Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ministry is going well for now. The team has met a lot of students and are now going to be focused on building relationships. God has been gracious and intentional in showing each of us the depth of sins in our lives. In that we realize that we have nothing to offer and we need Him to accomplish every little task. It is interesting to move to another country where you don't speak the language or understand their culture... you really have NOTHING to offer. It is a completely helpless feeling. Numerous times I have had old ladies or other italian moms yell at me... actually yell at me about something I was doing wrong. I have gotten to the point now that I understand what they are saying and I can respond back but not all the moms here can. It's hard to not be able to explain yourself. All of this causes us to run to Jesus. Seeing sin that is deeply engrained is difficult but what else will draw us closer to Christ and in turn make us more effective in sharing the Gospel? Sometimes the things that are the hardest are the best things for us.
Personally I am learning to find contentment in my role as a mom of 3. I didn't realize how many outlets I had in America for personal interests... BIble Studies, Church, Small groups, Crusade meetings, Date nights, etc. All of those things are non-existent for the moment in our lives a couple. We each have a BIble study but we have nothing together. Finding time together has been a challenge. Kids here eat later, go to bed later, no matter how hard we try. I am learning to teach Turner. We have school time everyday and much to my surprise he loves it and looks forward to it. We have craft time which is interesting with 2 out of 3 children not being able to participate.
Family life in the city might actually be better than I thought. The kids love it! They love going to the restaurant underneath our apartment where the waiters and cooks know them and make a fuss over them. They love watching buses and scooters from our balcony. They like walking everywhere together as a family. Oh and chasing pigeons is a new hobby. Yesterday I saw about 10 birds sitting in an alley. I just let the boys loose and it was the best fun!
On the 31st our sweet landlords and neighbors rang our doorbell. I opened the door and the two little girls were standing there with a basket of candy and a sack. Of course my first thought is trick or treating! I quickly said in english, "Hold on, let me find some candy!" and then I ran away. They stood there completely confused because they couldn't understand what I said. I came back and put 3 of my cherised american candies in each of their sacks... it was seriously hard for me to part with them! They still looked confused and then said in italian... we brought your kids some gifts and some candy to try! I just started laughing! They don't celebrate halloween. I am sure they think I am crazy! Oh well!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Finally settled

A lot has happened in the last 3 weeks. Jim has been working so hard day in and day out to try and get the team settled. Being the only one with fairly fluent language skills.. a lot has been required of him. He has been to tons of apartments and finally found 2 that worked for the guys and the Burrages. The guys got to move in on thursday and the burrages yesterday. Everyone was really ready to sleep in their own bed. We have had the Gallo family with us since the 13th. That is 9 people in our apartment! They were great roommates and Turner loved having a kid his age to play with all of the time. The Gallos have an apartment now but are just waiting for the power and water to be turned on. Everything is a process! They have been living out of suitcases for over a month now and are sooo ready to be in their own place. Talk about a persevering family! Last night was our first night as just the five of us since July 28th... it was a really sweet time and we enjoyed just being together.

We went to the Italy briefing last week. It was great for us to catch up with old friends and coworkers! One thing we did learn is that a lot has changed since we left 4 years ago. The office team has been really working hard on making Crusade/Agape Italia into a legal, credible, above reproach organization here in Italy. Something they discovered is that EU citizens have very high privacy rights. That means that we cannot post any pictures, videos, or stories that are about them without their written consent. So, I will try to figure out how to update you the best I can about ministry without doing anything illegal.

I guess the main prayer request for the moment is for Jim. He has been speaking all day in Italian about very complicated matters that concern us registering with the city, getting social security numbers, finalizing apartment contracts with landlords and realtors, figuring out how to get our vonage phone to work with internet providers over here, etc. The list really does just go on and on. He is exhausted and we haven't seen him as much as we would like. But hopefully now that everyone is settled and a normal schedule starts tomorrow... he will feel a little more relaxed.

Thank yall for praying for us and I will update you again soon!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Week 1

We are here! So sorry it has taken so long to post something but it took a few days to adjust and to get internet. Normally the process to get internet takes 3-4 months but because we lived here before and have a SS# we were ready to sign up. The flight was as horrible as can be imagined. Thanks to Hurricane Irene our flight was delayed 2 days but because of so many flights being cancelled they rerouted us on a direct flight from new jersey to rome! It took about 5 hours off the trip. We were really thankful for that! There were many reasons the flight was so bad but it is still too painful to talk about... so I won't. We did land safely, with all of our bags, car seats, strollers, and our desk top computer came out unharmed... amazing! The 4 hour drive to follow in a van that was too small with no a/c and holding all 3 kids was just the icing on the cake. We arrived in Salerno, exhausted, no sleep in about 22 hours, and collins was screaming.... but the Italian family next door was so excited to meet us that they all came over and started talking. Nonna, her two daughters, a granddaughter, a realtor, a family friend, all speaking rapidly in Italian and trying to do whatever they could to make Collins quit crying... which just made him cry harder. They are really sweet though and we look forward to getting to know them better.
Jet lag has been a big hurdle to overcome. We all slept until 12 or 1 in the afternoon on day 1. We went to bed at 6am on day 2, watched movies for 4 hours most nights between 1-5am. Found Collins in our bed on day 4... not sure how he got there. It has been crazy! Last night, they finally slept for 8 hours straight! It was from 12am-8am but it was consistent.
The Shoemakers arrived 4 days after us and we helped them settle in. We are still apartment hunting for the rest of the team so please pray for that. 1 family with 2 kids, a couple with no kids, single girls, and single guys... 4 in total are needed before next week. Please pray especially for the family!
Sorry if these thoughts aren't flowing well but we are still really tired. A few final things... kids are eating better now that we found hot dogs and Turner says he loves his new home and he loves Italy so that is a huge blessing. We hope all of you are doing well! Thank you for your prayers and support! I will update again really soon with pictures. Please email us and tell us how things are on your side of the ocean.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Preparing to Leave

Many of you know that we are returning to Salerno on August 28th. So in about 2 months we will hopefully have raised all of our financial support and packed up our house. Financially we have seen the Lord do amazing things! We have been blown away by the generosity of people and it only continues to confirm that this is definitely the Lord's will even if it seems crazy to everyone else (and even us at times). We have seen 90% of our monthly goal come in and hope to finish it up in the next few weeks. Our one time need is still pretty large. Only at 20% on that so please pray. I have no doubt that God will finish what He has started though. Turner is asking everyday when we are going to Itawee. He saw a suitcase of his favorite toys leave our house and is now ready to play with them again. He doesn't care if it will be far away. Collins and Ivey are just along for the ride... poor babies.

I think God has really used this time to take me to the end of myself. My natural reaction is to whine and complain about how hard it is. I tell the Lord that he has me confused with someone else if He thinks I can handle a new baby, packing a house, raising support, finding an apartment, a husband who is required to travel a good bit, a 26 hour trip with 3 kids 3 and under...and I'm sure there is more I'm not thinking of. But he has been showing me that I am an Israelite at heart. He is leading us through a wilderness time but we are going to the promised land. We WILL make it there! We can do it joyfully or kicking and screaming and asking to go back to where we were. The latter didn't turn out well for the Israelites and it probably wont for me either if I continue in that mindset. So I am praying for a change of heart and to daily just trust the Lord and his provision for that day. That is extra challenging on little sleep and a lot of crying babies in the mix. Just another way I need Him all the more!

Jim just got back from Italy a week ago and man did the Lord do amazing things on that trip. It is a challenge to find an apartment in Italy... especially one to meet the needs of a family of 5 with 3 little kids. And 2 families at that. It isn't like America with an abundance of apartments to choose from. Plus the landlords are very very picky about renters since Italian laws protect renters and not landlords. They are skeptical of foreigners and our job is very weird to them. "People give you money to come here and tell people about Jesus?" You can see why it doesn't seem legit to them.

With all of the odds stacked against us, Jim saw our apartment on the very first day! It is a 3 min walk from the Valiquettes (family planting the church), right across the street from a park, it is spacious for the kids to play and run, and is nicer than we expected and costs less than we planned. The landlords... an elderly Italian couple.... live next door. The wife grew up in these apartments and lived through WWII. They immediately loved Jim and by day 4 the contract was signed. On day 2 Jim and Kevin found the Shoemaker family an apartment as well. They are a 2 min walk from us. Jim and Kevin saw tons of apartments but those were the only 2 that would work at all and they were perfect. It was the Lord just handing us what we needed and much more. We are soooo excited!

Keep checking back and we will be updating the blog as we get closer to leaving.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Siamo Qui! (We are here)

After about 27 hours of traveling we finally arrived in Salerno! What a trip! God was really gracious to us throughout the whole thing. When we went to the airport in Atlanta we soon realized that the travel agent didn't tell us that everyone in our group was going through another city... all except the four of us and 2 students. So much for our plan for having lots of help. When we boarded our flight not only did we not have a bulkhead for collins to sleep but we were in the middle 3 seats of the center section of the plane. Then one of the 2 students traveling with us sat down next to Turner and said that as they scanned her ticket they told her she had a last minute seat change. That was God's provision for us because she had an aisle seat. Out of all the seats on that huge plane, she was placed next to us! Collins slept all but 1 hour of the flight. Turner slept 5 or the 9 hours and it really turned out better than we thought. We all met up in Rome and everyone's bags made it... also a big blessing. We boarded a bus for Salerno and about 15 min away the driver stopped. He informed us that his union contract said he MUST stop every 2 1/2 hours for a rest. We were 15 min away! Welcome to Italy! I have to say that so far, though physically exhausting this has been a trip filled with blessings. The last time I slept 1 hour was in college... couldn't believe we kept going. After 1 day we are all adjusted and no jetlag... that's amazing. Please continue to pray for everyone... especially as the go on campus monday to start talking with students. Pray they would not be afraid to share the Gospel with them. Thanks to all of you who prayed so much for our flight!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Countdown to Take Off

We are boarding a bus in Starkville May 10th and heading to Atlanta for a 2 day briefing with students from all over the southeast going on a summer missions project to Salerno, Italy; Rome, Italy; Durbin, South Africa; Argentina; Paris, France; and East Asia. We will fly out on the afternoon of the 12th with 32 students. This is the one of the largest international summer projects in Campus Crusade history so we are anticipating watching the Lord do some incredible things. Pray for our family.. especially the boys as we bus from starkville to atlanta- fly from atlanta to chicago- chicago to rome- and bus from rome to salerno. Pray we make it with our sanity! We are really excited that the Lord has called us to return to Italy once again. Already He is showing us daily how he is providing for us and keeping us safe. That helps calm all our fears and anxieties. Check back as this will be the main way we share what is happening while we are there. (You can see this tends to be a summer blog instead of year round)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Week 2 & 3 in Miami

We have had a busy couple of weeks as the students have arrived and things are in full swing. Turner has been in the pool everyday and is getting more comfortable. We finally made it to the beach and he had a blast playing in the sand and throwing rocks in the water. It has also rained every day! In fact, it flooded the street outside our window. Here is a picture of me at 12 weeks.. starting to show.