A JOYFUL ADVENTURE SEEKER MEETS JOY.
My name is Veronica, I am a 22 year-old Italian girl. I was in Ohio, on a not-so-ordinary-day, during my first trip to the States, this past summer.
Many people would call it a coincidence, but I personally refer to it as a "divine appointment".
I was at a friend's wedding, mingling and talking to people─ lots of old and new friends─ while eating fancy food and dancing it out, and that's where I met Emily─ a girl around my age who wouldn't stop staring at my tattoo and smiling. First impression? Weird enough (in a good way) to be my friend, lol.
She wasn't at the reception for a very long, but that's all it took for us to connect─ like in kindergarten. We knew it's pretty unusual for grown people to bond that quickly, we were surprised ourselves, but because of how extraordinarily that happened, we knew our friendship was going to be special.
Now, by that I don't mean we knew we'd become inseparable─ in fact, we didn't─ but somehow we knew there was more to it.
The tattoo my new friend kept looking at is on my forearm and it says "joy". Yep, not kidding. To me it stands for Jesus. Others. Yourself. (the priorities in my life and reasons for me to be joyful) I would love to tell you more about it, but later─ now, let's move forward. She wasn't just crazy about how pretty it looked, she loved it because it meant something to her, too: JOY - The Justification of Youth. She works for it. I had never heard of it before, and maybe many of you hadn't either, until now, but that is all it took to steal my heart. JOY is a nonprofit organization founded and run by young adults with a great heart for service, who want to encourage university students and are willing to travel long distances to bring joy to at-risk, precious little ones. JOY is literally the chosen generation's response to God's calling. If I were to describe it I think I would use a verse from the Bible─ 1 Timothy 4:12
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."
That's what JOY does, and it is exclusively fueled by the hope that God's unending grace and love provides.
Time passed, I came home to my Rome, in Italy, with no idea of what the future would hold. I got to meet the JOY team via FaceTime and there hasn't been a day that I haven't thought about how God is using them, especially to reach those tiny lives (I just LOVE kids so much, people say I am a so-called "kid-person"), thanking Him for such a ministry, and dreaming and praying that someday I would get to be a part of something like that.
I recently made the big decision of putting an end to my school career and dropped out of university, and have been trying to find my own place in the world, asking God for direction since then. I focused on exploring my own personality, passions, and gifts from a wider perspective in order to understand where the Lord wants me to be and set a goal to achieve. I have had highs and lows and some days I would get really discouraged because of the lack of answers, but in Jesus I found rest and peace.
I still haven't figured out where life is going to take me, but as I continue to pray and wait for clarity, I am willing to walk any path that unfolds before me, experience God's hand at work, and trust in His perfect timing.
How sweet the surprise and growth that comes with all our Heavenly Father has hidden for us along the way─ in fact that is what brings me here today. During my getting-to-know-myself-better process, I found myself thinking about writing more─ which, to be honest, didn't make much sense to me because I've never been much of a writer. Surprisingly, it didn't take me long to get used to that random idea, and soon after that God showed up and once again He surprised me with the sweetest of blessings that far exceeded my expectations. He reminded me that He makes all things work together for my good (Romans 8:28) and that everything happens for a reason. I was revealed the reason for my sudden interest in writing last week, when I got offered to be a blogger for JOY.
Never would I have expected this to happen so soon, yet it did.
Jesus hears us when we pray and seek Him and His kingdom wholeheartedly.
He said, "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you."
All I did was ask.
See how it spread? We don't really have to have to do much─ God, Love does.
This is what I meant when I said there was more to the sweet friendship I mentioned before─ The JOY team prayed + I prayed = JOY got to Italy!
So, here's to this new path that's unfolding and all the adventures it will bring!
To God be the glory, and may people say "I have heard a lot about their faith" when they hear our names.