Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hannah's thoughts

While the overall experience of World Impact Italy was undeniably eye-opening, there is one specific moment from the trip that I will never forget. One souvenir that I got from my visit to the Italian hospital was a very stylish nose cast. I was given very strict instructions not to get this cast wet. Unfortunately, this meant that I couldn’t wash my hair. At first this wasn’t so bad, but after four days of running around outside, in blistering heat, I did not feel too good. Instead, I felt quite sticky. Yuck! Giovanna, another woman who helped out with the camp, offered to take me to her apartment so that she could wash my hair in her sink. I could tell from her persistence that she truly wanted to do it, even though her schedule was packed with additional preparations for camp. She wasn’t offering merely because it was a nice thing to do. Personally, I wouldn’t want to touch someone’s dirty, unwashed hair, and I was shocked by the fact that she did. She perfectly embodied the spirit of Jesus, when he washed his disciples’ feet. I’m sure that the disciples’ feet were pretty gross from walking on Jerusalem’s littered city streets; yet, Jesus got down on his hands and knees and scrubbed them clean. Giovanna and Elena, who helped her out, set an incredible example of Christ-like service. I was humbled by their willingness to get their hands dirty in order to help me! From watching Giovanna and Elena serve, I am challenged to adopt this same attitude of self-sacrificing service towards others so that I too can serve like Jesus did.

Mike's thoughts

My time in Italy broadened my ideas about missions. Through interactions with the Brucatos and the other church leaders in Bologna, I was able to learn that missions means far more than a two week trip to another place. To be a missionary is to be ALWAYS working for Christ’s kingdom. So often I get caught up in “normal” life in Wheaton , not thinking about the conversations I could be having in my hometown like I had in Italy . It is wonderful to be mindful of how the Lord wishes to use us regardless of location.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Isaac's thoughts

My experience in Italy was one that was probably very similar to my fellow team members; a trip full of eye-opening and life-changing experiences. Since this is the case, my fellow team members will most likely cover in depth, without even knowing it, how I feel about World Impact Italy. However I'd like to share a unique experience I had with music on this trip.
As you might have known, I was put in charge of getting together a group of a few short popular songs to play in Italy. The ideal situation for this was to play ukulele in a park somewhere and sing with Nata and have Mike play drums. This could possibly get people's attention, maybe get a conversation going and then move this conversation in the direction of Christ. Well this did not happen. Not to fret though, spending time in learning these songs definitely payed off.
Even though we didn't get to have the time in the park, some of the days after camp playing these popular American songs really payed off. To my surprise people in Italy actually know a lot of American popular songs. Songs like "Hey Soul Sister", "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "I'm Yours" were a hit with the campers on the days when I pulled out my ukulele after camp and just started to sing! I think Nata, Mike and I had some part to play in attracting campers back to camp day after day. I also think that when the parents of the kids noticed that we were willing to perform for them out of the blue they became less suspicious of us as a whole group.
Even though this is a rather small part of what happened in Italy I still think that this had some relevance to the trip. I think that it definitely enhanced my experience and it was so cool to see that even though we had made all these plans to play for people, God used us in His way and for His purpose. Being flexible is always required on a missions trip. This experience was truly one of a kind!

Thank you so much to those that prayed for us and supported us,


Nata's thoughts

As we were preparing to leave for Italy, I had so many doubts and worries in my mind about how we were going to accomplish everything. But as always, God was good and took away all of those doubts once we began doing our ministry work in Bologna. We were constantly spending time with members of the Nova Vita and San Lazzaro church, being encouraged by their faithfulness to the Lord and to their city. Ester and Mark were our biggest companions as they drove us around daily, and we quickly bonded through the car rides, days at camp, and meetings/dinners. Their love for God never ceased even through difficult times with spreading the gospel to the people of Bologna. The Exchange camp was by far the greatest opportunity to share the Lord's love with children who had never heard the gospel before. Even though we spoke different languages (which was my biggest worry about the trip) we all formed such strong relationships with each other. Silly hand-shakes and games were the first way we bonded with the kids, and then later on in the week they opened up to us and spoke a little English while I--very ridiculously may I add--attempted to say some Italian frases such as "tre tigri contro tre tigri" which is a tongue twister "three tigers against three tigers" or even "le mie gambe sono stanche" which means "my legs hurt"...I used that one a lot especially in Rome where we walked for ten hours :) Overall, the chance to share the gospel through games, art, relationships, and mimes was an unbelievable experience. Often times we think of ministry as flying abroad to another country where people are not aware of Jesus and His sacrifice for us...but ministry is not restricted to only overseas.We can and should continue our work here in Wheaton, where there are many unbelievers walking around us daily at either work or school, sharing the Lord's love with everyone we meet.


Emma's thoughts

Movin' out! This was the phrase missionary Mark Brucato frequently used during the week of the Exch@nge camp. To the Italian teenagers this saying signaled the start of a new game or activity. Currently our team has officially 'moved out' of Italy and all of us are beginning to focus on new activities. However, I hope none of us will forget the people, places, or ministries we experienced in Italy. Personally, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to build relationships with the students we met in Bologna and grow closer to my amazing American teammates. Overall, the highlight of our trip was seeing how God worked despite the language barrier to use each of our specific talents to spread His word and His love in Italia.

Drew's thoughts

When one sees God’s hand at work, it is truly an amazing experience. The two weeks that we spent in Italy were filled with amazing experiences. We witnessed God working through a 5-day camp, a moving mime, and late night discussions. We saw seeds being planted by the power of the Gospel. The trip to Italy was an experience that was touching for many people, especially those of us that had the incredible opportunity to be part of the World Impact Team. Thank you for your prayers and support!


Teri's thoughts

Pizza, grassy parks, cappuccino, sweaty campers, Nutella, Roman streets..... All these conjure up memories of smells from our 2 weeks in Italy. Yet the most lingering fragrance is of the people we met and partnered with for the Gospel, from whom we sadly parted. They remain in Italy, joyfully proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus to many Italians, each one opening up his or her life to love, encourage and give hope to lives without true purpose. I think of Mark and Ruth, passionate about the people in Bologna, trained and ready at every turn to connect with people, care for them and share the truth of the Gospel with them. They follow the lead of Mark’s parents, Andy and Linda, who continue to shepherd the flock given to them by the Lord and who minister to all in their sphere, even in the midst of personal difficulty. An inspiration to me is Ester, whose deep love for teens and desire to share her relationship with Christ with them, keeps her eyes on an eternal goal, gives her creativity in vision and helps her to persevere with joy. I think of Stefano and Jenny and Juan Luca and his wife, leading their churches with God’s word at the center and with His direction. And there are Jean-Paul and Sue, strategic and compassionate in mentoring and teaching and moving forward to plant a church in Bologna Center. Jean-Claude and Licia, my dear friends from Florence, who followed the Lord’s leading to minister to married couples and families, struggling within the church. They give godly, Biblical wisdom and counsel to heal the brokenness within. And I remember the passion and energy and hope of Giovanna, Elena, Giacoma and Linda, young women mentored by Ester, who step forward in faith to open themselves up to a life of ministering in Christ’s name. These beautiful servants of Christ, united in their love for Him, persevere with joy and gladness and leave with me the true sweet perfume of Italy.

from Teri

Colin's thoughts

I was surprised and encouraged by the number of lives that we impacted in Italy . We ministered to youth who were completely unchurched, met people on the trains and buses, formed relationships with a couple that stayed in the bungalow near us, and talked to many people on the streets. Some of the people we talked to took a 180 degree turn towards Christ and some were just interested but in both instances it was great to see God work. There was one couple that told us they were atheists who enjoyed debating, and by the end of our trip they were reading Mere Christianity and told us they had never been challenged to think about things in the way that we did, which was great to see. The kids at the camp asked us great questions as well that went really deep about what it meant to be a Christian. This gave us an opportunity to explain to them why we believe what we believe, and that Christianity is a relationship. It was great to be a part of ministry in a country that is usually not first place to come to mind as a mission field, however there are many people in Italy that are searching and in need. It was great to God’s work in the people’s lives there and I was glad that I could be a small part of his plan for Italy .

Kathleen's thoughts

Hello from Illinois. It’s hard to believe that we’re all back here in the states and our Italy adventure is over. Our group had a blast, and I personally would love to go back! The ESL/Sports camp was amazing and we were able to plant many seeds. In the morning we would play games, followed by lunch, English/Bible, and more games. I was fortunate to be the small group leader for the girls during English and bible. During bible, we had many great and deep conversations. For example, on the last day we talked about the fact that Jesus will raise the dead. One of the campers then asked about Purgatory and how He could possibly ‘raise’ the dead. With help from Sue, we were able to explain that there is no Purgatory and you didn’t get to Heaven with works.
Another cool thing that happened was that our theme for one of the days at camp was ‘law breaking’. The bible story was about Jesus healing on the Sabbath and the Pharisees calling him a rule breaker. The original theme sentence was controversial; Jesus doesn’t like laws, so we came up with a new one. The new theme sentence became Jesus loves relationships more than religious laws. That night while we were talking to a British couple who were staying at the hostile with us, Allie was able to share this same sentence and idea with Georgina. This also got some of us thinking as we realized a better way to think about and describe Christianity to those we met on the street. This better way is to say that Christianity really isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship with Jesus.
On the train ride back from Florence to Bologna on Saturday, Colin and I (Kathleen) were able to share about our trip and the Gospel with a teacher from Germany, who was sitting with us in our cabin. This teacher was on the train with 12 students, along with another colleague. He asked us why we were in Italy and when he told him he was shocked. He said that he had never heard of any churches sending people out to do [short term missions trips] before, especially not in Germany. This opened up the opportunity to share about Christianity and the differences between Catholicism, although we had to be careful of what we said, as we found out his colleague was the religion teacher at the school. This conversation lasted for a solid 45 minutes, and went really deep, but unfortunately we were cut off as we came to our stop.
On Sunday, we went to Nouva Vita (The Brucados’ church), toured Bologna, and watched the world cup at Nouva Vita with the church congregation. It was fun to see how the church was able to do things like this together and that they were basically a family.
Monday, we painted a government building and it was fascinating to see the majority of the campers come out and help us. It was encouraging to see that those walking by were interested in why we were painting the building and would ask us. It was also encouraging to have people from the ‘teen news on the internet’ come film us and help share the Gospel and spread the word about Youth For Christ, even if they didn’t know it.
Tuesday and Wednesday were fun as we toured Rome. The cathedrals were amazing, because they were so ornate, but some of us couldn’t help but feel sorry, and confused about all the decorations. For example, an interesting thought that came to some of us was whether or not the paintings and elegance was for God’s glory, or man’s glory. We were able to hit all of the hot spots in a day and a half and it felt great to kick back after a week and a half of hard work.
This trip was a great reminder of the wonders of God’s creation around the world, and that His Kingdom exists halfway across the world and beyond.

Ester's Report for YfC, Italy

To all those who this past week have been praying for Exch@nge 2010, YFC Italia's first summer day camp to reach out to teens in Bologna, a heartfelt THANK YOU! We felt all your prayers surrounding us as a mighty shield.
I'm going to briefly share with you all the blessings that the Lord has showered onto us this past week (July 5th-9th).
A team from College Church (Wheaton, Illinois) of 11 youth aged between 16 and 18, plus 3 leaders, all zealous and passionate about getting to know Italian kids, play with them and share Jesus;
A group of 14 not yet believers from Bologna who signed up for camp. Only 2 of them already attended a church youth group;
The partnership of 3 Evangelical churches of Bologna with YFC Italia, all united for the great mission: offering to teens the opportunity to know Jesus and become His followers;
The precious practical service of believers from other cities of Italy;
Many many times of fun, sports and games;
The protection from really bad accidents. We only had an American girl who had a mini-fracture of her nose but she is doing fine;
Times of reflection and discussion about Jesus through the Gospel of Mark and through very creative and well thought through English classes. We had two amazing teachers, Sue Aranzulla (UK) and Teri Hiben (US) who invested hours putting together a great curriculum which helped the kids learn some English and above all created space for spiritual conversations.
Deep conversations with the kids and their parents who really enjoyed the week and are very open to participate to other initiatives of YFC and the local churches. Last night we invited the parents to a refreshment and openly shared the message of the Gospel with them. They all seemed curious about it;
Open doors with those running the facility we rented out for camp. This is a community center with sport fields and many halls, mainly attended by retired people who don't have much to do and spend their day playing cards and chatting. The interesting thing is that by being there we really lightened up the elderly people's time and had many opportunities to share our faith with them. Good connections were also made with the people who run the hostel where the Americans are staying and the Town Council of Bologna, especially the Youth Department. On Monday 12th we are going to do a community service project by painting the walls of a community center in the area where MySpace is located. A local TV run by young people is coming to make video and publish them on the Town Council website;
If you'd like to see pictures and videos join the Facebook page Exch@nge 2010.

Please, pray for us as we continue to delevop these relationships with the desire to show all these people God's love and witness of the risen Christ to them. We know that our work is not vain in the Lord and that the time of the harvest is coming, therefore we press on towards the things that are still invisible but that will last forever!
With love in Christ
Ester Montefalcone
per YFC Italia

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Camp is Over--But not the Friendships

Greetings again, finally, from HOT Bologna.
Camp is finished and as per usual, we have been both busy and not near any internet connections. So sorry for the last update. Friday's day at camp was another exciting day of activities and English. The lesson was again intended to give lead into conversations about Jesus. As I listened, many of the tables were discussing what it meant to have personal relationship with Jesus. Colin was leading the English lesson, and he let the time go long so the tables could continue discussing. I heard several kids and leaders having a chance to tell why Jesus is important to them. It was exciting and very meaningful.
Friday after camp there was a meeting for the campers and their parents. A time for the parents to hear what the camp was about, and really who we were. Your Hyackers did their mime again, and there was a long round of applause at the end. Mark Brucato was able to share the Jesus plan for saving us from the world's grip. The parents and students listened carefully. It was also a time to explain about Youth for Christ and My Space. When the meeting was over, the campers and parents stayed for a long time talking with us and we really had to finally just move on. It was an exciting time to say good-byes, take pictures and share Facebook addresses. Please keep praying as these relationships are what both the churches here and YfC are trying to use to break into the community. Mark Brucato encouraged your kids to say that they have more than do their job, that is to bring churches and para-church organizations together, and to start relationships in the community.
Saturday, we got up fairly early again for our day of "rest" in Florence. We traveled by train under the Tuscan hills. We reached Florence and on another HOT and Humid day walked around the streets of Florence. We met up with Jean-Claude and Licia and had some time with a couple of real Florentinians. It was fun haggling in the market, and we had other experiences which were exciting but too long to write about now. We ended the day in Florence with a Pizza dinner. We have sampled pizza several times while we have been here, and we all have mixed reviews. Saturday ended with a train ride home and another after 1 am arrival home.
We have been hot, sometimes tired, but very encouraged by the opportunities that God has brought our way. Many small tales will have to be told by individuals, as each has had their own personal trials and triumphs.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Comments from the leaders

Lest you think all of camp is games and injuries, let me give some words of encouragement to you parents and friends. The kids at camp have had a smaller grasp of English than we might have expected, so the Hyack kids have been being creative, using our Italian helpers, and been sign language to start many meaningful conversations. In last night's team meeting, many spoke of individuals who they have talked to. I have been impressed once again in the level of commitment and purpose that each student has had. One technique that seems to break barriers has been having the campers try and teach us Italian. As we show some vulnerability, the campers seem to open up. Our goals are 3-fold, show that local believers can work together, get campers talking about Jesus, just be friends. By combining all these, when we leave, the local missionaries can use the interest and relationships we started to continue building the church.
Just a side note about our schedule. We have been so busy, getting home at 11pm sometimes. We have not even had time to exchange money or had a place to spend it if we coould have. So we are tired, but really blessed. Thank you for praying.
Tim for the team

God Protects

Bon journo from recent Bologna hospital patient! I hope you are all doing well and that you had a fabulous Fourth of July. While you were celebrating at back yard barbeques and enjoying the fireworks, we continued to work with the kids at camp, playing games, teaching English, and building relationships through the love of Christ. Each day we begin camp with a game; on Tuesday it was Sharks and Minnows. The kids were really into the game and had a ton of fun, but unfortunately their game was cut short by an accident…When I ran across the field, I smacked into Mr. Stough and cut my nose open. I found out that head wounds bleed quite a bit, so it was not a pretty sight. My traumatizing injury resulted in an exciting trip to the emergency room. And just so you know ahead of time, I’m fine!
Italian hospitals are just like American hospitals…50 years ago, but at least all services were free! It was actually really interesting to see how an Italian hospital was run, and how it differed from CDH. First, any patient who enters the emergency room is classified according to the severity of their injury. The groups were white, green, yellow, and red in the order of importance, and I was green. They directed the waiting patients to sit in a long hallway until they were called. The hallway was lined with gurneys which contained patients with a range or wounds from broken fingers to third degree burns.
My trip to the emergency room was worth it for two reasons: I got to ride in a wheelchair, and I got to ride in an ambulance!! My nose injury wasn’t dramatic enough to merit my ambulance ride through. The hospital building is so old that different departments are not connected. Therefore, they transport patients by ambulance. Regardless, it was very exciting. The doctors gave me three stitches and a very stylish nose cast to wear until tomorrow. It even seems that my injury has turned out to be a blessing because it has opened doors for me to share my faith with the kids at camp. They assure me that I will come home back to normal and scar free. Caio!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

First Camp days

Camp Exch@nge is on! Days one and two are done, and already we’ve built relationships with the kids here. They all range from 12-16 years old and they all range from very shy to immediately friendly, but ALL of them have opened up to us. Sometimes it was a water game like Drip, Drip, Drop or at others it was the English lessons with Finding Nemo and Toy Story, but at some point all of the kids here have gotten past the initial introductions and have started to get closer. It definitely makes me excited for the next day and the next day! Each day they are speaking more English and talking more openly (and dumping water on us more frequently) that it’s been an exponential change so far.
As we’re running the camp with our partners in Bologna, we ask that you pray often for the openings that will present themselves to us to share our personal faith with the Bologna kids. They’ll be there, and I know I’m eager to get conversations past hellos and how are yous to something eternal, keeping in mind that these kids probably have never heard the gospel of Jesus, let alone even thinking about it. It’s a glorious ministry here.
Here are some names to lift up in your prayers: Gabriele, Luca, Giacamo, Davide, Sebastian, Matteo, Sonia, Irina, Sara, Francesco, and Codrin. Thanks!

Monday, July 5, 2010


Hello fellow readers!
Coming to you from Bologna, Italy where we have already seen God at work! It currently is smoking HOT and the girls are lying on the tile floor trying to catch a breeze from the only compact fan that lies in the middle of our bungalow. We arrived safely in London after sitting in Chicago with a 2 hour plumbing delay. Fortunately, we did not miss the connecting flight which flew us to Bologna. We were immediately greeted with warm smiles and hugs by Mark Brucato and some friends. Saturday, our team jumped right in to our first ministry work partnering with San Lazzaro Church. Performing the Lifehouse, Everything Mime in a local park was nerve racking and encouraging seeing the large crowd that showed up.
While we waited to perform, our team broke into smaller groups to invite those hanging out in the park. Some of the boys in our group were able to join a local basketball game that was going on, and ended up inviting them to the event. One of the basketball players did attend, and did not know anything about evangelism and Christianity. He watched us perform, and stayed through an entire gospel skit and sermon. During the performance, he tapped Mark Brucado told him that the mime gave him goosebumps, and really had an impact on him.
We were able to perform the mime a second time because more people had shown up at the park. It was really encouraging to us, as member of the community and the members of San Lazzaro church appreciated our skit and were able to connect and understand it.
Emma and Kathleen met a 15 year old girl named Suella towards the end of the event. She spoke very good English, and had watched the performance. It was surprising to both of us how interested she was in the U.S. and we had a really fun time talking and connecting to her. While we were talking to Suella, her mother sent both her sister and cousin over to talk to us also. It was neat to see that both Suella and her mom were appreciative that we were wanting and willing to talk to them. Suella seemed very interested in the ESL camp, as well as her mother. Unfortunately, she is still in school, and doesn’t finish until Friday, so she said she was unable to attend our ESL camp. We were still glad to have had the chance to get to know her and will keep her in our prayers, and hope you will too.

The Girls of World Impact Italy

Saturday, July 3, 2010

We Made It

After a two and a half hour delay (we had to stay on board) to fix the plumbing on the airplane in Chicago we are safely here in Bologna. We transferred safely from Heathrow to Gatwick, flew over the beautiful Alps, landed safely here in Bologna, arrived at our lovely accommodations, and had our first carb-filled meal. This morning (Saturday) we woke late, ate a light breakfast of supplies in our bungalow (hostel). Everyone practiced that mime and had a short meeting.
Thanks for your prayers. This afternoon we go to the park and mime. This is an effort of the local Brethren church, the Brucato's church and Youth for Christ.
The attached picture is taken in Gatwick as we waited for our flight.