Sometimes God speaks to you in the funniest ways, and in the most awkward places. One such place was the tram stop outside my apartment one evening as I was on my way to my church's film festival. It was Thursday March 14th, just one day after my 23rd birthday, and I was feeling pretty good. There I was, happily humming along to a Jeremy Camp song when wham! I suddenly find myself filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Pretty awkward. I try to disguise it by keeping along with the melody of the song, but when the Spirit moves you gotta go with the flow or miss the tram, so to speak. So there I am pacing and trying to keep away from people and ignore them staring at me at the 15 tram stop. I get this incredible urge to start praying for Italy, and a few of my students in particular. I pray for God to send someone here to witness to all of the lost people, and I get this sudden impression of "I already have".
Uh oh. If you have a relationship with God then you can guess who He meant there.
I look up at the tram announcement screen and I see one word: URBANA. ('Urban' in Italian) In a split second a few very important Urbana 2009 experiences flashed through my head. I remembered seeing the video of the missionaries in Italy and wondering what they were needed for. I recalled my growing interest as I watched and realized there was a need here and that as an Italian major, missions in Italy might actually be a good fit for me. I remembered learning about IV Link and thinking what a great way that would be to combine my passions for travel, students/teaching, and just about anything intercultural. And last but not least, I remembered Shane Claiborne's talk, and I remembered the part where he said something akin to 'Be careful what you pray for, because you might be the answers to your prayers." Was I ready to be that? Standing in Milan, I was asking myself if I was ready to answer the call and be someone God sent to do His will in Italy. It seems so funny now, but at the time I had already told my mother I was coming home. I had been hurt, and I had very little love left in my heart for Italy. Now I would have to tell her that I had changed my mind, and would be doing the optional second teaching year of my program after all. Yay. Still, I had since learned that the best place to be is in God's will, even if that means spending less time with my family friends in the U.S. than I would ideally like.
The next time I gathered up with friends to share this experience and my decision to stay in Italy, one of my friend's immediate response was: "Well that's obvious. It was clear to all of us you were called here!" Thank goodness God is patient and gives us some of those Deus ex machina moments, because I certainly hadn't gotten the memo.