So we’re back! We’ve had an amazing time; we’ve seen miracles, many people blessed, grown close as a family and eaten too much gelato! We are very thankful to all who supported us financially and with prayer. We really appreciated the generosity and could not have done it without you! I could write thousands of words on what we did, who we met and where we went! But I shall sum it up as briefly as possible and share some testimonies of God’s goodness and impact.
We stayed with Josh and Rachel Ballard and their 4 amazing kids – Macy, Liberty, Ryleigh and Titus. They shared their home and lives with us for the week and we were incredibly blessed by them all and the conversations we had with them. Marco Basile, Cinzia and their daughter Sophia were also hugely welcoming and Cinzia made us so many amazing Sicilian meals! Marco leads Jesus Generation, the organisation we worked with, as well as leading a local church.
The first couple of days we worked on the new team house, building and cleaning in preparation for teams this summer. In the evenings we joined Marco, Josh and their team in two outreach projects, once to feed and pray for the homeless of Catania and once for the girls to go out with a fantastic lady called Carmen to talk and pray with women who work in the streets. Both nights were eye opening and incredible, both to join with the mission and see how these guys do mission.
On the weekend afternoon/evenings we did some outreach in a popular park. Occasionally Marco sets up a mechanical bull, using it to attract a crowd and then taking the opportunity to share the gospel with people. They were great times of sharing, conversation and building relationships despite the language barrier! We also spent time being part of their family and helping out where help was needed – whether that was the boys pulling out thistles on the land or the girls attending a women’s prayer meeting. There was so much that we did and we learnt a lot! I could go on but here are a few testimonies from the week instead:
Jess – “I was really impacted by the sense of generosity and family the Sicily team invited us into. They modelled an unconditional love and embrace. This was really powerful. Personally I was also very blessed through their hospitality and came away feeling completely refreshed and restored. God spoke to me deeply about being in the heart of who he is, inhabiting the deep places of God because of who he is and how he sees us- accepted and loved!”
Sam – “God really gave me joy in serving and showed me the pleasure He takes in a heart serving with love”
Jenny – “God was showing me more and more throughout the trip how incredibly big he is and how he will keep blowing my mind and not let me put Him in a box. Anything from just looking out over that amazing, breathtaking view, to seeing the people we worked with laying down their lives to serve homeless people and refugees just because they know they’re so loved by Him”
David – “God really challenged me in my identity, in who and what I belong to. He really spoke to me about gender norms, and how it’s not important if I identify as male or female, that it’s all about who I am in Him, that although I can’t change the culture, I can affect how they see me.”
Van story – We were on our way back from Taormina and everyone was dozing off when suddenly the van jolted and woke us as we dribbled off the road to a stop. Marco said “oh, we’re out of petrol…” He got out to talk to Josh in the other van and they sped off to get us more fuel – it should have taken about 20 mins. As we sat there I prayed, “Jesus I ask that we can run on you, just like I’ve heard stories of people going for years without re-fueling” everyone else was praying too. Marco decided to try and get us further off the road because every time a car went past the van rocked! After a couple of tries he managed to start it up. Then it just kept going and going! It was amazing! We started singing worship to God and the power that we accelerated up the slip road with was ridiculous! We passed the others in a petrol station on the other side of the road, waved and continued – still singing. 3+ km after we’d run out of diesel we got to the station and filled up. It was incredible; it had just got better and better as we went along. Wow. God is good!
This blog was written by Mary O’Connell