If you haven't heard, I am going to Italy and Greece at the very beginning of August with Word Outreach Center. I haven't been out of the US for more than a year and I am really excited just to leave again. It is also thrilling to me to be able to experience a different continent and culture than South Asia. I am looking forward to seeing the differences and similarities in those who believe and follow Christ Jesus in Italy compared to those in India. There is also an anticipation of God radically changing my perspective once again, aligning it closer to him and his heart with this new experience.
God's heart from before the beginning of time has been for family and for relationship. Over the past two years the Lord has been growing my heart for Godly family. This desire to help families has definitely been furthered by my experience helping Lindy last year in India, and is currently being fostered as I am providing child-care for another single mom here in the US who has two precious boys adopted from China.
In Naples, Italy we will be assisting with a family camp that is being run by an organization called Christ is the Answer. Then we will be going to a little town called Quaglietta in Italy to help with a youth camp. After that we will going to Athens, Greece to visit a ministry that is focused on loving refugees from Iran and Iraq, both Muslim countries closed to the gospel. Many of these refugees are coming to know and follow Jesus! This is the location that I am most excited to visit. I am thrilled to meet former Muslims who are now devoted to Jesus Christ. Getting to reach out and love on Muslim refugees is also something I am really looking forward to.
This trip to Europe, though it is not something that I have done before, is developing into something just up my alley, as we will be pouring into families, teens, and people displaced from their birth countries. I am filled with more and more anticipation for what God is going to do with our short time there.
A few weeks ago I was staring to get a little stressed about this trip. If I was going to India, the trip would be cheaper and people would be more willing to give (at least that is what I feel). I am sure there are people who are thinking "why Italy?" and "is she just going on vacation?" Don't worry, I have been assured that there will be plenty of insects in Quaglietta and there might even be "squatty-potties." So if a missions trip has to include these two things to actually be legit, then this one is covered.
I have been saving some funds on my own for this trip, but I still need quite a bit to be donated. When I started stressing about this I was reminded of a precious moment of provision:
It was a normal morning at work: arrive at 8, help get boys breakfast, keep them busy, take them to the pool, and keep them from killing each other until their mom is finished working (these boys are really good, but that doesn't stop the "brother-dynamic"). I think this morning I was trying to get the little one to clean up his toys or put his shoes on. I felt the seven-year-old come behind me a shove something in my pocket. I was distracted with helping the two-year-old follow through with obedience, and didn't immediately check out what had been stuffed in my pocket. Later I pulled out a $5 bill, and asked the seven-year-old "what is this for?" He told me it is for my trip to California. :) I asked him if he meant Italy, and he said "oh yeah, Italy." Same thing, right?
This sweet gesture of generosity blew me away on multiple levels. First of all this seven-year-old had been getting a little obsessed with his money; dumping out his piggie-bank and counting it all the time, then bragging when he got more. Both his mother and I talked to him about different people who have been ruined by their greed. Apparently he took what we had to say and took an active step to change his tune from greed to generosity. It is always a precious thing when kids really get what you are trying to teach them... magical moments. Secondly this quiet generosity reminded me and continues to remind me that the Lord provides, especially through tiny gifts from unexpected places.
I have been really challenged to trust that the Lord knows my needs (even better than I do) and that he is actively moving to provide for them. Listening to a podcast from Bethel Church I was blown away by something Bill Johnson said, "once we have experienced supernatural provision, we have lost the right to begin any thought process with what we don't have." I have seen the Lord provide in so so SO many ways, for myself and tons of other people. If I begin my thoughts with "I don't have enough of..." then I am not trusting the Lord and that he has all my needs covered. I am going to choose to change my tune from worry and whining to gratefulness and joy, then watch the Lord do what he does best...come through in miraculous ways.
If you want to donate to this trip, follow this link: http://worldoutreachcommunity.org/short-term-missionaries.html