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 is...it 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 world....how 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,