How to Experience the Italian Life
So you’ve felt a calling to pursue missions in Italy for the majority of your life (or even just recently), but you feel stuck in the States as events such as car problems, student loan debt, and the hustle and bustle of the American life pulls you back in, yet the greatest desire that remains beating in your heart is, “How to Experience the Italian Life…Pronto!”
Here are some encouraging ways you, a future missionary to the Italians, may take the next steps to move forward in your calling right where you are.
1. PRAY - Praise God that our prayers are not limited by where we live and who we are praying for, so by praying each day for the Italian people, God still moves, saves, and heals those He is calling to Himself. Remember the local ministries in Italy, like PMc, and other ministries throughout Italy, and pray for the missionaries, local churches, and Italians to flourish in their faith in Jesus Christ.
Practical Tip: Intentionally set aside time each day to pray - during your daily commute, before meals with your family, or while you are making coffee in the morning. Before you know it, prayer will be as free-flowing as breathing.
2. READ/LISTEN - Prepare for a life of ministry by reading God’s Word in English and Italian. Listen to sermons, worship songs, and media in both languages to grow in the language. The more you immerse yourself in the Italian language in a practical way, the more fluent and confident you will be when you are on the field.
Practical Tip: Greet everyone with “Ciao, come va?” It means hello, how's it going? It will literally be a conversation starter among your American friends. Build upon your Italian vocabulary and sentence structure with your family and friends. It may seem strange to speak Italian to English speakers, but it will enrich their lives as you are actually teaching them another language by speaking it.
3. LEARN - There are so many new skills you will utilize on the mission field - start learning today! Do you know how to drive a stick shift? Nearly all cars in Italy are manual. Italians treat traffic signs like artwork, so the more comfortable you are zipping around in a stick shift car in the States, the more likely you will be to “catch up to speed” like an Italian!
Practical Tip: We went all out and bought a stick shift car for this very purpose. If you do not own one, ask around to family and friends, and if no one has one to teach you, there are so many great videos online to learn. Other ideas of skills to learn and implement: Italian cooking, walking every day, gardening (start with Italian herbs, like Basil), Italian Sign Language, hanging laundry to air dry (very useful), and overall becoming accustomed to the traveling life.
4. EAT - Do you have any dietary restrictions where you need to be gluten-free, dairy-free, or Kosher? Research Italian recipes and food cuisine within the region you are planning to live in and start creating a family heirloom cookbook. Become familiar with the foods you can and cannot tolerate in advance so you do not offend an Italian trying to share their love through food.
Practical Tip: Learn the Italian words for cuisine. If you are gluten-free, you will want to look for “senza glutine”. Dairy Free? “Senza lattosio”. Vegetarian? Look up “Ricette vegetariane”.
5. GO - The missionary life is an on-the-go life. Find a “Day Bag” that you can use for your daily planner, as a purse, add a sweater in the colder months, a scarf, toiletries like tissues, a snack, a water bottle, and any other essentials.
Practical Tip: Every day is an opportunity to refine your travel skills. If you were out for the entire day, would you have everything you need? Extra items like body wipes, a change of clothes, an Italian dictionary, and a journal could go a long way to prepare for those moments when you end up staying longer than expected.
6. MARKET - Do you have an Italian Market by your home? If you live in a city that has one, it is a great way to learn about artisan produce, meats, cheeses, and delicacies in advance.
Practical Tip: Try making an Antipasto platter the next time you have friends over. One of my favorite meats is Bresaola - it is made with beef, usually, the eye of round-cut, and is seasoned, aged, and smoked. It is even possible to learn how to make it at home with the proper tools.
7. TOOLS - What are the resources that are difficult to find in Italy? Start thinking about what would be useful to invest in and bring to Italy. Since cafes and restaurants, among other places, currently have restrictions, consider purchasing an espresso machine, pasta maker, or gelato maker. Your home could become the best cafe in town among your new friends.
Practical Tip: Thrift stores are a great place to find heirloom kitchen items like marble handle cheese forks, wine/bottle openers, serving utensils, and even Italian pasta makers.
8. INVENTORY - It will be very important to have an inventory of everything you own. It will be helpful for insurance purposes should anything happen, but also for when the time comes to sell, donate, give away, keep in storage, and decide the items that you will bring with you. Organize items by room and family member. This process takes a while so the sooner you start, the easier it will be when the time comes to move.
Practical Tip: Since most apartments in Italy are much smaller than in the States, start thinking strategically. Do you currently own a home? Will you rent it out fully furnished or sell everything? Think long-term about what you currently own and create a plan for how those resources could be used for other missionary families.
9. LIVE - Each day is a blessing from the Lord and though there will be a tomorrow, we will never know if it will be spent on Earth or in Heaven. Live in the moment by obedience to God. What is He asking of you at this moment? Every day is one step closer to seeing Jesus face to face for true believers and followers of Him, so always remember to live out your purpose in Christ with every breath He gives you.
Practical Tip: Pray, read the Word, journal, and experience life with those around you right where you are - share the gospel, your redemptive testimony, be grateful for all the ways that God is providing for you, stay encouraged, always have hope, be kind to everyone, and be faithful to the end knowing Jesus will be with you each step of the way.
10. COLLABORATE - Connect with a ministry in Italy, like Practical Missions Cohort, where you can use your God-given unique gifts to be a blessing. Whether it’s Administration, ESL, Creative Arts, Music, Writing, or any other gift/skill. There are so many great ways to be involved in the ministry that could work with your current life schedule.
Practical Tip: Pray about how God may use you for the ministry in Italy before you go to the mission field. The more prepared you are by getting to know the team, language, culture, cuisine, and daily ins and outs of life, the easier it will be to settle in when, Lord willing, the time comes to pass.
Ciao ciao & Dio vi benedica!
Christine Marta serves as a Content Creator and Media Manager for PMc.
Christine grew up with a vibrant passion for her Italian heritage and sensed a calling at a young age to pursue the mission field through global ministry events at her local church. In 2010, she went on her first mission trip to Europe which encompassed 10 countries where her team performed redemptive story-based dance and drama skits to draw in a crowd to share the gospel. She went on another mission trip to Italy in 2011, and months later was engaged to Daniel. They were married in May 2012 in an Italian Villa and were sent on their first mission trip together that summer as Team Leaders. Going on multiple mission trips to Italy, they continued to feel a strong calling to pursue life-long ministry in Italy to reach their Italian roots with the gospel in Northern Italy. Christine is grateful to serve with the PMc Media Ministry through creative content as an encouragement to God’s transformative ministry in Italy. Christine and Daniel have been blessed to journey with PMc as they prepare for a life of missions. Lord willing, they plan to move to Italy as a family and build relationships with the local community through evangelism, discipleship, and church planting for the glory of God.