August 8, 2010

Transformation

Posted in Trek through Italy at 8:23 AM by goingbeyondzebra

Well, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I have really updated, but I did warn you that it would be a while! Lots has happened and I will try to tell it all as succinctly as possible, but expect a fairly long post to be commenced…now!

On July 19th the Transform 2010 Conference started in Rome. People from all over the world gathered together for a week of training, worshiping, and learning about God. There was even a day dedicated to reaching out to the city of Rome, where everyone went into the city to spread God’s word. There were some amazing stories from this experience, and if you would like to learn more I would suggest heading over to http://www.transform.om.org where you will be able to read a lot about what happened and what Transform was (several of the blog posts were even written by yours truly).

One of the main purposes of Transform was to form outreach groups that would be sent into the Mediterranean nations, an area in desperate need of God’s message of Hope and Truth. These trips would last anywhere from 7 days to several months. After the conference ended, the groups split up and headed to their destinations: 22 countries, 35 teams, around 450 people. Nine teams were spreading out across Italy, and I had been asked to head the Traveling Prayer Team, which would take ten days to travel to 5 different cities across Italy and pray for this lost country, as well as connect with local churches. The rest of this post will concentrate on this experience.

Ostia

It was Saturday, July 24th. My team was gathered in the lobby of the Hotel where the conference had been held, waiting for our ride to take us to our first destination: a church apartment in Ostia, a suburb of Rome. After several hours of waiting, the 11 of us finally piled into two vans and took the thirty minute or so ride to our destination, which was located by the sea. A fairly typical Italian city, with Gelaterias on nearly every corner, Ostia was quite warm but overall pleasant. We did get to spend a little time on the black sands of the local beaches on the first day to recuperate from the conference and try to turn our focus onto prayer. Here we connected with a local evangelical church and on Sunday even had an impromptu dinner at the pastor’s house. A very warm and welcoming place, the church seemed glad to have us and we enjoyed learning about the area. Monday was spent in Old Ostia (or Ostia Antica as they call it), which is where Paul entered Italy and preached some of his messages to the Romans. Unfortunately, the ruins of where Paul was were closed the day we visited, but we were able to peek through the gates. We did several prayer walks around Ostia and mostly concentrated on praying for those lost in the occult in Italy, since we had been told it was pretty strong in this area.

Napoli

Tuesday we left our warm church apartment in Ostia and headed south to Napoli (Naples). This was our first experience traveling on trains as a team, but it went pretty well for the most part. There was some confusion about where we would be staying and food when we first arrived at the church, but the generous people opened their homes and invited us in to stay while we were there. It was a surprise for most of us to learn that the houses had air conditioning for the most part, so that was a huge blessing! We were staying just outside of Napoli, so one day a few of the church members took us into the main part of the city and showed us around. Here we concentrated most of our prayer on the Mafia in Italy, since Napoli is one of the main headquarters of the Italian Mafia. We were really shown God’s protection since Napoli is well known for theft, and we unknowingly took one of the most dangerous buses at the most dangerous time of day from the train station to the church. A few team issues were brought to the surface in Napoli, but with prayer and understanding we were able to clear the air rather quickly, and team unity began to form.

Bari

Thursday saw us back on the trains, heading even further south to the land of Bari. The church we worked with here was a Pentecostal church, which was a great experience. Once again we stayed in people’s homes, though most of our meals were eaten together at the church, and what great food it was! Think of every Italian stereotype people generally have, and that’s almost exactly what the people here and in Napoli were like. Outgoing, warm, energetic, loving, expressive people who love God, love to talk, and love food. Everyone on the team pretty much agreed that this was the best part of the trip. The spiritual energy was very strong and we were able to go to three nearby cities with groups from the church to do outreaches and pray. Being a pentecostal church, they were very attuned to spiritual gifts. Many spoke in tongues, and a few with the gift of prophecy prophesied over some of our team members, which really amazed them. Here the power of prayer was almost tangible in the air. We focused on praying for the youth of the area, who are very lost but seeking, and for the daily outreaches from the church.

Bologna

Our last stop took us north of Rome to Bologna on Sauturday. A hostel had already been reserved for our team, and though we had some complications with our train and the buses to the hostel, over all we landed there safely. Most of the church members were away on vacation, since August 1 starts vacation time for most of Italy, and unfortunately the people we were connected with had to leave for their own prayer retreat soon after church on Sunday. A young man from India who was attending the University in Bologna was kind enough to join up with our team and helped guide us around the city though. There are very few churches, and even less opportunities for fellowship among Christian youth in this area, so we prayed mostly for God to bring church planters, opportunities for leadership training, and for more campus ministries to become available. A day was spent in nearby Florence where we prayed for idolatry in the area, though the majority of the day was spent taking time to relax and do some shopping.

Tuesday found us all saying farewell to each other, and our trip was ended!

Overall it was a good experience. I was the youngest person on the team, so it was a little intimidating being the leader, and I was very nervous going into it. God worked through my weaknesses though, and at least things never fell apart and we accomplished what we meant to, praying for Italy and working with local churches. You may remember me mentioning how Tiff, a fellow intern, and I had been working on putting a book together for this team to help guide some of the prayer time in each city.Another purpose of this trip was to make contacts and get deeper information about each area to help flesh out the book. I think this was a success, which is a huge blessing, for OM Italy hopes to make this book a tool to give people who want to come help Italy for short term trips. Bari especially was a great area and the church really wants more people to come back.

At times I struggled with trying to lead so many independent people, and I grew frustrated, especially since there were some very strong personalities on the team. I was also in charge of our finances, which was a bit difficult for me since math is not my thing, but I ended up coming in under budget so that was great! I do feel like my prayer life has grown through this experience though, and there are one or two things I think God may be trying to show me about my future from this trip as well, though I am going to continue spending time in prayer about them. Thankfully I had two Italian girls with me, sisters Stefania and Lorena, who were my assistant leaders and were a huge help everywhere we went. I could not have done it without them, and I mean that in all seriousness. I have many, many stories from this time that I could tell, but I don’t want to make this post extraordinarily long, so if you want to know more about any part of my trip do feel free to ask!

I am now staying with Rick and Susan Harrell back in Torre Pellice, and man was it good to come back. I did not realize how much I had missed the mountains until I started seeing them again. It is a nice temperature here in Torre right now too, so that is very refreshing. I will be spending the next couple of weeks finalizing some stuff from the trip, as well as doing some more work on the book, and whatever else Anna would like me to do. All the other interns are gone now, but Rick and Susan’s daughter Rebecca, a long time friend of mine, is here, so thankfully I still have someone I can hang out with! It was sad to say goodbye to the other interns though, especially my roommate Tiff. It looks like I may be coming home either the 25th or 31st of August, we are keeping our eye on the flights and looking to see what happens since it is pretty difficult to get out on a buddy pass right now. We are hoping it will slow down once August starts coming to an end. I can’t believe I only have a few weeks left now! This summer has gone by so slowly, yet so quickly at the same time. It is funny how time can do that to you.

Anyways, that’s all for now. Like I said if you want to know more, please just ask. I will also try to update more often now that I am back in Torre. Thank you all for your prayers and support, I hope you have a great, going-beyond-zebra type of day!

Robyn

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1 Comment »

  1. Mom said,

    great update-gave us a good broad picture of your traveling team
    curious what those future thoughts are?


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