Wednesday, May 23, 2012

An Empty Mass

When we arrived yesterday, most of us felt in a daze...........18 hours of travel and by God's grace we made it to Italy. As we were driving to our apartment all of us in our taxi agreed we felt calm, like we were home. Here's a few pictures of our new home from our short walk around the city yesterday:

Fresh Market 3 blocks dream come true


walk down that ally to our apartment

During our walk, we visited several churches just to look around. David, who is on staff here with Agape (Cru in Europe), told us we might see about 15 people at mass on any given day, and they'd all be our grandparents age. As we walked through we noticed a couple nuns singing and what seemed like a service going on. It was mass. One person was sitting in the pews worshiping as a handful of tourists perused the church. This is the heart breaking reality of Christianity in Italy. I couldn't help but get teary eyed watching the scene, knowing that the churches here are no more than museums, with a lost world right outside the door. What an immediate reminder of the work that needs to be done here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

La Bella Vita

I really am living "the beautiful life." Our team arrived in Dallas on Friday along with 9 other teams heading to places like Greece, Ethiopia, and East Asia for Summer Project with Cru. Since the minute our teammates met, they have loved each other. Our times together this weekend have been exciting, anticipatory and full of laughter. I truly am in love with each of them. Last night we were commissioned to go into the summer and share the best news in the world with people who desperately need to hear the message of hope found in Christ. Some of the people we will meet in Italy will have never heard a clear explanation of the gospel message. Many will have never met a follower of Christ before. This is so exciting!!! What an incredible privilege to be the first to share the gospel with someone and to be a part of a team that breaks new ground in launching a movement of multiplying disciples in a nation. We truly don't deserve the honor it is to be doing what we're doing, yet God has chosen us and is pleased to use us. Amazing.

As I looked around our table at commissioning last night, I was overwhelmed. The fact that our 9 students and 4 staff were sitting around that table is no small thing. God has already moved mountains to get each of us here. From expediting passports and not knowing how to pay for it, to financial support coming in literally at the last minute, to heart changes in family members and parents, our team has already been through so much.

For me, it feels like my emotions have been on a roller coaster this weekend. From day one, I have felt completely inadequate. God is good to cause me to feel this way. I have spent the last two weeks preparing and praying, planning and making sure that every last detail was in order. But when I arrived at briefing this weekend I could not have felt less prepared. The reality is that I am stepping into a world of complete unknown. Leading a team and being charged with shepherding our students for a summer is a weighty task, and Karl and I cannot do it alone. We need the Spirit's power and strength. I need to rest and rely on God's grace and security. Without Him I truly am nothing. The words of Paul are so true for my heart today and throughout this weekend: "And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." 1 Cor. 2:1-5
Amen. So true. I know nothing but Christ and Him crucified, and that is more than enough.

Some of our team at our last Tex-Mex meal in America :)