For such a time as this

Posted in family, home service, kids, Newsletters at 6:20 am

What a whirlwind. As Brian last reported, we packed our bags just three weeks ago and headed home to Italy. We arrived safely and without any problems. In fact, it was a pretty easy trip. I’m sure you recall the various stories of when the children were little. Travel is much easier on us now-a-days.

We settled in easy enough, and two weeks ago school started. It was a big year for us this year, as Francesca started first grade. She happened to get into a class with her very best friend, and it was pretty neat for us moms to leave our girls the first day with the assurance that they would take care of each other. The other kids settled back nicely into the swing of things, although Jr. High and High School are quite a different ball game than the first grade.

Brian and I have had various meetings with our teammates to discuss what we learned during our training at Team Expansion. It was called Jonathan Training, and was about Sustainable Church Planting Movements. Maybe you have heard of it. There is much to pray through and think about when working alongside the Lord with the desire not only to see a church in Ancona, but a church that plants churches. A movement of churches. Please pray with us as we continue to implement what we have learned. Pray that we will see God moving in this city and that we will be blessed to work alongside of Him.

In fact, that makes me think of something that I have been studying lately. I have been studying through the book of Esther, and last week arrived at chapter 4, which contains the infamous verse that says, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” That’s not exactly what struck me, though. Not exactly. You know what Uncle Mordecai says to her before that? He says, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.” Relief and deliverance will arise from another place. Hmm. See, one day every knee shall bow. One day, our deliverance will come. But, it may not be here on this earth. “If you remain silent … you and your father’s family will perish.” But for now, the Lord has placed you and I here, in our circles, in our spheres of influence, in this place, for such a time as this. We actually get to work right alongside of Him! Wow. What a blessing.

You do so much for us. Thank you for a wonderful summer and for praying us back safely. We appreciate all that you do to keep this work alive.


Goodbye Again

Posted in family, friends, home service, kids, language, Newsletters at 8:52 am

In just over 48 hours, I will have the unfortunate experience of watching my family say goodbye to the US part of our lives. If the scene goes like it has in the past, it will go down like this: we will unload an incredible amount of luggage at the airport. People will stare at us as we push two or three carts full of our bags towards the check-in counter. Heidi will hover by the scales, hoping that her carefully-packed bags aren’t overweight. The ticket agent will give me a thick stack of boarding cards. We’ll turn around and Heidi’s mom and sister will be there waiting, having parked the cars for us.

And then the tears start. I’ve already seen them as we pulled out of my mom’s driveway after our wonderful visit with her and my sister and nephews. The airport tears will be tough because there is more of a finality to it. We’re not just saying goodbye to loved ones. This time we’re saying goodbye to the US way of life. Not better or worse, but somehow a part of us despite nine years in Ancona.

At some point during the scene I will remind everyone we have to get through security and we will head towards the line of people snaking towards the metal detectors. A quick wave on the other side of security, and we’re alone, headed back to a country that has become home.

There’s just no other way to say it. The good-byes are really hard. Though I will obviously miss everyone, I’m not as sentimental as Heidi or the kids. The lump in my throat will come from watching everyone grieve yet another goodbye. I will ask God to protect their hearts during this difficult time. I’ll ask Him to help them work through their feelings and somehow remind them that their eternal home awaits for them in Heaven.

The arrival in Ancona sometimes makes my head spin. One or more of our bags is usually missing and so we’ll spend a crazy amount of time trying to report our lost luggage. Our friends will be waiting and suddenly I will be thrown into a world of Italian language. People will want to catch up after a summer away and I will be nervous about conjugating verbs correctly. We’ll finally collapse into our apartment, luggage everywhere, and thank God for our comfy beds, our closets where we can finally unpack, and the little sliver of the Adriatic Sea we can see from our balcony.

So as we head back, know that we are taking a little piece of you with us, and that we are leaving a little piece of ourselves with you. Let’s see what God does with us and in us until we’re reunited the next time…


Road Trip

Posted in home service, Newsletters at 2:33 pm

Road trip! That’s right. As you know, we are spending this summer on our home assignment. We are taking this opportunity to travel to churches and some individuals who support the ministry in Ancona to report all that God is doing in our little part of the world. So far it has been a wonderful experience.

I must say, though, it really is strange being away from our lives and ministries for so long. Three months isn’t too long when you consider all of the travel involved. But, on the flip side, it is quite long to be away from your ministry, friends, church, bed, and the list goes on.

When we are away, two things can happen: We can get to telling you all about Italy and what God is doing and as we get excited in our storytelling, we renew our passion for ministering there among the Anconetani. Or, we could get tired from everything and become distracted. I want the former, wouldn’t you?

It’s funny. My super nerdy cool husband said something in his sermon the other day that stuck with me. He was talking about The Hobbit. There is a part where the dwarfs need to pass through Mirkwood Forest. Gandolf tells them to “stay on the path.” He knew that if they strayed from the path it would not end up well for them.

I think that many things in our life are like that. We have a plan, a calling, a reason for doing things. And, deep down, we know that we need to stay on the path. Home assignment could be a big distraction from ministry. Or, it could be a fun, inspiring, rewarding path that we must travel along in order to get through our “Mirkwood Forest.”

In my life, I don’t want to stray from the path. I don’t want to find myself lost, or distracted, or harmed because I couldn’t just keep going towards the destination marked out for me. So, I forge on. We forge on. We’re about halfway through the summer, and we continue to stay on the path. And it’s a blessing. It’s a refresher. It’s an encouragement. But best of all, at the end of it we will be home.

Thank you for your part in the ministry in Ancona. We appreciate you so very much. Our life is very much a whirlwind right now, so if we miss you please know that we are thankful for you and blessed by you!


I’m Really Prideful

Posted in family, home service, Newsletters at 2:49 pm

I honestly feel a bit like I am repeating myself all the time. From the time of our arrival in the Yamhill County, Oregon area, all I have done is tell people is, “Thanks!”

We’ve had people loan us vehicles. Pastors gave up their pulpits for the week so we could talk about what God is doing in Ancona. We got to stay in a beach house for a few days. A couple brought us a cooler full of meat. Another family brought us three loaves of homemade bread. I can’t count the dinners that we’ve been to. Our kids got time in a recording studio to record their first track (look for the latest CD by Chloe and the Dudes on iTunes soon). One wonderful lady handed us the keys to her house and moved into her parents’ RV next door. We had the place to ourselves where we could unwind as a family.

The prideful part of me finds it difficult to be on the receiving end of so many good things (weird for a missionary who is already supported by the donations of dozens of people). But we hear it over and over: “We never get to see you all! Give us a chance to bless you in some way.” So I swallow my pride and allow the Church to fulfill one of its most important roles: be a conduit of God’s blessings. So we say it over and over again: “Thanks!”

We hear great things from the church in Ancona, particularly in regards to the Let’s Start Talking program. Over thirty students are reading the Gospel of Luke with three college students who are with us for six weeks. We are praying that these thirty students will make the transition from studying the Gospel to learn English to studying the Gospel to learn about Jesus! Will you join us in praying for that?

We are now in Rockford, Illinois, spending some time with Heidi’s home church and with her family who live in the area. You wouldn’t believe the squeals of delight when we got to Heidi’s mom’s house around 2 AM. Three years is a long time for Grandma to be away from her grand kids (and probably Heidi, too).

We also just heard word that our teammates will be making a very quick trip to the US to attend a Jonathan Training course at Team Expansion’s home office in Louisville, Kentucky. I have completed most of the reading for the course, and I am excited for all four of us to have the opportunity to sit down and talk about the future of the church plant in Ancona.

Thanks … there’s that word again … for keeping up with us. Hope to see many of you along the way somewhere.


Who knows what to call it

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:29 am

I know of at least three different names for what my family is about to do. The “old” word for it is “furlough,” which gives the idea of a long vacation or a government employee who can’t come into work until congress gets its act together.

In an attempt to modernize the word, many call it “home service” or “home assignment.” This term gives the idea of our agency in the US sending us back to accomplish some secret mission, “if we choose to accept it.”

Whatever you call it, this summer we’re going to do it.

It’s been three years since the last time we went to the US. We have a ton of supporters who pray for the ministry in Ancona, and who give generously to make it possible. We want to come back and thank them and let them know what God is doing.

We also have family back home – grandparents who haven’t seen their grand kid’s face‑to‑face in far too long. Cousins remember our kids only from pictures. We can’t wait to see friends we haven’t seen in years.

And then there is the other stuff. I need some Kansas City BBQ. Heidi needs to be in a place where things to keep a family of six going don’t cost an arm and a leg. Both me and Heidi need a break. Even after nine years in Ancona, living in a foreign country takes its toll. So it’s time to go “home.”

And yes, I have to include the quotation marks. The whines from the kids about not seeing their friends this summer means the US isn’t “home” to them. We borrow cars and rely on others’ hospitality and get excited if we get to unpack the suitcases and stay put for a while because the US isn’t really “home” any more. My kids’ questions about what “American kids” are like prove that they are about to go to a foreign country, not to their “home” country.

Don’t take any of this negatively. We’re not complaining about coming to the US for a while. It’s just that the longer we are in Italy, the harder it is for me to figure out what to call our time in the US.

But if you’re in Yamhill County, Oregon, Rockford, Illinois, Kansas City, Missouri, Louisville, Kentucky, New Braunfels, Texas, or Joplin, Missouri we would LOVE to sit down and talk to you about everything God is doing in us and with us and through us. We would love to brag on our church members and tell you about the challenges. Our kids can tell you all about Italian schools. Frannie will mix up Italian and English in the same sentence. Whatever it’s called, we’re coming. See you soon!



Posted in Ancona, church, culture, school at 3:00 am

I’m one of the parent representatives for my son’s class. It’s the first time I have ever done anything like this, and I am enjoying peeking behind the curtain at what goes on in our kids’ schools.

Recently we found out that a kid in the class was being bullied online. The things that the other kids were putting online really stunned me, and I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to read things like that and know that they are about you.

In response to this, my co-parent representative organized an initiative to talk to the classes about cyber-bullying. He found an organization that comes to talk to kids about the internet and how to use it responsibly. There is a section on how things posted online can end up hurting a job interview someday. The police even come and explain how anonymous online isn’t really all that anonymous, and people can get in trouble for making threats.

As I sat in on the planning meeting, I couldn’t help but notice that we all were dancing around the core issue: that it’s wrong to bully someone online because it harms other people, not just because it can have negative repercussions on our future.

But, in post-Christian Europe, it’s just about impossible to deal with core issues like morality because there is no common core. Obviously it would be tough to deal with that kind of issue in any school, but I was bothered that there wasn’t any way to help the kids to understand the morality.

Which is why we need church planters in Italy! I firmly believe that so many of our problems here are because so few people are following Jesus. Maybe that sounds simplistic, but isn’t it true? How many problems does our society face because it doesn’t do what Jesus asks it to do? Don’t all of our problems really start there?

So pray for the church that God is growing in Ancona. Pray for us to be strong and to boldly show people what it means to follow Jesus. God is working here! He is growing and maturing His body. The progress is slow, but it is happening.

Last week was Italian Liberation Day. One of our church members organized a cook out at a local park. He was going to just invite his church friends, but also wanted to spend time with friends who don’t yet follow Jesus. So he combined them both. As I sat and watched the two groups mingle, I wondered, “isn’t this really what evangelism is?”

Thanks for your support! Please pray!


Bowling on a School Night

Posted in church, family, home service, kids, Newsletters, school at 7:05 am

Crazy, this life. Right now I am sitting in an empty bowling alley. “The House of the Rising Sun” is blaring in the background. To my right, slightly hidden from view is our daughter along with two Italian friends and three Chinese exchange students. It’s 9:30 PM on a school night, but we’re cramming in as many new experiences as possible in these days. Including bowling. And, get this. Sharing the gospel. Before staying in our home, Amy had never heard about God. She had also never seen a Bible. Ever. It’s been so fun to see her reaction to us praying before meals, to our church meetings, to our attitudes and the way we treat each other. “It’s so happy,” she said to me after church Sunday night.

Isn’t it a joy to experience new things? It’s also so much fun to watch others experience new things, as well. I especially love to see people coming to grips with the idea of just how much Jesus really loves them. It’s incredible, isn’t it?

Speaking of, last month and in our prayer update we spoke about having various studies in our homes with our friends. Things are happening. Not everyone is doing a study in their home, but half of the families do have a Bible Study going with unbelievers each week. The other half are a little discouraged and maybe even a little scared, but we are trying to emphasise that even if they have been told no by someone don’t give up. Sooner or later it will happen.

My study is with a friend of mine. We have met three times so far, and it has been wonderful. We read scripture and then observe and apply it to our lives. We meet in a public place and since this is all so new for her, we finish with her telling me what her prayers are. Even though she expresses her belief, each time there are great questions and the Holy Spirit helps me figure out the answers. Continue to pray for her, as she is really trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus.

Soon it will be Easter. Just today we met and planned out some great things. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. Please pray for us as we flesh out all of the details.
Lastly, we are getting so very close to our home assignment. We will be in the States from May 29th – September 4th. We hope to see as many of you as possible. When we are around, please look us up. I would love to have a cup of coffee with you and hear your story. I can’t wait to see how God is working in your life, to tell you about what He is doing here in Italy, and to have a few good laughs together.


On and on the chain goes

Posted in Ancona, church, ministry, Newsletters at 12:36 pm

I don’t know if the Holy Spirit was thinking of church planting in Ancona, Italy when he guided Paul to write the following words to Timothy, who was in many ways his replacement: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

Seems like a standard verse talking about passing on the message of the Gospel. But look closely and you’ll see that Paul set up a kind of chain. “…the things that you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses…,” is the first link in the chain (Paul). “…entrust to reliable people…,” shows the second and third links (Timothy entrusting the message to reliable people). The chain doesn’t stop there: “who will also be qualified to teach others.”

And on and on the chain goes, starting with Jesus, going to His disciples, and then to their disciples until it ends up with a missionary team working in Ancona, Italy (kind of humbling when you look at it like that). And we don’t want the chain to end with us, or with this first generation of believers. We want our believers to “be qualified to teach others.”

Starting this week, we are moving into that last link of the chain. Up until now, the majority of the ministry has been done by the missionaries. Which is completely normal in the beginning. But if this church plant is to last beyond this first generation of believers, then our church needs to be released to do ministry without us. We want the church to see that we came to be catalysts. We really believe that we’re all called to be pastors (1 Peter 2:9) and that you don’t need formal education to minister.

In the weeks leading up until Easter, we have asked the church members to lead a very simple Bible study in their homes. We meet together as a church, and then sometime during the week they study the same passage with someone else. It’s a big step. We’ve been praying for God to put people in our lives that need to know what His word says. Coworkers, family, friends, neighbors, classmates … anyone we come in contact with who doesn’t know what God’s word says … they’re all fair game.

So far, about half of the church members have a group getting together. Others have been turned down by people they have asked. Others are still gathering up the courage.

Please pray! We are praying that this step in ministry launches us to the next phase in the church plant.


New Year’s Resolutions

Posted in Ancona, church, ministry, Newsletters, Team at 6:43 am

January. We all know what that means. The new year! So, maybe you remember and maybe you don’t, but I’ve often spoken about my “new year” being September. I just love new books, new clothes, new schedules, new sports, new school supplies, new new new. I don’t know why, but for me it’s always been this way. The new school year brings about such excitement.

On the contrary, January has never really thrilled me. I’ve never really been into New Year’s resolutions or New Year’s goals. We set them for our work, our mission, and the team but personally, I just haven’t gotten into the “hang” of it. I say I want to “be healthy,” but what does that mean? How do I measure “walk more?” Or “be more patient?” Because, honestly, by January 4th I already have the tendency to “lose it.”

So, this year I have to say that the Lord is really working here in Ancona. How do I know? Because I see this year so incredibly full of possibility. I mean full. We sat down as a team to set our 2014 goals, and we were getting so excited. We have planned so much, yet the ways to achieve these goals are so simple. We have new ideas for study, for evangelism, for outreach, and for prayer.  I have even set personal goals. Yes. You read that right. Personal goals. And it’s not even September!

Friends, you are such an integral part of this ministry. You help us in ways that you may not even realize. So, as we embark on the new year, can I ask you to pray? Pick a goal. Any goal. Look through our ministry plans for the year and find something that really appeals to you. Something that you can get behind. Some way that you want to see the Lord work this year. Then pray. Pray for people to be reached with the Gospel. Pray for the church to grow. Pray for seed to be scattered all over Ancona. Pray for our marriage, our family, our children, our church, our team. Pray for ways that you can encourage and support the ministry in Ancona. Then, let me know, will you? I’d love to hear from you!! Pick something, then let us know how you will be covering Ancona and the Roterts in prayer this year. Because 2014 we will see movement.

God is working and I want nothing less that to see where and walk right alongside Him. Don’t you?


What Christmas Means

Posted in church, family, kids, ministry, Newsletters at 7:47 am

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
          – Isaiah 9:6

I am so grateful for this baby Jesus that came to Earth so many years ago. Baby Jesus that was born for you and me. Baby Jesus that grew to be the Savior of the world.

I guess that’s why the Advent/Christmas season brings me such joy. Advent is waiting. Who are we waiting on? What are we waiting for? Jesus. Our Savior. As a mom, I spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for soccer practice to end. Waiting for swimming lessons to be over. Waiting on someone or something. Always. But, I’ll tell you, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than waiting on the birth of baby Jesus.

I guess this peace that Christmas brings to us believers is why our community wanted to have an Open House last night. It wasn’t any old open house, though. The intent was to open our doors for anyone who needs prayer or wants to pray. Then, intermittently, we as a church would give testimonies, share a verse from God’s Word, or explain what Christmas means to us. We had great food, lots of laughs, and plenty of fun. But, most importantly, we were able to really share the Gospel with those who came. Interestingly, most who came weren’t Italians, but Romanians. Some of which don’t even speak Italian quite yet. So, we had testimony time in Romanian, with translation into Italian. It was an interesting situation, but God definitely had His hand in it. All we could do is sit back and watch Him work.

Another great thing about this time was that it was the idea of our church members. Sure, we’ve always had an Open House at Christmas time. But, this year we really challenged them to think about why we would invite people into our building and what the true purpose of a night like this is/could be. When the wheels began turning, out came a great event. Led by them, not us. Little by little this community will be able to stand on its own two feet. Please pray that this continues. Pray for the people that came, as well as those who were invited and chose not to come. Those who need a little light at this time of year.

We, as always, are so thankful for all that you do! We are so blessed to have you partnering with us. Thank you so much for everything! Merry Christmas to you and yours from the Rotert family.