Italy Orientation

NaplesI went to Brentwood on April 10, 2010, for Italy Orientation! Only 51 more days left today and I am counting them down. I can not wait to go! To begin our orientation on Saturday we began by reading Matthew 9: 35- 38 (NKJV).

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was filled with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ” The harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to sent out laborers into His harvest.”

I really liked the last two verses, 37 and 38. I think it really fits for this trip. The 55 of us going are the laborers and the people of Italy are the harvest.

Take a look at these statistics for the people of Italy: 99% are Catholic, 1% know Jesus, but only 10% practice Catholicism. These numbers scared me at first, but I was really comforted when I was told that the people of Italy are thirsty. They want to know, especially the young people. I also learned that the Catholics in Italy are like several Christians here in the United States. The religion they claim to be is based on the fact that their family was Catholic (Italy).

At orientation, I was able to grasp a better understanding of Catholicism. I knew that the Catholics believed more in good works over faith and in purgatory, but I did not realize the importance of saints in their lives. We pray straight to God. We don’t go through anybody. The Catholics, however, pray to a certain saint and that saint supposedly relays the message to God. I also now understand better the purpose and importance of the Pope. To us no one, except Jesus, is perfect. We misunderstand things and mess up all the time. To the Catholics, the Pope is someone who can interpret the Bible perfectly. What he says is going to always be right to the Catholics. I personally don’t agree with this. I believe that the only person that can interpret the Bible perfectly is Jesus. I think that we sometimes misinterpret the Bible. I also think that God will lay on our hearts what He feels we need when we read the Bible. No two people are going to get the same message through a verse. It touches everyone differently, according to how God wants it to.

It seems to me that our biggest barrier will be language. While hand gestures are something that I use everyday, they are a no-no in Italy. Something harmless here in the United States could really offend someone in Italy. So, there is one form of communication that is out of the window. I was told this weekend that not much English is known in Italy. Some words will be able to be brought out, but not many. Therefore, I am learning Italian!!! YAY! We will not have translators until the later part of the trip, so we are basically on our own with our cheat sheets, translator books, and what words we can obtain before the trip.

Our days will begin with our groups visiting different shops in the assigned areas. Our goal is to build a relationship through small talk throughout the week and then, with the help of an interpreter, break down the language barriers and get down to the nitty gritty. In the evenings we will be in the square and talk to people here.

The Italians are very family oriented. Our “homework” assignment to complete for the trip is really interesting and smart to me. We are to make a small photo album of our families to take with us. These will be used to build relationships through families with people, especially the store owners who might even pull out pictures of their families for us to see. In a  mission’s class this summer I was told that talking about families is a great way to build a relationship up and communicate with others. I think this will be a great way to do this.

As of today we have 51 days left. I ask that everyone prays for the safety and guidance of the 55 of us going to Italy June 3- 13. Also pray for the Italians we will all encounter. Pray that we will work together to glorify Christ.


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