91 days of guests
9 sets of visitors
17 people total
...and 22 days of dog sitting
With those statistics it is no wonder I have not been able to keep up with the blog! May and December have been our only non-hosting, non-traveling months over the past fourteen months.
This is in addition to an already full plate of running our ministry out of our home. Such regular activities include weekly church services, monthly church meals, Bible studies, three teenagers, cooking every meal for a husband with food allergies and keeping a clean home ready for all who walk through our doors. This is not necessarily prayer letter worthy fodder, but this is my reality and what I do. It is mundane and unglamorous but when given the gift of hospitality, the mundane tasks are an act of worship. I love the new book of liturgies Every Moment Holy Volume I, that we just bought with a Christmas gift card. "A Liturgy for Domestic Days" resonates with my heart.
And so I offer this small service to you, O Lord,
for you make no distinction between
those acts that bring a person
the wide praise of their peers
and those unmarked acts
that are accomplished in a quiet obedience
You see instead the heart, the love,
and the faithful stewardship
of all labors, great and small.
Excerpt from Every Moment Holy, "A Liturgy for Domestic Days"
In order to keep up such a pace, by God's grace, I have intentionally carved out time for self care. It is no where near where it should be, but I'm doing my best. Knitting has been that outlet for me to relax, refresh and do something for myself. I also attend the weekly knitting club at the library where I can do something I love, listen to ladies chat and unload and be a source of encouragement in the midst of so much brokenness.
In October, Jonathan gave me a marvelous gift of holding down the fort while I took off for four nights with two of my girlfriends to vacation together in Dublin, Ireland. This was a trip that was imagined last winter and planned in the spring to give us missionary moms a retreat. God knew the timing would be perfect and hopefully I will share more about that soon.
All that to say though is that missionaries need to prioritize self care. And sometimes we can be really bad at it and just keep trying to serve from an empty tank, because well, we have a mission to accomplish and supporters to satisfy. However, it doesn't work for long and it only leads to burnout. We need time to be still in the presence of God, to slow down and be filled so that we can serve as an outpouring of his Spirit's filling. This month of December and advent I am choosing to slow down, to reflect and prepare my heart in the presence of Emmanuel, God with us.
I am so thankful for each of our precious guests that we have had the honor of hosting this past year. Each visit was of mutual encouragement and a blessing to our hearts. Those that were not family have entered as guests and left as family, and our family visitors have grown all the more dear to our hearts.
I don't think a single visit was recorded here on the blog, so I will briefly (or not) highlight our awesome visitors and their trips to our corner of the world.
Gina and Stephanie (Interns from West Virginia)
November 14-27, 2018
|Gina and Stephanie|
|Girls day out touring Torino|
|Gina and Stephanie decorated for our Thanksgiving outreach|
|Then we cooked a feast for 25 guests|
|Having a whale of a time in Caselle|
|The kids gained sisters|
Munga and Gramma (Michigan)
December 30, 2018 - January 9, 2019
Sickness plagued this visit with Jonathan getting a double ear infection that took him out and Gramma battling ongoing health issues in addition to a fall down the stairs.
This was definitely a stay-cation!
|They were here for the birth of Lakota - their grand-piggy|
Kyle and Heather (Portugal)
February 3-6, 2019
Western Europe Regional Director annual visit
|Sorry, no better photo than this snapshot from a video they made about their visit...but watch the video from the link below|
March 6-21, 2019
Babysitting for us while we attended the annual Western Europe leader's meeting held this year in Madrid, Spain. Our flight got cancelled and so it ended up being just 3 nights away instead of 4.
|Welcoming committee at the airport|
|Christmas in March|
|Reliving Christmas dinner|
|Fiera in Caselle|
|WE Team Leaders (plus two guests)|
|Don Quixote museum - Spain|
Nate (Intern from Spokane, Washington)
July 5-19, 2019
|A day at Lago Malciaussia - Italian Alps|
|First of a "bazillion" trips to the Venaria Reale with visitors. I went 5 times in a span of 4 months.|
|The royal palace is impressive though, especially in the summer|
|Celebrating his 19th birthday with us. He wasn't expecting a cake!|
|A brother and son leave us|
Lenna and Abigayl (sisters from Kansas)
August 25-29, 2019
Emma's friends from SHARE who made a special stop to visit on their way to Croatia for a missions trip. Special friendships that have endured the distance and the years.
|Gorgeous ladies inside and out...Emma, Lenna and Abigayl|
|Retired from gymnastics but reminiscing their SHARE talent show days|
|Another trip to Torino|
|Add tour guide to my skill set|
|The girls baked a cheesecake and it was delish!|
Munga and Gramma (Michigan)
Round 2 for another visit. They babysat for a night so Jonathan and I could get away for our anniversary. They got away themselves for two nights in Florence. Lots of trips for gelato in the summer heat, another visit to the Venaria Reale and downtown Torino, and an unfortunate fall in which Gramma broke her shoulder. Mamma Mia!
Uncle Dan and Aunt Nancy (Michigan)
September 8-11, 2019
Jonathan's aunt and uncle made a special detour to visit us on their European vacation
Gaye, Miles and Sue (Michigan)
October 22-29, 2019
Sent from a supporting church in Michigan, Jamestown Baptist, these visitors came with the goal to encourage and love on our family. They came bearing suitcases of gifts for us, did some house projects and saw our ministry and lives in Italy firsthand. They are much better equipped to pray for our family and ministry.
|Italian coffee shop...a day in the life of Jonathan.|
Gaye, Sue, Miles, Noella and Jonathan
|Meeting and worshiping with our Italian church family|
|Night out for pizza|
|Fall decorations and gifts galore...|
|A fight over Jif...good thing there were 2 giant tubs of it!|
|So many blessings and tastes from home...thank you BOB Sunday school class!|
|Samuel got sucked into another trip to the Venaria Reale...what a sport!|
|Final hedge trim of the season and Sue helped us pick up the clippings.|
|Tour of Torino (Sue was feeling sick and stayed behind)|
Our colleague Melissa is working on her doctorate degree which requires 6 weeks of residency in Oxford per year. She usually plans her trips around our availability to dog sit.
We have visitors right out of the gate in January 2020 with a couple coming for a survey trip to see if Italy might be where God is calling them for career service. We are hosting the leader's meetings this year in March so will be responsible to coordinate lodging and meals for that. A missionary family serving in Asia will be staying with us in May and then we are off to the USA later in the summer where we will be hosted. Who knows what will fall in between these schedule hosting events but whatever it is, God's grace and strength will carry us through!