A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to go to Rome, Italy. To most, this sounds like a vacation. It sounds like a great time to get away, eat really good food, see some sights, and meet people of another culture. Yes- our trip did include those things, BUT it was anything but a vacation.
Vacations don’t leave your heart broken. They don’t show you the darkness and spiritual warfare and leave you wanting to help. Vacations are meant to be an escape from the world, and this vision trip was anything but an escape.
It’s true- we ate good food, saw really old buildings, and walked our feet all over that city. Not to check it off the list- we did this to understand the people. To understand what the team on the field there is dealing with. And to be perfectly honest, I still like Mellow Mushroom better. (I feel like someone should slap my hand for saying that- but it’s true). Honestly, when I think about my time on the trip- the food & sights are no where near the top 10 highlights.
Okay.. now that the stage is set, with great joy here is the Recap of Roma!
Top 10 Highlights:
1) The team
– the wonderful and gifted team in Rome took me by complete surprise. Not that they were wonderful or gifted, but that they became instant friends that I miss! Stephanie (pictured with Alex and I above) was at the top of that list. I know that if she was in Durham (or even a couple hours of me) we would totally be friends. Thankful knowing I have a friend and sister in Christ in Rome!
2) Italians- sweet blessed Italians
– throughout the week we met several of the families in the neighborhood of the Studio. By the time we left, we were friends. I don’t know if I will ever see some of them again- but I pray for them by name and hope that one day I will see them in Heaven. I pray for the impact that they could have for generations of Italians. I love these people and cherish my time with them.
3) Human Trafficking Night
– one night we heard from Estelle about the work the Salvation Army is doing not only in Rome but all across Europe to take Jesus to men and women. There were many things that stuck with me that she said that night, but the main thing she said that I think about daily is: “We are good at doing Jesus, but bad at being Jesus. Doing Jesus is temporary good deeds, being Jesus to people is a lifestyle”. Amen.
-for the first time I had experienced what a home church was like. A small, intimate gathering of believers worshipping as people walked by on the street. Some peeking in, some just keep walking. It was completely in Italian, yet somehow pierced my heart and although I didn’t understand the language, I know and felt them worshipping the same God.
5) Salvation Army Homeless Shelter
6) Art Studio
– The main building that is used for all the different areas of outreach is used as an art gallery as well as a studio below. I was completely amazed at how the team was using their gifts of painting and photography to bring glory to God. Not only does it allow them to go out in the community, it brings people in and provides a place for them to have their first show ever. In Rome and many cities like it, that is hard to come by for most artists.
7) Vision Day
-One of the great things about The Summit is that it didn’t take us too long to get the strategy of the team in Rome. Its simple and makes sense. Form relationships and develop local leaders.
8) Seeing the Spiritual Darkness
I was grateful to be able to see some of the famous religious sites in Rome to get a glimpse of what the people believe. This was probably the one that broke my heart the most. The Holy Steps, where people believe if you climb them on your knees you will be forgiven of your sins. All I kept saying in my head as we walked around was “only Jesus, please God, show them it’s only through You.”
9) La Pastecceria
La Pastecceria – this was the 2nd place we went to after we landed… and then we went every chance we got! The pastries were wonderful, but not half as sweet as the family running the bakery.
10) Eating at Valentina & Valerio’s