall, a successful English club and a successful day.

The Lord is working! Be praying for my students :)
Majid, Christina, Jessica, Sanek, Laura, Jenny, Giseppe, Matilda, Ori, and Domani.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday: Briefing

Today was our first full day in Italy. We went to church this morning after grabbing some pastries from the Cafe down the street. There were probably about 25-30 people at the church and that is who attends regularly. Andre, Paul's (the pastor) son-in-law gave a message based on the passage Ephesians 6:16. It's about the flaming arrows of the devil.

The thing that really hit home for me was when he was talking about faith and what it means to have faith and what it doesn't mean to have faith. Andre said that we do not find favor with God because of even how much we love Him; we only are only saved through our faith in Jesus Christ. I feel like I forget that when I feel bad or that The Lord won't use me because I haven't read my bible enough or prayed enough or spent enough time with The Lord. The truth is, it doesn't matter what we do, The Lord will use us. Obviously, usually there is a correlation between our desire to know God and love Him and His ability to use is and align us to His will be use loving God doesn't earn us salvation.

Then we had lunch after church and then I went out with some Italians to walk around Torino. We ended up walking fairly far and saw La Monte de Capucinni. I took some really cool pictures because you can see the whole city from up there. I spent most of the day with Candice, Katie, and Ketty. Candice is from Colorado but is here because her parents are supporters of the Testa's (a missionary couple here). She felt called to come here due to a dream and has been feeling drawn here ever since.
Katie had a similar story but her Aunt and Uncle were already missionaries in Torino. Jokingly she said she would come back with them and it just kind of happened. She's been here for about 2 months and is going home (since you can only be in the country for 3 months without a visa) and is probably going to come back in the summer.
Ketty is originally from Peru but she moved here about 15 years ago. She is going to school at a university here and wants to work for a year and then travel for a while.

Then Rudy and I met up to practice the songs for tomorrow. After that, we grabbed some dinner and now we're settling down

There are so many more things. I just hope I remember them all.