Friday, October 30, 2009

October came and went!

October has been busy and i still have two more days of the month! Lets start off at the end of September though. I cant forget the trip we made as a team to Vicenza and the end of last month.


The Hughes family that i was privileged to meet my first trip to Vicenza asked Brandon, Evan, and I to spend the weekend with them. The weekend was great. Getting their was the trouble for us. Mike our coordinator offered us his car so we wouldnt have a chance of breaking down in our van. However while we were on the stopped running. Wouldnt you know it...we had put gas in a diesel car! After being towed, waiting around for a few hours to have our car drained, and being lost in translation, we were back on the road. It was good to get there! We went to a festival on base with some of the church members. The Hughes have two boys that Brandon and Evan loved getting to know. I spent the weekend learning how to make hand made cards and bake. Angy is an incredible cook and so talented with crafts.

Sunday they had members from the church as well as the two missionary families from Padove over for a BBQ (Rebeccah and Jeremy, Jeff and Tia) It was great seeing everyone again. Angy, James, Jared, and Caleb Hughes will be visiting us this next weekend! Were excited for them to come!

When in Rome!
The first weekend of October we spent with the church in Rome. They asked us to come just to spend time with one another. The week was just a focus on building relationships. They were so kind, we had dinner together, went to a lookout point that overlooked the city, and got to know one each other. Seeing the Rome and Prato Church come together was was family.

Also this month i traveled to Milan for a week to help Tammy and Lewis Short. They have been long term missionaries there. The church was having their first wedding in 30 years so they asked for my help with the wedding as well as with their 3 girls.

The week was really hectic but great. I enjoy being on the go so this was perfect for me! I have mentioned the Shorts family before and i just absolutely love them. They have such spirit and do so much for the church there. We spent the days decorating the church, hosting two guests that were staying for the week, on top of cooking, cleaning, and watching kids. The wedding went great though! The church looked beautiful all decorated.

In between all this i was able to see The Last Supper painting and take a day trip to Switzerland! I also met a couple Bob and Marla, they are looking to come do mission work in Italy in the near future. Its encouraging to see other wanting to work here. I clicked really well with the Short family. Tammy was so easy for me to talk to and Lewis is like a walking encyclopedia...i could listen to him all day. The girls were fun to help watch. The baby, Deborah, cried when i held her most of the time but when i pulled out the camera she would stop and smile. so worth it! The oldest girl Makela and i enjoyed hot chocolate together one night while watching Veggie Tales. And the middle girl ,Rebeccah, i think laughed all week. She is full of joy constantly. After the trip i feel really close with there family. When i was going down the stairs to the subway after saying bye, i got so sad feeling like i was leaving family or something. Im really thankful they asked me to come help for the week.

However, it was great seeing Anto, Mike, Brandon, Evan, and everyone back in Prato!

What else I've been up to?

Every week twice a week i teach English to two children in Prato. They are 4 and 6. I am enjoying this a lot and getting to know their family each time i go to teach. The team and I have also continued to go to the Handicapped center throughout the week. Monday is a women's bible study in Florence. Thursday mornings a study over John...oh what else. One highlight to my week is on Mondays, our free day. I have started going early in the day to spend with my dear friend Ermenita. She is a member at the Florence church and my closest friend here.

I hope these blogs help you get a picture of my life here. Love you guys so much and thanks for reading!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hey guys! I hope all has been well for you these past few weeks. My last post i had just returned from Vicenza. About a day after Vicenza i hit the ground running...this time in Florence!

The Convegno!

Every year a Church of Christ convention is held in Florence.It is held at the Harding University Villa. They own the villa for students who choose to study abroad. The convention is for all the churches around Italy. They come together for a week and spend time hearing lessons, praying together, singing, getting to know one another. If any of you have been to Tulsa workshop....imagine a scaled down version but located in the beautiful countryside of Italy...with great a beautiful villa...and everyone speaks Italian. Ok so not exactly like the Tulsa workshop but you get the idea. Also in Florence is a Church of Christ Bible School. We are becoming close with the people involves in these
ministries and programs and got to build our relationships with them during the convention. These people include David and Debbie Woodroof, their daughter Emily, Kyle, Ermenita, Robby, and others. I stayed in the girl's dorm at the Bible school. In the room with me was Anna, and a girl named Maria. Eacy day there were two speakers. in between speakers we fellowshipped together, ate meals, prayed, and sang. also had an entertaining talent show! Overall, it was an uplifting time with opportunities galore for metting fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. There are many who come that are not Christian but attend with family or friends. the girl Maria who stayed in the room with me at night is not a Christian. She came with family. every night we stayed up talking before we went to bed. She spoke little English but told me she wanted to keep in touch and be friends. she was so kind and i plan on keeping in touch with her. Not only for an opportunity to have a friend but more importantly an opportunity to share the gospel. This is only one of the many great things that happened throughouts the week. Also Tammy and Lewis were there. Tammy invited me to Milan to help her out with her children while Lewis is gone in October so i am looking forward to that! So many connections with different churches are being made. I feel recently that God is giving me opportunities and opening doors for me here

Mike and Anto Return!
Our coordinators Mike and Anto Mahan have been in America visiting family while also meeting with their supporters and giving updates to them about the work here. They returned the beginning of September so we are thankful for their return! Im looking forward to working with them.

Womens Convention
Since Mike and Anto came back, we spent a week preparing for the Womens Convention that took place the 11th-13th of September near Rome. We made bookmarks and prayer reminders that would be passed out at the convention. Anto was one of the ladies organizing and did an excellent job. On that Friday, Anna, Anto, and i all took off for the town near Rome where the location for the retreat was being held. I love roadtrips. I packed some m&m's, water, and fruit and Anto took care of the music. We got stuck in traffic in Rome and Florence...but made it there safely late that night. The roads here are VERY confusing and getting lost is not uncommon for my team and I. So props to Anto for finding her way there!

About 45 women attended. Tammy from Milan was there and also Rebecca from Padova who i met during my Vicenza trip. Also ladies i had met from the Florence Convegno showed up along with Debbie, Emily, and Jill from the Bible School. Of course there were new faces and new people to meet. Saturday we had two lessons and then two activities along with getting to know you's. The theme for the weekend was how to build a bridge between women of the church, despite age and circumstances. We are all sisters in Christ and we need to find ways to relate to one another no matter where we are in life. Anto had one activity where we all had a piece to a puzzle. We colored on it and when we put the pieces together it formed a heart. This represented that even though we, like the puzzle pieces, are all different, we are also the same and together can form somehthing beautiful. I stayed in a room with myself, anto, anna, and then three ladies from the church in Pistoia. One, Antonella, was recently baptized!! The weekend was awesome. I got to meet new people but also had heart to heart talks to Rebecca and spent time with Anna before she leaves.

Coming Up

This week we have passed out fliers around town offering free English lessons while usuing the Bible as our textbook. Please pray we get responses from these and that God can use them to do good here.Also, coming up my team and I will be taking a trip out to visit with friends from the church in Vicenza! It will be the last weekend in September. I am so excited and just love the folks out there so much! It is really going to be good seeing them all again.

Oh one last thing before i go! Anna returned this past week to America. Im sad to see her go! She is going to be praying and deciding if she might want to come back and work with us here in Prato. please pray for her decision. She would be a great help out here. Pray God shows her where she need to be.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Ciao! It is about time i updated. I have had an amazing week and hope i can remember everything ive done. I have just spent a week in Vicenza with the church family.

August is the vacation month for the Italian people. There is a lot of down time and you have to be self motivated to find yourself something to do. With the recent events of Kristen leaving, and honestly just adjusting to the pace of the culture and trying to find my purpose here, i was having a harder time than usual just keeping my spirits up. I really love Italy which i am so thankful for, but anywhere you go, when someone you love leaves, or you are in the midst of finding your place and where you can be most effective for Christ, there will naturally be a time when your not doing so well or feel out of place. The week before i went to Vicenza i think was that time for me. Last Thursday, Brandon and Anna decided to do some traveling, and Evan made the choice to stay in Prato. I knew i was in need of some encouragement so i sent an email to Angela and Titus Robison. They are the misisonaries in Vicenza. Pam, my aim assisstant, knew them and spent time with them recently, so i was able to contact them.

I had asked if there was anything in Vicenza i could do for the week to help the church. They said being August, they were not very busy, but would love to have me come anyways just to visit. For them to take me, being a stranger, in to their home really showed an example of what the church family is about and can do for each other. i was nervous because i had never met them or anyone in Vicenza before, but last Thursday morning i hopped on the train and took off.

When i arrived in Vicenza i was greeted by the Robison family. The have two sweet little girls. Right away we headed to the near by military base for lunch. The Robisons, myself, and the Hughes family went to the food court to eat. I had Taco Bell for the first time in months! Going months without something you enjoy, you realize not to take it for granted. Even if it is something as small as a taco. The Hughes have two boys about to start school this next week. They moved to Italy from Germany. Even just from a short lunch, they are all so full of life it was impossible to not be filled with joy by their presence. The church is a family, and i was getting to meet my relatives.That night i went with Titus to a Bible study at the church. It was in Italian, so i had to piece it together and Titus gave me a run down of it afterward.

Friday a boy from the church was flying into Milan, so we drove to pick him up. While we waited for him to arrive Tammy and Lewis opened up their home to us for the afternoon. Tammy is so sweet. Her and i talked some about what it means to be a child of God and what mission work is. We have to be realistic about our work and what we do. I have to do the best i can in Italy with the time that is given to me. At the end of the day if i gave all i had that day, i can be ok with that. It reminded me that all I came here to do was to love and to show others Christ...that can be done in so many ways.

For a few nights i spent the night with a girl named Ann. The whole week i was surrounded by so many Christians that gave me so much encouragement and passed along their wisdom. Ann really impressed me by her attitude. Her husband is getting deployed soon for a year. And she handles is with such grace and wisdom. Its like just another part of life of everyday life for her. That takes so much faith in God to be like...alright, i know your going to take care of me so im not going to worry. Its so true, we can worry and worry and worry...but it wont change anything. Trusting in God is a much better use of our time. Ann is so down to earth and just a fun person to be with. Ann if youre reading this you're awesome!

Sunday the church service was in three languages. Twi, Italian, and English. There was one song we sang with the lyrics, "Jesus is good, jesus is good, jesus is good, so good to me" It started in Italian, english came in, then finished in Twi. Seeing three totally different cultures all worshiping the same amazing Father was beautiful. It really made me see clearer how big God really is. He is everywhere and in the hearts of people all throughout the world. He is a God that gave His Son for all! Sunday night we had an english Bible study at the Hughes house. We had nachos, and fellowshiped together. This was a simple night but probably one of my favorite memories of the week.

Monday, 4 missionary families got together from different cities. It is awesome to see this group and how much they have sacrificed to be here. We had lunch and went to the park. They have completely given everything that is comfortable to them to be here and do be doing Gods work. Being welcomed into so many homes this past week really makes me see that the church is truley like a family and it is such a beautiful thing. Angie, Titus' wife, shared a lot of her wisdom with me through the week. This country and culture is all so different from what she is used to. Talking with her about depending on God through rough times and appreciating what God gives us gave me some new perspectives and motivation to go out and do what i can with my time here no matter how uncomfortable it may be to me.

So much more happened this week but this is already a really long blog. Needless to say this week was so good and traveling around meeting my church family was encaouraging and just what i needed. Seeing the churches around the country come together is great because other people will see the love between us all and start wanting to be part of it! The next week i am spending in Florence for a church of christ convention. i hope during my time i here i can continue to grow the relationships i have made with the people in Vicenza. They were so good to me and I thank God so much for letting our lives collide even if for a few days. Ill update again just as soon as i can! Love you guys and dont forget to thank God for everything He blesses you with. God is good!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quick Update!! Great News!!

So as you all know Kristen, my only other girl teammate decided to change fields. This left me feeling a bit out of place and putting trust in God that He would fill the void. Brandon, my teammate, his sister and her friend Anna came to town to visit recently. During her visit we joked a bit saying she should stay and join our team. Anna has recently graduated from York and has a heart for missions. A day before the date of her departure she announces she would love to stay with us for an extended amount of time! She changed her ticket and will be with us atleast until mid-September to help us with the work here. God is so good! Thank you for all of your prayers during the past few weeks as our team has gone through some changes. I will write more soon and let you all know what else is going on in Italy but i wanted to share about Anna and how she was an answer to prayer for us. Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I want these writings and this blog to be a true window to my life and the work being done here in Italy. My honest thoughts, struggles, victories, etc, that i write here will hopefully let you feel more like you are here with me and experiencing this time with me. So to start, the past week here in Italy has offered many ups along with a few downs. First i would like to give you a breakdown if this past week so you can see what my day to day looks like. Our schedules vary every week but this will give you an idea of what things are like thus far.

Last Sunday the team woke up, had some coffee, and headed off to church. Church starts at 10am on Sunday mornings. We have Bible class and then church service. Service wraps up anywhere from 12 to 12:30. After Church the team got lunch and headed back to the house for the afternoon. On Thursdays I go into town for a Bible Study on 2 Peter. So Sunday afternoon my teammate Kristen, studied over the first chapter of 2 Peter in preparation for the upcoming study. The church family here in Prato is very close with one another and throughout the week will get together for activities. This night the Prato, Pistoia, and Florence Church of Christ congregations all came together to enjoy a night of jazz music in the downtown of Florence. Afterward we went to dinner and enjoyed the company of one another. Our coordinator has a strong desire to bring the churches throughout Italy closer with one another, so events like this are important.

Monday we attented our usual Italian class. In the evening we went to the house of one of the families in the church, Marissa and Luigi. Meal times here are a more special occasion than simply to satisy hunger. I am really fond of this family. Even though we still have a hard time communicating, I hope to become close to them. Marissa makes amazing food and always has three or four courses she insist we get plenty of. When we dont understand her she smiles and laughs saying "non capito"...or "you dont understand". Luigi is an artist and has paintings all throughout the house. He understands english almost perfectly but cant speak it....its fun laughing with him when he is trying to teach us different words for things. We had a good evening and are starting to form closer relationships with the church here which is great.

Tuesday is our Pistoia day. Roger and Heather always have things for us to do Tuesdays in their town. This Tuesday we took fliers and put them in mailboxes all around town. They are invitations to the church. Kristen and i had to run to the supermercato (grocery store) for sugar for the lunch...we effectively used our Italian to ask where the sugar was in the store! It was an accomplishment for us. Even with what we do know...our foreign accent gets in the way...but it feels so good when we are understood. Somedays its like...this is awesome living here and having this opportunity..but the realization of language barrier exists and is very real. When you stand in the store going over and over in your head the words youve learned, only to realize you dont know how to ask where the shampoo or something so simple can be frustrating. This is another lesson in patiance God has offered! It is refreshing to see improvements with my Italian!

Wednesday we got and unexpected visitor in town. During our AIM time in Lubbock we have assisstants that act as mentors to us. Pam McAdams who was our assisstant and good friend in Lubbock came to see us! She had been working with the Chiesa di Cristo in a town about three hours away and decided to make a trip. Her time here with us was so encouraging. Pam is the type of person who goes above and beyond the call. Her example of Christ shines so bright and the few days she spent with us brought so much joy. Wednesday she got to experiance an Italian class with us and we showed her around town. It was a good day!

Thursday is our weekly Bible study in Pistoia. On the way Pam and I talked about the apostles and the progression of their faith. Being away from home and everything being so new, talking and being reminded of the lengths people have gone for Christ was encouraging. To see the first followers of Christ and look back at their examples, you can and will learn so much. From their failings and shortcomings, to the situations they end up in that offer their life to follow him. Its incredible and every time i read about them i find myself learning more about myself, Christ, and my purpose here in Italy.

Friday was awesome. Prato is located near the Tuscan mountains, so hiking paths are easy, accesible and plentiful. Heather and Roger took us on a few mile hike for a portion of the day. Kristen and I walk a bit faster than our 2 boy teammates, and Rogers family (due to children) so on the hike up we had a really great conversation just the two of us. Its here that i let you in on the not so fun part of my week. Kristen recently came to the decision to change fields. She believed she could be more effective for Christ somewhere else. Her talents and the gifts God gave her she didnt feel could be used to their fullest here. I am proud of her for being courageous enough to express this. She is an incredible person and one of my greatest friends on this earth, so it is a hard reality to see her go. Knowing that she made the decision with Christ in mind, i am so supportive of her. She will be finishing her field time in Salt Lake City with the current AIM team there. Back to the hike though, Kristen and i were able to spend a few hours together in God glorious creation and thank him for the friendship we have. As we were walking, realizing she would be leaving in a few short day, I was able to be ok. God promises us he will not give us more than we can handle. Though Kristen leaving is a very hard realization, God is still good, God is still faithful, He is still loving. I can have peace knowing God is not taking Kristen away but rather giving her love and her talents to a new place where she can impact so many people. With God all things are possible and there can be peace and comfort for any situation life throws our way.

Well i have written more than i should probably. But i hope this gave you a better picture of what im doing here! Love you guys so much and keep the Italy team in your prayers as we adjust to life without Kristen. Salt Lake City is about to be so blessed with her! I would love to hear from you guys by snail mail if you get the chance!

Tracie Hunter
Via C. Malaparte, 43
59028 La Briglia (PO)

Until next time!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ciao a Tutti! Hello Everyone! Things in Italy are continuing to go well and progress is being made. The past few weeks we have spent multiple hours in our weekly language class. I feel like i am getting to the point where i can make my way around town without pointing and playing charades as much. Still have lots of work and study to do but i am determined to get this language down! Along with our language classes, the past weeks we have spent quite a bit of time in Pistoia. Roger and Heather, the missionaries at the Pistoia congregation, have had some projects they needed help with. We cleaned a local park that was dirty from a music festival that had taken place a few days prior, did some work on the church to get it ready to be painted in the future, and passed out flyers that were invitations to the Chiesa di Cristo (Church of Christ). As for the church in Prato, we have been able to spend time and are getting closer with the families. Two Sundays ago the church in Prato all went out to lunch together. The restaurant was tucked away in the mountains of Tuscany. After about an hour car ride we arrived and enjoyed a picnic style lunch in the mountains. It was beautiful to spend time amoungst God's creation with the church family. The church family here is so kind to us. Marissa and Luigi, an older couple invite our team over quite often to enjoy dinner with them. Orfel and Deborah, who i have mentioned in my past post, have been so helpful with our adjustment here in Italy.

Outside of spending time in Pistoia, language class, or with the church family here in Prato, our team tries our best to make friends here in hopes that we can share Christ with them. At the castle in our downtown, there are concerts throughout the summer. Brandon, Kristen, and I went to listen to some jazz music this past week. While we were there we ran into a friend we had made from our language class, his name is Sandro. He is Italian but speaks English very well.
He invited us to come with him to The Italian Wave Love Festival in Livorno. It is a pretty big music festival that attracts a lot of the younger age population of Italy to. This was pretty exciting to us that not only are we beginning to make friends here, but that we also got to experiance some Italian culture. Sandro picked us up and we took of to the show! We were able to meet quite a few of his friends and with our broken Italian and their broken English, we got along just fine. It was a great time. The music festival was about an hour ride, so we had a good amount of time to get to know Sandro better. He is awesome! On the drive he started asking a lot of questions about why we came to Italy, God, and the church. He was pretty interested which really excited us because that is what we came here to Italy for, to share Christ with others.

This is good news! No, this is great news! God is working here in Italy and it makes me so happy to be a part of it and to see it in motion. Continue to pray for us as we keep pressing forward on this journey. Love you guys! Until next time!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pistoia and the past week

So its been over three weeks since we have been here. Still loving Italy! Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. God is good! This past week has been awesome. On Sunday night we were invited over for pizza and a movie by a family from church. We watched a movie in Italian with English subtitles and had a great dinner. The pizza here is awesome. As a lot of you know i have a passion for music. This family definitely does too! Our team spent a good portion of the evening sharing songs on the guitar, singing, playing piano, and laughing when we werent sure what one another was saying. It was great.The language was a barrier but didnt stop us from having a great time!

So yesterday we went to a town called Pistoia about 30 minutes away. Our coordinators brother works with the church there so we went to help out a bit for the day. In the morning we passed out flyers around the city that gave information on the church and invited them to come and see what it was all about. This is a good way to get the name of the church out and also to make people think about God. Even if the flyers dont get large masses of numbers to the church, it still caused people to spend a few moments thinking about God which is great!

After flyers were passed out, we did some work in the church organizing and cleaning up a bit. It was good to get to know the missionaries there, Heather and Roger, and get to see the town of Pistoia. In the afternoon we went to a few apartment buildings and passed out some more flyers. This can sometimes seem just like busy work but God can do tremendous things with this. One of the members of the church in Pistoia who is a strong christian and is now leading many to Christ, came to the church through one of these flyers she came across.

After the work was done for the day, Roger and Heather took us to the mountains. On the drive up to the mountain you can look out and see for miles. As i looked down on hundreds of houses it really gave me encouragement. In the houses and cities i was looking at, lived the people i am here to serve and the people i came here to tell about Christ and His love for them. I am a servant to the creator of the awesome! We went on a short hike and i again realized how fortunate i am for this opportunity. God has really blessed my life with so many things and I am really thankful for this chance to serve Him in Italy. Love and miss you guys and please keep in touch!

Serving in Italy,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Im in Italy!

Hey guys!

So after a long wait, the Italy team finally made it here. We arrived on June 9th in Bologna and our coordinator, Mike Mahan, picked us up and drove us to our final destination in Prato, Italy. The first few weeks here we have been spending a lot of time getting things in order. Filling out papers, setting up our house, grocery shopping, becoming familiar with the town, etc. Our coordinators are Mike and his wife Anto. They have two children, a boy and girl.

Mike and Anto are involed in a Choir located out of Pistoia, a town not to far from us. Most of our nights since we have been here were filled with practicing for the upcoming concert. All the money raised from the concert goes towards building a library in Nigeria. The concert took place this past Sunday with a pretty good turn out. It was fun getting to learn songs in Italian!

On Monday we had our first Italian lesson. The next few months our focus will be learning the language so we can communicate without pointing at things or playing charades! Every one is really friendly here and helpful to us. The church meets downtown and is about 20 or so people. Its a small church but the people are really dedicated and you can see Christ through them. I am really blessed to have this opportunity to be here. I am changing and growing everyday and am learning to depend on God more than ever before. Thanks for all the support and encouragement back home. Love you guys and will keep you posted!