Unforgotten + Seen

Today, just after my Kindergarten class left and fourth grade was arriving, I heard beeping. I thought it was strange, since I had never heard it before, but had forgotten my phone was connected to my speaker in my classroom.

The beeping was an alert from Facebook Messenger and to my surprise it was Nadia calling. Finding this quite strange, I answered.

“Hollie!” she said with her warm, more enthusiastic than normal, Russian accent . “I have a donor. He wants to give scholarship to Christian artist! You are in Florence, yes?”

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We met Nadia our first trip in 2015, when, just across the street from this picture, she sat with me for about three hours. She did not know me from Eve, but in that timeframe asked me to come teach Art History at her school through a gospel lens…she had no idea that is the first thing I asked God to let me do after I met him in 2011.

Amelie and I took intensive painting courses there over a few summers, and one year before Francesca entered art high school, she got to join us. One of the most spectacular pieces of their program is that they teach you to see. It is hard and remarkably beautiful. It changes everything - just like the Gospel.

Friends, the vision she has for this school is amazing and the role she desires for me to fill is still open and waiting for me. It requires me to have a masters degree that I can do there, which will also help me earn my residency status.


Turning this corner back into preparing to go, I realized: I am off to an even better start than I was when we first began.. I am growing in fear of the Lord and not fear of man, because he is the one who saved me and called me, and that calling is affirmed by those in leadership around me and anyone who knows me. Second, although I am not going via The Village Church— I am going from Acts 29 to Acts 29, and that is so much more beautiful to me because I have prayed the last eight years for Acts 29 to grow in Italy, but in particular for Acts 29 to be in Florence.

And here we are.

I have been invited to join Chiesa Evangelica Riformata L’Isolotto’s core group and just today Nadia calls and says she has a fifty percent scholarship.

I wrestled through a lot of things the last year or so, but recognizing this and feeling so seen and known by the Lord today — in the middle of my day — where I am trusting the Lord, cultivating faithfulness, in the hard and messy grit of teaching children art and music, with learning curve after learning curve, with humility, perseverance and joy. This is where I am. I can trust him. And what a precious way for him to intervene in my day to say, “Hollie, I love you, I see you, and I know the plans I have for you.”

It reminded me of this summer. It was the first summer I ever spent with Italian children, where I had the privilege to teach them English, through art and the gospel. Robert Baird, who is like a father to me, told me something that was hard to hear after I accepted a job as a teaching aide. I told God I would never work with children. Robert told me, “Now Hollie, I know you want to teach adults. But before you teach them, you have to learn how to teach children first.”

I really didn’t like that he told me that, but it didn’t change the fact that he was right.

My heart sank as I had to tell Nadia I didn’t think I could make it by February, unless there was a miracle. I have seen the LORD provide in crazy and amazing ways through his people. But what I could tell her was how encouraged I was that the Lord continues to put me in her mind. She really wanted to give this to me. I quickly shared how I felt so seen by the Lord, that he is the one keeping this call on my life, this post, place and city open for us to live in, and that my heart is already there.

How you can take action?